A Day That Will Live In Brexit-famy

Scotland

As an American studying in Scotland, the scene plays out like some of the worst nightmares I’ve had about November: fear-mongering, xenophobia, a “return” to a time when things were “right” and “great”—but when “right” meant even less equal, and “great” was characterized by imperialistic ideas of worth and value, by laws legitimizing hate. Separation and terror and divisiveness has won the day, oh dear god—

Wait, no. Different nightmare.

No, the nightmare here is the Brexit vote to leave the EU that eerily trumpets (pun unintended, but apt) the same troubling values that plague my American nightmare, and in so doing, underscores an even darker reality: this is not a scourge that knows national boundaries. This is a global phenomenon, this politicization of hate, hearkening back to the 1980s, 1960s, 1930s, and countless times before—this human project of lessening ourselves by rejecting what can be learned in collaboration, what can be grown in communion: what can be gleaned from the simple act of compassion.

I was in Glasgow the day of the vote, and I found a Post-it left on a public map. It read:

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Immigration enriches Scotland + the UK. VOTE REMAIN.

If you know my angle on these sorts of things at all: my process-oriented perspective is in full swing in responding to this state of affairs, and this message was a poignantly concise statement of the truth I hold to. The idea of creative contrast is at the heart of meaning making in such a worldview, and there can be no contrast if we eschew diversity. We cannot be enriched, there is such diminished potential for that broadening of self in isolation that it’s almost made insignificant. It cannot yield novelty.

Moreover, there can be no creativity if we trade compassion and camaraderie for hate. The very concepts we define ourselves by as humans—our capacity to make and create and innovate—are cut at the knees.

((  Read More at State of Formation  ))

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(-ish)(-less)(-ness)(-loathing): The Self/Soul and The Insidiousness of Mass Violence

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I remember, over a decade ago, the first time I encountered the Wiccan Rede.

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An it harm none do what ye will

I thought that made sense; felt, somehow, that for all the differences between religions, spiritualities, and worldviews of various natures, that this was the key, the thrust behind the cross-contextual, multinational affirmation of the Golden Rule. Whatever you do, whatever you thrive upon: what does it matter, so long as no one is harmed by it? And if we treat one another with a sense of non-violent aversion to harm, then goodness gracious: we’re bound to cultivate some care in the process.

Right?

In the wake Orlando, I read the advice of that Rede with new inflections. I see the gold of that Rule cast, lit by the angle of a different light.

Harming none means none. No one. No harm.

Even to one’s self.

Doing unto others what you would have them do unto you requires that one knows what they’d want, what they might need. So often, in so many contexts and from so many sources, religious and otherwise: we are taught to accept others, receive others—but we struggle even, with this. And do we struggle, in part, because we do not remember that, axiomatically, in order to fulfil the Golden Rule—to do unto others as we would have then do unto us—we must first know for ourselves how we’re meant to be treated; how we feel we deserve to be treated at the very primary point of contact, the initial model of how the self is valued and engaged?

For how else do we learn how to act, how else do we know how we want to be treated, aside from the ways in which we treat ourselves?

We circulate the message of love and goodness and care as the necessary response in times like these. This is necessary, this is honourable, this is human. And yet, to turn those maxims in response to ourselves smacks of narcissism. Indulgence. Something to be earned, or else ashamed of, for availing in the luxury needlessly.

 

((  Read More at State of Formation  ))