The Pachamama Alliance is a worldwide organization that aims to raise awareness of the environmental dangers facing planet Earth – from catastrophic climate change to the mass extinction of species.
The Israeli arm of Pachamama has been schlepping the organization’s five-hour core “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” symposium around the country. Friends of ours in Jerusalem hosted about 30 people in their home last week to participate in the seminar.
A Pachamama workshop consists of a series of very professional 5-10 minute videos followed by small group discussions. There are activities (writing down vision statements, mini-meditations, calls to action) and larger group sharing.
The event is divided into two sections: the problems are spelled out before lunch, with what we can do personally to make a difference described after the meal.
The videos in the first half are quite disturbing and graphic, although if you follow the news, much of the data will be familiar (an example factoid: “if you have food in a refrigerator, clothes in your closet, a bed to sleep in, and a roof over your head, you’re better off than 75% of the people on the planet”).
After a barrage of 5-6 of these depressing films, I told the group that I felt quite useless; how could I as an individual possibly affect any kind of change when faced with an unquenchable demand on our rapidly reducing natural resources? Our facilitator said I should hold those thoughts until after part two; that there was indeed hope.
I unfortunately never got that far. After a healthy meal of lentil soup and fresh bread, I promptly fell asleep on the couch. While my wife sitting next to me was energetically creating a matrix of personal skills matched with possible responses, my head lolled in slumber, occasionally awakening to realize the other participants were being mutually empowered, before slipping back into dozy denial.
I vaguely heard the group leader asking my wife if she could wake me up for the final circle and her defending my right to nap. I rose anyway and regarded a very different group than the one I had left behind.
I feel kind of like the blue-skinned Na’vi in the movie Avatar about ¾ of the way into the film, when their world is being pulverized by the evil Earth army and there seems to be no way out. I came to the workshop to understand how I could make a difference. I left feeling depressed and drowsy, having missed the uplifting finale.
The good news: this will certainly not be the last Pachamama symposium scheduled in Israel and I’ll hopefully have the opportunity to attend another one. But next time, I’ll try to sleep during the first half.