As I write this, over 500 tornadoes have touched down in the central and eastern parts of America; at the same time, intense and continuous rain has caused flooding throughout the region to a degree never seen before or only very rarely. The effect of too much carbon in the atmosphere continues to make itself known in increasingly destructive ways.
My friend Jim Bronson and I were talking about this recently. He told me about introductory classes he was teaching for the Pachamama Alliance Drawdown Initiative. These are two-hour classes based on the book,Drawdown. Edited by Paul Hawken, it presents 100 carefully researched, documented, and described solutions and projects happening right now that can, as the title implies, draw down the carbon in the atmosphere and reverse global warming.
These classes, held around the world by volunteers like my friend, offer two important things. One is concrete information about steps that anyone can undertake or participate in to positively deal with climate change based on these proven 100 projects. The second is that they offer hope, something many people deeply need at this time. As Jim said, after the two hours, people go away realizing there are concrete things they can do to help the planet that go beyond recycling, green energy, and other familiar ideas. Most importantly, though, they go away feeling empowered, understanding their lives can make a difference.
Feeling that you can make a difference is the key to actually making a difference. Being given ideas, insights, and tools to implement this feeling can be life-transforming, allowing a person to be in the world not as a problem or as a victim but as a creative contributor to the unfolding of solutions.
There is another kind of drawdown that is complementary and equally important. This is the reduction of fear and hatred, separation and divisiveness in our world. These are as destructive in emotional and mental atmosphere of our lives as carbon is in the atmosphere of the planet. A spiritual drawdown is as necessary as a physical, environmental one.
Here is what one of my subtle colleagues had to say on this:
Humanity faces an evolutionary challenge, one that is partly physical in nature and partly a crisis of consciousness and understanding. This crisis cannot be met “on the ground” alone; it must also be met in the spirit and the imagination and in the widening of human awareness to partner with the realms of life that are not physical in nature but are part of the world nonetheless. It must be met by learning what it means to be a whole person and embodying that wholeness for the benefit of all.
There are those who feel that working with the inner, psychological, spiritual side of things is a wrong use of time and energy when the outer, physical crises are so immanent and dangerous. They may call such work a “spiritual bypass,” out of touch with the “real world.” But this is a false dichotomy. The challenges we are facing are rooted in the ways we think and the choices we make. They are an effect of worldviews that are unable to see the planet around us as a living being, that promote “us vs them” over “we and us,” that seek dominance and control to collaboration and co-creativity, that nourish hatred and fear over love and compassion. Such worldviews, attitudes, and habits generate the kindling and the sparks that turn into and support the conflagrations that threaten us. Remove the kindling, remove the sparks, and we can deal more effectively with the fires they create. For instance, just coming to appreciate and honor the world as a living being with whom we can partner instead of as dead matter we can exploit as we wish would go a long way to helping us resolve the climate crisis.
An example I discovered recently of an initiative seeking to draw down the “carbon” of mistrust, misunderstandings, fear, and division that keep us divided and in conflict is Weave, the Social Fabric Project, sponsored by the Aspen Institute. This is a loosely-based, self-managed coalition of people and groups around the United States working to bring people together to strengthen community bonds that otherwise have frayed. The following quote comes from their “Relationist Manifesto:”
“Whenever I treat another person as if he were an object, I’ve ripped the social fabric. When I treat another person as an infinite soul, I have woven the social fabric.”
I could not have said this better.
At the same time that we must draw down the forces that threaten us and the world, we need to draw up the forces that can strengthen our connections and build the wholeness we need, within ourselves, with each other, and with the world. Often the two are the same. The Drawdown Initiative gives concrete steps to reducing carbon in the air but at the same time draws up a spirit of hope and promise. Weave draws down the conditions and attitudes that feed fear and separation and at the same time draws up the spirit of community and collaboration. This is also the work of Lorian, to draw down those attitudes that diminish and fragment us and to offer tools that draw up the spirit of wholeness within ourselves and within our world.
Drawing down what is poisoning, separating and destroying us and drawing up what nourishes, unites, and vitalizes us is the challenge of our time. The fact that so many individuals and groups around the globe are working to do just this, sharing their insights and tools to empower each other, is a measure of the hope that there is in the world.