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America, are you done yet?
Have you ever had that friend? You know, that one who’s always in a crisis, lives in a perpetual state of histrionics, whose chaos seeps into everyone around her through some kind of disturbing and relentless silent osmosis? Have you ever had that housemate? You know, that one who moves through the flat like a level 5 hurricane, in seeming oblivion as to the destruction she’s wreaked, leaves a frightful mess in every room she’s entered and used with no intentions of cleaning up, whose presence generally feels as pleasant to tolerate as an AQI of 375? Having lived within a 3 hour drive from the 49th parallel for the majority of my 51 years, I feel like this about America right now. Seriously—over it. Like, could we have a blackout on all American political/cultural drama for one day? Imagine the things we would learn about our own communities if we could actually catch a break from the incessant regurgitation and noise of American everything. Look, I get it. America has lots of influence and it’s a massive, intriguing, blunt shiny and glittery thing that demands attention. I’m tired though. Can we put the toddlers to bed so the adults can focus on other things of import?
White supremacy blah blah blah. Systemic racism blah blah blah. Decolonise blah blah blah. Left wing. Right wing. Far left. Alt right. Them. Us. Racist. Transphobe. Riots aren’t violence. Words are literal violence. Black Lives Matter. No, not those black lives. Race isn’t real yet we’re going to treat everyone like it is. Sex is a white supremacist construct. Merit and accomplishments are punished as privilege. Helpless victimhood is the new currency. The more contrived the victimhood the more glamourous. White privilege is the way woke bougies can scapegoat the white working class for their own bloated bougie and empty existence. I’ve grown tired of the mind-numbing intellectually deprived individualism and the so called social justice movements devoid of compassion led by people who lack personal integrity and who seek only to promote themselves through messianic means whilst lambasting their designated scapegoat du jour.
I’ve grown tired of the Twitter historians who commit epistemicide in their revisionist narratives. I’ve grown tired of the woke hypocrites with mobile devices made by factory slaves in China with parts mined by slave children in Africa who deride working class individuals for privilege simply because of skin colour and a imaginary category called race and who dare to judge harshly accomplished historical figures for their contributions to slavery and colonisation. I’ve grown tired of the elites sporting massive guilt complexes larger than Quasimodo’s hunchback who have given themselves a platform to browbeat the rest of us with eco-fascism or whatever religiosity they have fixed their morality upon. Seriously, do these individuals fail to realise a future humanity will judge them and all of us just as harshly for our own failures and greed?
Everything is dumb. Everywhere I go. It’s suffocating, the dearth of real critical thinking, of strong and solid values-based leaders, of emotionally resilient thoughtful debaters and interlocutors, journalists and media creatives who have tossed out the koolaid and seek to shine light in darkened corners and seek to understand the dynamics at the root of the root. You know that hyphae are among the most important components of forest ecology, and we cannot see them and never give them a thought as we hike through Stanley Park or the Endowment Lands? Life’s like that, I think. The stuff that our naked eyes and our veiled psyches can’t see, the stuff hidden in plan sight also—this is the stuff making the world tick and we seem blind to it all. Why? Even the hyphae know things we do not. Perhaps because nature is closer to truth in a very profound way you can only appreciate when you ponder it.
Since Ramadan of 2019—my first Ramadan—I have learned an interesting and important lesson. Intentionality. Realising that with every choice I make I choose between two options—
truth (or God, if you believe)
That’s it. Every decision facing us we can distill down to these two options. I began a small practise for my first Ramadan—paused and asked myself what is your intention? whilst I fasted from solid food. I adapted the Ramadan fasting ritual to work with my body, which cannot fast from fluids for lengthy periods like 12 hours without devolving into autonomic unpleasantries, and I focussed on the spiritual and psychic clarity that fasting provides and has always provided.
I began to recognise many of my unhealthy and stuck patterns and learned a great deal more about myself as I uncovered and drew nearer to the root of the root of myself. It meant letting go of many resentments and a lot of hyperbole and outrage. It meant releasing judgement, judgement of myself most of all. It showed me that many of the people around me are seeking what they call social justice motivated by their own inability to accept all parts of themselves.
Those who demand validation do so because they require me and you and society to accept by force what they themselves, innately cannot. The degree to which they authoritatively demand fealty/compliance from anything outside themselves reflects the degree to which they lack inner control and feel desperate for their own self acceptance and love. Ultimately, all great social justice and human rights leaders of the past have risen up because they knew their worth, they rose up in love to spread that love—they did not rise up to receive love and admiration. Only the strongest among us can hold mercy and hope for the long haul. Those individuals who did rise up to receive love and admiration because they could not find those things for themselves within themselves played the role of tyrant in history and not social justice leader. Emotionally fragile individuals cannot lead, cannot inspired strength and courage because they lack both. Without mercy we are nothing but husks.
Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt, and Nassim Taleb have all written at length about the anti-fragile nature of the human being and the way that present day culture has evolved to promote and glorify fragility, to the detriment of human society. The most glaring evidence of this fragility exists in the form of identity politics. The odd thing about the world seems to me precisely this: fragility and abundance seem tied together somehow. The west has abundance and as a result encounters less resistance and struggle to meet and overshoot it’s needs. This has produced a most fragile populace, one lacking in emotional intelligence, one for whom compassion seems like superhuman psychic lifting. How much of this can we tie to consumption culture? How much of the stoicism and spiritual fortitude witnessed amongst the human populace of the east reflects the deep struggle and deeply different non dualistic view eastern humans have of their world?
I think the most fascinating thing about this time we find ourselves in revolves around the possibilities, the possibilities of the fires which this culture has cultivated in the human leadership it has brought before us. I think the possibilities of fire that the crises of Donald Trump, rising fundamentalist thinking across the board in all political streams, and Covid-19, all present fascinating opportunities for learning and growth and transformation. Look at all this straw we have to spin into gold! How can we promote compassion and love?
“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monster