Determining Sequences

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Could it be so simple?
Break down the principle,
And trace the threads that interweave reality.
Do the same patterns that govern the stars orient the psychic content floating in me?
Have I merely been blind this whole time?
Particulars combined and arranged in an infinitude of creative gestalts.
The need for discernment in deciding when to halt has become a reoccurring thought.
Is it based on what I’ve been taught or lessons from creeds that are pervaded by oughts?
How much time do I allot to cognitive wrestlings, such as this?
I could be opening a bottomless abyss.
Yet, dismissing these inquires could prove to be remiss.
Therefore, I continue to persist seeking a degree of bliss from my inner restlessness.

Psychological Pitfalls

I’ve noticed a common theme from the side that is trying to counter this movement about justice for George Floyd, specifically, and social justice and equality for systemically oppressed populations, generally. That is, I noticed a theme of one-sideness and selection bias being rampant.

For example, to the latter point, people are selectively choosing to focus their attention toward anything but the deep, painful, raw, and pervasive issue at hand; instead, people resisting this sort of societal change are gravitating toward anything that they can use as a suitable straw man. Therefore, their arguments are usually highly fallacious, so it is better to limit engagement in these psychological trenches so the forward momentum can remain unified and targeted on the true goal: Justice.

The former point of one-sideness is intertwined with the biased selectivity outlined above; however, it delves somewhat deeper into the human psyche. Cognitive dissonance is the state of holding two opposing beliefs simultaneously, and it is well-documented that this phenomenon influences a multitude of human behaviors, because it makes people so uncomfortable that they are motivated to seek change. Unfortunately, inherent to life is constant change. Therefore, trying to resolve the tension produced by opposing forces through fortifying, or doubling-down, on a single point or node that is polarized toward a specific side is ultimately self-defeating. It is as if one is so disturbed—and, consequently, dysregulated (out of balance)—that balance is subjectively restored through the solidification of a single position. Furthermore, this single position is then fallaciously used and treated as if it is inherently self-sufficient.

Let’s take an example to further illustrate what is being said by this point. Take the example of rigid and flexible. If I were to resolve the tension between these two opposing forces by deciding that rigidness is all that matters, then this would be an example of being one-sided. However, if I were to take one more movement in this cognitive direction and decide that I was so happy by the security and comfort from believing in only rigidness, then I can start to discredit the existence or the necessity of flexibility.

We should pause at this point. It is quite easy to carry on from this line of thinking, transforming into subsequent arguments; however, at this point in the example, we have reached a point where, if we were to proceed, it would be rooted in a false dilemma; that is, there is not an argument originating from categories that exist in pairs of opposites. To belabor this point further, one cannot start with a premise that is rooted in a belief that the end is better than the means; particulars are better than universals; permanence is better than change; product is better than process; and individual is better than social.

For any of the above examples, as well as any other family of oppositions, to proceed with an argument that one side is better or worse than the other is starting an argument from a false dilemma; therefore, nullifying any subsequent arguments, premises, or conclusions made after the fact.

Questions of the Times

There will be a day when it takes all your power, concentration and energy to keep the darkness at bay. But, for how long can I keep these shadows away? And with what do I use to keep them this way—Should I retreat to my inner cave?

Because none of this is set to remain, rather we are all destined to one day return to our life as sand. Therefore, when is it the right moment to take a stand? A better question might be: How much more can I withstand?

Isn’t this the continual background theme spanning the story of human history? Is the way we progress not in some way shaped by the past? The past is far more vast than our notion of a personal past.

Both kinds of past influence what we define as “normal” or what constitutes “the best.” What does it mean to last? What does it mean when something endures the test of time? Is it not the case that each morning we awake a refined version of ourselves? What happens if choose to skip out on some of life’s tests; would this help in alleviating some stress? Will this insight change the way we invest; will it shift the content with which we obsess—will it do anything to relieve the burdens of the oppressed?

We all face a similar distress, but if we do not identify what we know to be best, then we run the risk of slipping back into the primordial unconsciousness from which we emerged.

Is this time of turmoil a result of a tension between the light of consciousness and ignorance of darkness? Will we find that we have acquiesced to a primitive mind, and a simpler time, free from obligation or responsibilities to think or to find, merely to survive and get by.

Warning: Contains Political Content

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I have refrained from talking about the current political climate in America because the polarization of the “Us vs. Them” mindset seemed impossible to surmount. Out of fears of my inadequacies, I have chosen to remain silent, rationalizing to myself that my silence was justified: Peoples’ minds have chosen sides, and there is nothing that can be said or done to sway peoples’ opinions.

Upon recent reflection, I realized that I had let my cowardice get the best of me. Moreover, I discovered that within this presumption outlined above was the implicit acknowledgement of the “Us/Them” false dichotomy. However, even after this revelation, there still have been persistent beliefs within myself that allowed me to continue to bite my tongue: “You have nothing to offer, and, even if you did, it wouldn’t matter. No one would read it, even if they bothered to read it, it wouldn’t change their minds.” It was this last part that has compelled me to break my silence and finally write.

I am a counselor by trade, even so, it is still fascinating to discover irrational beliefs that produce internal (psychic) tension. The last part of this negative self-belief is where I illuminated a fundamental error in my line of thinking. Similar to the counseling process, the goal is not about changing someone’s mind, rather it is about providing new perspectives, experiences, reflections, etc. that further inquiry and help to refine and better define their beliefs, values, and aspirations.

Furthermore, this shift in my perspective about the starting point for political discussion has also allowed me to reflect upon the array of experiences I have been collecting. I am a member of groups and organizations that would be deemed “far-right,” as well as ones which lean towards the “far-left.” Initially, these group experiences produced a great sense of tension within me that was further exacerbated by the division being portrayed within the American news. However, through maintaining the delicate balance between being open-minded while, simultaneously, having the courage to hold to certain deeply held convictions, I have been able to resist the pull of absolutism; that is, the tendency to want to resolve my internal discomfort produced by the tensions of both sides and foreclose on one of them as the absolute truth and guiding principle that all people should adopt.

This has been a difficult endeavor to undertake, especially considering the political and cultural climate of America growing more rigid and extreme by the day. However, I am grateful for being able to be a part of the “in-group” for both groups of the left and the right, because it has allowed me to understand some of the more mundane experiences, issues, and concerns that are at the root of the larger movements and politics that flood the internet and media. It has provided me with faces and verbalized expressions of the people who hold certain ideologies, instead of the abstract, dehumanized, and dogmatic view of such ideologies that are often portrayed through media. The importance of the medium through which information is absorbed is often overlooked. When ideologies are provided, devoid of any relation to actual experience, it allows the individual’s assumptions, preconceptions, unconscious biases, and a host of other psychic content to be combined with their imaginative capacity. In turn, this perpetuates ideologies and beliefs as having a sort of life in and of themselves, outside of the lived experienced of individuals.

Moreover, this separation between ideologies and actual experiences is doing damage to our democracy, for many individuals have become so certain of the absolutism of their beliefs that there is no room for common ground. While the overt differences in beliefs are emphasized, the nuances within the ideologies of either side are overlooked or disregarded. Furthermore, these nuances have become beyond reproach, since they are entirely overshadowed by the perceived irreconcilable schism of the defining features of each ideology.

Therefore, the impetus for my writing about the topic of politics in America is to emphasize the aspects that are being overlooked. While the differences in ideologies and beliefs between the right and the left are being magnified–and, in fact, personified through the attack or defense of President Trump– the similarities of experienced shared by being a human being living in a world of struggle, change, uncertainty, with feelings of isolation, desire for belonging, and striving for purpose and meaning, are being entirely overlooked. Insofar, that these aspects that comprise life are being eliminated from communal discourse, unless both parties identify with one another politically and ideologically. This lack of communication between members of opposing sides will only deepen the divide that is already present, and it will erase the opportunity to live and interact as fellow citizens of a democracy, learning from one another and enriching each other’s lives through the sharing and celebrating of differences, as well as those of similarities.

Life Entangled

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Relax in the fragmentation of the senses.
Breathe in, allowing the recession of your defenses.
Freeing the mind from its proclivity for assessment
And the constant association of judgment.

Permit the authorization for amusement in uncertainty.
Ending the persistent cycle of modernity –
Replacing the world of urgency with that of harmony.

As tension melts into psychic malleability,
Refrain from the urge for mobility.
Refusing to flee from the onset of tranquility,
Erase the unquenchable desire to find utility.

A Self in Society

Conditioned to be polite,
We converse wearing our social decorum.
But, is this for us or for them?
Moreover, since when did disagreement become synonymous with intolerance –
If we all agree, will we still be free?
To some degree, it would appear that the fervent desire to unify as one
Is causing our nation to become undone.

With that said, there are issues on which we must agree:
Some form of common sense logic must be present as foundation to stand upon.
This does not dictate any issue,
Rather it provides us with a necessary tool to engage in discourse.
Embarking on these sorts of endeavors without common ground
is predestined to forever circle round and round.
Therefore, remember that it is okay to have some remorse;
It’s okay to change your mind in light of new evidence.
This is not something to feel ashamed of though –
It is, however, a test of letting go,
The pieces of one’s ego necessary for growth.
Through taking this oath,
One may become flexible enough to tolerate viewpoints of both.
This requires great vulnerability, and without this there is no true strength –
Only an inflated self-esteem kept afloat by the desperation of others
Who, too, refuse to change and prefer to remain the same.

This is the what it means to be enslaved to oneself, ensnared by pride.
Terrified to be denied, one chooses to continually lie.
For the sake of pride, one cannot hide;
Therefore, the fear of mortification leads to emotional amplification.
Allied together under a noble cause: Defend this nation, at all costs.
However, the lack of insight veils the perception of one’s self,
Instead, projecting outward blaming others for their rage.
Not knowing that it is a manifestation of residing in a cage of their own making.

Vying for Control

In times of turmoil, confusion, and uncertainty,
It becomes ever so easy to turn to the mind and hit rewind;
Or, make the choice to intensify the ever-raging battle against time.
Control becomes the mental shovel used to dig deeper the hole of despair.
All the while, masquerading around with a callous belief that we do not care
But this, too, is a mental delusion reinforcing that our will is the final conclusion.

Musings of Apathy

When we breathe, do we ponder the air?
Do we live our lives guided by what we deem to be fair?
Or, are we simply bound by what we determine is worth our care?

Keep the mind in restless motion
And all the world’s constant commotion
Will fail to evoke a single authentic emotion.

Desensitize pain
And pleasure will also wane.
Focus attention on what will be gained
And refrain from reflecting on what still remains.

Voicing the Unheard

When will I be taken seriously?

For, no matter what state,

The words that I say

Carry no weight.

How much longer do I have to wait,

Until my cries merit a single taste?

Doubting often is what I’ve become.

Never knowing what it will take showing

To justify my feelings that night.

I wish not to fight,

But all my pleas are met with might;

So, it is as you say.

Let me rest in dismay.

The Problem of Abundance

So much information to consume;
So many directions and possibilities.

The exuberance lasts for a while,
But fades in the absence of mystery.
Exploring fruitless avenues is disheartening,
Only to be compounded by the totality of knowledge that both exists and is accessible.

How am I to ever chose a topic that is of both interest and relevance without slowing being dragged down into rabbit holes and quagmires of concepts?

I yearn to create;
To produce something that is new;
To intake information, digest it and synthesize something of substance — something of worth.

But how do I determine what is of worth without simultaneously needing to know about meaning, morality and how one ought to live?

For how can I navigate the myriad of information available to me without also needing to determine how that piece —despite how small it may be — fits together and manifests itself in the world?