I remember first being introduced to the term, Zeitgeist, back in my Grade 12 English class. My hippy teacher (yes, he drove a VW van and was a true dude!) explained that this was a term that meant “spirit of the time”. Wikipedia has confirmed it.
For some reason, this word has been milling around my brain lately, as I think about our planet and recent global events. It is difficult not to notice that the Earth is going through a period of unrest, on many levels. We are bombarded with events that make hard-core Christians positively orgasmic with signs of the second coming. And, no. I did not intend to make that sentence sound quite so sexual. Whoops!
I really became aware of this a few months ago, when a friend introduced me to some “conspiracy-based” websites. There is A LOT of information out there pertaining to the New World Order, aliens, 2012, Illuminati, and a general “elite” agenda to make us all into robot-like morons that will follow a Satanic rule. Crazy enough for ya? It does sound a bit paranoid on the surface, but I quickly got sucked into the theories and began to worry about the grains of truth that could be scattered among the information.
Alongside these theories, there are the Bible-thumpers, mentioned above, reading every recent event as a sign of the coming Apocalypse and urging one and all to REPENT, REPENT, REPENT! With massive animal die-offs, war, and natural disasters plaguing the Earth, it is hard to turn a blind eye to these theories, as well; despite the fact that I am not a believer in literal interpretations of the Bible.
And so, in the past few months I’ve become a little obsessed. I gather information and I become sad. I admit, I have not yet come to proper terms with the impermanence of life. Looking at my two small children, I desperately want to experience life. And I want my children to experience it fully and freely. My heart feels so heavy when I think of any suffering that they may have to endure. I don’t mean a broken heart due to a love lost or some hardship when they argue with their boss at work (although I wish I could protect them from these events too!) I mean living through natural disasters, war, famine, political unrest, etc.
So, against this backdrop, I began to think of the word, Zeitgeist, and I realized the obvious: the Zeitgeist of our times is fear. We are a planet of humans living in complete and utter fear. At the core, it is a fear of the inevitability of death. North American culture, in particular, lives in total denial of the fact that everyone must eventually die. This trickles down to just about every aspect of how we conduct our daily lives. Protecting ourselves from any kind of hurt, pain or suffering at all costs. This fear fuels a collective paranoia. We read into every major event, looking for clues and signs. Signs that drive whatever fear-based agenda we believe is ruling the planet. Our media intensifies this madness with doom-filled headlines that manipulate facts. A personal favourite of mine is when weather turns extreme. Soon the TV networks are confirming: The most devastating tornado to hit Kansas since record-keeping began!! Nothing like this has been seen in our lifetime!! The inevitable quote by a local elder: 90-year-old has never seen a storm this horrific!! Of course, we’ve only been keeping records for a few hundred years, and a “lifetime” is actually a split second in the grand scheme of things. But that fact just doesn’t have the same kind of punch.
On the flip-side of this, we have the Universe itself. The planets. The stars. The cosmos. Existing for billions of years. Earth herself has been home to a multitude of species. Some survived for millions of years until present day. Others were wiped out. The Universe makes no judgements and is not sentimental. Nature simply flows through a natural cycle, allowing birth, life, destruction and re-birth. And, in my humble opinion, as many philosophies and religions that have tried to understand this process, none of us truly comprehend the enormity of it all.
In the wake of the recent tragedy in Japan, I have been checking in with both mainstream and unconventional news sites. Of course, the unconventional ones scream of conspiracy. Some believe the event was planned. Government conspiracy. Population control. Those who feel it’s a natural event, add this to their Apocalyptic checklist. I found myself feeling angry and manipulated. Everyone seems to have some kind of agenda. The conspiracy theorists claim that they are revealing the truth behind the curtain, but I see nothing constructive or positive in their rants. They sensationalize as much as mainstream media. And, of course, mainstream media itself cannot be trusted. I’m pretty sure that’s common knowledge at this point. Their one common bond, though? Fear. If you don’t fear the natural world then make sure you fear the government. If you don’t fear the government then make sure you fear God. If you don’t fear God, well then you better be in utter fear of….oh yes….Satan!!!
On her latest album, Erykah Badu states that there are only two emotions: fear and love. I feel like I see that all around us now. If something is not rooted in love, a universal love, then it is rooted in fear. Even hatred and violence are fear-based. The levels of fear are many. From the most superficial ego-based fear, to the most profound philosophical fear. But it is fear that surrounds us.
I don’t claim to be above it all. On the contrary, it affects me at a core level that I cannot deny. Fear has literally been my personal disease. However, my goal is to replace it with love. It’s a lofty goal, I admit, but it fills me with hope and it feels so right. Perhaps the world as we know it is spiraling toward irreversible destruction. Or perhaps this is just another moment in human history that shall pass and be analyzed by our children’s children. (Naturally, I hope for the latter scenario.) But, I cannot control this. I can only control my own reaction to it all. My hope is that I can tap into the beauty and love that surrounds me. My family, nature, my close friends, the joy in each day. I am blessed with love.
The current Zeitgeist is powerful. Fear is something I must fight every day. But it’s a good fight. And I hope you join me.