And so we begin a new year. A new beginning of a new cycle in the new business of creating a new way to be human.
This needs to be, truly, a New Beginning. We can scarcely afford to continue the way we have been on this planet. Just about everyone knows that. The question is, what way shall be the new way? Or have we decided that the New Way needs to be the Old Way?
In America a new Congress takes over this month — a Congress, just having been elected, with a heavily Republican (read that: conservative) majority. In Syria and Iraq the self-labeled Islamic State has taken over the major cities of Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Mosul, and much of the land mass in between, imposing its interpretation of strict Islamic (read that: conservative) law. In eastern portions of Ukraine, a large portion of the local population apparently loyal to Russia — which has already taken complete control of the Crimean Peninsula, which Ukraine says is its territory — agitates to stop Ukraine’s apparently imminent move to membership in the more politically liberal NATO Alliance and retain the country’s more historic (read that: conservative) ties with Russia.
Everywhere we turn we see the same strain and struggle: the push-pull between liberal and conservative agendas and values, with conservatives in many places apparently winning the moment — either by utilizing physical force, or by the force of their ideas.
Does this seem like a time of New Beginnings birthing a New Tomorrow, or a time of Old Hanging-On’s, seeking an entrenchment in Yesterday? And this question, in turn, invites an examination and an honest exploration of the Question Behind the Question: How have Yesterday’s Values been working?
Well, um…not very well, thank you. I make the point in my latest book that none of the systems we have put into place to create a better life for all of us on this planet have produced the outcome for which they were designed.
It’s worse than that. They’ve actually produced exactly the opposite.
Our political systems — created to produce safety and security for the world’s people – have produced nothing but disagreement and disarray.
Our economic systems — created to produce opportunity and sufficiency for all — have produced increasing poverty and massive economic inequality, with 85 of the world’s richest people holding more wealth than 3.5 billion…that’s half the planet’s population…combined.
Our ecological systems — created to help us produce a sustainable lifestyle — have been abused so much that they are now generating environmental disasters right and left.
Our educational systems — created to lift higher and higher the knowledge base of the planet’s population — have produced a drop in global awareness and sensitivity that each year sinks our intellectual common denominator lower and lower. We can’t even remember our own telephone numbers anymore.
Our health care systems — created in hopes of producing a good and long life for an increasingly higher percentage of people — are doing little to eliminate inequality of access to modern medicines and health care services, thus actually providing top level medical services each year to a lower and lower percentage.
Our social systems — created to produce the joy of community and harmony among a divergent population — more and more generate and even encourage discordance, disparity, prejudice, and despair…to say nothing of rampant injustice.
And, most devastating of all, our spiritual systems — created to produce a greater closeness to God, and so, to each other — have produced bitter righteousness, shocking intolerance, widespread anger, deep-seated hatred, and self-justified violence.
What gives here? What’s going on with the human race that it cannot see itself even as it looks at itself? Where is humanity’s blind spot?
Might it be time to ask: “Could there be something we don’t fully understand here about God and about Life, the understanding of which would change everything?”
Why we are so bent, in such large numbers, on returning to the Ways of the Past when we can see with the slightest glance that those methods, and the values which sponsored them, have produced nothing but failure after failure?
We are hell-bent on repeating our past for the simple reason that at least it’s familiar. Our fear of the Unknown is greater than our fear of repeating what we already know to be dysfunctional.
And so, those who would invite us to finally abandon our Old Values by putting their failures right in front of our face have forever been marginalized — and even demonized. And so we have ridiculed, ostracized, and even killed everyone and anyone who would dare tell us that the Emperor is wearing no clothes. We will not have anyone ripping us from our illusions about how wonderful our Old Values were and are.
So we killed Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and Harvey Milk and virtually every revolutionary who chided us and invited us to look at ourselves and to admit, finally, that what we were doing, and how we were living, was simply, by any reasonable set of moral values, not right.
Just as today we can see that it is not right that 842 million people (one in eight in the world) will not have enough to eat today. It is not right that over 650 children die of starvation every hour on this planet. It is not right that 20.9 million women and children are bought and sold into commercial sexual servitude every year.
It is not right that over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day, or that billions have no access to health care. (Some 19,000 children die each day from preventable health issues, such as malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia.) It is not right that 1.7 billion people lack clean water, or that 2.6 billion live without basic sanitation, or that 1.6 billion people—a quarter of humanity—do not even have electricity.
That’s right. In the first quarter of the twenty-first century, 2.6 billion people live without toilets, and 1.6 billion without electricity. How is this possible?, you might ask. In the first quarter of the 21st Century…in the beginning of what has been hailed as the New Millennium…how is this possible?
That is a very good question. It is an especially good question given that humanity imagines itself to be a “civilized” species. To the people in the above categories, the “civilization of Civilization” has not even begun.
Of course, we know from the messages in Conversations with God that there is no such thing as “right” and “wrong.” There is only “what works” and “what does not work,” given what it is that we are trying to do. So, by using the more commonly employed term “not right” in the above exploration, we are expressing the view that it is simply not working to continue living and operating under humanity’s Old Values if what we are trying to do is produce a better life for us all.
A planet where 5 percent of the population owns or controls 95 percent of the wealth and resources — and where most of that 5 percent think this is perfectly okay, even as unconscionable numbers languish in lack and suffering — would not seem to be a planet on which a great deal of humanitarian advancement has been achieved.
All of this is possible because of the collective values of those people who can do something about it. And where do those values come from? I suggest they derive in large part from the well-intentioned, but mistaken, Old Beliefs about Life and about God — and the Old Values that have sprung up because of them.
Clearly, somebody or something has to come along to challenge those Old Beliefs. Clearly, it is time for the Awakening of Humanity. Yet who will engage in, who will join in, that process? And why should anyone dare to do so?
The answer to the second question is this: There is a very good and very valuable and very powerful personal reason for joining in the movement to advance the evolution of our species. Such an activity produces the forward movement of each individual’s personal and spiritual evolution.
No one who seeks to assist in producing a greater experience of Life for another fails to create a greater experience of Life for themselves. This is true at every level: spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological. One produces the other, inevitably — and often it is unclear which comes first. More likely it is a circle, in which the effect of one action produces the effect of the other, and the effect of each generates the expression of both.
And so we encounter the beginning of a New Year…which we can each of us decide is the Time of New Beginnings for every one of us individually, and for all of us collectively. As always…the choice is ours.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a five-part series by Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch on the role of today’s Cultural Creatives in the evolutionary process now unfolding on the Earth with increasing intensity.)
In the opening installment of this series of articles I made the observation that I could not remember a time during my half century of adulthood (and my 71 years altogether) when the average human being on this planet found herself or himself looking directly into the face of more stressful events, circumstances, and situations than those now presenting themselves daily around the world.
I posed the question: What is the spiritually evolved response to these kinds of circumstances? I talked of not only our daily bombardment with illustrations of the dark side of life at every turn, but, as well, the pressures building in just about every individual’s personal life. Family finances. Job losses. Forced relocations. Relationship challenges. Dementia tragedies.
I said that our initial spiritual response to all of this depends, it seems to me, on whether we choose to play our role consciously or unconsciously. That is, whether we choose to be active or passive in the creation of our tomorrows (both individually and collectively). And that choice appears to me to depend on how each of us sees the experience of Life itself; on what we imagine to be its origin, its purpose, its function, and its process. Let’s take a look at that here.
I have come to an awareness within myself that before any of us can consider that question, we must answer an altogether different question that we must ask of ourselves.
In my view, you cannot really explore or examine how you see the experience of Life itself until you explore and examine how you see yourself WITHIN that experience.
That is, Who are you? What is your real and true identity?
It seems to me that you have two choices when it comes to how you think of yourself.
Choice #1: You could conceive of yourself as a chemical creature, a “logical biological incident.” That is, the logical outcome of a biological process engaged in by two older biological processes called your mother and your father.
If you see yourself as a chemical creature, you would see yourself as having no more connection to the larger processes of life than any other chemical or biological life form.
Like all the others, you would be impacted by life, but could have very little impact on life. You certainly couldn’t create events, except in the most remote, indirect sense. You could create more life (all chemical creatures carry the biological capacity to recreate more of themselves), but you could not create what life does, or how it “shows up” in any given moment.
Further, as a chemical creature you would see yourself as having very limited ability to create an intentioned response to the events and conditions of life. You would see yourself as a creature of habit and instinct, with only those resources that your biology brings you.
You would see yourself as having more resources than a turtle, because your biology has gifted you with more. You would see yourself as having more resources than a butterfly, because your biology has gifted you with more.
You would see yourself as having more resources than an ape or a dolphin (but, in those cases, perhaps not all that many more), because your biology has gifted you with more. Yet that is all you would see yourself as having in terms of resources.
You would see yourself as having to deal with life day-by-day pretty much as it comes, with perhaps a tiny bit of what seems like “control” based on advance planning, etc., but you would know that at any minute anything could go wrong—and often does.
Choice #2: You could conceive of yourself as a spiritual being inhabiting a biological mass—what I call a “body.”
If you saw yourself as a spiritual being, you would see yourself as having powers and abilities far beyond those of a simple chemical creature; powers that transcend basic physicality and its laws.
You would understand that these powers and abilities give you collaborative control over the exterior elements of your individual and collective life and complete control over the interior elements—which means that you have total ability to create your own reality, because your reality has nothing to do with producing the exterior elements of your life and everything to do with how you respond to the elements that have been produced.
Also, as a spiritual being, you would know that you are here (on the earth, that is) for a spiritual reason. This is a highly focused purpose and has little to do directly with your occupation or career, your income or possessions or achievements or place in society, or any of the exterior conditions or circumstances of your life.
You would know that your purpose has to do with your interior life—and that how well you do in achieving your purpose may very often have an effect on your exterior life.
(For the interior life of each individual cumulatively produces the exterior life of the collective. That is, those people around you, and those people who are around those people who are around you. It is in this way that you, as a spiritual being, participate in the evolution of your species.)
So which of these two choices describes how you see and experience yourself?
In my third installment, I will share with you my own answer to this question, and we will look at the implications of your choice, and of the collective choices made by all of us, as they affect all of us. And make no mistake…they do.
It is very clear to me that the choice that you, individually, and all humans collectively, make bears directly on the initial question that started this whole inquiry: What is the most spiritually evolved response to all that is happening in our personal and collective lives during this unbelievable challenging time?