By Kerri Romeo
“‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.”
“Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’”from Alice in Wonderland, Chapter V
Can anyone else relate? When you started this trip through the political Wonderland did you identify as a Democrat or a Republican, a Liberal or a Conservative, only to find yourself no longer fitting these and other outdated descriptions and definitions? Have you changed more than once from the eye-opening understandings of distorted and dishonest policies, realities that were contrary to what you always truly believed and curiosities that led you to unexpected conclusions? Are the traditional and even the traditional radical (simply for the sake of being radical) ideologies both “not quite right” anymore?
Have you met someone who challenged you to define yourself? Have you had conversations that seemed to go in circles and left you feeling invalidated and misunderstood? Were you told to “keep your temper?” Were you confident that at some point others would also see what you see? That what once made sense no longer make sense anymore! But instead the response was a disheartening “not a bit”?
Like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, like Alice growing up, have you changed as a person after falling (or willingly jumping) into the rabbit hole? Is it a healthy change? Healthy transformation is not about being trendy and “woke.” It is not an “enlightened” personal discovery that isolates and disconnects us from the world around us. It is not a self-congratulatory, self-indulgent temporary “fix” that doesn’t really fix anything, but allows us to say: “Look at what I did”; “Look at me and how good I am” (I have always been a little skeptical about anyone who has philanthropist in their bio). Lights, camera, action…but the smile is gone when the attention fades. The words consciousness, awakening, and at this point even the words toxic and separation can leave a negative new-age impression that only seems to further push away those who need the support. If inner work leads to outer change, how do we find a balance that isn’t ego-based?
“There can be only one permanent revolution—a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”Leo Tolstoy (from Pamphlets, “Three Methods of Reform”, 1900
Alice finds what is happening to her confusing, which the self-indulgent would never be aware of or admit to. Change is not always comfortable, but that doesn’t necessarily make it toxic. As Marianne Williamson reminded us, “We have allowed ourselves the ultimate convenience of chronic political disengagement…Sometimes we’ve said that ‘it’s so toxic…I don’t want to participate in something that toxic.’”
It is natural for a caterpillar to transform into a butterfly. It is natural for us to grow and evolve.
2 ways to change ourselves without making it about ourselves:
- Education – Learn about history beyond traditional school books. What subject interests you? Learn about the current system from a trusted source like Ask Jesse
- Be aware of your everyday choices (Can you purchase that must-have item directly from a company rather than through Amazon? What price is being paid for fast fashion? Do you really need another new $5 T-Shirt? Is going vegan too extreme for you? What about supporting the end of factory farming, if not for animals, what about for the environment and public health safety?)
* Full transparency – these are not brought up as judgements – they are factors that I am learning about and working on myself. Remember…change will be uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice, the better you feel as you begin to notice part of the toxicity are feelings of shame that you can now let go of.
There is often the argument that the small efforts we make will not make a difference. Of course we need major changes in our system and many people won’t change unless the rules, regulations and laws are put into place and enforced. This brings up the arguments about restricting our freedoms and the fact that our government is driven by corporatism and most likely will not change. Do we wait for the government to change or do we change? Which comes first…the caterpillar, the chrysalis or the butterfly?
Up next…More of the Caterpillar and Mushrooms & Hookahs in Psychedelic Politics.
Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.