I feel confused at the state of the world and I make a wild guess that I am not the only one.
In this particular time in human history, finding orientation by looking outside is like pulling out a folded map from the 70s and trying to navigate the roads of 2020. It doesn't work.
I myself feel confused and what I do when I feel that way is I go within. I fast. I meditate. I try to speak with people who I have deep trust and know their level of integrity. Or, I try to stay of fb and fail badly
But what I came to realise in reflection of the current state of the world in Corona times is this- deep inside I know, that my life so far has taught me what I need to know and all I have to do is pull out the stories of my own book and put it in context to see what to pay attention to.
If I sit with it long enough, the blurring goes away and clarity arises. Suddenly I know that I must put aside the 70s map and create path ways in my system, align it with my intuition and exchange with the people dear to me, those who can listen and reflect and with whom I can have conversations where we walk out wiser and with a greater understanding.
And so, allow me to share a story and put it into context to what I believe is one important aspect of the full picture we are living through right now, collectively.
....A few years ago, a beautiful soul from my Bali Community reached out to ask if there is anyone willing to help a refugee in a detention center by bringing him a phone, so that he can make contact with his family.
You know that place when you just feel called to do something and you don't even understand why. But, it is crystal clear to you in the moment and you trust your instinct.
And so I responded immediately and said yes, I am willing to help.
I was asked to go to a known photo gallery in Ubud/Bali to fetch the phone that had been arranged and paid for by some amazing people. I need to emphasize on these silent helpers because there are a number of those out there, all around the world, who are at the forefront of being in service to others and to humanity without ever speaking about it. They simply help, support and empower and do this in the background, often without anyone knowing about it. I greatly respect and love these compassionate people, and if one or more of you are reading this now, you know who you are. You are gold!
But back to my story.
Making contact with the refugees in detention was not easy and I couldn't reach them directly. The contact was established and I could find out through the helpers, what else they possibly needed. It turned out that there were children too, families, young men. Some had been there for a few weeks, some for a few months and the two men I was going to visit, had been there almost for two years.
They were refugees from a rural area in Afghanistan and they tried to get over to Australia. At the time Australia completely shut the borders and sent people away, even if they came on a boat over the ocean. They were sent to different detention centres in Papua or to Indonesia and detained in one of the many centres all over the archipelago.
The next day I left my home and drove with my motorbike down south. I had bought some teddy bears, colour pencils, paper and candy for the kids. I also brought some cash, which I hid between the teddy bears, as well as the phone they needed.
I had no idea what to expect but I knew that to be allowed to visit there, I had been required to name who I was visiting, make an appointment and announce that I was coming.
I arrived at 11 am and had to fill out some documents, leaving my name and telephone number as well as my address.
Then I was led to wait to the area next to the 'reception' and asked to sit down on an old and worn out fake leather sofa. Opposite me was another sofa just like the one I was sitting on and between the two stood a small coffee table.
Some 15 minutes later, two men came out and greeted me. Immediately I felt their gratitude, their warmth. We were not alone. A Guard was standing close enough to see and hear us and another stood behind the reception desk.
We sat down opposite each other and began to talk quietly. At first they apologised. They felt humiliated that I was visiting them and they couldn't serve me any tea or so, which is part of their courteous culture and hospitality when receiving visitors or guests. They looked down in shame and I knew that there was nothing I could do to make them feel better apart from telling them that it was totally ok. I tried to divert our attention to my actual reason for being there and felt curious about who these men were I was sitting with, so I asked them about their story. They shared with me what made them leave their home. Their land was experiencing a terrible drought over a number of years, beside being war torn. Beside the threat, they endured scarcity, desperation, fear and lack of perspective.
Because they were the strong young men of the family, they were chosen to leave and take on the dangerous journey over land and across the ocean to Australia, which they hoped would help them in establishing a life, start to work and be able to support their family back home.
They were fearful too but nonetheless they courageously began their journey into the unknown, praying that they would succeed, hoping to see their family again and bring honour and help back into their home. But, things went wrong and they were caught somewhere in the ocean, along with many others.
They were accompanied back to the shores of Indonesia by the military and distributed over the many camps across Indonesia. My new friends here were appointed to the Bali detention center, where they had been since.
It was 21 months ago.
I looked at them while they spoke, trying to figure out their age by the way they held their bodies, how they looked and I felt that I got a pretty good idea that they must be in their late 30s.
So I asked them and was left in a bit of a shock. One was 26 and the other had just turned 28. I took a breath, while looking at them from my new and more realistic perspective. Their shoulders were hanging, they were unshaved and dark circles surrounded their eyes. The hope and life had gone out of them, some of it had flared up briefly.
I asked them how they are. They looked down on the coffee table between us, when it broke out of one of them: "You know," he said, " we have been here almost two years! There is nothing to do, we cannot go out or speak with our families, we are prisoners here, we are allowed to leave this place with guards only twice a week for a couple of hours to do some sport, otherwise we are in here all the time. The food is scarce and they don't treat us well, but worst, worst of all, we don't know how long this is going to last. Are we ever going to get out of here or are we going to have to stay here forever? Not knowing this is making us crazy."
His cousin nodded.
It felt like for the moment, the life force had come back into him to share what sat inside of him for so many months, and after he finished speaking, he sank back into the sofa, capitulating.
When I left that day, my heart was heavy and I shed a few tears. The injustice, the inequality, the unfair distribution of opportunity, rights and wealth, it became clear as daylight and I felt ever so helpless.
For a long time I thought about what they had been through and how I would feel if I was in that situation. I remembered how wrong I was about their age, what their indefinite detention had done to them. Their spirit felt broken and I think it was one of the most sobering hours of learning something new about human nature in my life.
Indefinite detention is very unhealthy on so many levels and I cannot help but see the parallel between what my refugee friends had to endure, and what this ongoing and never ending lockdown/curfew/quarantine/stop life situation feels to me. Even though what we are experiencing is not nearly as intense as the story I just shared, being unable to move freely and according to our human nature, greatly affects us psychologically and emotionally. We might not notice it now, but eventually we will and I wonder what then will be.
We are not meant to be detained or restricted in such ways for an extended and indefinite period of time.
Stories from the edge
Uta Verena is a Mother, a Yoga,-and Healing Practitioner, She deeply cares about Earth and is passionate about the restoration of inner and outer balance.