This series of articles started in the Spring with reminiscences of a boy who was inspired by a vision of the future as presented in LIFE magazine. That young boy’s REAL future is both more and less than he imagined. This future includes recognition of the civil rights of LGBTQ+ citizens. Marriage equality. Celebrities, politicians and other role models that would have helped that young boy figure out his place in the world.
This future includes electric cars, desktop 3D printers and conversations about trips to Mars.
It also includes an alarming increase in fetishistic nationalism, intolerance, racial and sexual violence.
Utopia and dystopia are the extreme ends of a cultural continuum. No civilization or society has ever been (and perhaps can never be) solidly at one end of that spectrum or the other. Life is both more chaotic and inherently more organized than that.
If mathematics is a poetry that describes the physical universe, then the fractal algorithms that calculate the contours of human behaviour might offer us some insight into this dynamic flux between utopia and dystopia. Both Eastern and Western esoteric traditions reflect many of the same principles of dynamic balance that contemporary quantum science and chaos theory describe. Turbulence gives way to entropy as everything winds down to the universe’s ultimate heat death.
What are we to make of all this, then? What value can we extract from what does, at times, seem pointless existence?
I choose to believe that there’s a bigger game at play here. Like a children’s kaleidoscope, in the magical, mesmerizing, symmetrical interplay of bits of coloured glass and mirrors set at precise angles, there are moments of brilliant flashing light and other moments of complex darkness. At its heart, a kaleidoscope is about the movement from light to dark and back again.
Whether Trump is in the White House or not, whether the President of Chechnya steps down or not, the sun still appears to rise every morning, the Earth races through the void in its elliptical track and the human spirit soars.
I choose to believe there’s a spiritual perspective to the light and the dark that supersedes the transient vagaries of our day-to-day existence. The more we focus our individual personal energy on kindness and joy, the better able we are to navigate our lives with grace.
I choose to believe that small acts of graciousness and generosity of spirit can have a powerful impact on the societies in which we participate.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead
I’ve commented many times in the past that we seem to live in a “culture of complaint.” Whether we’re complaining about the weather, current political leadership or the latest wacky fashion trend, it seems that we seek connection with our peers by sharing our complaints about everything under the sun.
Imagine a world where we establish intimacy and connections with our fellow human beings by sharing the things we enjoy about life. Imagine a world where casual conversations with friends, family members and strangers focused on the things that bring us joy and happiness.
Imagine each one of us being the source of a positive, rippling wave of acceptance and celebration.
Imagine THAT future and do your part to make it so! I’m wishing all of you a New Year filled with grace and joy.