Posted in Equality, Freedom, Survival

Desystemise myself

When I was editing an international primary English book series, I began to think about people who don’t grow up in a “typical” societal system like that of Singapore, and I realised there is a lot of “privilege” attached to the system. For example, it has become a norm for children growing up in westernised societies to expect fun and games like birthday parties (and I myself don’t celebrate birthdays this way) and beach outings with family and friends. The book series that I was editing is replete with such topics, and it is no surprise that the series was written by predominantly white privileged authors.

What if a child growing up in a “less developed” country such as in Asia, Africa or South America does not have the tradition of celebrating birthdays with presents, cakes, balloons, and so on? What if the child grows up in a difficult family environment and is unable to relate to the topics in the book that presupposes that all children have loving parents and siblings?

No doubt the topical approach adopted in the ELT (English Language Teaching) series is designed to help children learn conversational English using familiar things in life, but still, there seems to be a bit too much focus on the material side of life – food, presents, etc – and not enough emphasis on the stark reality in the world, such as poverty, unemployment, high income inequality, racism, ageism, ableism, sexism, and other systemic problems.

While there are some topics in the series that encourage children to help one another in times of need or to take care of pets, the overarching theme of the series appears to revolve around the norms of a privileged life in a modernised societal system – one that focuses mainly on the positive aspects and ignores or glosses over the sufferings of humanity. It inevitably causes children to have a skewed perspective of the world, and does not help them to deal with their inner anxieties and angst of growing up, such as being fearful of loneliness or failure, or being envious or jealous of others when they invariably compare themselves with others in terms of achievements or possessions, and so on, no thanks to the insidious influence of the educational system that encourages and perpetuates competition and “meritocracy”.

In my case, growing up in a largely smooth functioning societal system where buying things and travelling around are convenient makes life rather staid and boring. When I was a teenager, I filled my time with activities like reading, playing computer games, sports, and so on. But as I transited into adulthood, I became more and more dissatisfied with life and found it meaningless, and I struggled with identity crisis. I have a wanderlust and adventurous spirit but I could only find an outlet in mostly computer games and reading fantasy novels about might and magic, dragons and wizards.

Come to think of it, why do I seek adventures when some other children growing up in tough or challenging circumstances are usually too preoccupied with getting by day by day for survival to think about adventures? Maybe I have been misdirected myself – maybe the dragon I need to slay in real life is not some imaginary creatures depicted in popular novels and movies but the spectre of the oppressive system and discriminatory mindset that result in systemic problems in the world, and the wizard I wish to emulate is not some legendary characters in a fictional story but the inner alchemist whom I already am, and I need to tap into that inherent wisdom, power and love that is within me to be a blessing to others. I am coming to see that my mission in life is to liberate myself and others from the suffocating and stifling control of the system, and to create a better and more equitable world.

In short, I need to desystemise myself and be free.

~ ~ ~

Thus wrote the editor who is grappling with the unpleasant side of reality like a tortured soul, for facing the darkness in humanity and the system created thereof is both uncomfortable and unsettling. Come to think of it, perhaps that was why the apostle Paul wrote “O wretched man that I am – who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

Contrary to many common interpretations in the mainstream christian circles, perhaps Paul wasn’t dealing so much with that so-called fallen nature that is termed “sinful nature” of the flesh, but rather the destructive mindset or ideology that perpetuates the illusion of separateness that causes humanity to do harm to oneself and others. Sin is essentially about failing to love others as brothers and sisters because one sees oneself as separate from the others based on differences in race, ethnicity, skin colour, gender, class, nationality, worldview or belief system, and so on. The next verse – “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – is the revelation that in Christ, our true identity, we are all one and we are all interconnected (where there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, and so on), which delivers us from the Law or the destructive system (body of death) to live in Grace (the community of love and oneness).

Posted in Equality, Uncategorized

Competition is violence, and so is class

Lately, the more I think about competitive sports, or competition in general, the more I realise that competition is violence. Competitive sports, whether it be running, cycling or tennis (all of which are my favourite sports), both supports and sanctions violence.

Competition reduces other people who are seen as competitors or opponents to nothing more than obstacles that stand in our way to become “winners” or “victors”. They cease to be fellow human beings in our minds. And when we beat them in a contest or competition, they have to deal with the stigma of being seen as losers or failures in the eyes of many. The reverse is also true for ourselves: when we “lose” in a competition, we tend to feel less than humans; we feel unworthy and ashamed of ourselves or disappointed with ourselves for not living up to expectations or measuring up to some perceived standards (which are actually arbitrary and subjective in nature).

The same goes for class, which propagates the illusion of separateness, entitlement and superiority. Anything that puts down another person is ultimately violent, whether it be in the form of competitive sports, classism, etc.

Posted in Equality, Racism

The context of Black Lives Matter

black lives matter

“The revolutionary move for those within a perverse structure involves finding ways of casting light on the constellation of acceptable transgressions that are going in within the system.

This can help us uncover the central problem with the All Lives Matter hashtag that arose in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. On the surface the former is simply a reiteration of the official standpoint of America; one that is positive and worthy of support. But this overt position of all lives mattering is inexorably coupled with a network of covert acceptable transgressions. One of which being that black lives don’t matter. This acceptable transgression is not expressed in words, but covertly operates in the institutional realities of the country (in education, policing, prisons, the legal system, etc.).

We are living within a perverse system in which affirmation of the official stance (all lives matter) involves acceptance, and even direct participation in, the disavowed unofficial transgression (black lives don’t matter).

The radical move here involves bringing to the surface the obscene secret that undergirds the perverse system so that it can be short-circuited. In Black Lives Matter, this obscene secret is brought up in such a way that it disturbs the smooth running of a system where some are valued over others.”

– “Transgressions that Support the Law: The Perverse Nature of All Lives Matter” by Peter Rollins

Indeed, the “All Lives Matter‘ hashtag is problematic because while it may on the surface appear to be “positive” in the eyes of society in its declaration that everyone is equal, it is actually intended to dismiss the real issue of black lives being discriminated, and also perpetuates the violence of the white supremacy system against the black community.

Thus, it is a revolutionary move for Black Lives Matter to seek to disrupt the smooth running of the white supremacy system by highlighting the issue of some being valued over others. Others, such as the Guardian, have also sought to find ways to cast light on the problem of how “All Lives Matter” ignores the issue of racial disparity and results in acceptable transgressions, such as the recent event of a black protester being mistreated by a crowd of white people who, ironically, chanted “All Lives Matter“, when in reality, their very actions contradicted the essence of what they professed to promote.

In my search for relevant articles on this topic, I also learnt that US President Obama recently wanted to address the problem with “All Lives Matter” by responding to the critics and clarifying that “Black Lives Matter” is justified in its rallying cry as they wanted to deal with the specific problem of discrimination and oppression by the system “that is happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities”.

I am also encouraged by this blog as the blogger, who is white, wants to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter supporters.

“when Black women and men say similar things, they are inundated with accusations of “reverse racism” or “divisiveness.” I think it’s important to keep in mind how white privilege gives me a larger and safer opportunity to have this conversation without being excessively harassed – both highlighting the exact racism I’m discussing and the importance of having white people speak to one another when and how we can.”



Posted in Uncategorized

Waking Up is Hard to Do: The Dark Side of Enlightenment By: Will Donnelly

“Carl Jung, the famed Swiss psychiatrist, believed our main task in life was to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential through a journey of transformation he called individuation. It was a journey that allowed the individual to meet the self and the Divine at the same time. Roughly, it amounts to accepting your dark and light energies.

Jung explains: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.””

Evolutionary_Mystic Post

What does it mean to wake up, to be a fully realized human being? For those of us who might consider ourselves everyday people with a spiritual inclination, enlightenment can sound so alluring, so desirable.

As we lean in the direction of our awakening by listening to our higher yearnings, and as we consciously and slowly awaken by paying attention to all that is happening around us in our world, it must be said that this shared human longing to be free is, to me, like carrying a burden. Now that simple racist comment at the office bugs us, those slights toward the masculine woman or effeminate man make us feel more and more uncomfortable, etc., as we begin to wonder how those who are impacted by this type of non-physical abuse might feel.

We awaken to the understanding that those who say hurtful things would certainly say them against…

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