The fundamental question we much ask of the world is ‘Why is that child crying?’
Kenoota is a mindset of “hunger and thirst for Fairness-for-All”, of wanting fairness more than food or drink, being willing to make sacrifices to bring about a situation that is fair for all. One of the things I find awesome about some recent events is that we are moving closer and closer to seeing Kenoota manifest on a global scale. Movements such as the “Make Poverty History” campaign or the anti-war protests are powerful examples of Kenoota in action. There are huge numbers of people who are prepared to live beyond their personal concerns, to create a world that is fairest for all.
Kenoota lifts us to seeing the best outcome for all in a given situation. It stems from our deep need and longing to be in harmony – with the world, with each other, with the Source of Life. It leads to a “vertical” alignment with what is best in us and a “horizontal” release of goodwill to those around us.
We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves.
There are three levels of will in relation to the concept of justice. The first is revenge, the second justice, and then the highest level, Kenoota goes beyond justice because it incorporates the idea of mercy. That greater than justice, fairness-for-all considers WHY people have acted as they have and seeks, in understanding that, to act for the highest good of all concerned. The challenge of Kenoota is to make choices, not based on what we want, but on what’s best for everyone concerned.
I see the bombing in London July 7th 2005 as related to the failure to act with Kenoota. People representing US have obliterated the people of Iraq, murdered, maimed and orphaned countless children. If those driven to kill themselves and others in an act of such tragic pointlessness, had seen the hunger and thirst for fairness-for-all in the people around them, they may have become people whose intelligence and willingness to die for what they believed, was harnessed for good in this world. It is our deep hunger for a world that is fairest for all that will bring it about.
Envisioning a fairer world
First centre and relax. Sitting comfortably allow the attention to come gradually to the breath. The breath coming and going all by itself deep within the body. Take a few moments to allow the attention to gather within the even rhythm of the breath. Now let yourself move forward in time. It is a day, just like this, but thirty years in the future from now. The year on the calendar has a different number, but you are still you, same name, same gestures and feelings and skin, same action of heart and lungs. You may be pretty ancient by now but you are still around. This is a world of Kenoota, a future in which fairness for all has become a reality. Spend some time just pondering what that world would be like. What tells you that this is now a fairer world? How are you different? What do you do that is different to what you do now? Imagine going through a day and thinking about how your activities and concerns are different now that the world you live in is one where things are fair.
Why shouldn’t there be a chance for an entire civilisation if as many members as possible can dare to look their own truth in the eyes without fear?
Look around you and see a symbol that for you represents what is different about this world. You are going to take that symbol back through thirty years as a gift to the person who travelled the timelines to visit the future.
And now open your eyes and without breaking your concentration draw your gift and put it somewhere you can see it easily.
The Peace Activists’ Questionnaire
(from Joanna Macy)
I’ve always done this as groupwork exercise so while it can stand alone as a written practice, working with others definitely empowers the process.
- If you were unblocked by fear and in possession of all your powers, what would you do to heal our world?
- What specific project could actually be accomplished through you in the next year?
- What strengths or resources do you now have that would help you do that?
- What will you need to learn or acquire?
- What obstacles are you likely to put in the way of fulfilling this goal?
- What can you do in the next 24 hours – no matter how small the step – that will help you reach that goal?
Kenoota is not simply a concept that relates to the global picture but something we need to work with in our personal lives, our interactions with others and it’s here, in the nitty-gritty of our lives that it can be most powerful.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for Fairness for all more than for food and drink for they will bring heaven on earth.
Think of a situation in your life where you have treated someone else unfairly. What was happening for you at the time? How did it feel to treat them this way? How did they react to your behaviour? What effect did your action have on your relationship? Did it survive? Now think about what would have been a fairer way to have behaved? Imagine doing this. Imagine treating the other person, fairly, equitably, wisely. Feel how good and natural and right it feels to act this way. Now see if you can find a way to make retribution to the person you have treated unfairly and if it is possible, do it.
My own experience of Kenoota
When my father died, bless him, he left behind a will that was a recipe for all-out war. He left the entire contents of the house to one of my brothers, who in his wisdom and generosity decided to share the spoils equally among us all. The sharing out wasn’t easy and I know that there are things of my mother’s I wanted very badly that did not end up in my lot. But this is one of my most powerful experiences of what can happen when a group of people commit to what is fairest-for-all. The pay-off is that we are growing stronger as a circle, when if we’d each clung to what we wanted for ourselves, we would have lost each other as so many people do when their surviving parent dies.
I read this and it reads like one of those sickeningly “aren’t I wonderful?” stories that get on my goat. Suffice it to say that at one point in the proceedings, coming from a very different mindset, a deep sense of grievance for events that occurred long ago, I threatened to break all contact with my siblings if they didn’t give me what I thought I should have. I am very grateful to my brothers and sister for hanging in there and for the fact we found our way through the minefield. The rewards for all of us for following the path of goodwill continue to unfold and that’s what makes this stuff worth doing, no matter how hard I find it sometimes.