We are in the midst of a globally explosive transformation, a renaissance of sorts, with no boundaries? We are experiencing a full-scale re-formation of our society no matter where we live. We are passengers on a train speeding to an undefined destination creating a sense of disorientation, fatigue, and impotence in the process. It’s like witnessing a horrific head-on crash, viewing Kennedy’s assassination, seeing a filmed tsunami with after-effects on innocent people, seeing the horror of 9/11 or this transformative global Pandemic.
Global spontaneity moves from shock, horror and a punch-in-the-stomach feeling. We are momentarily stunned to digest it all. Then, this disruptive moment brings out the opposite of the reality we are living. We feel something new. We observe reality with a new lens. The fog is lifting; the cataracts have been removed. We see more clearly and we meet our own innate goodness, our hearts swell in compassion for another coupled with an immense connection with affected strangers; we experience a sense of belonging to a world bigger than we experienced yesterday. We mourn; we have an insatiable desire to do something to let victims know we care. Why does it take an event most recently the murder of George Floyd to bring these emotions to the surface? In polemic contradistinction, some respond with reason and understanding in search of root causes while others pillage and plunder in their uncontrolled anger or opportunity seeking to wield the greatest hurt possible released by the hole in their own hearts.
We want to dialogue about that in ways we have not engaged in prior. Right now, questions are more important than the answers they may hold. That’s precisely why we are holding a Peoples Synod to examine this phenomenon. If these statements and questions make you think in a different way, come share your thoughts and feelings to expand our collective horizons to hidden opportunities underpinning the future-post pandemic.
Change is coming at the speed of light and we have no safety net holding us in a past no longer relevant; we have no train ticket defining the destination. When we were children, we reached for the merry-go-round’s brass ring causing us to stretch beyond our comfort zone. It was risky with more than 50% potential for falling and splattering to the ground. We are in that moment, a real crossroads. We are the lobster in the pot of cold water soon to become someone’s dinner as the heat is being turned up. Are we choosing to let it happen by chance? Where is the proactive thinking and planning?
Why does it take an event to bring us to who we really are and come in part to be authenticity? It is not accidental that our response to disruption in extreme times is different than in quiet times. It happened to St. Paul when he fell off his horse. What is it about disruption? It is a moment of shock, a metanoia, a startling, transformative moment when blinders are ripped off and we see things differently. It is a time when the research and technologies that have been developing for years debut and innovation predictably soars. Why is that? As exciting as news of the future is, lets be mindful that often solutions can become tomorrow’s new problems and so it is with these times.
Driverless cars, trucks, ships will be the norm; it’s being predicted that soon people will neither need their own vehicles nor a garage because of the rise of Uber (what are the positive/negative consequences of that?). Garages could become additional living spaces with no additional cost to anyone OR expensive real estate used as parking lots in large cities will be a thing of the past, etc. opening up new high-end commercial of residential space, OR medical research and advances have moved to robotics in precision surgeries effecting less human error, implants are becoming proactive remedies to existing conditions, workers by-and-large are choosing to work from home more than ever, education has demonstrated effectively students can be taught through many different methods at home through computers. Consequences percolating within every technological solution mentioned are mind altering. Each will continue to distance us from the relationships that help us survive and thrive. Are we aware of this?
We thrive when we are connected, when are touched physically and/or emotionally. Responses in times of tragedy bring out our authenticity also challenging the coveted lifestyle we’ve had before. Though, in current times that is not possible. Relationships, good, solid, deep relationships help make us healthy, make us whole. We need to be connected; we need to be in community, we need to be present to one another so that loneliness and eventually, anger do not overtake us to extreme, negative anti-social behaviors that can only destroy.
Suicides are on the rise, violence in the streets and violent rhetoric are our responses to a destination we choose not to be in. We never bought the train ticket to nowhere. It’s not who we are as people. We unconsciously lash out as we feel alone on that train to nowhere, where disorientation, fatigue, and impotence to some destination that we never chose, nor want, is imminent.
So what do we do about this? We are holding a series of provocative dialogue sessions, Sacred Circles. Why sacred? Why circles? Sacred because it is a time like no time when we have been “called” to be aware of the Divine within. Circles because there is no biased agenda with a forecasted outcome; for that dialogue moment there are leaders in every chair. It is an ancient practice being used since the beginning of time to recognize the wisdom of the whole without looking for an authoritative leader to define where the train is going. Three of our four sessions will have a speaker to share their personal discoveries. Einstein’s famous quote: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” and that mindset will help us break out of the lobster pot, out of the box of being in a dysfunctional system whether it be church or society and look at our options. We will not be about talking points that take on a life of their own. Rather, we are newly called architects of a future that no one is dealing with.
Pope Francis says we are upending the structural pyramid of power in the Church but what does that mean for you and me? Don’t tell me what my role is. Let my giftedness define it. Who is preparing the clerical culture with a new vision, new roles, new responsibilities? Who is preparing the People of God to live their faith intentionally and de-couple our faith from old institutional structures to give the faith more practical? How are global societies working with their citizenry to balance the demands and flexibility of change with relational losses and what consequences does failure play in this conundrum? As the People of God, how do we become more proactive than reactive, less concerned with the symptoms of a problem than its root cause? How do we overcome the feeling of powerlessness to emerge as a co-owner of society as we dream it could be whether it be nationally, regionally or locally?
Provocative questions such as these are the directions we must head in to engage as adults in the realities about us. Come, add your own popping curiosity, fizz and sparkle to the dialogue.