It has now become clear that we are both, like the systems betwixt us, completely miserable. Which vexation begs the questions: what are we doing wrong? how can we do things right?
I’m so lonely all the time. It’s like a sledgehammer pounding me through the chipping cement. I think it’s because I’m deep in the corrupt and broad with the mad.
What is corruption? What is madness? Where is it in me? In you? In the systems where we live and die?
Corruption and madness are both, like all human things, things of degrees. The more corrupt an individual or group is, the more that person or organization lets injustice rather than wisdom rule. The more insane an individual or group is, the more that person or organization is overrun by chaos rather than wisdom. The problems are interrelated: more corruption degrades the internal system for choosing one thought-/action-path over another, which permits more madness as well as more corruption into that process; more insanity likewise degrades the decision-making process and so allows more corruption and madness into the system. Rot encourages more rot. It is often impossible to locate exactly where one ends and the other begins: “How much am I really crazy versus how much am I courting confusion in order to open up a path for my lusts/fears to take control??”
What does corruption look like? It looks like what it is: evil preferred over good. And madness? It too looks like itself: random notions chosen over wise/clear/bright feeling, thinking and acting.
The more corrupt a human conscious moment, human group, or government is, the easier evil impulses (dishonesty, folly, cruelty, vanity, confusion, meanness, greed, pettyiness, egotism: you know the direction I’m pointing towards!) wins out in the constant inner leadership struggle (within an individual, group, and/or government/political-entity). With each evil victory, evil pushes the whole (individual, … government/political-entity) more towards its foolish, self-defeating ends (self-defeating because corruption = wisdom is not steering = the Light within that is our most essential self and that alone knows what is actually worthwhile is not in charge = that within which deserves to rule our thoughts and actions is losing control) . Conversely, the less corrupt xyz human-entity is, the easier it is for good impulses (honesty, wisdom, clarity, kindness, selflessness, win-win, shared joy, Love: you know the direction I’m pointing towards!) to take control within xyz human moment. And each goodness victory allows goodness to push the whole more towards good, decent, coherent — towards more internally-meaningful and spiritually / emotionally / intellectually / actionably acceptable.
Insanity has the same basic effect as corruption: making evil win and goodness lose; but whereas corruption seeks confusion in order to mask its evil intentions and ruthlessly selfish and pathetically boring/limited/unimaginative worldview; madness (whether wholly organic or to some appreciable degree caused by corruption’s self-undermining of a human-entity) starts primarily with chaos and flails about less purposely, perhaps even being on occasion nudged in a better direction by a better impulse, though ultimately — lacking adequate levels of clear self-aware conscious engagement and thus invariably courting corruption — tends like corruption to the worse and worse and worse worse worse (actually, you know, corruption can also accidentally occasionally lurch toward better and away from worse; though on the whole it’s direction, like madness, is decisively worse, worse, …).
But what are we asking of ourselves and others? What does preferring wisdom/goodness over folly/evil amount to? I’m afraid that we’re trying to agree to not cheat. But how’s that gonna work?
Is there anything so hard as actually believing in the existence and preeminence of goodness and wisdom? Fashion may dictate that we applaud one or the other or throw one or both triumphantly under the bus in the name of God and/or Reason (or “Living Fully!”, etc); but we people generally find a way to keep them in the same place: Kindof Land.
No matter what we think we understand, believe, and care about; we always kind of understand, believe in, and care about goodness and wisdom — we always kind of understand, believe in, and care about “Truly Should” and “The Way Forward” (not so much these words or even the concepts they point towards, but rather that to which those words and concepts imperfectly but not therefore necessarily inadequately point). But what we are now suggesting we should do is work as individuals, groups, and political entities to move our faith in goodness and wisdom out of Kindof Land — where they are so suspiciously obliging to our hopes, fears, and group-thinks — and into “Yes! Let’s Do This! Let Us Overcome Selfishness In Order To Serve The Universal Good!!”
Can’t be done.
How could it be done?
Everybody just scratches their side while applauding their side.
Can’t we all agree that any worldview meaningful to human hearts and minds demands that we pursue wisdom and goodness, and that we do so with awareness, clarity, honesty, accuracy, competence, kindness, and shared joy? Can’t we all together agree on these universal spiritual values (“spiritual” = !For Real! — as opposed to ‘maybe, just a thought, well on the other hand, and then again, of course maybe nothing matters anyway and there’s no ultimate difference between hitlering and lovingkindnessing …’)?
Sure we can say we can.
But: Problem: Everyone nods good-naturedly and then with inflamed eyelids, foaming teeth, and jabbing pointers — and/or politely complimenting the truly exceptional cheesecake — accuses the other side of completely botching wisdom/goodness while their side is flawed but ultimately OK.
No, it’s scarier than that: Because some really are more lost to unhelpful momentums than others. And calling it all an even-confusion is one of the confusions unwisdom exploits.
mmm what to do what to do what to do ? ? ?
What a world we live in.
What a time crushes us — living off, seeding in, putrifying and expanding with the fraying lurchy leers inside and barfing through our private and shared visions.
I want so desperately to be able to make a case for anti-corruption that is adequately true, meaningful, and shareable.
But I keep coming up short.
I think I’m right that to the degree a worldview is meaningful to a human being that worldview supports awareness and other spiritual values that we can to some degree collectively agree on and whose fruits we can to some degree collectively recognize (fruits like calm, careful, gentle, decent, self-transcending competent kindness); and that we therefore have a collective duty to use those shareable standards responsibly.
But is anyone even arguing this?
My point is a Socratic one: We (even those of us who write desperate essay after heartsick essay affirming the general Something Deeperism worldview) must not really believe in these uncontested positions; because if we did, we would not be so inclined to see only the folly of others. And we’d be kinder and wiser, and ripple like light across the morning sea. [Editor’s Note: Socrates often suggested that people want to do what is best and so the fact that we often don’t do what is best must be due to our lack of insight into what is best. Likewise, the arguer here argues that if we were really so sure that awareness … shared joy were really The Way, we’d behave better. Therefore, we must not be very sincere: we must mostly just like saying we believe in and care about awareness … shared joy.]
What I’ve longed to do is find an essay that everyone could agree with and that would serve as a foundation for meaningful dialogues — conversations grounded in and guided by aware, clear, honest, competent, accurate, compassionate, kind, respectful, joyfully-sharing thought and action. But I guess I’ve not the requisite powers.
What should I, abject failure, Tumbling Icarus, then do?
I don’t know.
Sit back and let the nation right itself or devolve into a place where journalists, dissidents, and random people who inadvertently crossed the wrong politico disappear, never to reappear, and about whose whereabouts “sensible people” ask no questions?
Maybe getting everyone to agree about and together discuss the need for awareness … shared joy would be enough to gently shift the thought-process of our politics more towards clear kind calm helpful resolve? Maybe enough so that we could all grow together in active wisdom and shared joy??
Dr. I Dunnough, former Plantagenant
Sometime 2017 or 18
Soliloquizing all alone while running through the tall sharp stinging grasses thwacking bare legs and arms churning desperately forward.
The arms and legs thought they were churning forward.
Original Version was Aug 9, 2018
This updated version is from “First Loves”, a collection of essays published February 2, 2020