Sunday, July 13, 2003

hmmm, sometimes i surprise myself

a post to AHS-Talk awhile back:

Hi, Michelle

> regime is better than theirs. Is it possible that we're not being
> clear in distinguishing between moralistic and moral (meaning
> something more like ethos rather than just another rule regime)? Are
> people so used to

I think it has to do with values. I would imagine that at some level, many people DO embrace humanist values, if for no other reason than self-preservation. Unfortunately, the exalting of these values in our culture seems to be restricted to certain unpopular forums -- church, humanist list-servs, etc. They really aren't that "sexy," yes? They are boring. They are not "extreme" nor just plan, old "exciting." We don't see humanist values emblazoned in the latest sequel of "Lethal Weapon IX" nor do we hear about them in Congress -- lip-service yes, but actual action taken along humanistic lines, no. I don't think that capitalist society can "afford" to promote those values, hence they are sidelined. In fact, humanist values are anathema to capitalism.

As such, I would think that humanist values would fall more along the line of ethos as you mention. Your question of how to distinguish is a good one. I see it as how to we get people to understand our commonality? The empirical fact that we are indeed ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. What affects NY DOES affect Buenos Aires. I don't think humanist values are that hard to "get" -- I actually think that many religions promote these -- if you burn off the beliefs that surround them, that is.

I also think that Bill's point about breaking through the image is critical. I know that when I see an injured Iraqi child, it breaks my heart -- I have children, and when I see an injured child, I automatically see that child as my own. I think that other parents do this, too.

It is just that we are conditioned to NOT want to see this. We switch the channel to MTV or whatever, when any disturbing images come on the set. I think that we need to stay with the images -- let them wash over us, let us feel the pain that arises, let us get a sense of our responsibility in all of this, DON'T switch the channel. Because of our tremendous privileges here in the US, though, we CAN and DO switch the channel -- "too painful, not fun," click. Our switching comes at NO immediate cost to us. Granted, we lose our sense of humanity, but did we ever really have it in the first place? Since the culture really doesn't care that we have a fuller sense of our humanity, then it is perfectly acceptable to switch, even promoted to switch. We are reminded of "all of those who gave their lives so that we can switch channels, eat fast food, get the largest penis in the world, etc."

We are taught that we DON'T have to suffer -- "get an adjustable bed, get a remote for the TV, get a friggin robot that will bring you drinks, wipe your butt, etc." Right? This is where capitalism controls us -- buy "something" to relieve your discomfort. "Don't want to see dead Iraqi children, hell, switch the channel, and now that the FCC has relaxed federal regulations, you have even more channels to choose from! Isn't that great? Goddamn, America is the greatest country in the world! Look at all the choices that we have! And remember all those patriots who died so that you could have these choices."

Once the switch is made, then the image is gone, the pain is gone, the thought of having to do something about it is gone -- like Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron. Life goes on, capitalism breathes a sigh of relief, we walk around numb, one more time.

> to follow rules and another thing to practice conscious awareness (not
> exactly the best way to describe to what I mean, but maybe there's
> enough of a glimmer that someone can help me out!)?

I don't know if this helpful, but I am convinced that capitalism and the manifestation of its accompanying values in this country, demands that we are NOT conscious! Numb, conditioned to buy, conditioned to NOT question, conditioned to change the channel, see a commercial and then buy whatever the hell it is advertising so that we can relieve that sense of discomfort that we had leftover from watching the dead Iraqi children. Shit, if we were conscious, saw all the BS that is being fed to us so that some SOB can have one more Bentley, and we get "freedom fries for the guaranteed low price of $1.99," then people would freak out. Capitalism demands un-consciousness.

Whew, that got me going, Michelle, thanks! Better than caffeine!



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