Sense Making with Charles Eisenstein

Jordan Walker’s second article on “Sense Making” highlights the depth and sincerity of Charles Eisenstein’s work, noting its living perspective on the complex issues of our time.

I first met Charles Eisenstein at the Occupy Wall street protest in 2011. Since then he has become a recognizable name in quite a few circles. In 2017 he appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s nationally syndicated “Super Soul Sunday” television show.

In early 2022 he spoke in the Christian Community sanctuary near my home in upstate New York. Any given week, Charles will be interviewed on multiple podcasts and he’ll release an essay likely to be forwarded along and shared throughout the mired ways that content is able to travel today. Charles Eisenstein gets around.

Courageous perspectives

And yet, Charles is far from a celebrity. He still shows up for talks in a T-Shirt and regularly takes stances and entertains perspectives that alienate him from more “mainstream” success. Charles is an earnest seeker continually focusing his lens of inquiry upon what is taking place in the world. His world and our world.

While his books are worthwhile, I’d especially recommend his essays. It is here where you get a sense for the currency of the new media landscape – the speed at which a public thinker like Charles is able to broadcast his ideas out in close to real time. Like many others, he now uses the newsletter subscription delivery platform Substack to publish.

Within a week of the The World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic in March of 2020, Charles had published an essay entitled “The Coronation.” For those of us whose trust in legacy journalism was already suspect, Charles’ analysis was enlivening and empowering. If any of society’s reaction was going to make sense – then we would each need to step into the role of our own sense making.

Actively creating a coherent story

One won’t always agree, and might have to wade through more words than absolutely necessary, but Charles essays are likely to lead to good conversations with others who have read them. In this way, Charles may be one of the best examples of an emerging voice encouraging us toward what society used to provide: a coherent story about who we are and what we are doing here. But the narrative can’t (or shouldn’t) be unconsciously inherited anymore, instead we must actively participate in forming the new story, with each of us as its co-author.

An example of Charles’ message is here in an excerpt from a recent video appearance in which he shares his perspective into our role and responsibility with the situation in Ukraine:

Choose to hold peace

“When you wage a war against the self by exiling the parts you condemn as bad, then inevitably, even without any mystical causality, conflict will erupt around you. Peace is the capacity to hold the parts that we are uncomfortable with.

In this moment where there is a war going on it is more important than ever to practice. (…) in those moments when you have a choice to be peace or to be war, to demonize or dehumanize someone, or to hold them in the fullness of humanity, you can choose the latter and generate a field of peace. And if enough of us do that at every opportunity we get, then it is going to change the climate so that there will be a negotiated settlement. And I believe that that will happen. The two sides are going to make peace. And you won’t be able to prove that it was because of the peaceful thing that you did. But some part of you will know that you are part of it. Because you are declaring what the world is.

Because you are declaring what is possible when you have that difficult moment and you hold peace with someone when it is hard, when the old habit was to ‘let them have it’ and go to war against them, but instead you hold peace. It is not the same as capitulating. It is how you choose to see them. When you do that, you are declaring what is possible for human beings to do.”

Image: Charles Eisenstein. Source: Screenshot from the Video from the Youtube channel of Charles Eisenstein “Moving Towards Interbeing”, from January 19 2019.

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