Two logics are at work in me. The one is open minded, beyond prejudice, anarchistic, gentle of spirit, enlightened, various, engaged, giving, loving, and artistically dynamic. The other Is stolid, closed, xenophobic, bigoted, ignorant, depressed, materialistic, unencouraging, frustrated, goalless, artless, authoritarian.
Why can I not choose the former over the latter? Every part of me is for it, every part of me wants to belong to it. My body quakes at the negativity of ignorance, or the grunts of frustration from small people with small worlds. I don’t want these right-wing feelings in me, I don’t want to be anxious or depressed. I don’t want to play some false economy of finding security in wretched familiarity. I don’t want to snap every so often and spit bile at others. I don’t want to be so jaded as to be void of care for those closest to me.
But the choice is not so simple. If it were, these horrid, stolid things could be exposed and cleansed, as if by sacred flame. Yet character is not so simple. The depression becomes part of you, the un-virtues imposed upon you from youth are maintained into later years. Even being aware of them, they do not shrivel and die. Even speaking words of power to undo this malignant mana, the dark spell persists. Awareness alone does not seem to be enough. The actual physical body is stained by fear and toxic chemical traces. My chemistry, my very being is tainted with vile evil.
Take for example a child growing up in an abusive environment, or a nation under the totalitarian rule of a police state. How such things will warp any human being. Do you think the child or the citizens want to be as they are? Do you think un-free people want to harm others and commit atrocities? Do you think they would not imagine a better world if they could? Whatever they imagine, the reality of their bodies would ground and limit them. The chemical hatred and inferiority inside them would still simmer and sometimes conquer the will.
At this point in time I do not believe it is possible for the most severely oppressed to make free moral choices. The conscious mind would have to be supreme to rein in a lifetime of hatred, frustration and oppression. It would have to be transcendent, and apart from the whole human being – which is impossible. In this sense, I believe the most un-free to be determined. They did not choose to be made anxious by years of being spied upon, nor to fear the next strike of a tyrannical parent. But they had to endure this, and gradually, over miserable years, mental and physical trauma will have imprinted itself upon them. Without knowing why, they would know a hatred inside for life and positivity, and a jealousy and envy born of feelings of insecurity and self-loathing.
The thing-just-inside feels intuitively right, however destructive it is to our true interests as natural beings. In this way, the oppressed can be crushed without having the will to fight back. The hurt can be convinced that they are too worthless to seek help. The proletariat can be exploited without realizing its own interests.
Help must sometimes come from an external source. What is determined must be un-determined by constant effort. Isolation can happen very quickly. Hope can quickly be shrouded by despair. If you know someone who is out at sea struggling to stay afloat, keep on throwing life-saving ropes to draw them back in until something catches. Then feed them love. It is very hard from the outside to know just how truly a person needs to be loved.
Love is the only means to un-make feelings of worthlessness or helplessness. Love overthrows tyrants. Even more than freedom, love is the foundation of dignity. For one who is free but unloved will struggle with wretched inner-feelings, as much as one who is un-free and un-loved. The love we need to give does not have to be some super-natural concept. The day-to-day concern for people, fellowship, sharing things in common, culture-building and physical intimacy is what we enlightened mammals desire.
Once such basic needs, which can effectively be summed up by LOVING COMMUNITY are accomplished, all that is virtuous can follow. Just as a flower must be planted in fertile soil, watered regularly and mulched around to reach full life, so human beings must belong to a community, be well-nurtured, and protected from the worst of life. No matter how much humanity grows in technology and intellect, happiness will not be achieved until this most straightforward need is acknowledged. Any attempt to encourage happy citizens in a fragmented, isolating society is like planting a flower in concrete, shining the light of a false sun upon it, and selling it artificial fertilizer until it dies of cancer.
To have time for another is the most important thing on this earth for us frail, existentially lost beings. All an animal has is its fellow animal. We can be more than our pain, and we can find a new foundation stone of dignity if we are loved.
Love can turn back any darkness, eventually.