Recent events create the impression that humanity is moving five steps backward to a dark era dominated by tribal allegiances, superstition, xenophobia, and intolerance. But are things really so bad and what lessons can we learn from history?
Russia invades a sovereign country triggering the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. There is the mindless bombing of civilian targets, and wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages.
At the same time, nearly every country in the world is feeling the impact of human-induced climate change with unprecedented heat waves, floods, and other extreme weather conditions.
A sizeable minority of people have retreated into tribal bubbles, affirming each other in the most outlandish conspiracy theories, lies, and pseudo-scientific postulations.
We’ve been there before
It’s small comfort but humanity has been there before. Evolution takes place in cyclical seasons and we have much to learn from history and past response to unforseen external events.
Individuals respond to a crisis that they cannot control in different ways, often seeking simple explanations to complex problems. When humanity had to deal with the black death, or bubonic plague, in the Middle Ages, there followed a wave of pogroms against Jews and the burning of thousands of innocent people at the stake. External catastrophes were interpreted as a punishment from God for “sins” committed mainly in their view by minorities and those who dared to differ from the mainstream.
Humanity currently finds itself at a similar inflection point where the environmental crisis, economic hardships, and mental health challenges are painful to process. But we are a long way from burning people at the stake.
The resurgence of 18th and 19th-century nationalism in many countries is merely the last desperate battle of a macho culture that has long outlived its purpose. The new humanity has a softer, feminine side that emphasizes restoration rather than exploitation, resolution of conflict through peaceful dialogue instead of autocratic dominance, and diversity of race, color, and gender. The new spring already sees a growing movement of experiential spirituality liberated from institutional religion that tells people what to believe and how to behave.
Major external and internal changes always go hand-in-hand with pain linked to the difficulty of releasing that which once was and is no more. If you want to really grow and expand your life on all levels you have to release that which is holding you back.
The hurt that comes with change is short-lived compared to a life not lived, and years spent suffering in quiet misery of escapism that includes addiction, procrastination, and external distraction.
At some point, the pain gets too much. That is when you take the five steps backward to gather the momentum that catapults you forward. A relationship has reached a stage when only separation is a solution. A safe and secure job has become so stressful that different and more fulfilling alternatives are sought to earn a living.
The body and mind send early signals when something is not in synchronicity with soul destiny. A tightness, pain, or hollow feeling in the gut is often the first indication “that something does not feel right.”
You will have lost control when you are on the treadmill of external distractions or in the fight or flight response of the brain’s limbic system.
Seizing back control
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” The words of William Ernest Henley’s famous poem “Invictus” is a rallying cry when times are rough and seemingly insurmountable adversity looms.
Practicing awareness sharpens the mind’s toolkit. You will be getting much better at differentiating between what is truth and authenticity and what is manipulation, and deception.
More than ever you need to stand guard at the doorway of mind and body:
- What foods nourish and boost my immune system?
- Which friends positively uplift, support and affirm?
- What information that I hear, see and read is helping me grow spiritually into a better human being?
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker
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