I have what is termed a ‘depressive personality’ and that sometimes go with the introverted territory. I have felt at times I had mild depression but perhaps it was just fatigue. In any case my real challenge has been the escalation of survival choices in development. Born with an anxious temperament, the choices around a volatile family life meant becoming angry, separated, and, eventually, arrogant. I call it the 4 ‘A’s”: Anxious, angry arrogant, a#$*. The dissonance around anger and arrogance vs anxiety and guilt are the feeders for depression and fatigue. I was too twitchy to keep the anger and other emotions in, and I suspect that thwarted developing deep depression. As my life has turned towards dance and other training in Being, I have found a gradual lessening of anger, separation and maybe I’m even less arrogant. And in a number of arena’s the complaint and the arrogance has lead my contribution in the world. Now I live closer to the anxiety or the basic temperament, in the expectation that it is possible to complete the past and reconstruct the Being with a whole new set of choices that is not about surviving as a response to anxiety but thriving with it.
Depression is normal. With about 15% of the population in depression that makes it normal. Not nice. But normal. Parker J Palmer, author of “Darkness Before Dawn” says,”redefining depression from something taboo to something that we should be exploring together in open and vulnerable ways; from something that’s purely biological to something that has dimensions of spiritual and psychological mystery to it; and from something that’s essentially meaningless to something that can be meaningful—all of this seems to me to be important.” And in a sense I think the question it is asking of society is “How many masks are we gonna hide behind to protect ourselves from each other’s vulnerability in the world?” And perhaps if some of the masks come off, we find ourselves at greater ease and depression becomes lessened among us. For Parker J Palmer, coming out of depression provides a great hollowing out that “makes space inside you for the suffering of other people”.
“Be an admonisher to the rich..” Bahá’u’llah
In a recent community argument, it was offered that consultation would be favourable. I agree. However, consultation requires that both parties come to the table. In this case, one of the parties, a developer, has taken an attitude of ‘we want you to give us what we want, and we aren’t going to talk about what you want”.
There is an idea in the west that a thing, called capitalism, belongs to a western way of doing things. Capitalism is a term used by Karl Marx in the 19th century to describe a macroeconomic dynamic he was seeing. However that dynamic is a fractal social dynamic that can be observed since the agricultural revolution and, therefore, has its roots in prehistory.
Community research in the 1970’s in third world and first world communities, of all races, found that 20% of the community (usually certain families) tend to own 80% of the wealth. Zooming in on this, 20% of that 20% own 80% of the 80% of wealth I.e 4% own 64% of wealth and that fractal continues down to the most wealthy people on the planet. In line with this tendency, a recent report in “The Guardian” showed that 1% of the global population owned 48% of the global wealth.
Widespread poverty exists where there are no checks on the fundamental cause of this bias. For the fundamental cause lies in the shameless audacity of the few to assert their right to that wealth by any means available. There seem to be few internal ethical checks among this group and so only external checks in the form of human rights laws and taxes, maintains some favour in community. In countries where these laws are missing or malleable, poverty and injury is endemic.
Nonetheless, in all communities and nations as a whole, the economic bias exists, driven by the anti-community attitude.
Thomas Picketty (2013) has shown that only when heavy taxes apply to this 20%, does the whole community or nation thrive both economically and socially. Meanwhile it seems that, in every community and nation, it is important for the welfare of the community, to be mindful of those families who are organised to harvest the assets of the community for themselves. Without being mindful of these and creating community methods for redistribution, the gathering of the community assets, the destruction of the environment and the resources of the future, and the frittering of social capital, will continue until all is lost.
In the solution to poverty in the world, even if all the middle class people gave all their money to the poor, 80% of that money will end up in the hands of the wealthy 20%. In first world communities, the community spirit, the social capital, the aspirations, and the possibilities for improving welfare, continues to diminish so long as these groups remain unchecked.
Even of those who, having amassed incredible wealth and who then decide to provide some of that wealth to community through philanthropy, the question might be asked, “If your product, your profit, was more modestly priced, might not that product have been accessible to more, inspired more, opened more to the possibility of contribution, and therefore created vastly more innovation than the philanthropy that comes late to the growing problems.
A conversation today had me thinking about the idea of radical forgiveness as exemplified by the Truth and Justice Commission of South Africa, and Justice. It seems that the society that doesn’t move in Justice is not able to get over it’s past, not able to forgive. However, the greatest example of radical forgiveness of the modern era must belong to Abdu’l-Baha. Having spent a lifetime from childhood in exile, imprisonment and house arrest, having been under threat of murder or execution, having guided the infant Baha’i community in Persia, peacefully, through a period of loss of hundred of lives by the hands of the Persian authorities, Abdu’l-Baha stood as comfort to a man who was at the heart of that lifetime of attacks. The story was told by a man who facilitated this chance meeting between Abdu’l-Baha and the Prince (brother of the Shah) in France in 1911.
Transformation is usually understood as a change of type rather than an improvement on the old. When faced with a challenge, there seem to be only a two types of strategies. The first and most common is to use the same vehicle (framework, tools etc) that has had previous success, perhaps increasing the effort (resources) and dominate the challenge by a well known activity. This strategy will either succeed or fail. If it succeeds the use of the strategy will be reinforced. If it fails it might still be used or it maybe that another strategy is implemented. If the failing strategy becomes defended and rationalised, even if critically, it might be improved through the increase of resources, but continued use will eventually meet absolute failure and defeat ensures all resources are exhausted. If the failing strategy is recognised for what it often is, a strategy that no longer meets the requirements of the challenge, then a transformative motion can be brought into play.
The history of the world and the more ancient history of the universe is evidence that the transformative motion is in play, regardless of the conscious notice of it. Our human consciousness provides an opportunity to comprehend the transformative motion and even mobilise it.
There is a idea from mystical philosophy, that the creation is perfect. A transformative perspective shows two aspects of this idea. The first is the creation is what it is. What becomes of it over time is all that is, and that any appellation of imperfection to the universe is purely subjective. It just IS. The second is that the human subjective concept of perfection is a true reflection of a real quality and the estimate of perfection by the human being is part of the transformative motion of the universe. This aspect of perfection implies that since the human being became conscious, we have been directly linked to the transformative fate of the world and the universe. In this aspect, the universe has a potential to be perfect in a way that humans (perhaps not only humans) imagine.
Perfection, then, is a state that continually appears as a new type of thing that resolves a challenge, is imagined and, then, forged by the human being. If perfection or a new type of thing can appear, there must be some sense in which it always existed. If it always existed, then why didn’t it appear at some other time, resolve the challenge before suffering ensured. Apart from discussions about the causality of all things, and the specific causality called human learning, it could be said that the transformative motion is one of disappearance and appearance. While everything that is perfect, for all time, exists in potential in the universe, its potentiality or hidden-ness is a function of the apparentness and activity of another type of solution. Only when that solution fails and then disappears, does the new type of thing appear.
Appearance and disappearance of types of things occurs from the largest structures of the universe (the universe itself) to the smallest, over the smallest quanta of time to the largest. Transformative motion, therefore, is the warp and weft of the fabric of the universe.
The question for us, in our meagre human existence, in wanting to effect the transformative process to alleviate our own suffering, is, of anything that causes suffering, or any challenge of which we are now failing, what needs to DISAPPEAR for the new type of thing from which we are not suffering, from which we are succeeding to resolve the challenge., APPEARS.
In the immediate aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Yasi in the Tully area, North Queensland, June Perkins took to documenting the story of resilience of the people around her. In the process of this documentation, June was one of the people activating resilience-building activities for the community.
The stories she tells in “After Yasi – Finding the Smile Within” are simple, almost pedestrian, and so are, in style, a commentary on the paradox of an ordinariness of the community spirit that seems quite extraordinary. These straightforward stories shine a light on the vulnerability of people who have had their lives turned on their heads in one day of environmental violence.
The poems that people wrote for the book are similarly simple and authentic, a sharing of lives finding their way out of the struggle to making it work again.
Throughout June’s photography captures both the devastation and the recovery, and, in the recovery, the beauty and the friendships.
Having an interest in contemporary dance, I particularly appreciated that one of the recovery events that June documented was a dance workshop run by local dancer Danielle Wilson. Contemporary dance is still a less well-developed community art form in Australia, so it was great to see it working for the community in resilience building. When the world shows us that, rather than being stable and faithful, it can be unstable and fickle, it often attacks the very core of our identity. In that attack, the body and mind can need the experience of revisiting the feeling of the event and the aftermath. Often it can be difficult to express in words what is showing up for the body. Facilitated contemporary dance can allow the mind to honor what the body is expressing and then generating a new story, a new future as a reconstituted identity and self-assurance. Contemporary dance also brings bodies and minds together, so that the sharing of experience and a new future with others, restores faith in that our true stability and support and our tomorrow is in the people around us.