We are all connected. We need each other. Our dreams are all connected. Our dreams need each other. Living in a world full of systemic oppression impacts all of us, and all of our dreams.
I am in the process of writing a LOT of posts about this right now and I decided to start by sharing this one on critical thinking. It's not that I believe that critical thinking is EVERYTHING, I mostly use my intuition to make decisions in my life.
But a lack of critical thinking is destructive.
It's one of the reasons why huge swaths of the New Age community have embraced fascism via conspiracy theories.
I just googled "critical thinking" and landed on the wikipedia definition:
Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities as well as a commitment to overcome native egocentrism and sociocentrism.
Ever since the capital riot, I've been waiting for the big names in the Live Your Best Life Industry who had been promoting Q-Anon conspiracy theories to post apologies.
Which got me wondering WHY there is such an incredible disregard for critical thinking skills in the new age community. Which is why I googled critical thinking.
And, in that definition what stood out to me was the last word: sociocentrism.
The New Age is the colonization of Indigenous Wisdom.
It's privileged people feeling entitled to take whatever they want, from whomever they want to take it from, without any regard for the culture in which those things came from... and often feeling Better Than for having done so, like we are more evolved for being so open minded.
It's taking all of those things and creating a smorgasbord of spiritual and personal beliefs with - again - NO regard for the culture from which they came. Absolutely no context for practices which actually have thousands of years of context attached to them.
And then it's capitalizing on all of this to create a billion dollar industry.
And, for many of us, it's doing all of this as colonizers, occupying Indigenous land with no regard to the treaties. Or living in countries that are actively colonizing other countries.
I say this as a white settler in Canada who has been into pretty much EVERY New Age Thing at some point. And who has been making her living in this industry for the last 10 years.
The New Age couldn't exist as it is with proper critical thinking.
Because, again, sociocentrism. We are colonized people who are colonizing others.
It's the air we breathe.
And if we truly saw what we were doing, if we removed our own colonizing culture as a frame of reference, we would tear this whole thing down.
I know most of the lightworkers and healers and coaches do not mean harm.
We appreciate Indigenous wisdom.
We honour Indigenous culture.
But, sociocentrism. We do not look at the situation from outside of the lens of being settlers on occupied lands.
So we don't see that we are standing on the necks of Indigenous people, while appreciating the culture. We don't consider how long these practices were actually illegal for the people they belong to. We don't think about how Indigenous people came to live on reservations, we don't know anything about Indian Agents or the Indian Act. We don't think about generation after generation of children being torn from their families and taken to abusive residential schools.
This is "bad vibes" and we "don't want to get political" so we don't go there. We don't think about how white/settler silence is what keeps this whole genocidal machine in place.
I write this in Canada, which is really more accurately described as an illegal occupation than a country, due to the fact that we've never honoured the treaties and every one of our federal governments have pursued genocidal policies against Indigenous people.
If my words sound brutal, it's because colonization is brutal.
Colonization IS genocide.
And colonization is the culture in which the New Age was born.
The New Age couldn't have started in an un-colonized culture. This idea that we can borrow from a smorgasbord of spiritual beliefs and practices and remove them from the cultures from which they come could only come out a culture that is disconnected from it's own ancestral wisdom.
We saw the healing and magic of other people's ancestral spiritual practices - and we craved it so we took it. We didn't understand that we were missing the important part: the culture.
We didn't understand the actual colonized ground we were standing on while we were taking.
And we didn't understand that impact trumps intention. We genuinely believed that our good intentions were enough.
We're all about love and light while continuing to profit (either through personal growth or financial gain) from ongoing colonization.
This is the shadow work that we are being called to shine a light on.
One reason why real, grounded, effective shadow work has been so hard to find in the New Age community is because of how the tools, practices and beliefs were taken without regard for the culture they come from.
Our buffets of beliefs are missing big, important pieces that are creating huge community-wide blind spots.
But we can fix this.
We can make space for critical thinking, anti-racism and decolonization in our practices and communities.
We can learn, grow, and shift the culture.
We can right the wrongs and create a new culture.
I think critical thinking is a good place to start, especially the part about making a commitment to overcome native egocentrism and sociocentrism.
So here's what I suggest: decolonize your bookshelf.
For the last 5 years I've been making an effort to read more BIPOC authors than white authors.
The New Age publishing industry is VERY white. And if you haven't noticed, Hay House has been in a lot of trouble lately for their clumsy approach to trying to look more diverse without doing any real anti-racism work.
So, if you're like me, you have read A LOT of books written by white people - further entrenching your white settler colonial worldview.
It's time to widen your perspective.
I'm talking about BOTH non-fiction and fiction. While a lot of the non-fiction I've read has helped me learn what decolonization and anti-racism really are, it's the fiction that really helps shift my worldview.
I hesitate to post some book suggestions because I feel like any list I make is wildly incomplete. I am not an expert. And yet - thinking you have to be an expert before saying anything when everyone's voice is needed is not helpful.
So here are some books that have really stayed with me and helped me to expand my worldview:
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive by Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue
Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Dancing on Our Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence by Leanne Simpson (I just finished this one and want to write more about it)
The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy by Arthur Manuel
Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call by Arthur Manuel
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Plus, of course, google anti-racism if you haven't been learning about it yet. There are TONS of good books out there, though I would suggest, when it comes to anti-racism, sticking to books written by Black and Indigenous people.