Crystallised thinking?

“There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all.”
Michel Foucault

Political theories and movements come and go. Similarly, scientific theories and paradigms become obsolete, out of date. The reason is well articulated in a recent Arcane School letter:

“…as the evolutionary process moves on, that which once expressed truth and served as a liberating force, eventually crystallizes.”

So as we search for the way to address the problems of the human world in 2020, we must move beyond the stale answers and prescriptions of the past, notably the neoliberalism that exploits nature to the benefit of those who have, against those who have not, and the scientific materialism that sets us apart from (rather than within) the natural world. And the necessary way is not backwards to the nationalisms and populisms of yesteryear or any perceived historic ‘golden age’.

And soberingly, this applies to our own thinking and habitual ways of seeing things. We each need to see the world anew every day, and treat each situation as it comes, unencumbered by previous patterns.

Sounds a bit like total mindfulness. Keep trying!

Picture of osmium crystals by Alchemist-hp via Wikimedia Commons.

Healing the Heart of Democracy

I was very struck by a recent communication from the Charter for Compassion, which summarised five critical ‘habits of the heart’ to sustaining a democratic society. As I read through them they seemed intuitively right. See what you think:

  1. An understanding that we are all in this together.
  2. An appreciation of the value of “otherness.”
  3. An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
  4. A sense of personal voice and agency.
  5. A capacity to create community.

I consider this in the context of some of the related current symptoms of what needs to change in the West today (same numbering):

  1. Gross inequality. Many live like kings while large numbers struggle to survive.
  2. A fear or rejection of other races, nations or groups of people.
  3. The immediate setting of hard boundaries when there is tension, eg Catalonia today.
  4. The attempt by so-called leaders to suppress people expressing dissent, numerous examples.
  5. The polarised divisions in many leading countries eg USA.

The five habits are detailed more at the website of the Centre for Courage and Renewal, and originate from Parker J. Palmer’s book, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit (2011)

Note that these are habits ‘of the heart’ – it is after all a change of heart that is needed in the majority, starting with me and you. Where else?