When I was coming of age the nuclear threat hung over our everyday reality. The grownups were in charge of the world; I couldn’t understand why the grownups weren’t doing something! In my anguished child’s mind, I vowed that when I was a grownup, I would do something! If out of anger comes energy, then out of frustration can come movement.
When the frustration in a culture wracked with conscious or unconscious pain and a broken economy reached a critical mass, and became untenable, the Occupy movement emerged. ‘At last,' I thought, ‘people are angry! Good! They are mobilized! They are doing something!’ They were staging occupations, what we called a ‘sit in’ back in the day; but they weren’t just sitting in, they were moving in. I saw that their hearts were in the right place, but they were unorganized and lacked the savvy to sustain it and turn it into a movement. I have seen this before, and it is painful. And then a lone cop with a can of pepper spray aimed poison in the faces of young people exercising their constitutional right to assembly and free speech and there isn’t enough outrage! Now comes the police in their riot gear with marching orders to break up the Occupy movement. I momentarily revisit a massacre at Kent State University in 1970 and students gunned down by the National Guard. Is this still America? Is this still a democracy? My hope born so quickly is just as quickly dashed.
I was reminded of those too, who came to San Francisco with flowers in their hair, to dance, to sing and hoping to demonstrate to their elders that peace was the way and love was the answer. That we must love and carry another when necessary because “he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” And being my brother, in the solidarity of compassion—is enough. They were right—“all you need is love.”
(~The Mamas & the Papas; ~The Hollies; ~John Lennon and the Beatles.)
So where are those who now will demand a voice? Where are those with that same indomitable and idealistic courage? Where are those who fiercely believe in humanity’s ability to create its own brighter future? Where is the leadership? Where is the undaunted and steadfast fearlessness of youth? It is their world! Where is the determination? The will to change? Who will turn this inhumane human narrative into a humane one? We need a user friendly ecosystem. A user friendly humanity. A user friendly planet.
Is all truly lost? After a lifetime of intrepid ventures into the unthinkable to insist and amplify change, to educate, to turn it around, to make friends of the collective and dedicated “enemy,” after forays into places angels were too wise to go; am I now to give up on us? Am I to surrender the dream of seeing real change, collective stewardship and worldwide human unity, the planetary oneness promised in my lifetime? Was it a lie? Yet it is in every legend, every sacred text, in the caves of the ancients and the stories of the Indigenous.
And a new tribe from different travels has arrived on the scene and are being taken seriously, researched, recorded and written about. They are those who have returned from near-death experiences and excursions into otherworldly dimensions. Those back from beyond the threshold of death have all said the same thing: ‘what matters here, in this world and in this life is love. Only love.’ How we love, how much we love and how we embody love, matters. We are to become... love-become-flesh.
The means now exists to disperse this idea and create a critical mass in consciousness. The invention of the computer and the internet give us not just the technology, but brings the whole world into our lap. The Internet, with its information explosion, its social and other media reach— opens avenues to change, to revolution, perhaps even to love-o-lution. To things that were never before possible. We now have a circumstance that holds the inherent potential to create a critical mass in social, cultural and human consciousness. This potential can be conscripted in service to bright shadow instead of the dark one of history’s missteps and mistakes. It can (and has already) freed a trapped humanity from its oppressive bonds. It can herald stewardship instead of irresponsibility. It can move toward evolution, instead of devolution, of humanity itself. The means now exists to overthrow whatever shadow virus infects us and weakens our humane muscles, and give us a way to instead, encourage and showcase human brilliance. Human shadow and darkness has a long history; human bright shadow holds that same potential. We have a long way to go to overthrow inhumaneness and exchange it for compassion; so to catch up, we’d better get started.
All my life I have known and been told that big change is coming—that a revolution in human consciousness is on its way. It has been preached in pop culture and music “A Change is Gonna Come,” that the “Age of Aquarius” was on its way, that “We are the World” and we could “Heal the World.” A great change has even been predicted in the legends and stories of the Indigenous of the Earth. The Hopi Elders believe that we create the effects of our world and that there are 3 possible paths for the human race that will determine our future: the path of greed; the path of comfort and profit; the path of love, strength and balance. What would happen if instead of a default outcome, we together and deliberately chose which path we wish to pursue? If enough people, another kind of army, reaches critical mass and chooses a deliberate future, what world might we create? Gone then, is a default world, a default outcome.
(~Sam Cooke; ~The Fifth Dimension; ~Michael Jackson)
“Critical mass” describes an “event horizon” or tipping point from which there is no turning back. The original term “critical mass” comes from the science of nuclear fission and describes a chain reaction that when reaching a certain point, can no longer be contained. The term arrived along with the atomic bomb that once triggered, and reaching a certain point in the chain reaction of its atoms, was destined for explosion. No turning back. The term has spread to describe other events that reach a tipping point or point of no return.
One area where a looming tipping point is of great current concern is in the science of climate change; scientists worry that we are rapidly approaching a threshold, if we have not already crossed it, where a chain reaction will ensure an ecosystem where all life will be on the path to extinction.
Bullying too, that nasty “mean-girl” attitude and behavior, is another ecosystem with indifference to singular and collective dignity and humanity, which has infected youth and is epidemic in schools and civic programs. There is a lot of hand-wringing about the size and depth of this epidemic, its causes and cures. Much of this hand-wringing is by adults who are unaware of their complicity and guilt via the role modeling of aggression. They are oblivious to acts of bullying so ingrained in culture now as to be invisible to the naked eye.
Critical mass is not reserved just for hard science. Theoretical models suggesting this chain reaction can also occur in human and other consciousness began to emerge in the late seventies and early eighties as the “Hundredth Monkey phenomenon” (Hundredth Monkey- Ken Keyes© 1983) The theory was further extrapolated in Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic resonance which postulates that culture can undergo a social revolution when an idea is introduced and enough people adopt it. Modern philosopher Gregg Braden speaks of the “Isaiah Effect” and Max Planc identified it as the Matrix: "All matter originates and exists by virtue of a Force. We must assume behind this force a conscious, intelligent Matrix." Astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell calls it “Noetic Science” or “Nature's Mind.” Steven Hawking calls it “The Mind of God” and Lynn McTaggert named it, simply, “The Field.”
The place where this phenomenon is currently most visible and effective is in pop culture. Pop culture is fed by the platforms of wordsmiths, visual artists and social media. The terms have morphed in today’s jargon to “going viral,” which means something can take hold in culture by becoming a meme that travels around the world with lightning speed, and is soon known by the collective. We saw this occur when Michael Jackson’s death actually crashed the Internet as the news of his passing flashed round the world. He and his music were beloved by millions and the news sent hundreds of thousands of people weeping into the streets all over the world. Lady Diana Spencer’s death too, created a similar outpouring and critical mass.
Contemporary and Pop Culture then, is a prime vehicle ripe for significant change. Performance arts and media can become carriers for the spread of ideas gone viral. Film impacts millions of people in a short time. Memes can catch on like lightning and go viral via exponential growth, to be adopted by a culture seemingly overnight. Victor Hugo, writer and philosopher who penned Les Miserables said “there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” He also said “one resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas. According to modern philosophers, the formula for reaching critical mass of an idea requires one tenth of one percent of the population of Earth. If the population is currently stretching toward 8 billion, that means only 8,000 minds, thinking alike, are needed to change the world.
So is it too late for humanity? Are we too far gone? Can we find a way to emerge from the toxic soup we have made of our human ecosystem? Will the pressure of all the unconsciousness around us give us a sense of urgency to awaken from the illusion that all is well? It’s not. Are we consciously exploring this reality? Are we letting it seep in, sink in to our bones and live within us to shape us via the crucible of the willingness to not just bear witness to the fire, but stand in it? Do you feel the heat? Are we even capable of the temperature and temperament required—the warmth, the empathy, the mercy and kindness it would take to put the fire out?
How? What is the antidote? Compassion infused into a culture. Compassionate education to create a more humane narrative. Make compassion popular. Make it attractive. Make it a meme. First make it sexy to be compassionate; then make it the norm.
Can we find the will? The words? What words do Jiminy Cricket, Cinderella, the Wizard of Oz and Jesus have in common?
“Anything is possible if you only believe.”
So, believe! Fiercely.