View from deck at prayer farm

Learning the language of repair

We are all in kindergarten regarding the necessary paradigm shifts we are feeling coming, knowing are necessary, and maybe working towards. Our culture has been built upon non-accountability and this is deeply embedded in every aspect of how we function as a nation and as a collective. The disconnect and forgotten history of violence and oppression between us as humans has led us into the sicknesses of racism and genocide, hierarchies such as white supremacy, and destructive capitalist values. This even deludes us that we can “own” land and forests, waters and ecosystems and do with them as we please.

That we are on the edge of extinction SHOULD be on our lips, should not put a jolt through you every time you read it. It is time to recognize that we are all somewhere in the initial stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, and depression around the death of Life as we have known it. Acceptance, the final stage of grief is quite distant for us collectively but it can be helpful knowing we are on a continuum and aiming ourselves in the right direction.

Historically, we clean up our acts in the final hour or we extinct ourselves… here we are again. It looks like we are becoming a people remembered by the bones and architecture they left behind and for the first time it looks like a global extinction versus just one pocket of humanity. Maybe you are tired of me speaking on this “dark” subject – this makes perfect sense from a brain standpoint – we are literally wired to block out what makes us feel helpless!

So, from a neurobiological standpoint, having a problem and needing to “fix” it is motivating for us as humans – and we need motivation. The reality is that if the problem is too big, such as war or climate collapse, we are wired to tune it out.

Breaking climate collapse down into bite sized chunks has not worked well; recycling, “green” building, and all the other small steps have not quite been enough to get our motivation to the necessary level of stress to be fully engaged. Denial and bargaining has been our loop – ‘it’s not that big a deal and well, if I recycle my plastic containers can this all go away?’

As animals, we have hit our “lazy” threshold via too much comfort – this seems to be the common element in all faded civilizations, too much ease, comfort, wine, and greed.

So, what do we do? The language of repair can be learned, and it is very very simple but it is not easy. Here is the “secret” – to begin the work of repair we must become 100% BOTH defenseless AND accountable. The secret is defenseless accountability. Whoa.

Because the underlayments of our nation have taught us—and this teaching has seeped into our bones—that our actions are and were justified—those people were lazy, those people were savage, those people weren’t using their resources correctly, or they were worshiping the wrong god, or simply godless, dangerous…. oh it goes on doesn’t it? Anyway, this tendency to create justification for our actions, however “wrong” they may be to our souls, is in all of us and we stick to this like glue. Then, attempts at accountability often go awry as we can’t stay in the humble place of accepting our actions without making sure our “opponent” knows their mistakes and crimes as well. In couples work this is the biggest barrier to healing I see – “I’ll be accountable if you’ll be accountable.” This gets us, well, right here. It gets us right here in a shit show of non-healing, of looping argument, of chicken and egg-like scenarios which leave everyone frustrated.

Defenseless accountability. It’s simple but not easy – and it’s been hardwired out of you so you must practice it to turn it into a skill or habit.
Stumbled, erred, misspoke? Just own it, no explanation, skip the shame, stand in the simple oops of human error. This is a discipline and doesn’t have to be complicated or psychological in nature.
When someone brings forth a complaint, refuse to push back against their delivery or tone of blame or frustration, instead pause, listen, look for what you can account for, and do it.
This will not make you a doormat, this will make you more trustworthy and present relationally.
Another piece of this work is to notice where and when you become defensive. Notice when you want others to do their part more than you are willing to do your own and how this gets the relationship stuck in a kind of stand off.

What does this have to do with climate change, extinction, colonization, and racism? Well, we still live in this culture of injustice, greed, and denial; actively or passively we are complicit and consenting. Stop consenting to injustice in your relationships, this is activism. Real honest, sustainable activism.
Remember, learning the language of repair is a practice so, when you stray, return.

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