Peace on Earth

As long as we are at war within ourselves,

How can there be peace on Earth?

As long as we are driven by desires and fears,

How can there be peace on Earth?

As long as we are seduced by the trappings of fame and gain,

How can there be peace on Earth?

As long as we postpone living to pursue some imagined goal,

How can there be peace on Earth?

 

As long as we serve the future as a debt to the past,

As long as we divide ourselves into myriad tribes,

Through jealousy and pride,

We set ourselves above or below and deny the enemy inside.

 

As long as we describe our world only in terms

Of battles won and lost,

And teach our children how to blame and punish,

Without explaining the cost.

 

We will always be at war within ourselves.

There will not be peace on Earth.

Advertisements

Looking For Saviours

Where have all the anarchists gone?

It seems everyone is looking for a saviour these days. Donald Trump will save us from the establishment elites, Allah and Jesus from the infidels and moral bankruptcy of the modern world, Jeremy Corbyn from capitalism and the Tories and a strong leader will save the Labour Party from Jeremy Corbyn; the list goes on. Anger, disillusionment, fear and blame grow; hatred and bigotry quickly follow. The world gets more divided, everyone has an axe to grind, an argument to win and a faith to defend.

Putting our faith in saviours is always tempting, and powerful, positive movements can be set in motion as a result, but generally speaking, inspiration is more effective than direction. The obsession with ‘strong’ leaders seems to me to be a hangover from our patriarchal society, the need for a ‘father figure’ to protect and save us (though it could be a female one). Rebellion is often fuelled by the same desire, in this case as a reaction against the authority figure and the search for an idealised patriarch/matriarch to lead us all to freedom and some imagined utopia. Even the few who see through this and call themselves anarchists may easily succumb to it when an idealised leader appears.

There seems to be two aspects to anarchism, often acting together in some kind of incoherent, unruly chaos. I prefer to think of it as an unconscious force running through all societies rather than a political and philosophical movement adhered to by a small number of strongly identified individuals. It echoes the unconscious forces within the individual, Freud’s ‘id’ with its instinctive drives for survival, rebelling against the superego demands of society and the more subtle forces of love, compassion and altruism, desperately trying to find a way back to oneness. Firstly, there is an infantile, ego-obsessed reaction to authority, which demands ‘freedom’ for the individual, like the self-obsessed toddler driven by desire having a tantrum. S/he may start throwing things around and smashing things up in a desperate bid to change the system. Secondly, there is the recognition that society changes and evolves slowly, through the raising of consciousness and awareness. It has love and compassion at its core and far from exhibiting the slave morality of Nietzsche, it is strong, full of self-confidence and self-belief, because it recognises that the ‘self’ works together with many selves and not alone as a vulnerable, isolated toddler. Unfortunately, many anarchists lose this self-belief when society appears to take a step backwards as it inevitably will. Human beings have a tendency to fear change and to look backwards to the past, often imagining the world to have been a better place before. This happens because all change, whether technological, psychological, social or political, has complex layers of effects, some of which will seem to be negative. Society tends to oscillate between progressive and reactionary, reflecting aspects of our nature, such as self-preservation and compassion, or competition and cooperation. When times are tough, there is a tendency for self-preservation to gain the upper hand, but sometimes, we may surprise ourselves by becoming more compassionate, helping out those worse off than us.

One huge factor in the world taking dangerous and frightening turns for the worse, is that the great majority of people on the planet still believe in violence and military solutions, (an expectation of ‘strong’ leaders), which inevitably have far-reaching and sometimes unexpected long-term consequences. The ricochets can be felt decades later and the response is often more violence with ever-more powerful weaponry, fuelling even worse consequences. People look for saviours.

We must not lose our faith in social evolution and progress, the march of compassion, the raising of consciousness and increasing awareness of consequences for our world and our neighbours on this small and fragile planet. We do not need saviours. They will inevitably fail us. But we do need inspiration. We need people who unite us, rejecting all violent means of change whilst acknowledging the violence within us all. We must retain faith in humanity, even in the face of such violence, and when we are unsure as to whether the cup is half-empty or half-full, sometimes the best thing to do is just to smash the cup; things are always as they are and things are always changing.

Uprising

First you notice the oppression of the state

And its partner, the man-made God;

Then you see the oppression of lovers, friends and family;

Finally you see the oppression of the self;

The crushing censorship of the conscious mind,

Denying the all-encompassing vitality of the Great Unconscious;

The attachment to opinions that makes others your enemy,

And you know that given the space and freedom to express itself,

This being that you once called your self,

Would be nothing less than the Universal dance of Love,

The Anarchy of the true God,

The moment,

                Being

                                In

                                                Time.

 

Conversely, when it all goes wrong,

The mirror tells you,

First to blame others,

Then to blame the world,

And finally to blame yourself,

Until you realise,

That no one is to blame

For the nature of existence.

 

What began as the state of the Universe,

Is manifest as a state of mind,

Until it recognises once again,

Its own birth and the fact that it was never born.

 

On the cliff edge,

I have a sense that if I jump,

I will be pulled up by the sky,

And if I do not jump,

I will be pulled down by the earth.

Reaching out to pick a bilberry,

I know I will fall,

But the sweetness fills my entire being,

And sustains me in rapture,

As my other self walks away from the cliff in fear.

 

And then we merge,

And I know that from now on,

It will not be fear that makes me step back,

But the lingering sweetness of a berry that all have tasted.

Even more on truth

There is a grain of truth in every opinion,

and a bucket of lies in every tiny white lie.

Like a rolling snowball, they accumulate and stick,

and as the ball grows, it becomes distorted.

Unfortunately, truths also grow distorted,

and are soon obscured,

engulfed in the fog of misperception,

which descends upon them.

Though the light may be piercing,

still they fade,

becoming harder and harder to find

and harder still to define.

Cherishing Difference and Diversity.

It is currently very fashionable in our society to celebrate difference and diversity, and most of us genuinely believe we do. However, when it comes down to the hard-hitting realities of our everyday lives, most of us would rather fill our world with people just like us. This thought is distasteful and almost unacceptable today, since its logical conclusion is hate-filled racism and bigoted intolerance, but it struck me when I was thinking about relationships with our nearest and dearest, especially family and spouses or lovers.

Most of us have some kind of fantasy of a perfect partner and often waste years of our lives searching for him or her, often killing off perfectly good relationships in the process. Usually that perfect partner is someone very similar to us, but much sexier! When we think we may have found someone quite close to it, we get together and both tend to go along with each other and agree with each other on most things, really trying to fool ourselves that we are so very well-suited. But after a while, we start to see more and more differences. They just do not act in the way we think they should, and usually that means in the way we would, or like to think we would. At first these differences may be charming, then irritating and as they mount up and accumulate, sometimes maddening and that is when the rows begin. We try to make them think and behave like us and naturally they react badly to this and the differences are exaggerated still further. After all, they think we should behave as they do! Sometimes if the case is really justified, or if one partner is particularly keen to please, one or other partner may make a lot of effort to be accommodating and things may improve, but sooner or later, old ways and differences will come to the fore again. And so they should, because while compromise is often stated as the panacea for relationships, it is usually done grudgingly and is nowhere near as successful as genuine acceptance of difference.

I have struggled like this in many relationships, but now I have learnt to truly embrace difference and accept and love my partner purely for who she is, perfect in every way, as we all are deep down. We could hardly be more different and it has been a struggle, but worth the perseverance, and that is the key to truly celebrating difference and diversity in all its forms. It does not come overnight, or merely by saying the right words. It takes a lot of hard work and a genuine change in attitude with which we recognise that nobody is just like us. Everybody reacts in their own way to the world around them, and if we sometimes find those ways challenging, then we need to challenge them. If we can do this without passing judgement, then so much the better, but it will get us nowhere pretending they do not exist. On the other hand, separatism and messy divorces will only make things worse, with the one exception of a violent, abusive partner or oppressor. The key is maximum, continued exposure, deep listening and compassionate speech. Eventually we will all understand each other, then respect each other and eventually, really cherish our differences. These days, I think it would be quite boring to be together with a partner who thinks and behaves just like me and sees the world as I do. Such a partner would be little more than a mirror to reinforce my own vanity and confirm all my narrow-minded opinions and ideas and vice versa, boosting our collective ego in the battle of us against the world, in exactly the same way as the members of insular, xenophobic and monochrome societies reinforce their collective behaviour; perhaps a cohesive force within the relationship or community, but for the world at large, a definite destructive force. What would I learn from that? How would I grow? Who would challenge my beliefs and patterns of behaviour in my daily life, and who would expose me to such a rich tapestry of delights? No longer a fantasy for me, I can honestly say, with all my heart, difference and diversity really are things worth cherishing.