So, in today’s front page Yahoo news two seemingly unrelated items caught my eye. In England, the powers that be have declared Druidism an official religion. Meanwhile, in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation to change the category of possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction – something like a parking ticket.
Do these two disparate events signal a change in the cultural ethos? A revival of the misty 60s dreams of an Aquarian Age?
Probably not. But they got me thinking about how many little snowflakes it takes to make an avalanche. Effective social change is a process, and not a particularly graceful or painless one, as most of us learn eventually.
Take the Druids, for instance. For thousands of years they’ve existed, worshipping the sun, the moon and the stars, and, of course, trees. At some point society took a different path, and Druids were shoved off the A-list. Rumors spread of their supposedly dangerous rites. Since there’s no way to really know what they were doing in the woods back then, we can only speculate, our best thing.
Still, the Druids didn’t abandon their beliefs. Throughout the centuries they continued to gather at times of Solstice and Midsummer’s Eve to honor the Earth. Now that modern environmental science has spread a more enlightened view of the way the natural world works, it seems the Druids may finally be allowed to come out of the woods and into the light, should they so choose.
And perhaps the same thing will eventually happen for all the harmless potheads cowering in the dark in California and across the nation. Marijuana has been demonized since the 1940s in this country, but in Europe, where serious drug enforcement efforts are reserved for serious drugs like cocaine and heroin, the use of marijuana has long been tolerated. Of course, they have different ideas of what constitutes normal over there. But, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?
Who gets to decide what is “normal” and what is “right?” In the United States, supposedly, we the people are in charge. But it doesn’t feel that way, does it? More and more it feels as if some mad engineer is driving the train of society into some bizarre place where anyone can be “famous” for a few minutes if they’re willing to make a fool of themselves on the Internet or television. Violence spreads like measles, the contagion inflamed by media hype.
How do we wrest control from the crazies?
It would be nice to think that we could do it by following the path prescribed by Gandhi and Martin Luther King. If we simply refuse to participate in injustice and barbarity, will it stop? Maybe. Eventually. But the evidence seems to indicate that it takes a whole lot longer than a single lifetime. And I wonder, looking at the climate change models, if we have time.
It would be great if we could find some kind of miraculous way to bring peace and prosperity to all the people of the world. Some people think it could be achieved if we all applied our minds to it at the same time. I’m not so sure, but at this point, it might not hurt to try brain power. The brute force option seems to be getting us nowhere.
I’ve never been able to get excited about meditation as a discipline, although I spend a lot of time sitting around thinking. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong. This Sunday, October 3, for the fifth year in a row, a worldwide group of concerned citizens will be united for three minutes of silent meditation. Three minutes doesn’t seem like much. But I guess the idea is that if several million people all do it together, the combined effect might actually have some sort of tangible result.
According to the Himalayan Institute, “The idea is that once you have a number of people coming together in a group you intensify the impact of changes in consciousness that happen during meditation. The body, brain, mind, and heart are all aligned. In that state we can also align much more readily with each other. And we align more with those close to us, and that amplifies the effect. With a large group you can have a constructive interference. It’s a common phenomenon in physics with waves of any type. A laser is a good example. If you have light wave emitting diodes emitting the same frequency, then they’ll all fall into synchrony with each other so you get a much more powerful wave. ” http://www.himalayaninstitute.org
Well, I expect the Druids will be doing it. Maybe even Governor Schwarzenegger. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Maybe it’s time to start thinking harder.