Sunday, 10 January 2021

Repeat Patterns

 I drew this picture a long time ago, in the 1990s, as an illustration for a book: "Die Dans van die Brein/The Brain Dance" by Shani Grove


This drawing was for a chapter on how, and why, ordinary individuals lose their self-identity when they join group belief systems. The harmful systems, such as cults and extremist political groups, in particular.

On January 6th 2021, I saw this illustration in action on the TV news when mobs attacked the Capitol Building in the USA. It was a strange feeling. I'd been convinced this would happen for over four years and yet seeing what I had feared happening was still shocking.

I first heard about Donald Trump about five years ago. I guess he was well known to many by then, but I'm not much into paparazzi or reality TV. I had no idea who he was until he exploded into Scottish news with a new golf course he was proposing to build in our county. Within a very short time, he had managed to antagonise a large percentage of Scottish people with his bullying business tactics that eventually revealed him to be a greedy, vindictive, and untrustworthy liar. "What a nasty little man," I thought to myself, and dismissed him.

When he reappeared on the news a while later, as a candidate for the US presidential elections, I was bemused. Did he really think people would vote for a crooked businessman as president? Was he really that much of an egotist? I decided to watch one of his campaign speeches to see.

And my blood ran cold.

I'd seen this scenario played out on old TV news reels, but I never expected to see it live in my own lifetime. No matter how derogatory and hate-based his speech became, the crowds cheered. I don't know how many of Trump's campaign speeches I ended up watching, I just remember the important bits. Like the night he made fun of a disabled reporter and the constant, pounding messages so similar to those that Hitler had used on his own doting fans.

And why did it work then? For the exact same reasons it worked now: because the Germans were desperate for positive change. Germany was reeling from the harsh WWI reparations and the Great Depression. People had no jobs, no money, no hope. They were starving for hope and Hitler fed them the two things needed to fulfil them: a promise of making Germany great again and someone to blame.

Make Germany great again... because it's not your fault, Mr Ordinary-German with your wife and two kids. You are the chosen one. The true people. The higher blood line. You deserve better. You deserve the best. And it was taken from you... by THEM.

THEM.

The disabled, the gays, the lesser races who take your jobs, your women, your country's money and resources. Don't hate yourself. Don't ever take responsibility. Blame THEM and follow me. I will make us great again. 
 
You know, I listed them in that order, because the Nazis used the "final solution" on the disabled and elderly before they moved on to homosexuals, Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses...

THEM.

Let's blame them. Let's rally up our mob mentality and blame THEM: the Hispanic races, the Mexicans, the disabled, the homosexuals, Trans kids wanting to be safe in public toilets, fleeing refugees, Canadians, journalists, women with an opinion, Muslims, the Left, The Democrats... 

THEM.

You know, even as I watched Trump going on about how evil and bad THEY were, even as I felt that ice-cold fear of recognition, I still told myself I was paranoid. And surely people would not vote this man into office? Surely people would see through his egomania and be turned off by his hate-filled prose? But I'd forgotten my book illustration and that chapter on how easily people are sucked into belief systems that seem insane to those watching from the outside.

For the last four years, I've constantly tried to make those in the spiral see that this man they follow is a narcissist. Constantly said "He is dangerous." He is hate-filled. He twists the truth to suit his own agendas and he cares NOTHING for anyone but his own self. He fuels bigotry and fear of anyone different. He makes them the problem; the obstacle that needs to be overcome in order to make everything great again. In doing so, he has even made good people believe bad things. I know families and friends who have turned against each other because of this man's constant messages of hate.

And now, as the world watches the USA reeling like some boxer punch-drunk from too many blows, I'm saying it again. This man has done serious harm and he will continue to be dangerous until you tackle his legacy: the hate. 
 
His leaving the White House will change nothing until people on all sides return to seeing each other clearly, as individuals of the same country, with the same right to respect. If you cannot let go of hating THEM, there will never be a healthy US (play on words intended).

It's up to all of you now, Americans. Left, Right or whatever; all races, genders, religions. YOU are the country and only your strength and compassion can put it back together again.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Blog for Peace 2020 ~ Perfect Vision

When I first sat down to write a post for this year's event... words left me. There was no room for them. All the space inside me was taken up with emotion.

This has been an exceptionally emotional year on a global level. We started with devastating fires in Australia (how we worried for friends and family over there!) and went straight on into Covid19 with its assorted political chaos, worldwide protests and then even more climate disasters. We have been inside a storm, not for days but for months. All of us. Everyone. No one is untouched by this year's events.


Canberra, Orroral Valley, January 28, 2020. New research suggests the recent record-breaking heat in Australia, which is linked to climate change, helped increase the region’s fire risk by at least 30 percent.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/australia-wildfires-climate-change
Nick-D/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

All of this has taken its toll. I'm seeing more angry people than ever before. Because fear makes people angry, it's a natural survival mechanism. Fear makes us feel out of control - rage gives back the feeling of control. Rage helped us fight off the predatory beasts when we were a young species still throwing rocks and sticks.

Anger can be very useful as it gives us the courage to face our demons, but it has to be wielded with calm and a clear mind. Thoughtless anger is chaos. It's the mob burning innocent women as witches and the person refusing to wear a mask during Covid19 because they are secretly, deeply, afraid. Terrified that the virus really exists, so they pretend it's a hoax. Terrified that if it is a hoax some secret and even worse harm is being done to them, such as taking away their personal power and freedoms.

Terrified.

Just as you have to turn and face the wolves on the path, you have to face what you fear. You cannot fix the problem, or slay the demon, without first understanding the fear beneath your anger.

For me, it's been the realisation that I get most angry when I see people being irrational. Why? Because I fear they might do/say things they will regret once they've calmed down enough to see the truth. My rage is based on my fear of them doing terrible harm: to me or to others, to themselves and to their countries or our planet. But to find that truth I had to step back and see with my heart.

What secret fear drives your anger? 

Turn around and face it.

Find the truth in your heart.

Then take that truth and reclaim your power.

The phrase "2020 vision" means to have perfect eyesight; to see with utter clarity. Could there be a better wish for this 2020 year than that? To see clearly, from the heart? 

This is my hope and my prayer...

 

If being separated from each other during Covid19 has only one positive result it should be this: that in being forced apart we finally realised we are all in this together. One planet and one humanity. 

Dona Nobis Pacem... in 2020 vision.




Sunday, 18 October 2020

My Prayer

Dona Nobis Pacem - 2020 Vision

In this year of 2020 vision,
give us the clear sight needed
to see through lies and illusions.
Help us to heal our planet,
our people, our families and our nations.
Allow us to see how all is connected
and everything sacred.
No nation greater, no species of less value,
no race above another.

Give us the wisdom to understand
that anger at injustice
is as much a sacred flame
as love and forgiveness.
Teach us to wield the sword of truth
gently and with honour,
and help us to once again believe
in each other: our beauty, our frailty,
our courage and our compassion.

Grant us the blessing of compassion
for those who would destroy us
through their ignorance or fear.
And when the night seems dark
and endless, remind us
of that small, enduring light named kindness.
Let us carry it forward with us, each of us,
all of us, in every heart.
Dona nobis pacem... grant us peace.

Michelle Frost ~ October 2020



 


Thursday, 15 October 2020

When her Religion is a Problem...

 I saw this on a social media site yesterday...


For non-Americans, these women are both American but of different religious faiths. Both hold offices that give them legal/political power.

In a way, I agree with this picture, because I think ALL religion in politics is dangerous.

Your religious beliefs are your personal moral compass. You thus have no right to ever think you know better what God wants for another and you most certainly NEVER have the right to legally enforce your spiritual beliefs on an entire nation.

BOTH these women would be equally wrong if they use their religions to force others to be like them. Just as BOTH of them are right if they use their religions to live the lives God intended for them.

It's that simple.

Your soul has only ONE person whose opinion matters - the holy spirit of God that speaks to you alone through your heart. You are not there to save others from themselves. You are only there to support them and love them and hope they make the best choices based on their own connection to God.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

A Brave New World

 I saw a great quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg today. She said:

          Fight for the things that you care about,
             but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.

I needed the reminder, because quite often the things we care deeply about may be of no interest, or even be an anathema, to others.

A few months back, I wrote out the things I care about in a reply to someone on Facebook who had requested the chance to debate our different points of view. I have waited over two months now, so I think I can safely say this person never had any intention of discussion. I suspect that they thought I had no clear argument, no way to prove my point of view, and expected it to be over quick and easy.

It seems that sometimes, when you fight for what you care about there will be those that run and hide.

Since I took a fair time to research and write my response, and it is very much about the things I care and fight for, I've decided to share it here. I have removed what he wrote to protect his privacy.

He disagreed with my opinion that Jesus was a feminist. 

Here is some of what I replied:

Jesus really was the first pro-women's rights activist I ever read. He said men would be judged as much for dirty thoughts as for acting on them. He told the men stoning the adulteress that they were only worthy to do so if they were without sin. Admittedly, we now know that Mary Magdalene was not the Prostitute who wept on his feet, but the story of the prostitute is real (just tagged onto Mary M without any actual proof) and had impact on me. I've seen society castigate women more than men when it comes to sex and adultery. Blame that on three years of Catholic schooling with nuns telling me how girls wearing the wrong clothes were evil and harmful to boys. Ugh...

I think it had impact because at the time I was reading those stories I was coming to terms with having moved to live in a misogynistic country. I never considered myself a feminist in my teens or 20s. It was only when I spoke to others about things I saw as perfectly normal that South Africans (and some Americans) told me I was a feminist. But by British standards, I'm pretty average. My Scottish husband was and still is way more feminist than I am. 

Jesus was right - no man has a right to throw the first stone and yet... they still do! Women are still more likely to be seen as sinful for anything related to sex or promiscuity than men are. It also struck home how Jesus included teaching women as well as men (Mary and Martha) and how he chose to show his resurrected self first to Mary Magdalene. A woman.

To go deeper, if we take into consideration the Patriarchal background of Judaism, then Jesus' teaching become even MORE radical and Feminist. He talks in public to strange women, which was almost as much a no no in ancient Judaism as it is in Islamic countries today. He even talks to women who aren't Jewish, like the Samaritan woman at the well. 


Not only that, but in the story of the woman he heals on the Sabbath, he calls her a "daughter of Abraham". That is heresy - there are only SONS of Abraham in Judaism. No daughters are given a title of respect. Jesus did that. He elevated women to an equal footing in Judaism. That is huge. Plus he had women followers. Also highly "not done" in Judaism. He not only taught women, but he had them go with him, same as his disciples. I couldn't remember their names, so I had to look that up.

Luke 8:1-3:
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom several demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.”  

Mark, 15:41 mentions them again: “These women had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him”

I'm going to end this with a wonderful quote by Diarmuid Ó Murchú, that I read a few weeks after I wrote my own thoughts on this topic. It's from The Center for Action and Contemplation

"Of all the Gospel material related to women, none is more enigmatic and empowering than the role of the women in post-Resurrection space . . . I [wrote of] the women on Calvary remaining faithful to the end. For those women, it was anything but an end. Even when the male disciples fled in fear, they remained to await a new frightening dawn that would propel them into a mission transcending all other missionary endeavors recorded in Gospel lore. The early church seemed unprepared for the archetypal breakthrough and proceeded to consign the women to historical invisibility."



Thursday, 10 September 2020

Just add Love

This year has been hard on everyone, an extremely rare thing in the history of mankind. From politics to climate change disasters to a worldwide virus pandemic... no one has been able to avoid stress. And, not surprisingly, a lot of people are struggling.

I was talking to a friend about the way high levels of aggression I'm seeing online lately. It got me thinking about something Gabriel said to me once - how there were no "good" or "bad" emotions, just different ways to deal with them.

Being angry or scared, for whatever reason, isn't in itself a bad thing, but how we deal with that is important. Which is easy to write, but what exactly does it mean? How do we manage to ensure our anger or fear is a positive experience rather than a harmful, negative one?

Gabriel kind of shrugged, as if this should be obvious, and said, "When in doubt... just add love."

Even now I'm still somewhat the sceptic, I was not convinced until I gave it a try. Honestly? It really does work, but it takes a certain mindfulness. For each strong emotional reaction I had that day (and there were many because the political back-stabbing is horrendous at the moment) I had to pause... step back and look at the emotion I was feeling... and add love. And within seconds my stress would ease and my outrage or anger would shrink back to manageable or even vanish altogether.

When life turns you into a lemon, just add love. ;)

Remember the feeling of love in whatever way works for you, and then look again at what is scaring you or making you so angry with that filter of love  between you and your problem. Same with grief, jealousy, hate or any other nasty little emotion that shows up to ruin your day. Add love. I guarantee you'll begin to feel a difference.