In Our Natures

December 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm (Uncategorized)

I am reminded, again, how easy it is to be totally negative. I see it all the time around me – people being unnecessarily cruel, or hurtful, or simply mean spirited. 

I am reminded how easy it is to be thoughtless with our words and actions, to project our internal pain onto others, and how easy it is to look at things but not really see them.

I think much of the time this thoughtlessness is a defense mechanism, because callouses are what naturally develop when something gets ripped up. We all experience pain at some point, and it sucks. So, to not feel it anymore we shield ourselves, put up walls, become cynical. I think that’s a natural progression. The problem arises when the walls become indistinguishable from yourself, when your anger ceases to be protective and starts to pervade your heart. You know those people who just can’t seem to say a single nice thing about anyone? Always out there, always prompt to criticize? Those people make me sad. 

I especially am saddened because I think a lot of them lash out because they wish the world was different than it is, for one reason or another. Instead of trying to make their ideals come into vision, though, they just pump negativity into the world, which I don’t think will ever bring about real change. Hate begets hate, anger begets anger, and when we hold the coals in our closed fists we are the ones who get burned. Anger burns hot and quickly, but it’s like pouring gasoline on the fire. Sustained change can only come about as a slow burn…you need a vision of what the fire is supposed to look like, you have to stack the wood in such a way that you build a sustainable source of warmth. You can keep the whole world warm, or you can burn it down. I know which I would prefer.

 

On the other side of the negativity spectrum are people who are constantly negative, about most everything, for no discernible reason I can see. I feel like it must be exhausting to be so negative. I wonder if I can be nicer to them, say something kind, turn their views around…but it can be difficult to know what to say that doesn’t come across as a) condescending and b) would come off in such a way that it would actually be helpful. I don’t know what they’re going through or why they feel the need to lash out at the world. What I do know, though, is that moods are contagious, and states of mind are powerful things, especially when we’re in groups. Mob mentality is powerful, and people seem to lose their ability to see other people as human beings. I am thinking most specifically of religion and at times sports, but it’s scary how we so quickly reduce real human persons to “the other.” It’s frightening how quickly people stop using reason, or at least all reason outside of their immediate self interest in the next hour. 

It’s a bit scary how quickly the high functioning sections of our brains can be usurped by our basest parts. This, I think, is one of the more compelling reasons for me against the idea of some eternal soul. We’re just biomechnical machines, and you can fuck up our circuitry in all kinds of interesting and terrifying ways. If you really want to lose a lot of your faith in your own intuition and abilities check out some of the research that has been done linking lead exposure to violence and crime rates. 

It would be fair to ask where I’m going with this (I was asking myself that question as I wrote the last couple paragraphs) but I think what I’m driving towards is that we are products of our environment, but we can CHOOSE what that environment is. We can choose to cultivate a heart full of love and compassion, we can choose not to direct our negativity towards others, we can choose to care about fixing our societal ills and crumbling infrastructure and build a better world. We can choose to disagree amicably, we can agree to find common ground. I don’t have illusions that it will be easy, but I am certain it starts with each of us.

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1 Comment

  1. Jan Aken said,

    Jordan

    Your blog is so well written. The negative comments seem to overshadow the good things in life.

    Love Gram Jan

    IMG_8786-2283445531-OFamily is like music, some high notes, some low notes. but always a beautiful song

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