A Season For Reason
The following piece was initially posted for the "Figs In Season" page of my website (www.FigtreeEnterprises.com). "Figs In Season" focuses on inspiration for both our chronological and our kairotic journeys:
A Time to Grow...
Saying "I am not the same person I was yesterday"has become cliche for many persons realizing both the need for, and the constant challenges of growth. This season, with its themes of rebirth and resurgence, is a great time to pull out...dust off...and activate the inherent challenges and benefits of this potentially invigorating reflection. Stagnation is never a viable option. We are either growing or regressing, but we do not remain the same persons we were yesterday.
Time marches on, and because we exist in a dynamic universe we do not have what for some would be the comfortable option of remaining the same. This remains true for us all, even though some of us would contest it with every fiber of our being. Some of us embrace change, even look forward to it. Some of us cope with it as a matter of course, with a kind of "alright then" attitude. And then there are those of us who have change thrust upon us; ready or not... it comes, and we deal with it because we must.
Whether we like it or not, whether we are comfortable with it or not; things change. If you own a cellular phone, or a television, or some other cultural utility, you will attest to this. Nowadays before you learn your way around the newest iteration of your cell phone, it becomes obsolete. This applies to many things in our daily lives. Some of us embrace these changes, even look forward to them, hoping to somehow benefit from every advantage offered in the newest “thing”.
Some of us hold on to the old technologies, insisting that they still perform the “basic” functions so why bother. When the automatic transmission became the predominant trend in automobiles, some older drivers insisted that unless one could drive a “stick shift” with its clutch action and other cumbersome appliances, you couldn't really “drive”. Instead of embracing the new ease of operation and the opportunities it represented for those whose physical and other challenges were not the same as theirs, they just wanted things to stay the same.
The unreasonableness of this view not withstanding, some people just need to have their ingrained default positions /prejudices overridden. This is necessary for progress, and is as true for advances of a scientific nature as they are for cultural, political, religious, and other advances. Change is endemic in a dynamic universe. It is inevitable in our world. It happens, and when it comes it necessitates the demise of the status quo. We either embrace it, or it envelopes us and renders us functionally redundant. Not a good place to be.
Driven by the inherent tensions of a dynamic environment, every generation produces its crop of “seers” proclaiming the “end of the world”. We have seen a few of these only recently. From leaders of religious sects to perusers of the Mayan calendar, all proclaiming various end-times scenarios. Whether religious or quasi-scientific, these eschatological prognostications may all be traceable (in our psyches) back to the anxieties related to an inability to deal with inevitable changes in the natural, political, cultural, spiritual, and social order of things.
One may observe, on further examination, that such predictions are a result of the clashes between inescapable chronological /historical realities and our kairotic under-development. In other words, when we are unable to reconcile the changes around us with our own inability to grow, our worlds come crashing in. The events that mark these critical developments in human history are well documented in the transitional epochs of various societies and civilizations. The revolutions and other social upheavals that mark these transitions remain lessons we must continue to learn from.
We cannot escape the consequences of our proverbial “dogma” being over-run by our “karma”; when our unwillingness to adjust our point of view makes coping almost impossible. So, for example, in a culture where racism proliferates, a person of the oppressed class ascending to the highest office in the land presents those who insist on maintaining the status quo with a crisis of gargantuan proportions. It happens in economies where workers rise in revolution against bosses who make more in a day than they make in a year. The world as they know it ends, and the readjustments necessary to cope with the new reality is, to say the least, overwhelming.
The same thing happens in the cultural/political environment when persons of the same gender begin to insist on the same conjugal rights as heterosexuals; or the female politician in a patriarchally oriented society insists on the shattering of the “glass ceiling” of male dominated pre-eminence. It happens when "widow cleansing" is called by its real name “abuse”, wherever it occurs. It happens when women and girls insist on going to school when the males of those societies would rather they be uneducated and subservient. Why can't women be priests and bishops and cardinals and pope? I would ask why homosexuals are rejected for ordination, but you would laugh at me, and rightly so.
It is this crisis that drives reactionary groups having to deal with a new cultural/political reality to announce that they have come to take their country “back”. This backwardness of which they speak is not just a function of chronology, as in “back to a time when”; it also expresses a wanting to repeal the socio/political/ cultural advances that they now see as a threat to an old status-quo. It is what happens in the shift of power that then makes meaningful the declaration that every person “has a right to determine her/his own destiny".
The demands of change are no respecters of persons and their philosophical positions. Change moves us to an examination of all our positions. The only thing sacred in this process is its necessity. For every finger pointed, three points back at our own “sacred cows”. Change necessitates a thorough examination of our most dearly held biases. It forces conversations about our held beliefs on family, religion, gender and sexuality, race and nationalistic claims, and all the alliances we have come to take for granted. It calls into question all the convenient positions that we have built to maintain the status quo in our lives as individuals, groups, and nations.
We Must Change
Change requires us to make the adjustments that become necessary as a result of the reality that “all things are becoming new”. We change our clothes because physical and physiological dynamics dictate that we do. If we don't, our place in the socio-communal order becomes compromised. No one wants to be around tattered, stinking individuals. We shower to get rid of the dirt, the dead cells, and stench that results from our being in a demanding world. It is a re-freshing experience. We should all embrace it; but for many resisting change, the tatteredness of their general disposition is only superseded by the foulness of their bad behavior.
We change our minds because we should always be learning/ discovering new things. At some point we should accept the reality that the earth is not flat. At some point we discover that the place we occupy in this infinite universe is but a spec, all be it a most beautiful one, but a spec nevertheless in the grand scheme of things. Eventually we realize that each of us are but minuscule pieces in an unimaginably large puzzle. Minuscule, but essential pieces.
The role each of us can play in the functionality of this great puzzle which is life is not to be underestimated. Ask Gandhi. Ask Martin Luther King Jr. Ask Malcolm X. Ask Yeshua. Ask Moses. Ask Mandela. Ask a tired lady who refuses to give her seat up to a white man and move to the back of the bus to satisfy the demands of a racist society. Ask my grandmother...and yours.
In the light of new discoveries, the assumptions we made in ignorance about life, and the operations of day and night, the comings and goings of the seasons, and the oceans, and the stars, and each other,... must change. The historical assumptions that led some to deny others their rightful place in society based on pseudo-science, economic bias, and just straight up evil behavior, must eventually end up where they belong...on the garbage heap of history.
So we discover new things, and those discoveries require us to make needed adjustments in how we think, and believe, and in how we behave toward one another and the earth and the broader universe. To maintain old dogmas in light of ever emerging realities, is to create for ourselves unsustainable worlds of being. It is no surprise then that some end up being what I would call charlatans of unreality, others call them “prophets of doom”. The demise of things that they “predict”, has to do only with the very real unsustainability of their own world-views. Nothing else. Their world will end...must end, and we will all be witnesses to it.
At some point what I would call our old technologies of thought and behavior, become defunct. Our continued survival as dynamic presences in universal reality, will be...and is, a function of our willingness to be constantly growing, amenable to change. In order to grow we must cultivate in and around ourselves an ability to shed old ways of being, so that we are constantly emerging into, and ready for the challenges of an infinite universe.
The processes of growth allow us to emerge from the dysfunctions of a superstitious mindset, its protestations, and its proliferations; into being the cultivators of more viable lives, and a more sustainable society. This is the welcome fruit of a season of reason.
R. A. G.
Roy Alexander Graham
President/CEO, FIGTREE ENTERPRISES, INC.