Hope and Fear

The posts on Aperture of Brahma are simple yet challenging. Consider the latest one here. I will quote and comment on some of the points made.

By holding a mental picture in mind, we gradually but surely draw the thing nearer to us.

So if we focus on fear, rather than a positive vision, this draws the things we fear nearer.

Difficulty and obstacle are necessary for wisdom and spiritual growth.

As a society we are presented with great difficulties in these times. These challenges are encouraging us, individually and collectively, towards wisdom and growth.

We may be of the most service by keeping an open mind. Be interested in the race not the goal; the pursuit not the possession.

Visualization facilitates feeling. Even during difficulty and obstacle, we can maintain a positive mental state by feeling positive. An open mind is a mind without judgement or assumptions.

It is the process of engaging positively with the challenges we face it is important that we do not to rush to judgement or stick to preconceived notions. For example, we should seek to ensure a positive outcome to the ongoing Brexit process – perhaps visualising what would satisfy most people, rather than just sticking to our preconceived notions of the ‘right’ outcome and fears of the ‘wrong’ one (oh dear, this is not easy!).

We do not have to laboriously shovel the darkness out. All that is required is to turn the light on… by adjusting our thoughts/directing our attention to an ideal state. By allowing our thoughts to focus on loss, disease, and disaster, we facilitate the maintenance of self destruction.

Focusing on a positive vision, linked to the good, the beautiful, the true, doing what we can, where we are now. This is the way of hope, as opposed to the self-defeating path of fear.

We can see wisdom in many places. Thank you, Aperture of Brahma.

Picture of light on Grand Canyon from Hopi Point by Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Vision

“Without Vision the People Perish…”

Proverbs 29:18 King James Version

The above quote was one of the inspirations behind our original lectures on Visions of a New Renaissance, and it remains just as important today.

It strikes a particular chord with me having just watched the gripping film Darkest Hour, which portrays Winston Churchill working his way towards the vision that he ultimately expressed to parliament and the British people, inspiring them to resist the Nazi tyranny.

Cassandra Vieten of IONS has published an excellent post Creating an Inspiring Vision for Our Future, which indicates the importance of a vision that will inspire people on the way forward to a better world. She refers to the example of Dr Martin Luther King, whose inspiration continues to motivate people today. Vieten says

In his book “Stride Toward Freedom,” King noted that the outcome of nonviolent resistance was the Beloved Community – not an idealistic utopia free from conflict, but a community ruled by agape which he described as “understanding, redeeming goodwill for all,” or an “overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative.” He said

“It is this type of spirit, and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”

In these divided Brexit / Trump times, how the UK and US need to transform the current deep gloom of the divisive old age into the ‘exuberant gladness of a new age’. How could it be other than a vision based on agape?

Rude and crude

I was taught that being rude is bad mannered and being crude is just not on.

It is rather disheartening to see the appalling standards of much public interaction, to some degree in the UK, moreso in the US, and also on the internet. Yes, Twitter, Facebook and the rest are public spaces.

Unfortunately, it appears that in the political arena, being rude and crude can be a very successful strategy for getting elected. Bring your talk down to the lowest common denominator and a lot of people will vote for you –  a lot won’t, but you only need enough.

Also in the media, being rude and crude can be a successful strategy for selling ‘news’papers.

This is the way to coarsen our societies. The fish rots from the head, the opinion leaders.

True leaders offer hope and vision, point to higher values, rather than trading on invented fears. They listen to alternative viewpoints and respect opponents, rather than attack and insult them.

I’ve been lucky enough to live over 70 years in a civilised UK and Western world. Its very foundation of baseline civility seems under threat.

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Letter to our European friends following the UK’s decision on ‘Brexit’.

I say brothers and sisters because we are. The UK people are the descendants of the many waves of migration from Europe over centuries – Romans, Vikings, Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Normans,… –  so our ancestors are common. We have all fought the good fight over recent centuries against those who would dominate the continent by force.

The European Union is a wonderful dream to bring together the peoples of Europe in peaceful and fruitful cooperation. I am sad that my fellows have decided not to continue with you in such close association. I suspect that as a result you should yourselves reflect on whether the current realisation of the EU is adequate to the purpose, and whether enough regard has been given to the EU’s founding ideals of subsidiarity and democracy – taking decisions at the furthest possible point from the centre. However, that is now a matter for you.

What is needed now is that we all seize the opportunity to create a new form of association between UK and EU so that our continent remains united around our common values. The precedents of Switzerland, Norway and Iceland augur well.

What is not needed is posturing, fear-mongering and any desire to punish. Let’s imagine a central more-integrated Union surrounded by states with common values and varying but lesser levels of integration. We can still form the world’s strongest economic bloc and remain a major influence together, as we address the real impacts that will increasingly hit us related to energy, climate change and related wars, terrorism and economic problems. A looser form of periphery could indeed make it easier to expand the sphere of influence of the Union.

Yes you will be afraid that our French siblings and maybe others will also wish to vote to leave. The way to avoid that is to address the problems that might cause this, not to punish the UK, which of course would effectively be self-punishment. Of course, there must also still be advantages to those in the Union that are not available to those outside. The coming negotiations will stretch the ingenuity of those involved, but will only work if approached in a positive spirit on all sides.

With love and hope…

Featured image by Rob984, via Wikimedia Commons

A decent life

The recent interventions of David Milband and Angeline Jolie Pitt in the debate about refugees are timely and appropriate.

The refugee system across the world is in crisis, at a time when we can expect massive increases in the numbers, due to increasing effects of global warming and related warfare. Chickens are coming home to roost.

As Miliband says,

  • There are currently 60 million displaced persons around the world.
  • The average time someone remains a refugee is 17 years.
  • A total of 80% of refugees have remained without any economic status for over a decade.

As Jolie Pitt says

  • people feel “angry” and “cheated” by the huge numbers crossing borders around the world… eroding public confidence in the ability of institutions in power to deal with the issue.
  • It has created the risk of a race to the bottom, with countries competing to be the toughest in the hope of protecting themselves whatever the cost or challenge to their neighbours and despite their international responsibilities.

It seems a time when political ‘leaders’ lack vision and empathy. Why don’t we give the UN the resources to really get on and solve the problem, before it gets many times worse – and if necessary create ‘new frontiers’ that will provide a good living and employment and education for all refugees. Central Asia has been mentioned, but there must be other possibilities such as greening and solar farming parts of the Sahara.

Is there really a problem of resources? This is the United Nations of the Earth! Try a simple thought experiment. Each central bank, at the same time, ‘creates’ say 1% of its annual money supply (out of thin air) and puts it in an account to be spent by the UN. Since it happened to all currencies at the same time there can be little effect of devaluing one against another.

Maybe not the right answer, but it shows that the problem is one of political will, and is not insoluble. But of course it would depend on a massive parallel effort to keep corruption in check.

Retreating inside the walls of our nation-state-egos [eg Brexit] might make us feel temporarily safe, but is long-term self-defeating in a world that will become increasingly unstable because of this lack of empathy.

Everyone deserves a decent life.

Featured image of Rwandan refugee camp in Zaire by CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons