|Thanks for both these responses, elene and Mr. D. |
I have genuine sympathy for a fear response, because fear is so human and vulnerable, but one which, thus, often gets expressed as a defensive anger, which puts a kind of "shield" in front of that vulnerability, or seems to. As a teacher, I wonder how to get students who I suspect are arguing from fear--but who often seem to be arguing from anger--to feel safe enough to drop the anger and move into a more open, and, to my mind, clear-headed place where they actually look at the fear that's driving the anger.
It's also how I feel towards the MWMF organizers--as I've said, I do think, perhaps naively, that they're arguing from fear, from scarcity, from defensiveness, and I know from my own experience that I rarely make the best decisions and rarely make the best arguments, when I'm in that mode. When I do look at my own fear--which can only happen when I feel safe enough to admit that what I'm dealing with is fear, not righteous anger--it's quite extraordinary what happens: the anger just practically instantly vanishes and the fear shrinks before my eyes, and I start to be able to "see" others more clearly.
But before I've made that change, the more dug in I feel, & the more public I've made my stance, the harder it gets to change course, without feeling like I have no integrity.
Infinite patience seems to be required for getting people to change with integrity, however, and that, again, means that the people being "locked out" by the people able to make a "superior" claim to resources, are the ones being called upon to be patient, kind, understanding... Even while their own life and health may, in some cases, perhaps all cases, be at stake.
And so it's so easy for it all to become crabs in a barrel, again, as we become very aware, again and again, of the fact that, in general, we're all a bit outside the cultural centers of power. We then start competing in all directions--arguing about who is the most "outside," who is the most wounded, who has the most legitimate claims, who has access to the fewest resources...And so much energy is lost, and we're all still mostly at the bottom of the barrel, wounding each other. Damn it.
The problem being that defensive anger in response to these kinds of exclusive claims to social/cultural/economic resources often has the effect of making the slightly more privileged group batten down the hatches even more--and bring out bigger guns, if they have 'em. That's the effect on me, anyway, when I'm resisting change and defending some turf.
Hence the birth of nonviolent resistance, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Henry Thoreau, Rosa Parks, Code Pink, and Camp Trans, I guess. Duh--this is all obvious, I realize.
But, I guess what I'm getting at, is that there is a spiritual dimension to all effective protest, and I keep thinking it has to be grounded in love for the other, love for the "enemy." But what exactly does that mean? And is that just the christian hegemony of my world showing? (That's where the language comes for me, but it's clearly there in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, .... Love is it. And requires immense courage. But the language can be so squiggy.)
I've never been able to get to an ethical question that doesn't lead me inevitably back to this place--and normally what happens is the discussion then completely shuts down, which drives me nuts, so I hope someone will respond to this.
But, to forge some kind of an answer to myself: when I think of love, in this sense, it means letting my enemies _be_ who they are--not necessarily needing to make them into my "friends." To love my enemies, I think, is to keep striving get at who they are under the shield they're using to protect themselves, which may include their guns, and to not seek to "know them better than they know themselves" which is condescending and illusory no matter where it's coming from, although relatively disempowered people often have much to teach relatively empowered people about themselves.
To accept that all people have some mystery in them. But not necessarily to turn them into "me."
This process can look, however, like a pure capitulation to their "strength." (Some people, I think, read my reaction to Shadowsax in the infamous Fathers 4 Justice thread that way, for instance. Although it always felt like I was speaking from my strength, to him, and not from my fear, I did have to wonder and examine it and couldn't be sure there wasn't something to that.)
It always seems possible that what I'm doing *is* still grounded in my fear of their big guns--which can easily go underground and disguise itself because it is an old & big fear--*rather* than my sense that I'm working from a place where I know that the guns are a sign of their vulnerability. I have to examine that, and be a little wary of my instincts. And this hits a kind of impasse for me.
Because, of course, I have to ask, if I am patient even as I work to break down their defensiveness, and people are being wounded or dying in the meantime, is my work worthwhile? Is this hopeless work?
I hope this is not hopelessly off topic--it feels, to me, like I'm still talking about the issue of "sameness" and "difference," and that love is somewhere the squishy thing at the core of this, but others may disagree.
(And, elene, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think you do just fine in the Headshop, fwiw. I always read your responses carefully, because I know they'll be worth reading--which is not how I approach everyone on these boards. It's 'cause you're a good thinker--& the vocabulary is not so important. I'm glad you're here.)