…Was all it took for me to relax my grip on banned activities and behaviours which had so exercised my psyche in the previous hours. It sped across a sea of blue, its diagonal arc bisecting the square of sky visible from this semi-circle of window, taking the anchor from my heart with it. That anchor formed by the banning of dancing in Tehran, the suppression of Muslims in Buddhist Burma, the honour killings of women in Afghanistan, the banning of ‘radical’ websites in Britain, and the black cloud of father-knows-best tyranny over mankind.
In the visible social history of the planet, new ideas and attitudes have always provoked authoritarian clamp-downs. Those who fervently desire change are usually opposed by those who prudently desire the maintenance of the status quo. The resultant tug of war is always about power and social control. Those who have the power to issue edicts and laws are always reluctant to cede that privilege to those who labour under those edicts and wish to be free of their restraints. The restraint issuers always believe the orderly and harmonious running of society is their prerogative and the restraint sufferers always see themselves as unfairly repressed. Rational justifications abound on both sides and the sanctity of tradition is repeatedly invoked, the conflict arising from which of the many available traditions is preferred.
The seesaw struggle continues seemingly ad infinitum, with new eruptions popping out all over the body politic at intervals that could either be random of mysteriously pre-programmed. I say pre-programmed as the evolution of consciousness, in both the individual and society, at least as we observe it from our current vantage point, seems to have transition periods of turbulence built into their growth patterns. And that growth of consciousness, however stymied by self-doubts, fears and repressions, seems to always win out in the end, the end being the cessation of particular conflicts and the changing of outworn paradigms, both of which often sneak up on the bored and otherwise occupied.
So while we observant citizens and activist souls await the inevitable changing of the guard, paradigm-wise, can we do any more that empathize and fret while the evolutionary laggards seem to be continuing on into hell-in-a-handcart? I see two options: the highly risky, NGO worker/activist whose noble efforts often lead to summary execution, and the safer, and perhaps duller, contemplative spirit who pours what she can, of love and sympathy, into the seething cauldrons of competitive and ruthless angers churning up blood and dust in the conflict zones, so far and yet so close?