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Part VI, Life in Society I

By Remy Benoit

Our lives in a different time and space for a new perspective on how we live them.
These are the topics we will be examining:
Open Society/Closed Society
Political Correctness

This lesson calls for imagining. And, for acting out, trying out.

When the dark comes tonight... turn off the power. No lights, no TV, radio, computer.
Have a well for your water?
No water pump tonight.
No turning on the spigots for public water.
How much time passed before you began to feel irritated?
One Medieval study is called A World Lit Only by Fire.

Let us try to emotionally and psychologically experience a different world and its feel.

Let's drop by your bathroom. First step, take out the plumbing.

Then lose the fancy soaps, sponges, shampoos, deodorants, toothbrushes, tooth paste, perfumes. Well, you get the picture. No shower, no bath tonight, or tomorrow night... or...

Let's think about everybody sleeping in one room, on the floor, some straw with its concomitant bugs, lice, and things with long, skinny tails.

No headache pills, allergy pills, whatever pills. Perhaps, for safety sake you should keep your glasses on, at least as long as you are mobile. But do take them off when seated and ask yourself how restricted your life would be without them. What kinds of things would you no longer be able to do?

Lose the refrigerator, microwave, stove, sink, telephone, fax, printer, etc.

Let's visit the closet.

Pick two, only two, changes of clothes... lose the rest. One pair of shoes.

Lose the cars, vans, bikes, skateboards. Lose the mobility of everything but your feet. What just happened to life as you know it, including your job. How would you see to your daily needs without being able to travel.

How would this impact on your family life?

Lose the heater, the air conditioner, and well, all but one room of the house.

Ah, the one room you are living in now is yours only at the sufferance of the master whoever he is.

And, as my son points out, lose the cold drinks on a hot, humid summer day.

Here comes the clincher:
Lose all the music.

Think about these for a while.

Think about living like this.

How does this change how you see you?

How do feel in an unwashed body with no privacy, no plumbing, no personal library?

How do you feel unable to read the written word, to write your own name?

How do you feel with no real voice?

Consider: how much do you use the voice you have now? Are you using it to make your feelings known on subjects, events dear to you?

I have taken you to the extreme here.

Take the period of which you are writing and apply what applies from above.

Then apply these questions as you relate them to your own life own life situation.

We often tend to forget to put our personal problems into perspective; not only historical perspective, but from the perspective of so very many in today's world who are living, or very close to that scenario we have drawn above.

If you take your problem, or your pain, and put yourself into that kind of situation, what new things do you see about your problem, and its possible solution.

If you are carrying deep loss at a loved one, it will still be there in your home, palace, or hovel. But perhaps if you think of that lost love, and all the joys you knew with it, all the experiences you had, and do it while visualizing yourself sitting in that hovel, you will find many blessings in the sharing memories of bountiful meals, dancing, singing, a Sunday drive in the country, etc.

If you are carrying deep pain from the stress of war, perhaps sitting on the hovel floor, sitting on the grass, or on the beach, will remind you of your connection to all of this Creation. The earth itself is always being created, eroded, destroyed, rebuilt. By the very nature of nature, she tends to heal herself, unless we put in poisons that cannot be transformed, at least unless millennia are involved.

In that case, we need to remove, and cleanse the area and de-toxify the pollutant that we have made.

In the case of the earth, we remove the toxin to clean up the water, or the land.

In the case of soul wounds, we excavate quite slowly, piece by piece until we get the heart of the soul and continue gentling it.

You can take that hovel and bring personal mental pictures of things into it to make it more comfortable, but note what it does to the original feeling you had when you entered.

If you are deeply troubled by a war experience think of simple things that were there but are no longer part of your daily ritual. If you sit down to eat and you look all around the table and find no salt tablets or malaria tablets there, you will begin to realize that that part, although a great deal may remain, of your daily ritual connected with that is no longer there. By noticing what is missing from the scenario that caused the pain, you begin to become aware of the things that have replaced it.

You can do something like writing a thank you letter to the salt pills, malaria pills for helping to maintain the natural balance in your body as a way of putting them away now. As one by one things fall away, you can start asking yourself a question like this:

"How can I, or better still, a we, change a nightmare into a dream; a vision; a learning tool for peace?"

Ask yourself, " Can I surpass myself, can we surpass ourselves, to do this? Can we hold each other, hold each other to do this and make available to others the learning we have attained by sharing the reality of our nightmare and our overcoming of it. It is not to paint the picture that all will be perfect, that every appliance will always work; no tire will ever get low that this sharing is done. But it can be done to show that we have natural mental as well as physical protectors that jump in when we need them, and are there until we are carefully able to dismantle as well as we can.

A life that is worth writing at all, is worth writing minutely and truthfully.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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