This is our call to “upgrade” our consciousness and our culture.
The Cultural Butterfly Project catalyzes, inspires, and amplifies a particular kind of culture—of compassion, connectedness, caring, cooperation, generosity, kindness, the sacredness of all life, and commitment to the greater good and well-being of all.
The COVID-19 pandemic, together with the brutal murder of George Floyd, have created massive social disruption and upheaval. With the pandemic, the upheaval has been inward-turning, a shutdown of life as usual. With George Floyd’s murder, it is an outward-turning uprising, a revolution. Andrea Balt in her 6/11/2020 blog, calls it “going from the greatest House Arrest in history to a global Revolution in a matter of days”.
George Floyd’s murder and the resulting protests have illuminated the systemic racism, bigotry, privilege, disconnection, and “empire” compete/conquer/control/dominate culture that has been our culture for 400 years in the U.S., and longer in other parts of the world. This must change, and it is in the process of changing.
Out of this disruption and deconstruction of our usual life, on both the inner and outer levels, I see some encouraging signs indicating that our collective consciousness is beginning to shift toward an emerging culture of the kind I described above. Breakdowns give openings and opportunities for breakthroughs. As Jimi Hendrix said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
One example is activist Amisha Harding, a Black Lives Matter protester in Atlanta. She said about the early days of the protests, “You could feel the heaviness and the darkness.” Her answer: unity, kindness, music, wall art and the macarena.
She and her cousin decided that if they could create a space for everyone to have their say without shouting, that might de-escalate the tension and even introduce an element of joy in the fight for justice. The result is what Harding calls Healing Walls They provided a place where people could write down their thoughts. The walls have attracted people of all ages and backgrounds to speak their minds without raising their voices.
Then she curated a playlist of R&B, soca, reggae, gospel and hip-hop music to shift the energy and lighten the mood. After hanging her first Healing Wall and setting up loudspeakers to play Bob Marley, Beyoncé and Machel Montano, she approached a phalanx of armed guards in riot gear. “Heeeeey,” she called out in greeting. “I’m Amisha! I’m a friendly protester. How are y’all feeling today? How are your families feeling about your being out here? What do you think about what’s going on in the world?” It took a minute before the officers’ stunned silence and shocked expressions gave way to smiles of recognition when they realized Harding was sincere. Then everything shifted. One Guardsman explained how he understood why people were so angry — which only complicated an already difficult job for him. Another’s eyes filled with tears in response to Harding’s simple act of kindness and hospitality. And a third blurted, “Can I take a picture with you? I love you!”
Since that night, hundreds of selfies have been snapped and hugs exchanged between unlikely allies. On June 5 she was deputized to help maintain order when Major Trey Constantine asked her to assist in enforcing the 9 p.m. curfew.It was Harding’s turn to be shocked before realizing the request was sincere. So she lifted her megaphone and improvised the call and response, “WHEN I SAY CURFEW, YOU SAY ‘GO HOME!'” As the crowd disbursed peacefully, a handful of teenagers infiltrated the space and started to shout obscenities at the officers. They were no match for the immediate clap back. “Leave them alone,” the protesters said. “You can’t come around here with that bad energy. These [Guardsmen and police officers] are our friends.” Amisha Harding said, “We intentionally made space for joy, peace and unity, and what we invited into the space came into the space.”
A second example that has gone viral is of Patrick Hutchinson, a Black Lives Matter protester who came to the rescue of a white counter-protester who was injured at an anti-racism rally in London. Hutchinson saw that the man was injured. “His life was under threat,” Hutchinson recalled. “I sort of just thought, ‘Well, if he stays here, he’s not gonna make it.’” As Hutchinson’s friends formed a protective ring around the injured man, Hutchinson hoisted him onto his shoulders and carried him away from the crowd, then passed the injured man off to nearby police officers. He has been hailed as a hero, but Hutchinson says he simply wanted to do the right thing: “I want to see equality for everybody. I am a father, a grandfather and I would love to see my young children, my young grandchildren, my nieces, my nephews have a better world than I have lived in.” The caption of this photo of Hutchinson carrying the injured man could well be “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”, from a song by that name that was a 1970 worldwide hit for The Hollies.
The lyrics to that song seem fitting here:
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
The road is long With many a winding turn That leads us to who knows where Who knows where But I'm strong Strong enough to carry him He ain't heavy, he's my brother.
A third example comes from Lynne McTaggart in her June 19, 2020 blog. She describes the response of sheriff Chris Swanson of Genesee County in Flint, Michigan, to a demonstration against police brutality that occurred in Flint, Michigan on May 30. He’d showed up with helmet and batons, but when other officers began trying to de-escalate the mood by putting down their batons, he pulled off his helmet. ‘I want to be with you all for real,’ he said.
‘I want this to be a parade, not a protest.’ He then asked what the people wanted him and the other police to do. ‘Walk with us!’ shouted one member of the crowd, which then started chanting in unison, ‘Walk with us. Walk with us.’ Chris Swanson said sure, and he did just that. And to this day there has been no violence in Flint, no fires, no defaced buildings. Swanson has connected with the African-American community and has made them a promise: to root out racism among the police force, there and elsewhere. And they trust that he means it.
The last example I’ll share here is of a new website Pandemic of Love, which connected 132,000 people in need with those who can help. Shelly Tygielski, a mindfulness teacher in Florida, launched her website in Fort Lauderdale after seeing people around her losing their jobs. Worried not just about money, but also their health amidst the COVID-19 crisis, her social media feeds grew abuzz with fear and anxiety—and Shelly sensed an opportunity in the difficulty. “I wanted to turn from this environment of fear to an opportunity for us to create connection, community and strengthen the bonds of love between us.”
It all started out very simply, when Shelly posted a video on her Instagram on March 14. She announced a new program aimed at connecting those with a need due to loss of income with those who are in a position of privilege and able to be of service. When she went to bed that night, she wasn’t sure how much good her efforts would do. By morning, she had received 400 requests for assistance and 500 offers of help. “I really just thought this would be a community thing for the South Florida community, for the people who come to our meditation group on Sundays, and that’s it—and that would’ve been enough,” she said.
People in all corners of the world inspired by Shelly’s compassion soon set up similar online exchanges in their own communities under her Love Pandemic banner. In addition to the many groups that sprang up around the U.S., people have been using the Pandemic of Love website to offer assistance in 16 countries so far, including Mexico, Iceland, Chile, and Australia. As of June 4, the platform had raised more than $13 million and has connected 132,000 people with the help they need. Reflecting on what the project has meant to her, Shelly said: “On a personal level, it shows me that a person can make a difference when you aggregate this act of kindness. You know viruses can be scary things, but the word ‘viral’ does not have to be negative. A lot of positive things can go viral like hope and faith and love. And love can be the cure.”
As I said, this is our call to “upgrade” our consciousness and our culture.
I appreciate the way Andrea Balt describes the potential and choice we have in this time: “To transform the mess and pain and loss (of freedoms, people, human life and rights) many of us have been experiencing in the last 3 months (or 400 years) into a soulful and uplifting and freeing work of art that we can proudly call our Life. To change the narrative from one of survival and disempowerment to a story of resilience and aliveness. To look back on this year not as the Year of Destruction, Loss of Lives and Livelihoods and Basic Freedoms, or as the Year of the biggest Human Rights Violation, Manipulation and Oppression in history… But as the Year of Introspection, Transformation, and Empowerment. The Year of our Creative Awakening and our Personal Revolution. The year of reclaiming ourselves from everything that insults our souls and dismisses the sacredness of our lives. To remember 2020 as the year we woke up to our worth, our truth, our kindness, our interconnectedness and our immense creative power. The year we stopped lying to ourselves.”
It’s our time, now, to be the ones we’ve been waiting for. This requires both our individual and our collective transformation.
I’m in this game! Care to join me?
My work is inspiring new perspectives, reframing perceptions, reorienting our lives for more aliveness and well-being, and helping us make this transition as easily as possible.
Does this resonate with you, interest you? Contact me!