Despair and Empowerment
Just as grief work is the process by which the bereaved unblock numbed energies by acknowledging and grieving the loss of a loved one, despair and empowerment work addresses our need to unblock our feelings about our threatened planet and the possible demise of our species. Until we do, our power of creative response is crippled. Our willingness to acknowledge and experience pain for our world, like pain for the loss of a loved one, is our measure of caring. In coming together to explore our pain, focusing on the felt responses to our crisis, energy is released and solidarity arises. Journeying into the dark with others bonds us in a special way, relieving us of pretense and competition.
Macy points out that discussing our crisis on an informational level alone, delivering ever more facts and figures, can increase apathy and powerlessness. We need to deal with the responses the information arouses. We need to process the information on the psychological and emotional levels in order to fully respond on the cognitive level. Furthermore, discussions and debates on an informational level tend to separate people, with arguments about causes and strategy, and blame becomes a mechanism for the avoidance of painful feelings. In sharing our anguish, we find a common ground and develop mutual respect. Unblocking repressed feelings releases energy and reconnects us with the larger web of life. Out of the recognition of our interconnectedness we find the compassion and community and commitment to act and face the challenges ahead.
The theory of this work draws on science and spirituality to illustrate that our pain is proof of our interconnectedness as open systems, as members of one body, and that our evolution as a species and growth as individuals takes us of necessity into painful periods of systemic reorganization and confusion through which we can open to a greater intelligence. This theory leads to the recognition of our power as natural systems - a power or synergy that springs from our interconnectedness and that is very different from power as domination.