Thursday, December 22, 2016
Recently, a friend sent me the following commentary from a well known poet. I was moved to write a response, and include my own reaction below.
In many ways the last election represents this adolescent breaking through of hidden unspoken forces through a locked and repressive exterior form. The gridlock was not just in Congress, but in the whole bankrupt almost oligarchical political process that had served its time, and the way all of us have been sustaining the lock though our self-referencing communities of mutual agreement. The representative who has ridden the wave of those forces to the presidency may exhibit many of the characteristics of an adolescent himself, but the forces and necessary conversations his emergence represents are no less real and are something any mature mind should consider. His emergence points toward a chaotic turbulence followed by a new order, an order we need to be extremely vigilant in helping to shape no matter whether we have called our selves liberal or conservative or something in between. One thing is certain, those who elected him will be just as disappointed and sometimes horrified as those who now oppose him, while those who voted against him will be surprised and sometimes a little disorientated by the dismantling of previous imprisoning norms they are glad to see gone.
None of us know what lies ahead, we could be in for four bumpy, very disturbing but at times, strangely gratifying years, we could also be seeing the attempted rise of Fascism in America, with all its disdain and oppression of individual rights and the rights of minority communities. This is a crucial threshold that requires all of us to be in the conversation, all of us to be just half a shade braver, half a shade more willing to meet the ‘other’ in our societies, including a previously middle American society that now itself feels marginalized; half a shade more willing to speak from emerging uncertainties into public forums, rather within our familiar communities of locked-in demands and dogma.
American or not, no matter where we live, we are all on this planet tending to live and converse in our own self-reinforcing echo chambers on all sides of the political equation, we all act as if our version of the future is the only one that should prevail. Dominated by the very gadgets and social media platforms that are supposed to facilitate communication, none us have been having a real conversation. Otherwise we should not have been so surprised, as we were on both sides, by this result.
His commentary is thought provoking, but not necessarily one I endorse in all aspects. In fact, it leads me to a response as follows:
“all of us have been sustaining the lock––" Speak for yourself here. I am unwilling to share the blame for institutions and dominant structures in our society that I have no control over and seriously oppose. Yes, I speak with like minded people, but in the same vein I seek out others who are also aware of spiritual possibilities and cultural offerings. that I value.
What “imprisoning norms” will we see gone? Compassion? Tolerance? Inclusiveness? Democratic and human values? He needs to be more specific, not just ramble on in “high falutin” abstractions. I am not sure what his point is here.
I do not think that my view of the future is the only possible one, but I hope it is one that those with heart and soul dedicated to the betterment of the society at large would agree with. I do believe that the possibility of a fascist dictatorship is quite real and is one possible scenario of our future (chaos, economic depression, military takeover, installation of the strong man who will bring order to society—historical plot going back to Shakespeare, among others). Another possibility: “hero” of present moment collapses of his own excess––Greek hero who falls through hubris. Familiar story. And another one: demented “hero” of the time dies sudden death through asasination or illness (many psychics predicting this now).
I am not “dominated by gadgets and social media” and never have been. Nor has the above writer. I am intolerant of generalities that include me in the overall features of a society that I have in fact rejected from an early age. I have paid the price for this (social isolation, being labeled as “the other”, always seen as the “outsider”, etc. etc.) as has anyone who rejects the cultural trance of the society at large.
I have been “having a real conversation” with others (colleagues, students, writers, friends) on these very topics for a very long time.
And, one more point. Though this writer has inspired and encouraged many, he has not had a deep spiritual awakening so intense it changes his entire being and opens a vision of a far different world. He takes us to the gate, but does not enter, though he offers comforting portrayals of the human dilemma before the lightening flash (or slow alchemy) of transformation. I am with Teilhard, Bede Griffiths, Andew Harvey and others who envision a universal process of human evolution, all operating to rebuild the inner structures of the human configuration, even as the outer structures are falling apart.
Who knows what will happen? The divine human as an actual possibility? Who can say what is evolving even now.