“There must always be a discrepncy between concepts and reality, because the former are static and discontinuous while the latter is dynamic and flowing”
William James

Some Problems of Philosophy

Spiraling Together?



This post is an echo from a short interaction between Nora Bateson and I on Twitter:

Nora: The distraction of fighting for the meager leftovers after the wealthy corporate robbery of life, future, human rights and ecology while trillions in off shore accounts could be used for building a new way of life: #Refugees #permaculture #ecology #education #health #cleanenergy

Nora: The tone matters.The tone provides the logic of the arc of our communication. It forms the brackets that hold what is possible to say. Helping, caring, being tender, alert, gentle, humble…these tones add possibility where comptetion, meanness, and gotcha limit our conversation.

Me: yes … and should that not also apply to the subject matter of your previous message? wouldn’t alert gentleness be better for engaging, understanding and disarming the “robbers”?

Nora: …robbery seems a fairly fair way to describe the level of exploitation and extraction that has brought us to this ecological degradation and cruelty. Calling out institutions is not the same as dehumanizing groups of people. But i do see your point 🙂

Spiraling with my Father

I was born into my father’s world. I grew into his values, his patterns, his beliefs. Theoretically (though I don’t recall it ever really feeling quite like this) we started off like this:

For part of my life as an adult I was able to participate successfully in the kind of life I was raised to believe in. As I gradually transitioned into acting on my own in the world I felt, subtly, at first, that some ideas are out of alignment, that some actions are not yielding the results I expected.

But something inside me was simmering and coming closer to the surface. I felt increasingly out of alignment (between what was an inside me and what was expected of me externally). As my life progressed I felt increasingly in opposition to my father, our relationship looked more and more like this:

It was only a few years ago, in my early 40’s that a change consolidated in my perspective. I was nearing the age that my father was when he was dealing with me, a rebelling, depressed and suicidal teenager (the first memory that popped into my mind as I was reflecting on this post was a moment when I was around 19 or 20 where I experienced “defeating” my father with my depression – that he came [I brought him!?] to a point where he didn’t know how to help me). That affected me and I began to feel a curiosity and ultimately respect for the challenges that my father faced and for his efforts to meet them. It was around this time that I glimpsed a different perspective on the seemingly deep opposition I experienced with my father for so long. I shifted from a 2 dimensional perspective to a 3 dimensional one and saw us both in a spiral:

Regardless of how I feel about it or him, the fact is that I stand on my father’s shoulders. I started off in the world with the toolbox (the only one he had) he gave me  and moved forward from there. The spiral told me a story of a continuum between my father and I. The “toolbox” has a surprise hidden in it – a powerful freedom: a freedom to turn itself upon itself – a freedom to examine the box itself, to question it, to reject it and if necessary to dismantle it and try something else. Not only are my father and I are on a continuum and we are facing in the same direction … and as we both move through life and get caught up in the illusion of a linear life (and forget about the spiral we are on) our feeling of alignment may fluctuate.

This sense of continuum evokes ease and softness in me. It makes it easier for me to relate to my father. It makes it possible for me to appreciate his views and the choices and actions they lead him to make. It makes it possible for me to accept there are some things in my life and consciousness that my father will not be able to understand (though he may get a sense that “there’s something there”, that there are some things I won’t be able to communicate to him and some things I shouldn’t even try. It makes it possible for me to relate to him softly. It reminds me that there is something deeper holding us together. It makes me appreciate the subtle dynamic of change in which we are embedded … and that all this extends not just to my father.

Spiraling from Robbery

First I’d like to get this out of the way: “Calling out institutions is not the same as dehumanizing groups of people” – that falls into the trap of humanizing institutions (which the robbers seem keen to do). Institutions do not have ears and are not listening … people (who participate in institutions or benefit from their existence) are listening. In my mind this is a conversation between people.

I agree, robbery is a fair way to describe where we are and how we got here. Most of the modern world as we know it is a result of a stack of crimes that we either committed or were committed on our behalf. But there is no changing that past, it is something we need to acknowledge, come to terms with and find ways to avoid in the future.

As I am on a continuum with my father, so is aware-We (who are having this conversation) on a continuum with robbing-We (our ancestral iterations that made the present world possible). The privilege of awakened & aware seeing, of being able to discover each other, of being able to converse and resonate together … all of it is possible because of past robberies.

My grandparents life was about surviving, my parents life was about achieving predictable stability and security … and me, I get to ask what I want to do, what do I believe in, what is in my heart! As I have come to understand, accept and appreciate my father’s place and his role in providing the foundations for my journey through this world, so, I believe, we need to come to to terms with the robbing that made this world possible. Looking at that past with judgement and disdain is like hating an older version of yourself. Disdain is a fundamental tool from the robber’s-toolbox: disdain towards another is a prerequisite for robbery.

Can we create a world of “Helping, caring, being tender, alert, gentle, humble” while resenting our past-collective-self?


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