“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses… evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. The… present… is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all… in direct… establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
I love this passage, probably as much as any great, historical piece of writing. Up there with MLK and Lincoln. It is sermonic. Revelational. Truth blazoned across life with a clarity often lost in its most difficult moments.
Of course, it was written for very specific circumstances. And we tend to think, in particular, of their appeal with respect to a national or corporate interest. Re-evaluating and dissolving the bonds which kept a group of people beholden to agreements that no longer worked well for them – no longer led to healthy or prosperous outcomes.
But it’s certainly also possible to consider how this might be an expression an individual might well consider in re-imagining a new, healthier relationship with life. After repeatedly bumping up against unsatisfying outcomes to basic needs, it is imperative to seek independence before re-establishing a fundamentally more effective system of interdependence. Sometimes the integration of new truths requires greater complexity. Sometimes, separating from a plan, once good, in order to make a new, better, one.
This is hard. For the last two years, I had a chance to work with some brilliant people at the Friedman Center for Family Process.
It is based on the work of Murray Bowen - sometimes called, Family Systems Theory. It is a theory of how we get stuck in habits and patterns even long after we see they are not serving us well. Though we tell ourselves we want love and connection and happiness, there is often an overriding desire for stability – and, particularly, the comfort that comes with stability.
There is a great formula that I use a lot in my work as a consultant in times of transition. It is a formula of change and, at least on the face of the equation, it is very simple:
(D x V) + F > R
D = Disatisfaction
V = Vision
F = First steps
R = Resistance
One of the key aspects of this equation is the first part. D and V are coupled into a product. We know from math that when multiplying any two numbers, if one of them is zero, than the product is zero. Therefore, in order for change to occur, it is imperative that there is measurable and significant dissatisfaction with the status quo and a vision of how it could be be better. If either one of these factors is zero, the chance for change is zero. We need to be dissatisfied with the way things have been and have some degree of clarity with how they could be – simultaneously. AND, we need to have some first step to initiate the process. And ALL THAT must be greater than the resistance we routinely face.
I have thought a great deal of that formula in the last few years. AND in the last few weeks. At the heart of the Inca culture is a spiritual premise of ascension… an evolution of awareness – especially with regard to being in harmonious relationship with essential elements of life. Being in right relationship with ourselves and other life. Being in sync and in sense of mutuality and reciprocity with genders… being aware and connected to what energies move through our lives. It requires a steadfast attention and presence to be aware of how we are in sync (or not) with ourselves and others. Having ‘integrity’ is not just a saying, but it is understanding the interrelatedness of of all things and knowing when that relatedness is undermined or ignored. And when it is, repeatedly and habitually, to fashion the courage to call for the kind of change that can return a sense of harmony (or as the Buddhists call it, ‘equinimity.’).
To make such a change requires a willingness to risk not only the status quo, but to risk upsetting others around us who depend upon and are attached to the status quo. Without such risk takers and change agents, corruption settles in and makes a home. It is from such change agents that the world is changed. And saved. And it is by such people that relief, liberation, redemption and hope are carried.
After being able to observe how the cast of characters selling the immunization cards was related to the various layers of bureaucracy requiring them and how the system as a whole seemed to operate with very little resiliency or generoristy of spirit and how a certain desperation becomes embedded into attitudes so that everyone tries to extract whatever advantage might be possible… and after observing how far removed all of that is from true intentionality of the Inca spirituality… and how that interest in the evolution of individual and collective consciousness seemed to be crushed by the Spanish Conquistadors who drove the Inca culture to veritable extinction and depicted it in history as cunning, aggressive and treacherous… I think I understand the true nature of evolution. What we sew is what we reap.
I did end up going with the taxi driver to the Avianca Office 20 miles away.
And I did end up talking with several agents for nearly an hour – eventually culminating in an agent’s kindness when she finally understood that the Avianca agent knowingly sold me tickets without fulfilling her obligation to disclose immunization requirements for those entering Peru. She offered me the choice of either a free ticket on to Costa Rica and reinstating my return flight from San Jose to San Francisco (although I would have to wait in Lima for 2 days for the next available seat on a plane) – OR – a free ticket back to San Francisco. I took the way home.
There will come a day to go to Costa Rica.
And probably a day when I will return to South America. And I hope, when I do, that I will return – not with trepidation or a dubious or skeptical eye – but an open heart and a creative and playful outlook. To just be dissatisfied with how things are and not equipped with a vision of a new, more loving and resilient spirit, is not going to effect much change. And without change a true liberation from tyranny is rarely possible.