The Only Power Strong Enough
Carly Elizabeth is seven months young today, just this week beginning to pre-crawl. I wish I could be so attentive, persistent, focused, so sensitive and aware of everything instead of being preoccupied with all my stuff. Carly craves engagement and it is truly one of the most challenging tasks as a parent to keep up, to stay in the present moment, to share this experience together right now. Oh, how easy it is to give that demand for complete engagement over to some mechanical or technological thing, but at what price?
I am alive, living, dynamic, always changing, at least I hope I am. I have the capacity to be inventive, to change the game, surprise, touch, embrace, in a word – to play and play and play. Carly is constantly making eye contact to reestablish and affirm our engagement. I carry her high, her face close to mine, at the same height to facilitate engagement. Meals, even at restaurants, which for us are not infrequent, she sits in her small booster on the table. I break off bits of my potato, carrots, avocado, even bread and hand them to her. She sips out of my glass. We treat her as we would a respected guest. Her needs matter equally. I’ve noticed how placing her in the stroller creates a barrier to engagement. She becomes a bit dull. Her light and curiosity dims. Her eyes stare. When I carry Carly Elizabeth I can whisper, sing silly songs softly, rub my scratchy face against hers, every gesture reaffirms our engagement.
When I first met Joseph Chilton Pearce we discussed how children constantly check-in with parents to re-sync, to confirm that the meaning of this experience and the next is being shared. Engagement is our internal GPS, map and social-emotional campus. Being engaged means that I am not alone. Engagement pushes aside fear. It opens our hearts. By comparison slouching in a stroller, mom texting or staring at a tablet, hers or the baby’s, is isolation even sensory deprivation with its shadow fear. Engaged or not? Fear or love? That is the question and what is the price?
Steve Roberts, who calls himself a friend to leaders, began one of his best essays with:
A friend, leader in the climate change movement, tells me that a child born today will never fish in the ocean as an adult because oceans soon will be basically lifeless. He also says we're beyond being able to reverse the damage. Countless stories like this, challenging any sensible person's optimism about our planetary future, are part of our reality today. What's the healthiest action we can take in the face of them? What responses will best serve our highest potential? The starting point for me is this: I honor that we are killing the earth, and thus ourselves.
Steve continued by admitting that he has been a sober drunk for several decades. To honor that we are killing the earth, and thus ourselves is step one in the twelve step program. Steps two through twelve, our salvation, can’t even begin until step one is admitted with honor. My response to Steve follows.
I found it more than interesting; profound, really, that Steve juxtaposed our addictions with the global environmental crisis. Indeed, tons of research and the best book ever written on addiction, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Maté, makes it perfectly clear that our addictions along with rape, domestic violence, child abuse, greed, jealousy, gang violence, wars, and many if not most of our noninfectious dis-eases are symptoms of early attachment disorders. Attachment disorder is a sloppy way to say an impaired capacity to love. Follow the string and it is pretty clear that the current mass global extinction, the sixth and the fastest in history, is the result of humanity’s impaired capacity to love.
Steve mentioned ‘lifeless’ oceans. Jacque Cousteau, best known for his care of the world’s oceans, said simply: we protect the things we love. If we never discover what love is there is nothing to protect except what we think will satisfy our hungry ghost, the objects of our addictions with its greed.
Krishnamurti observed that the outer society-culture is a reflection of our inner development, or lack of it. If an impaired capacity to love is the norm, and that may be so, trying to save the environment is a joke. As Gabor points out, substances are not addictive. A majority of Viet Nam vets used heroin, but only a fraction became addicted. If heroin caused addiction 100% would be addicts. Addiction is caused by our hungry ghosts. Our early attachment disorders with its impaired capacity to love is the source of our individual and global crisis, not the stuff.
The only force strong enough to save us and all the other species tittering on the edge is love. Carly Elizabeth and all the children of all the species can’t love by themselves. They catch love and develop love by relating with those who love, what Joseph Chilton Pearce calls the model imperative. Every capacity and love is at the top, must have a model that awakens and develops that capacity in relationship. We are pushed up against the wall. More fear is suicidal. Comparison is fear. Jealously, greed, me and mine, the entire ego structure, politics, mainstream media and wars are all fear. Humanities fear, not love, is the cause of our crisis. You want to do something about the global crisis, show you children that love, with its implicit intelligence is stronger than fear, in all your relationships, every day. That and only that will meet and negate the crisis at its root.
I went to several sources to find a working definition for LOVE:
…a feeling of strong, constant and unselfish care and affection and compassion for the wellbeing of others. Ancient Greeks identified four forms of love: kinship or familiarity, family (in Greek, storge), friendship (philia), sexual or romantic desire (eros), and self-emptying or divine love (agape).
I was struck by self-emptying and unselfish. This rare quality changes the meaning we often apply to that word profoundly. The absence of self and selfishness negates the all too familiar ‘I love you,’ with its subject ‘I’ and object ‘you.’ With no self as a center (no subject) there can be no you or other (as an object). Where then is this strong and constant feeling of affection, compassion and well-being directed? When the self as we know it disappears which is essentially fear, love expands, encompassing everything!
Buddhists describe having compassion for all sentient beings. That is my goal, to help Carly Elizabeth identify with life, all of it, as the native cultures have done for centuries. My wish for Carly Elizabeth is that she feels so safe, so secure and so engaged with life that she doesn’t need to armor herself, protect herself with an image, that she can play with and care for life in all its forms with boundless affection - bunnies, trees and grumpy old men with scratchy beards.
One of your best.
At the heart of our addiction to nonsense and the reality that it spawns or the reality that spawns nonsense with its violence is the nonsense-identity that is poured out of the tea pot at the Mad Hatters party. We are quite mad. David Bohm, and smart he was, noted that concealment is the primary defense for our insanity. The system that is insane must, to survive, negate anything that challenges the sanity of the system. Your ‘I’m a drunk’ is the prerequisite to negating this concealment. Honoring that we are mad as hatters destroying everything like warms of starving locusts is the first step, Namaste in retrograde.
I, like you, lament that my seven month old daughter will likely never catch tadpoles and watch them morph into frogs, that the clouds that float overhead were sprayed the night before, that the food she eats isn’t really food, that in the end Orwell was a prophet, that media and consumerism demand a population cut off from the higher heart-brain centers of altruism and selfless affection, that what we call compulsory education was designed to do just that and is working perfectly.
Addiction, as you know, is not about the substance, booze, dope, sex, money, fame, power, as Gabor Mate, MD, a Canadian physician made so perfectly clear in the best book on addiction ever written, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Addiction is an attachment disorder. And what is attachment? Attachment is the nature and quality of our self-world view as that relates to everything. Attachment is a rather sloppy word for relationship, which is what? Life! Life is relationship! If our core relationship with life is flawed, retarded, limited, twisted, malformed, that is the way we relate to ourselves and like Midas this determines everything we touch, see and do. We are the enemy, Steve, you know that.
Indeed the oceans are dying, the delicate polyps that form the living foundation for life on the planet and everything that depends on these translucent intelligences are struggling like he bees and Monarch butterflies. Our Navy recently tested their microwave radiation death rays on the coral reefs off Hanalei Bay on Kauai. The coral reefs melted. Let’s honor our corporate-military-governments along with Monsanto and Wall Street for their attachment disorders, fear and their global addictions.
Jacques Cousteau, one who appreciated the oceans more deeply than most, noted: we protect the things we love. Failed attachment means an impaired capacity to love with our Medusa headed addictions sprouting in love’s absence. Rip out the capacity to love which our Frankenstein culture has done, the United States ranks near the very bottom of all developed nations in its care for women, families and children, and what remains is an increasingly narcissistic, sociopathic, clever, addicted intellect, the Mad Hatter on steroids willing to do anything to anybody or anything to feed its personified addiction. Love equals life. Addiction equals death. Which will it be?