Reflections on the Foundational and Deleterious Influence of Boarding School on the Culture-at-large
The sound of the gnashing of British teeth has reverberated across the globe. It would be an understatement to say that much has been made of Brexit. So much has been written and said about how and why this has happened. While there indeed is much ado about something, that ‘something’ actually lives below the mud-wrestling veneer, and it wants to be heard.
While the leadership of the two sides steered the Brexit Vote largely to gain political and economic advantage for themselves and their backers, their unconsciousness, which fuels their hubris and lack of empathy, has blinded them to the collateral damage that:
(1) Threatens their own self-interest and dominance due to the current Depression-era like inequality.
(2) Presents ever-evolving and complex outcomes that will undoubtedly spiral in unpredictable ways including, perhaps, extinguishing the potential for a more egalitarian and compassionate Britain, and moving the nation in a darker direction.
(3) Has stoked the latent and deep-seated anger and racism of the people, who are being pushed to the limits of their patience.
What is going on in Britain? What is going on in the world? We are confused. Is all of this suffering, judgment, alienation, prejudice, anxiety, depression, resignation and violence “normal”? How did our cornucopia of addictions seamlessly, and practically unbeknownst to us, interweave themselves into our lives? Why does our leadership consistently and historically make decisions that jeopardize the health and well-being of the people at large? Is our political system so dysfunctional, careless and out of touch with its citizenry that it engineered the Brexit vote for short-term political gains, while its actual results have served to massively increase the insecurity of the people?
Sidebar: In case you are concerned that this is a partisan work, keep in mind that this very same book could have been published during Labour’s recent leadership which resulted in Britain’s calamitous involvement in the Iraq War. As will be discussed, partisan politics largely serves to mask deeper societal issues.
At the root of what ails Britain, and influences much of the world, is a centuries-old Boarding School Culture that is the foundation of a hyper-masculine, left-brained society which has eschewed empathy, compassion and community to such a degree that we are in a kind of generational collective shock. And when we are in shock, it becomes incredibly challenging to recognize the historic and unconscious forces at work.
British society is a macrocosm of a Boarding Culture that, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, and convinced of its inherent quality, unwittingly betrays its children. These abandoned children pay a steep price to protect themselves. They build a wall that cuts them off from their hearts, because to actually feel the betrayal is too much to bear. They are alone now. Eight years old. Eleven years old.
As the child becomes an adult, the cold wall invariably remains firmly in place, though most are unaware of its presence. Then, they find themselves in leadership positions in all areas of society, including Government, Business, Law and Medicine. What else are most of these people going to do but pass on the betrayal to the people in their charge? It’s not on purpose. To their core, it’s what they know. It’s not recognized as betrayal because it is simply a foundational aspect of our culture. They don’t know any better because of compromised accessibility to their feelings.
I was born in England in 1970 and attended Boarding School from the ages of six to ten, after which I moved, with my family, to Toronto, Canada. In the last three years, as I have looked into the role of Boarding School in my life and on Britain and the world, the similarities between all the Anglo countries, in every domain, especially politically, are plain to see. Of course, this is not surprising considering that the British system is the massively influential bedrock of all three former colonies (United States, Canada and Australia).
In Canada, we are momentarily distracted by the fresh and optimistic visage of Justin Trudeau, but with every day that goes by it becomes obvious that, like those before him, like British leaders, he can’t or won’t make decisions of any real consequence when it comes to doing right by the people. Hence, from this point on in the piece I will refer to all of these leaders, including those from Australia and the United States, as “our” leaders and “our” culture. They, and we, are all cut from the same worn and tattered cloth, though they, and maybe less we, continue under the many centuries-long delusion that the cloth is woven from the finest silk. The incongruence of these two positions is perfectly represented by the Boarding School system, and is so stark that some form of disconnection from feelings is, and has been, required for survival, whether you are a boy or girl, man or woman.
After hundreds of years of this privileged abandonment and mistreatment being handed down to the unprivileged masses, we have a culture governed by normalized and systemic betrayal and trauma, which in turn has engendered a chronic pattern of bullying and judgment against those around us, beneath us – and especially foreigners.
For well over three hundred years, the approach that is taught at our Boarding and Private Schools, as well as our universities, has imbued Britain with a system where the rational component has been hugely over-represented while the feeling component has been relegated to side-show status. The same imbalance can be found in varying degrees in nations throughout the world who fell under colonial rule. Meanwhile, no other nation in the last few centuries has influenced the world more than Britain. That is why Brexit has had such a global impact. That is why English is humanity’s lingua franca. That is why all the top British Boarding Schools have opened locations in the Middle East and Far East; and why even our enemies send their children to our schools.
What do many of us have in common with Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Tony Blair, Winston Churchill, Donald Trump and Princess Diana? Other than the fact that they all attended Boarding School, we actually have a lot more in common with them than we might suppose, including varying levels of childhood trauma. These figures are just a few among the many thousands of leaders in all walks of life over the centuries who have influenced those lower in the socio-political hierarchical structure; their ways have become our ways. After all, the privileged have always been looked up to: their dazzling material and social success obscuring the betrayal and trauma that have governed their lives. Ironically, we cut the privileged less slack because, after all, they have had “everything”. If we only knew the truth, or more accurately, felt the truth, then our compassion would flow: for them and for ourselves. For they are us. The Football Hooligan and the CEO are two sides of the same coin.
It can be difficult to see the costs of privilege, hidden in plain sight, because we are all, with our leaders, much like fish in the sea, unaware of the water because it’s all we see. We are collectively moving so fast, on automatic, afraid to slow down. And yet… the firmly entrenched avoidance of what is before us is starting to lose its illusory lustre.
Brexit is yet another in a long line of minor and major indicators, in this case massively significant, that something is wrong with the way we are going about our business; or more accurately, that it might be high time for an evolutionary adjustment. This nexus point, co-created by the people and the leadership, provides a tremendous opportunity for us to become more aware of the unconscious patterns at work, personally and globally, that adversely affect us; that fuel the myth of the inevitability of a “dog-eat-dog” world.
The victory of the Leave camp is significant because the Brexit vote was more relevant than a general election vote, despite attempts to downgrade its legitimacy. After all, regardless of whether the Conservatives or Labour win power, the underlying approach – and the economic and social results – do not vary a great deal. In fact, under both parties, income inequality has gone through the roof since Britain joined the EU, with entire segments of the population having been left in the economic dust. While we are endlessly distracted with this and that economic effect from the vote, we are not attending to the most important economic reason behind the Leave victory, namely income inequality.
Brexit was a rare vote of actual consequence in which the democratic votes of citizens were not diluted by a gerrymandered ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system in which the voices of millions of voting citizens end up counting for nothing (let alone the 34% of the uninspired electorate who didn’t even bother to vote in the last general election). Our leaders would never have allowed the citizenry to wield this kind of power if it had any awareness of them.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently released a study which confirmed what is obvious: “People who felt that they had been pushed to the margins of society, on low incomes and living in low-skilled areas, were the driving force behind Brexit… the way Britons voted in June’s referendum was deeply divided along economic, educational and social lines, with a lack of opportunity across swaths of the country resulting in people opting to leave the EU…”. Yet, we should also be careful not to exaggerate the differences in the vote: the ‘haves’ also voted a huge 40-45% to Leave. “Julia Unwin, the chief executive of the foundation, called the results a “wake-up call”, arguing that Britain could not afford to return to business as usual in the wake of the vote.”
How is the leadership responding to this ‘wake-up call’? They are doing what they know best, drinking from the same old well and looking backwards to a point where their approach apparently made sense: because this new information simply cannot be computed. Actually hearing the voices of the people falls outside of the long-established boundaries of citizen-government relations.
Contrary to all the fear-mongering about economic collapse following a Leave vote, the economy is just fine, in the sense that it is still terrible and still being mismanaged as before – at least with respect to the majority of the people.
Fifteen weeks later and there are still many more questions than answers. Meanwhile, in the Remain camp: (1) There are status quo forces working furiously to somehow undo the result; and if they drag it out long enough maybe a cyclical and massive economic event will unfold that may ‘force’ the government to back-track on the will of the people; (2) there was nary any work done to prepare for a possible Leave victory. They have to figure out how to Leave if it can’t be undone; the goal being a Brexit-lite whereby, in practice, as little as possible will change from the pre-vote conditions.
As for the Leave crowd, for a while they disappeared into the woodwork but in the last month they, led by Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary, David Davis, have once again come to the fore. Is that to the Prime Minister’s chagrin? Who knows at this point? It’s clear from the intensely polarizing information appearing in the media, just how complex the behind-the-scenes internecine maneuverings are proving to be. Meanwhile, the Leave camp have conveniently abandoned the cornerstones of their campaign, which, could be argued, played a notable role in taking their side over the top, despite their hollow protestations to the contrary.
Every day, we are inundated with conflicting and fear-mongering reports on the pros and cons of Brexit. Every aspect of our society, especially the economy, is examined through the many dizzying faces of the Brexit prism, the people constantly on tenterhooks. Is Brexit even possible under the current laws? Was the referendum actually only a recommendation, with the decision actually resting in the hands of Parliament? The truth is plain to see: no one has a handle on what is really going on. Our leadership, on all sides, are in over their heads. It’s all going too far off the rails.
And, yet, at all times, our leaders position themselves as being the founts of knowledge. However feckless they may be, they operate from the entitled presumption that they know better than the citizenry. From the Guardian, here is a fictional exchange between two members of the government:
Business minister: My problem is that I don’t think the people understood what they were voting for.
Brexit minister: I agree – we handled that really well, don’t you think?
The title of article from which this exchange is extracted, “Brexit means Brexit: the problem of the people’s will”, reveals a core truth: our democracy is beset with the inconvenient opinions and desires of the people. To the establishment, especially in an age of unprecedented access to information, it simply cannot follow that the people had their own legitimate reasons for voting to Leave. The details of those reasons, some of which were manipulated by the likes of Nigel Farage, are less relevant than the bottom line: as in the United States, a large number of Britons have lost total confidence in the political process.
We have heard much regarding the education gap between the two camps as a big reason why the Remain side lost, despite the fact that millions of educated people also voted to leave. Furthermore, could it possibly, just remotely possibly, be that the poorly educated, less indoctrinated as they are by our ultra left-brained, rational approach, may have a more accurate pulse of what is actually going on? Establishment stalwarts may laugh at such a suggestion, but, at some point, underestimating the peasants becomes problematic (eg) Brexit.
Besides, where has all of this vaunted education, from the likes of the Dragon School, to Eton, to Oxford and Cambridge, gotten us? No doubt much brilliance has emerged via these institutions but at what cost? An adherence to an approach that placed far too much emphasis on the mind and its machinations has marginalized the heart. The result of this severe imbalance is a culture rife with addiction and narcissism. The opportunity is to come back to the middle, with the mind being the emissary of the heart. From that place, the mind can do its best work.
Yes, we can certainly hang our hats on our glorious history and technological advancements, which for centuries have been prioritized, but the deeper questions concern how we are doing.
We keep being shown how we’re doing but, steeped in avoidance and denial, we’re having trouble recognizing the signs. So, these signs will have to become increasingly obvious, and potentially dangerous. Things have deteriorated to such an extent that politicians, like Mr. Trump and Mr. Johnson, who otherwise usually find themselves at the fringes of power, are instead front and centre.
What has the governing party learned from this debacle that was the product of its internal party machinations? Predictably, not much, since the divisions that existed before the vote still remain firmly in place as the two sides within the Conservative Party work feverishly to win the day; once again at the expense of the people. The Tory back-stabbing and carnage in the aftermath of the vote was quite something to behold. And yet, wasn’t it just “Business as Usual”? This is our leadership. They are our representatives. They are us.
Need we ask if Labour has learned from all this Brexit business? What does it say about the Labour Party that, even after the negligent Tory mishandling of the Brexit vote and the subsequent public and gory internal blood-letting, Labour are trailing by 17% in the polls? It says that, as with the Tories, they are far more enamoured with inner-party power-plays than the good of the people. Such is the depth of the Labour narcissism that no less than Tony Blair, a convicted criminal in some parallel universe, is actually considering throwing his hat into the ring once again. Even the remote prospect of this, especially after Mr. Blair’s recent excoriation in the Chilcott Report, speaks to the disconnect between our leaders and the people. In other words, business as usual.
For Britain, and much of the world, business as usual, involves a long-term legacy of sacrificing our feelings at the altar of The Age of Reason. Regardless of gender, the feminine, the emotional, the instinctual, the receptive, the gentle and the big picture has been overwhelmed by a masculine, logical, specializing, practical, penetrating, efficient and obvious perspective that crosses class and religious boundaries. The result of this profound imbalance between the masculine and the feminine is a traumatized, confused and addicted culture that escapes and hides behind a wall, personal and collective, that we scarcely know exists. We don’t see the wall because we are the wall.
This historic disconnect makes it difficult to trust life; to trust ourselves. We have trouble understanding the incongruence of it all. So, we lean on our addictions to make us feel better, to escape. Actually, it’s not about one or two addictions any more. We have been taken over by this contorted way of being. Our connection with others is compromised as we assume the worst about people. How quick have we become in throwing people under the bus at the drop of a hat: “taking the piss” at every opportunity? Addiction and ridicule are national pastimes.
Another pillar of British Society is racism. Brexit has brought the foundational and latent British racism to the fore. Though racism has somewhat been tucked away beneath a veneer of civility and moral superiority, we can see from a segment of the British population, the ones who refuse to hide it, and some of whom are Brexiters, that it is very much still in play.
Speaking of racism, nowhere is the schism that Britain finds itself mired in more instructive than in the continued deification of its favourite son, Winston Churchill. With the benefit of hindsight, again, in a parallel universe, Mr. Churchill, might now be seen more clearly as a terribly unconscious man who had a direct hand in the suffering and murder of millions of people. It’s difficult to entertain such an idea for most Brits because for the last century he has been presented as the embodiment of all that is magnificent about being British.
Despite a near national obsession, especially for power-brokers, with maintaining a pure perspective on Mr. Churchill, it is clear from his own words and actions that, like most of the nation, he was racist, though arguably more than the average Brit. “’I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.’
But what should we expect from a man who at Harrow and Sandhurst learned that “the superior white man was conquering the primitive, dark-skinned natives, and bringing them the benefits of civilisation.”
Mr. Churchill’s actions in Africa, The Middle East, India and Ireland showed that he simply took what he learned and put it into action. This knowledge, combined with a foundation of parental betrayal and his boarding experience, produced an extreme version of the British Man. Of course, in all cases, Mr. Churchill did nothing other than act in traditional British leadership fashion. In that sense, he should not be singled out as being anything other than… British. If one truly believes that some humans are lesser than, then, from a logical left-brain perspective, all manner of cruelty can be justified – as we have seen repeatedly throughout history.
How did Britain become the most successful empire the world has ever seen? In part, at least, by being the only one of the colonising powers that sent away its children. When you can unconsciously betray your own children, the moral and ethical boundaries in dealing with the heathens of the world are necessarily quite porous.
If only the people knew the actual and glorious history of Africa; that until colonisation various African civilisations were at the forefront of science, architecture, literature and intellectual exploration. Instead, we have been led to believe that Africa was a backward place that deserved demolition. If only the people knew the brutal extent of the history of British and European action in Africa, India, North America and the Middle East; campaigns of domination sponsored by our emotionally crippled leadership, who then place the burden of execution squarely on the shoulders of our working class soldiers.
How is it any different when it’s state-sponsored racism in the form of attacking, invading and occupying sovereign nations as compared to some British people being racist towards refugees and immigrants? The pattern is clear in our hierarchical system: working class people are betrayed by their leadership, and they take it out on whoever ranks below them, currently migrants and refugees. Is this racism? Yes, just as the Guardian said in 2015, “There’s a risk of resentment towards people being given asylum in communities that already feel powerless and under pressure.”
As always, things are not so black and white. It turns out the disenfranchised and poverty-stricken Brit has good cause to be angry. Has anything been done in the last decades to allay this concern, to make sure that they don’t fall between the cracks? The results of the Brexit Vote provided the answer.
For centuries, our soldiers have returned from the front lines, scarred for life, especially as they have come up against their own humanity while torturing and killing an enemy that has been deemed lesser than themselves.
British action in Kenya in the early 1950s, a few short years after the Holocaust, and under the leadership of Winston Churchill, beggars belief. The British put 1.5 million Kenyans into a detention camp where,
“thousands were beaten to death or died from malnutrition, typhoid, tuberculosis and dysentery. In some camps almost all the children died… The inmates were used as slave labour. Above the gates were edifying slogans, such as ‘Labour and freedom’ and ‘He who helps himself will also be helped’… Interrogation under torture was widespread. Many of the men were anally raped, using knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels, snakes and scorpions. A favourite technique was to hold a man upside down, his head in a bucket of water, while sand was rammed into his rectum with a stick. Women were gang-raped by the guards. People were mauled by dogs and electrocuted. The British devised a special tool which they used for first crushing and then ripping off testicles. They used pliers to mutilate women’s breasts. They cut off inmates’ ears and fingers and gouged out their eyes.”
How is this even real, let alone in the 1950s? What of the poor British soldiers who were responsible for inflicting this ungodly madness? What became of their souls after the fact? Think of the burden they carried as they returned home and re-integrated back into a British society that has been well-trained to absorb and deny such shame.
Only an acute system of rationalization and dissociation can somehow reconcile this level of savagery. The leadership cannot take proper care of our soldiers when they have returned; because to do so requires acknowledgement of what they have endured, which comes up against the expert levels of avoidance and denial that are hallmarks of our culture. So, our returning soldiers are left to twist in the wind.
Interestingly enough, even with this latent racism, the reality is that Brexit would not have happened if all the citizens of the country had been properly attended to by their leadership. With the abdication of their responsibility, the British elite are confronted by an increasingly vocal and angry portion of the population that has been neglected and undermined for so long that there is little charity left in them. Instead of empathy for these people, we look down on them. Embarrassed by their unacceptable behaviour, we and chide and marginalize them even further. Why? Because they are shining a light on our own un-owned shame and pain.
Because we have so much trouble ‘feeling’ in our culture, our childhood and adult trauma is either not recognized or massively underestimated. What happens to that trauma, that is so real? It lives on, except it becomes entombed in a netherworld far beyond the wall of denial. With self-reflection considered anathema in our culture, the disowned trauma takes on a life of its own in the background, tripping us up on a regular basis. We are a culture that walks through life unable to identify and acknowledge the personal and generational betrayals, given and received. In place of healthy mechanisms to deal with trauma we are proud to engage the old Stiff Upper Lip (SUL). SUL is generally seen as one of our positive characteristics as it helps our many brothers and sisters, from all walks of life, and who are struggling, to keep said lip firmly in place in order to avoid biting it until it bleeds.
For hundreds of years now, the template for government and leadership has been so super-glued into place that we continually champion the same pedantic, soul-sucking approach, regardless of political affiliation. There is a straight line connecting Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair to David Cameron to… whoever comes next. Is there anyone who genuinely believes anything will be different under Theresa May, despite her populist exhortations? Upon what can we base the Prime Minister’s current populist approach, other than the opportunistic filling of the current vacuum gifted by the bumbling Labour Party and the invisible Liberal Democrats?
Despite the predictably poor results emanating from our leadership we soldier on, full-steam ahead. Moving right along. Nothing to see here. Because if we do look within, there is a veritable Pandora’s box of troubles that is too big to deal with, overwhelming to consider. Instead, we keep unconsciously recycling and doubling down on the worst aspects of ourselves while presenting those very same aspects as being things to be proud of. Hence, Mr. Churchill taking his place on the £5 note and a new biography which exemplifies British denial. The title says it all: Hero of the Empire. How on earth can Britons acknowledge and integrate Mr. Churchill’s, and Britain’s, abhorrent record when he keeps being presented to us in such a one-dimensional fashion?
Mr. Churchill’s lofty position in British culture and history reveals just how far Britons are from understanding where they have come from and what is causing the endemic frustration and malaise. There is a general futility that pervades the culture, bolstered by centuries of a myopic left-brained approach that has left us neutered and confused.
How is Britain doing as a culture? British Mental Health and Addiction figures are amongst the worst in the Western world. “Large numbers [of Brits under 30] describe themselves as worn down (42%), lacking self-confidence (47%).” UK rape figures are at a record high. In one survey of Oxford students, 90% watched pornography; 80% of 16 year olds, and 33% of 10 year olds, watch pornography. “When hundreds of scenes were analyzed from the 50 top selling adult films, 88% of scenes contained acts of physical aggression.” One third of female students have been sexually assaulted or abused on campus, which some are saying cannot be allowed to continue, even as it does, relentlessly so.
Many of us wonder what is going on, but don’t have enough access to our intuition and feelings to properly comprehend why things look the way they do. Neither we, nor our leaders, know because we are all deeply locked in to a normalized, unfeeling structure that can only produce results that satisfy its own limited raison d’etre. Its presence is so over-arching that it usually manages to resist and nullify any outside variables that enter the equation. Yet, the edges have been fraying for some time.
The difficult to accept reality is that due to this systemic disconnect, both as individuals and leaders, we are all actually doing the best we can – despite how it may seem on the surface. Maybe a negligible few are purposely trying to hurt other people; even so they are only being mean because they are lost in a sea of hurt. This is not an exoneration of bad behaviour but an explanation for it.
How can we hope and expect our leadership to act for the good of the people when we voluntarily send our young children, often our future leaders, away to be with strangers in a strange place?
So, how do we address this logical/emotional imbalance that has us and the world so frazzled? For centuries, Britons have been leaders of humanity, including being at the forefront of the scientific and technological revolution. Unfortunately, as Brexit affirms, the moral bankruptcy of our skewed approach is catching up to us. The world has witnessed our leadership, from Tony Blair to David Cameron, acting with cynicism and self-interest. Why do all of our governments, regardless of party, perform so poorly by the people? Maybe that’s the wrong question. Because, after all, they represent us. They are us. Since nothing happens without the tacit approval of the people, at least in our purported democracy, why are we so locked into, and is there a way of altering, this rooted template?
If only Britain had a real-life and recent example of one of its own who had the outrageous courage to step beyond the unfeeling programming. Well, it does: Princess Diana. Our misogynistic culture has underestimated the impact Diana had on the people of Britain – and the world – despite the fact that she is the most beloved human in history. 2.5 Billion humans (42%) watched her funeral, which was, and still remains, the single most watched television event in history.
As with Winston Churchill, Diana represents an extreme manifestation of the Brit who was born from and into profound levels of betrayal and trauma; all the while trapped within a social construct that sidesteps the personal awareness needed to live a more balanced life. She was driven to the edge of catastrophe, attempting suicide on multiple occasions, including throwing her pregnant self (with William) down a flight of stairs; all while contending with an unprecedented and glaring spotlight.
How did she survive? Unable to be seen, felt and restrained within the confines of the Royal Family, or her own family for that matter, she turned to the people. In a world of veiled empathy, Diana shone with her disarming transparency which was un-British and most definitely un-Royal. She made people feel alive, because far beyond her physical beauty she emanated something transcendent that stirred the netherworld in people. Typical Royalty, in the classic patrician mode, and deeply dissociated as they are from the people, always hide behind the safe confines of the gilded gate and carriage, deigning to grace the people with the occasional desultory wave.
So many citizens, trapped within a class hierarchical system that still proffers greater value to the lives of those at the top, look to these supra-humans for acknowledgment, inspiration, clarity and guidance – not aware of the spiritual bankruptcy of those they look up to. Royalty, as with Boarding School and the Military, is another of our major institutions whose ‘privileged’ members are ensnared within an elaborate structure that governs their every move. Your life is not your own. Your loyalty is always to the Crown. History has shown us that the pressure on so many of these poor Royals has often been back-breaking.
Diana stepped out from behind the wall. Like all of us, she was a complex character full of flaws. Yet, despite the traumas of her own life, she found solace in communing with the people: sharing of her vulnerability, her hope for herself, her children and the people.
She actually made physical contact with other human beings, including the sick and vulnerable. It was Royally unprecedented and the people responded to leadership that really cared. Humans from all corners of the earth connected with her, their recessed compassion stirred. Her startling empathy was a salve for the hundreds of millions of people who were struggling and confused. Without having to utter a word, she was a beacon, beckoning to the long dormant and abandoned feelings that are aching to be rescued.
It’s easy to focus on Britain’s many shortcomings, historically and presently. Yet, Britain also created Diana. The most beloved person in the history of humanity is British. How did she win over the world? With her courage, with her grace, with her touch, with her astonishing vulnerability that people of all backgrounds connected with, and which has been misconstrued by her detractors as weakness. Diana revealed for humanity just how similar we all are. Her light reached deep into the hearts of a collectively traumatized humanity. And it was okay. The people allowed her light in because they felt her abiding goodness. They felt safe with her. Though she died much too young, there is little doubt that towards the end of her life she was really living; for the first time. The reciprocating adoration of the people aided her in finding a level of peace that surely must have seemed an impossibility to her for most of her life. She showed us all very compellingly that there is hope for us yet.
She also illuminated the path forward: compassion and non-judgment. This journey begins with the self. As Diana realized, or desperately stumbled into, we must take care of ourselves first. That’s when she really started to live. Sounds selfish? Does Diana strike us as a selfish person? On the contrary, aligning with her heart set her free. Her children undoubtedly felt the shift in her and if they don’t know it yet, the alternative would have been to watch their beloved mother disintegrate before their eyes. This universal selfishness involves mustering enough belief to look within: the only place with the true answers to our questions. We are called to attend to our own weighty baggage, which includes the trauma and betrayal that has been passed down to us by our ancestors. It’s hard to overstate the power of a single person amongst us ceasing to unleash and project our own issues onto others. There is an inverse correlation between doing this work and how much compassion and non-judgement we have available for others.
Traditional therapy often involves endlessly digging in to the past and remaining there. Compassionate Inquiry, as developed by Dr. Gabor Mate, seeks only to connect with the past with the view to shedding a light on the present; to help us identify and connect with our present feelings.
To do this work requires a place where we can feel safe. Space helps as well. In our warp speed world, it’s all but impossible to gain a new perspective without slowing down. Courage is the key that opens the door. No doubt, this will sound fluffy to some, and that’s okay. It’s anything but. It is as tangible as rocks and metal. Life can sure look different from this place. Good different. From this place we won’t be required to do the impossible by going over or around the wall. We’ll just go through it; which will provide the opportunity to acknowledge and dissolve our lineal and cultural patterns that keep us locked within an endlessly questionable and depressive existence.
We all have these moments of clarity, like Brexit, that for a majority of voters cut right to the core of who we are and what is important. Alas, the multi-generational patterning that has such an incredible hold on us, works overtime to pull us back in to that familiar rigid and unforgiving place where we dare not believe that things can be different. Because of this old-school resistance, these momentously distracted moments usually end up being fleeting, undone by a return to the safe and familiar confines of business as usual; but not always.
I recently contacted the Director, Colin Luke, of the seminal Boarding School documentary film, The Making of Them. I just felt the desire to chat with him about the film and to let him know how powerful it is and the impact it had on me. I was not surprised that the sensitivity that Colin mines in the film comes from an authentic place. He relayed one story to me that perfectly illustrates this sudden clarity. After the film was shown on BBC, it was sold to a variety of other domains, including as in-flight entertainment. A British CEO who was flying to New York from London ended up watching the film. Shattered, he cried hard at the end. When he got off the plane he immediately took his two boys out of Boarding School – and then called the Director to share the magnitude of the moment. The ensconced pattern lyrically unravelled in an instant of clarity.
Though the road ahead is challenging, to say the least, there are ways of balancing our masculine and feminine; to undo the tangled web we have weaved. While there is no more important work to be done, there is nothing that ‘must’ be done. Compassion and non-judgment consort with real choice – and free will. Together, we will either choose to re-integrate the feminine into our lives in a meaningful way or continue down the road already heavily trodden on. Will we venture into the unknown or live with the consequences of business as usual?
When we spout conventional wisdom, back-up information is scarcely required. This book will examine, in detail, the assertions that have been made, which necessitates digging deep into the topics of addiction, ridicule, colonialism, Africa, party politics, the military, media and racism, into the history of the nation, and by delving into the lives of Boris Johnson, Tony Blair, JK Rowling, Harry Patch, David Cameron, Winston Churchill, Roald Dahl, The Football Hooligan, Prince Charles, Donald Trump, King Leopold II of Belgium, Dr. Gabor Mate, Michael Gove, The British Soldier, Theresa May, George Monbiot, Mansa Musa and the Queen, amongst others.
*** As tempting as it may be to skip ahead, I highly encourage the reading of this work in the order it is presented.
Bard Azima is a Writer, Photographer, Filmmaker, Empathy Miner and Boarding School Survivor.
You can read more of his work at: www.empathyrising.com.
Here are the other sections of this work:
Boarding School: An Invitation to Dig Deeper – Part 3 – Reflections on David Cameron and Boris Johnson: Boarding School, Systemic Betrayal and the Subjugation of the Feminine as Outgrowths of The Age of Reason
Boarding School: An Invitation to Dig Deeper – Part 7 – Reflections on Donald Trump, Ridicule as a National Pastime, The Sheer Scale of Humanity’s Endless Trauma, The Continuation of Global British Influence and the Troubling Legacy of Winston Churchill
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