A sane person to an insane society must appear insane – Vonnegut.
It was 1998 something radical happened that changed my world forever. I asked a friend if she was going to the latest movie.
She said: “Is that the one about the serial killer?”
“Yes”, I said.
She replied: “Oh no, I’m not going to that. I’m very careful about what I put in here (pointing to her head) because once it goes in I can’t get it out again”.
In that moment I was liberated.
It was so simple really, but she taught me that I have a right to say no to what occupies my inner world; that what goes in to my head via my eyes and ears is as important as what food I eat to sustain my body. It seems so obvious yet I don’t think, up until that point, I had realised how important my inner landscape was. If I fill my head with endless images of violence, rape, destruction, homicide, genocide, cruelty, then that is what informs my thinking, my dreaming, and my imaginings. The inner landscape of our imagination is as sensitive as our stomachs and as vital to our wellbeing.
We are drowning in an overwhelming amount of information right now. Some of it is important, but so much of it is gross, violent, over simplified, homicidal, grotesque voyeurism, or celebrations of the worst of what it means to be human. If I let that information colonise my inner landscape then I would be certain of many things such as; the Apocalypse, the death of all things good, that being a narcissistic vacuous celebrity is the highest ambition of humanity. I would despair and I would believe that I am powerless against governments and corporations as they fight to gain control over the last uncolonised landscape: the human soul/psyche.
My inner landscape is the only thing that I do own. Tracy Chapman (All that you’ve got is your soul), Nina Simone (I Got Life) and other artists have talked about the one thing we really own: our souls, our bodies, our minds, our hearts. These are ours to protect.
To mind my inner landscape I sustain myself on good medicine. I surround myself in good people. It is a daily practice.
As e.e. cummings wrote:
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
Nurturing my inner landscape helps me manage the feelings of overwhelm and powerlessness. Looking at stories that inspire me is not the same as sticking my head in the sand. Those stories empower me, that encourage me to get up and do something. They teach me that I can make a difference. At times like this, I have never felt the call more powerfully to maintain the health and well being of my inner landscape.
In regards to this post US election world…
I believe that the human species is capable of great things, in terms of both horror and beauty.
I believe we are witnessing the end of Empire. It is difficult and painful and violent. We are surrounded by anti-human rhetoric, anti-planet rhetoric, and anti-species rhetoric.
We are witnessing corporations and governments (corpo-governments?) taking self interest to the absolute limit. We are being tested. We, as a species, are being tested.
And humanity, it is our turn to rise.
I believe that all humans are equal.
I believe what makes us valuable as a human being is based on how we contribute to the well being of all who occupy the world, rather than the colour of our skin, our gender identity, our sexuality, our religious choice, or cultural practice.
I believe that we can counter this apocalyptic rise in Facism with Love. Not whimsical romantic love. Not love as we perceive it through the camera lens. But Real Love. Love, at its root, is strong. Love has shown us time and again that it is the greater force.
Love is stronger. It is clearer. It is a better way forward. Love your neighbour. Love your city. Love your friends and your enemies. Love your planet. Speak up for each other. Let us recognise our common humanity. Whoever you are, you’re in my family.
Muslims, you’re in my family.
LGBQTers, you’re in my family.
Activists, you’re in my family.
Singers, you’re in my family.
Black People, you’re in my family.
Palestinians, you’re in my family.
Dreamers, you’re in my family.
Men, you’re in my family.
Syrians, you’re in my family.
Red People, you’re in my family.
Holy women and men, you’re in my family.
Children, you’re in my family.
Artists, you’re in my family.
Women, you’re in my family.
Facists, you’re in my family.
Politicians, you’re in my family.
Eco warriors, you’re in my family.
Brown People, you’re in my family.
Buddhists, you’re in my family.
Storytellers, you’re in my family.
Jewish people, you’re in my family.
Advocates, you’re in my family.
Haters, you’re in my family.
Sikhs, you’re in my family.
White People, you’re in my family.
Atheists, you’re in my family.
Narcissists, you’re in my family.
Theatre-makers, you’re in my family.
Satirists, you’re in my family.
Doctors, you’re in my family.
Students, you’re in my family.
We can rise up together. Who could stop 8 billion people if they all wanted something?
I’d like a future.
I’d like our grandchildren to live on a green planet.
I’d like us to tell stories of making and changing, rather than killing and destroying.
I’d like to live in an ecosystem of respect, where we live within our means.
I’d like you to join me in that.
You’re in my family.