New Creation: It’s happening everywhere, and we want to tell that story – Part II

Posted September 24th, 2014 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on New Creation: It’s happening everywhere, and we want to tell that story – Part II
peoples climate march

Photo: Robert van Waarden

Part Two of telling the story of how we are rethinking our work, our plan to dissolve this project into a reviving of the Center for New Creation, comes in the wake of the big climate march and Wall Street action in New York City (not to mention events all around the world). Final estimate on the NYC crowd last Sunday came in at 400,000 – significant by any measure. Climate change, with all its disastrous consequences already being felt (and it’s just the beginning of the disasters to come), sure has focused the mind and the organizing efforts of a lot of people.

But I must say that what most encouraged me were some of the other messages and demands embedded within the concerns about climate. As we have said here many times, climate change is not the problem – it is a symptom of the problem, just as a fever is a sign of illness, or a runny nose, or a heart attack. Those are results that come from the cause.

The cause of our ecological crisis, including our climate crisis, is not global warming – it is the result of centuries of human civilization resting on the foundations of burning oil and other fossil fuels, from whale oil to crude oil to synthetic oil, and on to coal and gas and uranium, and the purpose for which we have burned those fuels:

for giant factories that make giant machines that gouge out and ruin large swaths of earth to make stuff that we use to create our “way of life,” or our vaunted “standard of living;” for industries that keep taking more and more from the Earth while not giving nearly enough back and putting more waste into our Mother than she can possibly absorb, filter, or regenerate; for war and the military industrial complex; for the generation of wealth for corporate elites and investors.

Where we found the most encouraging signs rising from the events in NYC, where we found the people really speaking of things that matter, was not so much among those looking for an alternative fuel to provide for our way of life. That might bring the fever down a bit, but is not yet a cure for the disease. Rather, where we found hope was among those who realize that the critical issue is that we are living far beyond the capacity of this planet to support this species, that we have abused our Mother with savage violence which gets worse by the day, that we are depleting, using up, and contaminating everything needed for life to continue, and that THIS is the fundamental crisis that needs, finally, to be addressed.

We have altered the climate with this industrial/consumer civilization, yes; but, we have also poisoned our habitats (including our bodies), shredded eco-systems, used too much water and destroyed too much topsoil, put way too much land under development for commercial or other human uses (like vacation homes and ski resorts), dug way too many giant holes in the earth to mine stuff we need for our consumer goods, blown up too many mountains…

Well, you get my point. Our problems are not climate change. Climate change is a result of our problems. And we have to get to the heart of the matter, the foundations of the problems, if we are to save ourselves.

Children in Dhaka, Bangladesh - Photo by Risalat Khan

Children in Dhaka, Bangladesh – Photo by Risalat Khan

The stories we talk about sharing here are not about climate change activism so much as about where human beings are beginning to come to terms with the essence of the crisis, what is really bringing it about – the way in which we are in relationship with Nature for centuries now, or maybe even thousands of years. We are interested in where humans are beginning to form new relationships, often in response to awful destruction and often in response to their experiences of loss and grief as the places they love are being destroyed so that we can continue consuming Mother Earth’s gifts in the form of commodities purchased at the store or online, that show up at our doorsteps in cardboard boxes (made from trees) and wrapped in bubble wrap and other packing materials (made with oil), and delivered by plane or truck using plenty of fossil fuel.

…because it is the enormity of the scale of this whole industrial/consumer project that is destroying the potential for humans to share in the life of this planet for much longer – at least with any real quality of life, much less abundance and joy.

How many in this country see that as the problem? Well, probably not very many, and not very many who want to believe that it is the way we live that has to change.

How does life evolve? Well, certainly not from above. It is not imposed from outside. Evolution occurs from deep within, from deep within the process of life as it emerged on this planet. A few little microbes here and there, some molecules that started organizing, single cell organisms that somehow became multi-cellular, and some strange creatures that emerged from the water onto the land, and then dinosaurs and Genghis Khan, and finally 400,000 people marching in the streets of NYC, and tens of thousands of others around the world coming to the realization that something has gone very wrong.

Or hundreds of people showing up at zoning board meetings in counties of western Wisconsin to try to hold back the devastation being brought to their places by the frac sand mining industry.

The story here is that from deep within the heart of evolution itself, some molecules and microbes are starting to realize they’re in trouble and, without even necessarily knowing it, are beginning to evolve into the new kinds of beings that Earth needs now to move out of this devastating era into a new one. They are beginning to find the courage and the necessity of following the example of those earlier critters – to emerge out of the water onto the land, the land of New Creation, or the land where New Creation is again possible. It takes courage because there is no way of knowing what that New Creation will be, what it will look like, or even whether or not we will succeed.

But the fact that it is occurring, burgeoning, emerging – that is the sign that evolution is trying to get itself out of this terrible predicament – not only in spite of us, but also through us. Can we trust its wisdom? Well, life on Earth went through a lot of hard times over these millions of years, but yet, here we are, and it can re-create itself yet again if we stop destroying the means for it to do that.

So, in our last post, we wrote about the compelling challenge facing us now of creating new ecological cultures even as the seemingly dominant industrial culture begins to unravel in the wake of its own profound non-sustainability, in the wake of all the ecological wreckage it has wrought. We want to start sharing the stories of where these new cultures are emerging, not always self-consciously, but as a response to threats posed to their places.

From the voices of aboriginal peoples defending their places in Alberta and British Colombia from the assaults or intended assaults on their lands from the tar sand industry, to those people attending zoning board meetings in small Wisconsin towns (check out this list of groups working to stop or regulate frac sand mining), to Villa Maria in Western PA where Sisters of the Humility of Mary are bearing witness to the sacredness of their land in the face of the onslaught of the fracking industry, to the people of Marktown near the BP refinery in Whiting IN who are trying to save their community from BP’s planned destruction of it, to Alice’s Garden and Venice Williams’ Body and Soul Healing Arts Center in Milwaukee’s inner city – we see examples of these emergent cultures. What they signify is the potential to relearn how to live beyond the collapse of industrial culture, to learn how to come together as human communities in concert with the eco-communities of which we are a part, to learn again how to live and work as communities rather than as separate individuals or consumers, to learn how to turn to one another instead of the shopping mall or online retail sites for what we need.

Our intention is to go out into some of these communities to gather their stories, as we did last year in Alberta, and to create a space where these stories can come together – to be a garden where people can go to see the beauty of what is growing there in all its diversity, passion, compassion, color, and vibrant life.

Because if we cannot see the possibilities of living differently, fear or despair will continue to weigh on our spirits. If all we see is the unraveling, the horror, the blown up mountains, strip-mined lands, super-fires and flooding rains – well, it can get harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning to face the reality.

But you don’t see that problem with those who are busy about new creation, about defending their places, about discovering in the process a rebirth of community and a sense of mission and purpose.

One of the things I most loved about the climate march was its beauty. It was wild with color, a work of art, or arts/plural. This isn’t a dour movement. There is intensity and passion, yes, and there is also so much joy.

Photo: Robert van Waarden

Photo: Robert van Waarden

This fall, our plan is to begin sharing these stories – by getting out to communities with a camcorder, voice recorder, and notebook and to begin chronicling these local journeys, these burgeoning expressions of a new life which we cannot yet see but which is coming into being everywhere. Because the corporate media fails to tell this story, it is hard to see it. And that can be disempowering, lending a sense of being alone or isolated, always a David against an overwhelming Goliath. We want to be one “center,” especially here in the Upper Midwest, where more of these stories are gathered, where people can see one another,  and where people can learn from the experiences of others.

Part of this effort involves creating a new website powerful enough to facilitate and support this kind of project, a virtual meeting place for those who want to be in dialogue with a larger community of grassroots groups.

Of course, this will take raising the funds that can make all this possible. We will be doing a bit of fundraising over the next couple of months and hope this essay, and Part I before it, might spark some donations from those of you reading this.

There will be a Part III to this series next week, so stay tuned. We are going to be making the way by walking since, just like the evolutionary process, we cannot necessarily see where we’re going, but we know we need to get going in any case.

logo at 217 x 157 jpegIf you can donate now, we would be most grateful. Contributions are tax deductible and can be made by credit card via PayPal or by check.

The real news is not on CNN. It’s what’s going on in local communities in thousands of places in North America where people are beginning to realize the magnitude of what is being lost, what we could lose – and how we are saying, NO! that is not acceptable!

~ written by Margaret Swedish for the Center for New Creation


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