“The reaction to any word may be, in an individual, either a mob-reaction or an individual reaction.  It is up to the individual to ask himself:  Is my reaction individual, or am I merely reacting from my mob-self?  When it comes to the so-called obscene words, I should say that hardly one person in a million escapes mob-reaction.”  D.H. Lawrence

In a language there isn’t just words to communicate with, there is also a whole psychological structure specific to it. It gives us a model with which to view the world and to communicate about the world we sense, both the world within and the world without. But it also gives us our identity, since each language has its own history and also its own character. That character transmits itself into us a “national personality,” a sort of personality that deeply structures the human psyche from birth. In other words, stereotypes.

On one hand this can be useful; as we can see that languages and the qualities they carry are the accumulation of experience from history. Through language we are being transmitted the “wisdom of the ancestors”. On the other hand it can also carry the rubbish, the karma, of the past which is undeserved by future generations. Language isn’t just an encoding of ancestral wisdom, it has also acted as a waste bin to conveniently give the load of one generations responsibilities on to the next.

Time to sort the wheat from the chaff. Time to make a review of the type of language we use and how we use it. Say no to what is useless and harmful and encourage the growth of what is useful and healthy. Languages contain patterns, and we have to ask ourselves do we really want to repeat the past blindly? In a synchronicity a friend made a comment on Facebook about not letting an anger he had inherited from his ancestors carry on further. His affirmation that since it was not his it would stop with him and within him.

Like this we can all reject the “mob- reaction” within us, the stereotypes that have been transmitted to us through the generations, and so, as the Great Invocation says, “seal the door where evil dwells.”

For me it has been an important experience to move to another country and see my own country from “outside”, to see it from a different perspective and see its virtues in comparison to other cultures and also its vices . And so also see myself from an other perspective. Learning a new culture, and a new language, makes me rely less on the “safety blanket” of my native culture and seek to communicate with the world in a new way, and so I can only grow, retaining the benefits of my culture and discarding the disadvantages of it too, and adopting a broader view of the world that is not so limited.

La humanidad no sirve la nacionalidad, la nacionalidad sirve la humanidad. Hay mas que una lengua en el mundo y por eso el aprender otras lenguas, sólo es sentido común, el sentido de la humanidad (Thanks Mika for correcting this).

“Most religious stories and mythologies have some sort of similar root, some sort of global archetypes.” Maynard James Keenan

 “Americans want to believe that the average Brit wears a bowler and a school tie and maintains a stiff upper lip and has a certain dry sense of humour; they do not want to be told that a good percentage of the British population are vulgar dimwits who care about nothing but shopping, alcohol, football and Posh Spice’s navel.” Joe Queenan

In Jungian psychology there is the well-known concept of the Collective Unconscious; a “reservoir” of ancestral experience inherited through genes or very ancient memes. In science it’s known that babies’ brains are “hardwired” to recognise faces shapes and voices. There has also been research that suggests they can recognise spider shapes at an early age, presumably because the quicker you can recognise a danger, like a poisonous spider, the better your chances of survival. These examples show that experience of the world is, to some extent, built into our genes from ancestral experience and show a very basic idea of Archetypes; models of human perception, roles and functions that are often represented by symbols and personalities.

But not only can the Collective Unconscious be ancestral experience but unconscious material that we exchange every day, things in society that we don’t question and take for granted as “reality.” This too contains “models of human perception, roles and functions that are often represented by symbols and personalities” that are called stereotypes.

There is a subtle but important difference between the two; Archetypes, for the most part, come from within and are natural to the human psyche and its development and are the fulfilment of certain human experiences. Stereotypes are things to conform to, that are imposed on the human psyche from the outside by cultural standards. With Archetypes the human psyche is simply going through different processes of human development that most humans go through despite culture. With stereotypes the human psyche is being programmed by cultural forces and made to fit into a preset image.

But it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two when you get to look at stereotypes and Archetypes. Some stereotypes have archetypal aspects to them, the interpretation of some Archetypes can be twisted so that they are conformed to and some Archetypes might be very ancient stereotypes that are so consistent with human existence they become universal in quality.

I think that’s the good thing about Archetypes, their universal qualities allow us to see another culture and understand the basic human experience that is going on underneath the bowler hat, feather headdress, baseball cap, horned helmet or sombrero. It’s only the mind that is so immersed in its cultural or societal stereotypes that cannot understand another human being from another culture because the other doesn’t fit into their idea of human “reality.” In this day and age where humanity is reaching a global phase of its development, it’s important to relinquish stereotypes and embrace an archetypal understanding of others, to form a common basis of understanding and communication. We can still be members of our own culture, but instead of conforming to it we can creatively play with it to complement the basic experience that is the human being.

 “You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.” Irish Proverb

 When adults ask kids “What do you want to be when you grow older?” kids will often respond with “I want to fit in to society providing a function for it and conforming to a stereotype.”

Ok, not exactly! It’s usually put into simpler words than that, but if you look between the lines, this is the answer that usually pervades what a child will say about their future. The point is you won’t get a kid saying “I want to be happy,” “I want to be myself”, or “I want to experience lots of things, and express myself in lots of different ways without limiting myself to one thing because you only live once.”

The problem is that society has been built with the principle of conforming to it or fitting in with it somehow. A child, when asked about their future is being asked about how they want to fit a role and provide a function in society. In short, be a stereotype.

From birth many people are conditioned to be something because of the stereotypical expectations of their parents and other peers. It usually starts with gender; boys wear blue and girls wear pink, girls have long hair and boys have short hair, boys are supposed to be rough and adventurous and girls are supposed to be calm and sweet. Toys and television are also a factor in how kids are programmed as they are symbolic of the reality they have to prepare for. One form of gender “branding” that alway suprises me is that of newborn girls having ear piercings. In some cases it’s so expected that people make the mistake of calling a girl a boy because they don’t have earings!

This is later reinforced by schools. The children move in social circles that reflect and reinforce their conditioning. One of my schools used to have a partial gender segregation on the playground, where boys would get the larger area because, typically, boys would play football and other rough games, whereas the girls would spend their time in a smaller area playing hop scotch and skipping ropes.

Further steps in this programming or conditioning are what class they belong to, how much money they have, how popular they are, what nationality they are etc.  Once adulthood is reached the identity of an individual is supposed to be dedicated to solely one career (it was once upon a time, less now though). Literally you are a nurse or you are a gardener. You don’t do nursing or gardening. There’s a sense of becoming specialised and losing the full range of potential that a single human being can be. School lessons in self-discovery and self-development are strongly lacking because society has a “self” designed for you already so there’s no need to be an individual.

What if society had been built a different way? What if it was designed, not to conform to, but to be a platform to creatively discover and develop yourself within? This is the creative potential of society that many people don’t realise. Society can be far more malleable than many people take for granted. It is not a structure to fit into, it is more like a mine to extract raw material from, something that can help you realise your individual potential. Although reinventing society’s old structures to replace it with new ones is itself quite a work, and many give up trying.

When adulthood is reached people have either conformed to society or become disillusioned and rebelled. But many of these “rebels” are just reinforcing this rigid system by fulfilling a stereotype, or more appropriately anti-stereotype. They see only two choices, to define themselves for society or define themselves against, not knowing that they can reclaim an individual identity independent from either conformity or rebellion. Either way, conditioned or “anti-conditioned” individuals are faced with the task of re-educating themselves. The real problem is not society itself, but the individuals within society that don’t realise they have other choices other than rebellion or conformity; they can choose to be themselves.

There is a difference between natural human development and conditioning. Development comes from within and grows outwards, whereas conditioning comes from without and works inwards. An individual’s development will always be informed, to some extent, by their interaction with the world and there will always be rules and laws to conform to, but there is always the seed of their natural development within them, which does not need to be imposed but encouraged and left to naturally blossom. In this way society is outgrown, the individual is not constrained by it but nurtured by it. But instead of leaving society behind, they turn their energies back to society and in this way society grows with each generation, outgrowing itself and being reinvented for the changing needs of people.

cosmic-druid4This blog is a medley (or synergy) of quotes. It all happened because of an interesting thread on a message board. A comment came up about how things could only be changed by a charismatic leader summoning the enthusiasm of the masses. I agreed with this, but with some serious reservations. This is my reply, though it has been edited to fit The Grove of Quotes:

The value of a leader is important; to be able to set up a vision and to concentrate the energy towards that vision so that it manifests; to be able to coordinate a group into effective action, that’s what a leader can do.

“Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe.” Winston Churchill

“The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.” Felix Adler

But we should be careful of who the charismatic leader is and what they stand for. Hitler, for instance, was very charismatic, he took the apathetic and despairing (at the time) German nation and shook them up into enthusiasm. His speeches, his military displays sparked a fire in the hearts of people. An insane and murderous fire, but fire none the less.

The problem here, as Hannah Arendt says, is “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” People without any charisma or vision of their own can become unconsciously swept up into herd mentality under the banner of a dangerous “Charismatic Leader.”
To avoid this we should listen to Carl Rogers advice; “If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.”

It is the individual that makes the difference and the foundation upon which social change is created…
“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.” M. Scott Peck
“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” Confucius

The other part of social change is to connect the individuals, to concentrate their energies in a whole, but not to melt together…
“We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” Jimmy Carter

This is what has happened with my own life. At some point I took the initiative and thought about my own individual life. I started to develop that, not content with everything that my society had. I wanted to go beyond it somehow, expand beyond its limitations and become something that was really me, not some pre-determined role or stereotype I had to fit into. I didn’t want to give in to peer pressure or live up to others expectations, my goal became to fulfill myself and express my own individual truth.

I stayed true to this, no matter how obscure my vision of it became. I still had a deep trust that my inner process with my individual truth would take me somewhere, and it has!
As Anais Nin said, “The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.”

Finally I found a role (for want of a better word) that fit me, not a role that I fitted into. It started in my own personal life and then expanded beyond that, finding others of “like-mind” (but NOT the same mind!) that I could work with, where my individuality could work alongside other individuals in a group effort without having to lose my sense of personal uniqueness (see Earth Sanctuary). For me it is proof that different individuals can collaborate for a common goal, a Greater Good that each individual has come to by their own choice, that there needs not be a charismatic leader showing the way to apathetic followers. If there is to be a charismatic leader then the followers should also be charismatic self-leaders, at the very least. Each individual takes a committed responsibility for their own life and also for a Greater Good. For me, the Greater Good to really concentrate on is a healthy interdependent and synergistic relationship between humanity and Gaia, the living Earth of which we are a part.

And here’s a few more quotes that sum synergy up, particularly the first one;
“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

“The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.” Marian Wright Edelman

“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.” Marieanne Williamson

Then, as I was writing this post on the message board I receive a very apt comment on The Grove of Quotes saying;
“We walk a common path,” Mary Oliver said “whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination – calling to you to take up your place in the family of things – in this time of the great shift it is important to hear the voices in the chorus calling, leading the people to a new world order.”

BUT, it can only be done with a chorus. One bright soul followed by a load of blind sheep just doesn’t work!