Chapter 6

Audio Conversation of Chapter 6:

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Audio duration: 59 minutes


  1. Ianrowcliffe on June 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    “On a planet so intimately mapped through satellite surveillance, the last frontier may be hidden in our own barns and backyards … essential to fulfilling our role as responsible stewards of the earth, its myriad cultures, and its vast array of sentient, uniquely gifted life-forms.”

    Well, that is something worth writing ‘home’ about, isn’t it?

    I saw the film ‘The horse Boy’ where Rowan connects with an apparently estranged semi-abandoned alpha mare, Betsy and suddenly starts communicating with ‘us’ and was extremely moved by it. However, Linda’s message, as I understand it, is that we don’t have to focus solely on autistic children and those torn-apart people ravaged by our society, but rather each one of us can benefit in the very same way and so, instead of a trickle leading to a ripple of hope, a wave of good-feeling might embrace the world and uplift us as never before.

    AND I can relate that every time I am near Frida, our alpha mare’s three year old daughter, I feel just like Rowan and want to express the joy, the moment of being alive in the presence of such a wonderful being. Hey, somehow the world appears just so perfect, just the way it is…

  2. Ianrowcliffe on June 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    So enter the dragon, Drenron. Yes, what a beast, but there are some who have guessed at Linda’s message and created a new beast based on mediocracy, that eats everything in its path enslaving its followers with promises never to be met but which allows those at the top of the hierarchy to live in luxury. And they use the power of the herd for their own ends. And so we are able to identify the dictators around us, who have founded their power in ‘democracy’. People who promise everything, stop at nothing and proclaim themselves as the ‘godfathers’ of the family, their political party.

  3. Susan Garvin on June 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I looked up Kropotkin quickly. He overlapped Darwin’s life but not enough possibly to make it likely they would meet. now if they’d had the internet in those days……ahimé even just telephones….
    I must look up Darwin and see how and by whom his theories got a bit skewed….
    speaking of the internet, Linda mentioned that some changes could happen relatively quickly, others take generations. we have to remember the power of the internet to spread words ideas and solidarity so hopefully this cathedral might not take quite so long to build as others have. Even so, it is both exciting and hard to be in a ‘future’ mentality …. makes everyday life a challenge of patience and tolerance.

    • Ianrowcliffe on June 30, 2012 at 8:57 am

      I wonder whether we don’t use tolerance as an excuse for not stepping/dialing up on aspects of life we believe to be detrimental rather than letting things go on the way they do without intervention. Yes, that must mean living ’emotional heroism’, I guess, where you understand that you are ‘sticking your head out’, feeling extra vulnerable, but also disempowered and super vulnerable if you don’t. Hesitation seems our worse enemy in all this, which we can rationalise as patience. And so nothing gets done or changes. And I sit here writing about it rather than putting it into practice. I wonder what my horses have to say about all this – yes, too much idle talk:-)

      • Susan Garvin on July 6, 2012 at 8:42 am

        Ian, have been ultra-busy and also away on a course so am only now responding to this thought of yours. i agree that there is a big aura around ‘tolerance’ these days, quite rightly so in some cases but I agree that in others it can be a way of just not taking action, not speaking one’s mind honestly, not dealing with issues. Take for example the issue of the rights of immigrants to a country. It is almost impossible nowadays to say that you agree with applying some of the rules of the host culture, because one gets lynched as a fascist etc. There seem to be all-or-nothing attitudes with no room for shades of grey, i.e. too much tolerance and not enough tolerance. bit of a mess really!!!!
        If you know your audience/interlocutor/listener is not going to be tolerant of your ideas or suggestions then you have to decide whether to annoy them and possibly make them even more entrenched in their views, or whether to risk having a go at persuading them to take a peek outside their box by presenting only a small part of what you really wanted to say.That takes patience too!

        • Ianrowcliffe on July 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm

          Yep, the last option is basically where it is at, Susan, and Linda’s new lesson on increasing vulnerability ties in nicely, doesn’t it? In the short run (if not in the long run, too), it is a bit scary, but when you notice you have gained even a little ground later, you start to feel somewhat stronger in your vulnerability and risk-taking. I must admit, though, that it feels like blind faith to believe that there is an ‘outside of the box’ scenario. Still paradigm shifts have happened in the past… and doing something does feel much better than doing nothing…

          • Susan Garvin on July 8, 2012 at 8:55 am

            welll blow me down, as they say, while sharing territory with my horse this morning I read an article in this week’s Guardian Weekly….not only on attitudes towards immigration and immigrants but also the wole thing of tolerance to other people’s viewpoints etc – expressed so well, but then what esle would you expect from Jonathan Freedland. If you like I can copy it and email it to you, tho you may be a GW subscriber. It is a superb study of what happens when ‘hot topics’ like immigrantion (especially in times of financial crisis) drive people to entrenched views but also to becoming seemingly imcapable of listening openly to what the ‘other side’ is saying which, as JF demonstrates in this short article, is actually very often the identical same thing!!!!
            Paradigm shifts are changing all the time, we have to hang onto that. Look at gay rights and gay marriage, who would have thought even a couple of years ago that so many countries would legalise those? I admit I do see things getting worse on the one hand (look at Rio+20) but there are so many beams of light now in the murky troubled atmosphere, I am seeing more and more said and written about cooperation being the only way to go, and much more experimentation along those lines in pockets of so many communities all over…..speriamo bene as they say here, ‘let’s hope well!’

          • Ianrowcliffe on July 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm

            Well, here in Portugal, we are getting lesson after lesson in vulnerability whether we choose it or not. The Government cut holiday money for civil servants that now has been deemed unconstitutional on the grounds of being unfair. The Government’s response is that private enterprise will now have to pay them the holiday money they would have paid to their workers to make things the same for everyone. In other words, a super extra tax on the private sector. Nobody knows yet what the reaction will be. Added to that, the increase in IVA has actually meant a drop in total revenue. 30% increase in electricity – petrol already the highest in Europe, motor-way tolls everywhere. And all this is just the first stage of austerity measures. At the personal level my wife’s car literally went up in smoke yesterday – fortunately no one was hurt, but she can’t work without a car, which is a non-deductible expense here. So now we feel the squeeze increasing daily to pay for all the fat cats and their kittens working the EU – not the least of which are our own political class.

            I have just managed to scrape by this year. More dramatic cuts are to hit the education system, so I am working at presenting Linda’s ideas as part of the solution – despite the unforeseen delays. At the moment, it feels much like reaching for the moon. (Note: our lead mare’s original name is Luna:-))

  4. Ian Rowcliffe on June 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

    There is a lot to re-consider in the replay:

    The Dana Light story seems to be another example of ‘Emotional Heroism’ – consider what she has been through, the heart attack, losing her horse business and now working as an emergency room nurse. So while working with horses may be good training, it is also likely to strain you to the limits. Personally, I can hardly imagine life without my horses, as is likely to have been her case, too. Hence, that example really makes you think.

    I am still grappling with the notion of power that Linda ‘took a stab or whack’ at. I noted down:

    The ability to hold your ground and influence others, that combination of being able to do both: holding your integrity whilst taking the space that you need to become who you really are simultaneously working together. (The sense of mutual ‘horse-powered’ aid – strength in numbers as horses are not shy gentle creatures, not victim-like behaviour).

    Relation to anarchism … It does seem to be a sort of grass root power… that understands that grass is not all the same, that even grass can stand tall in the right conditions: that each blade adds something to the overall song and dance… or is it more at the the power of the rope, the strength of the strands channelled towards an objective.

    This needs reformulating… have I missed other points and factors? I introduced the idea of a focusing ‘objective’ which must be to do with the needs of the moment without losing sight of how that relates to the future. You know, much like the way grazing needs to be consumed but constantly replenished.

    Yes, it would be useful to have Linda’s written formulation of power…

  5. Ian Rowcliffe on June 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    As Mark noted in the talk, jotting down what ‘the’ new form of power looks like is of great interest. Erin seemed to be summing it up by saying that it is basically like holding your ground with horses, but as we know with horses, they expect your leadership to increase well-being virtually uninterruptedly. Otherwise, they simply walk away… Was there more on this? Unfortunately, the connection got broken a number of times here, so I am looking forward to listening to the recording to pick up on the points I missed.

    At one point, you seemed to be making plans for a direct problem solving type of call, which sounds really interesting…

    Otherwise, it was yet another upbeat, enjoyable conversation.

  6. Susan Garvin on June 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Ian – re paternalism, Richard Sennett in “Authority” (an oldie now but a goldie) gives an excellent view of paternalism/patriarchism/patrimonialism, both definitions of what each one is, and how they are similar or differ among themselves.

    • Ian Rowcliffe on June 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks, Susan. His new books seems to offer some useful pointers, too:

      ‘Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation’

      It concludes, together’s challenge is to make a “vocation” of community…

      • Susan Garvin on June 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

        thanks, will order it right away! He seems to be very much on Linda’s wavelength about a number of things, at least in ‘Authority’, and not least being very leery of Social Darwinism.

  7. Susan Garvin on June 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Might be too late for the conversation but just re-reading this chapter ready for the call, I made three notes. One – where are Skilling & co now? Did they get put in jail really or are they floating free somewhere? If they are still in jail, have they changed, one wonders, have they begun to realise what they did to themselves in order to ruin others? Would be a very interesting study, methinks.
    then, thank you for this brilliant sentence summing up Kropotkin’s conclusion “an extrapolation backwards from human militarism and misery to the natural world.” very succinct and eloquent!
    and a fantastic concluding sentence to the chapter, really powerful.
    I am struck by how you manage, Linda, to look at the most grisly examples of disastrous behaviour and characteristics and yet come through them to a positive and encouraging view of the future!

  8. Erin on June 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    So, is it essentially that our society promotes and fosters sociopathy? That’s what the fire breathing dragon and description of Enron’s behavior conjured up for me.

    Then the question is how do we change this? And how do those of us who are extremely sensitive and empathic, cultivate the skills to face and tame the dragon? And I think we all have some of this dragon within us, even empaths, whether it be an inborn tendancy towards predatory behavior or a culturally indoctrinated predatory mindset.

    After all, humans are animals too (we’re not plants or minerals), and for all our sophisticated language and society, there are other animals who also have language (whales and dolphins) and complex societies (insects). Examined though the idea that we are all the same, this appears to be the logical conclusion. And mutual aid is also visible in plants too. Baby trees and other plants require shelter from mature trees in order to grow. Removing the mature trees disrupts the entire ecosystem. Then there are the nuts and fruits that fall from trees, are consumed then excreted by animals and then grow into a plant or tree. All connected, and removing one disrupts the cycle.

    Even on a molecular level, there is evidence of mutual aid. During the process of protein replication, there are molecules called chaperones with the function of assisting in protein folding. Without these chaperones, the protein cannot assume the form necessary to fulfill its function. So, without chaperones, cellular function can break down, and depending on the scale and location, this can lead to the death of the organism, which could impact evolution. It seems like there is evidence for mutual aid on many levels. Just imagine what has to go on at a molecular level for an animal to live, everything that must work together, the organs, chemical reactions, molecular processes, etc that must occur in perfect order. Once you start looking, it’s easy to find examples of mutual aid and collaborative survival at many levels and instances.

    “‘One might as well imagine that the whole of human life is nothing but a succession of war massacres.'”

    But this is how the majority of many history classes are presented. Examining the factors that went in to the occurrence of wars. So is it possible that this mindset is conditioned into us by our schools, and thus perpetuates the dragon juggernaut?

    Another possible reinforcer to our society’s obsession with survival of the fittest is all of the various abuses that occur, some of which are even encouraged! And as someone who has survived abuse, being abused can reinforce this survival of the fittest mentality! Being willing to do whatever is necessary to survive, but there comes a point in healing from trauma where this no longer serves, at which time maybe it becomes a question of which mentality to embrace? Continue with our socially accepted survival mentality, or learn the live through mutual aid. It appears to me that most of our world religions, nature and biology support mutual aid.

    Also, with so many people now living in cities and far removed from nature, it seems like our own technological advancement could be a hindrance to developing and growing into a more collaborative, connected with the earth and animals type of society. I’m very fortunate to live on a farm with over 50 different animals, 3 of whom are black mares, but in my travels across the country I’ve seen that most people don’t live like this.

    So, I guess my big question is: now that we know where we are, what do we do with this information and where do we go from here, and how do we get there?

    • Ian Rowcliffe on June 16, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Yes, good questions, Erin – otherwise, I was wondering how much better placed we are than Don Quixote or should I say Cervantes? How can we remain pragmatic enough not to be dismissed as utopian. Re: 50 different animals – sounds like a lot to manage… you must have some sound answers to the questions you pose yourself:-)

  9. Susan Garvin on June 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    heat just arriving here, so I can start to imagine what it was like for you Linda!
    “we need as much heroism to resist retaliaton, revenge and grudge holding, which turns victims into perpetrators, [as we do to stand up to aggressors to begin with]. A deep subject worth more discussion no doubt….”
    A very interesting point and wellworth developing I agree. In Europe now we are seeing society coming apart in some places due to the strain of the desperate economic situation. Such dramatic situations – e.g. war, natural disaster – can bring people together and foster the qualities that are so often pushed aside. However there comes a tipping-point moment when people cannot sustain that emotional heroism and they give way to anger and aggression, scapegoat- and-witch-hunting. Indeed the victims become perpetrators….

  10. LindaKohanov on June 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks Susan and Ian for your thoughtful comments on the chapter. I was out of commission email-wise last week as I had 45 people come through a program for leadership training, all from a international defense contractor that has been sending people to us since 2007, so they must find it vaulable. The horses were stellar as usual, and the clients really got the commitment + crescendo + immediate positive feedback formula for assertivenessm, while having lots of fun and some meaningful exchanges on their leadership challenges and strengths. Very satisfying. However, this being June, the heat was exhausting at over 100 degrees. I was laid out flat for two days afterward.

    There’s a special election being held tomorrow for Gabrielle Giffords seat. She has recovered remarkably well, but still has some health challenges, most noticably in walking and speaking and perhaps other congnitive areas that aren’t obvious in her few, very moving public appearances in recent months, so she is leaving congress. I hope that she enjoys many happy years with her husband, an astronaut, who recently went on his last space shuttle flight.

    Interesting that you have a mountain-shaped like a dragon with the name of Grace, Ian. I recently came across a very interesting legend that I don’t think I will be able to put into the book. It’s about Saint Martha, a medieval saint who managed to tame a dragon that was killing local towns people. However, even though the dragon showed the capacity to be tamed, the towns people still killed him for past transgressions, a very sad ending to a promising story, and very telling about the role that revenge plays in keeping all of us from moving forward. It took a nonviolent form of emotional heroism for Martha to face him and successfully transform him. But the need for retaliaton from the towns people would surely keep all other dragons from trusting people in the future. In chapter twelve I talk about how we need as much heroism to resist retaliaton, revenge and grudge holding, which turns victims into perpetrators, as we do to stand up to aggressors to begin with. A deep subject worth more discussion no doubt….

    • Ian Rowcliffe on June 12, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Re: the heat was exhausting at over 100 degrees

      … yes, I can imagine. Tremendous swings in temperature plus extremes in sun and rain here in Portugal make working with the horses complicated on most days of the year…

      Re:The horses were stellar as usual – and in THAT heat.

      Re: Gabrielle Giffords

      In her last youtube in the link I posted, she says she is going to make a come back…

      Re: Grace and her dragon tail
      She is round and enticing from the front but has an exceedingly long extensive bumpy tail.. She is a wonderful source of inspiration and was also part of the old pilgrim trail to Santiago in Spain, but her sacredness seems to be far more ancient. There is also an associated waterfall that gushes out of the rock very high up defying our sense of gravity. Originally, this must have taken place much closer to the mountain as there is a moonscape of giant green boulders the result of water. The reason for the change is that the water has been diverted to the town below, Mondim.

      Re: dragons – the series Dragon Ball may have some insights. I remember a parent being very upset about it because the enemy had some good in them and that would confuse her child. In this respect, as you noted, Washington was also able to turn enemies into allies. The truth that we find hard to accept is that we are also a part of the dragon, which invariably depends on us and our absence of a developed sense of accountability and our ‘something for nothing attitude’. However, the dragon we are part of and faced with today is nothing less than ‘Globalisation’ – and what a multi-headed dragon she is!

      Food for thought and thoughtlessness…

  11. Ian Rowcliffe on June 8, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Re: Enron – one example of the dragon we face and that feeds off of us. I looked up more on that and recall that at one point they were causing power losses in California to push up the price of electricity. And so this rang a bell when I read:

    Technology glitches during Facebook’s initial public offering on May 18 delayed the social-networking company’s opening trade more than 30 minutes and left brokers with millions of unconfirmed trades.

    Yes, there are some ‘strange’ going-ons with respect to Facebook dealings… although warnings have gone unheeded about the founder’s lack of integrity.

    And so by inference Enron is just the tip of the iceberg – So many other companies of a similar nature spring to mind …

  12. Ian Rowcliffe on June 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    And so after the shock of the attack, we are embraced by Linda’s timeless sacred mountains and nature’s form of cathedral thinking. (It reminded me of my own beautiful surroundings and their resonating strength. Our feminine mountain of Grace, that turns into a long extended dragon when approached from the other side). The connection you become aware of when you ‘go back to grazing’ as Linda seemed to be doing. Very re-assuring…

    • Ian Rowcliffe on June 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      Yes, the perfect setting to help us see that true freedom might be within reach if we stretch ourselves towards it.

  13. Ian Rowcliffe on June 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Well, this is an eye-opening and thought-provoking chapter, isn’t it?

    The chapter title, Melancholy Truths, made me wonder whether it is like the ‘saudades’ that the Portuguese are famous for such that we are known as the ‘gloomy’ Latins. But after looking at the film released by Gabrielle Giffords, I think not:

    It wasn’t clear whether she had survived as I read the chapter and I wasn’t quite sure about the point Linda was making, but once I had read up a little about her and seen her speak, I was quite close to tears. Yes, she is all heart: talk about cultivating emotional heroism!!! What an amazing example…

  14. Susan Garvin on June 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    hastily devouring as much of this as I can alongside my lunch, i just want to say how delighted I am to see you presenting this concept, Linda….I have long thought the exact same thing and have long wondered in astonishment how, looking around them, or even just staying glued to the box, so many people can still think Man is so evolved, and so superior to all other life-forms; how they can go on so long being shocked that politicians are not able to make things perfect, and/or are corrupted by their office and so on. Good to have it expressed so clearly in your own inimitable style!
    AND thanks for the peek into Goldsmith’s book, which you and Mark have mentioned before but which I haven’t yet got round to reading….this sounds to me like yet another book that should be compulsory reading for all, and potential leaders should be made to discuss it publicly to prove they have taken it on board!!!!!