Rules, rules, rules.

Bartleby is only permitted to turn into a sea creature and go sit on the bottom of the deepest darkest sea for ten hours a week, and for no more than four hours at a time.

Amble is only allowed four bottles of tainted love a week, and no more than one per day.

Andy can have only five units of alcohol a week, and no more than 2 units in a day (2 units would be equivalent to one of those giant glasses of wine he’s wont to pour himself).

Why these rules?
These rules are just to say that these three men — a fictions within fictions, a real character within fictions, and a person (whatever that is) in the real world (whatever that is) — are not allowed to abuse substances for the duration.

What is the duration?
And what happens when they transgress the bounds?

Good questions!
The duration is from now until someone other than Donald Trump becomes president of the United States.
If they break their rules, they are not permitted to touch their substance of choice for one month — a penalty which terrifies them all.

Discipline! To stop the evil!

For so long now we’ve wished to the stop the evil, whatever that is.

What eats a human, a relationship, a family, a pile of overlapping groups, a nation from the inside out?
Why, the evil does, of course!

But what is this thing “the evil”?

In individuals: the evil is corruptions in the communication between an individual’s soul and their own feeling/thinking/acting.

For example: We see someone knocked down and this little flinch of meanness rises in us, a little desire to shove them further down, and if we give in to that flinch — either out of pure malice or goaded by surrounding circumstances playing with bits of malice, bits of cowardice, bits of confusion, bits of self pity, bits of … — we look away from the Love shining through each moment, and worship our own self-centered weaknesses rather than the Love that chooses everyone. Every time we do this we corrupt our own relationship with our own heart of hearts and drift a little further away from our own sense of meaning and order. To the degree we so drift, we lose the ability to feel/think/act in ways that are meaningful to ourselves. And so we slip a little further into the empty noise chaos of nihilism.

In groups and nation states: the evil is systems that select for evil actions.

For example: In authoritarian states, the supreme political good is getting, maintain, wielding, and exploiting power. To the degree a state slips into the logic of might makes right, success in the state requires collaborating with people and organizations that routinely hurt their own citizens in order to suppress dissent and exercise power. And without “success” in such a state, one often has trouble providing for and protecting oneself and one’s loved ones. And so corrupted states select for crimes against humanity, which encourage, reward, and foster internal corruptions. That is to say: Serving a dictator encourages, rewards, and fosters personal evil.

But when can we say the other side has gone too far?
For thirty years the gulf between Republicans and Democrats has widened.
We already think the other side is some mixture of incompetent and evil.
So we’re inoculated against their critiques and beholden only to those on “our side” for self-analysis.
That’s how we got into this jam, where I am almost certain that in supporting rather than repudiating a known enemy to democracy the Republicans are placing our democracy in extreme jeopardy, therewith committing a grave political evil, and they say I’m just full of shit and if anything the evil dictator of error is Joseph Biden.
I know that they are seeing everything upside down and this topsy-turvy vision is a willful, a self-imposed error, and thus not just a wrong-headed political opinion but an act of evil.
But they know I’m full of shit and aren’t worth the paper I’m printed on.

They are wrong this time, but we’ve been crying wolf on each and huddling in our separate echo chambers for so long now, it is easy for them to picture me as the unfaithful shepherd, who cries “wolf!” in order to direct everyone’s attention away from his own (party’s) crimes.

What’s to be done?
I am right this time, but what good does that do me if they can’t see that, though I’m not always right, and sometimes it’s more a matter of opinion than of straight up right or wrong, this time I am right and they are wrong, and they should stop supporting Trump and start demanding politicians who respect and honor the outcomes of both elections they win and elections they lose?

Still, here we are, and we ought to try to help somehow or other. So let’s at least step away from the mindless stupors.

But how will we shake out the jangles if we can’t collapse into controlled demolitions of our thought and feeling?
Surely we must shake out the jangles to avoid even worse collapses! Surely we must shake out the convoluted meshwork’s of hurt hearts and desperate emotional/mental lunges! Otherwise we’re sure to fall into uncontrolled demolitions of our thought and feeling! Surely we must regularly flee from the tension that constantly bends our shoulders down and forward, our hips and pelvis up, our head over and down, our knees up, fly from the tension that forever makes a panicked roly-poly out of our inner space. Otherwise we’re sure to lose our balance and run to harder drugs and more reckless spiritual retreats! And that would surely be dangerously irresponsible. Right?

Anyway, how can we think and feel fresh if we don’t regularly liquidate our thinking and feeling?

What are we getting wrong here?
We know we’re not quite catching the nuances, but we can’t quite make out our missteps.

Be that as it may!
Let’s turn off the substance abuse while seeking other was to relax the jangles, shake out the convolutions, and melt our thought and feeling.
Maybe meditation?
There’s things we could try.

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andy Watson

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