Syria, the migrant crisis, France’s terror attacks, Brexit, Turkey, Trump, Italy, Aleppo, all against the background of our climate’s inexorable warming and the increase in inequality in many parts of the world, makes for quite a year. The later seems to be partly emanating from the nature of capitalism and how the wealthy have benefited from the financial crisis, partly from the strains of globalisation, partly from technology that is still fast gathering pace. There has also been amongst family and friends several horrible illnesses and some very sad untimely deaths.

I guess the first point is about accepting the chaotic nature of life, huge complex systems are by nature chaotic and accident is a powerful force our lives. But Looking up at a recent beautiful sunset and then the huge moon in a starry sky, it seemed that within the scale of earth’s history and our place in the wider universe, our difficulties are just tiny ripples on the surface.

But still, how to make sense of it all? What hope is there to be found from so much threat and suffering and how to remain open and sensitive and in question in the face of it all? I’m also familiar with the extra bite to this challenge that comes with seasonal illness along with the pressure to get things done before Christmas. I try and remind myself that the “first rule” is self-forgiveness, it supports me to open my heart, accept my limitations and vulnerability and remain open to these challenges.

This year a friend’s honesty has helped me open a door concerning an aspect of change that I need to further embrace. I can see that it is about simply travelling further along the road that I have been travelling for many years, of attending to and facing my insecurity. So again, clarity emerges around how the process of change is through this combination of support and challenge.

From my current efforts at writing, I can see how this is part of the wider paradox at the heart of our experience of life, around choice and self-responsibility on the one hand and awareness on the other. How we can only take responsibility for what we are aware of and we can only become aware of what we take responsibility for.

The way through this paradox is connected to the huge mystery that surrounds the process of choice and our ability to choose. This I see increasingly clearly as being connected to the deep desire for freedom, consciousness and love that emerges from the goodness in the depth of all human beings. Without this ‘direction’ in the centre of our being we would be lost in this paradox without the possibility of escape. Lost in the mechanical compulsivity and blindness that trauma creates.

I see how this “desire” resolves this paradox in our individual lives through slowly supporting us to “dismantle the obstacles to love within us” which can then increasingly enable us to open to Love in its wider more objective sense. The challenge is then how to see this process working at the level of general consciousness within our society.

It seems to me that people are taking more and more responsibility for themselves, there is less and less tolerance of old accepted imbalances of power, unfairness is being challenged at ever deeper levels of consciousness, whether it is in class, gender, race, wealth or power. This may be a part of the Brexit and Trump story, but it is also clear that it needs to be recognised increasingly at a global level as well.

Whilst Brexit and Trump mike seem like backwards steps I also think that they can be seen as a loosening up of the status quo that will in time support deeper change. The path of development is never a straight line. We often need to go backwards to clarify where forwards is. Also, the consciousness of people globally is increasing dramatically through the openness that new technology allows. In time the obviousness of fairness and justice becomes I think more and more powerfully self-evident and we are in the painful process of change away the ‘certainties’ that came from archaic, trauma induced, attitudes of superiority and inferiority.

We, in the ‘West’, can so clearly less and less hold onto an attitude of “we’re alright, pull up the drawbridge” as we attempt to hide behind the protection that our Western wealth provides. Eventually, and if we have enough time, the only possible solution to so many of the world’s problems has to be through a vastly greater empowered United Nations and the greater sharing of wealth. Whether that leads to “Big Brother” or the opening and enabling of a deeper peace and creativity. Who know?

But one thing that seems clear is that societal changes happen because of changes in the consciousness of it citizens. Trauma and fear with its “fight, flight, freeze” responses can obviously create backwards movements. However, our strong negative bias means we so often fail to see the positive and creative power that continually emanates from the “Goodness” at people’s core and which enables development.

Christmas still has that tenuous connection with love and an opening of our hearts that resonates so directly with this essence, I hope, in whatever ways possible, it manages to infuse your Christmas and New Year.

Jim Robinson