Little rivers matter, too

River delta, via  flickr

River delta, via flickr

When discussing solutions to our current climate predicament, many people point to systems like capitalism or religion as the root of our problem. After some reflection on the teachings of an incredible group of mentors, I would like to draw a different conclusion.

We were a group of 24 young change makers from 17 countries that gathered in the cloud forests of Costa Rica for a four-day retreat on the inner dimensions of climate change. Through different focused discussions and side conversations, we spent the better part of 96 hours exploring what those inner dimensions were.

The participants’ backgrounds varied greatly. Many came from the environmental or educational sectors of their national governments and others were driven toward urban farming and youth engagement. My tent mate, an adventurous man from Trinidad and Tobago, grew his own cocoa and produced it all the way to chocolate. I am a musician and songwriter trying to spark a revolution in Canada. Together, we all offered something unique and valuable to the conversation and I will do my best to describe some of the ideas we put forth together.

When discussing climate change, most minds tend to gravitate to topics like greenhouse gases, melting sea ice, and deforestation. We attempted to find what connects these issues and unearth the core of the climate crisis. We returned over and over again to the disconnect experienced by so many in the developed world of the West.

Through years of indoctrination and spiritual erosion, many of us feel deeply disconnected from ourselves, each other, the earth and the spiritual knowledge that we all possess. This disconnection is now manifesting itself in the world as violence, war, storms and crises of every variety.  The inner storms are becoming outer storms. And for us to solve these external problems at the root, we must begin the long process of reconnecting with our higher selves and the planet Earth.

We must tackle our inner storms head on. Not only will addressing these problems make each of us far more effective in evoking change in our communities, but it will also contribute to the massive global shift in consciousness currently in motion on Earth.

This reconnection is not meant to replace practices like reforestation or the renewable energy movement. A spiritual reconnection must operate in tandem with real, physical or political solutions like policy change and conservation. But to protect the land without addressing the greed and anger that has brought here would be futile. The poison that we are seeing in the world will continue to erode our societies and planet unless we choose to also address the deep spiritual crisis that we find ourselves in.

The only way to improve the collective spirituality or consciousness of the human species is to first find that place of connection within yourself. Through practices like music, meditation, and reading, we must all begin to remember our place within the earth and the universe. Through these practices we will quickly realize that by harming any part of the earth, we harm ourselves. We will learn that with every oil spill and clear cut, our physical and spiritual health degrades. We will also learn that with every act of kindness and compassion, we strengthen our spiritual foundation and add the rising collective consciousness of human beings.

A few years ago, I wrote a song called ‘Little Rivers Matter Too’. I used the image of small streams coming together to create huge rivers as a metaphor for the movement of social and environmental justice. I believe the metaphor becomes far more powerful when one considers it in the context of energy and collective consciousness. Through personal growth and deepening one’s spiritual awareness (little rivers), we are directly contributing to the necessary and inevitable rise in global consciousness (big rivers) that will pull our species and planet out of the collapse we are currently experiencing.