Inspirational Articles

Seeking a New Paradigm

Seeking A New Paradigm

By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell

For a column entitled Conscious Living, it is probably best to address what is living in all our consciousness these days: the aftermath of the attacks on the United States and the bombing of Afghanistan. It is important to state up front that this article is not a call for total passivity as in the example of Gandhi. It is a catalyst, making us look at our responses to the entire situation and view the tragic violence as a wake-up call. A call not to increase security in the Western world, but to understand globalization as much more than the economic facilitation of goods between countries.

Old Paradigms

While we are being fed rhetoric that this is a "new war" and a new way of thinking, we are hearing words for which there are no corresponding new actions. This set of problems has since been evolving since the prophet Mohammed walked this earth and brought to the Middle East. Like Christianity, Islam has evolved into a number of different sects or divisions, each with its own beliefs about how the teaching of the Koran is to be implemented. The 1700's saw the birth of Wahabism, a much more fundamentalist movement embraced by Saudi Arabia and the even more extreme Taliban in the Afghanistan today.

Problems in the Middle East were compounded by the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 - and the issue of the Palestinians displaced from what had been their home has never been addressed. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, we saw exactly what we are seeing today: bombings of supposed strategic sites in Iraq, and food being dropped to those persons displaced, especially the Kurds in northern Iraq. It is even the same people conducting the military operations, namely, Powell, Rumsfeld and Cheney. This is hardly a new war.

The old paradigm had spent centuries managing conflict in the same way. The big guys go in and blow everything up, attempting to exert their will on those who oppose it. They have not always been successful - Vietnam to America and Afghanistan to the Soviets. Remember, the Taliban are in power because the U.S. backed them as a way of opposing the Soviets during the previous Afghani war. (A fact not mentioned by the U.S. media.) Now the only superpower left has been attacked on its own soil and as disconcerting as all this is to us, it was bound to happen. Managing conflict for the West has really been about managing hatred. It has not been about negotiation honouring all those involved, but has been a temporary diversion from the hatred that has existed all these years. It has always resulted in displacement of marginalized groups and the ensuing humanitarian crisis of disease, starvation, and poverty. The cycle of hatred is reborn in those subjected to these crises. In the long run, hatred cannot be managed. It has its own energy which festers, grows and erupts.

A New Paradigm

To create something new, we have to think and act differently than we have in the past. This crisis is truly spiritual in nature, insofar as we are being forced to examine the values of humanity, which on a large scale have been mainly ignored. Meanwhile, the growth of spiritual awareness in the West has been largely on inner focusing of who we are. We are now being presented the same questions, but on a larger scale, mainly global. Perhaps the same examination of values can trigger a new response for the ills of the world, taking our inner values and applying them to the outer, the micro to the macro.

Some ideas on a New Paradigm approach:

  1. Stop the bombing of an already destroyed nation from previous wars. You have made your point.
  2. Bring world religious and spiritual leaders and thinkers together in a visible forum, working on new ways to end conflicts with love, honour, and respect.
  3. Settle the Palestinian issue and give them their own state, just like Israel has one, and we have one.
  4. Start feeding the world. We must redefine globalization as creation of a world community, full of diversity, which takes care of and shares its resources. Globalization cannot be for the benefit of multi-national corporations and their shareholders. Globalization is a spiritual concept of sharing and community. It has been thwarted as an economic and political movement.
  5. Let people have the right to self-determination. The fall of the Soviet government and the Berlin Wall was caused by its own people who stood up and said "enough!" This was facilitated by the opening of economic possibilities (putting products on the shelves of the Soviet people). In turn, they became stronger as access to food and fuel increased. The Afghani people cannot stand up and dispel their current government because they are too weak from lack of food, water, and housing. Feed them, don't bomb them. Imagine if the $40 billion set aside by the U.S. Congress to fight were redirected to food and housing in the world.
  6. Listen to the environmentalists about developing energy methods other than our reliance on fossil fuels. Our economic and military reliance on oil fosters the American need to maintain strategic facilities in the Middle East. It is all about money.
  7. Cultivate diversity. Community is not about sameness, but embracing of differences and diversity within a caring supportive environment. Diversity can and does embrace equality, Fundamentalist Christianity, including Catholicism, is just as guilty as Fundamentalist Islam in discriminating against women. While there are degrees of severity, discrimination is still discrimination. In the West it is subtler - without the burqa!
  8. Look inside yourself. Where are you in conflict? What about your personal life stops you from having peace? What changes can you make to be more peaceful and more at one with universal healing energies and with others?