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I give you permission to be messy and imperfect, and to change your mind.
Paul Kingsnorth gave me permission, and it felt good. I'm just passing it on.
This morning I watched David Cullen’s latest video and I was agreeing, in my mind, with everything he said. It was on speaker on my phone and my husband was in the room getting dressed. He was listening too, and started getting angry. He said Cullen’s ideas were racist and one-sided. My hackles immediately went up, but just as I want my husband to listen to me, I have to listen to him, so I listened.
His opposing point of view held some credibility. And this took me by surprise. I had a twinge inside of me, one that reminds me that I’m not always right, one that warns me that perhaps in this case I’m out of alignment with The Truth.
I said to my husband, ‘I think I know what the biggest problem of all is.’
He looked defensive, ready to fight back, yet he said, ‘Go on, what is it then?’
Then I said, ‘We no longer have a platform where we can have a reasonable debate, hear all sides of the argument, and make an informed decision.’
He agreed. Seemed surprised at me, too. And then we went on with our day.
But I couldn’t move on completely. That deep internal twinge doesn’t happen often and it made me wonder how lost I have become, if I have gotten lost, at all. I remember years ago I would listen to argument and agree with it, then listen to the alternative side, and agree with that too. I think I know who I am much better now, and I’m not afraid to hear the opposition. But I’m just not hearing any, at all.
You see, with alternative media we have created another echo chamber, one that is filled with anger and fear. Just as much fear, unfortunately, as the mainstream has been pumping out. I understand why - we feel let down completely and have lost faith, and trust, in our government. My husband doesn’t feel ‘they’ are out to get us, and he could be right at some level, yet another part of me feels that ‘they’ are running on a malicious agenda, and anything that comes from the mainstream comes directly from them, and makes me feel physically ill. So I have turned it off and don’t feel that keen, or able to turn it back on again.
Interestingly, earlier this morning, before watching David Cullen, I had a very vivid dream where I was involved with a tearaway group who were considering how to bring down the government. It had started with protests, then acts of rebellion, but we weren’t getting anywhere. Somehow I managed to convince them all that we should run for government. Myself included. I was up for it! We realised, that if each of us recruited three other people to help us, only three, that we would have a representative in every county of whatever country it was that we were in. (It was, of course, a dream.) We decided and agreed to go ahead with that course of action. All was left was for us to give ourselves a party name. In my head I was running through all the standard political party names - conservative (no), liberal (no), labour (no), then someone said: ‘Let’s call ourselves the “What the hell just happened and let’s make sure that it never happens again, party”. Then the phone rang and I was pulled out of the dream.
What the hell just happened? Let’s make sure that it never happens again. Never a truer thing has been spoken. I’m sure more people than we realise would be interesting in joining this particular political party, if it was at all a possibility.
My husband brought me up a cup of tea. So I decided to stay in bed a little longer, and opened up substack. Paul Kingsnorth had just published an essay.
In it he says this:
(the alternative to becoming enslaved to the Machine, as he calls it) …is to speak truth and try to live it, to set your boundaries and refuse to step over them. It is to be a conscientious objector to the Machine.
You will never do this perfectly, and you should never try. This is not a puritan endeavour. It is a rebellion: a mode of existence-as-resistance. It is hard and messy and ongoing and to even begin it is a victory. To do it alone is a deep achievement; to do it with others, to build a community around it if you can, may help. To understand the nature of the Total System, and then to do what you can in your own life to resist it, and refuse to feed it: this is the work.
His words, especially this quote above, really touched me exactly where I needed to be touched, at exactly the right time.
It has been messy. And I was feeling messy as I read it. I felt relieved that he spoke about this, and that, in essence, he has given me permission to be messy too.
Only yesterday I was telling a friend of a friend that I’ve got friends in the truther movement but I don’t believe in everything they believe in. I heard myself say this with an apologetic tone and wondered where that came from. She said the obvious thing, ‘But of course you don’t need to believe everything someone else believes!', yet some child-like aspect of me did need to hear it. Perhaps it was the child-like aspect of me that was apologetic, too. The one that wants to believe everything everybody says, to keep the peace. The time for keeping the peace has passed.
I can catch myself when I stray away from truth and from the truth of who I am. But I know that many people can’t and it’s so easy to get caught up in the passion of who is around you and what they believe.
Let me bring it back to this: What is missing is a platform for pure and true debate. Debate the old fashioned way, where we weren’t afraid of being cancelled, or afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings. When people said it like it is, spoke how they felt it in their hearts, and their authenticity shone through even if the words were messy. Today, speaking truthfully is like walking across a field of broken glass with bare feet, naked, with everybody watching us as we walk, and some of the watchers have snipers and are not afraid to use them.
We are in Earth School, as my friend Neil Kramer calls it. We didn’t come here to have a good time and be pandered to. Or have our delusions colluded with. We came here to learn, to grow, to discover the difference between what is true and what is not. It can hurt. And it’s most certainly not comfortable.
When we say we’re interested in what is true, then we cannot dismiss what doesn’t suit our narrative. For we have created a narrative too. Own it. We forget that the ‘alternative voices’ do have something to say, whichever that alternative may be. We have been divided deliberately for this reason, so we could be pitched against each other irrationally and forget our humanity.
Please my friends. Keep your eyes, ears and hearts wide open and allow for the messiness. Know you’re not always right about everything and be able to admit to it. Life is about learning and growing and when we only listen to what suits us then we are not challenged and without that pressure, there is no true growth.
I say it again because it is worth repeating. If opposing points of view could be represented somewhere, without fear, we would have a much more balanced and understanding world. That is what we need right now. A way to hear and listen to each other. I’m asking for that. It starts at home. Let’s manifest it together.
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