The four “isms” of the apocalypse: chauvinism, sexism, racism and fundamentalism are riding roughshod over the gardens of civilization. When we take a long look around at the effects of the modern world, it’s not a pretty sight. Blackened stumps of ancient forests smolder in the mid-day sun, young children stare from (and at) television sets, stunned with hunger and lack of love; torture and cruelty are the trademark of governments throughout the world; and wars are raging all over the face of our planet. For all the shimmering beauty of life, for all the exquisite potential waiting in the wings, when we take a long look around, we find ourselves none too sure about the future of our species, or for that matter, of any other. Perhaps we should be bidding our farewells to DNA, thanking it for having us and apologizing for being such sloppy guests. Or perhaps we should act “as if’ there is going to be a future, because the alternative leads down an ever-darkening path to humorlessness, apathy, and despair.
So, if we believe there is hope for our future, we must then get a grip on what it is that’s wrong with our present. At first thought this seems pretty obvious–our senses tell us so. You can see that the lower skyline of Los Angeles looks like the rim of a toilet bowl, you can hear the stories of battered women, you can touch the swollen stomach of a starving Somalian child, you can smell the choking fumes of Saddam Hussein’s mustard gas and you can taste the fruits of our labors with that nasty after-tang of malathion.
To attempt to exorcise these problems externally, without exorcising the mytho-scientific perspective which creates them, ensures that we will gain only temporary relief. A friend of mine defined insanity as repeating the same actions over and over again while remaining convinced things will turn out differently. The human species is in danger of being committed. What we need is a fundamental change of heart and mind, to shift the gears of our consciousness, and escape the temporal gridlock which has formed in the collective psyche.
Why take responsibility for our actions when we know that God is separate from us, directing our destiny? Why treat the ecosystem with respect, when we know that the universe is a machine? Why help one another when we know that competition is the key to success? Why express our sexuality when we know that it is something to be ashamed of! For all their genius, Descartes, Newton, Darwin and Freud had only part of the equation. We need to move on.
Yet it is not in order to overthrow the existing governing belief systems, but to reform them, that the people in this book speak out. Their concern is the promotion of evolution rather than revolution. They have built upon the established foundations of knowledge but have each added a story of their own, connected by the spiral staircase of integrity, wisdom and compassion. The men and women in this book are not afraid of change. They have questioned the stone-carved rules, which have been handed down to us from the summits of orthodoxy and in choosing to climb the mountain for themselves they have come up an alternative set of revelations which begin, not with, “Thou Shalt,” but with “Why Not?”
We are the protagonists and the authors of our own drama. It is up to us; there is no one left to blame. Neither the “system,” nor our leaders, nor our parents. We can’t go out and hang the first amoebae. Upon these pages are some alternative responses to those of despair and disillusionment in the face of our global crises. The purpose of this collection is not to convince you of any particular point of view, but to encourage a deeper exploration into the universe of your own mind, and the discovery of your own innate truths. Use what works, discard what doesn’t and above all enjoy the show!
Rebecca McClen Novick