09 May 2018

Science and the New Story ~ Michael N Nagler ~ 30 April 2018

Source: The Shift Network

#Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, #Enough: millions of new activists are taking to the streets, in a hopeful rising of what nonviolence scholars call the “effervescence of the crowd.” These manifestations are more hopeful than most in that some activists, including the young, are aware that demonstrations and protests need to be developed into long-term, sustained campaigns. It’s only natural at times like these that people would want to “stop the worst of the damage,” as environmental activist and Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy would say, But that may cause us to neglect the big picture, and see where we need to go long term. It’s the long term, however, where nonviolence really shines, and history shows that nonviolence is the approach we need.

As Gandhi noted, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin were “able to show the immediate effectiveness of violence… But the efforts of Buddha's nonviolent action persist and are likely to grow with age.” And he reassures us that despite appearances, nonviolence is actually the fastest way to bring about lasting changes that sometimes appear miraculous, but “All miracles are due to the silent and effective working of invisible force. Nonviolence is the most invisible and the most effective.”

It’s time, then, to step back and look at the big picture. For some decades now, we have been going through a “spiritual crisis,” as I argued elsewhere, and that crisis can be seen as a struggle for the core narrative of our culture. The real “culture war” is not between one society's culture and another but between between the “old story” that tells us we live in a random universe made of physical particles and an emerging story, being in part recovered from a long (and often forgotten) tradition of human wisdom that says, No! We live in a meaningful universe pervaded by consciousness. We are deeply interconnected with one another and the planet we live on.

Activists or not, we should be aware of this underlying struggle, for it underlies virtually every issue we’re facing. The shift to a new story, which a small community of people have been working out for many years, would resolve most of those issues almost automatically. People who are aware that they are deeply connected with others will know that violence is intolerable, and totally unnecessary.

The fact that American servicemen and women are committing suicide at the rate of more than 20 a day shows that a dim awareness is growing that inflicting suffering on others inflicts oneself with Perpetration Induced Traumatic Stress (PITS), or more familiarly, “moral injury.” People who are aware of their inner resources, aware that their deepest needs are to seek relationships of mutual aid and service, will themselves shrink from damaging the environment. We won’t need to exhort them.

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