I have been tip toeing around this in my head. I thought I knew why, but actually I think I’m as much a victim of my own preconceptions as anyone! So basically I’m zeroing what I know. Please help me understand.
So here is my question. I am saddened by this situation and angry too. Mostly I am curious.
Why are women paid less than their male counterparts doing the same work?
I want to understand it and then I want to help destroy the system that supports it. I have two daughters and the thought that they may be discriminated against because of their gender – or any reason really – boils my blood.
Earlier today, I watched a Ted talk by Alain de Botton and one of the points he was making was that Western civilization has become more individualistic and this might have something to do with how we view the attribution and responsibility for ‘success’ and ‘failure’. Combining what Alain was exploring, in part, with my own long running musings yielded something profound for me. That is what I want to share with you.
FYI: This is not about religion. It is about the beliefs that we each operate on when we are on the edge – about to fall or to fly. When I mention Christians or Muslims I simply do so to describe the fundamental belief – not the structures of their religion. So chillax with the fatwas and threats of Hellish damnation.
Life is hard
Life is hard, it has always been and probably always will be. Hardships can be big and all-encompassing – something we face collectively like a meteor striking the Earth or a global epidemic. More typically, there are the personal hardships that we face as individuals or in small groups – friends, families etc.
Hardship could come from natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis that bring hardship swiftly and on a mass scale. There are the hardships that we do to ourselves – wars, genocide, persecution of the different. They might be hardships as a result of the way we collectively choose to live – economic poverty, hunger, unemployment and so on. They also include personal hardships like depression , low self esteem and so on.
One of life’s primary sources of hardship is uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen and that scares us.
Whilst hardship is perpetual, it is also ever-changing. In the middle ages in the western world, ‘hard’ was plague and sanitation, peonage and deeply laborious work.
As we make advancements in medicine and technology, ‘hard’ again is redefined – at least for some of the world. We hear things like ‘first world problems’ – my phone battery only lasts a few hours, I have full fat milk in my latte when I asked for soya!
Hardships are relative in time and between people. Some things that were hard – like infant mortality in 1800s are much less a problem in the 2000s. Yet where you might consider a chipped nail to be ‘devastating’, another person’s ‘devastating’ is losing both their legs.
As we advance ways to make life easier, we seem to create new ways for life to be hard.
Life is wonderful
Life is also wonderful and inexplicable.
Even when we can explain what we previously could not, the wonder remains and is even more wondrous. The joy and wonder of life also operates across the grandest scales – like the endlessness of Space – to the smallest – like an ant being able to lift several times its own body weight. From the chaotic formation of new islands from volcanic activity in the Pacific to how, in an instant, smelling your favorite food from your childhood can transform sadness into delight.
The wonders of our natural world, of Space and the diversity all around us are truly breathtaking. How do we explain them? Our advances in knowledge and technology help us not only to seek answers to old questions, they help us discover new things to be wondrous and curious about. Yet more remains inexplicable.
Our timeless need
So in the middle of this mash-up of hardship and wonder is Homo sapiens – the human. However you believe we got here is irrelevant at this point. We are here.
The human is a sentient being. We are capable of perceiving and feeling things around us. We are generally well adapted to converting those perceptions into emotions and reacting accordingly.
Our ability to feel may also be the single biggest contributor to our timeless need.
Life’s hardships and wonder can generate such powerful emotions in each of us. We act on those emotions – we kiss, we kill , we flee , we fight and we sometimes do nothing. Each action generating more to be perceived and more emotions generated in us and in others. These emotions can be so powerful they could be life changing or life ending.
They can be so overwhelming that the person feels they cannot contain it, it is too much and it is greater than them. For example, imagine your entire family being wiped out by volcanic eruption, suddenly and violently. How do you cope with that? Or watching your loved ones systematically cataloged and slaughtered by other people who believe you not to be human. Even imagining it is almost impossible.
I remember seeing each of my children being born and the feeling is a little overwhelming.
I can explain how a child is conceived, how they grow in the womb of the mother and how gestation works. I understand the chemical reactions that occur to help that baby emerge into the world. Yet none of that prepared me for the feeling of being overpowered by love and humility as this little life was placed in my arms.
What would happen if, at that moment, that life was denied – how can any new parent even comprehend that?
There are things that are bigger than our ability to emotionally process them. Our timeless need is that, whether through hardship or wondrous joy, life provides things that we are powerless to comprehend but need to make some sense of, lest the emotion destroys us.
And this is where God comes in.
Before I go any further and to help us both understand what I am talking about, it is useful for me to define what the word ‘God’ means for me:
God is that non-human power that transcends everything around me and who sees all, knows all that ever was and ever will be. This power is also invested with justice against all that I consider unjust but am powerless to bring to account
And what are the properties of God?
God is all good because there is inexplicable goodness in life.
God is just and all-powerful because there is such senseless injustice in the world that we are emotionally overwhelmed by and yet are individually powerless to make ‘right’.
God is all-knowing because life is uncertain and implicitly we know there are things we cannot yet know – we just don’t know what we don’t know.
God is kind because there is unbelievable cruelty in life and it happens to us and the people we love.
God is fair because there is such inequality in life. There are natural variations in people’s circumstances that result in hardships. There the inequalities that result in the way we choose to live – hunger and poverty in the midst of such financial wealth. The ethnic and social caste systems that seek to institutionalize these variations.
In some religions, God is entirely the positive and to explain the negative, another deity is required – like Satan in Christianity. In others, both hardships and wonders are the faces of the same power.
God provides a place to park your powerlessness
My friends who actively practice their religion – Christians, Muslims, Buddhists etc simultaneously amaze and inspire me with their faith.
They tell me their belief provides a framework to put all of the emotions they cannot deal with in context. The wonder of life is God’s doing and the hardships – wherever they come from – are a test to help them grow as people and closer to God.
God is both the giver (birth). Infertility is a test and in any case it is God’s will. God is the taker (death) – so even as you grieve it might help to think there is a higher ,albeit unknown, purpose to why you have lost your loved one.
My Buddhist friends tell me that to be closer to God we should disassociate from those perceptions – a sort of emotional protection. Having the discipline to detach what you perceive from the emotion that you generate from it is the road to Godliness. Developing that discipline is the lifelong practice that we must commit to.
Hinduism diversifies things a little – there is one God that is manifested in several other deities that address particular aspects of powerlessness. Vishnu is the protector and the preserver who is our source of sustenance to endure. Shiva is the God of annihilation , the destroyer and the enforcer of justice and more than 330 million other deities serve as a means of making sense of the various permutations of collective and personal powerlessness. Hinduism really extends the specialisation of deity along the same lines of Greek and Roman classic beliefs.
Regardless of how many Gods we have – the purpose is pretty much the same, make sense of what is beyond our personal comprehension.
Yet what happens when we do not have a belief in God that we operate on?
Surviving in a Godless world
This is what really triggered it for me in Alain de Botton’s TED talk. Botton asserts that in Western societies, we have removed God from the core of our beliefs and focused more on individual and collective responsibility. We rely on Science to offer the answers more than ascribing the unknown to God.
We seek evidence and not simply invest in faith. The outcomes of personal success or failure are attributed to the individual more than the plan of a God.
This is new or at least it has been so long since it was the norm that is might as well be new. Not even communism had this effect. In communism the collective had the answers, personal ambition and therefore personal success or failure were much less relevant. In theory anyway.
Yet the timeless needs still remain. The hardships are still there, so are the joys and the wonders. In the absence of God, who are we supposed to pin our powerlessness on?
Where we cannot rationally take responsibility for something – like the death of a parent from a terminal disease, we simply absorb it.
We put it in a box and bury it. Some might become philosophical about it – another mechanism to try to make sense of powerlessness – but ultimately the emotion is locked away. Ask anyone who has lost a beloved parent to go back to that box and explore its contents – especially without a framework of God – and observe how raw and powerful the emotion is, triggered by the memory of their loss.
Sometimes absorbing it causes huge emotional problems – breakdowns, deep depression – that lead to ever more self-destructive behavior.
What of the things that we can somehow see our responsibility in? Like being the survivor of a terrible fatal accident or accidentally causing the death of child?
Where a God framework might serve to blunt that emotion by saying “you are human, you can fail, it’s God’s will”, a godless person has no such shelter. The full perception is there. Most people can rationalize it and remove some of the potency of the sense of responsibility and emotions associated with. Others cannot and they get depressed, might seek self harm maybe even suicide. Could this help explain the rising incidents of depression in Western societies?
My friend – a Catholic priest – tells me that when he is in the confessional, it is fundamentally about helping the other person forgive themselves so they can move beyond the powerlessness.
Fundamentally, I believe Man created the concept of God. We invested the antidotes for all we are powerless against into that concept – kindness, forgiveness , justice, certainty, strength, immortality and eternal well-being.
What might happen if we took these virtues back and invested them in ourselves? What might happen if we were each kinder to ourselves, were more forgiving of ourselves and others or that we were able to eradicate the causes of avoidable powerlessness?
Why I wrote this
I wrote this because we are complex beings living in a complex world. We are making it more complex by our actions. I wrote this because I want us to make things simpler for ourselves so we can focus more of our abilities on addressing the complexities around us.
I wrote this because being in the uncharted territory of Godlessness is not the same as being lost and I want us to seize this opportunity to be kinder and more humane to each other. To evolve to become closer and more connected as human beings. I believe we can do it – we don’t need God, we need the virtues of God.
I wrote this because I want us to begin to focus more on tackling the causes of powerlessness and not simply fight the often explosive consequences of it – like religious radicalism that ends up in massacre and mayhem or mass revolts that trigger further repression.
I wrote this because whilst religion provides mechanisms of human connections to each other – fellowship and a sense of community – and a powerful sense of personal connection to God, it also invites other behaviors that promote new hardships. Judgement and condemnation of others and the easy abuse of position by the administrators of that religion. I want the good bits and frankly, none of the other stuff.
I wrote this because the institutionalization of God – religion – has long caused and continues to cause more conflict than it resolves. We are fighting about whose hose is better even as the fire threatens to burn us all. I want the divisions to stop. I want us to see that we have fundamentally the same needs, challenged by the same forces and we are unbelievably more powerful together than as we fight these ineffective ideological battle.
Finally I wrote this because I want the next young Mike Sutton who is wandering the internet confused about feeling outside the mainstream and dissatisfied with religions he sampled and the beliefs he explored – including atheism – to have something to read that offers an understandable and reasonable account of a different, kinder, more empowering and more human perspective.
A few years ago I spent a few weeks working in Berlin. The work was through the consultancy owned by my friends Marion and Andrea. To keep costs low and to help make my stay in Berlin more enjoyable, they offered me a room in their lovely apartment.
Marion is a beautiful human being and absolutely WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get – and she also speaks her mind. From the get go she declared that there shall be no peeing standing up. This applied to me and the other visiting consultants.
Her reasons were perfectly logical – you sprinkle when you tinkle and the wipe up can be a little hit and miss, so be a sweetie and sit down when you pee! It almost entirely eliminates the mess. Also reasonable because she has a cleaning lady come in a couple of times a week to clean the apartment and no one really needs to be wiping up other peoples’ pee.
A few jokes were made, but we all knew that she made sense and even if her directness was a little grazing, we would still be more mindful of her request. Now I don’t know how the other guests complied with her request or the need behind it – leave the bathroom clean and dry after your visit, but I actually tried to do what she suggested. I tried to sitting down to pee.
A history of being upright
For a guy who has spent 39 years peeing upright, this was a fairly unnatural stance. I would guess I’m not alone in that sense. I’ve never been in a men’s bathroom that had the urinal area that was anything other than gross. Granted there are different degrees of gross, but gross nonetheless. There is always bits of hair, occasional dandruff and chewing gum in the urinal, legacy wee on the flow and the ever present danger of you peeing on your own shoes. And don’t forget the awkward avoidance of looking down when you are shoulder to shoulder with other men draining the camel.
Typically, going for a pee is a super fast job – in and out. There is no lingering by the urinals – unless there are other agendas afoot. You wouldn’t anyway – the stink is fairly overpowering.
Even peeing upright in the privacy of your own bathroom is fraught with risk – so much could go wrong. Toilet seats dampened and left up, lids not put down and the potential for puddles all make this a risky venture. Many a loving relationship has been strained by this recurring risk.
You might think that with so much opportunity to practice that there would be no problem. I have a theory about this – You only get good at what you deliberately try to get good at.
If I pee on average twice a day everyday for 39 years – that is 14244 days or 28,488 opportunities to practice. You would think that I would be an expert at peeing. But no, I still get seats wet, the occasional drip on my shoes and certainly leave the seat/lid in the wrong configuration many many times. So if it’s not the lack of practice, then it must be about the lack of deliberate focus.
Time for something different
So with this in mind, I was determined to explore something different – to deliberately get better at peeing. I tried sitting down and over time the sense of weirdness disappeared. Not only that, but I also found there was no spillage and no puddle. It was all tinkle with no sprinkle. The toilet seat is left down and it is clean and dry for the next occupant. The residual hair dropping was also greatly reduced. I never had a dandruff problem so no view on that.
What amazed me more was the opportunity to take a break. Sit down, take a load off and enjoy the experience. At least twice a day, you get a moment to yourself. It takes marginally longer than an upright pee but you get so much more. Peeing upright does not really afford you that opportunity, you’re on your feet, you got places to go and people to see. You might wash your hands or not and often if you do, do you really wash them well enough?
I found myself consistently more relaxed and remembering to wash my hands more often and more deeply than when I was an upright urinator. (ok that is not a real word).
For all the benefits I mentioned, there is still one bit that I am not yet entirely consistent at doing – putting the lid down. But with time and deliberate focus, I expect that will happen to0.
I have to say a huge thank you to Marion for that suggestion two years ago – I know we joked about it, but it really worked for me! Olaf, my male German friend says that men peeing sitting down is far more common in Germany that anywhere else he had been. I don’t have experience of that either way.
So fellas if you are looking for something that will help you be more hygienic, delight the ladies you share your lavatories with, give you back a few serene minutes of your day and leave you with dry shoes then consider peeing sitting down. You might thank me!
I have a tax bill due. It is ‘tax on profits’ and while I have the money set aside to pay it, there is still a deep sense of hesitation to hand the money over.
Hold up, here comes the science bit. Long ago humans became collectives to live and hunt together, socialise and defend themselves against their common threats. Living together brings its benefits and its own unique complications and so they evolved their communities norms or codes of conduct to address those complications. Laws and taboos emerged, carried in the carrier oil of the day – usually fear of some super powerful deity (or deities). Later these became commandments, religious law and in some communities – constitutions and legal code. Living together also came with additional cost. The cost in time, effort and materials to do the common things and to maintain them. As money evolved, these costs were rolled eventually up into a tax.
Money made things simpler, but it also made some things more complicated – it changed and changes the relationship people have with their community. It is important – in my view – that the people in a community contribute time and effort to the community work and not simply pay for it.
Fundamentally I am socialist. I deeply believe we are better together. I believe our collective should work for the good of all, especially the least able of us. This costs money – I get that. I’m not against funding our collective. I’m pro-fair taxes and anti-waste.
Basically I’m pissed off about taxes
My current beef with taxes is around a fundamental thing – how it is spent. Not just my taxes but all government revenue.
I deeply disagree with how my taxes are spent in the UK. I did with the previous Labour government and even more so with the current LibCon artists. I don’t want to fund wars dressed up as collective defense. I don’t want to fund insidious espionage on me and my compatriots in the name of the bogeyman. I want better outcomes for the poorest in my community – this takes money and care that money cannot buy. I want an efficient administration, not one in the clutches of greedy corporations that spend the pot I contribute to as though it were free.
Without choice, proportional taxation is malignant.
I don’t get to choose how my taxes are spent – I mean real choice – that is heard and acted on. That leads me to deeply resent proportional taxation – the idea those who have more, pay more. In theory, I am happy to pay more, if I have more. But the dysfunction on how those taxes are spent has turned that dream into a nightmare. The more I make, the more guns are bought, the more waste there is. The more spying there is. The more bankers are bailed out. The more money is diverted away from the things I want to see improve and the more money that is channeled to the things I definitely do not. The more of my taxes go to make the greedy rich, richer. This is not what I want.
So as I was in the shower contemplating handing over a not insignificant sum of corporation taxes I wondered how to pay for our shared interests without screwing over the people that pay it.
What if there was a flat subscription to be British (or American or any other nationality)?
You sign up, get a welcome pack and a token that gives access all the services that are available. Services are provided and maintained by the collective administration. It won’t be run for profit. Clearly sometimes we have to buy in things we are incapable of producing ourselves and that is rolled into the subscriptions.
This would, of course, be a no contract subscription model. You can cancel anytime. You might still access the same services, but at full cost or you might not access any at all. If there was a better provider of citizenship, you had the choice to sign up to them. If fact, you could sign up to as many as you could afford – but remember at any one time, you are probably going to just use one set of services, mostly.
The subscription model is a little different from online apps. We can figure out what the basic subscription is and people can pay that. We can also figure out what it is worth and people can contribute their skills to realise that worth. For example, a doctor might choose to provide 200 hours of medical cover to a community clinic in exchange for their subscription. They might do it to pay the subscription for their child too. Streets need cleaning, gardens need tending, meals need serving and the lonely need company – all are aspects of collective needs that are overlooked.
What really helps this is understand what collective needs are to be met to keep our collective thriving. It is not only money that makes the world go round!
Everyone gets the essential services – wellness (include healthcare and basic nutrition), collective security, transportation, access to essential infrastructure and maintenance. Education is also essential, although a little different from other things. Any citizen can access learning to any level they choose, with a payback option if they decide to take go become filthy rich instead of contributing their expertise back into the community!
But what of national resources? They belong to everyone, some generate revenue and that goes into the pot along with the subs. We pay out of the pot to maintain them and provide open access to everyone to things like parks and spas etc.
We never borrow money our revenue can’t cover. Scratch that, we never borrow. Period.
In the end this might mean we grow at a pace that is sustainable. If necessity is indeed the mother of invention, we would invent lots!
There is still a market
The non essential stuff is provided by the market (yes there is still one). Basically it is everything that is not considered essential. Education is another funny one. You might buy specialised education on the market (with money from the collective pot). That, like all education, is an investment.
Sometime the lines are blurry , especially with spending our collective pot on things in the market. The distinction here is that the essential stuff is run not-for-profit – by whoever delivers it. This distinction is protected by the most binding of oaths. There is absolutely no screwing with that. By anyone. We might add to the list of essentials but almost never remove from it and even then only by referendum.
Administration is essential. The popular perception is that it is waste – after all it does not contribute to the services nor to the pot. My view is that it is not waste, but it is one of the areas that could be really wasteful.
What of corporate taxes? Well participants in the market who are not citizens would pay a fee to participate in the market. How much they pay would be linked to their level of participation in the market. Not yet sure this is based on profit. Nonetheless, but they would be bound by our laws on how they operate within our market including labor practices and protections.
There is entitlement. If you pay your subs or you contribute it’s equivalent in community work, you are entitled to use the services. Simple.
There are exceptions, to the ‘pay/contribute and be entitled’ rule. For those who cannot pay and who cannot contribute in other ways , for example the severely disabled or chronically ill. Our collective will subsidise them. Clearly there is a limit to how much subsidy (how many can be subsidised and/or subsidy per person) but I am currently not sure how that would work. Though I suspect there are some services that do not cost more, the more people who use them and so in real terms, the subsidy may not be substantial. There are exceptions.
Children could be subscribed by their parents. There would be no automatic citizenship and you can change whenever you want. If you want choice, then it applies across the board.
Transparency, absolute transparency
For this to work, we need absolute transparency. Everything that needs doing is public so that the others in the collective can contribute. We already know what we all pay (the same rate subs). We’ll also need to know the the size of the pot – including other revenue that feeds it – it needs to be constantly accessible and perpetually accurate. We need to see and know every penny spent and to whom and for what. The actual cost of our administration is available to scrutiny by anyone. It is the accountability that transparency engenders that will help check the waste. Transparency does not come for free, it has to be paid for also – in money and in vigilance.
Transparency takes away some of issues we are currently stuck at. For example being transparent with entitlement means that the decision on identity cards – the usual form the token that provides access to services take – would be a no-brainer. If you access services, you need a token. This token, incidentally, is also your travel card. It shows you are a paid up member of that collective and can travel under its flag.
One area of contention for me is pensions. With this model, your subs pay for what you use now. The current public pensions crisis , in my opinion, is borne out of the shortsightedness of its creators. Basically they started with noble intentions and then they found, almost immediately, it didn’t work. So they lied. They took money they were supposed to save for ‘future’ and used it to fund the now and took the ‘now’ money of taxpayers (in the future) to pay the pensioners whose money they had already spent. It is an elaborate ‘robbing Peter to pay Grandpa Paul’ scam.
So in this model , I do not consider pensions an essential service covered by subs. If you want one, you contribute separately and you buy one that suits your circumstances from the market. We can agree that you must have one, but where you get it from is up to you. To make things easy, we might collect it as part of subs, but it doesn’t go into the pot. It goes directly to the pension provider you bough it from. That way the mandatory aspect is enforced.
Clearly in the future you can use that revenue to continue to be a subscribed member of the collective.
Explore with me
This is an evolving idea. Though it might make you feel uneasy – ideas can do that – please help me explore it. As I wrote this, I thought we are pretty close in some aspects.
What might be the gaps and how might we close them. What would you consider to be our collective needs. Which are essential and which are not. Would you pay for a monarchy for example?
How might the administration be created without the drunkenness that power inspires? I’m open to ideas!
Are we better off remodeling our current system or starting from scratch?
What are your thoughts? I’d love to know and share.
I’ll hang out with my family and go to some friends on Saturday for a BBQ and on Sunday, we’ll head to Salobreña for our first San Juan celebration (no , I don’t really know what it is either!).
This weekend also, I want to try a little experiment, an experiment for good – well, at least start it off. It is a lovely juxtaposition between my dream and an idea for a game that I have kept putting off.
All through my career I’ve met people who have said things like ‘give X away!? why – I’m not a philanthropist’ or ‘why give it when you can sell it’. I’ve quietly listened and argued with that thinking internally.
I am a philanthropist, there I said it. It’s not a dirty word (at least not how I interprete it). I don’t have much money, nor even much free time. But I do have creativity, innovation, curiosity and skills and I can/will and do give those and their various products freely to those who can benefit from it.
When I dream about my future, it always involves a few businesses that are generating incomes sure, but also joy. The money they generate is doing something wonderful in the world, not simply going to pay for expensive, unnecessary stuff. I’m delighted that I don’t have to wait long to start doing this – I support a few charities but mostly use Kiva to do microlending. I find microlending to be one of the most respectful and empowering ideas of our age (if you aren’t already doing micro-lending, I encourage you to check it out, you don’t need very much to start and the joy you generate far outweighs whatever limited risk of losing money there is).
It’s called Twumps and it’s a game. If you ever played trading game cards or something like Top Trumps – a stats comparison game based around themed cards, you’ll love what I want to make.
Plus you don’t even have to wait very long to experience it.
Here is what I want to discover:
Can I launch a revenue generating thing that pretty much runs itself and use that to perpetually and increasingly fund the change I want to see in the world?
So, I want to build something (Twumps) that people can play and enjoy and possibly either make donations to or pay something for (this will emerge) and/or generate advertising from and can I extend that by making it continuously and totally fund some good in the world.
I want this experiment to be done as transparently as possible. Why? Well, why not?
Prior to its release, I’ll open a new @kiva account for Twumps and make it’s transactions public. Initially I will make all revenue payable to Kiva directly (from donations or advertising). If this experiment succeeds, I may deduct enough to cover operating costs (pretty much just the hosting) to keep it running smoothly and pass everything else to @Kiva. All those costs will also be entirely transparent.
Who knows, this might encourage other entrepreneurs to consider this as a business model – only one in which they do not personally benefit financially but one that they can leave a living trust for good work in the World. Now wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?
Stay tuned, I shall be asking for help.
Very soon I shall need some UI and graphic design help (I’m great at functionality but suck at making things look wow!) and later I shall need players and feedback and later still I shall need things yet unknown!
I had a funny experience last night. Not funny “hahaha”, more funny “wow that’s deep!”
Here is what happened.
I had put my sons to bed and a few hours later, I went to sleep also. Then, at about 3am I was woken up by my older son, Ruben , falling out of bed. I went in and lifted him back in, made sure he wasn’t hurt, gave him a cuddle and tucked him in.
Fifteen minutes later, as I was drifting back to sleep, Ruben calls out and I go in because he needs his nose blowing (he’s got pretty bad hayfever). I blow his nose, give him a cuddle and head back to bed.
Before long, I’m about to totally start snoring when I hear a sound, I wake up and notice Ruben’s light come on and then off. By this point, sleep deprivation has kicked in and I’m properly irritated. I call out in my deep, stern “this is your father speaking’ voice and ask him what he is doing. (damn it, it’s nearly 4am I need to get to sleep!). Ruben replies ‘Nothing’ and goes quiet.
Then something really weird happens.
As I lay in bed – totally irritated and getting so totally wound up by having my sleep disturbed repeatedly, I heard this voice inside my body. I mean inside my entire body, not just my head. This voice (which I still don’t recognise) spoke loudly and matter-of-factly (but not angrily). It said “Listen, I know you’re angry but I’m telling you there is no room in here for your anger. There is only space here for love”.
The voice went on, and I could hear it as loud and as clear as though I was the only person in the audience at a stadium performance. It said again “there is no room here for your anger, there is only room for love. So, forget your anger and just let love in”. What struck me was how resolved and reassured it sounded. Like an OccupyNewYork style activist who had occupied my heart and was refusing to let anger share the space.
At this point, I am physically super-tense and the voice coaxed me : ‘You’re tense, look at what anger is doing to you – shake it out and let it go on its way, there is no room here for anger”. So that is what I did. At 4am in the morning, I did a shimmy shimmy electric boogaloo breakdance move in bed to shake out the tension in my body. I instantly felt the tension ease off. And that is when I thought I was having a heart attack.
But not really – what was happening was that my heart muscle had been so tensed up and then very suddenly relaxed and the resulting sensation felt like your hand feels when it has been clenched in a fist for a while and you suddenly relax it. It wasn’t painful – just weird.
A deep sense of calm came over me and the voice had gone. Slowly I get up from my bed and walk quietly into Ruben’s room , he is still awake (but barely) and I cuddle him, speaking gentle and soothing words to help him fall back to sleep. I stroke his hair and kiss his forehead, then I went back to bed and got some sleep.
When I woke at 8am, I thought it was all a dream and to be honest I have no explanation about what happened beyond what I share here.
I do know that as this voice was speaking, I was filled with a deep sense of love for my son and my family and an intuitive acceptance that it was speaking an undeniable truth (well as undeniable as you can get at four in the morning) – I don’t have space in my heart for anything but love. Not anger, not irritation and certainly not hate. I could reason with it, that anger is part of life, as is grief and as is love, but this voice wouldn’t engage me in whether those where valid, inappropriate, right or wrong. It simply insisted that I had no space in my heart for anything but love.
I am deeply grateful to this voice, from wherever it came. Its message was fully and gratefully received.
As ever on this blog and especially on this post, I want to share what you think? Have you had a similar weird but beautiful experience.
I do not have space in my heart for anger. Do you?
It’s a gift that was given to me and it is changing my life and my relationships.
It has given me a language that I didn’t even know I didn’t have.
For me, this gift is everything a gift should be. Simple yet revolutionary, beautifully articulate yet infinitely understandable, defined but not a recipe, immediately practical yet intensely personal.
I would like to make a few requests of you (these aren’t pre-requisites, you may still receive this gift without complying).
Can you commit to read this book in January?– its message was revolutionary for me and I regretted not reading it earlier so that I could have benefited sooner. I would like you to benefit from it as soon as possible. What better time than the start of a new year!
Would you consider paying this gift forward? – find a way of paying my gift forward. I trust you will find a way to gift someone something you value – your time, your care, a book. Love does not like being cooped up – it wants to radiate through the universe. Help it.
Would you gift the book if you have no further use for it? – if for some reason the message did not resonate with you, that’s cool, but I would wish that this book would not gather dust on your bookshelf when it might be busy changing someone else’s life for the price of postage.
Please consider not selling this gift? If you really don’t want it and are unable/unwilling to pass it on, please send it back to me.
That’s it. Beyond these fairly reasonable requests, you can do what you choose with either the book or its message. I hope it is as revolutionary for you as it has been for me and presents as many new options as it removes.
Why Am I Doing This?
The short and simple reason is Love. Corny I know – but that’s it. Deal with it.
The slightly longer reason is that I care that you (and everyone else ) are happy and fulfilled and operates from empathy and compassion (and receives the same).
Lately I have not been operating from empathy and compassion – damn near forgot about them. Truth is I’ve been operating from anger and frustration for a while, this book helped me rediscover empathy and compassion as more fulfilling places to operate from and provided immediate improvements I could make to get there. It takes deliberate practice and self awareness but my relationships are significantly improved, I have more joy in my life and I feel more responsible for my own feelings.
Something this powerful should be shared, I believe it should be required reading for everyone and this is the simplest way I know to start.
If even one person who receives this gift experiences the changes I experienced, my investment would be more than repaid.
So, what are you waiting for?
How To Get This Gift.
I initially have 15 copies to gift. You can have either the paperback or the kindle edition.
My preference is to gift the paperback as they are easier to share than the kindle editions. But I leave that to your discretion (if you had the kindle edition and couldn’t share it. perhaps you might consider buying a kindle edition as your paying it forward or share)
IMPORTANT! To get this giftplease tweet:
@mhsutton Mike, I’d like to #receiveTheGift.
I will pick 15 random responses at 00:01 on January 01 2013 (GMT) and contact each recipient individually to sort out delivery.
For paperbacks: I’ll place the relevant order on Amazon (with Amazon or a marketplace vendor) and give them your preferred delivery address and you’ll get the gift in the post.
For kindle editions: I will gift your kindle email address the book from my own kindle address.