It's been a long time since my last blog post here. Since my trip to Europe I've finished my engineering degree then started work as an environmental engineer. As I spent more time working, I found myself increasingly disillusioned with the whole system. I felt that my presence there was doing more harm than good for myself, others and the planet. So I saved up some money, and I've been travelling the world telling stories since. Usually my stories revolve around hope, uniting people, and creating a better place for future generations. I'd like to share one such story with you now.
Sometimes I tell stories about the indigenous societies in South East Asia, or the people of Gaza, or the disappearing Maui Dolphin. One theme that commonly surfaces from my audiences when I tell these stories is the pain that awareness of wider issues can bring. It's easy to feel powerless to do anything meaningful about the suffering of others. So, we consciously or unconsciously ignore or push aside the negative vibes and attempt to refocus on things that make us happy.
Informing ourselves about the world can bring us to suffering. We invariably carry that pain with us regardless of whether we're consciously aware of it. When I was twelve, I misjudged a trampoline flip and landed on the steel support bar with my lower back. Needless to say, it was excruciatingly painful, but nothing was broken, and it seemed as if there was nothing to be done. I pushed the pain away rather than dealing with the trauma. Consequently, I suffered from periodic crippling spasms and poor posture for the next twelve years until I recently began to acknowledge the pain and sought treatment.
Whether the pain is physical or psychological, it's only through acknowledging the existence of the pain that we can then begin to take action to alleviate the suffering.
After we take this first step, we must then overcome the feeling of powerlessness to do anything about it. This can be extremely difficult, as it can feel as if we're virtually alone and up against the rest of society or huge corporations and institutions that dwarf the individual. It certainly doesn't help that our society is structured extremely hierarchically, with all decision making powers concentrated at the very top. Meanwhile traditional forms of media present narratives within a very narrow spectrum, constantly reinforcing the status quo, keeping us in a state of fear and confusion and encouraging consumption. To me, it doesn't matter whether this is intentional (take the blatant fear mongering and propaganda that comes out of Fox News for example) or not, when the effect is the same.
The issue at hand is that far too much power is concentrated in too few hands. It's been said so often now it's cliched, but we need to accept that we're not going to get any help from the lunatics in power. They're also far better at violence that we are, so to fight them directly would only be playing into their hands. To my mind then our goal should be to devolve power - to take the power back from our corrupt institutions that no longer serve us and give it back to individuals and communities.
Practicality speaking, opportunities abound for every one of us to get involved with making a difference right now. These have flow on effects for the short and longer term. Bill Hicks claimed it all came down to a simple choice for each one of us between love and hate. When we act with love, we can make a difference in each moment by inspiring others to their own acts of love.
When we put our current situation within it's historical context, I get a lot of hope for the future. We're more connected and powerful than we've ever been. People are compassionate for human beings on the other side of the world. We're waking up to the idea that we're all family, and this planet is the only one we've got. What's left is for each of us to embody that, and inspire others to do the same.
Over at my blog www.alethios.net I look at some of the practical things we can do to immediately make a difference and build towards long term change. It's a work in progress, so I'd love to hear your input and comments here, there or anywhere.