For my whole online career I have shied away from making comment on big topical events for fear of being too controversial and in this world of instant judgment on social media “unliked”. Or worse, not educated enough on the subject to make a broad enough, well crafted enough case for my point. So I haven’t shared graphics, quotes or hashtags relating to world events on my social networks because I’ve really struggled with the spiritual implications of “getting involved”.
Over the last year though, I have felt an ever growing sense of seriousness, about life, about my actions, about my thoughts and my spiritual path. (NB. To all the serious police out there: I mean taking my life seriously, not taking myself too seriously. This haircut tells you everything you need to know about my capacity for fun and frivolity. Nuff said.)
With that in mind and observing the world right now, I feel I need to take on the serious stuff that we watch on the news every night and offer my interpretation despite the fact that it’s somewhat at odds with the trend of unrelenting (and let’s face it, often edited and polished) positivity that’s so often shared on social media. Starting today I'm speaking openly about what is going on in the world, the good, the bad and the ugly, from my personal spiritual perspective.
I’m also asking you to consider doing the same, especially if you too are an evolving or established spiritual leader. (If you’re working in the world of self help, personal development, coaching, education, healing or therapy, even if not openly or overtly spiritual I also ask you to claim that title, because in some way that is the work you are doing.)
It is too easy in the lovely land of woo that I, and perhaps you, live in, to get lost in a serotonin filled haze of gratitude journals, angel cards and positive quote graphics on Pinterest. And yet if this is the main substance of our thoughts, practice and teachings, I’m afraid we have fallen into the slippery realms of the "tyranny of positivity".
That is, a tendency in the self development industry to gloss over wider reality, to dare not talk about the fact that people the world over are starving, dying, living in fear for their lives, being oppressed and controlled, tortured and murdered. That whole sections of our global society are having their human rights violated on a daily basis, while we go about our business rubbing crystals for luck and pretending we’re like so totally not stressed when there’s no wifi.
So this is me addressing my own slippage into the tyranny of positivity. From now on I will make it my business to know about and comment on what is happening to people as a connected collective in the wider world, and do my real work, which is also your real work: To shine light onto darkness.
Since the tragic events in Paris two weeks ago I’ve been thinking a lot about what it all means. I can’t help but notice that there has been a focus in reporting and discussion firstly on freedom of speech, which for me simply doesn’t go deep enough – more on that later – and secondly on labels for types of people and behaviour that come with implied attached meanings that ultimately keep us disconnected, entangled in fear and darkness. Light has had no place at the table.
From what I can see, the recent situation in Paris and it’s surrounding vicinity, and so many others like it, is about individuals choosing behaviours and attaching their chosen flag or symbol – but the name of the religion, political party or cause doesn’t matter. This is a human level thing. Words like “extremist”, “fundamentalist” and “radicalized” are thrown around in the popular press and it’s intimated through their usage that certain groups have a monopoly on this kind of behaviour, but again, it’s actually a human level thing.
And so this has shifted the emphasis of discussion to be one of freedom of speech, which is absolutely valid and it needs to be had, but ultimately it’s a surface level conversation that is just one part of a much bigger issue in our global psyche.
This is where we need to take a deeper look at the root causes of the deaths and catastrophes that are happening all too often at the hands of people that identify with labels like “extremist”. The freedom of speech argument, as I said, is very valid and yet with the emotion attached to it, it’s easily turned into a petty exchange of he said, she said, where people are passionately telling you how upset this cartoon made them, or how important it was that it was published in the first place. At such a delicate and volatile time in our human history it can become a very personal and loud exchange between individuals that tends to get us not much farther ahead than having the airwaves filled with more noise, discontent and proclamations of offense.
What I feel we really need to be discussing, as a global society and especially in the consciously spiritual community, is how have we created this very specific environment on Earth, either by active thoughts and actions of hate and fear, or by the tyranny of positivity - not acknowledging or glossing over the bad, the difficult, the controversial in favour of pretending that if we just regurgitate enough spiritual chat about meditation, it will all go away.
As the Spirit Deej, I get asked “If God / Source / Spirit / the Universe exists and all this woo stuff is real, why do children starve and people get cancer and why did Hitler exist and the holocaust happen?”
The answer? God / Source / Spirit / the Universe did not do those things. WE did those things. People did those things. WE allowed multi national corporations with their eyes on profits rather than people to put carcinogens in our food and water supplies. Hitler did not commit all those murders and atrocities personally. He had armies of people doing it on his behalf. WE created a society, either by acting in fear, or turning a blind eye to that which was too difficult to face, in which one man with evil and twisted views could entice or enforce so many others to do his bidding in such grotesque ways. WE have created a world where it’s apparently okay that by 2016 the wealthiest 1% will own more than 50% of the world’s wealth and around 60% of all adults in the UK and US are overweight or obese, while children all over the world starve and die of curable and preventable diseases.
So the discussion that must be had about the violent tragedy in Paris is not one simply of freedom of speech, but one of actively creating a society where this stuff just would not happen. We ALL need to stand up and speak out, and not just DUI of the tyranny of positivity but with full acknowledgement of the scale of horror that surrounds us.
One of our own favourite leaders of the modern spirituality movement Gabrielle Bernstein identifies as a Spiritual Activist and this is evocative - we all have room to be more spiritually active in the world. It does not begin and end with our yoga mats and green tea.
Well meaning yet superficial displays of solidarity on Twitter are no longer enough. (We can pretty much guess that if you are a moderate citizen of the modern Western world you too “sont Charlie”)
It is our responsibility as a human race, but particularly that of the conscious spiritual community to graduate from our childhood and our blind positivity into our adulthood, a place where we can have serious discussions and take serious actions, meta and physical to make real change in the world, on the mortal plane and on the psychic plane. There are deep wounds that need healing in both.
The first step is to lift the veil of attractive yet damaging unrelenting positivity and throw our own meaningful interpretation and guidance around what is happening in the world into the mix of the content we share. If you have a voice and are already spreading your message deliberately and with purpose, I know you have something more to say about all of this than just “Je Suis Charlie”. The world needs you now, more than ever, to lead with your light and speak your truth, even on the difficult stuff.
A Course in Miracles teaches us “Only what you are not giving can be lacking in any situation.” If we really want these atrocities to cease, if we really want to live in a safe, free, supportive and accepting world with equal opportunities for anyone who is willing to do their work, we need to start to acting like and being the people that would create that.
So by all means send love and prayers, healing energy and forgiveness to those who are suffering and post about it on Facebook. But it’s time for us to get serious as well.
We need the spiritual community to be doing the real work of facing up to and challenging the darkness in our world. We need your light, all of it, now.