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James Arthur Ray Headshot

Axis of Evil? Not so Much

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President Bush's January 2002 State of the Union Address, where he coined the term "Axis of Evil" to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea, was an attempt to fit entire governments, populations and countries into a catchphrase box. Marketing propaganda at its very best.

The trouble is, these countries are populated with real flesh-and-blood people -- mothers, fathers, grandparents, children -- just like us. While the media loved repeating the "evil" line for a while (sound bites are sexy and fun!), this good-guys-versus-bad-guys approach to foreign policy turned mostly into a public relations nightmare, empowering the hardliners it was meant to control. Energy flows where attention goes. Plus, I shudder to think how many millions of our fellow human beings felt judged and labeled unjustly.

We haven't just been watching a backwards nation...we've been watching ourselves.

Haven't we been just as backwards in our thinking, believing people to be "less than" because they're different from us? Very few stop to realize that "evil" is just the word "live" spelled backwards. Evil is nothing more than to live in a backwards way. Think about it. How evil have many of us been with our backwards way of thinking?

America's teens, for instance, grew up during the Bush years, and until very recently, didn't know Iran as anything other than "evil." The marketing and conditioning had set in -- and set in well. "We should nuke bomb the whole country," I heard several teens say, after learning that its president disavowed the Holocaust. In their minds, it was easy to imagine wiping a country off the map when populated by a group of evil (and not individual) human beings.

But maybe our teens' judgments (as well as our own) has shifted after seeing images of tens of thousands of beautiful, passionate and energized Iranians protesting in the streets for their right to vote for a more progressive, democratic leader and future. The fact that courageous Iranians are willing to lose their lives for a fraction of the freedom most of us in this country take for granted is hopefully not lost on our youth -- or their parents.

Apart from color, race, country, or religion, it's becoming impossible to ignore that all human beings are the same and, ultimately, want the same things. Of course, we reach for different things at different times, and we come to the point when we're ready to stand up for those rights at different intervals.

But shift happens. It's evolution, baby, and it can't be stopped.

You Can't Turn Back the Clock

Evolution is inevitable. It can't be stopped...not for long. The human spirit is always for fuller expression and expansion. What we're witnessing in Iran and across the globe, where people are showing their solidarity for these expanding souls standing up for their rights, is a profound evolution of spirit. As consciousness expands, people once held down are awakening, beginning to say, "I'm worth more than this, and I deserve the rights and freedom to make my own choices and have a say in my own life."

Consider President Obama's election.

Don't you think his election into the highest office in the land is certainly evidence of a huge shift in our country? One of the most obvious signs that consciousness is expanding was on Inauguration Day, where this son of a Muslim, said: "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth." How did we go from eight years of Christian supremacy to honoring Muslims and nonbelievers? Man, what a leap!

Although Obama's statement got some people's DNA twisted tighter than a drum, the truth is that this evolution is as natural to life as birth itself. And, like the birthing process, it's difficult and challenging.

Think about it: for anything new to live something first has to die. For you to be born to this lifetime, you had to die to the warmth and safety of the womb (where anything you needed was delivered immediately). Creation and destruction are two opposite poles of the same dance, and we must be willing to dance the dance. We must be willing to let go of the old to come into a new level of experience.

Check history and you'll find that all profound transformation and growth always begins with a shift in consciousness. Just months ago, Iranians were part of the Axis of Evil. Now they're our brothers and sisters fighting for their freedom while we cry at their losses and pray for their safety.

A Shift from "Me" to "We" to "All"

The way I see it, there are three expanding levels of awareness with each expansion inclusive of the last. Humanity, helped in large part by the Internet, is beginning a shift from the first and second levels to the third. Whether you like it or not, again, this process cannot be stopped. Let me explain.

In the first level, Egocentric, it's all about "me." Me. Me. And me.

In the second level, Ethnocentric, it's all about "we." Me and my friends (who are just like me--Christian, Jewish, American, white, black, male, female, wealthy, what have you).

But, in the third level, Worldcentric, it's about "all."

We can't help but go from "me" to "me and my buds" to "all." If you look at Obama's speeches, starting with his campaign speeches to his Inaugural address to his recent speech to the Middle East at Cairo University, Obama repeatedly makes "world statements." This snippet from his Cairo speech is an example of both an "All" and "Expanded Consciousness" mentality:

There are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power. Once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion. You must respect the rights of minorities and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise. You must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

In other words, the world is slowly starting to understand that we can't forsake an entire group or population of people -- no matter how far away or how foreign -- because of a few Ego or Ethnocentric political and business leaders. All must be valued. Inclusion and integration is paramount.

How Would Gandhi Think, Feel and Act?

We would do well at this juncture in history to remember that Gandhi arose out of a culture of oppression, becoming a pioneer of non-violence and civil disobedience. His phrase, "Be the change you wish to see in the world," is perhaps one of the world's most inspirational slogans. His success in rallying his nation to freedom no doubt fuels the fight of so many others.

If you've followed my work in any way, you've no doubt heard me speak on going "3 for 3." Going 3 for 3 is what happens when your thoughts, your feelings and your actions are all firing simultaneously and in alignment, creating a powerful, undeniable magnetic field. Gandhi knew what it meant to live in alignment with his thoughts, feelings and actions all working toward one goal: freedom for his people.

We're observing the same thing now in Iran.

This is not a populace that is just thinking and feeling that they need to be free with rights. They're thinking, feeling and taking ACTION! It takes a certain level of awakening and awareness to get to the point where you're ready to act. An idea usually has to germinate for a long time and gain substantial emotional energy behind it before people are courageous enough to shake, rattle and roll. And yet, that's exactly what we're seeing.

Pain Precedes Change

You've heard it before: People don't change unless and until they experience enough pain with the way things are (some say that's the "gift" of pain). A woman doesn't stop eating cookies until the pain of having thunder thighs is worse than the pain of not downing Oreos. A man doesn't quit his job until the pain of working for his maniacal boss is greater than the idea of living out of a cardboard box. Only then do we say: "Hey! Enough already!" Only then do we figure out how to think, feel and act in a different direction.

In the case of America, it took eight years of Bush to help us elect a new, more inclusive leader. Sure, some were scared shitless to have someone with a middle name of "Hussein" leading a Christian nation at this time in history (with Muslim roots, no less). But, it was a hell of a lot scarier not to change, which would guarantee nothing but more of the same!

The world is evolving, on that you can count. How quickly or how pain free, only time will tell. I know to my core, however, that freedom is eventually inevitable, for all people.

The world can't stop evolving, even if we want her to. Neither can her people. This is not Disneyland, and you can't get off the ride. And, although birthing is hard, what choice do we have? Just suppose a mother during labor said, "I'm not going to go through with this after all. This process is just too damn hard." Would that stop the baby from coming? Would it stop pushing, turn around and go back up for another ten years? Hardly!

Once spirit starts to birth forward, new life must happen. It's happening. Do you feel it?

Better yet: Are you willing to Think, Feel and Act it?