About owen59

I'm a physiotherapist, live in North Queensland, Australia, a member of the Baha'i Faith, interested in science, science fiction, poetry, writing short story and theatre, sport, and active for imrpovements in rural health services.

You WILL Choose.

This week a team of three of us had approved our application to facilitate a workshop on accomplishment at the 2018 Global Transformations Conference in Monterey, California. The full title of our topic is “Living the Dream: A Life of Accomplishment”. During the process of putting together the application, we (the team) have had weekly conversations about what accomplishment means and where it all came from. Looking at a thread of accomplishment that I am calling ‘creativity’, and how I might address it from my view of my own biography, I can hear any number of people who might present alternate viewpoints of what accomplishment is and how it ‘should’ work. In pondering those potential ‘alternatives’, ideas I have already heard from various sources, I began to realise that we are all just be standing in the path of our own choices. For all of us, there is only that, given whatever we think we know and much we don’t, we will choose as we will choose.

A couple of years ago, The Poetry Foundation post a commentary by David Orr, that we often fail to fully read this famous poem by Robert Frost. When we just read the beginning and the end we come away with the common interpretation that Frost is encouraging us to take the more arduous looking path. However in the middle two verses he regales that neither path is really any different to the outward glance but that only one of them can be taken. In this case, when we read the last verse we can see he is being ironical about how we will dress up the story of our life, in the future, as one that was the more adventurous.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

David Orr tells that Frost actually wrote the poem as a tease while in England and going for regular walks in the countryside with another poet, Edward Thomas. Frost told that, after the walk, Thomas would often complain that he should have chosen different pathways because of what they missed out seeing. So, Frost wrote the poem just to say, a choice is made, and that is that. Everything else afterwards, is just a following along that path, as it has to be.

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For a Treaty

My middle class status, career, wealth, comes from that my grandfather was able to get away from the early 20thC steel mills of Hull, UK and come to Australia where he could pull down a forest and take up farming. The family stories tell that indigenous people’s roamed through that land, they knew the new farmers, and then were picked up by government officers and placed on missions. My life, as it is, is the life created by divesting indigenous people of their land with no agreement or recompense. There are some who believe that they can make this work without attention. I caution against this as the view of disassociation. Perhaps under hypnosis we can cut gouges out of our body and pretend we are ‘okay’, but we will surely become debilitated with the loss of our life force that ebbs from the wounds. To me a treaty is the only healing act, an honouring in financial recompense for the resource we stole, a belated conversation in attempt to come to an agreement about who we are to each other, and what we can be for each other. “Sorry’ was the first step. However there is no true sorry without cleaning up our relationship messes to the satisfaction of those we have distressed.

in Australia we have the benefit of just having to look at a very immediate past and it’s ramifications for the people living today. We can address this immediately and completely, if we choose. Otherwise, all over the world, people are in conflict around deep ancestoral issues because we refuse to entertain the notion taught and stood for, by all the Great Educators1, that some call radical forgiveness2. Even here, though, radical forgiveness can only truly take place when every cruelty is owned and spoken.

Any harm, not resolved, causes an ongoing conflict in the body politic. That will occur many generations after anyone even knows the original harm. LOOK CAREFULLY at the human dynamics that are unleashed with every instance of harm, and you will realise that the major harm been done to the indigenous peoples of Australia, is, right now, both overtly and insidiously, eating away at the possibility for Australians to achieve their greatest potential. It is a disease like having a bacterial infection. Ignore it at peril. Our ‘body’ is ringing alarm bells every day and trying to fight the attack. But, being unsupported by the neglect of “nothing happening here’, the disease encroaches. The burden we carry both spiritually and materially because we haven’t been responsible for the damage, has slowed the whole nation down into a sloth of failure to create or produce. As soon as we waken to that our future is completely founded on our recompense for the harm and theft that we are living off, we will embrace our responsibility with enthusiasm. Not because we are doing something special, but because we will be bringing our body politic into full performance.

1. Great Educators is a broad term for the founders of the major religions who all stood for justice and forgiveness as cornerstones of healthy and progressive societies. Continue reading

Sex and Power

The social philosophy program on the ABC Radio, THE MINEFIELD, tried to discuss the socio-political effect of the sexual abusiveness of powerful men, mostly in media, but some in politics. It was almost shocking to me to hear the striking inability of the guest on that program to deal with the biological imperative of sex, seeming to relegate sex to a social construct. My own 58 years on the planet and conversations with many men and women, suggest that trying to sideline the biological imperative of sex is most of the cause of our modern challenge around sex. If we are to understand ourselves and sex, at all, we need to take on the whole picture of human being-ness and history.

We must accept the biological nature of sexual urge, as in the same category of thirst and hunger. Unlike thirst and hunger, we will not actually die from not satisfying the sexual urge. However our brain’s biology is not set up for ‘actually’. It is set up for ‘as it will’. From the point of view of biology, to achieve an action, the brain is set up for the imperative ‘as it will”. Regarding sex, the human biology is set up as that ‘we will die’ without it. ‘Actually, it is our species that will die without it. Biology doesn’t account for this distinction.

Understanding the biological imperative, we can then begin an historical exploration  with a view of our pre-homo sapien sapien behaviour. Taking non-human primate behaviour as reflecting that history, we can conclude that the early human social group was dominated by the alpha male who bullied other males to their possible death, and strictly controlled his own access to females for sex. Females also, in the main, capitulate to this social formation as access to sex and other emotional rewards.

Through these alpha males, what we could now call, psychopathic, from about 100,000 years ago, the groups journeyed across the world, establishing new groups and new territories. This journeying is continuing today, and the European colonial movement that we get caught up with in many political expositions, today, is just the recent and largest, lead expeditions. Since then, the psychopath has lost a lot of power, although to understand today’s conundrum around sex is to understand the current imposition of the psychopathic male and his ability to draw sycophants, both men and women, around him.

It is important to understand that the key transformative mechanisms that allowed human society to move from those alpha dominated groups to today’s yearning for an egalitarian society, has been the development of religious concepts and structures. Religious structures, being often built parallel to pre-existing political structures, have created access for men and women to sex and social power in new ways. Somewhat like an adolescent primate, religion has maintained only just enough ‘cheekiness’ to be allowed by the alpha, while eventually building up challenging levels of power that become alpha, and taken over by alphas (psychopaths) who wield their power across both religious and political spheres. Periodically, a new religious view would emerge to support another, more egalitarian view.  Over millenia, the play between religions and social politics and, eventually empire building, while not over-powering the psychopath (because it would take a psychopath to over power a psychopath), created a greater and greater sense of egalitarianism. Today’s complaint against sexual abusiveness must be taken in the context of that as modern yearning being built over thousands of years.

In a certain way, the broad spread complaint against sexual abusiveness (a badly kept secret the whole of my life from Marilyn Monroe’s suicide and movies being part of my childhood; noticing that adolescent males I knew who had been exploited by older gay men and many of whom died of AIDs in the 1980s; to the litany of allegations from workplaces), is part of the final movements of the world of humanity towards an equality of men and women.

Fundamental to that equality are that the mainstream of human society transforms on three fronts: being clear about sex, sexuality, and that equality means independence of men and women agreeing on monogamous sexual relationships (in otherwords, marriage); transforming economic systems by striving for independence, removing support for slavers, and other sycophantic behaviours, and ensuring equitable resource distributions; transforming political systems by supporting participatory democracy, education, and powerless attitudes in unity.

Australia’s Fascist Attitudes

Keyvan Rahimian has just been released from 5 years gaol for teaching and organising an underground university because Baha’i youth are banned from University in Iran. His brother and sister-in-law were also imprisoned for the same ‘crime’. His wife died of cancer while he was imprisoned, leaving their daughter without her parents.

I recently read a post by a professor of health sciences, here, in Australia, suggesting that the Australian government should force religions to bring doctrines in line with ‘secular’ laws. I am constantly amazed by how supposedly well-educated people in the west are so ignorant of some of the basic reasons why secular democracy works:
1. the separation of state and religion (States should not make religions);
2 states that dictate everyone’s lives and organisational processes are no longer secular nor democratic but fascist or stalinist or maoist.
And yet these same people will parade their ‘professorialship’ to the public as if they are the expert on government, sociology, religion, democracy, and “what is for our own good”. The Iranian revolutionary Council certainly believes that their dictation is “for our own good”. There are some that believe that this attitude only lies with religious extremists. No, it belongs in the attitudes of ordinary scholars here in Australia. We could shrug it off by saying, “so lazy of that scholar” but that “laziness” has much of the current world without worthy leadership from the learned class, and our institutions in Australia fail people every day because of that.

Stand for Discourse

While the great religions have been attractive to a certain type of person, mainly men, who see it as career, status, and power, the great religions have always fostered an idea bigger than that, and so we can also see that the great discourses and services to humanity have come out of religion.

The inability for many of us, religious or not, to reckon with the forces of culture – the normalisation of social behaviours that might exploit or disadvantage or even attempt to annihilate another group; and the failure to be able to provide access to everyone in the discourse, is at the heart of disenfranchisement and leaving so many people vulnerable to the ‘wolves’ of this world.

Nonetheless, there is a huge well-educated class of people who can foster discourse among ourselves in a vulnerability about our own experiences and beliefs, without fear or rancour. That is there for us to be, and when we can be that discourse among each other, then there is no one with desire for power, political or status, that will not be moved to be at least that their welfare is tied to openness and participation and equity.