The real cause of social conflict

Nov 3, 2010

Re: the guys on elections and such

I hope you pick this one up right where they left off. What sort of forces? What do they mean by translated? What is the nature of the intangible, but classic (in Zen among so many others) concept that maintaining your own center is more essential, literally, than social action?


Thursday, November 4, 2010

6:15 AM. My brother asks that I have the guys continue their original transmission from yesterday, which ended thus:

I can’t see anything to do but stay in my own world while the dinosaurs fight it out. But it makes me feel guilty – thinking of John Lewis, for example, whose biography I read yesterday.

When you don’t have a clear task, it’s better not to try to find one or carve one out arbitrarily. Do what you feel called to do. The more people who do that, the less fuel for the fire.

Meaning, I take it – hold your center.

Politics and ideology and government have their place in life but they are not any more central than physical life is central to life seen whole. Just as living in 3-D is important to life but is not all of it, so politics etc. is important to 3-D life but is even less of life than 3-D life is of overall life.

To confine things to your everyday social reality. The forces that people are feeling are real forces that will be experienced and translated one way or another. How they become translated is less important than that they become translated. Your keeping your center assists the process.


Very well. We were speaking of your everyday social reality. Within those terms, you experience the tensions that accompany movement and readjustment, movement and readjustment. No one moves without affecting the whole. No one fails to move, or refuses to move, without affecting the whole. There is no such thing as isolation, no matter how far back in the woods you live. Even Thoreau couldn’t help be affected by political tensions when they resulted in Civil War.

Those tensions are rarely the ones that are seen and understood. Or, to put it another way, mostly people deal with symptoms. The economy falters; wars break out; youth are disaffected; volcanoes erupt; people become addicted to some new technology or some new way of inter-relating. All symptoms.

Political hatreds; racial or class or gender or ethnic intolerance; culture wars. All symptoms.

Domestic violence. Alcoholism. Drug addiction. Crime, you name it – all symptoms.

Go beyond these. Communism, capitalism, fascism, nihilism, anarchism, any-ism – all symptoms and the reaction to symptoms.

You might almost say that industrial civilization itself, even the agricultural civilization that preceded it, was more a symptom of human reaction to forces playing upon them than it was cause or even conduit of the forces.

This is very unclear so far, at least to me. I get it that you are saying that most of what we deal with is a symptom and not a cause – so what is or are the cause or causes?

The actual cause (within your social context) is the friction between the independent human soul and the interdependent human reality. That is, even in a world in which the individual is more a convenient fiction then an independent reality, you have to deal with people as if they were as individual as they feel themselves to be.

Or, put it another way, we need to look at people in their individual aspect as well as in their never-individual aspect. That’s our method, as usual: View it one way, then view it another way. Beware the one-eyed vision.

Seen as if individual, you see people cradled in one part of a culture, and raised in it, and going off in whatever direction they go, but remaining the product of that particular place and time, even if they rebel against it or ignore it or forget it. In one sense, everyone is a creature molded by time-space and genetics. That’s the physical part of the soul, so to speak. And in another sense, everyone comes from the non-physical world, from a web of connections to other minds, and is firmly rooted in connections invisible but unbreakable.

That tension is within you, and it must be lived. That’s your continual choosing. Are you going to express this or that? Are you going to live this or that? Fight for this or that or neither or both? Who are you really as you were created, and how happy are you with the threads you have been expressing so far?

Now, you may think that problem is a private matter, but you would be wrong. In the first place, just because you don’t obviously broadcast your thoughts doesn’t mean that in the mental world – non-physical, remember – all thoughts do not interact. In the second place you continually broadcast what and who you are. You can’t help doing it and you can’t help receiving the broadcasts of your fellow humans. In the third place, what and who you are is translated in social terms through institutions either implicit and private like family or explicit and society-based like, say, law or occupation or government or any other seemingly externally determined group endeavor. In the middle are associations larger than the family but more open to your input than impersonal institutions. All these are interfaces that modulate millions of individual reactions and produce a sort of current expressing them.

This is an easier concept than it sounds. A good analogy would help. Anything that took multiple tiny inputs and added them algebraically to come up with a representative moving sum that changed as they did. The point is, take a society of happy individuals and you wind up with a society that represents that state. Take a society of frustrated, isolated, fearful, angry individuals and what do you suppose you’re going to wind up with?

Now, that force is going to translate. It won’t be obvious, it may not be immediate (though the longer it builds, the greater the explosion or torrent when it goes) but it will translate. You may be able to prevent it from translating once, twice, three times. You avoid Nazi-ism, communism, anarchism, Maoism, kleptocracy, whatever. At some point your string is going to run out, and those forces will translate.

So surely the value of individuals setting up a counter-force merely – merely! – by working on themselves is obvious. Far from being futile, or escapist, it deals with the prime factor involved. Ignoring symptoms, it changes causes.

Enough said?

I think so. That’s enough for me, at any rate. I think that was a good question to ask, and a good answer to the question. Even though this is very short, I think I’ll stop here if only for now.

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