Monday, May 4, 2015

Everything is connected

There seems to have been a spate of horrific domestic violence murders across Australia recently (or is it just that there is more reportage of them?) Many well intentioned organisations exist to raise awareness about this blight, but I have my doubts as to whether single issue campaigns which address the symptom rather than the patient as a whole are all that effective. I'd welcome your responses to the following:

In a culture which brutalizes both boys and girls in all kinds of subtle and overt ways as they are growing up, which socializes them into conformity and a pack mentality through uniforms and sport and carrot and stick 'discipline', a culture which sanctions the everyday barbarisms of factory farming and horse racing, a culture in which the use of alcohol to numb out is ubiquitous, and no advert of people enjoying themslves is without the obligatory glass of wine, a culture where we teach children not to lie but the bombard them every waking minute with misleading and manipulative advertising, a culture of tokenism, empty slogans, commodified relatiionships and pseudo online communities which cannot meet people's deepest aspirations for community, connection and authenticity how can we expect lost souls not to develop a range of maladaptive coping behaviours which harm themselves and harm others? (pause for breath....)

I am not proposing a retreat to religious fundamentalism, because fundamentalist societies put people in a one-size-fits-all box and ruthlessly punish 'deviance', but nor am I ignoring the fact that the kind of sterile secularism of predominantly post-Christian and post-Industrial consumer oriented societies (such as Australia) does not provide pathways to bliss or communities of acknowledgement where people feel seen, held, acknowledged and valued.

Domestic violence is a kind of addiction, and the cure for any addiction is joy...not fun, or pleasure, but the kind of joy that comes from a profound and rooted sense of gratitude and well-being. I think any single issue campaign which does not search out the roots of the malady will not make much headway, at best preaching to the converted and not reaching the places where attitudes are really formed...boys on a bus joking about homos, what children witness as routine behind closed doors, the way an uncle speaks to his wife at a family gathering etc. It seems to me facilitating pathways to joy and authentic inter-personal connections will effortlessly reduce all kinds of addiction....but this trend is in direct conflict with our daily encounters with call centers, compliance regulations, newspeak, "news" we don't need to know, and the mantra of dismissal: "have a good day".

While the impulse to attack a problem is very strong, if we take a step back how successful have single isue campaigns been,when the conttext itself is not challenged? What impact has white-ribbon made, for example? And how can we measure this impact? People, expressing their need to suppress their own sense of powerlessness in the face of horrific domestic violence murders, say things like 'well,we have to do something.' But is ill considered, blind-to-its-own-underbelly action really helpful? it may make us feel more empowered for a while, but better to attend to the foundations first before building the castle in the air.

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