Sunday, October 13, 2019

Unmask the Human Paradox in the Darkness of its Shadow




A noticeable trend in my conversations with people across different mediums is a rise in the use of words like
 "good" and "bad",  "high" and "low", "win" and "lose" (to list a few). The space of public discourse in modern American society is saturated with expressions of extremism -- but the observations I'm describing are different from attention grabbing pollutants that flood our shared Reality, because these interactions are non-frivolous.  

"Virtuous" and "evil", "innocent" and "guilty", and similar word pairs have a bizarre quality of being unnerving and comfortably reassuring, at the same time. Such seemingly extreme use of language almost always manages to provoke staggered reactions in unsuspecting bystanders within earshot. Like the suppressed hysteria of inebriated beatniks watching a friendly stranger brandish a gun in the middle of a party, we at the receiving end of such use of polarized rhetoric quickly activate subtle avoidance behaviors to politely flee the scene. 

This arousal of fear based response is normal at exposure to ideas we like to believe we understand and have successfully integrated into our character. To afford the confidence we like to exert, uncertainties around this need to be ignored because the larger show must certainly go on. 

We're complicated. Some call it non-binary. A recognition of complexity is valued as intelligence. We pride ourselves in understanding that the world is not "black" and "white". Parts of our identities even depend on what we think these words mean. So the visible irritation we feel seems rather easy to explain. 

In a world of ever increasing complexity, polarized descriptors of binary states feel like vagaries. Perhaps outright laziness. But somehow, I don't imagine this Halloween's haunted house attractions being decorated with the apparitions of ambiguity and indifference.   

This is a time of year when many Americans postpone their usual evasion of difficult concepts like death and afterlife and monsters, entertaining a universe of thoughts and images about things we normally cannot see. What makes Halloween special to the life of an American is the spotlight its observances cast, on the uniquely human need to feel afraid. 

Straining to keep our hearts and minds clear of "negative thoughts" and emotions in an intrusive and chaotic world that's mostly outside of our control, we chant soundbite viruses about positivity and aloofness to each other, reenforcing our diversion from recognizing the very avoidance behaviors that we have collectively embraced as "acceptable". 

Then, finally on the night of October 31st, we get devoured into the frenzy of packing as much recreation and simple sugars into our fear-filled rituals of Halloween such that most of us end up missing the golden opportunity that this holiday bestows. 

By November 1st, as we switch out the Halloween decor for the next holiday, we continue to be haunted by mysteries like, Am I a good person or a bad person? And, When others use words that carry moral weights, what compels me to run

As a people, why are we so confused about the existence of evil? How can anyone be sure if morality and goodness have been truly integrated into the character of a human individual? 
I'm just as good a person as the next, and have the right as any human being, to make my mistakes from which I am destined to learn.  

In a nation where the citizen is either a taxpayer or a consumer, we are trained to view ourselves and our human experiences categorically. We build our identities on the skeletons of demographic profiles -- because that's the way private business and institutions of control need to view us. To fulfill their alleged purposes. 

But the human individual is a vastly different animal from that of the human group. The individual has just one body -- one which requires layers of period upkeep and gets sick at the gust of a wind. Groups are beasts of multiple heads and bodies that theoretically never have to die. 

The individual isn't supposed to be at war with the human group -- not through Government, banks, schools, secret societies, oppressive relationships, or any of its forms. At the other end, it's the individual's responsibility to sharpen one's understanding of our authentic Self -- the things about us that cannot be captured in group oriented identification schemes. 

To know how to comprehend evil, to answer any of the questions proposed so far, and to understand our own reflexive reactions to the language of conscientiousness, we must first submit to the fact that Nature works very differently from governments and (most) businesses: its operations are comprehensively decentralized. Therefore, it arms all of us with fear, as it does with freedom. And our fears are our own custom access passes to the world of corruption and malevolence where the most heinous of acts can be justified for targeted ends. 

To have a happy as well as frightening, but most of all, meaningful Halloween, let us all take a moment, stand facing our bathroom mirrors, peel back and glance at what lives behind the beautiful mask we show to ourselves on all other days of the year.