Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Fall of the A-Write-ocracy?

This morning I relished with somewhat devilish delight a provocative opinion piece appearing in today's Huffington Post entitled New Rules for Writers: Ignore Publicity, Shun Crowds, Refuse Recognition and More.

Though some have speculated that this article may actually be satirical, it echoes many of the sentiments genuinely expressed by writers consciously choosing to bypass the disempowering aspects of those in the traditional writing establishment who are not enlightened or progressive enough to empower authors. I happen to know because I'm one such writer.

The push and pull of differing opinions on this topic come up regularly on weekly #writechat discussions on Twitter, with today no exception. In fact, last week, the topic was so very raw, afterwards I may have been the first to coin the new term "a-WRITE-ocracy" to describe the elitist attitudes that are unfortunately so commonplace in the established writing world, with the many writers in waiting circulating around its ivory palaces.

No matter how shrill the denials or condescending comments, there is no escaping the fact that a genuine writer's rebellion has been underway for so long, it is essentially a fait d'accompli.

The rebellion is actually not quite as revolutionary as we may think. Although not as accessible in the days of old, its seeds were already present in everything from cheap broadside ballads, chapbooks, almanacs and alternative news sources to the unconventional approaches of the talented 19th century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Self-publishing is the writer's entrepreneurship, not all that different from the choice to seek freedom as an independent business owner instead of a paid employee. Self-publishing need not only describe the publishing of a book. It can also encompass many forms of online writing, from blogs to discussion forums to entire web sites.

Traditional publishing may carry its rewards, but so does freedom. As with progressive employers, the most progressive publishers will survive and thrive, but only those that emphasize the empowerment of a true co-creative partnership, only those that recognize that writers really do have legitimate choices these days.

In truth, nothing can silence the voice of a writer, whether assessed by some as "talented" or not. Free, unhindered expression is writing in its purest form. And no matter how forcefully some attempt to bar the gates from the threat of the "writing rabble", the true gatekeepers are now the readers, not the publishers.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Does "Darth Vader" Qualify for the Shift?

A long, long time ago in my youth far away, I spent many a day reflecting on the first "Star Wars" trilogy, a young person (and admitted "Star Wars" geek) already on a spiritual path much clearer to me now than it was then.

And what perhaps reached me most as the first (and best) trilogy drew to a close was the story of Darth Vader, a villain ultimately not vanquished by vengeance, but redeemed by Love, in the end shown healed and restored, shining in radiant angelic brilliance, in harmony with his fellow Jedi Masters.

What is so very remarkable if you ponder this outcome is how the need for retribution was not a factor in the least, nor was the demand for "just" punishment of his crimes. In the story, Darth Vader was responsible for the brutal, callous deaths of many. Yet in the end, there is only Transformation, a transformation so very profound and powerful, a redemption so instantaneous, that all we can do is cheer.

The story of "Darth Vader" holds a very special lesson, one that only enhances the underlying "Star Wars" theme of finding the hero within.

Ultimately it is the story of Transformation, the story of the Shift.

In the end, it was the enduring, unconditional Love of a son that was the catalyst of Transformation for the "evil" father, who turned out not to be quite so "evil" after all.

And this is what I believe the Shift awaiting Humanity is actually all about. There are those who claim that the Shift will only be available to those who qualify, those who hold enough Love in their hearts at a particular point in time. Even though I have dear friends and mentors who insistently assert this is the case, the concept has never resonated with me, not for a moment.

Something that bothers me about the partial shift theory is the fear it ignites in some of its followers, not to mention the almost irresistible sense of vindication so familiar in our fear-based world. There are those who attempt to justify the theory in love-based ways, but to me, it's just another version of "Left Behind", a tale I know well from the teachings of my youth.

When the Shift truly takes hold, I believe there will be no need to convince the Darth Vaders of the world why Transformation is the One and Only Way. They will know already. They will simply know. And as another line in "Star Wars" conveys, they will realize that somehow they have always known.

For there is no path so dark that it cannot be instantly illuminated by the Light. Many tears of Joy will be shed on that day, a day so very revolutionary that even forgiveness itself will be transcended.

One of the most difficult questions we face in the world is why "evil" occurs and how to deal with it. If you choose to empower "evil" like the Dark Side of the Force, then what follows is Fear. And if you choose to live in a world of punishment and retribution, the fear-inspired vengeance goes on and on and on in seemingly endless cycles of pain. The same is true of "justice" based in punishment instead of rehabilitation.

But if you choose to empower and embrace Love instead, if you choose to accept that nothing is more powerful than Love, if you choose to understand that unconditional Love is the ONLY foundation that matters, it is then, only then, that you understand why "evil" is no more than an illusory nightmare of Fear.

Like Luke "Skywalker", I choose to walk a path above the fray. I choose to walk above vengeance and fear. Even forgiveness is eventually superseded on this path because I know some day, there will no longer be anything left to forgive. There will only be the Peace and Joy of the current moment.

Forgiveness is all about the past. True transformation reveals itself in the moment. It does not account for wrongs yesterday or long ago. Unconditional Love doesn't work that way. Unconditional Love first forgives, then miraculously heals, making the events of the past immaterial to the present.

When we celebrate Darth Vader's ultimate rise to the Light, the past is gone. All that exists at the end is the radiant Now. When you can consider every "Darth Vader" who has ever walked this Earth miraculously transformed and restored, it is then that I believe you will truly understand what the Shift is all about.

In peace,
Susan Larison Danz

Note: For more on this topic, listen to today's "The Frontier Beyond Fear" Blog Talk Radio broadcast Shifting Darth Vader.

Darth Vader Footsteps photo released under a Creative Commons 2.0 license from Wikimedia Commons. "Star Wars" quotes from "Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983).