Sunday, February 15, 2015

Blaming the other, and other reductions that entrap us

Greece blames primarily Germany for the severity of the economic restrictions it lead the EU to impose as the price for the Greek bailout. Germany, of course, blames the government of Greece for profligate spending and the collapse of her economy that made the bail-out necessary. Ukraine blames the Kremlin and Putin for the violence, destruction and devastating, not to mention the "abduction" of Crimea, and, in the natural course, of both political conflicts and the reporting of those events, Putin blames the government of Ukraine for "ousting" the previous government leaders in a "coup d etat" and also the United States and NATO for failing to keep a promise not to expand NATO on Russia's borders.
In the Greece-EU conflict, both sides are going to have to give some, if a peaceful and manageable compromise can be reached...Greece committing to long-term government reforms that do not promise premature pensions to workers (among other similar commitments) while Germany is going to have to acknowledge the benefits it has acquired from the heavy burden it "imposed" on Greece and take a more tolerant, long-term view of Greece's readiness to honor its obligations to the EU.
In the Russian-Ukraine conflict, compromise is not so readily visible if Putin is indeed determined to destroy the government of Poroshenko in Kiev, and make Ukraine in effect another satellite of the Russian mothership. Credible observers discount the potential move of western countries (Canada has already committed both humanitarian aid and military materiel) to arm the Kiev government given that such assistance will not come close to matching the military power of the Kremlin and Putin. Russia's military budget, at a moment of serious national economic crisis, continues at some $70 billion, so any military aid will be little more than a drop in the "proverbial bucket" in comparison to Moscow's capacity to retaliate, should the current cease-fire even hold.
Blaming Putin, as Kissinger has reminded us, is an excuse for not having a policy to deal with him, on the part of western countries such as his own, the United States.
Nevertheless, blaming, pointing the finger of accusation, and a "final judgement" has become the norm in both human relations and geopolitical conflicts. Along with that negative development, quite naturally one has to conjecture, is the eager and over-anxious willingness and capacity to absolve oneself, including one's country, one's government, one's corporation, one's church, and one's preferred institution from all responsibility.
Back in 1970, in a then famous film, Love Story, the slogan of the movie and the time went something like this: "Love means never having to say your sorry!"
Today, a contemporary cultural slogan would run something like this: "Never ever acknowledge guilt, responsibility or culpability in any situation, because those making whatever charge will only have enough tenacity to sustain a brief moment and in the long run, they will either run out of evidence or patience."
Clouds of "objections" now challenge the digital "Cloud" for primacy in the cultural universe, and those "objection clouds" are filled mostly with blaming the accuser, blaming a third party, blaming the circumstances, the background, the authorities or whatever target is most available accessible and most likely to be credible in the eyes of the accuser.
Blaming, including character assassination strides the digital universe also, generating faux conflicts that too often lead to real suicides, real addictions to substance abuse and real gangs. We are a world "at war" in our own mind, and the enemy is everywhere within and without, bearing the faces of whatever demon seems to have taken residence in our psyche. What we have missed in our "rush-to-judgement" culture are a number of steps that are integral to a healthy human being as well as a healthy culture in which healthy human beings can and do thrive.
We have missed the step of honest reflection of the conditions in which "the other" is operating.
We have missed the step of acknowledging our own bias and fear in our daily lives.
We have missed the step of opening our minds to opinions and positions and their human carriers that differ, honestly and respectfully, from our own.
We have accepted half-truths and false choices, like those in too many commercials that make comparisons so extravagant as to be deeply deceptive and seductive for those unable or unwilling to pause to consider the stupidity of the claims being made for a product the advertiser is determined to sell for his client.
We have turned a consumer economy into a oligarchic economy, through a toxic mix of indifference, complacency, ambition for our own status and power, and narcissism, thereby reducing all other humans to "pawns" on our chessboard, useful in whatever ways they may be to our goals and trash in so far as any other pursuit.
We have also replaced open discourse and honest dialogue with talking points, designed to paint the most beautiful picture of whomever or whatever we are talking about, thereby reducing the debate to shouting matches, voices at the highest decibels, rushing past closed, blocked and indifferent ears.
While we permit our political leaders to mount their own narcissistic campaigns on our tax dollars, we also contribute to their goal of transforming the culture into another corporation whose success will be measured in profits, firings, efficiency reports detailing "cost-benefit-analyses" of all social programs, and, in the words of the most recently appointed Secretary of Veterans' Affairs in the United States, the former CEO of Proctor and Gamble, "I am testing the hypothesis that you can run a government department like a giant corporation." (from NBC's Meet the Press, February 15, 2015)
The KOCH's (including the specific Koch Brothers and all others marching to the same drummer) have taken over the world, redefined its purposes in terms of personal profit, and continue to pour their excessive billions into a total takeover of the minds and hearts of the American people, and all other countries (like Canada) willing to lie down and drink their koolaid.
And this piece is unable to find a single target to blame for the most tragic development; it has taken all of us, sleepwalking our way through the demise of the credible and albeit boring news media, and the morphing of information into infotainment, and the reduction of education into mere training, and the reduction of a complex theology into a list of moral and immoral bromides attributed to Jesus and to God (really an admission to our playing God ourselves!) We are risking not merely our ecosystems and our plethora of species, nor our many complex languages and cultures, nor our deeply entrenched and legitimate rights and freedoms (Freedom Watch says while 60 countries are less free than a year ago only 30 are more free..and the trendline is downward when measuring human freedom)
There is no single prescription to address the many symptoms of the current malaise in which the world and the people find ourselves. However, one thing is certain: Everyone of us will have to take a much more active and vocal part in protesting what is going on right in front of us, if the ship is ever going to change course, toward a human and a humane destiny, inspite of the many advances in technology and in communication and in disease prevention and management for which we are all grateful.
(Editor's Note: See also Karen Armstrong: We need to accept the other...acorncentreblog.com May 25, 2012)

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