Of all the quotes gracing my masthead over the years, usually from the most astute of political minds, past and present, one of my favourites is not by a political analyst but a comedian.
We’re all a bit of a dick. It’s the human condition, nothing to be afraid of.
Hold that backhandedly affirmative thought. (Affirmative because so often we are paralysed by fear not so much of Getting It Wrong as of Being Caught Getting It Wrong. Backhanded because at first blush it seems the antithesis of affirmation.)
My Gallic friend Alain emailed late last night with a quote from Caitlin Johnstone in deepest Oz, and by that fact some 12 hours ahead of me.
Meditation, self-enquiry, healing and energy practices, whatever gets you there, but surely you’ve got to have SOMETHING before you can stare into the face of the beast continuously without going mad. I can’t imagine looking at this thing every day without any kind of a practice.
She has the uncanny knack of echoing my own conclusions up to the day or even hour. I awoke this morning disturbed by a couple of needlessly derogatory references in recent posts. For instance I spoke yesterday not once but twice of “expensively educated halfwits”. As summary of my own milieu that doesn’t come close to the totality of what I actually think – good, bad and indifferent – of those who remain blind – as, prior to Syria, I had been blind – to the extent of our leaders’ corruption and that of the media through which we form “our” opinions of the world.
And even if it did, it’s lousy salesmanship.
So there’s me, arising ridiculously early as is my wont, but today with the cognition that (a) I’m a bit of a dick and (b) one reason for that – not an excuse but a factor – is that the enormity of what is going down over Ukraine is taking its toll, and it just might be a good idea to resume spiritual practices long abandoned.
Then I saw Alain’s e-alert to Caitlin’s remark. As it happens I’d the previous day written as follows to a Buddhist pal, a man of high intelligence and insight:
Some aspects of [the havoc wreaked by capitalism] – a trashed environment, the drive to war, and levels of inequality as dysfunctional as they are obscene – are easily shown, empirically and theoretically, to be direct consequences of that way of organising social and other resources to the end of creating and recreating the material conditions of human existence. Another – that under capitalism we are all to greater or lesser degree insane – is less acknowledged …
Time was, I used to meditate a minimum of two hours a day. I’ve no inclination to go quite that far these days but I do take seriously Caitlin’s warning that we who eyeball the beast day after day, year on year, must assuredly do something to avert or mitigate the threat of madness.
* * *