Thursday, 19 December 2013

Let yourself be the change you want to see in the world

Things are bad right now. Things are really bad.

Hands up who deeply believes the above to be true? I know, if I’m honest with myself, I do.
I read my Facebook news list and it stokes a deep rage. I share the bad news and immediately feel ashamed for contributing to the toxic negativity that is everywhere around us. But I feel helpless to do anything else. In the moment, I want to share my rage.

Here though, is what I’ve come to powerfully understand in the last few days – WE DESPERATELY NEED A NEW NARRATIVE. And more importantly we need a new way of BEING. I believe it to be our most crucial and fundamental challenge. Not the least because we can’t go on like this for the next three years. It will ruin our mental health.

Mostly though because the time has come for us to evolve to a new way of co-creating in our world. We must raise ourselves out of our victim-hood and into an understanding of our infinite potential to create.

I believe we need to release, let go and forgive. I believe we need to shake off the shackles of the old-world. It is crumbling and the time has come for us to wake to the call that this creative destruction is calling us to. The evolution of our capacity to love and abundantly create.
This work is not easy. It will require a challenge to our most deeply held beliefs about the nature of things and how the world works. In contrast, it is far easier to simply continue to believe that we are helpless victims of the world around us. That we can effect little change. That the bad-guys are out there – all powerful and cashed up – and that whatever happens from here on in is their fault.
Even within that mentality, you will find heroes. There are people out there who are even now engaging in crucial direct action – standing up for human rights, for our forests, for our arctic, for our wildlife, for a just and equitable society. And that work must continue.

But to shift from our David and Goliath battle, to a more abundant, healing process of creation will require a transformational evolution of thought. We need to evolve who we are BEING in the world. Not what we are DOING.

We are running around like chooks without heads, putting out fires, spreading ourselves thin and every small win seems to take a monstrous effort. In the process, we are creating a deep divide in our community – where otherwise normal people look monstrous and evil. All injustice starts from this point, and it’s not just the other side engaging in this kind of talk.

We need to stop bashing our heads against the wall, stop the spread of hate for a moment and ask ourselves – how can we shift from this to a more abundant, loving and healing creative process?
I deeply believe that we are being called on to evolve. And we can’t do that while we are trapped in an ‘us-and-them’ mentality, feeding our despair and rage on a steady diet of the latest outrage that the mainstream media feeds us. If you are doing this to yourself, I ask you to stop for a moment. And go into a meditation, and ask yourself – how can I be of most service to the world right now.
When I was in my twenties. I underwent something of a spiritual transformation. I wanted to discover the truth of ‘God’. The Orthodox church no longer spoke to me. I couldn’t believe in the concept of a devil. I fundamentally disagreed with the way the Devil was used to encourage or discourage behaviour. I asked myself – how can we see the face of God, when we’re always turned to the Devil.
I see that as a metaphor for where we are now in our evolution as a society.

We’re trying to create a new world according to more just, compassionate and empathetic principles and yet we are engaging with the world in anger, rage, heartbreak and despair.
To create a compassionate world, we need to BE compassionate. To create equity we need to BE equitable. To create a less judgmental, less greedy and less self-interested world we need to BE less judgmental, less greedy, less self-interested.

And we need to deeply investigate our own blocks at BEING what we claim to want to create. What are the fears that stand in our way, as individuals, to being compassionate, even to those we deeply disagree with or find morally lacking? What are the fears that stand in the way of us, as individuals, being more equitable? What are the fears and habits that stand in the way of us, as individuals, being more environmentally conscious?

So I’m going to suggest a new way of relating to things we don’t like in the world around us.
Where there is hate, spread love. Where there is fear, spread love. Where there is distrust, spread love. Where there is anger, spread love. Where there is unhappiness, spread love.
Do it daily. Make it a practice. Examine your reactions. Does something make you angry? Do something loving. Whatever it is. Be of loving service to the world. Ask yourself, what would love do now?

Angry about the way refugees are treated? Sign that petition, write that letter to the MPs but more importantly go find someone and give them love. Volunteer at a refugee centre, help the people directly around you. I guarantee, there’s someone around you that needs your compassion. Make it a point to be the source of more love in the world than you see hate around you.
Angry about the way animals are treated? Or about the forests? Get involved in direct action. But as importantly, find animals in need of care and care for them. Find forests in need of tending and protection and protect them. Not from a place of anger but a place of love.

We need to do this urgently folks. The future of our planet depends on it. Your future mental health depends on it.

Because let’s face it – today it’s the Abbott Government but tomorrow it will be something else. And unless we fundamentally challenge ourselves to evolve beyond stimulus-response we will always be one step behind. We will always be at a distance from what we want to create.
There is enough anger, battle, aggression and brutality in the world.

BE the one that fills the space with the qualities you want to create in the world. Stop reacting. Start creating. The more hatred and intolerance you find around you, the more love you should spread.
We need a revolution, and the good thing about this is – it starts inside you.

I know what I’m asking may seem incredible to some. I know anger and fury can be comfortable, protective armours with which to engage with things that seem unbelievably frightening. I even know that we’ll try and fail and try again.

But we need to put down that armour. We need to embrace our humanity and vulnerability. That’s how we change the world.

I’m calling you to arms, Shambhala Warriors. Our world is depending on us.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Transcendance in a World Full of Noise

So I’ve been on a bit of an evolutionary curve this year. I’m still not at the end of it – possibly I never will be – but as we head towards the end of it, it strikes me that 2013 in particular has a transformational year.

Several things have conspired to make this happen.

I have been on a spiritual journey of personal evolution for some time. One that has prepared the ground for the planting of some incredibly important seeds. Prompted partially by broken down relationships in my 20’s that left me wondering ‘who the hell am I’. Prompted partially by childhood baggage that I absolutely did not want to continue carrying around. Prompted partially by a sense that there was something ‘important’ and even ‘transcendent’ that I came to this planet to do, and that I needed to figure that out stat and make it so. Prompted partially by the discovery of my passion for storytelling and of a story I knew I had to evolve the capacity to tell in ‘The Magic Library’.

It brought me the age of 40, where I had finally (at long last, and after many years of struggle) begun to manifest some of the things I thought important. I finally had a sense that perhaps I had reached the tipping point where my life would go from being ‘small game’ to allowing me to play the ‘big game’ I knew I was here to play.

Then, in February, my father died – a ‘reality slap’ of epic proportions. One that shone a bright light on the role he still played in my identity and sense of self. My faith in myself and life collapsed. My sense of purpose evaporated. His death made me realise, in a way I never did when he was alive, just how fundamental he was to my sense of who I was. In short, almost everything I did was in some way defined by my relationship to my dad. Granted, in my case, it was generally in opposition to what he wanted (sorry dad), but that doesn’t make him any less a core part of the process.

You see, I had been having a ‘life debate’ with my father since I was old enough to remember talking. It was about whether life was inherently ‘good’ or inherently ‘bad’. I argued that life was inherently good – one of possibilities, one where we create the world around us and we are responsible for our reality. One where we don’t have to settle for second-best. One where the things we hate most about the world – war, greed, destruction – didn’t have to be the way things were. My dad argued the opposite – that humanity was inherently greedy and selfish. That bad things just happened. That it was every man for himself, because ultimately no one else would give a shit what happened to you – outside of your family and the ones who loved you. That I should get my head out of the clouds and deal with the world the way it was. Get a job. Get money. Be safe.

I was adamant that I would show him, using my life as the guinea pig, that he was wrong. Then he up and died on me, man. Got cancer and died before I could finish my lifes-argument. Which sort of, when you look at it, gave him the last word.  Proving to himself by dying within six months of a runaway cancer where everything went wrong, his own point. What the hell. I’ve been dealing with the irrational anger that has unlocked all year.

Simultaneous to this, Tony Abbott became Prime Minister. Some of you might be asking, well what does that have to do with anything. In the narrative of my life, it is unbelieveably pertinent. Because Abbott and the Coalition for me represent (on almost every indicator) the world view that is most to blame for what is not working on our planet today. It is a paradigm that has helped us create incredible wealth for a few people, and created a culture of self-interest and greed that has fractured communities and destroyed the biosphere. Abbott is the kind of man my dad was talking about when he said, some people are just greedy and in it for themselves. My dad disliked Abbott. He would have hated the idea of him being Prime Minister.

The worldview that men like Abbott espouse however is also – paradoxically – a world view in the process of collapse. I think there is no longer any doubt that we are in the middle of a transformational societal change. Old systems are collapsing as the world view that sustains them collides with the reality of a finite planet.

In the beginning, all I wanted to do was post article after article ranting about the terrible decisions the Coalition has made since coming into power. And I did post a few – sorry about that. I could list even now all of the unimaginably horrifying choices they have made. Some are in the paper today. Things that I know would make my like-minded friends blood boil and send us all into fits of despair on the stupidity, self-interest, greed and blindness of political conservatives and their rich corporate mates.

Then I realised – this is the Coalition. They are behaving in accordance with their world view. A world view that is limited. A world view that is wilfully blinding itself to the science and facts. A world view in the process of collapse. It may not be the last hurrah, but the last hurrah isn’t far off. Their world view cannot stand. It will not stand. Sooner or later, like all paradigms that crumble under their own unsustainable weight, the Tony Abbott’s, Murdochs, and Andrew Bolts of the world will find the ideology they’ve pinned their fragile identities to crumbling under the unstoppable weight of evolutionary and societal change. My father wasn’t entirely wrong – there are people in the world who are driven by greed and love of power. Bad things do sometimes (often) happen.  

But I was right too, and even Australia, as conservative as it is, will eventually have to face the music.

This has helped me feel less angry. But more than that – it has helped me realise just how important it is now – more than ever – for me to commit to growing my own capacity to play my ‘big game’. And every chess piece is exactly where it needs to be both on a personal and global level for this game to play out.

Perhaps I am embracing my inner Zen, but even this conservativist backlash, even my father’s death, has a role to play in this new world we’re creating. I'm trying to sit with this thought now and allow it to show me what I've been missing or not seeing while struggling against the noise.

I had something of an epiphany the other day during a meditation I was doing.  I was trying to relax and ‘transcend’ and find that sweet zone, when I realised that transcendence isn’t the absence of irritants. (Which in my case was an itchy arm, an prickly ear, a tickle on my toe, noise I couldn’t escape and a brain that wouldn’t shut up). Transcendence is the acceptance of the irritants. And as soon as I had that thought, that beautiful space opened up in my mind giving me a fleeting glimpse of the transcendence I sought.
I think life is like that. This year my dad (who I adore) died, and Tony Abbott (who I abhor) became Prime Minister of my country. I won’t play my 'big game' in spite of these things. I'll play it because of them.

Just a thought.


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Why a female Doctor?

Since the announcement of the 12th Doctor, the webs have been all aflutter with Doctor Who talk. As a Whovian, I – of course – have been following them. But the debate that seems to be holding a lot of attention at the moment is: “Why not a female Doctor this time around? And if not now – when?”
There is more than one thread on the Gallifrey Forums exploring this exact issue, and the hostile and loud ‘NO’ it raises from many quarters is as predictable as it is frustrating.

There are a lot of justifications offered for why not – and not just ‘why not now’, but ‘why not ever’. Some are based in tradition – “he’s always been male”; some in possessiveness – “make up your own female heroine if you want, the Doctor is OURS”. Others have no real justification outside of “because I don’t like the idea”. Others very overtly sexist: ‘a female Doctor would turn the series into a joke’ or a ‘female Doctor would just be a gimmick’. Proponents of a female Doctor are often accused of pushing a feminist agenda (apparently a bad thing), or trying to be politically correct. The idea of a female Doctor is greeted by a chorus of prophesising on how such a thing would be ‘catastrophic’, ‘untenable’, and the ‘ruin of the show’.
But one question above all grates for me. And that is: ‘Why do you even want a female Doctor?’
So… they asked. I answered. (No surprise).

Here is what I wrote in one of my posts:

Okay, let me break it down.
Narratively it is now established canon the The Doctor can change sexes. Can take on any face and body he likes. Up until now it's always been white, male but it's random isn't it? (Correct me if I'm wrong). He doesn't know what he'll end up with. In fact, Matt's doctor checked for an Adam's apple didn't he? So why - with that set up as a premise - wouldn't the storytellers at some point explore a different colour and gender? The question isn't why would he change to a woman. The question is why wouldn’t he? And the burden of argument is actually with those who want to keep the status quo. Examine yourselves ladies and gentlemen. I think you'll find your own prejudice is standing in the way. In-story - it is possible and ought to be explored. The why aren't we happy with a different lady Time Lord or character.... that isn't even in the circle of what we're discussing here. For me it isn't about having a female Time Lord. It is about exploring the possibilities that exist narratively within the story for the protagonist of that story. The protectionist, no-he's-ours-get-away impulses have no narrative justification.

I went further:

Let me break it down a little more.
We have been socialised as a community to identify primarily with male protagonists. Women learn from when they are girls to identify with male protagonists. Men do not have to learn this. It means that for many men, identification with a female protagonist is problematic. But what it also means is that many never learn to expand their ability to empathise with and see themselves in someone of a different gender. We are often told men don’t want to see stories about women. There is a lot of underlying misogyny and sexism in that. You can very honestly feel yourself to not be sexist and still hold this point of view. It doesn’t make it less sexist just because you don’t identify yourself as sexist.
It would show a maturity, growth and evolution for a show as iconic as Doctor Who to be able to explore a switch in gender for the main protagonist (which has been set up in-canon as narratively possible) and to do it well. Holding on to old patterns of identification is one thing. Closing yourself off completely to the possibility of having your mind opened, of even perhaps enjoying that thing you swear you’ll hate is quite another. It keeps us all trapped in old ways of looking at men and women. It keeps us trapped in old ways of looking at ourselves. A female Doctor would not only open up narrative possibilities that a male Doctor can’t, it would also provide fans of Doctor Who with an opportunity to expand and grow their minds. Why wouldn’t we embrace that? Why wouldn’t we want that? I have yet to hear a good reason (that isn’t basically indicative of personal limitations, biases, fears and hostility) for why the Doctor ought to never regenerate as a woman.  

But really it comes down to this:

It is a very rare fictional world indeed where it has been set up in-canon as narratively possible for the protagonist to be able to change genders.  Up until now the clever narrative trick has been to allow the protagonist to change faces – giving the show a longevity it would not have otherwise enjoyed. In fact, the only science fiction writer that I’m aware of who explores this kind of gender bending in her work is Ursula Le Guin (correct me if I’m wrong).
Doctor Who is one of the rare – if not the only – popular, iconic story currently on television where this gender switch (and all the story opportunities it opens up) is possible. AND it’s science fiction – a genre that allows, nay demands, brave storytelling and exploration of ‘what if’s’.
That’s story-manna-on-a-stick. It’s gift-wrapped-story-gold. Why on Earth would you not explore that? Why would you not be itching to make it happen?
If your answer is because some fans don’t like the idea of it or because some fans have personally unexamined sexist beliefs and attitudes that breed prejudice against the idea, then you shouldn’t be telling stories. Stories are places to explore, expand, challenge and invent. Stories are not places to be safe, cow-tow to the status-quo or entertain prejudice.
Steven Moffat - with the following quote - has shown he is not the man for the job:
"It's absolutely narratively possible (that the Doctor could be a woman) and when it's the right decision, maybe we'll do it. It didn't feel right to me, right now. I didn't feel enough people wanted it. Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it - and I know I'll get into trouble for saying this - were women. (They were) saying, 'No, no, don't make him a woman!'"
And his tongue-in-cheek comment about allowing the Queen to be played by a man to Helen Mirren (who said she thinks the Doctor ought to be a black woman) demonstrates that he actually doesn’t really get what gold he has in his story, despite the fact that he acknowledges it’s narratively possible. So it won’t happen while he’s at the head of the show. Nor should it. Moffat is demonstrably bad at writing layered, 3-Dimensional, complex and authentic women. His trope is his own private anima-based fantasy mix of ‘ingenue’, ‘fiesty’, ‘sexy’ and ‘dominatrix’.

Neil Gaiman provides something of a narrative justification for not making the switch this round – one I’m not sure I completely agree with. But at least he has a sound narrative reason for it.
What I am now waiting for is a showrunner (man or woman) who is canny enough and brave enough to take the story where it can and at some point will be dying to go.  As a writer, if I had created a world where a gender switch was possible, you better believe I would ride that freaking pony to the end of the road.

Frankly, they’ be idiots not to. At some point I hope the BBC and unconvinced Doctor Who fans realise that too.
Give me brave storytellers.
Just a thought.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Why you should care about climate change

Hands up how many of you felt a bit sick in the stomach, a roll of despair in the belly or just plain bored to shit just reading that title.

It’s probably going to tell you how bad shit is, yeh? And. You. Don’t. Care. Jesus! Enough! There’s nothing you can do about it anyway. You may feel – like I often do – that at this stage of the game, it’s easier to just shrug it off, read no further, go watch a cat video or download some Eddie Izzard instead.

(LOL @ Eddie Izzard. I love that guy.)

You may even be thinking, climate change. That’s not my game. It’s not for me… I’m not into that stuff.

No wait! Don’t turn away. This post is exactly for you. I wrote this for you. Really.
So don’t run away. Don’t look away. Read on. It’ll take you five minutes and it’s really important.
I promise.

In this age of daily apocalypses, I appreciate that our senses have been well and truly shot to shit with the constant barrage of Horrible Things Humans Do that make us want to shoot ourselves in the face. What with the Tony Abbotts and Alan Joneses and Andrew Bolts and Gina Rineharts and Rupert Murdochs – men and women who history will truly judge with the harshest and stickiest of brushes – it can be easy for the average punter like you and me to simply want to go have a quiet lie-down somewhere, sink ourselves into something that will distract us and be done with it all.
After all, we can’t do anything, we rationalise. This baby is a run-away train crash happening in slow motion and we can’t stop it. It’s like that time in Athens that I tripped over a deceptively flat bit of pavement on my way to Syndagma Square and fell flat on my face in a kind of slow motion, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sort of way – knowing that pretty soon I was going to scrape my palms on that pavement, and crunch my face against its ancient stones. Powerless to stop it. Yet somehow with enough time to click that it was going to happen, whatever I did. Climate change is a bit like that.

May as well go eat a Dorito sandwich or watch Game of Thrones.

No, don’t do that.

Well… DO do that (Game of Thrones IS a pretty cool show), but don’t do it just now. Make your Dorito sandwich if you must and read on.

There’s a saying that my dear old Dad used to throw at me sometimes when I was a kid (and also when I was older, much to my frustration): you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Much the same way, scientists have led us to the water when it comes to the looming dangers of climate change and the unprecedented biodiversity and species loss we now face. But – being stubborn mules, with decentralised power structures and split incentives and barriers to improvement and what not – we’ve refused to take it in on a scale large enough to do something about it. Or at least those people holding the power strings have decided their back pockets are more important than our collective well-being and made in impossibly difficult for us to react quickly enough and big enough.

Like adolescents, our politicians dither and spit, block their ears and stomp their feet, in a childish display of truly Herculean proportions. Closest to home this is best seen in the utterly irrational intransigence of the Liberal Party in Australia and Republicans of the US, but across the world a similar reaction can be seen from across the political spectrum by people who have too much privilege and too little empathy.

At its heart is a communal nurturing of the values of self-interest, greed, disconnection from spirit, and preferencing of the individual above the community. It is a state of affairs gifted to us by the Margaret Thatchers and John Howards of the world, who told us we have nothing to feel responsible for, no one to care about, and no obligation to contribute to anything other than ourselves, our back pockets and our own self-interest. Instead every prejudice is encouraged, every ignorance fostered. Modern day mainstream culture is the glorious result.

Climate change seems to be ground zero for all that is mentally unhinged in our communal value-system – from our irrational consumerism, to our broken politics. It has shone a stark and unflattering light on just how broken and insane our systems are.

Even worse, the impact our insanity is having on our planet is immense – both on a physical and spiritual level. In Antarctica the ice is melting much faster than predicted – It is warming not just from above but also (as scientists have just discovered) from below via warming oceans. Biodiversity is in critical decline and extinction rates are at a level not seen since the dinosaurs were wiped out. (That is not a joke by the way, it really is that dire). We are losing diversity not just in our wildlife but in our domestic animals too. Rates of deforestation around the world are increasingly alarming as we rip out the lungs of the Earth to feed our insanity. And everywhere people continue to make the mistake of thinking that we live in a world of disconnection – one where everyone is separate and it is each to their own. Where we can do what we like to the environment because it’s a separate thing, unconnected to us. Our dominant paradigm is a lie. It’s a lie that convinces us the economy and the environment are an either/or. That you and me are an either/ or. And if the environment wins then the economy loses. And if you win, I lose.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I know it’s a bit much. Maybe a bit too serious for this time of the day. Please don’t look away. I’m getting somewhere and this is really important. Here’s why I’m saying all of this today. Here’s why it’s important.

It is not an either/ or. We are not separate. We are all one thing and connected. That might sound a bit Star Wars or Fairy in the Sky, but it’s the essential nature of things. Science is only now beginning to understand this on a quantum level. Scientists are also now beginning to understand how interlinked nature and biodiversity are to human health and wellbeing. Where the planet goes, so we go. What happens to it, happens to us. What I do to you, I do to myself. We must understand this before it’s too late.

If we let the politicians, power brokers and media moguls numb us into insensibility and inaction; if we let them convince us that we stand alone rather than as a community; that we are just one person instead of a family of humans, that we can do nothing, when the reality is we can do much; that it’s not important, when it is; that you’re either a person who cares about that stuff, or you’re not; then we all lose and no one wins.

There are people in this world who suffer from a great insanity – an insanity of greed and self-interest that is merrily leading them to destroy the ground beneath their feet, all the while blocking their ears to the destruction they are reigning down on our heads. But in small ways or large, we are all tainted with this same insanity. We can’t escape it. It is the system in which we must try to survive. And that’s why it’s important that we don’t switch off, change channels, turn away, look away, find the next easy, soul-numbing distraction.

Instead we need to steel our guts. Find our courage. Look. Look hard. Find opportunities to laugh and rest and play. Create new stories. Challenge paradigms. But look. Don’t stop looking at the world. While we were watching the latest Masterchef, the powers-that-be took off with our crown jewels. So don’t stop looking. Don’t even blink.

(No wait. That’s Doctor Who.)

Anyway my point is, we don’t have to buy the bullshit stories and paradigms they are selling us. But we do have to be conscious.

Right now, you have in your possession a unique talent, ability or passion that can contribute good in the world. Whether you are a great writer, a performer, a comedian, an engineer, a number cruncher, a problem solver, a strategist, a family person, a good negotiator or even whether you haven’t found it yet or you think you’ve got nothing particularly special to offer… right now, you – yes, you the individual reading this - have something the world needs rather badly.

It is tempting – oh so tempting – to live just for ourselves. To think what we do, we do for us because there’s no point getting involved in anything bigger than that. Our materialistic world in fact demands this insularity from us. It does not, despite our stories, reward rebels. And often this is seen as an area you are either are into or not. Something you care about or don’t. This is not really my thing, you might be thinking. It’s for other people who are passionate about this stuff.

Well I want to challenge you on that. I don’t think that’s true. This isn’t a genre or book. It’s not a fashion trend. The well-being of our planet is as fundamental a matter as it gets. And I think we all have something to contribute to the greater good.

So whether big or small – you have a role to play. Maybe you can make people laugh. (God knows, we need a laugh). Maybe you can bring people healing or caring. Maybe you can help alleviate suffering. Maybe you can help spread the word. Maybe you can help us rewrite our communal stories – rework them into something healthier and more life-affirming. Whatever it is, it’s important. You’re important.

(Oh stop it… no really, you are… no stop. No you are. No YOU are.)

So don’t look away. Don’t turn inwards. Don’t numb yourself with distractions. Take your joy or that thing you’re good at and turn it outwards. Share it with people. Give others some reason to believe that there’s a better world we’re creating than the one that’s thrust at us every day by a colluding media. Give us something to cling to. And most important… don’t give up on the world. Don’t let the insane people win.

There are thousands of US in the world here working for good. There are more people who care than people who don’t. And we’re not going anywhere.
Change is coming. This is my invitation to you to be a part of it.

Just a thought.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Yes Virginia, I do believe in God.

WARNING: Long blog post
Okay… this is big day for me. After much thinking and deliberation, I’ve decided to come out. Yes, it is about time that I stopped hiding what those very close to me know but few (if anyone) knows in its entirety. Yes it’s time to come out as a … gulp… spiritual person.
Brace yourselves my beloved friends and readers because…  I…  believe… in God.
(Peeks out)
Still with me?
I don’t mean the Christian dogmatic God of coming apocalypses, hell-fire speeches, long white beard and big white hands type God. Nor Heaven of paved gold, mountains of hell fire God.
Actually, it’s more akin to the Buddhist or Shamanic tradition of a great unified spirit. And the Gnostic tradition of God is us and we are God. It’s a big word and a cumbersome one, because it comes with so much baggage and so much history that it is almost impossible to say to someone, “Yes, I believe in God” and not have them immediately judge you as an idiot or associate you with a hundred things that have nothing to do with what you actually think. Or simply look at you like they’re trying to understand why two great big ugly horns just grew out of the side of your head. Because quite often the opinion that you’re faced with in return is ‘well, there is no God… no life after death so you can believe whatever silliness you want (you suddenly crazy person that I had mistaken for normal), but that’s just about the beginning and end of it’.
It’s tempting when faced with that type of reaction to water my own opinion down – explaining it into meaninglessness in a sort of half-mumbled, wary embarrassment. Trying to use language that won’t offend or find common ground to build bridges and open minds. Well, I’m not going to do that here. I’m going to say it unambiguously: I believe in God.
Only kidding. Pull up a chair.
Let me go further to clarify because it actually does just come down to this – I believe that life continues in some form after death. Yes, I think we are more than just a biological machine. I think there is a larger, more essential part of us that exists, that we can tap into in life and that continues after our transition through death. I believe in spirit guides. I believe in guardian angels – or at least in those helpful universal energies that we give names to (whatever they may be) who are accessible at the edge of our consciousness and provide answers I could never provide for myself when I sit still long enough to listen. In my time as a Reiki practitioner (there’s another thing some of you didn’t know about me), I have experienced lots of those moments.
Recently someone said “It’s funny how people who don’t believe in Santa Claus can still believe in God”.  I understand why a belief in God would look the same as a belief in Santa when looked at from a certain point of view. Santa Claus is a big imaginary white man with a beard. God is a big imaginary white man with a beard. Both make as much sense viewed through a certain prism. How can rational people not believe in one and then believe in the other?
A lot of the  people nearest and dearest to me are atheists, so I understand this point of view. They are wonderful, awesome people and I have no problem with them believing differently to me. The problem comes when it’s assumed that I agree (not by them necessarily, but by others).
It can also be problematic when it becomes challenging and scary just to come out and say: “hey… I’m spiritual, I believe there’s something more out there, I think differently about this.”
That’s why it’s coming out day. No more hiding behind my atheist friends. No more avoidance of the topic on my blog or talking about things in round-about ways. No more half-embarrassed mumbles or simply avoiding speaking my truth.
I, Vicki Kyriakakis being a generally bright person, in full possession of my faculties, with a lot of innate wisdom and a functioning, rational mind do hereby declare myself to be spiritual.
(Phew…. That was something. Think I need a drink.)
Now here’s the thing, trying to talk about this stuff always ends up feeling like you’re about to walk into a linguistic trap of your own making. It’s a little like the mistake some atheists make when they compare belief in God to belief in a Big Flying Spaghetti Monster – thereby trying to draw attention to the ridiculousness of both. I assert that this is a false equivalence. Deep and honest spirituality has really nothing in common with big flying spaghetti monsters. It might make some feel superior about themselves and be a quick way to make fun of the God-botherers, but the comparison is faulty. Let me explain a bit more.
Chris’s son recently asked me if I was religious. I said no. But I am spiritual. He wondered what the difference was. Great question. Super impressive question from an 8 year old. And there is in fact a  difference – quite a big one.
My answer to him was that religion, for me, was about dogma – a set of beliefs and rules as determined by someone else (often restrictive and dated). Whereas spirituality was a lot more personal and more about how you turn up in the world. (My take).
Frankly, the  restrictive dogma that defines a lot of religions is not for me and has always grated. Spirituality, as I experience it, is much more about grounded, personal, connected  truth. It is more about connection, growth and health and less about a list of things I need to fall in line with or set of things I might believe. (It’s also the reason, by the way, that I’m pretty wary of a lot of New Age mythology and its Atlantis, Lemurian, Pleiadian believing dogma).
I should also clarify that I don’t write this to open up a can of worms. I’m not really out to convince anyone else to believe as I do. Nor am I interested in justifying myself to anybody’s satisfaction. I don’t think it’s a subject that can be easily discussed intellectually, actually. And that’s not because it’s a matter of faith rather than science.
It’s because spirituality is HEART work. Not HEAD work.
We try to understand and prove/ disprove it with our heads and words and language when it largely doesn’t exist in that realm at all.
Creativity and Education guru Ken Robinson puts it beautifully in his famous TED talk:
“As children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side. If you were to visit education, as an alien, and say “What’s it for, public education?” I think you’d have to conclude… the whole purpose of public education… is to produce university professors. Isn’t it? … But they’re rather curious, and I say this out of affection for them. There’s something curious about professors in my experience – not all of them, but typically – they live in their heads. They live up there, and slightly to one side. They’re disembodied, you know, in a kind of literal way. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads, don’t they? It’s a way of getting their heads to meetings…”
Now I don’t quote this to suggest that Ken Robinson is spiritual. I have no idea if he is or not. Or that university professors are all essentially dead from the neck down. I know a lot of them, and all the ones I happen to know are awesome.
I quote this because he hits on a problem that isn’t unique to university professors but to mainstream culture at large. And that is, that it is the cultural norm to approach everything with the head (and slightly to one side) and to devalue wisdom that comes from other sources.
That’s not to devalue the intellect by the way. Our intellects have gifted us with amazing things. But for me, that’s not where the answers for spirituality lie. The answer to the question of ‘Is there a God’ comes in moments of creativity, of body work, of breath work, of meditation, of stillness and no-thought, of mindfulness, of connection, of nature. The answer is there for me. And for me that answer is always ‘Yes’.
(If you want to listen to that extraordinary talk by the way, I can’t recommend it highly enough:
As a culture, I think we’ve reduced ourselves to being mostly heads, using our bodies to get our heads from one place to another. We think everything can be understood or experienced from this narrow prism. I don’t think it can.  A big part of why meditation is so successful in improving health is because it shuts up that part of you that chatters ceaselessly, that part of you that you think is actually you but isn’t, for just long enough that something else can find space to breath, connect and discover new perspectives.
It’s a big part of the reason why (for me) people like Richard Dawkins will always get it wrong when it comes to answering the question “why are people religious or spiritual”. What I’ve read of his work (and granted, I haven’t read much as he grates)… but what I’ve read seems to put forward a fairly limited perspective on a journey that he has never taken, steps he has never climbed and a way of being that he has never personally opened himself up to, tried or experienced.
So I’ll state it again, for me: spirituality is HEART work. Not HEAD work.
By all means, connect with your own heart and go on an experiential journey of your own. Discover what resonates as true to you. Use language that works. I don’t think you don’t have to believe in life after death to benefit from a health spiritual life.  A sense of wonderment is really all that is required and a commitment to go where connection with whatever you think that thing is that I call ‘spirit’ takes you, and that’s available to anyone. That is also what I mean by spirituality is not religion.
But where you won’t find it is in a lab. It’s not something we can put under a microscope and pull apart into pieces and say, yes, here is how it works… we have the physical evidence now. We cannot prove or disprove it by experimenting with it under laboratory conditions. Some would say that is evidence that it’s all in our minds. I would say that it’s only accessible when you empty your mind, put aside all you think you ‘know’ about what life is and how it works and what is possible and impossible, and simply open up to BE. Amazing, unexpected and incredible perspectives and experiences are available in that space.
Spirit for me is about connection to life. And life never ends, but merely changes form. I have personally found nothing in the mechanistic way of looking at life that helps me meet life’s emotional challenges, be the best person I can be, take responsibility for myself, challenge my own perspectives, create healthier beliefs, manifest the life and love I want, uncover my inner truths, or discover my inner wisdom. All things which have brought incredible richness to my life that I would be much the poorer for lacking.
People like Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins have at different times put spiritual belief down to a weakness of the human mind. A reaction that is born from the horror of facing the fact that one day we might cease to be.
My dad died earlier this year, so I know this horror intimately. And yes, it’s something that is hard to deal with. But for me spirituality was not born from that. Nor have I rediscovered it out of that horror. The spiritual path is not the path of a coward.
On that contrary, a spiritual journey takes true courage, the willingness to meet challenges head on, the fortitude to look deep into the truth of yourself and face all inner demons with eyes wide open. It promises incredible growth but also more than one dark night of the soul.
It’s also been a fact in my life that some of the most inspiring, optimistic, healthiest and happiest people I’ve met in the world have all been spiritual teachers. In fact, there is so much richness in their teaching – so much wisdom – that I wish the benefits of that wisdom were available to everyone regardless of their beliefs. The fact that so many are shut off from it through a belief that ‘I don’t believe in God’ or ‘those people don’t have anything valuable to say to me’ is truly a sad thing.
The mechanistic world view gives me nothing to compare to that.
Our insistence since the advent of the Industrial Revolution of viewing everything as merely a sum of its parts, and ourselves as separate from each other, and nothing as connected has not led us to a happier, healthier world. It has created, in my opinion, a dysfunctional paradigm that is threatening everything around us – even the planet we live on. Only now are scientists starting to question that paradigm – and the evidence is starting to amass in quantum physics, the medical field, sustainability and more.
(By the way I’m not suggesting the latest science ‘proves’ God… only that it has challenged profoundly the idea of our separateness, and proves that we are more deeply and intricately connected that we have thus far allowed ourselves to acknowledge).
So on this other stuff about life after death and angels and things…. what if I’m wrong – what if at the end of my life, I simply finish and no part of ‘me’ exists. Well – for one thing, I won’t be anywhere where anyone can go ‘na-narni-na-na’. But in the meantime, I find a richness and a way of being in the world that truly brings out the absolute best in me, and a way of looking at the world that life continuously affirms for me as true.
So I would ask therefore before anyone poses the question: “How could you believe in God?” or makes the assumption that spirituality = irrationality, consider that it is about far, far more than that single, limiting question.
Yes Virginia, I do believe in God. And I believe God is life. Like literally – life. And life is us. And we are, in the most fundamental  way, all one. (Use the Force Luke). And what I do to someone else, I do to myself. Because you are me and I am you and all life is connected. And life doesn’t end. It merely changes. And whatever I change into at the end of all of this – whoever happens to be right about the question of what happens after we die - surely that’s pretty much moot point as long as we’ve lived our lives well?
Why waste time arguing, when we can share wisdom, exchange life views, delight in difference and revel in the fact that on a quantum level, you and me and all of us are all part of one big, undifferentiated, undivided primordial soup.
Viva la quantum particles!
Just a thought.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A very special blog post

I wrote this some months ago in January of this year. This post was written exactly 8 days before my dad passed away from cancer. At the time, I had neither the heart nor courage to share it. And it is still, very honestly, incredibly hard for me to post this. Reading it now brings all the emotions back with the added poignancy that he is no longer with us.

However, grief buried is grief that can wreak havok on the human heart. So here it is.

Some day I may even be able to write about that last week and the days since.
Until then...


This is a very special blog post.
It’s January 2013, and my dad is dying.
My dad… is dying.
That’s a really strange sentence to write. In a way,  my brain still hasn’t caught up with the reality of what my family is now facing. I find myself confused, distressed, disbelieving. My thoughts run one way in one moment only to run the exact opposite a second later.
But that’s the reality of my today. Today, 30 January 2013, my dad is dying. He’s 72 years of age, and he probably won’t make it to his 73 birthday on 21 March. With terminal cancer that has spread like wildfire, he doesn’t have very long. His dearest wish now is that it happens as quickly and painlessly as possible. And now, for my sister, mum and I, that has become our biggest priority. To help dad die quickly, painlessly as possible, and with as much dignity as we can muster up for him.
It’s funny how things sharpen to a point at times like these. When a loved one is dying, suddenly time is all you have. Every moment, every second becomes infinitely precious. There’s no racing through the days. No wishing tomorrow would come. Right now, right here, that’s all that’s important. Right now, right here, I can still hug him and feel his warm back beneath my hands. Right now, right here, I can still put an arm around his shoulders and give him a kiss on the head. Right now, right here, I can still hold his hand and tell him I love him. Right now, right here… that’s all we have left. Maybe that’s all we ever really have.
My other priority, in all of this, is to not look away. If my loved one is going to face this, I will face it with him, holding his hand, telling him I love him and helping his spirit on to the other side.
(It’s funny – because I had always thought that he would be the one holding my hand, walking me down the aisle, handing me over to my husband-to-be. That’s not going to happen now. When I get married, Baba won’t be there in physical form. Instead, I will be there for him. And maybe that’s also the way it was meant to be. )
My dad and I haven’t had a very easy relationship over the years. He was a strict parent, and I was never backwards about telling him what I thought. It made things volatile and hurtful between us. But in the last ten years or so, we have both made steps to heal the rift and find resolution. It has meant that now, in this time, we are not busy mending fences. Those were mended years ago. Now we are busy telling each other ‘I love you’. I’ve been able to express regret for things I wish had been different and have him acknowledge and share that moment with me. I’ve been able to connect with him and share a loving space with him. I am so grateful for that.
My dad isn’t some famous Australian. He doesn’t have world-breaking achievements under his sleeve. He won’t be missed by anyone except those of us who know and love him. The PM won’t stop to make a speech about him. He’s just a family man. Someone who worked hard at a pizza bar for years to put his daughters through school and send them to Uni. That’s it. But isn’t that more than enough? Isn’t that really amazing?  
I don’t know how I’ll face the coming days and weeks. I don’t know what to expect from that final moment. I believe (through some personal experiences) that his spirit will survive, and I don’t know how to talk to him about that. I feel I have some spiritual gifts that can help him at this time, and I don’t know how to share them. There’s a lot I don’t know.
I do know: I love my dad. And I will always love him. Now and for always. I am lucky I get to tell him that many times I hope before he passes on.
I wish for you all LOVE, for today and for always. That’s all that’s really important anyway. Really. It is. Let’s not wait until it’s almost too late to realise that and live by that universal truth.

Monday, 10 December 2012

No easy answers on nurse's suicide

I was going to write a different blog post today, but this issue has been on my mind a lot in the last few days – so I’m having thinky thoughts instead about suicide, and about our communal failure to talk about the real issues.

Apology ahead of time – this is a complex issue, and my thoughts on it don’t easily fit in a small post, so this post is LONG. Possibly the longest I’ve ever written. You may disagree with some or all of the below. I don't mind and welcome comments.
 But please keep it respectful. :) Any comments that get personal, or focus on attacking people rather than addressing the content of the issue will be deleted.

(Possible trigger WARNING. If you are feeling depressed, please reach out! You are not alone. ♥ Lifeline: 131 114. Also, if you have had experience with a loved one committing suicide – you may want to reconsider reading the post below. Take care of yourself. My thoughts and love are with you.) 

Right now, across Twitter and in the mainstream press in the UK and elsewhere there is a lot of (I’m sure genuinely felt) disgust, vitriol, outrage, anger, and unhappiness being directed at two young disc jockeys employed at 2Day FM.

These two DJs (on instruction) made a prank call to the hospital that Kate Middleton was staying at pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles wanting to talk to their grand/daughter-in-law. I’ve read the transcript of the prank call and it was pretty stupid and thoughtless.

Okay – right off the cuff, let me be even more specific. I think most prank calls are stupid. They are adolescent and almost never consider the mental state or wellbeing of the people being pranked. They are fun for the people conducting the prank, and perhaps for some listeners, but only in a ‘aren’t I cool’ kind of way. They are insensitive and almost always lack empathy for the people being pranked. They are also wide-spread practice on radio stations around the world and audiences love them.

Having heard the interview with the DJs on ACA last night, I was struck by their naivety and lack of forethought. They were visibly shocked and devastated. But as equally clueless about the possible emotional ramifications for the people they connected with on the other end. They expected to be hung up on. That was it. They thought they were making fools of themselves. They didn’t intend it to be a joke on the nurses. They hadn’t connected the dots on the effect being fooled would have on the nurses.

This lack of empathy and wisdom is in my opinion largely cultural – both for that radio station but also the mainstream media and society as a whole. These DJs are a product of our system.
Does this make it okay – no – but as stupid pranks go this one was as innocuous as they probably get. Put on some silly accents and ring a hospital. Guaranteed that neither DJ expected to get beyond the person who picked up the phone. It wasn’t a personal attack. It wasn’t sustained harassment. It wasn’t sexual. It wasn’t abusive. It was stupid.

Most people – including Prince Charles – were until last week either laughing about it or calling for the two nurses to lose their jobs. Yes – the biggest outrage being expressed last week was by people calling for these two innocent women who fell for a prank to be disciplined and to lose their jobs. And perhaps the UK rags were also feeling a bit put out that these two ‘colonials’ had gotten information that they hadn’t been able to get yet.

Well may you ask why we should bloody care about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy dramas, but in our celeb-worshipping culture many do. And most of them – outside of the hospital itself - last week were calling for the heads not of the pranksters but of the women who fell for it.

Jump to a week later, and one of those women has apparently committed suicide. (Not confirmed yet by the way – perhaps she took sleeping pills and accidentally overdosed? The autopsy report hasn’t been released yet. We have no idea how she died). So the outrage this week is about the DJs having ‘blood on their hands’… and calling for them to be ‘permanently unemployed’ or ‘jailed’ or ‘shot’ or ‘hung’ or ‘strung up’. People want them humiliated. The faceless jokers who call themselves ‘Anonymous’ have proclaimed themselves judge and jury and judged them guilty of murder.
I understand the outrage. It is a horrible and tragic thing. But the over-the-top reaction makes me feel lost in the face of societal anger, hatred and lack of wisdom.

If this poor woman did commit suicide, we will never fully know why. Did this prank have something to do with it – very probably. Was it the prank itself or the outraged/ incredulous reactions of the hospital or celeb-hypnotised masses that contributed to her stress? I’m going to place my vote with the latter.

But you know – the truth is – this is a complex issue and as much as we want to be able to grasp onto simple explanations and find someone to blame, that simple explanation just doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion. And no – we can’t have this conversation in 140 characters on Twitter. It takes a lot more words. And a lot more compassion. And a lot more wisdom and thought.

Which brings me to my next point. Suicide.

(If this issue is a personal one for you, I would lovingly suggest you may not want to read further).


Suicide is a terrible thing. It is – in my compassionate opinion – a tragic act committed by people who are so deep in the bowels of despair and depression that they are not able to fathom the ways in which their act will hurt and devastate the ones they love. I’m not placing blame here by the way – I understand very well the depths of despair that an individual must feel to think they have no other way out. Many even believe that their loved ones will be better off. They are in a seemingly never-ending spiral of despair and unhappiness for which only one end makes sense. It is a terrible place to be in (for some it is clinical) and those people deserve our help and compassion. But that doesn’t change the devastating effect it has on family and friends. It burdens surviving loved ones with an intolerably painful legacy. All of the grief that people feel when losing a loved one is magnified and complicated when a loved one suicides. Most people feel incredibly guilty – could I have helped? Did I miss the signs? How could I not have known? What if? What if?

So yes – let’s talk about suicide. Let’s talk about both the causes of it and the repercussions. Let’s help both those who are feeling suicidal and the families and survivors of people who have committed suicide. Survivors have to deal with oceans of guilt over these very types of issues we’re grappling with here. Mostly they don’t get the easy answers. Suicide is an act of violence on the self that ripples out and hits everyone associated with that person.

But let’s not kid ourselves here – we don’t get a ‘get out of jail free card’ on an issue like this. We don’t get to blame this suicide on two clueless DJs (who cannot have conceivably imagined that this stupid prank would end in this way) and thereby avoid having to talk about all the many cultural and personal contributing factors that would lead to such an act. We bear some collective responsibility for this through our celebrity obsessions, rancid media, cultural shaming and much more besides.

Some questions we could be asking ourselves (that could help us learn and grow from this) but aren’t, include

- How and why do we as a society make it hard for people to admit they’re ‘not coping’?
- Why do we make ‘failure’ and ‘mistakes’ such a big deal?
- What is the nature of ‘shame’ and how do we unravel it?
- Why are we fixated on celebrities and royalty to the extent that this nurse would have felt her life wasn’t worth living simply because she accidentally put through a false call?
- Are our nurses, carers and those in the helping professions sufficiently supported in the very difficult and stressful jobs they face?
- Why are we so hard on each other? So mean? So judgemental? So quick to anger? What are we hiding/ running from/ projecting away onto others? What would happen if we were to face it instead?
- Why does it take a tragedy like this for people’s hearts to be opened? Why do we close our hearts for the most part? How can we support each other to be more compassionate?
- How can we better understand suicidal depression and what can we do to help those suffering from it?
- What can we do to wean ourselves off our societal addiction to drama, negativity, the 24 hour news cycle, and meaningless gossip?
- And yes, should pranks be done away with or at the very least, better regulated? What is the appropriate level of responsibility for radio station who pull pranks?

Questions. So many helpful, useful questions that we could ask.

So – lets blame the DJs instead. Better that than take communal responsibility for our general insensitivity, for our success-obsessed culture which makes failure of any sort shameful, and for our celebrity obsessions. Just last week people were pouring over every detail of Kate Middleton’s pregnancy… juicy, juicy, juicy. Kate Middleton. Royals. Ooo err. Climate change? Whatevs. Royal pregnancy and morning sickness – now there’s a story. New Ideas and Woman’s Days were flying off the shelf. Give us more. Give us more. The prank made us laugh. We re-tweeted the shit out of that sucker. Details of her morning sickness were poured over.

So what are we really horrified over? Are we horrified at the two DJs – really? They pulled a bog-standard prank – the type of prank that is conducted by radio stations the world over. They asked the questions that every media outlet would have given their teeth to get the answers to, to satisfy a hungry horde. If the Daily Mail or the Sun or any of the other sanctimonious British tabloids making money out of leading the ‘outraged’ charge against the Aussie DJs could have gotten access to those answers from Kate’s nurses, they would have printed them in a blind second.

Or are we really horrified instead at our own societal psychopathy – a psychopathy that places importance on unimportant things and then laments when someone falls under the wheels of it. A psychopathy that enjoys the pranks and making fun of people and public humiliation, until something goes horribly wrong. Didn’t many people laugh at this prank last week? Didn’t many think it was a bit of harmless fun? Didn’t it go viral? Don’t many of us eat up that New Idea/ Woman’s Day garbage about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy, and how fat Kirstie Alley is now, and whether Rihanna will go back to her abusive ex-boyfriend?

Think about what this hard-working nurse potentially killed herself over. A prank that led to some information being released about some lady’s morning sickness. Is it just me or does this seem shamefully meaningless? Doesn’t it make you want to weep?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that out of everything that could have contributed to this poor woman’s state of mind – the prank call itself was not the worst or even probably the biggest contributing factor. Yes, had it never happened – she could possibly still be here. But here’s another ‘IF’… if we didn’t care as much about royalty or celebrities, if the press didn’t make as big a deal out of the whole thing, if the press hadn’t hounded her, if she personally hadn’t felt humiliated over it and instead had been able to laugh it off, if the hospital had supported them unconditionally and gotten them the emotional support they needed, hell – if the hospital had even put in place the proper and obvious protocols around answering calls to do with the Duchess … if, if, if… she would also possibly still be here.

(You know what IS foreseeable? Prank calls to get information on royal pregnancies.)

If we’re talking contributing factors to scapegoat – there’s a hell of a lot of room there to share the ‘blame’… if blame is the game you want to play with this. And I guess my point here is I don’t think we should.

Let me be even more specific here – someone else, someone who wasn’t Jacintha Saldahna, may not have committed suicide over this. After all – the nurse who gave away the information, and easily made the bigger mistake, has as far as I know not harmed herself as a result. So there was something personal for Jacintha that caused this ‘humiliation’ to feel so extreme and so terrible that she could see no other way out for herself. Her personal head-space and the cultural meaning she associated to the act was as much if not more of a contributing factor to her suicide than anything else. Can we take communal responsibility for that? Should we take communal responsibility for that? A bit. A lot. I don’t have any easy answers. (Also my point).

The two DJs and their radio station ARE guilty – they’re guilty of failure to imagine that the person on the other side of the line has a different emotional reality, set of values, set of stressers, physical preconditions, and whole life going on. But that’s hardly unique. In fact, I’d say it’s at fucking epidemic levels. It is a problem that is wide-spread and largely facilitated, supported and tolerated by the masses. (And being demonstrated so aptly at the moment by the ‘outrage’ brigade).

Where does scapegoating end and communal or even personal responsibility begin? What do we learn by projecting our societal madness onto two people? And what is the logical end-point of seeking to find someone to blame, thereby avoiding the complexity of the issue?

The media collectively shamed this poor woman because we the people think Kate Middleton’s pregnancy is so bloody important in the scheme of things happening in the world today that it was nigh on horrific that her privacy had been breached – and that was a story that would sell. We also possibly humiliated her by going on about how ‘unbelievable’ it was that she fell for it and by shaming her for being so ‘stupid’ and making the mistake. And then when she apparently commits suicide from despair and humiliation (again – not certain, only postulated), we can’t cope with what that says about us as a society – so instead of having the conversation we could be having, we project our collective guilt onto the two people instead. Much easier. And mostly missing the irony of being abusive and horrible to two strangers for something we considered abusive and horrible.

Today a family is grieving and asking themselves ‘what if’ and ‘why’. They may never have the answers. We certainly never will. In the manner of many suicides, we probably won’t ever know what was going on in the mind of someone who felt so at the end of their tether that ending their pain was the only thing they could think about. Beyond family and loved ones. Beyond anything.

Our focus should be on doing whatever it takes to make her family’s journey easier. Not on spewing out even more negativity, hatred and vitriol. Lending the inner blackness of our rampant human and societal egos to an ever dissolving public discourse.

A tragedy happened here. Let’s treat it with the reverence, wisdom and compassion it deserves.

Just a thought.

PS. So much more to say… so much already said. I may also do a blog post some time about the phenomena of projecting personal grief onto a stranger’s death. But that’ll do for now. If you’re after a good read on this issue, Bernard Keane breaks it down well in Crikey: