How are human beings like other beings?
All are life forms, sharing the basic drives of life forms, such as the drives to survive, reproduce and protect.
What distinguishes human beings from other beings?
The form of life of each other kind of being is more fixed. There’s a relatively narrow band of differentiation among individuals in a given species. Dogs act like dogs (with a hunting dog acting like a hunting dog while a herding dog acts like a herding dog). And cats act like cats (with a lion acting more socially, like a lion, while a tiger acts more in isolation, like a tiger).
The form of life of human beings is not nearly as fixed. Human beings may act according to different lights, organizing around different visions, systems, technologies, values, goals, roles and expectations. Human beings have varied forms of life, for example, hunting or herding, speaking in different languages and interacting socially in a variety of different contexts. Indeed, the variation in human forms of life is extremely broad.
That’s a pivotal difference.
And so when different human groups argue about the ‘true way’ to live, we miss a crucial aspect of our humanity - that we are the beings who explore different forms of life, each bringing something else to the party.
More, each unique human being may center a number of forms of life – not denying and not stuck in any – fluidly responding to each constellation of circumstances in different domains of life.
Isn’t this variation in forms of life, both in terms of group and individual, a defining source of our strength and creativity?
And what undergirds this creative strength must be no-thing – not a particular thing, view, belief or ideology or other limiting ground – because only what is not a thing, what is not itself a fixed position, may freely and without obstruction engender the endlessly shifting patterns of interrelations.
What happens now seems sheer spectacle – –
war, poverty, catastrophe
and even the vulnerable lives of others
are spectacles that we seem to witness safely from afar –
the spectacle engulfs us.
A social order, any social order, is neither immutable nor impregnable – since it is not the natural way of things.
Wisdom subverts the lie that a given social construct, a particular system of relations, possibilities and constraints, is naturally ordained.
A social construct is not only an overarching structure but also a set of tools that may be used for various social purposes.
Wisdom gleefully plays with these tools to reveal the constructedness of the construct.
Wisdom creates a space for beings and values the construct cannot recognize.
Wisdom challenges the reason - the grounding rationale – upon which a social order stakes its claim to hegemony.
Wisdom finds in the stone edifice cracks that leak light and opens them up.
A modern American Dream:
to live in the open space outside of deadening conventions and responsibility;
to live like a hobo traveling the rails unhindered (maybe with family or friends),
a hobo who owns the train -
and it’s one hell of a pimped-out train chugging forward on its fixed tracks -
and it doesn’t matter what, or who, is in the way.
Many find it indispensable to isolate an Other to rally against – those who don’t want to feel themselves disenfranchised agreeing to unite to dehumanize and scapegoat someone else.
In fact, it’s the passage for many immigrants to become Americans (think of the unifying and denigrated Other called N). And it’s so for many across the globe who fear being stigmatized, instead becoming an Us at the expense of an excluded Them.
Whom do such fear-filled ones agree to label as an ominous Threat in need of purging?
In every case,
In the existing regime, your real job is not to produce, but to consume as much as possible.
Force-fed endless empty images, some folks now constantly crave what does not satisfy,
forgetting the bounty of the real:
earth and sky, flights of heart-mind, the warmth of consonant beings, and the plenitude of earthly difference.
As a child, you held your hand
just above the candle flame.
What did you want see?
What did you discover?
Learning a limit,
did you also discover
all phenomena –
candle, air, flesh, curiosity -
intertwine as this very time being
refusing refusing to say ‘Ouch’?
The fixed and separate self you believe you are –
actually mere constructions divided against themselves,
one self image trying to measure up to or escape other such self images -
is not the one who reads this.
Each occasion – each all – it’s just freely given – -
given without any strings attached,
given without the intent to give and without the desire to receive,
without one who gives or one who receives,
even without the notion of a ‘gift’,
whole, without any kind of separation at all.
Ah, feel the wind blow through. . .