Getting Political—Solving the World’s Problems with a Little Creativity (among other principles)

(This was an an essay over just one document in the course that my prof had written called The Coming Revolution. He truly has a remarkable and thoughtful mind. Also, if you have a couple hours to really consider what it may take for true political change, I recommend watching Mindwalk.  It explains our culture’s tendency toward individualistic thinking which I believe is key to so many of our shortcomings.)

Dr. Hill provided the Model for Social Change which consists of INFORMATION, IMAGINATION, INDUSTRY, and INTEGRITY. So things that get in the way of change are:

  • Lack of INFORMATION (its opposite is IGNORANCE which leads to absolutism, tyranny, and insensitivity based on the tendency to see those about whom we know little as THE OTHER; at the least lack of information leads to inability to see alternatives)
  • Lack of IMAGINATION (the opposite is NARCISSISM; self involvement) Does this imply that personal creativity is tied to overcoming our personal selfishness??? If so, I recommend The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron!
  • Lack of INTEGRITY (the opposite which is CONFORMISM; lack of courage)
  • Lack of INDUSTRY (the opposite of which is QUIETISM; which is devastating to democracy)

Man’s Potential by Michelle

The document titled “The Coming Revolution” lays out a paradigm shift that is taking place within society today. In fact, many people have recognized the possibility of human change. Albert Einstein said that, “The significant problems that we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that we were at when we created them.” This shows a belief in humankind’s ability to transcend one’s thinking in the process improve one’s conditions. With the coming revolution this shift has several principles that may work in unison to solve the difficult problems that we find ourselves faced with.

In the film, Mindwalk, we were thoroughly introduced into a scientific perspective of a shift in the old Cartesian/Newton mechanistic thinking of the last three hundred years that while beneficial and even transcending for much of man’s experience of that time had strong limitations that have permeated society today. This old thinking led people to see everything and everyone as machines with parts that could be dissected and once understood would give the dissector the knowledge of the whole. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle opened a new way of seeing the world. In quantum physics while attempting to see an atom’s parts up close, scientists were not able to look at an electron without disrupting its orbit. This led scientists to see that the experimenter had become part of the experiment. Many scientific ideas were also questioned with the deeper understanding of the atom. They found that much of an atom is made up of empty space. This changed the notion that everything is composed of matter. Now scientists understood that things are interconnected and composed through probability patterns and are interacting with other forces. Bateman asked the question where man ends and his environment begins. The answer is that we are part of our environment and our environment is part of us neither disconnected from the other. This notation in itself brings a person to believe that once we see how we too are interconnected with the earth and life on the earth that it will be more difficult to see other people as them versus us. A mentality that has led to the justification of violence. On the other hand, this new realization should lead us to a new found love and responsibility to see that all are treated justly.

Another principle of the coming revolution is abundance consciousness. In the past, modern man has used scarcity thinking to create an atmosphere of fear. This fear could be that there is only so many resources to go around for the populations of the earth. This has led many to a strong need to compete for those limited resources. Many unequal relationships between people have been set up as some people have used that competition to become stronger and take more and more of the resources discounting the others who do not compete as well as weak and therefore not as deserving of the resources. By contrast, abundance thinking will believe in people’s creativity while affirming that they are good enough to solve the issues that are placed before them. A good example of abundance consciousness was the conversation and mindset of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission talked about in Pumla’s A Human Being Died that Night and the film Long Night’s Journey into Day. While attempting to break a vicious violence cycle in South Africa, Tutu, an African bishop helped transform the structure of justice by integrating two African cultural values into the commission. First, the benefit of mutual trust or reconciliation and second, truth or accountability. The foundation of this commission was a deeper belief in the ability of those who have been wronged to not only receive justice themselves but also gave them the opportunity to forgive their victimizers which in turn would give a certain sense of transcending the acts of violence and changing as well. In order to subscribe to this idea one must truly see both parties as possessing the abilities to change the challenging and horrific events that they had encountered together.

Furthermore in order to see significant social change, Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed shows a shift in teaching through liberation theology. Friere walks the reader through a process of how education can liberate someone who has been oppressed. First he explains how the oppressor and the oppressed both lose their humanity in the vicious cycle of oppression. Fredrick Douglass explained that no slave owner could maintain his humanity while possessing a slave. He talked about how one of his slave holders had been a gentle and kind woman when he first came to live with her. She had even began to teach him the alphabet. He explained that through the process of oppressing him, she became calloused and tainted by the tyranny that she acted on in order to try to keep him ignorant. Friere wanted the reader to understand the difference between the “banking” method of teaching and the “dialogue” method of teaching. Banking stressed the teacher (the subject) being superior to the student in every way and led to an educator pouring his/her ideas into his empty student (the object). The dialogue method of teaching was cooperative, unity liberation, organized, and used cultural synthesis. This was the idea that the teacher had as much to learn as the student and that he must have humility, faith, hope, and this would lead to critical thinking and the freeing of the oppressed one’s mind. The other idea that Friere believed was that the oppressed was the only one with the power to free himself and the oppressor.

In deep democracy, every persons voice would matter and everyone’s voice would be heard. In Nashville’s Warriors, during the march, Diane Nash asked Nashville’s mayor two questions. First she asked him something like this, “Is it right for people to be treated differently solely on the basis of the color of their skin?” and second, “Should then, something be done to end segregation?” At this point in the movie they were transcending the current world view or system that they were both engaged in and had a meeting of the minds at a level were Nash, the symbolic view of the African-American experience of that day was heard. This also showed a great example that nonviolence can work as an alternative when creating social change or a revolution. Gandhi gave excellent examples of pacifism as he taught how organized noncooperation can profoundly influence and change a political system without the bloody revolution that Che’ felt was necessary. The Primer of Pacifism explained that most people prefer nonviolent means but feel that it is an impractical idea. Also that pacifism requires other ideas such as hard work, organization, political savvy, provocative ideas, and etc. In the film, we saw Gandhi stand up as a young lawyer and teach a crowd of many Indians a practical application for how not to allow one’s dignity to be taken from them through pacifism.

In “Seeking the Truth,” Hill explains many principles that will be helpful in this Coming Revolution. As I read this document I thought of how this event coincides with what Covey calls the moving from the “industrial age” into what we now are in the “knowledge worker age” and finally in the future what will be the “wisdom age.” This age would incorporate all of these fundamental principles and attitudes toward all humankind in a way that would transcend the current predicaments that we find ourselves in today through the ability to utilize the full capacity of God’s greatest creation, all of man’s talents and abilities or in turn, his potential for extreme acts of goodness.

I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor? Mother Teresa

Creating Neighborly Exchange–Learning From Our Ancestors.

Living in a time when mind-boggling technology abounds, while we as a virtual community become more connected, our physical communities seem more and more disconnected. Texting, e-mail, Facebook, Pinterest, and online games are just a few pass times that may be filling our need for socialization and human interaction, but is that need truly being met? One doesn’t need to go far to see people who appear to be down-and-out or in distress, but could it be our very neighbor who feels alone–who is suffering? I am not against technology and all of the cool things and connections that it brings, but I am against losing our primal connections—the ones that we can touch, feel, and experience first hand without a virtual screen.

Life Before Internet (BI) and Cell Phones

In the time BI our predecessors rituals were a little different. Some of their practices may be good to try out if only to experiment what it would be like to live in such a time. Who knows, they might actually be practices that you find enjoyable–even useful!

A Beautiful Yard

Making it an aim to do your best to make the outside of your yard a welcoming environment. We were one of those families who bought a cookie-cutter house in a cookie-cutter neighborhood that came without the landscaping put in. It amazed my husband and I that while we worked outside on our yard, neighbors frequently came up to chat and a passerby usually said hello and sometimes stopped to comment on the yard. This is how we came to be on a first name basis with 9 out of 10 neighbors along our street. Even closer friendships developed with at least 5 of those and a deep connection came with one couple who happened to also be our next door neighbor. The great thing about the yard is that it does not need to take a lot of money to do, but mostly takes a lot of elbow grease (hard work). Flowers do not cost a lot of money and most everyone can afford to spend $10 to change annuals with the seasons. If you have a really great neighbor like I do, you may also become the recipient of their plant starts, over growing perennials, and extra bulbs. The universe has a funny way of providing when you get out and start a project in faith.

The Magic of Food

Welcoming a neighbor with a home-baked dish may seem cliche, but truly gives one a chance to meet someone new. How wonderful would that be to get a warm apple pie or plate of cookies while wondering if you and your family are going to fit in your new place of residence? This practice is also fun for doorbell ditching and holidays such as Christmas. People used to and may still bake for their family and find that they had an abundance that could be shared with a neighbor in their thoughts and hearts. This practice has sparked interesting conversations more times than not. I have received delicious cookies and candies that were the recipes of their grandmothers or another relative–a culinary experience that would have been missed without their acquaintance. In fact, another great practice is to make a priority of inviting a neighbor to have a meal together and enjoying their company and bonding in friendship. I have even heard of neighborhoods having block parties where they bring a dish to share.

Passing Items On

BI people used to have what were called yard sales. These were amazing events where people brought all the stuff that they wanted to get rid of outside and put up signs to encourage people to stop in and buy it cheaply. Basically, it got rid of your junk and put a couple dollars in your pocket. This ritual also gives neighbors a free ticket to stop by and strike up a conversation if they haven’t seen you or connected for a while. While they look through your stuff, they also get to know you a little more intimately and may just see something that could be of their own personal use. Yes, yard sales are a lot of work for a little bit of money (in comparison to using eBay or Craigslist), but the social benefits may surprise you. In tough economic times, sharing your items with your neighbors without being intrusive into their finances also keeps valuable resources local and among the people who are close to you. In turn, also making it a point to garage sale shop is another great way to save money purchasing and repurposing items that you may just be needing.

Sharing Your Spare Key

This item may seem a little frightening, but after you have been in the practice of the previous rituals, you may discover neighbors that you can trust as well, and perhaps trust well enough that you can give them an emergency key to your home. This key serves a few purposes. First, if you are ever out of town and need someone to feed your fish or cats, they have a way to get in. And, second, if you have ever been locked out of your house, you may have wished that you had a plan B in place to get to a key. Some of my favorite times were when my neighbor’s girls were young teens. They seemed to lose their key a lot. It was not uncommon to get a knock at the door once in a while asking for their spare key. This allowed their mom and dad to work without worry of having to drop everything and rush home to let their kids in the house. This trust is truly neighbors watching out for neighbors. These kind of neighbors know when you are out of town and  you can trust that they will call you if they see suspicious activity at your home.

These rituals not only build personal social connections, but lead to a better sense of personal security in your home. Getting to know your neighbors can be a blessing when done with propriety. Jump in and try some of these activities and you may just be surprised that our ancestors knew a thing or two! Also, you may just be amazed at the serendipitous events that follow.