In the 5th session of the Active Hope study group I co-facilitate- we explored how opening into a Wider Sense of Self allows us to access a different kind of power than that which is typically experienced within our culture of separation.

When we view ourselves as separate from our world and each other, then the idea that we could make any kind of impact to change the current trajectory of our planet seems laughable. The issues we are facing are so enormous, widespread and complex that you could be forgiven for feeling like it’s a lost cause.

And in the same way that an individual white blood cell could not succeed in defending the body against illness…from the perspective of separation, IT IS a lost cause.

As individuals, we have been taught that the only way to make any kind of significant impact is to be in the top 1% of influence, money or fame like presidents, billionaires or media personalities .
In this worldview, power is a scarce commodity that you have to fight for, defend and is then used to hold-over/dominate others… Joanna Macy calls this ‘power- over’.

But when you widen the self and come into a view of interdependence, then you get access to a different kind power… what Joanna calls ‘power-with’. This kind of power relies on community, radical collaboration, synergy and surrender into deeper Earth intelligence…

“At every level, from atoms and molecules to cells, organs, and organisms, complex wholes arise bringing new capacities into existence. At each level, the whole acts through its parts to achieve more than we could ever imagine from examining the parts alone. So what new capacities emerge when groups of people act together to form larger systems?” Joanna Macy

Lichen is one of my power animals and definitely one of my favourite examples of symbiosis, synergy and emergence in the natural world

This form of power requires us to release our hyper-individualistic approach as well our attachment to knowing the outcome and being credited for it- while simultaneously opening deeply into our unique, creative gifts and perspectives and offering them up to the collective, which brings diversity and greater health to the system.

In this model, we are a small part of a much larger whole, whose actions come THROUGH us, NOT FROM us.
This allows emergent intelligence and characteristics to arise as we act as a unified being who is more than the sum of its parts and capable of things we could never have imagined… in a similar way that I am made up of trillions of individual cells- each with its own purpose to fulfill and lifecycle that is much shorter than mine.

From this perspective we can only know the power of one step by looking at the bigger picture- something that may not be visible at the level at which such actions are taken.

“What does it mean to be a living part of a living whole, like a cell in the body of Earth? 
Such a question, when we pursue it, brings us back to ancestral wisdom.”
-Joanna Macy

Of course, even if we manage to open into this form of power with all its radical possibilities, there will still be no certainty of a favourable outcome to the crisis we currently face…
Nevertheless, this view has helped to relieve some of the overwhelming pressure I feel to have all the answers to our problems… to begin to trust the larger unfolding and the non-linear way that our actions ripple outward along the web interbeing.
Instead I am learning to recognize my innate gifts and play my small part however that looks. 
I can feel that heart that wants to be in deep service to life getting louder and stronger, and for now, that is enough 💚

This is an excellent talk on Emergent properties and its implications