My Dear Friends,
While I feel my heart open in appreciating the beauty and magnificence of life, a large part of me continues to feel sad at some of the dreadful things currently going on in the world. Right now, I think of the increasing proliferation of conspiracy theories.
Yes, in no way unintelligent friends of mine, many not unspiritual – I call them “conspiritualists”(!) – are sending me emails telling me that everything Q Anon says is true, that the earth really is flat, that the pandemic is a huge hoax, that Bill Gates is planning to take over the world (twenty years ago, it was Rockefeller that got clobbered), that the Jewish millionaire George Soros is plotting to destroy Hungary through the deliberate importation of migrants, i.e., that he wishes to replace white Christian Europeans with brown-skinned Muslims! I have not the slightest doubt that this is what they believe.
I also think of the atrocities currently occurring in Hong Kong and of Boris Johnson not taking a stand against what is happening, indeed beginning to behave more and more like Donald Trump every day. I think of China detaining a million Muslims in camps to re-indoctrinate them and no one challenging them, and my heart weeps when I think of all those acres of the Brazilian rain forest and California and Oregon burning, and I think these flames reflect the fiery conflagration in so many people’s hearts and minds today.
But it also seems as if we, the people, are all so “asleep” that we only wake up and realise that we might need to do something ourselves to address these kinds of issues if terrible tragedies happen that touch us personally! Indeed, it took the killing of a Black man by a policeman leaning on his neck to give new life to the highly important movement of “Black Lives Matter”, just as it took women being so angry at the antics of Harvey Weinstein, that led to the emergence of the “Me Too” movement.
I ask myself this question. Do we really feel that as human beings there is nothing we can do to make a difference? Or are we just lazy or too uninterested in what is really going on in the big bad world outside our own narrow range of focus, that we only “wake up” if, as I just said, something directly impacts us? What is it about so many of us – and as a sports aficionado I include myself at times here – whereby our biggest concerns evolve around issues like whether Manchester City will win against Real Madrid or if our real estate is going to go up in value or not!
Levels of Consciousness
Perhaps the answer lies in our level of consciousness. Put simply, there are those of us who are only ego-centric – all that concerns us is ourselves and our immediate clan. Everything outside of this narrow enclave, is of no importance. At a slightly higher level, we are ethno-centric; we are concerned only with our clan and our tribe – those who think like us (eg: the level at which the Republican party operates).
And then, at a higher level of evolution, we become planet-centric whereby the well being of our planet emerges as important in our calculations, and so what we do for ourselves or for our clan is always in the context of what is best for our country, humanity as a whole and Gaia. As you can see, in each of these levels, our sphere of concern becomes wider. Therefore, to expect someone who lives at ego or ethno-centric levels to concern themselves with burning rain forests or the plight of immigrants or with basically any reality existing outside their own personal spheres of interest, is like expecting cows to jump over the moon, or (another prominent conspiracy theory) finding Elvis Presley alive and well and living there!
What is the solution? At one level, I think that we are all challenged to work at our evolution – to work at expanding the sphere of our concerns, so that we start to “enter” the planet-centric zone. One of the things I have observed in being privileged enough to be acquainted with people who have entered that zone and who do operate at this level, is that they feel they have a responsibility not only to themselves and their families for living a harmonious life, but also to the wider world.
Their consciousness is expansive; they feel that people they have never met and are living at the other end of the world are nonetheless part of their “family”! They experience along with John Donne, that “no man is an island unto himself” but always “part of the maine”. And feeling this, many of these people experience a need to address the enormous amount of evil in the world at this time. I think this is pretty important because as we all know, evil in the world doesn’t go away by not being addressed. On the contrary. Bad things happen and continue to do so because good people do nothing!
World Evil and the Trump Factor
Let us take as an example of evil that utterly appalling con man Donald Trump: climate change denier, psychopath and extreme narcissist, regarded by many as even more dangerous than Hitler, whose inept handling of the pandemic has allowed far too many Americans to die. Every day he continues to destroy democracy in his country, to dirty and downgrade everything he touches. I see him as a leader of a death cult, having completely corrupted his party, with all its highest officials increasingly transmogrified into loyal cronies, colluding with him further to enable his corruption, competing with each other to prove who can be most adept at spreading his lies, fascism and conspiracy theories.
Thank goodness many brave journalists, people abused by him and whistle-blowers from his own party, are coming out of the woodwork and not pulling their punches in their telling the truth about him. This is very important. Many people don’t put it past him to declare the November election null and void if he discovers that, despite all his chicanery, he finds himself on the losing side.
We need to know that nothing happens in a vacuum; Trump emerged on the scene because there was a space for him. Long ago, the Republicans had sold their soul to the God of Mammon and so Trump excellently personifies the depths to which they have sunk.
If you are interested in an excellent book which traces the origins of these new alt right, white supremacy moments emerging everywhere, read “Twilight of Democracy; The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends” by Anne Applebaum. It will really open your eyes to understanding why everything that is happening today in America – and in many other fascist-leaning countries – has its roots way back in the past.
More of Us Taking Responsibility
But let’s not take ourselves off the hook. It is easy to play the blame game. What have we done to take stands against some of the more retrograde things that have been going on in our own countries? Perhaps too, we should ask ourselves what it was about us, all those years ago, that made our ancestors in Britain and in the States collude with allowing slavery to take place, and also how was it that politicians allowed those genocides in Darfur and Rwanda to happen? Why have countries been so timid as regards confronting the murderous Basha al Assad? Laziness? Not caring? Not wanting to “interfere”? Or the realisation that what he is doing to destroy his own country actually serves certain other nations’ nationalistic, geopolitical objectives?
Need to Take Stands
My friend, I tell you this: We are all called to rev ourselves up a gear, to give up all our excuses like I am too poor or too old or too uninformed (or whatever else we like to say to get ourselves off the hook) and start embracing planet-centric realities, and pretty quickly, else we may not have much of a planet left.
I say that you and I are challenged to take stands for a world that works for all people and this includes tribal peoples, poor peoples, and people of every ethnicity and sexual inclination.
For me, among the bravest people on the planet, are those intrepid journalists who venture into dangerous terrain to investigate corruption and write about it, often at the cost of their lives, or those activists on the front line who stand up against the forces of totalitarianism.
Here, I think of heroes like Khashoggi, assassinated on the orders of the young trillionaire Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for speaking up about what he was really up to, or Joshua Wong, the young man leading the activist movement in Hong Kong (he hasn’t been imprisoned and tortured yet, and one hopes and prays he never will), or Navalny, the only man in Russia with the guts to expose Putin for the criminal that he is, and whom the Russian leader recently gave orders be poisoned.
For me these human beings are shining lights of what it means to be human, and we need to allow ourselves to be touched by their selflessness and heroism. In 1770 Edmund Burke said :
“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one.”
Today, there is a tremendous battle going on between those who are working tirelessly to try to create a better, more just planet – a world with greater equality, where climate change and human rights are acknowledged and where the rich don’t grow richer on the backs of others getting poorer – and those who want to hold on to an “old, no-longer-workable order” that is rapidly collapsing and which reached its sell-by-date many years ago!
If you are someone who wishes to play your part in creating a healthier world which includes helping address the issue of evil, here are a few things you can do.
Strategies for Addressing Evil
· Say a resounding “Yes” to health and wholeness.
Be strong. Make sure the “duping forces”, or the forces that like to pull the wool over your eyes with their lies, don’t dupe you. Be on the look-out. Ask questions. Don’t accept everything you hear. Check your sources
Evil or conspiracy theories only spread because in our ignorance of our own inner insecurities and rage against a system that we feel has let us down, we are open to untruths that we “allow in” to give us the kudos of feeling “special”: “Look at me, clever me; unlike you, I know what is really going on in the world!”
Build up your inner resources so you are less receptive to these false voices. Pray and meditate, as this helps build up the forces of goodness and integrity inside you and so also out in the world.
· Don’t hate the darkness but light a light.
This is the approach of St Francis of Assisi as exemplified in his famous “Where there is darkness, may I bring light” prayer. Here we don’t address evil head on, so much as build up our threshold of goodness, as this constricts evil’s capacity to spread. An analogy is that if we enter a dark room and turn on the light, the darkness vanishes. This is a wise approach as some kinds of evil are very strong – far stronger than we are – and would crush us if we should try to approach them head on.
· Expose evil and name and shame it.
We bring evil out into the open – into the sunlight, which is a powerful disinfectant. We smoke it out of its lair. We reveal it for what it is. This too can be dangerous (see above) but it is an important approach, as much evil hides and pretends to not be what it is. (The wolf dressing itself in sheep’s clothing.) Here, we need to ensure our hearts are strong and our facts are correct, as many kinds of evil have a very paranoid dimension to them and will use every dirty trick in the book to fight back.
· Address evil if you see it exists in the area in which you work.
This is very important. Perhaps you see injustice somewhere, or someone being scapegoated for something. If so, stand up for that person. If you work for a large corporation and you detect skulduggery going on somewhere, then have the courage to speak out. Too many of us are afraid to speak our truth, forgetting Jesus’ wise words that “the truth shall set you free!”
· Make it difficult for evil to survive.
At a political level, this may take the form of freezing the bank accounts of particular dictators or imposing sanctions on nations that, for example, don’t respect the human rights of their peoples. This must hit the evildoers and not the people. As regards corporate evil – of which there is still a huge amount of it in the world – work to get legislation passed to ensure that those firms that are guilty, are less able to get away with their shenanigans.
The more each of us plays our role in trying to live a decent and honourable life, where we don’t shy away from exploring our own dark sides (we allow evil “out there” to exist because it reflects the untransmuted “evil” inside us that we are not yet aware of and so have not worked through), the more we help create a world that increasingly has less room for evil to grow and spread.
I don’t suggest we hate evil or try to attack it or go around searching for it. There’s enough of it right in front of our noses every day and if it happens to show up in some form in your life, then address it as best you can.
As I said, we need to tread carefully as certain kinds of evil can stealthily uncoil their tentacles inside us without our ever knowing. Prayer is also a powerful healing tool. We can pray for the forces of light in the world to be stronger than those of darkness.
St Francis’ famous prayer is a particularly wonderful antidote.