When I talked about being able to return one day and be at peace with my culture of origin, I did not know how that was supposed to happen, with all the mess it had created in me and in the world; at the same time, how could I ever be truly at home in the foreign place I went to?
My studies pointed out answers rooted in Zen Buddhism and non-dualistic philosophy. Yet another, deeply compassionate answer has been provided by Bayo Akomolafe, a westernized African academic living in India, if I may attach some handy labels for convenience.
In his open letter of this month, “Dear White People“, he came to astonishing conclusions. Astonishing because, despite so many words, they are so simple and obvious.
He is speaking about how indigeneity has become a concept to the taste of the Western mind, how it serves to perpetuate the dualistic paradigm, how humankind could actually decolonize the world, and what true indigeneity would look like:
“The much hated neoliberal capitalism and the techno-utopic longings for permanence, for abstraction and dominance are just as indigenous (and ‘natural’) as naked dances by moonlight (and other such spectacular ways Hollywood likes to depict non-western people). […]
A different way to think about decolonization is as intimacy with where we are. It is accounting for and opening up to our embeddedness, not grappling for a Plato-nic identity or transcendent quality. […]
We are constantly touching each other, infecting each other, so that it is impossible to trace out an original point. This suggests that my ‘blackness’ co-arises with your ‘whiteness’ – and that we are hyphenated aspects of each other. […]
What changes when the anxiety of ‘arriving home’ or ‘becoming indigenous’ is replaced with a studious slowness and a curiosity about where you are? […]”
To begin with, it already makes you wonder how a seemingly decent person becomes a snooty ignorant bitch the very moment he or she joins one of these groups. It almost looks like, on entry, some part of their brains get lobotomized, making them completely incapable of rational thought, reasonable action, and feeling compassion for others.
E.g. the first person to file a complaint with them is regarded as “the victim”, per definition, the other, of course, must become ” the villain” who can expect to receive strong scolding including elements of intimidation. The basis of the groups’ decisions is hearsay, throughout, upon which opinions get built which have everything to do with personal preferences and nothing to do with facts.
In case a “villain” is unwillig to surrender another institution called COWDUNG comes into play which uses progressive methods of manipulation like ‘Neuro-Linguistic Progrmming’, Mediation, and ‘Non-Violent Communication’ to determine that “the villain” is actually the villain.
And so it goes on.
As I said, I thought I had seen them all. At least enough of them to have an educated guess at how all the others are operating.
I was wrong.
By the end of last week I have been attending a meeting of what could be regarded as the secret crown of all the other pseudo-governmental groups, and their acronym might as well have been HELL. If you have ever been walking in the hallways of power, if you have ever lingered among members of government or high finance, this is how you may imagine it felt to be there with HELL. Their field of activity is within the realm of financial assets and immovables, and immovable, indeed, were their. stonelike faces and the notions that guided their decisions. One of them impatiently twitching a finger was as much as they allowed themselves to give insight into their actual thoughts about some petty farmer explaining his being passionate about his work and being concerned over what happens to the land that is supposed to get sold to some mining company. HELL must have come to the conclusion that these peasants were suffering from an incurable delusion about the value of money — the stuff you can use to buy food from elsewhere — but as it was unlikely that these poor souls could be talked out of their misinformed condition the obvious answer was, Thanks so much for sharing with us; we assure you that your worries are baseless, and that we will Inform you in case the situation changes.
With that we have been dismissed.
The very instant the door closed in our backs, the feeling of suffocation immediately stopped and fresh air filled my lungs again.
Dude, was I just thinking, Occupy Townhall?
If only that were the solution…
I used to get mad at you. But that was when I still thought there was some sort of intelligence in you that could respond to my rage. From what I understand today, you are a sad case of someone being helplessly possessed by hate, and you don’t even care whose livelihood you destroy in the name of “love and light”.
You leave me confused. I don’t know how to deal with all this falsehood. I don’t know how NOT to deal with it.
“From 1459 onward the pope repeatedly appealed to the Christian powers to join in a common crusade and he raised the monies to subsidize such a concerted movement [against the Ottoman empire]. Dracula alone responded to his call.”
(taken from: Dracula, prince of many faces; his life and his times; by R. Florescu & R. McNally)
Let me explain why I think arbitration is detrimental to what we are seeking to achieve in Auroville, and what we could try instead.
From the collection of Mother’s explanations of Auroville’s aims and ideals we know that its society is supposed to be what she calls a “Divine Anarchy”, a community in which each individual, and the township as a whole, is guided by a higher consciousness. In effect, we would not need to be governed by any worldly authority because we would take responsibility for our deeds ourselves, acting in the interest of the common good. We would still have different opinions, but we would not deem them more valuable than anybody else’s needs. Embracing our diverse world as it is we would make decisions in consensus with others. That requires a great deal of understanding of people’s needs and motivations.
In the old paradigm, the civilization we have been born into, it is understood that, in a world of scarcity, the needs of individuals compete with each other for fulfillment. Therefore my gain is your loss, and vice versa.
In order to overcome this kind of thinking we must learn to resolve conflicts by achieving a win-win situation, i.e. the needs of everyone involved getting met. Just like NVC [non-violent communication] it doesn’t come easy to us; it has to be trained, dispute by dispute, until it becomes our natural habit to look for common ground. From this new point of view, each conflict situation is a challenge rather than a problem, and it becomes an opportunity to learn and grow. Conflict must not be suppressed in favour of superficial harmony, but rather lived through consciously.
To a large part, the Council’s draft reflects this understanding, describing a procedure that ranges from rather informal talks to facilitated, strictly reglemented methods, including restorative circles, reconciliation, mediation, NVC-meetings, and negotiation. If no agreement is reached the Council imposes arbitration on the conflicting parties and everyone else involved.
Arbitration, basically, is a settlement of affairs by judgement of appointed, ideally non-partial, persons. Their sentence is binding, leaving no choice to anyone affected by it.
This is a misapprehension.
Arbitration may shorten the timespan until the issue is off the Council’s table, true enough. But it also stops the process of conflict resolution within the minds of the quarrelling people. It takes their responsibility for coming to a conclusion off their shoulders, and hands it over to an authority which they have no power over. To say that arbitration puts an end to suffering is objectionable for two reasons.
First of all, every time we suffer life tells us that something in our thinking, something in our strategies, something in our actions is not working out. We run into walls, physically or mentally, get hurt, analyze what has happened, and adjust to our new understanding of the world. That’s how we usually learn the important lessons in life. Some call it “trial and error”, some call it “learning by doing”. In short, we need suffering in order to be able to let go of non-functioning thought and behaviour.
Secondly, with arbitration being used to end a dispute, a person’s suffering from the pressures of conflict is getting replaced by suffering under the felt injustice of the verdict. Usually one, often both sides feel that their needs have not been met, their position not been understood. Rightly so, because we all know that even the most respectable arbiter is not free of bias. The pain of being degraded to an object in a decision-making process, to powerlessly having to bear the judgement by another, can be some of the most agonizing among all perceptions. Arbitration thus undermines the belief of the individual in the just, equitable functioning of its society. Authoritarian approaches such as arbitral verdicts are IN THE WAY of achieving a true dissolution of conflicts because the arbiters’ view suppresses contradicting opinions, thus creates rejection instead of acceptance, and the grudge against our opponents, and society as a whole, remains as a splinter under our fingernails.
We should not get forced to accept arbitral verdicts. Not to be willing, though, to do the inner work necessary to achieve the kind of human unity mentioned in Auroville’s charter makes our presence in the township pointless, or even disruptive. Personally developing solutions to our conflicts is therefore a must, a top-priority task given to us, an order to learn. If our consciousness is not evolved enough to come to an agreement with our fellow human beings, we should be forced to work on exactly that issue.
How do we do that?
Time seems, to me, of cruical importance in matters of conflict. The longer the quarrelling lasts the more we get used to the rhythm of strike and counterstrike. We adjust to the constant presence of pain. In time we also lose the confidence that struggling will eventually end. If, however, the opponents are kept in close proximity, their suffering will be more intense; so will be their efforts to solve the problem, as well. We may expect a speeding up of the process, resulting in a quicker finalization.
Let’s call the last step of conflict resolution “intensification”, and let’s say we make the opponents meet each other daily for two hours, under the guidance of an NVC-trained facilitator. NVC as such may have failed before when some of the persons involved have learned the phrasing technique, but refuse to consequently actualize its meaning. The objective in intensification is to bring about a deeper understanding of the other’s needs, deep enough anyway to be able to propose how those needs may be met. The method consists of the following steps:
a) collectively attempting to phrase each person’s needs until they feel exhaustively understood
b) reciprocally proposing actions that are likely to meet our opponent’s need, until that person feels satisfied
c) harmonization of the proposed actions
d) written agreement that is binding to everyone involved. Its contents should be quantifiable in time and amount.
It is the duty of each party to find acceptable solutions for its (former) opponents, and the process must not get interrupted until we have come to a written agreement. As there is no deadline to the process, and as the meetings are happening daily, unavoidingly confronting us with the suffering of our neighbour (and our own), eating up a sensible amount of our precious time, with impacts on both work and private life, we cannot help but break our inner resistence. There is only one way out: achieving a consensus. Having truly understood this, suddenly there is motion.
What do we do, then, with those resisting to collaborate? – Well, the same as with those resisting to abide by the arbitral rule, now. Only would I propose to expand the range of tools into the realm of social control, before we go into exclusion from the Master list. Step by step we would be approaching friends to make them have a talk with the person in question; respected Aurovilians may later take the role of a coach to carefully steer the person into understanding the need for opening up. A denial of service and a temporary stopping of work engagement may further help with achieving the insight that society and individual are in a mutual relationship of dependency, which means that a society can only support the individual if the individual contributes sufficiently to its functioning. Only after it is made sure that someone will persist, regardless, is it justified to exclude people from citizenship in Auroville due to their involvement in a conflict. While it is not asked too much to deliver on the promise that we made when we came here by our own free will (to collaborate and constantly evolve), it is important to note that imposing “solutions” produces the exact opposite: resistence and rigidity. We must avoid, by all means, what literally becomes an arbitrary rule.
Yes, we could have insisted – and we have no doubt this proposal would have gone through easily – and if the present Entry Service did not accept it, the community could have asked them to step down and a new one formed to implement it […]
Or the community could have imposed the present Entry Service to implement it. These are both nightmare scenarios and we did not wish to create neither of them.”
(Report of the Entry Task Force, a residents’ initiative)
Now imagine a similar situation in any of the Western democracies.
Would a citizens’ movement have the power to overthrow an administrative body just like this?
And if they had the power — or any political party had it – would they step back from their demands on encountering strong objections?
Would anybody in a position of strength try to make an attempt to come to a consensus with the opposing forces, with the help of a facilitator?
Auroville surely needs reforms, revolutionary changes even, on all levels of public life. But if you asked me what’s so special about this township, it is events like the above I would point at – people daring to live by a higher consciousness. Knowing that overpowering another will not create solutions, only conflict. Or, in more brash words, War doesn’t decide who is right, just who is left.
Heute vor 40 Jahren fanden in den USA die letzten groß angelegten Friedensmärsche gegen den Vietnamkrieg statt, das sogenannte Moratorium. Dabei kam es u.a. vor dem Weißen Haus zu einer Massendemonstration, die beinahe ein weltweites Desaster ausgelöst hätte. Durch Courage in den Reihen der Sicherheitskräfte konnte dies verhindert werden. Neulich hatte ich das Vergnügen, einen Zeitzeugen kennenzulernen und veröffentliche dessen Erinnerungen mit seiner ausdrücklicher Genehmigung, auch der zur Nennung aller Namen.
I was a Sp4 in the 1/17th Airborne Cavalry of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC in 1969… I was in the Army from 1967 to 1970.
During the weekend of the Moratorium, the 82nd Airborne Division was put on alert to go to Washington, DC, to ‘police’ the protest. Leaves and passes were canceled and the Division was ‘briefed’. We were told that the Moratorium was a cover for a violent government takeover by communists that was to be suppressed by any means necessary. We were told we were to go to the Moratorium with loaded weapons and if we felt it necessary to open fire, we would not be held responsible.
To the soldiers, after years of lies about the Viet Nam War, this meant a bloodbath against the protesters was the intended result of the action. At first, one soldier refused to accept a weapon, then more, and after a few hours, it was apparent that the soldiers, many of them Viet Nam Veterans, would not go and obey orders.
Personally, I refused the order at the door to the armory room and was told to go up to my platoon bay and wait. I did so, expecting to be alone in the bay and ultimately be either jailed for life or be killed for refusing orders. At the time, I had decided I would die for my country, if necessary, so I would as easily die when refusing an illegal order. As I sat there, more and more soldiers came up, without weapons, and we sat and played cards, not talking about it, all of us afraid but apparently resolute. I had decided I would rather go to prison than obey an order I consider against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which I had taken a vow to uphold. I was ordered to go down to see the Captain, and upon entering the office, I was confronted by a room lined with angry NCOs [Unteroffiziere] and Officers, with my Commanding Officer sitting at a desk.
He asked me if I had refused to take a weapon. I responded by reciting the Constitution that says that people have the right to assemble for regress of grievances, word for word, surprisingly doing it from memory, an astounding act I didn’t know I could do. My CO then told me I had to obey orders and THEN protest those orders. I responded by saying that ultimately it was every individuals responsibility to decide what they will do, regardless of other people’s orders, that I would not go to Washington and kill Americans exercising their rights regardless of orders.
We argued awhile, my demeanor exactly as expected by a soldier talking to his commanding officer, but making clear to him that my decision, regardless of what is done to me as a result, was not going to change under any intimidation. Finally he ordered me up to my bay, saying as I left that he was sorry that the Viet Nam war was not a ‘declared war’ so he could take me out and shoot me. At that point, I was willing to die for the People of the USA if it was decided to kill me, even if carried out by my own Army. I also decided I would be a pacifist from then on, a decision I have upheld since that day. War, regardless of reason, is obviously social insanity committed by an insane institution.
More soldiers were called down and returned. I have no idea what was said to them, because nobody talked about it. There was no ‘conspiracy’, no ‘subversion’, no agenda… it was completely spontaneous and unplanned, before, during, and after. I expected the news to carry the story, but apparently nobody spoke to the press about it. I am not, nor have ever been, a believer or member of any communist or any other ‘ism’. I consider them all equally stupid.
After hours of waiting, play cards and not talking about anything but cards, our NCO came up all smiles and we were given our leaves and passes back, and it was as if the incident never happened. Years later, I heard that the USSR had warned Nixon that if he dropped a nuke on Hanoi, the USSR would consider it a ‘first strike’ and retaliate massively. The Generals told Nixon it was a bluff, so Nixon ordered a nuclear bomb dropped anyway. Apparently the 82nd had to then tell Nixon that the soldiers would not come to Washington, where he was planning to announce the strike from the Oval office, -to be seen as ‘Presidential’-. Knowing that such an announcement might well cause the protesters to come through the fence of the White House like a Tsunami, Nixon recalled the B-52 and the bomb was not dropped. Under the Freedom of Information Act, I heard that the USSR considered the incident as important to them as the Cuban Missile Crisis was to Kennedy and was planning to retaliate just as they had warned. I believe that the world exists now because of the soldiers of the 82nd refusing, en mass, an illegal order by the President of the United States.
– (William Alan Fangohr aka Roan Carratu aka Worldmind,
mit der Nummer RA16961035 im Juni 1967 in die Armee aufgenommen und ehrenvoll entlassen im Juni 1970)
Fear separates us from each other. Fear is the key to division, possession, rules and laws and any kind of corruption. Remember “Addendum” where it displays corruption as the dominance of self-preservation.
So would you prefer to fight your fear by seeking security? Or is it more useful not to separate from each other and thus annihilate any conflict before it comes into existence?
What if we didn’t emphasize the ME any more – MY wishes, MY hopes, MY fear, MY interests, MY insight, MY way of life, MY property, MY security – and started thinking and acting as though we really were the change we wanted to see in the world?
For The Zeitgeist Movement is not simply about throwing overboards our belief in money, hierarchy and all the rest. WE are the ones who create our individual self. So WE separate the world into persons, groups, nations, races. So WE create borders, both visible and invisible, and property within the borders. So WE are the ones who create the feeling of the borders, of the property and of our beliefs being threatened. So WE create suspicion. So WE try to protect ourselves through fences, laws, patents, weapons and so on.
So WE are the system we want to overcome.
This is easier understood than actually lived, I know. But there is no way past the dissolution of the self(-interest) or we will end up with the same old mess on just a different day.
Beating the system by its own game won’t serve us well.