Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Conflict and Manipulation

When I look at people on the web, in the law, and in politics, I see the same pattern of twisting statements to turn the arguer into the entitled victim and his opponent into the aggressor. It drives me crazy because I identify it as a form of dishonesty that complicates the world and really creates so much chaos and conflict. It's not the same as arguing and stating positions and backing them up. It's something else, and it really fascinates me.

It's related to anger for sure, and my guess is a lack of empathy or being able to regulate one's self-connection and level of self-intimacy. The interesting thing is how people praise it as if it's a skill that should be cultivated and cherished when in my opinion, it's pure evil masquerading as intelligence. It's a drive to conquer and shame. We need better words for this stuff.

There's a story in the Lieh Tzu (Taoist book):

Teng-Hsi was a prominent official in teh state of Cheng who delighted in finding fault with others and playing the devil's advocate. He loved to make ambiguous statement that stirred up conflict and contention among the government administrators.
Tzu-ch'an was a minister who ruled Chend with an iron fist. Concerned with the rise of criminal activities in the state Tzu-chu'an adopted a code of regulations that called for stricted enforcement of law and order. Administrators and citizens all welcomed this new legislation, except for Teng-hsi, who criticized Tzu-ch'an and his new code of law. This made Tzu-ch'an extremely angry. Not only was Teng-hsi criticizing him, but, as usual, Teng-hsi's assertions stirred up arguments and conflict in the higher levels of the government. Soon, the government officials were divided into two camps: those who supported Tzu-ch'an and those who agreed with Teng-hsi.
One day, without warning, Tzu-ch'an has Teng-hsi arrested and executed. (Holy shit.)
Did Tzu-ch'an have to kill Teng-hsi? Had Teng-hsi really committed such a serious crime to deserve to be executed? Under the circumstances, Tzu-ch'an had no other choice because he knew how dangerous a disrupting influence could be for a country that was always threatened by invasion and plagued by internal disorder. On the other hand, knowing Tzu-ch'an's unbending iron rule, why did Teng-hsi play the devil's advocate and invite trouble for himself? We can also say that Teng-hsi had no choice because it was natural for him to criticize everything under the sun. Thus, it was not Tzu-ch'an's doing that killed Teng-hsi, not did Teng-hsi bring death upon himself. Things could not have happened otherwise given the circumstances and given the natural dispositions of the two men.
In the natural order of things, life and death are not something we can control. It is a blessing to be able to live and die at the right time. To live when it is not appropriate to live and to die when it is not time to die is punishment. Similarly, not to be able to live when you should live and not to be able to die when you should die is suffering. But whether we live and die at the right time is not something we can control. Rather, it is something that happens in the context of and as a consequence of many other events. (Remind me of Salinger's short story Teddy)
The ancients say that the ways in which things happen are limitless and unknowable. Following the laws of transformation in heaven and earth, boundless and unceasing, the cycles of change come about by themselves. Heaven and earth (goddamn this is getting weird and long...that's what sh) and all things cannot go against this natural order. The wisdom of the sages cannot modify it and demons cannot escape it. All things come and go without the need of a creator or mover to make them happen. Silently their presence is recognized, harmoniously their existence is accepted, and peacefully their departure is acknowledged.

Jesus effin' Christ that was long. I didn't reproduce that because it supported my argument. It's what made me tune in more carefully to that, oh fuck, energy. I should punish myself right now for saying that word. Whatevs. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

ANJALI said...

I'm freaking exhausted after reading that. I needed something to help me sleep and I have to say, that story did it.
So, I agree that it is fascinating that politicians and law makers have made it an art to make themselves the victims, of, well, everything. What makes me really just not be able to deal is how often people vehemently disagree with an opponent for no apparent reason or without offering an alternative. I actually find it amusing to watch it unfold.
You're blogging again...