Forget Upstream Activism: We Are The Stream
Letter from the Editor, January 2023
“Our worldview is like the foundation of a house: if it’s faulty, everything might collapse“
– Jeremy Lent, The Web of Meaning
It was best that, as a young mother, I did not realize the truth of a growing impulse to wade into the waters of activism alongside other fierce women and men, all committed to the counterculture act of making wellness choices in defiance of America’s freefall to the bottom of all developed nations’ health indicators. It was best that I didn’t know the historical truth: that institutional policies and cultural biases against biological imperatives and life itself began thousands of years before I gazed into my newborn son’s eyes, smelled his soft head, and marveled over his first belly laugh.
I may have given up, or not began at all, had I recognized the audacity of grassroots activism intent on reclaiming our individual and collective humanity. I may have stayed in bed. But I didn’t. My heart, my whole being, said yes to life. I said yes… and got out of bed.
In the beginning, it was Joseph Chilton Pearce’s defining of the engineered Bio-Cultural Conflict that helped me to clear my head, to name and shake off the cultural imperatives of conformity and, instead, attune my awareness to biological imperatives, life’s innate intelligence humming in my bones and in living connections with other activists. Paul Hawken named this joining of hands across diverse conscious-raising movements as “humanity’s immune system response to political corruption, economic disease, and ecological degradation”.
It’s true. Activism to “save” dying species, an ailing planet, and the human family has grown exponentially, often frantically, in the 25 years since Kindred World was founded. In those years, I witnessed, often in despair, how much time, energy, and money we can throw at social and ecological “problems” just to find ourselves depleted and very little changed.
However, during these past few years at Kindred, a few streams converged and provided us with fresh insight into our strategic vision and planning for our future as a nonprofit hub for the many activists, organizations, seekers, and new cycle makers we serve. These streams were the introduction of Darcia Narvaez’s Evolved Nest, Four Arrows’ Worldview Chart and Indigenous Wisdom insights, and Kindred’s Meet the Wayfinders Oral History Series collected from nine wayfinders who shared how they created real and lasting cultural change – with divergent thinking, relational awareness, and without billionaire funding.
First, Darcia Narvaez’s award-winning research into humanity’s evolutionary pathways to wellness – our Evolved Nest – restores our species’ downshifted baselines to lifelong flourishing. While 95% of human history valued a Cycle of Cooperative Companionship, the last few thousand years of a Cycle of Competitive Detachment has morphed us into an atypical species who subjects its young to “Undercare” to induct them into normalized transgenerational trauma. While the trauma-informed movement takes off in the US, and thankfully so, the Evolved Nest provides us with the seeds of a wellness-informed movement, a what TO DO, and not just what NOT to do to create thriving children and adults.
Third, the Meet the Wayfinders Oral History Collection presented nine stories from activists who utilized, intuitively and organically, divergent thinking, relational activism, and parallel structure creation to meet their needs for wellness creation in their communities, and often beyond. These wayfinders employed relational intelligence right where they were in their day to day lives to break through institutional and cultural barrier. Listening to their stories we discover wayfinder wisdom for changemaking, and its correlating values, are not found in our colonized, dominant way of being.
While the Evolved Nest guides us out of downshifted wellness baselines and back toward flourishing, the Worldview Chart helps us discover, at a glance, why we do not manifest flourishing in our Dominant Culture: we can’t. That’s right, even when we say “yes” to life, we will not be able to create a Wisdom-based, Wellness-informed Society with the values and precepts of a Dominant Worldview. This is why it is critical for self-identified Trance-breakers, New Cycle Makers and Wayfinders to understand how our worldview is contributing to the creation of our world, or keeping us stuck in traditional Hamster Wheel Activism.
While Four Arrows cautions us to view the Worldview Chart not as a binary, but as a continuum, the Dominant Worldview – born of Western emphasis on “left” brain, rational reductionist precepts – is overly emphasized in modern culture. This imbalance appears as separation consciousness, with a disconnected disregard for life. Study the Worldview Chart with the cause of your choice in mind. See your heart’s calling (where you take your stand in the world) then practice seeing through the metacognitive lenses of Dominant or Indigenous (Kinship) Worldview. Which lens moves you into relationship with yourself and others? Which lens moves you toward joy?
“To shift from the dominant worldview to the original Indigenous worldview takes some ‘decolonizing’ of the mind. Our minds have been suckled on the milk of civilization’s domination and coercion of life with industrialization and capitalism increasing disconnection and alienation from earth consciousness. This book is planting the seeds for decolonizing your mind.” (From the introduction to Restoring Our Kinship Worldview, a book by Four Arrows and Darcia Narvaez that explores the Worldview Chart’s precepts.)
Moving into relationship with life and all of our kin, attuning ourselves to the songs in our bones, and holding hands while we move lightly over and around our own Dominant Cultural programming, allows us to joyfully take responsibility for our world. We can stop searching for causal realities upstream now. Together, we are the stream.
- Darcia and Four Arrows new book, Restoring Our Kinship Worldview, takes us deeper into 28 of these 40 precepts. You can read the introduction to the book, here, and enjoy our collection of their interviews on our Kindred YouTube Channel here.
- We’re also making available to you this month their 12-minute-long video introduction to the Worldview Chart. You can watch this video here. There are worldview discussion questions you can share with a group in this post.
- If you are wondering if you should get out of bed these days, if you are sure you said “yes” to life but aren’t sure how to proceed, we feel you. And we’re still here. Join us in our Kindred Community to talk with Darcia and Four Arrows about their work, and I’ll be there ready to hear your wayfinder wisdom stories.
- This month you can also watch the short film Breaking the Cycle and join Darcia and I on January 23, 2023 for a LIVE discussion. (Register here.)
- We will be opening applications for our Kindred Fellowshp Program’s Summer 2023 Cohort on March 1. This social lab experiment with college students gives us the opportunity to explore the Evolved Nest, Worldview Literacy, and Childhood-centered Social Justice Education. Please support this program here.
- Join us in welcoming our new board members! Meet the new board members in our newsletter and see our full board here.
- Enjoy the collection of posts, podcasts, and interviews in this issue of Kindred, here.
Thanks to Jeremy Lent for sending us his photo of Four Arrows’ Worldview Chart mounted on his home’s fence in Berkeley, California, for his neighbors to enjoy. You can read the introduction to Jeremy’s book, The Web of Meaning, on Kindred this month, here.