Between two stories

by Simon Goland, July 20, 2010

Today’s Reflection is about integrating a duality of a life. Definitely mine. Perhaps yours too.

I don’t have children of my own, which is a life choice of a long time ago. However, some of my friends do. This begs an interesting question, along the lines of “What kind of a world am I leaving for my friends’ kids, whom I love dearly?” A question that each person needs to ask themselves these days, given the state of our world.

If I am not for myself, who is for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?

– Hillel

The angle I am thinking about right now is the loss of the sense of the sacredness of our universe. It shows when economists tell us that a violent plundering of the Earth would better our existence. It shows when philosophical realists telling us that any appreciation of the mystical and mysterious dimensions of Nature is a sentimental romanticism. And it shows when politicians tell us that the way to control power in the world is by conquering our own territory and then exploit the territories of others.

The results of these stories leads us to where we find ourselves today, with rapidly declining forests, disappearing salmon (earlier today, a Sto:lo First Nation guide in Mission told us that the salmon levels in the Fraser river is about 3-5% of what it used to be perhaps 10 years ago!), pollution, toxins everywhere in and around us, loss of precious tribal ancient knowledge (tribal cultures and many languages are disappearing faster than any species on the planet), and many other disasters, challenges, and problems we are facing these days. The list is, unfortunately, endless.

And then there is the other side, the growing awareness and recognition that we humans are but a subsystem of the Earth system and that our first obligation in any phase of our human lives is to preserve the integral functioning of the world we depend on. This new story allows many to understand how every element of the universe is integral with every other member of the universe community. Many people and organization are working endlessly and patiently, to bring this new story into existence.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
  – Charles Dickens


And I find myself fluctuating between these two types of stories. On some days, excitement within me is palpable and I am engaged and committed, drawing my inspiration both from within, and from seeing and hearing of others who do incredible work. On these days, I feel like I can move mountains, like there are no obstacles, like we are “almost there,” and the sun – inner and outer – is bright and warm.

And then there are other days. The days of the other stories. The days I am present to lack of hope, to injustice, corruption, corporate or political greed (yet again and again), and a nagging thought of the “what’s the point?” flavour. In these days, my heart is heavy, the tears salty, the mountains block the sun, and the future is foggy; perhaps even non-existent at all.

Perhaps this is the work of our lifetime. Learning to reconcile these two types of stories, this duality, while still doing what’s needed to be done so that the children of today will have a tomorrow. And the day after.

A sunny week to you all, inside and out.