(Kaliyuga, Choo, Choo . . .)
Witnesses Galore But enough of this economic drivel, I want to talk about freak outs as potential sources of clarity. Even though frowned upon, a wonderful feature of the freak out is it’s rarely a secret. We usually have witnesses galore. Wailing and gnashing of teeth is of little value if there’s no audience. Of course afterwards, the fear of real or imagined repercussions usually drives us to masquerade as if nothing ever happened. People in positions of authority, real or imagined, are the most susceptible. “I wasn’t freaking out! I was, ah, just using emphatic theatrics! Yeah, that’s it! Emphatic Theatrics—to, ah, emphasize, ah, the grave significance of your circumstances. Which, I might add, is something that can only be done by someone in total command of the situation! Okay?” [Remember: The mark of true leadership is the ability to pile it on deep and then avoid stepping in it.]
What’s interesting, is how often such lame excuses are accepted. Maybe it’s a wish to avoid prolonging the episode. Maybe from experience we know that anything short of prompt agreement will plunge the Defensive One into greater depths of asininity. The freakout was bad enough. Let’s not stand in the way of a graceful exit. Who knows? By pretending it never happened the conflict might just slip away.
Well, that would certainly be nice, if it happened that way. But what we shun has a way of coming back to haunt us. The something we hoped would just magically slip into oblivion, tenaciously remains. The unresolved conflict, the suppression of emotion, the tacit projection that everything is hunky-dory only temporarily veils the dissonance of unfinished business.
The Messiness of Things It’s important to notice that such internal dissonance isn’t the result of something being fundamentally wrong with us. We need not feel crippled by some original sin picked up before we were born. We’re not broke. We just need to face who we really are. We just need to know we’re a part of, not separate from, Creation. We need to accept our part in the messiness of things. To avoid such recognitions creates a bewilderment that’s difficult to relieve.
Unanswered, unresolved, unacknowledged, this internal conflict can be most disruptive. Every society must deal with this conflict within its members. Mature cultures with a thorough understanding of the demons within face this terror and bewilderment directly. That’s what a Vision Quest or Rite of Passage is all about. Allowing each member the necessary time and support to acknowledge this conflict within produces a more stable community. Allowing each member to taste these energies, to see the play of good and evil, to own both, and thus transmute that dichotomy into wisdom enables the indispensable transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Demonization in a Black Trench Coat Immature societies take short cuts by packaging pre-conceived solutions. Demonization is the most often used formula for severing the connection with our negative faction. Personified as the Devil, these negative energies are cast into the Bottomless Abyss of One-sided Answers. Elaborate dogmas are substituted in their stead, in the hope this will bar the Evil One’s return. This is avoidance taken to extremes. In the deluge of coverage of the Littleton tragedy, it’s a wonder that some rambling journalist didn’t point out that Darth Vader wore a black trench coat. Such a comment would still have made as much sense as most of their babbling commentary.
Once proclaimed, dogmas need only to be memorized and accepted by faith. Not the type of faith that comes from knowing one’s self, from enduring a Dark Night of the Soul, but an expedited version that allows little latitude in forming solutions from one’s own juices. As an added feature, this method further abbreviates the whole process so it can be quickly done with a minimum ‘cost’ to both the neophyte and society. Well, that is, if you overlook things like Thirty Year Wars, the Inquisitions, and Jihads to drive out the Infidels.
Quick and dirty methods tend to produce less than optimal results. It’s like cutting off one foot then wondering why we hobble around in circles. As an old Tibetan Proverb says, “A new patch on an old coat soon comes off.” Quickly acquired resolutions tend to unravel at the first sign of conflict or engagement.
Now I can just feel some of you out there thinking this describes the type of society we live in. But you’re being much too kind. The category we fit in is another rung down from immature societies. We don’t even have decent dogmas. We’ve substituted thinly veiled propaganda crammed into our non-discriminating minds via 10 second sound bites and photo ops supplied by paparazzi. We have avoidance personified.
We’re taught to evade our internal dissonance. And when that’s not possible, to wait for further instructions. Whatever we do, we shouldn’t draw conclusions from our own experience or go digging for information to form our own diagnosis. Say, for instance, about World Events. That’s Madeleine Albright’s job. Just listen to the Evening News. Any channel will do. All will become perfectly clear if you pay attention. Did you hear? Pay Attention!