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The Fish Rots from the Head

The Fish Rots from the Head

I’ve been struggling to process what’s happening in the world this week. I don’t usually choose to turn off the news. I know a lot of sensitives and empaths choose not to watch any of it because they find it too distressing. And I get it. But I’ve long considered myself to be a global citizen and therefore, it’s important to me that I stay in the loop about what is happening. So, I rarely turn away.

But this week I’ve had to a few times. On Tuesday my emotional overload from the images on my screens almost undid me and I had to retreat. I sat quietly and sketched for hours – the creativity blocking out the world while I regained my emotional and energetic equilibrium.

My thoughts have been jumbled and confused as I’ve watched people speak their truth across social platforms with the intention to help change things, to add their voice to the collective who are seeking a transformation of the way things are, to create something equitable. Certainly, racism is also a scourge in Australia just as in the United States although we don’t have the widespread gun use which seems to, from the outside looking in at least, make things so much worse. 

There is always more we can do, more we can say, more times we can speak up against the racist commentary and actions that still finds its way too frequently into modern society. I know, despite my own work and advocacy for Indigenous and multicultural communities in the past, there is still much more I can do and say. I haven’t done enough. I’m owning that. There is always more that I can do and I’m committed to that.

But, in light of all this, what came to the surface for me today as I tussled with the morass of chaotic thoughts in my head was the phrase, “The fish rots from the head”.

Right now, in the US, Trump is the head but he has been created by the rest of the fish. And the rest of the fish is rebelling against itself. I don’t feel like a lot of people get that yet. I think a lot of people voted for Trump and are now protesting for a better world, yet still don’t fully understand that they created the world they are protesting against. They voted for a man who promised to “make America great again” yet he also openly preached division, sexism and racism. He didn’t stand on a platform that appreciated diversity of thought, speech, beliefs or race. Yet, otherwise right-minded, kind and compassionate people voted for him. Try as you might, you can’t dismiss the millions who had their own good reasons for their decision at the ballot box. They can’t all be mad right-wing, survivalist, religious zealots, surely.

Yet, just as surely, many of those right-minded, kind and compassionate people are now protesting in the streets against levels of racism that are reprehensible and unacceptable.

I wonder if they see the connection. I’m guessing some of them might. I’m hoping they do.

From what I’ve observed, 2020 is a time of our shadows coming to the surface and what is happening in the US is part of that process.

The truth is, the enemy isn’t “out there”. It’s not some nefarious one percent of the richest people in the world manipulating the rest of humanity. It’s actually not about money at all. Money is only an energy and some people create and use it ethically while others don’t.

It is the shadows within all of us that we need to address and bring out into the light.

When you allow people like Trump to flourish and you give them power, you create an environment where division is the name of the game. Because the name of the game is power not humility. Ego not wisdom. Control not compassion.

Whether you voted for Trump or not, whether you are in another country observing the destruction from afar or not, we all need to realise that he is a symptom of the whole. And we are the whole. We have created this situation. And it’s time to fucking own it.

There is no mass conspiracy by an unnamed few. There is only us each as individuals, part of a collective of humanity, refusing to look at our shadows and seeking to blame others when we should be looking at ourselves a lot more closely.

Racism and discrimination is wrong. Murdering a man in broad daylight is wrong. This is a no-brainer and we all need to do better.

But turning away from our shadows and pointing out there, is not the answer. It’s time to look at ourselves and own the fish we have created. Then make different choices.

The Joy of Speaking Up for What’s Right

quote_gandhiA few months ago, I felt very disheartened by some of the policies and events in our country. It seemed like every time I opened a news website, there was another story about how we seemed to have lost our hearts in how we treated other human beings.

For example, I would hear rhetoric coming from the mouths of our politicians and some media commentators about refugees (i.e. people who need our help) and I would feel depressed and disgusted by their lack of humanity. Even more disturbing was an overwhelming feeling there was no way to change the situation. I knew many other people who felt as I did, yet we all to a large extent felt powerless to make a difference.

But since then I feel like there’s been a shift and a movement in our community is beginning to gain traction. People with a public profile are speaking up, not just once, but repeatedly about how the situation is unacceptable. They are no longer willing to provide obedient silence and tacit consent for what is being done in our name. They are saying no more. Media commentators, religious figures, doctors and others are speaking up. They are willing to stick their heads above the parapet regardless of the consequences because they know they must do what’s right.

It’s an inspiration and many ordinary people, people like you and me, are adding our voices. We are not going to let the issue die.

For some reason I also feel like people are saying, enough is enough, when it comes to many other forms of inequality and not doing the ‘right thing’ in our country. You just have to look at the Adam Goodes discussion being played out across the social and traditional media channels today to know that people are ready to have their voices heard. No more treating people like crap just because that’s the way it’s always been done. No more pretending that racism doesn’t exist here. No more pretending that we don’t all have a role to play in saying, no more.

When I hear people speaking up for others and saying, ‘Hey, that’s not the right way to treat another human being,’ I feel so very proud and grateful to live in this country. It gives me hope that we are on the right track and we can make a difference. We can all make this a stronger, more inclusive and heart-focused place to be.

So today, instead of feeling disheartened, I feel joyful and hopeful and proud. And they are awesome feelings to have.