Making Sense of Confusing Landscapes

“Back on Minbar there was a saying among the other Rangers … the only way to get a straight answer out of Ranger One is to look at every reply in a mirror while hanging upside down from the ceiling.”

“Did it work?”

“Oddly enough … yes. Either that or you passed out and had a vision. Either way the result was pretty much the same.”

Marcus Cole to John Sheridan in Babylon 5: War Without End, Part One
Quote Copyright © J. Michael Straczynski

Every so often, the universe brings us experiences that just don’t make any sense; there seems no rhyme nor reason for them to be. The universe also has this annoying habit of bringing not one but many challenges all at the same time or in close proximity, but more often, over several months. They seem to add exponentially to our sense of confusion.

We get thrown pieces of the puzzle but rarely do the individual fragments provide any clarity of the bigger picture that is gradually forming. As another piece falls into our consciousness we may think we see what’s coming but even the smallest of fragments can upset our initial assessment sending us on a goose chase of monumental proportions.

Many challenges will be contradictory asking us to choose the least worse path which, at times, is nigh on impossible. All challenges will push us to think and feel differently about ourselves and those around us inhabiting that same universe; that is, if we can channel the pressure in the right direction, at the right people, while taking care not to get too overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks ahead. Sometimes, it all feels just too much, pushing us to crumble like a paper bag.

There are numerous landscapes to record and chart. Many we will decide are far too painfully torturous and emotionally mountainous to be navigated. But, in order to find out who we really are, we must travel ALL landscapes becoming map makers of our own life, being and soul. We must become a cartographer on a journey to discover new lands and new paths. Inside us, our inner landscapes are not new landscapes but simply routes and places we chose to hide in dark corners decades before, hoping a passing light doesn’t bring our attention to them.

It is these in-house panoramas that provide the most challenges as they are set out in strata of belief and dogma, opinion and judgement, formed over a lifetime of interaction with the world and idiosyncratic people with unknown agendas. These panoramas are less travelled simply because they are hidden. How can we form passageways through to these vistas if we are unaware they exist?

The external landscapes are the world we see, the religious and political climates, the people we meet, the experiences we encounter and the challenges that come galloping in our direction. The chaos we see around us in our country and in many societies around the globe stretches the boundaries of what we see as our safety zone, our comforting, cushioning place of protection. What is it we are truly trying to protect? Our safety zone is fashioned from our beliefs and our way of life, and our biggest fear is losing this zone, of seeing our foundation dissolve beneath us. It is this fear that drives us, controls us, motivates us to be callous, and sometimes, do unspeakable things to other people.

We look on in stunned silence at the changes being wrought in the United States, of the American Christian religious groups being given freedom to discriminate against those they hate and despise, of walls being built as barriers both metaphorical and literal against populations considered unworthy. There is the exponential rise of grey haired, white skinned, very rich men dictating what must be in their world to make them feel safe and secure in their ivory towers. Their freedom to be themselves comes at a huge cost and that cost is the freedom of others to be themselves and their increased suffering of being the targets of venom.

We look on in stunned silence at the changes being wrought in the United Kingdom, of the folds in society tearing apart thus destroying connections between people. Communities are set one against another based on differences in faith and/or perceived worthiness to be part of British society. With the rise in health and benefit costs, some choose to direct their toxic opinions at those they deem unworthy to receive such assistance. There appears to be no opposition to the Government’s ideological beliefs and principles. There is a reason for this, though not one you would expect. Let me explain.

A lot of people around the world say they would like change, that they would like to see a more compassionate society, that governments would take responsibility for the lack of housing, the lack of hospital beds, the lack of funds for care in the community, the perception of the rich becoming richer whilst the poor become less able to care for themselves, existing instead of thriving. And don’t forget the many scapegoats being pointed at by certain factions who have hidden and not so hidden agendas.

Change in and of the world is required, is a must, but it cannot be just the few who change; we all must. We all say we would like change but we always ask this of others; rarely do we consider we need to change. We ask others to change so we don’t have to so our world, the one we see is less bumpy and less challenging to our beliefs. We feel so much safer if our comforting cushion agrees with us and supports our beliefs and philosophy rather than deflating beneath us forcing us to look at what is actually there instead of our rose tinted view.

People these days ask for, must have, soundbite answers through emails, texts and social media, simple solutions and clues as to why their world is in such chaos and turmoil. These answers are never simple as they require a personal commitment to other people and perhaps more importantly, to oneself. It requires a deep understanding of the inverted picture in the mirror, to see it form out of the fog of confusion. It requires conversation, a willingness to listen, and a readiness to travel those internal landscapes to become open, honest and authentic.

As the bigger picture forms, we have to, must, step back to view the symbolism from a great distance. We can only do this by becoming aware of ourselves, fully conversant with how we function as an individual; our modus operandi. How many of us are willing to put in the effort to face those outdated and flawed beliefs that will eventually cause our own destruction?

I often read science fiction novels set in dystopian futures but always wondered how such dictatorial societies could arise without resistance to their formation. Surely, people would see the signs, see the tell-tale indicators of the approaching peril. It seems not. And we continue to make the same mistakes, generation after generation, allowing the media, religion and politics to use their power to influence outcomes strictly for their benefit and to the detriment of the people they profess to serve. We are currently a razor’s edge away from that dystopian society. It may be an exaggeration, but maybe not, that we run the risk of repeating the events in Germany during the 1930s.

I am not really a political animal but the experiences of the past few months have given me a different insight, a bigger picture that explains, at least to me, the reasons for the chaos. I simply looked in a mirror while hanging upside down from the ceiling, metaphorically speaking.

In the book ‘A Way of Seeing’, I wrote:

“We journey until the pain of where we are exceeds the pain of the unknown should we break the shell of the chrysalis. It is only at this point that we jump into the unknown because this becomes more appealing than remaining where we are.”

This means that we first have to reach an extraordinary level of emotional pain before we choose to look within ourselves rather than continuing to blame others for our circumstance. We must meet an experience which forces us to look within rather than without, discovering the answers littering our internal landscape instead of constantly asking the world to spin on our axis.

With the macro a reflection of the micro, and vice versa, society must operate in a similar way since society is fashioned of individuals. Thus, society must be in an extraordinary level of emotional pain before it will act in concert to change what is obviously not working, and what opposes all that describes a compassionate community.

So, what is the image you see in the mirror while hanging upside down from the ceiling?

In the UK, the Conservative Government is in the throes of creating a society where those who already have enough will get more and those who have little will get even less. There is enough money, enough financial support for all who need it but not the will to provide it as it doesn’t fit their philosophical, political and ideological beliefs. Although the Conservatives may not be driven to intentionally hurt people, their actions have this effect. The Labour Party is currently very weak and cannot present a good opposition to the Conservative Government.

The result is that we are in an environment, a world, where we start to feel the intense pain and pressure and struggle of living our lives instead of thriving, existing instead of flourishing. Once this feeling becomes acute, we will start to see that that way no longer works so strive to change it. If the Labour Party were too strong in their opposition, the time to bring the Government to task would be extended too far into the future. We need to feel the pain much earlier and so we can act quicker to bring the transformation needed. The Phoenix only ever burns that which no longer serves.

This effect is reflected in the United States with Donald Trump. Someone has to show America, and the world, the consequences of travelling the wrong path. He is doing such a fantastic job.

Einstein said that:

“A problem cannot be solved at the level of consciousness that created it.”

Thus we have to raise our consciousness to another level, to become more aware of ourselves as individuals, our thoughts, feelings and emotions, our beliefs, but also as a society where the tide moves as one transforming paradigms no longer fit for purpose. And this will mean changing our beliefs; on every level. Compassion is required rather than judgement, communication rather than conflict, understanding rather than ignorance.

Society is made of individuals so the transformation has to start with individuals; from within.

Are you ready for the silent revolution?