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Something About Hope - Musings and Meditations

Updated: Apr 11





Sunday, March 31, 2024




Dear Readers and followers of A Biosphere Project,


I had a musing on food forests ready for today, but I changed my mind this morning and decided to write something in response to Easter.


I am in Budapest, capital of my second homeland Hungary, and it is a beautiful spring day here. Over the past few weeks, the annual slow explosion of green has begun, and life is beginning to visibly celebrate the sun again. Because everything on our planet worships the sun, that's obvious. And with good reason, because everything that lives, lives on “solar energy”. And that celebration of green, like every year, is a miracle to behold, and I am a little more aware each year of how special this process really is.


For our counterparts on the other side of the equator, the reverse process begins, the leaves begin to fall and everything alive prepares for the long pause called "winter”.

For some reason, I used to be barely aware of the fact that the people living on the other side of the globe always experience the opposite process than we do. One of the special side effects of living on a spherical world, which travels around our star at an inclination of 23.45 degrees, so that any given time one hemisphere is facing the sun more than the other.






But I digress, I was going to talk about Easter.

Whatever Easter means to you personally, I wish you a wonderful Easter, in the company of loved ones and/or friends. An Easter of peace and happiness.


For many people on our little planet, it will probably not be an Easter of peace and happiness, but one of bombs, bullets, pain and hunger.


When I thought of writing something about Easter, images of Gaza immediately and involuntarily came to mind. The situation there has fixed my attention for months, and like many people, I often despair at what is happening there, day after day.

Yesterday I heard that the mark of 14,000 dead children there has now been passed in Gaza. There are probably many more because countless children's bodies are still under the rubble. And then there are the thousands of children injured, with sometimes horrific injuries that can barely be cared for because of the absolute lack of just about everything. Among them more than a thousand children who have had to undergo amputations of one or more limbs, most without any anesthesia.


Something in me has been screaming for months, and also this morning: STOP!

When children have to undergo amputations without anesthesia, and other children die of heart attacks because they haven't slept for weeks, when other children die of hunger while hundreds of trucks full of food are waiting a few miles away because they can't cross the border, when all that happens then the world has to stop. Then everyone must shout: NO! Not this, not now and not ever, for no reason! 

But the world is actually just looking on, and has been for months now. It remains curiously silent. And there seems to be a kind of undecided unwillingness to even fully acknowledge that this is really happening, day after day. And the governments of Europe and the U.S. continue to provide Israel with the bombs and other weapons to continue this massacre.


I am not writing this to identify and denounce a "guilty party," or to express an opinion on this conflict that has been dragging on for so many generations in this part of the world. I do have an opinion and a point of view, but opinions and points of view are not what can stop this dying NOW. Only feeling the pain being endured there, especially by so many children. Opinions and viewpoints are as always extremely polarized in this, and everything is viewed through the lens that claims Being Right, and seeks justification for all that is happening there now. But because both sides are so preoccupied with Being Right, no one seems to really feel what is happening there, especially to the children. As with so many things happening in the world now, only feeling the pain can really lead to a change. But feeling is totally unbearable in this case, and yet that is what is needed.


I am sorry if I am disturbing your Easter with these painful images, but an important image that accompanies Easter is after all also quite gruesome: the crucifixion was a process that must also have been more painful than we can imagine. Do we often think about this when we wish each other a Happy Easter? The story of the crucifixion is a harrowing account of the cruelty of which man is capable. But also a story of unconditional love and forgiveness. How can we remember and honor that story and nòt think about what is happening in Gaza right now?


Of course, many adults have also lost their lives in Gaza, and on Oct. 7 in Israel, (and in the many other conflicts currently raging in the world) and their deaths are also tragic. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that children's lives are even more sacred than adult lives. More sacred, because every life is sacred, but that of children even more so. Can anything be more sacred than sacred? A logical and dialectical conundrum, but I maintain: children are more sacred than sacred and their well-being should be something non-negotiable for the whole world.






I could write much more about what I think, feel and experience in relation to what is happening in Gaza, but I will leave that for another time. There has long been a text brewing inside me about this situation, which countless doctors and aid workers say is the worst they have ever experienced in decades of working in conflict zones.

And it is one of those things currently happening in the world that can make us lose hope that things will ever be alright for us on this planet.


But then to return to the fact that today is Easter Sunday: has it ever been any different? There have been so many moments in history when a human being could have decided: just let it be over soon with homo sapiens, this primate who really makes a mess of everything and causes nothing but misery for his own species and for the planet.

It has never been difficult to lose hope, to give up, to sink into despondency, pessimism, or cynicism.

And besides, there is something about disaster and violence: it sucks in our attention more than happiness or well-being or peace do. In every period of our history there has also been happiness, creativity and peace, but our attention is more easily drawn to violence and disasters. Rutger Bregman wrote an impressive argument in his book ‘Human Kind’ telling us to stop seeing man as a violent and cruel being. No, if you listen to Bregman's well-reasoned arguments, humans are actually quite okay and by far most people that ever lived were peace-loving beings, 'hard-wired' for coöperation and solidarity.

And despite the misery and horror in the world, there is always reason for hope and for optimism.






And Easter is certainly a feast of hope: even death can be conquered, according to Christian tradition and actually according to every religious or spiritual belief that has ever existed.

I no longer identify myself with any particular religious or spiritual doctrine. When I was twelve, I decided I did not want to go to church with my parents anymore, and I have stuck to that ever since, with the exception of those moments when a friend of family member is getting married or to attend a funeral. I broke away from a narrative that was too oppressive for me, and felt untrue.

I am not anti-religious, on the contrary. I respect everyone's beliefs, and everyone can follow the path that does feel right for them or resonates with their innermost beliefs and experiences. I just never felt that one particular story could be the right one for me, or resonated in such a way that I truly felt at home in it. I began a journey of discovery through the religions and spiritual traditions of the world, a journey that continues to this day. And I am particularly fascinated by the way in which new visions in science are beginning to point to great similarities between what science says and what some of the oldest religious and spiritual traditions have been telling us for millennia. And one of the things I feel is that the core message of all the major religions is the same: unconditional love.


Certainly one of the meanings of Easter is also that that love always wins - it can even conquer death. And one of the meanings may also be that no sacrifice is in vain.

According to Christian tradition, Jesus died for us, to redeem us from our sins.

I would like to keep thinking this Easter Sunday about the children of Gaza, about their dying, day after day, and by extension the children in all the conflict zones of the world, and the children suffering from hunger and poverty. I want to stay with them in my thoughts, even after today, as I have done in recent months. Something in me tells me that we must not look away, and that we must witness, even if we can do little about that situation and even if it is often unbearable to behold what is happening there.  To dare to feel, to dare to experience (as far as we can) the suffering that happens there. So that the dying of all those children will also not have been in vain, and that from that immeasurable suffering something can emerge that can contribute to a promise: never again.

And I know, we've heard that promise before. 'Never again' ... can we still believe that?

It's not easy, but Easter is about faith, about unconditional love, and about forgiveness and resurrection. I for one will do my utmost best to work towards a world where this cannot happen again. And I believe each of us can contribute something to that.


Last November, shortly after the destruction of Gaza began, I wrote a text on Facebook in which I tried to express and process my grief, helplessness, anger and despair. I will share that text on the website as well, I recently decided.


An excerpt:

“What can each of us do in light of that unfathomable suffering that the children in Gaza are going through right now? Yes, we can demonstrate, we can send emails to our political representatives, we can get angry on social media. All that is probably also necessary, this expression of anger and indignation. But will real change come from that?


Maybe we can continue to transform our own consciousness to more faith, more love, more creativity, more openness, more honesty? Can we discover in ourselves all those energies that in ourselves lead to closure, to self-righteous rigid beliefs, to rejection of the other? Can we discover in ourselves the process that leads us to continually judge the other and to want our own rightness confirmed at all costs? Can we recognize in ourselves all those moments when we dig in, barricading ourselves in our victim-consciousness and from there project all the darkness in us onto the people around us?


Each of us has something to give to the world, to that speck in the picture, to all those people and all the countless other beings on that speck. Each of us even has a unique gift to give to our planet, a gift that only you or I can give.

But saying such a thing in our thoroughly cynical society quickly sounds ‘cheesy’ or ‘sentimental’ or naive’. It is thoroughly at odds with our state religion, that of cynical individualism (homo economicus) and materialistic reductionism. Believing in our own value to the world, and believing in the potential each of us has to make that world a better place, it sounds to our thoroughly hardened society a little idiotic, half-witted, dorky. Grow up, man. It is what it is. Don't be silly.


But what if for once we persevere in the naiveté?  What if we half-wittedly go on looking for that which each of us has within us as a unique gift for the world, that which the great Michael Meade calls the ‘Genius’, that which each of us carries within us as a potential for that more beautiful world? What if, like dorky idiots, we come to believe that we all have not only a connection to the world but a gift that can help heal that world? What if we cheesily and naively go ahead and try to transform, dismantle, melt the processes we observe in our own environment that we see leading to more hardening, intolerance, anger and judgment, from our own gift? Because these processes are going on everywhere, not just in the Middle East. How much hardening and intolerance is growing here, increasingly taking hold of our society? 

What if we childishly come to believe that we can heal the world, each of us in our own way? That wherever we are and whatever we believe in, through love and appreciation we can help melt away all the processes that lead to hardening, intolerance and ultimately violence? What if we put disbelief and cynicism aside and stop caring if anyone thinks we’re being silly?”






I want to keep thinking today about the pain and suffering of the children that happens to be unfolding exactly in that part of the world where the story of hope and love took place that is celebrated in the Easter festivities. But I also want to keep thinking about everything that gives us reason to hope, and everything that makes us aware of our own strength, and our own ability to contribute something to a different, more beautiful world.


Once again, I wish you a wonderful Easter, and a beautiful spring day (or autumn day, if you reside on the other side of the equator).


Thanks for reading, until the next installment,


All the best to you,

Filip




Injured Palestinian child in al-Nasr hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza. Photo: Mohammed Abed/ AFP/ Getty Images


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