“Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky, and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept us safe among them… The animals had rights – the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness. This concept of life and its relations filled us with the joy and mystery of living; it gave us reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.”
~ Chief Luther Standing Bear
The first thing we learn in life coaching is to listen. Not the listening to get information while the focus is still on us (my opinions, my assumptions, my judgement, my curiosity, my anticipation of what’s said,my preparation of my response); nor even the listening to “read” emotions, silences and meaning between the lines of what’s said (still charged of assumptions and ego); but the deep listening that makes the world around, including judgement almost disappear completely, so we can truly focus on the other, true compassion, true listening.
The second thing we learn is how to make powerful questions. Not questions to satiate our curiosity or manipulate the other to say or do; but questions to allow the other think, feel and reflect, to find their own answer and become empowered from within.
The US elections “shock” many are still processing is a demonstration of poor listening and lack of deep questions: we haven’t been paying attention to people, we haven’t been asking deep questions.
There is an enemy lurking within and around us: our arrogance and belief that we know what others need, what their expectations are, what they believe on and how they feel. We tend to read the same type of media, surround ourselves with the same type of friends. Then we end up thinking that everyone else is on the same page, and become surprised when reality shows us differently. The groupthink makes us “righteous” and whoever doesn’t belong to our circles, “others”.
Insulting and diminishing people are also ways of not listening. Labelling, calling names and assuming beliefs and behaviours which may not reflect the reality of every voter deepens the division and makes everyone deaf and blind to each other.
This is not an US only issue, this is a global issue. Not only what happens in the US affects the rest of the world (after all, the US has been deciding international issues since at least the end of WWII), but what happened there (same as Brexit in UK) may and probably will happen in other countries too and for exactly the same reasons: we are not listening nor asking deeper questions to each other and the world.
There are already seven billion of us and growing, and each and everyone has different beliefs and dreams, but there are certain common values that go beyond any individual or community stories, needs, beliefs or expectations: we all belong to this planet and have the same need for climate stability, biodiversity, clean air and water and healthy soils as those are the foundations of life as we know it.
Not only we need to learn to listen to each other deeply, not only we need to be more compassionate and ask powerful questions, we also need to listen to the Earth and her inhabitants if nothing, because our own lives and that of future generations depend on them. Anything lesser will only ensure a thread of abuse, discrimination, wars, oppression, violence, pollution, and in a not so faraway future, extinction.
In the aftermath, I too have asked myself “what now?” How does this change, if any, my own path? What is my role as a mother and partner, my role with myself, my role as a life coach and community facilitator? Do any of these roles need to change, be suppressed or enhanced? Is there anything I need to do differently? Would anything I do as an individual help in this deep listening and questioning we all need to engage?
I read many posts from others. The consensus is the same: now more than ever we need to use compassion, we need to listen and engage. Those of us with privilege (and we all have some level of it, being aware and awake is a huge privilege in itself) need to be using it as a tool to support those who may not have a voice or may have been silenced; to be there for those who may become or have already become a target of deafness and blindness and for those who may need a hand to see their path clearer in times of darkness. We need to support each other in our weaknesses and failures and celebrate our successes and dreams. As the author of Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype says in her last post: “we have prepared ourselves for this.”
But what I haven’t read or heard is what I propose here, which is something that has been calling me for months now, with its voice becoming stronger each day that passes: we need to listen to the Earth, and her voice may show the path ahead for each one of us, the only path that’s ethical and makes sense.
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
~ Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space