Sunday, 13 January 2013

Idle - A Four letter Word?

As the word "idle" has been thrust into my daily consciousness through the growing momentum of the "Idle No More" movement I thought I would do a little personal research into how the word is defined - an online dictionary offered the following: 1. Not working or active; unemployed; doing nothing 2. Not spent or filled with activity 3. Not in use or operation; not kept busy 4. Habitually doing nothing or avoiding work; lazy 5. Of no real worth, importance or significance. Wow, if this is what it means then no surprise one might be hesitant to be seen as or define themselves as being "idle." It would seem it is a state of being that carries with it the potential to cast one as a social pariah. Then I begin to wonder does language determine the truth or do attitudes or beliefs create definitions that support the ideology (the structure)and if so, how can one be sure that the widely held interpretation embodies an accurate representation of the facts. After all "appearances" can be deceiving." The expression "Idle Hands are the Devil's workshop might offer a clue as the connotations associated with "idleness." I consider further the idea of "work ethic" with respect to the virtuous status it is afforded. Some further inquiry reveals that the "Protestant (or Puritan) work ethic" I read suggested that hard work, frugality and prosperity are indicative of one's "salvation" (Wikipedia)- which goes on to make further distinctions: Catholicism: good works are required of Catholics to be "saved" Reformers: good works were only a consequence of already received salvation. Calvinists: taught only those "predestined"would be saved. When it became apparent that it would be difficult (if not impossible) to determine who was "predestined" it would seem, the credibility gap was bridged by presuming the qualifying factors of those with favourable destiny, could be identified by observing their way of life. Hard work and frugality were seen as integral qualities of this predetermination - consequently it would seem, given the stamp of "divine approval." Now this account may occur to some, as a rather elaborate piece of work to avoid work - that I am in fact "work adverse." I would say there is some truth to that, I don't see work for the sake of work as being of much value. More on that forthcoming - but first I wonder why is it, that in what is touted largely as a secular society, where God (of any description) has been made an outcast from government, the workplace and schools are we still being driven and defined by value systems and ideologies, that have as their origins various religious sources? And if it can be accepted that some of these ideas have practical relevance (it is not my intent to debate the theology represented thus far - though suffice to say not ideas that ring true for me)how is it that elements of these religions (where convenient) are used to promote and uphold a system that is dependant on unsustainable productivity, consumption, extraction, exploitation, & profit (for a relative few). This brings me back to my position on "work for the sake of work" how can this be seen as desirable? The system I described seems to me to be hugely unbalanced - i.e. there is a great deal of taking, however, what is being given back? The system doesn't ask of a potential or existing business, to demonstrate much beyond viability (ability to be financially sustainable) but what of sustainability factors: like the environment, quality of life for the employees or the community where the business operates? Far more weight on "get a hair-cut and get a real job" than consideration for value to humanity or respect for life. Get up - get going, get busy, "contribute to the economy" all of which contribute to a consciousness that on the one hand applauds those that are "doing what they have to do to support themselves and their family" but ignores that maybe what they are doing is not particularly supportive in the long run - however they can say at the end of the day for God's sake, at least I'm not sitting "idly" by doing nothing.It seems to me there is an inherent righteousness that often accompanies participants in the smoke and mirrors game known as the "economy"whereby, any that don't blindly participate are vilified. Conformity becomes the marching order - dissent invites retribution in the form of being cast as an "untouchable" through political discourse & media bias, which in turn, becomes the panacea for the masses. The premise in the shell game is that there is something under one of the shells - in the economic equivalent, there is a great deal of energy being expended by those running the game and many are kept so busy trying to watch the shells and "do their part" to keep them in motion, I think many would prefer not to realize that under all three shells, there is nothing! Oh how enticing the game is, the allure of abundance and prosperity for everyone - however "the house wins." Gradually and insidiously the player of the game becomes played by the game. It is not my intention to cast dispersion upon goals, discipline, productivity, contribution or service. My concern lies with a system that upholds such glaring inequities. One that continues to place ever increasing demands on the natural resources of planet earth, in order to sustain this formula of perpetually increasing production, to make possible maximum profits, through continually growing markets of consumers. If one examines this formula it has, at either end consumption - that can't possibly be sustainable. If you went to your doctor or wellness consultant and said I have a great idea for a weight-loss program - I'm going to eat my right arm and leg - I'm left handed anyway!) I'm pretty sure the elements that make up these two limbs are for the most part, nutritious and therefore life sustaining - I can't lose really, probably drop thirty - forty pounds, immediately. He or she would likely have a suggestion or two with regard to the resulting outcome - even if the weight loss/nutritional theories were sound. Now the previous example might seem absurd but really, what's the difference? How can humanity continue to survive on our planet if we are consuming it right out from underneath us and leaving the rest increasingly as a polluted, toxic non-life supporting, cesspool. The "Idle No More" movement while comprised of many members of a wide variety of indigenous communities across the continent is a wake up call for and of benefit to, all humanity, regardless of cultural background. Indigenous cultures have thousands of years of history and tradition that is based on reverence for all life. If we of European ancestry were to consider our lineages far enough back it would become more apparent that our fore-bearers lived by similar values. Somehow a vast disconnect occurred between us and our "roots" which soon became more glaring as technological advancement and domination replaced connection and cooperation. There are innumerable prophecies that point to the indigenous cultures being the protectors of "Mother Earth," rather than project fear that their opposition to further degradation of land, water and the entire web of life is all about retaliation - with some humility and sincere intention to heal the past, we could recognize our mistakes and embrace a collaborative new beginning, that is of mutual benefit to all concerned. In conclusion I submit that busyness & productivity are not synonymous with consciousness nor does it ensure that the highest good is being upheld. That not engaging in the status quo does not imply laziness - that representing a new way of being is not "doing nothing" - it might be, that it is a stand for everything, that requires enormous courage and vision. Sadly perhaps, the reward for such a stand, is often condemnation and frequently, a life span that is drastically cut short - perhaps demonstrating the difference between keeping the peace at all costs and being fully invested in peace. Finally I must confess that I was not particularly "active" while I wrote this, so I will leave it up to the reader whether I was "Idle No More" or just "Idle some More!"

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Music in Me

You are invited to accompany me on a personal odyssey - one that on some levels I have done frequently - this account involves - the first but not likely the last of its kind for the New Year (2013). Having said that generally no two journey's are entirely alike. As I have said I openly welcome your company though I will say at the outset, that I can't really guarantee you will "go" anywhere, or that you will go where I am going or even believe that it's possible that anyone can or is, going anywhere. Perhaps the portal created by my musings will invite a similar journey for you, maybe we will begin together and arrive a a cross-road where we will be called in opposite directions. Equally possible, you may think this the psychotic rambling fabrication, induced by one too many (did I say one?) shortbread cookies - it matters not. As writer, editor & publisher, I pitched the story and have been given the green light, "go ahead" said I, "run the story." Great I'll ensure the shortbread is delivered to the agreed upon location! (But I do digress) So, the journey I refer to is that which I invariably take when listening to the sound track from the movie "August Rush." That music for me is soul candy - it is shamanic healing journey, creative portal and muse combined. In the overture the voice of the main character - (a young boy) says, "sometimes the world tries to knock it out of you!"Before I venture to share further with regard to "it"- I suppose it's worth mentioning that the character in the movie is "orphaned," though not specifically my reality, I was adopted as a baby. So perhaps there are elements of this story that resonate for me where others might only see it as a variation of "Oliver Twist." He continues on further during the overture that, "I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales - that what he "hears" is the same thing his mother & father heard, that the notes he hears are the same notes they heard that brought them together""Maybe that's how they find me?" (he concludes) I am not holding out for this to be the road-map to locating my parents (in fact I have been reunited with many from my mother's side of the family - though she had passed by that time). But what of this music he describes that which drew his parents together (that drew my parents together) long enough for conception to occur - who says the lyrics were to include they stay together the rest of their natural lives? To return to "it," I choose to believe that which "the world attempts to knock out of you" is the call of your soul, the music nothing less, than the "voice" of the Divine. This sometimes happens by "loving" parents that believe the best interest is being served,when their child "gets a real job," passion being seen like a nursery rhyme maxim. "It" can be so deeply lost beneath the layers of conditioning,the wounds of conformity, even destroyed by those that are so afraid, because they don't hear or understand the soul song of another. I did say we're going on a journey! I can't begin to tell you how many times I have heard this entire sound track, even still at times there are tracks within that move me to tears and some of these are instrumental. See the thing is, I invite you to listen to "it" but you may not hear "it," at all. To me the arrangements, the energy, the resonance and yes some of the lyrics take me somewhere. There has always been music in my life - my father a musician in a military band, "music lessons" for my adopted sister and myself. There is music that was playing during my childhood that I remember note for note to this day. I play a little guitar and sing some (and this is not false modesty) it reflects what I believe to be true, even though I get relatively widespread positive feedback. So even if the music from that movie might not gain "critical acclaim" from some more widely trained or experienced to assess it through widely accepted criteria - "it" is sonically and viscerally perfect to me. I welcome your company on this journey, I will hear the truth of your experience - nothing can detract from this being "it" (or a part there of) for me. I can't tell you if this is "it" speaking to me through the music nor tell you that the music is "it" for you. All I know is most of my life I've been searching for "it" (largely outside of myself). To embrace divine order and timing I conclude that I have been led by the "music" upon the "Long and Winding Road" to the place and time where I begin to know "it" for myself. Perhaps now, writing becomes the vehicle through which I express "it." There has been pain and sadness as part of my story that has obscured "it." When I touch "it" or "it" me - I know that a connection deeply personal, profound & loving is occurring. I pray that each is ably to find "it" and express "it" in their unique and perfect way,and that the day will come when no longer does anyone feel it necessary or acceptable to "knock 'it' out of anyone!"