Six steps towards mending the divide between us.
Election 2020: The big game is over, but the tug of war continues. Six things you can do to help ease the tension, once the hangover wears off…
By Robert Simmons
It was a helluva battle… Everybody fought hard… It could have gone either way, really… We’ll get ‘em next time…
I love football season.
The election was a good game as well; down to the wire again. The brains of the winners were treated to a release of endorphins and enkephalins which blocked the pain of the last four years, and momentarily turned despair into hope. For those who never get to experience hope naturally, morphine will trigger the same chemical reaction. Perhaps feelings of hopelessness are what lead people toward opioid addiction, though really there is no way to know something like that. Besides, it’s really none of our business, and more than likely constitutes an invasion of privacy.
Whether your team won or not, both sides will have to go at it again anyway, four years from now (like the Olympics). I will even go out on a limb and predict the loser in 2024: it will be the American people, as always, because four years from now, all the same problems will still exist.
The 250,000 plus corona virus deaths have made 2020 quite unique, but in many ways it has been an average year: 17,000 homicides, a thousand police killings, 38,000 deaths from car accidents, 161,000 avoidable hospital deaths, 32,000 soldiers wounded in action (along with 5,000 dead). These are acceptable losses. I say “acceptable” because we have apparently accepted them. Meanwhile, 50 million Americans live in poverty; 17.3 million in extreme poverty, 27 million are without health coverage, 18 million are without a job, 40 million suffer from anxiety, 17 million from depression, 8 million from eating disorders, 21 million from substance abuse, 8 million from PTSD. Five million Americans are assaulted each year; almost half a million of them are victims of rape or sexual assault. The list of preventable suffering is beyond the scope of this article.
So to recap: we have a lot of Americans who die unnecessarily each year (apparently, you are not yet in this category). We have a bunch more Americans who suffer all manner of abuses, both physical and emotional (you are likely in one or more of these groups). Meanwhile, politics is not designed to solve any of it.
Set all conspiracy theories aside, and use simple logic: Group A has a lot of money; they have so much of it, in fact, that they are able to pay Group B to clean up after them, grow and harvest their food, cook it and serve it to them, take care of their kids and their aging parents, deliver their packages, drive them wherever they wish to go, even care for them in old age. Naturally, all the people in Group B could never afford to hire someone to do the same for them. In fact, a minimum wage isn’t even enough to afford healthcare, or personal transportation, or a safe place to live. Theoretically, Group B would vote for a politician who promised to help them get the kind of security Group A receives. Meanwhile, Group A would pay for a politician to make sure everything stayed exactly the way it was.
Mathematically, there are always more “have-nots” in Group B than “haves” in Group A, yet somehow the two groups tend to even out at the voting booth. To explain this anthropologically, we would need to come up with some kind of formula; it might look something like this:
FO + FS = W
where W equals the finite Whole of human existence, so that however much the strong Force of Oppression (FO) extracts from the Whole, the counterbalancing weak Force of Submission (FS) gives up in order to maintain the overall survival / equilibrium of the species. We may visualize this as “yin and yang”, or “give and take”. Both are viable survival strategies: to either take by force, or submit to force.
To explain this sociologically, the powerless, who have no path to secure survival through force, must attempt to secure it through loyalty or submission to a higher power, such as God or King or Country, and thus the powerless become intrinsically tied to Group A in the process. This would explain how the poor might align themselves with the rich, Christians with “money changers”, Jews with white supremacists, or the NRA with Right to Life advocates; the “strange bedfellows” of politics.
Ironically, it is the Oppressive personality that is most “needy”; the Oppressed must give something up to the Oppressor in order for the Whole to maintain equilibrium. Unfortunately, as people submit, and feel less and less “agency” or control over their lives, they become prone to making decisions that are more individually self-destructive; this is likely exacerbated by the fact that they receive little confirmation of self worth, which only grows, no doubt, as they spiral downward. Oppressors often lament that the people they oppress become complacent in their submissiveness, which, they never seem to realize, is the necessary prerequisite for submitting to their oppression in the first place. It turns out that this feeling of agency or power over one’s life is not only crucial to human health, and the basis for human hope, it is, in fact, the very definition of Liberty. No wonder the concept of Liberty resonates so profoundly among people.
One might arguethat if we did not form alliances – simply allowed ourselves to think and choose freely – we would never agree on anything, and Oppression would somehow secure an even greater foothold.
Try yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre, and witness how the human base brain reacts. When fear enters our minds, cooperation dissipates. Ironically, it is the freely thinking part of our brain, the cerebrum, that initially brought us together into the crowded theatre, with the promise of something intellectually stimulating. When we are not in a state of fear, we have the potential to go to an intellectually stimulating place together. Only when someone hits the panic button do we scatter.
Hitting the panic button is indeed a tactic used by Group A, to scatter us, and achieve their preferred outcome: to “maintain the status quo”. Unfortunately, Group B has fashioned their own panic button, and does not hesitate to use it as well, to rally their forces against Group A. American writer Audre Lorde once warned that we would never dismantle this House of Oppression by using the so-called “Master’s Tools”, and she has so far been proven correct, as fear on both sides has basically frozen us in place. There was a time when Oppression was the only game in town, so historians would likely count our current stalemate as a victory for people in general. Those of us enamored with Liberty, however, would prefer to completely shelve any remnant of the original human politics of Oppression, and “level up” to a truly Liberty-based system, where Peasants and Oppressors would be free to utilize their skills to maximum effect, but always toward goals that promote life and liberty and happiness for all.
In order to do this, we must first break the current sociological log jam between two groups who basically want the same thing, yet have (somewhat ingeniously) been convinced otherwise. Each side needs to step back and take a moment to identify the Oppressive tendencies, not in others, but within ourselves. Below are 6 ideas to get us leaning toward Liberty and away from enabling or perpetuating Oppression, so when negotiations begin between our two groups, at least we will be speaking the same language for a change.
1 – Sometimes We Must Act with Inaction
Liberty only extends power as far as the individual. Oppression is the act of extending power beyond oneself. One might truly believe that life is sacred, for instance, and for that reason believe abortion to be murder. This same person might also happen to own a gun, which implies that there is certain life that an individual would be willing to take (of course this same argument would apply to someone who abhors guns or the death penalty, but favors abortion). While you may be 100% correct about which life should be taken and which should be spared, Liberty dictates that you can only take or spare your own life. When you fall down the rabbit hole of deciding the fate of others, or having power over their choices, or even their lives, you become, by definition, an Oppressor. The simple way out of this trap is to do your best every day to maintain control over yourself, and leave others to (hopefully) do the same.
2 – Understand Yourself before Seeking to Understand Others
Through simple reflection, think of instances when you have been “emotional”. Frustration, for instance, might have simmered to the surface at a moment when you were not being understood, or something did not turn out the way you had expected. Understanding your emotional reactions comes in handy when trying to comprehend what is going on in other people’s heads. Their opinions, or the circumstances that led to them, may be impossible to grasp, but the feelings being exhibited will not be, because we all have them. Emotions are in fact the earliest form of human language, and unfortunately, the only universal language available at this time. Identifying someone’s emotional reaction, without taking it personally, can demonstrate you are at least trying to understand their situation, and may gain you access to more useful information than if the exchange was purely an adversarial one.
3 – Be About Something
Again, through reflection, choose one concept that you would count as more important than your own personal happiness. It must be something that supersedes money or desire, and whatever this “Truth” may be, you must hold it to be true for everyone, not just you or your immediate circle. One day, if a choice must be made between your own interests and this “Truth”, you will be forced to act on “principle”. This is when you will tap into your higher self, and regardless of whatever personal sacrifice must be made, you will feel a much deeper sense of accomplishment than would ever come from satiating some immediate or superficial impulse.
4 – Watch Your Language
The language of Oppression is simply the way our non-thinking base brain communicates what it wants, and what it wants is always MORE and MORE. The language is quite rudimentary, comprised mostly of LABELS, to identify the things it wants, or things that stand in the way of what it wants. Because emotions, as a form of communication, existed first, the earliest words were simply LABELS for things that elicited the strongest emotional reactions, none more galvanizing than the archetypal US versus THEM. In this way, single words, imbued with deep-seated emotions, became powerful vehicles capable of driving a normally complacent citizenry into action.
The language of Liberty is simply the way forebrains communicate, but unfortunately, forebrains rarely get to confer together. Oppressors know how to bypass our forebrain and connect directly into our base brain through these manipulative one word LABELS, that turn complex but solvable issues into emotional gridlock. Our base brain can easily dehumanize others because it can barely acknowledge itself beyond what impulsively drives it. The hindbrain IS whatever it wants and nothing more, and when we allow ourselves to revert to our lowest common denominator, we become capable of (literally) unthinkable atrocities.
In order that forebrains may confer together, it is necessary to keep our base brains out of the conversation whenever possible. Be “mindful” of these loaded words; banish them from your conversation, and be quick to point out when others attempt to use them.
5 – Seek the MORE from Within Yourself
Oppression exists because we seek the MORE from outside ourselves. Because we exist in a closed loop environment, this forces others to submit to having less. The goal of Liberty, however, is for all of us to wield power, even if it is only over ourselves. When we seek the MORE from within ourselves, either physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, we will find an infinite supply waiting there. As you achieve greater personal growth, those around you will feel the benefit as well. Oppressors force others into their narrow orbits, but with this internal MORE, you will possess the force of gravity, which naturally compels others to hover in orbit around you.
6 – Educate Yourself
When you own your own mind (and your own body), you are as free as you’re ever going to get in a system built on Liberty. Letting someone think for you is, in many ways, the worst form of subjugation. Even when physically imprisoned, people can still think as they choose. Though we are forced to exchange physical labor for a “handful of dimes”, we are still free to think our own thoughts. This is the only freedom that cannot be taken from us, so to give it away is a crime against yourself. When you understand this, you will begin to seek your own knowledge, and form your own theories; In the same vein, you will soon wish to form your own opinions about others (versus believing everything you hear about people you have personally never met). Eventually, you will begin to choose your own actions, based on your “wealth” of accumulated knowledge. You will finally come to “know your own mind”.
The reality is that we exist because of other living organisms, and therefore can never truly be “independent”. We are dependent on the Earth and its many resources, and also dependent on each other, especially in times of vulnerability. Codependence is the unhealthy practice we wish to avoid; the needy or enabling behavior related to Oppression. Interdependence is the middle ground we seek; to work together and navigate the planet in something other than a parasitic relationship. A commensal relationship is where we get what we want while doing neither good nor harm to anyone (or anything) else; needless to say, we are a long way from achieving a “commensal” rating. The ultimate level, mutualism, where we exist in harmony with each other and our planet, while somehow producing a net benefit for all, is probably a mountain too high to climb. Still, for a species who loves a challenge, it would totally be worth the effort.
If you are interested in learning how we could upgrade our systems of Government and Economics to better promote Liberty, while further locking Oppression out of the loop, go to 3rdOptionParty.org.