Transition: On Letting Go & Wetiko

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If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down.” ~Toni Morrison

The dissolution of wetiko will be as much about remembering as it will be about creation.” ~ Alnoor Ladha, Martin Kirk

In our time of disturbance and radical change, we are crossing a threshold, a portal, or an unseen bridge from one world to another. It could be said that the bridge is either collapsing beneath us, or being made as we walk together, in the long twilight hours when one civilization gives way to another.” ~ Geneen Marie Haugen

The New World fell not to a sword but to a meme.”~ Daniel Quinn

As this amazing post by one of my last years’ Soulcraft guides (Geneen Marie Haugen) mentions, I sometimes don’t know whether I am in a collapsing world and my work is that of hospice worker (or “death doula”) helping the systems and structures to collapse in ways that don’t create so much pain, fear and despair; or I am in an emergent one, where my work is to build new bridges and, as this article on wetiko wisely mentions, I am one of the warriors in charge of dreaming and creating the new “meme”, one where the old one (the wetiko meme) is destroyed not with a fight, but with the intentional living, creating and sharing in a radically different way…

As Geneen shares in her article, I too feel confused. In her case, she has dedicated her entire life to the study and practice of eco-spirituality and eco-psychology; in my case, I only started to “wake up” six years ago and it seems as this “wrong dream” as they want to call it in Pachamama Alliance’s “Awakening the Dreamer” has much more tentacles than an octopus and is really stubborn. I am discovering new nuances and biases, tricks and traps all the time…both around and outside as well as inside of myself

That is why I want to commit this year to letting go and transitioning away from old patterns and attachments no longer work. As someone who has lost too many things too many times, I tend to attach myself to “stuff” and people. Not the fancy stuff marketed to us as crazy from malls, TVs and other outlets (I don’t watch TV, rarely go to malls and are used to not to respond well to marketing of any kind)…but I do attach myself to dying or unrealistic projects, too many courses and trainings, books and even people who instead of lifting me up and inspiring me, seem to have the opposite influence, so I spend a lot of time “fighting” and trying to accommodate myself and please, for fear to lose what I earned with so much effort…I also attach myself to things that I have collected or created because I tend to think about discarding as a waste and a disrespect to the source of those materials: as an example, I collect every single glass container I can get my hands on, not only I like their shapes, I also plan (dream) to someday to do something creative and useful with them…until I notice I have no more space to put them!

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Letting go, however, is a requirement for new things to have a place to come in…we occupy “space” and are cluttered not only in our physical spaces at home, work, school, etc. but also in our heads, schedules and spiritual/emotional realms.

Being cluttered doesn’t allow us to explore new things, keep us attached to the past and to what doesn’t work anymore. It acts in many ways as a protective shield that keeps us comfortable and “safe” but also stagnant and unable to take radical steps.

The process has nothing to do with the approaches promoted by New Age advocates (“save ourselves” type). These advocates and practitioners tend to think that by going “pure” they will avoid all the evil in the world (wetiko). The problem is that they risk becoming self-righteous and judgmental, or plain frivolous and selfish privilege ones who create more problems that what they think are solving: there’s nothing wrong with becoming vegan if you study what’s behind the grains and veggies you eat and make choices that are not only sustainable in an environmental way, but also socially just. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know other cultures but taking a flight cost us all and future generations (including ecosystems and other species a lot of emissions and pollution. There’s nothing wrong with meditation retreats or going off the grid, just note that those are privileged choices that risk to delude ourselves on thinking we are doing OK when we are actually being a bit selfish and detached from the reality of those who have no way to escape the MatrixBut I am digressing…

I am more of a “transitioner” thinker when approaching the let go and declutter tasks: throwing away all the plastics we have at home won’t reduce the plastics in the world or the pollution they cause. Many of the crocheting material I am using comes from acrylic and other fossil fuels sources, yet throwing them away will only cause more pollution…I think we need to owe our own wetikos and realize we all carry the seed (read this article to understand wetiko better). I also think that a transition is more about what we reject and how we decide to use and dispose of stuff from now on than about getting rid of all what doesn’t agree with our values and sending all of it to the neighbour’s backyard (or, as it will really happen, to the oceans and landfills and poorer countries where children will risk their health to mine whatever is left of the original materials)

Using the analogy of de-cluttering stuff, I also want to address the “other” de-cluttering: how are we “de-cluttering” ourselves from relationships, structures and systems that no longer serve us? And how fair and helpful is that for us and the others being affected by the process?

I find myself with mix feelings when I see people sharing that they will completely disconnect themselves from social media, or will go off the grid and hide themselves from the world, or when they say they are outside of BAU (business as usual) and the IGS (industrial growth society)…how do they manage and how their privilege to do so affect the rest who are still entangled and unable to “de-clutter” and “disconnect” from the matrix because of so many interseccional issues (poverty, debt, race, ethnia, ability, gender, lack of access to resources, health, etc.?)

So as you see, I don’t have the answers. I think we walk  a road that has never been paved or signaled, a road that doesn’t even exist in front of us. We are all delusional when we think we know what’s ahead: both the doomers and the ones promoting BAU are wrong, as the hyper positive ones who are certain we are just on the brink of a New Era where everyone will live happy ever after are wrong: what makes a difference between the two opposites (and the BAU in between) is the choices we make today.

At the individual level, this may mean (for me) to choose whether I will continue collecting glass containers forever or I’ll start using them. Or to continue in a certain workplace or taking certain courses. For you may mean other choices of how you deal from now on with plastic or other unsustainable and toxic stuff (yes, that includes people who you may not be ready or prepared to handle)…at the collective level this means how we continue making choices about housing, transportation, food, energy, land use and our relationship with other species and peoples; or how we connect and communicate with others, make decisions, solve conflicts and so on…

Throwing “away” stuff without thinking on the consequences this has for others (ecosystems, peoples, future generations) is not an option. Giving things or selling (another option) when the reason behind the choice is “getting rid of things that are not good, not sustainable” is just another way of being selfish and irresponsible: “here, get all the plastics I no longer want in my life” is a poor choice…and this applies to many other decluttering ideas if you think about it (including spiritual, emotional, relational and time-use decluttering)…

The only way we can start living as community (as other species do) is by being responsible for the messes and bad choices we created in the past, acknowledging our abuses, oppressions, privileges and biases, and working on the choices, attitudes and behaviours we want to own today…

One step at a time and with self and towards others compassion…

Sometimes the nearly unbearable beauty of the world overwhelms me. I tremble with a felt-sense that the magnificence that saturates the cosmos surely reflects the possibility, even now, of human magnificence. And then, as if I’ve crossed an invisible bridge to a waypoint of despair, I wonder how the mysterious, self-organizing wild Earth can peacefully co-exist with the absurdities and catastrophes of human invention.”

http://www.hcn.org/issues/49.18/politics-pledge-allegiance-to-the-earth-not-a-flag

Some years ago, in a canyon not far from where I write, I heard or sensed an invitation—a directive—which was something like “occupy imagination,” and which accompanied a strong image of thousands, or million, or billions of intelligent creatures intentionally envisioning and participating in what Thomas Berry calls “the dream of the Earth.” As if our world is shaped not only by our physical interventions and industry, but also by how we (including the other-than-human beings) imagine, dream, and think.”

From: https://www.garrisoninstitute.org/blog/wild-faith/

Plato believed that ideas are the ‘eyes of the soul.’ Now that the veils obscuring wetiko are starting to be lifted, let us give birth to, and become, living antigens, embracing the polyculture of ideas that are challenging the monoculture of wetiko capitalism. Let us be pollinators of new memetic hives built on altruism, empathy, inter-connectedness, reverence, communality, and solidarity, defying the subject-object dualities of Cartesian/Newtonian/Enlightenment logic. Let us reclaim our birth right as sovereign entities, free of deluded beliefs in market systems, invisible hands, righteous greed, chosen ones, branded paraphernalia, techno utopianism and even the self-salvation of the New Age. Let us dance with thought-forms through a deeper understanding of ethics, knowing, and being,23 and the intimate awareness that our individual minds and bodies are a part of the collective battleground for the soul of humanity, and indeed, life on this planet. And let us re-embrace the ancient futures of our Indigenous ancestors that represent the only continuous line of living in symbiosis with Mother Nature. The dissolution of wetiko will be as much about remembering as it will be about creation.”

4 thoughts on “Transition: On Letting Go & Wetiko

  1. Hi Silvia. I just wanted you to know that my colleague and I are using this article with the students we will be teaching this semester. We are trying to inspire our student to think critically about how they can use social work positions to help reweave caring, inclusive communities…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great Carol! I’m learning a lot on the topics of oppression and privilege and how things started to be like they are from my year-long training as facilitator for the Work that Reconnects

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      1. I would love to hear more about what you are learning in your work. You might be interested in another article we will be asking students to read. It’s by Bruce Luske (1998). “Are we all dumb cattle to be branded and corralled?”: Social inequality and praxis in the college classroom. (published in Perspectives on Social Problems, Vol. 10, pages 117-151.) Although a bit dated, it describes a fascinating critical ethnographic study about privilege and oppression, how quickly systems of inequality can be replicated in a class, and how difficult it is to change them.

        Liked by 1 person

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