Sue Fleming reviews the Resurgence Trust’s online discussion with Charles Eisenstein, US author of the seminal Sacred Economics, where he explores the effect of Covid-19 on ourselves, the Earth as well as the current polarisation of society.
In this compelling talk, Charles Eisenstein shares his views on the effect of Covid-19 on ourselves, the economy and the Earth as well as the current polarisation of society. Eisenstein has a way of talking about any topic that makes it relevant on many levels, as being interrelated and interwoven with every other issue of our time. Covid 19 is no exception.
He describes it poetically saying we can’t run around sprinkling water to put out a little fire when there’s a raging inferno deep underground and fire is breaking out everywhere. Instead, it’s a powerful opportunity to look at what we value, what is really precious to us. As the world falls apart around us, old structures of meaning become harder to maintain.
Do we need to return to ‘normal’? He gives a simple example, relevant to many: he used to fly around the world giving talks and holding retreats but now he is speaking to potentially many more people without travelling or exhausting his body and causing pollution.
Eisenstein returns to a frequent theme of his that the defining narrative of civilisation and the concept of progress that it contains, is one of human betterment through increasing control or dominance of the world over pests and diseases, over the bacterial, viral world, over Nature itself. We have put ourselves above Nature, as lords and possessors. The wildness inside human beings threatens to disrupt civilisation, progress, and tilts the need for control which has been subtly increasing. Now, with Covid-19 restrictions, it’s more obvious and extreme and has become conscious.
There’s also an exploration of our obsession with safety and security, both at a personal level and as a society. Does it reflect our cut-off from our life purpose? Some of us recognise our purpose as reconnecting and healing the damage that has been done – through separation – to the planet, to society and to human beings. With the more general purpose of our species, as all species, we are here to contribute to life and to beauty in the cosmos. Satish Kumar asked Charles ‘What is Beauty?’ He said he sees it as a gateway to Divinity, to inspiration through awe and wonder, and it offers him a home here.
He also questions what the psychic conditions are that allow the ideologies of government to propagate these orientations towards control. One of our Gods is science, where what is real has to be measured in data that we can communicate. He asks if we can gather information another way, on the feeling level, since, for instance, we can’t measure hugs and many emotional consequences of Covid 19.
His thoughts on Polarisation of society seems very timely in many countries but especially America, and now in the UK with Brexit. We are very good at holding onto those beliefs that help us fit into our own group, or camp. It brings a sense of belonging that fills a void, ‘meeting me in my need to belong and avoid my loneliness’. What if we could be willing to accept that we could all be wrong and we don’t want to dehumanise or enter into a battle with different beliefs to our own? Instead of filtering out other data that disrupts our own beliefs, could we bring in what is being excluded in polarisation? What assumptions are both sides holding that might not be true? ‘’No one side holds all the truth of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.’’
I wonder if we can at least accept Eisenstein’s invitation to allow other sources of information to come in, especially feelings on a “body felt” level: those restful feelings that allow the body to slow down and let go. That could be the point at which we can feel and recognise the interconnectedness of all life – the recognition that maybe could heal our planet in time.
About Charles Eisenstein
Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, public speaker and writer focusing on a range of themes including civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. He is the author of many essays and books including Sacred Economics, Climate: A New Story, and The Ascent of Humanity. For more information, visit charleseisenstein.org