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God is a Present Participle Verb

February 16, 2013

Conversation between new-age liberal (EW) and staunch libertarian (DD):

​EW: My comments were not meant to be taken personally by anyone who self-identifies as any of the above labels. They are simply my perspective on what those labels generally mean to me as IDEALS, and as such are “short hand” ways of generally describing the WORLD as I observe it, not any specific individuals. You’ll note I did not refer to “conservatives” or “liberals” as people, but to “conservatism” and “liberalism” as thought forms.You can choose to take offense because you disagree with my description of these various ideals, or we can talk about where you are personally and what you believe/feel as compared to what I believe/feel about what they mean.For what it’s worth, I don’t self-identify as ANY label. I’m not registered to any political party, and prefer not to consider myself AS “an” anything. My perspective is that energy is always in motion; we make an error when we confuse the energy a person is emitting as defining who a person IS. People are capable of any number of responses across an infinite spectrum of behaviors and emotions in every moment. It’s unfortunate that so many of us have been conditioned to think, “I AM this, or I AM that,” and – through that process – have lost sight of who they truly are. Anything that is impermanent is not the truth of who you are; it can’t be.

DD: Referring to “thought forms” necessitates people who think them, so I think that’s kind of splitting hairs. I mean, when you say “liberalism *wants* something,” you are saying “liberals want something,” because a philosophy in and of itself cannot “want” anything. And you mention that the “human social body wish(es) to reserve the right to contain and constrain those individuals…” So of course you are talking about people, both the members of the social body (that “wishes” something) and the individuals who need constraint. Re my saying “I resent being lumped in,” that wasn’t the point of my comments, which were mainly to point up the gross generalizations you make regarding “conservatism,” “libertarianism,” and “liberalism” (with or without their respective “conservatives,” “libertarians,” and “liberals”). Like it or not, you were making generalizations (and not altogether positive ones) about the people who practice those belief systems, since talking about a political philosophy without mentioning its practitioners is like talking about sound without mentioning an eardrum and, in terms of politics and of philosophy being translated into worldly action is meaningless. And sounds like backpedaling. You may not self-identify, but from where I sit, all your postings, especially the one I originally responded to, with its “definitions” of those orientations, completely belie this and describe someone who has a distinct political bent, energy-in-motion notwithstanding, and a fairly rigid set of criteria for the three orientations you lay out, and if I objected to anything, it was what appeared to be your unwillingness to entertain the idea that, say, a fiscal conservative can have a progressive social agenda, or that there is such a thing as a fiscal conservative, or that not all conservatives subscribe to ancient religious ideologies, or whatever. There seemed to be little to no allowance for crossover. So I would say that what you are telling me now is quite different from what you have been posting. Yes, it is indeed unfortunate that so many have been conditioned to think “I AM this” or “I AM that”; but the 2-party system in our country demands that many people be forced to compromise half their belief systems in order to support the candidates we are “given” to choose from, not to mention that most people don’t consider particle physics when classifying themselves as one thing or another, the benefits of which in terms of the organization of society must be weighed against self-fulfilling prophecy or locking oneself into a particular reality via the power that naming has to do that. Re your last sentence, I think you may mean that “anything that is *permanent* (i.e., that we perceive as such) is not the truth of who you are,” because everything is impermanent, and I totally agree, but again, it’s not always practical to meditate on beingness within the confines of the process by which we arrive at a president. Personally, I believe that god is a present participle verb and on one level even wish “verb” wasn’t a noun. I vote freely on both sides of the aisle and resent the hell out of the fact that my choices (and the information given to me via the debate process, etc.), are so limited. I think the 2-party system is antiquated and broken and no longer accurately reflects the constituency for which it is intended to speak, but I’m not sure that having 50 candidates would fix that particular problem, since the only real fix would be to elect a president by consensus, & I’m not sure how well that would work in a country this size. I strongly oppose big government, especially government intervention in my (or anyone’s) personal life, and I can’t abide slackers.

EW: I’m not so much interested in discussing the merits of various political positionings as I am in discussing the concepts and values that exist beyond the labels. I used the terms “conservatism, libertarianism and progressivism” to represent three distinct modes of thinking. Whether my descriptors were accurate representations of those who identify with those labels or not is not the question I care to pursue.

So…let’s take a step back and look at what it was I was attempting to convey. Perhaps from that place we can reach some accord, or at least a deeper level of understanding.

My premise is that we humans are both/and creatures. We are unique and discrete manifestations of life, and as such we are each utterly precious and bring into this world something that no other being or life form – EVER – can deliver, because there will only ever be one version of YOU/ME that operates in this specific space/time.

At the same time, we are all embedded in a larger living reality, completely and utterly INTERdependent upon all that exists beyond our sense of ‘self’ for our survival. We are here because the totality of reality came together the way it has for countless eons in order to create the precise conditions that enabled us to exist. Change those conditions in any way and we would not be here in this moment as “us.” Our interdependence within a larger living system means we are not entirely free to do as we would like, no matter how deeply we might crave said freedom, because our actions reverberate through that larger system and create consequences; those consequences alter our experience – and the experiences of all other living things within the system we share.

In that, I find that honoring a person’s right to do as he/she wants in the privacy of his/her home and with his/her body (and fully supporting and nurturing every person when it comes to his/her self-actualization) while agreeing that some social constraints are valid and necessary to preserve and protect both social order and the larger living system upon which we ALL depend and that constitutes our shared reality reflects a compassionate, intelligent way for humanity to self-organize that seems most consistent with the truth of who we are and how we operate in this world. It benefits us all when every person is empowered to bring forth the best they have to offer in service to life, because we ARE life…each one of us. We are not separate from anything else, but are exquisitely differentiated aspects of ONE living reality. Thus, what elevates one of us elevates us all, while what diminishes any one of us diminishes us all.

That is the middle way I was pointing to as the most reasonable means of human self-organization, reflecting both our personal autonomy and our social responsibility to the larger system upon which we depend for our survival. (That system, by the way, is not the government itself; it is the planet with its atmosphere, clean waters and food sources that are our GENUINE resources.)

I find that some folks on one extreme end of the spectrum seem to feel unfettered freedom and no government intrusion into the decisions we make is acceptable; others seem to feel that they don’t want their financial and business decisions controlled but that it’s okay for society to control what people do in their bedrooms and with their own bodies. Still others seem to feel the government has the right to control how people relate to the living world upon which we all depend, but not to control what they do with their own bodies. Still others believe the government has a potent role to play in both. And of course, there are versions of every permutation in between that some people will adhere to.

Again, I was pointing to my own preference – maximum personal freedom with some limited governmental capacity to constrain those who would do harm to our shared planet for short term personal advantage. My labeling of those who seem to want to restrain personal freedom while expanding freedom to damage the planet as manifesting “conservatism” was reflective of the Republican party’s present platform – which does not reflect the views of every Republican. My labeling of the energy toward unfettered personal freedom combined with unfettered regulations around economics and social behavior as “libertarianism” was reflective of what I understand the modern libertarian party claims as its platform. Again, this was not to indicate that any particular person who identifies with that label adheres to the party’s platform. My comments were NOT political so much as socio-spiritual. I just happened (unfortunately, perhaps) to use political metaphors and labels to attempt to explain it in a way that I felt most people would find more accessible.

While I appreciate the invitation to visit your wall and engage in another conversation there, I respectfully decline, as I’m not wanting to take this conversation wider and invite in more opinions and responses from those who aren’t privy to where we are here and now. I feel that would only muddy the waters.

One last thing: your comment “I can’t abide slackers,” made me think.

I have no way of knowing what constitutes a “slacker” in your dictionary. But I do know that my sense of humanity today is that we’re not taking enough time to pause, think deeply and perhaps do nothing at all. This blind attachment to “work, work, work” as if work is more noble than contemplation, relaxation and pure enjoyment of life is killing us all. It’s causing us to decimate planetary resources at an ever escalating rate in order to “make jobs.” While making jobs aids us in making money, what we will be able to spend our money on in the future is an open question if we destroy the natural resources and planetary ecosystems upon which we depend for our very survival.

I do believe our ancestors worked very, very hard – which was noble – in the eras where human energy was the only game in town, and we wanted to settle an entire wild planet with only a few million humans and their energy at our disposal. Today though, with 7 billion of us wandering the planet, and with our current level of industrialization and technology, we don’t need to have all of us working 40 hours a week from adolescence until we die to make the things we need to thrive as a species. In fact, we’ve been making crap just to keep ourselves busy and earning salaries, doing damage to the planet and disrespecting our natural resources in the process.

I suspect it’s time for us to realize that our ancestors worked that hard so we wouldn’t have to…and that the protestant work ethic we’ve embraced for so long as a successful social strategy may be nearing the end of its useful life. As we continue to automate, what seems to be becoming more necessary is that we shift from a muscle culture of hard work to a wisdom culture of deep thinking and exploration of new ideas. In wisdom and experience we can grow limitlessly, whereas our physical growth and expansion – like that of all living things – has a top stop.

DD: I think that you need to be extremely careful when using those labels and when using declarative statements in the way you are choosing to use them. People who read what you, as an educator, write are bound to interpret it as “truth,” when it is simply one person’s fantasy. I also think that “Today though, with 7 billion of us wandering the planet, and with our current level of industrialization and technology, we don’t need to have all of us working 40 hours a week from adolescence until we die to make the things we need to thrive as a species” is a lot of “let them eat cake.” The utopia you envision could not be further from the day-to-day reality many of us experience.

Since you wonder what I perceive a “slacker” to be, here it is: This is part of a conversation I had on Facebook that started off with the person telling me she thought I could afford libertarian views because I was probably in some cushy job somewhere, the implication being that if I were worse off I would probably be a democrat. Here’s my response. “First, actually I have been unemployed most of this year and am really struggling; I just don’t talk about it much. But it is not part of my genetic makeup to blame others for whatever currently ails me or to take any sort of public assistance, & I have spoken to people who justify taking public assistance through blame. Second, you are missing my point entirely, which was about supporting personal liberties, as long as they do not hurt anyone else, but not being on the hook tax-wise for other people’s choices, and that my political outlook and the voting decisions I make are informed not by this particular policy or that particular policy, but by what makes individuals and the nation stronger, and in my opinion, fostering the feeling that one is never responsible for one’s decisions does not do that. This is what I mean by locus of control (and this is a psychological distinction, not a political one, though I’m really starting to think there must be some sort of correlation between internal/external locus of control and conservative/liberal, respectively): those with an internal one are oriented around the idea of self-determinism. For liberals and/or those with an external locus, the buck stops “there.” Things that happen to you happen for reasons outside your control: Good things happen because of “luck” and “fortune,” so bad things, which are due to “bad luck” and “misfortune” should be solved by something outside oneself as well. For me, the buck stops “here.” Good things happen because I make it so. Bad things happen if I don’t think things through or read the fine print. Third: Re holding the view that everyone else should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as my dime isn’t involved: This also means that your rights end where mine begin, period, and it is completely wrong to penalize success and reward best case, complacency; worst case, laziness. Fourth, re competition: The natural world does indeed work this way. Everything in nature points to survival on this level, even on the cellular level; life itself is a combination of “territorial imperative” and the organization of individuals into systems. Society is the same. That “line of thinking” is as ancient as philosophy itself, it wasn’t invented, as you seem to think, or even purported, only by people who have come to own media outlets in the last 30 years or less. In terms of the “bailout” mentality, certainly there are people in every situation who need help: those who are too sick to work, those who meet with violence or catastrophe. That is the role of government and should be the only one: to provide for citizens what they *cannot* (the operative word here) provide for themselves. But the expansion of “programs” fosters and supports an entire faction of the population that takes full and fraudulent advantage of that system–to the exclusion of those who really need it. I have long believed that it is better to speak to the best person someone can be by demanding, through words and actions, that they become that person, by not accepting anything less than utter responsibility, accountability, from each person. It’s the highest compliment you can pay someone to tell them tacitly (or not so tacitly) “You are capable of more,” and it caters to their basest instincts, their lowest version of themselves, to accept sloth & evasion & cheating out of some sort of misguided “kindness” or “generosity.” True kindness is giving an opportunity for a person to become as strong as possible, even when this means they make an extraordinarily expensive mistake, and most especially when it could have been avoided by not living outside one’s means. In terms of being afraid someone will take my job, you have it completely backward. I have no fear that anyone will take my job, nor is my attitude informed by this, nor has it ever been. If I’m in a situation in which someone can do the job better than I, then they deserve my job, and I deserve the cold slap in the face that will likely motivate me to get more training or education or whatever. My biggest fear is that the continued expansion of government and its entitlements will foster a country that is psychologically, motivationally, broken; people so used to having things handed to them that they see no reason not to. There are plenty of people who do see Obama as a symbol of social hope, and that’s great. There are plenty of others who had dollar signs in their eyes and on their minds when they found out all they had to do to get some rich guy’s money so that they could keep watching Springer all day long on the government’s (read: MY) dime was to get out there & vote. My political views have nothing to do with my financial status. In fact, the worse off I have become this year, the more solidly I stand on my own ability and my own independence. I have been wealthy and I have been poor, but I have always been an individualist and prized the individual, without whom there would be no group, and my political views are informed by my philosophy and my world view, not by my paycheck or lack thereof.”

And re your comment “I’m not wanting to take this conversation wider and invite in more opinions and responses from those who aren’t privy to where we are here and now. I feel that would only muddy the waters.” I respectfully respond: Learning another’s point of view, especially one that differs greatly from yours, via dialectic, never muddies any waters. Because of my fervent belief in this concept, I have posted this entire thread so that all my friends, on every part of the political spectrum and on non-political spectra of their own, can read it and come to their own conclusions. I also think it’s rather odd that your disinclination is based on inviting more responses from people who aren’t privy to where we are “here and now,” since 1) all you have to do is provide them with the background, as I have done, and 2) none of your non-labels and non-descriptions and non-categorizations have anything to do with the here and now, as anyone living below the poverty line can tell you, but are in fact oriented around a noble but ultimately nonexistent future.


From → Idiots, Manifestos

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