In 1971, jazz musician Gil Scott-Heron rapped “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”*. A classic rant against an oppressive racist culture, it reminds us that dramatic changes in the world do not happen on a screen.
As we enter the last days of 2019, the ‘screen’ plays out in the spin of social media. In ghastly news clips and alarming stories, we are regularly reeled into realms of survival panic and groundlessness. In a media bubble of horror and anesthetizing, (funny cat videos, anyone?), we get trapped in a hopeless cycle of dread and inertia.
The mud of our collective and personal fears gets stirred up not only by social media, but also by truths we are now facing in very concrete terms. All life, including human life, is being threatened by the very real dangers of rapidly changing climate conditions on our planet. Can any of us afford to look away? And if we can rouse ourselves from this sense of powerlessness, what is the next step?
A verse in the ancient Tao te Ching asks:
“Do you have the patience to wait
till the mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?” **
Under the current circumstances, it may feel ill advised, or even self-destructive, to be patient. How radical is it to unbind ourselves from the cacophony of the twitchy media, and step into the deeper waters of our own truths? How radical, and how necessary is it?
Lucy H. Pearce offers another perspective on how we as individuals can foment a revolution on a personal level:
“We often fear that the revolution needed is too big.
That we are too small.
But all that is required
is that you step into the truth of your life.
And speak it, write it, paint it, dance it.”***
Lao-Tzu reminds us to be still, and listen.
Pearce reminds us to heed the call, and step into our truths.
Prayer, and action. Is this what revolution is?
For me, prayer is feeling my feet upon Mother Earth and breathing deeply. It is noticing the low, slow, hum that vibrates the web of all beings. It is receiving the first few notes of the song in my heart. It is listening.
I feel ‘action’ when I allow the song to move freely through me. I feel it in the power of earth’s cyclical rhythms and my own vitality. I feel it when I move from listening into expression and connection.
There is a shift waiting to happen, within each of us. A tiny seed is planted in the quiet, fertile soil within you. Your little song is a radical sapling of change. When you infuse your life with creative vision, your aliveness comes to the fore. You take risks; a green branch breaking through the soil in the spring.
The revolution is small, and it is big. It is not grandiose. It is not born from external alarms, or media flashes, although they may come. The revolution is the deep movement of you returning to you, and to the ancient call of heart and soul that has never abandoned you. It is moving forward with this truth. The revolution is walking with the profound wholeness of what is, into he rhythm of possibilities yet to unfold. It is each of us, weaving into the unity and syncopation of a larger sea change.
The revolution is taking the next step.
It will not be televised.
* Gil Scot-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
**Lao-Tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell. Tao Te Ching. Harper and Row, New York, 1988.
*** Lucy H. Pearce, from “We’Moon 2019”, Mother Tongue Ink, 2019. wemoon.ws