Finding Calm In A Chaotic World
I think calmness is perhaps the greatest gift you can provide to people. It’s certainly a wonderful gift to give yourself. A calm person can help calm others, while an excited person will most likely cause only chaos and drama. No one feels any peace or contentedness around someone incapable of calmness.
“But James, you’re always going on about the dangers of nuclear war, environment destruction and impending dystopia, how can you claim to be calm?” I’m not, not always. But I try to be and much of the time I succeed. After all, it isn’t easy discussing such serious and scary topics. But to live day in and day out with the realization that nuclear war is a distinct possibility, and that our leaders are doing nothing to reduce the risk, takes an advanced degree of calmness. The fact that I’m not freaking out on a massive scale I would say is pretty impressive. The fact that I haven’t been permanently banned from social media platforms speaks pretty well for my ability to keep cool.
I don’t think you can keep calm by ignoring reality. I think, ultimately, the only way to keep calm is to accept reality on its own terms and then ask what I might do about it. The impulse to shout from the rooftops is always there, the feeling that I have to rush out and do something — anything — about what we are doing to the planet rises frequently within me, but I have come to learn that it is not the most effective way to deal with problems, large or small.
I am coming to believe the proper attitude toward problems, great or small, is not to immediately react but to take it all in. I try to embrace all the negative feelings I have to a harm being done to something I deeply love, in this case life on Earth. I feel the harm being done to something I love, and while it pains me, I feel the love as well. I am reminded the reason I feel pain in the first place is because I love deeply.
The immediate reaction for is to attempt to block out the pain, but in doing so I am forced to deny the love that I feel. It’s like having someone you love dying in the hospital and in order to spare yourself the pain, you avoid going to visit them.
To love fully is to allow the pain to enter in order to experience the love with which it is inextricably linked. To love fully is to permit your love to guide your actions and your behavior, rather than having your actions guided by your unwillingness to feel pain.
I believe most of the human race right now is in denial to the threats humanity is facing. And we are that way because we are afraid to deal with the pain and the fear. But in avoiding the pain and fear, we are avoiding the intense love that each and every one of us has for life on planet Earth.
If we can overcome that fear, if we can permit ourselves to feel how very dear we hold our existence on a planet with so many wonders, we will begin to find meaningful ways to deal with the threats now facing our planet. If we can allow meaningful moments to enter our lives and find sacred connections to the most mundane of human and natural interactions, we can begin to deal with the dangers facing us not with fear or hatred or denial, but with genuine love.
Imagine a world of people acting from such motivation. Imagine if just a small minority did. Imagine if just you did. Or that it started with just you. Or that others have already begun and in waking up you see how many people are working towards a better world, how many others are just waiting for your example, how you might provide the tipping point in one person’s life, who in return will be a greater example to others than you ever could.
The good news is you don’t have to try very hard. You don’t have to be a hero or anything greater than who you are. You don’t have to worry about failing, you just have to open yourself up and feel. Feel deeply, feel fully. Those feelings will guide you in the direction you want to go.