Reflections on society, politics and nature XXXV

 

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.

A CONSPIRACY TO USE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS

I love this, although I would rephrase it slightly: “Just wait till conspiracy theorists discover they’re part of a conspiracy to use conspiracy theories to spread disinformation.”

If there is a real conspiracy out there, it’s that some intentionally use conspiracy theories – and conspiracy theorists – to spread disinformation.

And through that, influence politics (e.g. QAnon with Trump support), sow confusion and doubt around certain topics (petroleum industry with climate change), and generally create chaos and polarization (Russia with the US and Europe).

Conspiracy theorists are being used, and they often don’t realize it.

I love this one too. It’s true we are all the universe and Earth and – if we see it that way – Spirit. Our experiences are the experiences Spirit wants to have through and as us. At the same time, if I lived in the US, I would do anything I could – through voting and getting out the votes – to prevent a second Trump presidency.

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THE COMPLEXITIES OF RACISM

This is a fun, well-made, and infectious commercial from several years ago.

At the same time, it highlights some things about racism. There is no explicit racism here, but there is something else.

If we want, we can see a history of colonialism in the single white lead woman and the several supporting black men. We can even go further and say that the commercial reflects stereotypes about the innocent young white woman wooed by virile black men, and so on. There may be something to this, but it is something we read into it, and it mostly reflects ourselves and our own biases from living in the world and culture we do and with the history it has.

What if this was a commercial with a black lead woman and white supporting men? Would it be perceived differently? Does this one feel “right” and would that one feel “wrong”? And if so, would that be because of our history of colonialism and racism? Of what we are used to and expect? Of some kind of subtle racism in all of our minds because of the history of this world and the culture we live in?

INNER AND OUTER DEMOCRACIES

In a conventional sense, it’s possible that our social and political systems to some extent reflect our inner organization, dynamics, and structures. I imagine people living in an authoritarian system tend to have a more authoritarian inner structure, and those in a democracy perhaps a more democratic inner process. That’s mostly speculation.

What’s not speculation is that our outer world mirror our inner world. The world, as it appears to us, happens within and as what we are. And what we see in the world, and the stories we have about it, applies to us as well as – or more than – the outer world. We can always find in ourselves what we see out there.

And so also with our political systems. What’s one way to support and deepen our democracy in society? It’s to deepen and support our inner democracy.

First, do we always use democratic processes with ourselves? Or do we become more authoritarian? Or laissez-faire? In what situations or areas of life do we treat ourselves in a more authoritarian way? In what situations or areas of life do we become more laissez-faire? And how can we deepen and support our inner democratic processes?

What does an inner democracy look like?

One approach is to engage in dialog with the different parts of us. When I notice anything in me that seems even slightly like an “other” I can engage in a dialog with it, hear what it has to tell me, how it perceived the world and me, and what it would like from me. And the same with any other parts, including the ones I tend to be more familiar with or even identified with. This is the beginning of a more real and deep inner democracy.

Another approach is to explore how I relate to what’s coming up in me, and especially what’s uncomfortable. Do I avoid it? Try to make it go away? Try to change it? Or do I notice and allow? Do I meet it? Rest with it? Recognize it as part of who I am, as a human being? Do I recognize it as what I am, as something happening within and as what I am? How do I relate to those parts of me that I habitually have shunned, ignored, or tried to go away?

AWAKENING AND POLITICS

Many in the spiritual or awakening world seem to be more progressive or liberal.

Why is that? There may be several answers.

We gravitate to people like ourselves. I am more progressive and liberal so I naturally gravitate towards people and communities who share this orientation. The ones I know who are on a spiritual or awakening path are similar to me, so it looks to me as if people on this path tend to be more liberal.

The ones out there who are on a similar path and are more conservative politically and otherwise are hidden from me. I don’t know who they are or how many they are or even how they reconcile spirituality or awakening with conservatism.

Spirituality and awakening tend to go beyond what’s familiar. Exploring spirituality and awakening tends to bring us outside of any one tradition or traditions in general. At some point, if our exploration is sincere, we have to leave the familiar maps. Awakening goes beyond any map.

And that type of exploration may go better with a more liberal attitude than a conservative one. (Of course, it’s possible to explore spirituality and awakening within a single tradition, and also be more conservative in general.)

Concern for all life may to go better with a more liberal or progressive orientation. Spirituality and awakening tend to open up our minds and hearts to all life, and this tends to go better with a more liberal or progressive orientation.

Again, this is not a hard and fixed rule. There are conservatives who have a deep love and concern for all people and all life (and I love them for it), but it seems that conservatives in general – at least the way conservativism is today – tends to look out for themselves at the expense of others. They often care less about the weakest in society. (With apologies to the conservatives who are not like that.)

As I mentioned above, there are probably many conservatives into spirituality and awakening, I just happen to not know them. I imagine you can find many within the different spiritual traditions who are sincere on their path and have a more conservative orientation. And I imagine there are some outside of these traditions as well. I also imagine there are many who have found a way to combine sincere spirituality with a more love-oriented conservatism.

NATIVES IN THE US

This is not a new observation, but it’s something I notice almost daily: In the conversation about ethnic groups in the US, there is a focus on whites, blacks, Latinos, and Asians, while the Native Americans are often left out.

In other words, there is a focus on all the immigrant groups and their relations, and the ones who lived there long before the others arrived – and whose land was stolen, culture destroyed, and were subject to systematic genocide – are ignored.

Perhaps it’s easier to still pretend they don’t exist? And that the US wasn’t founded on violence, theft, and genocide? Is that why politicians, journalists, and others so often chose to ignore them?

POLITICAL DIMENSIONS I FIND USEFUL

There are some political dimensions I use for myself and see as generally more important than the conventional ones.

The main one may be inclusiveness. Is this policy aimed at benefiting all life, as far as possible? Or is it aimed at benefiting one particular group at the expense of others? Of course, we may not be able to find policies that always benefit everyone, but we can do our best. And when I say all life, I mean all life – including non-human species and future generations.

Another is reality orientation. Is this view or policy grounded in reality? Is it grounded in science? Or is it based on ideology, logical fallacies, misinformation, or conspiracy theories?

And yet another is democracy. Does this policy, party, or politician aim to deepen and strengthen democracy? Or does it aim to undermine it?

The first one has been important to me since my mid-teens. The second has become more salient and relevant in our post-truth era. And the third has similarly become relevant due to anti-democracy forces that are both unintentional (social media, echo chambers) and intentional (weaponized fake news, conspiracy theories, troll farms), and leaders of democracies that actively undermine these democracies like Trump and Putin.

NORWAY, PANDEMIC, AND AIR VS TOUCH PATHWAYS

Since early on the pandemic, epidemiologists and other specialists suspected – and later knew – that the virus primarily transmits through the air. People breathe it out and others breathe it in, especially in enclosed spaces, and given a little time.

This makes the Norwegian approach look weird and somewhat inexplicable. Why so much focus on hand sanitation while mask wearing has largely been ignored?

Why not encourage people to wear masks? Is it because they feared there would be a lack of quality masks for health personnel? If so, why didn’t they just say that? Why did they instead say “people don’t know how to wear masks properly so we won’t recommend it”? Why give such a blatantly absurd argument when the remedy clearly is to instruct people? (That’s what we do with everything else, including driving a car, wearing a seat belt, going hunting, avoiding spoiled food, and so on.)

Their argument seems to be an example of “the perfect being the enemy of the good”. Wearing masks may not protect 100% against infection, but it does reduce the viral load and that’s as or more important.

Everyone may not know exactly how to use masks, but most will do it pretty well, especially with some guidance and instructions.

And although there are strict rules and guidelines for how to wear masks in hospitals and high-contamination settings, for most regular people out and about in stores and some public settings, following slightly less strict practices will be more than good enough.

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