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Cultural Butterfly


There is a crack in everything . . . That’s how LIFE gets OUT!

What’s cracking (open)? What NEEDS to crack (open)? What’s emerging?

You’ve probably heard the line from Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem, “There is a crack, a crack in everything . . . that’s how the light gets in”.

As I see it, the cracks are also how life itself gets out of whatever structure has been holding it. For example, a baby chick doesn’t hatch without cracking the egg. No cracks? No baby chick. A human baby is born after the amniotic sac breaks.

So the cracks are not just for light to get in, but also for new LIFE to get OUT.

As Tuli Kupferberg said, “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.”

(Be sure to go to the end of this blog for a beautiful and unusual visual example of that--of life and nature in an unexpected, asymmetrical, harmonious relationship).

With all the disruptions and unravelings that people are experiencing on so many levels, it’s clear to me that we’re in labor, collectively and culturally. And as anyone who has ever been involved with the birth of a baby knows full well, it’s NOT COMFORTABLE!

If we understand it from this perspective, it means there’s nothing “wrong” here, even with the upset, pain, fear, anger, confusion, and all the other emotions that go with this process.

It means this is not a “problem”, and we don’t need to try to “fix” what we think is “the problem.” In fact, we CAN’T “fix” it. That’s not possible.

Instead, I’m curious. With these labor pains,

What’s cracking (open)?

What NEEDS to crack (open)?

What wants to, is trying to, emerge?

What is already emerging?

In your life? In our lives?

The inner, as well as the outer?

Here are a few of our cultural patterns in which I’m seeing cracks:

Pattern #1:

Our belief in human supremacy over all the other beings on the Earth is not accurate and not working. Lynne Twist in her 9/14/2022 blog says, "In assuming the role of masters of the planet, we humans have lost our place in the universe. From this misleading mindset, we've given ourselves permission to extract, to dominate, and to destroy the very life support system we depend on and of which we are part. We don't live in an ecosystem, we are part of an ecosystem. . . . Ending human supremacy, locating ourselves as part of Nature rather than above it, and embracing the sacredness of all of life means that we are being called to an entirely different relationship with Mother Earth. (Emphasis added)

Similar to Lynne’s perspective, Bill Plotkin gives a very different view than usual of our relationship with the Earth and our role here on the planet in his Journey of Soul Initiation: A Field Guide for Evolutionaries, Revolutionaries, and Visionaries:

“Soul, for me, is an ecological concept, not a psychological one nor a spiritual or religious one. . . By human Soul, I mean a person’s unique place, not in human culture, but in the greater Earth community . . . Each individual Soul is a participant in Earth’s Soul . . . the ultimate goal of the journey of soul initiation [is] not individual self-discovery and fulfillment, but cultural renaissance and the evolution of our species and planet.” (Emphasis added)

Their “Introduction to Soulcraft” program speaks to this:

“There is a great longing in each one of us — a longing to uncover the secrets and mysteries of our individual lives, to find the unique gift we were born to bring to our communities, and to experience our full membership in the more-than-human world. This journey to soul is . . . a journey quite distinct from the transcendence aspired to in many eastern spiritual disciplines. In the contemporary Western world, we live as if the spiritual descent is no longer necessary . . . “

In my mind, these perspectives offer a more powerful “raison d'être” than the individual achievement and self-actualization we’ve pursued in our Western culture.

Pattern #2:

Our hyper-independence, hyper-individualism is very ingrained in our masculine-oriented “heroic” cultural narrative with the myth of the strong independent “self-made” person. However, we can’t become ourselves only for ourselves.

For example, The Blackfoot Origins of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: How Indigenous Ways of Life May Offer Us a Way Forward with Origins in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” points out, “Whereas mainstream American narratives focus on the individual, the Blackfoot way of life offers an alternative resulting in a community that leaves no one behind.” Abraham Maslow spent six weeks living with the people on the Blackfoot Reserve in the summer of 1938. During this time, “he did not see the quest for dominance in Blackfoot society. Instead, he discovered astounding levels of cooperation, minimal inequality, restorative justice, full bellies, and high levels of life satisfaction.”

“The Blackfoot culture . . . involves trusting people and granting them space to express who they are rather than “making” them the best they can be." In that First Nations perspective, Self-Actualization is the foundation for Community Actualization, which leads to Cultural Perpetuity and flourishing. Maslow’s “self-actualization” model misses the context and acknowledgment of the necessity of healthy, actualized community for thriving. (Emphases added)

Pattern #3:

ThePusher/Striver/Driverpattern (as I’ve called it) is defunct:

You have to be the “right” person and jump through all the “right” hoops for external approval. You have to treat yourself, other beings, and the Earth as COMMODITIES to be controlled and consumed. You have to PRODUCE and PERFORM constantly like a machine with no downtown in order to get external rewards, e.g. privilege, prestige, money, etc.”

Moe Carrick gives a great example of this in her 1/6/23 blog, Do you ever feel guilty when you just can't get into working? I hear and see others’ (and have my own personal experience of) disillusionment with this. What possible new life might be showing through this crack?

Pattern #4:

The Conquer, Command and Controlpattern isn’t serving us. Seth Godin’s 1/10/2023 blog “The end of the high school essay” gives a good example:

New York City schools are trying to ban GPT3 because it’s so good at writing superficial essays that it undermines the command structure of the essay as a sorting tool . . . The opportunity going forward remains the same: Bringing insight and guts to interesting problems.”

These are only a few of the patterns and paradigms I see cracking (open) and beginning to shape-shift because all of these are interlocking patterns in a whole world-view, a whole system. Are you seeing examples of these, or seeing other patterns?

The article Is Polycrisis the Right Word for Our Times? states that . . . “ ‘advanced’ hierarchical human societies respond to challenges created by their complexity with ever more complexity. This may work in the short-term but usually leads to the underlying crises worsening and less capacity in the long run to withstand the consequences when the music finally stops.” (Emphasis added)

Michael Meade, in his podcast “Of Time and Timelessness” says, “. . . as an archetypal image, apocalypse presents a time of great extremes and a tension of opposites that includes both end and beginning, both collapse and renewal . . . it is not simply a better world that we urgently need, but also a better world view.” (Emphasis added)

Bill Plotkin’s words have deep wisdom: “We must now collectively weave a cocoon for the metamorphosis of our own species” (Journey of Soul Initiation: A Field Guide for Evolutionaries, Revolutionaries, and Visionaries).

Doing so means taking heart in this statement: “Emergence is the closest thing to magic that is actually a scientific term.” This article explains:

“Emergence is a process of attractive forces . . . phenomena drawn to different aspects of itself . . . giving rise to relationship . . . non-random patterns of connection . . . then to ‘synergy’ . . . a whole that is qualitatively different and often greater from the sum of its parts . . . and then emergence, which is about how that ‘greater’ manifests. The key to finding our way towards a viable and desirable future lies in improving the quality of relationships of all kinds . . . the nature and meaning of emergence is about . . . the possibility of a different intentional stance towards the world, grounded in receptivity, intuition and subtlety rather than ideology, reason and force.” (Emphasis added)

Here’s an expression of life and nature in an unexpected, asymmetrical, harmonious relationship:

Cracks . . . emergence . . . new life, anyone?

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