Subtitle: Wisdom Preserves Democracy because Democracy Encourages Wisdom.
US American Democracy is in danger. Does it matter?
I just want to take grab my baby doll by the waist and slip into a nice quiet life of pretty house nice yard morning tea pleasant nature walks vacations in the sun — all wrapped up in the most invigorating, productive, and ultimately cuddly lovemaking. Is that OK?
Forevernow I’ve sailed these seven seas: Paced wooden planks with steady, curling, slap-roll-slap; leaned over weathered hands grasping storm-worn bulwark to peer across seas placid, capering, dancing and exploding; boarded strange lands overflowing with words and customs foreign to my rocky-coast, wiry-sheep&grass village childhood. What now?
What is the use of a Representative Democracy? What is the purpose of widespread public participation in choosing political leaders? And does God care?
The role of a representative democracy’s citizenry is to serve as a final check against idiocy and corruption in government. But hey, we didn’t ask for that job.
Freedom of speech matters in a representative democracy because if citizens are to protect the integrity of their government, they need to know what is actually going on and discuss what to do about it without fear of reprisal. But what if we just want to listen to energetic personalities tell us we’re policy geniuses and moral heroes under the wise dominion of a great and powerful leader?
The world has known a lot of violence in the last four billion years. Humans have given and received their share of evil; which is to say: abdicating engagement in the True Good; which is to say: worshiping illusion. The gods are no more free of the dictates of Chance, the Fates, and The Great God than humans are. In the end, there is only The Great God; which is to say: The True Good. So why worry about anything?
What comes after US American Democracy collapses into authoritarian one party rule? How long before the beast comes for you or someone you love? But you can’t lose. You’re on the winning side. At least until you aren’t.
Why do we care about democracy? Why do we care about personal freedoms?
A human conscious moment is like this: At the center is the Light that creates, sustains, shines through, and love-lifts & rejoices-in everything and everyone (ie: The Great God); surrounding that core is a giant sloshing sea of feelings/notions/ideas; and the feelings/notions/ideas flow in and out of interactions with the world outside of your inner feelings/notions/ideas.
More human wisdom is better organization of one’s feelings/notions/ideas around the Light (ie: The Great God) shining within and through everything, including one’s conscious moment: the Light flows more smoothly/coherently into one’s feelings/notions/ideas/thoughts/actions, allowing the Light to better guide one’s conscious experience.
The Light is prior to feelings/notions/ideas/thoughts/actions: the Light is What Is, not stories about and reactions to perceptions of What Is. Humans cannot have literal/definitive/1:1 insight into the Light. However, that does not mean that humans cannot have adequate whole-being insight into the Light. We cannot say what is True, but we can orientate the totality of our experience better and better towards what is True, so that our approximations about what is really going on and what really matters become more and more adequate. This is the path of wisdom: to seek every moment for more and more active whole-being insight into the Light.
We know the way to better organize our thinking and acting around the Light: aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, joyfully sharing, gentle, considerate, compassionate thoughts and actions grounded in a commitment to the Light that Knows we are all in this together.
We know this direction towards wisdom more deeply and fundamentally than we know our various conjectures about wisdom. It is therefore folly to allow ideas and feelings about the Truth to distract us from improving our whole being organization around the Truth. That is to say: any belief, feeling, ritual, or activity that directs our focus away from “aware … all in this together” is pointing us in the wrong direction and should be discontinued.
In the ultimate Reality, there is only Good. Evil is choosing illusion over Reality. It’s fine to explore and play in the illusions: that’s what they’re here for. The mistake is pretending that the illusions are realer and/or more important than the Good. Humans cannot achieve either Good or Evil — the former is what God Is/Does; the latter is an illusion that doesn’t ultimately exist (at the deepest level Good is all there is and so Good is always winning), but that can still be worshiped, served, and at least in an experiential sense succumbed to and destroyed by. Humans always worship True Goodness to some degree and Evil to some degree.
No human worships True Goodness 100%; no human worships Evil 100%; and the degree to which a human worships the one or the other is in a constant state of flux. Nonetheless, there are definite directions in human wisdom, and it is therefore true that some people — at least in some times — are wise enough to be worth listening to and worthy of respect and responsibility, and others — also in some specific time periods, which may, however, last decades or even entire adulthoods — are not.
An unwise human without power and responsibility is safer, happier, wiser than an unwise human with power and responsibility. A crime lord can experience tender moments of real love with his family in those moments when he’s distracted from his enterprise. But those moments are fleeting and never fully inhabited. Best thing for him would be to lose all his money and power, and to work 9AM–5PM at a reasonably good job with benefits somewhere in the developed and free world.
More human flourishing is more people free to serve the Light and taking advantage of that freedom in more ways — serving the Light in ways particular to each individual’s individual qualities. Seen from the point of view of public life, actions that diminish human freedom serve Evil, and actions that increase human flourishing serve Goodness (ie: The Great God).
But how do you know if you are helping or hindering the cause of human flourishing?
Though imperfect and imperfectly distributed, and like all human efforts in need of continual improvement; the economic and political stability, protection of individual health/welfare/safety & freedoms, equality under the rule of law, and social safety nets that liberal democracies have enjoyed since the end of WWII is one of the greatest things experienced by human beings in the history of the world. To jeopardize those public resources is to serve Evil. To safeguard, develop, and spread those goods both within liberal democracies and abroad is to serve The Good.
Wisdom requires pursing “aware … all in this together”. But it is also aided by time, space, health, safety, and an open-hearted & -minded community. It is hard to pursue wisdom when one is struggling to get by. It is hard to pursue wisdom when either chaos or authoritarianism rules.
Of course, one can and should pursue wisdom no matter the exterior circumstances. But that doesn’t change the fact that successfully pursuing wisdom implies an active and fruitful commitment to both “aware … all in this together” and those public goods beneficial to the development of wisdom (space, health, safety and open-hearted & -minded communities).
Wisdom seeks to spread wise and loving fellowship. It seeks these goods within one’s own conscious space — ie: helping the various aspects of one’s conscious experience interact harmoniously and usefully with each other under the guidance of the Light (the part of one’s conscious experience that should rule). And it seeks them within one’s home, business, church, club, school, town, city, state, nation, world — ie: helping the various individual humans interact harmoniously and usefully with each other under a shared commitment to “aware … all in this together”.
Wisdom is based on the insight that we are all in this together. Any feeling, thought, or action that causes an individual or a group to lose sight of that insight is self-defeating and should be discontinued.
Wisdom is that with which all is OK and without which nothing is OK because wisdom is living in and through and for the Truth about oneself and others: Love is Real & Love binds us all as One.
How do we know that? We know it because it is what we most fundamentally know, more deeper than we know our ideas and feelings about it. But that implies that our ideas and feelings about the Truth (including an assent to “Love is Real & Love binds us all as One”) can actually direct us away from the Truth. That’s why it isn’t useful to blindly adopt any dogma, no matter how wise: what is needed is more and more and ever more insight into that & in what way it is True to say, “we are all in this together”. Hence wisdom practice. Hence the need for continuous improvement.
What’s true for the individual is true for the group. We must constantly push against madness and corruption — both within our own conscious spaces and within our organizations. That’s why representative democracies are useful: they allow the people living within the country to push back on madness and corruption in their leadership.
The degree to which one succumbs to madness and corruption within one’s own conscious space, one bolsters forces antithetical to the development and exercise of wisdom. The degree to which a group succumbs to madness and corruption within their shared public space, that group bolsters forces antithetical to the development and exercise of honest public thought and action, and thus antithetical to the development, exercise, and proliferation of wisdom.
Every inch you lose to madness and corruption, it is that much more difficult to grow and develop your engagement with the Light. Every inch a community loses to madness and corruption, it is that much more difficult to grow and develop their engagement with what is best within themselves and each other.
Both individuals and groups can reach good or bad tipping points in their battle for wisdom and against madness & corruption. An individual can reach a point of adequate wisdom when they turn towards the Light until they — with its help — sink every day deeper and deeper into aware joyfully-sharing love. A group can reach a point of adequate overall health when they adequately agree upon and pursue those public virtues conducive to the development of public and private wisdom: aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, joyfully sharing, gentle, considerate, compassionate thoughts and actions surrounded around commitment to the Light that Knows we are all in this together.
But there’s no guarantees, and even the wisest of individuals and least corrupt of groups can lose a lot of ground quite quickly when things go terribly wrong, and most of the time even the best of us and our best organizations are more struggling at the border yearning towards sustaining the wholesome momentum than they are actually achieving and exploiting a positive tipping point. Wisdom can also be gained within folly and corruption, but it is often hard to hold onto. In all instances the best thing is to keep pushing for more wisdom, which is to say: more Pure Love, which is the love that chooses everyone no matter what always every time for real.
How do you know when you are moving in the right direction within yourself? How do you know when you are behaving in a way that is adequately helpful for the group’s health and welfare?
In the search for personal wisdom, we can rely on the guiding principles (think and act “aware … all in this together”) [these are not eternal Truths, but principles that point adequately well towards what we all know — assuming one approaches them with an adequately “aware … all in this together” attitude]. And we can also work with others in like-minded wisdom-based communities (churches more focused on loving kindness than anything else, etc). In the search for personal wisdom, we constantly review, reassess, and recalibrate ourselves.
But I don’t do that. I walk around talking to myself, catching a little sun, sketching an essay or poem, lamenting that some babe won’t give me the love I know I need when I see her standing there plain as daylight in front of me.
In the search for group wisdom, we can rely on a shared commitment to the guiding principles (think and act “aware … all in this together”). The degree to which an individual knows that and in what way these principles are headed in the correct direction, that human being is able to understand, care about, follow, and make use of their own thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is within everyone’s best interest to jointly adopt and abide by these principles.
But we don’t do that. We walk around talking to our crews, catching a little fun, sketching an essay or song, lamenting or rejoicing depending on how regularly and convincingly our loins are rubbed.
The best I can seem to manage right now is a fulfilling job, some friends and family, a gentle deportment, and working a little each day to better find and follow wisdom. What about for groups? They need structures to push against human tendencies towards madness and corruption.
This is a work on progress.
Author is Captain John Terrible
Editors are Bartleby Willard & Amble Whistletown
Copyright: is Andy Watson
Themes in this essay are explored elsewhere in our oeuvre:
In books (“A Readable Reader”, “First Essays”, “First Loves” — see Buy The Books
& in online (see NYC Journal — Politics & The Something Deeperism Institute)
& right here on this site (see Pure Love 2020 Ad Campaign & Meme Project & pretty much everything on this site).
In fact, we’ve been obsessed with these themes for some time now.