I am sure I am not the only one who feels this at the moment.
We aren’t in a particularly happy space in the world right now.
I spoke to several friends recently about the doom and gloom of my Facebook feed.
Some people have chosen to give themselves a social media break as they find it is affecting their mental health.
I feel that, right now, news report should come with a health warning. There is a distinct, “oh what the fuck now?” feeling when news reports appear.
In no order of importance, in my world at the moment, issues I see the most are: The US political situation, the refugee crisis, Brexit (this affects me directly as a EU citizen), the disappearance of independent midwives, the NHS crisis, women’s rights being denied, it goes on and on.
I see a general step back of people’s rights and individual liberties.
I see a lot of anger, and fear.
I have to remind myself on the daily basis not to succumb to that fear. And sometimes I do.
But the thing is-anger and fear do not allow us to be positive forces of change.
There is an old Cherokee legend about the two wolves inside of us. It goes like this:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
There is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
It is a myth that being overpowering is true power. It is a myth that you can fight hate with hate.
I spent many years in my youth mistakenly seeing as powerful the people who spoke the loudest.
It took me many years to undo this belief and realise that the true source of power is kindness and respect. That true leaders lead by example and by making people feel good about themselves, not by squashing others and by using threats.
I also bought into the bullshit that one had to be “toughened up” to cope with the world.
Only, thank god, now I have read enough research on the theory of attachment to know that we ALWAYS operate from a stronger place when we have been, and are treated from a place of respect and kindness. It builds a solid core, a solid sense of self.
But we are the product of our society, a society that has a deeply entrenched beliefs that babies and children are our enemies, and that we have to “train” them to be human, less they manipulate us, become little tyrants, and we “make a rod for our own back”.
Yet, as Mia Kalef says in her book “The secret life of babies”,
“Logically, there is no possible way a child could ever dominate an adult. Think of it this way : if you have influence over what a child eats….or stays warm or cold, how could you find yourself in a “power struggle” with an infant or toddler? There is no such thing. It’s obvious who has the power”.
I believe what we see at play today is the product of a way of raising children that promotes bullying and disrespect. They say a picture is worth a thousand words-watch this powerful video called “children see children learn“.
As children grow up, and turn into adults, we see the same bullshitty power play taking place. Having been an employee for over 20 years in about 7 different organisations, I can attest that I have seen the carrot and stick approach being the norm, and I can count on less fingers than one hand how many bosses were truly trusting and empowering.
I believe that the power play of many of the world’s leaders is no more than a re-enactment of toddlers fighting over a toy. The new US leader is a prime example of this.
My generation, is, with a few exceptions, the product of this “tough love” parenting. Most of us as still working hard to reclaim a lost sense of self worth that was the result of being parented this way in infancy.
But I also believe what we see today in the world is a revolution against a society that is fundamentally sick, a bit like when our bodies create disease to make us pay attention to the fact that we aren’t looking after ourselves very well and need to rest and recover.
I also chose to believe that good will come out of that revolution. The model of the Western consumerist culture, the model that promotes the individual above all else, simply isn’t sustainable anymore.
People are waking up, and refusing to put up with it anymore.
So back to the love and fear, at this point in time, it is paramount to stay in a love state.
This doesn’t mean that we meekly accept our fate.
This doesn’t mean that we do not fight for what is right.
It means that we need to stay, and fight from a place of true power.
I have seen a lot of kind people in my field lately trying to fight those battles whilst using the very weapons used by the people they despise.
Trying to silence people who objected to their tactics by accusing them of tone policing. Good people, with a kind heart, being lead to using bullying techniques.
It doesn’t work like that.
I am in the middle of reading the most fascinating book by Susan Cain. It’s called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. It is a fascinating account of the over emphasis our culture puts on extrovert qualities. The book starts with the story of Rosa Parks, the African American woman who refused to give up her seat in the coloured section of a bus, sparking a revolution. Cain says :
“I had always imagined Rosa Parks as a stately woman with a bold temperament, someone who could easily stand up to a busload of glowering passengers. But when she died in 2005 at the age of ninety-two, the flood of obituaries recalled her as soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. They said she was “timid and shy” but had “the courage of a lion.” They were full of phrases like “radical humility” and “quiet fortitude.”
I really like the idea of quiet fortitude.
I like the idea of a gentle, but strong, grass-roots revolution.
I chose to remind myself that change starts with me.
That showing kindness to my loved ones, and the people in my close and my wider community, can have an impact beyond what I can imagine.
I chose to believe that staying in a loving, centered state, that sending love and gratitude to the difficult people in my life, to hard situations, to the anger and the resentment, has the potential to change the world.
This is where the true power lies.