Feeling our love and pain: Our greatest act of civil disobedience
By E.F Nicholson
This article was inspired by my first experience with the Amazonian plant medicine ayahuasca. It was my attempt at least, to translate that experience that transcends words into some coherent understanding as to how we try go about making the world a better place. This theme evolved into this second article “How hallucinogens can help create a different type of progressive movement” that explores those questions in a little more detail. As I believe this type of medicine can not only help us heal our personal wounds but it brings about a transformation in those larger collective wounds we are linked into.
I know I have penchant for leaning towards a more depressing view of the world at large and the future that seems to be waiting for us. How can you not, reading the state of climate change, inequality, social injustice ect.. I think you would have to be a kind of emotional robot, to know all that and feel nothing. Yet at the same time that feeling within me, it’s not a feeling or perspective that exists independent of anything else. I also look around at the world and my own immediate life and I see an immense amount of beauty and loving kindness. When I let that in, the feeling of what extraordinary beauty and dignity exists within this world, despite all the shitty stuff people have to endure, it always feels it occupies wider or bigger place within the my universe. The love in my own heart and the hearts of most in this world, both contains the despair and pain, yet simultaneously transcends it.
In the world of political activism and environmentalism words like love, beauty and kindness are not by and large part of the dialogue or the language of social change. Instead we have unity, mobilisation, democracy, dissent, civil disobedience ect.. The love we feel in our hearts for the world, humanity, our children and families seems irrelevant to these wider global issues of such great economic and political magnitude. Yet instead of being considered just “romantic lofty sentiments”, the love we feel should in fact being our starting point in each of own individual lives and be the collective focus of how our society operates and functions. The awareness of how connected, interdependent and loving the ground of reality that we reside in, happens to be the very thing missing in how the world is governed and organised.
We already have what’s missing
It’s often the very same thing that is missing many of our own lives, as we get drawn into the illusion that our status, income and level of consumption is somehow of great importance. We can easily get locked in a cognitive dissidence, of what we know and feel in our hearts against the shallow message of individualism and consumption we are bombarded by in our modern media culture. We can be deeply wounded individuals caught in social feedback loop that links into a larger collective wound and social sense of feeling disenfranchised and alienated. We have then very powerful economic forces to encourage us to supress, numb and bind us. This is to both personal and cultural wounds we are impacted by. From illegal and legal drugs, television, food ect.. on the personal level, to debt slavery, meaningless work, social coercion, nature dislocation and lack of community bonds ect.. on societal level. We are encouraged to not think and most critically not to feel, what is really within us. As result we avoid a very painful pain, but we also miss out what lies beneath that pain, which ia a pervading and all-encompassing love and compassion. Experiencing this can that awaken us to how powerful we really are and unite us to a hope that is based on something profound and meaningful
The love I speak of isn’t the love of romantic comedies, it’s the love Rumi the mystic spoke of. It’s the love Christ preached about. It’s the “I would die for my kids” love any parent feels for their child. It’s the love that compels strangers to help out others in need, for no reason other than it feels it’s right thing to do. It’s dignified, authentic and ultimately a love of great beauty, that I think we need to celebrate and make at the forefront of any kind of social change. Its starts here in my own heart and my mind, as it will for all of us. As it is anything but lofty or non-practical, quite the opposite. Connecting to that prevailing and all pervasive love is the most socially radical and dissenting act we will ever make. As do so goes against the prevailing message we have drilled by the majority of the societal and culture value systems we are exposed to.
As I take that love of I have for my two daughters and project that towards all the children in the world and each person did that, then the tolerable comes the intolerable. That sense of “I would move mountain to ensure my own children’s safety, love and care” becomes a collective will to move whatever mountains required to relieve the suffering of the innocent across all of the world.
Don’t turn away…
The image on the left of is of Omar, an eleven months old baby boy who was murdered in a bomb blast. He is being carried by his father Jihad Masharawi, a local BBC cameraman in Gaza during one of Israel’s horrific assaults on the region. The pain on his face, the immense grief and loss of his poor baby boy dying for absolutely no reason, it’s so senseless, inhuman and just utterly tragic. We should be able to feel his grief, to empathise, to be outraged and to shed tears of his loss and to honour how much he loved his son. Just as we love our own daughters, sons, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends. Let’s not avert out our eyes, turn away and ignore. Yet how do we feel his pain if we can’t feel our own? How can we feel his love if we don’t feel own? I think if most people, if asked what matter most in their lives they would say the love they have for those close to them, be they atheist or devoutly religious. That love and that pain is our common human bond. Lets feel both our love and pain, as well as the love and pain of others. Lets that direct how we attempt to make this fucked up world, heading for ecocide , rife with injustice and wrong doing, a better and more noble place for all.