As the world has become more connected, we have become a ‘Global Community’. The problem with that is, it’s kind of an oxymoron.
‘Community’ in a sociological sense is defined as a group with similar interests or at least something in common (even geographic location, for instance). This implies there is some group external to that community, that is, by definition, not part of that community. ‘Global’ refers to the whole of something which implies there is nothing outside of it. Together these words imply there is some aspect of existence that we all have in common.
Sure, we all have humanity in common, this is true. However, people don’t give a damn about the whole of humanity. We define ourselves by our career, our role in our family, our interests, and even our addictions. We are evolved apes, and some may even turn their nose up to such a statement. I won’t get into how obnoxious it is that humans often tend to place themselves outside of the natural order of the ecosystem. That is evidenced by the accumulation of garbage we’ve collected into man-made mountains. Most of us don’t even contemplate what service to humanity would look like.
A lot of people these days are wondering how we got to this level of suspending disbelief. The answer is: we stopped gathering around the fire. We stopped sharing ideas because many people develop a fear of being judged for using their imagination. We stopped being vulnerable, knowing that people who did not know our whole story may be suspicious of us. We began to filter out our spirituality for logical explanations we could deliver succinctly. For fear of being cast out we started to hide our creative minds. Its distubing to see how prevalent its become to lose one of the aspects of humans that separates our intelligence from the artificial intelligence of computers.
Imagine members of the Senate or the House of Representatives having a ceremony around a campfire to discuss the state of the country. Or even better, imagine the head of each state calling together for a prayer ceremony of collective healing. It may seem like a naive solution, but its better than a stale handshake that is actually more of a photo opportunity than a meaningful agreement. Spending time outside with the spectacle of a fire is much more humbling than a television.
If you think about it, there are many observers of an exile in history for every one banishment. Even if the outcast were to arrive in a new community and safely assimilate, only few would’ve heard the story.
I attended a teepee ceremony to pray for the collective healing recently. The evening got me to thinking again about our ancestors gathering around the campfire. Though the peyote we consumed was certainly the reason I was able to stay up late into the night, I wasn’t able to get enough down to notice much of anything except nausea. It wasn’t until the day after when I realized I had actually experienced something. However, since it was not a wild psychedelic trip, I wasn’t clear on what exactly that was. The cactus made me submit and become humbled as my body rejected its astringency.
We performed meaningful rituals throughout the night. To start, we passed around a feather to take turns describing what brought us to the worship, and then we were given a stick. With this stick in one hand, we rubbed it down our arms, legs, and shoulders to remove all the bad energy from our bodies. After that, we were told to feed the fire with that stick and for the next several hours we prayed and allowed the medicine to show us the path of healing.
One of the girls enthusiastically led songs and shared stories about her own travels. Another sang songs of prayer in a language I’d never heard as she sat straight up before the fire for the duration of the entire night. Two men kept the fire and gathered wood to feed it so that it stayed with us the whole time. Several of the attendees would ask the facilitator (referred to as the chief) to tell stories about the medicine men and their history, which he knew from traveling around the world.
He went on to describe the roles of the ceremony. Two men tended to the fire all night long, and two women were in charge of blessing the group with a water ceremony in the morning. The chief told us a story about how the fire was the one keeping us. The fire is in the sun and it is within the core of the Earth, he reminded us. He described the campfire as part of one eternal fire. I remember him also saying that one of his elders told him the trees laugh at us because we forgot how to talk to them. The night was filled with laughter, a few tears, and a teepee filled with kindness. By the next morning, I felt like I knew everyone there on a soul level.
For more than a year now, I’ve been doing this weekly meetup with friends called Campfire Karaoke. It started with lofty goals of being the culture aspect to a political movement. It became more of a fellowship meeting between me and a few other friends. Those friends I’ve grown to trust so much that I confide in them through some of my worst feelings. Friendships that I genuinely hope will last a lifetime. They are a part of my community.
We chose to call it Campfire Karaoke because Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein had spoke several times on how humans evolved to learn and commune around the fire. This real life campfire made me realize what has been so special about my weekly meetings online. Its that I’ve allowed people to know me authentically and fully. As we look ahead to the impending metaverse(s), it is our duty as humans to keep connecting with one another and to stop alienating ourselves into isolation. The time has come to reconstruct what it means to be a modern-day human by emphasizing the human-aspect of our lives. Now to figure out what those things might be…
Originally written for Collective Journaling at The Stoa