Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Self-care or no-Self

Comfortable: EMERGENCY CARE WALL for sadness for loneliness for self ...
1. Don't use his name; 2. Remember this is a regime and he's not acting alone; 3. Do not argue with those who support him--it doesn't work; 4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state; 5. Keep your message positive; being angry and fearful is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow. 6. No more helpless/hopeless talk. 7. Support artists and the arts. 8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it. 9. Take care of yourselves; and 10. Resist! So encourages a FB post that I shared, curious about its reception. The answer--my friends agreed. On the other hand, or a related finger, a right-wing site documents this update on this twist on post-1984 Newspeak: Google defining fascism as "right wing"

As I write this, "fear" enters two FB articles alerting the kitty ear-capped and sign-waving masses to the need for a word two friends of mine, both living in Silver Lake, the gentrified, bien-pensant bastion, noticed in the caffeinated and dog-park walking ambiance between the rain we're welcoming.

"Self-care." While I could find no illustration of this amid the current national nightmare many claim we're entering, this phrase, which I had not noticed, appears, as one friend reasoned, better than the 70's-tinged "self-help." Which in turn reminds me of the November-timed billboards each year where Big Med confesses a sudden concern for our "wellness" (why not health?) akin to the attention we voters get every election season, only to be used and abused by the powers that be every other time.

Voters certainly resemble the "enabler," to grab another trendy term, lining up to dote on the object of affection, only to be discarded over and over. And unlike love, lust or substance abuse, the regularity of these symptoms can be perfectly timed as closely as an Olympiad. Still, we race to the bottom, desperate to clutch at the pantsuit or toupee, canonizing Her or Him as our savior and our role model.

As Roger Balson updates the imperial Roman model of handling us:  T. "is only part of what I would call the Great Diversion -- the alleged source of all of our troubles, when in fact the real problem is a ruling structure coupled with a compliant population bribed by bread and distracted by circuses."

Meanwhile, C.J. Hopkins at Counterpunch suspects both sides, the "Resistance" and No Name's ilk. 

What is being marketed to us as the “resistance to Trump,” technically, is a counter-insurgency operation … the global neoliberal establishment quashing the neo-nationalist uprising. But that kind of thing doesn’t sell very well. What sells much better is Hitler hysteria, neo-McCarthyite propaganda, and emotionally loaded trigger words that short circuit any kind of critical thinking, words like “love,” “hate,” “racism,” “fascism,” “normal,” and of course “resistance.”

It's deep in our amygdala that our savanna-engendered primitive responses to the Other originate. We're attuned to the 99% of our existence in primal rather than privileged surroundings to suspect the foe. Media thrive on this raw reaction within us. "So let’s not be too hasty in how we judge the impact of brain-based biases on our opinions and our votes. Nobody is innocent when it comes to deep brain wiring. Yet, whether we’re considering race or party affiliations, reconciliation can win out over bias." Mark Lewis in The Guardian warns of this slant, and suggests remedies to overcome.

Reflecting more lately rather than reacting, I encourage my wife to reduce her addiction to CNN. My friend who discussed with me the concepts I am elaborating here the other day noted how that channel, more than Fox or MSNBC, thrives on peddling conflict as it purports to be a centrist network. I agree with his notion, although I fault CNN for ignoring Bernie's campaign policies in its wish to entertain us with Him, and eliminate from HRC and the DNC's media range any strong contender against Her. The collusion between CNN and the pols can be found, if one trusts "leaks."

Anyhow, my friend also connected this to Buddhist reminders of no-self. We anchor ourselves to reality by tribalism, I realize more and more, as if a "contingent truth" akin to Nagarjuna's teaching. The underlying "truth" is unstable, but for our daily sustenance and mental survival we accept as if true that it's all solid beneath and around us. Of course, according to Buddhist philosophy it's not. 

That illusion that permanence persists in our parties or our poster-boy and -girl idols. Memes and slogans tempt pink pussy-knitted protestors. Their Obama was worshiped in Soviet-inspired graphic propaganda. She was promoted as the reason why to vote for Her, on the basis of those pronouns. Many mocked Bernie as a dithering Jewish pinko. Godwin's Law dominates post-election discourse.  

Rushing to "resist" reminds me of the Marlon Brando pose from The Wild One. Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against? Johnny: Whadda you got? And like that padded icon, his stance on political opposition may come off sounding more patronizing (as the Oscars showed and will again surely) than encouraging. If the failed policies of Obama and the Clintons are all the earnest marchers have to cheer for their predicable outrage as a nostalgic restoration, getting stuck with another Democratic administration will snare us into the identity politics and special pleading of every special interest claiming "outrage." We need a class-based, direct action, non-partisan response, not one divided among divisions that He exploited and She enticed--or enraged, depending on your "truth"...

Finally, we need a way to incorporate instability as a given. Clinging to groupthink, a "resist" against inevitable change and let-down, magnifies illusion. I hope those on the high of acting out can come to see the wisdom of settling in, for the long haul and not the short-term spotlight. As in contemplating direction rather than stimulating soundbite reaction. As the poet-practitioner Ben Howard reminds us: “Zen master Shunryu Suzuki summed up Buddhist teaching in this simple phrase: ‘Not always so.’”

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