page in process, altered book art journal, by Hali Karla

This is all so much. Our world is in a horrible state and the tension and grief are palpable for anyone paying attention.

If, like me, you’re something of a sensitive person, you feel it all over and throughout your body and energy. Let’s not mistake sensitivity for weakness here – there is a vast difference, as sensitivity can actually be the source of incredible strength and empowering action.

Right now, though, I know I personally feel so saddened and helpless. Far away from the human beings who have lost their homes and have nowhere to go in a world that argues over what right they have to set foot on ‘our’ land – as if we didn’t take it from other human beings to begin with in all sorts of horrific ways, as ‘immigrants’ – or refugees – ourselves… *sigh*

There is so much in this. SO much… and yes, I am using my blog as a place to process openly today. Thank you for being here, thank you for your interest and kindness.

I could share with you my rather unconventional views that hold not much interest in worldly ideas of drawing lines around citizenship, possession and property (rights to this land or water, not that land or water) to begin with – but I’m still figuring that out myself.

I could tell you all about how I am rather… ashamed – and downright scared – by some of the extremist, uncompassionate, self-centered and violent views of my country, our leaders and fellow citizens – and if we went far enough, I might be accused of being unpatriotic (*gasp*), socialist (or… maybe just not capitalist in preference) or naive (by those who are certain their view is the ‘right’ one, or who think I am missing the one point or fact that will make me choose fear in this).

And that’s the thing… I’m not convinced my opinion or view is the ‘right’ one either. Or that yours is. Or anyone’s. None of this is as simple as right or wrong. Every decision will have a consequence – a point of no return. That’s LIFE. We don’t get to know what that is… we have to live it to find out. And so much of what we all feel about this is deeply charged right now – and it should be, so that things can change.

The detrimental issue, as I see it, is when we close ourselves off from different viewpoints, different people, different cultures… and yes, even the risks that are taken in the name of unity and humanity. The greatest loss of all is when we let fear dictate how we offer and withhold both our love and that part of us that remembers to see ourselves in each other, and to see each other in ourselves… isn’t this the basic stuff we learn – or were supposed to with the Golden Rule (and all the ways it shows up around the world in cross-cultural moral and ethical codes)?

Are we so worried about getting harmed or being used that we have forgotten how to be helpers, how to love not for gain, but for love itself in the most important of circumstances?

That is what scares me most, perhaps. That people will let theoretical safety (and fear of the loss of that) keep them from taking the risks that are fundamentally about being good human beings to one another, about helping those who suffer or are in desperation when we have the means to do so. And even more frightening – how it gets used to disguise way deeper knee-jerk issues about judgment and some ridiculous sense of elitism – and all the -isms and -phobias that contribute to inequality.

I get it. People do really cruel things. I want to be safe, too. I don’t want to see innocent people in my city, state or country get hurt or killed by anyone. And, no, I wouldn’t knowingly invite a person with violent intent into my home. In an acute situation of safety and survival, my reaction and yours might very much be one of adamant self-preservation. I get it, I really do.

But it’s more than that hypothetical scenario at stake here. And it’s bigger. Bigger than our own lives even.

There are thousands and thousands of people right now who are not in a hypothetical situation – they have been living in a horrible acute reality of uncertainty and destitution. How are we going to respond to this as part of the human family?

Maybe – yes – maybe lives will pay if we make the ‘wrong’ choices… but you know what’s more likely in this world, the way it is already… and the thing nobody really wants to talk about… lives are going to pay anyway. People will likely continue to die before all of this tension heals – whether we help or we harm or we withhold. We just want to pretend that we have steadfast control over our own safety, which way it will go and that we are immune to the larger process somehow. I feel pretty confident to say that not any one of us can guarantee a damn thing in this sort of tension – there are way too many factors that we don’t even know about at play, let alone all the factors that we might consider and try to make sense of.

So are we going to choose to hide behind the locked doors that we pretend keep the fear out… or admit that the fear is here, in us, with us? Can we dare to risk the bigger win? The one where we remember that most people are inherently good, with the same basic desires and needs for themselves and their families (I’m talking shelter, food, warmth, clothing, belonging, and safety)? Take those away completely – and THAT is what can create monsters of us if we let it. Withhold it when we have it to offer those who are without and desperate… and I’m talking about refugees, homeless citizens, the poor, you name it… well, aren’t we already somehow monsters-in-the-making then, possibly helping to make more monsters?

I didn’t expect to rant like this – but this is an issue of values and living in integrity with those values – not when it’s convenient, but every damn day, in all the scenarios. We will mess up, yes – but we can be braver than before with every decision. It’s hard fucking work to choose actions that reflect those values, even when it inflames so much of our own fears and triggers – and might open a window of exposure to what we fear most for ourselves and loved ones.

Perhaps we are still too comfortably numb in our first world to really be good humans to all humans, and especially to those who suffer and are homeless in ways we can barely imagine. Maybe we don’t want to see in them how vulnerable we all really are.

Can we dare to remember that to heal infectious fear, grief and hate we must often turn toward it. We must dare to be with it – at least long enough to silence its cries to be seen and heard – and to move through it, beyond the illusion of blame – not in violence or judgment, but with a heart that understands this divide-and-conquer righteousness is part of the blinding sickness?

Healing does not come about by denial – but by leaning into the essence of something bigger working through us, for us, and creating the environment where dis-ease can be tended to transform – not by a fight, but by rest, nourishment, time, attention and… faith.

A lot of people get all fired up about that word – faith. But that is what these difficult decisions, with no right or wrong, come down to, as far as I can tell.

Not the kind of faith that got tainted for you by exploiters or in your childhood church. But the kind of faith that chooses to live fully, here on earth, with all our human brothers and sisters, choosing to love them, forgive them, and help them when we can – even when we disagree with them and don’t know what will come of it – because, by God and goddesses, spirit and science, or whatever works for you, that is what we would want for our more immediate families and ourselves.

For me, faith began as a choice – and grew within me into an unshakable value. It is a faith that all life is worth living and loving… even when it gets really, really hard and puts our own opinions, resources and comfort at risk – because what is life without love lived?


What does all of this have to do with art and creative practice?

Everything. Art is a way of navigating and processing life, and if we’re doing it with awareness and intention, we’re bringing a holistic creative sense to our play and reflections through it – and this impacts all of our interactions. For some of us, how we live IS our art. It’s how we integrate and work with these complex issues, our own sensitivity and our core values. In a complicated world, and as spirits interested in BEing alive and loving humans, it can also be a way of healing discord and dis-ease, marrying the unconscious with the conscious for a more holistic truth and revealing.

Art-making is also a way to tap in, remember and connect to the joy and holy beauty of being alive and sensual in this miracle of a world that nourishes us.

Making Art Medicine is coming in 2016, right from my heart. You don’t have to agree with my views at all – just be willing to explore your own and respect others – and to paint! I am sensing that it will be an incredible journey to help process & reflect on our changing world, and to discern and navigate voice, action, perspective and growth.

 

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