Electricity and Political Conflict

Actor Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects

Killing one’s own family members is abhorrent. We are hardwired not to do that. In the movie The Usual Suspects, rival gang members capture the family of their underworld opponent, threatening to kill his wife and children before his eyes if he does not capitulate to their demands. In one of the most horrific scenes in cinematic history, he draws his own gun and shoots his family one by one to the astonishment of his would be extortioners. Without feeling, and without hesitation, he then shoots all but one of the captors, allowing the survivor to run back to his bosses to report the monstrous will of the man they tried to defeat. His deed is so horrendous that it shocks even those who commit murder routinely. From then on, he is the one they fear, for they have witnessed an evil beyond comprehension.

Before every social upheaval, there is a concerted effort to dehumanize the other. This simple psychological technique is the fuel of war. Give the opponent a name: hippie, thug, 1%, 99%, elitist, socialist. The list changes almost daily as the fear-mongering linguists struggle to keep up. The more names we have for the enemy, the more distant he becomes, the less human, and the easier it becomes to kill him. Any attempt to understand him is a sign of weakness, even capitulation, and those who seek to understand are given their own label: traitor.

Linguistically separating one group from another is literally the same as creating an electrical potential between two charged bodies. Scuffling your feet across a carpet in the dry indoor climate of winter will cause enough of a static buildup to produce a visible arc between the tip of your finger and a metal doorknob. Petting your cat creates the same dangerous potential between your hand and the tip of her nose. But if you were to connect a wire to the doorknob and hold it in your hand, or if you hold one of your cat’s paws, making skin-to-skin contact with her bare pad, the static charge will dissipate and balance itself as fast as you can generate it.

So it is in today’s political environment. As a Christian Mystic, your duty is to create and continually re-create a linguistic bridge between the so-called enemies of freedom and your own sensibilities. The words you use to describe the “other” will either isolate or integrate, humanize or dehumanize. You will either promote conscious behavior, or you will actively contribute to its destruction. Calling the police “thugs” will only convince them that you are the enemy. Hating the 1% will only drive them farther into their ivory towers. And the more you hate, the more you say, “Thou fool,” the less Christlike you become.

The battle lines are being drawn. The point of contact, the new front, is where we need to be. Not as combatants, but as points of conscious awareness – we need to provide bridges in mind that will allow the energy to spend itself in conscious recognition of the humanness of the other. This is how it worked in India in the 1940s and in the American South in the 1960s. One side saw the humanity in the other, and righteousness prevailed.

Be smart, be mystically smart. The more conscious you are, the more powerful you are. What you say matters. What you think matters more. What you are matters most. Be the solution.

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One Response to Electricity and Political Conflict

  1. IˇŻm impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog thatˇŻs both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

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