Recession of the Thousand Days

February 7, 2009

I watched “Anne of the Thousand Days” yesterday, the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. I actually listened to it more than watched it, I was preparing dinner, TV was on at the other end of the living room. Anne just gave birth to a girl and the terrible drama resulted. I thought: this almost makes me believe in destiny. All those people locked in a terrible struggle for king’s son. All the women and men killed, betrayed, all the religious upheavals, all the wars, suffering and pain … all for the king’s son. A son that will never sit on the throne, because there is Elizabeth. It made me think for a moment that it was a destiny of the king not to have a son, so that there would be a throne for Elizabeth. I considered it and another idea occurred to me: they did not recognize the opportunity they were presented with. It is not a matter of faith, destiny, preordained lives, it is a matter of presence. King, queen, their courtiers, church, their subjects, everyone believed that the king has to have a son. Everybody knew that a woman can not rule. It was not an opinion, a belief, not even a truth, it was simply what’s so, it was how things are, it was reality. No one would question it, no one could even consider the possibility of questioning it. And yet there was Elizabeth. They couldn’t recognize the opportunity and so they struggled, and suffered, and died. What would happen if they recognized it, I wondered. Reality was changing all around them. What would happen if they could recognize it, hold space for it, change with it? What would happen if they joined and supported Elizabeth in her growth, what would happen if they held space for her to become the most powerful monarch England has ever had? If they could be present with this possibility, what would happen to them? To the king and queen, what opening, what space could they have held for their country before Elizabeth ever came to the throne? I thought about it again today morning. I was reading news about the measures Obama is taking to deal with the economic crisis, particularly about the $500.000 cap on senior executives’ salaries. I thought about the senior executives’ salaries for some time now. Stories pop up in news all the time about the incredibly costly trash cans and private jets and I wonder: why are they doing this, what are they thinking? Those people are not stupid, the CEOs of companies that run and, for the most part, create the economic system of this country are not idiots. They must understand the situation, they must see what happens to the economy. I don’t quite believe that they are all sociopathic, greedy monsters, so why? Why are they doing those incredible things? Why are they spending money on luxuries when their companies are falling apart? I tried to understand, I read blogs and looked at forums, read articles and comments and I realized that it is not a question of “why”. As I read what the CEOs have to say, what their wifes have to say, what the investment bankers have to say, I realized that their reality is completely different than mine. What for me is an exuberant and lavish for them is normal. Not because they are greedy – simply because it is what’s so. This is how it is, this is how business is done. If you want to have the “top players” work for you, you have to pay them this much, simple as that. Or they will leave and go to your competition, and you will loose. It is not an opinion, a belief, not even a truth, it is simply what’s so, it is how things are, it is reality. No one would question it, no one could even consider the possibility of questioning it. Therefore they don’t, and continue to do things the way they always did, because this is simply how things are done. Few hundred years ago in England everybody was struggling desperately for the king’s son, even though no son was coming, now the financial world seems to strugle to keep their reality intact, even though it’s crumbling all around them. But there was Elizabeth, there was an opportunity, an opening, a change right in front of them. They couldn’t recognize it then. “What would happen if we could recognize it now?” I wondered today morning. If the financial executives could recognize it, if the CEOs could recognize it. Reality is changing all around them. What would happen if they could see it and, instead of being dragged into a new reality kicking and screaming, struggling and resisting, what would happen if they could hold space for it, open to it, change with it? What would happen if we could recognize the opportunity before the king and queen are dead and the old way collapses to make space for a new one?

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