Hand-making our Lives

Submitted by vanessa reid on September 23, 2011 - 4:19pm
how do we liberate our structures to entrepreneur and author our collective futures

today the Palestinian Authority submitted its application for full statehood to the UN. it is a deeply significant moment and highly complex because of history, neighbours, timing. 

yet underneath this is a question that is popping up all over the world....  if a people want to self-define, why do they need permission from the UN or an external body? who is to say whether a people are a nation or not? what kind of authority is needed from the outside ~  and what kind of authority can we claim for ourselves from the inside?  


gandhi modeled these questions in his life and invited the many to join in - he called it swaraj, which means self-rule or self-governance. his was a movement seeded during the occupation of india by the british empire.  swaraj is an incredible testament to the collective power of aligning our inner values with our outer actions; it is a practice of integrity and a practice of hand-making our lives. it is a movement to regenerate new reference points, systems, and structures that enable  individual and collective self-development that is aligned with life. 



entrepreneuring our lives

 there is an unprecedented collective self-defining unfolding in the world right now.  in European squares, people are coming together to model new forms of "active democracy". in cities all over israel, people are protesting, talking, and taking action towards a fundamentally different future than that which the state has been propagating.  and we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of people in the arab world demanding and creating new forms of expression and participation in their own lives, and the lives of their communities, and nations.


we see people taking their lives into their own hands - in french we say entreprendre.  what we are seeing is a massive collective entrepreneurship. it is re-shaping the flow of power, resources. re-shaping our inner and outer states such that we are authoring our own lives, and doing so collectively.

the ground has moved and there are new openings and new edges.  these openings are the places for new conversations and new forms of relationship, ones that break the reliance on outsourcing our lives to others and instead invites us to be brave, to live as a lover of life, and be wililng to howl.

liberating structures

my grandfather, Escott Reid, was part of a wave of institutional activists or tempered radicals who, in the 1940s-50s, set up the World Bank, NATO and the UN after the horror of two world wars, the rise of fascism and the holocaust. he was also very concerned with "the persistence of existing institutions".  in his later years, he spoke of these same institutions whose structures were intended to prevent world wars needing to be dismantled as they lose sight of their original mission or serve only their own needs and interests. 

for me, institutions are no longer the place from which we ask permission for our autonomy. in fact, many  are in need of our help to hospice them, to bring them to conscious closure or find a new purpose. now is not a time of  "structural reform" but rather, of structural transformation - and i definitely feel it within my own life. it is frightening to let go of the structures that i have looked to for security - the idea of certain kind of family or having a certain kind home, or what work should look like. 


so where do i find my sense of security? can i create my very own "security council" mandated to help me keep moving with the flow of how life is calling me forward?  what are the structures or ideas or archetypes that we are now breaking out of?  how do we liberate our structures so that more love and depth and relationship can be freed?  how do we sit with the pain of so much letting go - or of the stretch into the new? 

perhaps we are witnessing the UN in an iconic moment as much as we are witnessing Palestine in its steps for a new kind of future. we are witnessing a massive shift in where power lies. the question now is 

what kind of authority do we claim as peoples of this Earth, at this potent time of active resurgence, to transform our realities to be aligned with life.  dare we self-define and author our lives from that broken-open place of the lover of life?

There's courage involved if you want
to become truth. There is a broken-

open place in a lover. Where are
those qualities of bravery and sharp

compassion in this group? What's the
use of old and frozen thought? I want

a howling hurt. This is not a treasury
where gold is stored; this is for copper.

We alchemists look for talent that
can heat up and change. Lukewarm

won't do. Halfhearted holding back,
well-enough getting by? Not here.