Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Inherent Tensions of an Ever-Changing World

Driven by the inherent tensions of a dynamic environment, every generation produces its crop of seers proclaiming the end of the world. From leaders of religious sects to perusers of the Mayan calendar, they all proclaim 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. When we are unable to reconcile the changes around us with our own inability to grow, our worlds come crashing in. This is always an uncomfortable reality. The inevitable tearing down of the walls that maintain the status quo creates a shaking that unsettles those unwilling to facilitate the emerging new order of things. 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. Hippocrites have built guarantees into their statusquoisms designed to facilitate their own existential challenges.
It is the inevitability of change 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. We have come to expect this dynamic to play itself out in the shift of power that then makes meaningful the declaration that every person has a right to determine her/his own destiny. Change, like any meaningful process of growth, is uncomfortable.  It demands new structures of being and  a reorientation of  our traditional mindsets. Storing new wine in old wine skins is never a viable proposal.
The demands of change make no exceptions for the unpreparedness of intransigent persons and their stale philosophical positions. Change prods us, in some cases... forcefully pushes us, toward a thorough examination of all our positions. The only thing sacred in this process is its necessity. For every anxious finger pointed at the new demands of an emerging new order of things, there are three pointing back at us and our own sacred cows.

Changing times necessitate a thorough examination of our most dearly held biases. They require, and force conversations about our most firmly held beliefs on family, religion, gender and sexuality, race, nationalistic claims; and all the alliances we have come to take for granted in our old sacrosanct world. It calls into question all the convenient  positions that we have built to maintain the status quo in our lives as individuals, as groups, and as nations.

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