My book progress is plodding along – it’s so hard to do anything right now. Many days, I’m counting basic care and feeding as a win. It’s not about laziness or giving up. I’m seriously invested in being in rest-and-restore mode more of the time. But there’s lots to think about.
Besides the big, dark shadow of the US election, I have been trying to keep up with the strange and paranoid mindset that’s been creeping up and through around many corners of the Aquarian Age Social Media Machine. As an educator, I can’t help lament the lack of media literacy that’s on display around QAnon conspiracies. As a Jewish person, I’m appalled at the anti-semitism that seems to be embedded in the core of a lot of what’s getting said.
But the more I think about it, I’m convinced that what we’re seeing is a lack of tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. I’ll be writing more about uncertainty soon.
Grasping at Certainty through Conspiracy
I recently read this article about QAnon showing up in Canadian churches:
One of the pastors interviewed said, “There is like a religious fervour about it … The more I read about it, it seems like a replacement religion, where everything has a reason. And I think people want to feel like they’re [connected to] the inner workings of something, particularly when we don’t have a lot of power.”
I’ve been studying New Age culture and ‘secular’ religion for over a decade. At its most benign, the New Age is an accessible, popular way for people to find meaning, purpose, and community. It fills a need in a postmodern cultural context where people are less tied to the bonds of religions, jobs, families, and the state. But even beyond the cultural appropriation and spiritual bypassing, the New Age has a dark side. And it’s been fascinating to see the intersections of New Age spirituality with politics of hate.
The pastors in this article are citing the fact that churches are not meeting face to face during the pandemic as possibly contributing to conspiracy workings. That makes sense. It’s easier to lose trust in people, and to feel more radical about your positions when you are not in contact with people who you know personally and who you don’t necessarily agree with.
The rise of QAnon is linked to the massive alienation that the pandemic is making worse, but was there the whole time. It raises huge questions that are central to how the rift in our society is going to be healed. What can we connect about? What can we trust?
Learning to Trust, Through Curiosity and Compassion
These questions connect to the work of intuition development. It’s ever-more important to figure out how we can trust ourselves to discern what’s right, to make good choices, to know what’s real.
As a skill, self-trust is based in empirical experience. It involves learning what it feels like when our inner knowing is correct. And how to compassionately apply critique when things are off.
The compassion piece has become a through-line for me. I’m slowing down and prioritizing self-and community-care as an act of compassion. Without turning away from the actual state of the world, I’m working on cultivating an attitude of love, compassion, & curiosity.
And it is work. It’s not a default, though it would be nice to think of myself as exuding these qualities. These are skills that can – and have to be – learned.
Like most things, it starts with cultivating these affects towards ourselves. I’m thinking about all the trauma-informed work people are doing to nurture their inner children who needed more love. And the practice of cultivating equanimity through meditation, being compassionate and not judging thoughts that arise.
In a big-picture sense, this work will involve unearthing and excavating centuries of internalized values inherited from a colonial paradigm that uses, exploits, demonizes others, etc.
Deep within, I know that we have to do this work. Our future depends on it.