Saturday, 8 December 2012

Public Banking

A recent talk by Ellen Brown on Novemebr 22, reported here 
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Exploring-the-Public-Bank-by-Ellen-Brown-121208-629.html
emcourages the view of a bank as the custodian of the essential infrastructure of the economy rather than a private commercial concern. The example of North Dakota is quoted, with recommendations for Scotland.
Other recent articles have pointed out the inevitability of a move towards public banking
http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/What-We-Could-Accomplish-i-by-Richard-Clark-121206-16.html

and
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Public-Banking--The-Linch-by-Rob-Kall-121206-706.html
Money is a commons which needs to be protected so that we can have more control over where the energy of money is focused.
Comments welcome.
Anna

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Gaza dialogue with Occupy Manchester

I think inner instability is a good place to be, since it means that we don't kid ourselves that we know the answers. We are more likely to be open to listening, to both sides, which is the prerequisite of justice. But this cannot happen while people are killing each other. Peace is not the aim. It is the necessary condition for finding a settlement that is acceptable to both sides, -which may or may not be just according to your perspective.

Once we give ourselves the space to listen to each other with respect, (as we are now doing here) we can find the commonalities among the differences, which no longer need to divide us. We can recognise every person as our brother and sister. That is the first step, the challenge for each one of us in these times, to overcome the rage at the crimes that are happening, and recognise the other as ourselves. This may feel like surrender, like becoming enslaved to power and corruption. Actually that is our state, we are complicit in all the mess and destruction which is happening in the world. To realise that is so heartbreaking, so intolerable, rather than face it, we accuse - see what they are doing, we are not like that, in order to dissociate ourselves from the heinous crimes that are being committed in our name.

That is where we started this dialogue - 'they are the Nazis'.





While we are in that state of dissociation, we disempower ourselves, we feel like victims/slaves and see all the power residing in the other. That impotence feeds our rage, and it becomes a vicious circle feeding on itself. That is what has fed into the 64 years of stagnation.

To reclaim our power we need to recognise the other in all it's guises as ourselves, and acknowledge our complicity. What is our complicity? In simplistic terms every money transaction we make supports this global system of violence.

It seems we are trapped, and that appears to be a hopeless state. What is different is our awareness. We still want to protest the tax evasion, the austerity cuts, the nuclear power, the persecution of Gaza, but our consciousness is different. It is not fuelled by hate or rage. It can protest but it can still hear the other side.

I offer this as a possibility.

Monday, 3 December 2012

BBC news sinks to new low

Was anyone else shocked, as I was, by the broadcast on Friday November 30th 6pm news, of a recording of a Russian prisoner being tortured by prison officers? The news was that the prison officers had been prosecuted and sentenced. But then we were subject to a detailed description of exactly what was done to this prisoner, while handcuffed, and then an actual recording of the screams of pain and the shouts of the torturers. We do have videos of extreme violence on the net and in films, to illustrate for example police violence, or war, but now this graphic violence is judged as news in itself.

It seems there is an attempt to immune us to the sense of outrage and physical repulsion which is the natural reaction when seeing violence perpetrated. And it seems to be working since I have not heard of any other objections to this broadcast.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

AMOUR


It is a disturbing film, especially for one approaching old age. It left me feeling the terror of being unable to communicate my needs, being cared for by people who don't care.

Pondering what resources I have to cope with such a situation, what struck me was the title of the film 'Love'. This couple had an apparently blissful marriage, no lack of money, and a rich cultural environment. They had shared interests, and had been good companions. He still found her attractive. This is what stands for 'love' in our society. When these elements are taken away they find not only their love fades, but, even more crucially, they have nothing to live for.
 The film appears to be a dispassionate look at losing physical faculties, the terror of illness and growing old. Death is seen as a welcome relief from suffering. But it is actually an indictment of what we take to be 'love' – the idea that finding happiness in loving another can obviate the need to develop our own understanding of what life means to us.

So for a while I connected with that experience of the emptiness of life, identifying with the couple, and feeling the terror at the possibility of losing my physical capacities. What would I have if I couldn't move my limbs, dress myself, feed myself, or express my needs. Could I rely on my loving daughter to provide for me? Supposing I was stuck in a hospital with staff too busy to respond to my needs.

What saved me from this paranoid fantasy was coming into the Now. Bringing myself back to where I am, with the insight that I have no idea what the next moment will bring, re-instates the adventure of life. Thinking I know something about the future or the past is the most deadening thing.

This couple had lost touch with the Now. But they had lost it years before. They never became conscious of needing it because they had each other. There is a telling little cameo when they are sitting to a meal, and he holds up the saltcellar and says-there is no salt. She doesn't respond so he fills it himself. She would normally have jumped up to fill it, and at that moment he realises something is wrong. 

That is what their 'Love' was based on, their routines, their shared interests, their culture, and their money.  But when it comes to the crunch these things are not enough. If my life is inherently meaningless to me then all the add-ons do not significantly alter the result.  If my life is zero, then no matter how many zeros I add the result is still zero. However if my life is 1 then all the add-ons – in themselves of no value, ie 0, will contribute to the richness of my life, ie 1 plus 0000 ad infinitum.

Anna

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Beautiful Film of Greek struggle

http://roarmag.org/2012/11/utopia-horizon-documentary-greek-crisis-syntagma/

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Building the Alternative

We have the beginning here of building the alternative economy. The websites brought together here  http://gen.ecovillage.org/, http://mapunto.net/, http://opensourceecology.org/  together with bitcoin http://bitcoin.org/  and  http://www.ehow.com/ give us all the data we need to get started. The Occupy Sandy set up in NYC is a great example of what can happen in response to a catastrophe. ZAD in France shows what can come together in an emergency protest situation. These positive developments tend to get lost in the discussion about dates for strikes and protest marches.

Things are already happening. We are preparing for a clash, but we don’t know what form it will take. The next step would be to establish locations with communities which are committed to providing food, shelter, and basic necessities, for people who are temporarily or permanently opting out of the system. There must be many cooperatives, farmers who have land, individuals and groups who share the same values. The most difficult will be in urban areas. But opening our doors to strangers in need will not be easy.

What might help is to forsee the coming struggle and upheaval and so be prepared in some way. Many have said ‘things cannot go on like this’, but they do, and as yet there is no real indication of breakdown here in developed coutries. Scandals and corruption revealed, but everything continues as ‘normal’ on the surface. So it is likely that when the crash comes it will come very suddenly, with no warning. Focussing on preparation now may be the most positive contribution we can make.
Anna

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

What course of action might enable us to discover who we are​.


First thing is to trust, trust that the process is already happening: To begin to understand that there is something in us which is longing to be discovered, call it truth, call it reality, call it love. It is who we are, and it's desire to be known is far stronger than our desire to know it. It is what life is about, even though appearances would seem to say something completely different.

Often at times of difficulty we think everything is against us, feel desperate and alone. It is very difficult then to trust that the process is happening. We talk about the 'dark night of the soul', when there appears to be nothing and no-one to turn to. I myself went through a 'breakdown' like that, when for six months I felt dead inside, unable to eat or sleep, or take part in any social activities. I was locked in a dark hole with no light, no way out that I could see. Unfortunately many at that point end up in mental hospitals, drugged to suppress the symptoms. (R D Laing is still relevant here) I was fortunate that my sister took me in and let me sit in the garden, doing nothing, just letting the process happen. Which it did. Now I can look back and see with some understanding how a shell that I had erected around me to cope with wartime situations when I was young, was breaking down and allowing me to get in touch with parts of myself I had shut out. I became more whole but it was a painful process.

The masters tell stories to illustrate this process. There is a well known one about the footsteps in the sand, initially two pairs walking side by side, then one pair on its own, then two pairs again. And the question 'why did you abandon me then', and the answer comes 'I was carrying you'.

So I would say first 'trust' that it is already happening. That doesn't mean there is nothing for us to do. But we can only discover our part by connecting with who we really are. When we are in tune then the rest follows. What do you do to make trust happen? There is no ready made formula, it takes a lifetime.

Then take a deep breath, and feel how sweet that breath is that is provided freely with every moment. When we come from anxiety about the future, then we create more fear. The anxiety is understandable but it will take us away from the love which sustains us. This poem by Hafiz talks about that love:

Even
After
All this time
The sun never
says to the earth,
"You owe Me."

Look
What happens
With a love like that.

It lights up the
Whole
Sky.

I think this is the point about Jesus and Buddha not behaving in a way 'so that' something would follow.  Unfortunately these precepts have been used by religion, particularly when associated with the state, and given a different interpretation. The whole notion of the Golden Rule was a later interpretation I would guess, and used to try to control people by rulers, 'princes', etc. not something spoken about by Jesus or Buddha,

I'm not saying 'it's just no use trying to talk spirituality in secular language.' In fact just the opposite. Let's use our everyday experience to become 'mindful' of who we are.

 I'm not telling you anything you don't know. This is common religious doctrine, 'trust god, have faith in god'. But the meaning needs to be rediscovered.

Monday, 12 November 2012

6th form Climate Change Conference on Food

Bradford Cathedral - conference on Food: Local and Global issues.

My response to the invitation:

Matt has passed me your letter with a request for someone interested in food and spirituality. I would be very happy to facilitate a workshop with 6th formers on these topics, and be on the panel.
I attended the meeting on food sovereignty held earlier this year in Lee Valley, and was instrumental in helping to create Horton Community Farm, and the Bradford Food plan which has been introduced by the local council. I am currently in London attending a week of seminars on the Commons, which of course includes food though most production is currently in the private sector.
My faith does not follow any particular religion but I see the necessity to come from the heart in all our activities, and live in profound gratitude for the gift of life - which I don't always achieve, but which leads to experiencing the preciousness of each moment and personal encounter, together with taking responsibility for the state of the planet for present and future generations. Sorry that was a bit of a mouthful, but it does express where I am coming from.

My suggestion for the conference structure:

I have been wondering what structure you are planning for the conference. In my experience people learn much better through participation in an atmosphere of collaboration, and I have a suggestion for organising the conference in a way which promotes this type of learning.

These 6th formers, on the verge of leaving school, are not children and my guess is that they all have access to the internet, where pretty well all 'expert' knowledge is available at  the touch of a button, and moreover is often updated daily.  What can be presented in a lecture or powerpoint as factual may already have been overtaken by new information.

What they probably lack is the opportunity to self organise and really listen to each other's different viewpoints, rather than focussing on which one is 'right'. Though the suggested 25 minutes may be a good length for a short powerpoint presentation followed by some questions, it is too short for the sort of 'collborative workshop' I am proposing.

My suggestion is that each 'expert' is asked to give 4 or 5 salient points from their topic to be printed on cards which are arranged on several tables. The 6th formers would be invited to breakout into small groups round a table; then using the information on the cards discuss among themselves the problems and /or solutions, making sure that each person in their group is heard, and taking notes of the discussion. After a certain length of time they could move to another table or change groups. Finally conclusions could be presented in a plenary.

The 'experts' could mingle with the 6th formers, listen to their discussions, and interject where they feel to.  But essentially they would be on a level with them, not talking down to them as in a lecture. Their expertise would be available as needed, but not seen as superior. Mutual respect would be the ethos.

If you like this idea I would be happy to explore it more with you and would be willing to contribute in any way I could help.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

AWAKENING CONSCIOUSNESS
- Finding our authentic voice
Collaborative workshops
focussing on the current processes of change in ourselves and the world
towards a more generous and creative future.
While many of us are aware that the systems we are living with are not serving the interests of the majority of humanity, and are actually damaging the foundations of life on this planet, we can be overwhelmed with feeling helpless to change direction. Our dependency on these systems in providing our everyday needs, traps us into supporting them. Lulled into a stupor by media, drugs and shopping, we are complicit in our own destruction.

With increasing world-wide communication our collective concern for the human family and the whole biosphere brings an awareness of ourselves as integral to the web of life. This understanding sees, in the current crises, the possibility of a new consciousness breaking through old habits of thought and patterns of behaviour to produce a more just and sustainable future.
Since we are part of the problem, can we be part of the solution?
Can we become agents instead of victims?

Some of the work we will cover:
Transition Towns (Rob Hopkins)
Commons, P2P (Michel Bauwens)
The Work that Reconnects (Joanna Macy) 
 A Course in Miracles (Marrianne Williamson)
Agents of Conscious Evolution (Barbara Marx Hubbard) 
The Empathic Civilisation (Jeremy Rifkin) 
Cracks in Capitalism (John Holloway) 
The Real Wealth of Nations (Riane Eisler)
Integral Enlightenment (Ken Wilbur) 
Occupy (Charles Eisenstein)
Participants may want to present other sources which have resonated with them.
Workshops are free
Donations welcomed
Tuesdays 3-5pm
 
Swarthmore Education Centre,
Woodhouse Square, 
Leeds, LS31AD
 
Anna on 07954345550 email : anna@shsh.co.uk

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

New groups West Yorkshire



Is there another way?

Weekly open participative workshops provide a space to explore together our concerns for what is happening in our world, and in our own lives.

·        Natural resources are being consumed faster than they can be replaced
·        Soils degraded by artificial herbicides and pesticides
·        Rivers polluted, seas choked by plastic waste
·        Economy which works for the benefit of a small minority
·        A widening gap between rich and poor.

Will these unsustainable systems leave an intolerable legacy for our children? Can we see the possibility of a different way of living, one more caring for people and in tune with the natural world?

Many inspiring thinkers see this time as an opportunity to co-create a different future, with evidence of a new consciousness breaking through old patterns. How can we support these changes in ourselves to bring about a more resilient future?

If you would like to join us please contact
 Anna on 07954345550 email : anna@shsh.co.uk

Workshops are free
Donations welcomed

Leeds, Tuesdays 3-5
Swarthmore Education Centre
Woodhouse Square, Leeds, LS31AD

Hebden Bridge, Mondays 10-12
Contact Anna for address

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Abundance

The money economy is based on the principle of scarcity. A gift economy can only work where there is an experience of abundance. In other words I will not want to give away something I need for my own survival or well-being.
. 'Inadequacy of economic means is the first principle of the world's wealthiest peoples. The market-industrial system institutes scarcity, in a manner completely without parallel. Where production and distribution are arranged through the behaviour of prices, and all livelihoods depend on getting and spending, insufficiency of material means becomes the explicit, calculable starting point of all economic activity.' (Marshall Sahlins www.eco-action.org/dt/affluent.html)
The experience of abundance is not dependent on having a measurable amount of goods or happiness. It is rather to do with a culture of living 'within our means', which includes ensuring that our children will not be saddled with the results of out profligacy. Under capitalism our wants are turned into needs in order to justify the experience of scarcity, and the fear that accompanies it, to produce an obedient workforce.
My experience of abundance is always relative to my wants. When giving does not cost me anything, my natural desire is to share, for many reasons - friendship, increase in status, because I care, doesn't matter why. But all that disappears when I feel I don't have enough. And the lack can be of time, support, understanding, as well as food, money etc.
There can be 'a trust in the abundance of nature's resources rather than despair at the inadequacy of human means....... a confidence which is the reasonable human attribute of a generally successful economy.' (op cit)
All this is well known within the family economy. Parental love is sufficient to ensure that children are cared for, as long as the family group can live within its means. But the group can easily become dysfunctional if any member's experience of deprivation is not addressed. As a human family we have to learn to live within our means, while paying attention to all those who experience deprivation within the present system.
This can start on a personal level, making sure that we have enough - rest, love, physical activity, whatever it is we feel we need. When we have enough we are able to give, rather than hoard. This can be supported on the macro level with negative interest, debt cancellation, etc. And it can be experienced on the micro level in our personal lives, by the experience of abundance.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Gratitude

 My Response to http://transitionus.org/blog/gratitude-economy

 How do we begin to feel real gratitude as opposed to something that we do because this is 'the right thing to do'? It seems to me that it has to come from the heart rather than be something that we practice in order to get into a certain mindset. If we practice gratitude because it will be better for society, or for it to become a social norm, or because it is 'good for us', then it just becomes another set of manners, way of behaving, just like getiing children to say 'please' and 'thank-you'.
Now there is nothing wrong with getting kids to say 'please' and 'thank-you', it helps them become more aware of other people's feelings, and that people like to be treated with respect and sensitivity. But it has nothing to do with gratitude. Real gratitude comes from the heart, it cannot be taught, or practised. Like Love it has to be spontaneous and free, and comes when you least expect it. We can become more conscious of the feeling when it arises, be more open and give it space to arise, but we can't make it happen. It surely denigrates gratitude when we feel we can 'manufacture' it by 'Each night before you go to sleep, write down five things you are grateful for'. And then when we start making rules about it eg 'A good recipient doesn’t reject a gift offered', we have completely lost the plot. When you have to be grateful for something you don't want, then that could be called abuse.
Anna

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

UK Food Sovereignty

Last weekend July 8/9, I attended the 'Transform our Food System' gathering in London dedicated to UK Food Sovereignty in collaboration with the European arm of Via Campesina, a global peasant movement which represents about 200 million farmers worldwide.  A wide range of food interests were represented, organic farmers, anti GM activists, permaculturists, land squatters, transition towners, War on Want, etc mostly young people wanting to take back control of our food system. I went as someone who has been involved in setting up food projects locally, and helping to initiate a Food Strategy for Bradford. Two days of intense discussions in small groups, using open space, delicious food provided by Organiclea's Hawkwood Plant Nursery, a ceilidh on Sunday eve, and a moving 'Mistica' introducing Monday morning, connecting by heart resonance, made for an inspiring event. I joined a group looking at how to communicate with compassion to others that may not share our viewpoint, emphasising listening, and sharing with where people are rather than trying to convince them. Our final declaration was to set up a UK Food Sovereignty group, to connect with international and indigenous struggles worldwide.  http://foodsovereigntynow.org.uk

Copy of letter to Hearts in Healthcare, and reply

Thank you for initiating this inspiring movement.

I am contemplating the possibility of a colonoscopy, and I visualised this morning asking the professionals involved to stop, just before undergoing the procedure. I wanted to express that though this may be routine to them, this was my body and very precious to me. Could we take a few seconds, a few deep breaths to be really present and mindful of what is happening? Can we set aside any other concerns and pressing responsibilities to be here now?

I realised as I imagined this how difficult it would be, for a patient to exert that sort of control. Hospital systems are set up so that patients - in a vulnerable state- are submissive to routines, and generally feel grateful for whatever is provided.

 Increasing the heart in healthcare is as much about patients exerting some control over their bodies, as about healthcare professionals making the time to listen to them. We are all patients at sometime, and need to encourage ourselves to speak up for what would make us feel safe and cared for.

and reply:
Thanks for writing. Yes, that's a very serious challenge. My last interaction with hospital services (as a patient) I found I was unable to call out to ask for a blanket, when reduced to a shivering wreck with pain, sleep deprivation, and cold - while left alone and near naked in a cold room.
Among our networks we have a number of inspiring health consumer leaders and they will become members of the HEARTS in HEALTHCARE community, in dialogue with the professionals. Some are working on ways to empower patients and not waiting for the professionals to change.
I believe there are many things patients could do to support their health professionals to be more compassionate. That's a strategy that my wife Meredith is really interested in exploring.
Kind regards, Robin

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Hearts in Healthcare - an inspirational movement to re-humanize healthcare

From Anna Betz
http://commonsrising.ning.com/profiles/blogs/changing-the-whole-system-of-healthcare-starts-with-practising-co?xg_source=activity

When Dr.Robin Youngson promised to 'mess' with our minds at the introduction to his seminar in London I became curious how that fitted with who he was: A deeply compassionate and caring physician.
What happened during the 3 hours of sharing his experiences as a medical practitioner was  that the approx. 120 people present in the room became  fully present to themselves, their hopes and ideals that inspired their choice of profession in the first place. We shared some extraordinary and joyful moments from our work as health professionals. Different practitioners came forward to talk about some extraordinary experiences that touched them so deeply that it shifted their understanding of who they were as people and as health professionals. In every case both the patient and the practitioner grew in understanding and compassion which improved the quality of care.
Robin connected us powerfully to our own internal resources not through a technique or a philosophical idea but through his own authenticity and trustworthiness. His stories and the ones he encouraged us to share, strengthened that part of our brain thats about positivity, optimism, hope, love and empathy. His presence and living example became a healing influence for everyone in the room.
In this video clip we watched  nurses, doctors, therapists and patients share their thoughts on the importance of compassionate, whole person care and how we can work together to create a worldwide movement to transform healthcare.
Robin  skillfully weaved together the moral component of healthcare, science, personal experience and motivation, moral courage, interpersonal neurobiology, leadership, communities of practice, social movement making,  empathy and compassion.
His bottom-up approach called 'Hearts in Healthcare' demonstrates that change of the whole system of healthcare starts with those of us who have re-connected with the heart of healthcare practice and thus find our own flourishing, wellbeing and happiness in our work.
Networks both locally and globally begin to flourish when we share stories and ideas, inspire each other and learn and share new practices. Once enough people value this kind of exchange, collaboration and networking, the ground will be fertile for building Communities of Practice (CoPs) of like minded individuals around themes we feel passionate about.
He believes that Communities of Practice (CoP) are the real engine of change where progress in compassionate caring will happen and from where it will spread by linking such communities together across the world.
Once CoPs across the world link together something really interesting is bound to happen: The new practices will become the norm. The tipping point will be reached when CoPs have attracted a critical mass which he believes will be 15% of the healthcare system.
I left the inspiring evening with the decision that bringing mindfulness, heart and compassion to work will be my new norm and I will actively look for like-minded colleagues to build a Community of Practice within the NHS.
Lets connect the dots within ourselves to become whole and lets connect the dots locally and globally to build mindful and compassionate institutions. Lets make a choice to love work and work with love in our hearts.
As many studies have shown Compassionate Caring saves time and leads to better outcomes. The secret of quality is LOVE. This is why the moral component of the NHS needs revising.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Excerpt from Transformation Through Intimacy Bringing Sex out of the Closet


Integral Life
July 2nd, 2012

Sex is arguably still in the closet.
Yes, it’s wearing a lot less and showing a lot more than was the case forty or fifty years ago, but it’s still not truly out in the open, except in mostly superficial ways. Its ubiquitous exposure, highlighting, and pornification simply camouflage it. However brazenly explicit sex now is, it nonetheless remains largely hidden, its depths mostly untouched, its heartland still largely unknown, obscured by the tasks to which we commonly assign it, especially that of making us feel better.
Just as getting openly and passionately angry does not necessarily bring us any closer to truly knowing our anger, being frequently expressive of and/or pervaded by things sexual does not necessarily bring us any closer to truly knowing—or being intimate with—our sexuality. 
How-to books and courses on sex abound, pointing out various ways to get turned on or more turned on in a relationship, with little or no attention given to actually exploring the very turned-off-ness that seemingly necessitates finding out how to get turned on. Judging from the sheer volume of such books and courses, plus an immense amount of personal testimony from all quarters (for example, the great number of American women who admit that they don’t enjoy sex with their husband), it appears that there’s an abundance of sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction within relationships.
There is plenty of focus on this, accompanied by all kinds of remedies, but not nearly so much focus on how dysfunction and dissatisfaction in the nonsexual areas of relationship might be affecting one’s sexuality.
We are usually quite reluctant to cast (or even to permit the casting of) a clear light on what is actually happening during our sexual times with our partner—other than biologically—but without this, we are simply left in the dark, pinning too much on what we hope sex will do for us.
And there is so much that we expect sex to do for us! More often than we might like to admit, we assign it to stress release, security enhancement, spousal pacification, egoic gratification, pleasure production, and other such tasks. We may use it as a super sleeping pill, a rapid-action pick-me-up, an agent of consolation, a haven or hideout, a control tactic, a proof that we’re not that old or cold. We may also employ it as a psychological garbage disposal, a handy somatic terminal for discharging the energies of various unwanted states, like loneliness or rage or desperation. Mostly, though, we just tend to want sex to make us feel better, and we use it accordingly, whether in mundane, dark, or spiritual contexts.
Not only do we hear more and more about “sexual addiction,” our culture itself is so ubiquitously sexualized that it could be described as sex-addicted. But sexual addiction is not primarily about sex but about that for which sex is a “solution.” It is so easy to think that our sexual charge with a particular person or situation is no more than an expression of our natural sexuality, when in fact it may actually be an eroticizing of our conditioning or of some need we have. (For example, arousal in a certain pornographic fantasy may be secondarily sexual, its primary impetus being rooted in one’s longing to be unconditionally seen, loved, and wanted.)
There won’t, however, be any real freedom here until we release sex (and everything else!) from the obligation to make us feel better. So long as we keep assigning sex to such labor—slave labor—we will remain trapped in the very circumstances for which sexual release is an apparent “solution.” Increased stress means an increased desire to get rid of stress, and if we attempt to do so through sexual means (which does not really get rid of stress, except in the most superficial sense), we simply reinforce the roots of that stress. In addicting or over-attaching ourselves to erotically pleasing release, we also frequently addict ourselves to the very tension that seemingly necessitates and sometimes even legitimizes such release.
The abuse of sex, particularly through the expectations with which we commonly burden it, is so culturally pervasive and deeply ingrained as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more lurid, obviously dysfunctional, or perverse extremes. Even more removed from any telling awareness is our aversion to truly exploring and illuminating the whole matter of human sexuality, not clinically nor in any other kind of isolation, but rather in the context of our entire being, our totality, our inherent wholeness.
That is, sex does not need to be—and in fact cannot be—crystallized out and set apart from the rest of our experience (as those overly focused on the mechanics of sexuality often try to do). Rather, it needs to be seen, felt, known, and lived in open-eyed resonance—and relationship—with everything that we do and are, so that it is, as much as possible, not just an act of specialized function nor an act bound to the chore of making us feel better or more secure, but rather an unfettered, full-blooded expression of already present, already loving, already unstressed wholeness.
To embody such wholeness requires a thorough investigation of the labor to which we have assigned—or sentenced—our sexuality.
That labor and its underpinnings are eloquently revealed through the stark slang of sex. Many of the words and phrases regarding our sexual functioning bluntly illustrate the frequently confused, disrespectful, and exploitive attitude commonly brought to one’s own sexuality and sexuality in general. Consider, for example, the notorious and enormously popular “f” word, for which there is an incredible number of non-copulatory meanings, a fucking incredible number, all pointedly and colorfully describing what we may actually be up to when we are busy being sexual or erotically engaged.
Here’s a partial list, the majority of which overlap in meaning: ignorance (“Fucked if I know”); indifference (“I don’t give a fuck”); degradation (“You stupid fuck”); aggression (“Don’t fuck with me!”); disappointment (“This is really fucked”); rejection (“Get the fuck out of here!” or “Fuck off!”); manipulation (“You’re fucking with my head”); disgust (“Go fuck yourself”); vexation (“What the fuck are you doing?”); exaggeration (“It was so fucking good!”); rage (“Fuck you!”); and, perhaps most pithily revealing of all, exploitation (“I got fucked”).
Throw together the various meanings of “fuck,” plus the “higher” or more socially acceptable terms for sexual intercourse—including the vague “having a relationship” and the unwittingly precise “sleeping together”—and mix in some insight, and what emerges is a collage composed of (1) the dysfunctional labor to which we have sentenced our sexual capacity; and (2) the expectations (like “Make me feel wanted” or “Make me feel better”) with which we have saddled and burdened it.
When we primarily assign our sexuality to stress release, security reinforcement, egoic reassurance, the fueling of romantic delusion, and other such chores—thereby burdening it with the obligation to make us feel better—we are doing little more than screwing ourselves, dissipating much of the very energy that we need for facing and healing our woundedness, the woundedness that, ironically, we seek escape or relief from through the pleasuring and various sedating options provided by our sexuality.
This is not to say that we should never use our sexuality for purposes such as stress release, for there are times when doing so may be entirely appropriate, but such usage needs to be more the exception than the rule.
We are living in a pervasively sexualized culture—“sexy” as an adjective has infiltrated just about every dimension of life. There’s much more openness regarding sex than there was fifty or sixty years ago, but much of that openness has more to do with breadth than depth. We have more permission to experiment with sex and to talk graphically about it, but we nevertheless don’t talk about it in real depth very often—exploring, for example, the nonsexual or presexual dynamics that may be in play during sex—for to do so would put us in a position of real vulnerability and transparency, not so able to hang on to a semblance of “having it together.” Seeing what we are actually doing in nonsexual contexts while we’re busy being sexual may not be very high on our list of priorities!
And this is the era of informed consent, centered by the myth—yes, myth—of consenting adults. In sexual circumstances, many of us may not be clearly considering what is really going on and what is at stake, instead making choices from a desire (largely rooted in childhood) to get approval, affection, connection, love, or security, or to be distracted from our suffering. At such times, we are operating not so much as consenting adults as adult-erated children (and/or adolescents) whose “consent”—however “informed”—is largely an eroticized expression of unresolved woundedness or unmet nonsexual needs.
The deepest sex, sex requiring no fantasies (inner or outer) or turn-on strategies or rituals of arousal, but rather only the love, openness, and safety of awakened intimacy, cannot be significantly accessed without a corresponding depth in the rest of our relationship with our partner. Without such mutual maturity, it doesn’t matter how hot or juicy or innovative our sexual life may be, even if we have many orgasms, big orgasms, together.
In fact, when we make coming together a goal, we simply come apart, separating and losing ourselves in our quest for maximally pleasurable sensations. “Sensational” sex is precisely that: sex that is centered and defined by an abundance of erotically engorged sensations. The romanticized presence of these sensations is often misrepresented as actual intimacy, at least until the rude pricks of reality do their vastly underappreciated job.
Most couples we see are not really all that happy with their sex life. Some of them have gone flat sexually, having had little or no sex for a long time. (Not surprisingly, the rest of their relationship is also usually flat, emotionally depressed, low in passion, unnaturally peaceful.) Other couples are more openly frustrated, wanting more than they are getting (such a quantitative focus being mostly a male complaint), or wanting more connection before sex (such a qualitative focus being mostly a female complaint). And others initially act as if they are doing fine sexually, being reluctant to reveal their discomfort with the direction that their sex life may be taking (like tolerating a partner who prefers porn to them). And so on.
The good news is that such dissatisfaction, if allowed to surface in its fullness, will often goad a couple into doing work that they would otherwise avoid or postpone.
As a couple explores their sexuality, and explores it deeply, they will discover that what’s not working in their relationship usually shows up in their sexuality, often in exaggerated form. And conversely, as they ripen into more mature ways of relating, they will find that this revitalizes and deepens their sexuality. No sex manuals or tantric rituals are needed, nor any fantasies or other turn-on tactics—their increased intimacy and trust in each other are more than sufficient, creating an atmosphere within which love-centered, awareness-infused sexual desire can naturally arise and flow, carrying the lovers along into the sweet dynamite and ever-fresh wonder and ecstasy of what sex can be when it has deep intimacy’s green light.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Commons reading list

On Sun, Jun 10, 2012 at 8:52 PM, Mark Barrett <marknbarrett@googlemail.com> wrote:

In London we are presently developing a new series of assemblies on localism, community and the commons. We are developing an English language reading list and links for the commons theme, we have so far the following, please could you/others add any we should include for people new to the whole concept ?

Either on this list or in comments at http://www.peoplesassemblies.org/2012/06/commons-links-resources/ where the same links are also posted

Thanks !

Mark


Reading Materials on the Commons selected by OWS’ Making Worlds

Podcast recommended by Darren from PAN
David Bollier:  Property & Commons, and The Gift Economy

School of Commoning 'Knowledge Garden' list of links http://www.schoolofcommoning.com/content/community-knowledge-garden

Essential commons resources for Occupiers (source George Por) 


http://thefutureofoccupy.org/2012/04/09/social-charters-a-comprehensive-program-for-reclaiming-sovereignty-over-our-natural-and-social-commons-resources/">Social Charters: A comprehensive program for (re)claiming sovereignty over our natural and social commons resources

Sage Advice for Occupy? from Nobel winner Elinor Ostrom

A Commons-inspired “Occupy theory” of collective action

Occupy + Commons: The Beginnings of a Beautiful Relationship

12 Reasons You’ll Be Hearing More About the Commons in 201

Convergence for a Commons-Based Economy</a> – Quilligan’s closing remarks of his 12-day seminar series
Secondary List (also from George P)

First, Occupy the Market State: Second, Claim Sovereignty: Third, Practice Subsidiarity

‘Occupy’ as a business model: The emerging open-source civilisati
on

Occupying the Commons – a Commonsense.it Project, an interview with Saki Bailey

Campaign Brief: Caring for the Commons

Surveying Commons Activism on the International Stage

The nascent story of the Escuela de los Commons

Reading Materials on the Commons selected by OWS’ Making Worlds
 
Thank you for this. Gathering all this reading material in one place is very helpful. It represents a huge resource, one that can seem quite overwhelming to someone coming new to the concept of the commons as many of us are. However this does not need to be seen as a prerequisite to understanding the commons.

 I have been puzzling about how we can discuss the commons in our workshops when for many of us it is a totally new concept, as though we have to study it before we can talk about it. I would like to make a plea for also consulting our inward feelings to enrich our understanding of the Commons. I am talking about something like a universal memory born with us that recognises that we have a right to preserve and protect those elements which support our life and well being.  Something in us knows that we should be in charge of caring for our planet in a way that preserves it for our children and children's children.

Back in the 17th century the Diggers were one of the first truly egalitarian political movements  and the first to argue for full equality of men and women. They did not have access to the wealth of literature that we have but they asserted: “The World was made a common treasury for all!”. And of course the roots go back even further.

Let's use all this material by all means, but not to let it become too intellectual or academic an excercise. Let's remember it's roots in the earth and in ourselves which bind us to each other and the world  and which we can consult directly by looking within ourselves and accessing our own aspirations and intentions.

best love, Anna

Sunday, 3 June 2012

SYRIZA leader's second letter to Barroso et al.

Friday, May 11, 2012


 

Letter of the president of the Parliamentary Team of SYRIZA – EKM to EU Commission President Jose Barroso, the President of the European Council H. Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Parliament ╬ťartin Sultz; attn the President of the ECB Mario Draghi and Eurogroup President Jean Claude Juncker


Athens Thursday May 10, 2012

Dear Mr. President

I am sending you this letter after returning the exploratory mandate with which the President of the Hellenic Republic entrusted me, so that I could determine the possibility of the creation of a government that would enjoy the parliament’s confidence, according to our Constitution. This letter is a continuation of the previous one I had sent you on February 21.

The vote of the the Greek people on Sunday May 6th, delegitimizes politically the Memorandum of Understanding / Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policy which was signed by the previous government under Mr. Papademos and the leaders of the two parties which had guaranteed the parliamentary majority of that government. Both these parties recorded a loss if about 3,5 million votes, receiving a combined 33,5% of total votes.

We would ask you to note that, before this, the Memorandum of Understanding / MEFP had been already delegitimized as regards to its economic efficiency.

But it isn’t just that the MoU/MEFP failed in achieving its own stated goals. It is also that it has failed to confront the structural imbalances of the Greek economy. SYRIZA has been pointing out all these past years the endogenous weaknesses of the economy. All governments, in close collaboration with the EU, ignored our proposals for concrete reforms.

Please note also, that because of the policies of the MoU/MEFP, Greece is the only European country ever in peacetime to be suffering in 2012, its fifth consecutive year of deep recession. Furthermore, the bond exchange program (PSI) has failed to secure in a reliable way the long-term viability of the public debt, which is increasing as a percentage of Greek GDP. Austerity cannot in any way be a therapy during a recession. The immediate, socially just, reversal of the declining trend of our economy is therefore imperative.

We must urgently secure economic and social stability in our country. For this reason, we have a duty to undertake every possible political initiative in order to reverse austerity and recession. Because, beyond the lack of democratic legitimization, a continued implementation of the program of internal devaluation leads the economy towards a catastrophe, without producing the prerequisites for recovery. Internal devaluation tends to lead to a humanitarian crisis.

We therefore have a duty to re-examine the whole framework of existing strategy, given that it not only threatens social cohesion and stability in Greece, but also is a source of instability for the EU itself and for the Eurozone.

The common future of European peoples is under the threat of these disastrous choices. It is our deep conviction that the problem of this crisis is European and that therefore it is at a European level that a solution must be found…



Respectfully

Alexis Tsipras

President of the SYRIZA Parliamentary Group

Vice-chairman of the Party of the European Left

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Events on the European Charter of the Commons

What are the Commons?
There is an urgent need to recognise that the essential elements for health and well being - water, food, land, education, health care, technology, internet, seeds, etc, - should be protected above all else for the good of all. At present these elements are being systematically sold into private ownership, losing the possibility of democratic control, rather than being valued as the Commons, each individual’s birthright to enjoy. A growing worldwide movement is taking shape to reclaim the Commons, for this and future generations, with people acting as stewards or trustees rather than owners.

When and Where?
Mytholmroyd (near Hebden Bridge) - Fri/29th June 7 - 9pm
Church of the Good Shepherd, New Road, Mytholmroyd, HX7 5EA

Leeds - Sat/30th June 10 - 4pm
Swarthmore Education Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square, Leeds, LS3 1AD

Manchester - Sun/1st July 10 - 4pm
Merci Centre, Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, Ancoats, Mcr., M4 7HR