Monday, December 5, 2016

Keep a little space open (Harrison Owen): Residents & Presidents

Some days ago I wrote to the OSLIST: 
Hi friends!
Watch this video. A native American confronting and ´anti-illegal´ immigration protester group:
This video reminds me of our opportunity to open space more and more, all the time.
What are you comments and impressions
on the angry mode?

HO answered quickly on the OSLIST:
Needs to be a lot of open space for the anger too. Gets a little messy and loud, but it is all part of the package. But one thing to remember. Never in 30 years of opening space with some truly angry/hostile folks have I ever seen any physical violence. Never. And usually they (whoever they were) ended up hugging each other. Seemed to happen every time. No exceptions. Harrison
Then HO himself started another thread on the recent US elections, interesting views:
"And we can help. Our plottings, plans, and procedures are interesting of course, but perhaps more important is doing what we can to keep a little space open so that Life has room to grow. Who knows what wonder and majesty will emerge all by itself"
Donald Trump Was Not elected by Martians
I experienced the election of Donald Trump as a massive shock. That said, it must be affirmed that he won fair and square – albeit with a little help from an arcane institution: The Electoral College. Curiously, there were several million more people voting for Hillary than Donald. But never mind – he won. And Donald Trump was not elected by Martians.
The Donald’s victory is appalling to me for many reasons, which need not be reiterated. But it is a fact. He won. The Donald is also a recognizable American Type, perhaps more in the mold of The Robber Barons or Al Capone, but definitely, “American.” Actually, he is his own Brand, or so he would have you believe.
More to the point, he was elected by Americans. These Americans are my fellow citizens, a disparate bunch for sure, and some of them are neighbors, relatives, even friends. How could they do this? 
You will not miss the pain and incredulity of my question. However, in the interests of transparency,  I have a confession to make. I am an endangered species, one of a vanishing few: a certified WASP. Skin color, definitely light, Anglo-Saxon for sure, and Protestant of the Episcopalian sort. Old Philadelphian, Socially Registered, all the proper schools. In short: WASP
And I lived in a bubble. It is true that I have traveled the world, living and working on every continent (save Antarctica) – for corporations, governments and very small villages. I have heard much, and seen more – but you never get out of your skin. That bubble goes with you. The election of Donald Trump popped my bubble.  I have to thank him for that. 
The revelation experienced has little to do with a sudden perception of the issues involved. Some of those issues were less familiar, but few were strangers. Indeed, I seem to have worked with them all. What I missed (or miss-gauged) was more fundamental: Fear. Deep, existential Fear. The Germans would say Angst.
The source of all this anxiety? I suspect the culprit is none other than Change. Deep, radical Change... with no end in sight. All 7.5+ billion of us are in the midst of a transformative moment. Every organization, institution, or social structure worldwide is being pushed to the edge of breaking –  and beyond. The Pillars of the Earth, the central structures, the things we count on.... are on shaking ground. It is all called CHANGE with a very capitol C. Terrifying – if you stop to think about it. 
Remarking that the world is changing has become a tattered cliché. And curiously, on the American political scene, a leading theme is the need for CHANGE! Both Obama (“Change you can believe in”) and Trump played that card. We seem to be asking for more of our most frightening nightmare.The insanity of this paradox resolves once the nature of our desired change is specified. More often than not, the hoped for Change is, “Back to the good old days.” That could be days as they actually were, or more usually, days as we might wish them to have been. The “American Dream” being a good example.
That there is The Dream is a fact, and it has had the beneficial effect of pushing and sucking us along. But suggesting that The Dream represents an assured reality, guaranteed for life, is a cruel hoax perpetrated by naive dreamers and frauds alike, but for differing reasons. The net effect, however, is the same: Massive disillusion, anger and ultimately –  Fear. The world we expected, the world we were “promised”  is never going to happen. It could be something better, maybe something different – but definitely not “as promised.”
You can see the pickle we have created for ourselves. How we got here is the core of the present debate. The virtually universal response is, Somebody did something wrong, followed quickly by strong condemnation, all combined with multiple “sure-fire” fixes. Somewhere there must be The Plan, The Leader, or best of all, The Leader with The Plan... 
In case you hadn’t noticed, we are still waiting... Then again, perhaps we are looking at things in the wrong way?
What we take to be error, chaos and confusion, the ending and dissolution of life... may be quite different. What we are experiencing could be a critical aspect of life’s ongoing, natural process. Like crustaceans (crabs, for example), we create a comfortable shelter (shells) in which we happily grow. I might also say, bubble. We are protected until that inevitable day when we are just too much “crab” for our accommodations. A serious choice has to be made. Shed the shell or die! Of course, shedding the shell makes one totally vulnerable to any passing critter searching for a tender, tasty meal. Terrifying!
Following this analogy, we have created many shells called “Political Systems,” “Scientific Theories,” “Social Mores,” “Cultures” – each one providing a momentary safe space for a few lucky inhabitants. We have done this again and again, in parallel and sequentially. For better than a million years, we as a species (Homo sapiens), have evolved – engaging, surpassing, and on occasion, eliminating, our cousins (Homo whatever), and other fellow travelers on Planet Earth. As a species, we have done quite well (so far), albeit with some collateral damage. 
For those protected by new and emerging “shells,” this is known as Progress. For all other creatures, there are different names. The weakest version may be “Change,” but stronger varieties include: pain, deceit, catastrophe, calamity. Viewed from the point of view of the evolution of our species, we simply couldn’t be what we are, had we not been what we’ve been, and overall we haven’t done that badly. Other species will take a less charitable view.
Simply put – our present, evolved position is a direct result of our moving from shell to shell (bubble to bubble).  For all those questioning the positive nature of this evolution, I suggest an immediate re-location in any handy cave – presuming you find one unoccupied by a Saber-tooth or other nasty creature.
Now to the point: The Donald represents another Shell/Bubble. Not a very good one, I submit, but never the less, a covering space for those who think, hope, believe –  that he can somehow give them shelter in the storm. As with pudding, the test will be in the eating. Should the shell prove effective, it will last for whatever time. Then it too will pass.
There are those who hope and expect the Trumpian Shell to endure. Adolph Schicklgruber was promising a 1000 years, but fortunately life moved on and change came sooner. How long we will be stuck with The Donald is anybody’s guess. In the mean time, we might just as well get on with life – for surely life is getting on with us. As usual. 

And we can help. Our plottings, plans, and procedures are interesting of course, but perhaps more important is doing what we can to keep a little space open so that Life has room to grow. Who knows what wonder and majesty will emerge all by itself.

Love, laugh, live ;-)!


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