The Empire Strikes Back.

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There are many reasons why refugees and asylum seekers travel through safe countries to get to places like Australia and the UK.

One of them is to do with Empire and in many ways I feel that we are now living through the final chapter of the colonise and rule period.

An argument that is often raged against that is ‘but us (Brits/ Australians) have given back far more than we ever took from ‘them’. We have re-paid our debts, that’s all in the past’

But that’s the point.

The oppressor doesn’t get the right to call time and declare themselves ‘over it’, only the oppressed can do that.

sultana Adam

The film clip above was part of an article published by the UK Telegraph yesterday and I picked it up from Facebook. ¬†Stupidly I clicked on through to the comments section under the Facebook post, optimistically hoping to see some compassion but I found none. ¬† One after another after another bile filled sentence spewed out in front of me, some disbelieving this twelve-year old’s story or motive, others angry at the prospect of having their standard of living (some of whom will no doubt be struggling and suffering in their own ways and I don’t wish to deny or minimise that in any way) further compromised or their towns further pressurised by extra un-working bodies. ¬†It is a sorry state of affairs.

Like most people I don’t have the answer and doubt there is a simple one. ¬†I appreciate that there are limits to what a society can provide – I live in Australia and while we have a sparsely populated¬†country we are keeping our borders tightly controlled. ¬†Sometimes for political reasons but it is worth mentioning that practically we do not have the housing built, the social infrastructure, the income or the services ready YET. ¬†But maybe we could, if we wanted to? ¬† Maybe we actually should (once provisions for water, food and energy have been factored in)…..

I spent just under thirty years growing up in the UK and while there remains no immediate threat from insurgents and its citizens are relatively free, things are not exactly a bed of roses. ¬†I’ve seen riots, civil unrest, anger, racial hatred, ghetto-type situations and sieges happen because of the inequalities of the system. ¬†In many ways the system is broken. ¬†It can’t stand the pressures because it can’t even cope with the status-quo and hasn’t coped forever. The gap between the have’s and have-nots’ is not getting any smaller and that gap doesn’t just mean that some people can’t afford the holidays and clothes they want, it cuts to the core of personhood, human rights. ¬†The right to an education (you try getting educated in a school where 40 languages are spoke, kids have suffered trauma and there is no money for extra help), ¬†the right to work hard and be justly rewarded (post code prejudice means that in a competitive marketplace for jobs where you live can be enough to put you out of the running) and much more. ¬†Generational deprivation and stigmatization.

And then there are people like me all bleeding hearts and roses saying take these retched people and care for them as if they are your own?

It isn’t going to happen.

But we have to do something and my point is this, we need to acknowledge that this is the Empire striking back, ¬†not with weapons and brute force (let’s not let the terrorising acts of a few prejudice the masses) but with outstretched hands, desperate eyes and a yearning soul.

We HAVE to let them in.

Not¬†necessarily into ‘our’ countries or ‘our’ homes.

But into ‘our’ consciousness.

Unless we can see ourselves reflected in their reality we will not move forward and solve this. ¬†We will continue to lock ourselves up, defend and patrol, punish and segregate and boil the world down to ‘them’ and ‘us’ and we will do this under the promise of ‘keeping ourselves safe’. ¬†But we will not be safe and neither will we be or feel free.

Has anyone here read George Orwell’s 1984?

Or played chess?

Check mate.

Amanda x

PS: If you are wondering about Afghanistan and why its people do walk across the world to seek refuge in the UK you might like to read this. ‘The Opium War’. Julia Lovell. Cup of tea anyone?

Rest In Peace Harper Lee

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I only read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ the year before last, 2014 and that was only because my daughter and I found a reference to it in ‘The Perks Of Being A ¬†Wallflower’ and decided to track down and read all of the books THAT book recommended. ¬†I’m so glad we did. ¬†They were and are all fabulous. Life changing!

Harper Lee lit a candle¬†and left it in a very dark corner of America’s history. ¬†She gave the candle permission to burn and burn it did. It burned quietly at first, memorizing, playful, harmless and cool.¬†But it was hungry, fearless, determined. Before long it had enough strength to reach out, to grow. And grow it did, transforming the very fabric of the building that contained it into heat and light, spreading out in all directions, rolling, reaching. Until that little candle became so fierce, so determined that in the¬†end all you could do is step back in awe and¬†watch it run.

May Harper Lee’s candle continue to¬†burn through the darkness so that we may all live in the light.

 

 

A Conversation with Tim Whitmarsh on Atheism

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Listening to Tim Whitmarsh on Atheism (Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World) left me feeling that the whole thing is HIS-Story rather than hers or even better ‘theirs’.

Here is a link to the interview that I listened to

I am fascinated by religion and non-religion in equal measure. I am not entirely sure why¬†it fascinates me so other than the fact that the reality that we all live with the dichotomy of ¬†death, disease, inequality,suffering and greed vs beauty, nature, art,¬†charity, human ingenuity and adventure means that we are forced to come to terms with it all (or not I guess). ¬†Some people choose religion and a known or ‘named’ god and some people choose nothing. ¬†I choose it all and call it nature, mother nature, human nature, the forces of nature. But that’s by the by….

Anyway, that’s just a bit of context behind what is really a rekindled realisation that after listening to Tim I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the reality that Atheism (as with Religion) is a¬†male construct almost devoid of her-story and as such, as a philosophy it fails to completely hit the mark for me, to grab me.

fig boobies

As much as I found Tim interesting and warmed to his approach to the subject I couldn’t help feeling the absence of a woman’s voice and wondering what the world would look like, what Atheism would SOUND like if women had a hand in shaping it. Further, what would it all look and FEEL like if gender hadn’t even been an issue? ¬†How would that have played out in¬†the world I wonder……

And that brings me back to what makes sense for me and that is  a love of and belonging to nature because against that framework everything can be worked in and worked out and every voice, every action counts for something.

 

Over-emotional

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There have been a couple of occasions this week that I’ve taken a step back from what I’ve been reading and thought ‘wow, talk about emotional check-mate’. ¬† Once was when I read the comments section (always a bad idea) of a widely shared Facebook post about the correct way to position your child’s car seat (rear facing until age 4 is best apparently. Never mind the fact that by then most children will have a substantial length of leg to tuck up, cross or stick-in-the-air) and the other was a conversation about diets. ¬†My tip is to never talk diets with a vegan unless you are one and even then it may leave you feeling like you are all that is wrong with the world…..

The common thread in both conversations was the emotional death-blow that came out early in the piece:

“Oh go on then, you ignore the science and have your child forward facing. ¬†You should be ashamed of yourself, I feel sorry for your children. It’s child abuse’.

and

‘It’s disgusting what they do to chickens, turns my stomach. ¬†I really don’t know how you can do it and feel OK. Their blood is on your hands’.

and maybe they are right.

I’ll never know because what I tend to do in situations like the above is mentally check out while vowing to continue my life as before while trying to block out all memory of the discussion ever happening.

My rationale for taking such a drastic course of action – i.e: no further research to find out if I am indeed supporting chicken cruelty or abusing my children?

It is simple, people who conduct such emotionally projective arguments are not usually thinking fully and deeply enough about the issue.  Their information is tainted by their bias.

N.B: ¬†That is what goes through my head in that situation, it may not be the ‘truth’ but that doesn’t matter.

The fact that I discount emotionally charged or emotive arguments so readily has had me pondering though.  Is this a personality trait peculiar to me?  Am I really that cold-hearted and calculated? Is it my scientific thinking or is it just an ineffective way to make friends and influence people?

Anyway, to cut a long story short today I was listening to veteran singer-songwriter Jackson Browne on the radio talking about his political activism.  He writes protest songs and has been involved in campaigns against nuclear power and US backed wars,  has campaigned for Artists for the arts (to keep music in schools) and to reduce plastic water bottle waste amongst others.  Browne said something that resonated deeply with me and I paraphrase:

‘When people really need information they¬†need to emote themselves, you don’t need to do it for them. ¬†On occasion when I’ve written songs that are very pointed they have to be written with a great deal of restraint. What happens in a song is that the listener has got to feel, the listener has got to hear it, it has to resonate inside the listener. You want to engage the listeners emotions and not provide them, wrapped up and complete. When it comes to music, the real feeling is going to take place in the heart and mind of the listener’.

And I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

The benefits of negative self-talk.

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They don’t call this the ‘age of entitlement’ for nothing……

It’s 7am. I’ve been awake since 6.37 – I actually slept in after slamming my alarm down when it started singing at 5.10. ¬†I was going to get up early and get on with work but my body quickly vetoed that and I didn’t dwell on or analyse my decision.

So I’ve only been up for twenty three minutes.

During that time I have ‘had words’ with myself on three occasions.

  1. ¬†I opened the door where the dogs sleep, let them out then couldn’t lock the bloody door again. ¬†I bemoaned the ‘typical me’ behaviour on display. ¬†Can do something perfectly one minute then struggle as if it is some mensa puzzle the next. What’s with that Amanda?
  2. On taking the kettle off the boil I set fire to the tea towel that I was using to shield myself from the hot handle. But there was no time to lament that because….
  3. I then realised I’d boiled a practically empty kettle. ¬†On comes the inner dialogue of ‘what a waste of gas, gas is a fossil fuel, that’s wasteful to the environment’ and so on.

And then I snapped out of all of that¬†with a big ‘aha’ moment¬†¬†and came here to write about it.

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———————

The language that cheerleads todays woman onward and upward is powerful, direct, forthright and totally unapologetic. ¬†It screams ‘I’m me, I’m here and you should get used to it and get over it’:

 

Sassy (The American equivalent to Saucy)
impertinent; insolent; saucy.
Urban Dictionary Version:
possessing the attitude of someone endowed with an ungodly amount of cool.
Fierce
menacingly wild, savage, or hostile
Urban Dictionary version:
A term that gay men used in the late 1990s and early 2000s to describe absolutely everything that was of “exceptional quality”.
A Sassy, Fierce woman simply wouldn’t scold herself for not being able to re-lock the door she just un-locked two minutes ago. ¬†She would just turn her head, hand the keys to someone else and walk off into the sunset without a care in the world or an ounce of self-reflection or doubt.
But what if she did take a second to doubt herself?  
To feel even mildly annoyed at her predicament.  
Would she then be lying about being fierce and sassy?
Would she have failed?
———————–
Maybe it is how I’ve been brought up, maybe it is just my self-reflective personality, maybe it is the patriarchy or maybe a mixture of all three but I just can’t help critique my own performance.
Whatever it is it is fine because theses days it doesn’t sting, it only teaches.
———————-
For me being Fierce and/or Sassy (if that’s what I want to be) is all about how I deal with my¬†reality. How I accept and deal with life’s ¬†little hiccups and inconveniences. ¬†
After being alive in THIS society for 41 years with THIS personality I’m not entirely sure if I can burn the tea towel and not immediately have my inner voice scream ‘what are you doing there, be careful, you do this too often, you need to try another way’. ¬†
I’m absolutely sure that I don’t want to achieve the¬†level of nonchalance that our modern language seems to be encouraging:
the state or quality of being nonchalant; cool indifference or lack of concern; casualness.
This brings me back to reflecting on the language we are being encouraged to use to describe ourselves as women.
Everybody is different but for me this fierce, unapologetic and sassy language is not something I naturally gravitate too (old dictionary) and don’t really understand (urban dictionary). ¬†
I feel that in using this language ¬†we have over-shot society’s¬†central axis and landed into the zone of individualism. ¬†
As much as I’m an introverted loner I still respect, appreciate and enjoy the beauty that is a well functioning society. ¬†I want to be a part of that.
So, my own personal preferred word is strong:

Strong: mentally powerful or vigorous.

 

Urban Dictionary Version:
someone who comes off as confident
someone who is comfortable in there own skin
someone who can take on the world
someone who should be very proud of themselves
I feel strong.
I feel I can¬†and do accept¬†the negative self talk for what it is, that it doesn’t touch the heart of me but rather it helps to push me onwards and grow. ¬†For me these fleeting moments of negativity also serve as a reminder of the¬†gap that exists between societies idea of ‘perfection’ ¬†and¬†what I can¬†personally deliver. Whether it be about my ageing looks, my choice of clothes, my inability to lock the door or my burning of the tea towel. This reminder of my limitations keeps me humble ¬†(as in not arrogant. Modest), ¬†reminds me to show compassion, to treat others kindly.
¬†I am strong because I’ve worked hard to accept and love the parts of me that run opposed to societies version of perfection. ¬†The parts of me that put me in danger, slip me up, cost me time and money, ¬†hurt my pride. ¬†I am strong because I know that I am all of that AND MORE.
So, I’m not fierce or sassy I’m strong.
And I owe a big part of that to my negative self-talk.
and so I’ll keep it.
Yes indeedie!
Amanda x

Re-Wilding Women

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Society:

An organised group of persons associated together for religious,benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes.

My society, the society that I have grown up in and live with is one¬†that¬†has tried its best to tame me. ¬†Despite the fact that I have been able to vote, develop a career, travel, control my fertility, become educated and express myself I¬†am not entirely winning here because I’m not¬†entirely tame.

Before I go into what I mean by that I’ll just¬†mention the F word as it is entirely appropriate to do so.

I don’t¬†particularly like to use the word feminist to describe myself even though I clearly am for all that. Also having just watched the film ‘Suffragette’ I remain ¬†in awe of what women have achieved in the name of feminism and have the deepest respect for the work that continues to this day so that I might sit here and write to you now.

Feminism:

advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

For me the word ‘feminist’ sits in the same camp as ‘God’ as in the ‘do you believe in God’ question. ¬†What I believe and value is bigger than a simple ‘yes I do’ or ‘yes I am’ answer (as I’m sure it is for everyone) because words¬†are not absolutes, they require structure, interpretation, syntax. It is because of that¬†I find it critically¬†important to remember that the written word is a predominantly male construct. ¬†The 1998 book ‘The Alphabet Vs The Goddess’ by Leonard Shlain is a great point of reference here.

So, ¬†it is against that reality that¬†I sit here with¬†a nagging feeling that there is more to do and further to go. That while words are important to me they are not me and can’t be used to wholly explain¬†my reality and neither can they be used to completely define me.

Words are to be used with the utmost of care.

With that in mind I don’t want to fight to become a more equal member of a society that is rotting. I¬†AM equal. ¬†What I fight for is for a return to nature, our nature, a re-wakening of the sensual world. A¬†world where feelings and beings rather than objects are held sacred. Where relationships are nurtured, where we¬†take our place in and amongst nature, where we use our powerful and beautiful minds to guide rather than seek dominion.

me on a rock

I feel that the¬†patriarchal society that I’ve grown up with disempowers and constrains more than just the women whose voices are still young and fighting to be heard. ¬†I just listened to New South Wales Young Australian Of the Year Melissa Abu-Gazaleh talk about her ‘Top Bloke’ Foundation. Melissa is a woman who got tired of seeing young men painted as liabilities to the community. ¬†The ‘violent male’ stereotype is not helped by how our society discusses family violence, refugees (how much sympathy is there for groups of dissposesed single men) and terrorism. And then there are those of us that¬†fit outside of a binary gender stereotype. ¬†Society may well be becoming more tolerant or even accepting of such diversity but ‘they’ are still trying to fit into a system developed without ‘their’ perspective in mind.

So what now, do we just sit around a tree and hug?

Of course not.

We need re-awakening.

We need to accept that we have power.

And I think that re-wilding can help with that.

Last weekend I went to a ‘re-wilding women‘ workshop in Katoomba, it was lovely to see so many women drawn to such a left-field, deep and challenging self-development workshop.¬†I have consciously been on my own re-wilding journey for the last four and a half years (I’ll explain more about the why’s and wherefores another time) ¬†and know from personal experience how utterly transformative the process of re-connecting with our raw and primal ‘self’ actually is. ¬†I am however wise enough to accept that I’ve still got parts of myself to explore, lessons to learn and paths to walk. That said I’ve come a long way and am eternally grateful for discovering this thing we call re-wilding and Soul Craft.

Are you now thinking ‘OMG she’s probably writing this naked while letting a wild wolf cub suckle from her bosom while reciting witchy spells and cackling?’

Well that would be interesting but…….

Personally I respond better to walking in the woods while tracking and observing animals, a naked swim in a secluded water hole or being up to watch the sunrise over the horizon than howling into the darkness¬†or dancing to a tribal drum. I grow best with quiet and solitude over noise and people ¬†but that’s just me. I am an introvert. You, me, them, we are all different. Knowing, appreciating and celebrating that is central to the re-wilding experience.

So, I guess what I’m¬†doing here is inviting you to give the concept of re-wilding a try. ¬†To look beyond any stereotypical, language or societal based connotations of what that might be and step into a more sensual world.

Let’s start feeling again.

And maybe, just maybe FEELINGS will become the new normal, ¬†the ‘new’ force that shapes society and ultimately the world.

Amanda x

P.S: Here are some of the books that have helped bring me back to my wild self ¬†ūüôā

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Soulcraft Bill Plotkin

Becoming Animal David Abram

The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Feral George Monbiot

Women Who Run With The Wolves Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

The Alphabet Vs The Goddess Leonard Shlain