The problem with today’s political discourse is that political narratives have become religions. Each individual storyline is no longer a storyline but a mini-dogma.
The foundational postulates are tied to the deepest emotional core, to the very identity – but the only real thing about that tie is the intensity of the emotion. And that’s the only thing we care about. I want, therefore I am right.
And the politicians?
The politicians are human, they are what we are, they want to climb to the top of the ladder and stay there. Once you get a job in high politics, you can’t remain emotionally connected to the rest of the human species who are still fussing around at the bottom of the ladder, for too long. Sure the television faces might have wanted to save the world once (maybe) – but if simple exposure to media has such power to impact one’s perceptions, imagine the impact of being surrounded by psychopaths all day. Not easy!
Here is a thought experiment. I like to play with different identities for my own curiosity, it is a very useful exercise in non-theoretical love and tolerance. This is a method I accidentally invented, and I find it practical. So the other day, I imagined that I owned a bunch of stock that would go up in value dramatically if there were more war in the Middle East. You know what, for a few seconds, I wished for more war in the Middle East! I didn’t care! I had to intellectually put an end to that emotion. I had to draw from my previously acquired knowledge. My emotional inclination in that pretend state was, yay, war. My senses changed. My perception changed. So yes, being virtuous in somebody else’s shoes – when you have nothing to lose from their suddenly acquired purity – is very different from making boring, responsible choices in our own shoes. Hey, how many of us are willing to give up our iPhones so that the kids who are forced to rummage through toxic materials for us… lose their jobs? See how we are all swimming in $hit together and calling it a system?
It is not shocking that former abused slaves often become abusive slave owners, that the oppressed become the oppressor… nobody is too holy without a major grounding on the inside. History is strange, and temptations are tempting. Who knows what stupid $hit we, the tree-hugging benevolent folk, would do if we were surrounded by psychopaths cheering us along, making sure to boost our egos if we go along, and subjecting us to shame and ostracism if we don’t. Wait a second… I didn’t just..f*ck, never mind.
In a way, I feel bad for politicians, but even more so, I believe that they have consciously chosen to be arseholes: after all, free will is the focal point of the human experience.
But back to us, peasants and aspiring intellectuals who are mostly limited in our political powers to angry tweets and calling our friends stupid morons.
Political narratives, shamefully, do function as mini-religions, and it drives me crazy. Not because I am particularly holy or wise, but because I don’t like to pretend, and I like to be accepted for who I am. I have that stupid in-born quality of not being able to attach to dogma, so I am observing the spectacle in awe, going from grief to contempt to indifference to the desire to do something, to utter humility based on a realization that I can’t.
I have seen it so many times. You talk to somebody, and then you express an opinion that steps onto one of the sacred narratives, and the eyes get cold, and they shut you out. Luckily, I don’t have to speak my mind at all times under all circumstances (sob), but hey. I am sure you know the feeling.
The politicians (and the marketers, and anybody or almost anybody who wants to eat) use our dearest points of pride and self-identification to make us do things. They play us like…. let me pay homage to the immortal quote by Lil Yachty…they play us ‘like a cello’!
The intellectuals and the ‘college’ folk are being flattered for their ability to be wonderfully rational, the people who treasure their authentic pragmatism are being flattered for being down to earth – and none of it is real. And it doesn’t matter, because the emotion has already been hijacked and inserted into a wrong outlet. We are all acting stupid!
The flattery. Oh, the flattery. Everybody wants to be touched on their favorite spot, to be praised for what they like about themselves the most. Yes, me too. But the politicians are so good at it, they know how to get inside of you and make you a believer.
It is so incredibly painful to be a part of this blatant circus. It is so incredibly exciting and painful at the same time.
I fear that for things to start getting better, each of us will have to know what it is like to be naked before the universe, to see with new eyes that the TV has been lying to us about everything, to cry, to wonder, to be stripped of all hubris… we might have to wait for a long time.
I just imagined a scene in which everybody throughout history, from emperors and religious leaders to commoners and obscure artists, everybody who has ever forced a confusion upon another human being, who has violated another person’s spirit and desecrated the mystery, realizes their mistake and screams from the purest place, “I am sorry.”
I am sorry. God, please give me freedom.