The people who don’t believe the world can be changed will say there’s no way it can be done.
They’ll say there’s no point.
They’ll ask you – ‘Who do you think you are?’
The people who think the world can be changed will be willing to keep trying things until we work out how to attempt it.
This is a very interesting talk by Clay Shirky on how we all might start to change the world and how some people have already started…
and just to add to your tool-box –
And finally – a more recent talk by Clay Shirky – this is longer (but will download as a podcast from the Big Ideas site – here – Clay Shirky – Cognitive Surplus, so you can listen later) and it is really a very good sweeping look at the ‘new’ media.
- Clay Shirky: There Are No Rules To Creativity [Video] (psfk.com)
- Clay Shirky: How we will read, and how we will publish (nextlevelofnews.com)
Are mistrusted – (FGM)
Are to be feared (otherwise educate them – why not if they’re not up to much?)
Are to be objectified (child brides/super models)
And yet… They feel powerless.
Why when the establishment everywhere and every time seems to see women as so powerful they must be constantly controlled, why are women the only ones who can’t see this power?
Imagine what might happen if that power was unleashed? Not power as we know it where women are ‘powerful’ if they are like men or liked by men. But the real, thumping, all-encompassing, generative, protective power of real women.
Imagine what might happen?
Imagine – for example – in places where a girl who is raped must kill herself to restore her family’s honour, if the mothers in these places not only tried to protect their daughters but said to their sons – “Marry her son, she’s been raped but that is something that was done to her, not by her and so her honour is clearly intact – which is more than can be said of the men who raped her. I am your mother and I am not just standing up for her, I am also really standing up for you. I am trying to teach you that it’s always the perpetrators who are the guilty ones – not the victims. Always. I want you to understand this son because I want to make sure that your honour remains intact. Because I love you.”
Imagine if that happened.
What’s stopping it?
- A Rapist is a Rapist (or How Rape Is Used In Patriarchy) (lifeinthepatriarchalmatrix.wordpress.com)
- Justice – it’s not an idle concept. It’s a responsibility. (innocenceandimmanence.wordpress.com)
The first step in changing our world is an examination of what actually constitutes reality. We are all products of our environment and as a result we inevitably take many things for granted, believing them to be the natural order of things.
Social reality is an expression of human agreement, someone is the president of a country and has the powers of that office because a system of government is created and acknowledged by the inhabitants of that country. When the fundamental agreements which frame belief and behaviour change, social reality will change.(1)
In the early twentieth century, Antonio Gramsci, who spent most of his life in one of Mussolini’s prisons, identified a phenomenon he called cultural hegemony. Gramsci used this term to describe how we all believe that the way things are is the natural order of things.
A good example of how cultural hegemony operates is slavery. There was a time in the Western world when slavery was considered ‘the natural order’. Certain people were seen as a slave class and were owned by other people. Social realities, and even the economies of the time, were built around this idea and nobody – even the slaves in all likelihood – thought there was anything that could be done to change it. Slavery was, in fact, so much part of social reality that wishing to escape from it was seen as an illness.
In 1851, American physician, Samuel A. Cartwright described a mental illness he called drapetomania – an illness he believed afflicted slaves who were inclined to run away. Cartwright said this illness was a result of masters who, “made themselves too familiar with [slaves], treating them as equals.“(2)
He went on to say that,
“If any one or more of them, at any time, are inclined to raise their heads to a level with their master or overseer, humanity and their own good requires that they should be punished until they fall into that submissive state which was intended for them to occupy. They have only to be kept in that state, and treated like children to prevent and cure them from running away.“(3)
It’s now clear to us that slavery is not the natural order of things but rather a social reality based on economic motives and mistaken ideas. People like us made that reality. And, equally, people like us changed that reality.
So, how do we tell the difference between unchangeable reality which is outside of our control and reality that can be changed? As someone pointed out to me recently not everything is possible. But what happens if we just accept the limitations (as we see them) and don’t try to change things? If God had wanted us to fly he’d have given us wings…
The question is tricky. How can we tell the difference between mutable and immutable reality before we begin? Maybe there is a solution just around the corner which we can’t see from where we stand? Which seems like a good reason to start out. And yet it is true that some efforts to effect change will be futile – so, how much banging our heads against the unchangeable can we stand before our heads explode?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, by the way. Sorry. But maybe you do.
I have been thinking about it though and all I can come up with is that I wonder if the answer is something to do with love? Not Hollywood love but real, raw, visceral, never-giving-up love. The kind of love that parents have for their children. The kind of love that holds the atoms of a stone together. Where nothing is too hard or not worth the effort even when the chances of success seem slim. The kind of love that makes us try and try and try even when we fail and fail and fail – and then when we’ve tried everything possible – we try something else. Maybe we try the impossible. Because it matters.
1) Paul Lample, Revelation and Social Reality, p.9
2) Cartwright, Samuel A. (1851). “Report on the Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race”. DeBow’s ReviewXI.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h3106t.html. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
It’s all about perspective.
Perspective isn’t just something for art class – it’s essential for understanding.
It’s indispensabile in our quest for truth.
It’s vital for our ongoing safety and security.
And most of all it’s absolutely irreplaceable in the pursuit of personal and societal happiness.
In every sense perspective helps us get the whole picture.
And nothing delivers perspective better than films like this (well, for me anyway)…
We have no control over many of the things that happen to us in our lives but if we can make sense of what has happened, we will usually construct a narrative to explain it to ourselves. This narrative is more than just a story, it’s our escape hatch after trauma. It’s what we can use to help us to overcome whatever horrible disaster has befallen us. Climb over it. Make good our escape.
Dan Siegel maintains that people who have horribly traumatic childhoods make excellent parents once they can make sense of their own story – no matter how awful.
No matter what happens – once you can look it in the eye and make it your story it loses its power to control you.
We have told stories since forever which means they are commonplace in our societies. But common as they are, they are still essential to our well-being, safety and resilience.
We explain away myths and legends as primitive ways to explain the natural world – and they did indeed have a function in this regard – but it’s possible that they mean more than just that to us. It’s possible that they explain truths and experiences that are too subtle or difficult to approach in other ways and it’s possible that they allow us to construct narratives that function like ladders on which to climb out of the holes into which we may have been thrown.
If this wasn’t the case, then why do we still love to tell and hear stories? Whether it’s science fiction or vampires, rom-coms or action adventures surely our attraction to stories – myths – is because they are still fulfilling the same purpose for us that they have since time immemorial?
One of the problems that naturally occurs when a light is shone on pain and suffering is that those who are looking at this picture are overwhelmed by pity. This might seem like a good outcome – surely if we are sorry for someone we’ll try to help? Well the answer to that is not a definite ‘yes’. Sometimes when we feel sorry for people we also feel angry, or resentful or superior or confused. We wonder how this can happen and why they can’t help themselves just like we have to do and if they have some inherent shortcoming that precludes them from building a wholesome and sustaining life for themselves… Continue reading
This is much more interesting than it might appear on the surface. I think you’ll find it has hidden layers (I just couldn’t resist the pun).
OK – I know it doesn’t look as if it’ll be interesting and I know you might hate it but go on – give it a couple of minutes and see if you like it. Apart from anything else it shows how something so ordinary can be seen as extraordinary through the right eyes.
And I have a question – if plywood is stronger than the wood from which it is made, then is there an amazing analogy in there somewhere? An analogy that suggests taking raw materials, re-shaping them, joining them together in such a way that their individual ‘grain’ is used to increase the strength of the finished product and then modeling them for purpose in order to create something better?
Cheesy analogy I know – but hard to avoid (like the pun). Hope you enjoy this movie…