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Deciding2

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?


What is the overarching message of the ‘alternative’ freedom movements?

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Is it not that we are, as individuals, sovereign beings with natural, inalienable rights to a secure living space, adequate food sources, free thought and opinion, free exchange and association and freedom from molestation or enslavement?

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And… that those rights entail an obligation to recognise and respect those same rights in others?

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Isn’t this pursuit the raison d’etre of those of us who seek to counter, in whatever modest or grand way, the very forces of unlimited greed and subjugation who seek to crush these rights?

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On my own path, I have encountered quite a number of individuals who have embodied a laudable drive and capacity for action when promoting a better, fairer, more humane way to co-exist.

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While it is true that I don’t necessarily agree with everything they believe, do or say – nor the precise solutions they suggest, as long as they offer no hurt and their message comes from a place of love, I still respect their consistent labour and applaud their motivation to halt the de-evolution of our species.

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However, this level of activism comes at a price. It regularly goes beyond banging one’s head against a wall – into having a wall repeatedly lunge at your head while you try to maintain your stance and hold your ground. Is it a wonder then, that those who ‘fight the good fight’, like a pugilist still hanging on in the tenth round, develop bruises, wounds, callouses and blind spots; that they stumble and miss now and then?

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This is why I don’t ‘do’ heroes. It’s simply not fair on the heroes.

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I quite accept that what constitutes the ‘heroic’ is subjective and mutable but I refer here to the raising of an individual to the point where they are beyond fault or criticism in any/every other aspect of their life – ”My hero, right or wrong”, as it were.

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What I mean is, actions by individuals can be heroic. In fact, uncountable heroic acts occur every day across the world – and most are never witnessed.

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Perhaps we all need to be heroes or heroism becomes a futile, solo leap for the next handhold that only highlights our collective need to trust each other enough to build that human pyramid.

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The worst thing we can do is look for, (or worse, worship), ‘heroes’. To me, that whole concept enters the realms of co-dependency and, frankly, utter fantasy.

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As Robert Downey Jr says, “… ‘hero’ is not a noun, it’s a verb.”

People do heroic things. Individuals can be applauded for valiant, selfless acts. But show me a ‘hero’ and I’ll show you a fallible human being just trying to do the right thing in the face of a wrong situation.

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The moment we forget that, the moment that individual becomes elevated, worshipped and even deified, we do a disservice, not just to that individual but to reason and logic as well.

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What happens when we deify a fellow human being? Essentially, we then place upon that person an unbearable burden that, sooner or later, overcomes them and disappoints us. It simply isn’t fair or kind to anyone involved.

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We all know the celebrity cycle – we raise individuals up only to accuse them of being too big for their boots and spitefully knock them down again. Did they deserve that treatment?

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That depends a lot on how they responded to the narrative being created around them, I suppose.

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There is not one person on this planet who knows everything – not one human being who is wise in all disciplines. And not one living being who can’t/won’t make mistakes.

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One very difficult, but truly important, approach to master when dealing with others who have let us down or hurt us in some way, is to criticise the behaviour, not the person.

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Real, living humans lie, act selfishly, say hurtful things and, in many other ways, behave unreasonably every single day. Even me, (believe it or not).

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Are they, by that token, to be dismissed as irredeemably ‘evil’?

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With clenched teeth, I will admit here that I am sure even Hillary Clinton might have, perhaps, one benign facet to her spirit. Well, I am, at the very least, open to any suggestions to support this concept.

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Now, here’s what I think is the important bit directed at fellow travellers on the road to Being a Better Person in the World.

(For those who believe they have already arrived at that destination, feel free to skip the following).

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Any friend who was fallible enough, (human enough!), to commit an act that hurt our feelings deserves to be told that their actions let us down and caused us pain.

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How they react to this being pointed out is important and there are several ways this can go.

For example:

I am sorry. You are right, I did mess up and behave selfishly. Our friendship is important to me and I’ll try hard to do better in future. Is there some way I can make amends?”

Or: “How dare you criticise me? What about that time when you (insert fuck-up here). You’re no better than me!”

Or: “That’s a shitty thing to accuse me of! You clearly hate me and want to hurt me. If you’ve got proof, bring it on; if not, fuck off! I’ll see you in court.”

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For those new to this stuff, only one of the above responses is likely to lead to any beneficial outcome.

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You see, with perceived hurt, comes sadness, anger and an increasing urge to punish those who caused the hurt.

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Another factor to consider is the negative effect that ‘negative’ emotions have on functional IQ and how the reptilian brain has a tendency to take over.

When we get a negative reaction, we will generally be drawn respond in kind.

This leads to a game of ‘Hurt Tennis’, where the competitors increase the force behind their returns in an effort to ‘get through’ and/or score points. Often, these matches end in both players ‘pulling a McEnroe’ and storming off the pitch, each claiming ‘victory’ but neither having ‘won’ anything except bruises.

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We can certainly influence the kind of response we get by the way we approach people. But, as long as we exercise ‘Right Action’ and ensure our own motives and expectations are true and fair, then the responsibility for how things progress will lie with the other party.

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Get the heart right and the rest will follow.

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To build on the ‘Hurt Tennis’ analogy, we can choose not only how we play but also whether we bother to even walk out onto the pitch.

I am not, however, advocating that we passively accept aggression but that, in all our interactions, we try to see the source of the aggression and challenge that rather than attack every aspect of the the person initiating it.

We might also seek to recognise when such engagement is futile, learn what we can, retain our energy and let it go.

But, in seeing another stumble, let’s not forget that we have feet, too.

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Even hundredfold grief is divisible by love.”

(Terri Guillemets)

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”

(Kenji Miyazawa)

We acquire the strength we have overcome.”

and:

Sorrow makes us all children again — destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson) 

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