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May Day!

A Pastor Shells Soapbox Sermon

by Rev Shelley Griffiths

May 1st 2024


Unless you have managed to obtain a level of blissful ignorance to the degree that you no longer see what is going on in the world, you’ll know it all seems to be going a bit wrong. Whether it’s wars, genocide, the worsening climate crisis, the cost of living crisis, cultural sociopathy or just how violent and unkind the world now seems, it’s hard not to let it get you down. 




To put it simply, if you are paying attention, you can't possibly be happy with what is going on around us. Add to that a sense of powerlessness in this dystopian nightmare that we call civilisation, it can get to the point where the existential crisis can only lead to either a reclusive implosion or an angry explosion. Frontline activism or apocalypse-prepping hermitage. I tend to alternate between the two unless I’m going through a Zen phase, where I accept what is without rage. I must confess that is not often. I’d like to say that I’m working on being more Zen-like and meditating and praying more, but as there are so many demands on me right now, (this is the busiest time of year for veg farming) rage is a useful motivator. However, because I’m often quite tired, my rage is more of an exasperated huff that I will not let the haters and naysayers win, rather than a growling fierceness these days. 


I’d like to be more Christlike and share the sentiment that we should ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do’, but in truth, I fear they know very well what they are doing and they just don’t care. If I were to express myself fully at the demise of our species I would either be arrested or committed, so instead, I channel my despair into my writing, and more recently into stand-up comedy. Those that only know me as an outspoken activist and those that have railed against my typically autistic plain speaking might not think I’m funny. But here’s the thing: while I love love love making people laugh, there’s something quite powerful (and dare I say mischievously addictive) in creating an awkward tumbleweed moment when the truth hits hard. So, if I’m funny that’s great. And If I’m not, I made you listen whether you liked it or not. Win win for me. The awkward moments of truth bombing make for great storytelling when I regale them in my never ending stream of narrating my life.


Without oestrogen coursing through my veins making me all soft and nurturing anymore, I’m less patient than I used to be. The subsequent intolerance to bullshit along with the refusal to accept the normalisation of gaslighting and manipulation by sociopathic behaviours has helped me to secure strong boundaries. That has really worked in my favour in being able to live in this messed up world. 


I have been trying to find compassion and patience for my fellow humans since I was three years old when I was sent to school ridiculously early as a gifted child with a savant mother who was very proud of me and my cursive handwriting. It wasn’t long before I realised logic does not prevail in either the classroom or at home. This is a common experience for undiagnosed autistic children and I have always felt like I am not like others. I wondered if I might be from another planet, or perhaps a dolphin trapped in a human body. But not human.


My spiritual journey took a new direction when I became aware of the barbaric practices of eating our fellow sentient beings; a sick and twisted behaviour we call animal agriculture. When I found out the truth about what actually happens, particularly in factory farms, I ran around telling people the awful reality of how we have been hypnotised into thinking this is normal while hoping that they would do what I did when I found out the truth; to go vegan immediately. 

Sadly, not only did this course of action lose me family and friends who still avoid me to this day, I also discovered with utter dismay that there are two types of people: the first (and the most common) are those who are triggered into an aggressive cognitive dissonance because the truth is uncomfortable, and will do everything to continue supporting the cruelty with flimsy excuses, and then there are those, who like me, are forever changed by the realisation of what we were supporting and vow to evolve immediately. Which type are you? Watch Dominion, Cowspiracy, Pignorant or any of the documentaries that expose the truth and see if your tastebuds still win over having integrity once you know the truth. It takes a soul that is lost to the dark to know the truth and still choose cruelty. What are you choosing for your soul?


If you are still a carnist, or even worse, a vegetarian (the meat industry is actually less cruel than the dairy industry which is also the meat industry, but with added rape, baby stealing and exploitation added to the cruelty) then this might make uncomfortable reading. Especially if you came here thinking I was going to make you laugh because you found this blog through my comedy networking. I might say something funny later if you hang on in here. Or I might just hurl the truth at you like a chimpanzee at the zoo throwing faeces at the plexiglass. 


It’s rather marvellous that I started doing stand-up comedy. Without sounding too dramatic, I’d even go as far as to say it’s been a life saver because last year was probably the worst year of my life. Not only did I lose my beloved pooch of seventeen years, but the vegan family I thought I had found by creating an intentional community at Vegan Valley fell apart. It all collapsed when we failed to raise the finances to buy the adjoining property at Vegan Valley and people I thought were lovelies who claimed to share our vision for a community based on kindness turned out to be largely ego-led, self-serving and unkind. I’m still in disbelief that people who are mostly lovely could behave so appallingly.


We had one community member who was training to be ordained as a Buddhist minister sneak her belongings away when we weren't there leaving us to deal with a rotting caravan she left up the furthest end of the land and she even left us a bucket of her shit to deal with. Not the behaviour you'd expect from someone training for ministry.


Shocked and dismayed, I scuttled inside myself for several months. The comic irony of people joining a community based on kindness only to be thoroughly unkind was wasted on me while I reeled from the rejection dysphoria that often accompanies neurodiversity. 


I still continued working, living, eating and being but my grief was at times debilitating. My grief started expressing itself with worsening pain all over my body. With IBS, fibromyalgia, insomnia, hot flushes, menopausal brain fog and so many tears I think I actually did cry a river, my sorrow was all consuming and relentless. Neurodiverse people often feel the pain of injustice more keenly than most, so rage became an integral part of my recovery. First you get mad, then you get sad. Then you heal.


Prior to last year, the pandemic coupled with total disappointment that my fellow humans could vote in greedy criminal Tories to lead us, and of course the Brexshit debacle made me despair. Add estrangement from my family including my only son, and my mental health started to really decline after I lost my adorable little dog Tuki. I had a couple of spectacularly dramatic meltdowns (behind closed doors and not in a supermarket as was a regular place to fall apart as a child) but still off the scale on my internal cringeometer. 


You always find out who is there for you when you are in crisis. I ended friendships with people who were clearly only fair-weather friends and ran away to Cardiff to live on a houseboat and write my memoirs which were suitably bleak for someone having a breakdown. 


As with all breakdowns, they are always breakthroughs in disguise, and my healing became more apparent when I started to become intensely bored by my malaise. I started to see the comedy in my sad broken existence with journals called things like ‘The Private Musings of a Broken Flip-flop’. I either poured my heart out in tragic streams of consciousness or dissociated with intermittent fantasies of becoming a nymph of the woods, and shunning people and society entirely. 


When I started writing ‘The Eco Village’ (a spoof documentary television series) I started to find myself grateful for the truly awful and equally wonderful characters we have encountered during my mission to create an actual vegan eco village. It changed my perspective. What happened says far more about them than it does me, and whilst I do not claim to be without flaws, my altruistic heart remains keen to share what I have with others and not let people in survival mode stop me or the wonderful vision we have for Vegan Valley.


I’ve always been goofy and toddleresque in my unmasking around Paul and he encouraged me to pursue stand-up when I started thinking about it. I joked that his encouragement could be a cruel trick to see me humiliate myself on stage but what I really feared was that he was misguided like the lovestruck partners and parents of X-Factor contestants that have no talent. 


I took the gamble of planting myself in the spotlight as a parody of myself and making people laugh with my observational comedy. Despite my inability to ‘fit in’, I’m surprisingly relatable. Who knew?! And without having to navigate the complicated nuances of two-way conversations, I can just allow hyperlexic autistic Shelley to unmask and share my observations on this mad world into a microphone with an audience willing to listen. It’s liberating. 


In my obsessive need to understand why people behave the way they do, I extended my research and learning into areas of how trauma affects our brain wiring. I practiced EMDR and somatic healing. I learned how trauma can trigger us into survival mode. Myself included. We should all forgive ourselves and each other for choices we make when we are in survival mode. 


People who operate from their amygdala and the fight or flight mode of survival are not thriving. I considered all the reasons why we aren’t thriving and came full circle to the realisation that my original vision all those years ago for a self-sustaining community where we leave the toxicity of the rat-race behind and carve out an existence where we have the time, energy and motivation to do more than just exist is still the answer. To create a place where we can thrive. To achieve that we need to feel safe to be ourselves.


I’m planning more stand-up gigs and am working on a travelling show I would love to take to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival called ‘Laugh While You Can’, a variety show of sorts where I take up the mantle of the sandwich board wearer warning that the end is nigh on one side and a joke about it the other side. It’s creative activism that mocks our mad society and I have to say, brings me much joy. Thriving whilst the planet is burning seems an odd concept, but it’s really the only way to get through it. 


There’s nothing quite like a sense of purpose to add meaning to life. The more people like me that decide to thrive and share the abundance that doing so brings, the more the pendulum swings towards a complete cultural turnaround and salvation for our species. In short, the worse it gets the closer we are to revolting and choosing kindness over consumerism, equity over capitalism and peace over war. To choosing a better way to live. 


Since deciding to continue with our off-grid edible forest project, and not give up just yet, things are really starting to come together now. We have new community members and I have to say, it's no longer a struggle like it was. I have no idea if that's because we only accept people with a growth mindset these days or I am what has changed. I certainly know how to recognise those in survival mode these days and whether the ego or the heart is in charge of decision making. I've learned some important lessons, and of course learned to laugh at the tougher ones. Thanks for that God (or the universe, whatever vocabulary works for you!).


If you share my vision for a kinder way to live, and would like to know more about the Eden Movement and the work we do, there is lots more information on the Edenkind website www.edenkind.org 


I have a created a facebook page for `Pastor Shells’ now. Come find me! If I can find the time, I’ll also try to join the younger generation’s social media platforms like insta and TikTok and share my Nanna knowledge there, but for now, it’s that time of year when tending to my beans is the priority. There’s something wonderfully optimistic about planting, and deliciously fulfilling when you can literally harvest the fruits of your labour. 

Hopefully, I’m also planting seeds of consciousness through my comedy, whether it’s with laughs or awkward silences. Who knows what will blossom a result.








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3 Comments


Well said! It's Pretty Crazy out there!😃

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When and where are you comedy gigs, would love to attend xx

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I’ve just read this at work and found myself smiling and nearly sobbing into the keyboard simultaneously. The despair, the envelopment of the dark , the sadness and disappointment , then the glorious reconning , blinking of light that .. actually you survived . You’re here right now ! It’s deliciously relatable to me personally and has provided me with some well needed comfort that I’m not completely bat shit crazy (only slightly, well I’d say medium ish ) !! Thank floof for this refreshing account of the world as you see it !

Love, light, strength and growth

Alix

xx


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