The locust of evaluation

Last week, sitting at the back at the second session of my diploma course, the woman next to me (who was straining to see the screen at the front) leaned over and whispered, “the locust of evaluation?!”

It got me thinking.

The locus of evaluation, the place from which we make our value judgment, seems to be an ever-increasingly tricksy location, especially over these last few months as we’ve collectively, officially, lived through some Strange Times. We were discussing, in that class, about how the aim is to come from needing permission from others to make an assessment, to a place where one can make a decision based on our own balanced core values. Balance, though – it’s a funny thing at the moment, isn’t it? It feels like so many of us are trying very hard to hold everything in balance in a world which doesn’t really seem to have any rules any more.

We look around us to check for feedback, to validate what we’re doing, and…nobody else seems to know, either. The people who are supposed to be leading us seem to have lost their way, and in the absence of clarity, the monster-shouters are coming. Have you ever read The Stand, by Stephen King? Just after the deadly, communicable, flu-like plague (sound familiar?) wipes out a vast proportion of the global population, one of the protagonists is in a deserted Central Park, listening to the enraged, terrified, maddened shouts of one of the few people left behind, alone. “Monsters coming!”, he shouts. “Monsters coming now!”

So I find myself wondering, how do we achieve balance, when nobody really knows what to do, and the monsters may indeed be coming? When the locus of evaluation becomes the locust, and starts nibbling us down to the stems? I mean, don’t think I’m saying I have the answers here. But I do know for sure that we are going to need to stick together and hold each other up more than ever. It’s not about raising your vibe, positivity only, love and light and nothing else. Things are really fucking scary. We are going to need to hold space for each other in order to allow ourselves to figure out what we are doing. When things are uncertain, we have the choice to let go and paddle along with the times, or to make decisive choices and forge our own path. I think it’s a balance. I wrote before about how, when this all began, we would have to just tie our rafts together and start bobbing along, and that’s fine when we’re all doing that – but what about if someone comes along and starts yelling that that’s the wrong idea and actively starts cutting the ropes, overthrowing the rafts, and pushing people into the water? At the moment, so many of the people forging their own path are forging one based in fear – anti-maskers, conspiracy theorists, COVID-deniers. And I do get it; it’s really scary and I can see how it’d be easier to make a conscious, denial-based choice that this is not happening. But the reality is…that it is. For once, it is very apparent that the wider picture is not in our control. It never is, really, but we usually have just enough of a grip on the edge of things to kid ourselves that we’ve got the upper hand. I suppose I’m just thinking about the fact that we still don’t really know enough about how things are going to go to make these big proclamations, and decisions, when there’s a very real risk that peoples’ lives will be put in danger. The most powerful man in the world is being treated in hospital right now, having sworn blind that it’s all lies lies lies, and nothing to be afraid of.

Maybe finding the right way forward needs to come from the collective, and not from one or two. Perhaps there’s no single person right now who can decisively lead everyone forward. Perhaps it’s the tipping point and it’s time that we allowed everyone to have a say – certainly rich white men don’t seem to have done a very good job, or at least, not a good enough job for everyone else. It’s just a thought. Just a thought. But perhaps, if enough people have a thought, and light their own little fires in the dark, and invite others to come and share the heat and warmth, to be included and say their piece, and contribute, and be valued, perhaps eventually there’ll be space for everybody. Who knows?

One thing that is real, and true, is that we are 100% experiencing this together, but I can’t write that we’re IN it together because some undoubtably have more access to support than others: privilege, money, location and blind good fortune. But there is going to come a point where nobody will be untouched by this, if that time has not already arrived. I think that originally there might have been some thought that this might be the great leveller, but it seems that even when a literal deadly plague is still quietly slipping past our best efforts at slowing it down, the biggest danger is still each other.

That was a cheery ramble, wasn’t it? I might just post a photo of my new t shirt next (it’s a good one).