I read David Byrne's Journal (blog) now and again, and lately I was reminded to visit by an NPR review of his latest musical (ad)venture with Fat Boy Slim - a conceptual creation of the theatrical potential in Imelda Marcos's "life as theater." All the world's a stage?
In the Journal I also read this: "In the most inexcusable behavior I saw a manifestation of a common human trait - that when all restraints are removed, we tend to lose our moral compasses. I think it could happen to any of us." Byrne talks about Abu Ghraib as an example - people put in a situation where they are handed absolute power; that the whistleblowers in this case were not the soldiers themselves but the leaked pictures. This brings a familiar saying to mind - absolute power corrupts. Why?
I've thought a lot about this, as lately our philosophical hot topic has been "what does it mean to live the Ethical Values"? To live as an Ethical Being? "Trust is the behavior of truth" is one pearl we have been thinking about in our dialogues.What is our "moral compass"? Where does it come from? What makes us aware of it? We've talked about conflict and confrontation. I used to believe that confrontation was a negative behavior. Confrontation meant challenge, challenge = provocation, and provocation led to argument, or ultimately, to war. Still, I used to argue a lot (habit!) What I thought I believed was not how I behaved. A thinking friend told me she realized an old belief she had that to speak her truth meant she would be treated badly. When we begin to accept truth as the ethical energy of our spiritual being, these perceptions fall away as we live. It is only one step to recognize and acknowledge that "my truth" may be different, is different, from "your truth." Beyond that awareness begins the awareness of an absolute value of truth - as love, and the equality of being, as energy. Ah, details, details, details...
In the May issue of Food & Wine magazine I read another great example of this awareness in an article by Ray Isle called "Red Wine & Vegetables: Friends of Foes?" He wrote about Randall Grahm (California's Bonny Doon Vineyard) and winery chef Charlie Parker and their collaboration. Grahm, known to some as the Willy Wonka of wine enthusiasts, has made a lot of changes recently due not to the economy but, as Isle notes, a "philosophical crisis." A short description of Grahm's growing the Bonny Doon "public image" through the 2000s then leading to the net "reinvention." Here's how Grahm describes it: "I was giving speeches and writing articles about biodynamics and terroir, saying terroir was the only interesting thing about the wine business ... But there was nothing congruent between what I was saying and what I was doing. So it was clear I needed to make a big change."
Last week I got angry at having to respond to DMV bureaucratic rules (long story) - a remedy seemed simple, yet the steps to get to the solution seemed too many and too slow, an exercise without true purpose except the procedure itself. I felt the energy funnel of my anger as I waited, telephone in hand (again), remembering all of the time taken, the energy expended. The energy of our memories moves us, motivates us. Our emotions move and change within us with all the character of clouds. It is silly to get so frustrated at such a "thing," yet a casual patience sometimes simply reinforces that not only is the frustration (and I know I'm not alone!) understandable but that simply commiserating adds to the sense of conflict too, more than the resolution. Our thoughts are absolutely powerful! There's an old saying, Rules are made to be broken. They remind us, if we're open to "seeing," that we made them - they did not one day appear from thin air, cast in stone.
Courage is an inherent characteristic of our human spiritual design, and communicating with the conscious sense of change in motion adds momentum and excitement to experience. Change invites that golden laughter that rings like music to almost any ear.
While going through files I came across an old letter from when I was working at the Library of Congress. The letter was one sent to a handful of us re: "Meritorious Service." Here's the quote - "demonstrates your concern" for the nation's patrimony. In this regard, your work serves as a model..." I've been thinking about courage, and about the language in this letter. Such awards acknowledge appreciation on behalf of several levels of "community." In our culture and in our world, we've created ways to honor "meritorious service" as we determine its value to us. Humanitarian awards acknowledge the level of our global community.
To act in concert with the Ethical Values of our human design means to honor the best in us at all times. In the LOC, I did what I was asked to do. As the events unfolded, I learned about the world of thievery, and my "insight" and awareness expanded as I watched, listened and talked with others. I haven't thought about this event for many years. I'm glad I kept the letter. I read the words in a different context now. I recognize a layered pattern of "honor code," as the Ethical Values which make up our design, and the strength and joy that come from honoring and respecting them as a way of life.
Think of these phrases: "just for the sake of argument"; "devil's advocate"; "facts"
Every thought counts. The energy of every word becomes a playground, an arena, an ocean to an open mind. What motivates the thought, action? Honor? Respect? Truth? Value? Appreciation? "I need proof." What do I accept as proof? Change? Conflict or resolution? Peace or war? Who do we want to be? Trust is the behavior of truth.