Thursday, August 25, 2016

Beacons of Light in These Dark Days

I notice when I look at my blog these days that I have not written any new posts at all for this year, 2016, so far. There are some reasons for this. For one, I quite frankly have been very consistently feeling very cynical and scornful regarding everything related to politics. I follow political things, both mainstream and radical, and in both spheres I feel such strong negative feelings regarding it all that I largely just keep my thoughts all to myself. Why subject my reading audience to witnessing me trashing everything? So much political commentary is already just that and I personally do not want to contribute to more of that kind of thing being put out there into the world.

Yet, I still have been following political stuff and perhaps it has been to my detriment that I have been doing so. Basically, it has been a form of entertainment for me. Similar to how people follow their favorite TV shows and professional sports, I follow politics. I find it all to be quite interesting, and at the same time, I am often left with a feeling that we are all doomed. So with that in mind, I would like to talk about some areas where I have been finding some hope and solace in the world today.

I continue to be a member of the Planetary Society and an advocate for space exploration. I do think that the kind of change-in-perspective involved in moving from Earth-focused to cosmic-focused can have profound implications in how we both view things in our everyday lives, as well as how we view political concerns on this planet. How big, bad and important we think everything to be all shrinks, shifts, or reconstitutes itself in light of this greater perspective. I like that, it does away with what I consider to be limited and arbitrary constraints, and it is a breath of fresh air (assuming that there is "air" in whatever environment we find ourselves in).

Piggybacking off of my love of space exploration is my love of Star Trek. I have really been getting into Star Trek lately. This is, for one, because it is a way to have my mind escape from the horrors of the world that we live in into one of complete fiction. But, beyond simple escapism, I am in love with the setting that the protagonists of Star Trek come from. I am referring to what is called the "United Federation of Planets", which is a diverse cosmopolitan inclusive society where everyone's needs are taken care of, where money does not exist and where individual expression, exploration and creativity are encouraged. That is awesome, and that is exactly the kind of society that I would like to have humanity be operating with in the future. (Based on this, I have also be interested in a new book that has come out this year called "Trekonomics", which explores the economics of the societies depicted in Star Trek)

When I consider my love of Star Trek, I think that perhaps I was also primed for it with my upbringing in the Baha'i Faith. The Baha'is advocate the creation of a new world that shares many of the same kind of values as expressed in the United Federation of Planets: one with international unity of all of humanity, the abolition of racism and sexism, a new economic system that sensibly attends to everybody's needs, and full support for the advancement of education and scientific inquiry. It was during my formative younger years that I was both studying the Baha'i teachings as well as watching Star Trek, so from different angles these same values seeped into my consciousness.

And in light of my feelings on politics these days, I very much have been appreciating the approach that Baha'is have on political concerns as well. For one, they hold a position that says that Baha'is should not be members of political parties, nor should they campaign or be partisans to any political causes. The reason for this is that they believe that doing these things creates too much unnecessary rancor and discord among people. When matters of common concern need to be addressed and decided upon, they instead advocate the use of a process that they call "consultation". This all seems to me to be quite respectful and considerate of the wellbeing of all, and I would love to see it grow and spread.

Regarding approaches to dialogue, I still have a great appreciation for Nonviolent Communication (aka "NVC"), as well as for NVC practice groups where people come together to intentionally develop their skills with Nonviolent Communication. Internationally, I also have a lot of excitement around the work that has been done to create a new global organization of NVC practitioners and enthusiasts. The proposal that has been made about this is now out, and those who are have helped to craft this proposal are now actively soliciting feedback on it. I like this proposal, personally, because in my eyes it allows for greater access for those who are into NVC to meet each other and work together on whatever projects that they find meaningful, as well as to help systems of mutual support become more available for people.

Anyway, these are my few beacons of light currently in these dark days for the world. What are yours?

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