Apr 5, 2020

A Tale of the Great Pause

There's no going back.These are the choices that will shape a post-corona world.
By Chris Taylor / filmsforaction.org
A Tale of the Great Pause
Image from: https://pixabay.com/photos/forest-mist-nature-trees-mystic-931706/

These are biblical days. Days when the myths and legends our great-great-grandchildren will hear, are written in our deeds, omissions and mis-deeds. For sure we are being gifted an opportunity. Amongst the fear and dread, the grandparents dying alone, the health workers offering up their ultimate sacrifice, the panic buying and isolation, we have been given the chance to see what’s essential.

The Earth has been crying “Stop!” for years. “Stop your ceaseless, mindless rushing around. Be still, you’re doing my head in!”. Some heard it and gave it the reverence it deserved. Others are now having it thrust upon them. Locked-down in their single cell prisons they turn willingly or begrudgingly towards their life’s purpose, their existential meaning, or lack thereof.

Others continue to fill their days, not yet hearing the Message of the Age. They carry on as normal but ensconced in the blue-screen world. In the old paradigm this is learning: we need to change – we can do it all online. In the new paradigm it is denial. Missing the point. Failing to listen deeply from the soul, to the soul of Mother Earth.

The Earth speaks in many ways, mysterious ways. In birdsong, river-flow, still air, damp soil. And yes, in disease, wild fire, ice-melt. These are the idioms of imbalance. The fore-warnings of coming trouble.

But let’s not dwell too much in this moment, in case we start to feel contrite or smug or powerless. None of these will help. We know this moment will pass. And when it does there will be decisions to be made. These are the decisions that legends will be written of. The climax of the tale is yet to come.

Make no bones about it, there is a choice that waits around the next corner. Shadowy figures lurking by the wayside. When this is over, when the fever has subsided, they will make a move for the levers of power. They will call for a return to normality. For the same, but less planes and cars. They will want more tracking, more scrutiny of our movements, more order. And all for our own safety.

If they succeed, we are lost. In the final days of any empire, any economy, any civilization, there is the possibility of a version that is more authoritarian than before. More ordered and militarized. Those unable or unwilling to accept the inevitability of collapse, cling to power. They ramp up the pace of extraction, double down on exploitation and oppression. This is the path to destruction.

There is another possibility. But it requires a deeper consideration of the roots of the dis-ease, not just a warm flannel on the fevered brow. We are going to have to make very real choices, possibly hard-fought choices about the fundamentals of our way of life. Choices like: do we trust ourselves enough to take our civil liberties back? Do we believe we can handle this kind of situation again without governments watching our every move? What would a government look like that we could trust with protecting us all - because it had no ulterior motive, no self-interest, no hidden master to serve?

Second, do we want to live in streets of fear and suspicion or communities of mutual aid and self-managed cooperation? We have been given a glimpse of real community. Where we run errands for the elderly, collect medicine and shopping for the isolated, house the homeless. Will we give that up? Or build on it the communities of tomorrow?

Third, what are we each discovering in this lock-down about what is meaningful to us? What do we really want to do with our lives? What have we done for other people during this crisis? This is our soul purpose. This is our life’s meaning. Tending our gardens, growing food on balconies, serving those in need, teaching our children, baking bread, reading, painting, putting patches on our clothes. How will we bring meaning to our lives and keep hold of this like never before?

And fourth, what if we built a civilization on this? What if we replaced a system that digs up the bones of the Earth, drains and burns its blood, scrapes its skin of forest and soil? What if we built an economy on what we can give back instead of what we can take? What would that look and feel like?

It’s possible. I’m sure it is. My bones tell me. These long, slow days, stripped of all ambition, success, advancement, are teaching me a different way to be.

At the root of it all, beneath the fallen leaves and branches, the tangled brambles, lies a single question, echoing in dark caverns underground: “Will you, can you, when will you, fall back in love with the Earth?”

She has been crying “stop”. She has been crying out for love. Your love. My love. Her cries are to wake us to the remembering of the times we strolled together across summer fields, the times we ate together, swam in warm seas, drank in the stars and moonlight. In this stillness we are pulled from our dungeons out into her arms. She is showing us that she has all we need – she can heal our ills, feed us, clothe us, give us adventures galore, scenes of awe and wonder. “Come back to love. It is here, ready and waiting.”

Here in the restless sleep of this dis-ease, the veil is lifted and we catch a glimpse of what’s to play for: a Government of Cocreation, Communities of Care, a Life of Meaning, a Society of Gifts. We are offered a fork in the road. In one direction the Economy of Destruction; in the other the Ecology of Love.

These are mythical times. Times when futures are won or lost. Times when the legends will tell not of heroes and villains but of tribes. Fearless tribes guided by courage, imagination, compassion. Tribes who took time in isolation to find their purpose. Tribes who used the Great Pause to think the unthinkable, plan the impossible, weave the threads of a miraculous plot twist, answer Nature’s call to tread a different path.

Do not be taken in by the tricksters and charlatans, by the naked emperors who promise a return to a normal you never believed in. Do not cheat your life of its destined course. When the fever subsides, hold out for your heart’s desire. This is how legends are written.

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Chris Taylor is author of The Tao of Revolution.

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