We are called upon, I believe, to participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
In The Art Of Living, which is valuable to me in anxious times, and which I am reading once more, Joseph Campbell writes that when we talk about the world's problems, and when we talk and fight and obsess about fixing and setting the world's problems, we are wasting our precious time and energy and strength.
The world is perfect, he writes. The world is a mess.
Historians and mystics know that the world has always been a mess, every generation from the first says so.
Since human beings began to evolve, the world has been a mess almost all of the time, getting better in some ways, worse in others. I am not gloomy about life, but I have long believed – like many of the prophets – that it is the destiny of human beings to eventually destroy their Mother, the Earth, in one way or another.
It seems a part of the human condition, of our genes, to succumb to greed, domination, violence, envy and hatred. And also to search for peace and love and hope and compassion.
All of these feelings are a part of us, and always have been.
Perhaps through war, perhaps through the greed and plunder that is ravaging the planet, the mess grows. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we are inflicting on her.
This may seem gloomy to you, but it is not gloomy to me. It is liberating, honest and profoundly spiritual for me. Like many times before, this seems like especially troubled times to many thinking and aware people. The world is a mess. It is comforting just to say it.
Campbell cautions us to open our eyes, and accept that we are not going to change it.
It is too big for us, too much for any human to take on.
We can live in joy or succumb to argument and despair.
In our lives, all of the problems of the world are brought into our head, a hundred times a day.
We don't hear about the slaughter of innocents days later, or for one or two days. Tragedy and horror are embedded into our neural systems, into our consciousness. They become us.
The suffering of the world – always profound and widespread, is no longer distant or remote – it shapes the way in which we look at the world and feel. The seers and exploiters love to tell us this is bringing us all together, but it is also tearing us apart.
We are not going to change it, at least not by looking outward, by watching the news, by arguing in front of a computer. Our job is to straighten out our lives, do our own good, bring meaning to our lives.
The world is perfect, the world is a mess. Being alive is the meaning.
It has always been a mess, and history reminds us that it will always be a mess. I accept that, it is liberating, and it frees me to do good in ways that were not imaginable to me to just a few months ago. That is my joyful noise.
My job has been to straighten myself out, and I have accept that task and work hard at it, and will be working at it until I drop. I am willing to get rid of the life I've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for me.