21. Atlas²: Easing The Weight Of The World
Our brains were wired to consider the wellbeing of around one hundred and fifty other people.42 But our modern communications technology now connects us to the daily plight of billions of other sentient beings. Many of these people (and creatures) are already enduring lives of extreme hardship, and with the looming prospect of climate breakdown on our very near horizon, their situations are likely to get a lot worse before they get better.
Participating in Collectives provides us with an opportunity to meaningfully engage with the issues of our time without leaving us feeling burnt out, overwhelmed or alone. By staying in close contact with an equally committed group of change makers, we can share the triumphs and tribulations we experience in ongoing our efforts to effect change, and support each other along the way. After all, our species has a long history of coping with turbulent times and terrifying threats, the only difference these days is that it largely feels as if we are facing the challenges on our own, devoid of the loving support of a competent tribe. But by participating in mutual aid communities we can rediscover this sense of being in it together, as when we walk side by side, working together towards a common cause, what once seemed impossible can all at once begin to seem possible, or even probable.
When we mourn the extreme levels of suffering in the world together as a community, we can be held and hold others as we each go through our own personal cycles of grief, or what the Germans refer to as Weltschmerz (a deep sadness about the imperfection of the world). Such communal solidarity can get us through our darkest moments, and ensure we rediscover our resolution and capacity to act. As no matter how big a particular threat may appear to be, everything feels so much more manageable when ever we have a close group of proficient humans surrounding us. As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved, and with the prospect of total ecological collapse on our radar, we’re more desperately in need of such communal support than ever before. Let’s take a closer look now at just how valuable such support networks can be during times of societal unrest.