The New Era’s Feelings
We now stand at the brink of a new era of global cooperation. For this kind of transformative work to become an organic initiative hundreds of millions strong, special attention to the feelings that create the links between what’s felt, thought about and expressed must be strengthened.
THE EMOTION PROBLEM
Presently, emotional devastation cripples eco-justice and social-justice work. Let’s consider the state of emotional well-being in America.
Loneliness, as the U.S. Surgeon General’s May 2023 advisory report on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation noted, is a killer more widespread and deadly than smoking, diabetes and obesity. The report called for Americans to “build a movement to mend the social fabric of our nation” and concluded that our nation “will continue to splinter and divide” if America fails to address its social disconnections.
Additionally,most Americans’ survival instincts of fear and rage are continually trolled today—driving us mad enough to self-destruct or fight each other instead of work together to end our collective pain and suffering.
Simultaneously, there is a call for a Spiritual Revolution as the dogma and exclusivity of current religions feel obsolete in a world that has changed so much and has become so aware of its interconnectedness.
The void of spiritual community has rendered tens of millions of people in the United States and abroad spiritual isolates. Homeless souls.
The common problem is that feelings are not adequately attended to, just ideas and behavior. The loneliness, devastating political divides, trolls and spiritual homelessness, share a common problem and solution—emotional care and connection. And that is exactly what our small group work called, Universal Connections, is designed to achieve.
Universal Connections is a small group initiative that creates a safe space for people to share and listen deeply.Their sharing bridges social disconnections by connecting the participants at a deeply human level.
Universal Connections workshops start by sharing personal stories of experiences we’ve all had—feelings of bliss, unexpected awe, serenity, feeling inextricably interwoven with all of life, feeling part of the interdependent web of life.
The participants find their stories and recount them. By the end of the recollections and reflections, the collective disposition of the group is one of trust, care,support and joy. The contentiousness of differences dissipates amid the depth of this shared connection.
As the workshop continues, the use of Pause, Discern, Reflect (PDR) exercises and small-group sharing of PDR experiences reconnect participants to their innermost feelings of connections to themselves, to others, to nature and tot he world.
As a result of the authentic sharing in these workshops, participants feel seen, held and cherished by their group. The compassionate understanding turns the groups into ongoing supportive communities where participants continue to explore and express their unbounded connections to themselves, others and all of life.Emotions are transformed by compassionate understanding.
Our goal is to create a process so that as the personal and collective feelings of connection shared in these small groups develop an emerging personal and collective volition, these small groups can network together for shared eco-justice and social-justice initiatives.
Rev. Dr. Thandeka and Jennifer Jennings of Universal Connections