Jorge was all fired up and had to let off some steam. He said he had been trying to collect his calm, but was having little success mulling things over during his long drives in the truck. It was a couple of days after the mid-term elections. I’d never seen Jorge so concerned about politics until now.
Jorge explained that he wasn’t surprised at the outcome of many of the political races. He was more upset that there was apparent apathy among people who should have cared more about the outcome. He said he felt frustrated that minorities and liberals only feel compelled to vote during elections when the presidency is up for grabs. They stayed at home in droves this year. Some people believed this year’s contests were only part of a “minor” election. Jorge stressed that few elections are really “minor”.
Jorge finally settled down and thanked me for listening to his tirade. He said that he just needed to express his frustration over events that seem so urgent from his point of view.
I mentioned that I feel quite disappointed, too. However, I had braced myself for the outcome by paying attention to the polling and Op Eds. I’ve been working on letting go of the belief that I have control over events that I really cannot control.
I brought up this year’s Major League Baseball World Series as an example. I had very little expectation that my favorite team would even make the playoffs. So, if the Giants didn’t play in the post-season, I’d just move on with my life. Ho hum, no big deal. However, the team managed to squeak in as a wild card choice. Instantly, my perspective changed from one of indifference, to one of involvement. The roller coaster emotions became engaged once again. Ultimately, the Giants captured the World Series. From my point of view, happiness ensued. From the perspective of the Royals’ fans, though, life looked more gloomy and dark.
It seems to me that a person needs to understand the points of view or perspectives of others, when events happen and conclude. Regarding the World Series, some of us felt elation and joy, fans of the losing team felt dejection, many other people were totally indifferent either because “their” teams had not made the post season or they couldn’t care less about baseball, in the first place.
Jorge said he understood my analogy but still struggled with his opinion that intrinsically evil minds oppose equal rights for all and the need to pay workers a living salary. He expressed frustration that some factions favor greed and selfishness. They actively advocate and work to take from society at large. The same people are reluctant to repay the favors that society and government continue to grant to them.
I suggested to Jorge that he was becoming upset again. Perhaps a relaxing walk through town might be in order. The fresh air might trigger a more philosophical perspective in us about the recent political events. We grabbed insulated mugs full of coffee, and headed out the front door.
We soon noticed the sound of a fire truck horn in the distance. The sound reminded me that firefighters are trained to deal with a dangerous situation called “blowback”. Just as a building fire seems to be nearly under control, a huge rush of flames and hot gases erupt spontaneously as a reaction to fresh air once again entering the building. Blowback is a very dangerous situation that can severely injure or even kill firefighters. The term has been co-opted lately by people who describe fierce reactions to other types of events.
Jorge mentioned the ongoing LGBT civil rights struggles. Just as gays and lesbians win a difficult fight to obtain equal standing with non-gays in some respect, there is blowback from the opposition. This blowback is a result of perspective. Some people perceive that if society allows gays to be treated with the same dignity as so-called “normal” people, then the country will descend down the proverbial “slippery slope” to ruin and damnation. Meantime, from the perspective of the LGBT community, the winning of recognition represents salvation, happiness, and the freedom to finally live life as it is meant to be lived. Gays and lesbians can suffer potential blowback from religious conservatives when this “fresh air” enters the picture.
I mentioned that every advance humanity has made has had to survive reaction and blowback from those who dislike progress and liberty unless it pertains to themselves. This is one reason why democracy movements, around the world, run into so much opposition. The forces of established institutions, like church and state see democratic progress and equal rights as threats to their survival. Meantime, those people who favor democracy and equality, see progressive efforts as necessities in their lives so they can thrive and prosper.
I said that he understood perfectly. It’s nothing new that, in debates, one side sees the other perspectives as somehow evil and decrepit. When we believe our own propaganda about other people, humanity loses. We hurt ourselves whenever we try to harm others. Oftentimes, we assign blame for that hurt back on the other faction. It’s a form of blindness we all suffer from time to time.
What it all boils down to is our attachment to view. We think that our perspective is the only “true” perspective. When we become too attached to our points of view, we see life and the world around us in a more self-centered, selfish way. If anybody disagrees with us regarding some “hot button” issue, about which we hold strong feelings, we believe our very existence is being threatened. This is when belief is harmful to oneself and to others.
Jorge said he understands that attachment to view lies at the heart of most of our disagreements and can lead to serious social disputes and war. Humans are the only animals that harm and kill one another over mental ideas. We are the only creatures who construct abstract concepts, attach and identify with those ideas, then hurt other humans because they don’t agree with us.
I said I’ve often felt despair over this fact. It’s so hard for us to agree to disagree. So often, those who claim they believe in the philosophy of live and let live, really don’t live their lives that way. Today’s crude maxim, “my way or the highway”, is the seed to social catastrophe. A successful life involves meaningful give and take. It’s best not to become attached to one point of view.
Jorge said the walk helped his mood. But his stomach had expressed another point of view and that he said it would be a good idea to follow its belief that we should go back to the house and enjoy a snack.
I said that I agree with his perspective on snacking.