Using a new iPad blog app this morning. Blogsy (will learn how to do the links later – then maybe Random Links might return?). So much has been going on that I haven’t managed to return to not just blogging but also my Sabbath Journaling.
Again, these random thoughts are meant to get back on the path of regular writing. I still would like to do more focused blog posts and center on a particular topic or theme. But we’ll see maybe later.
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How do we navigate the stormy seas of polarities? How can we live and work through opposing ideas and in reality even conflicting camps?
One common way is simply to demonize the other, and angelicfy (is there such a word?) our ourselves. But the reality is that no one is pure evil, and we are surely not perfectly divine. We’ll leave the extreme cases aside for now, and ponder on ordinary folk like you and me. But having said that, there are real differences, and some of it has ethical consequences, in short, it demands we make choices to discern right from wrong, beautiful from ugly, and good from bad.
Take one step back, and we will need to recognize that none of us have the FULL picture, a kind of total “God’s eye point of view”, simply because we are not God. Some of us are insiders to the matter at hand, others are outsiders, and strangely there will be a few who are in-between. I’d venture to add that another few have the strange position of being in the flow of this complex web of relationships.
Take a deeper step inward, our attitudes to others and towards the subject matters would need attention too. Much has been made about “racist” remarks and “racist” attitudes these days. But there’s also that explicit “elitist” remarks and implicit “elitist” attitudes which might be lurking in the background.
it’s easier to detect the “racist” bits, but the “elitist” dimension shifts and shapes quickly depending on the reaction of others. But deep down it’s less about thinking we are right and the other is wrong, it’s more about we are unwilling to at least consider the concerns and experiences of the other, and for some strange reason think we have a better position to asses what both parties are looking at. Maybe it’s because we might have more information (so we think), or maybe it’s because we think we are more involved (which we might really be), or maybe it’s because we think we are smarter, more intelligent and others are stupid. The factors are legion.
The main problem with the “elitist” bug is that we lift ourselves above others, and in plain language “look down” on them because we consider them just “simple” folk. Academics get criticized all the time for being “elitist” because they use academic language which common people find it hard to follow. But then, there are certain rules of engagement in the academic sphere which requires a certain way of communicating and processing one’s ideas. It doesn’t mean it’s “elitist” just because some people might not understand what he or she says. Why? Because the attitude and articulation of the academic might very well be very much “on the ground” with the sentiments of those she is “investigating”, and what is more important there is genuine respect (even when one doesn’t understand fully) those whom she is studying. In short, there’s no “looking down” on someone, it’s more like trying to “look into” the situation, and maybe “look beyond” the surface.
All the ramblings above is trying to reflect on the posture of all who seek to engage in dialogue, conversation and debate on every subject that we are in tough with. Especially common subjects of interests, and in particular controversial matters where often turns from the original issues at hand, and becomes a debate on our identities.
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Issues and identities are so related, and can’t be divided. So it’s impossible to have cold stance towards issues and warm posture to identities, or the other way round. But the fact is when one’s identity is being questioned, and usually it starts during a discussion on issues, it becomes messy. Because I suspect, while we can have some distance in talking about issues, it’s a little harder when it comes to who we are … it’s more personal. .. it’s about identity.
So polarizing issues is closely related to “polarizing identities”, and the forces in-between both is what I’m interested in. How we get in touch with these hidden forces is often through the visible conversations we have either in face to face conversations or textual ones on paper or on the screen.
Academic discussions aside, I’ve been reflecting on our “attitude” because our heart postures in terms of how we view another person makes a big difference in the dialogue process, and our own self-reflection process. I suspect, that the hardening of positions often is because the attention to our “attitudes” have been neglected.
The battleground of our “inner” attitudes is intense, and is very messy. That’s why I use to tell people lessons from contemplative spirituality have been such a life saver for me not just in spirituality, but in basic humanity. Charismatic spirituality was very helpful to energize me to move and do stuff. But often, it didn’t provide the inner silence needed to allow the entanglement of intense inner struggles to surface. And when it’s buried, it might bubble up some day, or burst forth unexpectedly.
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I was pondering a lot about the metaphor (picture) of the window lately. It was partly inspired by a wise Jesuit when he was talking about how we look through a window, and all of us look through our windows, and usually we another person to point out what we can’t see in our window. But more than that, and this is to combine the window metaphor with the mirror metaphor, because the mirror allows us to see ourselves, and while the help of others is most valuable when it comes to pointing out what we might have missed. The Mirror gives us a change to personally take a responsibility to “look’ at ourselves. Nothing narcissistic here. 24 hour mirror time is no doubt self-absorbed. But the timely mirror time is justified
Where I was heading was there is such a thing as window/mirror .. in the sense that it allows us to “look through” to the other side, but also to “look back” to ourselves. And when we’re engaged in most notably deep and heart gripping issues, and complex reflections on identity, both at different times will help us see things a little clearer, even though not perfectly.
Then, I think it also feeds back into our own starting attitudes to either affirm it, or correct it.
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Nothing too profound. Very unedited. Just some random thoughts. Most of us have it on and off.