Reforming the world

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

6:50 a.m. Yesterday you said we would resume with the question you posed: “So now the thing to consider is how to live in a cruel and unjust world without feeling trapped and guilty and complicit; and how to live in a kind and nurturing world without forgetting that others are experiencing something quite different.

Doesn’t it amount to saying, The world is as you experience it, but how you experience it follows from what you are? And this would be a simple, self-evident statement if not for the fact that in 3D most connections are invisible or, at least, not obvious.

It is hard, seeing injustice all around us, not to revolt against it in our feelings, despite the fact that there is little or nothing we can do about it.

Yes, and it is this feeling that we intend to address.

Only, you can feel us all ready to snarl at you and accuse you of being unfeeling, of advocating submission.

That’s a good, if mild, example of the rhetoric that encourages you to feel good about how righteous you feel, and does nothing to assist you in doing the only thing that can assist anybody, which is, increasing your own consciousness and therefore your own effective level of being.

To be clear, you aren’t saying there isn’t anything else we can do to assist others? No way to attack social problems? No way to counter the forces of injustice, selfishness, cruelty, etc.?

This is more honest, but still mostly rhetoric.

How?

Who is stopping you from helping anybody you meet who needs help? It’s just a matter of saying yes instead of no – or, more commonly, of turning away or turning a blind eye. Who is stopping you – or ever could stop you – from feeling and expressing love? Those are real things. But for you to bring about world peace, or end world hunger, or redistribute the wealth created by many and appropriated by few – fine, go ahead, as soon as you build a freeway by yourself, or construct a rocket ship or even a motorcar without assistance of any kind.

It isn’t news to hear that fixing social problems requires a coordinated effort.

But perhaps it is news, to some at least, that wishing for a better world is not the same thing as doing anything to bring it about.

Seems to me that’s just the accusation that will be made against you.

Why? Because we advise people to not waste time on what is ineffective, and instead do what is effective?

Bullet-points, maybe?

  • What you can change is
  • How you change is by putting down some threads and picking up others.
  • Just as you cannot convince others, so you cannot convert others, save by your example.
  • But what is as powerful as personal example? Powerful for good or for evil, because in effect it is a magnetizing of strands within people, a providing of a rallying-point.
  • You know the jingle, “One convinced against his will, Is of the same opinion still.” Do you have any reason to disbelieve it? What, then, of political movements?

You are saying here, I think, that persuasion is a different type of thing than mobilization.

Of course. Political movements are a rallying of those of similar or converging opinion. They are not out to convince; they are out to overawe. Not the same thing.

Again, to be clear: You aren’t saying political movements have no place.

No, but it is well for you to know what that place is. Don’t use a screwdriver as a hammer.

Then, in relation to your original statement –

  • Reform movements, any movement of any kind, aims at changing social behavior. (Is there any other kind of movement?) But this has dangers.

“Cowards who run away and enlist,” in Thoreau’s words.

Yes, though those enlistees came in handy when the Union needed soldiers. The problem is, they also enlisted in the confederate armies. Which is to say, don’t think that conscience drives people only to good causes. The Nazis had plenty of volunteers, too, especially while they were winning.

  • You live in the world as you find it, and then you decide what your attitude toward it will be. Only, your judgment is always going to be partial and perhaps myopic.

I suddenly think of Hemingway and Gellhorn in China in 1941, and him telling her that her problem was that she assumed that people reacted to the conditions they saw in the same way she reacted. He pointed out to her that if they did, they wouldn’t keep having babies and shooting off firecrackers in the streets.

Yes, but make your point clearly.

Martha Gellhorn would have remade the world to her formulas. Being unable to do that, she spent her life in perpetual indignation. Ernest Hemingway knew that life isn’t that simple. He chose to see what was, rather than to only see what ought to be. His sympathies were with those who tried to make a better world, but he didn’t overrate his ability to help them, nor even his ability to know which to help.

If we may, you still haven’t said clearly what you mean, which is more like this: It is easier to extract the splinter from your neighbor’s eye after you have removed the beam from your own.

Touché.

But that is also our point. Self-examination, self-reform, self-regeneration is always within your ability to work on (if not always within your ability to accomplish). It may or may not be done while you concentrate on nearly any external task. But if you lose sight of it, in the glamor of your pretended campaign to reform the world, you nonetheless lose sight of it. And that amounts to saying that in pursuing something you cannot do alone, you risk not pursuing the thing you can do alone, and only you can do.  

But you – we – anyone – can do both, at least theoretically.

We return to the Eightfold Path, one part of which is Right Livelihood. Yes, it can be done, only it doesn’t happen automatically. Unflagging vigilance is required, if you are not to leave the strait and narrow path of working on yourself for the broad and alluring path of working on others.

So the question becomes, how can we work to c—

Freudian slip, eh?

I’ll say! I meant to write, “correct the world’s injustice,” and started to write, “create the world’s injustice.

And that is the snag. Every social problem began as someone’s solution to something else.

So, be careful what we work for.

Look, we would never say, “Don’t try to make things better.” Everyone’s path is different in some way from everyone else’s, because no two people are identical. Some are meant to be reformers, some revolutionaries, some reactionaries, etc. Our point, for those who want to see things as they are rather than as they appear, is that the “external” world is and is not separate from you.

It is, in that it preceded your entrance into 3D and will still be here after you leave.

It is not, in that what you extract from it will always have specific reference to what you are.

The world is a vast swirling chaos of contending forces. That is the freedom of it. Now, think about that sentence. Really think about it, and we will resume here.

Our thanks as always.

 

One thought on “Reforming the world

  1. One the most open, profound, and useful posts from the Frank/TGU ‘mind’ … guidance gives me that “We are pleased!” smile.

    “The world is a vast swirling chaos of contending forces.” These markers, arrows, and pointers along the path are greatly appreciated!
    Jim

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