the importance of being a nobody

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In the last post we were talking about ideas as wildfire: they burn and destroy, they have awesome power and are therefore dangerous. There is a school of thought very dominant in the world at present that power is intrinsically good. Needless to say this is an idea promoted exclusively by the powerful, just as the rich (actual and would-be) have wonderful arguments in favour of riches.

The idea that most people associate with wildfire is its infectiousness. If you say something has caught on like wildfire, you are likely to be talking about some self-propagating fad or idea. The catch is that not all of what spreads in this fashion benefits the planet.

Rama reports that I told him “It is important to be a nobody,” and Kathy, a blogger who collects quotes, took it up; leaving me wondering what had been meant when it was said, in a certain pub in Fulham. I should know because it passed my lips, but I don’t, for I was acting as a messenger. Things like this ask to be said and I say them. Explanations are reasons guessed at after the event; perhaps that makes the explanations worthless. But it seems to me that if you are a “somebody”, you are trying to conform to the dictates of your role, whether it be Queen of the Realm, Prime Minister, or chairman of some committee. If you are a nobody—without ambition to be a somebody—you have no excuse to be other than yourself. Being yourself is the best thing you can possibly do in this life. Though I try and avoid beliefs and dogmas, the sentence I just highlighted is something I hold as true. Trying to be a somebody, in my book, merits a fine or a forfeit, like the “Go directly to Jail. Do not collect £200” card in Monopoly; for you have insulted your own Self.

This is by way of an introduction to The Scary Guy—his real registered name. He’s a man with a mission and for all my mistrust of gurus and teachers I can’t find fault with what he is doing. He goes round schools doing a presentation against bullying. He has a special way of doing that. He points out that none of us are exempt from the cruel sin of bullying. Children pick it up from adults—parents and teachers. Children make each others’ lives misery through it. He invites them—and us— to take up a challenge: for seven days and nights don’t say another negative word about any human being on this planet. Call everyone by their real name. His mission is aimed at schoolchildren, but he has a wider objective: the total elimination of hate, violence and prejudice—worldwide. I read somewhere that he asked himself: “Am I a genius?” Perhaps he is. I have the feeling he’s a nobody as well—I hope so. May his ideas spread like wildfire and burn up that hate, violence and prejudice.

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22 thoughts on “the importance of being a nobody

  1. Honestly I don't trust people who are too good. Or who are preaching absolute goodness.
    Sometimes I think this is what religion and false spirituality is all about. Just an opinion.

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  2. Thanks Imemine. You are right to be cautious, but please don't let caution turn into a blinkered dogma. Religion and false spirituality are everywhere, I admit, but they need to be understood in order to see what it is that they are doing wrong.

    Do you think that everyone who has ever preached goodness should have been ignored, in their own time? Should we allow no one to appeal to our innate sense of morality? Should no one denounce bullying? Should no one encourage children to make a stand against evils in their school playground?

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  3. I wonder if The scary Guy was bullied when he was young? or maybe he was the bully? some bullies stay bullies all thier life. I bet nobody bullies with The scary Guy now :)

    About the Tao Te Ching. I have found three translations online. I enjoy reading different translations.

    I haven't yet read the complete story on The Scary Guy. I'm wondering what advice he gives to the kids when they are bullied? I'll go read and see…

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  4. You can see him in the videos too. My understanding is that he had the tattoos done years before he found his present calling, so would agree with you that there would have been some heavy issues in his life.

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  5. Hullo

    Talking about being a “nobody”, I am reminded of a story.

    Have you noticed the time shown on a watch in any advertisement?

    Its 10:12.

    I had long wondered why this was so. I asked a watch repairer about this and he told me that this commemorated the man who invented the watch, the time shown being the time when he passed away.

    This took on another dimension in my consciousness! How awesome that someone had done something that forever profoundly changed people's lives, yet no one remembered him or his name. Nor was it necessary to know that. His work had been done! But the brotherhood he belonged to, of horologists, did have their way of reverencing his memory.

    A stanza in one of my “mystic” poems played on this story:

    They know not the one behind the pulse on their wrist,
    Rama looks, wistful and forlorn.
    Amidst signs of silent homage everywhere,
    The victorious bird soars clear of the clockwork of flesh!

    See:

    http://cuckooscall.blogspot.com/2006/07/ramas-plaint.html

    Best

    rama

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  6. Kathy, I have made a comment on George Breed's blog re the Tao te Ching. I could write more but to be honest I often want to say irreverent things about scriptures that would spoil the party. We've been brought up on the “Word of God” idea, and even though we may have moved away from Christianity we take the sense of “holy writ” with us. It's almost second nature to seek inspiration from these writings and to interpret them in a way that makes sense to our modern sensibilities. The Psalms for example are full of violent imprecations against enemies, and are for that reason the exact opposite of what we need in today's world. So Christians cherry-pick the non-violent ones, e.g. Psalms 23 and 121.

    But I would recommend the Ch'u Ta-Kao translation. It tries to avoid putting a modern spin on the ideas expressed.

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  7. Yves,
    Sometimes, bullying is healthy. (Notice my use of the word sometimes very often to qualify my statements.) It could a good way to prepare children and young people to the harsh realities of life and society. I know this because I have been exposed to a lot of bullying myself almost daily, myself not necessarily the victim all the time. A lot of it is of course psychological and verbal in nature and very little physical violence is involved — I am speaking of the “Dutch” form of bullying.
    Let me give you an example: many people, young and old, have the habit of insulting others in public, something like roasting and boasting, and this is very common. In our culture this is considered civilized and friendly except by people who are not used to it or who are just to proud and macho to bear the brunt of a little bullying. I used to have this attitude a number of years ago. Until I realized what it was all about. Coming from a different culture where politeness is the rule rather than an exception, I couldn't accept this kind of treatment. In fact I was becoming depressed and aggressive. Somehow I suddenly realized something and it changed my attitude completely. Long story short, instead of fighting back I laughed at my self and at others as well, everytime I was being bullied. This completely changed the whole situation; after some time, people changed their attitude towards me and everyone began to treat with respect and affection I never dreamed of. I can assure you I am probably the most popular guy at work because of this. This without losing my integrity and self-respect.
    Of course I cannot speak for the British and the Americans. Every culture is different. But often, peopel all over the world have exactly the same psychology.
    I'd like to share to you more of my insights into it. But I'm afraid I don't have much time now. Thank you for posing some questions.

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  8. Yves

    thanks for recommending the Ch'u Ta-Kao! i will look for it. Also thanks for your posts on Ideas, your writings in your blog helps me to think in other directions and i like that.

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  9. “Sometimes, bullying is healthy . . . It could a good way to prepare children and young people to the harsh realities of life and society.”

    There are many who share your views, Imemine, which have given rise to unofficial traditions amongst Army recruits which have led to suicides. You could argue that the suicides were obviously unsuited to Army life; but you could only say that if you felt that a strong Army is more important than individuals.

    Imemine, what is your attitude to those who seek to change the world rather than prepare young people to its harsh realities? Are you saying it is not our role to make a revolution?

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  10. “spoil the party” is an interesting concept. As far as i can gather, the Australian aborigines (i am, in fact, “indigenous”, but not “aboriginal”)..

    had no concept of “god”, as such. Everything originated from the “Dreamtime” of their ancestors.

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  11. yves,
    I was thinking about that for a while. What bullying is all about. Crudely I would say it is some kind of an initiation rite or a ritual to test the person's ability to cope with stressful situations and to find out if the person or individual is to be trusted. I think it starts with verbal or psychological attacks and if the person fails that he will be subjected to more and more of the same assaults until he learns his lesson and passes the test. Then he will accepted in the group not necessarily as lower ranking, but as a trustworthy member, a good friend not an enemy. This is to make sure the group doesn't have infiltrators or terrorists within its ranks.
    Let me give an example: if I come from another culture, group or race and I would like to join another for spritual, cultural and material reasons, and become integrated within that group, people will natural want to find out how willing, how useful and how trustworthy I am. And the group has many ways for finding out, no matter how unconscious these could be.
    Of course, in the Army we have an extreme situation where a member is expected to be completely reliable and trustworthy due to matters of life and death and survival of the group and the individuals or members. So if the initiate or neophyte doesn't pass the test he will be allowed to leave or made unfit to to become a member or remain in the group. And if he commits suicide because of it, it's probably because he never really understood what was going on and felt that he had been abused and mistreated for no apparent good reason. And of course, there are always individuals in the group who have other reasons than to ensure the safety and survival of the group but to aggrandize themselves and satisfy their ambitions, desires and lust. These are usually the high-ranking in the group, who confuse or equate their personal ambitions with the true purpose of the society or organization.

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  12. When a child is sent to school he has not applied to join some privileged group. He has no choice but to go to school. When he is different in ways that he cannot help – smaller, strange-looking, of a different racial group to the others – he will almost certainly be teased, called names, made to feel uncomfortable unless he manages to find some way of coping with it.

    Much of the bullying in schools is institutionalised, with the teachers doing it themselves,or the system itself condoning behaviour which denies the principle of unconditional respect for all.

    Those who are bullied when young – by parents, teachers, sergeants or peers – frequently go on to be bullies in adult life.

    Don't you see any link to the disrespect that becomes ethnic cleansing, genocide, religious persecution?

    Do you think it right that the strong should impose their kind of conformity on the weak?

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  13. Let me go to your question.
    I don't believe in any revolution. Revolution entails violence, spiritual, psychological and very often physical violence. There is an evolution going on, albeit slow, which does not require total change, uprooting, or destruction of the present status quo or powers that be. Pardon me for my inarticulateness.
    I don't mean to say we should rely on this all the time. If there is to be a radical change in society, this must start with the individual. This means that the individual must find ways to solve his own problems, without relying too much on outside help. Unless he becomes confused or becomes psychologically and financially incapable of doing this. I will not touch on the many possibilities; many of us are already exploring or practicing some form of spiritual transformation.
    If there is to be a revolution, it should not be thru a group, society, organization or thru a leader — a leader entails a group of course.
    And I will not mention the negative or disastrous effects or results of most organized religions and sects, not forgetting the cults which have accompanied them.
    What I'm saying is: The so-called messiahs, saviours, world teachers, great leaders who tried to change the world for the better have only served as models for politicians, con-men, charlatans in methods, ways and techniques of exploiting and enslaving people around the world, spiritually, psychologically and materially. And of course their authority has only ensured that people conform to their teachings and methods, without consulting their own intelligence and conscience, and making them incapable of finding their own solutions and of adapting to the society they are a member of or would like to be a member of. And there is the psychological fear implanted in their minds if they don't conform. (Of course, conforming is not necessarily wrong — I will always try to conform to the ten commandments as long as I am capable of doing so.)
    I am trying to think as I write this. I am not an intellectual so you have to make do with my explanations. I often need enough time to find out what I really think. so I will try again next time, as soon as I get some good ideas. ;>)

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  14. I just read your immediate response above and made me do some more thinking:
    We should not confuse bullying with racial discrimination and hatred and ethnic violence. These are usually extreme cases, brought about by lack of understanding and insights into what is really going on. The people who commit these or incite others to do these are very sick and stupid individuals, people who have no idea what society is for and have no idea what is going on in their lives and the world.
    So, how do we educate these people? Should we forbid them from doing what they are doing? Or do we simply try to get rid of them? ;>)
    I was expecting that you are writing some of your thoughts right now. So I will wait.

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  15. Imemine, thank you for your latest, comment, I agree with all of what you have said. As for revolution, I agree with you too, but the other kind of revolution is when consciousness changes and this spreads naturally. In fact this was the theme of my 2 wildfire posts – ideas. Some of them spread like widlfire, whether they are beneficial to us all or not.

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  16. Davo: yes what I meant by “spoil the party” was to join the Bible class as an unbeliever – not the lost sheep ready to repent, but an Old Testament prophet in reverse, howling damnation on the very notion of Holy Writ.

    I am glad you brought in the Aboriginals, my chosen brothers and sisters. I once in a fanciful moment invented a family tree in which I was descended from the secret union of a Catholic priest and a lubra – aboriginal word for woman.

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  17. What I mean by bullying – and I have learned this from The Scary Guy – is that it's any kind of disrespectful behaviour to anyone at all. I think his way of dealing with it – by pointing out to children the effects of bullying they can see in their own school yard, and giving them a way to eradicate it in their own lives – is a way that can spread in the whole world and eliminate as he says all hate, violence and prejudice.

    If you think this is unlikely or impossible, consider the revolutions in consciousness over the last thirty years in which sexism, racism, and prejudice against sexual orientation have been changed from mainstream attitudes to outlawed behaviour.

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  18. yves,
    Well then I agree with you.
    I can tell when people are very disrespectful and I try to put them in their right place. Not above me but below me. ;>)

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