Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 2: The (no longer) hidden agenda & other not so hidden things

Linda here...I apologize ahead of time because this is likely to be a tiny look into what was experienced during our dialogue.  You'll notice that I mostly leave peoples' names out except my own and perhaps Roger's. I do this because I haven't directly asked people if I can report their responses.

The homework: Do last week's homework of noticing our state from the basis of feeling what's occurring v. thinking. Also, it would be interesting to go through the week and notice structures of oppression. See where you are identified with them, invested in them, benefiting from them. Also look for where you see structures that you are not hostilely directed toward, but might suffer.

During the check-in, someone revealed that they felt angry all day.  She was experimenting with the theory that anger was a natural result of unmet expectations, so was looking for places where an expectation had been violated.

Roger offered an alternative frame for anger: See if you can locate your responsibility in the matter and find where you experience an unwillingness to be responsible as the source of events. Ask yourself, "How am I participating in this?" "What am I getting out of it?"

It was reported that this alternative frame amplified the feeling of anger being experienced by the person experiencing anger.

An aside--I was thinking about anger as a "field effect" as in the previous post.  What if we were all simply bobbing in a field of anger and "animating" the energy of the water, but imagined that we "were" angry?  So, what if in fact anger is an energy in which we can resonate or participate, but it doesn't actually come from within us--we are not the source of it? 

Roger referred to a "culture of anger", where if you aren't angry, people get angry.

What is our agenda? (if previously hidden, it will not be now)

Curtis simply asked if we have an agenda.

Someone said that he was in an ongoing exploration about what it means to be human, to be embodied consciousness at this particular moment in history, when there is a huge thing happening on the planet. 

Planet earth is shifting from the Holecene era to the Anthropocene era. 

An aside--this reference to geological shifts, particularly the anthropocene, was started by Paul Crutzen, who used this phrase to acknowledge that the collective human activity on the planet was of a scale so great that it is disrupting planetary systems. This website tells the story in lay terms and is based on what I would call legitimate science.

(continuing)...we are mostly collectively unconscious and unconscious individually which is creating the possibility of catastrophic events. It is happening. In those moments of collapse, resilience comes from localized events that are integrated across scales.  

I will admit that what was said here "integrated across scales" sounds like jargon.  I am not entirely sure I know what it means, but I will say it this way:  Our current state is one of great fragmentation--we are divided up in all sorts of ways, which causes us to experience life as fragmented, when life (reality) is arguably whole. So our resilience comes from integrating or weaving together the whole, to connect our individual actions (small scale) to the events on the planetary scale (large scale). For example, how is my daily latte connected to inequity, environmental degradation, and poverty in another country? In doing so, we become awake to our own participation of the planetary patterns.  By integrating across these scales, we can also begin to see that we have choices and that what we are choosing now has consequences (that we may or may not desire).

Our current version of living together "successfully" is producing inequity on the planet.

The agenda for this person (who is Roger, of course), is creating the possibility for compassion by creating the capacity for relationships that decrease the impact of collapse and decrease the experience of suffering.  He is working for (his client) the 7 billion people learning together to live within our means.  He has an agenda, but it doesn't have a form, a recipe, nor is he interested in using force for his agenda. He is working with education because it is a point of leverage in the system. 

Others reported a range of personal agenda's: personal growth and change; being in a place where one can pay attention differently than anywhere in their life; practicing being the change they want to see in the world; wanting to shine light on systems of oppression in a way that liberates people to choose benevolent alternatives. 

Doing v. Being in institutions

One person was recently thinking about the difference between doing and being. She sees herself as having identified all her life with "doing," and is now considering the "being"--being defined not by what she does but by who she is. 

The great irony in this is that thinking is doing, so you cannot exactly get to being by thinking about it; you can't do being.

Roger asserted that in an exploration of "being," you can sometimes notice the "doing" of thinking. 

Do institutions suppress what is natural for women to "be?" 

This was a funny moment in the room for me. It was funny because the women, who felt the answer was obvious, laughed.  For the men (3), one of them reported the confusion over why, if one doesn't feel that they want to be there, they don't exercise their choice to leave, that they are choosing to stay. There were some who attempted to make the case that the disposition of freedom of choice was one of privilege. Some feel they don't have a choice, but "need" the job that they have, despite the ways in which the culture feels oppressive to them.

Someone compared this to the movie, The Butler, in which, when the black staff questioned the fairness of the black staff being paid half what the white staff was paid, he was told, "If you don't like it, you can leave."  This is a case where it might be more obvious to people that not all people have "equal" opportunity.

Is it possible that the institution itself is male, a gender-biased culture?  

How would we know if an institution had a male gender-biased culture?  We might see a pattern in the system where, in a conflict between a male who has a formalized position of power and a female who is hierarchically below him, we see that the institution moves the woman because it is easier.  If the woman protests, she does so from a place of fear. Moving the woman doesn't actually solve anything about the conflict, but represents a "quick fix" to the "problem" (which appears to be the woman).  The institution believes that they have addressed the "problem" when in fact they have not changed anything about anyone's patterns of behavior.

Oddly, there are several such cases at Cal Poly.

I didn't say this in the room, but I couldn't help recalling a speech about Cal Poly and it's history by a person in a formal position of power. She was reflecting on the 100 year history of Cal Poly and what people report as a constant about the institution.  (Can you guess what it was?)  ...It was the P.  Not learn-by-doing, or serving society,... it was, throughout the decades,  its P-ness.

Someone asserted that we were are not living in a meritocracy (as an institution or as a culture). That is, one is not solely judged or treated fairly on the merits of their performance.

It is probably the case that if you believe that it is a meritocracy, you are part of the privileged caste who experiences it as such.

This also reminded me of a meeting that I was in, in which a senior white male faculty member was pointing out to Provost Enz-Finken, that diversity is good, but for each underrepresented group we need to provide services so that they feel welcomed. Did Cal Poly really want to invest in each group, given that each represented a diversion of resources? Was it fair to the majority to divert these resources? What this person did not see was the historical investment integrated over time such that people like him had all that they needed to succeed. It was invisible to him that all the current investments are for the majority.  It just seemed to him that this was the natural state of things and diversity is a cost to the natural state. 

It seems to me that there is something in us that makes us blind to the ways in which we are benefiting from oppressive dynamics, so the homework might be a good practice.

While the system is designed to consolidate and maximize profit, there is no evidence for that. The evidence in the U.S., at least, is that the supposed "meritocracy" actually amplifies inequity.

Someone pointed out that she feels that what is rewarded in her department was non-merit--doing nothing--not rocking the boat or upsetting the power structure.  This is evidence that many are invested in the current system, that some people actually derive benefit from the way things are, equitable or not.

The homework: Do last week's homework of noticing our state from the basis of feeling what's occurring v. thinking. Also, it would be interesting to go through the week and notice structures of oppression. See where you are identified with them, invested in them, benefiting from them. Also look for where you see structures that you are not hostilely directed toward, but might suffer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome your thoughts.