Thursday, February 9, 2012

Design your own empowerment

Sometimes you need to be silly for a while.
In certain circles, it's encouraged to 'be playful' and 'take liberties' with the concept of 'making sense', however this just shows how much importance people place on adhering to so-called sensible behaviour patterns and doing what is expected of the 'modern, mature adult'.

This is why I suggest working on your level of disregard for the paradigm du jour. Imagine how we'll be living in 50 years if this innovative approach to learning in the classroom catches on. To position one's self onto comfortable, asymmetrical and colourful pieces of furniture seems to be the start of much more imaginative thinking than being merely tucked behind a desk arranged in a row. It's a beautiful manifestation of the dream spaces we've been longing for - the freedom to live in a world where variation and uniqueness are highly regarded, and the opportunity to arrange your body in such a way that it directly stimulates how you arrange your mental processes. A generation of kids brought up in this sort of classroom will probably have some wild and creative ideas that I can't really imagine at the moment, though I do imagine that they will approach space outside the classroom in a new way, and transform the outside world, as well: all a metaphor for what's happening within.

At this moment I believe that human beings have inherited a rather dark history. At the same time, I have reason to believe that the world is getting nicer. Perhaps we need a 'niceness revolution', where special emphasis is placed upon cultivating goodwill amongst humans, so that it intensifies quickly over a short period of time. Anyway, I can see the strain of making one's way in the world in the eyes of my friends and the intellectuals I admire and am guided by. I learned some years ago through an appointment with an iridologist that when we tense up our eyes, it becomes visible in the form of rings on the iris. I have two, and many of the remarkable and lovable people I know also do. We want to change the world for the better, and it takes a toll on our systems. But, don't forget: every day it becomes a little easier.

Yesterday, some Californian judges finally ruled that taking away the right of gays and lesbians to marry was unconstitutional. This means same-sex marriage will be back, and with this powerful precedent, a huge boost is given to the cause of marriage equality in the US (and abroad too, because America looms so large in global culture). Further, it gives strength to other minority groups who aren't treated equally, such as racial minorities. Someone asked the question on The Guardian yesterday: Can you imagine a non-white leader of a European state, like Obama? This made me think that, for the next ten or twenty years at least, I can't imagine it. There have been openly gay presidential candidates in Ireland and Finland, but the exclusion of immigrants from cultural capital is so insistent that I am sorry to acknowledge that positions of the highest kind of power will not be available to them for quite some time. However, I am also fully convinced that it will happen. Someone extraordinary will come along and capture the public imagination. It's only a matter of time.

In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about how I can best contribute to softer, more inclusive, more open discourses. I like to treat life as a journey of constant discovery. If I can demonstrate to people how wonderful it is to keep questioning, continue learning, renew my curiosity and thrive on positive challenges, it makes me a happier person. I like to give new meaning to the phrase I used to describe myself when I was younger, 'a self-indulgent altruist'.

To help other people is to do something good for myself.
To do something good for other people is to help myself.

I've always liked this simple encapsulation of karma: What goes around comes around.

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