Who am I? A stranger in a strange land, an exile. David Bohm’s story helps me to reframe my own as an exile who turns exile into an advantage.
The Fall of Empires
In the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the people inside the city walls were starving. As predicted in the Mosaic law, the people consumed their own children.
I imagined creating a persona of a personified Universe, and tears filled my eyes as I imagined the pain of watching so many species dying and becoming extinct. The children of the world are dying of starvation, dying in bomb strikes, drowning in the Mediterranean, being sold into slavery for sex trafficking, amassing student debt to live the rest of their lives in servitude to corporations and creepy old men who hoard billions of dollars and whitewash their crimes with a couple million dollars of philanthropy. The capitalists are a cult of death that consumes the world’s children.
We were asked to steward a garden and we set it on fire and made it a living hell, because of religious and political delusions of grandeur and empire.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, against living, breathing human beings. Our struggle is against the religious, legal, police, incarceration, and military institutions, the corporations, the brands, and the governments of this world who draw lines on maps to carve up land and target markets to exploit as resources for economic profit.
Anyone who talks about restarting this economy is declaring that they value abstractions more than they value life. They are choosing lies, fictions, disinformation, delusions, inventions, patents, brands, markets, ideologies, narratives, sacred texts, conspiracy theories, fame, wealth, and power over living, breathing human beings.
Alexandria is burning
When celebrities, billionaires, and salesmen are presidents, we effectively set fire to our faculties of reason and burn to the ground the project for the common good.
Building a Life in Exile
I remember thinking about how, when graduating high school and making the transition to college, I was invited into the company of people who had befriended me in high school, as someone who had been given the privilege to witness how normal people lived. Even then, I was a stranger in a strange land, an interloper, a fly on the wall. I didn’t have much to say. I hadn’t learned to form my own opinions, so I observed.
The observer has become the observed
Writing is the act of observing to become the observed. In that way, writing is at the heart of quantum mechanics and David Bohm’s ideas about hidden variables.
As a designer, I make the invisible visible. Bonnie DeVarco became the archivist of the Buckminster Fuller legacy. Bucky said, “Call me Trimtab.”
"The More Loving One" by W.H. Auden
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Exile has been the theme for the week. In exile, Thucydides discovered the ability and intention to tell an unbiased perspective of the Peloponnesian War, as much as that was possible, as a human subject. He had twenty-seven years to try to perfect his craft as the first journalist and war correspondent.
I am writing the first draft of history. At this moment, history is being written by the casualties, the victims, and the collateral damage of the war, rather than the victors. The losers have been trying to rewrite history in their own racist and white supremacist image, in the form of confederate statues and agent orange, but teenagers on Tik Tok are tearing down the façade and denuding the hateful emperor, baring the cruel narcissism of the older generation who is desperately trying to hold onto power, in their bid to deny death has any power over them. They sacrifice their children for a book written by cranky old men to prop up their failing empire, institutionalizing learned helplessness for centuries to come and planting the seeds for future colonization, genocide, and world wars.
I am reporting on the culture war, what Bucky referred to as the psychological war, World War III. As an exile, I have no skin in this game of identity politics. As someone who is of English-Canadian and Chinese descent, I pass as white, but I am not white. I have no identity. I am neither English, nor Chinese. I am neither Christian, nor non-Christian. I am neither corporate, nor non-corporate. I am anti-corporate while sole director of a corporation. I am Canadian, yet not by choice, but by accident of birth.
Who am I? A stranger in a strange land, an exile.
David Bohm’s story helps me to reframe my own as an exile who turns exile into an advantage.
Daniel turned exile into an opportunity to be second in power to the king amidst the rise and fall of successive empires. The lesson I learned from that story was never to be the one in charge. Trudeau thinks he is a leader when, in fact, he is the scapegoat for the corporate interests who use him to distract the public while they loot the public purse.
The Journey of the Soul
I remember a colleague saying, in reference to me, “A prophet has no honour in his own country.”
“If you’re going to be a person of faith over the next few years, you’re going to need to be poet. By which I mean you’re going to need to take language seriously. Almost sacramentally, actually. But you’re also going to need to be prophetic, which is a slight overused word I think. Just cause you’re angry doesn’t mean you’re a prophet. A prophet is looking at how we’re behaving and reporting back to us as to what’s going to happen if we keep carrying on as if; somebody who wants to interrupt what we’re doing for restorative purposes. So, a good prophet is not condemning, but is trying to put things right and restore wholeness and so on.”
— Mark Oakley on Nomad Podcast
To define means to try to capture something completely. When it comes to God, you can’t do it. It is impossible.
God is not the object of our knowledge. God is the cause of our wonder.
Nomad podcast (20:40)
Reimagining the Role of the Designer
As a designer, I am always trying to push the group to innovate. Somehow, I keep getting pulled into the centre of power, while wielding little power of my own. I answer to the ones in charge and I transform social systems by leading with design.
I have been a social architect, using design to move a generation through the power of words and images.
I have used my power through the influence of design to help people explore the wild wonder of Turtle Island, to find financial security through investing and managing money as a means to investing in people and a work environment that empowers people to discover their own influence, capacity, and agency. I created a social movement that centres our intentions on the greatest of the trinity of values: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. I built a design team with an international reach that is engaging in the work of social transformation by designing and building our digital infrastructure, the social systems of the future. But I did this in collaboration with the creative collective. I myself cannot take credit for these accomplishments. I needed colleagues who filled the gaps in my knowledge, skills, and experience. I needed mentors who entrusted me with their time, energy, and resources to accomplish what was otherwise impossible. I must give credit where credit is due. To lead from behind means being okay with someone else taking the credit. I know my limitations, but I also acknowledge my worth.
My legacy will not be to tear down the people who have welcomed me into their world and entrusted me to do what was best for everyone. I saw my time had come to an end, and I needed to make room for the next generation to take my place. It is uncomfortable to contemplate my death, but I must mourn the inevitable losses, and realize that I was only ever meant to be alive for a short time.
I am planting seeds in the rich soil of the coming generations, to hand them the knowledge, the tools, the skills, and the experience to carry on the work of building the kind of world that we all want to live in.
My legacy will be to expose our existing institutions as obsolete and self-destructive systems of control, exploitation, and hierarchical power that this culture worships and serves and to replace them with life-giving communities of creative collaboration centred on the core values of faith, hope, and love.
Words matter. They are physical embodiments of infinite potential. When liars hold power, we burn our faculties of civility and reason, leaving only the charred remains of truth, beauty, and goodness.
To reclaim a hopeful future, we must move beyond learned helplessness and resignation to our fate and the worst vices of human nature. We choose our common destiny by charting our journey together, one step at a time, marking the point on the horizon that represents our best efforts to give all of our love for 100% of humanity as we take up our original calling to be stewards of this Earth and every living creature with whom we share this planet.
May we be one, you in me and I in you. The whole universe is alive. We are the embryo being formed in the womb of Mother Earth. “The creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” This is no time to abort the mission of Space Ship Earth. (Mixed metaphor intended.)