The Country Within

This is an edited version of a paper and a workshop I gave at the First Assembly of the Fourth World, London 1981. It was included in the anthology HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD: A Fourth World Guide to the Politics of Scale, edited by Nicholas Albery & Yvo Peeters, 1982. ( Fourth World Educational & Research Association Trust). The Fourth World Association was founded by John Papworth who continues to embody its principles in his life and his magazine Fourth World Review.

We live in two worlds: the inner world of our thoughts, feelings, heredity, habits. And the outer world of our relationships to others, to nature, to the community, the planet, the cosmos.

These two worlds interact and reflect each other constantly. Is it possible to achieve really valid long-term solutions to world problems - or to our own personal problems - without becoming aware of these interactions and of the way we govern our own inner world? Everyone agrees, in principle, that such awareness is necessary. But in practice, we rarely see the links between the outside world and our own manner of thinking.

I would like to propose a workshop theme: The Country Within, the purpose being to discuss and invent imaginative, tangible ways to see the connections between the world we live in and the world which lives within us.

For example:

Visualise your inner space as a country - small, medium or enormous -with its own government, traditions, laws, resources, industries, economic and political problems, foreign policy, enemies and allies, defence system, and so on.

Make it as real as possible: draw a map. build a model, take photos or paint pictures of your 'country'. Explore every possible detail just as if you had been given an assignment to report on a newly discovered continent.

Walk around your inner landscape: is it crowded or sparsely populated? Include your relationships to people in your life, assign positions to them in your government. Are you the head of your country or is someone else the ruler? Are you a dictatorship? A democracy? A commune? An island? An anarchy? What are the main problems of your country? Are you at war or under threat? Do you have a defence department, are you armed? What are your natural resources? Are you using them or are you being used? Do you trade with the outside world? Are you self-sufficient or dependent on imports? Is there much unemployment in your country? What's your policy on 'immigration' - i.e. accepting input from those who are not your family or circle of friends?

Are you a giant, conflict-ridden nation, pushing itself to expand further and further without being able to solve its own immediate problems? Or are you a small 'Fourth World' community, functioning effectively, productively and harmoniously within the scale of your own limitations, skills and possibilities?

When each member of the group has fully defined the characteristics of their inner country, it's time to expand the experiment into an interactive game: the group invents a crisis scenario in which each country has to make crucial decisions regarding their relationship to the others.

This process of visualisation and acting out, if each participant's imagination is fully engaged, becomes a valid and effective technique for discovering new and realistic solutions applicable to stubborn problems on the world scale as well as on the personal level , stimulating greater self-knowledge and awareness of others.


Copyright © Natalie d'Arbeloff 1981-2003