In a world where people are scared to talk to strangers, knock on their neighbour’s doors, dance, sing, speak their mind or express themselves in public (the very things that came naturally to us as children), isn’t it time we began breaking through these self limiting beliefs?
Born in Perth, Western Australia; the most isolated city in the world where ‘nothing ever happens’, it seems that things are now well and truly happening: what was once a small group of outcasts & dreamers has now become a global network of a hundred thousand strong; The Liberators International. Modern-day game changers, who’s revolutionary new social experiments are continuing to gain momentum, expand their horizons and win powerful new allies.
But the problem is that us funny little humans resist change like it will kill us, even though ironically it is the only thing we can count on. Change is desperately needed in the world. We all know and sense it, yet most of us won’t dare try new things or step outside our comfort zone. We crave change, but when it comes we resist it. We yearn to feel deeper joy, share more meaningful connections and express ourselves more authentically, yet we won’t put ourselves in situations where this could become possible. We long to be free from our little boxes, but we don’t dare step outside the line.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Friday night drinks has become the west’s new modern day religion. It’s the time that many of us spend all week looking forward to: time to express ourselves. It’s when we feel that rare sensation of freedom roll through us. When we can feel good because we are around our friends and in an environment where we can more freely be ourselves. But lets face it, it’s the booze that gives us our increased sense of freedom: relief from the inhibitions and self-doubts that usually prevent you from doing what you really want to do.
The Liberators seek to liberate you from these seemingly insignificant little fears, the ones that are too easy to brush off and ignore, for they believe that life begins just outside of your comfort zone. They understand the rewards that await those who dare to be vulnerable. They believe facing your fears by doing what scares you is your golden key to true liberation. Their message is simple; freedom is a state of mind. For how free can you really be if you are fearful of what others think about you?
Founded by accountant turned social artist and public speaker Peter Sharp, it all began when he decided to conduct his first social experiment; hitchhiking from Spain to Croatia…in a business suit. Never having hitchhiked before, his goal was to completely step outside of his comfort zone. Learning many valuable lessons on his adventure, he was blown away by the kindness and generosity he received from so many strangers. On his first day he waited only 3 minutes before being picked up by a nice couple with a baby in the back. On the second day he was picked up by an Entrepreneur and his opera singer wife in their flashy BMW and was even bought a beer, lunch and offered a room to stay in at his holiday house in Cannes. Peter refused his generous offer and many others like it, reminding himself that his priority was to remain outside his comfort zone.
Describing hitchhiking as an “alchemy of deep conversations”, he made many new friends and broke down old fears and beliefs, realising the world is actually a much safer place than the media makes it out to be and that our distrust of each other is simply unreasonable. Most importantly, the success of the experiment inspired him to try some of his other ideas, and soon he conducted his next social experiment: the blind trust experiment. Blindfolding himself in front of a cathedral in Barcelona with a sign that said “I trust you, do you trust me? lets hug..” it wasn’t long before there was a line of people waiting to hug and thank him. This experiment was more successful than he could have ever imagined, receiving over 400,000 views on youtube, it sent waves of love all over the globe, and like a chain reaction it inspired many others to try similar experiments of their own. These experiments demonstrated that when you give trust, you get trust. It also showed just how much the world is waiting for us to step up and do it.
When Peter returned to Perth from Barcelona he founded The Liberators International and he soon had a team that would help him bring more of his ideas to life. His team, also known as “the inner circle”, are a collection of around twenty Gen Y’s. These radical bohemian activist hippie visionaries, artists, dare devils and professionals share common stories and big dreams of a world free from the systems of social behaviour that keep us disconnected from each other.
Their next experiment, which also went viral on youtube and made international headlines, was the Perth Train Party. But this time he wasn’t alone; planting members from his team and any willing volunteers to act as members of the public, their intention was to inspire other passengers to join in the fun. On what had probably seemed like just the average morning on Transperth’s Fremantle line, suddenly the train commuters were awoken from their daydreams when Peter stood up, announced his desire to simply express himself, stating that he didn’t want money but just wanted to spread a bit of joy and invited others to join him if they wished to.
Many people have simply brushed off The Liberators as just a bunch of exhibitionist show offs, and although their gigantic senses of freedom can certainly be a little in your face, these people are truly spiritual and wise. They are the kind of people who truly see you when they look into your eyes. With warm open hearts and playful personalities, they are fully present in the moment with you. And that is exactly where they challenge you to meet them: the here and now. Next time your in a public space, have a look around: how many people are present in the moment and how many are away somewhere else, thinking about the past, future or fantasy? Sure, it is essential to dedicate time for planning and daydreaming, but what percentage of them are simply distracting themselves with Facebook and mindless games? How many people look fulfilled and how many look sad or mad?
We escape the present moment when its uncomfortable, and we all know how uncomfortable public transport is. Its confronting. It becomes blatantly undeniable just how disconnected, shy and socially awkward we all are. It shows us just how scared we are to do anything outside the norm, for fear of drawing attention to ourselves. It shows just how sad, insane or strange some of us are. It shows the lack of trust we have in each other.
Isn’t it ironic that as a society most of us feel lonelier than ever and yet when we are around each other we can barely stand it? Does public transport really need to be so depressing and uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s time our public transport system got a little makeover. And when it comes to bringing people closer together, surely public transport is an ideal and convenient place to start? Perhaps it’s time we began utilising public space with more creativity, innovation and pure good old-fashioned love.
What’s special about The Liberators is that they don’t just dream of a world that supports us enough to want to stay present; they are prepared to do something about it. Like modern day freedom fighting warriors, they paint on their colourful battlefield art, dress in courageous costumes, arm themselves with sparkly signs of truth, and with their brave spirits, all in the name of love, they charge out with raw authentic self-expression, love songs, and freestyle dance moves. Up against an army of time paupers, serious shoppers, and not so curious onlookers, they are often simply ignored, laughed at or dismissed. But not by all. For others: the curious and the brave, it is an unforgettable life changing experience.
Are The Liberators to us what Martin Luther King was to African Americans, William Wallace to the Scots or Gandhi to India? Sure, they aren’t being punished, jailed or killed for their acts of freedom, instead they are simply being shrugged off and ignored because their understand their message is misunderstood, for they are attempting to liberate those who are the most hopelessly enslaved; those who believe they are free.
Experts at creating spaces for people to drop of their barriers and come together to celebrate the gift that is life, The Liberators are professionals at throwing spontaneous heart-centred parties where everyone really is invited. Famous for their public transport sing-alongs, supermarket flashmobs and shopping mall dance of freedom parties, their colourful and outrageous drug/alcohol-free morning raves have demonstrated that the key to a good time comes from the natural high we get when we feel connected to and accepted by those around us; when we feel safe enough to just let go and be ourselves. They have demonstrated that the sensations of freedom, joy, authentic self-expression and connection really don’t have to wait until Friday night drinks or until you are with your closest friends. And the inspire the thoughts: perhaps there are many unexplored possibilities for how public spaces can be utilised, perhaps life could be lived very differently.
Is it possible we’ve forgotten the power that music and dance has to create, express and connect? How much have we pondered and investigated the relationship between music and revolution? When you look at the fresh new sounds of the 1920s and 1960s and the social revolutions that occurred at the time, it makes you wonder. In a world where we can now listen to virtually anything at any time, and with an overwhelming amount of new sounds being created all the time, are we all sitting on a massive well of untapped musical potential? Science has now proven just how powerful our intentions are… combine that with the fact that the human voice is the most powerful instrument on the planet, and perhaps we can start to understand the purpose of the The Liberators recent global experiment The Worlds Biggest Sing -a-Long. A project to “turn fear into love and inhibition into liberation”, The Liberators understand the power of thousands of people from all corners of the globe singing the same beautiful song at the same time while holding the same intention in their hearts.
But of all their accomplishments and successful projects, The Eye Contact Experiment has to be their most incredible, for not so obvious reasons. It was their first global experiment conducted on a mass scale: to simply share a minute of continuous eye contact with a stranger or friend. Setting up designed areas within well known popular public spaces just after 5pm, over 100,000 people across 156 cities participated in this revolutionary experiment that was deeply transformative for many and it sent a powerful message to the world. It inspired us to ask some new questions and confront some important issues, such as why is it so hard to sit and look into a strangers eyes for a minute without saying anything? For some it was a walk in the park, but for others, it was challenging and confronting; bringing some to tears and others into uncontrollable laughter.
In a rapidly changing world; the age of information and technology, never before have we as a species been so connected and yet, ironically, disconnected. We are busier, more distracted and entertained than ever, and most of us haven’t simply haven’t stopped for long enough to really look around at all the new possibilities and opportunities now all around us; one small act of kindness or love now has the potential to ripple positive vibes all over the world within minutes. Who knows what could be the norm in a decade from now.
We forget that we still live in a world filled with mystery and undiscovered territory. That we are all pioneers in a new world of possibilities and unexplored potential, and we the people now have more power and freedom than we’ve ever had, or at least, now the potential to create it. As Peter Sharp recently said in his birthday post “we all have huge untapped reservoirs of human potential to shift and change the story of the world around us, Humanity is crying out for everyday citizens to stand up in name of creating more authentic and sustainable pathways for ourselves, our communities and our planet. Now is the most vitally important and well supported time to stand up and create proof of what we believe will assist the healing of the planet. I am humbled and deeply inspired by your love, participation and support. Let’s keep enjoying the moment whilst thriving for a better world!”
The Liberators aren’t your average hippies, nor are they your average activists. They are a unique breed of freedom fighters; a powerful concoction of dancers, engineers, accountants, doctors, teachers, students, artists & visionaries. They are among many who are at the forefront of a revolution thats been taking place for decades, one thats about to blow the lid off of our outdated system. If you think the hippie revolution of the 60s and 70s was just a fad, think again. Sure, our egos got a little carried away with themselves since the 80s but today we are more blatantly unhappy, unhealthy and unfulfilled than ever and we are gradually waking up to truths that for so long have been hidden; we are remembering what it really means to be a human being. We all have the power to write a new story for ourselves and for humanity, and sometimes all it takes is one minute.
This October the 29th, cancel your plans, free up your schedule, do whatever it takes to get involved, and get down your nearest designated area for the next World’s Largest Eye Contact Experiment 2016 and stop for a minute, it just might change your life.
Written by Libby Griffin
Ted Talk by Founder Peter Sharp
Aboriginal Blind Trust Experiment
Dance of Freedom