Sunday, May 28, 2006

Consideration for others

'Inconsiderateness' is a very clumsy word (perhaps other languages have a better one), but it is a very apt word for the downside of friendships and the things that go wrong in human relationships. It also has a wider sense of ethical 'negativity'.

One can be inconsiderate without being aware at the time, but realise later that something was overlooked about how one was treating another person or persons. That can be quite embarrassing; but it is not delberate or blatent inconsiderateness.

What is astonishing is the blatent inconsiderateness that can be perpetrated by people who are not at all among the 'class' of the needy and poorly educated or lacking in intelligence.

Someone dumped themselves without warning on a family member - apparently to avoid an ugly confrontation with and estranged partner (but not one that seemed to be particularly dangerous). She and her child took over a fair portion of the home and made themselves comfortable. They did a bare minimum of helpful jobs like washing dishes, which they did badly anyway. They offered no money, complaining they had very little, though in fact this person was a trained professional and quite 'middle class'. They simply expected - by and large - to be fed and waited on.

Lack of consideration from one person to another is also a characteristic of institutions which run for their own benefit or profit or to gain support at all costs. People who act prudently so as not to burden others, or who take their own steps to clean up the environment, are often disadvantaged by governments, who pay out money to those who are imprudent or who stubbornly continue to pollute, offering them a 'carrot' to change, instead of telling them that others have managed to change, and they can too - or else!

Religious institutions are often the worst at being inconsiderate to those who do not believe in what they regard as important to believe in. In their arrogance they remove all considerateness toward 'outsiders' by appeal to their doctrines or dogmas, unproven as they are and having almost nothing to do with genuine ethics or spirituality. By interfering in politics and attacking or preventing measures that can be taken at both ends of the life span of individuals to reduce suffering, and even obstructing knowledge and certain kinds of access that could increase the life quality within that life span, many of the religions are simply stupidly inconsiderate.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The trouble with what we think is real

There's an obscure little book called 'When the Dragon Stirs' (by V. MacGill). In it I found what I think is a couple of crucial sentences: 'The very mythology we have created [out of the cultural past] then creates our world because we only perceive anything that fits that mythology to be real, and what does not becomes unreal. Thus the society creates a false mythology to live by; the falseness perpetuated by everybody conforming to it.'

Most institutions stop being 'real' because they think they know best from ill-digested experience. They stop critically observing what is going on both within them and in the general context in which they operate.

I see a person - usually a woman - walking a dog. I can tell (from long experience with dogs and while walking one myself) that she does not dicipline the dog by following and using the dog nature, but by her own nature - her preconceived ideas about dogness and herself in relationship. Almost without thinking, she is acting - like the institution - in the way she 'thinks' she knows best.

Perhaps in some way a bit similar the teaching profession has failed with my 11-year old grandson. I am sure he could be reading and writing much better now had he been taught the phonetic approach at the start when he was in the first government school. Instead he seems to have developed a painful clumsy letter-naming by letter-naming approach as if 'c-a-t' is spelt 'cyate'. Something of objective and critical observation of how best to learn the relationship between letters and typically paired letters (vowels) and the sound they (more or less) make, seems to have almost completely escaped him. But I suppose the teaching methodologists thought they knew best!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hurrying on

The older one gets the quicker time goes, but the energy one has to 'keep up with time' ('and "the times"') gets less. A warning to any young person who believes there's oceans of time and energy ahead for them.

'Hurrying onward' does not necessarily mean good progress. I intended to write regularly every week, this blog-diary. I'm already a few days behind.

What actually 'hurries on' with radical change (compared to the past eras) is everything in the present-day world that has to do with money, commerce and trade. Rapid change there, drags behind it changes in the 'psyche's and worldviews of people. But those kinds of changes are generally reactive, not positive, not intelligent, just confused readjustments. Human beings have not been equipped from their long-term pasts to cope with the kind of rapid change I have mentioned above. Hoped-for-wealth-driven invention and manipulation to maximized profits is not an engine of the kinds of changes we need to make in our thinking about the global future.

We look to the young for hope. But the young cannot shed the baggage of history and take on board a constructive critical perspective on how change should occur and be managed, because the baggage of the past - the traditionally interpreted historical, cultural and religious myths - are passed on subconsciously from we adults to our children.

Waking up people to new possibilities by looking more consciously at our 'shaping' from the past, is virtually impossible by direct confrontation. Perhaps it is better done by indirect means; writing as I am now trying to do, primarily only for entertainment and not to make any particular point about how things could or should change to make a better world. Doing this seems to be igniting my creative 'fire' - it seems to remove from me, as an amateur writer, the sense of just banging my head against a brick wall in order to make known that there might actually be an incipient better world on the other side. That is, if only our subconsciously-absorbed past were more openly and critically revealed, and not so 'stickily' within us.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What is spirituality?

Last sunday I went to an Anglical church to hear a talk. The title was "Arrogance! Is Jesus really the only way?" I thought is sounded as though there would be inquiry and broadening of the conventional orthodox N.T. picture of Jesus - who he really was and what was his mission. Instead it was quite the opposite. The talk and the service itself was rabid evangelicalism.

Spirituality is such a vague term that it can be taken to mean almost anything one wants it to mean. But I think I have some idea about what it is not. It is not to do with morality, though it has a lot to do with ethics. It is not comforting institutionalized support and ritual for those who want simple answers or for those who think 'being linked to the spiritual' involves beliefs based on authority, tradition and revelation.

It is not, either, attacks on people or ideas that those who wish to keep order and power in their own hands don't like, such as a bohemian emphasis on the erotic as deviating from the general obsessive ideas more 'conventional' people have about sex. (There's a lot of envy around.)

The spiritual person will be willing to debate and cite evidence for anything he or she puts forward as believable. There is no evidence whatsoever for God or for the authenticity of any 'holy' person or tradition as a mouthpiece of God, or any 'holy' book as having been dictated or divinely inspired by God. All such ideas are based on un-evidenced beliefs; and are social and political 'tools' for the exercise of power.

In themselves these ideas and beliefs, doctrines etc. have nothing to do with spirituality. They are sheer gobbledegook. I might then be challenged to define positively what I think spirituality is. Spirituality has to be felt, not believed in; though in expressing the feeling for spirituality we humans make wonderful use of works of artistry, symbols and myths. It just has to be remembered that these are 'pictures' that give us a relationship to reality, and not set up as dogmatics relating us directly to the 'real' behind phenomena.

All these things that constitute ways of feeling 'spiritual' are only effective if they promote self-understanding. And from that 'spiritualized' kind of self understanding emerges individualization. True individualization makes us 'citizens' of the whole natural world - even - as it were - 'citizens' and at-home in the whole universe. All other citizenships and affiliations - whether secular or religious - become secondary and subordinate. That seems to me to be the true process of seeking and becoming 'spriritual' and understanding what is spirituality.