When I do inquiries into reality, I try to recognize that I’m not separate from the rest of reality. I try to recognize that the thing that I think of as “me” is actually not separate from the rest of reality that I identify as “not me.” I can look in all my sensory fields and find evidence to this fact. I also remember back to my experiences of ego-transcendence where I truly felt as though I was both part and whole to reality as a whole. In this realization, I felt truly safe. All fear completely left me because I no longer needed to preserve the self that I had always fathomed myself to be. Reality was always perfect, no matter how ugly it got. There was a deep clarity there, that I no longer possess.
However, despite having had these realizations in the past, and being able to spot evidence of the fact that I am not some separate entity that is powerlessly subject to reality but that I am reality playing itself out, I still fall prey to feelings of powerlessness fairly often. Currently, I have been feeling this sense of powerlessness relative to various happenings within my society.
So, I haven’t spoken of this too much before in my blogs, but I come from a working class background in a small central Florida town. I was raised middle class during the 90s (when I was kid between birth and age 11) as the economy was very good. My father is a mechanic who has his own shop and made quite a bit of money back then. This enabled my mother to be able to stay at home with me. And we were able to afford all kinds of luxuries that many people could not.
But in 2001, when I was 12 years old, big changes happened. My family split up. The economy crashed, and I went to go live with my father shortly after my parents split up. And my bourgeois sheltered little life was shattered. It was a time of great turmoil and great discovery for me. I went to go live with my father in beat up small single-wide trailer in a small trailer park near his shop. My father could have afforded better at the time, but he is not one to care much for living conditions. He could truly live under a rock with only the clothes on his back, and still be okay.
Now, the place had its downsides. It was a slummy kind of place. There was a bad German cockroach infestation problem. There was one bedroom with a mattress in it that had fleas. So, no one slept there. So, my dad and I slept on a sectional couch. I slept on the smaller section and he slept on the longer section. But none of these things truly bothered me. There was a freedom there that I had never had before.
When I lived with both my parents, I wasn’t allowed to do too many social things. Both of my parents worked together to be sure that I wasn’t exposed to anything. There were no times where I was by myself, and there were things that other kids were exposed to that I knew absolutely nothing about. This always made me feel self-conscious.
But my father, by himself, is a very laid back kind of parent, to a fault. So, I was fully taking advantage of my newfound freedom, and this little trailer park was perfect for getting out of my social bubble. I was in a small trailer park with tons of other kids who weren’t sheltered at all and their parents who didn’t have the same pretenses that middle class people had. Many would call them rednecks or even white trash. But I was having a blast in the time that I lived there. They may not have been the most socially appropriate at times, but most people I met were really genuinely good people.
That said, there was a kind of ignorance in this little trailer park that I had never before experienced. Many people there had prejudices toward groups of minorities. This has always disagreed with my sensibilities in a big way. So, despite most people in the trailer park being genuinely decent people, they had a lot of backwards notions. I was incredibly shocked because I didn’t even think racism existed anymore. In my sheltered-ness, I had learned that racism was a relic of the sixties that was abolished by Martin Luther King Jr. So, for the first month or so, I would vocally oppose the prejudiced sentiments that this or that minority group did this or that. There were very few people who outright hated certain minority groups… though there were a few people like that too. But these were the outliers that most people disapproved of. It was mostly people who deeply believed in stereotypes, that had no idea that they were even racist.
But I grew acclimated to this type of casual racism, and saw that it was a product of ignorance more than evil. There was no sense in arguing with these people or even voicing disdain. They were just set on a mindset, and protesting is like talking to a brick wall. So, I would keep my opinion to myself, practice non-judgment, and continue to focus on the positives of the situation.
Now, to be clear, not everyone was like this in the trailer park… many were very against racism, but about 40% of people that I met there had some form of prejudice. But I always knew that most of these people were good people, who helped people, even if they happened to belong to a group that they held prejudices against. Many even had friends who belonged to these minority groups. And I was just glad that these sentiments were kept private, and that society kept these types of things in check. I was confident that anti-racist sensibilities ruled the day.
I spent the rest of my teen years living among this demographic of society despite moving several different times to different trailers. And armchair racism was quite common. But it was still kept quiet. And there was not much boldness or vitriol to it. It was a very passive sort of stereotyping, and never violent in nature.
But as of recently, there has been a marked shift. Even people that had no signs of prejudice before are now on the defensive against certain minority groups, and have become completely callous to the humanity of these groups. I have watched a passive subtle prejudice turn into an outright vitriol and a McCarthy-like witchhunt towards certain groups. So, I’ve been incredibly shocked, as my sheltered little ideas about the world have once again been blown apart.
I was always confident that the travesties of the past, were unlikely to be repeated due to living in modern America. I could never see people taken in by propaganda to the point that they would come to dehumanize certain groups completely. I had always wondered how exactly it was that Hitler came to power, and how it was to watch society slowly turn to a darker time. But now I see it clearly, in the good people of my society. There’s a lot of fear and discontent, and the propaganda they believe in blots out their common sense and natural sense of compassion toward others.
So, I’ve been feeling very pessimistic about humanity in seeing these age-old historical patterns repeated. Then, seeing people believe that they are the ones that are doing something of benefit for society, with a complete blind-spot to historical precedence. I’ve been thinking things like “If humanity isn’t over this by now, we never will be. So, what’s the point?” "Is humanity just a cancer to the Earth without possibility for redemption?" "And this is the species that I belong to?!?!" This shows me an attachment that I have to the idea of the linear progress of humanity. I have always hoped that we are moving toward a better future ruled more and more by compassion and understanding. But this is just a belief… a belief that I desperately want to believe. But perhaps it is not true. So, I've been feeling a lot of intense emotions and a loss of faith in humanity.
But underneath all this pessimism, I feel a deep feeling of powerlessness that stems from a lack of recognition of the oneness of all of reality. So, I feel subject to reality, when I know from firsthand experience that reality and I are not truly separate. So, a problem with society is a problem with myself reflected outward and I too am a reflection of society. So, I must focus toward my own divides within my own being to contribute to society’s ability to get over these great schisms. But it is very disheartening to watch these needless problems spring up time and again. I get angry for things being this way.
It is also evident that I forget the infinite nature of reality. So, all potentialities for reality exist within reality. And none of it is bound by the illusion of time. So, technically, it makes sense that this is just the reality that I'm coming into resonance with. Though I don't know if this is true, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it does jibe with my personal experiences. So, I must wonder what inside me, may be allowing this reality to come into focus.
So I'm trying to find the fine line between honoring my emotions and helping alleviate social issues in-so-far as I'm capable, and dis-identifying with desired ends. It's important to reduce suffering within society, and complacency would be a really negative thing... but awareness is necessary to do this, which requires detachment. So, these issues are confusing for me, in relation to my journey and in relation to my relationships with my friends and family. I want to create a better world, but how do I do this in a detached way that comes from a state of awareness and not a state of confusion.