A Silent Spring for the new century? Gary Lindorff's new book, New Wasichu, Crossing: Our Story is Just Beginning is, on one level, a bold disturbance of the silence of denial that has muted our ability to reverse Schweitzer's curse, quoted by Rachel Carson right at the threshold of her prophetic classic: "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." Perhaps if we had heeded Rachel Carson's shot over bow of Western post-industrial "progress" we would not be where we are now. But here we are, and the silence is still deafening. Silent Spring is one of those books that you don't necessarily have to read anymore because it is in our bones, just like the strontium 90 that was falling with the rain back when Carson was writing. Here is another book for our bones.
This book is addressed to those who have fallen in love with the planet.
Lindorff isn't trying to sell the loveableness of the planet to anyone. New Wasichu, Crossing is for those who already know (in their bones) that Gaia is alive and they already love her. The first sentence (chapter 1) cuts to the chase: "I begin this writing out of a sense of urgency to speak some truth to my tribe, the Wasichu. The earth, our mother, requires something of us now, something that we haven't been able to provide until now: protection." The point is, if we truly love the earth we will defend her from those who are destroying her.
Defend Mother Earth? That sounds risky. What would that look like? How would that feel?
When Lindorff was filing for his conscientious objector deferment from Vietnam (back in 1970) he was told that, at his hearing before the Draft Board he, a self-proclaimed pacifist, would very likely be asked: What would you do if someone broke in and tried to rape your mother? He admits, the question got him thinking. And it is a question that has never gone away, for clearly Earth is being raped.
But there are other metaphors that are equally provoking.
Lindorff claims that once we make the shift to partner with nature, everything will take care of itself. But in order to fall in love with the planet we have to fall out of love with the middle world which Lindorff refers to as a "womb of our own making in which we have set up shop. . .Often it seems like everything is testing us, and life is nothing but a series of trials, but that is the Mother just trying to get us out of her belly, and if we fight too long, we will lose."
So there is something else to consider: Our Mother is not passive!
Lindorff writes: "Thirty years ago was the time for soul-searching. At this juncture, we might be wise to cut our losses and concede that it is not up to us to heal the planet; even if it were possible, there isn't time, and the learning curve is too steep. It is more realistic to think in terms of protection and damage control. It is up to us to back off from making it impossible for Earth to begin healing herself."
It was not an easy book to write. Lindorff points out that most of the time, on a good day, he is functioning at say, 70%. To write this book, he says, "I needed to connect a lot of dots; I had to be functioning closer to 95%." He continues: "I have been writing New Wasichu, Crossing for the last 3 and a half years, spanning the deaths of both of my parents, a period of time fraught with disturbing change and upheaval across the board. I am no longer young but that's not a bad thing. My heart is strong and, dare I say, wiser." The head, our heads, seem to be running out of ideas. In this book Lindorff is writing from his core, his heart of hearts, trusting what he knows.
New Wasichu, Crossing is the distillation of several decades of experience, study and practice in three over-lapping fields of access to certain wellsprings of creativity and transformation: Jungian Psychology, Native American wisdom traditions and shamanism. What is offered here is a way through the ominous darkness of our times. In this work Lindorff braids together a colorful, carefully researched, sometimes autobiographical narrative-lifeline that will guide the reader ever deeper into a landscape of dreams, intentionality, revelation and real answers to the problems that we face as human beings. Chapter by chapter the path to the future becomes less metaphorical and more substantial and walkable.
The writing explores certain archetypal themes. One such theme is crossing for spiritual survival. At the same time the reader is equipped to orient him- or herself by a new (or older than old) set of coordinates, facilitating participation in an epic crossing to something more human and more sustainable. Another recurrent theme is the return of the doppelganger or our soulful double, which, it turns out, embodies the template of the undamaged self.
The way forward is not a linear path, to say the least. It is an intuitive path, a Taoist, meandering way. Intuition is more than just a function, as Jung, with his typology, understood it. Lindorff again: "Intuition, if nurtured, quickly establishes its credibility. When it doesn't have to compete with the rational mind, we get the news of the universe. Opening to our innate intuitive intelligence and using it to learn from the living planet is neither naÃ¯ve, in the sense of primitive, nor is it one-sided. It just isn't Western. We might even say that intuition takes on immense survival value as it dawns on us that we are, in fact "losing control of a logic-based reality".
The reader must expect a wild ride calculated to cover a lot of territory fairly quickly but, in the end, we must each carry our own weight as the journey continues. This is a book for the stout-hearted. It poses questions that pop-psychology and New Age faddism will never address. The currents that are tapped are deep and clear, the pools of reflection are intellectually, emotionally and intuitively quenching.
According to Lindorff, and this sentiment comes across very clearly in his poetry, "We are truly living at an historic tipping point that will never repeat for the human race. We have a rare opportunity to change our destiny.