The chaos of life … a plea from Jordan

The Open Space Community has postings from all over the world, many of which generate much discussion, and some of which are answered by Harrison Owen the creator of OST.   I reproduce this exchange from one person in Jordan offering a powerful provocation to us all, together with Harrison’s reply.

My name is Salwa [   ]…I am still fresh In the OS community and humbled by you all experts out there. So if I sound too naiive or fresh on thoughts or approaches I’m reliefed that the OS community out of all communities will take me in and allow me some space.

I come from Jordan in the Middle East. A small country trying hardly to survive amongst the turmoil you hear about in the media…we are the last little piece of land in our area that is blessed with some security so far…we are apprehensive and on our toes all the time of what is coming next…

We received our family and brotbers and sisters in the past and still do from Palestine, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. We are now homing the terrified syrian people,we do it with love,regardless of media claims,because we are all one big family and we don’t mind sharing our meagre resources with them with regards to space, food, water…etc. The biggest issue here is:what is the media doing to us…

I read your posts about a hero’s journey and about journalism and the california event and if I may I have a message to send and again please pardon my naiivty if I sound so: we are having tens of heros and hundrereds of victims in Egypt in Syria in yeman in tunisia in libya…I implore the journalists and the media to open space for the Arab world. One of the reason for this turmoil and hell we are living in:THE MEDIA.

They are running the war more than leaders. We do not know anymore what is true and what is fabricated. People dont know why they are being killed and killers do not really know why they are killing,truths and facts are being twisted with one result each time…a morbid carnage festival, we are suffering,people are not only losing their lives or their homes or even their countries, those of us who still survive are losing their hopes and dreams.

It is all destruction and death around us, an abyss of horror that has no visible end…

I implore the media again to help us and not use us anymore to record breaking news and hit interviews or aspire for awards on documentaries or whatever…we are people like them too, we have families we had dreams, the so called arab spring has turned Into a waste land with ghosts of murdered children and bombarded homes….a carnage festival where death machines running the scene….open space for us…cut us some slack, we are nations of terrorists that must be oblitrated from the face of earth.

I was blessed last March to moderate an open space conference in Jordan for palestinian  refugee women that hosted refugees from Jordan,Palestine, Gaza and Lebanon. It was a unique experience not only for the participants but also for me as I discovered things in me I never thought of…the question I keep asking myself now: is it right for me and the world to apply the law of the 2feet?what is meant to happen will happen? Is it moral? Or are we butterflies and bumblebies? The irony and danger of the other  question: will the majority of the arab world turn into refugees? It will be great for business minds who think of more conferences and initiatives…etc. But then when the media and the international community lose their moral compass….is there anything else that is worth our while?


From Harrison Owen / 8th September 2013 

Salwa – Thank you so much for your posting. The pain (your pain) is palpable. Your searching is inspiring. Above all, what you have written is a salient and powerful reminder of the full scope of the tumultuous, transforming world in which we all live. We would prefer something more stable and predictable, a world in which the problems and issues that we face are amenable to quick-fix solutions – a “right” process here or the insights proclaimed by “Thought Leaders,” those supposed experts on life. That world, unfortunately, does not exist, and never has.

The reality is the ongoing flow of Chaos … breaking the established order, clearing the ground to make way for New Order to emerge. It is the dance of creation and destruction which takes place at all levels and scales of our experience. There are moments, such as now, when the great tectonic plates of our world slam together, swallowing mountains and building new ones. The ground shakes and burns. It is a time of ending, pain and terror. But it is also the time of renewal – at least that has been the story to date.

Understandably we do everything in our power to resist the powerful forces around us. Perhaps we could return to the apparently stable and predictable world we once knew? To be sure there were imperfections, but we knew what they were. Maybe we did have a Dictator, but he was “our” Dictator. Understandable, but futile. And truth to tell, to the extent that we actually succeed in slowing the flow, we only insure that the forces will build until they explode again with magnified violence.

If return is impossible, then at the very least we might identify the guilty parties – those misguided folks who got us into all this mess. You mention the Media and there are a myriad possible candidates. But the truth of the matter … We are all responsible, including those of us who sit in apparent safety for the moment. And – curiously – none of us are responsible, for what is occurring in our midst is so much bigger than some misguided ideology, questionable political judgment, or professional malfeasance. It is simply and profoundly Life moving on. And although it may come as a blow to our collective egos – we are a very small and inconsequential part of that Life, only lately arrived on the scene.

Now – What about Open Space? What on earth could that funny little process have to do with the cataclysmic events of the moment? A lot, I think – but probably not the sorts of things we might wish for…

Open Space will not render order out of the chaos. Open Space will not eliminate the pain we experience because of the chaos. Open Space will not solve the multiple problems, major and minor, that have manifest in the moment: the hostility, the aggression, the fractures in communications, the madness of men and nations. Above all, Open Space will not provide the ordered steps to regaining our sense of control. In a word, Open Space won’t fix it! The reason is simple – There is nothing to fix. Life is just doing Life… performing the great cosmic dance between Chaos and Order as it has from the beginning. We, however, may join the dance as willing, and eventually, skilled partners. The gift of Open Space is to offer the invitation and provide the opportunity for practice. The dance itself, however, is not ours to design or control, and attempting to do either is to compound our pain and frustration.

The invitation of Open Space is a simple one: To join the Dance of Life. We may enter  through any one of an infinite number of doorways, all sharing a common feature – We Care. We care about many things, and each one of us may care about something different. But all doorways lead to a common space, which we might call a Community of Caring. Once there the Dance may begin for us. Or more exactly we may join the Dance which has been underway for a long, long time. Curiously, we do not have to learn the dance. It is all about remembering what we already know, albeit our memory may be more than a little foggy, and our initial steps a little shaky – but everything does come rushing back if we just take a deep breath and let it happen. No training required, no instruction necessary.

It is true, we do have 5 Principles and 1 Law. But they are there to help us remember what we already know – and not to tell us what to do. In fact both the principles and the law are descriptive and not prescriptive. They represent a simple summary of the common experience of being in Open Space. They can be helpful for new comers (and old timers) as gentle reminders of what will likely happen…even if the law and the principles are never mentioned. It is not a question of right or wrong, correct or incorrect, moral or the opposite. It is just “What is,” so far as we have been able to see.

So my friend, thanks for sharing, and Enjoy the Dance. It is the only one we have got. To be sure, things do get interesting, to say nothing of scary and stressful. And when that happens, take a deep breath and Dance on. Don’t forget, you have a lot of partners – US.


Harrison Owen