The Chaos of our Times
Having been born in 1947, I spent most of my childhood in the 1950s. These years are often seen as a sort of idyllic time in America. Everyone seemed to know their role and place. After three wars in fifty years Americans wanted only to return home, raise families, get an education and participate in the massive, unprecedented economic expansion that was occurring. The American war machine was transformed into an economic juggernaut.
It seemed like an ideal time to which many people still wish to return. But the ideal did not match the reality for many of us especially if you were a minority, woman, GBLT or different in any other way. The roles of women were rigidly proscribed and limited. And we lived with a social system referred to as “Jim Crow” which was really nothing more than an unacknowledged apartheid. Outside of the South segregation dominated our social structure. Much of the social unrest now in our country is Karma for slavery and its barely disguised cousin “Jim Crow.” Anyone who did not fit into their place or role was shunned, criticized or shamed.
The social changes in the intervening years have at times felt cataclysmic. Sometimes it appeared as though family, society and culture were shaken to their very foundations. Confused by the chaos of the times since then many seek to protect a mythic sense of privilege and power. Unable to see the “shadow” in our history people create an image of the past to worship. It is actually a form of idolatry. And most disappointing of all, at times, the various forms of institutional religion seem seduced by this idolatry.
So now with every step forward, there is an energetic “blow back” of resistance. This occurs in numerous ways. As a first African-American president is elected some of us naively romanticized him and this accomplishment thinking we had undergone a major transformation. And his opponents spew what feels like unprecedented anger, rage and vitriol. As we step forward fear has exploded all around. Within the past month, after nine people are brutally murdered in their church in South Carolina the Confederate Battle Flag was taken out of public locations. A wonderful long overdue change occurred through terrific leadership from all races. And within three weeks several primarily black churches were set on fire. We step forward into the light and the shadow arises emitting its darkness. As marriage equality is declared the law of our country, many officials try to hide behind spurious religious reasoning to avoid facing it. Billionaires spend vast sums of money to fight every single advance. Fear of greater inclusion, change and progress is masked as traditional family values. Rage and loss of perceived power and privilege is camouflaged as securing our boarders. Hate speech erupts from one presidential candidate and is embraced by many in opinion polls. We step forward and the shadow explodes with great force encouraging chaos and fear.
We cannot go back to a time that never really existed. The beauty of that time was only skin deep. Retreat into it will only cause more fear.
The spiritual path in these times is right through the middle of the chaos. We are a part of our times not apart from them. We walk in the light and toward the light. We find light from candles that are already burning and we also light new candles. This occurs in many ways. It occurs when we take our spiritual practices seriously and are deeply dedicated to them so that we bring higher awareness to ourselves and our planet. We light candles when we serve in soup kitchens, campaign in elections and support new residences for homeless veterans. The spiritual mystic sees the Divine in all things. The chaos of our time is not apart from Spirit. Spirit is found in both the light and dark. The turmoil is interwoven throughout every aspect of our world. The mystic spiritual person chooses to live in the very middle of the chaos with the intention to live in accordance with his or her highest energies. As we do this we stand in the light. We know that turmoil is part of what Spirit brings to us in these times. The spiritual path sees great opportunity for awakening in every aspect of the havoc. And it knows if we don’t wake up deep trouble awaits us. The Divine brings us this opportunity.
Dealing with this change and chaos is not easy. And, frankly, I sometimes wish all of this would slow down and float away. But that is simply wishful denial and the ego’s desire to be safe and comfortable. The chaos and change challenges us to constantly evolve and awaken so that we can better face the opening hidden in the tumult. It appears that it is our destiny to be born in this time finding Spirit in all that comes to us.