Why Is The World So Effed Up?

American Politics, Abortion, and Why to Have Hope

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

There is little disagreement that the idea that the world today is a pretty screwed-up place. Very anxiety-filled. Loss of hope about the future. Rabid tribalism, economic inequities, racial inequalities, rampant capitalism doing what it was designed to do; increase capital, rather than support people, protect the environment, or anything else.

But why? Why is it like that? And why, recently, does it appear to be getting worse?

The Donald (said in a facetious tone) and his whole gang of short-term thinkers is an easy answer, too easy to be more than a little correct.

I propose that part of the reason is deeper, that there’s a fundamental disease underlying our worsening world that is really the cause of all of these symptoms.

The Donald is just the blister that reveals the cancer. And the cancer is a single disease with many manifestations. In the simplest terms possible, I believe it comes down to dualistic thinking.

Which is a very philosophical-sounding reason for some very world-bound problems. Looked at through the lens of non-dualistic thinking though, it makes a ton of sense. Let’s take a moment to look at what I see as some real-world examples of where dualism is effing us up.

Examples of Dualistic Tragedies

American Politics

The two-party system is proving itself to be a long-term disaster. A path that has become a series of catastrophes moderated by periods of complete inaction. The Democrats and Republicans have become so polar that only catastrophes have the power to make any one of them stop playing the game of tug-of-war in which they seem to delight. You can only pull so hard on a rope for so long before it starts fraying and if this past election cycle and the period we’re living through now isn’t a sign that our American rope is fraying badly, I don’t what would be.

Abortion

Certainly one of the most divisive subjects in America at the moment. People strongly pro and strongly against. But what if both sides are making the wrong argument? What if the argument isn’t about life, or the sanctity of it, but about the fact that nobody should ever need an abortion, for any reason whatsoever? If that was the argument. Both sides would come together. And so when we look at things that are dualistic what you end up with is to saw two opposing sides that pull harder and harder against each other over time, until the rope snaps or something else changes. I am proposing that this is because they (we) are thinking dualistically. Pro-life versus Pro-choice.

A Broader View

On both of these examples it’s clear that the people involved in them then we only see these two things when in fact they are maybe the endpoints of the spectrum of how the world is. There are people very anti abortion. There are people very pro abortion, two ends of the spectrum.

And there are lots of people in the middle, who think yes and no or yes or no, and have lots of conditions surrounding the whole topic and, at the end of the day, everybody is trying to support the sanctity of life, and a person’s right (in this case a woman) to control what’s going on inside her own body.

In politics Republicans and Democrats have been pulling so hard on the rope that it is causing increasing problems both internally and externally. Societal divisions are worsening people’s ability to behave humanely, economic inequality is worsening, and (in the larger world), America is clearly losing its once-prized leadership position in the global economy and society.

From these two examples, it appears clear that when two parties become so polarized, it becomes their entire view of the world. They lose perspective on all of the rest of us.

Which takes us back to the problem with dualistic thinking. It just doesn’t reflect reality. The universe is non-dualistic, it is spectral, it happens on continuums.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Where dualism falls apart

There isn’t just 1 and 0, white and black, left and right. Part of the reason we fall so easily into dualistic thinking is one of physiology. Our brains are designed to take shortcuts to save energy. So, we see the ends of the spectrum; one and zero, black and white, Democrat and Republican, up and down, left and right. And on and on.

Dualism is easy. Our brains only have to consider the end points. 1 and 0. But problems occur when we try to impose our dualistic thinking on a universe that fundamentally doesn’t work that way. Between 1 and 0 is a universe.

In both of these examples it’s clear that the people involved in them then we only see these two things when in fact they are maybe the endpoints of the spectrum of how the world is. There are people very anti abortion. There are people very pro abortion, two ends of the spectrum. And there are lots of people in the middle, who think yes and no or yes or no, and have lots of conditions surrounding the whole topic and, at the end of the day, everybody is trying to support the sanctity of life, and a person’s right (in this case a woman) to control what’s going on inside her own body.

In politics Republicans and Democrats have been pulling so hard on the rope that it is causing increasing problems both internally and externally. Societal divisions are worsening people’s ability to behave humanely, economic inequality is worsening, and (in the larger world), America is clearly losing its once-prized leadership position in the global economy and society.

From these two examples, it appears clear that when two parties become so polarized, it becomes their entire view of the world. They lose perspective on all of the rest of us.

Which takes us back to the problem with dualistic thinking. It just doesn’t reflect reality. The universe is non-dualistic, it is spectral. There isn’t just 1 and 0, white and black, left and right. Part of the reason we fall so easily into dualistic thinking is one of physiology. Our brains are designed to take shortcuts to save energy. So, we see the ends of the spectrum; one and zero, black and white, Democrat and Republican, up and down, left and right. And on and on.

Dualism is easy. Our brains only have to consider the end points. 1 and 0. But problems occur when we try to impose our dualistic thinking on a universe that fundamentally doesn’t work that way. Between 1 and 0 is a universe. In fact, everything in the universe has a context and almost everything occurs on a spectrum. Our brains have trouble handling that (too many data points), and our languages have significant problems expressing it. So, rather than deal with true reality we try and impose our dualistic (energy-saving) perspective on everything. But, it’s unsustainable because eventually reality (the universe) wins. Always.

A possible solution

It seems like a puzzle without a solution. I propose that there is a simple answer that may not get us fully in sync with the universe’s spectral reality, but is a big step closer.

Add a third element.

In American politics this would mean adding a viable third party. It would completely alter the dynamics of the polarized impasses that are the norm now. Things might actually get done. There would be more incentive to cooperation. Would it be a panacea? No. Would it improve things? I hope so, because it’s hard to see how things get much worse from here.

In the abortion debate the third element is the actual women and children and fetuses involved. Every abortion is an insult to the pregnant woman’s body and the taking of a life, or a potential one. And (imho) the ideal situation is that abortions never happen because they are never needed.

That is the world that I think both sides are attempting to create, but the dualistic argument seems to have caused both sides to forget that.

An interesting aspect to the American political environment is that the founders of the United States clearly had some vision of the non-dual aspect of the universe. They saw that a single or double-branched government was bound to fail. They made three branches of government (maybe one of the smartest socio-political decisions in the history of mankind). With three elements in the system you get not tyranny, and not a tug-of-war, but checks and balances. A system that self-corrects because it’s much more in line with the nature of reality.

Because reality (the universe or whatever else you want to call it) always wins. Just like the tide. We can put up a seawall to stop the ocean temporarily, and…over time the seawall always fails because the tide is much stronger and much more persistent than we puny humans have any hope of being.

The tide always wins.

Nature, reality, the universe always wins. We just have to start gaining in humility and creating our societies such that we are all no longer fighting the universe, but in line with it. And there are signs that we’re getting there — at least, moving in that direction.

Which is why, at the end of this tumultuous year, I have hope. Hope that we are gaining in wisdom enough to start seeing this, to start living it. That the pandemic has show us that, to paraphrase John Locke,

No Person Is An Island.

#bkf

Storyteller, seeker, always curious, work-in-progress

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