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I've had a rough couple of days. Rough week, really... but I'm doing better, maybe even a lot better, than I ever have before. I don't often go into the details of my sessions with my therapist, but I wanted to share a little something from my last one, something that's kind of stunned me the last few days. But to do that, I need to mention a little bit about DNMS first.

DNMS (Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developmental_Needs_Meeting_Strategy]) is one of the types of therapy that my therapist practices. It's not widely known, yet, and still being studied, but whatever our final conclusions on the matter, I know it's helped me. DNMS focuses on actually resolving the traumas of the past, not just managing them like many other types of therapy, and that's a hell of a difference. It also means that it can get pretty heavy to deal with, since you have to actually work through those old memories and feel the things you've been putting off for so long. >.<

One of the key features of DNMS is the use of three internal resources: a nurturing adult self, a protective adult self, and a spiritual core self. I'm... still working on connecting with mine, but I made a major breakthrough with my protective adult self on Thursday and haven't quite been the same since.

Zoe (my therapist) always talks about how "X is a trait you already have", reinforcing that these are things you possess, even if you can't see them right away... and she's right, though it can be a bitch to see that some days. The last few days, I have been able to see it, and even if storm clouds descend again, I don't feel quite as alone anymore. I... I don't think this'll be the end of this, but this is a major reason for hope.

I guess I should get to the point of this journal, which was to share a letter she had me write. I don't remember exactly what triggered the idea, but I do remember her gentle words encouraging me to write a letter *to* my protective adult self, right after finally making a connection. And so I wanted to share the words of that letter today.

----------------------------------------

Dear PAS,

It’s been a rough few days. Anxiety, thoughts of self-harm, and deep-seated pains have pretty much hammered me into the ground. It’s the worst it’s been in a long time.  >.<

If I didn’t have you, I don’t know where I’d be. Pretty sure I’d be in a lot of trouble. >.< Thank you. *hugs* >.<

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It took me almost 15 minutes to write those few words... and I know they're not a lot, but they're really important. >.< I think I need to write a lot more letters now.
zetasyanthis: (Default)
I'm tired of anger. I'm tired of shame. And I am damned tired of being afraid of the future, of watching things get worse and worse, and of watching hate get more air time than love ever seems to. And so, I have a plan.

We're going to do something about this.

Tonight, I am finally launching the Keyspace Project. The aim of this project is to first determine, and then seek to create, a safer and more inclusive world. In so doing, the project necessarily recognizes that civilization, society itself, has grown organically since the dawn of our species, and will continue to do so. This is not an attempt to change that path wholesale, or to enforce change through force of any kind. Careful planning and study will be required, and our byword will be empathy and example, even in the face of violence.

Why is this project required?

Because we lack a vision of hope — and it is killing us.

We know where we are and where we seem to be going, but we lack a coherent vision of the society we actually want to live in. Folks (including myself) push specific policies or responses, but we don't stop to imagine a complete picture of what the world will look like afterwards. It seems silly to have to say this, but if you're trying to achieve a goal, it pays to know what that goal actually is!

So... that's stage one of the project. Let's come up with some goals. It's guaranteed that different folks will have different views here, especially when it comes down to the paths to get us to that goal, but that's actually not a bad thing. We need a diversity of ideas here, because we will miss things that are outside our own experiences. Needless to say, this is going to be a work in progress, but it's about damned time we started. This may even result in multiple iterations of the project running simultaneously with different goals, some more conservative and some more liberal. That's fine! One solution does not fit every problem, even this one.

Stage two is to start working towards that goal. Political involvement can affect some of the types of changes we'll be looking at, but that will not be the primary, or even a significant, focus of the Keyspace Project. (It is far too easy to become distracted and spend time fighting battles of policy minutiae.) The intent here is to focus on empathic, human solutions that are primarily expressed in how we interact in relationships with other people, friends, family, and strangers alike.

Make no mistake, this isn't going to be easy, and it certainly isn't going to be fast, but if we make the effort, we can make a difference. It's a sad fact that we likely have dark times ahead before things start to get better, but we /can/ decrease both the impact of those times, and the timeframe required for recovery.

The future is worth building, and it's worth building together. So let's get a move on, shall we?
zetasyanthis: (Default)
Today I want to talk about hope.  Not just hope in the "within my lifetime" sense, but hope in general, for all of us, for humanity as a whole.  There's a lot of pessimism in the air these days, what with ISIS, global warming, and a million other problems we can't currently see our way out of, and I want to put these problems in their proper context.

That said, I want to acknowledge that hope isn't easy on some days.  Some days, hope is the hardest thing in the world, because the world itself seems almost bereft of it.  You wake up and do your thing, and some story or bit of news comes your way and derails everything, because "What does it matter in the end?"  On those days, you feel so small and insignificant, and the historical trends feel so huge, that it's all you can do to not be crushed beneath their weight.  That thought... that despair is what I want to focus on today, and I want to attack it from two angles.  1) Your contribution does matter, always, even if you fail (and all of us do).  2) In the context of both history and future, these problems are tiny.  It is only to us in the present that they are huge.

Number 1 is the one you hear all the time.  While I'm going to address it, I'm not going to start there.  I'm going to start with #2: historical and future context.

The history of modern civilization is less than 5000 years old.  With any luck, that will some day extend into the many hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years.  Humanity will change and grow... and will continue to make mistakes, as we always have.  Those mistakes we make *now* will be as nothing on the scale our species will one day span.  Some of them may be more formative than others (global warming in particular), but some (the LGBT rights struggle, for example), are destined to be a distant memory, simply something that has long since passed.  For a little additional framing help, I'd recommend scanning over this post (and a few comments) by Charles Stross (one of my favorite authors), where he performs a thought experiment on how to summarize the period from 1700-2300 CE for a future history class.  It's a pretty interesting read all its own.  Another two books that I can't recommend highly enough (and which inspired this post) are Karl Schroeder's Permanence, and one by Fredrich Pohl's The Boat of a Million Years.  They're both sci-fi novels that will give you different, but unique and amazing views of truly deep time.

So let's talk about problems and about scale.  Deep time isn't something we talk about on a daily basis, but let's be honest here.  We all hope that humanity will flourish, and that our species, along with our stories and our hearts, will one day leap into the stars.  Though we're not sure how it may one day end, we hope that we can be a force for beauty long into the distant future.  And please realize, when I say distant future, I don't mean another thousand years, as stunning a time frame as *that* alone is.  I mean hundreds of thousands, millions, perhaps even billions of years.  On such a timescale, our current civilizational structure cannot hope to cope with our future needs.  I'm sure that parts will be borrowed, modified, and perhaps even mirrored, but time will plow under many things we now take for granted.

Let's take LGBT rights as an example.  One hundred and fifty years from now (the same temporal distance that separates us from legalized slavery in the United States), can you imagine LGBT rights still being an issue in this country?  What about a thousand years?  Can you imagine hold-outs anywhere on the planet?  Islam itself is less than 1500 years old, Christianity another ~600 beyond that.  Will these things endure science and slow cultural progress for that length of time?  And even if they do, 1000 years from now, can you imagine a world in which we have not already begun to colonize the solar system?  We have always been explorers, and I cannot imagine our drive for beauty and creation being stifled for another hundred, let alone another thousand, years.

So let's take that step.  In a world where Earth is still the center of civilization, even with small colonies existing on the edge of collapse, can you imagine those involved in the science and development of those places bringing primitive cultural ideals along with?  Can you imagine one of those first ten thousand (to pick a number) being unused to working with a female scientist, let alone a transgender one?  That's simply not how these circles work.  The logic and critical thinking that real science requires is poison to both faith and bigotry, because that lens is sooner or later applied introspectively, by children if no-one else.  The next step, a self-sufficient solar economy, is even larger, as is the next, tenuous connections with worlds beyond our own solar system.  Bigotry and hatred will not stop, when we reach those scales, but their impacts on civilization as a whole will be severely diluted.  The steps beyond that?  I'd ask "Who can say?", but I've read Permanence lately.  ;)

So yeah, the magnitude of crises and the energies needed to solve them are both a matter of scale.  We've a great many right now, and I won't lie.  They're terrifying.  We're early enough in the development of our species that we /could/ really fuck things up here.  But there is so much out there to work for that it'd be terrible to waste our potential.  And that's why we all need to do our part.  Yeah, it's insignificant.  Yeah, we might screw up and end up doing something that actually hurts in the end.  But those of us who try have always made a difference, and together we are mighty.  From the earliest philosophers and scientists, to the educators and engineers of today, we have *always* made the difference.  Sometimes we lose our way and we build for the past, assembling bombs, finding poisons, and working to tear down what others have built.  More often, though, we build for the future, and we have to do that now.  All of us. 

Edmund Burke once said that "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  I'm not certain exactly what he had in mind when he put those words to pen, but I think he'd use them again now.  Let's build for our children... all of our children.  Time will see to the rest.

Hope

Apr. 25th, 2015 07:06 am
zetasyanthis: (Default)
This journal is about hope... but we're not going to start there.

Some days, the world just sucks.  Okay, maybe a lot of days.

Today, it seems like a toss-up between folks who say that we're going to hell in a hand-basket, folks who are *trying* to send us to hell in a hand-basket, and those of us just trying to make it through.  We're bombarded by elders relating nostalgia about "better times," paired with stories of violence and looming threats of societal surveillance and control. With all that, it's easy to lose our way, and to forget that things are a bit better, and quite a bit more chaotic than we usually admit to ourselves.

I just finished reading Poul Anderson's Harvest of Stars, and I'm here to tell you that they're not going to win. Not the assholes, not the totalitarians, not even those who think that juuust a little tweaking of the human state would somehow make us better people. (We know how that ends, too...)

Yes, there is immense suffering in parts of the world. Yes, there are things terribly broken in our governments, in our relationships with each other, and even our relationships with ourselves. But we are *learning*.  For the first time ever, we are collectively starting to pay attention and see the problems that abound, and our society is (more or less) stable enough that we can start to deal with them. Yeah, it's going to be brutal at times, and yeah, we'll lose our way more than once; but we *will* make it. The message of that novel, and of art in general, is that humanity *will* endure and learn and grow beyond the wildest dreams of those poor souls who seek to control its soul. The stars call to us, and that is a dream that no one can ever destroy.
zetasyanthis: (Default)
[Originally posted on Blogger during my angry politics phase.  Please take this journal with a grain of salt and realize I've grown a lot since then.  :)]

Last night, Tunisian President Ben Ali, who has ruled the country for 23 years, declared he would not seek re-election in 2014.  For years, he has maintained power by rigging election after election and ruthlessly crushing all potential rivals.  Civil liberties have been non-existent, and the press has been severely curtailed when it has been allowed to function at all.  Make no mistake; this is a tremendous day for the Tunisian people, who have lived under authoritarian rule since the country regained its independence in 1956.

In addition to declaring he would be stepping down in 2014, Ben Ali finally recognized the need for reforms across the board, notably including freedom of speech in his statements.  Immediately following the broadcast, Internet blocks on many major websites were removed, and prominent opposition leaders appeared on live television  to discuss the impending changes.  This is a momentous change for a country that was rated 164 out of 178 in the Press Freedom Index (2010) and 144 out of 169 in the Economist's Democracy Index (2008).  Obviously, the situation is still uncertain, as Ali controls the armed forces and security services, but it seems very unlikely he would be able to walk his statements back even if he chose to do so.

It is important to recognize those who made this progress possible.  The everyday Tunisian resident who risked life and limb in the protests are the primary force behind this change, and they have braved bullets and curfews alike to make any reform possible.  The leader too, brutal though he has been, realizes that change is coming, and rather than choosing to fight, has chosen to stop the violence for now.  Although it is likely that he did it as a gambit to save himself and his family, it will likely save many lives in the upcoming days.

The cyberwar happening behind the scenes has also contributed greatly to the process, by enabling people to speak freely against the governments wishes and providing them with information about their government.  Much of the most valuable information provided comes directly from the Wikileaks Cablegate leak that so many have condemned.  Think what you will of that organization, it seems very unlikely that the US government would have been half as helpful to the Tunisian people.  Beyond the simple release of this information to the Tunisian people, it is also unlikely that Anonymous would have become involved in the online conflict within the country.  Without the leak, many people who helped in the online battles would likely have never heard of the country, let alone known why the people were revolting or why they needed, and deserved, help.

All the time, I hear people utter the phrase "You can't change the world."  If that was true, we'd not have made it this far, seen and done all the wonderful things we have managed to eek out over the centuries.  Humanity may stumble at times, but we always get back on our feet and move forward towards a better tomorrow.  Today in Tunisia, light is creeping up over the horizon on a country that has made their choice and taken a stand against injustice and oppression.  Events like these give us hope for the future.  No matter how dark the world may seem at times, and no matter how far we may yet have to go, we must never lose the willingness to try.  The long, twilight struggle is upon us, but there is always hope.

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Zeta Syanthis

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