I’ve had this topic floating around in my mind for a long time. Almost since I started this blog two and a half years ago. But I have been waiting to write about it because it feels like such a significant topic. I want to do it justice and the stakes seem high, so I've been afraid to work it through and publish my considerations. This week, with the election fresh on all our minds (and hearts), feels like the time to face my fear and offer whatever is about to come spilling forth from my heartmind.
Most of the time I can't stand listening to conservative politicians talk about how they see the world. Their version of reality includes substantial vitriol towards people like me and even more towards people I love. The narratives they perpetuate are nearly all fear-based, making them dehumanizing and problematic. They are also ridiculous. Take all the Q-anon conspiracies as an example. Utter absurdity. And yet... there's a more-than-I-can-count-on-one-hand number of elected officials in the halls of the US Congress who act as though they are legitimate.
And even though I kind of can't fathom why, many thousands of ordinary people believe in those bizarre fairytales too. Which is highly concerning, but still not as concerning as another kind of lie politicians frequently tell: lies based on some kernel of truth. These seem more dangerous and more damaging than straight-up falsehoods.
After the 2020 election, I watched an interview with Lindsey Graham. He said Republicans would never win another presidency if something wasn't done about the voting process. That's probably true, but not for the reasons he espoused at the time. According to that travesty of a public servant, mail-in voting was rife with voter fraud and that's why the Republican lost. The reality is something more like: the more diverse and broad-based the voting population, the more they elect candidates other than the stuffy oldguard who have used their incredibly long run in-power to benefit only themselves.
More recently, you may have heard that violent crime is on the rise. According to Republicans, this is because Democrats are too soft on crime. Violent crime rates have, in fact, risen. But you know what else has risen during the same timeframe? Poverty rates. Also eviction rates, the income and wealth gap, and the effects of climate change. The world is a challenging place to survive in the best of times and we certainly haven't been living in those the last couple years.
Unfortunately, if we ask someone on the Left about the rise in violent crime, they will probably tell us it's because there are too many guns out there and available for criminal consumption. That is also partly true: there are more guns in the US than is probably safe given the desperate state of society. But taking away one method of violence won't solve the underlying reasons people turn to violence to express their desperation. We still have to eliminate poverty, ensure everyone has access to stable and affordable housing, close the wealth gap, and deal with the effects of climate change.
It's asking a lot of our public officials to check under the hood of their lofty blame claims, but it's also necessary. A partial truth might stir-up the base and win votes, but it doesn't solve any problems. It's also a lot to ask of most of my fellow citizens to abandon their desire to be right or righteous and make some short-term compromises for investment in long-term gains. But it's also necessary.
Left unchecked this phenomenon doesn't get any better on its own. In fact it gets worse. In martial arts, every concept we learn nowadays came from somewhere. Many from the way way back, long before anyone currently alive was born. These great universal truths were discovered by one person, who taught it to another person, who taught it to their students and so on down the line. Over time, the kernel of universal truth may get lost in the interpretation.
One teacher understands a particular foot position in a martial stance allows for better alignment and therefore a cleaner container through which their energy and power can flow. Their student may only learn "I put my foot here" because that is what I was shown. And so they teach their student to put their foot in a particular place, and so on down the line all the way to modern times when students are putting their feet in a specific position without any understanding of why it matters.
There are many of these truth kernels lurking among the things our modern figure heads say. But while some of what they utter may not be strictly untrue, the interpretation of the those words is profoundly incorrect and incredibly damaging. These slights and spins on truth are also frequently dished up with a healthy side of fear, which makes poor, desperate people even more worried and anxious and even less able to parse the absurd from reality.
I used to look only at intentions when someone caused me harm. I thought I was engaging in humanizing those folks, but ultimately it only served to enable more shitty behavior. Now I am practicing evaluating results instead. Mine and everyone else's. Intentions are relevant only to determine the flavor of work there is to be done. Someone who did an asshole thing on purpose has different work to do than someone who accidentally hurt someone with their inconsiderate words or actions. The outcome of actions, however intended, is what determines whether work needs to be done at all. And we all have a lot of work to do.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.