How Do We Meet These Times?
Many of us have been asking the question, “How do we meet these times?” Guidance often comes to me in dreams. I had the following dreams on March 11 about how to respond to conflict, confrontation, and dangerous threats. I believe their guidance needs to be shared. So here they are.
Two opposing groups are moving toward a confrontation on a narrow dirt path along the edge of a very high slope. It’s a bright, sunny day. The slope is green, open, unforested, covered with grass and other low plants. It curves around the side of a hill. It’s not a cliff, but the slope is steep. The path winds horizontally along the curves. We have visibility into the distance. I am part of one group, a large community resistance group. The other group is more violent and deeply opposes us. Our group is walking single file around the curve. There are hundreds of us. We can see the other group approaching us, also in the hundreds and walking single file. If there is any fighting along this path, many people will fall off the path and be severely hurt or killed. What should we do? I try to photograph the situation to post on social media–in the dream, I can zoom out and capture everything–but there isn’t time. Our group decides to sit or stand right against the upper part of the slope and let the others pass by without us inciting or responding to violence. We need to ally ourselves with the power of the Earth at our backs. We need to be immovable, peaceful, unresponsive. We warn each other that the others will surely try to provoke us. They may hit or kick us, spit on us, say terrible things to us, or, worse, try to throw one of us off the path. We can link arms to make that harder. What are the chances we can stay non-violent? If we react, we are lost. I run through different scenarios in my mind. It seems unlikely that we can hold fast, but that is what we are to do.
Then I had another dream:
We are driving toward a huge mountain, like Tahoma (Mt. Rainier). I look out the window. The mountain is covered in white from top to bottom. I exclaim about how beautiful it is. We enter the foothills, into forest that is bare of snow. I realize that the image of the mountain being completely snow-covered is a bit of an illusion. And the image is so powerful.
The meaning of the first dream seems clear. We face, and will face, conflict, some of it with people who will threaten or enact violence. We must respond by connecting strongly with the Earth and each other and by remaining nonviolent regardless of provocation. Otherwise we are lost. Both dreams indicate that the Earth spirits are with us, particularly the spirit of the mountain. I am uplifted by the bright sun on the grassy slope, our determination, and the vision of the mountain.
The dreams seem particularly timely this week. Donald Trump is once again using social media to summon a violent mob as he faces imminent indictment on criminal charges in New York. We witnessed the deadly results of similar provocation on Jan. 6, 2021. It can be incredibly tempting to respond to his and his followers’ verbal and physical threats in kind. But to do so endangers our democracy. Over centuries, democratic institutions have evolved as an alternative to clan-based, strongman rule or hereditary monarchy. Democratic institutions remain flawed; no nation has yet achieved diverse, multicultural, multiracial, egalitarian democracy, despite all our efforts to move in that direction. We face a terrifying backlash that reflects the strength of our movements for justice. So it can seem easier to give up and give in to despair, cynicism, violence, a desire for vengeance. In the dream, “it seems unlikely that we can hold fast, but that is what we are to do.” Hold fast in the face of threats, violence, and our own doubts and fears. That is what the Earth is calling us, and offering us her strength, to do.