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(Traditional Written Version Below Video)
We are the only pilgrims on this unsigned path,
and pilgrims must walk barefoot when possible
and absorb the messages left for them by history.
∞ Peter Grey, Apocalyptic Witchcraft
The eyes of hope have been shuttered.
In the best of times it is hard to believe in something greater than our eyes can see. But at this moment in history? To hope feels like some sort of dangerous, wild-eyed treason against reality. To dream feels like a folly we cannot afford to indulge. And so, like thick, upholstery-style curtains set against the cold of winter, our eyelids have fallen shut to all but the stark conditions unfolding around us. They are trying to protect us from the risk that we might look beyond this moment (and the moments it seems fated to conceive) to a golden age of gorgeous possibility that appears incapable of arriving.
Yes. Pointlessness and futility drape our pupils insuring that no light can enter, and therefore, no landscapes of promise can paint themselves upon the surface of our minds.
Without hope, we are left only with the unraveling of this present moment and the horrors that seem to be multiplying like maggots feasting on the dead. Are we ALL to be among the vermin-delicacies consumed by the scavengers?
Or will we dare to rend the veil between where we are now and the realm of promise so cleverly disguised by the madman at the helm?
Don't answer me yet!
I am here to tell you that the future belongs to the dreamers. We are the only ones who can possess it for anything more noble than a chain upon the very liberty that makes us human.
In the name of this liberty, we must ravish the future as lovers ravishing the beloved.
We must stand not just in hope, but as the hope of this age armed with purpose and passion that outstrips the ravenous voices of doubt. Those voices come like sirens in the night to call us towards the rocks of failure where devastation can consume us.
We cannot afford to listen. We cannot afford to give up or give in. For the only treason we are about to commit is the kind we perpetrate as violence against our calling.
But these siren songs are not the only sound dancing upon the wind. I know that you have heard destiny shouting your name. I know that you know the sound of this contrary, revolutionary voice. Be honest, your heart is alive and aching to answer this call just as surely as it is awake with the terror that says there is no point.
This is the battleground!
The first decision you must make isn't about whether or not to enter the realm of promise. The crossroads at which you stand is made of these two contrary voices. One hales you as a hero. The other tempts you to take up residence in a faithless, festering world and to be subsumed in it; to be absorbed by the sameness that wants to destroy all diversity, kill all color, devastate all "feminine" virtues like compassion, mercy, tenderness, and ecstatic tension.
This sameness is after our aliveness and the untamed motion of our passion. It wants to destroy not just the dreams, but the dreamers who keep innovation's flames alive. This sameness is after the future. It wants to occupy it for the few, cast out the many, or worse yet, cast us into eternal servitude.
Someone asked me today if freedom is a feeling. Yes. Above all it is a feeling.
If we give up the visceral connection to our freedom, no one will ever have to tie us down. We will sit idly by, inert in the face of this crucial moment. We will collapse into our belief that we can do nothing. We will fall as prisoners to our own sense, not just that we cannot have an impact, but that our impact is not a critical, deciding factor in the outcome.
We will silence the voice of our dreams and succumb to our own inessentiality.
But with freedom alive in our bones, no syndicate of sameness can destroy our humanity or press our passion into servile submission. With freedom coursing through our veins, we will never agree to the despoiling of hope.
On the contrary, we will recognize ourselves as the hope of this age, the ONLY hope there will ever be.
Hope is not just a feeling, a belief, or even just an action. It is the light of our essence seeping around the corner of our closed eyelids, shining like the sun, insisting that, in the midst of this present darkness, we can be revealed, not as consumers of light, but as its genesis. This will not be light set against darkness, but rather born of it, like stars come alive in the darkness of space.
The moment we know ourselves in this way, our passion becomes the path forward. Our aliveness becomes our guide. And when we walk barefoot upon this path, naked and vulnerable to it, we will go beyond absorbing the messages history has for us. We will come forward as the history makers.
Some of us will claim our power to shape the destiny of this world in accordance with human value; in recognition that we each possess a precious and indispensable contribution that must be made to the whole. We will refuse to be constrained by what is. In the fiery passion we carry in our own bellies, we will melt the gold of who we have been and form it into our masterpiece. From this gold we will craft the future; a future that reflects the true power of our humanity. And by our very presence, we will change this world. Our life's work will be to turn the wheel of destiny.
Others among us will claim the power to shine the brightest where once we held the most despair. In our own hearts. We will be as beacons of hope, standing in the truth that we went beyond our shameful origins to reveal ourselves as the harbingers of a world beyond trauma. Beyond the grasp of oppression! We will forge a new path from the heart of our brokenness and our inessentiality to the realm of promise where human potential isn't just held in esteem, it is cultivated and nourished from the inside out and from the outside in. We will make the way into the future not just as pilgrims, but as explorers searching in every corner, destroying the masks that conceal our true presence, illuminating the hidden treasure in even the most hopeless of places. Because once upon a time we were (ourselves) the most hopeless of places. Our own hearts were bereft of even the desire to go on.
Finally, a few of us will walk in front. We will overtly claim the power to show the way. We will finally allow ourselves to know the truth that is so evident to all who have eyes to see. We are not just forgers of the way. Nor are we among those who simply search out and reveal the hope in the heavy-laden. We are the showers of the way. We were born betrothed to our sacred duty: to lead. We have an inescapable instinct to stand in the responsibility of this moment and to guide others to the cutting edge of "reality" and beyond it.
But first, before any of these paths can open up to us, in the twilight embers of hope, we must find our way forward; we must locate the way forward in ourselves as the hope of this age.
Then we must light a new fire from the dying flames of the old.
We must bring this fire alive in our bones. We must set it free to rush through our veins as the lava of our passion.
Above all, we must finally open our eyes and see hope's light dancing there.
For when the light of hope has gone out all around us, we must learn to be its origin. And in so doing, reveal the truth of our power.
For what we may begin alone, we will always finish together and we will know one another by the resonant beauty of an unmistakable aliveness and an unwavering dedication to life and to lives fully lived.
By the hope nestled in the heart of this last word, the madman will be vanquished. It is the only way.
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