Socializing Civility

The West has failed in its approach to radical Islamic terror.  We must have reached  over 100,000 dead or maimed or homeless when you include the Iraq war, the Syrian war, and all the terrorist acts since 9/11 all over the world including, now, Belgium.  Condemning it does not work.  Virtue signaling does not work.  Killing it will not kill it.

What is virtue signalling, you ask.  Virtue signalling is going onto social media and announcing that you are sad and that you “stand with” or “are” something good.  Big deal.  Does that even really “work” with the doers of it–just to announce to their friends and followers that they shudder at the thought of evil acts (which they likely will not dare call evil)?

What is condemnation?  Condemnation is an angry roar at the perpetrators which balloons out to contain people maybe of their ilk (e.g., “extremists”), which then balloons further out to profile and contain more people than it should (e.g., Muslims).  That does not work either because anger gets sloppy and then anger angers other people and their anger gets sloppy too–and it is unending.

So why doesn’t killing kill?  First because it is hard to find the perpetrators and second because the reasons why they grew into terrorists are not killed by the killing of them.

So those three reactions do not work–which is not so say they ought to be stopped since it cannot be stopped–but it is good in a moment of tranquility to stop and see that these three reactions (condemning, virtue signaling, and killing) not only do not work, they might exacerbate the problem.

So what do we do?  Do we lose ourselves in yoga, adult coloring, voting, and putting meals on the table?  Those are good practices but they also can be forms of burying our heads in the sand.

During World War II, the United States and the American people were on a war footing.  Momma worked in the munitions factory and Daddy was in Europe, Africa, or Japan.  All Americans knew rationing.  Fuel, shoes, tires, nylon hose, typewriters, and processed meats among other items were rationed and available only with ration stamps.  Everyone knew war.  Radios, movie screens and billboards shouted, “War.”  Henry Ford, then 80, helped to lead production of war machines in Europe and to transport them to England.  “War, war, war,” rang out from hill and dale.  Many Daddies never came home and many mommas did not want to return to the cookie sheets and the fancy vacuum cleaner when the war ended.

Today “War, war, war,” also rings out from our monitors–but so does Hulk Hogan, yoga, miracle diets, Bentleys, “brackets”, bosoms, free sex change operations, gender free bathrooms, and the dangers of meth laced with ebola.  So easily we click away from blood to bimbos to blackheads–with perhaps a side step over to Facebook for today’s virtue signal to protect our reputation among friends.  What color are we today – or what color are we ashamed to be?  What a convulsion of egotism (I am better than you, opponent) and narcissim (a hoping that we do, in fact, exist) hath been wrought by history to get us to this place.

What does God want from us?  Is there nothing to be done but to “stay out of harm’s way?”   There is no out of harm’s way, so we had better find something.

We can ask some questions that can be responded to by understanding the legitimacy that has been drained from governments by corruption, from God by falsity in religious institutions, and from civility by crude animalism.  I received a paper assignment this week from a Chinese student.  We had been studying Freud and Jung and Campbell.  He commented on how much Jung had entered his awareness and, while, he said, he was “not a religious person” he was a person who relates to a greater power.  How noteworthy that this – the very essence of religion (the awareness of a higher power) – is not seen as “religious” because religions have taken such a hit by terror, sexual abuse, institutionalization behind their own tall walls, and other perpetuations of social inequality and mind-numbing abuse of higher power into idolatry, hatred, tribalism, and killing.    Several times I have announced to classrooms-full of college students that just because they stopped going to church does not mean they are atheists.  God is not organized religion.  They breathe a collective sigh of relief.  They had thought they had to think of themselves as atheistic when in actuality then, like I, just saw through the falsity of some Monsignor or Rabbi or this or that sheikh, holy man, guru, or nun.  These kids never did see through God, and they knew it–but no adult had told them that a God realizer was something they could be.

God wants from us nothing.  But God gives to us the ability, if we focus, to create linkages, opportunities, structure, balance, and beauty.  It is this on which we can begin to get on “war footing.”  We can stop posting virtue signals and instead plan a dinner party, read a poem to someone, start a neighborhood watch group, learn emergency operations, write a song and publish it, bookmark responsible web sites as we wean ourselves off irresponsible talking bobble heads, learn better how to cook with whole ingredients and to save money in the process, teach a young person how to cook, visit groups that will open our eyes, read to school children, port our own hot coffees, go to the gym and get fit, and say ‘hi’ (audibly or in the heart) to people we pass on the street.  And we can consider all these positive acts – acts which surely add to “the good” and thus take away from our time spent on “the bad” – as our personal war footing.  Our government is not going to do it for us.

Our positive acts can then flow to form new methods to socialize the young.  The world cannot wait 15 years for 5 year olds to grow up and become responsible world citizens.  We have to socialize teenagers and 20 years olds into civility or incivility will take them.  Government is not going to do it and religious institutions are currently in a state of too much tribalization to do it.  You have to do it.  I have to do it.  Morsel by morsel, individual acts of healing will amalgate into new streams of socialization.

How did a gang start in your neighborhood or a neighborhood over there?  One powerful man – so aptly portrayed by that “commander” in the movie “Beasts of No Nation” realized the need for love and belonging on the part of so many non-powerful children.  One by one he provided moments to those children of whipping them into the realization that to obey was to belong.  Children need to belong to something.  They need some certainty.  They need some footing.  They need some uniforms and some names and to believe in some promises.  Our government is not going to give that to them.  You, as a gang leader can begin to give that to them.

This now is my theme:  war footings.  Here is a list, in no particular order, of the topics that will come:

  • the sacredness of sex
  • power vs. force
  • recruitment patterns into gangs
  • effective techniques to remove kids from gangs
  • creativity
  • the fear of death
  • politics is local
  • preparedness
  • getting fit through yoga, work, and the gym
  • the joy of dieting
  • everything is in motion – nothing is stuck
  • corruption
  • voting for candidates who are products of private (not democratic) organizations
  • history of good guys and bad guys
  • so far good has triumphed over bad – because we are still here
  • dangerous tributaries
  • drugs and not-drugs
  • endurance
  • table manners and other fun and productive customs of civilized society
  • hierarchy and how to understand and work it
  • the excitement of drudgery due to its forgiveness
  • structure of creativity
  • art
  • robots
  • machines freeing us to be free
  • Marx’s “species being”, Ranks “doors”, Jung’s wholeness, Campbells ‘return,’ Maslow’s hierarchy of being
  • don’t fly over the fly overs
  • moderation in everything
  • flying through balance
  • meditation
  • teaching teachers to teach

All of these are dance steps on war footing.  Is your dance card full?  Will you dance with me?

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