The ugly truth

This is not going to be my usual post deep in reflection but rather more of a diary entry where I get to vent out in my own safe ‘private’ space. Life is strange these days. We are in a kind of Covid limbo where we are neither in motion again nor stationary. What is that state? How does one acclimatise to an undefined existence where it is risky to get going but equally dangerous to stay put?

Work is picking up for us in the office which is great, but it just means that we are falling into the old patterns of our daily existence being driven by the frenzy of new orders. The daily walk which was so therapeutic and refreshing has now reverted back to a chore that needs to be gotten out of the way so that we can spend more time doing the real meaningless chores and be more (or rather less) productive at work.

Throughout the day I often go to twitter for a bit of respite. I encounter fantastic humour there, really interesting people too and I love how most feel they have the freedom to say what they are really thinking and not the measured responses that we often give face to face, because we feel we need to restrain ourselves or else we may come across as human. Perish the thought! Having said that, sometimes that very same veil which gives others a mask to hide behind, can be the sword that cuts both ways. If you are observant enough, if you are patient enough and look closely enough, you realise that whilst some can use that veil of anonymity to propel them into sincerity, there are others who abuse the freedom that such invisible curtain gives them and choose to give an impression of being who they are not in order to gain your trust, use you and discard you afterwards.

I am a sucker for honesty and transparency. Deception on the other hand curdles my blood and turns me inside out. People who give compliments because they want something from you and as soon as they realise they are not getting it, forget you even exist, are for me subhuman, if I am honest. Trusting another human being is completely exhausting, but what really wears my soul down is when you believe someone has a genuine interest in who you are as a person only to discover soon after it was all an act. They don’t offer friendship to see what they can do for you but rather they understand friendship only in terms of what you can do for them. It is the new shopping trend. Do what you have to do, use whichever tactic you need to successfully shop for more followers or individuals you can use to satisfy your own needs. Be all things to all people and lose your soul and your heart in the process seems to be today’s new mantra. At what point did the notion of integrity become obsolete, unfashionable, unnecessary?

I used to believe in the kindness of strangers but I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with such prospect. We are so blinded by a culture of consumerism, we stop at nothing in our frenzy and greed, not even other human beings. We chew them, suck up the life out of them and we spit them back out when there’s nothing left for us! We change our alliances and whom we give favour to like we change clothes everyday. The dehumanization of the human species is not far ahead if you ask me.

What do you know? What was meant as a diary entry has turned into another heavy rant. Well, this is me, warts and all! Come back at your own peril.

Silver linings or pure gold dust?

They do say that every cloud has a silver lining. Well, if ever in my lifetime there has been a big, dark, mean, threatening black cloud above us all that needed a silver lining, it is undoubtedly the Corona Virus pandemic.

I know it is a big cliche to point out those silver linings when trying to make the best out of a grim situation, but we would be truly foolish to ignore the blessings of biblical proportion that are being sprinkled all over us right now like gold dust. ‘Blessings???’, I hear you say, ‘Are you completely mad and stupid???’ Indeed, these are unprecedented times of unimaginable suffering, fear and loss affecting each and every one of us to various degrees. It is the very fact that most of us on the planet have been forced to drop everything and be in the moment, that makes this an eerie but unmissable opportunity for us to listen, really listen to what is not being said and see, really see what is unseen.

To me, this whole corona pandemic carries with it a heavy prophetic weight about it. In a sense, it doesn’t matter where it originated from, who or what is to blame. In these situations it does little good to seek blame, to focus our energy on lashing out, on resentment. For me, this is that moment in history when we are all collectively forced to remember, relearn how truly powerless we are in this universe; how we are a microscopic element of an infinitely bigger unfathomable reality. The mighty human being with all its evolution, knowledge and power disintegrates and falters in a split second all brought about by a microscopic cell which can wipe out in the space of days thousands of human beings and bring the whole world to a complete standstill. Our natural (or rather unnatural) order as we know it, turned on its head, just like that. If that doesn’t force you to look beyond the obvious, the immediate; to look at the bigger picture, nothing will. This pandemic has brought about an unprecedented moment of simultaneous collective mindfulness in the modern era; a moment of unprecedented spiritual awareness and reckoning worldwide.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I sense in my innermost being that this moment has been long drawn, and that we have had plenty of warnings that it was coming. I am not referring so much to the Corona crisis itself, but merely to the fact that we have known for a long time now that we are destroying the planet, its resources, its animals and vegetation, the air we breathe, and ultimately ourselves in the process. We had the science, nature and the elements repeatedly sobbing, aching, bleeding, raging, screaming at us simultaneously, showing us they were at breaking point, a point of no return, and yet, despite all of this, humanity for the most part has continued to turn a blind eye and doing ‘business’ as usual. And so, what we couldn’t bring about by ourselves because we are too selfish, too greedy, too blind and proud to accomplish, has now been forced upon us. We did not have the imagination, the courage, the vision to drop everything, take stock and realise that we are living at the 11th hour of human subsistence. This is make or break for the whole of humanity and all the other living systems around us who contribute to our well being and development.

So what are the silver linings or rather gold dust I ‘see’ sprinkled all over us through this existential crisis, this crossroads we have all arrived at simultaneously and which we know not how to navigate?

The air is less polluted! Many rivers are once again transparent, the seas fluid, free from human waste; its creatures leaping with joy as their habitat reverts to what it was designed to be. One can hear the birds chirping, communicating with each other, creating symphonies, when before were muted by the loud sound of plane engines, human endeavors and machinery. Families that have been torn apart are welded as one entity once again; its members previously isolated, driven to loneliness and silenced by the proficiency of technology and the imposition of passing trends, are once again feeling that mighty blood tie and part of an entity that truly matters; that makes sense and gives purpose and a reason for them to be alive today . I see us all having epiphanies; getting back to basics; appreciating joy in the littlest of things; joy in the most rudimentary of activities. Parents truly understanding what it means to be a parent; rediscovering what a blessing, a privilege, a miracle it is to have become one. Husbands and wives acknowledging each other, seeing each other afresh, doing all the things together they were supposed to be doing before all this, all the things that give sense to them being together in the first place. Children being children again, in awe of having the attention and care of their parents 24/7. Teenagers trusting their parents and not the internet, social media or their peers to be their role models or at least their compasses, when it comes to making the big decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.

I see that we have all been forced to look within and as a result beyond ourselves and in turn, are increasingly more concerned about the needs of those around us than all consumed by our own. I see even the proudest of men and women being brought down to their knees when they can but admit that they are beaten, even when to the world they are still keeping it together. Humanity has got too big for its own boots and providentially the natural order of things, karma, God, cosmic justice, call it what you will, has once again knocked on our door, cracked its whip and truly drummed some sense into us through all this imposed inactivity and stillness; it has reminded us of who we are, what we are not and how delicate and incomprehensible is the miraculous force that keeps the balance between life and death, order and chaos, curiosity and pride, humanity and what lies beyond.

Shush!! Be still and listen to what Stillness is whispering

Prophets of doom or Visionaries?

The world is suffering from a hopeless case of unaccountability. For such an ancient world, there is today more than ever a distinct reluctance to grow up, both on an individual and collective basis, it seems.

I started noticing this years ago, when I first joined social media and expressed my views on various subjects. The onslaught that often followed every time I expressed a personal view on a given subject, was sinister to say the least, utterly unjustified, and frankly terrifying. Not being able to express an opinion on a controversial subject is regrettable, but to not be able to say what you honestly think in a democratic country which by definition prides itself in freedom of expression amongst other rights, is clearly the symptom of grave maladies sending our world into a spiral of self destruction: egotism, greed, deception, manipulation, to name but a few.

Our obsession with self drives us blindly to focus all our negativity, self loathing and feelings of failure towards another, based on a difference of opinion. We are willing to vilify a human being and put their character and integrity into question, even though we have never met that person ever; even though we know nothing about that person other than what we glean from their digital print. It’s hardly consistent evidence to base a person’s epitaph on or even dictate their death sentence, digitally speaking.

I have asked myself this same question over and over. What is so very dark in a human heart that when another person’s argument touches a raw nerve, they’d rather destroy that person’s credibility without giving their argument a moment’s thought, than actually have the courage to engage in self-introspection and get to the bottom of why their argument has unnerved them. It seems obvious to me on a personal as well as global level that nearly always, those viciously attacking another as a result of an opinion expressed, are cowardly ‘shooting’ the messenger rather than having the maturity to heed the message, or at least consider it. They are terrified of looking in the mirror to acknowledge flaws; they love themselves too much or as it turns out not enough to face head on their demons, to question their deeply rooted convictions. To do so would mean rocking the boat of their own credibility, self-assuredness; in essence questioning the very essence of who they are and how they live. Life is tough enough as it is, right, so why rock the boat? Much quicker, easier and less effort to trample on anyone who wants to make me accountable for my choices, even when those choices have dire consequences on others who were never given a choice.

Personal growth has reached a new stalemate in this ‘modern’ era of tribalism. ‘Think as I do or be destroyed’ is the new motto for so many today. Character assassination on social media is the new ‘terrorism’. ‘Say as I say or disappear’ is the new standard of righteousness. The defining lines of ethics and morality are at an all time high of blurriness.

Now, take this increasingly common behavioral pattern on social media and scale it up worldwide and to other areas of society such as religion, politics, the natural world. What do you have? An existential crisis of biblical proportions; the end of our world as we know it.

Take for example Greta Thunberg. Thousands of people around the world, mostly scientists, meteorologists, environmentalists, experts in all the relevant subjects have agreed for a long time now that global warming exists and that we are on a path of self-destruction. Even though there is no agreement as to when this may happen, there is consensus in the fact that to continue living as we do is not sustainable in the long-term. What do we do? Anyone and everyone who feels challenged by the argument put forward by Greta and the fact that finally, she has got us all talking and thinking about global warming and the risks involved, feels entitled to embark personally on her character assassination, on discrediting her, shaming her, insulting her. Some are prepared to do anything and I mean anything, in order to divert the focus away from a vital message and focus instead solely on the credibility of the messenger.

We shouldn’t care how old she is. We shouldn’t care whether her parents or anyone else is manipulating her or not, and most certainly, we should be ashamed of ourselves for putting into question her worth as a human being or her potential as a catalyst for urgently needed change, based on the fact that she has Asperger’s. I have read some horrendous attacks directed at her because of her disorder. I have a son with Asperger’s and I can tell you that what he lacks in certain aspects, he more than makes up for in others. He is an exceptional human being and his outlook on things often blows my mind. Like any other human being, he is deficient in certain areas but excels in others. Asperger’s individuals are no worse than anyone else. They are simply different, and being different has to be celebrated and not vilified. Otherwise, our world will stagnate and eventually everything in it will perish. We step on very shaky ground when we dismiss another human being and what they have to say because of their health, creed, sexual orientation, political affiliation or race. But more alarmingly, we lose ourselves and our humanity when we make it our life’s goal to destroy another human being because they think different than we do. The real tragedy here is that in denying the validity of a message by shooting its messenger, we are denying ourselves room for growth, personal fulfillment and we are shooting ourselves in the head also by obsessing with always being right, instead of humbling ourselves and accepting that this world’s only chance of survival is changing our motto from ‘them and us’ to ‘together we can’.