We tend not to consciously question our cultural institutions – built upon power, in the form of respect or money.
When/if we sometimes wake up and are conscious, we often speak out “against,” as “anti-” and consequently view ourselves as members in protest groups of one stripe or another. The charters of these institutional tribes are, ostensibly, “for” something, but even then, cannot escape their roots “against” something.
This seems to be the way of our species and our institutions. Power. Which involves competition and survival of the fittest, winning and losing. And we are so largely asleep to the way those patterns of thought and action influence us as individual, unique, single human beings.
Power, respect, competition, and bargaining to win… These subconscious programs of our institutions are assimilated by individual human beings, leading to divisiveness within families, friendships, and romantic partnerships.
Whether injustices we suffer are institutional or personal, individual persons eventually see themselves as suffering victims, and the natural response is to formulate explanations. “I was brought up in a dysfunctional family. I suffered childhood trauma. She is a manipulative people-pleaser. He is a narcissist. They are lazy and think they are entitled. They are toxic people…”
Even our indignantly righteous religious institutions do the same. “They are ungodly. He is an infidel. She is a sinner. Only our one true faith has the sacraments that can keep you out of hell…”
Seems we are more “against” going to hell than we are “for” going to heaven.
Dole out blame, pass around blame, even take some blame up on your own self… That game stinks (“Shitty blame boardgame“)
We are all, of course, broken in our own way. When our identity feels lost, therapists have us investigate our “core values.” Why? Because, in a culture where identities are mostly shaped “against” things, we unconsciously lose what we are “for.” Seem dubious? Try it. Try composing a personal charter about what you stand for, without implying – by hopeless necessity – what you stand against.
If you think that your “faith” gets you through hard times, or has gotten you through stretches of deep suffering, I encourage you to challenge yourself more deeply. If you have nominally Christian faith based on your religious institution and/or institutionalized scripture, have you considered the possibility that those sources are not faithful to their namesake in any recognizable form?
“The way to do justice is to live simply, to not cooperate with consumerism, with militarism, with all the games that have us trapped. Jesus just does it differently, ignoring unjust systems and building up a better system… The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. He’s showing us ‘We’re just going to do it better. Let’s not be anti-anything. Let’s be *for* something: for life, and for universal love.'” – Richard Rohr
Neil D. 2021-10-22