Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Emperors new clothes.

The only value that Christmas has for me is as a time for contemplation. Apart from the oppressive sense of being surrounded by an entirely unexamined relentless tide sweeping towards this unwelcome annual intrusion I give Christmas as little regard as possible. Christmas eve found me this year grappling with a thought that was hovering somewhere on the outer reaches of my consciousness trying to get my attention. I've learnt not to rush these things and it was enough that it registered its presence, all I had to do then was wait. Over the past couple of days I've felt I've been doing something wrong and knew this was just the advanced message from the incoming thought. I am an active Facebook user and found I had little say over Christmas and all my usual comments and critiques of goings on in the world fell silent.

I read a Guardian article about the Boxing day sales and was struck by the picture heading the article of faces filled with happiness and, indeed, delight and was forcefully struck that these people had chosen to be exactly where they were, in the middle of sale madness. I tried to think of something pithy to say about this, but found myself oddly silent in the cloud of awareness that anything I did say would be an exercise in futility and vanity.

I posted the following on Facebook:

"It's strange how well these two stories fit together. I don't understand the mindset behind either and I don't really want to. What they represent for me is the bizarre disconnect in which the world is enveloped. The American Indian comes to mind because they saw this disconnect in the false words of the white man and the genocide that followed the European invasion of America. It was only a new world in the mind of the European, in fact it was an old world, a world that was profoundly connected in a people who didn't just understand their connection to the land, in some intellectual way, but whose entire being was filled with that connectedness. It wasn't just a way of living, it was their entire being. I am not sure if the western mind has ever had this, but I am very sure we need it."

There is very little point me banging on at others about the disconnect in the vainglorious hope of persuading them to my point of view, as an educator I know this is not how learning works. This is what schools do and the world is littered with learning phobic people, such is the result of an imposed curriculum. Far from feeding the innate desire to learn with which every child is imbued, an imposed curriculum shuts people down. The problem, then, belongs to no one but me: educator, educate thyself.

So, here is my problem. The socio political, religious, corporate system that is destroying the world and economies the world over is beyond my grasp and the reach of my personal intervention. I can tell the Emperor he's got no clothes on to my hearts content, or to my frustrations vent, but if the Emperor is convinced of his finery there is bugger all I can do about it and it ceases to be my business. My business is with me and how I choose to live my life and where my focus needs to be. That is a problem more than big enough for me and for which I have few answers. I have been raised and educated with the disconnect and it has taken me most of my life to even begin to connect. Questioning why the Emperor has no clothes on is a futile attempt to understand madness, doing so is simply going in the wrong direction. So I find myself afraid, afraid that I do not know the way out of what appears to be a closed system, a system that encompasses all I know, in which I am a minnow deciding that it's time to be out of the stream. As an educator I know that all I need to do is stay with the problem, keep working the problem, the answers, if there are any, will come in their own time as my work matures enough to enable them to appear, and I am ready for them. Learning is about expanding consciousness and awareness, what it is not is a series of bottled answers that merely require rote learning. In order for change to occur I must change and facilitating that change is about facing in the right direction and exploring unfamiliar and unknown territory.

I know how hard this is and how easily I will lose focus and fall back into old ways. I also know that there's no point beating myself over the head when I discover I've lost focus. Old ways and old patterns are the bedrock of the past, not so easily left behind, so I need to be gentle with myself remembering the lessons of the past and that you can't beat knowledge into anyone, least of all myself.


Blogger Eileen said...

HI Keith,

I'm not typing real well with all this pain right now; i'm using the eraser end of a pencil to peck the keys. So please bear with my typos!

It amazes me constantly how utterly unique and alone each one of us humans is within the truly unique parameters of our own mind. 7 billion+ humans alone with their own thoughts with which they synthesise the world, define who they are, define their beliefs about what they perceive, and then interact with the world in their unique way.

I think that once we acknowledge that no one out there does all that in the same way that we ourselves do, then we can let go of at least some of our frustration as to why no one agrees with us about everything all the time.

From birth we are shunted onto paths of others' making, told what is right and wrong to think, whether it is by teaching, indoctrination, fear, etc. We must decide whether we will go along with it to get along, for fear that if we do not, life will not be pleasant. Such intimidation is one of the great abuses we humans do to one another.

We can add our voiced opinions into the mix of all other voiced opinions, but as you said, after that it is up to others to decide what they will do with what we have said. I have found out time after time that I only increase my own frustration if I have my expectations of others set too high. That isn't to imply that we stop voicing our unique perspective, but rather we lower our expectations about its impact on others. The value of our opinion does not hinge on the whims of the world.

I hope your thoughts will continue to expand and clarify for you in the days ahead.


4:35 pm  
Blogger Keith said...

Hi Leenie, thank you so much for what must have been an arduous task and I am the more grateful for your reply because you did it in pain. I was particularly struck by your words: "The value of our opinion does not hinge on the whims of the world."

I was visiting a guy the other day who, like me, lives pretty much a hermit life. He asked me what I did, to which I responded, 'I'm an artist.' He stabbed me with laser eyes and demanded, 'Who the fuck says you're an artist?' My response was, 'I say I am an artist, what anyone else thinks is completely irrelevant and has nothing to say about my experience of reality.' He grinned at me and there was a recognition that I knew he wouldn't accept any half arsed answers. There was no quarter given or asked for, either way.

It astonishes me, this learning to live deliberately and it is the only answer I can see to all the manifold abuses going on in the world. I can think of no better answer other than to be it to the very best of my ability, which includes all the doubts and fears, the dark times and feeling isolated with daring to walk my own road.

The frustration is abating, but I first had to understand that I can't speak for anyone else and that whatever I think really doesn't matter very much at all to anyone other than those people I am close to and with whom the very last thing I would want to do is force them to change or to see things my way. So I find myself wondering why I've banged my drum so often towards people I don't know when I wouldn't do that to people I know and care about? At the moment I can only think there's some kind of arrogance in that, but I am not sure, or maybe something about caring less for anonymous others. Whatever it is, it's fairly hypocritical of me and I'd like to spend more time and effort with the one person I can change and, indeed, most want to change, me. Thank you for your thoughts my friend, Keith.

5:14 pm  

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