These are such confusing times.

It used to be that we obtained all of our information about the world from a handful of media outlets, perhaps supplemented by a selection of independent journals of our choice. Nowadays, information about what’s going on in the world is everywhere — not just in traditional mainstream media but in every corner of the internet. There are so many conflicting voices, all supporting or condemning any number of opinions and versions of the truth. Each of us is exposed to our own personal cocktail of information, and the purveyors of this information are all vying with each other to control what we’re exposed to and effectively ‘curate’ our realities.

Not that this wasn’t going on in the ‘good old days’. As George Monbiot points out, the establishment has always used ‘organised lying’ to push its own objectives. But the internet has completely transformed the arena. Now, the alternative viewpoints are out there but it’s incredibly difficult to know what the trustworthy sources are. Even previously trusted pillars of the establishment are now exposed as supporters of particular agendas or ideologies rather than bastions of impartiality and the common good. We can now see exactly how alternative voices are being marginalised and how the mainstream message is being skewed and manipulated to suit the interests and beliefs of those that control it.
“How do we know what to believe?”
So how do we know what to believe? How do we know what’s a conspiracy theory and what’s a genuine concern that the establishment are trying to suppress? How do we know the truth?

In some ways, it doesn’t matter what the truth actually is. What matters more is what we believe to be true. We’ve come to realise over the last few years that our shared history, that we thought was based on historical ‘facts’, is just one version of what actually happened. And this version of the truth has effectively been curated by those who have ‘written the history books’ and then accepted by the rest of us as definitive. But when it comes to light that one of our heroic ancestors, who helped to build and shape our current establishment, was actually a ruthless slave owner that exploited others for his own gains then we must look again at the supposed ‘facts’ through the lens of our current values and reappraise the accepted history.

The same goes for all other areas of our modern lives. We seem to be determined to find a single definitive answer for everything when we’re living in an infinitely complex world that does not work in simple dualities. The portrayal of ‘science’ throughout the recent pandemic as an absolute guide to what’s right and wrong has been hugely misleading and dangerous. Scientific data can highlight a particular detail that helps us to understand what is going on but each study will only ever inform part of the bigger picture and results are always open to interpretation (not to mention human error and even manipulation). The repeated refrains of ‘let’s follow the science’ and ‘I believe in science’ have suggested that science has revealed a definitive truth that cannot be challenged. In reality, each piece of scientific evidence has been interpreted by certain scientists and then carefully presented to us by governments or the media. Throughout the pandemic, there have been experts disagreeing with the official scientific interpretations that have been adopted by governments but these alternative opinions have been marginalised and discredited in order to maintain a single narrow course of action. The powers that be have not been prepared to embrace the complexities and nuances of the situation. Nor have they been willing to expose the public to the full picture so people could make up their own minds based on all the evidence.

The situation we now find ourselves in is the natural result of the culture that we are living in. Everything is governed by the mind and anything that cannot be logically explained and proved is suppressed. So much of the universe is governed by complex systems, from the cellular level right up to the global climate and patterns of the cosmos. In complex systems, the elements are so intertwined that it is impossible to predict with certainty how a change in one element of the system will affect the whole. Our human brains are not equipped to fully understand these complex systems so we try to break things down to manageable elements that we can measure and understand. However, this ‘reductionist’ approach leads to a greatly diminished understanding, especially if we try to explain highly complex phenomena through examining individual details that are only part of the picture. We’re shutting ourselves into smaller and smaller boxes because of our glorification of the mind, of ‘facts’ and ‘science’.
“Modern humans are so much in their heads that they have lost the ability to feel — emotionally and spiritually”
We actually have far better tools for understanding these complex systems than the mind. Throughout the course of human evolution, we have developed sophisticated abilities to feel these complex phenomena. We can use our minds to help to understand or rationalise a situation, but this is just one part of ‘getting a feel of something’. We may know, in theory, how to do something or how to react to a certain situation but it is only through immersing ourselves and ‘doing it’ that we truly and fully understand — be that riding a bike, interacting with another human being or predicting the weather.

It seems to me that modern humans are so much in their heads that they have lost the ability to feel — emotionally and spiritually. This cuts off a huge proportion of our capabilities and results in a very skewed view of the world. Time and time again, we find ourselves firefighting, treating symptoms of a problem without getting to the root cause. This sums up how modern western medical systems work, always looking for a medication that will get rid of the symptoms rather than taking a holistic approach that will treat the whole system (in this case the human body) in an effort to address the underlying issues.
“We need to feel our way back into being an integrated part of our ecosystem”
Now humans are facing the biggest challenge in their history in the form of climate change and potential ecological collapse. The danger is that we will deal with this in the same way that we approach other problems — by trying to understand all of the threats and then tackle each one with an ingenious solution. Once again, we will treat the symptoms rather than addressing the root causes. We don’t need humans to save the world thanks to the brilliance of their minds (although at this stage a few clever technological solutions may buy us more time). What we need is for humans to recognise their place within the enormous sophistication and complexity of the natural world. There are forces at play which are way beyond our comprehension. We need to rediscover some humility, respect and gratitude for the miracle of life on this planet. And then we need to feel our way back into being an integrated part of our ecosystem.

So how do we make head or tail of what’s going on? Well, we could continue to follow our heads, an approach that seems to be leading to more and more division, confusion and increasingly controlling behaviour. Or we can open our hearts and try to feel our way towards a common consensus at a more profound level. It’s a big challenge, especially as we live in societies that venerate the human mind and relegate feelings to sensations that are subservient to what’s going on in our heads. But if the human species is going to make it into the next century and beyond then we’ll need to come together. And that means connecting on a deeper level to form some kind of collective consciousness that can lift us out of the destructive paradigms that our minds have created.

Faron

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