I’ve taken a long detour from my central cause: the investigation of that state called “enlightenment” and its preliminary stages: awakened adulthood and non-dualistic thought. Politics is specifically dualistic, and immediately triggers emotions that throw you off this path. Still, it would have been cowardly of me not to take the time to see if the methods and approaches taught by great men and women for personal development could apply to the social sphere. Preliminary evidence says “yes”, and the rules I evolved and suggested for discussing intractable subjects are my expression of this. Namely, if you are dealing with a subject that seems intractable, raises the passions, and on which it is critical to find enough consensus to move forward (I tried it multiple times, and watched the same patterns of discussion pop up: racial violence, gun control, climate change and abortion). The method was to
- Differentiate between when you discuss “what” and “how.” Different discussions, and those who want to continue to discuss the “what” of it are not necessarily going to fit in a discussion of “how.”
- Only those capable of discussing while maintaining a sense of respect and shared humanity should be in the discussion at all. With race, racists white or black cannot be in the “how” portion, if you are extending this basic principle and operating from an assumption of equality. If you believe men get to tell women who they are, or straights get to decide this for gays, or whites would have coped with slavery and Jim Crow better, or blacks wouldn’t have behaved as abominably and been in as deep, self-serving denial about it…you can’t be in the discussion. To enter the discussion, they must make an open, clear declaration of belief in equality, or whatever your most basic premises might be.
- Language must be clarified. One of the problems with Abortion, for instance, is that the question “when does human life begin” has no universal answer. And without resolving this, people are literally using the same words to describe very different things.
- Violence stems from anger which stems from fear. Understand and deal with the underlying fear, and the anger and violence disappear. The Fergusen riots were a perfect example. To say the rioters were mistaken in their beliefs and attitudes is a perfectly reasonable statement. To suggest that THEY did not believe that they were under threat is, IMO, contemptuous and denial at a lethal level. To fail to understand that people on BOTH sides of the gun control debate believe their position makes the world a safer place makes it impossible to move the conversation forward.
- You have to grasp that being smart enough to see a problem doesn’t mean you are wise enough to solve it. Just because you can’t see an answer doesn’t mean there isn’t one. A corollary: because a problem hasn’t been solved in your lifetime doesn’t mean it won’t be. In nature, I don’t know of a wound that heals in less time than it took to inflict overall.
- All of us are smarter than any of us. The power of civil discussion and communication is astounding. In some ways, all human beings have accomplished is a matter of sharing what we know, and trying infinite variations until an answer is found. What is intractable to one generation becomes child’s play to another.
- You can complain about something three times before you must a) offer your solution or b) propose your theory of where the problem originated. This has multiple motivations. The surface motivation is to force people to participate in positive brainstorming, and stop focusing on the problem. The deeper motivation may be more important:
- Beware of sleeping children and smiling monsters. “You can’t wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep” applies here. As does: ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” But this also happens when people cannot see an answer to a problem that scares them: they will put their fingers in their ears and yell “Nah nah nah.” Similar to overweight people not stepping on the scale, or people with money problems not balancing their checkbook. Mothers ignoring signs that stepdad is diddling the children. If you don’t see it, it isn’t real. If its real, and painful, and you see no answer, then better to remain in denial, right? Wrong. The term “Sleeping Children” applies to good people who delete information because there would be guilt, pain, fear, or loss of status/resources if they admitted it.
- The “Smiling Monsters” are another matter. They are people who are actively lying. They are in your conversation to sabotage it. Slow you down or stop you. Or even worse, are simply there to cause chaos and enjoy the smell of blood: deliberate Trolls. These are the lowest. But if you ask either “sleeping children” or “smiling monsters” to offer their solutions, or their belief in the origins of the issue, to this date, I’ve not caught one able to slip past that mark. Why? Again, I have to reference this to race, the area I’ve considered most deeply in the political arena. If you say: “those people are dysfunctional” you might be 100% correct. But…what is the answer, and what the cause? If you believe that whites would have dealt with slavery and its aftermath with less damage, dysfunction or complaint you are very clearly suggesting they are superior. Make no mistake about that. You might be correct or incorrect about that–that’s a different discussion. What you CANNOT do is take a place at the table when people are asking the question: “given that we believe human groups are basically equal, how do we level the playing field?” And if you lie about your beliefs in order to disrupt that discussion, you are a Smiling Monster. There are predators in the world, and I consider you one of them.
- You have to remember that you might be wrong. You really might. But that doesn’t mean you have to allow dissenting voices at every step of the discussion. As I’ve said, if you see your children screaming and drowning in the lake, it is the wrong time to debate whether water is wet. You must act, and if it turns out you are deluded, you will have to deal with the consequences. So… the actions you take must be taken with love and respect, and within the laws unless you are 100% prepared to accept punishment for what you have done, placing your faith in a higher justice. But LOVE is critical.
- Love then, is the starting place: enough love for yourself to want the best. To also be willing to fight for what you believe, to defend yourself, to be willing to die for a cause larger than you. But also to see the humanity in those who oppose you. Yes, I use the term “smiling monster.” And that may seem in conflict with the insistence on seeing humanity in all. It is not: it is the use of a term that creates a very specific response. There are people you cannot argue with, cannot reason with, who will know your children are drowning, but try to engage you in a discussion of whether water is wet, then cluck and say “I didn’t know. So sorry” when you haul their sopping bodies out of the depths. There are villains who will take your money or your life without any concern for anything you might say or do–for the sheer pleasure of it. And if you mistake them for a person who can be reasoned with, you will die.
- The ultimate warrior position is: I’m ready to die, and I’m ready to take you with me. The power of this is astounding BUT YOU CANNOT BLUFF. This is the value of performing the internal work of asking “who am I?” and “what is true?” until you reach a singularity, and move beyond it. It is terrifying to the ego. But on the other side is freedom such as you cannot believe. To be willing to die to achieve a goal is a power position most never experience. To combine this with love and compassion, a willingness to discuss with anyone willing to extend their own humanity to you, to be unmoved in the face of insult and accusation but open to calm criticism connects your inner world with the outer world. This approach proceeds from the same spiritual point every great religion and spiritual teacher has been directing us to: all is one. The same that scientists have pointed toward: all human beings are the same under the skin. That physicists have stated: all reality began with all matter and energy bound into a single point which expanded with impossible speed 13.7 billion years ago, differentiating into everything we see in the natural universe, and resulting in human beings obsessed with their differences rather than marveling over their Oneness.
- We have the same basic drives and needs. Even the Smiling Monsters are…and if you had infinite time to work with them, you could connect them with their love, softness, and sense of the divine as well. You don’t have infinite time: your children are drowning. Get in the water, throw me a life preserver, or get the @#$$ out of the way.
- One of my friends and mentors, Tim Piering said: “the key to accomplishment is clear goals with a written plan for accomplishment, and the ability to take action despite the voices in your head.” There are ALWAYS dissenting voices in your head, always reasons to doubt an action: but if you wait until every voice in your head agrees, you accomplish nothing. The “Mastermind” principle says that to create a “supermind” you have to find one person who agrees to work with you in a spirit of harmony. You can add ONE more person at a time, if they agree 100% to participate in a spirit of harmony: agreement is more powerful than numbers. In other words, the principles I’m stating here are not really about people “out there.” They are about you as an individual, you and your partners in a venture, or all of us as a society: those who can sit at the table and have a civil discussion will control the future of our country and our world.
And now, hopefully, I’ve connected the inner world and the outer, taking the political plane into account, something I never did before. And having done that, I can return to a discussion of personal growth, having laid the foundation for anyone, anywhere, to see the macro in the micro, see how the world of voices in their heads and the world of external action, relationship and politics are all connected.
Parts of YOU are asleep.
YOU have Monsters in your head that lie and feed your fear.
The external and internal are the same. The world lies before you and within you. Do the work.