We are not prisoners of our past……

Barak Obama painted in Williamsburg, BrooklynBarak Obama said this:

“What we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed to what we got wrong in the past”

I think he’s right on this. That doesn’t mean that we therefore ignore the past, or don’t deal with it, or allow it to be healed, or learn from it, or carry the scars of it; in fact, one of my favourite sayings comes from a chap called Johnny Barr who said “you’ve got to deal with the root and not the fruit.” Sometimes we find ourselves, both individually and corporately – in our communities and wider societies – still showing the effects of an un-dealt with past. But my problem is when we say to ourselves, or of our communities and nations “things won’t change, it’s just the way I am/we are/things are,” or  “I/we can’t get over that,” or “I/we can’t move forward until….,” or “I wish we could go back to the time when……” and we wistfully look back to some better day when things seemed more sedate or manageable or whatever.

Our journeys shape us and mould us and none of us would be who we are now without them. They are sacred and beautiful and painful and gutsy and messy and complicated and exhilarating and gritty and dirty and noisy and quiet and colourful and plain and exciting and boring and appalling and passionate and delicious and disgusting. Yes – they have shaped us, alright, but they can not be what defines us or determines us. We must be determined by the future which we can create together with God. We cannot afford to get stuck in a moment, a rut or in a pattern of behaviour and make excuses about why we remain so, licking our wounded memories. We can honour the past and keep good foundations, without staying in cyclical patterns of behaviour which can be destructive to ourselves, our wellbeing and our planet.

There is a form of therapy, which some psychotherapists use called Solutions-Focussed, Brief Therapy. I’m a big fan! It’s very future orientated and helps to focus on the person you want to become, or the behaviours you want to develop. I think there is a lot of scope in it for helping to awaken the imagination. There is good evidence to suggest that the more colour and detail we can begin to imagine, the more likely we are to move towards that future. We can learn to think in new ways.

So, this blog is hopefully going to be about some imaginings of the future, and if you want to, then please interact. Our joint imaginings will be far richer and more hopeful than just those of one man. 2011 was a year of some incredible shakings and some deep and searching questions are being asked in so many different arenas of life.

Questions is: will we try to steady the ship and go back to the same old ways we have known before because they feel safe and secure, albeit full of inequality, destruction to the planet, unsustainable growth, war and greed? OR can we dare to dream together and reimagine a different kind of future? A future full of love in place of hate and division, gift in place of greed, goodness in place of self-preservation, peace in place of ardent nationalism and war, freedom in place of human trafficking and slavery, servanthood in place of dominating empire systems, partnership in place of competition, sharing resources in place of hoarding them, caring for life in place of destroying it, stewarding the environment in place of ravaging it, tenderness in place of violence, forgiveness in place of retribution and joy in place of depression and despair. So much flesh to put onto these bare bones………but of this I am sure; we are not prisoners of our past – it is already over; it is time to reimagine the future! Impossible? Nothing is impossible for the one who believes!

11 thoughts on “We are not prisoners of our past……

  1. I TOTALLY AGREE, THE MORE WE LIVE WITH A SENSE OF PERSONAL AND COLLECTIVE VISION FOR THE FUTURE, DREAM, HOPE WITH AS MUCH GLORIOUS TECHNICOLOURED DETAIL THE MORE THIS IS USHERED IN AS A PRESENT REALITY.

    I QUOTE I REMEMBER, NOT SURE WHO ITS BY:

    I REALLY WANTED TO BE SOMEONE SOMEDAY, I SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE SPECIFIC.

  2. Re-imagining the future – every time I hear that I resonate to it… I aspire to re-imagine, re-shape the details, to journey on the unknown path, to fall in the water around the rocking boat (and maybe even sometimes to water-walk), to embrace the uncertain places. So uncomfortable but sooooo…. Ha! I was born under a wandering star…

  3. Reality check: we don’t have to be prisoners of our past, but we can’t set ourselves free.
    We need Someone who has the key to the future to come and unlock the door. “I have come that they may have life…”

  4. In all things He comes to unlock us and draw us on, often requirin us to embrace behaviours that go against our default position in order to grow.
    Each of us has a time frame we prefer to reference: past; present; immediate futuure; far future and He may call us to embrace the disciplines of one of the others.

  5. Reblogged this on Mismeret's Blog and commented:
    It’s good sometimes to read old comments. I re-read mine here on Andy Knox’s blog ‘Re-imagining the future’. I said “every time I hear that I resonate to it… I aspire to re-imagine, re-shape the details, to journey on the unknown path, to fall in the water around the rocking boat (and maybe even sometimes to water-walk), to embrace the uncertain places. So uncomfortable but sooooo…. Ha! I was born under a wandering star…”
    I think what Andy said is more significant than what I wrote so I’m reposting it here…

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