Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXIII

 

This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on society, politics, and nature. I sometimes include short personal notes as well. Click “read more” to see all the entries.

DISREGARDING SOCIAL ISSUES

I am watching Enola Holmes and enjoy it very much.

I especially enjoy that they are highlighting an inherent problem with Sherlock Holmes: He investigated individual crimes, was on the side of the establishment, and never questioned the crimes inherent in the social structures at the time.

These are not crimes according to the law and the courts, but they are crimes against humanity. Crimes of – at the time – not allowing large portions of the population to vote, keeping large portions in poverty, structural racism, and much more.

Of course, it’s much easier to see these problems with the benefit of a hundred years of hindsight and changes in social norms and values.

At the same time, this is happening today. We know of a large number of injustices and crimes against humanity – and life – and we don’t do nearly enough about it. What are some of these crimes? As I see it, it’s in an economic system that is not aligned with ecological realities. It’s in allowing the massive destruction of nature to continue. It’s in creating huge problems for future generations. It’s in ignoring the right to life of all species. It’s in supporting policies that allows huge gaps between the few wealth and the many poor. It’s in systemic racism. And much more.

Click READ MORE for more brief posts.

COLLECTIVE DELUSIONS

When one person suffers from delusions, we call it a mental illness. When society suffers from them, we call it being normal.

– floating around in social media, from teifidancer (?)

In a sense, any shared belief is a collective delusion. It’s a thought – a norm, assumption – held as true. These help organize and structure society, and creates some predictability and perhaps stability. And they also limit and confine people’s views, perceptions, and lives. Some may also directly harm people and life in general.

It’s good to identify these collective delusions and question them. What are the effects of holding them? The upsides? Downsides? (As different people and beings see them.) What’s the alternative? What happens if or when I find freedom from them in myself?

PRIVATIZED ESSENTIAL SERVICES DON’T WORK IN A CRISIS, SO WHY ALLOW / ENCOURAGE IT AT OTHER TIMES?

In a collective or global crisis, privatized essential services – water, electricity, transportation etc. – often don’t work anymore. They may no longer be profitable so the services break down in part or fully, and the government – which means us collectively – needs to step in.

So why encourage or allow this privatization in times that are more peaceful? It clearly puts us all at risk since we know there will be future crises, and – with our current ecological crisis – we can expect them to come more frequently and at a greater magnitude.

The answer is obviously that some profit greatly from privatization, and these often have sway over policies. But only if people – and voters – allow it.

CHRISTIANITY

This was one of the reasons I became an atheist in elementary school. The theology seemed weird and flawed, and it seemed absurd that we were supposed to believe what some people were saying without having the opportunity to check it for ourselves.

The Jesus story has a lot of value in it, especially when we take it as mirroring what’s in ourselves. I love some of the practices found in Christianity, for instance the heart/Jesus prayer and Christ meditation (visualizing Christ in my heart and 1.5m to each side, in front and back, and over and below).

I appreciate that many seem to get something out of Christianity, and that religion and the church as an organization sometimes helps regulate society. (Although often with downsides.)

But much of the theology seems unnecessary and one-sidedly intellectual. The Christian church is often on the wrong side of history, as parts of it is even today. And I still don’t understand why people are supposed to believe in what some other folks are saying without having the opportunity to check it out for themselves.

COVID VACCINES

In a recent survey, four of ten in Norway said “no” when asked if they would use a covid-19 vaccine if it was made available now. The media presents this as a general skepticism to vaccines.

I would have said “no” too, but not because I am generally against vaccines.

I would say “no” because it takes more time to ensure that a vaccine is safe and effective. We are far too early in the process. It’s important to not push a vaccine through without thorough testing over several months.

A safe and effective vaccine won’t be ready until, at the earliest, next year.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2020

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

I rarely if ever watch TV news, but I have read about the presidential debate between Trump and Biden.

A few things seems clear: Trump appeals to fear (as he always does). He – intentionally or unintentionally – contribute to voter suppression through giving people a reason to be disgusted with politics and politicians. And it seems that Biden missed an opportunity: when you deal with bullies, go meta. Point out what’s happening. For instance, say: “Trump has low impulse control, that’s why he is a terrible president” (from DD on social media), or “mr. moderator, if Trump is not capable of decent behavior and not interrupting, I cannot continue this debate”.

Also, why not cut Trump’s mic when it’s not his turn to speak? Or, if that’s not sufficient, why not put him in a sound-proof box and only turn on his mic after he is asked a question?

After the recent NY Times revelation of Trump’s taxes, there is also a big question that seems a legitimate for these debates: who owns his gigantic debt? Is it Russians? Does he give political favors to whomever he owes so much money to?

APPEALING TO FEAR

As mentioned above, Trump – as any authoritarian – appeals to fear. And it works for a certain segment of the population.

Why does it work? I imagine it’s because they haven’t learnt to constructively deal with their fear.

If we have some self-compassion when we experience discomfort and fear, we have a possibility to relate to it more consciously. We can comfort ourselves and still act from kindness and sanity.

It’s when we lack this ability to comfort and find compassion for ourselves that we go into reactivity. That’s when someone like Trump – a bully who is in it only for himself – may seem appealing.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2020

TRUMP’S COVID INFECTION

Trump has tested positive for C19 and most people, independent of their political orientation, wish him well.

But there are some exceptions, including a relatively well-known nondual teacher (JT) who wrote “I hope he dies”.

Here is how I see it:

Everyone deserves our compassion and well-wishing, whether we agree with them or not and independent of how we generally feel about them.

If he dies now…. Pence would take over, which is possibly even worse. It may boost the Republican vote since Pence is less of a loose cannon and because of some sympathy voting. And it means that Trump will get out of having to face the legal consequences of his actions.

So there is absolutely no reason to not wish him well.

If there is a part of us that feels otherwise, that’s for us to notice and explore. It’s an opportunity to look at our own stressful beliefs and wounds.

Also…. there is every reason to think he won’t be very ill. Statistically, most do fine even if they are older. And this situation is not surprising considering his generally cavalier personal (and political) attitude towards the pandemic. The only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner.

SEPTEMBER 3, 2020

TRUMP’S COVID INFECTION DAY II

Trump’s covid infection itself is, most likely, just a blip on the radar of US politics. Most likely, he’ll have mild or moderate symptoms, be fine, and the outcome of the election won’t be much or any different. For someone like him, 95% of people recover after mild or moderate symptoms.

It’s likely he’ll be fine, and use it to defend his lax attitude towards the pandemic.

Of course, it’s good to look at the different possible outcomes and perhaps weaknesses or holes in the system. For instance, there is a very small but real possibility that he will die. In which case, the Republican votes will go to whomever the Republican party decides will replace him as presidential candidate.

I have to admit feeling a bit dismayed to see the reactions of US friends and acquaintances on social media. It seems that many have lost some of their sanity over the last four years. Some assume he’s not really sick and it’s just another lie (extremely unlikely). Some seem to assume he’ll die and there will be even more chaos (doubly unlikely). A few seem to have lost their humanity and are unable to feel compassion or hope he’ll die.

TRUMP AND DENIAL OF THE UNIVERSALLY HUMAN

Looking at Trump, it seems that his persona is a product of denial of many sides of being human. He seems terrified of being seen as weak, stupid, unsuccessful and so on. It’s as if he has built his persona, life, and politics around that dynamic.

As many have said, Trump is a stupid person’s idea of an intelligent man, a poor person’s idea of a rich man, and a weak person’s idea of a strong man.

Of course, people support him for a variety of reasons, whether it’s because of a few issues important to them (abortion), because he favors the wealthy, because they can get conservative judged into the supreme court, or something else. And the rest – the bullying, misinformation, bigotry and so on – is not a deal breaker for them.

But some of his core base seem to fit the “stupid person’s idea” description above. To them, he seems to actually appear strong, smart, and rich. While to the rest of us, he is seen as a fraud, bully, bigot, and someone who desperately tries to run away from something inside of himself.

A bully is not strong but tries to appear strong. Someone who over-confidently indulge in fallacies and misinformation is not smart. A business man who has gone bankrupt multiple times and is hugely in debt is not successful.

I can’t help to think that if he and his supporters were more OK with the wide spectrum of universal human experiences and identities – including weakness, stupidity, and failure – we wouldn’t see what we see today.

It seems that he and his base are the product of a systematic denial of what’s universally human. And, in this case, it has the potential to destroy our democracy.

TRAUMA TRAVELS

Trauma travels and we can see it especially clearly with people like Trump.

He was abused and traumatized by his father. He seems to abuse and traumatize those around him. He is traumatizing and abusing the people of the US, and some more than others. And he was, most likely, voted into office by people who themselves have been traumatized and abused.

Our task is to heal this trauma in ourselves. Support a society that takes care of people and prevents trauma. And educate ourselves and others about trauma, how it’s passed on, and how it can heal here.

VOTING IN A TWO-PARTY SYSTEM

One of the many problems in the US is the two-party system. But when that’s what’s in place, that’s what we have to deal with. We have to play with the cards we are dealt.

Not wanting to vote for “the lesser of two evils” is a sign of privilege (since they personally will likely do OK no matter which president is elected), and it shows lack of solidarity and empathy with those who personally will be impacted.

Voting is pragmatic. It’s about, at the very least, preventing too much of a move in the wrong direction (as we see it), and perhaps – if we are lucky – supporting a move in the right direction.

It’s not a marriage, it’s a chess move.

TRUMP IN THE BIGGER PICTURE

What’s the bigger picture view of Trump?

I have written about this several times before, so I’ll just give some highlights.

To me, Trump happens within and as what I am. The world as it appears to me, including Trump, happens within and as what I am.

Any ideas, images, assumptions etc. I have about Trump are mine. They are my thoughts. They happen within me.

Whatever I see in him is something I can find in myself. I can find the same actions, motivations, and so on in myself. Both in the moment, as I think or talk about him, and in other situations.

He is an expression of the creativity of the universe and this planet. He is as much existence exploring itself as anything and anyone else.

He is a symptom as much or more than a problem. He is a symptom of fear in the US population, and perhaps especially those who feel left out one way or another. His policies are typical Republican policies, just expressed in a more crude and direct way. (Most Republican politicians have the same policies, it’s just that they know how to be a little more subtle about it.)

He is a product of abuse (from his father) and trauma. His behavior is trauma behavior. It’s one way we humans deal with immense pain and our own demons. In his case, it takes the form of bigotry, accusing others of what he himself is doing, and so on.

I wonder if not some of his core supporters also have similar trauma, deal with it in a similar way, and recognize themselves in him.

He is a bully and must be dealt with as a bully. What he does – his strategies and what he hopes to achieve from it – needs to be named and called out. (And many do just that.) The destructive consequences of his actions must be prevented, as much as we can, and later reversed as much as is possible.

Those who support and enable him need to be called out. In this context, it doesn’t matter why they support him. What matters is that his bullying, bigotry, and so on are not deal breakers for them. They are, at some level, OK with it.

He will go away. What won’t go away so easily are all the things he is a symptom of. Among his voters: trauma in the population, dealing with trauma through bigotry, and fear and trauma in the population created through lack of social safety nets. When it comes to his policies, they reflect a long tradition of inhumane policies and policies aimed at benefiting the few wealthy at the cost of others.

There is, of course, a lot more to it. But these are some highlights that come up for me when I think of him or see him in the media.

WHITEWASHING NAZIS

A Norwegian newspaper had a story about young Nazi siblings during and after WW2 in Norway. It’s an interesting story about ordinary people becoming nazis and staying nazis even after the war.

It’s an ordinary magazine story.

At the same time, the writer leaves out the bigger picture. Perhaps they assume everyone knows it anyway, or they may see it as less relevant.

This framing, or lack of framing, becomes a kind of subtle whitewashing of what was going on and what’s still is happening.

These are people who actively supported war, occupation, and systematic genocide of huge numbers of people. And they continued to support it even after they knew the full picture. Leaving that out makes it sound far more innocent than it is.

Sometimes, when you are too neutral, you take sides.

ARE TRUMP SUPPORTERS STUPID?

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