Saturday, July 29, 2017

Moral Shock.

Wandering around in reading is like wandering around in the physical never know what you might accidentally stumble on that is enlightening and/or interesting.

That sort of wandering around in reading is exactly how I ran across the notion of Moral Shock. Here's a brief description of it from Wikipedia (I don't have Jasper's book yet).
In sociology, moral shock is a cognitive and emotional process that encourages participation. James M. Jasper, who originally coined the term, used it to help explain why people might join a social movement in the absence of pre-existing social ties with members. It denotes a kind of visceral unease, triggered by personal or public events, that captures people’s attention. Moral shocks often force people to articulate their moral intuitions. It is an appealing concept because it brings together emotional, moral, and cognitive dynamics.[1] According to David A. Snow and Sarah A. Soule, authors of “A Primer on Social Movements”, the moral shock argument says that some events may be so emotionally moving or morally reprehensible that individuals will feel that they must join the cause regardless of their connection or ties to members of that organization.
 I guess that's precisely what happened with me when I watched the awful video titled Meet Your Meat. I saw it and immediately began my project of living vegan and haven't looked back since. I certainly didn't know anyone who lived vegan nor did I know much about the concepts and/or theories that are associated with living vegan. I was pretty much living vegetarian...but almost totally ignorant about any conceptual frameworks and/or theories about vegetarianism and/or veganism.

I didn't know there was a phrase for that kind of thing (moral shock) or that folks had written about such experiences. Ya never know, you know?

"Jasper defines a moral shock as "an unexpected event or piece of information [which] raises such a sense of outrage in a person that she becomes inclined toward political action, with or without the network of personal contacts emphasized in mobilization and process theories."" (from Wikipedia)

I would add to Jasper's description "a sense of outrage", the additional descriptors of horror and repulsion.

Have you had any moral shock experiences?  Maybe a moral shock could be thought of as a kind of flashbulb memory phenomenon that leads to a transformation in behavior and comprehension?


Friday, July 21, 2017

Back in March

of this year I urged you to watch a movie titled Get Out. It's now available on DVD.

You can also watch a video on youtube that addresses some of the ways the movie challenges white fragility. (I would embed the video here but I haven't had good luck with doing this)

If you haven't watched the aware that the youtube video has a number of spoilers in it.

Watch the movie...then watch the video. It's way past time for us white folks to work toward challenging our ignorance.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

You can run...

Last week I posted about a book I'm reading titled: The Inability to Mourn.

I mentioned how eerie are the similarities between postwar Germany and U.S. society...except U.S. society isn't "postwar" in the sense of being defeated and occupied. There's no "occupier" of the U.S. in the way it happened to Germany.

We don't have an occupier here but we do have a fantasy about ourselves (our societal self-concept). We believe we're the "land of the free" and that "all men are created equal" and that we have "liberty and justice for all".

We (this society that's dominated by white people here in the U.S.) enslaved humans for centuries, we finally figured out that it was not OK to enslave humans...but...we had to have a murderous and destructive debacle (called the civil war) to quit doing that stuff.

Think of it...millions were so deluded that they were willing to fight a war so they could continue to engage in enslaving humans. When you're willing to die for something like that...well...that's pretty creepy.

We finally quit legally enslaving humans (except aspects of our current penal system look suspiciously like human enslavement) ...but we really didn't do the psychological work necessary to give up the delusion of one group of humans being "superior" to other groups of humans. Apparently renouncing the fantasy of white people being "superior" seemed too daunting.

To avoid that painful and difficult loss we hung onto that delusion but we gussied it up to ourselves to make it more palatable ("scientific" racism) and kept on believing the same old distortions...and kept on enacting societal rules to exploit "inferior" groups and kept on acting like there were "superior" and "inferior" groups of people (those rules were known as "jim crow" or segregation or apartheid).

The humans who were being deemed "inferior" and were being harmed by those laws and attitudes resisted and pushed for change strongly enough (and some so-called "superior" white humans agreed with them) to cause a period of civil unrest (called the '60s') which finally culminated in the legal rejection of 'jim crow' type laws in 1950s and 1960s.

But...once again we (the majority of white people) didn't do the work necessary to give up the "superior" "inferior" delusion...we just got good at avoiding talking about it (those who objected to not being able to openly talk racial superiority and hatred and delusion called this avoidance "political correctness") and we worked at being good at believing we didn't have racism anymore...we called that being "colorblind".

Do you see the pattern here?

We as a nation (we who are white people in it anyway) seem to think that if we sort of behave ok (or at least pay lip service to behaving ok) that we can keep on thinking/feeling the same way (and denying that we're continuing to think and feel and often acting in the same ways).

It's as if we believe that if we create an appearance of fair behavior then that means we don't really have to think/feel in a way that supports fairness. We might have to pretend we think/feel fairly and overtly appear to sort of act fairly but we don't really change our structures of delusion.

But...oops...all of a sudden enough Americans vote for a white man to be president who openly thinks/feels just like presidents did before the civil rights era...maybe even like some did before the civil war. That president surrounds himself with white people who dang sure sound like many of the white yahoos in power did before the civil rights era.

Note: It's possible that we are seeing what is sometimes called "regression in the service of the ego". For instance, most break-ups of couples usually involve several instances where they broke up and went back together before the final severing of the relationship. We mostly never just quit something...we tend to go to and fro for awhile first. Let us all hope that what is going on now is an instance of just that. there a clue here?

We're still struggling with a centuries old belief in a delusion we created to excuse our horrid behavior. (white men created race and racism to hide their own awful behavior from themselves)

Sorry folks, you don't get to cling to delusion without your behavior being influenced by that can fake it for awhile, but it will show through. And those delusions are murderous and destructive ones that cause suffering and harm beyond millions and millions of U.S. citizens. And...those delusions hurt white people in that we have to avoid accurately perceiving reality in order to hold onto our delusions. (and that means we make bad and stupid decisions again and again and again)

Unless and until we white people are courageous enough and committed enough to do the hard and painful effort of working through and giving up our delusions of "superiority" the same old awful stuff is going to keep on keeping on...until we completely destroy ourselves...and maybe even Mother Earth.

Psychological reality 101. You can't make cosmetic and superficial changes in overt behavior and ignore the emotional and cognitive internal configuration that supports and upholds awful behavior and expect things to go well.

You can't "pretend" your way through have to dive in and do the hard have to feel your losses, feel your pain, do your mourning and grieving over the death of your delusion.

There are no shortcuts or easy ways out of doing the hard work. You have to own up to behaving horribly, you have to let go of fake "innocence", you have to take responsibility and be accountable for your own doings...or the doings of your ancestors that you benefit (materially) from.

Trying to avoid doing the work means the awfulness continues. Denying reality works to magnify and perpetuate the harm.

The deficient and twisted people in positions of power in our government are the logical and inevitable outcomes of we white people failing to do our work of clearly comprehending ourselves and mourning the loss of our false "superiority" and "innocence".

If you were "shocked" at the result of this last presidential election, then you have much psychological work to do because your "shock" indicates a failure to comprehend your society/nation...and probably a lack of comprehension of yourself. 

When there is a loss, there must be mourning...even when the loss is of something that you're much better off without. Ya gotta mourn the loss of good stuff and you have to mourn the loss of bad stuff. Mourning is part of the work that lets you mature and move on...and if you don't do don't grow up and you don't move on. You just keep on acting/thinking/feeling monstrously. You might become more skilled at being a fake...but you don't mature.

Our (white people) failure to do our work is why we're stuck and why we keep having the same kinds of "problems" arise again and again and again.

We white people haven't done our work and so here we are...with fake "adults" running our government.

Do we have the courage to grow up? I dunno. I grapple with my own growing up all the time, sometimes I fail at it...sometimes I don't. I am working to grow up though...and that's a very different stance than denying that I need to grow up, that's very different than trying to "fake" it.

Look around...U.S. society and the "leadership" of the nation is a perfect example of what happens when a bunch of people (again, mostly white people) deny that they need to feel their pain and experience their losses and do their mourning. The effects of such a failure is sometimes called the repetition compulsion...which is another way of saying you can run but you can't hide.

We white folks can do better than this, can't we? 1492 was a long time ago.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A quote from a book

which was published in 1975 (but apparently there's an earlier edition from 1967) goes like this:
When psychic defense mechanisms such as denial and repression play an excessive role in the solution of conflicts, whether on the individual or collective level, perception of reality invariably narrows and stereotyped prejudices spread; in reciprocal reinforcement, the prejudices in turn protect the process of repression or denial from disturbance. p14, The Inability To Mourn
The book was written about Germany after WWII and it's very interesting since it frames the German society setting and its dealings with the Hitler era in psychological/psychoanalytic terms...which...resonates with me because of my educational background.

The book is spooky in that I've learned enough about the U.S. and how our society is structured by dominance/subordination to easily see staggering similarities between the Germany described in the book and the U.S.

I'm beginning to think all this stuff is just Europe (maybe) or any nation where the society is pretty much controlled/shaped by white men.

A book discussion group I attend just finished a book by a white guy and by the 3rd week of talking about the book...almost everyone quit coming to the group (which had never happened before) and I realized that in the months I've been attending this weekly group...this book was the first one we had focused on that was written by a white guy. It was some piece of fluff (recommended by a white guy) about "higher" spirituality...all it was doing was advocating ignoring the horror around us and working to feel good anyway. Jeez.

I'm pretty much convinced that any book written by a white guy that's about society or how to live or stuff like that is mostly blather. The exception might be if they are writing in a way that rejects the status quo or is pointed toward drastic revision of society, then they might be worth listening to...otherwise they're pretty much full of crap. That includes talking heads you see on TV or any white guys in movies.

Ever notice how movies that feature white men are almost always some sort of hero fantasy that is consistent with how a 10 year old boy thinks? Help!

Think about it...the civil war (U.S.), WWI and WWII and and and and...all brought to you courtesy of...guess who...white men. Why would anyone think white guys had anything to say worth listening to? And yet, I grew up being taught that they knew best, I believed they did and and I listened and listened and listened for decades. Good grief.

White men might be ok as plumbers and technicians and such, but as far as having a handle on how society can operate in a way that enhances life for everyone...we would be smart to run if they try to talk about that. 

I'm embarrassed at my foolishness to not have picked up on all this before now. And I'm embarrassed that I'm a white man. Oy vey!