Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Could Humanity Be the Last to Know That Lack is a Myth?

In her new book, Enough: Beyond the Myth of Lack Laurie McCammon, MS makes an intriguing claim: lack is not real. How could this be when we see evidence everywhere of dwindling natural resources, species extinction and global warming?

“I am not saying there are no limits,” she says, “What I am saying is that most of the lack we see around us is the result of human choices and that such conditions do not exist naturally. Because the lack we see is a result of man-made choices, we shouldn’t accept it as ‘just the way things are.’ We should challenge the premise that keeps lack perpetually in place. Homo sapiens appears to be the only species on earth who lives according to this “Never Enough” myth. Wouldn’t you think we’d pay attention to how the other 8.7 million species successfully create healthy, sustainable ecosystems that work for everyone without depleting the systems upon which everyone relies?”

McCammon points out that if you examine human biology, you will find a nervous system designed to cope with short bursts of stress, but not one built to sustain a perpetual state of heightened alert. “And yet, isn’t this exactly what is perpetrated by politicians, mainstream media and advertising who would have us believe we don’t have enough and aren’t enough, or that if we are one of the fortunate ones to have enough, we should be afraid of losing it any minute?” Whole industries, she points out, such as luxury goods, insurance, and cosmetics are built upon this idea that we aren’t enough as we are. “We never seem to look back over our decisions to buy more stuff and ask if those decisions ever brought us the feelings of adequacy, belonging and accomplishment we expected them to. “ She believes that this insatiable longing to feel enough results in all kinds of hoarding and over-consumption, which greatly adds to the material burden humans place on the planet. She puts it this way: “When we lose our sense of belonging, we tend to fill our lives up with belongings.”

“What we tend to forget is that what one person needs to be happy is actually very different than what another person needs to be happy. In other words, my enough is not your enough. But when we get caught up in a consumerist society, we are apt to believe we must check off  the same list of standardized boxes in order to prove we are enough. This list becomes a story that rules our lives, creating achievement anxiety, shame and guilt. In truth, we could do without a great deal and never experience it as a sense of lack.  And conversely, when we have too much, there is a palpable stress burden placed upon us. In essence, we've traded a portion of our freedom for the material objects we possess, whether it is labor we’ve invested to buy the item in the first place, or labor and time required to maintain what we’ve bought. Then there is the emotional burden of worrying about our things – are they safe, in good working order, might someone damage or steal them from us, is there a better, updated version we should have instead?”  McCammon believes that the stress burden of things greatly complicates our lives and distracts us further from cultivating the real source of happiness - an inner sense of enoughness. "Enoughness comes from a felt sense of our own beingness, a sense of belonging to a universe which could not possibly be enough without us. Many things in the material world may leave us craving and wanting more, but most of us are absolutely starving for meaning - to know that we really do matter. What I've found is that the universe is absolutely barraging us with subtle messages that we do matter, each and every one of us."  

To understand how, when and why we forgot our "enough" roots, McCammon turns to anthropology, mythology and systems theory. According to McCammon, the “Never Enough Paradigm” began more than 5,000 years ago when humanity entered the Agrarian Era. This monumental shift in perspective involved moving away from total dependence on nature to take on the mantel of “masters of the material realm.” The progression of the “Never Enough Paradigm” accelerated in the industrial and digital ages, representing the height of intellectual prowess and physical efficiency, but crowded out the heart and acknowledgement of the spiritual and the sacred. Everything, including humans and the earth became objects in the drive to have more. We no longer oriented towards our depths. All that mattered was at the surface, in what we do or have. 

“The brain is very fond of breaking things into parts for analysis and manipulation, but it isn’t as good at perceiving subtle relationships and nuances, cause and effect at a distance, or whole systems dynamics," says McCammon.  The human capacity to perceive interrelationships and holism, she claims, is essential to survival of our species, and yet it has been greatly devalued in our society.  "It is not optional. Intuition and subtle reception aren't fluff.  They are cutting-edge. Both capacities are absolutely essential to keeping up with today’s science and technology which are huddled right now in the realms of the subtle, interconnected and intangible, such as quantum physics, scalar waves, wireless networks, and cloud-based technologies.” McCammon suggests that all we need to do is look at our cutting edge technologies and ask how they reflect the corresponding frontier of human consciousness. "It is always a mirror and a metaphor for the inner work we need to do to move forward. A greater awareness of subtle interrelatedness is where we are going. This means beingness. This means spirit. This means essence. It is unstoppable and inevitable.” To attune to the subtle, Laurie suggests that we explore something referred to as heart intelligence, which has been proven by science to be real and measurable. Heart intelligence is inherent and has always been evidenced in indigenous and feminine ways of perceiving. “The idea is that we are becoming more whole again in our ability to perceive. This means mind and heart. Yin and yang. Material and spirit. We’ve done our work on testing the intellect for 5,000 years. Now it is time to focus on the heart.“

McCammon shows how the last 5,000 years correspond to humanity’s adolescent stage of growth. “This means that we aren’t, as we have assumed, at the pinnacle or adulthood of our species. We have yet to enter adulthood as a species, which is characterized by taking responsibility for our actions and fulfilling our desire to widen our affiliation from ‘me’ (humans) to ‘we’(all beings on earth). We have been exploring tribal mentality so far in quite an adolescent way. Although the tribe has expanded over time from smaller to bigger – from family to village, to religious or political affiliation, to country - it doesn’t become truly mature until it reflects an ability to think globally and universally.” The motivation and action to fuel global change arise naturally from an expansion in what McCammon calls affiliative consciousness. Affiliative consciousness is incorporating more “other” as “we,” a departure from separation consciousness. “This is why it is pretty useless to try to convince someone whose primary consciousness is himself, his job or his family’s economic well-being that he should care about what his employer is doing to contribute to global warming. He is not a bad person. He just can’t see beyond his own affiliative bubble right now.” says McCammon. “But what this also tells us is if you are someone who deeply cares about the earth or other species or regions of the globe, you are already embodying the expanded consciousness. You are the proof of the ripening maturity of our species. You are proof that humanity’s capacity for solving the earth’s most threatening and complex problems is amid a great transformation and expansion. And the good news is as this circle of affiliation expands, so does humanity's own felt sense of security, joy, empowerment, purpose and fulfillment - automatically.”

What does this have to do with the book’s primary focus, “enough”? “If we look at all the forms of suffering in the world today, we find a common cause, the belief in lack or “Never Enough.” McCammon says, “The imperative to get more is so reinforced from an early age that we are blind to how it distorts everything from our self-esteem to our relationships to our consumer and career choices, leading to the waste, exploitation and hoarding so prevalent on our planet today. We have mistakenly believed that 'survival of the fittest' was our primary orientation as human beings, and this false idea with no basis in science unfortunately has lingered on, taking on benign or overly-positive names such as competition, achievement, winning, success and growth. Self-preservation and individualism became the name of the game, driven by the belief that we were not born enough, so must prove it over and over again through what we do or own. All this keeps us from being available to participate in the bigger game, which is participating in our planetary ecosystem in a way that sustains enough for ourselves, our communities and our planet.”

To illustrate how ingrained the idea of “Never Enough” is in our thinking, McCammon poses a question to her readers, “If I were to ask if you are enough, what would you say? Most people would conclude, ‘ No, I am not enough yet. I haven’t achieved all I want to yet. I have goals I haven’t reached, so no, I’m not enough.’ But here’s the trick. I didn’t ask if you have enough or if you have done enough. I asked you if you are enough.  Do you see how quickly we skip over beingness? A newborn baby hasn’t achieved or owned anything, but would you say he is enough? Does a newborn need to do anything to be deserving of his family’s or society’s love and care? Of course not. We need to cultivate a sense of our own beingness, deservedness, worthiness and preciousness, a sense that we are enough because we are here. Then we find we do not need our achievements and our possessions to do the heavy lifting for us. We can relax and focus on doing what we really love to do. Really, the stories we carry about not being enough cause us so much deep suffering, so much 'stuckness' and disempowerment.  All this suffering is optional, not mandatory.  Do we really love our 'I'm not enough' story so much that we won't let go of it? Nature builds in an aversion or pain response for a reason - to guide us to safety, health and well-being."     

Enough: Beyond the Myth of Lack is a book whose optimistic tone is a refreshing departure from the bleak, urgent arguments posed by so many that it is almost too late to correct the damage humans have done, an assumption she states is only true if we remain in the adolescent “Never Enough” consciousness. “And this is not going to happen. We are part of a much larger evolutionary flow, a design which is the based on the dynamic of enough, and we are waking up to it, realizing we have outgrown the Never Enough Story. Exponentially more intelligence, creativity and courage becomes available to us when we embrace that we, too, are part of the universe’s big Enough design. We are enough to address every man-made problem, and to do it quickly and efficiently together.” The latter chapters of Enough are devoted to highlighting the global explosion of independent social movements and green businesses that McCammon says are proof that the Enough awakening is already happening in earnest.  All of this is to say that she wholeheartedly believes that  "An Enough future is inevitable. The shift is happening now. And each and every one of us are enough to be part of it."

Laurie McCammon is a planetary change agent, blogger, facilitator and author of Enough!How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word, published  by Conari Press, out  April 1, 2016.  You can contact Laurie with comments at lauriemccammon@gmail.com, Like LaurieMcCammon on Facebook or follow her on Twitter at @EnoughMessage

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