Thursday, January 22, 2009

What are WE afraid of?

The more I try to understand the society that I live in, the more it amazes me that so many alleged learned people get angry and defensive when questioning the 'Rule of Law' or society as a whole. I see that the people have been transformed into self-serving, xenophobic, narcissistic, predatory 'owners'. Each one worshiping the Gods of money and ownership and competing for their 'piece of the pie'.

I see people struggling to make ends meet, to upgrade, to modernize, to get with it, to pay their mortgage and to put their kids through college; feeling squeezed and trapped and trying to protect what little life they believe to be in control of. They try to avoid discomfort for it may shine a light on the negative aspects of life.

These are the same people that when asked about a transit strike say: "At least they have a good paying job with benefits". "The Unions just steal from the employees". "The workers are greedy". "How can they have a strike that affects me (usually they say "so many people"), "They should be forced back to work" by the government.

Do they see the Unions as ruining their aspirations of 'success' somehow if their company grows? They state that "a high school drop out should not have the same salary as a university graduate". That the Unions hire uneducated people to do repetitive labour for a good wage.

Are they jealous? Are they afraid that Unions and their well paid workers will sub sequentially be taking something away from their lives? That their 'portion' of 'trickle down' economics will be siphoned by the Unions? That the financial system which is controlled by 1% of the population is going to come crashing down because of Unions? In case no one is noticing, there is a 'trickle up' happening around us.

"I am free", "I control my destiny", "I am responsible" I've heard them proclaim. "I can speak my mind" (just so long as it is acceptable such as not to 'insight hate' and such) "I can travel" (so long as you have the monetary means and are not on a 'list'). "I have a job" (so long as you kiss-ass and play the game; in the end it has you). Are you? Are you really free? What is freedom? Is life not free? Is not nature free? What are you worth per hour? Is that your freedom?

The people that I am talking about usually consider themselves middle class and 'liberal', rich and 'conservative', poor, working class; it doesn't matter. They love babies, children, animals, small quiet neighborhoods and drive SUVs because they are 'safer'. They love TV shows like 'CSI', 'House', Survivor and Idol and get most of their information through CNN, BBC and Google News (because it scans 4500 news resources). They are usually educated and work for a corporation or are self employed but cannot see that life and indeed humanity, stretch far beyond their little corner of the world. They are in debt and work hard to 'get ahead'. they also think that those that are unemployed or homeless are just 'not trying hard enough'.

They emphasize that laws that 'protect' us from terrorists are good. That laws which reduce the amount of 'welfare fraud' are good. That laws which reduces bankruptcies are good. That laws which 'protect children' are good. That laws which 'protect' animals are good. That laws that 'protect their property' are good. That laws that enable surveillance are good. That laws that suppress dissent are good. That laws that censor content are good. They do believe that 'someone ruined it for everyone else'.

They blindly 'nod-and-smile' and keep accepting, all the while, trying not to 'rock the boat' and to 'roll with the punches'. They 'pull themselves up and dust themselves off' and continue on nodding and smiling and teaching their next generation to do the same. They feel safe in thinking that someone else is taking care of things. That the system has 'got their back'.

They have been told and believe that 'we are spreading democracy'. That 'we give aid'. That 'the IMF and World Bank are there to help development'. That 'poverty happens over there'. That 'the system works'. That 'there is no other way'. That 'socialism and communism are bad'. That 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about'. That 'you too can succeed if you just work harder'. That 'education is the most important thing'. That 'laws can only be reinforced by punishment'.

Now why is it that most of these people cannot have an informed, rational conversation about: religion, politics or money? How the three may intertwine in everything that we experience is something that everyone should be open to, as it affects everyone. Instead what happens is that most people will go to a certain point and then 'react'. The conversation has turned personal because of something that they may feel that relates to them in some way. They get defensive and spout lines like "I like feeling safe" or "what if it was your kids?"; the best is always, "in your Utopian World...".

How did it get personal? What, about a talk on global issues that may include the dreaded three, makes one close their mind? Is it fear of labels? Are we afraid of being judged? What if we are, will it be in the 'right' category? Did it invoke some deep seeded guilt which is complicit with 'our system'? These are all questions we should ask ourselves?

How can any talk of 'we', as a collective human race ever be accomplished, if 'we' are too busy defending, rationalizing, evading, labeling and blaming. Is our imagination so clouded that we cannot picture a perfect world without labeling it as an 'ism' or blaming it for it's possible failures? We demand irrefutable 'proof' that a an 'idea' is flawless before even listening to it without judging it's weaknesses? Would the world not become better if the collective we could utilize the brain power that we possess? Does this failing system, that has wreaked havoc and drained the life force of so many for so long, not need to adapt and to 'change'? What are we afraid of? How can we no longer imagine?

Some would say that we are led by some of a faulty 'moral compass', I view it more as 'sociological engineering'. Where the idea of freedom has been implanted using keywords such as 'crime', 'punishment', 'accountable' and justice to make the rest 'tow-the-line'; while using others like 'success', 'intelligence', 'happiness' and 'love' to convey the standard to avoid the first. Mix it all together with basic survival instinct and competition, et voila; 'it's every man for himself'.

We need to start asking ourselves W.W.W.W.H. (who what where why how)? Why do I react like this? Where did it come from? When did I learn it? How did the source learn it? Who am I trying to be? What am I learning today? How did I learn that?

We need to get to the root of the issues and leave the labels and the judgments at the door. We need to break through our very psyche to tackle our fears and definitions to get to the questions before attempting to tackle the solutions. We need to forget about our egos and start learning again. We need to work together to form a future that is sustainable and fair.

I think it just takes vision and the ability to discern. We also need to accept ourselves as the natural beings that we are and release all of the man made fears to which we have relinquished control. We can instill 'change' but not the way we are going now. It is time to change for the children, for the planet and for the future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One possible approach to investigate your questions further, is the study of psychology of self, and various level of consciousness. What you describe is a very basic level of consciousness that is typical for the human realm. It is an awareness that appears practical and takes care of the immediate situation at hand. Not more though. It is rooted in a materialistic 'real' seemingly 'tangible' world. there is no transcendence of existence. It is based on reflex, not reflection. It is rather an animal realm than a human realm: It is the snout on the ground attitude following the cookie trail.

In order to break free of the pattern of basing your decisions on reflects and reaction, one has to cultivate the art of reflection. You have to lift up your head, and see the sky and the trees and the sun to get out of the samsaric wheel. You can do it even in the midst of chaos that a city might represent. It is harder though. You have to get yanked out of the comfort of your existence. Something has to rub you the wrong way, like a stone in your shoe. You can't continue walking, you have to stop and take off your shoe, and take out the stone.

Our materialistic existence made it somehow cushy for many, seemingly, because the price we pay is putting us on the edge. There is no time for contemplation and deep conversations, dialog with friends. We are like people on speed. Until we break, and we feel disparate.

But it doesn't have to be dispair alone that makes us want to wake up. It could also be just the overwhelming sense of existence that can wake us up. But usually, it is fear and anxiety, and pain and suffering.

We don't cultivate listening and accepting from an early age. We don't learn about space and the elements. We don't learn that everybody has a heart that beats. We perceive the other as potential threat, not as a friend. We can't put ourselves into the shoes of somebody else, not even for a moment. We are afraid to look somebody in the eye without aggression.

We have lost the tender touch of communication. No big deal, just touch and go. We freeze the situations and believe in the real life. We freeze life in small ice cubes to put in our drinks later. The 'later' that never comes. We try to create a story of our life, something that has a beginning, middle and end, with milestones attached to it. Economy has taken over our lifes. The moment somebody steps out, we look at them either in awe or in horror. We have to learn that we have everything we need, that nothing needs to be added.