Bodily Logics and the importance of love

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.

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Feeling Trapped

Feeling trapped and hopeless, you only have to ask yourself one question. The answer to this will determine whether or not you will remain trapped until your body expires, or whether you can change your circumstances. The question is thus: do you want to move forward?

Do you want to take one small step toward your freedom and happiness. If the answer is yes, then you are not truly trapped, nor are you without hope. By taking one small step in the right direction, you are upsetting the cage surrounding you. By taking one small step in the right direction, you are disproving the ideas within and without that you are unable to do anything.

It might feel like a futile step. It might feel like a stab in the dark. But there is nothing wrong with that. There are two reasons to be optimistic about your one small step. The first is that it demonstrates a functional conatus. This nice Latin word is a key concept from the philosophy of Spinoza. Effectively, the essence of any mode (or thing) is its desire to continue existing. Everything has a conatus – a person, a snail, a chair, a wall, a molecule. Everything. By attempting to gain more freedom, you are affirming your will to survival. More than that, you are increasing your power-in-the-world. Your one step forward is not just an intellectual exercise, it is an execution of direct action. You are safe in the knowledge that you are doing what is best for you, and this is a sign of self-love. The second reason to be optimistic about your one small step actually comes from a lack of knowledge. Namely, scepticism about cause and effect. You never know how much of an effect your own small step will take. I liken this to a questing knight, roaming through a harsh cavern alone. She does not know what lurks beyond, but she isn’t going to get out by staying where she is for too long. So, she has one certainty; shield raised before her, sword on guard, she must push forward whatever may come. And this ‘whatever may come’ is a great question indeed, and there are too many variables for it to ever truly be known. Therefore, knowing that the only certainty is to move forward, you can push through the darkness never truly knowing if it is a futile gesture, or will eventually lead to something good. By chance or fortune, the path must reach somewhere.

Looking at my own life, I can see two massive turning points, both small steps. One was setting up a philosophy stall which made no money, at a time when I was ‘trapped’ and living in near absolute poverty. Through the stall I happened to meet someone who saw a light in me. That person, six years later, has helped me find work which will help me survive in this horrible capitalist system without selling too much of my free time. At the time, on the morning of setting up that small, I could never have envisioned meeting her or the effect she would have on my life. The second turning point was around five years ago, volunteering to help plant some birch saplings on a common. I quickly became attached to the saplings and became their primary caregiver. When developers came to destroy the common and the trees, we dug the young woodland out and potted them up. Fortunately a team of cool squatters rode in on their skateboards (true story!) and occupied an abandoned car wash where we could store them. I was ‘trapped’ in a flat again, but eventually took the plunge, bought a tent for eighty quid, and joined the skaters! My first experience of squatting was a huge dose of freedom, which eventually led me to Grow Heathrow; a place of near-total freedom. Those are just two examples of massive positive impacts on my life, growing out of small deeds.

I do not believe that all oppressions are in the mind of the oppressed. That is letting the moneymen and the militaries and the heartless psychopaths who run society off the hook (lol Theresa May). It is also ignoring the sheer negative effect of material deprivation, and our simple mammalian need for warmth, love and nourishment. But there is some degree to which we can oppress ourselves. For in the dark ichor of our minds we might miss the small degree of freedom in us. We must first unmake the ‘woe is me’ attitude, stop engineering the universe against us, and instead recognise where we are disadvantaged and how we will overcome it with our comrades. For freedom, and hope, is simply represented by the will to continue; the will to keep on crawling forward and fighting evil come what may. No one and nothing can extinguish that – it is our essence. Even if it seems we are throwing eggs against a castle wall, it is something; a symbol of resistance and therefore self-worth. You can always manage this, however small a gesture it is.

If you are feeling trapped, as I sometimes do even now, hold on to this light of hope. You are still breathing, and you still have awareness. The seemingly patterned world around you – though it may seem like a solid block, an eternal fortress where there is little of hope or justice – is actually in flux. However slowly it may seem to be evolving, it is. Massive social change could be just around the corner, a tyrannous King could be just about to die of a heart attack, the waves may soon rise and change the priorities of shallow civilizations.

The love of your life might be waiting for you the next time you stand at a bus stop. You will only know if you go out there to meet her.