“As it’s a weird form of vanity and narcissism to think you can personally decree what is or isn’t significance within this vastly complicated and mysterious universe..”
If I square up my personal wish and longing for a better and more loving world against the reality of how injustice and difficult it is for so many, it is hard not to feel anything but despondence on a good day and despair on a bad day. As the odds appear so highly stacked against things getting better. As those who have it worst, have little or no power and those who have the power, either don’t care or actively making it worse .
In particular it’s the case if I frame this problem as a “war” or “fight”, an “us vs them” type struggle. How is it, with the world as it is today, myself and those who feel the same as me, are needing to arrest power from the“baddies” somehow, who happen to have all the power and a monopoly on violence and put that power into the hands of the “goodies”. As from certain view, that’s what’s required one way or another. Given how much power and control is held within the hands of the few, wielding in subtle and not so subtle forms over the many, this just looks logically thing will get worse not better.
So I can be left with this dual feeling of we are pointlessly fighting a battle we can never win, with the price being the potential annihilation of the human civilisation (escalating man made climate change) or we cynically give up, just concede and make the most of the life we have, all the while feeling guiltly about that fact. These two positions I find myself feeling on a daily basis or a diluted version of these, vacillating back and forth depending on my mood. As I can’t let go and in many ways and I don’t want to let go, of that part of me that wants the world to be a better place. Yet also can’t pretend that things aren’t the way they are.
Then another conflict rages within me about what it means to make a contribution to making a difference, independent of its outcome. As despite what may be considered being realistic, there is this strong feeling and this deep longing to break free from my armchair activism and really get out there and make a difference .Yet I am unable, due to a mixture of practicalities and excuses. As I am bound by daily stuff like paying bills, mortgage, keeping income going, looking after my kids, contributing to my marriage ect… As well dealing with my own personal demons, habits and inner conflicts. Yet when I examine that voice in my head that says “You should be doing more to make a difference” I see how it is a devaluing of what I do now. That I have defined making a “real” contribution looks like someone working for “Amnesty” or a journalist uncovering a corrupt government. Of course all of the things I am “not doing”. So within that paradigm, I am defining making a difference by a very narrow, almost cliché way.
As how do I remain working within the parameters of my current life, while at the same time honour and remain true to the calling within me to contribute to making the world a better place? The answer I think lies within a third way, outside of that “either or” choice, outside of that orthodox framework of victory or defeat. It reminds me of time when my daughters were at the aged 3 and 4 and started to talk about the best way to deal with an evil dragon. The eldest was proposing using a mixture of swords and magic, confident that she would slay this vile dragon and my youngest looked ponderous and approached it from another angle. She said something along the lines of “ I wouldn’t kill it, I would try make it my friend, as he is probably mean because he is sad and on his own” despite being a very cute and adorable thing to say, she instinctually approached in from another angle, it wasn’t in her mind a case of kill it or be killed, or run away or fight, there were other options and choices available.
When it comes to a vision for a better future a view that gives me some hope and some inspiration is the letting register the deep and profound implications of how interconnected we all. Combined with this is seeing the world in more pantheistic frame. This means understanding of nature being a living, sentient being, just like you and I. Like many indigenous cultures that view trees as living beings, that the moon is alive and intelligent and our relationship to the beings we share this universe with is of paramount importance.
Pantheism sees that nature is not something we reside in, like a global house, it is something we are from, we are it. We already know with an eco-system that the smallest imbalance , be it how plankton grows or how bees pollinate, have far reaching impacts on things that appear, on the surface, to be unrelated or disconnected to the action the bee or plankton take. So the understanding of inter-connectedness and an alive and sentient universe sets up a framework that radically changes how we see ourselves and the nature of what it is to make a difference.
When we take that view as a given, then it also brings us to the awareness that each person is significant, important and living point of awareness within that system. That each person is intimately connected and contributing to “all that is”, in a manner that is unbreakable, whether they like it or not. Our contribution is something we have no choice about, all we can choose is some part of the how and what. This means what we do today, how we care for our children, how we love our partners, how we interact with the person at the cashier when we are shopping, how see and care for ourselves, the creative expression of who we are. All these things matter, maybe more than any of us are aware.
Thinking this way helps me break free from the back and forth from hope or despair, victory or defeat. Rather acknowledging that for every wondrous act, every amazing invention or discovery , every awe inspiring work of art , that every single thing that has been of value and significant from a societal point of view,had behind it maybe a loving mother, who in turn was loved. A kind father, a mentor of that famous artists mentor. There are inexorable chain of links and interlinks, cascading across time and space that brought every one of these noteworthy things into existence. That for every famous inventor, artist, scientist, poet and pioneer, there are hundreds of acts of kindness, moment of inspiration and even hurt, sorrow and pain, that pass down, crisscross and ultimately end up bringing into life these things. Therefore we can’t demean and judge the value of what is before us, as its outcome is unknowable and unfathomable. What we do know is the more loving I am , the more present I am, the more honest I am, the more kind I am, the more self-accepting and caring I am, then whatever that impact or whatever the nature of that ripple is, it will only encourage and support more of the same.
An other way to see it..
Its very easy to forget and take or granted how technologically advanced we have become, so much so that a person transported from 2000 B.C would see planes flying in the sky ,smart phones and many other things as magic and miracles. You could also imagine that certain things would just be hard to grasp and actually fathom. Not that I think the better world and future will come from advanced technology, rather it just illustrates the answer to the world problems may come from something we are yet to fathom or take hold of in our mind.
So I still work with what’s in front of me, I my write articles, I still try put some vision to voice, I will still work to actively contribute to less co2 emission, in whatever way I can but I do so knowing that it may not be that which is the thing that I was put on the earth to do, that it’s maybe the things I don’t think are that important, are in fact what’s most important. This mean every relationship needs to be cherished and every moment appreciated, as we live from an awareness that all of what I do weaves a critical thread in this enigmatic web of life.
This isn’t me waiting for some magic machine to fix the world’s problems or twiddling my thumbs as I anticipate a time machine being invented. Rather it is just settling my anxiety with the awareness that maybe the answer aren’t with us right now. That all we know, is maybe a tiny fraction of all we will know and who we have become as people, maybe an even tinier fraction of who we will become as people. That I truly have no right or place to judge others or myself for not doing enough or doing too little. As it’s a weird form of vanity and narcissism to think you can personally decree what is or isn’t significance within this vastly complicated and mysterious universe That living in the weird cosmic roulette wheel of life, I truly have no idea given of the inter-reverberating and outwardly rippling universe of the how my actions will pass through time and 6 degrees of separation that binds us all. That being the case all I have domain and true influence in is my own immediate world, my wife, my kids, my family and friends, my community, my blog and how and what I contribute to in this world.
So I guess there just some part of me that needs to feel and know that I can respond to how shit it is for so many, how bad our global home is being treated ,without feeling false hope or cynical despair. For me the only path that dissolve those two point where a better world is conceivable , is a path that steps away from my conventional and orthodox way of seeing the world and steps into path that is mystical, connected, paradoxical, mysterious and sentient.
To say it starts and stops here, with the person I choose to be, the love I choose to live by, the pain I choose to face, the life I choose to lead, it’s kind of mundane and not that exciting but really does matter. That it isn’t the easy option, it’s not the “let get excited and change the world” option, but I am coming to believe, in the end it’s the only options that counts.
UPDATE: November 13th 2015: I have been taking break from covering some of the more heavy subjects and focusing solely on satire.
I have no doubt I’ll come back to the serious but feel the need to be a bit more playful, silly and of course scathing on those worthy of it.
I am taking shots at inane articles you see on relationship advice, looking at absurdstories in the news, highlighting the opinion of people I would consider morons and just getting stuff off my chest like I do here.
So please check it out and see what you think.
2 thoughts on “Why my life matters and so does yours: Redefining what it is to make a difference in the world.”
Ewan – that was lovely, thank you. It summed up exactly what I feel; the sense of hopelessness and helplessness at the iniquities dished out by powerful and corrupt people can be overwhelming unless we realise the same capacity for evil within ourselves. You’re right to say that the most effective thing we can do as individuals is to raise the quality of our own consciousness and improve the way we conduct our own relationships and interactions on a daily basis. It’s the ripple effect isn’t it? That work – like charity – begins at home. All good wishes and power to your elbow. Rose
Wow, this paragraph is nice, my sister is analyzing such things, thus
I am going to let know her.