“When civilizations start to die they go insane.” So begins a recent piece by Chris Hedges. “Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt,” he says. “Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged.” Hedges argues that the quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth in the face of less and less to exploit leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death.
The story is clear: we have had, for example, a year of majority federal government implementing funding cuts, the scuttling of traditional safeguards such as environmental reviews, job slashing, and a shocking repression of information flow.
Bigger than even the federal government, this decisive movement unfurls in every area of life. We are a monoculture, a society in which all other stories that might mitigate this tyranny are either reinterpreted or discarded. Medicine, education, physical and spiritual health, and community have all been reinterpreted in the light of the meta-story of economics (cf. an important little book, Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything, by F.S. Michaels.
Everything is trumped by the overarching dictates of Mammon. The marriage of economic/political power unilaterally hammering its agenda throughout society calls me, drives me, to prayer.
Today, on the way to meet with my spiritual director I heard interviews about the recent move to gut the power of the fisheries ministry in the name of efficiency and progress. None other than the former Minister of Fisheries (under the Conservative Government of Brian Mulroney) stated that he is appalled at the way in which the laws protecting the environment are being eviscerated. He was the one that formulated the present fisheries regulations in the first place!
How will I pray in the face of this powerful agenda? I am enraged. I am desperate. I am afraid. I am in grief!
I need to pray my the grief that floods through my whole being. But how shall I pray? Denial? I cannot deny the direction of a totalitarian commitment to economic goals at the expense of all else. Rage? Plenty of rage, enough to make me lose sleep. Bargaining is the useless charade called townhouse meetings and stakeholder input. Depression is the only stage of grief left. But I am not willing to collapse into depression. It has immobilized me long enough.
“O Mysterious One, perhaps I can begin by welcoming these deep movements, as they are, without responding destructively out of a blundering reactivity. Hold me in this fragile time.
“I pour out my rage and my temptation to despair. Receive the boiling torrent inside me. Don’t let me deny or squelch these frightening movements. Care for the fear that rubs my face in the spectre of a world already too wounded to recover. Hollow out my cynical and judgmental self.
“Free me to see that Your Presence is in the intensity of the rage and fear – that visceral longing for healing in our world. Keep it alive! Purify me until this chaotic agony of surging emotions becomes the free energy of your Spirit to act on behalf of Love.
“Implant a growing trust that will take me deeper into surrender and courage, and may Your life flow through me into truthful, courageous, and free action. Yikes!
“Finally, Dear God, even if the actions I choose make no obvious difference in the so-called ‘big scheme of things,’ I will act anyway. I will trust that you can do more than we could ask or think to bring life to tiny seeds. I will offer these concrete choices to you as my little gift of love.”