Deeply rooted in my essence lies the stirring question “How can we make this work as humans here on this planet?”
Allow me a clear view of the plain truth. Right now it looks like it just isn’t going to work with us here on this planet. We are not only destroying our own lives, we are dragging down the life around us, animals, plants and the delicate atmospheric balance that nourishes us all. Our compass is set for destruction. There is something frightening about the thoroughness and consistency with which we rob ourselves of our foundation.
Let’s step out of the hypnotic pull of being overwhelmed for a breath or two, press the pause button briefly in activism and relax our eyes for a moment to SEE. What is actually happening here? Who or what has what it takes to create such an abyss and make us head straight for it?
Who or what is so powerful to perverse life itself and to make one’s own life impulse – that which always wants to live – the servant of one’s own destruction? I know only one power that can do that. And that is shame. Shame burns, shame makes me not want to be there. Shame is annihilating.
A good reason to declare the feeling of shame the enemy and banish it from personal experience as well as from social discourse. This is our reality. Humanity is ashamed. And we, the many individuals who make up humanity, have not learned to relate to this feeling. We control our world of experience, settle into our newly drawn boundaries and think we are safe. Over time, we can even forget that there is something else beyond these boundaries.
Anything that might remind us of it is erased from our collective memory. People and events that evoke this distant feeling in us are fought with our sharpest weapons – discrimination and ignorance. Practised over generations, the self-imposed prison becomes a maximum security prison and life in it becomes joyless and uncomfortable. We bash our heads in our own hell.
What did we want to be safe from again? Where did it all start again? Ah yes – shame.
The shame bubble “out there” in its exile. One more deep breath, one more clear unblinking gaze. We were mistaken. And our error has caused much damage. People have killed people. Relationships have been sacrificed. Thoughts have been burned.
How embarrassing. How will we ever get out of here? Who is going to carry this?
For that we need the strength and wisdom of an almost forgotten feeling. Shame?
Are we overlooking something? Are there other narratives about shame – beyond this one big one of fear of annihilation?
Shame is, at its origin, a feeling of connection. Where do we find the stories we haven’t heard? Has anyone ever stopped and really felt it? What is actually happening inside? What is being human with shame and what is being human without shame like? Does life itself know something about shame? Or are we on our own with this intense borderline feeling?
Living with shame – there are not so many role models on this path. We have to find out how to do it on our own – together. Curiosity has always been a good start.
When I look at my own path, many years without orientation on the run, but with a burning fire of longing in my luggage … broken hearts, missed opportunities – the fear of shame was often the big obstacle! And at the same time the motor for my search for truth and integrity. Today , I always carry the magic key to the lock with which I unlock my shame and lock myself in, in my pocket – as a door opener for deep connections, innovation and creativity. Shame for future?
More to come.
Sande-Ann – humanity researcher and ‘shame gourmet’