I know, yes, I know, I did it to myself. Two men walk into a bar. You'd have thought one of them would have seen it. I have done this over and over again, and I'll probably do it some more in the future too, until I properly get the hang of this compassion and caring with no attachment to outcomes thing.
What on earth am I talking about?
For those of you who are unaware, there is an election afoot in Australia following the pseudo-coup where the ruling party ousted its own leader for fear that they could not win an election with him still in place. It was an awful moment, but I did my best to remain detached.
A new leader was installed thusly, the former deputy PM, about whom over the term of government I had previously expressed some measure of foreboding and wariness. Not because she is ambitious - which she most clearly is - but because I suspected her to be largely incompetent outside of her abilities as a party politician. Not national leadership material, in other words. Still, I tried to remain detached.
She began by making a few decent noises. And she kept making noises, and soon the noise was awful. It was matched in din and dissonance by the verbiage from the main opposition leader and his team, about whom I have at least as grave misgivings. The noises I was hearing were the sounds of fearmongering, of exclusion, of naked pandering to all the worst sides of human and peculiarly Australian nature, and worse still were the sounds I did not hear; or rather I heard them, but parodied and abused. I failed in my detachment.
The soft music of compassion I heard stuffed into a box and labelled with conditions and prerequisites; the harmony of inclusiveness I heard out of phase as the orchestra on either side tried ever harder to define the note of the lowest common denominator fear - not the joy of what we are and can abide, but of what we think we are not, those emblems of otherwise delightful diversity and difference which some believe we do not wish to have as part of our reality at all. All the humanity subsumed beneath a crescendoing wave of confected contempt. The warm phrasing of sunlight, energy, and endlessly renewing nature was alluded to by either side as something they might play a little later, perhaps at a small concert for those 'few' who cared for such a thing, but not now, not at least until some other big band makes it popular first (forgetting that much of the world already plays these tunes far better and louder than we) or until some other time when there isn't something far more important going on than life itself. Of peace, the only note that rang, clear as a bugle call, was at the funeral of a dead soldier, home at last.
In the corner, near the door to another reality is a small band, and a small handful of solo players, unplugged. The small band offered its songsheets to everyone, and cared not for copyright or glory, for it saw that its songs hung together quite nicely, and knew that when they were heard without the Noise, people mostly knew the songs in their hearts already, and would hum along. They are happy to collaborate. Asked to sit at the table when the nation sat to watch the two big orchestra leaders argue their scores at one another. But alas, no. This would upset the gruesome balance of The Game Of Keepings Off.
What is my crime? Why am I thus punished and crestfallen? Why must I now simply surrender?
It all started with me caring. Not a bad thing in and of itself at all, no, not at all. But when I let myself start thinking about how it might be for the people and the country and the planet I share with, what might be good to have happen.......and thinking thusly that there must be work to be done in sharing the ideas and tunes like those of the little band on the edge of another reality with others, that they might be reminded of them and turn away from the noisesome, consuming and distracting tintinnabulation of the Big Groups.....well, that's the way of struggle and disappointment, isn't it?
Enough that the music is there, and shall find its place as it is required to do in The Scheme Of Things, a scheme which not I, nor any mortal truly knows; but singing for myself only - a scheme which I feel again coursing through me, the very minute I give up trying to know how best I might make a difference.
And thus, paradoxically, I shall surely make a far greater difference in a far better way than if I thought I really knew what to do. I guess you call that faith.
So now I shall merely do my best to simply observe, as if at a parade, the bands as they pass by towards the election date, and hum along to myself whatever true and pleasing tune most catches my strings of contentment and honesty, as it comes to me.
So yes, I give up.
To satisfy my protesting mind I have simply readjusted my perspective - whichever of these two fine humans we elect to lead us for the next while, if it all turns to shit, will simply be The Nightmare We Had To Have, so we have the opportunity to properly awaken.
Hope springs eternal, but for what I know exactly not, for in believing one knows, that way lies despair. Hope and faith are enough in themselves.