To pick up where I left off in my last post, we need a new game, one that each of us can begin playing immediately and without permission. I know that “game” can sound a bit frivolous but I’m using “game” intentionally, to bring a bit of lightness to what can be a heavy topic. Let’s start with the old bromide, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. It’s the “same thing over and over” that I want to talk about first. That same thing is how we govern our nations, something that I call a game of thrones, and what it delivers over and over is the same result: bullying of the governed, you and me, with laws like the COVID mandates at the low end and the war going on in Ukraine at the high end. We’ve got to stop looking for a better Putin or a better Biden in hopes that things will get better. They won’t because that’s part of doing the same thing. It will deliver the same result.
No, I’m proposing something wildly unprecedented. I’m proposing that you join me in following in the footsteps of those American revolutionaries of the late 1700’s and declare your independence. Join me, the first such declarer, in declaring yourself free and equal to all other men and women on this planet, beholden to none, required to obey none, and from this moment forth the governor of yourself.
Self government, the logical and inevitable consequences flowing from that moment started by Thomas Jefferson and his friends. They weren’t ready for it then, but they knew they weren’t put on Earth to be ruled by King George. I’m ready for it and I know I wasn’t put on Earth to be ruled by anyone. Neither were you, but only if you say so.
Now of course King George didn’t recognize the declaration of those subjects of his over on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The declarers didn’t recant and the inevitable war began. Your current prime minister, president, king, queen, whatever you have at the top of your nation won’t recognize your declaration either and if we make too much noise they will sent their bullies out to bring us back into line. We’ll be careful not to make the wrong kind of noise. More on this in future posts, and what I’ll be proposing is more along the lines of the methods of Mahatma Ghandi – civil disobedience.
But back to the oath. Try this:
I swear by the love of my life to come alive, to self-govern all that is mine with the code of honour as my credo. I promise to do no harm to self or others. I promise that when interacting with others it will be by mutual agreement. I promise that I will be my word in all matters. I am hereby responsible for my actions and any consequences. I declare myself independent of all imposed systems of authority from this day hence.
Have you ever taken such an oath in your life? I know that I hadn’t. Any moral code that I undertook I got from my parents, from Sunday school, from books I read, from conversations with others. Most of it made sense, like “Thou shalt not kill”, “Thou shalt not steal” and although I never made a pledge of honouring those commandments, I did value and follow them. I never thought of any form of political statement and knew I had to obey whatever laws there were whether I agreed with them or not. My agreement was of no consideration regardless. Consider that this oath is the first time someone has asked you to declare your relationship to your world.
Independent of all imposed systems of authority? This might sound as if I’m proposing anarchism, being without a ruler. In the world that I’m calling for, each of us rules ourselves so we do have a ruler! I am proposing the exact opposite of anarchism. A world of rulers, each equal to each other! That this is what the American Declaration of Independence was pointing to when they declared that we are “created equal”.
Where we are equal is in being equally free to choose. You become the new governor of your domain the second that you take the oath. We have reached the heart of A Game of Honour, the heart of what it is to be human: being free to choose. Freedom to choose allows us to come alive, come alive to create the masterpieces that we were born to create. Being responsible for creating that masterpiece, being responsible to search for what our purposes might be and then responsible for generating the will and the courage to stay with these convictions.
You and I were born to be artists, not critics. You and I were born to serve the artist within us, and not worry about the evaluations of others. You and I evolved to look inwards, to search inside ourselves for what brings meaning to our lives and then build a life serving that. This can be very confronting as we discover that the choices can be huge and there’s no authority, no wise Solomon to tell us what to do. It’s up to me to choose. It’s up to you to choose.
Now bring in the biggest factor to make this work: the miracle that is you. Bring to the front of your consciousness the overwhelming odds stacked against you even being born. Get in touch with the miracle of your birth and life so far. Get in touch with the dreams and visions that this miracle has, the ones that have slipped away or never began to come into being. Begin to bring those alive. Use the achievements of others that you admire to inspire you to do something grand for yourself. Find the courage in others and their struggles to find it in yourself. Find some work of art that does this for you. One of my favourite sources of inspiration is the poem If, by Rudyard Kipling. Kipling reminds me that I’m not the first to dream, to aspire and his poem does something to me that moves my heart.
This is how we change the world together, not by revolution but by evolution. We change it one human being at a time, causing each other to come alive. The world doesn’t need now, never has needed some wise and benevolent ruler who saves us by telling us what to do. Looking again at the Howard Thurman quote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that because what the world needs is people who have become alive.” I don’t think “the world” needs anything. What do I need? I’m with Howard here – I need to come alive, to discover what makes me come alive and then do that. Not because the world needs that. Because I need that. That’s my declaration of independence. I intend to come alive.