We are in a shitstorm and no one knows 100% what is going to happen.
We are in a shitstorm of a mess on a global scale. I imagine it feels like a world war without a classic enemy.
We sit in the middle of this shitstorm with evidence of results-of-war-like devastation and destruction all around us., in the mess and tragedy that is covid19*, in the mess and tragedy that is the fires in Greece, Bulgaria, US, Canada and Turkey, flooding in Sudan, North Korea and Iran , humanitarian crises in Yemen and Tigre, the Rohingya refugee crisis, the Climate Catastrophe that has been glaringly obvious and now starkly stated.
It’s a shit ton of hard, right here, right now. It’s healthy that we are scared right now. It’s right that our systems are in deep distress that we are on the lip, or already part way down the bowl of irrevocable change.
Each of us live in an animal body that is responding in a physiologically sound way to this shitstorm, this unavoidable change; it’s reading the threat all around us and is preparing us to do something about it.
Classically, humans get hunkered down in the face of overwhelming hard and wrong. We take our fear and we polarise. We become right and the others, wrong. We become good and the others, bad. The stronger the fear the more polarisation and the less room there is for discernment and the grace required to reach each other.
Yesterday I was told I lacked compassion and intelligence, that I had been brainwashed because I disagreed that having a vaccination card meant I was living in a place that is becoming a totalitarian state. There is a distinct lack of grace and nuance there. My disagreement was grounds for making me not only wrong, but bad and defective. The righteousness and high emotional tone, the emboldened inhumane response that was in that brief and in my experience, typical exchange, is likely when shadow is present.
Shadow is the unknown, hidden and often, but not always, negative parts of ourselves. Shadow is the parts of us that we are unable to consciously own and therefore hide from conscious view. These parts, although hidden, are alive in our psyche and work through us in sneaky ways, looking for attention. They are, when they erupt, often accompanied by strong feelings, undifferentiated blobs of tangled thinking and confusion. It’s very much a wtf presence. In that presence we need to find a reason for this wtf?ness often leads the shadow engulfed person to want to find someone to blame.
It might look like this. I am scared. There is so much going on that is unsettling and it feels like a big fucking mess and I can’t face these fears because I risk overwhelm. I need to find a source for my fear because I think feeling scared is somehow wrong or weak and I think acting from fear is a failing. I look to find something that matches the big scared/unsettled feelings I have. It’s got to be someone or something “out there”. And so we look for an enemy, a bad guy to take responsibility.
We look to match the intense (and remember highly valid) feelings we have and so we need a BIG bad guy, a big pharma or a big government or even better still a big international cabal of shady figures that reaches everywhere, that and only that, matches the intensity we are feeling. Just because the feeling that everything is wrong is matched by stories about cabals, and communist plots and and... and doesn’t make any of those stories true, it makes us scared and at risk of manipulation. It makes us want to protect ourselves and damn everyone else, which in a culture that prides individualism and names community values as communist is a pretty easy reach. It makes us scared and we take a grain of truth and build a whole sandcastle out of it. For example, Bill Gates plan to microchip us all via vaccines. Yes, his funding was, at one stage going towards seeing if there could be a way of tracking vaccine records but not personal information. It was in the research phase and has not been actioned but man the idea that one of the richest men in the world who controls computers could one day have information to track me inserted into me and I wouldn’t know … well that’s bloody scary. If I read that information from someone important (like an ex advisor to the then president…who sounds plausible….I might feel like my fears, my uncertainty was now justified and I would perhaps look for more proof.
So let’s pause for a bit.
I have been a nurse. I no longer practice. I didn’t like a lot of what I saw in the medical system and big pharma. I didn’t like vaccinations while I felt there was some leeway in my choice. I have a healthy side eye for everything I encounter. Expecting something to be all good is something I reluctantly grew out of some time ago. It hurts to see corporate greed and self interest in the world. Sitting with the discomfort of the ambivalence, the good and bad in just about everything is tough.
But it’s not lying.
All that to say I mistrust big pharma, I question a lot, A LOT about medical systems but I can bear the nuance that mostly there is reason to engage in the efforts that are being made to keep me safe. Why do I believe that? Because the capacity to bear the truth that we are in a terrible situation matters. The need to find a bad guy to explain, an enemy to fight in this catastrophe, is not nuanced and well, responsible enough, to make the slim chances we have left matter.
We have to develop a capacity to tend to our shadow. To come alongside our own fear and our automatic responses to fear and learn to navigate them with less blame and projection and more nuance. The drive to polarise to good and bad to right and wrong takes us out of community and connection, things that soothe and settle our nervous systems and responses, and into enmity and mistrust, things that activate our nervous systems and make us more likely to be reactive and act from a primitive defensiveness.
What if then, the enemy was both outside us; the harm of global warming and the very real (yes I know people who are suffering because of corona virus) harm of Covid19, and within us; our lack of capacity to tolerate our discomfort and fear.
What if we developed the capacity to meet discomfort with nuance and a thought for both ourselves and our values and also our community. What if it was time to stop blaming everyone else for the shitstorm and picked each other up and got to work cleaning it up?
(*and if you think the virus is a hoax then it’s likely you won’t like what I write from here on in but I’d love it if you could tolerate the discomfort of reading the information on shadow because it might be useful, even if to explain why what I am writing makes you angry.)