Freedom is not free

To stand in our authority is to stand in our authorship. Our ability to author. To create. To have sovereign choice about our responses to circumstances. 

We have conflated authority into a power-over position. “They” have power over us or me. 

Power in politics for example thrives from keeping people in the mistaken belief that they are absent access to power.

As Alice Walker said, The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

It is true that there is a rise of militant authority figures in our world. Those who hold citizens to the gun, to fear of death, to loss of status or incarceration.

Our relationship with power and authority is in desperate need of examination.

To do this we must confront the face of our own authorship and our fear of expressing it.

Let’s have a look at the truth of our own authority.

We can speak.

We can act.

We can write.

We can be emotional or not.

We can build, play, design, create.

We can march.

We can say yes.

We can say no.

We can make a request.

We can negotiate.

We can disagree.

We can agree.

We can ask another person to do something, or to not do something.

We can sign the document, or not.

We can accept and let go, or fight.

We can fear.

We can use fear as a lever to get what we want.

We can manipulate and seduce.

We can love.

We can forgive.

No matter the circumstances we have many choices. The moment we believe our choices have been eliminated we sink into powerlessness and victimhood of our own creation.

For many years I had the subtle victim story running in my veins. A single, struggling mother and entrepreneur, surrounded by the ‘bro club’ of entrepreneurs. Not seen, not heard, regularly invalidated.

There is a bigger picture/context for this experience, as statistics tell us. The underfunding and support of women entrepreneurs, the struggle of the single mother, the ‘bro club’ – particularly the private school network of bro’s who elevate their kind to positions of power and status regardless of their ability. 

Yet choosing to have my worldview be framed by being a victim to this culture did not help me in any way. It just made me a victim through my own status choice. I chose to be a victim. I could choose to no longer be a victim and do something, even if that doing simply meant changing how I responded to my circumstance.

To be clear: while the world has many legitimate victims – people oppressed or exploited by nature of their ethnicity, geography, age, or ability – I am talking here about our state of choosing to be a victim to circumstance, or not.

I am not talking here about legitimate victims, rather about our state of choosing to be a victim to circumstance, or not.

Until I looked my own victim story in the eye – that part of me who got some small buzz from being the victim, telling a story of injustice over and over to gain status, or to feel better about myself and my choices, or to make others wrong so I could feel right – I was held in a cycle of power-less-ness and help-less-ness.

There are many areas of the world’s operating system and how we humans engage with it and each other that need to be changed.

Exploitation is the currency of rampant capitalism, including exploitation of human beings. But to sit in our own stew of victimhood will not help change any of this. It is time to author new operating systems that serve the Earth and all her creatures.

The hero myth that we have fallen in love with as a culture is also past its use-by date. The idea of a lone hero (or heroine) for a start is bumpkin. Not a thing can be done ‘lone’, even if it feels that way. Just to drive down the road is a community experience. To purchase food…a million possible interactions from the silent and often neglected humans and animals that made eating and purchase possible.

It might feel very lonely when we stew in our victimhood. What we have done in our story of isolation and separation is we have made a choice to NOT connect or outreach to others.The way forward is through connection to co-author our collective story.

Who, you might say, could we connect with? 

The person in front of you might be a start. 

Is this not scary? Yes, speaking to strangers, or reaching out when in a vulnerable state is scary. We still have the choice to do it or not. That is our agency.

Our choice of how we respond to a situation is our ultimate power. To know that we hold this power in every single moment is to begin to embrace our own authority  – the ability to author our life.

To author our life! To not be pushed around or exploited. And if we are held by the gun to our head, or by fear, to know that we can choose to respond as someone with agency by not being diminished by fear.

Yet like every action in the world there is always a reaction, a precessional effect. There are consequences to claiming our authorship and authority.

To speak up against injustice has a consequence. In some instances, like those people actively speaking for democracy in Hong Kong, those consequences are dire. 

That is our choice. For some, they feel so strongly about speaking up that they accept the consequences.These are the whistleblowers, much maligned and punished by a society that in not claiming collective authority appears to choose duplicity as its foundation.

At the intersection of our choice point and its consequences lies our freedom and sovereignty. 

Our freedom. Our choice. Both come with consequences. Never free of a price. 

We might begin to acknowledge this. Freedom is not free. Freedom always has a price. Is it one we will choose to pay upfront using our authority or later in a way not of our own authorship?

We do not need to speak with hate or violence. That is also a choice. We do not need to speak by belittling others who have a different opinion or come from a different culture or ethnicity.

Rather than this type of inflammatory response, we might seek to understand the other. 

Why do you believe this? 

Why do you act as you do?

Why are you so angry? 

Why did you make this choice?

A genuine intent to understand another is a rare inquiry. Much easier is it to want to be heard for our own opinion. 

So many of us want to be heard and understood yet do not recognise the authorship of the other by extending the same courtesy.

Authoring a business, a community, or a gathering.

Once we have done the work of finding our own authority we might begin to use it to set boundaries, grow communities, build enterprises. 

In Syntropic World we distinguish between the steward of the Source Idea and those collaborating to bring it to life.

A Source Idea is the original idea that more often than not lands for one person – that person becoming the steward of that idea. It can arrive in a group working together, simultaneously, but often more project based. 

At the moment of its arrival, the Source Idea has a set of qualities, values, shapes, textures – what we call the Pattern Integrity – that is unique to the Source Idea. The Pattern Integrity needs to be protected at all costs. The way the Source Idea and its Pattern Integrity is brought from idea to form could manifest in a millions ways. No matter which form it takes, the Pattern Integrity will be evident.

To steward a Source Idea and its Pattern Integrity to life and form requires authority. Not power over others, but the authority of the steward as the guardian of the Pattern Integrity.

If you are unable to speak and stand in your stewarding authority, then chances are the Pattern Integrity will be violated.

A fierce steward cares more about maintaining the Pattern Integrity than they care what people think of them. They dare to ask questions to ensure this happens, to stay true against the odds, to not waiver and to never violate the Pattern Integrity.

This is to have authority. 

It is not domination, it does not require coercion, violence, manipulation. It lives in a field of open communication, practiced trust, deep listening to others opinions and suggestions, reflection, examination of consequences, dialogue, and enabling sovereign choice.

This is to stand in our authority as the Steward of a Source Idea and enterprise.

When we are protectors and stewards of our work, our idea, our community, our team, we access our own authority and power without equivocation.

We dignify others by clearly explaining options, ensuring symmetry of access to knowledge and information, seeking genuine council.

To know our power and authority is to know ourselves. 

To exercise our power and authority as the steward leader of a Source Idea is to become a leader who knows a greater cause than their own authority and power over.

It might make others uncomfortable, it might demand integrity of the highest order. 

When we do this, we have a chance of collectively authoring a better world.