An Oath to Your Power and Your Presence

It was a simple enough tweet, though mildly cryptic:

Are we sick of this yet?”

The writer was Sam Harris. The date November 17, 2021.

I think I know what he was alluding to.

The madness. Online.

Besides being a well-known author and social critic, Sam Harris is a regular meditator and mindfulness practitioner. That’s why I suspect that he was alluding to the increasingly unhinged discourse of today’s increasingly virtual world. Of course, I might just be projecting.

Harris’ tweet did get me thinking about something that Peter Limberg and Conor Barnes wrote back in 2018: the need for “a culture war equivalent to the Hippocratic Oath.”[i] Such a public pronouncement, they said on, could be affirmed by the leaders of the various online tribes, as well as regular netizens.

It would prove beneficial if journalists, authors, bloggers, and professors alike took this oath, but any social media user could take the oath, by pledging their name and accepting some sort of e-badge. Promises can be broken, but breaking public promises can generate swift social feedback.

What would this Oath consist of? At the bare minimum: a commitment to good faith dialogue, the principle of charity, and intellectual humility. The last virtue is critical. A caveat of “I could be wrong” underlying strongly held beliefs helps even the most difficult conversations, a shared commitment to that caveat helps even more.

The question then becomes, what motivation do we have to make such an oath? Do individuals and organisations have the desire to transcend “outrage porn” and produce more socially responsible content? For that matter, what motivation do I have?

It was this self-reflection which led to my beginning my book Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponised World with an “oath to power and presence.” These are words that can be affirmed on a daily basis by the reader, should they wish to take up the challenge of embodying a higher level what I call “cognitive responsibility:” this is developing the right relationship with thoughts, feelings and perceptions as they arise within the mind. The oath to power and presence is thus not a pledge to the book, but to embodying its key ideas and values. Power and Presence is about how we can develop a sense of personal empowerment by establishing a mindful sense of embodied presence. Its message is about being more present to ourselves and the world, less emotionally drawn into real world and online stories, memes, drama and projection. The context is our increasingly virtual lives, as the Digital Age morphs into the possibility of an all-immersive Metaverse. Our chances of becoming unstuck and returning to drama and conflict ridden online environments is immense. The motivation to choose embodied presence over online mayhem and distraction has to be daily affirmed, perhaps not unlike an alcoholic’s daily recanting of the serenity prayer. It is a reminder to ourselves of what is most important, and why we are here.

Oath to Power and Presence

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To say “yes” to my Authentic Self
And to the story that I have consciously chosen.
I say “yes” to that which reflects my highest values and “no” to that which does not.
I say yes to power, to love and to grace
For I am beautiful, I am powerful and I am lovable.

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To honour and give with generosity to those with whom I talk, work and play.
I choose to judge not those of differing views
But in presence to see beyond their shadows
And into their Authentic Selves
Beginning with common understanding and shared humanity.

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To stand in presence with those who stand with me
And with grace I step away from those who choose to be hurtful in word or deed.
I will not be drawn into tribes
Nor their stories, their dramas and conflicts.
My story is not theirs to steal.

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To stand in my power (as a man/woman/preferred identity)
And to listen to the genuine intuitions within which my mind rests.
I say yes to this moment
To its power, wisdom and grace
I say yes to love.

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To own my anger, my blame, my sadness and my fear
For they belong to me only.
I will stay here, I shall not flee.
And I will not add a single spark of rage
To enflame hatred in this world

Upon this sacred day
I am power
I am beauty
I am grace
I am gratitude
I am forgiveness
I am love.
Thank you. I love you.

You might like to change parts of this oath to make it more suitable for your journey. Or, just make up your own oath, one which affirms your highest values. For it’s a personal thing. You can say it first thing in the morning, or whenever you find yourself embroiled in online or real-world drama. Sometimes the mind needs a little nudge, a bit of encouragement. Sometimes it just has to be pushed firmly into line, like a recalcitrant child.

You may ask: is this an oath, or is it a prayer? The answer is that it is whatever you make of it. For me personally, it is more like a prayer, an affirmation to something greater than myself. To my Authentic Self. And to something beyond even that. But it is also an oath, a reminder to my small-s-self to honour my Authentic Self, and the greater good of the world and its people.

As we spend more time online, it is very easy to lose track of what is important. It is very easy to lose our mindful, bird’s eye view of the world and our lives, and instead get caught up in earthbound cat fights. Often the squabbles and projections are with people we barely know, or do not know at all. I’d like to think that the Oath to Power and Presence, whatever version you make of it, can inspire you to keep your life on track, an dto affirm the higher values that we humans share as a collective.

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s latest book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Digitized World.

[i] Limberg, P., & Barnes, C. (2018). “The memetic tribes of culture war 2.0.” Medium, Sept 14, 2018. Retrieved Mar 27, 2020, from。

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