Tag Archives: 2012 Evolution

Women, men and finding new ways of relating

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Once in a while I encounter someone who I experience as setting no limits on who I might become for them. When this happens, I’ve always found it helpful to explain the limits I work within.

Here is an example, which began with a twitter conversation and has arrived at the following email:

Good morning, Danny 🙂

Arrggh – the ‘Abyss of Masculine Sexuality’ into which I could have fallen! Thank you so much for being a gentleman and helping me past it!

It might be worth explaining my gratitude in more detail because this is always an issue between women and men in danger of exploding in both our faces – if we can avoid this trap, all the better for us.

When I talk about this, remember I am not talking about you personally. I’m giving you an insight into my problems, not yours. Hopefully this may assist you elsewhere in your own work, especially when it comes to ‘women’s issues’ such as sexism and rape.

Firstly, my personal relationships with men (and women, for that matter) have always been fraught with problems. True; I’ve learned a lot and one of the lessons I’ve learned is that I get on much better with men, as people, when personal sexuality is excluded from the dynamic. I like men but life has left me extremely prickly around sex and sexuality. At 58 – and sans womb after a hysterectomy – I’m no longer driven by hormones into that region and, to be quite honest, I find that to be a relief because it leaves me free to be myself and to channel my desires into other energy.

I’m not the first woman to say that there is something about me that frightens some men. In the sexuality arena, this is because – on a psychic level – some of the harm I’ve experienced in the past has left unexploded minefields any serious suitor would have to cross. Because these unexploded bombs are emotional in nature – and many men have very real problems even hearing the emotional dimensions, let alone navigating them – it seems far more merciful for everyone to simply remove the entire subject from my agenda.

When ‘consent’ is removed, at the extremely early stage, we can see how sexual/gender politics affects the debate on the subject. For example; between us (and because my ‘energy’ contains this ‘No’ from the outset), it enables you to help me sidestep the masculine minefield by being the perfect gentleman – and I can explain to you why this is so helpful to all of us. Firstly because it strengthens trust. When men and women protect and guide each other safely through the minefields of personal relationships, we strengthen each other. Because sexuality and power dynamics are so heightened and corrupted generally at the moment, this is vital for building communities.

When I asked to be included in your web network, I was asking as a teacher and guide. I don’t know whether what I teach is useful or not – that is for you to decide, not me. What I do know is that I can’t function in that role if I’m bound within the limitations of current ideas on human sexuality. By removing that element – but not the minefield (funny how towers surrounded by thickets spring to mind) – I can see who is willing to put that aspect of themselves aside too. It is very clear that you can – which makes you an excellent role model and enhances what I am trying to teach. Thank you, young man. You are a credit to all those who raised you to manhood.

Our example enables me to teach lessons about love.

For example: the ancient Greeks had three words for Love: Eros, Philos and Agape.

Eros is the first expression of it – falling in love; being hit by cupid’s arrow. That kind of thing. There can be this element in a heterosexual man’s feelings for a woman included in his sexual expression. If it is there for both man and woman, then the chances of their love growing into Philos are excellent. Otherwise, Eros blows itself out in the end. It is not a lasting Love.

Philos is the Love that grows between friends. It lasts. It is the kind of Love that keeps couples together ‘forever’ in this world and the next – and it’s the kind of Love I seek to access with you by bypassing Eros altogether. When Philos is established between people (whoever they might be), Love continues to grow and becomes Agape.

Agape is to experience the ‘Oneness’ of the unified Universe – where nothing is excluded excepting those who, by personal choice, exclude themselves. (This is a Principle of Free Will – we all have a choice and if that choice removes us from creation, it must be respected and managed.) It is this experience I am interested in enabling other people to find because the information contained there affects what we believe about ourselves and others. It frees us from many of the limitations we are presently struggling against. What makes it different from all other routes is, in my experience, the fact that it is personal to each of us. Agape is to experience the universe with each one of us – exactly as we are with exactly our history – being perfectly placed to transform our planet and our lives for the better. It is to learn that each moment is a step on our journey and each choice we make opens the door to the next step.

We live in ‘interesting times’, as the old Chinese curse would say. One of the curses that affect us all is the systemic treatment of women globally. I’d suggest that a woman who doesn’t have a minefield around her is a rare bird, which can make life very difficult for men who do see us as people. In addition, the power-abuse dynamic (clearly illustrated in rise of BDSM pornography) seems to overwhelm everything to the point where some men are only interested in what they can get away with.

The advantage to all of us of ‘gentleman’ skills from the men is this. By behaving this way with each other by free choice (as opposed to some social ‘rules’), we can see who can’t behave this way and won’t be corrected. These are those whose free choice is to exclude themselves from Love and they do this by their behaviour. Who they are – or who we are, for that matter – is immaterial. Such issues belong to the relationship between individual and Agape and are none of our business. Our behaviour has to respect this relationship between individual and Divine (which includes Atheism too – it’s none of our business!) and we do this by treating our human relationships as if they are ‘sacred’ because they are!

When we understand this – Agape – we have a much clearer idea about the problems we are all facing as a community capable of experiencing this kind of Love. We care about this energy, so we behave in ways that minimise harm and accelerate healing. This is what I am interested in teaching to anyone who is interested in learning.

I don’t teach details; I teach Principles because these can be translated into our daily life in one way or another. Principles are tools anyone can use in their own way without loss – in fact, when we share how they work in our own life, we often give each other helpful ideas. For example, in my reality, I discipline myself around stealing other peoples’ ideas: the ‘property’ remains with the creatrix – I am only permitted to steal the idea if I can improve and return it in better shape than before. If I can’t improve on it, I must share it as it is, giving full credit to its originator. In a world of patents and copyright, I wonder if that works for others. Please bear in mind the pattern of our unhealthy system to thieve the ideas of women and claim them as their own. We are in the mine-field here, so let’s be careful of each other.

Finally, I’d like to say this. There are legends about crossing this minefield – it is part of the Monomyth. The Planet has nothing against male desire – She evolved it from the Passion of the Creator. The thing is that it is Sacred! You guys get a hard-on for God as well as women – it’s why the early Christian churches displayed you this way and why erections are sometimes called ‘godhead’. What has been forgotten by some is that you channel this energy, you don’t ‘own’ it. When you channel your desire to enthusiastically consenting women who also are friends, you will have a far better time than you have probably had up until now. Adult women have desires too and we can be friends to each other along the way to encountering the one woman who will leave you saying “Thanks but no thanks” to Allah’s offer of all those dark-eyed virgins. What I’d like to see is more gratitude to the women who do offer this to you especially because I don’t. If gentlemen are going to bed friends, remember she will be someone you will be able to easily introduce, without hiding your true relationship, to the woman who is sacred wife to your sacred husband.

This is how I would like us to love each other.

How does that sound to you?

 

Bear in mind that I do not expect these interpersonal boundaries to apply to anyone else but me. I share them because I suspect they might function as an example of  ‘good practice’ amongst those genuinely seeking to transform our troubled world.

 

 

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Reblog: The Astrology of December 2012

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This is Carl’s big end of the Mayan Calendar video, sort of. December’s vibes place the individual in the midst of a profoundly transformative field. After all the crisis and drama of recent years, the responsibility for bringing change fall squarely on the shoulders of individuals, who must, now, take responsibility for wrestling the world around them into more acceptable shape.

This will be a more complicated process than you might think,because individuals themselves are the focus of profound and powerful transformative energies. People will be working toward a greater understanding of who they are and what they really want, even as they try to transform the world they find themselves in.

The beginning of a lengthy and strenuous process.

A more polished, written version of this analysis will be available on Carl’s blog on or around December 1st. The link to Carl’s blog is on my blogroll.

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Six: “The Gift of the Exile”

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To @npowerhq

 

 

Dear ‘Executive’ Sirs,  (for I doubt you have many women in your higher echelons)

 

Re: Breach of Contract

 

This afternoon, I went to top up the existing credit on my pre-payment gas meter.  When I attempted to do so, I received the message “battery fail”. It meant that my gas central heating stopped working, even though I have already paid for gas I need to use. It snowed here overnight, so the weather is cold. I do understand that there are those at the top who really couldn’t give a toss whether poor people are cold but whilst I can still afford it, my gas account remains a contractual agreement with you. Replacing batteries in gas meters forms part of your contractual responsibilities to me because, without a battery, you cannot supply the gas I have already paid for.

 

When it came to contact you about this, I discovered that if I were wealthy-enough to operate a land-line, you would provide free calls to sort out your breach of contract. I am not wealthy-enough – the poor depend on mobile phones or call boxes. For those of you who have never been poor, you may not have noticed that, since BT privatisation, there are far fewer public phone boxes than there used to be. The closest one to me is on open hillside. Did I mention that it snowed last night?

 

Those of us without landlines have to use mobile phones. Did you know that (how very convenient for the mobile phone companies)? Some of us down here at the poor end on the social scale afford to pay monthly tariffs in order to get the free calls you mention. Others, like me, can only afford to use pay-as-you-go. When I rang your mobile number to inform you of your breach of contract, I was told the waiting time was 30 minutes plus. My neighbour, who had exactly the same problem only a few days ago, confirmed that all their free-call allocation had been used up trying to get either you or one like you to sort out your breach of contract. Batteries have a known ‘shelf-life’ so replacing them ought to form part of your regular maintenance. I might wonder what kind of business you are if you don’t have that kind of schedule because, without it, it begins to look as if you don’t give a shit about your poor customers at all. I tried to phone your ‘help-line’ later and my mobile used up all my carefully saved credit before I was able to talk to someone. I can’t afford to top-up again for a week. Supposing I have another emergency? But then you don’t appear to care about my kind of custom at all, do you?

 

At present, judging by your business practices, I have to conclude that your answer is No. Did you know that the government of this country treats poor people the same way by not providing free-call numbers for mobile phone users? Yet everything must be done by phone. Given how little people are living on now – especially after your most recent price rise – this all seems rather cruel. I’ve been subject to a lot of cruelty over the past few years and it causes PTSD flashbacks. It’s one of the reasons I am poor and on benefits. I am hoping to return to work but your business practices do not help. Despite the fact that you already have my money and it is you who are in breach of contract, I am the one who is cold, further impoverished and inconvenienced. Please understand that I ‘might’ be inclined to be more forgiving if you paid your full taxes but, if you are anything like the mobile phone companies, you probably don’t. Had you chosen to invest those tax savings in providing regular maintenance to your prepayment meters, that might have gone in your favour too – but I suspect you don’t do that either. I am also right in thinking that those of us with prepayment meters – which enable us to budget the pittance we receive – are charged more than those who pay by other methods? Don’t we pay for this maintenance then? Are we really such inconvenient customers that it’s Ok for you to charge me more, take my money in advance and only turn up to honour your contract after you’ve messed us around?

 

By the way – this is being written whilst I’m waiting for your engineer to turn up. The night sky is clear – it’s going to be another cold one. Unless it snows again, of course. There are people with no homes out there tonight and some who can’t afford food or warmth, so I count myself fortunate in comparison. When I look at those less fortunate than me and then I look at you, you’ll have to forgive me if I am a little frosty. There is this matter of your breach of contract. The more I consider what appears to be going on here, the more I’m starting to believe your behaviour is intentional, especially if I’m right about the regular maintenance issue. Given your general behaviour so far, I’ll be lucky if your engineer turns up at all even thought I was told I might have to wait up to four hours. That was three and a half hours ago. My pessimism is beginning to have some grounding in fact.

 

 

In order to require you to comply with your contract, I had to go out to the public phone and call from there. The phone-box itself is subject to open-fell weather. I had to wait over fifteen minutes before I actually got to speak to another human being. You are extremely fortunate that the woman at your call centre was both professional and as humane as your service allows. She took time to listen to how upset I was and how angry I felt at being treated this way. She did a good job but also had to require me to phone your company again – from the cold public phone box (no credit left, remember? Can’t afford more for a week?)– because I hadn’t complied with your rules! The account was in my landlady’s agent’s name and it should have been in mine. You require me to do business with you by phone yet you discriminate against me because I am poor and can only use mobile or the far fewer public phones. At the same time, you fail to maintain your supply to me.

 

Let’s give you one more reason to write off me off – just so we are all being honest around here. I’m a desister – a woman found guilty of wounding with intent and threatening to kill a police officer (1st offence age 48). I know exactly what it is like to be treated as if I have no worth and the only responsible thing I could do for society was die. I’ll tell you one thing. The system isn’t permitted to kill prisoners and when they try, however directly or indirectly, they can be shown to have broken the rules. The reason you won’t write me off, however, is that I got very good at spotting exactly where the ghost in the machine was lurking, especially in prison.

 

The reason I believe you intentionally discriminate against the poor is the ring-back service you don’t provide on mobile lines. You provide that service elsewhere – your call centre told me so. You breach your contract with me at every level. I will be looking to change to an ethical supplier who can meet my needs as far as prepayment is concerned. There was a doorstepper here this week offering that kind of service, except the more I think about that, the more I suspect it might have been a con. There seem to be a lot of such types in your business, don’t there?

 

You’d think, given that there are so many of us poor these days, what with our numbers increasing and all, that there’d be some successful kind of business made out of treating the poor fairly. Perhaps some of us might fund a few start-ups on the compensation we receive from you for the way you have been treating us. I’ve a mind to get those taxes out of you one way or another.

 

And I apologise for the disjointedness of this – I’m normally fairly eloquent (or so I’ve been told) – but I’m cold and experiencing the kind of ‘shock’ that comes with realising just how badly I’m being abused. When I was in prison, this was the time the formal complaints began flying. A lot got sorted when I reached officers and governors who knew, without being told, that you don’t treat prisoners like this. If you do, women die and men riot. My complaints were always aimed at seeking to head off the latter when I could see it happening. I wasn’t always successful and I have seen both outcomes manifest during my imprisonment – although it was YOs who ‘rioted’ in my case.  As a desister, I am no longer permitted to bystand, comply or consent to unlawful conditions once they can be proven unlawful. I have a social responsibility to oppose anything corrupt because it kills people and hurts others. You are actively discriminating against the poor in general and me in particular by subjecting me to hurt and suffering through neglect of whatever contractual duty applies between us – and if you decide you weren’t doing it to me, then you were doing it to my landlady’s agent and my landlady. It’s called a crime at my end of the social spectrum and I think it might well be a crime at your end too.

 

There’s no point in going through your complaints procedures because you’ve fixed them so they fail. There’ll be someone out there with evidence to prove it; if not, more. There are more like me – experiencing unmaintained service problems, experiencing total loss of paid-for service, denied equal communication access and being charged more for the privilege – which has to break some law and well as leaving you in breach of your contract to me.

 

I’m going to circulate this on the social media because I don’t think I’m alone in this – I just happen to be the one who can see stuff, make connections other people might miss and put it down in my own words. There’ll be things in this other people will recognise – whoever they are – but mainly, we’ll  all be poor or getting poorer. I want to know if I can sue you, npower, for this and whether there’s anyone amongst my legal follows who’d be willing to help, pro-bono for now but going for enough costs to create start-up legal aid social enterprises. God knows, we need them if we are to straighten this behaviour out.  I have smaller plans for a desistance-for-women social enterprise project needs funding plus I want to float the idea of a Police Social Enterprise that goes after tax evaders. Could my claim for compensation be for social gain – I’m not allowed to do personal gain as a desister. Can I do that to you, npower, because God knows I want to!.

 

I’m going to have to trust that society will see me alright – let them decide. I’d certainly like to be able to pay my landlady her full rent instead of her having to take the hit of my housing benefit cap. She prefers having me as a tenant and is willing to take the loss. I don’t think she should have to. I’m willing to work but I can’t if I keep getting hits like this one – as I sit here in the cold, waiting for your engineer to turn up. I feel punished for your failures.

 

There is one good thing about this kind of shock – it means I wobble all over the place. The one thing that keeps me steady is my focus on you. It doesn’t seem to matter what perspective my wobble gives me, I seem to be seeing the same thing. Even if everyone can’t follow everything, there are going to be some that will. The people who are seeing the same thing I am and just needed someone else’s story to confirm what they were suspecting themselves. I’m hoping that those who are ready to do something about this might pass it around. Is there a likely lawyer out there who thinks I might have a case because there’s definitely something wrong with me at the moment? I’m not usually like this. Am I?

 

As for you, npower executives. Is there really anything left to say?

 

Yours

 

Dee Wilde Walker

 

 

PS

Your four-hour promise has just been broken.

 

PPS

 

Anyone else having this problem?

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Five: “Return of the Exile”

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Dear Dr Wollaston,

 

I’m writing to you because your name has appeared in dispatches about the Tory party again. Through you, I am trying to contact the kind of Tory who expresses the kind of view posted here on this Guardian thread. I am also deeply concerned about the class divisions occurring in this country and the levels of corruption being demonstrated by those who hold public office across all political parties.

 

To put it bluntly, your government is in the process of creating a crisis of social chaos and we, the people, have had enough. We told you this, politely, yesterday – October 20 – in Belfast, Glasgow and London. Whilst you might want to point to the small few who ‘invaded’ shops after the demonstration, I might point to the arresting officers and suggest they probably had no personal disagreement with the message “Pay Your Tax”. If this was the worst some 100k people could do in a confined space, then I think we are doing rather well, don’t you?

 

I am writing to you because I see what your government is about to do to the criminal justice system. As a desister, I cannot remain silent. Our country cannot afford this kind of criminal system any more – it is far too expensive, at every level, and has proven to fail each and every time it has been used. It is morally wrong to continue to punish those capable of rehabilitation and desistance because it denies the possibility of redemption. I sincerely hope there are those amongst your number that still understand what redemption means because, to be honest, it is very hard to see through the miasma of corruption that surrounds you. It is truly an act of faith that tells me decent Tories still exist and given that you, Dr Wollaston, appear to have all the right symptoms, I’m hoping this might reach as many like you as possible.

 

I don’t know how much can be done to start putting things right at your end, but I think I can see ways of doing it at mine. I would like to help but you are going to have to stop treating me as if I have no value. Whoever told you that was lying. I doubt very much if I would have retained the quality of my Twitter followers if that were true. This also means that other people like me have value too and the only way we can begin to deal with the problems we all face is through mutual respect. Until that is agreed, there is no point in even trying to talk to each other, even though I think it’s time we did.

I want to talk to the kind of Tories who recognise the importance and value of community. Any conversation would need to be ‘public’, via the social media, because as a desister I must be visible – people must be able to see what I am doing.

 

If you aren’t the right person to talk to, do you know anyone who will?

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dee Wilde-Walker

 

 

PS

The reason this letter appears as a part of a series on the archetype of the Scapegoat is that I am in a position to be able to demonstrate what I am teaching and how easy/difficult it can be for people to do this at the moment. We have exiled far too many people from our community – if I can find my way back, so can they.

 

You can find the previous posts on the subject here:

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part One: The Collective versus Andrew Mitchell

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Two: Behold the High Priest

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Three: Blood Sacrifice

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Four: The Goat that Escapes

 

“The Archetypal Scapegoat” – Part Four: The Goat that Escapes

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Expulsion from the Garden of Eden by Tommaso Cassai Masaccio

Before I embark upon the story of the second goat within the Scapegoat archetype or complex, I would like to briefly revisit the first one – the goat that dies. When I wrote about it here, I used a highly sensitive example that could easily have caused offence to all those involved in the events I described. I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who felt uncomfortable with it as a result. What I was attempting to do – albeit badly – was raise awareness of the very powerful spiritual component within unfolding events. Nevertheless, I would invite readers to explore some of the strikingly beautiful creative responses from the community directly affected that I have reblogged here, here and here.

From within a community that was feeling undervalued and attacked, have emerged poets and dreamers, volunteering time and effort to enable the sacred aspects needed to ensure that two women’s deaths did not pass unnoticed or dishonoured. It would have been a very hard heart indeed that remained unmoved by the response of both the police nationally and the city of Greater Manchester to the funerals of PC’s Hughes and Bone. If ever there was an example of ‘sacrifice as pharmakon’ or healing agent, this was surely it. It serves as a reminder of our best in the face of the worst humanity can sink to. It is important to remember that, within the ancient ritual, the souls of the sacrificed are rewarded with immediate union with god. For those who remain behind, such events are the reminder and memory of what is finest within us, the human face of the divine spirit within, which are not just measured by our living but by our dying as well. For the community as a whole, all failings on my part have been more than compensated for by the work of those more closely involved. In this instance, I am very grateful for their corrections to my mistakes.

Nevertheless, my exploration of the scapegoat is not yet complete. We still have the second goat to study – the one who is exiled. Given the examples I have been using for this series, it is interesting to note that Andrew Mitchell, instigator of “GateGate”, appears to have exiled himself from the political debates of his party’s conference. This has greater significance because his constituency is in Birmingham, where the Conservative Party conference is being held. It would seem as if he has become an exiled goat – a mild example of what happens to a sin carrier for the community.

The exiled goat is the most familiar aspect of the scapegoat ritual in modern times and our personal response to its emergence says far more about us than we might feel comfortable with. In a world whose perceptions are dualistic, this is the issue of ‘right’ (the high priest) and ‘wrong’ (the exiled goat). When this kind of separation is occurs within a community, it is inevitable that we will be applying such divisions to our own internal selves too. We make judgmental decisions about which bits of us are acceptable or not. Many of us exile aspects of our personalities we dislike to our unconscious in our attempts to fit it with our society. We fool ourselves into believing that the problem of sin is somehow ‘out there’ by failing to acknowledge or respect our own dark side. It is worth remembering that within an ego-level psyche, when we occupy our own personal moral high-ground, whatever we may think or feel about others, is almost certainly something within ourselves too. This is why we know it so well when we point our fingers at others and can recognise it for what it is. We are talking about our true selves when our ego becomes ‘high priest’. The only time this may not hold true is at a social conscience level. This is where we can openly acknowledge both our dark and light aspects whilst working in the interests of our wider community – these are the kinds of ‘special’ aspects of difference associated with the scapegoated exile.

Where the sacrificed goat speaks to ‘unholy’ divisions within the community, the exiled goat speaks to our attitude towards ‘difference’ both personally and collectively. There is always going to be a quality of difference within each one of us simply because we all have the potential to be unique individuals. This quality of individual difference means that, regardless of how we try, at some point we are all likely to have an experience of becoming the exiled goat.

There are many reasons why an individual might find themselves in the role of the exiled goat. Within the archetypes we find the voluntary (Jesus) and involuntary (Orestes); sinners (Oedipus) and innocents (Orpheus); and we find those for whom this is a vocation – the sin-eaters, like the Aztec goddess, Tlazolteutl. In all cases, the individual involved will be marked out by some personal difference, identified by the collective as ‘undesirable’, about which the ‘exile’ can do little or nothing because it is who they are. These are the vital differences within us, within the archetype, that are capable of carrying the sins of an entire community – the exiled goat doesn’t bear its own sins alone into the wilderness, it carries everyone’s.  There is something about these differences that are ‘bigger’ than the individual and capable of bearing far more than just the guilt of personal ‘transgression’.

So what might we look for as ‘different’ enough to be able to bear the weight of collective ‘sin’ of scapegoating? The following are common markers:-

Royalty

Amongst archetypal scapegoats, many are royal in some form or another. It’s a difference that marks the individual out as special or ‘above’ the commons.  In a psychological setting, this can be termed ‘grandiosity’ when viewed negatively or it might be an emerging of social conscience within an individual desiring to give to the greater ‘good’ of the community. To act on such beliefs inevitably sets an individual apart from the collective in the same way as royalty is perceived as ‘outside’ the general whole. Both archetypal and historical examples exist of the royal sacrifice and/or exile deemed to be necessary for greater social good. This is difference as specialness.

 Physical Differences

Many archetypal scapegoats have physical differences that mark them out as ‘special’. For example, the name Oedipus actually means ‘swollen foot’ which, in addition to his royalty, marks him out as dissimilar. Others, like Jesus during the crucifixion, are maimed. Scapegoats may be ugly or deformed in some way and this particular aspect comes into very clear focus when we consider how the scapegoat complex plays out at the collective level. People of physical ‘otherness’ often become targets of collective persecution.

 Foreign

Many individuals who find themselves scapegoated, either in archetype or reality, are perceived as foreign in their difference or specialness. This applies to equally to groups if ‘difference’ within a greater society and it is not hard to name examples who have experienced this, whether it be Jews of the past or Muslims in the present.

 Magical

Within the archetype, individuals may be perceived as having magical powers. For example, Orpheus’s music was regarded as so exquisitely beautiful it caused trees and stones to weep. Jesus could heal the blind and raise the dead. A scapegoat may have a mysterious talent that can be perceived as a gift in a stable environment but which transforms into a threat during a crisis. When the community faces a catastrophe, such individuals may find themselves blamed and hunted down for the same talents, skills or gifts previously regarded as blessings.

 “Mad”

This feature of scapegoating comes from psychological differences where individual perception is seen to be so different from the norm as to be regarded as madness. This is the role of holy fool who is, in some cultures, regarded as sacred and the madness as ‘god-inflicted’. Sometimes the individual may be genuinely insane; at other times, they may simply be guilty of holding a different viewpoint from that of the scapegoating collective.

Outlaw

“The scapegoat in myth may also be an outlaw whose crime has turned the wrath of the gods against the community. The scapegoat is the one who has committed, or is believed to have committed, the murder, the theft, the rape, the breach of social taboos. But the motive behind the crime is never simple…

The crimes of this kind of scapegoat figure are different from ordinary garden variety crimes. These crimes challenge some universal authority, breaking collective law yet at the same time fulfilling a secret collective need. The scapegoat may enact the crime which all of us long to commit, which on the most profound level is the crime of individuality. The mythic outlaw is often an individual who defies the stagnant or unjust rules of society or the gods, and he or she is punished by those laws at the same time as being secretly admired and envied by the very people who have invoked the punishment.”

(From “The Dark of the Soul” by Liz Greene: CPA Press 2003; ISBN: 978-1-900869-28-7)

 

These are the qualities likely to be found within those who are individually ‘marked out’ for attention when scapegoating moves within both the collective conscious and unconscious. When it erupts as a collective social complex, this ‘marking’ takes on the ominous destructiveness of ethnic or other ‘special’ cleansing. This form of scapegoating becomes the sacrificing/exiling of entire groups which, unfortunately, has become all too familiar. Groups likely to be subject to scapegoating persecution frequently fall into the following categories: race; religion; class; sexuality; gender; and “non-human”, like animals or the environment. We can begin to get a sense of what community values are by looking at those who are sacrificed or exiled. For example, if a society routinely scapegoats black people, Muslims, the differently-abled, the poor, the mad, non-heterosexuals, women and nature, these provide very precise measures of what it does value. Using recent examples, it’s possible to perceive the outline of the offended god demanding appeasement as probably white, maybe Christian, physically perfect, rich, ‘sane’, misogynistic, heterosexually male and disconnected from nature.  As humans, we are inevitably going to fall short of such measures which means, especially within the scapegoat complex, that as one ‘difference’ is sacrificed or exiled, other individual differences emerge to be subject to the same. The complex morphs into wholesale collective xenophobic attrition capable of exterminating whole communities and peoples.

Having identified those individuals or groups likely to carry the scapegoat archetype when a community experiences a crisis, it is vital to look at what sins are being exiled.

“The reason the goat is exiled is not because the community doesn’t like goats. It is because the community has offended God, and the exile is carrying that which has caused offence. This goat bears not only the pain of alienation from the community, but also the pain of alienation from its spiritual source.” (ibid)

 In addition, it is important is to explore how the individual exile responds to their situation. Some may choose to reject the exiling community:

“The exiled goat may… turn its back on the collective. The anger may be too great, and personal pride may also be involved. The exiled goat may say, “I don’t need them anyway. In fact, I am going to do everything in my power to sabotage and destroy the collective which has rejected me…” The exiled goat can become an anarchist and a revolutionary. It is the lone gunman, the social outcast who consciously chooses the role of outlaw. In its most extreme form, it is Charles Manson, who gleefully accepts the projection of the collective shadow and says, “Since you will condemn me whatever I am or do, I may as well do what I have been accused of, and justify your condemnation of me.” That response provides a form of power and a feeling of being special, and this can compensate for the humiliation of rejection. Such exiled goats are necessary to a community which is unconscious of its own sins, because they carry the collective shadow.” (ibid)

This is the realm of the terrorist whom having, either individually or collectively, experienced the terrors of rejection and exile, returns to visit this shadow upon the community who perpetrated the expulsion. This is particularly true when the ‘unconscious’ high priest mercilessly heaps communal sins upon individuals or groups who are subsequently destroyed or exiled through blame, thereby avoiding conscious responsibility for their own sins. It creates a vicious circle. As the ‘sin’ is hidden within the unconsciousness of the community itself, no amount of projection,  sacrifice or exile can resolve the ‘loss of connection to the divine’ and the failure requires more ‘high priests’ to relentlessly seek out new victims to blame. The ultimate result leads to an ‘empty world’ as one difference after another is sacrificed on the altar of this insatiable, blood-thirsty ‘god’ until the whole community is dead. Sadly, we do not need to look far for real-life examples of this being acted out in the world at the present time.

There are other choices available to an exiled scapegoat. They might refuse revenge but reject the community by choosing to remain in exile. A third option is the role of pharmakon – the exiled goat as healer. This is the goat who not only who escapes death thereby becoming ‘the one who lives’, albeit in exile, it is also the goat who returns from the wilderness seeking to win back the acceptance of the rejecting community through service to others.

It is this particular scapegoat, ‘the one who returns’, which is the subject of my next piece.

The Archetypal Scapegoat – 1

The Archetypal Scapegoat – 2

The Archetypal Scapegoat – 3

What is a “Social Conscience”?

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It’s not very often I repost other people’s blogs but this contains one of the most perfect examples of a social conscience in action, it would have been a crime not to. We can honour the sixty-nine victims of Hillsborough, and their family’s twenty-three year campaign to get at the truth, for giving us such a perfect and terrible example of how a social conscience works upon the individual.

When I decided to expand upon what ‘social conscience’ means, interesting things emerged from my brief research. The first, which came as a complete surprise, was that there was nothing about it in Wikipedia. The closest entry was ‘social consciousness’ which is not the same thing at all. The subjects are very different. So there needs to be a clarification of what is meant by the term. This is what I found:

Dictionary.com:     social conscience – definition:   an attitude of sensitivity toward and sense of responsibility regarding injustice and problems in society

Oxford Dictionaries:       social conscience – definition:   a sense of responsibility or concern for the problems and injustices of society

Before I embark on this exploration, it’s also worth considering the meaning of conscience in the personal sense, which goes something like this:

Conscience:       noun

  1. the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience.
  2. an inhibiting sense of what is prudent: I’d eat another piece of pie but my conscience would bother me.
  3. the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.

We know we have a conscience when we start feeling guilty, i.e: “to have something on one’s conscience, to feel guilty about something, as an act that one considers wrong”

 

It is probably fair to say that if we don’t have a personal conscience when it comes to our actions, then the chances of our having a social conscience are probably quite low but there are exceptions. The best example of this is probably mine!

As an ex-offender, I have a choice about whether I reveal this information to others or not. UK law requires that this be made available to potential employers but, in a social setting, if I want to hide the fact, I can. That I choose to disclose is a matter of both personal and social conscience.

On a personal level, if I am to be successful in my ambition to fully rehabilitate, hiding my immediate past is a road to disaster where mutual trust is concerned. We never know who knows what about us and my social conscience tells me that any trust that might be built will be destroyed altogether if those who trust me discover such a significant omission from my autobiography. To avoid this problem means, from my perspective, that it is far better that they hear it from me first. Any subsequent trust that might be built will have it’s foundations in solid reality and anyone who thinks to cause harm by disclosing my past will fail because the information is already out there. On occasions, this viewpoint has been a very strong point of contention especially when I was supervised by Probation. One officer I dealt with was convinced that my opinion and disclosures were just plain wrong. I disagreed and this probably figured among the reasons used to recall me to prison. Despite this, I still haven’t changed my mind. If someone honours me with their trust, I feel guilty if I don’t tell them. In this, I am guided by my conscience.

Given the obvious action of a guilty conscience in the above example, I am very interested in what appears to be my failure of guilt when it comes to the crime itself. It is quite true that my offense was wrong and I regret that it ever happened but, somehow, I’m not sorry. It was something I had never done before and will never do again. These points I freely accept and I have made strenuous adjustments to my behaviour as a result. Nevertheless, no matter how insane it might sound to others, I know that my guilty conscience would have been far worse if I had failed to act. I can appreciate the social viewpoint and know I will never act that way again because I have put an alternative in place. If the same situation arose, it would be me that got hurt and not anyone else. My social conscience tells me that as a result of my offence, I am required to be: honest about myself; truthful about my past; accept that there are social opportunities no longer available to me; and that I must always give priority to the safety of my community over and above any needs or concerns of my own.  These are how the issues of conscience function within me.

 

 

If I go back to the blog that inspired this, the experience of social conscience is described thus:

“I once heard a Townsend-Thoresen employee apologise for the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. He wasn’t on board but felt tainted by the mistakes. I now know what he meant.”

In some ways, this explains my problem with feeling guilty for my crime. At that time, the city I was living in had a lot of problems, some of which were being perpetrated by individuals responsible for the public good. They were not acts I had committed but I felt deeply for those who were victims and found myself unable to stand by without trying to do something about it. The result meant that the perpetrators turned their attention to me. It’s a long, painful and embarrassing story which can wait for another time but my experience resonates, in small part, with the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy. Although innocent, they were subject to sustained, long-term vilification in order to hide the failings of those truly responsible only now confirmed after twenty three years. Those responsible sought to hide their failings by blaming the victims. The amount of collective guilt contained within this appalling loss of life is so great that it can felt by those who were never involved.

To experience such guilt is the consequence of having a social conscience. It means that what harms one, harms everyone – participant and observer alike.

 

In a balanced world, we understand the true meaning of a quality like a social conscience not only through its definition but also through its opposite. If we accept my personal definition that a guilty conscience demands that I change how I behave, what are the measureable indicators for someone who is guilty but maybe has no conscience? Using Hillsborough as an example, what are the responses from those who thought to vilify the victims? Well, here are a few examples:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/sep/12/hillsborough-disaster-david-cameron-apologises

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/sep/13/boris-johnson-apologises-hillsborough-article

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/sep/12/hillsborough-disaster-mackenzie-profuse-apologies-sun

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/sep/13/fa-chairman-bernstein-apology-hillsborough

Apologies seem to be the order of the day, with one notable exception

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/sep/13/hillsborough-report-norman-bettison-refuses-resign?intcmp=239

Bitter experience has taught me to be very careful about commenting on the behaviour of Chief Police Officers. Nevertheless, if an unconnected and innocent police officer can feel guilt over police actions, some twenty three years after the events, it might be interesting to wonder about the opinion expressed by Norman Bettison.

In my research for this piece, I came across a fascinating site that addressed these issues, albeit in relation to bullying amongst children. It describes three stages to the process of acquiring a social conscience. The first is ‘denial’ that there is a problem. The second, ‘acceptance’, acknowledges that there is a problem, however;

“The one who engages in bullying behavior is basically admitting to all that “I am honest about my actions, but I do not accept that my actions have a negative effect on anyone but see my actions as benefiting myself, and if there are punishments I manage to blame others.”

There’s another level to this stage wherein the one who engages in bullying behavior may also be saying, “I deserve this consequence because I broke the rules, but there is nothing deeply wrong with what I did except that I got caught.”

This is a key disconnect between actions and consequences.”

According to the author, the final stage is ‘awareness’ which may be correct for children, but I don’t believe it ends there for adults. The final measure for adults is, I believe, to change your behavior. An example of how that might work comes from amongst my peers:-

“One of her favourite “ups” was shortly after she had been studying the book ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver with some prisoners. A member of staff reported one of the prisoners had been talking in another group about how he’d suddenly realised the potential impact of his crimes (10 years later) on his family.”

From this, it would seem that one of the prerequisites to developing a social conscience in adults is empathy – the ability to stand in another person’s shoes and experience events from their perspective.

 

When considering the sudden flourish of apologies, after twenty three years of systematic scorn, I do wonder whether these are actually enough. During the years I was getting myself into therapeutic problems as a client, there came a point where the therapist said “I don’t want your apology. Your apology doesn’t mean anything. What I want is for you to stop doing what you are doing.” Whilst painful at the time, her intervention has informed me ever since because it was a fair comment. I’d been using apologies to get me off the hook of being caught rather than addressing the deeper need for change. Looking at this Hillsborough bouquet of them, it’s hard not to be reminded of this.

Do we believe these people mean it when they say they are sorry? In all honesty, with the possible exception of the Football Association, I’m not sure I do. My social conscience tells me that the responses from David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Kelvin MacKenzie fall into the category of;

“I deserve this consequence because I broke the rules, but there is nothing deeply wrong with what I did except that I got caught.”

As far as MacKenzie is concerned, I am not the only one who finds this unsatisfactory, given he was a participant in the impugning of Hillsborough victims.

 

With regard to David Cameron; his apology related to the cover-up of facts. Regrettably, Cameron has already found himself in political difficulty around similar issues. His willingness to accept apologies at face value and generously extend second chances to those he knows borders on parody. For those he doesn’t know, the story becomes very different. One of the manifestations of active conscience is balanced consistency of behavior. Cameron might be consistent but the evidence of balance is thin on the ground.

Boris Johnson also appears to have a history of cover-ups too.

 

In my reality, to have a personal conscience means we take responsibility for actions that may have caused harm to others. This may be remedied by an apology but this is not always the case. For example; I could apologise to my victim but I doubt she would accept it and, under those circumstances, it becomes disrespectful to offer one. Any possible forgiveness can only be attained by atonement. In matters of social conscience, I wonder if the same principles apply.

The answer to that question might well be found with the people of Liverpool. My own social conscience informs me I relinquished my right to comment on that when I offended.

 

There is one last step in the process of exercising my social conscience. As an outsider, uninvolved with the events of Hillsborough and its history, I have drawn a lot of information from the release of the report of the Panel. If I were one of the campaigners, I might feel invaded by this free use of their experiences. They have suffered enough and they certainly don’t need any more and definitely not from my hand. Yet my conscience feels the wrong they have suffered deeply enough to feel the guilt of inaction which says I could have done more for them.

A social conscience is more than just empathy. It is empathy that is going somewhere. If there is anything I could give to the families of Hillsborough and the people of Liverpool, it would be this: to make certain all those young people did not die in vain.

The ‘gift’ of Hillsborough has been to teach us all about what it means to have a social conscience. This is simply my opinion of what a social conscience looks like in action. May it contribute to ensuring society changes to ensure such events never happen again.

 

 

 

 

Reflecting upon principles residing at the heart of the ‘Contract of Employment’

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[Disclaimer:

This blog is likely to contain serious errors in Contract of Employment law, so it is vital that anyone considering taking action utilising any of these points seeks proper and professional legal advice first. My knowledge of the detail of both employment and contract law is extremely rusty and cannot be wholly relied upon. My intention is to sift through existing wisdom in order to identify the underlying principles applying to the heart of any contract between government and its public servants. How these principles work in current practice is not my area of expertise, hence the need for professional advice.]

 

Introduction

 

In Britain, employment is governed by contract law. It can be a contract between employer and employee or a business contract between purchaser and supplier in the case of those who are self-employed. The history of how current Employment Law (pdf) came into existence is interesting because it reflects changing social relationships within the UK.

Issues surrounding employment were first set into law by the Factories Acts of 1802 and 1833, and the relationship between employer and employee was first set down within the Master and Servant Act of 1832. This act remained in force until it was succeeded by the Contracts of Employment Act 1963. This last act introduced and codified the responsibilities of both employer and employee, and it is the principles involved with this relationship that this piece seeks to explore.

Like most, employment law is not perfect and reflects the attitudes of the time.  As labour lawyer, Otto Kahn-Freund, put it:

 “the relation between an employer and an isolated employee or worker is typically a relation between a bearer of power and one who is not a bearer of power. In its inception it is an act of submission, in its operation it is a condition of subordination, however much the submission and the subordination may be concealed by the indispensable figment of the legal mind known as the ‘contract of employment’. The main object of labour law has been, and… will always be a countervailing force to counteract the inequality of bargaining power which is inherent and must be inherent in the employment relationship.”

It was the following tweet and its commentary on one person’s experience of the relationship between the UK government and its police that has prompted this particular exploration.

To all intents and purposes, the tweet describes a Master/Servant relationship where the actions of the ‘Master’ are experienced as repressive by the ‘servant’. It’s therefore worth remembering that Master/Servant approach was replaced, even if old attitudes die hard. These days, it is a legal contract that theoretically occurs between consenting adults and the contract fails if one party acts in such a way that the ‘heart’ of the contract is breached.


 

The Psychological Contract

 

Whilst any employment contract is subject to prevailing law, it will inevitably contain a psychological component simply because it legislates human relationships. This dynamic has been called the “Psychological Contract”:-

“’The Psychological Contract’ is an increasingly relevant aspect of workplace relationships and wider human behaviour.

Descriptions and definitions of the Psychological Contract first emerged in the 1960s, notably in the work of organizational and behavioural theorists Chris Argyris and Edgar Schein. Many other experts have contributed ideas to the subject since then, and continue to do so, either specifically focusing on the Psychological Contract, or approaching it from a particular perspective, of which there are many. The Psychological Contract is a deep and varied concept and is open to a wide range of interpretations and theoretical studies.

Primarily, the Psychological Contract refers to the relationship between an employer and its employees, and specifically concerns mutual expectations of inputs and outcomes.

The Psychological Contract is usually seen from the standpoint or feelings of employees, although a full appreciation requires it to be understood from both sides.

Simply, in an employment context, the Psychological Contract is the fairness or balance (typically as perceived by the employee) between:

  • how the employee is treated by the employer, and
  • what the employee puts into the job.

The words ’employees’ or ‘staff’ or ‘workforce’ are equally appropriate in the above description.

At a deeper level the concept becomes increasingly complex and significant in work and management – especially in change management and in large organizations.

Interestingly the theory and principles of the Psychological Contract can also be applied beyond the employment situation to human relationships and wider society.

Unlike many traditional theories of management and behaviour, the Psychological Contract and its surrounding ideas are still quite fluid; they are yet to be fully defined and understood, and are far from widely recognised and used in organizations.

The concept of ‘psychological contracting’ is even less well understood in other parts of society where people and organisations connect, despite its significance and potential usefulness. Hopefully what follows will encourage you to advance the appreciation and application of its important principles, in whatever way makes sense to you. It is a hugely fertile and potentially beneficial area of study.

At the heart of the Psychological Contract is a philosophy – not a process or a tool or a formula. This reflects its deeply significant, changing and dynamic nature.

The way we define and manage the Psychological Contract, and how we understand and apply its underpinning principles in our relationships – inside and outside of work – essentially defines our humanity.

Respect, compassion, trust, empathy, fairness, objectivity – qualities like these characterize the Psychological Contract, just as they characterize a civilized outlook to life as a whole.”

For the most part, addressing the issues contained within a psychological contract is actually in an employers interest and forms the bedrock of good management-employee relations. It informs the adult-to-adult dynamic of the Contract of Employment itself. For example: if a Contract of Employment recognizes that human qualities such as mutual respect, compassion, trust, empathy, and fairness reside at the heart of the agreement, then any failure impacts in the same place.

 

 

An Employee’s Perception of Power

 

If we accept Otto-Kahn-Freund’s definition that the Contract of Employment is “a relation between a bearer of power and one who is not a bearer of power”, it becomes important to explore how this dynamic impacts upon the psychological contract.

From a psychotherapeutic perspective, this relates to the uses of power within the workplace and elsewhere. As a management trainer, I used the following examples to tease out how any power dynamic functions.

Power-Over:

Power-over is the position that most people recognize when such discussions arise. It is an aggressive principle that forces its own perception upon those it deems to be less powerful than itself. To function effectively, it requires others to adopt the next position.

Power-less:

Within the power dynamic, to be powerless is to be passive; to accept, without question, the edicts of those who occupy the ‘power-over’ position. It is a depressed/oppressed position and I found it informative, when teaching this, to ask course participants whether they liked being powerless because the response would often lead directly into the third position of the power dynamic.

 Power-Under:

Power-under is the response of those who, finding themselves powerless within an unhappy power dynamic, seek to undermine those occupying the power-over position. It is a passive-aggressive response from below in reply to perceived power-over abuses from above.

All the above positions depend upon the perception that power can be divided up into hierarchies of who has power, who doesn’t and how the powerless feel about it. There is, however, a fourth position that stands outside this dynamic altogether.

 Powerful:

To be a powerful human being does not reside in any hierarchical social position – it belongs to anyone who wishes to claim it and it is the provenance of adults. To be powerful recognizes that each of us have responsibility and a duty to exercise that responsibility within any psychological contract we might consent to. For example: a Chief Executive and a cleaner can both discharge their duties in a powerful/responsible manner – it is a matter of personal choice. At the same time, individuals can divest themselves of this personal power in which case they volunteer themselves to be part of the hierarchical power dynamic where everyone blames everyone else for the failures piling up around their ears.

In a healthy psychological contract, the employer seeks to employ powerful and competent adults who will be treated with respect, compassion, trust, empathy, fairness, objectivity whilst they discharge their duties. This is the benchmark for good employment practice. Done well, it can result in employees agreeing to reductions in terms and conditions, especially through difficult economic times, because they get on well with their employer and are willing to share the burden. If, however, the employment contract serves only to reinforce the hierarchical positions of power and where the psychological contract is arbitrarily dispensed with by the employer, the results are disputes and, where unionized, industrial action.

That the UK is apparently facing the possibility of its first general strike in over eighty years suggests that there has been a significant and dramatic failure of both employment and psychological contracts. That UK police and prison officers – whose contracts of employment actually forbid industrial action – have now started considering and acting out their response to government-imposed changes to their terms and conditions points to how serious the situation has become.

 

 

The Heart of the Contract of Employment

 

I’m going to look at this from the perspective of civil and crown servants simply because the heart of the contract between Crown and Servant has been made explicit. Please bear in mind that these are only my observations. My opinion may carry no weight in law and therefore needs to be checked.

At the heart of the psychological contract are the following conditions: respect, compassion, trust, empathy, fairness, and objectivity. At the heart of the Crown contract, a servant must demonstrate the four core values detailed below:

  • ‘Integrity’:  putting the obligations of public service above your own personal interests;
  • ‘Honesty’: being truthful and open;
  • ‘Objectivity’: basing your advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence; and
  • ‘Impartiality’: acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving equally well Governments of different political persuasions.

In addition, if a civil servant believes that that he/she is being asked to behave in a way which conflicts with the code, he/she may now report the matter direct to the Civil Service Commissioners.

It is now clearly specified that the code is part of the contractual relationship between the civil servant and his/her employer.

As an observer, I would wonder whether these legal requirements for integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality also fall upon the employer too. If they do, and there is objective and politically impartial evidence to show that the employer is failing to adhere to these requirements, I would suggest that this may go to the Heart of the employees’ Contract of Employment. It may be that an employers’ breach of the Civil Service Code could be deemed sufficient to render previously forbidden industrial action lawful especially if the action sought to impose ‘fair’ conditions, like integrity and honesty, upon government in this instance. It would probably be necessary to demonstrate that individual members of government were failing to adhere to their own Code of Conduct with objective and impartial evidence.

To the best of my knowledge, no employee of any description is ever required to obey an unlawful order. If orders can be shown to be unlawful, in my own mind it becomes the responsibility of the employee to disobey them. It may also be the case that employers issuing unlawful orders can be subject to sanctions, but this would have to be determined by competent, professional legal minds.

 

 

 

To repeat, my observations must not be assumed to be legally accurate. They need to be checked and examined by those whose social responsibility it is to understand these intricacies. My skills relate to teasing out the underlying power dynamics and principles within human relationships, coupled with an ‘ancient’ experience of employment law pertaining to the public sector of local government.

Whether my opinion has any worthwhile contribution to make in resolving the present social unrest amongst the public servants of my country remains to be seen.

On the experience of Envy

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Source: unknown

A couple of days ago, a very good friend of mine was honest enough to tell me she envied my ability to write. She has my deep gratitude for her honesty and personal insight. It took me years in therapy to even begin to understand the emotion, let alone talk about it, and my friend has opened the door to this piece.

It’s taken me many years to get to the stage where I can write in this way. The testing grounds of prison, where the language of communication is intensely basic, stripped away a lot of verbiage from my skill or so my mother tells me. I’ve become more direct and to the point. It’s good to have this kind of feedback because although I know my own internal landscape has altered beyond recognition, it’s hard to know how this translates into my impact upon those around me. My friend’s generosity helped me understand a common experience I seem to have these days – other people’s silence – and it’s helped remember what it was like when I started learning about my own capacity for envy.

A lot of my therapeutic training was done in groups and I well remember the excruciating silences that would descend upon us when envy was trying to make itself understood. From my perspective, it used to seem as though everyone else knew what they were about and I was the stupid laggard. In retrospect, it’s likely that all my travelling companions felt the same way but, at the time, I was certain I was alone. My trainers were exceptional women and I yearned to have their skill and awareness but doubted if that could ever be the case. Nevertheless, I was making the attempt because the goal was so enticing.

During that period, the process of learning was, in a word, foul. Although I knew I desired the skills they possessed, my journey to attaining them for myself was strewn with resentments, bitterness and my own deep sense of inadequacy. Inadequacy is a horrible experience because it makes me feel so vulnerable. I can see now how it was the spur to learn; to overcome the problem and move beyond it but, at the time, it felt like a pointless exercise. My ‘trainee’ believed it was never going to be possible to become like my trainers and, from one angle, I was absolutely right. We can never be anyone else but ourselves. Our individuality is the only basic material we have to work with. The months and years of learning about envy meant I was brought face to face with this. The only person I could ever be was me and my internal opinion of this ‘me’ scored very low on my list of valuables. All in all, I was a very envious woman.

Therapeutic learning about envy is the painful exploration of our deepest levels of inadequacy. This may sound very masochistic and, in some ways, it is until we understand the purpose of the journey. Uncovering these deep layers enables us to discover what we believe about ourselves. This is important because many beliefs cannot withstand the light of exploration simply because they are false. In addition, feelings of inadequacy are actually the seeds of growth. Until we are aware of these, we cannot do anything about them and they remain, lurking deep within our unconscious, affecting our perceptions, attitudes and actions. As I struggled through the experience, I learned that there really were places where I was inadequate but I also learned there were other places where, despite my self-perception, I was very skilled indeed which came as something of a shock. Somewhere along the line, I had learned to despise or devalue my own natural gifts.

It was at this point that the lesson ‘flipped over’. No longer was I discovering my bitter, dark inadequacies; I was learning about the experience of being envied. Although it may sound strange, this was actually more difficult than the first stage. When we are deep in the depths of our own ‘dark matter’, we have some ability to control our experience but we lose this when we encounter the same in others. We all find ourselves at the mercy of other people’s perceptions regardless of who we are. If these are fuelled by unconscious inadequacy, then we get to experience what it is to be envied. Speaking personally, without therapeutic insight,  it has little to recommend it.

Understanding that we can be envied is the start of appreciating that we have talents or qualities that are admirable. It challenges the internal perception of inadequacy, even if we disagree with our admirers. It also confronts our own indolence. Feeling inadequate can be the perfect excuse for not moving, developing or growing. We discover we are not as useless as we had believed and in that awareness, we are faced with our personal responsibility to act on this knowledge. With good support, we can evolve beyond the life we have confined ourselves to and become truly adult. If, however, it is our experience to be envied, then the opposite occurs.

When I discovered that I could be envied, many of the personal experiences I had been unable to explain suddenly fell into place. The bullying I had experienced at school during my childhood suddenly made sense. The naked hatred I had been subjected to on occasions became understandable and my own envious behaviour could be seen in context. When we are the subject of another’s envy, we stop being able to grow at all because the destructive energies we are attracting make it all but impossible. For me, this was the key to understanding why I believed so much of my internal landscape had little or no value and why, when I did find something worthwhile, I would often overdo it and get myself into trouble. If our internal themes are based on experiences of being envied, especially when we are young, then we are likely to unconsciously choose behaviour that reinforces these notions. We go looking for that which confirms what we think we know about ourselves.

There are so many numerous, painful tales about the consequences of being envied that I’m disinclined to add to them here. What I will say is that, in my experience, it has the impact of a nuclear explosion within my internal landscape. There is always a moment where everything I thought I knew about myself is razed to the ground and left in ruins, nor is there any comfort or compassion within reach that might ameliorate the experience. Protests, appeals for kindness, tears and agony make no impact upon envious attackers who regard such expressions as justification for their behaviour. The force of the attack renders the envied vulnerable and helpless by removing all protection which is followed up with unrelenting aggression devoid of mercy or forgiveness. Envy attacks our very being and there is nothing we can do about it. When I came to understand this, I could appreciate how my knowledge of self had been rendered so inadequate. As the object of such attacks, we are always going to be inadequate to prevent it because that is the dynamic of the envious attack itself. We cannot change the envier because they don’t want to be changed; they believe themselves to be entirely justified in what they are doing. Nothing we think, say or do is going to make one iota of difference.

During an envious attack, the balance of polarity is severed. The healthy knowledge that we are all both adequate and inadequate is split apart, creating schizoid perceptions and behaviours. Outwardly, the envier justifies claiming the whole ground of adequacy by maintaining that the envied is wholly inadequate and lacking in any redeeming features whatsoever. In the language of emotional literacy, however,  the internal experience flips this observation because, in truth, an envious attack can only have its roots in deep feelings of inadequacy and the envied has to possess qualities that are likely to be regarded as ‘more than adequate’.  The natural balance of Nature reasserts itself, even if it is done within the different dimensions of our conscious and unconscious selves.

Resolving the terrible consequences of envy is a very difficult task. It involves a two-pronged approach. With those who are subject to being envied, this will probably involve supporting the individual in recognising that the attacks are unreasoned and therefore, because they are so destructive, can be shown to be so. It may also include work to empower the envied to recognise their innate talents and develop them further. Working with the envier – which assumes consent – is frequently a case of dealing with facts to begin with. The talent they admire in others, and wish they could possess for their own, needs to be examined closely. For example: such talents are often the result of very hard work. They don’t spring, fully formed, from the envied but are the result of actualised potential. Does the envier want to do the work to achieve this ability? If they do, then the object of their envy is a waymarker for their own personal growth. If they don’t, then the exploration turns to what they do want and how that might be achieved. Human life is limited by the boundaries of birth and death so, realistically, we cannot develop every talent and are forced to choose between them. Bearing in mind that the healthy polarity of envy is gratitude, we can have feelings of envy about another’s talent whilst taking responsibility for our life choices. For example: I have a life-long envy of anyone who can play the piano but I have chosen to develop different skills and have declined to do the necessary work to become a pianist myself. These days, I still feel the yearning but because I walk a different path, I can be deeply grateful to those pianists manifesting their talents for my enjoyment. In developing my own skills, I can appreciate the level of dedicated commitment to the long haul of ‘practice, practice, practice’ required to truly manifest the best a human being is capable of. A fully realised skill is an object of awe and wonder but it is not the end of the process.

‘Healthy’ envy marks the entrance to the world of human struggle and endeavour. If we envy, it shows us what we truly desire and where we need to strive. If we are envied, it shines a light on qualities we may not have known we had. It is the paradoxical experience of adequacy and inadequacy and is probably our deepest experience of human vulnerability and its power. Where envy becomes most toxic is when we reject awareness; refuse the effort it takes to develop our talent; decline any personal responsibility for our attitudes or behaviour; and indulge ourselves in the worst humanity capable of. On the map of undifferentiated human consciousness, this is the place marked “Here be monsters”, yet as the light of awareness shines in, the very same spot can also be named “The Birthplace of Heroes”.

In closing, I return to my envious friend who only needed a gentle reminder of the content of her feelings. Without her honesty, this piece could never have been written, so how can I not be grateful? Those who find this helpful for their own journey can be grateful too for she has been the source of light in this very dark subject. Between us – the envier and the envied – we have become joint creators in new conversations about what it is to be human.

Jeni – thank you so much for the gift of your truth. If you ever choose to write down your own version of this experience (and would like it published), let me know. I’d be delighted to post it here.

The Politics of Integrity

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HRA Lord Bingham

In a highly polarised society where opposites co-exist – ‘the rich man in his castle, the poor man at the gate’ – to strive to be balanced is probably the most subversive human adventure of all.

To observe and detail how a society gets caught up in the politics of envy, the balanced individual needs to seek out and experience each polarity that exists within it. Dualism demands there is an opposite to envy. So what on earth could it be? We can be deeply grateful to the rather cranky and argumentative psychoanalyst, Melanie Klein, for her work in identifying it.

The opposite of envy is gratitude.

If envy is the negative human expression of perceived scarcity and how we respond to it, the polar opposite will have to contain the positive human expression of perceived abundance. In this dynamic, perception is the key that holds our power to choose how we handle these natural experiences. The dance between scarcity and abundance is normal for Planet Earth, with her ages and seasons in constant flux and all our human stories, myths and legends reflect this. As human beings, we are subject to these changes whether we like it or not and any personal or individual power resides solely in how we respond.

We live on a planet that is in the throes of a Life-Death-Life transition. For those of us in Western Society, we are moving from an experience of abundance to an experience of deep scarcity. In the natural cycles, this is normal because it opens the doors for the next cycle of growth or Life. Some things die back in order to make way for the new. This brings unexpected changes as we learn to live with loss, often of aspects or people we hold very dear to us. For those who survive it, the Death cycle teaches us the value of grief by tipping us into the underworld of human experience and forcing us to make choices about how we will live in the future. Freud describes this as Eros and Thanatos – the choice between life and death. What is important here is that life is represented by the god of Love; Eros.

It is not smooth sailing on quiet seas that teaches us about who we are. We only really get to know ourselves well by enduring the storms and tempests of human experience. Death removes the flesh from our existence and introduces us to the bones of our inner selves. It is at these depths that we learn about the choices we make.

In ‘The Politics of Envy’, I explore the negative polarity of loss and scarcity when unexplored personal choices are rooted in envy. Without doubt, this is the underworld of Thanatos where there is no hiding the depths to which humanity can sink. In the realm of envy, the choice is death but this is not the only region in Hades. In therapeutic terms, laying bare the bones of envy serves a very important purpose because it moves the client firmly into the realm of personal choice. Do we cling to our egos or do we move on?

The key question to ask is “What is good about this experience?” In other words, what can we feel grateful for?

Bear in mind that, in a dualistic reality, the glass is always half full/empty.  If we can only perceive emptiness, we remain caught in the jaws of egotistical envy because any possibility for creativity (fullness) is denied. When we start seeing the opposite polarity the emptiness remains because it forms part of the reality of loss but we add something new – potential. We can deepen this potential by intensifying the experience through the perception of gratitude. That’s the theory, anyway! In practice, it can be much harder. What I can say is that it is worth the effort.

The cycle of Life-Death-Life is intensely painful and is frequently the cause of significant suffering, especially at the nadir. It is a paradoxical question, asking what might be good about this and my own past reactions have often been filled with astonished and enraged indignation! These are normal human responses to the shocks associated with deep and irrevocable loss that leave us feeling powerless. We are victims of circumstance as well as our own choices and the notion that we could find something to be grateful for in all of it produces outrage. This is a totally, beautifully normal and healthy part of human experience. The grieving process always contains rage because this is the emotion that moves us forward through the darkness. These feelings are how we explore the underworld that exists within each of us. They cause us to look around to see what is left after everything has died. By hunting down even the smallest seeds of gratitude, we are laying the foundations for return and rebirth. We are choosing life; not the old life but a new one based on the wisdom we have gathered through our underworld journey.

These archetypal processes apply to the whole of humanity and they have been very well documented by the likes of Joseph Campbell and Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. The purpose is to teach us the demands of the well-springs of human potential. They come with a price-tag because their wisdom can only be unlocked via repeated personal journeys through the underworld.

In my own experience, the seeds of gratitude come through acts of kindness and generosity between ourselves and our perception of the world. It is a momentous act of personal kindness towards reality  when we choose to relinquish our egotistical need for personal control, cease to envy and learn to become grateful for our journey through the travails and triumphs of life. In a world petrified by the politics of envy, this is an act of true power that cannot be equalled simply because it can only be achieved through the unique personal choice of an evolving human being. The new energies emerge as choice piles upon personal choice. From the underworld, we can see all those who literally sacrificed their own lives so we could learn how to do this. From the depths, we can see those who choose to be kind when cruelty was available to them too. Within the darkest places of the human psyche, we encounter fellow travellers who share their nuggets of wisdom, enabling us to take the next step on our return journey to a new way of living. We learn to share ourselves. We learn we have something valuable to share when we do this. We learn that there are better ways of living than those we thought we knew. But, for me, there is one lesson that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

The journey through loss, rage and envy teaches us who we are and topples us into the experience of grief. When we encounter deep grief, we meet our natural instincts face to face. Grief is the journey of pain and suffering but it is also the landscape of our capacity for Love. The deeper our ability to feel pain, the deeper our direct experience of Love itself because it is the only power in the universe that can make this journey and live. This is the deepest knowledge of all and it is the wisdom of the Spirit.

I share a very deep empathy with atheists because what is being rejected, in Spiritual terms, are the religious constructs of envy which refuse personal experience of the underworld whilst applying its strictures to others. Nevertheless, within the core beliefs of every religion dwell fundamental spiritual truths about the human experience of Life itself. Not for nothing does Jesus teach that the only way to enter the experience of Heaven is by being born again. It is not a pretty theory; it is blisteringly hard practice. Not for nothing does Islam require Ramadan because it is a repeated experiential teaching in the power of scarcity. Not for nothing does the Buddha teach that the path through Life is found through the balance of Light and Dark. These are lessons in Love itself and they teach us gratitude for the wonder of Life itself.

Where I part with company of atheists resides in the issue of Life after Death. That anything so fine, so precious, so infinitely valuable as these lessons in the fundamental experience of the healthy human spirit-under-fire could be discarded at the point of physical death simply goes against the Laws of Nature. Nature is not wasteful. To imagine Nature casually discarding something so extraordinarily important beggars belief and falsifies perception. Given that perception dwells at the heart of human politics, to deny the essence of the healthy human spirit is to choose the path of envy. To perceive this miracle of humanity is to be grateful for Life itself in all its forms and is how we contribute towards and align ourselves with creative manifestation. This is the process of rebirth and it always has a spiritual component because the dynamic can’t function without it. The atheists can argue about this all they want but the evidence is already in. History is littered with examples of this too.

The process of collective rebirth is as inclusive as the politics of envy is exclusive. When we experience the depths of our being, we stop caring about labels and start seeking the essence. It doesn’t matter what someone is, we want to know who they are. Do I care if someone is an atheist? Not in the least! They are teaching themselves something that only they can learn in their own unique way. Do I mind about some of the hardships I’ve experienced? Of course I do! They are my precious teachers and my most intuitive guides. Am I better or worse than another? How the hell do I know! I aim to be equal because that’s all that’s left me if I am to appreciate what I’ve learned in my gratitude for Life.

Within the politics of envy, I am an unwanted exile which points to the possibility that I, amongst many others, am envied by the rich. Within this paradigm, what on earth could the rich perceive as a quality in me that could never exist in them?

Perhaps it is in the simple grace of finding it within ourselves to be grateful for who we are and not just what we have.

Email to my MP: Appendix 1

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Please remember that with a twitter-feed, you begin at the bottom and work up.

The same is true if you ever really want to effect healthy and lasting change.

Please read the tweets first, because there is something you need to see with your own eyes.

 

You’ll have to go to Appendix 2 for that information.