Spring is approaching and all the hope that new growth brings is stirring in my heart. I can’t believe that after decades of cynicism and disenchantment that morphed into dreams of utopia and wild optimism, I finally feel like I've arrived in a place of quiet but realistic confidence.
I have no idea what the future will bring but I do feel change is on its way. Of course, it is not a widely held belief and the media will be the last to tell us, but I can see the small shoots of shifting paradigms sprouting up everywhere I look. You just have to search for them in places you may not have looked before.
I have been told that some of the huge ships that cross our oceans have rudders that have a small rudder set inside the main one. Before the ship can change direction the small one has to be aligned in the right direction first. This is true for any great change and if our society is going to achieve anything positive we have to set our internal rudders for the right course before we make any outward shifts. Although I believe this is happening on a global scale, it is only just visible on the small scale. This is how positive change succeeds.
People are beginning to wake up to the power we hold as individuals when we act as a community. The strength of the group is more than the sum of its parts.
We have remained in a state of believing we are separate from and in conflict with each other for centuries as governments and dictators have upheld the ‘divide and rule’ doctrine. This has kept fear and hatred alive in our hearts.
Now, everything is set for change to bring us all together. Science discovered the world of quantum mechanics and this has brought us a greater understanding of the hidden, mysterious workings of the universe. It has also given us the technology to create the Internet. Global communication, although many people believe it has brought us more shadow than light, has actually shown us how we have more in common than not.
Those still clinging onto the fear are shouting louder than most as the wind is being removed from their sails, making it seem as though there are many more than there actually are. Those who are finding their way are quietly and gently going about their business. It is up to those who trust and believe in the power of the many to stay strong and keep walking forwards positively, united, and with love in their hearts.
There are many ways in which this is happening but I am particularly interested in the shift in political power. I understood change would only come up from the grass roots. Our political establishment was formed many centuries ago from a society that was ruled by the old to keep control of its large, younger population. This has now shifted and the percentage of old people has grown so that the mean age of the rulers now matches the mean age of the populace. We are now in the position of being able to rule ourselves.
Citizen’s Assemblies are proving that this is possible. Not only are they proving that they work, but they are proving that they work where our existing political structure is completely failing us.
On February the 14th Stella Creasy was asked to put her views on citizens’ assemblies to the panel of Andrew Neil’s television programme This Week. Unfortunately she was up against two, or three if you count Andrew Neil, patronising men very fixed in their belief of the necessity our party political structure.
I believe, party politics has come to the end of its road and no longer serves anyone except those who have the money to exploit it or simply do well by it. As the system creates a huge divide between those who have and those who do not, the power and the money is put in the hands of fewer and fewer people, who become increasingly out of touch of the realities of day-to-day life for the many.
Creasy is trying to make changes from within the political structure, and I would normally say that this is always the best place to be. However, in this instance, Portillo just saw the whole subject as a ruse to play the Remain card against the Brexit. Of course, caught up in his narrow vision of two party politics he cannot see beyond the binary view he works within.
Citizen’s Assemblies come from a stance of no preset agendas or outcomes and certainly no investment gains to be made. It is made up of a group of people of completely diverse backgrounds, the more diversity the better, with experts on hand, and where everybody’s voice is heard. It does not ask for ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers but comes up with best solutions formulated over time with facilitated, calm discussion. This is grown-up politics, not the ridiculous theatrical farce we see on television from our House of Commons.
Although, England’s politicians may be slow on the uptake, fearful of losing their position in society, Europe is picking up the baton and starting to run with it. A precedent was set in Ireland and now Belgium and Spain have put some assemblies in place as a permanent fixture alongside their councils.
Maybe there is a feeling that Britain is lagging behind but in 2015 Sheffield and Southampton both set up an assembly to look at constitutional change, asking the question ‘how should we be governed?” What has come from this? It feels like they were testing the water but no one has been bold enough to make it part of the political structure. The UK is certainly not short of assemblies being set up. A new group has formed in Bideford out of a concern that people are felt that are not being listened to and two London borough councils are going to run an assembly, but these are generally about asking the community what they think, not as an alternative to the way our politicians make decisions. Other than these toe-dipping exercises where are we going with this?
Although this might sound like impatience, I am actually quietly content that this is the best way forward; a slow but steady growth of political change that doesn’t upset any apple carts, no revolutions, just an easing into position of a new system that works so that when the old one crumbles we have something ready to take its place. No one really wants to run before they can walk!
For those still set on being right against anyone they consider to be wrong at any cost, there is a poem written by the Sufi mystic, Rumi, a thirteenth century Persian poet.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.” In searching for this quote i found another:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Sometimes it is wise to listen to and be guided by those from times past, before stepping into an unknown future. But I believe it’s time to find a new way forward rather than to keep relying on old methods that truly no longer serve us.
Let’s get creative together.