In a number of posts I have written about the flaws that I see in our current North American society. Some of these flaws extend to other areas of the world however, other than my limited travel and my curiosity I remain fairly north American-centric in my thinking. Or at least I feel that I am only able to comment and speculate as to how these flaws are played out in other areas of the world. My interest is nonetheless of the world and of all humans and all living things and the planet. My intent in looking at my options and suggesting options for moving forward to a world focussed on love, compassion, belonging, relationship, acceptance of others, cooperation, connection and community is founded in that concern for the planet and all beings who inhabit it.
I have also written a fair number of posts on my move toward an intentioned practice of patience and stillness. I believe that this practice has begun to unravel a well established and reinforced pattern of mine whereby I took part in examining the world and our operation within it from the perspective of identifying the issues and problems and beginning to name opportunities for improvement. This perspective however was not always grounded in patience.
I did this for a living and did well with this approach. I have been able to make a living plus more in satisfying mine and my clients’ needs to discover and name the issues related to a wide variety of services and systems, essentially looking at how we operate in our world. This included the examination of various human service systems across the age spectrum from birth to death specifically looking at a extensive range of programs and services designed for babies, children, youth, adults, and seniors within the service systems in the broad categories of health, mental health, addictions, continuing care, disability services, education, children services and justice. This experience expanded my knowledge of these areas and my awareness of what works well and what does not within these established publicly funded systems that are meant to support the population.
Most citizens are aware that these systems do not work as well we would hope but most of us have other things to occupy our time and therefore not much time to devote to trying to figure out why they do not work. A common misconception is that more money is the answer; however, this is only a misconception and not the real answer. This view comes from one of the flaws I have mentioned previously and refer to above, that being: our sole dependence on the economic system at the expense of any other consideration. As we restrict our vision to the economic lens we always end up seeing money, and usually more money, as the solution to any problem. A flaw in thinking, I contend.
In today’s post I return to our ability to choose and in this case my specific ability to choose to change my pattern of examining the world and our operation within it. This ties in nicely with one of the other flaws that I have identified, that being: sanctioned war and other forms of violence and aggression being accepted throughout society.
Experiencing stillness does in fact set the foundation that enables me to undertake my examination of issues from a place that ultimately contributes to an optimistic and peaceful future. Instead of being triggered and reacting I use my expanded patience to breathe and then to respond. In this way I am attempting to act in such a way that I will no longer be contributing to any forms of aggression or violence no matter how justified they seem to be. (I realize that this will be extremely difficult, especially given the acceptance of aggression as the modus operandi)
In other words I am taking personal steps to shift both my examination of issues and development of potential solutions away from the currently accepted approaches that are built on violence and aggression. I now believe that I understand what Mahatma Gandhi meant when he said “be the change you want to see in the world”. Previously I thought that I got what he was saying but now I know that I understand it that much more. At the same time I can hear the voice of one of my favourite social activists: Derrick Jensen suggesting that nonviolence does not work because we only know violence and aggression in our society and the structure of it is predicated on it so if we are to make a difference we need to engage in violence or at least an aggressive approach. I am sorry Derrick but although I am on the same page when it comes to the issues you identify so clearly I can no longer support addressing them using the same means that got us here in the first place.
How can a war on anything be positive? Yet we have declared war on every part of our society and on ourselves. A quick Google search identified more wars than I expected. We have the war on drugs, terrorism, bullying, cancer, fat, fathers, fatherhood, military, motherhood, nature, money, national bank, poverty, addictions and anything else you can think of. Essentially we are ADDICTED TO WAR.
Reflecting on how we fail to see the ridiculousness of promoting war as a means of dealing with these and so many other things is a place for me to start. I think I will begin by calling a ceasefire on the war on myself and do some serious reflection to try reach a permanent peace agreement that will end the war, a war I know that most of continue to fight. Maybe if I can stop that war I can begin to truly contribute to peace on a broader scale.
It’s a start! Want to join me?
Irene McDermott © 2012