Today we hear about the violent Earth—eruptions of fire, rogue waves, tremors, quakes, mega-storms, speeding walls of ocean water, weather like a rampaging berserker. But we accept without question the violence of humanity. We do not know this Earth as experience, in relationship, anymore than we know God as an authentic and intimate relationship-experience. For most, Earth is not a living truth but a warehouse of resources, exploited to supply senseless and even insane addictions. God is of less importance than a credit score or the rise and fall of the price of oil. We know sports, war, the way to the mall for a shopping spree, how to surf the web, how to buy and sell online. We are convinced that we cannot afford either universal healthcare or justice to end global poverty. But we can, through indifference, come to terms of compromise with proliferating manmade dead zones, deforestation and the endgame shrinkage of wilderness habitat.
It does not cross the adjusted urban mind, incarcerated in false values, to consider the Earth alive in itself, or herself; to embody as reality that we are embedded parts in a sensitive trust of interdependence; that God, as confronting otherness, is a living presence in search of dialogue, one able to enter into personhood where response and maturity are personally present. We do not empower Earth and God to become possible. We do not want Earth or God to interfere.
Instead, we continue to gossip and to cultivate a prurient obsession with media specials and virtual blueprints of accelerating apocalypse from our pornography of destruction. Increasingly we stimulate our bored and anxious, dismembered little lives with these speculations mirroring the diseased darkness of an anticipated fate. We delight in public nightmares of Earth revenge, with no accountability as to cause, and the horrors of divine judgment as manipulated entertainment viewed through a Hollywood lens. Why? Is it because our falling off is so extravagance, our guilt so heavy under the dense calluses of denial? Nowhere, it would seem, are there significant displays of humility; nowhere are there forums for the talking tears of biotic vulnerability and mutual suffering. But all the while, human violence intensifies and with violence the blindness of a civilization of ignorance and indulgence. If the truth is told, violence is our only progress—progress that has put itself outside and aggressively opposes both the processes of renewable natural life and the revelatory dynamics of life altering dialogue.
But come, if only beginning with this moment, dare and risk enough to cross the threshold of alterity and to look at our collective placement in cosmic time and space with a wayfarer’s honesty. Sixty-five million years of Earth work in evolutionary refining; sixty-five million years creating and maintaining elemental balance and regulating a super-abundance of diversity, not once under human control, not once influenced by human interference. Couple with this the soft story of an Earth-walker God, a creative dream maker, grand alchemist of an expanding universe, walking in the quiet evening garden of a good place—a miracle of rocks and waters, of flora and fauna, of teeming air and fecund soils. Not a story of violence, not a tale easily appreciated by those who are numb and distracted, and perhaps bored in captivity to the point of mass suicide; dulled and accustomed to spiritual torture and emotional deformity. And, to speak openly of horror, picture the narrative of God, evolution, Earth and universe, against the viral and voracious tidbit, the temporal micro-particle, of reason and progress, and the four hundred year only industrial quickening out of abundance into never again extinction; of wars of genocide and the total destabilizing war, The Ultimate War Unremitting, of biocide and geocide, waged through technologies of convenience, conveyance, consumption, corruption and mega-death.
Today we hear talk of the violent Earth. Today we accept without question or serious probing the consequences of the phenomenal violence of humanity—our loss of reverence, of relational-identity; our loss of place in the living scheme and wonderment of creation; our lack of dedication to healing acts of beauty and what Thomas Berry calls the “spontaneities within us.” The world’s politicians, whether among the better or the worst, do not genuinely address the imminent gospel of ecology, of eco-emergency and fundamental re-Earthing necessities; the world media does not report on ways to achieve good tidings of restorative ecosophy, or voluntary simplicity as a step toward eco-anamnesis and sanity for a sustainable biotic future. But the media focuses exclusively on the bloodshed, the oil spills and the leaking radiation of news as a fact sheet plotting for planetary catastrophe. Meanwhile, most of the human world stands placidly in place, waiting like masses of movie extras for the next nameless, faceless scene of victimization to be played out.
But how far must we go in our cult of violence to see the idols of violence worshipped for what they are? How stupid do we need to be before we are stuck by the stupidity of our intergenerational recklessness? If everything that was once in balance is now imbalanced, isn’t the ground itself precarious and moving dangerously under our feet? When everything is devoured, doesn’t starvation overtake the hungry? If a bear, or a tiger, or any natural entity, is attacked, will the living form not turn furiously for life’s sake, out of instinct, against its attacker? How much more than a bear or a tiger is the whole of the living Earth? How much one with the Earth, in Earth’s wounds and defilement, is the living God? And if God; whether a she or a he in each person’s vocabulary; is angry, consider how we, as species, rage incessantly against life, against creation. If Earth, responding to abuse; as a more than human mother witnessing the persecution and annihilation of her other than human children; is feverish and constricting into direful permutations, consider how we, as species, are abusers and thoughtless enforcers of dreadful changes.
Let each one take time out then and ask: Where on Earth now are my feet and how and why? Where and with what involvements are my hands? What of the soul, that has lost its eyes out of long term exile in the prison camps of the mind, in the dark exilic travail of history, but was before the seeing power of ancient shamans, prophets and poets, yet now is discredited, abandoned, even buried alive? And if not the heart’s felt-prayers of courage and humility; if not the outcry of shared vulnerability; breaking through the social misguidance of arrogance and extravagance, then what? If not compassionate affirmation, if not compassionate denouncement, what? If not an uprising of love and protest?
But go ahead! Go on! Talk objectively about the threat of the violence of the Earth, about the absence of mercy from God, as if the two were truly separate objects outside of who, what and how we are. After all, we have become dominate—dominators and yet pariah. .
Only please, do not simultaneously lay claim to innocence and think, like irresponsible adolescents, that we can play into the role of victim and attain a controlling adulthood by furthering madness; or think to find safety in narcissism, security in self-absorption. And do not keep repeating the error to absurdly believe that anyone will ever find redemption because their face is a smiley face. Earth in peril is not cute; God eclipsed is not politically correct or socially polite. What is happening here, in our time, is not a game.
To most, these words of pleading and passion are nothing. Denial will repress feeling and without feeling the words will not register. Many today are deaf out of loss, and lost in delusions of grandeur and entitlement. For some, perhaps an emerald or an indigo minority, there remain vestiges of deep and lingering instinct and grace, traces of a spontaneity of mutuality, images of flowering back to dreaming out of the depths; weeping and crying out in pain, chanting into circulating wind needful longing and arising out of meditative peace and centering to walk the Earth with the footprints and beauty of the returning and remembering human soul. Bringing back, let us imagine, the impossible possibility of life’s mysterious desire for the sensitive, upright and articulating celebration of a maturely responsive Self-overhearing. Of a species of scribes and poets, musicians and dancers.
27 March 2011