One of the most encouraging pieces of evidence that the world around us is actually changing dramatically (for the better) is that we are becoming much more open to new ideas. Historically, cultures all over the world have sentenced people to death for new ideas.
One the most infamous historical figures was nailed to a cross for his radical thoughts. Fast forward a couple hundred years, when those thoughts become the foundation for such religious fervor that people who were seen as a threat to those once radical ideas (with radical ideas of their own) were burned at the stake. What is it with culture’s extreme resistance to new ideas and extreme defens(iveness) of the orthodoxy?
The word Zeitgeist (of documentary fame) literally translates into English (from German) as “time ghost.” The German language has such amazing concepts built into its worldview.
A zeitgeist is the unquestioned beliefs that govern any culture. They are largely invisible beliefs, their origins mostly obscured by the mists of time. They are taken as sacrosanct and not only go unquestioned but, by virtue of their invisibility, have become inherently unquestionable.
These are beliefs we have inherited from our ancestors. Literally, ghosts from our past.
Time ghosts are similar to myths. The most important distinction is that they are invisible. The most important similarity is that they are mostly unquestionable.
The concept that we have more than 5 senses is largely held as sacrosanct truth, so embedded in our worldview that it defines the way we see the world. It implies that the rational mind trumps the intuitive mind, sometimes dismisses the insights from the intuitive mind, and even, in cases of extreme orthodoxy, dismisses the existence of the intuitive mind altogether.
There are many people now who are having deep experiences of intuition. Together, we are learning to trust how that part of our minds is can be a true golden compass pointing towards the true north of our lives, our purpose.
We are no longer believing (wholesale, hook, line and sinker) the myth that there are only 5 senses. And that changes the world.
When we truly begin to accept new ideas, and begin living our lives in different ways, according to an updated worldview, that’s how the world changes.
It changes as slowly or as quickly as we like. New ideas have been historically hard to accept, but largely due to our stubborn clinging to old ideas. Change happens slowly, but it can happen much more quickly, if we can get over our cultural codependence on orthodoxy, and start questioning more … questioning everything.
(For me questioning everything started with toothpaste: “Why am I putting ingredients I can’t pronounce into my mouth?”) And then my questioning snowballed down a hill and created an avalanche that caused my entire worldview to cave in on itself. It wasn’t actually “mine” in the first place — I had simply inherited it, like all of us do, as a time ghost from our ancestors.
But what happens when we start questioning the old story (the old myth)? That’s what Charles Eisenstein aptly terms the “space between stories.”
We should not rush into a new story immediately, Charles writes, but rather relish the time of questioning. If we rush into believing a new concept too quickly after rejecting the old, well, that’s analogous to jumping into a new relationship immediately after leaving our last one. We need to sit with the discomfort of not knowing (become comfy comfortable that), for jumping into a new belief because we’re uncomfortable with not knowing, can too easily cause us to believe things that are just as un-true as our last set of beliefs. In fact, we should never believe anything that we don’t constantly keep open to questioning. That’s the way time ghosts come to haunt us centuries later.
And that’s how we change the world in 6 days. Open our minds to the idea that the currently held beliefs may just be myths and are questionable. And then realize that no belief is ever unquestionably correct. Begin to question it all, question everything. Ask why we believe what we believe. Begin questioning actions that arise from beliefs. Question the correlation between beliefs and actions. Question actions. Try new actions. But begin small. Allow for the “first snowflake” to fall that will eventually cause the avalanche. How soon it comes depends on how willing we are to question our own stubbornness. How willing we are to open the floodgates.
Because the flood is coming, one way or the other. By global warming, or by questioning everything. The big questions will come. Whether we are forced into them, or whether we walk willingly into the space between stories.
For many of us, the big questions are already coming.
Are we addicted to social media?
Do I feel alone in a world full of people, when the internet connects me more than ever before? Why is that?
Is technology an addiction, instead of a mere tool?
Why do we use money? What about a sharing economy?
Why do we work 40-60 hours / week? What happened to the promise of the 4 hour workday, which was the promise of both the Industrial Revolution (machines will do our work for us!) and the digital revolution (computers will do our work for us!) Why, with each increase in non-human labor, have we continued to force ourselves to work harder and harder, with less and less reward? Do we have time ghosts that tell us that the only way to happiness is through hard work? Do you believe that? Has that proven to be true?
There are tremendous movements blossoming in the world today. Movements that give a tremendous amount of hope for us all, that we can avoid the collision with the confluent crises we are running head-long into. Hope that we can use the rudder of civilization to steer the ship before it hits the great melting iceberg of climate change. Hope that my creative metaphors aren’t too convoluted to make sense.
The revolution has already begun. Although many of us may still be wearing cynical blinders that prevent us from seeing the tremendous progress we’re making. (I can’t blame us for our cynism). I’m affected by it, too. But I’m choosing to no longer be a victim to it. I see the change. And as Wayne Dyer aptly observed, “I’ll see it when I believe it” and “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
That leads us back to why questioning everything is healthy. That answers the age-old question posed by the same marketing company that created the “Bud-Weis-Errr” frogs for a Superbowl commercial in the 90s. That question, also a slogan for the same brewing company was, “Why ask why?” And that was at a time when Pilsners were the only choice of beer in America. Since then, we’ve seen the unprecedented rise of microbreweries in the states.
That’s a fascinated trend. Why did it begin? Prior, why was pilnser the only mainstream beer choice in America? That answer dates back to the prohibition era in American history, when mostly all of the beer brewers in America were forced to shut their doors, leading to the dark age of beer. So why was there prohibition? What was the mindset that led us as a culture to conceive that alcohol was so terrible we had to outlaw it, when a mere 150 years earlier, Ben Franklin (of founding father fame), believed that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
When did we turn our backs on that idea? When did we start questioning if the Christian God was actually real? Or if the existence of God was real at all?
The religious revolution arose slowly as an effect of the rise of a scientific worldview. And it’s it amazing that this time it happened without anyone being burned at the stake?
We started realizing that old, out-dated beliefs were possibly immature and wrong. Now that’s a revolution. The term I prefer is an Evolution of Thought.
When we stopped crucifying those of us who had the courage to ask, “Why?”
Of course, it seems that in today’s world, we are still only allowed to ask, “Why?” (without persecution) about ideas that we are already perceiving to be out of date. Askers of, “Why?” who are too far ahead of the curve are still ostracised. But the good news is that the collapse of the curve is accelerating, too.
Legalization of Marijuana and the #metoo movement, both of which happened without violence, and represent major turning points in ideological beliefs that a mere decade or two ago were unquestioned (and largely unquestionable) seemed to have sprung up overnight, and have begun altering the very fabric of our belief structures in the blink of an eye.
That gives me real hope. That change is not only possible, but already beginning. With fervor.