“Everyone is an artist, a freedom being, called to participate in transforming and reshaping the conditions, thinking and structures that shape and inform our lives.”
Our present Government has fabricated a necessary illusion, a reworking of the protestant work ethic where hard work is respected, rewarded and honoured. Despite the chilling effects of austerity all around us, we are told of a new age of fiscal stability, evidenced, say our leaders by the highest rates of employment since records began.
Behind the employment statistics, however, is a new vision of how we should engage with work and few are enamoured of it. It consists of zero-hours contracts, wage stagnation, stripping away of workers’ rights and toil until an age when work becomes a physical impossibility. It is a vision of work that exploits and atomises society.
A working life that simply follows a profit margin, ultimately delivers only dissatisfaction and destruction. If we peel back the veneer of free market promises, we can see the machinations of the rich and powerful; skilled in the art of manufacturing public consent, hypnotising us into believing that merely having a job sets us apart from those that do not.
Roman emperors offered bread and circuses to distract the masses, the new emperors of government and business offer similar placations, but in addition, we are now told stories of the ‘undeserving poor’. We can now watch countless reality programmes focusing on vulnerable people being exploited, coerced into juggling their dysfunctions to an audience wholly encouraged to judge and condemn. We are manipulated into holding the ‘undeserving’ accountable for many of society’s ills. It is a masterclass in how to divide and rule.
The neo-liberal political economist Francis Fukuyama predicted that the zenith of our evolution would culminate in the advent of a universal liberal democracy. If we are using western liberal democracy as the blueprint for this final form of human government, it seems that this ‘evolution’ is heading for perpetual war, the commodification of all human experiences and countless senseless deaths.
We are living in degenerate times; with our current world system in free fall, it is understandable why many try to ignore what is happening. The craving (and the accessibility) to be distracted seems so all pervasive that some people now have great difficulty focusing on anything meaningful at all.
When we are distracted, there can be an illusion of safety, where we may feel relatively safe watching our favourite TV show or going for a drink with our friends, but the reality is very different For example the majority of working people living in the UK are only two-months salary away from not being able to afford to live in their own homes.
So why, when our civilisation is being predicted by many to fall apart, should we listen to the likes of artists such as Joseph Beuys, who encourage us to devote time to rediscovering our creativity? Is this not just a distraction for the privileged?
Is there really an argument that art, creativity and inner transformation can be intrinsic elements of meaningful lasting societal change?
Already, many do not wish to conspire with our current prevailing orthodoxy and lots of people are desperate for another way of being. There are many who believe that this may be the moment to steer a direction closer towards a new story more attuned to the needs of the whole.
Artistic endeavours and creative well-being may not be at the base of the hierarchy of human needs, but it is of great importance for us to recognise that we are all essentially creative beings. When we have the freedom and leisure to access our creative potential we become capable of affecting monumental change and achieving true greatness.
It will be the small stories that will be instrumental in deconstructing the tired chronicle of greedy masters clinging to their dreams of ‘Full spectrum dominance.’ It is the new stories that can help us embed the wholesome foundations of ‘inter-being’ and shared commonalities into our collective psyche
Positive stories can act like seeds carried in our mind. When we are inspired by creativity, seeds are nurtured and blossom into realities. If we are not carrying creative visions in our mind’s eye, what future can we even dare create for our external world?
This is why far from being an extravagance afforded only to those who already have their material needs met, our creative mind is the quintessential harbinger for any truly important, positive transition.
If we look at the corruption around us, the economic disparity, hyper-competitiveness, the military industrial complex, fracking and so on, we may conclude that all of these things are simply the unfortunate effects of capitalism. But where did capitalism itself arise? Where did the concept of money as debt arise? Where indeed do we find the beginnings of any and all ideologies and ‘isms’?
They first arise in the mind as ideas.
It is a necessary and healthy part of society to rally for positive external change, but for deep, profound change we first need to elicit positive qualities within our own mind. A peaceful world has its origin in mind. A single thought can be a catalyst for anything. It can create healing, a new movement or even a heightened realm of understanding.
In order to for us to nurture ways of thinking that are conducive to our well-being, it is important for us to create an internal space, When we develop a clearing within our mind, we have time to think, to make necessary mistakes, to work upon the creation of new narratives. Space, therefore becomes important.
Could this be one of the reasons we cannot find peace in the world or in ourselves? Is this where our anthropocentric roots stem from? These roots are buried deep and the zone of elongation continues to embed itself into the western collective psyche, to such an extent that nature and everything in it, is almost wholly seen as other and objectified.
We need to create spaces – internal and external – that provide safety. We need to create environments conducive to trust and growth, where we can feel assured and not judged.
Where do we begin? We can begin by finding space, first with our breath, then with story.
With our breath, we discover the many subtle levels of happiness. How for instance a simple awareness of one’s breath has the ability to completely transform our mental environment. Mindfulness of breathing creates space, alleviates mental discomfort, creates an experience of clarity and wisdom upon which we can re-imagine potentials within ourselves and others.
From here, we can begin to truly cherish the great value and necessity of story. We see that our own first-person character is not fixed, We can move from the old story of isolation, self-importance and separateness to a new story of interconnectedness and cherishing one another.
The sixteenth century morality play of Everyman, concludes with the protagonist’s realisation that upon his life’s path, amongst all his accumulations, the only thing of any true worth is that of virtue. Everyman must leave everything else behind for death to consume.
As we make our pilgrimage from old story to new, are ancient allegories such as this of any value? Everyman experiences a final revelation. In order for him to be whole, in order for him to re-connect with the divine, he must divest himself of the causes of his suffering: actions based upon selfishness and non-virtue.
But do words such as virtue and divinity not belong to a distant past that no longer holds relevance? When we think of words such as interconnectedness, peace, and dare we say spirituality, do we not find these terms somewhat embarrassing? Words that invite mockery, cynicism and uncomfortable long stares at the floor? Is it possible for us to make meaningful transitions whilst there remains anxiety around such language?
“Curious, but we have come to a place, a time when virtue is no longer considered a virtue. The mention of virtue is ridiculed, and even the word itself has fallen out of favour. Contemporary writers rarely employ such words as purity, temperance, goodness, worth, or even moderation…We need to examine what the absence of those qualities has done to our communal spirit, and we must learn how to retrieve them from the dust heap of non-use and return them to a vigorous role in our lives.”
If we can rekindle the meaning of words such as these then surely this will aid in the healing of our loneliness of separation?
Shall we not then get glimpses of otherness, of connection, of the divine?
In truth, is this not what we all crave in our heart of hearts? When we listen to music? When we make love? When we march for revolution? When we drink, eat, laugh, dance, sing, raise a family and so on and so on?
We want ecstatic experiences to take us out of the pedestrian.To bring us back to connection. There is nothing as natural and as ordinary as to wish for out of the ordinary experiences.
The situationist Raoul Vaneigem states that within the ‘dictatorship of the commodity’ the cultivation of false needs becomes a main alienating feature of everyday life. However, he then goes on to say that, within this alienation persists a path to communication and liberation. He believes this path can be found through poetry and creativity.
The main premise of Freeclarity is a commitment to working towards creative transformations, but we do not wish this to be forced. We aim to help encourage others to become agents of their own change.
We take on the role of animateurs. The title of animateur holds several meanings in Italy and France but essentially it means to breathe life into something. If, due to internal and external factors we have reached a place where we feel rusted, inanimate and demoralised then it is an animateur’s role to facilitate spaces that open opportunities, to welcome stillness, conversation and creativity.
We accept the challenge that our work is an ongoing evolving relationship between facilitator and participator. As such we consistently endeavour to hold equanimity in our hearts in order to discover places of space for new stories to appear.
Injecting positive disruptions into self-limiting beliefs, nurturing transformative small stories, we simultaneously aim to connect to some of the ‘wholesome larger stories’ of discipline and tradition displayed in previous cultures. We do this in order to foster harmony, vision, trust and direction.
We want to help people unashamedly reclaim important words such as love, compassion and wisdom. Perhaps also, along the way, knowingly or unknowingly, we can discover ways to re-imagine our world.
Freeclarity. Six principles
1.We recognise our similarities. We all want to be happy and experience a life free from mental and physical pain. This we all share.
2. We recognise our differences. We wish to be able to communicate differences in ways that do not foster resentment or misunderstanding. In our work, we endeavour to separate a person’s actions from the person themselves.
3. We wish to work from a starting point of non-harmfulness. To allow space where people feel able to truly value emotional intelligence. We see this as intrinsic to both our own and our planets future well-being.
4. Acknowledgement of suffering. We know appearances are deceptive, there are injuries we may carry that can be deeply immersed. This acceptance can be an advent of discovery, that within our pain we may find attributes that are ideal conditions for renewal.
5. We make mistakes, we are limited in our answers. We see (positive) humility as a core foundation for building trust, harmony and creativity.
6. We endeavour to work towards finding ways for others to experience clarity and creativity of mind, it is within this space that we have a unique opportunity to nurture qualities of empathy, wisdom and genius, this is beneficial for all.