Tag Archives: power

We Can Too!

Potential – Word of the Day

Redgate Beach, south of Margaret River. The beach was closed yesterday, in fact, I couldn’t even see it. The winds were gale force earlier in the day, and still strong in the afternoon, whipping the water in to shore, and making it difficult to keep a steady hand for filming. The western shore contains a variety of examples of rock formations that have been weathered by waves, and when you see the power of the water, it is no wonder.

Water is powerful, and in many ways. Wave power as an idea, a theory, has been around for years, though one the earliest attempts is still recent – Scotland, 1991. The long history of shipping has relied on water, and has also suffered from the volatility of storms at sea. The same can be said for the fishing industry, tourism, military purpose, exploration and more. Rivers and other sources of land based water have been critical for the survival of all species. Plants and animals vary as to percentage but all have a foundational volume of water that constitutes their being. Science has variably said that water is 80% of the human body, I say variably because others say it is even higher.

Water is fundamental for survival, dehydration is deadly for any species. And water, though abused by, is also fundamental to industry and manufacturing at every level. We know the absence of water contributes to desertification, and evidence from other planets shows that lack of water equals lack of life.

The potential of water goes back to the dawn of time, and onwards to the floating gardens of the Aztecs, Roman baths and aqueducts, the farming of rice, fish farming, reticulated agriculture, and the generation of electricity (hydro-power).

With climate change as a reality, even fiction, like the post apocalyptic story of Waterworld, seems less far fetched than when it hit the cinemas in 1994. Water is seen as part of our daily survival need, but also part of our future as once again, floating gardens, floating communities, hydroponics, aquaculture, and responses to climate problems like flooding, see Practical Action    have become exciting options for ways forward.

And yet, we are far more diverse than water. The human is complex, and, beyond the primitive brain, unique in brain capacity for problem solving, design, learning, creating, conceptualising, and comprehension, to name a few potentials. We too can be a positive power in the world, veritable tsunamis of ideas, science, engineering, chemistry, the arts, and more. We too generate energy. And we have the potential to creatively solve the issues before us.

We can contribute to life, we are powerful, we can be creative, eroding and wearing down the barriers and the negatives, shaping and sustaining life and potential worlds and communities,  we too are fundamental to nature though by good or ill, depending on how we value nature. We have the potential to turn around the whole climate change issue. Like water, we have to pool, pond, and gather together to get it done. Even the formation of water, hydrogen and oxygen is a metaphor for working together to achieve an outcome. One drop of water is just one drop of water, but many drops are potential, are power, resource, possibility, together we are an ocean of potential.

The ground was hard
many seeds to be planted
neighbours helping

©Paul Cannon


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Rave Up And Rave On

Ceremony

Buddy Holly, such a tragic early death (plane crash, 1959), was a bit of a raver, changing the tone of music, setting the scene for others to cut lose. Simple as it is, if you listen to his guitar solo on Peggy Sue, for that time it was progressive, it had momentarily, a hard edge – a sign of things to come in rock-n-roll.

‘Rave On’ was written by Norman Petty, Bill Tilghman, and Sunny West and charted in the US at 35 and in the UK at No. 5 (1957). In fact if you look at his discography the singles were, surprisingly,  more popular in the UK and Europe than in the US. Rave on was typical of Holly’s style. Holly had started out in country, but moved over to rock-n-roll, yet you can clearly hear the country style in the playing and the singing, it’s a wonderful blend, and it is his unique sound.

“Rave On’ is a short  (only 1.54 mins) simple (read, unsophisticated) and innocent song about love, a young man reeling in euphoria, standing on the threshold, breathless and adoring. It was the 1950s! The song conveys the energy of young love in its rhythm and beat. It’s about the young man desiring that his girlfriend rave on to him about her love for him, that she declare her passion passionately, enthusiastically because that would assure him.

What always intrigued me was the latter part of what constitutes the chorus:

Rave on, rave on and tell me
Tell me, not to be lonely
Tell me, you love me only
Rave on to me

It makes sense if you contextualise it to its period and cultural setting. Yet the song is clearly suggesting that love is connected to loneliness, it is an antidote to loneliness. Not only does this objectify the lover, the respondent woman, it objectifies love itself. Here love becomes a tool for one of the couple to avoid loneliness. That might be a good thing ordinarily (for some, not all, it can be intensely lonely without a partner), but is that about valuing the other unconditionally, because, isn’t that what love is about – being unconditional?

Perhaps I’m going a little too far out for some, stretching the connection, but I really do think the seeds of a society’s views are in the cultural material it produces, or uses to respond to existing practices. In my view the Harvey Weinsteins of this world are the product of a mantra that has objectified men and women, a mantra that has revolved around power.

To effect change in how we relate to each other, whether we are talking about heterosexual, transgendered, gay, or celibate people, we really must start valuing each other for who we are and not for what we believe (or have been lead to believe) we can get from the other. It is a shift in view, it requires a change in our thinking and language towards a mutuality, and an unconditional acceptance of the other.

I still really like the song, but I’m also aware that I don’t subscribe to the notion that I need another to complete me, not in that needs based way. So rave on to me about self-acceptance, value, unconditional love, mutuality …

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Fame! It’s A Trap!

Famous

 

beatles-itunes-official.jpg

The Beatles. Most people now know the story well about how the four young musicians from working class families in Liverpool became a world famous band. How Skiffle was the trend, how the drummer was removed and Ringo brought in. The years of going to the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany to make cash, playing at the Cavern in Liverpool, and encountering the quiet businessman Brian Epstein who became their manager. The wonderful alliance of Lennon-McCartney as the primary song writers, and the creative relationship with the late George Martin as their producer at EMI. Beatlemania, pop, rock, experimental music, trend setting, controversy, religion, drugs, a whirlwind of mayhem and success.

What makes me laugh out loud every time is the following comment by Decca records. The Beatles had been taken to London for an audition at Decca Records for new years day 1962, the session was recorded and a decision promised in the days after. Eventually Decca responded, rejecting the Beatles, saying: “Guitar groups are on their way out.” and “The Beatles have no future in show business.” I’ve often wondered if they did a debrief on that a couple of years later. Instead, Decca signed The Tremeloes (also known as Brian Poole and the Tremeloes), a band that performed well and hung around for forty years as consistent recording artists and concert performers, but were never famous. But maybe the Tremeloes had a better time?

By 1966, and five years of hits and relentless international concert schedules, the Beatles stopped touring. It was no longer fun. The freedom and success they had achieved had started to impact their lives in ways they may not have foreseen or understood. They were public property, cultural icons, trend-setters, and they were adored. Privacy was almost nil, and demands were heavy.

Fame also impacted the band relationships, tension, jealousy, power games all played their part, and eventually they went their separate ways, making it a public split in 1970. Even though over the years up until Lennon’s death they were offered staggering sums of money to reunite, they could not bear the thought of it.

The money the Beatles made must have been staggering, the adoration initially seductive and welcome, but for Lennon it contributed to his shooting, Harrison was attacked in his home and stabbed, McCartney lived in fear of being attacked, Ringo hit the booze for a time, it wasn’t pretty. Stress, relationship problems, anxiety, fear, substance abuse related issues, and more.

But while we sit in judgement of those who rise to stardom, where do we fit? At our own level, do we fall into the same patterns? How many of us have not coped with stress, responsibility, fear, money, relationships? As a parallel to the stars we too fall prey to our own behaviours, worries, and desires, just on a smaller scale. We may not have broken up the Beatles, but we may well have broken up with dear friends.

What I take away from the cost of fame for people like the Beatles is that I too can seek popularity, a more localised version of fame, I can seek wealth over relationship, I can ignore those closest to me, I can be busy with my important work to the exclusion of others, I can be jealous when I perceive that I fall short (the disaster of comparison), and I can be anxious about my image. The movie ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ (Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves) makes this point very strongly, the last scene is profound as a truth, that we will sell ourselves to fame and be totally unaware.

True contentment can only ever be in self-acceptance, and thereby building confidence and self-awareness. I believe that fame is best when it is conferred rather than pursued, when others see it in you, rather than making it happen. To be content, to strive, and to be real, that is the road less travelled, and a different type of famous.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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The Happy Flaunt

via Daily Prompt: Flaunt

The Satin Bowerbird a video by Eliot Burch (via YouTube) an intense and class act, flaunting his bower, and using his wiles to attract a mate.

As humans we do that a bit, we engage a person and flaunt ourselves in various ways, our humur, intelligence, sexy looks, wealth maybe, some talent we may have, power and more. Flaunting is signalling to others – look at me. And we do. There’s that old saying, “If you’ve got it flaunt it.” But in this age we have learned that flaunting wealth is certainly crass (though many still do it), flaunting power is vulgar (though some still do it), and flaunting our sexiness may, sadly,  be misjudged.

In this age of #Me Too we are reminded of the delicate balance between signalling “Look at me” to (mostly) women being at risk of sexual harassment, worse, assault. Modern pornography (not to be confused with the erotic or an appreciation of the human form) has reduced women and men to mere functionary objects, to the point that they are simply a function of their genitals. Surely this is an abuse? Objectification leads to consumption, and we sexually consume those we sexually objectify. Objectification is also a power exchange in which the object has no power, whoever is objectified is used, positioned, directed and consumed. I don’t have a definitive opinion on sex dolls, but the mere fact they can be bought is further proof of the reduction of the real person to an object.

#Me Too, which had its origins in 2007, was coined by Tarana Burke who was using the phrase to promote empowerment through empathy for women of colour. In 2017 Alyssa Milano encouraged the use of the phrase as a hashtag on Twitter. Both have had a powerful community impact, and for the better, though I think we have a long way to go to undo and prevent further occurrences of sexual harassment.

Another protest from women has been around the manner of dress, that a sexy look, or a provocative or flaunting look does not equal consent to sex. Flaunting shouldn’t lead to being drugged and raped (as has happened in some cases) or sexually touched, or verbally assaulted. Women and men are not sexual disposable objects, they’re not to be used and thrown away. Soemhow we need to get back to being people and to sex as mutual embodied experience, and as invitation not as right.

I hope men and women still flaunt, its refreshing and pleasant, there’s something beautiful about the human form as Renoir, Gauguin, D.H. Lawrence, Robert maplethorpe, and Anais Nin would testify to, but I hope we can encourage that as a safe and natural behaviour devoid of power and abuse. Flaunting isn’t an invitation to objectify and use and abuse, it is simply a gift for the eye and heart to treasure. The invitation may come.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

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Tides

via Daily Prompt: Tide

IMG_0087.jpg

The tide coming in at the Wilson Inlet, Denmark, Western Australia.

Rachel Carson, to whom we all owe a debt of thanks for her tireless work in advocating for the protection of nature, once said: “The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities … If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem called “The Tides.” An autobiographical  poem that speaks of despair (the loss of his wife) and the rediscovery of joy (the tide upbore – lifted him up) as the tide lifts him from despair.

"The Tides" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

I saw the long line of the vacant shore,
The sea-weed and the shells upon the sand,
And the brown rocks left bare on every hand,
As if the ebbing tide would flow no more.
Then heard I, more distinctly than before,
The ocean breathe and its great breast expand,
And hurrying came on the defenceless land
The insurgent waters with tumultuous roar.
All thought and feeling and desire, I said,
Love,laughter, and the exultant joy of song
Have ebbed from me forever! Suddenly o'er me
They swept again from their deep ocean bed,
And in a tumult of delight, and strong
As youth, and beautiful as youth, upbore me.

But none ever so bleak as Matthew Arnold’s famous poem “Dover Beach.” A poem that is thought to be four very loosely connected sonnets about change. The third stanza tells how the tide is representative of the institution of the Chrisitan Church, that it is fading lifke the receding tide.

From "Dover Beach" Matthew Arnold, stanza three:

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and rounded earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Arnold would have been a contemporary of Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote “God is dead.” (“The Gay Science” 1882) The way I read Nietzsche, is the way I read Arnold, they are simply pointing out that the institution of religion was dying, and the idea of God (the Medieval, the Christendom, God) was dying. For me that has been a positive, the old had to die for the new to come to life. Just as the tide goes out, it also, with equal regularity comes in again. this is its natural rhythm. Religion as a political power elite has been receding for some time, thankfully, and spirituality and mindfulness have entered that space. The absurd God of tribalism and petty moral values has died, thankfully, and a new sense of the divine has enetered, a more communal and relational divine.

So, in the end, I really resonate with Longfellow’s last line from “The Tides” –  “And in a tumult of delight, and strong as youth, and beautiful as youth, upbore me.”  The tides of Arnold and Nietzche simply wash away the dross of what ails religion, while the tide of Longfellow indicates hope in a season of loss and grief in an uplifting tumult of delight.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under beach, Country, life, mindfulness, nature, Philosophy/Theology, poetry, quote, religion

Invisible People

via Daily Prompt: Invisible

Back in 2014 the UNHCR worked with addsoftheworld.com to produce an add campaign to bring awareness to the world of the plight of refugees. This particular add was in South Korea.

When I think of refugees I think of the pain of deprivation, hunger, illness, the loss of family, jobs, homes, savings, experiencing poverty, vulnerability, insecurity and the indiffernce of those around them. The grief must be almost crushing, the devastation of loss and change too difficult to contemplate. They are at the mercy of others.

I don’t think of political positioning – is this a leftist issue, or is it liberalism, or whatever? I find politics merely clouds the issue and becomes a smokescreen for ignorance, fear and prejudice. Politics automatically takes a view, a position, and is usually founded on suspicion, even racism. Politics grounds its power in fear and looks for control. Instead I think of the person. If we don’t consider the person, we only ever view them as objects through the political prism, and they become invisble to us as people, and become sub-human, pawns in a political game.

If we burned every flag, removed every national anthem, removed borders and the notion of sovereignty – would it change anything? (which is my preferred fantasy) Probably not as we are creatures that need to create niches, spaces, corners, and familiar places. We will always seek a corporate identity, a local sense of belonging. But just imagine, if we did achieve that level of complete freedom from fear, control and ownership, it might just change our thoughts about the stranger, the alien in the land. If there’s no sovereignty there’s nothing to protect, no line to defend, no one to exclude. Sadly, as documentaries such as ‘The Wave’, ‘Blue eyes, Brown Eyes’ and the ‘Stanford Experiment’ show, if we have power over someone we tend to become indifferent to their humanity.

However, I’m a little more hopeful than the documentary makers, because in the every day I meet wonderfully liberated people who surrender ego and power and see only people irrespective of race, tribe, religion, politics. There are wonderful people who desire to reach out and enable others to thrive. There are many who have given up on politics as an answer, but inhabit the political space in order to bring positive change, to help us be able to see that we are all part of the issue. There are the compassionate and those who seek the common good for all.

In an imperfect world, we can be the difference rather than the indifferent. The add campaign was a media success, though I have not yet discoverd if it was a success in reaching the people, but at least at one level it worked to address the issue of those who are invisible. The enduring question for me is, who am indifferent to and who can’t I see?

Paul,

pvcann.com

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