mundane adventures in running
I read some analysis the other day which said that what we’re facing isn’t world war three, that it’s something else. I guess the UK has been pretty constantly at war one way or another for years now, at least since 2003, so it doesn’t really make much odds anyway. War’s become a dull thing ticking along in the background, like in 1984. We’re in the future now, welcome to dystopia as science fiction’s vision becomes reality.
There’s a war against the poor, a war against immigrants. The atrocities in Paris, the drone war in Pakistan, occupation of the Palestinian territories. Then there’s the war against the planet, the continued abuse of poor people, used by the rich to satisfy their own desires. We’re all looking forward to a violent, unsure, life of servitude on an increasingly fragile Earth.
These problems, this war, this violence, this persecution they’re driven by anger, greed, hate, and a lack of compassion, empathy and understanding of other people.This isn’t wishy washy liberal relativism. Wahabism should be stopped; fascists and christian fundamentalists should be stopped. I hold no truck with their nonsense, I don’t have to respect the beliefs of hateful bigots. Still, my anger can’t be the solution to anger.
But this is my terrible confession. How do I respond to this stuff? When Michael Fallon gets a hard on for bombing Syria, I call him a cunt. When people kill innocent Parisians, I get angry. When people respond to the deaths of innocent Parisians by calling to bomb innocent Syrians in Raqqa, I feel my blood boil. When Peter Brabeck-Letmathe says water should be privatised, or Katie Hopkins calls refugees cockroaches, I don’t try to calmly understand, or even calmly respond, I don’t try to feel compassion for them, I just get angry.
My monkey brain flits around in a small sea of anger, thrashing about and splashing futilely with stupid impotent rage. what can I do about all this.. this.. horror?
It’s all so big, so daunting, so impossible to do anything about. What can I do about all this horror? Anger begets anger, so for starters, I should calm the fuck down. These problems in the world, they’re caused by anger, by greed, by hate by a lack of compassion, and how do i respond to them: with anger, hatred, with a knee jerk lack of compassion.
Calm the fuck down. Fight the monkey brain, relax and think. Hatred and anger won’t help, they’ll feed further hatred and anger and get in the way of love and compassion. It’s hard not feel angry at the world, but anger and hatred make me play the same game as Assad, Hopkins or Fallon.
I’ve thought about running as a political act before. Further I believe it can be spiritual, perhaps even moral and religious. I can leave my hatred behind at the front door. As I lace up my shoes and trot into the streets and parks of London, I don’t forget about this stuff, but I calm down. My monkey brain quietens and I get close to being an actualised human being, a real, rational, thinking animal, not something sloughing through swamps of anger.
Coolly, calmly, I can look at what’s going on. Coolly, calmly, I can think about Hopkins, about Assad, about Fallon. I can think about the world without adding to the anger. I can know that they’re wrong without making it worse, without adding my own toxic dose of bile and hatred. There’s enough of that already.
Running is not for everybody, but I think embracing spirituality is, and for spirituality, I don’t mean joss sticks or organised religion, I just mean trying to escape the monkey brain, to learn to be calm and focused. Seeking to calmly understand the world and our place in it, to shed the anger from our hearts is the way to eradicate the anger in the world. Mindfulness and enlightenment are more than £10 colouring books bought from Amazon: they are the first steps in changing ourselves, and the only way we can really start to change the world. Find your running, your mindfulness; follow the breath; embrace your £10 colouring book; enjoy your spiritually awakening changa trip bought on the dark net.
You ask what you can do to make the world a better place? get rid of your anger and hatred, embrace love and compassion. Change yourself and change the world.
(Image credit here)