Social Change Originates from Within

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The nature of a polarity depends upon its magnetic counterpart. North and south poles sustain our planet because they react when presented with each other, and the dynamism of life emerges. In human relationships, we see this as we relate with others. A spectrum is created, including everything from acts of service to tensions driving behaviors of violence. Within each isolated pole, we see the essence of extremism clearly presented through its contrasting partner. 

How does this relate to what it means to have an identity? When I carry unresolved trauma, I don’t feel connected to myself and I am not aware of my innate worth as a human. Therefore I build an identity based upon something external because I am not generating a distinct expression from within. To find this source, I can feel into the wholeness of who I am as a human, which includes opening to deep experiences of pain, grief, joy, and the unknown. Awareness, incentive, and community support are also essential. 

Until I find this source, when I navigate through the world my reactions become oppositional by nature because I have a subconscious need to reveal who I am through being presented against something else. 

So I oppose. I resist. I rebel. I seek to prove who I am by showing the world what I am not. When interwoven with unresolved trauma or disowned worth, this opposition builds a clarification of how I identify. As I continue to know who I am through this construct, I feel the need to defend it if I feel threatened. I only know who I think I am through a construct, whether it’s a far-right or far-left extremist, or even through my skin color or gender. 

Personally, I grew up taking on the role of a woman in society. Am I oppressed by men because I am a woman? When I peel back the layers and understand the ways in which I subconsciously give my authentic power away, or make myself inferior, I discern a pattern around certain, often charismatic, men. The more I come to realize how much I interpret they “get away with,” the more anger brews in my body and I feel a primal desire to put that blame onto the archetype of men. “Us vs. Them” narratives contribute to generating an enemy out of the concept of a patriarchy. 

Other cultural identities such as race, ethnicity, religious belief, politics, nationality, similarly present the concept of the oppressor emerging from within, assuming the “other” is to blame for my reaction to what I experience. An underlying illogical belief system emerges: if I eliminate them, then I am okay. Now I have a purpose, a mission, and often a group to rally with in camaraderie and protection. Collectivized victimhood creates collectivized oppressors. And vice-versa.

Whether this manifests as violent extremism or seeking to eliminate extremism, the method of opposition becomes an aspect of the perpetuation of the cycle. In this contradiction, how does opposition enable the very thing it seeks to eliminate? 

Perhaps through attention and focus.

That nature of opposition exposes a duality, or in other words, a divide. As expressed in polarity, each part of the divide needs the other part to exist. For example, in order to know peace, we must each have an awareness of what is not peace. 

We derive clarity through contrast. Positioning oneself as “against” something else is empowering a part of the contrast upon which the entire cycle depends. To more effectively contribute to a world of peace, we can instead put our attention upon living the peacefulness we seek to experience rather than contributing to an antithesis mode of operation. 

Why can’t we do that? Until we’ve built the capacity to understand unresolved traumas, reckon with pain we may be unwilling to feel, and own our inherent worth, we cannot begin to deconstruct our externalized identity to which we so preciously cling. Once we open to this healing and step into our wholeness, we will no longer need to seek validation and identity through constructs outside ourselves. We will also begin to see the disowned pain driving the behaviors of others, allowing us to offer empathy instead of judgement.

Resisting extremism perpetuates it. The very nature of fighting something is the hypocritical counterpart, providing a form of extremism itself. 

I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there. Mother Teresa

In my personal example with gender, whether I am or not oppressed by men becomes less the focus; rather the focus becomes the brilliant revelation that I now know and see that I am not owning my own worth and wholeness, allowing me to step into that wholeness. My energy is then directed towards deeply understanding and uncovering how I have been subconsciously giving my power away and how I might be contributing to the dynamic by somehow being overly identified as a woman. These revelations are challenging to reckon with because they imply that I am responsible in some way for my oppression, my own victimization. Yet, there’s truth in that self-discovery. On my journey I found leaning into community support enabled me to derive the safety and acceptance that allowed me to feel unprecedented amounts of pain. I was able to recognize how socialized identities manifested as trauma was something I could access in my body. This allowed me the capacity to feel without projecting onto others as a source. 

This doesn’t mean men, or anyone, should be able to behave however they want without repercussion. Rather it allowed me to stand in my centered, aware wholeness and also to communicate the impact. The more I am able to take responsibility for my own creations of victimhood, the more deeply I feel interdependence with the world of cause and effect, and the more I can build the capacity to communicate. This approach allows for the entire dynamic to be brought into light without the need to generate and perpetuate a predator/prey model. From this place I find liberation.

There are times when we need to stand up for boundaries. There are situations in which people have too much control, hurt others, and need to be held accountable. However it’s important to understand where we are coming from when we engage with conflict and seek to hold others accountable. If we seek to help people who are suffering or bring awareness to what we feel is oppressive by coming with an oppositional reaction, we are allowing polarity to govern us, and we perpetuate the cycle.

When we are centered in our worth, we can approach the world through the nature of deep care, activating a love more powerful than the charade of polar forces. This is a love that breaks cycles, a love that seeks others in their human worth through the very lens of knowing our worth own first. 

Role of Self-Realization in Societal Change

At the deepest source of divisions around social issues in our society, the cycles that keep us stuck are based upon an unrealized inherent self-worth and self-love within individuals. This does not mean that these social issues such as race, religion, gender, politics, socioeconomic status, and many more do not have very real embedded circumstances that grant disproportionate opportunities to people based upon these factors, or that we don’t make choices and use words every day that contribute to these disparities.

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How can we become capable of knowing our essence is love amid the present systems of which we exist?

In fact, it’s our very economic and societal systems, media, and cultural norms that we, often subconsciously, adopt as parts of our ways of being that continue to reinforce cycles of inferiority/superiority, right/wrong, us/them, or blame-centered thinking. In order to get to the deepest sources to break these loops, it’s critical we don’t disregard these realities. Yet, in pursuit of collective liberation and the alleviation of suffering, we must also realize our own inherent worth in order to create lasting shifts.

Part of this includes choosing to recognize and alleviate the microcosm of the same suffering cycles that play out internally as we relate with ourselves. Unless this focus is included in the process, these cycles will just resurface overtime with perhaps new labels, yet it will still be driven by the same underlying source: believing that our deepest access to love and freedom are dependent upon something changing in the external environment.


Working in tandem with these two approaches:

1) process of self-realization

2) and addressing systemic barriers,

simultaneously allows:

+ liberation to come up from an intrinsic place, one in which irreversibly shifts the way individuals engage with themselves and structures of society;

+ and the dismantling of disproportionate allocations of opportunity and access embedded in the structures that facilitate movement based upon socialized identities.   


Working to dismantle the external structures is not enough to alleviate the suffering that’s activated throughout humanity and earth. We must include a transformative, restorative, and self-realizing process that includes EVERYONE in it. Although the realization of our own wholeness and essence of love arises as an experience distinct with our knowingness, the evolution of this process is one based on interdependence and the participation of all.

How can we become capable of knowing our essence is love amid the present systems of which we exist? How might we consider that the shift of an external change in society rests upon the liberation of our own hearts from suffering? How might self-realization be facilitated in conjunction with intrapersonal transformation?

To Be Home Is To Be The Best Me

Far away from my sweet pup and my cottage in Chapel Hill, NC, I am sitting in a hostel in Wicker Park, Chicago. My endeavor here is centered around how and why I am choosing to take responsibility for my part in contributing to a positive cultural transformation underway. This shift I am referring to is how our society is poised at the "seed-time of a new personalist culture."

Firstly, what is seed-time? And what is a personalist culture? Seed-time is the moment of a new beginning. When a seed is planted in the ground and the surrounding conditions are just right -- soil, sunlight, water -- it will sprout at the right time and eventually become a strong tree, plant or living entity. In the same way, societies and individuals encounter seed-time -- moments in history in which multiple aspects of society are increasingly aligned around specific growth transformations.

This begs the question: In what direction is humanity currently transforming? Theodore Rosak, in People/Planet (see below for context in excerpt), introduces the idea that we are living in the fertile time of a new cultural transformation in which multiple aspects of society are increasingly personalized around individuals according to their desires and uniqueness. This also includes where and how these individual traits intersect with the deeper ecological and technological spheres.

This transformation of individual lifestyle design is underway in technology as we customize our phones and measure our unique body activities through wearables. It's underway in the creation of new business models as they meet needs of individual consumers. It's underway in the advancements of personalized medicine, as we tailor drugs and health solutions suited for unique genetic sequences and diseases.

And yet, customizing a phone, and other desired experiences, doesn't foster true cultivation of a person's unique identity.

 

Although, a new personalized learning process could.

 

Alright, so what does this have to do with why I am living in a hostel in Wicker Park? Because as an individual, I am owning my own growth as I strategize and design my life forward.

If we entertain Rosak's prophetic vision, then spiritually, ecologically, biologically and technologically, the time has come for each individual to discover their uniqueness and find a way to channel their energy system into vocations that align their individual fulfillment with the fulfillment of universal progress.

Dabbling with band-aid solutions, like flexible work schedules and workplace perks, will continue to prove insufficient at fulfilling human potentials. Therefore, this is one reason I chose to leave the security of a multinational corporate job to join the pioneering leaders at Experience Institute who are transforming learning models with the bold mission to authentically bring out the best in individuals. Although in one perspective, this could be viewed as a selfish motive because I want to bring out the best in myself, my true belief is that continually growing into an infinite series of better versions of myself is truly the greatest gift I could give to all of humanity, all entities and all life.

Hidden in the chaotic industrialized workplace, I was truly seeking to know myself and then construct my identity accordingly. But now, I am taking stance to own the responsibility myself, as I embrace the interconnectedness of all things, and discover my unique aspirations that are entangled within biology, technology and consciousness, and to live them out vividly with bold purpose.

Experience Institute offers a solid community of support and tools to help trigger self-discovery and shape key skills and abilities. Evenmoreso, the team cultivates the rare space for individuals to learn how to shine their brightest.

 

As the light that shines farthest often shines brightest at home, we must learn to find our home within ourselves.

 

I'm on my way home. And I'm ready to design it as my own.


Reference Theodore Roszak's words in 1979:

It may only be a certain nagging sense that the world you live in does not fit. The job you hold, the education you receive, the institutions that claim authority over you (the government, the corporations, the unions, the courts, the welfare system), all these may seem to have been crudely designed for everybody in general, but for nobody in person, least of all for you.
These may come and go as fleeting, private irritations.
Nevertheless, they are signs that the great change I speak of is at work in your experience, nourishing a certain brash assurance in you that you have a right to be handled with care, a right to the employment, education, time and space you need to find your peculiar style, a right to participate directly in the decisions that shape your life even if exercising that right means endless delay and disruption.
But where do you think these rights come from? How long do you think they have existed? Which is really to ask, how long do you think your experience of uniqueness has existed in the world? Perhaps you sense that such rights would have been seen as preposterous luxuries by your grandparents, perhaps even by your parents. But do you know they would have been regarded as utterly incomprehensible no more than a century ago, even as a kind of intolerable insanity? Would you be surprised to discover that this right you feel so certain is yours, this right to have your uniqueness respected, perhaps even cultivated, is not at all a simple extension of traditional values like civil liberty, equality, social democracy, which is precisely why it must now pit itself against so many institutions that were created to further those familiar ideals, but that it springs independently from another, far more mysterious source, one that reaches into the biological foundations of life.

(Excerpt from Person/Planet by Theodore Rosak)

Published on Experience Institute Blog Channel >>