Sunday, February 06, 2011

Children of the Rising

.. the revolution is being televised ..

We must become the change we want to see in the world. ~ Mohandas Gandhi

It’s funny what happens when we get to a point in life where we realise we have outlived our guiding lights. I don’t believe in ‘heroes’, probably because I have had to be one myself occasionally – to my children when they were young and in my own life when facing challenges and situations I never knew I would have to encounter. However, people we regard with respect, those we looked to for their opinion or whose lives reflect a piece of what we hold true still influence our thoughts and perhaps even the path we follow.

Jesus, John Lennon and Jack Kerouac all died younger than I have now become. What do we do when those to whom we looked for direction haven’t come as far as we have? Do we look back in hesitation, or strive on regardless? I blaze my own trail; yet often stumble in this dark wood of existence – echoes of Dante, but where is Beatrice when she is needed? Who is Beatrice, a bright angel sent to protect and lead, a tangible presence – the soul of an honest woman trusted by the gods, or perhaps the ethereal muse of our own spirit conjured up in times of liminal stress to remind us of our purpose and goals?

Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. ~ John F. Kennedy

Once the path that was trodden before us by such luminaries as those quoted here no longer reveals footprints of the vanguard, from where do we draw courage to continue – alone and confused, perhaps even frightened by the unknown?

When we look around the world today, often led by the media whose purpose frequently seems obscured by and interwoven with the very events they presume to be reporting on, we see revolutions in the streets of once impenetrable societies.

Egypt, Tunisia and other near East nations are currently undergoing upheavals in ways thought impossible or at least unlikely just a few years ago. People in other nations are rising in opposition to the greedy and decrepit old systems that oppress and preserve distinctions to maintain a stranglehold of wealth and status on the ordinary people of this earth we all share. What is remarkable and beautiful about these ‘revolutions’ is their general peacefulness. Until the forces resisting change appeared, led by the real opposition – those who seek to maintain power, there had been only demonstration of non-violent means. Most people are simply standing their ground – demanding action through passive means, and isn’t that phenomenal and remarkable for its propinquity and courage?

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~ Helen Keller

In what way are these social demands being directed? Networks form through methods unavailable a few years ago – social media and the internet are now valuable access points for so many, and yet people have always managed to gather and press for change when turning points in history have overwhelmed enough people. The Egyptian government shut down web servers and mobile phone carriers, yet still the people are rising - in suggestion of a parallel with common myth of the ‘hundredth monkey’ 'phenomenon' – when enough people have reached the point of frustration with their situation the movement toward transformation becomes inevitable.

As an anthropologist I can readily accept that sociological enterprise is the point where revolution can be achieved, however as a man of independent mind, I believe in praxis. What are words without action?

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one. 
~ John Lennon

I grew up in America at a time when the Jungian collective conscious was pressing these values into we children who lived in hope for a better tomorrow - after all the Vietnam war was raging nightly on the news and the latest technology was beaming images from the moon to our living rooms. Many of my teachers were students of the 60s – perhaps their values of free spiritedness and revolution by peaceful protest, discourse and the tension of personal transformation rubbed off, or maybe these thoughts arise within me, a result of independent thinking processes brought about by personal experience and an informed wisdom of history.
Listening to Radio 4 or NPR or watching BBC, Al Jazeera, PBS or any so-called alternative news sources can be informative and we can become emotionally involved or engaged in the stories that challenge our thinking and presumptions about the people who are out there ‘making the news happen’. But, are they just another sedative for the masses?

Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fashion and popular opinion." ~ Jack Kerouac

Are these methods of instruction and the discourse and debate that seems so lively and necessary to change the entrenched institutions that devalue humanity simply another way to subjugate the meek and override the weak? ‘If we are talking we aren’t fighting’ goes the old saying, but if we are so dependent on the words of others to console and confirm our own troubled thoughts, then we are just another bystander – passing on the other side of the road to avoid conflict or involvement that forces taking sides in controversial situations.

A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation. ~ Edmund Burke

These outlets provide recognition of the world’s ills and look to address the faults, but they remove us from responsibility. Are they not just another ‘reality show’ served up in the guise of educated discourse for those with higher ambition and reasoning skills? The need for action dissipates in light of the ‘words and conversation’ that come to us as wisdom. Is it merely junk food for consumers of finer wines? And who are we as people without action?

Praxis is essential to spiritual growth, and spirit drives the revolution. The word in Greek for spirit, psyche, is related to mind – the two are an interlinked and interdependent source of inspiration (synonomous as the mediating force between body and soul - or regarded as the principle of life - breath); mind is spirit and we use our minds to think outside the frame of the purely material existence that is used as anaesthetic to repress imagination and truth.

There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first. ~ Jim Morrison

I watch the news, though often think I shouldn’t bother for I usually find it more depressing than enlightening, and wonder at the stupidity of man. Yes, man as in men. How dare these mullahs and backward jerks in Iran and Nigeria and other repressive places sentence women to the ancient punishment of stoning for the so-called crime of expressing their love for another in a sexual manner? Who are they to judge the heart?

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature's inexorable imperative.
~ H.G. Wells
Two thousand years ago, when asked to pass his judgement on a similar situation the Christ said, ‘let he who is without sin throw the first stone’. Yet these fools still have yet to learn. Whoever you believe said it first, the point is it was actually written and read almost 2000 years ago and these illiterate asses have yet to understand the point, and are still wielding assumed authority over other people.

Iran has banned the Valentine’s Day celebration of personal love as a Western attempt to subvert Islamic values. Fools! As the ordinary Muslim tries to express a free and independent choice of mate selection, there are always some dirty old men peering over their shoulders to point an accusatory finger – to try to suppress the beautiful spirit of love by suggesting it is a bad or even unclean act. Fools! These are the evil ones – and the world must address this issue – it seems so simple on the surface, but underlying this nastiness is a deeper more tyrannical authoritarian attempt to drag humanity into a dark age of ignorance.

Love is something strong .. direct action. ~ Martin Luther King Jr

It isn’t only in political regimes such as that in Iran. Governments learned a long time ago to provide ‘bread and circuses’ and that is what they are giving the workers of the world – imported ethnicity in the form of specialty pasta sauces, and satellite television showing documentaries on how to save the planet, and ‘reality’ shows that numb the mind with their ever more generic music and bland personalities – with little regard for the irony of the means of production or dissemination of this information. So, the poor get poorer in their imitation of an improved status that masks ignorance. Witness all the Jade Goody and Katie Price wannabes of the ‘real world’ of television fame.

The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart. ~ Mohandas Gandhi
Who has not seen the bankers and their politician friends squeeze the life and spirit from so many ordinary people in the West? Who has not witnessed the assassinations of so many of the ‘heroes’ of our age? Are those in other better-fed nations so apathetic as to allow their own lifestyles to suffer with barely a hint of a whimper? Or, will it take a few more acts of vandalism against the human spirit?

At what point will the pot boil over? How many will lose their houses, their jobs, their savings, even their lives, before people finally demand change – not just on a personal or financial level – but a transformation of the system that supports a reserved place for some and circumstantial poverty for others.

A revolution is needed - a revolution of spirit. In this swirling bubble of ideas even Lennon and Jesus get absorbed in the shifting landscape and become silenced martyrs utilised to justify the struggle to promote a diversity of thought. As free thinkers we can't allow the submersion of creativity in the slippery haze of vague opinion.

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace. ~ John Lennon

Diversity is good, but it is also divisive. We all think we are unique and expressive of creativity, and want to be - but are we simply inside the bubble looking out through the swirling texture with a slightly altered vision of whom we think we are? We must gather together to overcome these evil forces that are hanging on to old methods of authority in the face of a changing paradigm. Are we being increasingly oppressed through consumption of ignorance and constantly replaceable material goods? The perspective is shifting - who will decide how you view the world?

All meaningful and lasting change starts first in your imagination and then works its way out. Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~ Albert Einstein

Whether people desire change for economic reasons, for a slight modification of political thought, for the need to grow in what is a socially connected interactive world or personal spiritual development is actually irrelevant. What is important is the recognition that we are no longer chained to the fruitless ideologies of the past. Our futures are linked with people the world over and it is up to each of us as individuals, as part of the global collective, to realise that this revolution is an uprising of mind over matter – so, get off your couch – quit sitting like a drone in front of the telly watching artificial reality shows and be a part of this wonderful movement of life.

Catch the spirit, see the spark of freedom in another’s eyes, look to the future, share this advent of a new day, be your own hero -or be left behind wondering where all the heroes have gone.

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