"The world seems to like the status quo; it resists change despite what the mystics say about change being the only truth. . . . Sameness is one of the great categories of existence. Look at your own life for evidence. On the one hand, you can recognize all the changes and differences from ten years ago; on the other, you can feel your personality, your nature, your ways are just as they always were. New job, new ideas, new city — everything different; but meet your father or former spouse and you are right where you always were — everything the same.
"What power it takes to move one habit — as AA recovery groups have shown; just as it takes power to move one shovelful of dirt from here to there. Little wonder that power can be most simply defined in terms of work done. Work is so hard, the power required so great because of the resistance factor. And that is why changes are so difficult to achieve and so miraculous when they do occur." (James Hillman, Kinds of Power)
Let’s take a look at the ways we have succumbed to the entrapment of “resistance” and distorted our own compliance to change by sacralising sameness, stability, tradition and habit.
Of course, we all now carry a device with which we had no familiarity, or even anticipation only a couple of decades ago. This keypad, as part of a portable, touch-screen, hard-drive, soft-ware equation of algorithms was not even on the public horizon at the beginning of this century. The camera pointing to the vehicle surround in our cars was mere ‘science fiction’ only a decade ago. The microwave in every kitchen and most offices was unthinkable only a quarter century ago. That channel-sector that eliminates getting out of our tv-chairs was unimaginable only a few decades ago……and yet!
How do we continually, persistently and sometimes tragically cling to our perceptive lenses:
· That we are powerless to influence change in the fortunes of our towns, districts, provinces/states, and nations
· That all politicians serve themselves first, and energize healthy public debates only if and when such activity generates enhanced probabilities of re-election
· That all governments waste more revenues, spending on projects that memorialize their legacy and reputation, without giving thought to enlightened ways of protecting their citizens
· That all corporations spread lies and distortions about the “value” and the benefits of their products, services, and hire armies of high-priced lawyers to protect and defend them when they are exposed to the vulnerabilities that harm, wound, and even kill their customers
· That any and all evidence of shared services, including libraries, hospitals, law enforcement and government services like national health care are red flags warning about the impending avalanche of socialism, or worse, communism.
· That Hollywood and the entertainment industry are agents of forces designed to destroy the social morality and cohesion on which western civilization is founded and grounded
· That those “events” of trauma in our past, buried in our Shadows for decades, are impenetrable and resistant to revisiting and critical examination that transforms them into “experiences” from which we can only learn deep and heretofore secret insights, pointing to an enriched perspective of our identity and purpose…and that those tragedies are “in the past” and need to be “left them” as in “’let sleeping dogs lie”…
· That old people, inside our families and especially as part of a growing demographic are obsolete, insulated from the contemporary trends, and resistant to adapting to the new realities
· That people of different ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds are dangerous, threatening and more seriously, intending to rob “natives” of their legitimate rights, privileges and jobs
· That silos in our professions, in our offices/departments, families, schools churches, hospitals, towns, counties, provinces and nations keep us safe from the prospect of having to incorporate new, best methods and practices, thereby having to relinquish the traditions and parameters of excellence that we have already achieved
· That what happens on the other side of the world is neither of interest or significance to what happens at home
· That recycling, and reframing our habits, our diets and our attitudes to preservation of the environment are all wasted and useless, because nations like China, India, and Russia are and will continue to pollute no matter what we do
· That we want to preserve the history of our towns and villages as they have been for decades or centuries, and outsiders are neither encouraged nor welcomed where we live, because they will only bring change and with it dangers that we are unprepared to confront
· That young people are too dependent on both illicit drugs and now legalized pot, as their way of avoiding all of their responsibilities, and demonstrating their insouciance about their shared duty to protect their own futures as well as that of their children
· That the “old days” were predictable pictures of calm altruism and compassion, as compared with the level of anger, and depression we are experiencing these days
· That the more we learn about how to heal patients suffering deadly diseases, the more those diseases morph into new forms that demonstrate the futility of our pursuit of various cures and healing medication
What if, on the other hand, we were open to thinking differently about how we approach discombobulations, tragedies, interruptions in our normal routines, losses of relationships, jobs, and even life itself….
What if, embedded in each of these painful experiences, lie nuggets so golden and so healing and so prophetic that we ignore the pursuit of their messages at our peril?
What if, rather than medicate each and every irritant, mental anguish, depression and fear and anger, we pause, reflect and learn to “mine” the pain to ascertain what it might be telling us about who we are, and about how we might grow and develop from the excavation?
What if, given the lengthy list of repeated tasks we each face every day, we re-thought each of them, not as drudgery, as boring and de-humanizing but as gift and examples of opportunities of deeper service in the larger cause of making the world a better place, of making the service more enhanced as examples of our discipline, our generosity and our altruism?
What if, given the expectation of insult, pain, offence and mis-representation that we know will inevitably come our way from a variety of sources, we imbued each other person as an agent of the divine, as a spark of inspiration, as a delivery agent of a message we could well benefit from hearing and receiving, as our starting point?
What if, abandoning our expert critical parent judge and competitive need to win and to dominate, we adopted a perspective as supportive ally, and helping friend, and empathic colleague, fully convinced that such a perspective requires discipline, collaboration and new learning…and that our individual and our collective survival were dependent on this new attitude and perspective?
What if, having taken responsibility for our unique tragedies and traumas, through supported re-flection, meditation, and quiet, we put all of the therapists and pharmaceutical industries (for psychic pain) out of business?
Yesterday, Bell Canada sponsored “Let’s Talk” day, encouraging those who have experienced various forms of mental illness to talk openly about how they were impacted by those experiences, how they dealt with them and how they continue to offer models of courage, hope and determination for others in similar distress. We applaud this initiative, and encourage all who are secretly in emotional and mental anguish to talk to a trusted friend, family member or colleague. None of us lives alone, and pain and anguish are not the exceptions we experience in our lives: they are the norm.
It is our pattern, habit and blindness that keep those many “closet doors” closed on our private pain, embarrassment and vulnerability. Pride, unfortunately, locks many of those doors, in the form of the anticipation of inevitable alienation, rejection and abandonment, should we take the difficult step of disclosure. That attitude, perception and belief, however, is at the core of the problem….it is another of those “traps” of belief that we continue to pretend keep us safe, when the precise opposite is true.
And that trap, of our own collective design and adoption, is neither fossilized nor engraved in granite.
It is another of the mental “traps” that impede our getting to know who we really are, and thereby impeding our loved ones from getting to know us.
Is that the kind and degree of secrecy that we can honestly support and foster?