Tag Archives: fear

Dancing with Speeches #33 JK Rowling

In 2008 JK Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter books, gave a commencement speech at Harvard.  She pointed to failure and imagination as the key lessons to pass on to the new graduates, in the assumed knowledge that everyone forgets the commencement speech. her words have continued to inspire and be remembered. 

Being a wall flower, sitting to the side and watching everyone else on the dance floor, wondering if you are ever going to get an invitation to get up to dance, waiting, waiting and then finding your way to the edge of the room, hoping no-one is noticing you embarrassed and alone. The opportunity to dig deeper into yourself to find another way to define the socially awkward moment, the improvisation required to adjust your dress, tie your shoe lace, collect a drink, remove yourself to the wash room to take yet another comfort stop which is needed for camouflage – all ways to go deeper into the experience of rejection and to the well of your resilience knowing more drops have been added and you are still not drowning.

We don’t easily forget those moments of whole-world humiliation – where the whole of our known world cannot see us, feel us or touch us – as if we have a cloak of invisibility thrown upon us – not one we would choose. From this place we begin lift, to reach into our strength and find our imagination there waiting for us. Imagination casts spells and lights up all the corners of the brain more dazzling than any mirror ball we become bespeckled and dots of thoughts start to dance around in our heads – more often than not turning mole hills into mountains when fear takes hold – but what happens when the gather into constellations and take us to grand halls, wizardry and magic start to happen. We literally have off the wall ideas, only possible from being still and sitting on the sidelines, unpicked.

Hardships and humiliations, experiencing failure, as opposed to having a fear of failure is real and getting a good taste of it is not the romanticism of poverty, it is knowing what the dark is finding yourself at the bottom as with all bottoms there is no where else to go. It is a solid place, a place where you are connected to the earth, it is a platform from where you can build, as you can fall no further. It is where you can only turn inwards and in the deep, in the dark and at the bottom find yourself and what you have left of yourself, your essence, your imagination and your abilities. This is when you reach out, to the world, to find help and courtesies random acts of kindness where your heart no longer hard starts to melt with the simple joys of sunshine, stars and smiles. You begin to build the bank of resilience and of love where the imagination fuels the dark and dank places and gives respite to whatever fear, horror or loss you are facing. A place where you can’t be touched and where your imagination helps you fly away and do cartwheels in the air.

Plutarch said : What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.  This is the gift of the wallflower experience to achieve inwardly, to look and find within yourself what your hopes and dreams are, the things that keep you awake at night, or energise you to get out of bed in the morning. These aspirations for yourself, your family, your community and our world first find a footing in your imagination. Freedom for those in detention centres in far off islands, a future planet that has conquered climate change or adapted with amazing technologies, equal pay for women and education for all girls – these first begin in the imagination; in the dungeon of rock bottom when there seems no where else to go but up the energy rises first in you and then you join with others and magic does happen – slaves become free, women get elected as Prime Ministers and Presidents, polar caps being renewable energy sites, children are no longer abused. What began as a wallflower moment may well turn into a blooming field of promise and then harvest – go to the dark, quiet place of humiliation and use that fertile place to grow your imagination and then get onto the dance floor and change the world.

 

 

 

Dancing with Speeches #26 Nicola Sturgeon

100318819-nicolasturgeonremain-NEWS-xlarge_trans++ABqq2hkeCmkkLCJ1aFwBS9FC7C2JGVX5bC8Msl5Xws4Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave a powerful speech to respond to the UK result on the EU referendum. In her ten minute address she covered with compassion, respect and honour on what the result meant for Scotland and for the future of the UK. She reassured those who have fled other lands and made their home in Scotland would be safe and continue to be welcomed. The speech alludes to the universal questions: What does it mean to belong, to be included to be left behind?

When people are left behind, we get Brexit, next it will be Trump. Old white men franchised, and disenfranchised, making decisions for the rest of us. Equity and unity with diversity our the safest routes to justice, peace and democracy. Feeling more committed than ever to do my bit to build a world where no one is left behind after all we only have one home.

The young are being left with decisions made by baby boomers, they are the ones really left behind, they are the real ones who remain. The young Brits voted in droves to stay with the EU with ease of travel, study and opportunities being in the EU has been a passport to be European and look outwards into the future. And now their seniors and non-Londoners have created a future and exposed a divide. Racism and far right movements around the world will be celebrating the Brexit result and will see it as a nod to anti-immigration, closed borders and worse closed minds. In turn independence movements get a boost in the arm with the both left and right look remarkably similar in their desire for political self-determination.

Public trust happens over time through listening and hearing your own voice being valued and understood. Spaces and places for the trust to be brokered, enabled and held are subject to all kinds of scrutiny. (I noticed I wasn’t putting a leaflet into a letterbox to enable voters to be informed about the position of political parties on the issue of asylum seekers, if someone was in the garden. The innocuous space of letterbox did not offer enough anonymity for a less than courageous activist on a wintry Saturday afternoon.)

On line abuse has started on a Justice for Refugees site I am supporting as we head into a Federal election, the anonymity offered by social media is matched with the ease of being able to ban and report abusive language. Keeping those ugly voices at bay, may also head them under ground and come out of the dark web when the votes get counted. Positive campaigning doesn’t seem to work, going negative goes to our basest of human qualities, fear. When we fail the youngest ones ,when they miss out on being literate and numerate, don’t meet their developmental milestones, we are sowing the seeds for the dissatisfaction and disengagement further done the track. Education is an inoculation strategy for fear into the future and of the future.

The generation of young adults who voted to remain in Brexit have had the benefit of looking outward that the generation before them haven’t had, they have the invitation of travel and study abroad at their doorstep.   The generational divide means the young have the votes stacked against them. I am in the over 50s age group and when I go to vote I will be thinking of the youngest generation and the ones to come.32CB754C00000578-0-The_polling_data_showed_big_differences_between_how_different_ag-m-11_1459672827371

Dancing with speeches #18 Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent a life in exile and lost a lifetime waiting and working for change in her country. She drew on the spirit of her people and the practice of nonviolence to keep her focused on her desire for liberation from military rule. The epitome of grace under fire, Aung San Suu Kyi always appears with a flower in her hair, beauty inside and out, a poetic defiance against tyranny.

Fearlessness maybe a gift, but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions, courage that could be described as ‘grace under pressure’ – grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure.

From Freedom for Fear speech, 1990.

The antidotes for fear are truth, justice and compassion and a relentless application of them in the deepest ethical application, even to the cellular level is a vocation for the bravest of souls.  To be brave with yourself first is the first step or perhaps we are just ‘half a shade braver’ as David Whyte suggests.  There is an invocation, a litany of invitations to go further with our truths and stop being delusional – the oppression and failure of human rights is down to us as well, those who are free, it is our privilege to act and address.  We are not separate from the equation, an unholy symmetry until all are liberated.  Fear is the order of the day where human rights are being violated and the stock exchange in fear is alive and well in our nations and in our own hearts.

The fear of betrayal and rejection in our every day lives, hold us to ransom, call out our terrorist traits, bring sabotage and conspiracy.  When there is darkness, and fog it maybe hard to find the sunlight to shine on us and purify our hearts and support our steps to courage born of vulnerability. The spark and flicker of the candle can be enough to hold on to, the half a shade of bravery might inspire others to be a little bit braver too. Never under estimate the smallest act of breaking open the ground for others to follow and add their weight to the ground – every collective action begins with one voice, one simple act.

The fears that kept our ancestors alive throughout the ages have disappeared, yet we are still afraid of the metaphorical mastodon and we haven’t necessarily made our fears as extinct as creatures they were designed to protect us from.  The deepest fear, Marianne Williamson says is fear of our own greatness. Imagine liberation from fear what wonders might be visible, what humanity might unfold and evolution be aroused.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Marianne Williamson

The fear of the other is alive and well in our time, in my country and the fear of a little one on the shores of our land seeking asylum speaks to me of an irrational fear. Speaking truth to power, working for justice and making compassion visible will be both inoculation from further fear mongering and a cure. Freedom from fear is a daily practice and discipline.

Arriving for conference Credit:http://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/aung-san-suu-kyi-tells-myanmars-peace-stakeholders-to-prepare-for-conference-04272016163531.html

Arriving for conference to prepare for government Feb 2016 Credit