This morning, Marji Marlowe gave a fireside chat for the Design Science Studio called Consent for a Better World.
She introduced us to the Wheel of Power/Privilege.
Wheel of Power/Privilege
- Skin colour
- Formal education
- Mental health
- Owns property
- Cisgender man
- Different shades
- High school education
- Some disability
- Gay men
- Some neuro-divergence
- Mostly stable
- Middle class
- Learned English
- Cisgender woman
- Elementary education
- Significant ability
- Lesbian, bi, pan, asexual
- Significant neurodivergence
- Non-English monolingual
- Trans, intersex, non-binary
Adapted from James R. Vanderwoerd’s “Web of Oppression” and others
War and Peace
This week, we have also been witness to events of violent aggression, as Russia invaded the Ukraine. This violence is obviously violating the principles of consent in the community of nations who are constantly negotiating the boundaries of their national territories.
Before these events occurred, I was reading Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thích Nhất Hạnh, and I was struck by the concept of interbeing as a perceptual framework for living in relationships of reciprocity with all of life.
“Out of our suffering, we should learn something. We need the vision of interbeing. We belong to each other. We cannot cut reality into pieces. The wellbeing of this is the wellbeing of that. So, we have to do things together. Every side is our side. There is no evil side. Veterans have experience that makes them the light at the tip of a candle, illuminating the roots of war and the way to peace.”
How can we respond to violence?
Thich Nhat Hanh responds to the question, “What should we do when a person attacks us physically?”
I have been working with Veronica Anderson, one of the members of coheART 2 of the Design Science Studio, learning about how our inner worlds and outer worlds are connected. To change the world, the transformation happens from the inside out.
As I have been exploring decisions around how best to invest in the earth and in people, I decided to invest in the work of a woman who has devoted herself to the work of sacred architecture to make a world that works for all of life.
I was raised in a culture that has been informed by the Christian tradition that my family inherited as survivors of the Taiping Rebellion in China that resulted in the genocide of millions of people.
How might we bridge the gaps, the divides, and the polarities, the many ways we have found to categorize people into separate identities?
Can Christians and Buddhists find common ground? Love is sacred and the sacred is love.
Mind the Gap
The Design Science Studio has been divided into twelve groups, or pods, of twelve people. Each pod decides on a name. Our pod is called Mind the Gap.
The gap is in the mind. The sense of separation that we feel is a perception of the self as separate from other human beings and from the earth and from the rest of the universe.
However, I do not exist apart from the other. The smaller self does not exist apart from the larger self. The Milky Way galaxy does not exist apart from the universe. The Sun does not exist apart from galaxy. The Earth does not exist apart from the Sun. The ocean, the air, and the land do not exist apart from the Earth. Humans do not exist apart from the ocean, the air, and the land. The individual does not exist apart from the family and the community and all the ancestors that came before.
The atom was thought to be indivisible. Adam was said to be made of dust. We have come to understand that the universe is itself indivisible. Everything is interconnected and interdependent.
The human experience involves both life and death. We might be so focused on a fear of death that we only perceive entropy. We might miss out on the love of life and the infinite potential of syntropy.
Be One With The Leaf
I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling.
The leaf told me, “No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive. I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So I don’t worry at all. As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, “I will see you again very soon.”
That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf.”
By finding ways to connect across the divide, we are learning to find common ground and dissolve the distance between the self and the other.