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People Pleasing – It Ain’t So Bad, You Know

I know, I know, people pleasing is a bad idea.

We hear it a lot don’t we.

You have to look after yourself so you’re able to look after others. That is just one example of how it’s framed. And it’s right.


You sure?

Course it’s right. In this system. In this form of society. Where we are in competition with each other to get to the top of the hierarchy. Of course we must look out for ourselves first.

So yeah, course it’s right.


Play a game with me. Have a little thought experiment. Imagine a world where everyone is a people pleaser.


Imagine it. Have a sip of tea. Take a breath. And imagine it for real.

A world where everyone…. everyone single one of us (or even just the significant majority of us, if I’m honest)….Imagine that world…where the big most of us are people pleasers.

What then?

What would it be like?

I’ll tell you what….

We’d all be pleased.

Don’t stop giving. Set the example. Give give give. And maybe, just maybe, we can create a world where we are all pleased.

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Choose to be Natural

I like to rememeber that the adaptability apparent in evolution isn’t a conscious thing.

It just happens.

The finches didn’t wake up one morning and group-think “Oh gosh, those food bits taste nice but they’re sooo hard to get at; we need to develop, design and create a new kind of beak shape.”

And there wasn’t one visionary finch who broke all the rules and bravely risked modifying their own beak to prove their idea, before all the other finches understood.

It’s just that the finches who happened to have the right beak shape survived, and the ones who didn’t have the right beak shape either moved on or didn’t survive.

And when I remember that, I like to realise how it represents quite a different perspective on evolution, progress and change from the driven and active forms we face every day.

Which helps me understand that natural, healthy evolution, progress or change is never a conscious thing with intent and goals.

Natural development, like the adaptability of evolution, just happens as it happens. It makes the best of every moment, every time, so that every moment is the best it can be. And that’s it. Nothing more.

Opportunism not competition. No expectation for you to develop, grow, or change to survive. Just the freedom for you to find where you fit best and the chance to humbly accept where you don’t fit.

Which helps me know that natural things absolutely never ever ever force themselves to fit where they don’t naturally and easily fit.

And so I choose to be natural.

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Freedom of Choice

If we openly and consistently showed everyone that all the other ways of life are as available (as easy or as hard) to achieve as the mainstream path, and made all the paths clear and obvious to follow towards all potential ways of being, and helped people get to the ways of being we didn’t agree with or even understand, but still helped them get there because they wanted to…how many of us would stay in this system we are in now?

Would you?

If you were given an easy to make choice to have another way of life/follow another path (with awareness that all the ways/paths required as much work as any other to start up and maintain…there’s no easy life, just different ones), would you work on yourself to stay inside this system?

Or would you go try something else?

At the moment, many people find that other ways of life are not as accessible or obvious or visible to them, and they instead choose to accept the idea of internal self work in order to accept their existence within the mainstream society. But this approach has its risks, too.

The choices we seem to have are: join in or if you don’t enjoy joining in work on yourself so that you don’t mind joining in, or by all means go do any of these other things that are hard to discover and which we won’t support you in doing.

But could we make all the other options more obvious and accessible do you think? And could all the other options be as supported as the mainstream and the ‘work on yourself to fit in’ options are?

If a friend of yours gave you the options of joining in with how they lived, or (if you didn’t like the way they lived – it made you feel deeply uncomfortable for instance) you could work on yourself so you accepted being constrained and upset by the way your friend lived, or you could disappear and do your own thing (that you love) but without your mate’s presence or support…how would you feel about your available choices? And would that be a friend you’d keep?

Wouldn’t it be better if we just helped each other achieve whatever each other wants?

Of course it would. Because, Love is simple.

Love loves what love finds as it is when love finds it. Love does not desire or ask for change. Love just loves. And if change happens, Love loves whatever new arises too. Because Love loves and asks for nothing.

Love is simple. But is how we live this simple too? Is how we live based on Love?

A global group of creatives and performers explored this whole idea in much greater detail and much more creatively too, in the world’s first Facebook play – The NoW.

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Reciprocity Masks Selfishness

On the face of it, reciprocity seems like a good thing. Get back what you give, or the connection is unfair. And I suppose that’s true. But, that dynamic can become a struggle between people, too.

So I’m suggesting something radical.

I’m suggesting we all give. All of us. Freely. All the time. Without exception. To anyone.

I know. Crazy, right. Sounds like people pleasing. Sounds unsustainable. Sounds like you’d be exploited.


Think about it…

Just a little…

If EVERYONE was willing and free to give whatever they could (in terms of things, skills, time, knowledge, etc.) to ANYONE…

If we ALL gave to anyone, easily and freely.

ALL of us. ALL the time.

Then what?

In that world, where everyone is always willing to give to anyone, reciprocity is either a non-thing (because everyone is getting what they need so they sense no missing out and have no cause for unfair feelings, and therefore nothing to trigger their need for equal returns) or reciprocity occurs naturally in that….if you ask for something you need you will be able to get it because everyone out there is willing to give anything they can to anyone. Or both. Or…these two are the same thing said in different ways.

And, talking of reciprocity happening naturally…to be honest, in nature, reciprocity is precisely what everything does…it’s the whole cycle thing.

But, while some people need their giving returned to them equally by the very person/people/being/entity they gave to (and especially where that equality of return is defined by their personal and subjective view of the value of the “…” received in exchange for the “…” they gave), we will continue to have a situation where some get everything they want, some don’t, some give, some don’t, some feel guilty for giving, some feel guilty for not giving, some feel guilty for taking more than they feel they should, some feel guilty for not taking enough to share with others…etc.

By expecting direct and measurable reciprocity from those we give to, we cut off the natural cycle of giving between all humans, and strike a huge blow for us collectively and consistently joining in with – or even perceiving the relevance of – the reciprocal cycles of all of nature.

If everyone gives to everyone who asks, no one will feel left out. But if people only give to those from whom they’ve received something, and they also control those exchanges so they give and receive things they feel are of equal value to what they received and gave, then all kinds of people will feel left out and/or unsatisfied for so many different reasons.

We explored this whole idea, and a hell of a lot more, in the world’s first Facebook play (a groundbreaking, global performance that re-imagines theatre for the digital age)…

Please and join us, we’d love to have you play along with all of us…

Join in! 👉

Find out more 👉

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Will You Lead The Way?

Imagine our society is a person who you have a relationship with. And then consider how that person treats you.

Is it with the love you’d desire from a fellow human? I don’t think so. To me, the way the whole world works is akin to an abusive partner.


If I were your partner and I treated you like that, I’d clearly be abusing you.

Those behaviours, which we think are normal, are in fact the control mechanisms of our society, keeping us locked in to a world that exploits us to keep progress and profit growing.

Happy stability is not the goal of our world. Endless growth and permanent competition (keeping us in a constant state of stress) are what we are all working together to achieve. It’s not where I want to go. Is it where you want to go?

(As an aside here, it is no wonder that so many people emotionally manipulate others. We are all placed in a subtle form of competition with each other in order to maintain our society, and some of us will quite literally do anything to win. So, when someone does emotionally manipulate another, they are simply trying to win (the very core of how our society works – all competitions have winners and losers) and they’re unconsciously practicing the behaviours modelled for them by the control mechanisms of our society. How could they treat a human any different than they’ve been treated by the world? The films Taxi Driver and Joker make this point much more effectively than me. It is also no surprise that people misinterpret honesty as rudeness, because society is never honest with them so it comes as a huge shock when someone actually is.)

But don’t worry, because change is coming.

Unfortunately, it will arrive dressed by our media outlets as the Collapse of Civilisation. And that might scare you enough to cling on to what we have now; to block, rather than support, the change.

Don’t let it. Do everything you can to bring about the change.

We don’t need this form of society anymore. It doesn’t have our best interests at heart. We need to bravely walk away from our abusers and seek something very different where we will all thrive together within a world that we are also helping to flourish.

Will you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you set the example?

Will you break the cycle of abuse?

Will you lead the way?

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Responding to Difference

Explore openly how you feel, together, and state and hold your boundaries when/if you need to – but nothing more.

Manipulations to avoid:

  • Always giving someone information (or that old chestnut of leaving information lying around a lot) that only or mostly supports your view – you’re contoling the flow of information to suit your agenda, and carrying out subtle/passive coercion in the process.
  • Asking someone to change (or MUCH worse, asking someone to promise to change) – this creates an imbalanced power dynamic that puts them in an impossible position where to stay true to themselves they have to actively let down someone they are connected to, which establishes a (subconscious) control-based precedent in your favour within the relationship.
  • Changing your behaviour towards someone either to match how you see/feel their behaviours so they “learn/see what they’re like”, or to put them in small/large orchestrated scenarios where they will “prove what they’re really like” – this is an intentional manipulation that actually becomes more and more criminal the more you do it (especially if you involve others in it, too.)

Explore openly how you feel, together, and state and hold your boundaries when/if you need to – but nothing more.

The response will tell you everything you need to know. And the right kind of distance can always be established if the love isn’t strong enough to allow for difference.

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I Don’t Agree

We can all have disagreements and differences of opinions over anything. Anything except one thing.

If someone is trying to tell us something about their feelings, which is always going to be an important thing for them if they’re taking the time to tell us, then (particularly if we have asked them to tell us how they’re feeling) we must put our own feelings and interpretations aside, check our understanding, clarify what they mean and ask for more information until we know, through their response to us, that we have come as close as possible to fully understanding them from their perspective.

We can’t disagree with someone about something they are telling us they feel. We can, however, not understand them or not comprehend their feelings, and/or feel (perhaps very) differently about it. But we can’t disagree with them about their feelings.

If we do find ourselves disagreeing with someone about their feelings (which we all know is something only they can know about) in reality we are placing our assumptions, our judgements, and our faith in our own intellect above their own knowledge of their own heart, mind and body. We’re assuming our brain knows better than they do about what they feel.

We must realise that our interpretation of their words about their feelings is never going to come close to understanding how they really feel.

Don’t tell them you disagree with the words they’re trying to use to tell you about their feelings, either. If you don’t understand them ask them to tell you more about how they feel, or in different ways or to give you examples to help you understand.

We do of course all have different feelings about all kinds of things.

I or we can feel happy about a thing or a situation, and you or they can feel sad about that same situation. And others can hold other feelings about it too. But none of us get to hold our own opinion about how someone else does or should feel about a thing or a situation. No matter how strongly we feel differently from them about that same thing.

We can feel and communicate our own feelings. And we can seek to understand the feelings of others on their terms. And we have to believe them, even if what they tell us they are feeling seems unlikely to us.

We can disagree about anything, including how we each feel about a thing or a situation. But we can’t disagree with someone about how they feel about a thing or situation, even if we feel (extremely) differently about the same thing/situation.

The only thing we don’t get to have an opinion on is someone else’s feelings.

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Collapse of Civilisation

I see posts and articles about the collapse of the “civilisation” all the time. Perhaps that says more about the cookies on my devices than it does about anything else! But, it does make me think!!

The truth is, I believe, that the potential collapse of civilisation is not an issue. Honestly, don’t worry even a little bit about this. Humans are survivors. We can do and achieve anything.

And, anyway a “civilisation” is not the world, and it’s not even your life or my life.

“Civilisation” – this one – is just a set of totally out of date rules that were created by biased and arrogant people (who wanted to enslave the globe for profit) a few hundred years ago.

Civilisations have collapsed before. This one will collapse. Lives will go on. They always have.

When it does, we will have true freedom for a while. (Hope this happens while I can still enjoy it!) Then some people who are confused by the freedom will start to make new rules (they’ll start slow, one by one; “don’t fucking even think about looking at my last Rolo”, for instance, if things start to get really desperate) and when there are enough new rules someone will write them all down and call that a new “civilisation”.

And for two hundred years or so the future usses will live with those new rules too, until they learn enough to realise those rules have become irrelevant too. But, by then, the majority of the future usses will be very comfortable with those new (by then, old) rules. And they’ll be scared of any change too.

But the change will come to them, and them, and them, and them, forever (as it is coming to us, now); until we realise that it is only the rules that always fall and fail eventually. It is only “civilisations” that collapse. Not life. Not people. Not nature…she’s not going anywhere.

This cycle will go on until enough people realise that freedom from rules is the only consistent and sustainable way of being.

Could happen next. This could be the last “civilisation”. If we wanted it to be. But we don’t. Too many of us like rules. Not enough of us really, truly want complete freedom. Not yet, anyway.

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Endless Growth is Gross

Nothing in nature grows forever. It grows, then it thrives for a long time when it reaches its natural limits (creating its own comfort zone), then it eventually dies.

For natural things, what is key is to learn the awareness of when to stop growing and when to thrive alongside and with the other natural things around you. And to maintain that state of beauty within you and around you for as long as possible.

Endless growth is unnatural. Except. The only thing in the natural world that grows endlessly without stopping is……cancer. And that kills quick.

Growth without balance (without at some point stopping, resting, and enjoying what you are and have become) hastens death.

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Not the Cnut I know

I always thought the story of King Cnut (the real name of the 11th century king many of us might remember as Canute) was one where the king was foolish and arrogant in believing he could stop the sea just because he was king, and that he was publicly embarrassed when he could not. 

Apparently, this is untrue.

In the first recording of the story, made by Henry of Huntingdon, Cnut was in fact intentionally demonstrating how useless his kingly power was against the one true power of God who commands nature. He did this to attempt to brush off the extreme/excessive flattery of his courtiers (who needs yes men, eh?!) and, according to good old Henry’s account, Cnut also never wore his crown again after this demonstration.

I found out this original story because I have recently been thinking about how the story of King Cnut (as I used to know it; the idiot king embarrassing himself) is relevant to the world today, and I wanted to check my memory on him before I made passing reference here. Good thing, eh?!

The allegory of a human standing against unstoppable forces, and inevitably failing, rings true today in many ways.

The way I stand atop Chesil Beach with my eyes closed when a storm is upon us, to feel my weakness against the wind and the waves. The way people argue about polarised opinion, or tell others not to be black and white, without realising they are talking about ends of a spectrum/continuum; ignoring the space between themselves and, with it, all the people that sit somewhere in that space. The way some people are still sexist, racist, ageist, classist, xenophobic, etc., despite the fact that the majority of people in the world automatically see every single other person as fully equal to themselves. The way that people who create systems seem to forget that even theirs will succumb to entropy. And the way governments and corporations are denying and/or ‘cleverly’ sidestepping the elements of climate change we are all responsible for.

The way nature washes easily over all of us.

In all these, as with Cnut, the inevitability of change will win in the end. And, thanks to my tiny new bit of knowledge on Cnut, I now realise we have a choice. We can arrogantly try to face down the tide of change or we can humbly accept it as immutable. Or, I suppose – considering one of the things I typed in the last paragraph – we could do a little bit of one and a little bit of the other. Sometimes cocky, sometimes humble. Just like everyone!

But, what I really mean to say is that whatever we do, however we respond to how things are changing, if we sometimes forget to respond with love, or sometimes forget to be the most environmentally friendly or kindest people we could be, a change – The Change – is definitely flowing towards us. I think I can see it. There are certainly shapes forming. And I can definitely feel it building up deep in the middle of my chest.

It is getting closer and closer. 

A world of tolerance, understanding and love between people and all of nature is on the horizon. And no one can stop it. Whatever they do and whatever mistakes we/they make on the way, it is coming. So, as Bob Dylan once sung, and as the new Cnut I now know would do; “Get out of the way if you can’t lend a hand.”

We explored the idea of man standing against the freedom of nature in the world’s first Facebook play, The NoW.

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Don’t Ignore the Canaries

We are the canaries. We are the early warning sign. We are the siren. And you are ignoring us.

A long time ago in the UK, miners would take canaries in cages into the coal mines because these birds would twitter and tweet (coughing and spluttering, but prettily!) if there was a sniff of toxic gas in the air. 

The miners would pay attention, grab the birds in their cages and hustle each other to leave the mines immediately. Because, despite the birds’ small size and apparent insignificance, they were listened to. The miners knew that the birds’ plight and ultimate death would soon be theirs if they didn’t act. The miners were not blindly, ignorantly, arrogant about their ability to survive in a toxic environment that was already killing smaller/weaker beings.

They all fled to safety together. 

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly I suppose, some of the birds sometimes died when people in the mines weren’t paying enough attention to the fact that the birds’ tweeting was signalling an increasing build up of a toxic environment. And, also unfortunately, people who ignored the birds died too.

With incidences of mental health issues rising globally, and with associated suicide rates rising too, we should all realise something. We ought to pay attention to our canaries.

People’s minds or emotions are not getting worse. Having mental health issues is not a sign that there is something wrong/broken with an individual. No one needs to be fixed. 

Our environment – social, economic and natural; since they all combine to form the one macro-environment in which we exist – is getting worse, and those of us who are more genetically/naturally sensitive are having significant trouble maintaining contentment and positivity in our modern society. Being attuned to the risks of the world is in the genes for some of us, but this is not a malfunction we need to learn to manage. It is a powerful strength to which the rest of us ought to pay attention!

An early warning sign.

The canaries are frantic in their cages. Many are dying. And the miners, the rest of us who are not yet suffering, put our faith in the mental health industry.

But, to me, this is baffling. The mental health industry does not appear to be helping us escape a toxic global environment, and nor does it appear to be trying to change that environment (in which we suffer). The mental health industry seems to be trying to fix the canaries!

When I think of the mental health industry within the bounds of my miner/canary metaphor, I realise that all of us twittering canaries (those of us with undiagnosed mental health issues, or those with long standing ones) are being quietly picked up in our cages, taken off to a hidden corner of the mine and told to breathe slower, to let the poison into our lungs slowly so we can get used to it, to adjust to the new environment, to remember that life includes hardship, that the stresses we feel are normal, that we are meant to feel as bad as we do, that everyone else is coping so we must be able to find a way to survive/cope too.

It seems we are expected to accept the world as it is, to accept that stress is normal. To not hope for, to not ask for and to not work towards peace. It seems that, collectively, we are shushing the canaries while forcing them to stay with us in an environment that is growing ever more toxic.

But we all ought to be paying attention. 

Those who are keeping positive now, those who do not even think the environment is toxic now, those who cannot yet smell the poison in the air; we who have already fallen, we who are spluttering and choking before you, we who can already smell the toxic gas……we are your warning. 

The air around us all is growing bitterer and deadlier every second, are you really going to wait and taste it for yourself?

You won’t like it. Trust us, we know.

It might kill you. It has already done for many of us.

Don’t ignore the canaries. Fix the environment – social and natural.

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Contentment in The NoW

Goals inherently draw you, your mind, your needs, your sense of success or failure, or your reason for contentment to a future that includes something you don’t currently have. And, in so doing, they create a dissatisfaction with the present – the now.

Values (or principles), on the other hand, are built on/in the past. Lessons from experiences, the roots of our “way(s) of life”, the historical basis from which we compare and consider what we do/will and do/will not like/accept/desire; at once the measure of our contentment and the roots of how we disconnect/protect ourselves from others. This is how values lived within keep us rooted in the past. The past that, because it is our foundations, then easily (subconsciously, unintentionally) becomes the security, the reason and the certainty with which we allow our values to become biases and judgements. which also creates and requires us to maintain a dissatisfaction with the present – the now.

Someone with goals has their head in the future. Someone with values has their head in the past. Both are dissatisfied with the present – the now.

Being present. Being content. Living in the now for no other reason than living in the now is the only true way to avoid the comparative dissatisfactions of the past or future. Finding fulfilment in this nothingness is the way we can loose the urgent senses that call us to live in our pasts or our futures.

Contentment is not found in that which we have lost, or in that wich we hope to gain. Contentment is presence in a moment – the now – that defines itself, confirms itself and completes itself. It is a circle, a breath, a second that measures only itself.

Living in the now, the state of “being present”, doesn’t exist long enough for values or goals to have any meaning within it. Yet it exists forever, in every moment. One after the other. Encompassing nothing but leaving room for everything. Never starting. Never ending. Always now.

Always present.

Anything that bridges moments, that partially or fully exists beyond or between, before or after, anything that encompasses more than one moment within itself, anything that is bigger than RIGHT NOW is a distraction. These distractions can be securely inhabited in the now, in the present, in each moment after moment; but doing so – living inside a distraction – isn’t actually living in the now, it isn’t being present, and it won’t bring contentment.

Because anything that moves us from this tiny moment right here, from The NoW, drags us to both the future and the past where lack, error, loss and want are free to roam.

When the wild wind met the wide, empty sky love was born.

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Magpies and Me

Magpies mean a lot to me. As a young boy, my granddad introduced me to the rhyme many of us know. He also taught me the tradition of greeting the lone magpie with a salute to ward off the sorrow it brought. 

They have always been there at key moments in my life.

They are beautiful, clever birds. Resourceful and magical. Sorrow is the seed of strength. I will always pause to spend time with them both. Just in case one day they share with me their dark secrets!

And in the mean time, I have gathered below some interesting links about magpies alongside some of my art and writing inspired by these beautiful birds.

  • As Strong and Fast and Sharp as You
    That magpie out in the garden there,
    he’s as strong and fast and sharp as you.
    He’d kill you. You know that, right?
    He’d peck out your eyes,
    rip open your belly with his talons,
    and dive bomb you to obliteration.
    You know that, right?
    He’s every bit as strong and fast and sharp as you,
    my pretty little kitty.
    You wouldn’t stand a chance.
    But he’ll always keep his distance,
    and he will never start anything with you.
    So, pay attention to his warning clicks and whistles,
    to the cracking whacking of his black beak,
    and be a sensible little kitty, yeah.
    Stay well away.
    Because he’ll be sure to end you 
    if you start on him, 
    even if it ends him too.
    Chatter from a distance if you must, 
    little kitty.
    Hiss and scream behind his back if you like.
    Stretch and flex those fearsome claws.
    Scratch and bite the fence.
    Bare your teeth.
    Raise your haunches. 
    Stare him down.
    But never make a move on him.
    He’s as strong and fast and sharp as you.
    You wouldn’t stand a chance, little kitty.
    Just leave him be.
  • Sorrow
    Sorrow lands quietly 
    on the edge of my path.
    He is an old bird.
    His smooth blacks, frayed 
    and cracked by the pull of earth and time.
    His pure whites, grey-yellowed 
    by damp winds and harsh light.
    He limps. 
    His eyes shift everywhere 
    but where he's going.
    His splintered talons 
    and chipped beak 
    set about the hard ground 
    over and over.
    He is an old bird.
    He is alone.
    I stop and turn, 
    and slowly stoop
    to connect with eye contact.
    Sorrow hops away.
    Not like those tiny birds. 
    Frantic, sudden clouds of fear.  
    Winging it from anything that looms near.
    To the rooftops and lamppost tops,
    and the high wires spun between,
    to Twitter and preen in disarray.
    Sorrow just hops away.
    No further than two arms’ length,
    to where he knows he could escape.
    Stands still, cocks his head, 
    shakes out his wings and tail a bit, 
    and looks right back at me - 
    while, for a moment, I reflect 
    on our similarities.
    He is an old bird.
    He is alone.
    He is unafraid. 
    Sorrow seems happy 
    to watch me walk away. 
  • On the Verge
    Abruptly, with the fret
    of animal instinct
    blackly bothering its eyes,
    sorrow peeled away from joy.
    Beaky, monochrome, full of fury. 
    A crowbar crossed with wings,
    swooping over tar, over car,
    to engage the lone threat
    from a distant murder’s fragment.
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The Aviary

Every morning the beautiful birds wake in their roosts to the caretaker’s distant song calling them to gather for breakfast in the feeding area on the eastern side of the huge, ornate aviary. 

They arrive in ones and twos, and threes and more. Flitting in like magic. Swooping. Hopping. Strutting. Squishing their soft bodies together under the weaved willow canopy, and wriggling with excitement – hustling, bustling, and jostling each other. Their tiny feet scratch eagerly on the yellow, dusty ground as they quietly chirp, tweet, and coo to one another. Their tails and crests dance gently in the air above them like a technicolour meadow swaying softly to the music of a changing breeze….

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Etiquette, etcetera.

Etiquette is a subjective control mechanism.

Etiquette is extremely important to those who believe in/adhere to/follow/cite it. Yet all our definitions of etiquette are subtly different.

Aside from the obvious and vast array of different cultural forms of etiquette (and ceremony and tradition), on a day to day basis there are huge differences between us too.

I don’t like to hug when I say goodbye, yet some I’ve known have felt it rude when I won’t. You leave some people’s texts longer to reply to than others’, and you have your fair reasons for that. I only let drivers out of difficult looking junctions if they’re sitting back patiently waiting. Some people stand extremely close to you in the corner shop queue, don’t they – what’s that about?

Etiquette is subjective, yet it is important.

Etiquette is so important in fact that many people get upset when what they know as good etiquette (or manners, social norms, common sense, etc) is not demonstrated. Often to the degree that they will confront strangers and/or complain/comment to others about a lack of respect. And sometimes to the extent that things like policies or local bylaws or even national laws are amended to control the behaviour of those who acted in a way unaligned to the etiquette beliefs of the offended person.

Etiquette (how we do and don’t like to be treated, and how we do and don’t like to see others and things treated) is deeply rooted in each of our specific human connections and experiences. So it’s extremely hard to realise that our own sense of right and wrong is not universal.

Based on our own processing of our own experiences and the guidance/teachings of those in our familial/friendship echo chambers, there could be no other sense of etiquette than our own.

But we are deluding ourselves into division.

Etiquette is deeply emotionally subjective, and it is extremely important.

When your own emotional experiences drive the behaviours you expect of others and when their experiences drive the behaviours they expect of you, it is fairly unlikely you’ll both have exactly the same set of understandings and expectations. It is much more likely you will disagree, to some extent.

Disagreeing on something so important and so emotionally subjective can cause friction, competition, disappointment, judgement, stress, etc. in human relationships.

When behavioural expectations are starkly mismatched, who of us (in a perfectly equal world) could ever fairly say which set should thrive and which should be forgotten? Which person’s sense of right and wrong should win out?

In this globalised world, we are all now right at the heart of that difficult question.

Societally, personally, and interpersonally, whether we are noticing it for what it is or whether we are frustrated and confused by what is going on around us, we are all beginning to re-engage with and re-negotiate about things we’ve already learned from (upon which we’ve each built our own senses of etiquette), while also learning to accept/allow the behaviours of others that we have an undesirable emotional response to.

It’s a complex thing. It pulls you two ways. It pulls us all two ways. It is pulling our world two ways. Who am I kidding?! It’s pulling our world apart at the seams, in billions of minuscule (almost imperceptible) directions.

We’ve got to be strong to keep it together, for ourselves and for everyone. We’ve got to rely on one another. To succeed together, we must find a way to show love to every person – even if they don’t behave as we’d like – while also ensuring our personal needs and boundaries are communicated and met.

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Personal Property

The very concept of personal property is absurd.

If you own something (anything; a bit of land, an idea, a plan, a house, a cat, a baguette, a sense of your right to own things) you protect it. This dynamic is what leads countries to have “enemies”, and ultimately to wars – in the name of protecting ‘their’ land and ‘their’ people.

If you own something, you control who can access it (through money, or rules, or by just being a dick about it).

If others own things we want or need but can’t get, this drives jealousy which can cause theft if we don’t have the means to legitimately (within this system) obtain the desired thing.

Many of our Legends are about how bad jealousy is for peace, but they also start with someone – usually a god! – being proudly powerful. It is the power in the stories that is the trigger. The pride in power is the root cause of all the Legends’ destruction. Not the jealousy. If the gods were not so proud of their power and such show offs about it, then Prometheus wouldn’t have died to equal things out and give the power of the gods – fire – to humans.

But perhaps it is impossible to hide it when you are in a position of power over others.

Jealousy is a natural and normal reaction to someone skipping around saying “look at me, look at me, look what I’ve got, isn’t it great”. It’s normal for us to want to stop these kinds of people from being full of themselves. It is not normal to expect us to manage that particular emotion. Because jealousy is good.

Jealousy is the voice that demands fairness and equality. Jealousy expects sharing. It is entirely correct of us to want the excess that others have. Because if we did all get the excess that all others had, no one would ever have more than they need. I would get your excess. Bob would get mine. Joni would get Bob’s. On and on. Nobody would retain their excess. Everyone would have enough.

Personal property feels like one of our core human rights, and people often cite it as such because it’s easy for many of us to obtain and maintain. The idols and control mechanisms are in place to make sure it is both desirable and achievable. For most. But personal property – substantial personal property, not the latest Nike’s or a shelf full of books – is unachievable for a large some, and striving for a thing you can never get is an entirely defeatist proposition – leading to feelings of inadequacy and inability.

In a society where your worth is defined by the personal property you can gather and maintain (at any cost, through whatever means), some people will lie, cheat, exploit and extort, some people will follow the rules of society, which are simply legitimised abuse, and some people will always be left out.

At its furthest extremes, personal property causes inequality, evil acts, and poverty.

Personal property is ‘this is mine, not yours’. Personal property is therefore plainly selfish. If a toddler says “mine, not yours” we correct that toddler. It’s now time to correct ourselves. To be selfish is a weakness, a flaw, a danger. It is an obvious immaturity. To own and protect your personal property, and to keep it from others, however you’ve felt about it up until now, IS selfish.

It is not a human right to be selfish. It is not a human right to have property. And these ideas apply to national property too. It is not right that countries own land and people, and – in so doing, through international relations – have a say in the lives and behaviours of people all round the world, too.

Sharing leaves none out in the cold. Sharing brings everyone with you. Sharing gives to those who need, what they need when they need it. It makes no assumptions. It just provides. We all know how much better sharing is. We tell our kids to do it, because we believe in it.

But we live in a society that does not. We live in a society that believes competition is natural. We tell our kids to be good, then we throw them out into a world that is not good to them. No wonder some turn on us. (Taxi Driver. Joker)

It’s time to act like we expect our kids to act. It’s time to have the courage of our convictions. It’s time to grow up and share what we have. All of it.

And, those of you who have a lot, you’re right..I am jealous of you. Greed is how we create and maintain inequality. Jealousy is how we feel and express the damage greed causes. Sharing is how we balance things out.

Anyone who argues for a system that relies on the accumulation of personal property is also arguing to retain division, greed, inequality and selfishness.

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We Are Not Equal

All of the fights for equal rights and equal treatment will succeed.

And when they do, when the people fighting for their rights finally all and each feel that they have achieved an equal system of society, we will be free to remember that gender, or race, or beliefs, or sexual preferences, etc., never really separated us (except in the awful, manufactured, power-hungry way society was designed to handle those details about ourselves and divide us, of course).

We will remember that, in fact, each of these attributes, and all our others, are amazingly intricately layered and inter-connected threads that weave together our individual senses of self; from where we derive our personal needs and thence our own feelings of satisfaction, fair treatment and respect – or not.

Hopefully, we will also remember that all the rest of our nuances – our backgrounds, our experiences, our beliefs, our skills, our thought processes, our fears, our knowledge, our likes and dislikes, our assumptions, how our farts smell, our opinions, etc. – are more specific to any singular person than their given or chosen race, gender, sexuality, etc; just as relevant when considering their needs, actions and behaviours; and far more interesting when getting to know them too!

All of the fights for equal rights and equal treatment will succeed.

And when they do (when we all and each finally believe, know and feel that we all and each do have and, in practice receive, equal rights and treatment and outcomes) we will all then be free to remember how beautiful it is that, in truth, we are not equal at all.

We are all completely different, amazingly varied, members of beautiful humanity and it is not multiple separate fights for equal gender rights, equal racial rights, equal sexual rights, etc. It is all of this and much, much more. It is a fight we should all be intentionally involved in. It is a fight for all of us to regain the freedom and confidence to value and enjoy the wonder of all our differences.

But how do we achieve this world where we are free to be exactly who we want to be, and free to enjoy each other for all our differences?

We must not accept any single one of us, or any group of us, being disadvantaged, oppressed, or exploited because of any kind of difference, or being unable to (feel they can) be who they are for any reason. We must all always stand against any kind of exploitation or oppression in general terms, whilst also actively standing up for each specific example of exploitation and oppression that arises. And we must accept and believe all the exploitations and oppressions that are felt by our fellow humans – even if we find we cannot understand them.

This may well need to be done through careful, conscious and continuous consideration if it is not part of our second nature – until altruistic inclusivity becomes cultural.

Only standing against, or believing in, one or a few forms of exploitation or oppression but allowing the others to continue (through your inaction, your active disbelief, or your passive/arm’s-length involvement) is as bad as doing nothing.

Know deep in you that it is wrong for anyone or any group of people to feel exploited or oppressed. Speak out and stand against all acts and experiences of exploitation and oppression in general. Defend anyone who feels they are being exploited or oppressed. Stand up for and with any group, culture, collective, collection or selection of people who feel they are being exploited or oppressed. Don’t exploit. Don’t oppress. Leave none unloved.

To really succeed, all of the fights for equal rights and equal treatment will need to eventually come together as one and realise that, in truth:

  • We are all different from one another on a singular level and on a group level.
  • We all fit into many of the overlapping groups that feel and experience exploitation and oppression.
  • Allowing and celebrating all our differences is interesting, fun, nice, easy and beneficial for everyone – raising us all up.

We need to work together to remove the effects of and opportunities for acts and feelings of exploitation and oppression from every part of our society.