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

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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.

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.

USA Trip May-June 2016

My USA trip was a real zinger.

Coming on the beginnings of a new relationship with a generous, caring, successful, playful and creative woman, conferences, courses, projects, visiting with my son, and chilling out, was interspersed with lengthy viber or skype conversations that were flirty, jokey, intellectual, dissonant, honest, vulnerable, happy, and teary.

The Landmark Global Transformation conference, my entry event in San Fransisco, rode on the theme of ‘Wonder’. One of my all time favourite topics, wonder would anchor the whole trip and come back, specifically, again during the Alba Emot Course in Asheville, North Carolina, a couple of weeks later.

Although Global Transformations took the ‘Wonder’ theme, it was a wondering about leadership that took my ear. Gladly, presenters I had met a couple of year ago, facilitated a couple of beautiful engaging structural movement communication work. I attended those sessions for my work in dance and it gave me another access to my hearing on leadership. Initially that hearing on leadership was all about what I need to be a leader of my rEvolve project. As my trip comes to a conclusion, that has transformed into rEvolve being the possibility of a leadership training program, ‘Moving into Leadership’.

The idea of moving into leadership is a more clear consolidation of the work I am doing around sustainability and climate change, men’s culture, and dance, into an integrated work, a leadership training program.

From San Fransisco, I flew over to Denver, Colorado, for a few days, to catch up with my friends in Art as Action. Staying at an Air BNB nearby, I was able to ride a hire bike into the city, and even on the light rail to Jefferson County where I could ride to hiking paths. As with my previous experience in that part, life at one mile high can make the legs ache in bike riding unusually earlier than at my home altitude in Australia of half a mile. I learnt how to use Lyft.

It seemed that each time the past two years I’ve seen my friends in Art as Action they have been grieving over the loss of a loved one. Last year the grandfather of the director had passed away. This year one of their music/dance colleagues and his partner were killed in a car accident. I want to make some bigger sense of this coincidence. It only mattered that I could be some community of listening around the grief. Sarah Leversee welcomed me into her Reconnect Class based on Dance for PD and it was wonderful to see the liveliness of that ‘older’ dance class.

It was a special treat to spend a few hours over lunch with Wayne Gilbert, performance poet, retired literature teacher, and recent (having Parkinson’s Disease) dance performer with Art as Action. Wayne is a volunteer poetry teacher to the State prison to the north of Denver. His experience of the attraction of poetry to some hard men, has been profound. At one of his earliest classes, having delivered a poem on Parkinson’s Disease, he was astounded that a hand immediately shot up. The owner said, “Yeh, I get that poem. It’s like how I feel about being in this prison.” I find myself amazed by the nature of the human being around their limiting circumstances, their authentic relationship with those limitations, the access they find to some expansion of those circumstances and they contributions they choose to make, nonetheless. There is some inspiration there, for all of us, and I store that idea away for a way to provide access to that inspiration for everyone.

It was great to spend a week chillin’ at my son’s place in Riverside, California. We had a number of social outings together including a Baha’i meeting. We played an hour of table tennis every night. I got a little heat stroke doing a hike in the desert hills at the back of his place, and the effects of that took quite a few days to remedy, reminding me, among other things, that I’m not as young as I used to be. It was lovely to spend a sedate four hours with my son in the UCR library while he played with an assignment for his masters degree in social work. Sometimes I think I should be in conversation with my son, seeing that we can’t see each other much across the seas, but I profess one of my greatest joys is just to be in proximity.

The next phase of my travel was to spend a few days with Sue Blythe on the Sustainable Farm, Hampton, Gainesville, Florida, around her Future Flash Climate Change Project. Sue’s work has expanded to engage commitments from some fabulous environmental players in Florida, including the manager of the ‘Sustainable Floridians’ volunteer training program out of Florida University, Lanny the Earthman, Actor Jan Booher, and Dave Room San Fransisco based creator of Pacha’s Pyjamas. As I write this I’ve just finished a Skype conversation with Dave Room, opening the way for his work to find expression for children environmental education in Australia.

From Gainesvile to Asheville to the Alba Emot course with Laura Bond. What a fantastic 9 days, learning and training in primary emotional expression, Feldenkrais movement, and exploring related experiments in life story, text, voice and dance with an extraordinary teaching team. So much to bring back to my dance and theatre work but also into the possibility of leadership training.

And so, this week another chill out and exercise at my son’s place in California. It’s a hot summer week in the desert, 113 F early in the week. Time to meditate, play with movement training (God I need it), and have dozens of small conversations with him around his life. He became an American citizen while I’ve been here. Looks like another feather in his global citizen’s cap.

Two nights ago I woke in sadness. My time here is slipping away. Today, I’m prepared for a great weekend with my son, at the beach, in LA. It is time to go home.

At Tio’s

Burrito’s and chips
at Tio’s outside diningimage
under the songs
of MeH~He~KoH
and the gaze of giants
made of wire mesh
stuffed with plastic bottles
and metal caps.

A girl whispers in her father’s ear.
I wonder at the open family secret.
And the memory of an excited woman
so imminent by Skype,
our ages fading away
to a younger coyness
and wanting her,
breezes through my mind
from so far away,
clashing with an ancient threat,
an irate disappointed parent,
a confused, querulous child,
my religious community,
in the background, now.
Yet, soon enough,
asking questions,
turning a blind eye
to the entanglement of arms and legs
showing that they saw it all the same
and not yet asking whether
I will marry this woman
who no longer wants marriage
as her badge,
that I am left wondering who
I am to her and who we are
as she opens her heart and
mind and body
and I like it all as I flounder,
weighing the balance
of my life:
she and companionship;
they and an aspirational community;
beautiful delightful love;
a loneliness of vague possibility;
energetic risk;
plodding safety.

My gaze rises from the thought
on the book, to an empty place,
alighting on the boy riding
his tricycle on the roof,
frozen in time and space
against hurtling down,
a mild mannered smile on his
doll-face, as if the consequencesimage
of gravity don’t exist,
while I notice my imbalance
and my hurtling down
is a sense of something
contrived of a physics I
don’t know.

… in no answer for my life
I give up forcing as if I live in a 3 dimensional world,
and, turning, turning, turning,
trying to see out of the corner of my mind
the access to that other dimension
to the essence
to as it is
to what I need to see
and where I need to stand
and how is my humility
and what is my contribution
and how is my leadership
and does the will of God
move through the awkward,
messy, yearning, striving state
of me.

I could tell myself any story
and I know the one I choose
for now, and no one
is wrong about it.