One of the teachings of Daoist thought is that we run into trouble when we try to adjust the world to our view of things, rather than adjusting our views to the way of the world. In our attempt to change the world, we can often lose sight of what is really around us. We tend to filter our experiences of the world through our expectations; we see what we expect to see, and do not see what we do not expect.
(The late writer Douglas Adams used something like this last phenomena to create a sort of cloaking device for a spaceship in one of his books. The ship would be surrounded by the essence of Somebody Else's Problem, and therefore could not be seen when you looked directly at it.)
This happens to me especially when I read political web sites and political blogs. I pretty much avoid them as a general practice. Because so many of them espouse a particular political viewpoint, I get suspicious that what is presented is not the entire picture (either intentionally or not). About the only thing political I read on a regular basis is my friend Mike's blog Rhetoric and Rhythm
Mike and I have a long history which started as being debate partners in high school. He has many more opinions on current events than I do, and is much more up-to-date on political activities (as should be expected, he is a professional journalist). We will agree on things sometimes, and disagree at others. But, because there is still some of the debater in me, I will sometimes disagree only for the sake of having an argument. These are fun activities, and I usually end up learning something in the process.
What is a trigger for me is when I read the comments of "political conservatives" on his blog. (I use the quotation marks because I've found that people who are politically
conservative are not really conservative at all.) So often I will see valuable bytes of opinion written which show very little original thought; they seem more to echo political agenda, and appear to be formed in the myopia of what passes for conservatism in this country.
This shouldn't come as a surprise, I suppose. America seems to be in the grip of some sort of unprincipled reactionary lack of deep thought that passes itself off as conservatism and "values." It's my personal opinion that this is the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. I think this because we act as a country that is at war, though we haven't formally declared war on anyone (not that that has stopped us from overthrowing the governments of two sovereign nations).
But I'm getting off on a tangent.
What bothers me most of all is my own knee-jerk reactions to the conservative comments. I'm very likely to dismiss words of someone I associate with this political agenda. I should point out that I often have this reaction with some liberal thought as well. I tend to think of myself as someone who sits in the middle and can see both sides and often find both of them faulty. It's this attachment to the middle (which has as its nature a detachment from the left and right ends) that can sometimes blind me.
I'm reminded of a saying from my youth; "Even a blind hog can find an acorn once in awhile." What this means in this context is that, even at the extremes of political agenda, there can be a kernel of truth to be found.
In my own defense, I think there's a whole lot of "truth" to be found in a lot of places, and I shouldn't be faulted for wanting to spend my truth search time on sources that are not loaded down with agenda. (I know, I know, there's a patina of agenda on most things that are transmitted by human language.)
It isn't, however, the chance of missing some deep truth that bothers me so much; it's the triggering that gets me. Flying off the handle at some conservative mouthpiece is not good for anyone. I'm certainly not going to convince the mouthpiece he is wrong; if he can't come this realization using his own thinking, he certainly isn't going to get it from my thinking. Then, too, it is quite possible that he truly does know more about the issue or situation than I do; my own myopia and ego tend to keep me from seeing that. But it doesn't do me any good to get worked up about his opinion. I've got enough headaches (literally) as it is without taking on political ones.
I can see how much angst and suffering strong opinions bring people. I want to develop the kind of compassion that crops up when I read extreme opinions. Right now I just get triggered, which more often leads to disgust and dismay than it does to humor, never mind wisdom.Music in my head:
Too much migraine, and not enough lyricism, is up there this evening.