I read the news again. Apparently the world is a depraved, evil place. I wonder how can we dig ourselves out from under the dead rhino, drowned babies, the murdered and the murderers, rapists and the unscrupulous? The world is full of amazing and good things happening right now, but we are manipulated by a paralysis of fear. Can't we refuse to buy the bad news and refuse to eat violence as entertainment? Can't we actively choose art, life, sharing, creating, healing, productivity, compassion, empathy, fairness and such things as our daily consumption and consequently also our output? I believe we can actively decide to make the world a better place and I don't care if you call me a deluded hippy... it's worth a try!
So what is stopping us?
Trauma: We are all suffering from it and many carry the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety is like an epidemic, we turn on the TV and we are assaulted by violence whether we watch the news or a film for 'entertainment'. We are crippled by fear, whether it be for our security in our streets, our homes or during international travel. We doubt the safety of vaccinations, pesticides and the materials our houses are built of, we are overwhelmed by fear of planetary crisis, debt, poverty or unemployment and the horror of failure, depression or loneliness. There is hardly time for us to breathe with all these worries looming over us.
We feel most paralyzed by the big scary subjects, those that are used most effectively to manipulate and repress us. We can't simply rid the world of plight, war and terrorism, but collectively we can dull the effect it has upon us by resisting the urge to panic, indeed terrorism is perpetuated and thrives upon our terrified reactions. War kills millions and costs millions while one terror bomb or school shooting costs virtually nothing and despite killing considerably less people than those that die in traffic accidents each year the psychological effect is huge. Terrorism and violent oppression wins unless we put it into perspective and manage to resist the fear. Easier said than done! Especially when much of the terrorism at least on the psychological level is actually carried out by our own governments to manipulate us to support them in their self serving wars.
So how do whole populations get real help for the kind of Post Trauma Stress Disorder that we are suffering from and how do we free ourselves from this crippling psychology?.
The constantly raised levels of anxiety hormones cause a chemical reaction in our bodies that do not allow us to relax or function properly, this has become what we accept as our normal states of mind as individuals and as whole societies. Further compounding the difficulty, our bodies have learnt to tolerate and get used to this high stress state and we find ourselves actually addicted to the misery. Our immunity systems, hearts, digestion, sleep, libido, relationships and ability to function on every level are effected. Individual means of self help from yoga and meditation and spending time in nature may all benefit to an extent but we need a deep cleanse across the board, from which all aspects of culture and society can benefit. However even when searching for solace and sanity within the community or among friends we find our selves more likely to further incite hopelessness and stress upon each other.
No where is exempt from this feeling entirely, we bring it with us where ever we go. The media has instilled images of destruction and despair in our brains and even during a massage or deep mediation many of us have to fight off the encroaching negative thoughts that have melded into our subconscious. We might not all be worrying ourselves senseless about direct impending doom or even starvation in Yemen and deforestation in the Amazon, but if our mind is drifting to our neighbour's new car and our work ambitions then we can be sure that our domestic thoughts are inextricably linked to the worldwide problems and their implications.
You'd think that the bombardment of such anxiety inducing matter would prompt us to make the changes this world desperately needs, indeed action often relies on the catalyst that fear and anxiety expedite. There is a point when things get bad enough so that people become painfully aware, dump their passive stance and become proactive, but the slow encroachment of trauma and exploitation has reduced us to an almost catatonic state and before long we will be at a point of no return. As frogs we sit, warming up among the bubbles, poaching and simmering and still waiting for the .... for the... what?
For a hero? An icon, a man with a cape? Maybe Morgan Freeman (with that voice and demeanour he has to be God incarnate)or Leo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie or Princess Diana and Bob Geldof in their time and many more, they stomp into public view often well endowed with merit and credibility. Leo spent two years around the world and hung out with some of the most influential such as the Pope and Obama (at that time President of the USA) To many Obama looked to have such potential, but it was limited and his sway bent by the masses and by corporate pressure. However it is precisely this public pressure that we can ourselves use; Leo presented it well in his film, (1) (which is probably relegated to the cavernous archive of the National Geographic between documentaries about tigers and sharks) yet such films should be on the national curriculum everywhere! (Drop half the lessons- science, mathematics, history and geography - not the arts! and allocate education the duty of inviting critical appraisal and understanding to occur from a young age, let's get those kids empowered and learning how to cope with impending waves of change!) Leo's film is just one of many that should be essential viewing for everyone with a screen. He not only points out the predicament but shows examples of the people power; Obama had initially been against gay marriage. The polls swayed him. If enough people got behind something it would shift, if enough people stopped contributing to the detriment with irresponsible consumption then the tide of environmental destruction might turn and climate breakdown could slow.
It's basically as simple as that. Stop being scared and do something! The polls.... The people! The problem with people is that we got used to the gods, the icons, the heroes.
We watched Angie bend one bullet through like 8 heads including her own and maintain her poise while she was at it! If not her, surely Iron Man is on his way? Or it's the job of the politicians. Can Trump, May, Putin et al do any good? Maybe the opposition parties, Sanders or Corbyn or maybe its someone from the new generation. Maybe it's a robot, a transformer or a cyborg. Where are you Arnie Schwazernegger?
The truth is there is only one real hero in each of our lives and that person is us: you and me. We are the key holders, we are the pressure, the polls.... the pod. I imagine myself as a seed, insignificant alone yet so potent for the circle of life if only I can send down some roots and send up a healthy leaf and pollinate beyond my own tiny foot print. This takes some effort on my part though doesn't it!
Yet while I revel in my own meaninglessness and pass time living my life vicariously through the heroic actions of film characters and celebrities I secretly wait for a caped hero to swing in on a rescue bid. Meanwhile the hoarding and exploitation of us witless underlings and our sacred planet continues.
The opportunist and quietly petrified elite hold us apart, dividing us so that we may not utilize our joint power, perception and political ability. We are conditioned to prefer our perceived independence and to rebuke community leaving us isolated and alone and fearful of one another. It is proven and known that we gain power and momentum by joining up and by disobeying the order as it stands. In doing so we create a quiet but devastating (r)evolution*.(2) One that will dethrone the establishment and destroy the throne itself too. As it is of paramount importance that it is not those in power that go but the whole idea of a power system itself.
I try avoid referring to specific terms and names as this too perpetuates our icon/villain dependency. I could refer to other real heroes who are making big strides on local and international scales, those that serve the future of our planet by establishing foundations, or planting trees, or opening schools, or sharing awareness, or serving soup, or holding hands, or by giving their all in their field of academia, in science, technology and in the arts. Each of these is an act of epic heroism, the housewife who refuses plastic bags, the child who refuses a balloon and a straw, the farmer who hand pulls weeds or dares to experiment with a non pesticide crop. Each of these should be the subject of films, and books and articles and webinars or whatever it takes to set a proactive and nurture inducing example.
Likewise I could name and blame; I could rightly say we need dump neoliberalism and colonialism. I could mention that the establishment we need topple is the likes of the Rothschilds or the Kochs. But I neither want heroes or demons. Each mention is fraught with contradictions and there is no one person or group that is either to blame or to save us.
It is human nature to identify with others and to imprint our visions and expectations upon them. Also selecting those upon which we can offload the blame and responsibility gives a sense of relief and vindication.
But whatever it is we read, view or experience we must realise that we are not exempt from our share of the responsibility for this and for what is to come. Unless we are battling abject poverty or crippling health issues each of us as individuals and as communities can "take arms against our sea of troubles".(3)
I strive to emphasize that no matter how seemingly normal and average we are, solutions and positive contribution are accessible to everyone. Neither the greatness of our icons and the baseness of our villains give us reason or means to relinquish the power that is inherent in us. How can we feel disenfranchised from the story of our own lives?
We are the Power!
The bad stuff wins when we let it. Right now more people are loving rather than killing someone. There are so many of us, when we connect, stop and look around, see what we can do to turn it around and make positive change in the spheres of our own lives and community - then we make the good stuff win!
The way that works for me (and I think for everyone) is to become actively involved in the healing and the change, that doesn't mean chanting in the streets necessarily, but by finding where you are motivated and then actually doing it. Whatever it is. See here and here for ideas. While "trauma compels us to forget, art is a reminder.... even a curative"* (4) and I suggest everyone immerses themselves in a nature and an art cure of sorts (see here)
If our trauma or lack of motivation inhibits us then through positive communication, self exploration and by sharing our hurt and fear we invite collaboration and healing, we need to be kinder to ourselves than we have ever been, embracing our inner child while we emerge from the shock of the realisation of where we are and the how we got here, we must resist the urge to melt under the weight of disappointment and shame and instead find all the inner qualities that make us so capable of change and improvement. While we wade tentatively through the healing process we can initiate some momentum from ourselves and the people around us by attempting to also heal our planet and our communities and systems. (see here for some ideas)
There is a movement of people who recognize the grief and anxiety this generation is suffering and they are able to see that this loss and destruction is an essential part of our evolution beyond this. By taking the power into our hands we can create the future. We may not be able to change the world but we have the power to change how we each think, interact, share and engage with others. By taking a grip on that power we are making a small but significant step in helping ourselves on a day to day level of existence and helping the world progress in a consciously designed and nurtured direction.
Off we go then......
1. Beyond the Flood ( link )
2. I'm keen to NOT use the word 'revolution'. Everything that was formed as a result of a revolution has later been struck by the returning pendulum, humanity needs Conscious Evolution
3. From Hamlet by Shakespeare. "To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?" we could also remind ourselves of the outcome of being passive when action is required through Hamlet's tragedy. "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution, Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment, With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action".
4. Artist Balkan Naci Islimyeli.
Top photo: Burak Kostak. Pexel.com
Rhino photo: Jospeh Wachira, 26, comforts Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino on the planet, moments before he passed away: Ami Vitale—National Geographic Creative
The Scream: EdvardMunch.com
Hand photo was sourced here.