From that odd place where the psychological, political, intellectual and spiritual (are supposed to) meet.
I’m working on my next podcast script, finding myself digging awfully deep and bringing in many other questions which I’ve been thinking about for years. I suppose it was a bit silly to think I could go after the profound without stepping into a puddle which was actually an abyss. ;o)
One small aspect of the big argument (which is itself big enough to want a show on it alone), is the weird (and once again wildly popular) linkage of oversimplification and excited passions.
There is a first order insight which comes to most, easily. We usually agree in principle that it is wrong for one group of people to say that the answers which work for them must become the only answers available to anyone, by legal force and/or social compulsion. State mind control, cults, fanatics, yuck!
The screwy thing about this first order insight is that though everyone bristles at the idea of this kind of a tyrannical majority in the abstract, we almost all have some cases in the real world where we fully agree, and some other cases where we scream blue murder. We actually don’t feel this as a principle, the way we once (arguably) did.
In these last few highly stressed and isolated years (which gave us a starting level of depleted love and humane connection and also badly boosted our bitterness) many have actually become so insistent that our absolutism be made bearing on everyone else, that I can’t even mention the most obvious modern cases.
Things which were once simple have now become pure trigger-land! (and the horizon is filled with pitchforks, and feral grins disfigure a heartbreaking number of familiar faces).
The second order insight is much less often observed.
Why do we mind if others see things differently? Why do we think we have a right to tell them how to interpret their experience of their own lives? What is it about us, that makes us so much better as to be their rightful correctors?
Most crucial of all – why do we so easily assert this idea as a righteous good, even while we are using language which absolutely proves that we hold those others whom we hope to “improve” in utter contempt?
That is – how can you be offering a love gift to someone you actually hate?
The answer is obvious. You can’t, we’re actually just denying our own hatred, abusing words of aspiration, and pretending that viciousness is a form of helping (much as we in the west have been pretending that sneering is a form of political action for a half century now, to our great discredit).
So – here’s a challenge, an experiment, really – just to see if some of my interesting friends and acquaintances can pile-on to refute (or at least moderate) this willful blindness which hurts our ability to cooperate with others, and thus leaves us fragmented individuals and micro-tribes, deeply alienated, resentful and at odds – easy pickings, when the greed mongers come to harvest lives (and souls) for profit. Because as we have known for thousands of years, no resistance is possible with no respect, honour, allies – and their special ultimate product – a unified and purposeful team.
(Why did you think multinational corporations were playing faction games, even while busting unions with a ruthlessness that reminds history buffs of a century ago – a massive upwelling of goodness?)
So – what can a few clever and/or curious seekers say about this foul and widespread inclination (and I mean the western ‘proselytization of pain’ tradition in particular, which is no less active in the left than in any sect of Christianity), which does reflect abundant and serious love for those whose views we would like to influence?
I’m not trying to be fake-nice or worse, do the whole politeness/fascism thing (cheers Bahar, for helping me think even more clearly and deeply about that point). This is not a challenge based on manners or control, but on EFFECT!
I don’t know if it’s because I’m a poor man who gets mistaken for a middle class liberal because I have a decent vocabulary, or if it is because I am of an artistic temperament, but trained as a technician (it has to WORK!) But I swear the part of our whole gigantic complex of modern false moralizing which drives me most nuts isn’t the falsity (though I don’t like that), the waste (again, not a fan) or even the pain caused to others (this irks me very very greatly indeed, but still)…
What drives me crazy about holier than thou false morality liberal nonsense is that it does not and cannot work, because whether we are discussing charity or the low morality of others, the subject is not ever really the people who are being discussed, but always the ego and emotions of the speaker.
If you aren’t genuinely interested in the other guy, then you have nothing useful to say to them. If you outright hate them, then you have decided by accepting your hate, to be their enemy, and they have no reason at all to trust or listen to you.
As long as we enter with (in fact, often because of) our smug bigotry, we aren’t working on creating lasting social change at all, what we’re doing is preening and displaying social plumage!
Now here’s my pitch.
If you need to have just one answer, that answer is easy – love more and grow more.
We aren’t going to get out of this mess smiting enemies, or by pretending that venting bile and bullying others is the same as honest self-expression.
I swear there are still ways (though I cannot attest to the safety of any compassionate act or position, at this late stage of self-involvement, bitterness and ego).
What do you think?
Am I delusional to hope we can still at least aspire to transcend this inner barbarism?
Are you fuelling high-power love, in a way you think others could use? Can you share?
Can you say something about your opponent, which reflects a perspective of deeply loving hope?
Or, have we perhaps all decided not ever again to seek that level of maturity in one another on that cynical principle which shocks so many of us when we are young and hopeful, and first enter what we were sure was going to be a serious workplace. You remember the talk, don’t you? From the old timer who has been there forever and knows everything?
“Don’t work so hard, kid – you’ll make the rest of us look bad!”
And then you laugh. And then you see the look on his face and realize “oh shit, he isn’t even joking.”