In a fishbowl
I bump the glass
trying to swim
beyond the transparent barrier.
To survive beyond
I need a new design,
from my gill-oxygenated carrier.
My guppy eyes stare
How would it feel
to breathe that air?
Swimming back to my castle I play awhile
among the faux coral and seaweed.
I ascend upon sprinkled kelp to feed,
then settle again with a contented smile.
Back at the edge with my guppy-eyed stare.
In a fishbowl
trying to swim beyond
the transparent barrier
march 12, 2007
When in the thrall of a belief system and organization that proclaims the 'all-truth,' it can be difficult to see beyond that mindset. Upon leaving, it can still be difficult and one can be easy prey to fall back into what is known as 'black-white' thinking. Black-white thinking is similar to all-or-nothing thinking, in which one views others/circumstances/belief systems/institutions as 'all bad' or 'all good' and/or views oneself or one's group/belief as having the truth.
I wrote the above poem 17 months after exiting the organization I was involved with, The Way International. A few months after exiting The Way, I got involved with an online forum that was an anti-Way forum. The forum was helpful for me in reconnecting with folks after decades, in decompressing some of my experiences and thoughts, in learning to express myself, and in learning about different peoples' experiences who had been involved with the group. Yet, after about 10 months of being involved with that forum, I began to recognize similar tactics and mindsets that I had experienced in The Way.
I came to the realization that (for me) I had jumped from a frying pan (The Way) into a fire (the anti-Way forum). I came to see that the anti-cult movement can be just as cultish as a cult. I wanted out of the fish bowl; I wanted to understand thought-reform and to learn to recognize when I was falling prey to group-think. I became more serious about my study in that regard. I am by no means an "expert;" yet I am continually learning about social dynamics and how to better recognize and navigate my own vulnerabilities.
In fact, any organization with social dynamics is prone to some group-think. I'm not stating that as a fear, but rather simply how social groups are formed and function. A test (for me) is how much autonomy is one allowed to maintain while in the group. Autonomy can be quite difficult for folks who have been deeply indoctrinated and influenced.
I believe I am now out of the fish bowl; it is a continual process. I think I've made it as far as the ocean, which also has its boundaries. Yet those boundaries are far wider than a fishbowl, the coral and seaweed are real, and one has to learn how to feed oneself being interdependent with the abundance of ocean life. :-)