I Don’t Know, As Usual

I used to know a lot of stuff. You know, big answers, philosophy, politics and shit. Now I find that I don’t know much of anything. It’s all so complicated, maybe I just got dumber. It could be the training but hell, I’m not even sure why I don’t know anything anymore.

I started thinking about this last night after candidate/performance artist Donald Trump managed to piss everybody off by suggesting women should be punished for having abortions. Both sides of the issue were horrified and I realized that I don’t really have an opinion. Is abortion murder? If you think it’s murder shouldn’t she be punished or is it a special kind of murder? When does life start? When do you get human rights? I just don’t know. Oh, a lot of people “know”, but they don’t really know. All I know is that it’s tragic, oh so complicated, and not something governments should fuck around with.

I kind of have a horse in this race. My first wife aborted a child of mine before we were married. I wanted it, she didn’t. She had a strong opinion and I was scared so I reluctantly agreed. Did I do the right thing? It worked out in a way, but I don’t know. All I know is that I’d have endless empathy and compassion for anyone facing that kind of decision and I’d never judge, whatever they might decide.

A lot of people think that their God has the answers. I guess maybe that makes things a little simpler but I don’t know that God. Is there even a God? Another issue about which I don’t really have a strong opinion. I don’t know how we got here, how we die, or what makes the universe run and in a way I don’t much care. I kind of doubt that science will ever know, just as I doubt there’s a big powerful dude in the sky. There’s clearly something going on beyond pure materialism but I don’t expect to figure it out. I don’t think anyone else has either.

To me most religion seems to be based on fear and the foolish notion that some people are chosen or saved or holy while others are not. I’m not willing to follow any holy book written by men but many people that I love and respect find great value and solace in those beliefs. I also know Atheists who are just as devout and kind. I am unwilling to speak against either of them. They all have my respect for the quality of their hearts and if their tradition or renunciation gives them fulfillment or direction that’s good enough for me. The world needs Love/Joy/Compassion/Beauty/Center/Humility/Faith and that’s what I hear when they say Jesus, Allah, Buddha or Science. I hope that they understand that I just don’t know, and I find comfort in that.

I’m also unwilling to blame a tradition for what some idiot somewhere did in it’s name. The religion is irrelevant, the actions are man’s responsibility alone. This is particularly clear in what we call the Middle East. I don’t know the answer there either. It does seem that continually blowing up shit is probably a bad idea, but I’m not even sure about that. Some of those fuckers do need to die. It’s hard to separate a revolutionary from a terrorist. Maybe we could start by shunning anyone who denies rights to women. That seems fair but even it might be wrong. After all, do we want that many more women driving? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself. LOL.) Anyway, it’s a mess and I don’t know that there’s an answer.

Sometimes my uncertainty gives me real ambivalence about teaching. Students expect me to have the answers and I kinda do but not in the way they mean. They ask what I’d do in a specific situation and the real answer is always ‘beats me’. In any conflict I’d relax, get my posture, find my center, and trust my training. I can not possibly predict what would happen after that. The conundrum arises because if I say that they can’t get the training that I’d rely on. So I kind of lie to create an exercise to provide training. I have to tell them it’s the answer because it leads to the real answer. It’s kind of funny, pretending to have an answer in order to reach a place where you have enough skill to not need an answer. Maybe everything is like that. I don’t know.

While I don’t seem to know much of anything, I have begun to suspect something: It’s all bullshit. All these issues are just made up. Race, religion, politics, countries, morality, maybe even science, don’t really exist. There’s only us mortal hairless monkeys and how we treat each other. I think I should try to do the best I can. I think I should forgive myself and others when we can’t or the best still isn’t too good. I think kindness and beauty matter a lot. I think Joy is the highest goal and that I should keep training to increase my capacity. I think whiskey and music are a good way to think a little less. Of course these could be all wrong too. Mostly I think it’s kind of silly spending this much time writing about all the things that I don’t know. So I’ll stop now. Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios, and Viva la Revolucion.

Tao-n and Out in America

We long to live in the Tao
When the Tao is lost we must find Compassion
When Compassion is lost we make laws
When the laws are lost we invoke religion
When religion is lost we resort to politics

A bit of Tao Te Ching paraphrasing. We want to live in unity, to understand and bask in the wonder of the universe. Except we suck at it, dividing the world into me/notme and in doing so we lose all that good stuff. At least if we remember unity we can be kind to each other. Of course we kind of suck at that too so we pass laws to enforce that consideration. Soon we have so many laws that they’re meaningless and unfairly enforced. Now we have to resort to gods, tempting good behavior with paradise and scaring sins with damnation. When that inevitably fails too we hunker down in fear based tribes, spouting the hate we mostly feel for ourselves.

Look around. We’re at the bottom of the fucking ladder. Ban this, hate them, wall off that. The only thing more vile than the right is the left and vice versa. Hate fear hate fear, spew spew spew. Maybe it’s time to start the long trek back to the top. Can we please let go of this shit? Can we reject hating the poor (or the rich), the other? Can we remember that we’re all in this together?

That’s just the first step and it’s a tough one. Get past politics, tribes, racial and lifestyle divisions. Use religion to remember that there’s a larger truth than just us angry hairless monkeys with guns. Don’t stop there and acknowledge that we only need a couple of laws. 10 seems to be a popular number. The Bill of Rights, the Ten Commandments. Just a few guidelines to remind us not to hurt each other. After that maybe we can we let those laws drop away and just be kind? Consideration of others replaces the need for laws. If we can do all that we might relocate the Tao. Paradise, the Garden of Eden, or maybe just a much better planet.

It starts with us, our perception, and our behavior. Let’s go. Don’t wait, and don’t allow yourself to be dismayed by other’s ‘reality’. But beware, people are likely to hate you for it. Reject politics and you’re automatically everyone’s enemy. Reject religion and be hung as a heretic by every sect. Reject laws and be accused of being a dreamer, an ineffectual optimist, or a simple child. Assuming, of course, you aren’t in jail as an anarchist. Preach kindness loudly enough and you might get shot. That happens a lot. None the less shouldn’t we do it anyway? I don’t know if the whole world depends on it, but yours might. Saor Alba, Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.