The World as an Ally

Living in the chaotic times that we do, it’s understandable why we would view the world as a hostile place. Indeed, we’re encouraged, from many directions, to fear the world and see it as something that we need to protect ourselves against. If this is not explicitly stated, it is an unquestioned assumption. Parents, teachers, authorities, and society at large may think that encouraging us to see it this way is in our best interest. It’s a viewpoint that is deeply ingrained in us and, with awareness or not, a viewpoint that we encourage in others too. But what would it be like if we chose to see the world as an ally instead?

The thought of not seeing the world as hostile can provoke all sorts of reactions. Isn’t it just naïve and foolish? Isn’t it dangerous? So, perhaps it would be a good idea to take a look at what seeing the world as an ally doesn’t mean, as well as what it does mean.

It doesn’t mean that in some vague way everything that happens was ‘meant to be’ and that it is ultimately part of some positive, laid out plan. As human beings we have free will and some of the choices that we make are not good ones. Also, even if at some level there is a pattern of meaning concerning the evolution of humankind, that doesn’t cancel out the suffering that occurs for many on a daily basis or mean that that doesn’t matter. It does.

It doesn’t mean that we can just reframe all the ‘bad stuff’ in a positive light. There are times when we need to protect ourselves and take action to prevent harm to our self and to others.

Seeing the world as an ally means interpreting all that we encounter through a different perceptual framework. What’s happening isn’t the world ‘out to get us’; it’s the world reflecting back to us, in a complex way, the manifestation of all that is going on inside of us. The world is an ally because it shows us what we need to know about our inner-process and provides us with opportunities to take ownership for that.

Associated with this viewpoint is an assumption of connection, that our inner-world and the outside world are intimately linked. It also assumes a connection with those other people whom we encounter in our daily lives, whether that connection is a close or a distant one. There is also an assumption of meaning, that our lives and the events that take place in the world have meaning and that that meaning can be communicated and understood. For me, this involves a spiritual dimension, with all that is happening occurring on many levels of our being, with each level mattering.

This doesn’t mean that we can understand everything that the world is trying to tell us. We have our current limitations of understanding. But also, the unknown is an intrinsic part of our reality. There will always be more things that we don’t know than we do know. There will always be opportunities to grow and discover more of who we are.

This viewpoint isn’t about blame and what’s happening in the world isn’t a punishment. We’re not to blame for all that is wrong in our lives, nor are we to blame for all of the atrocities in the world. However, we are responsible. True responsibility isn’t about blame and it isn’t about obligation. It’s about how we choose to respond to what is happening in our lives and to what the world is showing us. True responsibility is freeing and brings change through the impact we make through our responses and actions. How we respond will be unique for each of us and in each situation that we encounter. One way to respond is by having compassion.

Seeing the world as an ally isn’t the soft option. It involves taking seriously that we and the world matter. It involves taking a higher degree of responsibility, which can be exposing and vulnerable-making. It involves having the courage to see things differently, when others don’t want us to.

Leigh Osborne, Copyright April 2018

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