Below is a recap of Step 6: Showing Up.

Dick started the meeting by reading a short piece from Loren Isley, a Nebraskan Ecologist. I hadn’t heard of this fellow, but I’m interested in diving into some of his work.

As many of our group sessions do, we discussed our current political climate. The gov’t is perpetuating fantasy theories about what’s happening and what is (or is not) possible. We’re buying into some of those. But, what causes real disruption of these fantasies? When our economy is impacted. This forces change.

We also change ourselves – we don’t wait for politicians or laws to change. The change we need is from the grassroots level upward. We are empowered to be the changemakers. Change ourselves, help influence others to change, and change happens on a larger scale!

Change, according to Malcolm Gladwell, happens in a series of steps. This theory can be applied to cultural change in addition to technological shifts.- we have the early adopters — the early changemakers – the experimenters. Next the early majority catches on – they make changes because they see the early adopters success. The late majority doesn’t want to miss the train – and be the last to fit into a norm, so then they get on board. And finally, the late minority come to change – they’re resistant but the culture is swinging in the direction of change so they are either forced to hop on the momentum or be left behind. Are you an early adopter, part of the early majority, the late majority? Are you reluctant to change at all?

We talked about Joanna Macy’s work – particularly the Great Turning. Which is too insightful to breakdown here in a short time – read up on it and/or read Active Hope. We also talked about a piece the Dalai Lama wrote for the NY Times: “Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded
Our culture is so foreign to many of us right now. Many of us feel out of place. We feel unneeded or like our voices don’t matter.
A solution? Work to divest self of ego and realize that when we enter into an action — a protest, for example — that we must be there with our full selves. We don’t just show up to occupy space, we show up to things because we care about the outcome – we care about what’s happening, and because we want to create solidarity.
This is where we’re needed. Showing up with our full selves – and not just ego.

How did you come to the conclusion that our culture is negatively and irreversibly impacting this planet? Was it a book? A conversation? A class?
This seems to be a solo journey – and we come to grief individually. Many of us feel like we’re unsure of what do with with all of the grief we feel about the status of the planet, of our culture.
One IMPORTANT thing we can do is to show up and live a life consistent with true human sustainability. Reduce consumption, avoid products that are ecologically intensive to produce, reduce driving. We understand that this isn’t an easy change. But those of us who’ve practiced implementing it have said they feel freer – less bound to their stuff – they’re not an economic slave anymore. With living a minimalistic lifestyle, comes many joys.
How do we get others to buy into this lifestyle? We need this culture to reduce consumption rates by 85-90%. Systemic change can come from transitioning away from consumerism.

Can we all make it our mission to show up in our personal lives

  • It’s easy to get swept away – our culture doesn’t allow much time or patience for self-reflection.
  • The only thing we can control is ourselves.
  • Be an example to those around you. Even at a subtle level. You don’t have to shout from the top of a mountain, but you lead by example – show up. Be authentic. Live authentically.
  • There is tremendous power in integrity – in doing what is right. Believing in what is right.

What does the word responsibility mean anyway? Can we view it as “Respond-ability”? What are we able to respond to? And then do it!
We can change our selves – which can be a catalyst for others.
Change is constant and natural. These self-transitions happen when we want and work toward a “right relationship” with this world.
This change radiates through us – it changes the way we show up in our own lives, and in the lives of others. This helps us be better able to form connections. We can bring joy and lightheartedness to those around us. “Showing up – it spreads like the flu” 🙂

Have you ever shown up for someone, without expecting anything in return? In fact, you know that the person you’re showing up for cannot give anything – they have nothing at that moment, but they still need help. Have you been that person – where you needed help and had nothing to give back? Can you show up for someone else with no expectations? Can you be present with someone in pain? Can you be helped and understand that sometimes, it’s okay not to have something to give back?
—It’s difficult to accept help from others, but if we can do this then maybe we can help someone else next time. This type of experience, if we accept it, forces us to show up. It forces us to be authentic.
—Maybe we cannot alway be the listener. Maybe it’s our turn to ask for help.

In helping others, we find joy along the way. Selfless actions generate internal joy and energy. Do you know what it feels like to be fully alive? What does it feel like to you?
Joy is who you are without ego – without worry or insecurities.

If we work through our grief it can be transformed into joy. Kahlil Gibran said, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?”

What are we grieving when we think of the world today? With a personal death – we know what we’re grieving – the loss of a loved one. But this – these systemic issues – we grieve for the loss of our future. For feeling like there’s nothing we can do to stop what’s happening. It’s disorienting, demoralizing, and brings about so much powerlessness.

We dig, deep into the source of these issues we feel. The deeper we go, the more we realize that whether it’s climate change, species extinction, social injustices — they are all connected. And maybe we should shed our projections of the past and into the future. The current system creates a “culture of busy” – we’re often times thoughtless. The past is only one way of existing on this planet — we can open our future up to so much more. We can create a thoughtful, mindful, kinder world. Even as we see things change – and get worse – we must still work toward a more just future. As Joanna Macy says in her OnBeing interview “A Wild Love for the World”: “There’s absolutely no excuse for making our passionate love for our world dependent on what we think of its degree of health, whether we think it’s going to go on forever. This moment, you’re alive.”

Have you seen “I am Not Your Negro”? James Baldwin, as he reflects on the Civil Rights Movement, has similar questions. How do we change disparity? What are the dynamics or systems holding us in place? Can we learn that ecological justice and social justice are inextricably bound?
What does a slave give up when forced into slavery? Dignity & Freedom
What does the slave master give up when becoming a slave master? His humanity — his ability to empathize. He sees his slave as beneath him. Is this not a much greater sacrifice?
We’ve done the same thing to our environment. We are the slave master and have sacrificed our ability to see connections and our similarities.
We are of nature. We require reconciliation. Do we have a model for what reconciling with the world might look like? What it might look like if humans can live in harmony with the world?
Can we see the Garden of Eden as a mythological example of what it looks like to live in right relationship with the natural world?

Do you have a memory of being a kid and playing in the outdoors? Where you were free for hours to explore and learn about the trees and the animals and the other special characteristics of that place? Did you grow to love this area? To think of this place as family? What did this feel like as a child? What does reflecting on a memory like this make you feel?

So, I’ll leave you with this – we’ve got to show up for each other. And not just humans (though it’s a good practice to start with), we must show up for other species and ecosystems. Are we not interconnected to all that exists?
“Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” Chief Seattle

With Gratitude and Love,