Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Be the Change

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

a return to love - marianne williamson

I have wanted to understand why there is such acceptance and lack of resistance to what is occurring in our country and around the world.? Even though day by day I am witnessing many who are complaining about the cuts there appears to be an overriding drive not to move beyond the status quo. To look at what created the system and not to just blame the bankers. And in doing so to question the system itself and look at how we as individuals and societies continue to support such a dysfunctional system.

Those with a more spiritual focus have described this system as a game or an illusion or greed. While those from political focus describe this system as capitalism. And those from a psychotherapy focus describe this system as a drama, addiction, or co-dependency. Many from different disciplines describe this as individualism and materialism. Many agree that this system is destroying our planet and killing many lives both human and non human. Many agree that this system if unchecked will devour itself and exhaust the world's resources. I would say this system is an act of violence.

I have been wanting to understand what I experience as numbing to dreams and hopes for a better healthy world. A world where the focus is on creativity, growth, potential and the best outcomes. Where people dare to dream of internal and external freedom. Not one that is resigned to choosing second best. That focuses on the worst outcomes so as not to be disappointed. One which shrinks people down, controls and limits. These acts are violent.

For years I have searched for meaning to understand what perpetuates the cycle of fear and violence that I see in myself and in others. I have dabbled in anthropology, philosophy, politics, feminism, environmentalism and spirituality. I've read many books, met many people, attended various groups, meetings, workshops and trainings. Through my searching, researching, exploring, experiencing and sharing I have come to value the teachings in all these disciplines. And I have met others who also draw on different disciplines so they can act like pieces of a jigsaw.

While I was focusing on my own healing this led me to connecting with like minded souls. For a long period I felt I had found a home within the Reclaiming Community whose aim I understood was to connect many of these jigsaw pieces. This was a place where I could experientially connect these different disciplines with an aim of creating a fulfilling alternative way of living. A place where theory could be tested; a grand experiment!

I took a step away from being actively involved with the Reclaiming Community and I withdrew from my outward search and embarked on a relationship which drew me into re-enacting a generational cycle. My mind had thought I had 'sorted' myself through reading psychotherapy, self-help books, many years of analysis and my involvement in groups and workshops. However I was yet to gain a further deeper understanding at a level which included my body and unconscious. Which allowed space for my soul to explore it's voice and begin to sing.

It was in the relationship that my Soul felt increasingly trapped and caged. My first step was to leave. Then when when I was at a safe distance I was able to embark on a deeper understanding. I began to realize how this negative cycle fed on fear through control. Control was an ever decreasing cage that trapped and squashed me. And the ultimate manifestation of this cycle was violence. I began to listen to myself and understand that my anxiety was a natural response to an unhealthy environment. I started to stop being victim to my emotional state which was being used to re-enforce my lack of self-confidence and self-worth. I had started to thaw my heart and feel my souls natural desire for enjoyment of life. And it is from that space that I was able to explore being with others. Connecting more with and in life. It this space that enabled me to see how the personal is linked with the public.

How we live in our personal lives affects how we live in our public lives. Our capacity/tolerance for personal freedoms affects our capacity/tolerance of public freedoms. Both are interlinked. If the majority of society are struggling to survive; using up all their energy on tiring low paid jobs which only the few are lucky to have or, dysfunctional relationships. Then they are more easily controlled. It works both ways. For our families are also a reflection of our society. Another way of looking at this pattern is noticying how the outside world reflects our inner world. For instance isn't uncanny that when feeling happy with yourself and the world the world smiles back? Literally! But if you are feeling isolated, impatient or angry, then the world mirrors this back through situations and people putting up obstacles.

The cages we place ourselves in are cages around our hearts. And these cages come lined with deluxe furnishings. With the trappings of gold and plasma TVs pumping out 'reality tv shows' or shows on 'make overs' to create perfect human beings with perfect homes. We are fed and feed images to compare ourselves with thus creating envy. We want to live the impossible dream.So we keep our cages comfortable, full of desirable material things to keep ourselves occupied. An illusion of security. These cages fed by addiction is what Capatilism thrives and relies on. Hence the frequent remark in response to percieved negative feelings, overwhelming emotions or situations ~ 'I am off for a bit of shopping therapy' or 'I could murder for a pint'. Until we look at the drivers behind addiction, we will not stop the bankers earning huge bonuses or people craving more and more money through credit. And society will not own up to the fact that alcohol is a drug which is the cause of so much violence. Because the terrible truth is that so many in society are addicted to violence. So many in society are not aware what is violent.

In "Freedom for Sale ~ How we made money and lost our liberty" John Kampfner refers to private and public freedoms which I think has parallels to what I have referred to as personal and public freedom. He divides his book into different countries including Britain. Under Britain: Surveillance State, John Kampfner first quotes Brendan O'Neill " Britain used to export textiles, iron, steel and pop music; now it exports Orwellian methods for monitoring the masses".

"By the time Blair left office in 2007, he had bequeathed to his successor a surveillance state unrivalled anywhere in the democratic world. Parliament passed forty-five criminal justice laws ~ more than the total for the whole of the previous century ~ creating more than three thousand new criminal offences...The scope was extensive: police and security forces were given greater powers of arrest and detention; all institutions of state were granted increased rights to snoop; individuals were required to hand over unprecedented forms of data. Abroad, the government colluded with the transport of terrorist suspects by the US government to secret prisons around the world, giving landing rights at British airports for these so-called "rendition" flights. At home, new crimes were created, such as glorifying terrorism or inciting religious hatred"

So the message is clear. Remain in terror. There is an increasing threat of criminal behaviour. Of terrorism. The cage is just a barrier to keep the dangerous out. Them and Us. And because the enemy is within we have surveillance. Depending on the society and culture cages come in all shapes and sizes. In his book John Kampfner shares his investigations into the different countries of Singapore, China, Russia, United Arab Emirates, India, Italy, Britain and USA. He suggests that there is a world wide pattern. He says:

"The specific rules varied between countries, but the template was similar. Repression was selective, confined to those who openly challenged the status quo. The number of people who fell into that category was actually very few ~ journalists who criticised the state or published information that cast the powerful in a negative light; lawyers who defended these agitators; and politicians and others who publicly went out of their way to "cause trouble". The rest of the population could enjoy freedom to travel, to live more or less as they wished and to make and spend their money. This was the difference between public freedoms and private, or privatised, freedoms. For many people this presented an attractive proposition. After all, how many members of public, going about their daily lives, wish to challenge the structures of power? One can more easily than one realises be lulled into thinking that one is sufficiently free.

This is the pact. In each country it varies; citizens hand over different freedoms in accordance with their own customs and priorities. In some it is press freedom; in some it is the right to vote out their government; in some it is an impartial judiciary; in others it is the ability to get on with their lives without being spied upon. In many it is a combination of these and more.
"In the global order of the past two decades, the alliance of political leaders, business and the middle classes was the key. The arrangement was built on a clear, but usually discreet set of understandings. What mattered in all these societies was that the number of people who benefited from this deal gradually increased, and that the state remained flexible enough to meet their various needs. These needs could be summarised as: property rights, contract law, environmental protection, lifestyle choices, the right to travel, and the right to earn money ~ and keep it. the people who mattered ~ the wealthy and the aspiring wealthy ~ were to be protected against the use of arbitrary state power. But could such protection be provided without the tools of conventional democracy, such as free elections and open media? That was the conundrum that authoritarian capitalists faced"

This book was written prior UK coalition government's right wing radical changes which are sweeping UK under the banner of necessary cuts. And the more recent events in the middle east. The middle east uprisings have created a wave of hope not just in the middle east but across the globe. On the wave has lept British PM David Cameron through publicly travelling middle eastern countries speaking of democracy and freedom at the same time ensuring future investment in arms. Ofcourse he has to utter both in the same breath. And I think what is so disturbing is he believes in what he does and says. The swift timely eager response of his tour for me betrays his anxiety to ensure the continued arms trade; in order to keep the status quo in tact. And of course there is big money to be made. But what would happen if more and more people began to believe that there was not this ever present and increasing threat? That started to question the morality of the arms trade. No longer being 'lulled into believing they were sufficiently free', began to believe in more liberated ways of living? Maybe then revolution might even occur on our own doorsteps here in UK and other countries. This is what unfortunately David Cameron and many others fear. With change comes the potential of fear. But I would also add that with change come the potential for excitement.

In "Peace is the Way, Bringing war and violence to an end" by Deepak Chopra refers to three major components to the ultimate myth of security ~ the ultimate manifestation of violence and control; the arms build up:
Money brings happiness
Technology brings well-being
Military strength brings security

This holy trinity of capitalism is the ultimate cage. The ultimate trap that does not make us safer. Living outside of the cage is safer. I believe that peaceful change is a stronger power. Because it is life affirming. I hear that many in the peaceful uprising in Egypt were inspired by the works of Gene Sharp who speaks of peaceful ways of liberation. It was not as the media have promoted the power of technology such as Internet and mobile phones that was key to the revolution but the message of peace. So when other regimes try to stop peaceful liberation through blocking Internet and mobiles they will in the end fail.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said; "'If we want to change the world, we have to begin by changing ourselves".

The veil between humans and nature, between private and public, between mind and matter, between thought and action, between being and doing is an illusion. There is a third way which can also be described as multi-disciplinary or holistic. That moves away from a dualistic/conflictual/advisory mind set. Creating an expansive space. Moves away from the rigid and brittle. To the flexible and changeable. Opening up up new possibilities. This is the creative spark which is Divine. That is light and Dark. It is Consciousness. It is Infinite. It is.

As Gandhi said:"Can you be the change that you wish to see in the world?"

So I take courage and inspiration from those who are able to connect with peaceful liberation. Whether that is on a mass scale as in Egypt or on a personal scale. Both are the change that can be seen in the world. And there by changes the world. Which reminds me of the chant that is so often used at Reclaiming gatherings:

"She changes everything she touches and touches everything she changes!" Blessed Be!


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References:

Britain can push democracy or weapons but not both. By Simon Jenkins. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/22/britain-push-democracy-weapons-cameron

UK arms sales to the Middle east, who do we sell to, how much is military and how much just 'controlled'?.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/feb/22/uk-arms-sales-middle-east-north-africa?intcmp=239

Gene Sharp Web page Albert Einstein Institution
http://www.aeinstein.org/

Freedom for Sale: How we made mondey and lost our liberty. By John Kampfner.

Peace is the Way: Bringing War and violence to an end. By Deepak Chopra.
Reclaiming Web page
http://www.reclaiming.org/

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