I’ve read that the key to long standing relationship is kindness. I’ve also felt myself a near-craving for respect: a compass, both attracting and repelling. Respect: re-spect, a second look? Could it be that simple?
This is the landscape of humility. We tend to jump to a call for humility when we see a great action of hubris out there in the world. It’s easy to cry out, “Shame!” and “demand” humility from the malfeasants at a time like this. When we do so, we skip right past humility into anger safely directed at some other. On the flip-side, we tend to feel some rising shame in ourselves and turn to some show of penance as a sign of our own humility. The self-consciousness and the mixture of piety and victimization we relish in at such times to guard ourselves from our humiliation – notice how in this context, all the rightness of humility evaporates in our self-justification. At such times we slip right past humility again into just another variety of self-serving behavior. In neither case do we inhabit humility, or truly promote its spread in this world.
This has been the most recent example of the machine doing exactly what it does. It was the result of an arrogant and willfully blind way of being and acting, thrashing against very clear and visible limits, working to its fullest capacity to do nothing but lead to disaster. At this level, and coming from such a position of hubris, pleas of intentionality, that this was unintended, can have no sway, just as the pleas of a killer’s intent have no sway in a law-court. These are no more than cries of surprise at being caught-out when the perpetrators had always felt secure. Not secure that they were blameless, doing good; only secure that they were unreachable, that the consequences of their actions would only fall on others.
Economics is a fiction attempting to turn linear costs into a semblance of a circular system. We’re fed the line that by paying a cost we provide a benefit and, in turn either directly or indirectly, another benefit will come around to us. This is a line, a lie, since economic costs all ultimately settle onto “externalities.” While these are external to the economic fairy tale, they directly impinge on the Earth’s capacities – including all of our human capacities. We all pay costs, most of them hidden – not so successfully any more, just look at the Gulf of Mexico, before the media has messaged us all into believing it’s “normal” to have a dead sea pumping oil out into the Atlantic in a Gulf™ Stream. These costs accrue and compound and eventually come due; but not in the way the economic fairy tale would have it.
Is this really such a difficult concept? I don’t think so, its just inconvenient. It’s so much more gratifying to claim that all of our culturally induced pathologies are somehow reflections of our “true” natures and therefor “inalienable.” Couple this with the related notion of American, Western, Civilized, even Human Exceptionalism and you have a sure-fire antidote to the intrusion of any reality into our frantic displacement and projections.
Externalities. The term has been hidden within Economics since the beginning of its study of human endeavor and its look for potential ways to measure our activities. It’s been there since the first human error in judgment, the first break with the world of pure instinct, our first attempts to outsmart the balanced books that were our pre-human inheritance. The behavior was there, but until a profession created a meretricious term for it; giving these blunders a safe place to hide on our balance sheets, we were ashamed, or at least embarrassed by these holes in our understanding of how our accounts broke down.
We’re still talking about Enormity. It takes an enormous amount of effort to even glance at these potentialities without wanting to run away and hide. But then, there’s more….
Hope is not confidence. Confidence is propped up by optimism. Hope is sustained by courage.
The alternative is an opening up to a continual wrestling with conditions and contingencies so that we can learn to remain on that edge between unknowing and conviction. If we only see this as a linear path going from a situation of lacking to one of having, then we are doomed to reel from paralysis to self-inflicted catastrophe. Unknowing is not a lack, it’s a relationship to reality. It’s the opposite of Know Nothing, that perennial reactionary stance so popular today. Unknowing is the realization that the most we can do is “salvage reality,” to use Berger’s terminology, extracting bits of reality from out of the surrounding mysteries.
This question, What do I want? lays just beneath the surface always. I’m aware of it, but it remains an inchoate, ineffable pressure, building, but for the most part, unable to break through to the surface. I maintain a certain patience regarding it. Its immanence feels like a good quality, its inexorable build-up seems aContinue reading ““What Do I Want?” continued…”
Trust is like a column, a stone column. It is tremendously strong in compression. If you are willing to carefully place weight on top of it, it will support. This image is so clear.
I’ve been putting most of my efforts lately into setting up and expanding a net of sites that I hope will consolidate my production and place it where it can find an audience, where I can find collaborators, patrons? I have two interwoven tasks, to inventory what I’ve done and explore where it’s taking me;Continue reading “The Scheme”