Navigating in Turbulent Times
Obama out; Trump in. Europe out. All change. How can we live with the chaos when we have so little control?
Numerolgocially 2016 (2+0+1+6 = 9) was the end of a cycle.
Whether you believe in numerology or not, 2016 has ended and none too soon for most of us. Whether it was Bowie or Brexit, Alan Rickman or Syria, Prince or Trump, there has been so much death and chaos that many of us wonder with dis-ease what 2017 will hold for us.
There is a Chinese curse: 'May you live in interesting times' and we certainly do. It would be easy to focus on the things we don't like (the deterioration and erosion of the NHS) and the things we fear (extremism), but like Obama in his outgoing speech yesterday, we need to attend to what we focus on and to not let nay-sayers and doom-mongers drag us down.
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high. Obama
Aiming high, means sticking our necks out, being seen and of course risking failure and ridicule. And yet aim high we must.
'I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.' Obama
Nietzsche said 'Out of chaos comes the dancing star' and in my own life that has been true. Think of the times when your life has been bleakest, most scary and most unclear and these are often the crucible times; the times when we change our lives, change ourselves, change our relationships, our values, our focus.
Turbulent seas, throw up things from the deep, they crush and crack what has looked solid, they wash away what has been lying, deserted on the beach.
We can't hold back the waves of change; I can not control what happens in Syria or what Donald Trump decides to do with his presidency but I can learn to surf, I can learn to steer my way through stormy seas. I know I can and I know you can because we have all done it before.
We need to live by our values, stand by what we believe and walk the path which has integrity for us in our own lives. Every time we confront a bully at work, every time we smile and chat to the person on the check out, every time we get involved in local projects and initiatives we are playing our part in making this world a better place for us all.
We may not like what is happening globally and feel that we have no control over it, but we can control what is happening in our part of the world, in how we are with people and if we do that, en masse, then the drops of our actions will join together in puddles, then rivers, then seas.
The times are changing and time will tell, but I have a sense that these extreme storms in politics and war will implode or blow themselves out. All storms pass and we need to look after each other whilst they blow and rage. A pendulum may swing from one extreme to another but as the energy dissipates it settles in a middle ground.
As Obama says it is our ability to bring about change when and where we can, person by person, moment by moment that matters most and that takes courage. The courage to stand out, to speak out, to say no, to say yes, to risk failure and ridicule and do it anyway.
So it is to Roosevelt I turn to spur me into 2017:
'It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.'
Let's get into that arena and do our bit when and where we can to 'be the change we want to see in the world' (Ghandi)