I want to present practical, tangible, do-able and easily understood practices for creating connection and a sense of belonging.
Why? I believe it may be possible for ordinary people to realize that they, with others, have within themselves the ability to build a culture of peace, and in fact see the only way it will be built is from the inside out. My purpose is to assist whoever is willing to move from despair to hope.
I am presenting a series of steps that are modeled after the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous because I don’t know of anyone who does not suffer from the effects of the addiction to “domination disorder,” which is another name for the many forms of the mania for control, violence and the vanity of self-importance. I have chosen plutocracy to represent the acme of that disorder because so many people can readily identify with the damage that it causes, and there are any number of possible names that could be used. In part, plutocracy comes to the foreground around the celebration of America’s founding on July 4th, when so much is usually said about freedom. Plutocracy is a system of mindless, heartless ownership of other human beings that is enslaves both owners and owned.
The unspoken messages of slavery, domination and violence are “Get away from me, I cannot tolerate your presence, I cannot communicate with you, I am not in community with you, you do not belong to me.” It is a message of extreme distrust that justifies any means necessary to control other people. It is a message of dis-connection.
These steps, then, are the work of re-union, of love. It is neither quick nor easy! This work takes concentration and discipline in order to closely examine our hyper-vigilant defense mechanisms that have protected us from shame and trauma, and allow those defenses to relax.
I suggest that you initiate an independent fellowship of recovery from our culturally-conditioned dependency on violent thoughts, words, and deeds using these Steps (Affirmations) of Personal and Global Peace in combination with self-disclosure in a safe group environment, a small weekly discussion group of friends for keeping each other encouraged and accountable for working each step.
Let us begin, then, with
We are not a free country in America. We have the largest percentage of our population in prison of any nation. In reality we are all in a prison of our own making because violent thoughts, words and deeds, coming from the desire to be right, build the walls of solitary confinement. Do we want to be right, or do we want to belong to the human race?
These are questions that may bring forth our admission of powerlessness:
What are the typical situations in which I feel oppressed?
In what ways have I become numb to witnessing the oppression of others?
How would my life be different if there were more collaboration and less conflict?
Do not despair about feeling powerless. This is just the beginning. What we discover as we work ALL the steps is a new source of incredible power, beginning in
Integration of our rational, language-based thought and intuitive, wordless, emotional capabilities can bring us strength and peace.
When we are faced with threats to our existence, we need more than historical, logical or analytical intelligence. While that kind of thinking can be very clever at solving some problems, it also tends to create boundaries and limitations, or dis-connection from vast and helpful resources.
Research has shown there are more signals flowing from the heart to the brain than from the brain to the heart. Listening to heart and body-centered intuition adds the vision, courage and wisdom we need to risk new behaviors that avoid the repetition of past mistakes.
Throughout history, as Gandhi observed, there have been tyrants who oppressed and violated the dignity of others, yet they have always failed because they lacked heart intelligence. Gandhi had the ability to transcend the obstacles with which he was presented and convert them into opportunities by establishing right relationships.
To do the same we need the connecting abilities of empathy, love, patience, appreciation — even joy and forgiveness — qualities of character that are associated with the heart. In order to thrive, we need to let go of our rational tendency to be hyper-vigilant that is embedded in a defiant, fortress mentality of expecting worst possible outcomes.
Trusting that we are continuously having our needs met by our intuitive ability to adapt and re-arrange relationships and situations leads to a lifestyle that is confident, resilient and inter-dependent. It ends our self-identification as victims and makes it impossible for plutocrats — or anyone else — to control us.
Allow yourself to simply accept the first (intuitive) guess that arises in response to these questions:
Who or what is this growing and expanding aliveness within me?
Who or what inspires me with feelings of love or awe?
Why am I here?
If we can dig deep for the answers to these questions, we have the strength to move on to
For this to work, we need to re-program our routine thinking of ourselves as separate beings. If we make a daily commitment to let go of expectations and control of other people and situations, we will start to hold down the “on” button of understanding and connecting more completely with others. Doing so will allow us to trust in the energy of the present moment in order for our goals to fit more perfectly with the supportive context without which we would not exist.
Letting go of the struggle against external enemies — who appear to be not our brothers, not our sisters — and our status as victims is not easy because it locates the primary enemy within ourselves, the last place we would want to find it. As Walt Kelly’s cartoon character, Pogo, said: “We have found the enemy, and he is us.”
These are some questions which will help us become aware of how important it is for us to join the human race as “one of them:”
When has my distrust stopped me from working with others?
When have I been so uncertain about what to do that I asked for help?
How would my life be different if I were more patient, more present, with my immediate and extended families?