Not Only Curves That Rise

COVID brings more than
death for human beings
or New York tigers
fighting the virus
behind the bars
of Bronx Zoo.

It seems to come for
language too.

“Flattening the curve”
you’ve no doubt heard,
as if it were something
real, in reality, and not
an abstract
data set inside
a simulation
of statistical reporting
matched to what
might happen.

“Flattening the curve” –
as if it were the only
way to say human
beings might live
or die
today.

“Social distancing” –
the only
way to say
stay a bit apart from
your fellow
human beings,
or at least their
physical part.

But we take it to mean
stay the hell away
in every way.

“In isolation” –
whether an individual,
region, nation,
global population –
as if we weren’t
already that way –
as if it were somehow
separate
from being
human.

“Hand sanitiser” –
as if we can never
even use them
to keep them
clean.

(Sanitary comes from the latin
sanus, meaning
healthy or sane.
Today it means,
simply, clean.)

“Face masks” –
as if we don’t already
wear a version thereof,
or as if there
is some other place
a mask might go
to find a home,
in isolation,
socially distanced
from other
masks,
in partnership with,
but not touching too much,
sanitised hands
that grip and hang
onto the curve,
with both fists clenched,
while we sneeze into sweaty elbows,
but don’t let ourselves slip from
those curves,
wherever we might find them,
lest they keep or start rising –
flattening them
at all costs,
flat-lining them
dead.

This is a “war”
after all…
Isn’t it?

Positively.
Negatively.

We create all these phrases
then repeat them
as if they were a given –
as if they’ve always been.
Then we get to parroting them –
words devoid of meaning.

This virus has been circling
the earthly language
body for some time.

(Sanus to sanitary.
From language sane
and healthy
to language clean.)

And now, it seems,
conditions are right.
Language infections rise.
A pandemic death of
the living word…
apparently overnight.

But not quite.

They say language
goes hand-in-dirty-hand
with consciousness –
like two interlinking
curves we’re definitely
flattening
with each word;
so then how happy we’ll be –
with faces masked,
hands sanitised,
six-feet apart,
or finally isolated –
when we
bury both
in dirt.

But…then again…
it’s not only
curves
that
rise.

John Stubley

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Coronavirus and the Health of the Social Organism (Part 2)

When it comes to the health of the human organism we have to do, from one perspective, with the inter-relationships of three different areas. First, the nerve-sense system centred in the head. At the other polarity, we have to do with all the activity centred mainly in the limbs and within the digestive and reproductive processes – what some call, as a whole, the metabolic-limb system. In between these polarities of nerve-sense and metabolic-limb, we can see a third area where the main activity is carried out by the rhythmic workings of the heart and the lungs. We see such a differentiation in the everyday language of ‘head, heart and hands’. 

Much can be said – from a phenomenological perspective – about the way in which these three areas of the human organism inter-relate. We can find, for instance, their workings also within each of the three areas, as well as within each organ system and, indeed, organ within the body (see Johannes Rohen). Their dynamic interworking can even be observed on the cellular level. 

Pathology and illness is generally observable when these three areas are sufficiently out of balance with one another, or when the activities of one area are too active outside of their usual domain. Such imbalances bring about the conditions for susceptibility to illness. In this sense, such imbalances create the conditions in which a pathogen (in this case the coronavirus) can reveal to us in an obvious way our existing imbalances. The illness process can, therefore, if we choose to work with it in such a way, become an instructive or even developmental process.

In addition to the role that the human organism plays in terms of susceptibility to a virus, we can also look at environmental factors such as climate and so on, and how this influences the expression of illness. And, of course, we can also look at various social factors – social contact, but also cultural, rights, and economic processes – that have an influence on whether the virus will become an illness for individual human beings.

It is, therefore, necessary not just to focus on the pathogen – on the virus itself – as the sole cause of illness. Rather, we have to do with the balance or otherwise of the host organism, environmental factors, and social factors in relation to the virus. No two people will express exactly the same symptoms. Many will never express any symptoms. All of this must be kept in mind when considering this issue, however tempting it might be to ‘demonise’ the virus itself (in earlier times evil spirits were once widely conceived of as causing disease; in the age of science we seem to pride ourselves on being able to identify such things as viruses and bacteria, but have we not merely shifted the same ‘demonising’ process onto these newly-named phenomena, rather than seeing the situation holistically for what it is?)

With this in mind, and when looking at the symptoms of a virus (especially the coronavirus) when they do express themselves, we tend to notice, generally speaking, that they have to do with the nerve-sense polarity of the human organism. Symptoms, when observed in a susceptible individual, are generally observable in the throat, or the nose, or in a fever, with temperature taken somewhere in the head region. We have here to do with the respiratory system, but as it exists within the nerve-sense polarity of the human organism. In the case of the lungs, we have more to do with the respiratory system proper. But even within the lungs themselves we find the part of the middle, rhythmic area that is more connected to the nerve-sense polarity. (We can consciously control the activity of our lungs if we choose to do so. This is not possible with the heart, which is the part of the rhythmic area more connected to the other polarity – that of the metabolic-limb system.)

Coronavirus symptoms, when they are expressed, generally impact the respiratory system (tending more towards the nerve-sense polarity of the human being). Together with the body’s immune response to fight off the virus – that which is foreign to itself – this is the area, generally speaking, where many of the symptoms of coronavirus can be found. We find here the general inflammatory responses of warmth, pain, swelling and redness.

The characteristic of pain is that it brings our attention to a particular area of the human organism. In the case of coronavirus our attention is being brought, generally speaking, to the respiratory processes, including the lungs.

What do we observe in terms of the social response to coronavirus – what do we observe when it comes to the social organism? When we observe the social organism we have also to do with three different areas. On the one polarity we have the realm of economics, represented by business. At the other polarity, we have all things cultural or spiritual in nature, as represented by not-for-profit organisation, academia, the media, community organisations and so on – all we might call civil society. In the middle region we have the realm of rights and polity, represented by government. When we speak of cross-sector processes, we have to do with these three realms of the social organism. 

When do we tend to see pathology in the social organism? We see pathology when the inter-relationships of these three areas become out of balance – when one realm strays too far into the proper domain of another. 

So what are we currently seeing when it comes to the health of the social organism? We are seeing an inflammatory response in relation to a chronic illness which has been going on for some time. The nature of this chronic illness is such that economics has entered, in unhealthy ways, the area of politics and rights (observe, for instance, business influence in political life), as well as the area of cultural life (think of the many strings attached to grants or sponsorship). Likewise, government has been too involved in the area of culture (see government-mandated curricula in education, or government-controlled funding of cultural activities), as well as in economic life (see the unchecked bailing out of banks in the Global Financial Crisis).

And what do we see as the social organism’s current inflammatory response? We see the realm represented by government making increased decisions, and wielding increased power. (Think of the so-called leaders we currently see in the news – how many are from government compared to business or cultural life? And from those in government, how often do we see those in ‘opposition’ parties?) It is obviously different in different areas of the world, but some governments have gone so far as to make decisions in relation to health – decisions which, rightly, should be made by health professionals in the cultural space. Likewise, governments have taken on the role of economic stimulators, pulling financial activity up out the economic realm and distributing it across society. 

Much like the human organism’s inflammatory response, this activity can also be seen as an attempt at healing, in this case by the social organism (inflammatory processes can themselves become destructive outside of certain parameters, however, and need to be consciously worked with in order for health to emerge). In the case of the social organism, our attention is drawn to the area of government. In the physical organism, our attention (through pain) is drawn to the lungs – to the rhythmic system more broadly – as a system of regulation. The government also plays a regulatory role. The question is whether it will play this role in a way that is healthy for the social organism going forward. In a healthy situation, government can help provide the laws and rights by which economic profit can flow in healthy and free ways to the cultural sphere, ensuring the free, productive capacities of those active in spiritual-cultural affairs. Likewise, it can help ensure what comes out of this cultural activity has an effect on the further development of economic principles and activity through more co-operative ways of doing business with one another. This is, in part, the role government can play as a regulator between free cultural life and a co-operative economic life. Government also has its own role within its own sphere of activity, of course.

What is the primary characteristic of the lungs? It is the place where the outside world meets the inside world of the human physical organism, and vice versa. In a certain sense, we can say that it is the place where the earth meets the human being. In our lungs we have to do with the balance between ourselves and the world around us. The role of government, in addition to its activity as regulator between economic and cultural life, is primarily as an upholder of equality – equality of rights of all human beings. We can immediately think of the phrase ‘everybody equal in the eyes of the law’, but we can also begin to think of everybody’s equality when it comes to the creation of laws, as the various referenda processes of the world (especially in Switzerland) can reveal.

Culture has been anything but free, both from overly-active rights activity and economic activity in its processes. Economy has been anything but co-operative, mainly through a desire to put one’s-self before others (competition). And polity and the realm of rights has been anything but equal, with the economy playing too strong a hand in its affairs. We are now in an inflammatory stage. The question is whether we as human beings – those who shape the social organism – will try to return it to its chronically-ill state before this time of acute global illness, whether we will let inflammatory processes run riot and allow the social organism to ultimately collapse, or whether we will work with the inflammatory process and try to direct the social organism towards health. The pain we are currently experiencing serves to bring our attention to the health or otherwise of the social organism. It is that which stands behind the directing of attention (as well as the inflammatory process) which has the power to change such things. 

In the three areas of the physical organism we also find the seats for the three psychological processes of thinking, feeling and willing. We can also ask how well balanced each of these processes are within us. This illness, when expressed in the human organism, is related primarily to the seat of our thinking processes (the nerve-sense system) and brings attention to the seat of our feeling processes (in the rhythmic system and lungs), with inflammatory support processes coming from the seat of our will (the metabolic-limb system). 

Can we, as whole human beings, also bring to bear – through the healthy interrelationships of our thinking, feeling and willing – the right forces necessary for the rebalancing of the social organism towards health? For not only are we thinking beings, nor only doing beings, nor only feeling beings; we are knowing, feeling, doing beings – physical, enlivened, ensouled beings – guided by an individuality which is also active now in the healing processes we’re engaged in; we are Self-possessed spiritual beings, and it is this part of us which is now being called upon to consciously direct the social organism through a time of inflammation to a period of health, both for the sake of the future development of the world, and of humanity.

John Stubley

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Let Leadership Speak

Noticed how many news posts quote
those in government positions?

Political power brokers
of broken systems
choking on COVID
responses…

Shhh…
Please let the leaders
speak.

How often have we heard from
an economic leader? –
Business people
speaking confidently?
(Not just a finance
minister.)

When’s the last time
we saw a cultural leader
who wasn’t a doctor
supporting another political
response
or reassurance?

Shhh…
Please let the leaders
speak.

For that matter,
remember back to the last time
you saw that opposition bureaucrat
criticising this or that…

Bill Shorten?
Are Bernie and Biden
(I had to look his name up)
still at it?
Is there even an opposition
in Britain?

In the course of just a
few short weeks…

Shhh…
Please let the leaders
speak.

Where are the stages
for those not just aged
but for Elders? –
the wisdom holders.
Let them lead.

Spiritual-cultural
leadership
is needed more
than we might
realise.

Now is the time.

Let the becoming leader in me
hold open a space
for the becoming
leader in you.

Replace the media
screen
with a worldwide DIY
platform for
spiritual-cultural life.

Now is the time.

Because what we might find
is that leadership resides
not in self-isolation
but in social connection,
of space creation
through a listening
individual, organisation,
nation, global
population.

Listening for wisdom,
listening for the leaders becoming
in one another;
this is a stage –
a space we can make.

I make it between my ears,
lungs and feet,
I make it on this screen,
and hold it open
in the quiet city street.

Now is the time
to let the spirit of our time –
to let the leaders who see this –
the leader in you,
the leader in me –
now is the time…

…wherever
the spirit
of leadership
seeks to be –
make a stage,
a press gallery –
and
let
it
speak.

 

John Stubley

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Coronavirus and the Health of the Social Organism (Part 1)

Coronavirus can bring about an inflammatory response within the human organism. The inflammatory response is not the illness but the body’s attempt to overcome something that is foreign to itself. The illness arises through the interaction of something foreign with a host organism that has some level of susceptibility or imbalance; the inflammation is the body’s attempt at healing and restoring balance – it is, generally speaking, an acute response.

Likewise, in the social organism, we can see the various responses by government, business and the not-for-profit sector to the current social situation. These are all attempts – however varied – to help the social organism find some kind of health. This is the social organism’s attempt at healing. In a similar way to the human organism, the illness in the social organism is not simply the presence of a pandemic but, rather, the illness arises through the fact that the social organism has not been configured in a healthy or balanced way.

In this sense, the social organism has been ill for some time. The conditions for this (and resulting symptoms) have to do with the inter-relationships between the three areas of social life – culture, economy and polity, as expressed through civil society organisations, business and government. Essentially speaking, it has not been possible to find the human being reflected in the social organism. The social organism has become inherently hostile to the whole human being. The illness of the social organism expresses itself in different ways in different regions of the earth. But essentially we can say the social organism has been suffering with a chronic illness for some time.

All inflammatory illness, if left unchecked, can prove harmful – even fatal – for the human being. It is the celebrated accomplishment of modern medicine that the inflammatory illnesses of the world have been reduced. However, the cases of chronic illnesses have increased. In many ways, globally speaking, we have replaced our acute illnesses with chronic ones. 

The quality of an acute, inflammatory illness is, generally speaking, that it tends towards heat, pain, redness and swelling. The general quality of a chronic sclerotic illness is that it is cold and contracting. A polarity can be seen here: expansive and dissolving when it comes to acute illness; contracting and hardening when it comes to chronic sclerotic illness. Inflammatory illnesses are generally seen in younger years, while chronic sclerotic illnesses generally belong to later life. 

If unresolved, acute inflammatory illnesses can move to become chronic ones. In terms of social life, sudden upheavals represent an acute, inflammatory change in conditions (think of any revolution); while existing power structures continually re-asserting themselves represent a hardened, chronic condition. 

In the Western world, at least, it has been some time since we have found ourselves in an acute situation such as this. Our current situation goes further than the so-called Global Financial Crisis. So how are we expected to work with the current, inflammatory moment?

When it comes to inflammatory illnesses of the human organism, the medicine that is the fruit of a sclerotic social organism often seeks to remove warmth, reduce pain, and so on. That is, it can seek to go against the inflammatory process. Needless to say, this is sometimes necessary when the illness carries the patient too close to death. The number of potential deaths from coronavirus points, generally speaking, to our inability to combat this virus and to work with the body’s inflammatory response to it. As a side note, even if it were bacterial in nature, we are seeing more and more antibiotic-resistant infections (35,000 Americans die as a result of such infections each year). 

There is currently a growing recognition amongst scientists and doctors (see here) that the best way to treat a fever, for instance, is to work with it, and not against it. Of course, given we are in the midst of a pandemic, many other measures are also required. The nature of the coronavirus also has an affinity for a particular part of the organism, being the lungs, which also requires additional treatment. But here we are talking general principles, not in order to treat the virus more effectively, but to understand the situation – the health, or otherwise – of the social organism.

So the question remains, How are we to work towards health in the social organism in the current situation? If we are to consider the current global situation as being generally inflammatory (in relation to existing social structures), then we must ask ourselves what the appropriate course of treatment is wherever the global social organism finds individual expression in the different parts of the world. In some countries we also see, mixed into the inflammatory response, a reinforcing of existing structures and the status quo (see Hungary, for instance). Certain countries have also gone through various stages of denying that there is even a problem (USA, Brazil – but most countries, to some extent). And while the effect of some of these social responses is to further socially isolate human beings – making it more of a sclerotic effect, by nature – the activity behind this effect, or that which causes it, can be seen as coming from a place of acute, inflammatory social reaction. 

If the best way to work with fever, generally speaking, is not to fight against it but to work with it – to carefully monitor and actively engage in the body’s attempt to heal itself within certain parameters (outside of which further interventions are required) – then we can see that in the current situation we are being asked to work with the increased temperature of the social organism – to approach it as one way in which health may be promoted. One example of this is the UK government’s and the Australian government’s payments to employees whose work is affected by the virus. While not exactly the same, this deed begins to move in the direction of a universal basic income (which would be understandable coming from more left-leaning governments, but both of these governments are conservative). Taken through to its logical conclusions, we have here to do with the separation of labour from income – with a de-commodifying of labour (we may also, in time, come to a de-commodifying also of land [seen, in some ways, in the housing of those without a home and others needing to self isolate, be it in vacant properties or in hotels], and of capital [though we did not seem to learn this lesson during the GFC]).

One way of working with fever in the human organism is to stay warm. When it comes to the social organism, warmth is carried and created in the relationships between human beings. Social warmth is required now more than ever (albeit in the context of physical distancing). 

The characteristic of pain is that it brings consciousness to a particular part of the organism. Now, more than ever, we can also see where the regions of ‘pain’ are within the social organism. Those most affected are the most marginalised – indigenous people, those without a home, the aged, the chronically ill, those who are economically impoverished, artists, cultural creatives, and so on. These areas of social pain are brought to attention now in new ways. 

One of the functions of illness is that it provides a different place for a system to (using the language of MIT’s Otto Scharmer) see and sense itself; that is, for a system to see and have a feeling of/for itself. In systems-change processes we attempt to create the conditions whereby stakeholders can experience this through various creative processes, including the social arts and other mapping techniques. In illness processes we are forced into this situation. We see both the system and ourselves. In the current moment we can see both ourselves as human organisms, and we can see the social organism. 

The question is, to point to the ideas of Schiller and others, Can we find the human being within the social organism? Do we organise social life in such a way that it is possible to find the human being – ourselves – therein? 

The current situation is, generally speaking, showing us a socially inflammatory and dissolving process – numerous social structures that we might have been tempted to think as given, or somehow natural, are currently being remade. The temptation is, of course, to want to return to how things have been previously. There is always, in any illness, the tempting desire to turn the clock back – to avoid the illness at all costs – and return to how things were beforehand.

Sometimes the best insights come from single individuals after a lifetime of observing related phenomena. The Dutch GP L.F.C. Mees observed the biographical and health journeys of his many patients throughout the course of his professional life and concluded that people can experience positive growth, development and transformation if they are able to approach their illness in a healthy way, together with the support of others who are prepared to see things in a similar way with them. He summed this up in the title of his book, Blessed by Illness

Now, of course – when it comes to the human organism – this will not necessarily always be the case, nor will it be experienced as so simple. Many people will die because of this and other viruses; much pain will be experienced, and the last thing it will feel like to many is a blessing. Essentially, it is impossible to enforce such an idea onto others – nobody can ever say to another ‘you are blessed by this illness’. Rather, it is only a question that can be explored by myself if I choose to do so. Others can support me in this, such as doctors, if I invite them into such a process. 

When it comes to the social organism, I am called on to be just as (or even more) active in this process, and to also support others in their processes. What does this social situation say to me? Is there a blessing in this for me? Are there things in myself that I might be being asked to overcome? What is not essential that I might be being asked to discard? What is essential in what I carry – in who I am – that might be being called for now more than ever, in this very instant? 

In Scharmer’s schema, if the system can see and sense itself, then consciousness can be transformed, and if consciousness can be transformed then systems can be changed and thereby understood (also Kurt Lewin on this last point).

The current acute illness of the social organism is forcing us into a position of seeing and feeling the reality of the social organism and also its relation to the human organism. What is my contribution to this situation in the current moment? What is my current social contribution? How can what is currently observed and felt become the foundations from which a new world is made through a healthy and revitalised social organism and by a healthier and more whole human organism – a human organism which is able to be active out of all that it is – a physical being, but also an enlivened being, an ensouled being, and a Self-possessed or spiritual being capable of imagination, inspiration, and intuition for what the highest possibilities of the earth and of the human being are asking for  – are asking of us – right now, in this time, in this place. 

John Stubley

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Koran-koran and the Virus

Koran-koran the pied oyster-
catcher.
Haematopus longirostris.
Blood-red beak and eye,
red legs too, black pupil
matching chest and wing,
with white underbelly.

The black centre of its eye ringed in red,
opposite to a bull’s-eye,
stares from endless depths.

Its long beak announcing
something of its purpose.
Longirostris.

It floats in, solitary
and isolated from beach end,
as I approach opposite,
yet the same.

It sets down on the
sand, near granite rocks
placed against the rising tide.

I sing to it a while,
and it sits, pauses, listening.
As I pass, my shadow touching it,
it lifts off for a breath,
and lands upon a rock.

It keeps its beak pointed north-east
to wind and morning sun,
as do three cruise ships
waiting on the horizon.

Soon he’s scanning the granite
rocks for shells, which he plucks
and carries away from waves
to the water’s furthest edge.
He pokes the shell with his
beak, driving it into
the sand, before pulling something
out and swallowing it.
(Or else he tries it on the
granite rock itself.)

A city beach in the world morning,
just me and koran-koran.
And I can’t help but think
he’s been shaped for this way
of hunting, of gathering –
his calling.

Same way birds – in general – are shaped –
are sculpted – by air and wind.

Same way –
strange to say –
our lungs are shaped
by earth.

Churchill said,
“First we shape our buildings;
thereafter they shape us.”

Same way we shape institutions
and all of social life –
all society –
with it then shaping us.

A virus is a physical thing –
it fills our physical substance,
moreso if this is not occupied by
the rest of us – it’s our
Self that fights it off.
What is us
and what is not.

Do we find these Selves – these I’s –
who we are – in the world
around us?
Is it this that shapes society?

Things are not so fixed
as they may seem.
Schiller said that in our social forms –
society –
we must be able to find
the human being.

Things are not so fixed as they may seem.
Society is a being.
How healthy is it?
Do we shape it as it needs to be?
As the human being
needs?

Things are not so fixed.
In the lung the outside world
meets the in.
A virus forces us to
be conscious of what is –
and what is not – us –
our Selves.

Can these Selves now shape
a world that then shapes us –
a better world, where the human
being is reflected;
nothing less,
and nothing more.

Are we shaped by these forms,
as well as this place and time?
Are we shaped and here now, fit-
for-purpose, like koran-koran?

Is it not the case – for all of us –
as a colleague has said,
“This is the moment
I was born for”?

Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 10.10.44 am

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In Memoriam: Dolores O’Riordan

In the work of Dolores O’Riordan – The Cranberries lead singer who died earlier this week – we see the realisation of creativity towards social change. The band had many popular songs, but none more so than their 1994 hit ‘Zombie’. The song was written in response to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombings in Warrington, England, which killed two children. Shortly before the song was released, the IRA announced a ceasefire after a 25 year campaign.

In the song, mention is made to “their bombs, and their bombs, and their guns”. Indeed, the song itself is a powerful one, full of creative force, having to stand equal to – in creativity – the force and power of the violence taking place in relations between the Irish and the British.

The song takes no real side but, rather, points to the inner condition of those taking part in the violence. A zombie, by definition, is “a will-less and speechless human” that is “held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated” – a “supernatural power that…may enter into and reanimate a dead body” (Mirriam-Webster).

In the song it is the violence that “causes silence”, and one can have the feeling that silence also causes violence. Here also is the speechless human, as well as the will-less human – one who, in any field of life, does not make use of their capacity to create change but, instead, speaks / wills the impulses of another (or else does nothing). There is a kind of inner death that takes place here – the individuality is subjugated to another power. In the context of this song it would be commanding officers of either army but, in reality, we can find this happening anywhere in daily life. The picture of the “supernatural power” that “may enter into and reanimate the dead body” points not only to the authority we can give to other humans over our own individuality, but also to that which lives in the realm of ideas. Even in the case of the military line of command, the idea must have originated somewhere – and it exists there also that the will-less and speechless, dead human is reanimated by a supernatural power. In this case it is a call to physical violence though, in daily life, this call can be to any number of activities, based as it usually is on fear, hatred and criticism / doubt / judgement.

The song that O’Riordan and The Cranberries created was the antithesis to this process. In the act of writing the song, the band brought this inner process into the light of day, and in doing so overcame it by realising its opposite. They each took hold of their individual willpower and expanded it to the size of their band, at least, if not also to the victims of the bombing and beyond, and spoke their own speech. They too worked with a kind of “supernatural power” – that of the song itself – and put themselves willingly, wide-awake and alive, in service of it. They acted on it, and the song Zombie was born, which illustrated the inner aspect of the very violence they were countering by overcoming it as part of their own creative process. They became not dead and reanimated by something other than themselves but, rather, ‘more alive’ through being filled with that which the substance of their Selves was made of. This process is then invited in others through listening to the song.

They could also have reacted with violence, crafting a song of hatred, of fear, of judgement, but they instead used their creative capacities to shine a light on the futility of this path, and thereby broke the zombie spell, and made something new. It seems no coincidence that the ceasefire was called around the same time as the creation of this song.

Creativity is the antidote to violence. It is the real ceasefire. More, it is the peace process itself. It shows the necessity of personal reflection and individual transformation when it comes to how we interact and relate with others. Every encounter can be violent in one form – be it in our thinking (judgements, criticism), our feeling (anger or hatred), or our willing (fear, inaction, silence, or else actual physical violence). The question is whether or not we are aware of our own will-lessness, our own speechlessness – whether we are aware or not of having given our will over to another human or to an idea which we have not fully penetrated with our own thinking, our own feeling, our own will – and become, consequently, nothing but a dead body, “speechless” and possibly also “reanimated”.

Shining a light on this process in ourselves, however, can lead us to the same creativity expressed in this song, and can do so in every aspect of life. We can open our thinking to the truth of any situation, our feeling to the beauty of the world, and our will to the goodness therein. We can, instead of sleeping or dying while alive, animate ourselves with our own creativity in wide-awake and self-willed self-spoken service of other human beings or of ideas which we have made into ideals through our own penetration of them, and thereby expand ourselves as far as our will-filled thinking might take us.

One path extinguishes the self in silence and inaction, another in reactionary “reanimated” violence. Both of these paths leave the human being unfree. Only the path of creativity expands the individual self in free service of something beyond ourselves.

And where does this choice – this battle – of paths take place?: “In your head, in your head, they are fightin’”.

This is what The Cranberries achieved with this song.

It made it to number one in Australia, Belgium, France, Demark and Germany – all countries which have seen their fair share of violence “since 1916” – and made it to number two in Austria, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Europe as a whole.

O’Riordan had only just turned 23 when the song was released.

Click the image below to view the film clip on YouTube. It has so far received around 670 million views.

 

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The Magic of Imagination: What is a new year worth?

A new video post from John Stubley called ‘The Magic of Imagination: What is a new year worth?’ Click on the image to watch the video.

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