Sometimes, The Only Alternative To Hell Is Heaven

(Inspired by Leo Tolstoy, shaped in part by the influence of Caitlin Johnstone)

I don’t understand how a society so obviously headed towards self-destruction can be so unwilling to deviate from accepted narratives in order to entertain new ways of thinking.

I see the human race, no matter what surprising and deviant paths it views itself as taking, invariably dragging along with it fundamental assumptions that have been outmoded for centuries. We cling to moral codes that are perhaps acceptable for a wolf or a badger, but not for a species capable of devising its own destruction.

I’m not sure if people view me as being utterly pessimistic for seeing things in such a bleak light or optimistic for seeing there’s a way out of the mess we have created for ourselves. I see myself as a clearheaded realist, led neither by fear nor by hope but admitting things are as they are and pointing to the most hopeful path forward. Leave hope and fear for the helpless, I believe each of us has power to change the world and that our own personal abilities and actions are all we need concern ourselves with.

If I lean in either direction it would be toward optimism, as I believe it is necessary to keep things moving in the right direction. But optimism must hold tightly to reality and never stray far from it. Even an optimist can admit that we as a species have pushed our self into quite a crisis point, but optimism will be required if we are to commit ourselves to what is unlikely, because what is likely is unthinkable.

And what is most unlikely and most necessary is that the human species abandon the idea of rule by force and the justifications for violence. What has been seen by our more enlightened souls for millennia must now be seen and embraced by the majority.

When I’m honest with myself, and sharing my thoughts with others forces me to see how wild my beliefs really seem, it’s the equivalent of a few million people becoming saints and buddhas in a very short time. It seems quite impossible until one comes to understand how societal perceptions change. Slowly, then all at once. Change is always taking place beneath our perception of it. Quite often, we are not aware of a turning point until it is upon us. But when it strikes, it strikes quickly. Tolstoy describes it as the mass amount of people being the ballast to a ship. They are quite inclined to continue with the status quo until a critical mass has built up, at which point they will flip en masse, all the stability they provided now converted to change.

We see this in terms of crisis, such as when one country invades another. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear may see war brewing for decades, while those who are unaware, those who play the quite necessary role of not permitting the ship to steer one way and then another, those who help to keep things moving full steam ahead, are invariably caught by surprise when that which has been building at last spills over or explodes.

We see it too in matters such as gay marriage. I believe it took most of us by surprise when the change happened as quickly as it did. We went from “don’t ask, don’t tell”, which was a seeming step forward on the gay rights issue, to legalized gay marriage, in less than two decades. We went from the first girl/girl kiss on television to what we see on television today.

There are many people alive who at one time never thought they’d live to see a Black president. As Victor Hugo said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

Blessed are the solid folk who play the role of keeping society steady. They prevent an idea from guiding the ship until its time has come, until the idea has reached maturity and can no longer be denied. Such change starts with the 1% who are above the influence of society, who dare to think outside the box and are willing to accept the judgment of others who accept the status quo uncritically. They are the prophets and the outlaws. If they are the loftiest of that 1%, they are most often slandered, exiled, or martyred. But if they spoke honestly and fearlessly and beautifully enough, their words survive in the 2–5% who are not completely outside the fold and yet appreciate such obvious displays of beauty, truth, and heroism. And that small minority is capable of providing a place of relative comfort to a still larger group who are willing to set off into uncharted but promising territory so long as they can bring a few friends with them. If this group is able to weather the storm, the herd can then be flipped.

The human race is already at that point. Each of us, whenever we dare open ourselves up to the unpleasant truths, knows we are on the wrong path, a dangerous path, a path that does not offer us hope, or joy, or freedom, or meaning. Let’s face it, our chances of survival are not very good. We walk it because we are, most of us, ballast, and we do not wish to change course in such a time of crises until we know we are led by those who are worthy of leading us. And this ballast would already have flipped, our course would have already veered from catastrophe to correction were it not for one impediment stopping the natural course of societies from doing what it does.

That one impediment is the media. The media drowns out the voices of our prophets, our saints, our buddhas, our elders. It disguises itself as the voice of the 2–5% who would echo the voices of those most open to vision and possessing the courage to speak without concern for self. The media is the place where the natural flow of human progress is at a logjam. The media is the voice of corporate concerns, and it is drowning out the voices of the oracles and mystics. It is drowning out the voice of humanity, just as it is drowning out the voice of the natural world.

We are all of us individuals living lives we know in our hearts and souls are contrary to the lives we ought to be living. We live according to morals and mandates that do not jibe with our own inclinations. And we do so because we feel powerless. But we are not powerless. Each of us has the power to point others towards what we feel and see to be true, beautiful, and necessary. But first we have to recognize what impedes our progress and keeps us on a path to destruction (i.e. the media).

There is no mass awakening. We awaken one at a time. It will just seem like a mass awakening after we’ve reached critical mass. One thing is certain, there are more of us awake than the media will let you know.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store