“But my dreams, they aren’t as empty…as my conscience seems to be. I spend hours only lonely, my love is vengeance, that’s never free!”
– Pete Townshend
Could the very source of our happiness be tied up with sources of evil? How is love tied to success? And hate to self-sabotage? Could the way out of our suffering sometimes be found in having more compassion for those situations, people, and emotions within us that we would rather eliminate, stifle, and ostracize? Is it all up to me? What about the world outside?
At the close of one of my all time favorite allegories, Animal Farm, by George Orwell, George portrays a subtle yet chilling scene that may be all too familiar to us in everyday settings. The pigs have completed their journey from oppression to liberation and have welcomed humans, their previous enemies, onto to the farm to fraternize. The pigs unconscious need to be accepted as equal to the humans is in the air as they now “walk on two legs” and systemically discriminate against those who “walk on four”. Their slogan for their new world order is “Four legs good, two legs better.”
In a show that the hostilities of revolution are over and they are ready to connect with the outside world they share a dinner with the humans. These are the various humans they now do business with to keep their regime in place. There are non-pig animals looking in from the window of the manor house. They observe how the pigs belie their inverted oppression and foreshadow creating new variety of enslavement.
“But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon (pig) and Mr. Pilkington had each played and ace of spades simultaneously.”
“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
What are behind those eyes? Roger Daltry (pictured above) and The Who knew back in 1971. There are ways we are born into and internalize oppression that come to undermine our efforts in pursuing life while supporting freedom for all. Could the lies we tell ourselves about our own oppressive tendencies be the ones that hold us back from achieving our own freedom?
“No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes. No one know what’s it’s to be hated, to be fated, to telling only lies.”
“No one knows what it’s like to feel these feelings like I do, and I blame you!” – Pete Townshend
Today musical artists like Melody Gardot carry this message of just how much our inability to see those of us who need us to collaborate with them to make it is linked to our own success. It’s easy to become blind to oppression when what passes for arguing about real issues is all about covering up.
“See that man sittin’ in front of the border line, He ain’t got the time to argue what’s yours and what is mine. See that man holdin’ his hand out in desperation, He don’t see salvation, no God and sure no nation.” – Melody Gardot
While some of us sit like the pigs and humans in Animal Farm avoiding solutions requiring collaboration, others are outside with real in the moment problems.
I draw a line between systemic injustice and personal responsibility when I recognize that not only do our families, social groups, and institutions, fall prey to inhibiting connection among individuals but our own internal world can be our own personal Animal Farm. We are the only ones in a position to work on liberating the inside world and following our dreams.
In so doing, we understand that we might need help from the outside world to make them come true. It’s not hard to see that the oppression we render on the outside is linked to an internal slavery that we have not confronted. It is in this way that we are all linked in freedom or enslavement.
“We all workin’ for the means to the end of our situation. We all hopin’ for the day that the powers see abdication and run. Said it gonna come, said it gonna come.” – Melody Gardot