Have you noticed the bias of language? I’m not just talking about the obvious gender bias but also how it reflects the current prejudices of a society at a given time. Take the words left and right for example, straight off there is a judgement there, as the right side is never wrong while the left side is left behind. It’s no accident that these words have the double meanings they do and it is the same in French: ‘droit’(right) also means full of integrity, righteous whereas gauche (left) means awkward, clumsy.
This tickled my thinking mind last weekend because Britain’s “left behind” were mentioned by Bill Emmott, former editor in chief of the Economist at a debate on the “Retreat of the West: is democracy defeating itself?” as part of the fantastic Dalkey Book Festival (you can listen to all the festival podcasts on http://www.dalkeybookfestival.org/podcasts/).
I also found it fascinating that the lingo used by the top journalists and authors at this festival was similar in ways to biodynamic craniosacral speak: looking at patterns, inertia, underlying forces and currents, imbalances…except they were doing so at a global, planetary level, and, in the case of this particular debate they were by Western democracies’ sick bed.
So democracy’s baseline or original matrix is a convergence towards homeostasis, a balanced, social and economic equilibrium through fair redistribution of wealth, with one voice equalling one vote, basic freedoms like freedom of expression safeguarded and fostering equal opportunities for all.
This optimum has never been reached. Democratically-elected leaders have rarely“delivered”on their promises and the pressures on the system have escalated in the last decade or so: recession, rising refugee and migrant population, terrorism, crime, corruption and abuses of different kinds have surfaced… You could say all these are a result of and have caused trauma. It is quite a disastrous quagmire and politicians have never attended to it with the vision, care and determination it required.
Now Western democracies are ill, maybe even on their death beds. In fact since the 50s the few economic tidal waves that were to lift all boats have instead been very selective and the gap between the rich and the poor has steadily grown leaving the body politics extremely polarised and at the mercy of the many social pressures of each down cycle.
The “left outs” or “left behind” that voted for Brexit, for Trump and have joined the ranks of populist and extremist parties across Europe are the disenfranchised, alienated and angry bunch that have been swept aside by these latest waves and ignored by the institutions’ inertia and complacency.
This is the reason why while wealth has gone up exponentially so have suicide, anxiety and depression rates as well as medical prescriptions and drug use and this across all sections of society.
So what is democracy’s inherent treatment plan as we’d say in cranio speak: where are the organising forces, the cohesive movements that will balance, heal and harmonise these deeply divided and traumatised societies?
Very often in a craniosacral session, there is a left-right divide around a midline and I always ask my clients: do you notice any differences between your left and your right side? Invariably during the session, shifts will take place once the client’s system has slowed down significantly and organising forces will emerge that will bring about coherence in the system. One of the ultimate aims of a cranio session is to restore wholeness in a person.
New-York-based journalist and documentary maker Sebastian Junger spotted a very interesting development which he identified as a “mega trend” in another debate at the Dalkey Book Festival. He even spoke of it as democracy’s ”immune system kicking in”.
He mentioned that America’s veterans are "held in high regard" and very respected in the US. As the Congressional elections approach in November this year, war veterans have created a cross-party organisation called With Honor (see https://www.withhonor.org).
“We help elect principled next-generation veterans in order to solve our biggest problems and fix a Congress that is dysfunctional,” says their website.
They will fund the election of “a select group of veteran candidates who take The Pledge to put principles before politics and lead with civility, integrity, and courage, including the courage to meet with someone from another party once a month and sponsor legislation with another party once a year.”
The idea behind this is to promote bipartisan politics and help bridge the divide between left-right or Democrats and Republicans: “Our mission is to elect principled next-generation veterans to office who will work in a cross-partisan way to create a more effective and less polarized government.
“Our vision is a government that works for and is trusted by Americans, where principled veterans represent a significant percentage of elected positions at all levels.”
Junger, who writes for the New York Times and Vanity Fair, is very hopeful that they will win seats as he says, “extremely influential and wealthy people are involved in this”.
He also identified another interesting trend in the States and one that is budding in Europe: the rise of working communities. Individuals who share working space, cook and eat together while working independently. There is a strong yearning for “tribal living” and social cohesion, he reckons.
Both trends are about repairing deep disconnections in a dysfunctional society that is looking to be whole again. Of course there is a need for re-connecting at many other levels in our Western societies not least with our natural environment
Just like during a cranio treatment, the solution lies beneath and beyond the left-right divide. I reckon it will definitely require deep listening and slowing down but let’s hope he is right and that these trends, like a tidal wave of a craniosacral kind, will instil some form of cohesion, coherence, and begin shifting some deeply set patterns in a system that ultimately craves healing and wholeness.