Posted by Michael Finkelstein | October 9th, 2018
The Cults in our Culture
You only have to watch the news for a few seconds, or scan the paper or your Facebook feed, to see it. The “us” and “them” mentality seems to be intensifying. Also true is that this is not new. As far back as recorded history, the story has remained much the same: oppression — the oppressed and the oppressor; abuse — the abused and the abuser; power — the powerless and the powerful… on and on. The duality in our nature is at root. Good vs. bad seems to be the rule, so much so that we might actually accept it as an essential truth. But, I want to ask you to step back and consider if that is necessarily the case.
Underneath it all, on both “sides,” there are human beings, each with their own story. Of note, it seems quite clear, that abusers today were likely abused themselves at some point in the past. Though their current behavior may not be easily dismissed, it may not be entirely appropriate to dismiss the notion that all of us, in some way, deserve compassion. This too, is the human condition — imperfect and striving for wholeness; though not always in socially acceptable ways or within the bounds of conventional norms.
So, what about those “rules”? In some cases, they make sense, as in driving on the same side of the road. But, we are also seeing how some of them, i.e. gender identification, the desire for religious freedoms and other “inalienable rights” tend to be more polarizing. There are those who believe and those who don’t. There is a cultist mindset on either side of every story. Sometimes we are unwitting participants in the play, co-opted by a covert driving force at times. Indeed, the word culture, as we typically use it, doesn’t really apply, there isn’t “one”; or at least, we don’t behave as if there was one.
What I find even more disturbing, even though, I must admit that I can relate to the identification with one or the other around “issues,” is that there is a pervasive egoistic righteousness that I see on both sides; even a certain unbecoming pleasure in pointing fingers. This leads to the ugliness we see now and is what I want to bring to your attention. While I don’t want to get into the mire and argue about any individual opinion, I do want to invite you to carry out your mission, whatever it may be, without putting others down. Then, at least, we can return to civil discourse, agree to disagree, and work for some common good. This, however, is not possible, when we identify those who disagree with us as bad….or silently accept those who might speak for us who don’t hold a higher regard for our fellow human beings.
My desire is peace. I want to live in a world where people are treated with respect and seen for all of their story, including the shared humanity that has its roots in the first peoples that walked this earth and from which all the stories have subsequently trickled down. I want to contribute to the relief of suffering and the healing of the original sins that have contributed to the ongoing predicament. I believe the answer lies in the reminder that we have far more in common than we typically admit. That humility would serve us now in particular.