A Path for us from fear and acrimony to understanding and dialogue

Condemnation and criticism are not on the Path to understanding, for we know that unconscious judgemental reactions do not liberate, they do not clarify, they oppress. Such projections in the realm of personal beliefs do not help, they only hinder discussion, social discourse, co-operation and any eventual collaboration.

This thing is when we react to the thoughts, words or actions of others, they are through in their words and or actions controlling us, jointly you create a conflict, but at the end of the day nothing is resolved as no outcome will come of this conflict, except the hardening of attitudes on both sides. People will not change their beliefs until they want to change or have a learning experience that places them on a new path, that will begin the process, organically, so to speak – this can only be achieved through quiet and reasoned discourse … criticism does nothing to create respectful discourse.

What illustrates this well is a quote from Carl Jung ..

Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”

This applies to all parties … perhaps it is necessary before we judge others to pause and reflect on the case of why people feel the way they do? rather than get lost in our emotions.

What gets lost here are the stakes, that citizens of a country are involved in a conflict with other citizens of the same country … the seeds of division and destruction are so easily sown.

I have spoken about this before in my previous post called Social Media – exacerbates conflict and divisiveness here http://bit.ly/2Ny49Ni – Please pay particular attention to the following stages of story verification …. this is important I feel .. if you have any questions of concerns about the veracity of information you are receiving via the internet from news and more particularly Social Media …. ask yourself the following questions ..

1. Who is writing the stories? – is the source credible .. though that is not always a guarantee of veracity to know if it is true, fake or misinformation, designed to misinform and create or increase divisiveness.

It is hard these days to know what news services are credible … those sources from my youth such as UK Broadcasters, the BBC for instance are now suspect … all one can do is to seek confirmation from a number of sources.

2. Who benefits from these stories? – does a political party or aspect of society benefit from say misinformation contained in the story .. please evaluate the story impartially, not through the primary filter of your personal political beliefs and convictions.

3. Who / What is missing from these stories? The other side, more information, a different perspective on the situation.

4. Verify anything that can be verified in the story, don’t share it or believe it merely because it agrees with your general beliefs or with your confirmation bias.

However in these days of Facebook, which is in my view the most divisive and therefore destructive social platform available – where we are asked to like, share, comment or move on .. so we respond in our busyness without truly considering the post, we share because it conforms with our beliefs, our confirmation bias and so an uninformed post gains traction … in hindsight possibly we might wonder what is true and what is fake – if we don’t then we are part of the problem.

However, the problems that the less-privileged workers talk about are real, are concerning, and are seemingly without resolution. These people sense their living standard declining, instead of seeking understanding and resolution through critical analysis, debate, and social change, they look (unconsciously) for something more immediate someone to blame, a fantasy is created: it is somehow someone else’s fault, so let’s blame, a minority or a religion or the other side of the political divide. It’s easy and simple and just plain wrong.

At the same time, it affirms in their minds the true lack of worth of the opposition, they are demeaned, dehumanised and demonised all based on an uninformed or incorrect post.

On the other side of the ideological belief divide, there are those who seek greater social and economic equality and equity and the protection of what has already been gained. Again we have a unconscious reaction instead of critically analysing an issue (s). We would understand it far better if a dialogue was entered into with those on the other side (both sides are guilty of this). They both fall into their own emotional trap because they don’t understand the whole implication of the arguement, and so they will unconsciously demonize their opposition, as in Australia where there is a very noticeable split between the sides of the ideological debate.

They will portray each other in disparaging, demeaning even de-humanising terms, as evil or even snowflakes – this demeans and nullifies the seriousness of the problem in question … this makes them each jointly responsible for every possible scenario, the woes and failings of Government because of “them” … all participants are part of the problem and when of course the majority of what they fear may be uninformed emotional rhetoric

What motivates all these words …. for me I think it is fear. Why – because of ego! – where the people concerned go to the nth degree to demean, criticise, blame to condemn, these and more are all home territory of the ego – all so they can feel right and of course others are shown as being wrong.

“Democracy can buckle if we give in to fear’ – President Obama – he suggests
‘If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life’

Martha C Nussbaum also said it so well,

“When people are afraid of one another and of an unknown future, fear easily gives rise to scapegoating, to fantasies of payback, and to poisonous envy of the fortunate (whether those victorious in the election or those dominant socially and economically).

We need to think hard about fear and where fear is leading us. After taking a deep breath we all need to understand ourselves as well as we can, using that moment of detachment to figure out where fear and related emotions come from and where they are leading us.”

 

 

The below is from Alan Watts in the Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

“The startling truth is that our best efforts for civil rights, international peace, population control, conservation of natural resources, sustainable energy, and assistance to the starving of the earth—urgent as they are—will destroy rather than help if made in the [current] spirit. For, as things stand, we have nothing to give. If our own riches and our own way of life are not enjoyed here, they will not be enjoyed anywhere else. Certainly, they will supply the immediate jolt of energy and hope that methedrine (methamphetamine), and similar drugs, give in extreme fatigue.

But peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.

In any foreseeable future, there are going to be thousands and thousands of people who detest and abominate Negroes, communists, Russians, Chinese, Jews, Catholics, (add Muslims) beatniks, homosexuals, and “dope-fiends and …. .” These hatreds are not going to be healed, but only inflamed, by insulting those who feel them, and the abusive labels with which we plaster them—squares, fascists, rightists, know-nothings—may well become the proud badges and symbols around which they will rally and consolidate themselves. Nor will it do to confront the opposition in public with polite and nonviolent sit-ins and demonstrations, while boosting our collective ego by insulting them in private. If we want justice for minorities and cooled wars with our natural enemies, whether human or non-human, we must first come to terms with the minority and the enemy in ourselves and in our own hearts, for the rascal is there as much as anywhere in the “external” world—-especially when you realize that the world outside your skin is as much yourself as the world inside. For want of this awareness, no one can be more belligerent than a pacifist on the rampage, or more militantly nationalistic than an anti-imperialist.

The idea of white privilege is absolutely reprehensible. The idea that you can target an ethnic group with a collective crime, regardless of the specific innocence or guilt of the constituent elements of that group – there is absolutely nothing that’s more racist than that.”

― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

At some point in the future when Politicians, the media and others with a vested interest in divisiveness have nothing to gain, they will no longer fan the flames of division, then and only then we are on the path to consensus and hopefully peace and a creative constructive future.

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The Fable of The Blind Men and the Elephant

With thanks to Inma VP for the inspiration and the image above (Image creator is unknown) …. Please read to end of poem …

THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT.
A HINDU FABLE.

A poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1872) illustrates th story, and the issue.

i.

IT was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

ii.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me!—but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

iii.

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried: “Ho!—what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ‘t is mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

iv.

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

v.

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
” ‘T is clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

vi.

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

vii.

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

viii.

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

But surely the picture of the blind men and the elephant also points to something bigger — The elephant itself? – however I feel that the point is that not one person or religion or indeed a perspective sees the whole picture.

 

Blind Men and the Elephant – Image Creator is Unknown

Indeed, each of the blind man has a limited perspective on the objective truth, but that doesn’t mean a truth isn’t there, for truth isn’t relative at all – the elephant is there to discover in its totality.

In the areas of the Spiritual or Religious and theology, we have only our personal perspective, in other disciplines we may have hints, even so this doesn’t mean any and all versions of Truth are equally valid. Actually, if we know (or believe) that the Whole Elephant is there, perhaps we should seek every opportunity to experience more of the elephant, a metaphor for example for the source, the Divine?

In mankind’s attempt to understand his environment, we codify what we see in a way which we can understand within the knowledge and perspectives we have available at the time. As we evolve I would suggest that our perspective will (it does)…. we may see more of the elephant, perhaps one day we may see all of the elephant.

Here, I would give the floor to a beautiful mind with regard to an aspect of this …

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth” – Marcus Aurelius

Further From Wikipedia …

Modern treatments

The story is seen as a metaphor in many disciplines, being pressed into service as an analogy in fields well beyond the traditional. In physics, it has been seen as an analogy for the wave–particle duality.[19] In biology, the way the blind men hold onto different parts of the elephant has been seen as a good analogy for the Polyclonal B cell response.

“Blind men and elephant”, from Martha Adelaide Holton & Charles Madison Curry, Holton-Curry readers, 1914.

The fable is one of a number of tales that cast light on the response of hearers or readers to the story itself. Idries Shah has commented on this element of self-reference in the many interpretations of the story, and its function as a teaching story:

…people address themselves to this story in one or more interpretations. They then accept or reject them. Now they can feel happy; they have arrived at an opinion about the matter. According to their conditioning they produce the answer. Now look at their answers. Some will say that this is a fascinating and touching allegory of the presence of God. Others will say that it is showing people how stupid mankind can be. Some say it is anti-scholastic. Others that it is just a tale copied by Rumi from Sanai – and so on. Shah adapted the tale in his book The Dermis Probe. This version begins with a conference of scientists, from different fields of expertise, presenting their conflicting conclusions on the material upon which a camera is focused. As the camera slowly zooms out it gradually becomes clear that the material under examination is the hide of an African elephant. The words ‘The Parts Are Greater Than The Whole’ then appear on the screen. This retelling formed the script for a short four-minute film by the animator Richard Williams. The film was chosen as an Outstanding Film of the Year and was exhibited at the London and New York film festivals.

The story enjoys a continuing appeal, as shown by the number of illustrated children’s books of the fable; there is one for instance by Paul Galdone and another, Seven Blind Mice, by Ed Young (1992).

 

“We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” — Werner Heisenberg