Why has the term "snowflake" become an insult? What could be a more exquisite manifestation of the power, beauty, and perfection of Nature than snowflakes, in their truly infinite variety and uniqueness? For images that will steal your breath quicker than an Arctic night, take a look at these close up images of snowflakes by Russian photographer Alexey Kljatov.
As a lifelong lover of snowflakes, though I rarely met one personally growing up in Southern California, I was surprised to discover that the term “snowflake” is now being hurled as an insult. I was puzzled to read about a conservative supporter of the current president sneeringly referring to “liberal snowflakes.”
What, I wondered, made snowflakes inherently liberal, or vice versa?
And why would it be an insult to be referred to as something so beautiful? Snowflakes are, after all, crystals of water. And as the Water Protectors at Standing Rock have continually reminded us since last April, #WaterisLife. Each snowflake is absolutely unique, and yet all are of one substance. And that substance happens to be necessary to life on Earth, for all sentient beings. And it’s also necessary for that substance to be pure and uncontaminated by radiation, chemicals, or say, lead in Flint, Michigan, in order to support healthy life.
I reflect on the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto, the late Japanese scientist who took pictures of “water crystals” in various places and states—from polluted lakes to pure mountain streams, in the presence of classical music or dissonant music, and next to loving words and words of anger and hate. The crystals showed perfect form when their water was pure, harmonious music was played, and the vibrations of loving words, such as “love and appreciation,” infused their formation. When affected by pollution, or psychic impurities such as unkind words, the crystals were deformed and chaotic, their patterns of life-sustainment broken.
Both Dr. Emoto’s research and shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman’s Medicine for the Earth work in healing polluted water with loving intention, have profound implications for the art and science of energy healing. If humans, and most mammals, are comprised of roughly two-thirds water, and if intention can affect water, then we have a responsibility to use our words and thoughts wisely and kindly. Not only actions and choices, but words and energies can effect profound healing, or the opposite, on our own bodies, those of others, and Mother Earth’s waters.
In light of those contemplations, that snowflake insult still niggled my mind, so I looked it up online. Apparently the term began to seep into consciousness as an insult to a younger generation judged by some to be overly delicate and sensitive, and wanting places of safety.
Gee, I wondered, what’s wrong with being sensitive? Okay, I’ve been called over-sensitive pretty much since I was old enough to understand the term, but I—and many of my friends—have worked assiduously for decades to increase our sensitivity, and by extension, our empathy. I know many healers, intuitives, and creatives in my worldwide community, both personally and virtually. We have striven through many methods—including but not limited to meditation, psychic development exercises, auric perception, various modalities of biofield energy healing, prayer of many dimensions and denominations, oneness with Nature, and the Mystic Quest—to make ourselves more sensitive. And now that’s a bad thing?
Sure, empathy has a downside. Many of us inadvertently and sometimes unconsciously “pick up on” the emotions of family members, friends, animal companions, strangers, and the collective. Some of us even experience an almost paralyzing “Planetary Anguish”—a keenly felt agony at what Mother Earth and all her creatures are struggling through as the climate and all the biosphere’s life-supporting systems break down with unprecedented speed, and species go extinct at 1000 times the natural background rate.
But would you really wish to be less empathic?
I just want to handle the pain of my empathy better, to feel the emotions—including, at times, joy—but at the same time have healthy, conscious boundaries that help me identify whether the emotions I am feeling are mine, or others’, or my resonance with Earth. I do my best to remember and practice the Buddhist method of observing and dissolving them—truly feeling them, but not grasping on their reality.
So I can proudly own being an “overly sensitive” snowflake.
Another aspect of the insult meme seems to be that liberals are perceived as “delicate,” unable to withstand assault. We are snowflakes who melt quickly. Especially quickly with global warming, which many hurling the epithets appear not to believe is real. Perfectly formed ice crystals melting—that’s water, again, the basis of life. And the change in form is the very impermanence that the Buddhists talk about incessantly, the acceptance and understanding of which is key to non-attachment underpinned by infinite love.
And what, I wondered, is wrong with seeking safety? What is wrong with wanting safety not only for oneself and one’s nuclear family, but for all beings?
“No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here” was one of the slogans chanted like a mantra at our Women’s March in Santa Fe just a month ago. What do some people find wrong with inclusivity?
There is power in reclaiming language used to wound. Consider “nevertheless she persisted,” the recent patriarchy-inspired insult to Senator Elizabeth Warren as she was silenced and ejected from the Senate chamber, forbidden from all future debate on the subject of Jeff Sessions’ confirmation. Her transgression? Reading a letter from the late Coretta Scott King. “She was warned…and nevertheless, she persisted,” sneered Senator Mitch McConnell patronizingly. The words immediately became a viral hashtag, language proudly reclaimed by women throughout the world, and the men who support them.
Let’s similarly reclaim the term “snowflake,” and proudly rejoice in its inner essence—beauty, perfection in form, harmony, and even expression of Divinity. Many Tibetan Buddhist practices visualize the deities as infinite snowflakes falling from the sky, to be absorbed into the practitioner’s being, dissolving all false perceptions of separation from the Divine.
And as many have observed, snowflakes clumping together are a powerful force. Snowflakes in great numbers create life-giving mountain snowpacks, renew glaciers, and are the source of streams and rivers. They also can create deadly avalanches, and life-threatening blizzards. Ask any of my Alaskan friends, finally enjoying a good snow year after three years of a paucity of snow in much of Alaska. Alaskans, both transplants and Native, and all Arctic peoples, learn to live in harmony with snow, to recognize its many moods and forms, to enjoy its beauty. They know that snow is to be respected, not feared.
As are Resistors to injustice. Like snowflakes, we join together to defend the common values of human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, Earth’s rights, animal rights. It is easy to feel besieged when not a day goes by without another attack on values that everyone I know holds sacred—inclusivity, diversity, compassion, fairness. Our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers are suspected without reason and rounded up, some already deported, torn from their families. Our Muslim sisters and brothers are singled out, many banned from their longtime jobs and studies in this country. Our Jewish sisters and brothers have received 69 bomb threats on Jewish Community Centers all across the country since the beginning of the year.
Yesterday, at a rally at our New Mexico state legislature sponsored by Retake Our Democracy, I heard the term snowflake used in yet another positive way. One of our speakers, Bianca Sopoci-Belknap of Earthcare, referred to the “snowflake model of organizing,” a concept first developed by Harvard Professor Marshall Ganz, in which individuals find common cause, intersectionality, and wholism in their activism. “Little pieces are connected in a network,” Bianca explained to me later. “The structure is actually all these interconnected pieces. There is no need to join one organization or do one thing, but we can all be connected...A snowflake is also strong in its structural integrity. As they accumulate into a formation, it is quite cohesive and that’s how ice is able to form.”
So let us consciously, intentionally come together as snowflakes glorying in our individuality, our interdependence, and our Oneness.
The challenge is to remember that Oneness includes those who, by their words and actions, seem to scorn, even hate, the ones who advocate for diversity and inclusion.
My solution to this conundrum? A combination of Sacred Activism through groups like Retake Our Democracy, Our Revolution, Indivisible, (and a plethora of others), and creative visualization and prayer that those whose hearts are presently closed can and will open their hearts to empathy with all others.
All waters are one, all humans are one, all hearts are one, all Earth is One.
More on snowflakes: Video from BBC's Attenborough's Story of Life.
Photo Credit: Photo by Aaron Burden, used under a Creative Commons license through unsplash.com