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Friday, August 25, 2017
I Can See Clearly Now
If you are big picture oriented like me, you are probably familiar with the theme that we as a human culture are in a “time between stories.” I think we all feel this as an underlying anxiety or insecurity. There’s a perceptible trembling of the tectonic plates that have undergirded "majority human culture" for thousands of years. The Old Story is forming deep stress cracks under the weight of its mounting excesses, inequalities and abuses. As a result, we are being “shaken awake” by parallel macro-crises that touch every single one of us: the climate, world politics, civil rights, the environment and economics. The result is a kind of head-spinning choice-point moment arising for each and every one of us: What do I believe? How can I help? What will make a difference?
With so much breaking down all at once, it seems like whatever we choose to do couldn’t possibly be enough. It is entirely understandable if you are feeling frozen, overwhelmed and confused, or suffering post-traumatic stress. More and more of us are experiencing loss as mountains of bad news are spoon-fed to us every day with a side of mounting anxiety and uncertainty. Those who have found their way out of the spirit-deadening centrifuge of fear, even temporarily, have done so by making a choice to take action of some kind. Whatever the focus of their efforts, making a choice links them to something much bigger: the forward motion of bringing a New Story into focus.
Yesterday I was at the farmer’s market and a vibrant young couple was walking along handing out fliers about the “resource-based economy.” I was intrigued and later went online to learn more about it. As I researched it, I found that it shares similar if not identical values with other movements I have written about: community currency, the gift economy, Ubuntu, new economics, Zeitgeist, Humane Education, permaculture, ecofeminism, green economies…and the list goes on. The young man with the fliers was passionate and clearly “all in,” practicing his activism through hosting online trainings and all over the world, projecting a certainty that this approach could and would save the world if only enough people came on board.
Noticing some of my inner resistance to the young man’s enthusiastic zealousness (and some inner self-judgment about my inability to remain 100% open-hearted and grateful for the alignment of our values and efforts), I was left pondering the current tendency to create and name new movements. Why would I have a resistance to that? Is there anything wrong with that? Well, if I were to be completely honest, I’d have to say both yes and no. People need a label, a set of defined values and some structure to organize around. A movement provides that. They need to know that they are safe and with kindred spirits who are aligned with the same values and mission. A movement provides that, too. The issue I see is not with those who join movements but the structure by which movements are created and led, often around a single person or idea which finds itself competing with instead of collaborating with other similar movements. It struck me that this model of activism is based in a masculine approach: Create something, name it and recruit people to your cause as “soldiers of the message.” Inherently, a movement draws a line around a group of people, and therefore can even without intention, exert a kind of control or amass a kind of power that could be abused. Either you are part of the movement or you are not. You are a member, or you are not. You hold up the banner, sign the petition, wear the pussy hat, or you do not. What if you don’t want to be put in a box? What if your perspective traverses many movements? What if you want to remain empowered and not become just a solider for the cause? Are you disloyal if you only have enough energy and time for this week’s climate march and not for next week’s women’s march?
This idea of competing movements, it seems to me, is an unnecessary drain, not only on individuals and donors who feel forced to choose, but to the movements themselves who could benefit from collaborating and combining efforts more often. Another limiting factor is what I call “founders syndrome” where the founders measure success by number of members or amount of funding rather than their readiness to respond to how the new world is actually coming into being and accelerating: through a web of ever expanding interconnections. It seems to me the old paradigm supported and still supports a “circle the wagon” mentality: Who will get the credit and the grant money? Whose infrastructure will be absorbed by another’s? Whose social media audience will rise and whose will fall? The underlying competitive model cannot and will not move us into the new world because it is precisely what humanity is being called to transcend. Therefore, it is no longer only what we build for movements, but how we build them that matters a great deal. To bring about anything like a sharing economy, the movement behind it must model shared leadership from the top down and from the bottom up. So much human potential is squandered due to a scarcity mindset that assumes there aren’t enough volunteers, members or funders to go around.
My friend, Linda Hogan, coined the phrase, “We don’t need more movements. We need movements moving together.” I couldn’t agree more. So how do we invite this to happen? I believe that we name what blocks it from happening: ego and the old corporate pyramid model of leadership. My sister has been an environmental activist for over thirty-five years. I have been drawn to supporting the empowerment of women and girls. Over the years, my sister and I have loved swapping tales and principles from our differing realms of service, and what has been most exciting is how we are seeing a very palpable merging of both movements. Women, not surprisingly, make up the majority of environmental activists. And as women open up to what they truly value, compassion and caring for Earth arises as a powerful central calling.
Our society has not yet benefitted from an empowered feminine perspective which would provide greater access to what the masculine perspective routinely ignores and devalues. Both are needed to perceive the whole of reality accurately and wisely. For movements to move together, the feminine perspective must come forward to tend “connections between,” prioritizing service to the whole over competition and self-protectionism (forms of “fight or flight”). We are seeing more and more women as well as men with a well-developed feminine perspective working along the edges of movements to make connections, to cross-pollinate ideas and to share leadership. This serves the biggest possible purpose: to accelerate the amalgamation of a new and better world. The strengths and message of one movement, when combined with another, become not only twice as resilient and effective but exponentially so.
But what of the need for people to have a simple, easily-understood idea to rally around? I predict that something can and must emerge that is broad and inclusive enough to unify all heart-felt movements, something that gives a clear and simple picture of what the New Story is and will be. What are the unifying values of the New Story? How do our individual heart-callings, dreams and visions fit in? If there is to be a grand movement, no one person or organization can claim it or hoard attention, resources or members. A movement of movements exists not to promote itself, but to serve and nurture the entire family of movements. it emphasizes the connections, which we all share equally and no one group can claim. It highlights the worthiness, strengths and uniqueness of each movement and each person. I believe it should resonate in an almost archetypal way, able to be understood instantly through the heart, and not require lots of words, structures and explanations. It must be able to overcome traditional barriers of gender, culture, education, age, religion and politics. What could this simple, unifying message be?
I would like to make an offering, a single word: “enough.” “Enough” tends to be perceived as a bit of a cliché, so before you dismiss it as simplistic or rudimentary, I'd like to assure you that it is anything but. See if, like me, your heart perceives the much bigger pattern or picture that “enough” brings into sharper focus. It is multi-layered, bridging mind, body, spirit, relationship and culture.
“Enough” calls into focus these unifying and benevolent principles:
We want a world where there is enough for everyone.
I am and you are enough to bring this new and better world forward.
Women are just as enough as men.
The original meaning of the word enough was “together we rise.” In this instruction is the key method for creating and sustaining enough: together. We cannot do it alone. We truly need one another. By combining our unique and diverse talents and abilities, we are weaving together a new reality, a better future that we could never create through separation and competition.
“Enough is enough!” is what we often utter when we are fed up with the status quo. Many movements have used this phrase to signal they will no longer comply with the “powers that be.” It signals a readiness to take matters into one’s own hands. No real liberation from our oppressors is possible until this moment arrives.
What you find at the center of the Old Story’s value system are two abiding beliefs about "not enough":
“There isn’t enough for everyone” which creates systems that create, manage and perpetuate scarcity
“You can never have enough.” which drives greed, over-consumption, waste, hoarding and a thirst for power.
I suggest that these core “never enough” ideas are the glue that have held the Old Story together, manifesting in infinite ways as the 1%, as violence against women, as discrimination, as rationed healthcare, as warfare, as globalization, as diminishing worker wages and so on. It is at this root level of creation that the New Story has its greatest opportunity. The glue to cement the New Story together is the exact opposite: enough.
At the center of the women’s empowerment movement has been a desire on the part of women and girls to be taken seriously, to be valued, to believe that we are as “enough” as men – smart enough, capable enough, wise enough. The unintended fallout of the feminist movement has included the further devaluation of unpaid (women’s) work, spurring a new font line of feminism: what has traditionally been women’s work must be revalued by society as good enough. Whether it is child care, elder care or community-building, there is nothing “lesser than” about women’s work. But because we have been led to believe it is “lesser than” collectively, women tend to be burdened more than men with an internal identification of not being good enough. In my work with women and girls over the years, I have discovered that the most effective method to achieving greater empowerment is to confront the “not enough” lies our inner critic tells us about ourselves.
Most surprising about my “deep dive” into the meaning of enough was the discovery that the word is both the map and the destination. Take a moment to let that sink in, because it is a huge claim. The map (how) and the destination (what). In addition, enough directly links our inner work of healing and self-empowerment to our outer work of being of service to the world. How many words do you know of that can traverse such broad territories?
The Map: How do we empower ourselves as agents of a better world? Enough as a map in brief would look something like this:
1. We do the inner work to liberate ourselves from the learned-helplessness of “I am not enough.”
2. We gather with others in the spirit of unconditional support and acceptance to heal the wounds the “never enough” culture has inflicted upon us personally and collectively. We do this by sharing our stories. These communities of support model “enough” in the way they share, connect, value, deeply listen and support one another. Therefore, they are classrooms which teach us how to enact and sustain the New Story.
3. Once healed and adept at co-creating pockets of the new “enough” culture, we have the skill and confidence to go out into the outer world to seed change, to speak our truths and to stand up for values that ensure enough for all.
4. We become naturally drawn to connect, share and accelerate the kind of world we want, not to compete, hoard resources or feed our egos. We embrace collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas, skills, communities and resources that support the idea of enough for all. We share leadership. We learn to trust and to be trustworthy.
The destination: A world where there is enough for everyone, including for our families, our communties, Earth and future generations. Who could disagree with this?
Imagine such a world, how relaxing, harmonious, secure, peaceful and nurturing it would feel to you if you knew you would always have enough and that what you most wanted to contribute to the world is acknowledged and valued as perfectly enough!
In the very least, what you concentrate on grows, so if you committed to shift any part of your thinking from “not enough” scarcity, shame and fear to “enough” abundance, self-love and optimism, you will have accomplished a great deal not only for yourself but for the world. Inner shifts lead to outer shifts.
Whatever movement or cause feeds your soul, it is my sincere hope that the “Enough Message” offers nourishment and encouragement for your important work. I hope it reinforces that we are connected through our common unmet needs and longings and through our similar heart-led visions, hopes and dreams. We are connected whether we can see it or not, and together we are reassembling a world that works for everyone. We need to listen to acknowledge that we are wise enough to be able to trust our inner callings and know that we each have a sacred and unique place in midwifing the emerging whole. Whatever you are doing or experiencing, whether it is healing yourself or gathering others together, sitting quietly or speaking loudly, it is all perfectly enough right here and right now. Truly it is and You. Are. Enough.
You can find out more about the Enough Work at www.lauriemccammon.com or at our online store: www.theenoughmessage.com