Force Majeure

Crisis and social revelation

 

To keep civilisation ticking over, we pretend that everything is in control and perfectly normal. If we have money, creditworthiness and the right credentials, then we can often continue in this belief, avoiding many of the misfortunes others experience.

In the public domain, politicians and bankers make upbeat economic assessments and, if the news is downbeat, it is presented as a downward blip in an otherwise buoyant economy. This props up confidence, to keep things stable. Perceived reality is based on belief.

This is all fine when true, but it is blatantly dishonest and propagandist when it isn't. People want to believe everything will carry on as normal, building mutually-reinforced mindsets to perpetuate a cosy picture. People will even hang on to unhappiness, because it is the 'devil they know' rather than the Great Unknown.

But facts can overwhelm this picture. As facts pile up, dishonesty and self-persuasion can grow too, to breaking point, until breakdown forces everyone to change together. There is an element of chicanery here, though it also demonstrates how people can get stuck in a dangerous mindset, trying to fend off reality with beliefs.



All this changes when things turn belly up. When this happens, the delicate juggling act we all participate in starts breaking down - and the trouble is, if one ball is dropped, the whole routine starts falling apart.

In recent decades we have seen shocking crises which have at times hit people deeply - nuclear accidents, famines, civil wars, abominations of many kinds. Stirring issues have come up in most people's personal lives too.

Perpetual news-feed, presented daily in the same urgent tone as if to give a politician's statements the same weight as a disaster killing 10,000 people, undermines any sense of proportion and significance in world events.

Slower but crucial historic trends such as population growth, cadmium pollution or the spread of AIDS get lost in the parade of murders, scandals and judgements shovelled out of newsrooms - and everyone gulps it down with great seriousness.

Concerned though many people are about the state of the world, few have time to give it more than passing attention.

So the environmental crisis or a serious famine are set aside in the rush: what a shame, I sincerely hope things improve, and now I must get on with other things - there's nothing I can really do about it anyway.

Yes, there is a lot we can do.


Dry rot, wet rot

 

Deeper down, something else is happening. It's a separate track on which a part of ourselves notes the state of the world more deeply. It identifies with suffering people, feels their feelings and intuits things our brains don't want to look at.

It notes the intense pathos of the modern world:

• those Ukrainian children whose lives have been shortened by fallout from Chernobyl;

• the young Ethiopian parents of today who lost their own parents in the 1980s famines, still watching their kids starving both for food and adequate explanations;

• the forest people who landed in shanty towns ages ago and still live there, rooting through the rubbish dumps for scraps;

• and the Palestinian family who escaped the Shatila bombardments in Lebanon in the 1980s, who returned to Ramallah only to see their house being bulldozed by the Israeli military because their desperate daughter killed herself as a suicide bomber.

A battle rages in the hidden corners of our hearts and guts. We have quarantined these secret areas, as if they host disruptive infectious diseases. The disease is the humanity within us, our sense of natural justice and craving for genuine happiness.



The tension between behavioural propriety and deeper humanity rubs along well enough until something demolishes our defences.

This often takes the shape of a personal crisis - we fall ill, our spouse leaves, a parent dies, our teenagers tell us to go hang, we find ourselves 'released' from employment or a feeling creeps in that we're stuck in a rut.

Something collapses and we get disheartened. Suddenly we're faced with putrid, unprocessed, guilt-clamped, painful feelings we ought to have faced years ago. Derailed, we flounder and thrash, making things worse. Then we get angry, blaming this or that, or ourselves. Then we give up, abandoned and lost. We feel there's nothing we can do.

This is problematic, yet also a point of grace, even though convention holds it to be a misfortune. It doesn't feel like a gift, but it is. It has taken years to build up to this point of implosion and, now, at last, we are here, finally stopped in our tracks with nowhere to turn.

Our vitality, fortunes and friends ebb away and we find we are stuck in a slough of despond. Strangely, when that no-choice feeling comes up, we possess enhanced free-will to a degree rarely experienced.

It offers an option to make fundamental choices. Will we make use of this moment?


The devil we don't know

 

What is most scary here is that the available solutions usually lie outside our known frame of reference.

Sure, the doctors, experts and magazines tell us to gobble anti-depressants, pull ourselves together or get another job - thereby keeping the issue and the responsibility private. But something has become flat and lifeless. If we're honest, we know we've reached the end of the road and a fundamental change is needed.

This intractable state is a sign of an impending level-shift. What happens next is a matter of choice - with no options ruled out. This is a social, systemic and a personal issue, and the matter is utterly up to us, individually and collectively.

When all is said and done, the solution is often easy. Magic solutions have a way of emerging when we have given up on all else. The difficult bit is getting to that point. We get there when we have laid aside our ifs and buts, our strategies, rationales, excuses, complexes, evasion tactics, reservations and taboos.

The solution is activated when we accept things as they are.



The awkward bit is that we must usually bravely wave goodbye to the past before the future reveals itself. We must cross the threshold without props, insurances and return tickets - stark naked, at least metaphorically.

This openness, even if reluctant, is a surrendering of free-will, yet it activates a higher level of free-will, a greater causal power, unfettered by dishonesties. Things look different in that place.

Things we once ruled out become very relevant, imperative. The option before us is the alternative we consistently refused to countenance, the one we most feared and avoided.

The dissonance between the conflicting parts of ourselves suddenly resolves into a single signal. Phew, at least I'm alive! The contradictions, the psychological armouring, the globs of guilt and regret have gone, and I'm a different person!

It is like a cleansing, a relief, a coming-to-peace. The situation might not have changed, but everything just looks and feels different. Problems become assets. We're no longer driving with the brakes on. Miraculously, it's alright.

The problem, when accepted, becomes a solution. But things had to go wrong in order for everything to change and turn out right.


Alignment with the Big Picture

 

All of us have breakthrough experiences. As soon as we let go of panic, rigidity and complexity, the solution comes. As if by magic, or blessed by divine intervention.

It is perfectly simple, but we just didn't see it - we were walled into a box of conditions, arrangements, fears and immovably chained factors. The house had to burn down for us to rediscover how fortunate we are. The money is lost and yet we are richer than before.

So, strangely, sometimes the big solution comes when we give up trying to find it.

This is a personal process, and millions of people go through it. Often life ordains that we go through it on our own, to make sure we really feel it and mean it. When we've cracked the issue we discover others who know what it's like - they've been through it too.

But it is we who had to change, to get there.


Society usually judges our mishaps as exceptions rather than norms, and as failures rather than breakthrough-opportunities.

Yet the divorces, car crashes, bankruptcies, cancer cases and suicides of today are the nexus by which social change incrementally grows. It doesn't have to be this way, since timely wisdom and foresight would remove the need for, or at least change the nature of, many such misfortunes.

But since we repeatedly suspend foresight and fail to own our own responsibility for our situation, we also choose to receive consequences which often come as misfortunes.

Einstein once said: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former".

'Isolated cases' of misfortune are actually a mass phenomenon touching everyone, including the rich and powerful. The Great Cosmic Can-Opener has a backlog of orders.


Critical mass

 

What would happen if this tide of private, localised mishaps escalated to critical mass, bursting its banks and going public, going large-scale? If it became a mass phenomenon, the gravity-centre of normality would shift to embrace it.

Suddenly, the people who aren't changing would have problems. This happened when the Iron Curtain fell: those who had invested most in the old order were left stranded, nonplussed and disoriented in the new landscape.

Intensity escalates to epidemic proportions and, overflowing the critical threshold, the dam breaks. Disaster strikes anyone too slow to get out of the way, and a new factuality emerges. Everything becomes re-contextualised in the new framework, and only current essentials matter. The past is gone.

This isn't easy, but the greatest paradox is that, on balance, everything does become easier than before, because it corresponds more closely with facts. Force majeure - overriding reality.


In law, force majeure means an unforeseeable set of events releasing a person from the fulfilment of a previous contract.

Our debts, credits and previous arrangements are rendered null and void or greatly changed. Though this is no release, since the details of the new situation are a consequence of the past, and we are faced full-square with those consequences.

For some, this becomes a miraculous solution, and for others it represents a judgement and sentence. In medieval times this was regarded as divine retribution: it isn't really - it's just the power of consequences.

The strange tendency of humans is that, the closer we get to such truth-conflagrations, the more we delude ourselves they will not happen. Why do we do that?

In the early 2000s, we invest vast energies persuading ourselves that everything is alright - even though we know it isn't. We create rationales, excuses, entertainments, diversionary escapes, get-out clauses, get-arounds, and we try to make changes which don't really change anything.

We don't want to face what we know we need to do. We're desperate to believe we're at the pinnacle of history. But we are not. And we're heading for a Great Accounting.


Correction

 

Something else is happening. Just when we think things are fixed and sorted, change is on the horizon. But this will involve some falling apart, to loosen us up.

The choice lies between loosening things up by decision - an option we have had since the 1960s, but we've failed to take it - or by force of events, whether or not we like it. We're in a calm before the storm, becalmed by the intricately smoothed-over, explained-away contradictions, the excluded weaknesses and the concealed glitches we are about to correct.

To many seasoned observers, it is surprising the time of correction hasn't started yet. Humanity has been on the edge of it for decades.

Two things have delayed such change: first, the feeling that we can get away with not doing it and, second, background vested interests and the backing we give them by acting as mini-vested interests.


Vested interests retain power because the mass of humanity hopes everything will work out okay. Apart from a few brave, adventurous souls - actually millions, but still a minority - most people busily avoid a showdown with reality, privately and publicly. Just pay with your credit card. Stave it off for another day.

This leads to an insidious conservatism overriding even the deeper preferences of the people who practise it. It is not thought through: it's just a fear of change and of rocking the boat.

Here lies the positive value of dangerous and obstreperous characters such as Saddam Hussein or President Bush - or choose any tyrant from the movie cast of your life. They, like all of us, are part of the human collective, actors in the shadowplay of the unconscious, enacting a role which forces us all into a corner to face our truth.

Bullies, liars, manipulators and persecutors force us to face our deepest fear, that of rising to our full stature and standing up for what we genuinely believe in and choose.

Tyrants will disappear when humanity has unequivocally clarified its sense of what we're all truly here for. Of all the planetary-healing secrets in this book, this is one of the most crucial. It is a deeply spiritual question.

So what are we all really here for?


Shock and awe

 

We're heading for a showdown, as an inevitable consequence of our choice thus far to evade reality.

It is common to assume that a catastrophe could happen. This might or might not be the case, though it will certainly be psychologically catastrophic for many people - and for others it will be a matter of relief or a mixed bag.

'Apocalypse' means revelation, not catastrophe. 'Revelation' means to uncover or make visible what previously was unseen. We nowadays live in a situation where cultural impressions, beliefs and illusions are being confronted by facts. This is revealing - this is the revelation.

It has been the story of the 20th C, with its desertification, blanket-bombing and concrete-paving of paradise. In the 21st C this friction and confrontation will become ever more acute until facts win.

This might be avoided if we make fundamental policy-decisions and change our way of operating, voluntarily. The use of belief to bury realities has had its day. We've already experienced 'the war to end all wars' and various other superlatives, but we still have not changed our basic patterns.


The belief in an inevitable showdown is called millenarianism - the notion that a time will come when the angels will come down on Judgement Day, or the ETs will land, or the Earth will heave, or the sky will change colour, and have no escape.

This is Manichaeism, after the Iraqi prophet Mani around 250 CE in Persia. Mani saw life as a conflict between light and darkness. The role of religion was to release particles of light within the darkness of materiality and human actions, to re-spiritualise earthly life. Mani was executed, but his idea has stayed with us since. Not only religious doctrine keeps this idea alive: the disaster-inducing nature of our civilisation gives it power, and environmental scientists have their own version too.

Our civilisation is based on overriding nature's rules and the 'will of God'. It doesn't have to be like this - we can also work with nature. The urge to conquer nature went critical around 700 years ago, after the Black Death. Europeans felt reality had collapsed and God had let them down. They felt freed of past obligations, as if they could change the rules as they wished. Something snapped in the Western psyche.

This birthed our resource-gulping, growth-without-bounds modern system. Immense confidence, bravado, inventiveness and exploitation were fired up. But something else lurked behind it: a creeping feeling there will be a price to pay - but hopefully not while I'm alive.

To escape this dread, a psychology of short-termism and individualism came about - you may do whatever you like as long as you can get away with it. This was weighted in favour of the system's beneficiaries who, by the blessings of God, luck, inheritance or hard work, did best by it.


For whom the bell tolls...

 

Is a crisis inevitable? Unless there is something big we have not yet seen, yes, it is.

Does it mean there will be an enormous world disaster? Well, it looks like that, but it doesn't have to be so.

This is primarily a crisis of consciousness. But it's a question of whether our awareness precedes or follows facts and events. Earlier, when we examined world events as a manifestation of the collective unconscious, a critical issue was noted: it is not disasters but poignant, symbolic, sharp-edged, emotionally-charged situations that awaken public feelings.

Millions can die, and this causes the vexed scratching of heads and generous contributions to disaster relief, but little more. But if one person dies unexpectedly, who embodies something sharp and potent in the mass psyche, the resulting eruption of feelings can overwhelm everyday functioning in ways that far-off disasters, however big, do not.

It is not the scale of an event that matters, but what it says to deeper awareness. The human psyche is like a minefield, and irregular, unplanned-for, charged events can cause fuses to blow. These fuses can activate pleasure or horror, but the nub of the issue is what it does to human awareness and actions, and how it heals and resolves major issues.


When Princess Diana died in 1997, an emotionally stiff nation - Britain - fell apart. It forgot what it was doing and went into a mass process. Millions of tears fell, but the nation did not break down. Car accidents, crime rates, hospital admissions, violence and drunkenness plummeted. Scientific experiments studying randomness found that chaos declined and coherence increased dramatically - even in distant places like Chile.

So the coherence and focusing of millions of people's attention has a way of resolving many crucial social problems quite quickly - as a side-product. In other words, many of the world's problems arise because of the customary dissonance and jangle of the modern world.

Not only this, but the measured coherence trend started 24 hours before Princess Di's death. Similar effects were observed at 9/11 too.

Social forgiveness, intimacy, friendliness, demonstrated vulnerability and emotion and a sense of spirituality increased radically, in spontaneous response to what had happened. This changed social atmosphere sets up a mass resonance-field, a potent time of power and choice.

All this resulted from the death of just one person. Just after Diana, Mother Teresa died, creating a similar effect in India - the death of this 'good Christian' stirred up millions of Hindus and Muslims. What was the 'hidden factor X' here?

It was the awkward uncovering of unexpected connections in deeper consciousness, with the extra spice of losing people who were deeply valued and customarily under-appreciated. It prised open a gap in our defences - we fell apart. Strangely, though we're so well-trained to resist vulnerability, we welcome such situations. It makes us feel human and alive again.


...It tolls for thee

 

The crises that hit us hardest are not the largest-scale events.

It is often smaller events that catalyse an accelerated fermentation deep down in the collective unconscious - bringing up issues, scenarios and connections that no one had quite figured out before.

But the crucial ingredient is that we have no rationales to cover it, no avoidance strategies to escape it. It hits us in a soft, susceptible place where we become deeply disturbed. We cannot lay the matter to rest. That's what awakens the deeper feelings inside us - feelings of fear, compassion, expanded seeing, impending change, revelation of naked truth, exposure of the consequences of actions and inactions we didn't want to look at.

Meanwhile, a large-scale catastrophe can numb people and render them useless, because there is too much to deal with, and people retract their sphere of thought and action into a small space - understandably, protecting themselves.

So, if you were God, with a master-strategy in which you were trying to awaken humanity, you'd resort to enormous disasters only as a last-ditch measure, when all other options had been tried.


Indeed, if you were God, and you were master-minding an intricate game called 'Life', to teach souls how to understand the godliness within themselves, then you would design that game to make events reflect and interact with what is going on inside those souls, so that they can get the message independently through their own experience.

And if this were the case, then the key issues you would write into the movie-script would be those which generate the most feeling amongst movie-goers - to get them worked up about it.

The difference between the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984 (a lethal chemical leakage) and the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986 (a nuclear meltdown) was that Chernobyl, though a local disaster, threatened the whole world. Bhopal exposed corporate negligence, state complicity and the cruelties of capitalism, but that didn't hit most people's insecurity buttons.

Both were terrible disasters, but while Bhopal raised noises of disapproval, Chernobyl raised fears of the end of the world. And that's a big fear. It affects all of us.

Chernobyl brought a revelation, an apocalyptic moment: something moved in the collective psyche which has not since moved back. It has been papered over, but it has not gone away. Whereas, tragically, Bhopal and those who suffered the consequences, could be forgotten and pretty much have been.


A God's-eye view

 

Let's look at this from a movie-director's viewpoint. Imagine you're God. If that doesn't suit you, think of yourself as humanity's oversoul - the bit that coordinates the overall collective plot. You have quite a challenge on your hands.

You don't want to override humanity's free-will with Your Divine Will, because You've invested millennia setting up a planetary experiment with tremendous potential outcomes, and you don't want to blow it now.

These guys on Earth, with their free-will, have created an amazing and unique planetary dilemma. In the pursuit of happiness, they are killing the very basis of life.

So, as God, You're sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting to see the outcome of this nail-biting drama. Will they make it in the end? You cannot intervene, even though many humans are suffering, because this would override the main agenda of getting these humans to learn how to take responsibility.

Like a good teacher and parent, You decide to set up a scenario where these people may learn the crucial lesson themselves, under their own steam.


Trouble is, these people have become so skewed as souls that they devise a seeming infinity of ingenious ways to evade the issue and get things wrong. Like defiant teenagers, they want to do it their way - they're free-will fundamentalists.

But there's an extra twist to this: they might have a spark of genius to resolve things in ways You hadn't yet figured out - the hope of every true parent is that their children will do better than they.

So, like a parent with a son who has just bought a motorbike, you just have to let them ride it, and you hope for the best. You provide a stream of learning opportunities, but the rest is over to them.

But You, God, are learning something new. You would not have thought up cans of beans, cruise missiles, pornography, DDT, credit cards, money or even independent sovereign nations - these are all a product of exclusively human creativity and imagination. These human creations open up possible scenarios that even God hadn't thought up.

Also, the extent of human mutation and creative ingenuity means that they're greater experts in running Your world than You are, God. They've changed things so much that even the seasons don't work like they did.


Tight-rope teaching

 

It's a question of setting a learning-trap for these humans to fall into of their own free-will, a lesson they will really learn from - finally, crucially and irreversibly. Engineering a situation that they create themselves, which highlights their full responsibilities and offers them an inescapable defining choice.

Tricky. This has many logistical problems. It has to be set up very carefully. These humans are very good at not learning the main lessons of their experience.

Perhaps the best thing is now to trick them from behind, so that they're unaware they're being tricked and they don't put up defences. Let their self-destructive patterns creep up on them until it reaches a critical point that brings all the disparate issues into one bundle.

This means slowing down the crisis so that it falls into place gradually, so that the alarm bells are carefully coordinated to go off at once. Give humans the impression they are succeeding - this relaxes them. Then give them an overdose of, to them, unintended consequences.


Thing is, once they get off their butts, humans are brilliant. Although 6-7 billion of them are a large burden on the Earth, they're also potentially a tremendous big team. If only they can be tricked into working together.

There's only one way: get them to realise that they're all in the same boat. That they are threatened by a bigger threat than the threat of each other.

The realisation that they are all in the same boat and share the same essential purpose and direction creates increased resonance. This, we have seen, can change things, quite quickly reducing the scale and impact of crises.

Opened up, people en masse tend to respond more flexibly to change than when they are in their regularised realities. But the shocks needed to awaken humanity to its situation should be strong enough to work, but not so strong that they stun humanity and force it into survival mode.

So God, watching the anthill of humanity, awaits his moment. This can only be done once, and perfectly. The price of anything less is high.

But then, a much easier way than this is for humanity to make its own decision. And act upon it, as a matter of utmost priority. Whether we think in terms of God, nature and the Earth, the collective psyche of humanity or humane values and justice, the need is the same.


Revelations

 

Okay, visualisation over.

One of the points behind this tale is this. In the 1960s we had the beginnings of a world revelation. In the 1970s we gained verification and understood more of the details. In the 1980s we were able to choose and implement our choices - we mostly didn't. In the 1990s, with only a little progress, the heat was increased a notch and the craziness was multiplied. By 2000, humanity might have done the business.

But no, we still needed more persuading. Or perhaps we needed something to happen despite ourselves. Or perhaps we just need to pull our fingers out. Who knows, but we are now in the final approaches to an endgame.

The sign of this is the escalating ridiculousness of world events and the scale of the climatic and environmental issues before us.

We now live in times where what once were idealistic dreams have now become pragmatic solutions. We might not like this prospect, but everything needs to change. Because it is the basis by which things work that lies at the heart of the problem.

And our civilisation works the way it does, at root, because of our ideas and beliefs. The way we see life. Our perceived reason for being here.


We have the necessary knowledge - and what we don't know is within our reach. Six billion people are available for mobilisation. We don't know what will happen next, but we'll just have to improvise the response.

The global matter at hand is to see things differently - the rest follows from that. New solutions will emerge which previously we did not see.

Mass-psychologically, the situation is enormous - the task is as improbable as getting six billion people off a heroin habit. It's a matter of humanity's getting real and seeing things as they are. It is a matter of choosing to respond differently to events and situations before us, on a global scale.

If we must cut down trees, twenty need planting for each one felled. If we seek to deal with terrorists, remove the reasons they resort to terror. If it's a matter of dealing with poverty, help affluent people get closer to the rest of humanity. If it's war, set in motion a serious downsizing of all military resources everywhere. If it is resource-exploitation, change the pricing system so that the full price is paid.

Work to remove the dishonesties, injustices and rigidities in the system. Work to shift collective thinking away from self-interest toward an understanding that we're all now in the same boat. Such things might sound difficult, but they are easier than the alternative.


Overwhelm

 

The alternative is force majeure. When and how it manifests is a void question because it is already in progress.

It manifests as weather extremes, conflicts, tragedies, shoot-outs, market spikes, unnerving revelations, social madnesses, unpredictables and richly-charged events that eat away at our finer sensibilities.

It usually manifests in intensely localised formats, but this is a redemptive device to help us learn without having to sustain more damage than is absolutely necessary. It is important not to stun and stunt humanity's capacity to awaken and change by incurring total disaster.

Here's our clue. If the assessment in this book is correct, then the defining circumstances catalysing major global change might well be localised too - even if it is intense, painful and damaging for the people and landscape it lands on.

Oh, and here's the rub: it might not just fall on Palestinians, Iraqis or Congolese. They've done their bit. It might fall on us.

The critical factors are the symbolic poignancy of the situation and the wider chain of implications and consequences it sparks off.


What makes the big difference might just be one single factor, but its triggering effect matters most.

One possibility is a crisis in capitalism. This could be rapid, owing to the volatility of global financial markets and the critical importance of psychological confidence as an anchor in the global economic system. Let's suppose that the economies of a few countries collapse, causing implications which spread to other countries.

In response, major financial institutions are forced to rethink, and they decide to change the rules of world trade, finance and debt-repayment. Failing to do so might collapse many other economies and undermine those institutions themselves - self-preservation instincts are a powerful force.

The effects of such a change could be enormous. It could indeed plunge the world economy into crisis, but less of a crisis than what would happen if the change failed to happen. The implications would spread rapidly across all societies.

But a hypothetical crisis such as this does not automatically change everything: what needs to shift is our way of seeing things. It is simply the realisation that we are all in the same boat, and we sink or swim together. The rest proceeds from there.

 

NEXT: PART FOUR


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