World Conflict – Can We Have Freedom of Expression?

right-versus-wrong-conflict-cartoon

Many may say that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket right now and they could be right, but after talking about ‘Why Conflict Is Necessary’ in my last blog post, I had so much more I wanted to explore on how do we as humans have our freedom to express our thoughts, opinions and ideas when in a climate where there is so much heat around racism, prejudice, judgements and hate, how do we know that we are expressing from the best place, a place of awareness and not from fear or inner conflict?

Many Are on the Defence or Attack

Unfortunately, it is when the leaders of our countries publicly attack other countries, minority groups and different segments of society that we really get into trouble as a species. I was always taught that words are powerful. We must always be responsible for the words we speak or convey because we can be the difference between healing or hurting others. A simple word can plant seeds of love or hate in those listening.

With the increase in narcissism in world leaders, the need for power, the need for fame, the need for attention growing because of low self-esteem, many are misusing their ability to speak to the world. If leaders lead from the ego, they allow their followers to express from the ego too. And the ego tends to speak from a place of fear – not love.

The ego needs to control, whereas when speaking from a wiser place, self-expression is more considered and there is more awareness of the bigger picture, not simply the little patch of the world we may live in personally.

The way our leaders are expressing is giving more and more people permission to express without restraint, to express without consideration or understanding of the power the word has and in so doing fuelling further conflict in a vicious cycle where an eye for an eye just keeps on killing.

I am not a religious person, but I always remember the Bible message, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ and so I feel that what we do express has incredible power.

The power to express is both necessary and needed, because so many have been ostracised or held back from having the right to have a voice, but like anything that happens in the world, everything comes in cycles (as my good friend Michael tells me often).

We had mass repression of the voice, repression of women’s right to express, repression of non-whites’ right to express, the repression of gays, lesbians, trans-gender’s right to express … the list goes on…. But beyond this repression the loudest voices were not always the wisest voices, and this is simply increasing now because the cycle is changing, and every cycle comes to an end eventually and a new cycle starts.

As my friend Michael said in my last post, this cycle may lead to dictatorship, under the guise of keeping the people of the world safe, but every dictator through history has fallen. As a species we are yet to learn from our mistakes of the past.

This new cycle comes in when we begin to make changes to how we express who we are. Not just in the political arena, religious arena, gender or sexual preference arena… but all arenas.

Social Media both Empowers and Hurts

Facebook-eyes-social-media-conflict

Social media has a huge part to play in this, from bringing awareness to what is happening in the real-time, BUT also in allowing the instant knee-jerk reaction in words to other human beings.

Yes, we are allowed a freedom of expression as human beings, but this does not mean the freedom to hurt, harm and injure through the voice, words or the gun.

And to seriously own up to the fact that most of us have used our words at one time or another to judge, to attack or to blame another person. Sometimes done very sloppily or in a more obvious way. Sometimes in a manipulative backhanded way and sometimes we judge others through spiritually using passive aggressiveness, which I will go into more later.

A Fragmenting Society Is Necessary

The views we express on social media are read by friends and family and so if our views do not match those of our close family, this can cause friction and even the dissolution of family groups. The current voices shouting the loudest are fragmenting a whole society, BUT this also says a lot about our society, that we can be broken apart so easily by simply voicing our thoughts and ideas.

It has both a positive and negative purpose. We see where we match others in terms of morals, ideas and worldviews and we see where we are in complete opposition to others. We can choose to find a middle ground of balance where we can be civil and continue our relationships with friends or family and decide whether this current ground of discontent is bringing out the extreme in some, so that change is no longer possible.

And as we get very clear about where we stand, we can look at the growing segmentation taking place as an inner healing happening to all. Whether they want it or not – it is happening.

The key here is to recognise that this fragmentation, this polarisation, was going to happen either way, because when a society has outgrown its old thinking or regimen, the new cannot come in without the crumbling of the old taking place.

This crumbling is coming in the form of polarisation, of extremism, of conflict and there is nothing we can do about it until the change has fully integrated. Those who have very strong voices either way, on either side of any issue, do not want their beliefs questioned and they do not want to find a middle ground between the extremes.  The shadow side of humanity has been repressed for so long that now through self-expression, it is being voiced and revealed so that it can be healed.

What Inner Healing Is Happening?

What is happening is we are beginning to clear out the old beliefs and ways that no longer fit us. They may have worked in the past and we may have simply held on to old patterns because we were afraid to let the new in.  

Many people will hold on to the old, because it is known, because it may feel safer. For example, the resistance to guns being banned in the USA when there is a huge amount of evidence to show that countries which have banned guns have a massive drop in gun death and injury, shows that there is fear there.

Woman hiding

No human being holds onto something more tightly than if they fear what not having that thing, gun, person, belief (insert here whatever you feel it is) will do. It is all about fear. It’s not about feeling safe, or protecting the people, it’s about fear of the unknown and what that could mean. And frightened people, unfortunately, are far easier to control than people who are awake and aware.

When I see a gun in a UK airport (which is mainly where you see them with security there), I feel fear. We are not used to guns in this country. I walk down the road, do my shopping, I feel safe. Now if everyone suddenly started bearing arms in the UK, I would be afraid, because I would be thinking, ‘What if my neighbour has too much to drink or gets out on the wrong side of the bed one day and decides to go on a shooting rampage?’ This is not feeling safe. Feeling safe is a society not needing to protect itself from its fellow citizens, but that’s a whole other topic.

And this is not just about guns, you could be a millionaire holding on to your money so tightly that you are not generous with it. You could be fearing losing it and be far poorer than the man or woman next to you who has very little money and yet does not fear losing it.

When we fear losing our belief, a gun, money, status, power… the ego will do anything it can to express why you need to keep it. This is where it’s so important to ask what am I holding onto here? What am I resisting letting go of? Why am I so loud in my need to keep it right now?

The shadow can be very sneaky, but it can also be very revealing. We can choose to let the shadow unconsciously drive our self-expression or we can question how we express ourselves to the world.

Do You Know More Than The ‘Other’ Person?

human perception reacting versus responding

Many times in my life, I have felt justified to judge, to blame, to even condemn another person because of what I’ve perceived about them. I have been guilty of reading the news, watching the media and believing that if someone has the opposite opinion to that news that they are very wrong. Sometimes I knee-jerked a response back at them in an attacking way, other times in a manipulative way and like anything we can also do this through passive-aggressiveness and a ‘holier than thou’ approach to communication.

How much do you know about the person (or country/ group) you may be attacking or judging right now? When in your life have you been in their shoes, living their exact life, thinking how they think, being brought up in their culture or family or origin? Do you have the exact conditioning that makes up their own belief systems and morals? I would say the answer is that you don’t know very much. You only know what you read or think you read or perceive or hear.

Passive Aggressiveness

Passive aggressiveness can be just as dangerous as honest outright bluntness when we express ourselves. There is something about passive aggressiveness that is icky, it leaves a sticky residue in my gut when someone does it to me. It can come in the guise of someone wanting to impart their life wisdom in response to something you said (where more often than not you didn’t ask for opinions, thoughts or anything from anyone) where the response says more about what they want than what you need right now.

I’ve received some obvious passive aggressiveness recently where someone didn’t like my view of our new Prime Minister and basically under the guise of ‘love and light’ told me and all my friends to shut up, ‘If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. A good way to be rude without ‘appearing’ to be.

And I have also had a lot of less obvious passive aggressiveness and spiritual gas-lighting. This is where you express who you are and the person feels they have far more understanding of you, than you do of you. They have already psycho-analysed the situation and put you in a tidy box of what is happening and they follow it with life instructions on what you need to do followed by something like ‘Have a nice day!’

While they may think they mean well, it’s another way we use our freedom of expression in a manipulative way. And I for one have also done this in my past, I have been passively aggressive too and this is why when another does it to me I recoil inside.

Responding versus Re-acting

For a very long time, I re-acted to passive aggressiveness. I would block the person who did this frequently or I would tell them I did not want their views or opinions, because quite frankly I never asked for it, but this was also coming from an ego place in me. I was doing this out of a ‘How dare you, I will show you!’ stance. I wanted to make them wrong thereby making me right.

This past week I have started to change my knee-jerk re-acting and have started to look objectively at both passive aggressiveness and obvious judgements and attacks. The biggest thing for me was recognising my right to have a voice and more importantly that I do not have to justify my voice or words. Providing I know where I am coming from and feel it’s right for me to speak, I trust my voice.

We never have to justify who we are, but If we made a mistake and are voicing something where we did not have all the information or which we understand differently, we can then own that, we can admit to it and make peace with this human mistake.

And if others choose to share unwarranted, unwanted opinions, advice, guidance or criticism we can choose to respond instead of re-act. We didn’t ask for this, so we don’t even need to respond at all. This has been a long lesson for me; this is new to me to know that I don’t have to justify myself anymore (or ever).

So if you see or hear someone aggressively or angrily shouting about something they strongly believe in, someone who really is not going to budge on that belief, ask yourself if you are wanting to say something to them because you really need to or is it because you want to prove them wrong, and if you try, will this make them feel proved wrong or simply justify and perpetuate and make more rigid the beliefs they already have?

And let’s not forget from their perspective they are right.

And from your perspective you are right.

Let’s Stop Fighting Against – Ourselves

Maybe saying nothing and making peace within is the only place we can bring about a balance here. Maybe world conflict needs us to stop fighting against ourselves.

This is how I am starting to understand it more. It feels more freeing than fighting all the time, but this does not mean we stop standing up and being counted, it means we express what we need to, but not to justify it if it feels deeply a truth in our heart.

What do you think?

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Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin is the author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ , a passionate writer and blogger questioning life’s illusions. After what seemed like a decade of intense anxiety, feelings of failure and grief from the loss of her father she chose to take a mindfulness path and has not looked back since. Kelly encourages people to find the treasures that lie within the pain and suffering and to learn to see themselves as ‘enough’ exactly as they are, right now through her writing and You Tube channel .

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