Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Preparing for Trump

The Practice of Dispassion

            As the fateful, I mean, inauguration of Donald J. Trump grows ever closer, I realize I must find a way to keep my wits in the spray of hostility and intimidation coming from the other side, whose triumph reminds me of an old saying, “The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner.”
            But for my own good I have begun the practice of dispassion in dealing with people who attack me. I need to disarm my own buttons.
            I’ve been taking to leaving comments to articles I read online. In an article in the Jan. 9 web issue of The Federalist, writer Julie Kelly proposes that “alarmist” climate-change scientists are “the real deniers” and will soon get their comeuppance for all their fake science funded by government grants.
            The glee-tinged threat is that they’ll all lose their jobs when Trump cancels their phony research projects.
            I felt compelled to leave a comment. There were already a couple hundred posted, so my impact would obviously be negligible, but I did it anyway, saying that even if you don’t accept climate change there can’t be much doubt that human activity has impacted the planet in a negative way and we really ought to stop doing it.
            I thought that was a fairly dispassionate reply.
            So far I’ve been jumped by five different thugs...I mean, readers. One suggested that if I don’t like it on this planet, I should go find another, and good riddance. I replied that I’d never said I didn’t like it here. I said I thought we ought to quit polluting it.
            Another said climate change has always been part of Earth’s history and that humans and animals are adapting to each other as the critters move into our neighborhoods and live off our leavings. Therefore humans are part of an ecosystem that is always in transformation. There is no catastrophic climate change, just natural adaptation to ever-changing conditions.
            I said the disappearance of countless species before human “advancement” seems to argue against that point.
            The third response pointed to the increase of life expectancy in today’s world compared to the past, arguing that things are better now than in the days of pristine wilderness. To that I replied that they may be better for humans in the short term, but what price do we and our planet pay in the long term?
            A fourth informed me that conservatives are, by definition, conservationists while people like me who belong to the “Church of Environmentalism” want to decapitate Golden Eagles on wind farms just to brag we’ve reduced our carbon footprints. I replied that I wish conservatives were conservationists but I didn’t see much evidence of it, pointing to the Gulf Oil Spill, the Exxon-Valdez, earthquakes in Wyoming, etc. I added I thought his comment rude because he doesn’t know me and I wish no harm to the Golden Eagles, I only want to preserve an inhabitable planet.
            A fifth called global warming “nonsense” and said there is no contradiction between wanting to preserve the planet and denying climate change. I said that was exactly my point, except I don’t agree global warming is nonsense but that makes no difference if we agree to clean up the planet.
            So far, thankfully, I haven’t heard from anyone else. That doesn’t mean I won the argument, of course, but it means I had the last word, that I didn’t make anyone mad enough to keep it going. I’m glad for that because I don’t want to fuel anger, either in me or in others. But I don’t want to be silent while people are saying important things that I don’t understand, don’t agree with, or find offensive.
            My worst enemy in this practice is the concept of “I feel strongly....” That needs to be examined because feelings may be legitimate but they may also lead to inaccurate assessments if they are not regarded dispassionately. That is, without the influence of “I feel strongly.” The “I” in that construction may be out of order, and in my case often is. Feelings are important, but when they overtake the mind they are as dangerous as when the mind tyrannizes the feelings.
            Dispassion is setting all duality aside to consider carefully what the other person is saying before framing a reply. It’s attempting to understand while not necessarily agreeing. It’s an aspect of self-control.
            Many Americans on both sides of the aisle which has become a battlement are out of control. They see the other side as looming monsters and rise up in righteous rage or break down in paranoid hallucinations. I understand, because I too feel threatened by this new regime. None of us on the liberal side was ever happy with the streak of conservatism and religious revivalism which defines a good bit of the American character.
            But the other side was just as terrified when Obama was elected. Two sides, both wanting to take their country back.
            Which country are we fighting over?
            Unless I take in arguments dispassionately, carefully considering what I hear while keeping tight rein on my knee-jerk survival fears, I’ll function in a state of war. In this case, civil war.
            Is that what we’re still fighting about? That “Northern War of Aggression” against “The Southern Way of Life”?
            I’ve always been a conscientious objector, even before Vietnam. I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to defend myself against my past. I’d rather surrender with a clear conscience than live with the nightmare PTSD.
            Yet I reserve the right to disagree. Dispassionately.
            That is my mindful practice these days.


At 3:26 PM , Blogger Dale Hendricks said...

Yo D- I see you're well and thinking well too I must add. Victoria Wild Child reminded me about your posts and forwarded this latest. I very much enjoyed it and agree that the process of going to and being at war are very destructive to all.....
The latest way i view the situation and react I'd summarize as "resist divide and conquer but keep thinking critically- and now I'll add- dispassionately."
Hugs to Jala too and I'll endeavor to read your works more often and to stay in touch. -The Lizard of landenberg


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