There’s a wonderful story that has been attributed to the Native American Cherokee Indians. The story is about a boy who notices that his grandfather wears a beautiful pendant that is a wolf with two heads. When he asks his grandfather what the two headed wolf pendant means, his grandfather stops what he is doing and sits down with his grandson. He tells his grandson that life has many difficult times. The grandfather tells the boy that when these times occur it is as if there are two wolves battling inside him. One is very angry, aggressive and acts out of fear. This wolf wants to fight, control the situation and be right all the time. The Other is very compassionate, collaborative and acts out of love. This wolf loves life, is respectful of self and other and lives in peace. These two wolves are always in conflict. The little boy asks, “Dear Grandfather, which wolf wins?” And the grandfather replies: “Dearest son of my son, the wolf that wins is the one I feed’.
I have been in a state of curiosity in my experience with people’s reactions to global warming. I have been very aware that there is a large contingent of folks who are insistent that we human beings are to blame and shame on us. More recently I have also been hearing wide-eyed horror stories about how all the bees are dying and, before we know it, there will be no pollination and therefore the plant life will all die and so will we…”Who is to blame and who is responsible for fixing it?”, ask these wide-eyed fear filled people. They answer with a hushed and shamed certainty, “We are”. Everyone I talk to seems to be very sincere and there is certainly a lot of press out there that corroborates this view point and I can certainly find a part of myself that wants to sincerely step into the stance of this self deprecation and cultural blame. But I am having a hard time reconciling that choice with my commitment to releasing the attitude of blame and shame.
When I explore this conflict further I notice a truth that has historical support. Global warming is a natural occurrence. It happens cyclically; albeit a very long cycle. When it happens, the earth (whom I am referring more and more to as Gaia) changes drastically; cataclysms occur, climates do 180 degree shifts and whole species are eradicated. There is no fault to lay here, (except maybe in tectonic plates that shift when Gaia shrugs :-)). No one is to blame; it is a natural occurrence.
As to the bees dying…I read recently that the bees that are in question are those that are moved by people, rather than moving naturally, in order to pollinate crops. Not only that but these bees are ones that were originally transported from their indigenous home and back again generations later carrying with them disease that then kills them off. This article also mentioned how a researcher was surprised to find that there were plenty of indigenous bees pollinating the watermelon crop she was studying. There is also a lot of talk about how mysterious this dying of the bees is; their dance is different; they fly away and don’t return to their hives….never to be seen again. There is a mysterious component to this and when there is a mysterious component, those of us who like to be responsible have a tendency to think there is something wrong that needs to be fixed (by humans) rather than hold the valid option open that Mystery is at play….the operative word there is Mystery!
One of the reasons this has been such a struggle for me is that I find myself falling into the judgment of these guilt ridden people. And that flies in the face of my commitment of walking the compassionate talk. For one, I judge this attitude to be very much in the category of Victim. We are to blame and we are inherently bad. There is something wrong and because we are the bad ones, we are to blame. That leads me to the judgment that this is a very arrogant stance. Who are we as humans to think that we are powerful enough to cause a natural occurrence as global warming? How is the attitude of holding ourselves at fault with judging humans to be horrendous and bad helpful to the bigger picture; that global warming is happening whether we like it or not?
Why do we fall into an attitude of shame and blame when it comes to global warming? I think it is because it is an issue with which we conclusively have no control of outcome. And that, in our current pervasive belief structure of the omnipotence of reason, is the most frightening of all things. With our growing knowledge of how the world works, we no longer have the option to hide our heads in our own comparatively little environments. Nor do we have the option of turning to the blind belief that we are non-participants in the co-creation of life because of the mainstreaming of the belief that God is not the external father with the long white beard that we put our trust into; rather, we are becoming immersed in the belief that we are in relationship with the divine and therefore mutually responsible with the divine.
This pervasive reality of global warming is a perfect opportunity for us to examine our fear of that which we have no control and to cultivate an attitude of responsible acceptance rather than an attitude of responsibility colored by blame and a controlling punitive voice. The reality is that we don’t have control over global warming or, if you want to get generically personal, we don’t have any control over our dying at the end of our lives. Because of the phenomenon of the shrinking of our world due to science and communication technology we are provided with an option of a shift of attitude choice where that even if we don’t have any control over an outcome, we do have the real privilege of choosing to participate in the unfolding of Gaia’s cycles, (I am fond of referring to global warming as Gaia’s out-breath :-)), just as we have the real privilege, if not inalienable right, to participate in how we grow old and die.
Because of this option of choice, we are available to notice where we contribute to the harshness of the unfolding of global warming; pollution, the thoughtless harvesting of rain forests, the over hunting of animals, or thinking that there are no consequences when we force nature through acts like transporting bees or other proprietary acts. We can choose to be thoughtful and collaborative in attitude with Gaia and let the energy we are putting into blaming and shaming be directed where we have a real chance of supporting this normal part of the earth’s organic cycle.