Things have gotten rocky.
To say the least.
What seems to be happening (as it appears to me) is that fundamentalists of all kinds all over the world have, over the past few years, begun extremely flipping out over changes in climate, society, economics, communication, civil rights, etc.
In response to massive change they perceive as threatening, what they want is to go backward.
To return to “fundamentals.”
To return to the “fundamentals” of their particular readings of all the Big Texts — constitutions and religious tracts — that explain that authoritarian structures are the only ways to make and preserve societies.
The fundamentalists also seem willing (and, by the way, also apparently hopped-up on self-righteous pride in their determination) to go to any lengths of lawlessness and destruction in their determination to go backward into the authoritarianism, same-ness, “purity,” nationionalism, exclusion, regimentation that they maintain will “protect” and “preserve” their societies/ways of life/loved ones.
What do we do about that?
Here’s what I think:
1. No one knows for sure what works, and what . . . if anything . . . can stop these guys. (You know which guys I mean. All the ones hell-bent on their own missions to “return” civilizations to “when they were great.” From the Taliban right down to the administration currently running America.)
2. Your guess, and your weariness, and your fear are therefore as good as mine about what might work in keeping us from getting the clock rolled back to the Dark Ages. (Or to the primordial muck before humans appeared on the planet.)
3. THAT YOUR DESPAIR IN NOT KNOWING THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS DOES NOTHING TO HELP YOU.
We gotta get real here, people.
Let’s imagine the very worst things happen: you and me and our loved ones are faced with death and destruction.
Which, when we take a breath and calm down, we gotta realize IS GOING TO HAPPEN ANY WAY. Even if we have the best President in the World in charge of The Whole World for years and years and years . . . . we all die. Anway. Every single one of us. And so do our kids. And our grandkids.
That is how the whole thing works.
And always has.
What does that mean here?
Why, that the stakes are always the same.
That there is, in essence, NOTHING different in what we face, in the cravenness and nuts-ness and hubris of fundamentalists’ threats (and actualities) in our faces right now than what we face when the world is running more to our liberal likings.
In both cases — and ALWAYS — we are mortal, no matter what. And our time and choices of how we spend our time are always necessarily limited by that simple, crucial, unalterable fact.
In either case, in any case, and in every day and every moment, the essential questions are exactly the same: Who are you and what therefore are the ways you think are important to live your one and only life?
4. And here’s where–in answering those critical questions, so that we can decide how to live our lives most purposefully and integrity-filled–we gotta watch out for more fundamentalist voices.
We are ham-strung in this process by our own fundamentalist inner voices.
(Which, by the way, are very responsible for a key reason we get so triggered over and over and over again by all the screeds and decrees and actions of political and religious fundamentalists: we project onto them . . . the grotesque characters we see them as . . . all the hatred and fear and resentment and self-loathing that our own insecurities–fundamentalist inner voices–generate about ourselves in ourselves.)
You know your fundamentalist voices. The ones who tell you that you cannot, that you should not, that you are selfish, that you are ignorant, that you are powerless, that you are dangerous, that you are stupid, that you are misguided, that you do not adequately understand, that you are wrong . . . THAT YOU ARE SOMEHOW FUNDAMENTALLY INADEQUATE EVER TO GET BIG THINGS REALLY RIGHT . . . that you should be afraid, that your imagination and your intuition are twits that should not to be listened to.
And you know there are more.
All the negative self-talk that clutters your minutes, days, weeks, months, years.
All the voices inside that tell you, “No. You cannot do that. Do not change.”
That tell you to stay the same.
That tell you not to try.
Especially when you are doing something particularly new and brave that you have no idea how will turn out.
Like fighting against fundamentalist voices.
Unfortunately, that’s when they get the loudest.
When they feel threatened by your imminent change away from what they’ve been telling you for years. Decades.
No one wants to feel like they’re losing their position of safety, authority, control.
So, when you are feeling overwhelmed and scared in doing anything brave . . . traveling, living your life differently, creating, fighting autocrats, for examples . . . listen carefully to what kind of voices are telling you that you suck and you will fail and you won’t know enough to be able to make a difference.
That you should not go forward.
That you should not live your life in a way that others disagree with.
That other authority figures know better.
Recognize them as your inner fundamentalist voices.
The scared internal forces forces that do not want you to change.
And please, please, please . . . (yes, I am really actually kind of begging you here, on all of our behalves) . . . listen instead to the braver, kinder voices inside of you . . . and do your brave thing, anyway.
It’s all we can do.
Be radically brave and creative and committed to how we choose to live our lives.
Choose not to be afraid.
And if that’s too tall an order, choose to do–anyway–what scares you.
It’s the bravest and boldest thing you can do.
No matter what.
Which will also . . . even if you cannot always see any direct evidence of it happening, and especially not right away . . . provide a light and an example for others of How To Be Brave. Which, in its own intangible and mysterious way, helps power more and more change. And, in my book, makes us kinds of heroes.