Systems vs Individuals and the balance of power and the role of “meaning”
In wondering about the power struggles of life (see https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/glossary-of-lifes-power-struggle ), I’ve noticed three different positions we fall into:
We all start off as individuals
•As an individual, you get pushed around, with no support, as you are going alone against big systems. (IOS: Individual Outside the System)
•As an individual within a system, you get some security, but are still pushed around by those higher up in the system. (IBS: Individual at the Bottom of the System)
•Those higher up in the system (ITS: Individuals at the Top of the System) are the most supported, and in theory, it’s a give and take process of merit, where they had to expend greatly to climb up to that level (but this ignores other factors, such as personality, where the “work” of climbing IS “gratifying” to them, and thus not really “delaying” gratification, and thus not really “expense”; plus other things beyond our control). They have greater “responsibility”, and competition (people trying to unseat them), but also have more leverage (“buddy-boy network”, “golden parachutes”, etc.)
This comes from looking at the artists who created what I call the “adornment” (Gk. “kosmos”) of the world I grew up in. [The way the thinking behind this term goes, the environment was “adorned” with the entertainments and other aspects of everyday life]. Like accomplished popular musicians or cartoonists who you later read lookbacks on their decades long careers and rise to fame, and how they did their work and negotiated through the media empires that published their works. Often, the artists would not like what the company imposed on them, and might walk out, or at least threaten to. This, once they are already established in their field, so that the company sees the value they produce, which is then used as the leverage to gain what they want. It doesn’t always work, though, and sometimes they are forced to comply (especially when they’re not as established, or are younger), or perhaps make good on the threat to move on. You then suddenly see their new releases under a new label; or a character, voice or music production style suddenly changes.
All of this affects what we would see or hear on the radio, TV, the movie screen, or buy in the store.
I kept feeling a bit jealous, of remembering being a child who could only passively receive (“consume”) all of this stuff, and yet, here were these flesh and blood people whose lives I’m reading about, who shaped all of that (in addition to the enormous sums of money they make, even as everyone else struggles, plus the recognition). If I wished a person’s music or a cartoon series looked or sounded like it used to, or had advanced to some other style, here were the people who had the power to have done it.
The Institutions of the “Adornment”: Government and Business
Then, there was the expression “three things in life for sure; taxes, death and trouble”, which I always heard on Marvin Gaye’s blaxploitation film theme Trouble Man.
Now, death is apart of nature, as is what we call “trouble”. Christians attribute both to a universe created by God, but that He has sovereignly allowed to run in a way that affects mankind negatively (often blamed on “sin”). “Taxes” on the other hand, is a manmade system of financial regulation.
I marveled at how that ends up in the pantheon with death and trouble. Like it’s as divinely created as the set of physical laws that cause death and the other obstructions to our heath and wellbeing we call “trouble”.
Taxes are imposed on people by other people, who consist of the same bodily composition, with all of its limitations (including death), and the same ego consciousnesses, called “souls”, as I, and the rest of the people who pay taxes.
How do these individuals end up controlling (and likely benefiting from) something seen as being as natural and immutable as death and trouble? How do they become APART of this “adornment”? And the same for all the other government and business power holders in the world?
That’s government. There’s also the private enterprise (which many, especially on the Right, seem to think is the “safe” system, but also wields a tremendous amount of power).
Well, it’s not the individuals themselves (on their own merit), but rather the whole “system” they TOGETHER comprise and run.
This is when the expression “united we stand, divided we fall” started to gradually come to mind. Or the common physical analogy of a single strand being easily broken, but multiples of the same kind of strand forming a strong cable.
Individuals are told “the world doesn’t owe you anything”, yet they “owe” the world, and then certain other individuals do manage to get into positions where they claim they are owed something (fame, recognition, etc.) and oftentimes, gets it.
The most glaring example of this is workers vs. CEO’s. This: http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/us/further-proof-liberals-dont-understand-supply-and-demand is a typical conservative article defending major fast food chain CEO’s making over 1000 times more than the workers.
“There is a high demand for good CEOs and there is a very small supply of them. This is one of the reasons they can demand a very high salary.” and “CEOs are responsible for thousands of stores, thousands of employees and billions of dollars. One mistake by a CEO can cost a company millions of dollars. These people work 24/7, even when on vacation. They have to be available every minute of the day because they never know when a crisis could happen.” “There is also a high demand for people to make venti mocha lattes as well as flip burgers BUT there is an overabundance of supply because these are low-skilled jobs that most people can be easily trained to do. This is NOT saying these people don’t work hard; they do, but there are a lot of people who can do the very same job. …when they leave for the day, their job is done. If they make a mistake on a burger or a coffee, that’s not a big deal. Their responsibilities are limited.”
But no one’s expecting the worker and CEO to make the same (or even close to the same), and the meme they’re criticizing doesn’t say “CEO’s don’t work harder” as the article misreads. It questions whether it’s THOUSANDS of times harder, especially when you compare it to a generation ago, when it was probably less than 100 times more.
Still, you can only argue but so much against it. By moving up into those positions, and having such responsibility as “leverage”, these “individuals” are “covered” by the institutions they are leading. The institutions basically absorb the sort of consequences for hurting or disregarding people (in one way or another) that others face. (This article shows how, through this group dynamic, this increasing gap came to be: http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2015/06/22/why-ceos-make-so-much-money/#6a7d9a7012a3 ).
“Workers” are here being treated as a solid “group” as well, and they are technically apart of the “institution”, but when it comes to pay, the focus shifts to individuals, with the CEO as an individual being more signifcant in the company (even representing it), while the workers, beng in that individually “expendable” position, remain “individuals” in the overal system. A union may give them a bit of institutional leverage, but many of these types of businesses have no, or very weak unions.
(But I’m seeing, economic inequity in this country is probably less about individual corporate CEO’s, and more about Wall St. ⦅as you can see in the book I discuss here: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/book-review-robert-reich-beyond-outrage⦆, but conservative sites often debunk memes like this and think that wholesale disproves the imbalance of wealth on the top. Still, Wall St. is just another network of corporate “institutions” an individual rises up through, so it’s the same process).
As part of all the growing discontent with government size and power, there has been a growing sense that the tax code was too complicated (the laws being thousands of pages), but nothing is ever done about it, and instead the anti-tax sentiment always ends up being funneled back to it all being spent on “programs” for “lazy” nonworking people; poorer, even more powerless people, in fact. And that then is the only thing that gets changed (and people would still blame it). So in the ’96 presidential campaign, an independent candidate, Forbes, ran, promising a flat tax where the government takes out exactly what the taxes are, and not too much or too little, with the taxpayer having to figure it out and file a return; so (aside from the debate as to whether the flat rate will favor the rich and screw the poor) all we would have to do is check a card to verify that it is correct. (So the only people having to deal with the complex paperwork are those who challenge what has been taken out). The other candidates, Clinton and Dole, even adopted similar plans of their own. But when Forbes dropped out of the race, all of that was scuttled, and forgotten about.
I then figured that taxes are likely deliberately kept complicated because simplifying it would put the tax preparation industry out of business, especial after seeing what some of them charge. It was further confirmed in the age of electronic filing, where I expected to be able to fill out an online version of the return (which are avaiable on the IRS and state govt. sites), and just click to send it, but instead, [unless you qualify for a special free deal for the poor] they’ll only accept electronic filing through third party software. It’s obvious some sort of deal has been made with these third party companies.
People see paying taxes in itself as limiting their “freedom”, but it almost seems like no one sees these strings companies pull to gain more of our money as limiting freedom. No, they “deserve” that right, simply because they could (i.e. their “freedom” can limit ours, because they “worked hard” to do it, and “freedom must be earned“).
Then there’s all the other industries that pull strings to keep their products going, when they’ve been found to be outmoded or even unhealthy! Individuals who find themselves in this position would now have to pick up and move, perhaps starting all over again. But not big industries! (This is where I derived the “power struggle” term “inertia”). If they were so diligent in getting up there in the first place; you figure, they did it before, they could do it again. But no, they “paid their dues” already, and now it’s their turn to “benefit” and everyone else’s turn to “expend”.
Another good example, especially in the transportation industry, is how strict rules are increasingly created and enforced, and this largely because of fear of lawsuits. This further creates a climate where rules are made for just looking good on paper (hence, “paper railroad”), but maybe not so well in practice. Yet, in court, the “paper” is what covers them. So they end up going “150%” or more with rules regarding “safety”, and much of it is about, what to borrow from a scripture used in religious moral debate, the “appearance of evil”. However, such a mindset becomes self-righteous, where one thinks he’s doing so well, (and has room to slide), and thus doesn’t care about the actual practice, or even some other weightier matters that get ignored, as Jesus showed religious leaders who thought this way with the divine Law. The net affect (as I call it) is always, little actual change, yet that is enough, since it can be written as a statistic on a graph, so that it “looks good on paper“. (Meanwhile many other things go wrong down here, and you have to wonder if these same standards of “safety” apply to officials and vendors who do not directly operate, but whose decisions still affect safe operation. When things break down, it doesn’t appear individuals on these levels are held to account like the “hourlies” are. The breakdowns seem to be treated more like “acts of God”, with “oh well, what can we do but adapt to the situation now”).
And even with our somewhat stronger (but gradually weakening) union, it can backfiring on us, even if at the hand of other members. 9-11 occurs, and people in the union feel we were not thought of and given anything to protect ourselves. So in response, they issue big, bulky gas masks, which now add to all the “required” safety equipment we must carry. We carry one around for months, and they then declare it was defective all that time, and issue bigger heavier ones (encased in a metal canister, inside the outer pouch. When one of these exchanges occurred in December, I pictured the new vendor giving itself big bonuses for the contract). Ironically, it would take so long to get this thing out and onto our heads by the time we noticed people in the subway dropping from some gas or chemical attack around us, that it’s probably still virtually useless. (So again, it’s only for show, literally, “on our backs”, and it seems like everyone else benefits in some way, but us! It’s just another “expense” for us).
And the union officials who pushed this, receiving paychecks from both the union and the agency, but not usually working on the road, are probably issued them for being in the job title, but obviously don’t need them in the office.
Likewise, crewmembers get spat on when looking out the train cab window at or hand injuries on the train, and likely do things like fight for comp, or maybe even sue, and now they make stricter rules about safety gloves and glasses, which I hear every day, the System Safety department is rigorously enforcing with disciplinary action, on top of everything else that we can possibly do wrong. So this is supposed to be for our own “safety”, but it looks like they don’t really care about us, to threaten our jobs (and our whole lives, financially) with things that are sometimes so trivial and yet broadly “slapped on” to every situation, and do not necessarily even protect us; they’re just covering themselves.
It’s pretty much like elementary school, or even boot camp, where a few people can get the whole class punished, and each other individual suffering this is trapped in a system that is in this case, “shooting itself in the foot”.
(This is part of what really got me thinking of this whole “system” dynamic. If you’re “out there” on your own, or on the bottom, it seems the whole power structure is out to get you).
You can even get sued for using the NYC subway’s colorful route bullets (as a deli near the F line once found out). Those were not always considered intellectual property, but it seems somewhere along the way, some legal advisor or attorney comes along and (like “a demon whispering in your ear”, I always compared it) tells them “don’t let that be free; claim the exclusive rights of it!”
It’s like the lawyers have the entire society gripped by these things, but they get their power from people (including everyday ones) running to them whenever they think someone has crossed them.
Meanwhile, transit customers often see us workers as “the system”, when things go wrong (and sometimes thinking higher fare money all goes to us). So when they get annoyed at me (because of a delay), I have to still identify, because the agency does a lot of things I don’t like as well (and I’m actually more readily affected by these decisions), and I remember being outside the system, and thinking of everyone in it as a big monolithic entity, not knowing that those on the bottom of it were still little different from me.
The funeral industry is an egregious example of exploiting a situation, where they charge families already grieving a loss of a loved one thousands of dollars, just for a ceremony and other props that likely do not cost nearly that much. Where else can they go? It’s something that people MUST have, and will have no recourse but to do anything they can to pay whatever it is, so then you can charge whatever you want, and not only will people still have to pay; but then all your competitors can safely charge pretty much the same thing. No one can be blamed or called out for “greed”.
Another example of is that I heard that in the huge Parkchester highrise housing development, tenants can’t have washing machines in their apartments, or even laundry rooms in the buildings, because local laundromats somehow put some kind of pressure on the builder, MetLife, because it would hurt their business. So now, I think of all the people, who have to drag their laundry all the way out to the surrounding neighborhood (and it’s a huge development, and if you’re in the middle, it’s a long walk out) to use some likely crowded neighborhood laundromat. (This often comes to mind when I’m struggling getting the clothes to the nearby laundromat, and we haven’t had the money, nor the capacity in our apartment to have one, but in a big complex like that that likely has the capacity, people are being forced to endure this just because of some sort of deal made behind closed doors). I don’t know why the owners ever gave in like that, screwing the tenants, and keep it like this for the nearly 75 years it has existed, but it shows how life is made difficult for the sake of someone else’s petty convenience in the name of survival.
Again; what I would go on to call “inertia”, for everyone else has to expend so things can be easier for certain people. But of course, these “people” are not doing this as individuals, but rather groups of people in “business”.
Then, you had an area like Coney Island, that was blighted for decades when the old Steeplechase Park on the western end closed in the 60’s. In the 80’s, local fried chicken chain Kansas Fried Chicken owner Horace Bullard wanted to rebuild it. (With new mechanical horses and all. As my last few times there was rather depressing, when we had to look for parking in the blighted area, and I eventually vowed never to return until the area was fixed up, and it’s now a whopping 30 years, aside from working for Transit in the nearby terminal). The city kept blocking him, he faced financial problems (especially as the abandoned Parachute Jump apart of the property needed urgent fixing), and then he had to gradually sell it off, and the city sold it to developers who built the stadium, fixed the parachute jump, and other new attractions slowly being added (such that the area is being fixed up, but not as quickly as Bullard planned).
He eventually died, with all his dreams unrealized. (In this case as well as the rest of the blight of the city in past decades, compared with the neverending building boom now, you wonder why they didn’t do this back then, and only block those individuals who did try to fix up things before this boom, which is likely connected with the same financial scheme that brought the rest of the nation’s economics to a near collapse).
Similarly, Bob Diamond, who successfully started tours of a railroad tunnel under Atlantic Avenue (which was a previous extension of the line that currently ends at Atlantic Terminal) also wanted to revive a trolley on Brooklyn’s waterfront, and had some old cars from different places parked on a track in back of what became Fairway in Red Hook. The city blocked him, and now the cars (which were probably damaged in the Sandy flooding) were taken, and have been shipped off to a New England museum that doesn’t want to keep them, and might scrap them. (I heard part of it was him being difficult somehow, but it’s hard to know, the way both individuals and systems [composed of individuals making deals with each other] can be. Likewise, there were plans for a 42nd St. trolley that gained steam for awhile in the 90’s, but was continuously blocked, and then dropped).
Even entertainment has its fixed systems, with giant media empires, and (unlike many other industries) lavish treatement for even their “workers”; the “celebrities” we see on the screen. What began making me aware of this nature of “systems” is how every year, as sure as the natural “seasons” of earth, we have a pro football season, ending in a huge “Superbowl”, and Major League Baseball season ending in its “World Series”, a pro basketball and hockey season ending in their playoffs, large screen films ending in the “Oscars”, small screen (TV) seasons ending in the “Emmys”, and the music industry, with its “Grammys”. All, huge events with red carpets, tremendous recognition, and expensive parties afterward, and not even talking about the monetary reward.
The industries even benefit each other. One year, when a Superbowl winner is asked what he and his family are going to do to celebrate, and he says “I’m going to Disneyworld“, that now becomes a fad, to the point that it’s probably a required (i.e. expected) part of the winning. So the huge Disney empire (that continues to grow, through acquisition of other already huge entertainment empires) also automatically benefits from the NFL season.
What started me thinking of this, is that occasionally, these institutions (like others) are threatened by strikes. The workers (whether players, actors, etc.) already make something on a level of the CEO’s of other companies, but it becomes a tug of war as the CEO’s of their own institutions give themselves even more, and the sports/entertainment unions figure they should have a bigger cut as well. (And around and around it goes). But when each of the major sports leagues at different times threatened to cancel the seasons, back in the 80’s, they always managed to resolve the dispute before any more than the first few games were canceled.
The point for me, was, as I was coming of age and having to decide on a career path, and being warned that if I didn’t make the right choices, I might totally fail and become one of the homeless I would pass by in the subway, and the economy was going up and down making things difficult at times for all of the middle class; was that for those in these industries (from the executives to the entertainers themselves), their source of not only income, but also fame was “solid”, in a way it’s not for most other people, for whom survival is filled with uncertainty. (Seeing how all of these media events benefit all the individuals and corporations involved, while most of the rest of us go back to our unseen, sometimes even unrecognized weekly struggle to make ends meet).
Conservative pundits defend the gross economic inequality of this on the premise that the CEO’s and entertainers alike all “produce value” (where the average worker who only “does his 40 hours a week and goes home”, supposedly does not). So in addition to all the money, fame and power, they also get a lot of (rather loud) justification. But at the end of the day, these are all still flesh and blood people, like you and me (as can be seen, when their personal lives get broadcast to the world).
Even within institutions, the social atmosphere is a “system” of its own, where there is what’s called “personal politics”, and “playing the game”, and “cliques”, with an “in crowd” and “out crowd”. It’s impossible to have an environment where everyone gets along and does what they’re supposed to, without rubbing others the wrong way, and responding in a self-defensive way, often relying on the strength of group dynamics.
Also, where I am, different departments play politics, claiming to “own” whatever they’re in charge of (whether the tracks, car equipment, etc.) yet are quick to pass the buck to each other (with Operations usually guilty before proven innocent) and not get “charged” for incidents that happen.
The Immutability of “Systems” by Individuals
Then, the incredible difficulty of trying to challenge things like this. Robert Reich, Beyond Outrage, points out that legislators will not listen to an individual, but rather to a group. (I realized this when trying to get something done about the horrible transit connections in my area, or questioning certain rules and practices once I got into the system. The former situation managed to be addressed when later administrations decided to increase L service and created the current M service through midtown. With the latter, it’s futile, as management continues to pile on more rules, tighten up the ones that already exist, and beef up enforcement of even the most trivial points).
Just think of how the average person becomes the “middle man”, with criminals on one side, and authorities or other institutions on the other side. The criminals (including ones as advanced as computer hackers) already make things hard for us, but then the authorities (government, police, etc., or companies and banks we use) begin tightening up “security”, which is of course, for “our own protection”, but then means more rules, restrictions, including something like new and more complicated passwords and other “hoops” we must jump through, etc.
Who do you really get mad at? The company or government is only looking out for our own good. The criminal is wrong, but that’s what they do, and there’s nothing you can do about it, except to try to catch him, and then there are endless others who will take his place. So they in effect are apart of a “system” of their own, which is usually not organized, but is keyed into a natural drive, like the more “official” systems are. They may be thwarted when a new security measure is in place, but with some hackers, I wonder if they enjoy the challenge of cracking the new code. But for the average person in the middle, life is getting harder and more complicated, from both ends. (Isn’t it just “maddening” sometimes? Sometimes it feels like the criminals and authorities are all in it together, against us. It’s possible sometimes, like I often wonder if companies hire hackers to create a problem, which the company then sells a solution to, usually at a ridiculous price).
On one hand, the old systems of slavery and Jim Crow seemed insurmountable, and Christians then began using the religious concepts to tell the victims to let go and “just trust God”. But the people were able to put together a system (and getting whites in positions of power onboard), that eventually toppled the institution. The same with labor unions.
(So it can be hard for an individual to know when a controlling system can be fought, or whether you can only “let go”, but that is when we’re usually offered the “Serenity Prayer”; including even by non-religious sources at times).
Today, in contrast, with both of these movements having lost steam but with power still sorely unbalanced in ways, I find myself wondering what to do when all the people around me (in the neighborhood, or at work) just “go with” everything, and I’m the only one who sees other possibilities to make things better, or believes it’s important enough to try. (With temperament, and SJ “Guardian” [Melancholy in Control] being the dominant one in this society, especially in the black community, and large black environments such as civil service, they end up as literal “guardians” of the powers that be; even those on the bottom who suffer the same difficulties I do. Just as long as it’s an authorized “concrete” [practical] structure that fits the introverted Sensing perspective; just “do what you have to do, and move on”).
In this vein, even our responses to the larger “systems” fall into “systems” of their own. (One is the unions, as mentioned above).
Black activism, taking an S perspective, itemizes acts or instances of racism, and goes after those directly. I, taking an N perspective, see the instances as part of a bigger picture, often not being addressed. So when others do finally turn to an N perspective, it is usually idealized solutions (reparations, more government action, etc.), but again, misses the whole picture (such as the “backlash” made to paint the demands as unjust and irresponsible, which can damage the whole cause in the eyes of those you want to support you. How are you going to ask for more things from a nation already blaming you for “taking” too much, often through coded “dog whistling” rhetoric? You have to challenge and disprove that first, before you prove your demands are valid).
Political ideals such as Marxism and capitalism don’t work, in practice, because of the “system” of nature. We (especially Christians, arguing for “sinful human nature”) leveled this against Marxism when Soviet Communism fell, in the same breath as pitching the ideals of “the market”, and how we should allow those at the top to prosper more, and then it would all “trickle down”; yet it obviously hasn’t worked out that way, leading its advocates to try to place blame elsewhere. When forced to acknowledge greed in the system, it was blamed on everyone else: the “Marxists” themselves, and their “influences”, or just the plain “godlessness” of post-50’s America, when the godless “humanists” and the sexual revolution (right alongside the Marxists) took over. They would then point out that “freedom” (which the morally “godless” could all appeal to), was “freedom to do what’s right”, meaning it’s only for “the godly”.
So it seemed capitalism would only work properly under a Christian system, and with a little moral push (toward behaving according to “Christian morality”). Hence, some Christian leaders claiming only “Judeo-Christians” should run the country, and of course, the demand for Christianity to be enforced, to varying degrees (and blaming people turning from it for all our problems).
But now, you’re in the same place as the Marxists. Marx’s error was his “atheism”, and the the assumption that man was basically “good” (denying “sinfulness”), and with a little push, could create a utopia. So American Christians thought the same thing, basically. An ideal to create a nearly perfect “godly kingdom”, that sounded good in theory, yet just as much as the atheists, negated human sin. It loudly called out human “sin” in culture, yet split it off as some foreign corruption that was not really (originally) inherent in American “culture” itself. It was Darwin, Marx and Freud’s fault (politically), or blacks, or Jews, or whoever else they blamed.
Regardless, even if it was those groups’ fault, you can’t get rid of them (or if you do entertain something like that, that’s basically what led to Hitler’s solution), so you have to take it into consideration. (And let’s not even entertain that it’s only those groups; it’s really everyone, and Christians are the ones who should have known better than the Marxists they excoriated, but instead thought that just their [or “traditional American culture”] being Christians completely eliminated their own sinfulness).
So what happens, in practice, with these ideals, is that they only end up “working” for those on top of the “systems” they create (whether “big government” beureaucrats, or “big business” tycoons). The “ivory tower“, basically. (Even when those systems fail, the leaders often, more increasingly, walk away wth “golden parachutes”, if not even bonuses!) Everyone else, who looks up to these systems, ends up not having their concerns addressed (and then often, as in today’s political climate, just blaming and fighting each other, and getting nowhere. That was always the goal in US politics, and it ends up being all the masses can do, while the leaders reap the benefits of control).
And then, at the end of the day, the leaders of these systems are still really individuals [after all], and if they can sell out the company (megamergers and then globalism. Like I notice an international supermarket chain, Aldi, on the rise, as many of the US chains have merged or folded. Or all the black-created and owned entertainment companies that sold out to the media giants. Or recently, both Lucas and Henson selling out their big popular franchises to the already huge Disney), and while that looks like a “loss” (as it usually is for displaced workers), it’s really a big gain for the individuals (or at least their estates), financially.
The why and the how of navigating though this
Nature is geared toward “systems” or conglomerations of objects, and disfavors individuals (trying to stand on their own). That can be lifeless matter, such as a smaller comet being flung about by the gravity of larger planets or stars. Or it can be people; either social or administrative units.
In dividing our perception of reality, there’s the “Sensory” (tangible) perspective, and the iNtuitive (intangible, you can’t touch the actual item, like with physical objects) perspective. Nature is, at it roots, Sensory or “concrete”. It’s all the matter and energy in the physical universe, and how it all works together. Ideas and theories are called “abstract”. It’s our speculation on what’s out there and how it works. (Since both deal with “how things work” rather than “how we feel” about them, then it also shows nature is geared toward a Thinking rather than a Feeling perspective, which is the other dimension of cognitive perspectives, and much of the arguments in favor of political and economic power are clearly T perspectives).
So this is why science, though dealing in “theory”, will demand “empirical” (practically, physically tested) evidence to consider it a likely valid theory. The desire is for the opposite poles, such as S and N, to be united (called “coniunctio”). So if someone comes with a wild N “idea”, and there’s no “S” evidence for it, it will be regarded as just a wild idea or fantasy. (This is why religion, and even S/N/T/F cognitive typology itself, are not considered scientific, though they try to be).
It’s also why, as mentioned above, systems like Marxism and capitalism haven’t worked, as idealized. Actual, practical nature plays them out with results different from what their conceivers promised. Both supposedly create a level playing field, in one way or the other, but both ignore the differences in individuals, and how some will find ways to exploit the system and rise above others, and then turn all the benefit toward themselves, and the expense toward the “subjects” who have not climbed up so. Then, when the system has failed, or is in the process of failing, the leaders don’t see it that way. It still has “worked”, for them. They then must blame outside forces for all the misery that lies beneath them.
So an institutional body like a company or family is technically “abstract” (as an intangible unit), but is made “concrete” through being composed of tangible people, and then its practical effects in the world. And these effects are at the center of what we are discussing.
As we start out as individuals, each person, in order to get to the top of the system, has to first submit to it, on the bottom where he doesn’t have the power. This may even begin before entering the system, as you may have to expend effort to impress its gatekeepers enough to get in in the first place.
This principle is what leads to the whole “delayed gratification” and “bootstraps” philosophy. What many ignore, however, is that this is not necessarily the same for everyone. Some are more geared no this, where it’s not even really delaying gratification at all, but rather possibly even indulging it. (Think, “I love the challenge!”). Yet what people have been doing in both “motivational” speaking and even political rhetoric, is making it a matter of “character“, so that those who fail deserve it, while thile those who succeed were just “better” and deserve to suppress those beneath them. This is what leds to their influence becoming so “godlike”.
“Talent” is about exploiting the tangible world (your own abilities, and the opportunities that arise). I used to hear it explained as putting yourself in the place where people will gravitate to you. (That’s probably the backbone of How To Win Friends and Influence People, and all the other “self-help” books. This ties into the topic I was addressing here: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/laws-of-the-universe-objectivism-and-tough-talk-or-why-im-critical-of-secular-self-help )
This is what the legal industry (lawyers) has done, for instance, along with every other entertainer or entrepreneur or politician with a nice sounding idea.
This is rewarded and respected in society, while those who fall from their own mistakes, or even legitimtate limitations (often ignored and dismissed as “excuses” in the tough-talking “motivational speaking” culture), can be punished dearly, particularly financially. The more I read conservative social media posts and especially the comments, the more I see how much they really believe this. Any attempt to make others “equal” is deemed “cheapening” everything and taking away from everyone else. They really believe the weak should be allowed to fail (and blamed on their own lack of character), and the strong gain as much power over others as they possibly can (which they don’t realize might mean their subjection to someone else, but they don’t see these “good” heroes of theirs ever taking their freedoms away like that).
This is Darwinian “natural selection” or the “law of the jungle“, dressed up in “modern” technological “civilization”. (Which they then use to judge so-called “backwards” civilizations, such as the literal “jungle” itself, or metaphorical “jungles” like the “concrete jungles” of urban streets; not realizing it’s all the same principles governing the different environments).
Slavery and land conquest can and have been justified with this. “We were diligent, they were backwards and lazy. So look, we actually made life better for all, and saved them from their tribal lifestyle”. This rationale generally passes with nearly everyone (except the descendants of the conquered or enslaved people, and some conscientious “bleeding hearts” who can’t bring themselves to believe that, yet are usually still relatively passive in challenging it). In today’s financial hardships, it’s not being “responsible” enough, or maybe even not working hard enough, or at least not aspiring high enough.
While no one will say they want slavery back, if the weak (including maybe, some people who may have made mistakes or blew opportunities) should be allowed to fail, meaning no real money, no real job, and especially, no assistance, then what should be done with them? Slavery would be the perfect answer (and with the current “dog whistle” style of “use ‘facts‘ to imply the goal without having to actually say it, or even being able to deny it”; this is what it all points to).
Typologically, exploiting the current environment comes easiest for those preferring what’s been dubbed the “Realizing Awareness” perpective, which is a cognitive tandem of extraverted Sensing (SP types; what’s tangible in the immediate environment) and introverted iNtuition (NJ types; attention to unconscious impressions, which often give a sense of what will happen). The most entrepreneurial of the types are the pure Choleric ENTJ, and the Choleric Sanguine ESTP. Their introverted counterparts will also be good at it in a less aggressive fashion, as well as the pure Sanguine ESFP, whose “personal” (F) focus will be able to move a lot of people, through less serious means such as socialization or entertainment.
These are the perspectives that set in motion the whole “rugged individual” mindset.
“Inquiring Awareness” types include the introverted Sensing (SJ types) “Guardians” who are more about creating and maintaining the practical structures founded upon the ground the others have scouted out, taken and established. STJ’s in particular (SJ with Thinking), see that the “systems”, whether they like everything about them or not, match what they know to be certain in the world, and can also easily learn to “put themselves into the place they need to be” to succeed. (Where I’m an extraverted iNtuitive [NP], which is good at seeing possibilities in the environment, and so figuring there can be other ways than what everyone has settled for, but the ideas may not always be practically effective, and I may not know as much how to implement them).
So I came to realize that a lot of the problems I’ve complained of in life, from dealing with peers as a kid, to being in either the IOS or OBS positions now, are from always “walking to the beat of my own drum”, and not being secure in one of these social or administrative systems. (e.g. no one will pick on you if you’re a respected part of a group)
(It seems nature itself favors domination, as we’re even told we only hurt ourselves if we don’t accept things, forgive, etc. So it seems the most healthiest state is a submissive subject.
The universe is basically a “violent place”. From all of this, Carl Sagan came to realize, that if there is life out in the universe, it will likely be the same old thing; struggle for survival and power. It might not be good for us to ever make contact, or even for them to know we’re here, for if they’re stronger or more advanced, they’ll just conquer or destroy us. Just as people did here on earth upon crossing seas rather than space).
When complaining of cheaply made stuff, I would recall how strict these companies are on the hiring process, where your appearance and resume or application have to be spotless. One single wrinkle, or misspelled word (or even an outmoded style, as these things change quickly) could get you passed by.
I figured they could be that meticulous on the person trying to get in, but not on the products they put out there, and then, once in, and moved to the top, then the person could make decisions like this and enjoy the benefits of the profits gained from cost-cutting measures like planned obsolescence. (And also, outright corruption).
I would think of how when products are cheaply made (on the design level, not the assembly line worker’s fault, and is passed off like that for sale) no one takes it to the designer or other executive and stands over them saying “this is a half-a__ job!”, like parents and bosses (including those leaders themselves). Then, I began slowly realizing that it’s the “cover” of the “company” that protects any individual making those decisions that produce those things from any individual scrutiny like that.
But the applicant or interviewee comes in as an individual (IOS). Once joining the company, and especially moving up (from IBS to ITS), then “the company”, including all the other decision makers, bears the responsibility for those decisions. And even then, the “market” often bears the responsibility for what companies do. And this is not even a group of people anymore, but a whole system including consumers themselves, and majority demands, etc.
So it’s like there’s no individual to even blame; it just “is”. (Making their position seem Godlike; He’s the one who claims “I AM that I am”; so it’s like why does it seem like men and their systems take on that title?) Hearing political conservatives justify everything “capitalism” does with “the market”, it just sounded like the grownup analogue of children justifying some bad behavior with “but everybody’s doing it”. (This excuse often doesn’t work for them, being individuals at the bottom of the family unit, but for big companies, it’s a totally different story).
It raises feelings of jealousy (which conservatives quickly call out, in all opposition to inequality), that people in positions of power can end up “justified” in doing the same sort of things (being hurtful or unconsiderate to others) that many of us have been chastized for since childhood.
(I would say, if it’s nature, then it’s nature, but don’t then try to blame those who haven’t made, it, and then credit it to yourself as “integrity” which is part of the “character” we are supposed to bring into our participation with “nature”).
Justice and Compensation as the solution?
In a world of “give and take” (i.e. “legalism”, whether religious or otherwise), our actions need to be “justified”, to ward off claims of wrong by others. Of course, this often does get projected onto God, where it’s assumed [“if he’s real”], He too cannot condemn if we can provide sufficient natural justification for our actions).
So it seems our main drives in life are not just survival (and reproduction) instincts, but also justification for the way they live these instincts out.
When first becoming a Christian, and totally bewildered about “the way the world goes”, and God’s role in it, in addition to my own frustrations, many would always point to the “final judgment”, even citing scripture passages like Psalms 37 and 73 and especially Deuteronomy 32:35/Romans 12:19. God is going to pay all of them back, in Hell. (The perpetrators will “get theirs” in the afterlife).
That did provide a bit of solace in the very beginning, but soon, it started seeming not totally right. The disciples asked Christ to instantly destroy an unrepentant city, “But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, ‘You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them’.” (Luke 9:55-6). Let’s not forget forgiving the crucifiers, right from the Cross! I knew, from His compassion toward “sinners”, and how we were supposed to be like Him, that we were not supposed to be gloating on others’ ensuing destruction. But that was what was offered as our primary solace. And then, on the other hand, if you complained and demanded “justice” too much (to where they ran out of answers), some would begin telling you “well, if you got justice, you would go to Hell too”. It was mind-numbing! (Yet, ultimately true, yet it was overall such a mixed message!)
Then, of course, the offender could always repent, and would not suffer judgment at all. For the “saved” who wrong us, we surmised on “loss of rewards” at “the judgment seat of Christ”, based on a couple of passages, and I realized that too was not right.
(And then, with the “Fulfilled” view, judgment is all moot. Christ took it all on, as opposed to “requiring” something of us which was seen in the NT because it was an overlap of the ages of Law and Grace).
In both scripture, and even some other philosophies, maturity comes from adopting grace toward others, because you are essentially the same as they are, and just as much a sinner (Christ was the one exception, who was not even a sinner, and really didn’t deserve death, but even from that position, forgave those who put Him to death, and the rest of us necessitating Him be put to death in the first place). This was the whole point of the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35).
Even Jung, with his discussions of the unconscious, and “projection”, stated: “If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick Shadow [all his own evil, especially as much of it is forced into unconsciousness]. Such a man…is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself”. http://www.shadowdance.com/cgjung/cgjung.html
This will be part of developing the “integrity” that is supposed to compensate for “nature”.
So all of this I had to keep in mind, as I would do the same thing in pointing at conservatives or the power structure as “they”; and that’s just my public writings. You also had my private thoughts or voicing of frustrations of life to friends and family that I don’t post here.
Blame is an integral part of the knowledge of good and evil. Evil is the inequity of someone violating you somehow, where they now “owe” something (“debt”. Basically, they’ve “taken” something wrongfully, and now should “give” back). So blame is something that has to go in getting over the “fallen” dualistic thinking of the knowledge of good and evil.
(Though this raises a question of when to draw a line in our dealings with others, so that others do not take advantage of this. This is why religion keeps turning back to Law, from grace; because they fear it will lead to total lawlessness. I also find it quite hard to think this way, when there are so many people imposing their demands on you, and punishments of one sort or another when not met. I realize that I too end up falling into wishing God’s Law and fear of judgement should be used to impose order on life, by reining in power).
So eventually, when remembering those promises of divine vengeance, I would realize the people are really doing the same things I might likely do if I were in the same place.
This is why Jesus teaches not to judge lest we be judged, and Paul teaches all have sinned.1.
Wishing retribution on those who cause us pain does no good, for they are following “nature” (whether deliberate acts, or unwitting) just like we still follow nature (even if “converted” or “living in faith”. Those promises we read of were not for us to wish eternal evil on others, but for those being persecuted under the Law. Those who were judging them by the Law would be judged themselves (by that Law they were appealing to) when that system was finally brought down shortly).
Remembering Philip Yancey’s pointing ahead to “the end of time, when we have attained God’s level of viewing, after every evil has been punished or forgiven, every illness healed and the entire universe restored—only then will fairness reign. Then we will understand what role is played by evil, and by the Fall, and by natural law, in an ‘unfair’ event like the death of a child”. (Disappointment With God, p. 200 hard cover, 184 Amazon version), I’ve often tried to imagine what this will be like. (There’s been an awful lot of speculation, on stuff like “God doing something through this”, and then, when that doesn’t satisfy the questioner, as Yancey concludes “Until then, we cannot know, and can only trust in a God who does know”).
Still, it’s easy to imagine the powerful going before God, and ultimately, they would plead that they, essentially, only “did what they had to do”, and that it wasn’t just them, but others’ decisions as well.
Again, it’s not them as individuals, it’s the systems they were in. God can punish them for being in the system to begin with (like the whole “Mark of the Beast” premise, which in the Fulfilled view was something that occurred in the end of the Old Covenant “age” shortly after the prophecy was made).
So (in such a case), God could still judge purely on the Law; based on “the soul that sins, dies” regardless of whether “everybody’s doing it” or “I can’t help it”, which that is essentially pleading, as evangelical Christians would argue. But then that would mean everyone should be lost. (Including those who’ve ‘met the requirement’ of “faith”, which in most views, still involves effort, and is in practice, not perfect). This is why we are not to be counting on others’ condemnation as some sort of compensation for us.
And the “general revelation” Christians argue (based on Romans 1:19-20), rather than proving against this, seems to prove that they did the right thing, for survival. (If “the creation of the world”, which is “clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” refers to physical nature, as is being assumed, proves something like unbelief or homosexuality is wrong ⦅as is it is commonly used to argue against⦆, then that same “nature” also seems to favor heterosexual “fornication” or “adultery” ⦅for a man’s seed to spread as far and wide as possible⦆, and murder and greed).
At this point, the Christians will abandon a purely “nature” argument, arguing it is “fallen”, and then turn to the other apparent argument of the chapter; that every one “knows” the truth, via the “conscience”.
But the “little voice” of conscience and cries of humanity (which are dismissed anyway by those abusing power; and are often mixed in with the other numerous “voices” in our heads) are not strong enough to counter the pull of nature. (Hence, any salvation that relies on human choice is bad news, not good news).
The social, political or economic toughsters all often have “the facts” on their side, so only after this life, then they’ll be clearly shown they were wrong and that “they should have known better”?
(The true context of the passage is an instance of special revelation ⦅where both “nature” and “conscience” are forms of “general” revelation, though some can try to argue for supposed individualized “speaking to the conscience” instances that would technically be forms of “special” revelation. They also try to argue “if you develop a strong relationship with God through prayer and regular Bible study, you come to recognize the true voice of the Spirit”, but we’re talking about people who have not even begun to move to such a place⦆. It’s referring to the Israelites and what God “showed” them through a history of epiphanies, the giving of the Law and the covenant, and His presence in the Temple system. It was people who once knew God, and then became “darkened”, where the common understanding has man defaulting to not “knowing” Him).
And again, this is all the “unsaved”. What about the “good Christian past” many Christians have upheld as the gold standard we have fallen away from? When churches used scripture to proclaim themselves as the new “chosen” nation, and then proceeded to emulate specific things in the Old Testament (which was supposedly superseded, in other aspects of Christian practice), such as conquering “pagan” nations. Then, taking another group as slaves, and because this contradicted their own principles of “freedom” and “every man created equally”, they concluded they were only 3/5ths human. And then, the divide and conquer tactics used by the rich, which employed making everyone fear the freed slaves (employing “facts” of their “savagery” and proclivity to crime and sloth); this tactic continuing through Civil Rights, and, basically, down to the present, in “dog whistling” rhetoric.
For so many Christians to continue to get caught up in this mindset, in politics— For fundamentalists to have caused such a stir for over a century over a “literal reading of Genesis”, yet misread a chapter in it on a “curse”, and who it applies to today, and who uttered it in the first place— To condemn pride, “individualism” and “Darwinism”, yet loudly favor a rugged individualist “Social Darwinism” economical philosophy that blames the poor for their own plight, while assuming the rich all got there through superior character— To coldly dismiss the poor or minorities as “whining” with no good cause, while themselves complaining to have had all their freedoms taken away, and being oppressed by the liberals they insist are giving everything to these undeserving groups— To uphold the “propriety” of past culture, upbraid modern culture for lacking in it, but yet without thinking adopt wholesale “political incorrectness” to the point that being offensive to others is now some sort of good thing; a virtue even, and that it’s modern society that is “too sensitive” (see https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/why-grace-doesnt-seem-to-make-anyone-nice/#comment-3508)— Their previous belief, from the scripture, that we must respect our political leaders, but then saying all sorts of “unchristian” things about President Obama— To condemn both evolution and psychology as “secular humanism”, while actually living out the very things (survivalism, projection, etc.) those theories teach—
What’s it going to be like for them to wake up before Christ, and (whether fulfilled view, or regular evangelical theology, which says they’re saved by grace because of their “faith” turns out to have been the truth) see all of this stuff was wrong. (Some you ask today, when pressed, might respond “well, many of them might not really be saved”, but this gets into judging by something we really can’t know, and highlights the need for salvation to truly be by grace, and not our efforts, including our “choices”, because it seems all of us are in the position of those who crucified Christ, in “knowing not what we do”. Again, with “general revelation” or “conscience”, all “believers” could still be condemned as not doing enough to even “prove” they’re “regenerated”, if regeneration is about behavior).
So for all people, I often wonder if they’ll just say “sorry“. If forced to see those they hurt, what else could they really say, but “sorry” (and again, that they only did what they thought they had to do, or thought was right, or they couldn’t help it, etc.)
The detriment of “systems” on livelihood
Recently becoming familiar with the entire career of Steely Dan, songwriters Becker and Fagen were apart of that “adornment” (and well respected; they’re even in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!) who nevertheless were rather disillusioned with that very “system” they were apart of, namely the entertainment industry. This was even reflected in some of their songs. I particularly took note of the catchy chorus of “Caves of Altimira”, portraying a simpler time, in pre-history, when art was more genuine and not contrived and controlled:
“Before the Fall, when they wrote it on the wall; when there wasn’t even any Hollywood; they heard the call, and they wrote it on the wall, but you and me, we understood”.
(The song was one of several written and demo’d before the band got their first record deal, and so likely reflected the difficulty they faced trying to sell themselves to get into the industry in the first place, and they seemed to remain put off by the industry even down to present years, with the aptly named new millennium come-back title “Two Against Nature“).
I also then ran across articles suggesting the “Fall” represents the transition from “hunter-gatherer” to agriculture (farming), which marked the beginning of “private property”, and thus “equity” or “give and take”. This may be a very liberal reading of Genesis, but you can see where it’s heading right to: the “knowledge of good and evil”!
This shows how “systems” of even things like arts and entertainment (Hollywood, etc.) kill creativity. (There’s a saying, “God creates it; the Devil says ‘form an organization for it’”. Clearly most evident in religion itself).
Even with “sainthood”, which was something automatically granted any follower of Christ (who were “sanctified”, meaning covered by Christ’s holiness), it soon became a title bestowed only onto certain leaders, and the Church eventually made a set of rules that have to be voted on after the person has died (including them performing a miracle), with the latest ongoing example of course being Mother Teresa. Let’s not even go into the Church itself becoming a big government or amalgam of smaller corporations, and the “officers” (pastors, bishops, etc) become paid professionals!
Even in something purely sentimental, like the recently celebrated Groundhog Day, the original premise was that the groundhog would happen to come out and see his shadow, get scared and run back in. When this was made an annual tradition, there was no guarantee he would come out on his own. So they began pulling him out (one year, the mayor even got bit from this!) and in the original Punxsatawney location, I hear they now have an elevator to bring him out.
Since humans are completely controlling his every move, I wonder how they even determine whether he saw his shadow or not (I figure no matter what, he’ll always be trying to get back into the hole, when being manhandled like that). I wondered what was the point of even maintaining this tradition, then.
Systems may create more “safety” or “efficiency”, but then there becomes less room to breathe, as everything is micromanaged. Then, the more people, the bigger the systems, and the more “red tape”. It’s why there’s so much progress-blocking in NYC, and why it’s so hard to build new transportation infrastructure, and likely why we blew the 2012 Olympics, while LA could host it before, and I think I heard is in the bidding for it again. One law demands making environments friendlier for the physically disabled, but then this law means you can’t make a simple modification for something like a part of the subway (such as connecting the Jay St. and Metrotech ⦅Lawrence St.⦆ subway stations, which apparently were only separated by a wall; and the similar Broadway-Lafayette and Bleecker St. project), without adding elevators, and so what could have been a small project that could be done in no time, becomes major construction, that is expensive, hard to design and thus often gets pushed back for years. (There’s also supposed to be a passage under 42nd St. joining the 6th Ave line to the Times Square complex, which tenants in the new 1 Bryant Park tower it was built in conjunction with, were promised, but has not been finished on the Times Square side by MTA, who probably have to reconfigure everything near the shuttle platform, and so remains completely unused).
These sorts of laws (obviously based on good intentions, and so can’t be completely knocked) are broad, “one size fits all” mandates, that apparently do not allow any “line-item” form of consideration, where it could be waived for specific situations.
These principles are also why socialism works better in smaller European countries, but might not work as well here. So we end up, in political debate, having to choose between making things better for others at the cost of collective inconvenience and lack of freedom, or an efficient “rugged individualism” (that only benefits a few) at the cost of individualized hardship.
In either case, it becomes what I call the “Ice Age”, where everything becomes more “scarce”, and money/resources are hoarded, as if we were in a frozen wilderness. We can see the “backlash” effect this is having all across the board in today’s political scene: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-people-really-support-trump-and-sanders_us_56be3c46e4b0b40245c6a159 (“Watch Corporate America Turn A Room Full Of Workers Into Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump Supporters Establishment politicians still don’t understand.“)
So what is the meaning of all this?
What really can we do about any of this? (Has been taking me time to even figure where to go from here with this article. And makes it seem these “systems”, or “nature” itself is so immutable, but then that is supposed to be one of God’s attributes, so what gives with that?)
With the Bible-based religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and all the sectarian variants within them), it’s usually a matter of just have “faith” that God will end it somehow; or if nothing else, you’ll eventually die and go to a better place —if you meet certain requirements. So in the meantime, do good and “grow” in behavior and character.
I had noticed in the Jungian writer Robert Johnson’s Living the Unlived Life p.200-1, he speaks of “purpose” in life as “Building God’s Cathedral”, with a story of two workers building the Chartres Cathedral. One just sees himself as “pushing a wheelbarrow”, and the other sees himself “doing the work of God”, in doing his part in building the cathedral. “The same activity, but very different levels of awareness”. One man “has invested his work fatefully—connected to a greater purpose—and therefore rendered his life meaningful. It is not what you do in life that is most important; rather it’s a questions of what consciousness you bring to the activity”. Of course, this is about “attitude” in experiencing the difficulties of daily life, which is the theme of both Christian teaching and secular “self-help”.
I think in either case, this “purpose” is at best very cloudy, and at worst, totally speculatory and fanciful. (Johnson does cite someone as saying “the chief obstacle to heaven is our ideas about heaven”). Religions use their scriptures, and for Christianity, “building the Cathedral” would be generally doing your part in “building God’s Kingdom”, which is generally understood as winning more souls for Heaven instead of Hell when they die (and may include acts of service, etc.) It also includes supporting the people or infrastructure winning souls, such as “serving” in Church. For some variations, it’s trying to build a literal kingdom here on earth, usually through “taking back” the culture and implementing divine Law.
Both are “futurist”, but vary in being either pre- or post-/a- milennial. Both fail to realize that the Law was passing away THEN, not now, and so assumed the descriptions of this “kingdom” in places like Revelation are this future and/or otherworld place that is supposed to be our incentive to both suffer in life as we do our part to fulfill “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. Even taking that literally, it was unclear as to what it really is, but we are ensured “we’ll just be in a state of bliss; ‘eye has not seen nor ear heard’ what this is like”.
After a while, when you’re still not there, and still faced with the day to day troubles of this world, what good does that do? It’s not going to pay the bills. But still, they tell you this should “take your mind off” of these things. (Mind you, likely some pastor or teacher who is himself part of an organized “system” that makes sure his living is taken care of, and if not, puts pressure on supporters such as the everyday “lay” people in the church).
Johnson also speaks of “creative suffering” [“suffer” as in “allow” like used in Shakespeare —or the KJV], which is “saying yes to what is” and to “stop fighting it, and instead to affirm it and to affirm your life” (202-3). “Such experience is redemptive in that it leads to healing and self-knowledge. If you can acknowledge what is true in your life, looking at it with objectivity and intelligence, you are getting closer to enlightenment, as your escape mechanism is diminished. By stating what is at any moment, with complete honesty and sincerity, you become conscious of it.” When looking at your past, it should be “in a reflective, honest manner, not idealizing or judging it. It is what it is. Just state what has been true for you and what is true now”. (p.244) When “beset by a seemingly irresolvable contradiction…hold these oppositions in your mind without immediately jumping to claim one as the ‘good'” (p.106) [i.e. again, no “judging”].
Sounding much like many Christian teachers (especially when discussing “Christ’s yoke” and “casting all your cares on Him”), he speaks of taking “half the ‘burden'” from a person suffering something, by taking the “rebellion” but leaving “the situation”, which they still have to bear or “work to deal with”. (p205). Again, “When you stop fighting your situation, you still have the situation but you no longer have the struggle to cope with. This is to stop wounding yourself on the jailhouse bars of reality—to stop complaining about what is”.
This is supposed to be eliminating the “duality” we split reality to (which includes the “knowledge of good and evil”, of course), but it to me seems to all the more favor the division of the poles of two of those dimensions: ST – What IS (S) CORRECT (T). And the T-“correct” in fact being a judgment! He means don’t judge it negatively, which is T-“incorrect” or F-“bad”. He says don’t “idealize”, which would be a positive F “good” judgment (with an N “concept” perspective), so it seems “true” is being seen as T-“neutral” and just associated with S at this point. But me, having a T-dominant ego, I can’t help seeing this in terms of a T judgment, which appears to slant it toward an unfavorable viewpoint. (Then an unconsciously controlled negative F judgment [“dislike”] comes along with it). So in my view, saying things I don’t like are not only a matter of what “is”, but also, “right“.
I wonder if I just see it this way, because of being an N (with individualized rather than environmentalized Thinking), and if there is a different challenge for S’s; perhaps dealing with the abstract meaning of the “big picture”. I notice a lot of them “talk the talk”, but at the end of the day, are really no more “content” in life than I am.
In Beebe’s terms, this development is all connected with “integrity”. The purpose of integrity is supposedly to deal with the issue of “character” represented by the archetype known as the “Demonic” (which is a particular ego state, that perceives and defends us against destruction). To follow nature purely (without “integrity”), in which we act out the drive for survival it produces, also constellates the Demonic Personality Complex, which represents the ego’s fear of destruction, which then all the more fires up our drive for survival, leading to a vicious cycle.
(So Beebe says the purpose of integrity [“in depth”] is to deal with this, and make it more supportive. The Demon is about ego’s fear of destruction, while the Senex/Crone is about the desire to have an ego in the first place. So both of these complexes will often work together [one on the “spine” dealing with the ego itself, and the other on the “arm”, dealing with others], representing the dominant attitude “face” [extraversion or introversion] in the “[typological] shadow”).
I could see, where people with “power”, who have likely gotten there by knowing how to exploit nature, but often, not with a lot of integrity (hard to maintain the way nature, with its pressure is just so relentless a lot of the time), are constantly worried about their existence being destroyed. So even with all their successes, those who have learned to play off of nature and benefit the most from it are usually plagued by a fear of destruction, such as everyone being out to get them and take what they have.
Whether it is conservative Americans worried about losing their nation and the formerly enslaved minorities taking over and “punishing” them for the past, or individual CEO’s and other leaders fearing everyone is trying to take their position. (Hence, Christians frequently teaching not to envy them, because “they’re not happy”).
So while the “cathedral” is obviously an analogue to “the Kingdom” in evangelical Christian religion, I was left wondering what it really is in Johnson’s analogy. I guess it’s supposed to be the “greater consciousness” itself, but I still wonder what that really means. (He says this embracing of what happens in daily life “implies taking the ego and investing it somewhere”, which of course, is what the “Cathedral” analogy is all about). Or what it’s really for, when this state is generally something only reached later in life, and we’ve already gone through most of our life with ego fighting everything, and now there isn’t much time left to enjoy whatever is the benefit of this “raised consciousness”.
I can’t help feeling there’s something unsettling about the notion that in the grand scheme of things (whether through Divine foreordination, or an impersonal grand matrix where cause and effect is basically set, and time simply “moves” through it, as some scientists hypothesize), a person was just “preordained” to be a lowly servant, while others were preordained to be greater, and they usually get all the credit, including for all the “hardships” of getting and maintaining the position, and its responsibilities. So then religion, again, promises it will be “made up” to you with “rewards” in Heaven. I couldn’t help thinking that is appealing just as much to ego, as trying to gain status here. (And then, many of those same Christians go on to throw their support behind earthly power structures like capitalism, with its criticism of the less fortunate as undeserving. So is God for this system or against it, or what?)
And since most of the “hardship” [or “work”] for most of us today is simply life being “what it is” (including simple “fate”, meaning “time and chance”, meaning events beyond our control, rather than the persecution being referred to in scriptural “promises”), what “reward” is there really for that? (What “value” does it produce, for anyone?) I guess it would have to be the “reward” of what we accomplish through whatever “growth” we gain through it, or for developing the right “attitude”. (I guess in that case, it’s a “reward” just to yourself. But then, to repeat, the whole notion of a “reward” [from others] is a purely egoic-focus, maintaining the legalistic, dualistic outlook of “give and take”. But it seems we really do need some of it as some sort of incentive to go on).
According to Jung, connection to the Self (the archtypal complex of psychic “wholeness”) leads to a greater sense of harmony both within oneself and with the world as a whole https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhAeXyVDDTc
So it seems the “ego-Self axis” this creates is more about practical living than some transcendant goal (like actual, total “individuation”), as one would assume.
Jung had also stated:
“…insofar as society is composed of de-individualized human beings, it is at the mercy of ruthless individualists” [sound familiar to the philosophy I’ve been mentioning in political rhetoric?] This leads to people forming groups and organizations —i.e. “systems”; and “it is just this banding together and the resultant extinction of the individual personality that makes it succumb so readily to a dictator.” [cont. “A million zeroes [added] together do not, unfortunately, add up to one”.]
This is so relevant today. A nation priding itself on “rugged individualism”, and loudly bashing weakness and neediness, and thus now rallying behind an aspiring leader who perfectly embodies this collective American persona, and as such, whose only strong point is his “politically incorrect” offensiveness! (Never mind what on earth he would actually do if he gets in, and the fact that he was not always really a conservative, which is more evidence that this is all a big “show” of “self-promotion”; like President Obama just implied here: http://www.aol.com/article/2016/02/17/mr-trump-will-not-be-president-obama-unloads-on-the-entire-r/21313916 . But that doesn’t matter; he preaches the hostility toward the “enemies” that all his followers have long wanted voiced —more than it already has been).
So despite all the language of “freedom” and “individualism”, this culture ends up quite conformist (as should be quite obvious in the idealization of the “glory days” of the nation’s “godly heritage” which they are always trying to go back to). This conformism stems from over-identification with the Persona, which is the archetype/complex (ego-state) representing the face we show to the outside world. Again, these are tough frontiersmen, but inside, they are fearful crybabies, because times are changing, and their previous control or dominance is rapidly eroding. And this internal “shadow” element surfaces in claims of losing their freedoms, or “Don’t tread on me”, even as they still have their American Dream, and then go on to lambaste others for “whining”.
In any case, I can’t help thinking all the teachings on growth look like they are pushing toward conformity to the “system” or “nature”. If you’re an individual who has not climbed the ladder of a system to have more sayso on things, then instead of fighting it, just “accept it as is”. Or, accept it as “God’s will”. Focus on your “purpose” in a larger “plan”, and that will help you cope. And that’s the common denominator in all the teachings. Developing coping skills.2
I guess that’s supposed to be all you can do. Again, an abstract (iNtuitive) solution to concrete (Sensate) problems. I, who prefer iNtuition then begin demanding Sensate (practical) solutions (being S is tertiary, and connected to an ego-state conveying a sense of vulnerability). And of course, logic (the dominant perspective of what’s “correct”, and according to my own individual standards, not what’s dictated by the environment). The only “practicality” and “logic” is “this is the way to cope”; definitely not the content of these coping strategies themselves. It’s not about “truthfulness”; it’s only “psyching yourself out” (I feel) with something you can’t even prove.
Given the way “nature” drives life to be “what it is” (and in a [physical] “universe” that obviously doesn’t care about human subjects), sometimes it seems like there’s no hope or use trying to make things better. But then, just the gesture of helping others is then supposed to be the highest virtue (and what some suggest might be the true “higher” purpose of pain in the first place).
I wish we could find a more truthful or verified method of coping with life (and that the Christian Gospel would not get mixed into this, which to me, falsifies it, after diluting it’s core message). It seems we can’t totally undo the effects of the knowledge of good and evil (which again, basically drives our systems of trade and justice) in this life. But to pacify people with different teachings (in which those with power always happen to benefit, in gaining what they’ve always wanted, and that’s silent submissive subjects, in one way or another or yet another) just keeps the ball rolling.
We should also have more compassion on other sufferers, and not be so quick to adopt “rugged individual” mindsets (which is yet another false coping method and way the ego “inflates” to act as more than it is) which we judge others by. Life is hard enough.
1 (One of the big problems in religion, is the whole “behavior change” theme, often called “sanctification” in Christian circles, where people claim “regeneration” ⦅which leads to “salvation”⦆ causes good behavior. So then any bad behavior gets suppressed, and then denied if it is still there, and so some people think now they are “different” from others ⦅i.e. no longer like the servant in the parable⦆, and can point and judge them, in the typical “us vs them” fashion, under the premise of leading them to salvation or “getting right with God”. ⦅Addressed here: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/an-example-of-the-legalism-of-the-running-the-race-teaching/#comment-3332⦆. So even though they preach “all have sinned”, in practice, those trying hard enough to suppress it, in Christ’s name, are now excluded. Instead of emulating Christ, they now emulate the prophets, but thinking that’s the same as emulating Christ. Or they emulate Him calling people “vipers”; not realizing these were not the people “reveling in sin”, but rather religious leaders hitting everyone else with the divine Law, just as they do. Also, Christ coming “not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”, with dissension in a household that contains both believers and unbelievers. But the “sword” is not what the believer wields against the unbeliever, using the Law which the unbeliever resists, as many assume. It was in that case, the “unbelievers” who were judging with the Law, which they choose over Christ, as you can still see today in many a homosexual person’s “coming out” story, with relatives ⦅this time thinking themselves the true “believers” in Christ⦆ who still wield the Bible against them as “the Law”, assuming it’s the same thing as “the offense of the Gospel”.
But now, grace has gone completely out the window, and this has caused most of the problems people have with religion and its controlling tactics).
2 This is what Christians need to beware; of turning the Gospel message into essentially the same thing, even in the very breath of condemning “godless humanism” and “pagan Jung”, etc. in favor of “Biblical terms” or “spirit-empowered growth” as many do! If “regeneration” or “sanctification by the Spirit” is just a regiment of decentralizing the ego (or “the big ‘I’ on the throne” as common old evangelistic and teaching illustrations put it), then it is basically competing with Jung and the other religions and philosophies, meaning it is on the same level, and will not be seen as any exclusive “truth”, or “THE way”, rather than simply [just another] “A way”.
There are passages that look like they are teaching the same “principles”, but the point of the Gospel is the undoing of the condemnation of the Law, which was based on the “knowledge of good and evil”. This is obviously an example of a removal of a “split reality” (“good and evil” is also “judgment”, of course), so there is a connection; but is really more specialized, and gets to the heart of man’s problem, of guilt, and this is why it centers on a single act of one man, of taking on that guilt, on the Cross.
Jung is looking at it from the angle of the other effects (via the archetypes that come up and shape our behavior), and thus it (like most other religions and philosophies) rests purely on man’s efforts. While justification before God is by grace and not works, we still have to live in this world of “give and take”, where effort is required to survive.
From → The Human Experience