What to do about Doomsday?

May 23, 2011 Comments Off on What to do about Doomsday?

This evening, I’m joining Samantha Tan, Maria and Greg Jobin-Leeds in hosting a Walk Out Walk On book party with our friend, co-author Deborah Frieze.  I appreciated Deborah’s take on this past weekend’s rapture madness – the following is from her blog post on the topic – Doomsday comes and goes. How come we keep falling for it?

What’s got my attention this Doomsday morning is humanity’s continuing appetite for some externalized escape route from our current circumstances. Whether we get to transcend the mess we’ve made by ascending to heaven, or we gain new superpowers through enlightenment, either way we’re seeking to bypass the long, slow slog through the muck of our industrial errors. If there is a god, I’m thinking he or she probably isn’t inclined to reward us for how we’ve behaved thus far on the planet. Doesn’t it seem more likely that we’d be required to clean things up a bit before we get to eat our ice cream and cake?

Perhaps the gift we’re receiving in these times is the ample opportunity we have to make the world a better place. Everywhere we look, there’s something or someone that could use our attention. I recently learned that the Boston school district will be shutting down more than a dozen schools—most of which serve low-income neighborhoods. This is no surprise. As budgets tighten, the burden often falls disproportionately on communities of color. This is one of those moments when attempting to fix the system feels most hopeless, frustrating and impenetrable. It is one of those moments when transcendence might feel like the only way out.

But I believe there is another way, and it doesn’t include attempting to fix a system that is already well on its way into collapse. Rather than waiting for another world to come to us, I believe we can begin to build the world we want right here, on this planet, with the level of consciousness we have today. This will require the radical act on our part of walking out of systems that are failing us, and walking on to experiment with new ways of strengthening our communities. In the case of schools, that might mean pulling our children out of the school system and turning to one another to create neighborhood learning spaces which replace schooling with discovery.

I know how radical that sounds. I know it may even sound like privilege. It is only because I have witnessed communities step into this experiment that I dare suggest it—communities like Shikshantar and Unitierra that I wrote about in Walk Out Walk On. And communities throughout the United States as well, where people also recognize that it’s time to stop waiting for someone else to create the change we wish for.

Where do you find yourself waiting for change?

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  • Charlie Jones says:

    This is really good – we need to figure out how to give a voice to good ideas in a way that will make folks buy in (sort of like the way the end of the world was marketed these last few weeks) I mean, if one can believe the world is coming to an end, why cannot one believe that this world is worth saving? OH.. right… that would require WORK – not just waiting for some mythological deity to come along and save us from the mess we’ve made.

  • Gibrán says:

    Hey Charlie – I’m appreciating your perspective on this, specially the part about taking responsibility and doing the work.