It would be difficult to deny that humanity is in crisis at the moment. Apart from COVID-19 which threatens the health and economics of every nation on Earth, there is the climate change problem, wealth inequities and a 75% increase in homelessness since 2010, the acceleration of mass extinctions, and more.
The English word “crisis” comes from the Greek word “krisis” meaning decision. A crisis is a turning point: a crescendo or climax of a problem at which a decision must be made to turn the tide. According to Merriam Webster, a crisis is (a) the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever; (b) a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function; (c) an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is [needed]; (d) a situation that has reached a critical phase.
It is through crisis that evolution occurs. This is true for biological species, such as the frogs that mutate when the streams become polluted. We adapt to biological events that threaten our existence because we must. In our personal lives it often takes an emotional crisis before we embark on a personal journey to change ourselves and the patterns that brought us to that difficult place.
This idea from medicine that a crisis is a turning point for better or for worse, a decisive moment when the patient will either improve or die, sums up where we are at the moment on Planet Earth. Unfortunately, humans often tend to be more reactive than proactive. We put off the hard decisions til tomorrow so that we can have a momentary pleasure today, and we fail to plan for times of crisis when a decision will need to be made.
This sounds depressing, and it can be, but times of crisis can be the richest periods of our lives. Astrologically, the years between 37 and 43 are marked by a series of “midlife crisis transits.” (geeky astrological details: beginning with the square of transiting Pluto to Pluto in the natal chart between age 37-40 and extending through age 41-43 with the opposition of Uranus to Uranus in the natal chart and the square from transiting Neptune to Neptune in the natal chart.) These years are the most difficult in a person’s life, but they also bring about the greatest personal transformation and evolution.
Where’s the inspiration, you may be wondering? The answer is that as individuals we can use this time to enrich our lives with the things that bring us more meaning, and as a community or nation we can bring about deep change. I love these words from Elisabet Sahtouris:
Our choice now is whether to sit mourning the demise of easy credit, fast food, year-round Christmas glitter shopping malls and failed promises of happy retirements, or whether to recognize and act on these failures in positive ways. Can we see how our world neighbours paid the price of our conveniences while we ignored the real responsibilities of democracy, letting our wealth be misused, while health care, education and real security eroded under our noses? Will we declare our solidarity with each other around the globe, roll up our sleeves, and do the positive work needed to develop clean energy sources, move coastal cities uphill, reinvent money, green deserts, and cooperate in all our cultural and religious diversity to build a world that works for all, whether or not our governments follow our lead?
It took no more than a few human lifespans to get ourselves into the deep trouble we are in. If we truly search out what went wrong, and take advantage of what went right, in another single lifespan we can undo the damage and create a happier lifestyle for all surviving humans and all other surviving species.
While many people find the confluence of current crises so overwhelming that they see little hope for humanity, I continue to be optimistic and excited about the wonderful opportunities at hand for building a thriving future for a number of reasons. First and foremost, more and more scientists are recognizing that the creation story science brought us turns out not to be valid! The universe we thought to be non-living, meaningless matter running down to its own destruction by entropy has been seriously called into question. Under that bleak story we comforted ourselves by building a materialistic consumer culture on cut-throat competition so the ‘haves’ could get what we could and enjoy life as our universe crumbled.
The good news of a happier and more inspiring story comes from information that science itself produced. No small number of theoretical physicists trained in quantum theory came to the conclusion that ancient consciousness-based Eastern cosmologies are more accurately descriptive of our universe than the Western science story — that the universe is not meaningless matter but rooted in living consciousness, not running down but recreating itself instant by instant from that ‘implicate order,’ to use the term David Bohm introduced. Best of all, we are co-creators in this scheme, neither its remote observers, nor victims of its blind and fateful forces (Sahtouris 2008).
We can now see that Earth’s species can and do learn how inefficient and expensive the youthful phase of mutually destructive and hostile competition becomes, and reap the rewards of collaboration that is mutually beneficial, as clearly seen in mature ecosystems. Every crisis on our planet created the stress that became an opportunity for further evolution, with Nature on our side in a grand learning process. …
And so I repeat that the greatest crises we face are our most wonderful challenges and our greatest opportunities to build the world of which we dream. All that is required is that we change our story of How Things Are in the universe Einstein suspected was truly friendly, to adopt the truly inspiring story of a co-creative living universe, and to live that happier future right NOW in every way we possibly can.
As Rumi said, so simply, so eloquently, so truly:
WHY DO YOU STAY IN PRISON WHEN THE DOOR IS SO WIDE OPEN?