To some extent, I believe that the way we think and feel about the world has a direct effect on our immediate environment, the people we meet and interact with, cycles of projections of our thoughts and actions out into the world and the receiving and internal processing of what thoughts and actions come back. Perhaps it is my attachment to the political that keeps me open to the almost continual stream of negative media that seems to flood into my consciousness every time I switch on this computer. Perhaps this incessant political discussion presents a distorted picture of the actual world and its many different experiences.
For so many people, the political world is not something they have direct experience of, so they tend to leave it be, not feeling they can have any measurable effect on what goes on. I kind of envy those who can do this, who also recognise how it is important to look after one’s state of mind and emotions, and that it is only beneficial to give an opinion on that which one can directly affect. But I can’t pretend that the injustices I read about are not going on. And I can’t pretend that it doesn’t affect me or that our seeming collective indifference or inability to address these injustices are not a source of disappointment and sometimes anger.
I live in a country and in a time that offers so much in the way of progressive ideas, a society filled with people from so many different cultural backgrounds and belief systems, connected physically and virtually in a way that has not happened before in world history. In many ways, there is so much to be grateful for, to live in such a place in such a time, which seems to me evolving in self-perception and in the technological contributions to a planet encountering the effects of a growing number of energy intensive beings – us.
But I don’t believe that change will come about just by positive or wishful thinking. Equally, I don’t believe that me simply being aware of the many injustices that seem to be happening in the world right now as a direct result of decisions taken by governments we supposedly elect, is creating that reality. I believe it is reasonable to state that that reality exists, whether I choose to notice it or not. The anger I feel at the injustices is my own anger, yes, and I am responsible for how I use that anger. It has many roots, it is connected with what I have experienced about the world and how I have reacted to it. But that does not negate the legitimacy of that anger. War is real, torture is real, environmental degradation is real. I can maybe turn away from the news, look at my emotions more deeply, nurture myself, look after my state of mind, spread some positivity and love to whoever else might be finding life a bit of a struggle in whatever immediate way I can. Living in Glastonbury, I can be closer to the here and now, beyond the incessant noise of the urban environment and, among the many strands of alternative belief systems in this ancient market town with its spiritual roots, find my own connection to nature, which is so accessible here.
But eventually, whether online or in person, I am presented with the a view of the world which is political, which for me is about connecting with community using both the intellect and the emotions, and finding a way to speak from my heart and mind what I feel and wish to say. That will create, and has created, tension with others, online and in the physical world that has sometimes broken out into hostility. But, in the wider scheme of things, that is so miniscule compared to what others have had to face and face today for speaking out. And yet, in the midst of all the terrible tragedies and injustices, so many acts of kindness, even in the face of the recent brutal terrorist attacks, remind us that we are at root social beings, that many of us enjoy being in company, and that we also can create communities where those who wish for silence and solitude can have the space for that too. Art and verbal expression can be bridges between people of differing viewpoints, who at the root all share a common humanity. I’d rather focus on using my expression to bring people together rather than to divide.
But as long as I see what I perceive as injustice, as long as I feel a voice inside burning to be expressed, I must also honour that calling, no matter what others may think of me or say to me. I find, as much as I criticise, that I find receiving criticism difficult, so it is rarely easy for me to express myself. So do I just back out, keep quiet, or do I let it all flow? I cannot fully express my gratitude and joy at this undoubtedly privileged life I lead right now, unless I have also expressed my sadness and anger at the injustices I perceive, whether in my immediate environment, or out in the world. I have my words and my self-expression. Many do not even have that. So I commit to expressing what I can, when I can, about the world I see and resolve to be prepared to face the consequences. And if it all becomes to much to bear, I also commit to breaking away from the incessant chatter to find some peace among those I am close to, and to seek solitude where it is required, to replenish me to enter the fray once again.