JOURNALING BETWEEN WORLDS

Global Citizen Blogging

Orwell’s 1984; The Unfinished Story January 8, 2012

Filed under: 1984,2012,George Orwell — Nozomi Hayase @ 10:50 pm

Image Credit - salon.com

The imaginations of literary genius often take generations to be fully understood. George Orwell was one of those writers with a particularly candid view into the future. We now live in a time of ‘endless’ wars, massive transfer of wealth and ever-expanding military-surveillance state. Perhaps Orwell was not just imagining, but seeing a certain inevitability in the future of Western society. The language of 1984 has entered in our everyday lexicon as we seem to be heading straight into the kind of high tech police-surveillance state that was depicted in his novel. 

In the recent article, Orwell was an Optimist, author Rick Falkving wryly depicted George Orwell as being an optimist in 1984’s very dystopian view of the future. He indicated how1984 was not so bad compared to what our society is becoming now. I find myself asking, is current reality really even as bleak as Orwell’s vision? Was there something missing in his picture?

In the plot, Orwell depicted the main protagonist, Winston Smith as a rather passive and pessimistic character. Winston had awakened and accurately analyzed the nature of this totalitarian State, but was not able to envision any way out of it. At one point all Smith could do was try to maintain his sanity in the midst of these seemingly insurmountable oppressive forces. 

There is one thing that Orwell did not foresee. People are awakening to the illegitimacy and decay of past forms of Governance and there is uprising all over the world against this endemic corruption. From Tahrir Square to the Occupy Movement, ordinary people have begun to claim their own power. Around the world, people are creating and sharing ideas that live beyond the physical and this is a force that no military can threaten, arrest or kill. Who would have expected the creative power that is rising to confront this increasing economic, military and surveillance control? Orwell saw the darkening force of a world police state, but he did not see the full picture of what is now unfolding in response.

The eyes of big brother are all around us, 24 hours a day. Yet, at the same time, the awareness of it and determination to counteract it are even greater. Anonymous and LuzSec are performing counter-surveillance, breaking down the walls of secrecy. They work with the conviction that the free flow of information and open sharing can prevent the hostile takeover of any society. They lend their passion and skills to reveal the misdeeds of sociopathic controllers. Such actions reveal the spirit of a Legion of Common Man, forming a new Court of Public Opinion that challenges the quickening plot enacted by an insidious Big Brother. 

Orwell did not have the seeds of redemption in his vision. In the novel the Party slogan said “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” [1]  This has become like a curse upon humanity. He did not offer the key to break the spell. 

With this in mind, I say Orwell was neither a pessimist nor an optimist. He was a realist. At first glance, his prophetic vision might be seen as tainted by a sort of hopelessness or pessimism. Perhaps he had more hope, yet he may have painted such a doom scenario to warn us. 

Orwell’s prophetic writing comes from this place of realism. Being prophetic requires courageously confronting reality; to see it with eyes open no matter how harsh and cruel it appears and keeping faith in humanity and the hearts open to the future. This kind of writing engages and unleashes the imagination of the masses. Perhaps the greatest thing about his novel lies not in its accuracy to predict the current state of the world, but in its power to evoke in hearts and minds across time, participation in re-imagining the future. 

George Orwell didn’t simply give us a happy ending. Instead, he left the future open in our hands to write the ending that must really be a new beginning. This made him a true prophet of our time. 1984 was not complete. It is an unfinished story for those who choose to actively participate in unfolding our future. In the dying society of 1984, Orwell was right, but now it is here in 2012, it will be up to us to transform it. 

Notes: 

1. Orwell, G. (1949). 1984. New York: The New American Library. P. 204 

 

Proposal for 2012: Between the Sky and Flowers January 2, 2012

Filed under: 2012,Checks and Balance,Governance — Nozomi Hayase @ 4:31 am

Image Credit - precisionnutrition.com

TIME Magazine chose the Protester as 2011 person of the year. This was the year of people’s uprising. All around the globe, the legitimacy of governance was questioned and challenged. The critical agents for a new civil society are on the rise. It is not about a single person, group or ideology, but the empowerment of ordinary people around the world; Egyptians and Tunisians who risk their lives for the betterment of society; Occupiers in New York going viral around the globe and hackers, free information advocates, online collectives like Anonymous and LulzSec, tirelessly working to bring checks and balance to the corruption of power.

A once apathetic and cynical youth is rising to the occasion. The civic arena that has been taken over by commercial interests is bypassed by a growing segment of the populace in favor of this new model that moves beyond the nation-state and the facade of modern representative Democracy.

The Arab Spring was noted as being a social media-led revolution. Anonymous is a model of social creativity that is a phenomenon of individual action in union (or legion, as they would say) around a shared idea. Occupiers swarm cities together through the uniting values of the 99%. The protagonists of this blossoming crowd-sourced civic life are claiming power as active agents in their own lives. This new movement reminds me of the complex social organization of the bees.

In recent years, bees have been disappearing all around the world. This has been an ominous harbinger of the environmental degradation and crisis of life on this planet. The arrival of the new social impulse feels like a comeback of the failing bee colonies, a symbol for a bustling and buzzing rebirth of civic power.

Anonymous and Occupy can be seen as an evolving hive mind, where anyone with a similar penchant for justice can enter into the colony and work to protect the Queen bee. The queen, all royal implications aside, is a metaphor that embodies an idea or guiding principle that cannot be killed. Some have noted the swarm as a working principle behind the Occupy Movement. Crowd sourcers activating social media are like bees passing on and distilling critical information (pollen) from the blossoming activism. Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner once said that if we want to understand ourselves we should look closely at the bees. In examining the nature of bees’ connection to the sky and flowers, he believed that “they serve as an important – and sacred – link between humanity and the heavenly realms”. [1]

My Vision for 2012

In 2012, I would like to see this awakened life of the bee swarm-like social model thrive and restore the health of society. Many amazing and courageous individuals have risen and worked hard in 2011 to lay the groundwork for this new civic force.

1) Love as a Driving Force for Work

Honey bees are notorious for their hard work. What is striking is that only small portions of their labor creating the high quality honey is needed to sustain themselves, while the other 90% is a kind of gift to the world. This is in addition to the critical pollinating role they play. This characteristic of bees might help us to imagine what it would be like to have a society where people find their motivation for work out of love, collaboration and giving.

Perhaps a close simile is found in Anonymous’s actions for the sake of the Lulz. Those  engaged in collective Anonymous actions are said to be driven by various motives, but making money is definitely not one. Also, protesters who are willing to pitch tents and stay out in public despite harsh weather and police brutality are doing it for different reasons than the impulses that guided their lives when they were working for the man just to make ends meet.

There has been tremendous creativity that comes when individuals create free deeds that reshape, strengthen and diversify the domain of the commons. People from all walks of life are lending their skills to build community. They are photographers, bloggers, filmmakers, musicians, teachers, cooks and lawyers showing a new drive for work -simply doing something for the love of it or to build a better future.

This labor of love could become a new currency where collaboration and the open source principle of sharing can change how we look at money.  It can lead to a new financial system that is not based on exploitative models, but collaborative and associative economics that is the healthy basis for any real capitalism.

2) New Balance of Power

The Western judicial system model was originally based on the idea of balance of power, intentionally developed in the US Constitution. It was to be a check on abuse of power by the executive or other branches. Yet, the system of balance when divorced from the foundation of civic power, uproots politics from the living organism of society as a whole. We have seen it in the corporate takeover of the two party system in the US and the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court and now the NDAA.

True balance of power acknowledges the vital role of citizens in making certain decisions about the course of their own society. Models for this are emerging around the world.  In IRC chat rooms, direct egalitarian decision-making process are being used. People can enter into a conversation anonymously and vote for their ideals.

This online consensus process is being translated into physical space with the Occupy movement. One striking aspect of the Movement is how it is also an educational process. Through General Assembly, people are learning how to speak and listen to one another in a new way, in the spirit of collaboration and sharing.

Mic check and Anonymous Operations have quickly become a new form of check and balance, where people bypass the dead political system to directly challenge and assert power. I would like to see this trend expand and eventually create a powerful court of public opinion that could replace or transform a justice system that no longer works for justice.

3) Toward a Culture of Life

Finally, I would like to see a shift of culture from death to a culture of life. This change is symbolically seen as a move from the King or patriarchal power to the Queen, in working for others and in service to life.

The culture of death bases political economy on wars and exploitation of others for ever-increasing profits of the few. We can transform this and create a culture of life with an economy based on creativity and sustainability for seven generations into the future. In this regard, the Queen bee symbolizes the life principle. The primary task of her life is to lay eggs, to bring continuity of life. Metaphorically, the Queen is not a single person like a politician or leader enshrined in society. They are the aggregate of shared higher ideals that inspired the US Constitution and has actually guided humanity from generation to generation. Like worker bees that dedicate themselves to the whole, committed individuals working with like-minded people can bring life to a dying culture.

Concretely, I would like to see more creative operations forming independent infrastructure for every aspect of our lives. For instance, OccupySF created its local credit union, so moving money away from corporations. Occupiers in solidarity are now occupying foreclosed homes. Concerned citizens took initiative in creating a Citizen Media Guild, the world’s first journalism union to defend and promote the works of citizen journalists.

I see the tight community that emerged in Zuccotti Park Occupation as a model that could spread and spark recovery of society. Peoples kitchens feed, libraries and media inform, medics on site take care of others and people are beginning to live together as communities outside the imposed scenario of corporate control.

2011 saw the silent hive mind arise and awaken from the long winter of political corruption. Like bees working to create crown jewels of honey, people are connecting, finding each other and inaugurating a new way of life. My wish for 2012 is to see more of us join this great work of creation between the sky and flowers and build whole new communities on a local and global level that are based on these principles.

Notes:

1. Altman, N. (2010). The honey prescription: The amazing power of honey as medicine. Vermont: Healing Arts Press. p. 37.

 

2012: Time for Change November 7, 2010

Filed under: 2012 — Nozomi Hayase @ 6:54 pm

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Image Credit-2012: Time for Change

I remember one day back in a grammar school in Japan, a boy brought a book to school. We were 12 years old at that time. Our curious innocent eyes explored the Mayan civilization, the Pyramids and many other mysterious places unveiled for the first time. Our eyes stopped on the big print, on the year 2012 portrayed as a momentous time in ancient prophecy. For a moment we became silent. The Mayans believed that December 2012, the time of the Winter solstice would bring a great cultural transformation and mark the end of their calendar. “The end of the world…!” one boy exclaimed, while another began calculating what our age would be at that time. I imagined my own future, wondering if I would be married and whether or not I would have realized my dreams.  I felt a great uncertainty as to what I might be doing then. This dark benchmark of 2012 gave my young mind a sense of anticipation of events larger than myself, a future only imagined.

The recent Hollywood sci-fi disaster film 2012 portrayed this year as a Biblical day of reckoning, and books I came across at the airport bookstand described ideas of the apocalypse. Buzzes around the year 2012 brought the once imagined event to the surface of my consciousness. The date for this great turning or possible doomsday is now fast approaching. There are signs everywhere, from global climate change to financial meltdown, poverty and water shortages. Whether this prophecy is true or not, many are tapping into a sense of urgency for profound, imminent changes.

One year has passed after the historical election of the new US president, Barack Obama. All the promised “hope and change” started to reveal true colors, as just another slogan for a leader that is actually impotent to change the system that put him there in the first place. There had to be another way to meet the crisis of our time.

My thirst for a solution was met with a synchronistic event at the Green Festival in San Francisco this last Spring. As I looked through the program brochure, the title of a film, 2012: A Time for Change caught my eyes. The tag line read: ‘Evolve to Solve’. This idea immediately refreshed worn out bumper-sticker words of change. As I listened to Emmy Nominated Brazilian director João Amorim share the journey that brought him to create this film, resonance emerged somewhere deep inside. He spoke of how his years of engagement in left-leaning political activism left him empty, and that he eventually found a new direction, a spiritual path to seek solutions to the global problems. I too had come to realize how the political scene is divisive in nature, framing people within power dynamics. Engagement in the political realm often involves debating and fighting. As corruption spreads, contaminating fear infects and easily pulls people down into a reactionary survival mode.

Einstein once said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them” (cited in ThinkExist.com, 1999). The film, 2012: A Time for Change invites us to move beyond the level of thinking that created these problems. As the documentary started, I was transported on a journey of changing consciousness. I found myself in the middle of New York City, with high skyscrapers and hard concrete, surrounded by the hype of consumer frenzy and electronic sensation at Times Square. Narrator, Daniel Pinchbeck, author of the book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, weaved voices of ecologists and scientists, indigenous and spiritual leaders, and guided me to the thread of alternative paths converging to meet the crisis. This path was discovered in different ways through the different levels of consciousness carried by shamans, ancient wisdom and psychedelic experiences.

In interviews with Sting, actress Ellen Page, American filmmaker and writer David Lynch, a new avenue gradually unfolded. Futurist Barbara Hubbard spoke of the emergence of new species with a higher level of emotional intelligence. She reminded the audience that 2012 is a new beginning, a moment of birthing a part of who we are that transcends linear time. The problems we are now facing on a global scale require a new paradigm, for humanity to evolve into a new species that works in collaboration rather than competition, peaceful co-existence rather then exploitation. One might perceive this as a radical view, but I feel this path is actually not alternative, but a necessary path in order to truly meet the crisis of the time. After the 85 minute screening, I was uplifted and noticed how something shifted in me and this newly generated energy was also contagious in the audience. I became more positive and hopeful about the future. I felt an unlimited source of energy within that is always there, but simply not noticed.

These seeming utopian ideals portrayed here differ from typical new-age themes often criticized as a false positivism or dreaming without concrete action. The film showed concrete practical ways of enacting changes through the advanced technology to bring sustainable way of living. The part of transformation of consciousness involves a shift in mindset to examine old belief systems and values. It is about letting go of something to make space for the new to come in. Instead of criticizing unsustainable Western lifestyles, or happiness being measured by material wealth, the film showed a different attitude to imagine a new way of defining happiness. What would replace two cars and big house, which has been a symbol of the American dream? Perhaps one could share a house with others and experience a new communal way of living. For many, change is uncomfortable and they want to cling to what they know. Many feel that they would be losing everything and that crisis signals a kind of end of the world as destructive and negative effects of the Apocalypse.

Image Credit-2012: Time for Change

Pinchbeck (2006) clarified how the word apocalypse is understood in ancient culture, that it simply means a revealing and uncovering of reality. Apocalypse is return to the center, opening and new beginning. It is not a passive event, but calls for participation and would not necessarily happen on a fixed date. Indigenous people see the prophecies as already happening and that we are the prophecies; they don’t just happen to us.

2012: Time for Change invites us to engage with prophecy. It show us how the future is not something that is already decided, an end result, but something in which we can be actively engaged or can be in charge of. If we do not take hold of our own destiny, we remain passive in the turmoil of the world; fearful, frustrated and confused. Once we are informed and start to organize the bits and pieces of information to see the larger perspective, we can make a more conscious decision about how we want to participate in the apocalypse, in this great moment in world evolution.

This is a forward thinking documentary that challenges the audience to open their minds and find light in what has been seen by most as a dark view of the future. It is to see crisis as opportunity. It certainly opened my mind to new possibilities, and most importantly led me to a power within to choose a way to a peaceful and humane future.

This film is a kind of apocalypse itself, revealing what has been hidden for many years behind a veil of illusion. What is unveiled is the great secret about ourselves, the truth about the power that we have within to create the reality we want. I see the new generations anxiously wondering about their future. I can still hear the voice of that 12 year old girl, merging with them, asking the question, “What will you do in this time of decision? I walked out of the theater, letting go of fear with my will engaged to put her anxiety to rest. 2012 is a time for change. Instead of accepting what is given by a limited imagination, I choose the path of conscious evolution. Through aligning myself with the innate wisdom I too can become a part of the creative solution.

References:

Amorim, J. (Director). (2010). 2012: Time for change. [Curious pictures]. United States: Mangusta Productions.

Pinchbeck, D. (2006). 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. Penguin: New York.

ThinkExist.com. (1999). Albert Einstein quotes. Retrieved May 16, 2010, from http://thinkexist.com/quotation/problems_cannot_be_solved_by_the_same_level_of/222020.html

 

 
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