Meeting the rising tide of refugees, hate, fear… and real water

This post is about Refugees, Muslims, climate change, demagogues, oppression, citizen councils… and the Creative Power of the Universe.

If you are shocked by the level of intolerance being consciously whipped up by certain political players and media in the US and elsewhere, using the tragedies in the Middle East and isolated acts of individual terrorists and groups seeking to provoke broader war (inspiring not only anti-Muslim rhetoric, but real hate crimes), you may be interested in a number of initiatives to counter this wave of hate with some sane, strong, compassionate action.

Among the simple approaches are Michael Moore’s #WeAreAllMuslim initiative, launched in an open letter to Donald Trump and the project to put up “Hate has no business here” signs in businesses and public buildings, originated by restauranteurs Elana and Danny Schwartzman and spread by Main Street Alliance and, using the hashtags #WeAreBetterThanThis and #hatehasnobizhere.

If you wish to engage in a deeper, more personal and direct way, you can learn to be an ally to ordinary Muslims in your community and beyond. Devout Muslim Sofia Ali-Khan provides a lot of very specific guidance – motivated by the fact that “it has gotten bad enough that my family and I talk about what to keep on hand if we need to leave quickly, and where we should go”, just as some Jews planned to leave their homes in Germany as Hitler rose to power in the 1930s.

Furthermore, you may wish to counter the rising outcry against immigrants – especially from south of Europe or south of the US – with such compassionate initiatives as that of the North Carolina Coalition for Justice for Immigrants, whose statement notes the explicit versions of “love your neighbor – even strangers and enemies – in Judaism, Christianity AND Islam.

Activist author Rivera Sun notes that sometimes the dark helps you see things hidden by the light. These recent explosions of hate as well as the earthquake voices of Black Lives Matter and the intensified battle over gay rights – these are the tip of a very large dark iceberg that is centuries old and often out of sight – at least to those of us whose privilege (which comes in so many flavors, intensities, and nuances) shields us from having to deal with the toxins of racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, abilitism, cultural intolerance, and/or any of the other humanity-demeaning, oppressive patterns of social interaction which infect everyday life for those targeted by them. The current media-visible pain, outrage, hate, etc., can be viewed as the dizzying fever of a sick but (perhaps) healing body politic – especially to the extent that that body’s immune system – the forces of justice, awareness, compassion, and wisdom – engage strongly in response. Those responses definitely need to be personal, but they also definitely need to be communal and systemic – as Big Empathy teaches us – for our economics, politics and cultures have nurtured the tragedies we see unfolding around us and could powerfully turn the tide in favor of Life. See, for example, the short video “The Civic Council (“Bürgerrat”) in Austria on: “How do we deal best with the influx of refugees” – while recognizing that such citizen councils need to become political norms, not exceptional events.

In the meantime, a parallel dynamic of oppression and justice – and vibrant response – is unfolding in the realm of future generations and the rights of nature (even of rivers) – albeit too often sidelined as “environmentalism” by most citizens and even justice advocates who do not recognize that this is as much an issue of justice, oppression, abuse, domination, and privilege as the -isms impacting the marginalized people of today. But its time has come, as well, for that realm of injustice, too, is rising into vivid visibility, demanding – with fire and ice, mud, wind and flood – our attention…

This raises an even more delicate question I’ve seen little noted in the extensive commentary on our current “refugee crisis”: If we think the flood of refugees is big now (people seem aghast when the numbers exceed a million trying to get into Europe), wait until climate change begins to really impact us and its rising waters, storms, and droughts – and the economic and social disruptions (including wars) that result from those – begin to generate tens and hundreds of millions of people trying to find a safe and viable place to live, mostly from the south moving north. The distinctions between refugees from poverty, war, oppression, and environmental disaster will begin to blur together. It might be healthy to recognize that we are in a dry run, exercising capacities right now that will be needed soon for something far greater, far more challenging, and far more filled with transformational energies and potential, both for better and for worse.

What are we ready to do to meet this evolutionary challenge? The Creative Power of the Universe only knows – and that Power lives within and among us if we can step out of business-as-usual long and deeply enough to sense it.

Blessings on the Journey, intense and difficult as it may be and become….


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Now for a brief word from an enthusiastic supporter….

Why i support Tom’s work and think it’s important: Most dedicated activists run around responding to the latest urgency: this or that thing you care about is about to be destroyed and this is our last chance to save it–act now! Tom’s work instead delves into the underlying systems that give rise to all those urgencies: gosh, ya know, if humans worked together more wisely, we could meet tensions and challenges with understanding, love, and respect. It’s a rare focus. He thinks big and deep, and concentrates on positive creation. Furthermore, he does this work in a genuinely cooperative spirit: sharing with others, readily forming alliances and partnerships, working quietly in the background to help people be more effective, giving it all away. His voice is unique and much-needed.

– Tree Bressen

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