Because change is painful. Taking it to the extreme of metaphor, change is death. When we change, either as individuals or as a culture/society, a part of us, a part of the past, a part of who we were in the past….dies. And a new part is born. Birth and death are the two most painful things we face in life. As a society, that is related to the birth and death of ideas and ways of being, the birth and death of societal paradigms. Change…hurts.
Conservatism (political and social) in its essence is nothing more than trying to stop change. Progressivism in its essence is bringing as much change as possible to society. Change is pain. That is why bravery, the bravery to openly and honestly face pain of change, is a Progressive trait…and not so much a Conservative one.
In order to stop the worst of Climate Change, for instance, we have to change nearly every aspect of the ‘American lifestyle,’ from the personal scale to the grandest of scales. Every aspect of our economy, the way we work, the way we get to work, the way we grow our food, the way that food is brought to us, the way we go to get that food at the store, the way we build homes and cities and suburbs, the way we power and use power in our homes, the way we are entertained, educated, find mates….
The ways and reasons we wage wars (or don’t) and all of our foreign policy.
All of those changes will be painful. Are we ready for them? Are we ready to embrace that pain in order to have …a future? No, most of us, most of the nation, are not. Especially the Conservatives and Neo-Cons, who are willing to kill for oil to not have to make those changes. And yet, we must, we have no choice. Change, or die.
This is a relatively new concept, as societal time frames go. Massive, ‘sudden’ changes are required. And we are not changing anywhere near as much or as fast as we need to. Even Progressives are balking at what Gore is saying now, that we must change our entire society within ten years. But like it or not, if we want our children to survive, we must consciously and willingly make these painful changes.
Part of those painful changes will be coming to grips with something that America has professed to champion, the idea that all humans are created equal. Because if all humans are created equal…how do we Americans justify using 35% of the worlds resources…thus taking them away from other, equal, humans….to service 5% of the worlds population. American humans. If we truly believe in equality, what gives us the privilege of consuming more than our share of the planets resources? In a democracy, in a just society, in the egalitarian world that we Progressives presumably seek to create on the world scale, how is that equal? Is equality then only for Americans? By what privilege do we claim that? Or are we Progressives only interested in equality if we are not discomforted by it?
Because as we all know, all humans are not equal. Not in the world as it is.
We Want Change…Can We Deal The Pain That Comes With It?
Rich, White, Male, Christians (exactly as the Founders, through the ignorance of the times they lived in, thought it should be) are in a position of superiority, of dominance. This has been true for all of our nations history, despite the egalitarian ideal of our founding documents. This was true before America existed. This has been true since Rich, White, Male, Christians set out to conquer and subjugate “the known world” ….and succeeded. How many years is that? How many centuries? How deeply and for how long have all the people of the world been subjected to this fact? To what level, after all of these centuries of cultural control and development, has the fact of Rich, White, Male, Christian dominance penetrated our psyches our beings, our unconscious perceptions and expectations of the world and how it works?
How many years since folks like MLK and Cesar Chavez started to actively demand REAL equality? This too is a relatively new idea. This too is a “new” change. This too will bring pain. This idea that more than lip service should be paid to equality. A change that requires that each of us (but especially those who advocate change, Progressives) look deep inside for to see how WE must change. This is a fight between our deeply ingrained and mostly unconscious cultural programming and our ideals.
Growing up in a culture means being, at least to some extent, even for the most ‘advanced and progressive’ of us, having culturally programmed biases. Culturally programmed biases that we are not aware even exist. Culturally programmed biases that are so deeply rooted that just perceiving them, let alone rooting them out is a painful process.
The right to just be a goddam individual.
O’REILLY: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have.
We were ALL raised within that power structure. We have all be subjected to the programming and biases of that power structure from before we could think. On so many levels and so deeply that we cannot perceive them all. Even the best of us. Even you. Even me. Even when we try.
The first question for Progressives is how do we, personally deal with that pain, the pain of change. The change that we are working so hard to bring about. The change we are insisting the world make. THIS is the hardest thing we can do. The hardest change. Facing our own pain. Changing ourselves. But if we are asking the world to face the pain of change, we must face it first.
Then we look outward, and see we have more pain to face. The pain of the REST of society and the world. Especially, lol, the pain of the very power structure we are trying to change! Building a world where the concepts of peace, equality and sustainability take precedence over the concepts of power and profit does mean a radical change for the white, Christian, male power structure. These are, especially in their minds, the ‘losers’ in the new equation. (Even though change means their grandchildren will have a habitable planet too!) We must take their reactions into account since we are asking them to face ….pain.
How do we deal with these folks and their reaction to that pain as they are forced to confront it…reactions that will not be rational, because the pain is not rational? Privilege is not rational. It is based on force. They conquered and took the world, and now the world is taking itself back, and rejecting the centuries long paradigm that they have ‘enjoyed.’ And it is taking itself back in a way that their armies simply cannot fight or conquer. Theirs is a paradigm of force. They are emotionally unequipped by to deal with a rational paradigm where their power is diminished, where force is not the final word.
How do we comfort their emotions, ease the pain that goes along with change, while pressing home the necessary truths? How do we ask/tell people that they must give up something that they do not even know they have?
When it comes to both equality and the “American lifestyle,” (Warming) how do we deal with the death of privilege? Privilege that is so deeply programmed that we do not even consciously know it exists? Privilege that must die in order for equality to be realized, privilege that must die for the planets atmosphere to be preserved. Privilege that says that others deserve less because we deserve more. Whether it be equality or resources. Privilege that the privileged deny even exists?
Do we sugar coat it? Find a way to make them (as they would like) comfortable in dealing with the pain?
Or do we accept that dealing with these issues is inescapably painful and, haha, tell them/us to suck it up? We all know how it makes us feel when someone tells us that. What will their reaction to the pain of these changes be? How will we react to their reaction to these changes ….that we are not even really prepared for………even as we advocate them
We are about to have our first black president, after eight years of the whitest president imaginable. We are about to undergo a massive economic/industrial/societal change. Both of these are direct challenges to the existing white, Christian, male power structure. Both are the equivalent of blunt force trauma to the current Powers That Be. There will be pain.
Hold onto your hats!