What World Do You Want to Live In?

What World Do You Want to Live In?

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same. ~Carlos Castaneda

In a recent podcast by Sam Harris, he interviewed Jonathan Haidt on his new book, The Coddling of the American Mind. They talked about our current culture of boycotts, call-outs, de-platforming, and outrage. A culture where the social prestige from doing so is a form of currency. Sam Harris often talks about the, ‘what kind of world do you want to live in test’ and do these actions take us to that world. I pondered this question over the past couple of weeks and here are my thoughts.

I want to live in a world where we can still be whole people and loved even in the face of our fallibility. Where a person can mess up and still be forgiven. Where a person can be vulnerable and intimate and risk not choosing the right words in doing so. Where a carefully crafted response is not a substitute for authenticity. I think of the times that I have been out of line, or irreverent and am thankful I have people in my life who can see all of me. Even see past the unsavory and still love me and call me their friend. I’m scared we are losing the ability to hold space for the whole human, unpolished and raw.  Especially in our online world, we shove people in boxes of pro-life or pro-choice, red or blue and reduce them down to a single cause, group or ideology to determine if they are with us or against us. We now gather and identify in groups not only based in commonality but the common enemy.

I want to live in a world that allows for complex conversations and nuance. A  place where dualities exist and it is okay for people to hold two ideas at the same time even if they don’t fit nicely into a narrative. Where someone can sit with another’s apparent contradiction and not use it as an opportunity to call them out or gain social prestige. A world where nobody is forced to live in a black or white polarity, they can be Christian, pro-gun, pro-choice, and pro-gay marriage and that speaks to their thoughtfulness and self-reflection rather than their hypocrisy.

I want to live in a world where people can acknowledge their wounds but not have to lose their agency. A world where we’ve unplugged from the story of our powerlessness and into one of collaboration and cooperation as we build a better one. We lose so much when we choose to rally around victimhood as our path to equality. In viewing things through the lens of our wounds, we create more of want we don’t want – abuses of power and control. Birthing something new requires a new story of empowerment for all, not just a group.

I want to live in a world that is just and not necessarily fair.  In a just world, we own our own will, meaning that we have the right and the equal opportunity to make our own choices. Fairness, on the other hand, is about equality of outcome based on a subjective opinion on how we think things should be. There is nothing to be gained from forcing people to act in a certain way, not allowing them to speak or shaming them into compliance. Free speech and expression of our own will are hard to retrieve once they have been lost. I’m not prepared to concede to a world that is subject to a certain individual or group’s beliefs about how things should look. We are not entitled to have our feelings protected, however, we are entitled to freedom of speech. We shouldn’t so easily put our wellbeing in the hands of others, letting their words or actions affect us unless it is truly warranted.  I’d rather live in a world where we risk offending someone but can have an open, and honest debate, then jeopardize our ability to do so.

I want to live in a world where compassion, kindness, and forgiveness are of the highest value. A place where we extend good faith to others rather than assume malicious intent. I remember reading somewhere that forgiveness is when you are able to pull your energy out of the situation. So when that situation no longer consumes your attention and resources then you’ve shifted into a state of forgiveness. How can we ever do that if we have to confirm and re-affirm our stances on things and stay focused on our past wounding, rather than healing and moving on to construct something better?

In this time of great revealing which I know is a necessary step, I hope we can think about where we want all of this to go. It has to be about more than just revealing and tearing down what we don’t like – forgiveness, and paths to redemption need to be part of the conversation. We have to think about the world we want to create and I don’t know where you hope we end up, but is our current trajectory taking us there?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the world you’d like to live in.

Can We Ever Go Home Again?

Can We Ever Go Home Again?

In today’s episode, we look at questions of relevance, identity and re-visiting old ways of being. Is it possible to ever go home again? What are we really looking for?

 

In This Episode:

  • Divine Spectacle:
    • We play with the idea of returning to an old way of being.
    • We look at how our feelings of irrelevance and the opportunity for a certain outcome might be at play.
  • The Sacred Mind: 
    • We explore the Buddhist’s view of impermanence and the static self as the key to our suffering and desire to return ‘home’.
    • We look at the Toltec view of self-importance and why our relevance does not matter in the first place.
    • The great paradox where everything is meaningful and meaningless and how we reconcile these two truths.
  • It’s Worth Your Time:
    • Meghan Daum’s book: The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars
    • This book gives a GenXer’s perspective on the current climate of identity politics, feminism, victimhood, and the cancel culture.
    • She assists the reader in not only understanding the generational divide but helps people have more compassion for ourselves and others as we navigate our own questions of relevance.
The Laziness of Cancel Culture

The Laziness of Cancel Culture

The tragedy of life is in what dies inside a man while he lives – the death of genuine feeling, the death of inspired response, the awareness that makes it possible to feel the pain or the glory of other men in yourself. ~Norman Cousins

I woke up this morning to the #ThingsWeShouldCancel hashtag trending on Twitter. I know that this hashtag was started with levity in mind and not with the usual manufactured outrage that underpins the cancel culture. But the idea of canceling anything is troubling to me. Humans are complex beings who are facing complex challenges. But the cancel culture requires that we shove people into boxes, flattening them down into one-dimensional characters the can be easily judged and dismissed.

I tried hard not to use the term nuance because along with the words foment and tropes, it has been used so often it’s becoming noise. But it really is nuance that I am talking about. A person or position can rarely be fleshed out in an era of soundbites and social media. I’ve written before about my fear that we aren’t allowing people to be whole humans anymore. A whole human can be messy, irrational, contradictory, but mostly redeeming if we see them in their totality. We should resist the temptation to oversimplify something inherently complex. 

Cancel Culture is Lazy

We, unfortunately, don’t just get to skip to the good parts without doing the work. Not as individuals and certainly not as a society. Besides, there are many differing views on what is ‘good’ anyway. Cancel culture is lazy and reactionary. In a time where we have social media celebrities and influencers with ambiguous societal value, we’ve lost sight of what real change requires (and maybe what the real world is like). Bans, boycotts, cancels provide a short-lived opportunity to gain social currency but don’t catalyze any long term change. People can briefly feel good about themselves while sitting behind a screen. A call-out or cancel lacks the foundation and thoughtfulness needed to avoid unintended consequences. Because we find someone’s thoughts or political leanings offensive doesn’t just mean we cancel them and it goes away. It festers and frankly, recruits. A well-organized rebuttal or in-depth discussion does more for shifting the landscape than a call-out. I think the antidote to talk we don’t like, is more talking rather than canceling.

Inner Work Required

Cancel culture also speaks to a lack of self-awareness and willingness to do some inner excavation. In the spiritual community, we have a name for this type of defense mechanism – spiritual bypassing. It’s when people want to go directly to the love and light without doing the inner work. This way, the person is spared from having to feel any negative ‘vibes’ or emotions. Instead, I think when we are faced with something we are opposed to, it is the perfect time to look at one’s own shit. What are we afraid of? What do we value? Why is someone with a different worldview so threatening?

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.  ~Rumi

 The offense or anger that we feel is really a signal of healing to be done. Yes, there are times when being offended is justified, but then our focus should be on dealing with the root causes and supporting real change. People don’t like to hear this because we hold our feelings in such high esteem that we think they should be protected at all cost. Instead of seeing emotions for what they are. They are data points. They are spikes on a graph that warrant introspection rather than protection. They are the messages from our wounds.

Reclaiming Your Power

This isn’t about blaming the victim it is about putting yourself in charge of your own well-being. Not every slight or rude comment or dissenting opinion should be allowed to interfere with your contentment . And if it does, then the story that frames those feelings should be addressed. That’s where the inner work can become so powerful. The more we heal the stories and emotional trauma within ourselves, the more untouchable we become. We don’t become untouchable by never being touched. We get there by facing adversity and using those challenges to understand who we are and how we show up in the world. Sometimes people are just douche bags and don’t deserve our time, energy, or resources. Please understand, I am not talking about real crime, abuse, or neglect. I’m talking about canceling something because it upsets you or doesn’t fit into your worldview. We can learn more about ourselves listening to contrary ideas than we can in an echo chamber.

So I hope that we can move past our screen warrior mentalities and opt for real-world change. While we may be justified in some of our anger, we don’t move past it as a society by avoiding the people or ideas we disagree with. There will always be bad actors with bad ideas, but we challenge those ideas with better ones. That is the only way we really heal. First we look within and then we look without.

Listen in to the Chaos & Light Podcast as we explore cancel culture further from the perspective of freedom and liberation.

 

(c) Can Stock Photo / focalpoint

 

Cancel Culture and Its Impact on our Inner & Outer Freedom

Cancel Culture and Its Impact on our Inner & Outer Freedom

One of the greatest threats to our personal freedom is the cancel culture. Listen in as we explore why it’s important to be feel uncomfortable and how that helps to liberate us in an increasingly complex world.

What’s In This Podcast?

  • The impact technology has on our social development
  • Cancel culture is a lazy response to complex challenges
  • Cancel culture threatens our freedom of speech
  • The best way to inner freedom is by facing adversity and using it as an opportunity to understand more about who we are and how we show up in the world
  • We are complex humans facing complex challenges and the antidote to bad ideas is better one

Resources

  • A fantastic interview with Ricky Gervais on Making Sense with Sam Harris

 

Want to learn more? Read Canceling Complexity in The Age of Social Media