The World is Falling Apart and 5 Reasons Why That’s a Good Thing
Consider what would happen if security were not the point of our existence. That we find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us, but from what dissolves, reveals and expands us.
Sometimes I feel like I live in an alternate reality.
My own world feels fairly happy and insulated, but then I realize I don’t live in mainstream America. Northern New Mexico feels several steps removed from the United States.
I live on a dirt road next door to a Buddhist temple (Upaya Zen Center). I rarely venture into shopping malls. I don’t often need to use my car. Usually, I eat wholesome organic food lovingly made by friends at Upaya. I don’t have a TV. I’m blessed (and have worked hard) to be self-employed, and have enough money to sustain myself and to support causes I care about.
Somehow, by grace and design, I’ve landed up on this island of sanity.
But when I travel to other places, I get a sense of how panicked most people are by the state of the world.
Friends are looking for work. Even if they have a job, many have difficulty keeping up with their bill payments. Most have no health insurance or other protection against a medical crisis, should it hit them. Some are worried about the possibility of foreclosure on their homes.
We share some of the same challenges. Our aging parents need more and more help, and we don’t know where to turn. Federal and local government budgets are in shambles, services are being cut. In many cities, the air is dirty, the waters are polluted. Our earth has been struck by some huge natural disasters these past few years, but the worst damage has come from the impact of our human presence – like the BP oil spill and the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown.
One of the few industries experiencing growth is “security” – we seem to be willing to pay anything and give up a large degree of freedom for the illusion of keeping ourselves safe and out of danger.
The world can be a scary place these days. It all seems quite apocalyptic.
And in fact, the world as we know it is ending.
What could possibly be good about this?
Liberation is only possible when things fall apart. Only when we are completely willing to let go of where we are can we grow into something else. This is just as true for us as a society as it is for each of us, personally.
As a species, our choices and actions over the past century have created an unsustainable situation. In our lifetime, we’re witnessing the natural consequences of these choices – something that Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy refers to as the time of the Great Turning.
If you study your own life, you eventually learn that unhealthy choices may give you instant gratification and yet will eventually make you sick. This is what we’re experiencing now on a social level.
So here are 5 reasons why this falling apart is actually a doorway to possibility… if we choose to act in that way. For every challenge, there is an invitation.
1. Stock markets are crashing, corporations are collapsing. Our economy, built on a house of cards and designed to function on greed, is yielding to something different.
The invitation: The financial crisis is reminding us of the necessity to exchange goods with each other in a system that’s based on trust and relationship. The social phenomenon that is known as the Occupy Movement is all about moving toward a different way of relating to each other and to money.
2. Our schools and the whole education system is being battered by a multitude of problems. Test scores and literacy rates are dropping, students face violence both in and outside of the classrooms, teachers are burning out.
The invitation: Real learning is a transformative process that takes place person-to-person and has almost nothing to do with well-designed curriculums, textbooks, and fancy school buildings (though these things are of course helpful). Organizations like the Academy for the Love of Learning and the Montessori Foundation are showing us the way back to the true meaning of “education” — to bring forth what is within (from the Latin word educere).
3. Technology is exploding faster than our consciousness can keep up with it. Our lives our speeding up, and for some of us, our connection to our computers has become more important than to the real people in our lives.
The invitation: There is a growing movement toward simplicity and a desire to find ways to use technology in service of the greater good. The annual Wisdom 2.0 conference is a wonderful example of how people are practicing and creating more mindful ways to use technology in our lives. Writers like Sandra Pawula offer excellent guidance on overcoming digital overwhelm.
4. The very nature of work is changing. The unemployment rate in the U.S. continues to soar, and millions of people are struggling to find conventional jobs with decent pay. The days when people stayed with the same company for years have come to an end, most likely to never return.
The invitation: We can create innovative approaches to work. We don’t have to depend on someone else to hire us, we can draw on our own talents and passions to create livelihood that matters and that sustains us.
5. Our environment is polluted, our climate is on the verge of spinning dangerously out of balance.
The invitation: We are being invited to live on the planet in kinder and simpler ways. More people are coming forward to give examples of how to do this in creative and bold ways. Take, for example, Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man, who has come up with “42 Ways to Not Make Trash.”
The bottom line in all this: Cooperation and Community lead to sustainability and gentleness… greed and ignorance lead to destruction and harm.
Liberation is at our fingertips, if we choose it.
The world is offering us a chance to take responsibility, to be creative. This also requires us to be willing to let go of old habits and step courageously into new ways of living and relating to each other. What we thought of as “security” is actually not what will keep us truly safe.
How will we choose? How do you choose? And what invitations to transform our way of living are you taking full advantage of these days?
If you appreciated this article, please consider signing up for a free membership to “Team Liberation” to receive these posts by email, plus other goodies from the Liberated Life Project.