Thursday, May 12, 2022

Thoughts on these times- discipline, idealogy, fear, our places in each other's lives

I wrote this in my journal last June, almost a year ago, and yet I came across it today and realized the same things are circling around in my mind again in light of all the things happening in the world in in our country and in my own life today.  Are you thinking about any of these things? What is circling in your head while you go about your day?

My disorder is also my gift. I must take both in the same hand. My attention that focuses so deep within and causes me to block out everything around me allows me to think and contemplate deeply. It also causes me not to listen- and I miss important things: the lives happening around me, the words of the people I love, the words of teachers and preachers. 

I am tired from staying up too late reading Madeleine L’Engles “Love Letters.” Within it I see so many of the themes that I have seen in so many of her other books, the thoughts that framed her life and soul, presented and explored in new ways.

Freedom within discipline, framework, structure. The sonnet, the fugue, the dedicated practice of four notes on one’s instrument for several hours developing the ability to pour life and passion into one’s music. The discipline of the convent, the commitment to vows. The filling of one’s self with self so that one has no room for God. Unbounded freedom and no structure or discipline leading to self-destruction, or insufferable blandness. The bearing of suffering that is unbearable. The necessity of joy, the joy of joy, yet that cannot be real and deep and true without sadness. 

And here we wheel around in this selfish world that exalts self-direction and self-satisfaction over any kind of discipline of giving up of self without personal gain. The idea of submission of self to any other human or vow, foregoing one’s own freedom and pleasure to take a path that will only lead to crucifixion of the self- is trampled underfoot as a stifling and undesirable and backwards. Not simply rejected, but actively fought against, in terrible fear of a dystopian world where such submission is forced upon others, not authentically chosen in freedom. 

This fear is legitimate- we have seen it in play again and again through history, where corrupt power does not ask, but demands and forces submission to its ideology, an ideology for others to be bent to, but not practiced by those who preach it, who use the freedom of power to indulge every desire that those they rule over are not allowed. And yet, the tenets of this ideology may be good and a blessing to those who practice them- freely. It is when they are forced, required, and disobedience punished, that they become tenets of death to those subjugated under them.

There seems to be a particular kind of personality that is both drawn to rules and drawn to insist others obey them as well. In a forced ideology environment, they function as the police, and no infraction of the rules is too small. They derive their personal value from living to the letter of the law and seeing that others do too. They desire recognition of their work from their leader, whomever they serve, or from God. 

I see crows high in the leafy green trees of the forest from where I sit writing, hopping from branch to branch conversing with each other, and I think of those who sit in literal prison cells or metaphorical ones in a place that is not free, wishing they were wild birds that can fly where they please and do what they wish without the smothering rules that bind them unwillingly.

Humans wish to have the freedom to choose their master, to choose their ideology, and this is a freedom that God has clearly allowed us. And yet we must have some structure as a society, some agreement to prevent some humans from committing acts of evil on others. In our society today we seem to define evil as an act against another person or their property without their consent to that act.

I watched a video yesterday that a friend sent me on an atheist’s view of the morality of abortion. Their argument for the legality of abortion fits precisely within the consent framework- a woman did not give her consent for this baby to grow in her body, and so she has a right to kill it. But there is no voice for the child in this equation. Where is the balance, and can we find it?

This is where my journal ended for that day. I'd love to hear your contemplations these days, but given the sensitive nature of a debate that is ripping the fabric of our society apart and the deep personal experiences that others reading this may have, please be kind. Let's refrain from smug one-liners that you might see in a meme or on a posterboard at a protest and be real, and stand in the uncomfortable place together where there are no pat answers and nothing is black and white.

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