Tom’s comment on the post on cults brought up some genuinely good points, and put the finger on something that has been in the back of my mind for a while.
We can of course play around with stories and find the grain of truth in each of their reversals. And the value in this is for me to explore my own beliefs and identities around it, to find more clarity there, allowing the grip on any one story to release, and have less to defend. I find a more fluid relationship with the story and its reversals.
What it also does is to take out any absolute truth in any story and thoroughly pull the rug out from under the issue. Which is also the point. It helps reveal that they are all just stories, placed upon a situation that is inherently neutral.
So any charge and rigidity around it, from my side, is diffused. There is a lighter touch there. More receptivity of mind and heart…. seeing the truth in the turnarounds, and allowing for a more genuine connection with others. There is more fluidity.
Which then allows me to play and engage with the conventional views in a more clear, differentiated and receptive way, with less to protect, less rigidity.
So in the case of cults, the exploration allows me to find it in myself, and also how it is not true, opening up some space. Which in turn allows me to use the term in a conventional way with less to protect, less personal investment in it, and so – possibly – with more clarity and in a more differentiated way.
Tom used the example of a murderer, and it is the same there. I can easily find how I am a murderer (eating animals and plants, stepping on bugs, eliminating people in my thoughts, and so on). And I can also find how people labeled a murderer, by society, are not (they were victims of circumstances, their actions local effects of infinite causes, they were blindly caught up in beliefs which triggered the actions without them being able to stop it, and so on).
If I don’t engage in this exploration, it is far too easy to be caught up in blind beliefs about it… which brings with it blind emotions and reactivity. And these are not a good place to come from if I want to make more clear decisions.
Having engaged in the exploration, finding the truth in how we all are and are not murderers, I find myself in the same boat as the person labeled murderer by society. There is more genuine empathy, more of a sense of connection. I am not able to dehumanize him or her so easily.
I am now able to use the conventional definitions of a murderer with more clarity, with a more receptive mind and heart, and hopefully with more differentiation and wisdom.
It does not mean that I will support freeing anyone labeled a murderer (most likely, I won’t). But it does mean that I am able to explore the definition, and make it more nuanced for myself. It means I may be less caught up in blind emotionality and reactivity, which makes it less likely that I would want to see someone sentenced based on flimsy evidence (less scapegoating), and it also makes it less likely that I will support sentences that are mainly revenge based.
I am more free to support a fair trial and fair and appropriate sentencing, and to explore what that really means, all the while experiencing a genuine connection with and empathy for anyone involved, including the one who committed the crime.
There is nothing new here. It is something we all (I assume) know from our own life. In a way, it is just old fashioned common sense… at least the one that comes more from differentiated clarity and compassion.