The Terrifying Prospect of Making a Run for Freedom
When dysfunctional comfort zones seem preferable to change.
Problems that confront us now - from environmental degradation to mental and physical health challenges to systemic economic, racial and social injustices - reflect a basic flaw in how we collectively function as human beings.
Many have argued that every problem is a spiritual problem, and it’s true. Something is fundamentally askew in how we perceive ourselves and the meaning of our lives on the most basic levels - and that is the root of all the problems that beset us. The spiritual path is the path of the heart, and a detour onto another path - a path devoid of reverence, devotion, mercy, and love - has led our species to such a perilous point that we could literally self-destruct should we not change direction.
Yet, as it says in A Course in Miracles, “Some people would rather die than change their mind.” The problem isn’t that other options for ways to live on the planet aren’t available; the problem is that we avoid them. From energy production to care of the earth to the growing of food to the way we run the economy to the way we relate to other nations and more, there is another way. But our comfort zones, as perversely dysfunctional as they sometimes are, are still what we know. We often prefer to stay with what we know to be bad for us, rather than make a run for something we know could be better.
A good example of such resistance lies in the reaction of the Israelites when Moses told them they’d been set free. The Pharaoh had finally - due to some serious prompting via plagues, swarms of locusts, etc. - relented to Moses’ demand that he “Let my people go.”
Did the Israelites jump up and down in excitement saying, “THANK YOU, MOSES!! We’ve lived for so long in slavery and now we’ll be free! We can’t thank you enough!!”
Nope, that’s not what they said.
Rather, they cried, “What the hell did you do?? Yes, we’re slaves here, but we get enough to eat, he lets us live, so what is it you expect us to do?! Just go into the desert?? Where?? What road? There is no road! Where are we supposed to go? What Promised Land?!? Are you crazy???”
That’s pretty much how it went, and as with most Bible stories, a deep archetypal truth is expressed there that is as true today as it was thousands of years ago. People resist freedom they can’t be sure of, more than they resist a lack of freedom that they know very well. The unknown can be terrifying.
So here we are, living our lives in a way that’s almost inevitably a march toward planetary catastrophe - whether it be environmental, nuclear, biochemical, or any other form - yet the primary drivers of world events seem bent on resisting any fundamental change in direction. To the drivers themselves, such change would mean a diminishment in their economic circumstances - or so they believe. (Someone perhaps should ask them who will be rich after a nuclear war, environmental holocaust, etc. but that’s for another day) The larger question is, why do we comply? Why does challenging the drivers seem scarier, to some people, than does following them to our collective doom?
The kids understand this, of course, and they’re ready to create change anyway. It’s one of the beautiful things about youth that you don’t really fear death because you haven’t fully accepted yet that you’re actually going to die. As David Bowie said so well: “And these children that you spit on/ as they try to change their world/ are immune to your consultations/They are well aware of what they’re going through.”
Among the young, because they’re not willing to live their lives on a crash course to disaster, and among the elders, because we’re not willing to die knowing we didn’t do everything we could to make things better before we left here, there’s a growing crescendo of commitment to societal change. And that’s a healthy thing, indeed. People who are afraid to make a run for it are being outnumbered by those who are willing to try. In my youth, the anti-war chant regarding the Viet Nam war was, “Hell no, we won’t go!” Today, it’s an unspoken but equally passionate sense of “Hell no, we won’t go along!” Too many of those who were meant to protect the public good have shredded it. We get that now, and the world will not be the same.
2022, it seems to me, will be a dramatic year. Those committed to the current way of doing things will be very committed indeed, and those committed to changing those things will be rising up and pushing back. These are revolutionary times, and that revolution is going to happen whether we want it to or not. Current societal stresses are unsustainable, like the energy rising up from underneath a volcano. And they’re going to blow. The only choice before us is whether we will face violent, or non-violent, change; an explosion of fear, or an explosion of love.
I believe Moses is a state of consciousness, as is the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh is the fear-based ego that enslaves the spirit, whether his cruelty takes a form such as personal addiction or societal injustice. Moses is the part of us that says, “No more. This has got to stop. I am willing to follow God’s path to deliverance from this.”
Next year, we will have to decide. We will collectively choose whether to remain in slavery to the Pharaoh or choose an exodus to the Promised Land. Neutrality will not be an option. And as they used to say when I was young, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” The solution is not a rebranded form of “more of the same” - for that essentially is the problem. Incremental change is an inadequate response to the dangers of this time. We need a fundamental turning in the direction of love, and anything that treats the earth without love, the economy without love, animals without love, or our fellow human beings without love, must be called to task and essentially discarded. Otherwise, expect locusts (aren’t they here already?). Expect plagues (aren’t they here already?) And also - above all - expect Moses.
He’s already here as well, a state of mind rising up in so many, all around the world, who are pointing to another way. Let us follow him. Let us follow him now.