We, as part of our culture, community, family, and the land on which we live, are held together by myths, stories, tales and how we think and believe about ourselves, our kinship and those seen as not like us. Our "worlds" used to evolve within those boundaries of shared experience, intentions and actions. Now all of these bounding horizons are broken. Today it isn’t uncommon to see a chemical engineer from Malaysia working for a German company in the United States, or an Australian mother setting up space on the World Wide Web to discuss and seek counsel in dealing with her autistic child. Ideas are pouring back and forth into the various cultures stirring up and affecting the beliefs that hold them together as never before. Our cultures, communities, families and we, ourselves, are struggling with these transformations. Against the backdrop of these global motions we ask: "What is my society ? What is my group? What am I?"
We'll find ourselves caught between self-preservation and the challenge of opening up to a new social image of our world.
To see what new images of our planet may look like let's listen to what millions of working people from all over the globe (50 million in the US alone) are saying they want out of life:
"I want to succeed and grow
I want to bring the whole being that I am to what I do; not check my soul at the door
I want to make a difference by contributing to my community, society, and our world!"
Working women and men from Asia, Europe, the Americas, the Middle-East and Africa say they want to experience the totality of existence, an Open Life, and not a constricted or broken life. What they have in common is the courage to look within and beyond and to trust what appears to be a deep sense of belonging, of wholeness, of connectedness, and of openness to the infinite.
Strangely many of these people think they are alone and feel they can't share these values with others. They would be thrilled to find out that there are literally millions of allies across the planet with whom they share the same desires and values. The desire to experience an open life is not confined to any particular race, culture, or religion. People are simply saying to the world: "We are all human beings, sharing common intentions, aspirations and experiences."
Our rapidly changing world penetrates our lives and shakes the foundations of our common understanding of land, our family, culture, and ourselves. That’s when the urgency arises to reestablish order, to make choices and act. One choice would be to protect and defend our social identity against these external forces. It isn’t difficult to understand, -- with the example of the disintegration the former Yugoslavia still before our eyes-- that this leads to more bounding, separateness, and falling apart.
The other choice is that we realize that we are not just biological beings reacting to external threats but that we are, by our very presence, the future!
We are purposeful human beings who can and always have collectively and actively shaped their future.
We no longer have the luxury of time and space to block the rest of the world out of our local worlds. It seems to catch up with us every time. What might give us peace and strength is to realize we can change our lives for the better, yours, and mine, if we start from the whole working back to the parts. In other words, we can actively shape the future by expanding our own, group and cultural boundaries to the scale of our whole planet.
Based on the shared experiences, needs and our highest aspirations (which people are already expressing), we can collectively create new images for our future and our planet. When we experience a larger picture and a sense of wholeness, the questions, What am I, What is my group, What is my society, now have a context in which they are no longer separate identities, or choices.
Now, I can be a Philippine woman with an American or Indian degree, working in Japan, Vietnam, China or France and ... succeed and grow, bring all that I am to work and make a difference in the world. A new social image of the planet, in which we all have a hand in creating, gives me a sense of belonging, of wholeness and connectedness without having to forsake my love and respect for the roots of my upbringing.
An Open Life Workshop is designed to create a space, time, and structure in which people around the world may begin to act upon their needs for and create an Open Life.
An Open Life Workshop is structured like a journey.
You examine and discuss the events that have changed the world over the last decades, share your sense of deeper purpose and higher aspiration as human beings.
You work through and gain an understanding of how the turbulence in the world directly affects your local culture, group, and yourself.
Through examining the history and telling the tales and myths of your "group" and culture you begin to understand what is valuable about your collective past and worth carrying with you into the future.
As you examine and bring conscious attention to the unfolding of your own life you begin to "re-member" the parts of yourself that have become separate or isolated. The sum total is greater than that of a broken life. This consciousness or "knowing that you know" puts you in the center of your life, a powerful place from which you may initiate action.
A raised awareness of your changing environment; a new appreciation of your collective and personal histories; and a renewed understanding of yourself and your abilities will set the stage for creating the most desirable Open Life future. (The Open Life Workshop is both a personal and collective quest leading not only to visions of a desirable future but also into meaningful dialogue on what you are willing to commit to and live with.)
The next step is putting real effort into turning the desirable future into something achievable both for you and others by planning and designing realistic actions.
The real joy and treasure is to walk out of the workshop with a shift of mind, knowing that you are:
a vital part of a planetary community...
at home in your own culture...
actively pursuing an open life,... shaping the future and touching many others as you go.
Copyright Ned Hamson, 2005
Ned Hamson and Frank Heckman 1997