* * *
Love is sustained through the process of forgiveness which occurs on an ongoing basis through commitment to sharing the truth, including anger. So if a couple, mad at each other, are willing to stick with the argument, including cursing and hollering and blaming and judging and sharing it all, and the experience of anger is encouraged and enhanced by one of them saying to the other, "I resent you for showing up late and saying what you said!...AND I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!! " ...then in the PROCESS of getting to forgiveness they have violated the IDEAL of forgiveness and lovingness in order to go through the PROCESS of getting back to it. Getting mad and getting over it converts conflict to love, through the process of attending to bodily experience, and the other person, and the changes that happen in the mind because of changes in the sensations in the body, because of honesty, even if it is rude and mean and un ideal like. So the problem of having IDEALS that block PROCESS is a gigantic history-long, eternal, but not forever, human fuckup, and we all keep doing it like fools on a mission to greater foolishness.
So I request a P.S. to everything proclaimed as ideal, mentioning that the holding of the ideal itself as a value not to be ever violated in the process of getting to it, is a mistaken way to accomplish it, period, forever, amen, no fucking matter what the ideal is. (Even if it is idealizing PROCESS. HA!) This is the key to the failure of all dogmatic revolutions even if they idealized love and freedom etc... They merely conspired together to create a new righteousness.
* * *
Thanks Brad! One thing I've noticed is that by upholding an ideal as a goal, we tend to unwittingly apply the usual (old-story) methods to attaining that goal, just as we would any other. Of course, there are certain kinds of goals that can be appropriately attained through linear, force-based, or willful methods, but much of what we need most in the world today cannot. One of these is forgiveness: it is impossible to achieve forgiveness through an act of will. Yet that is often what people attempt when they read a moving book about forgiveness and decide they are going to forgive so-and-so, or be more forgiving generally. Forgiveness does not ordinarily happen as a decision; the decision to forgive usually results in a kind of counterfeit forgiveness that is actually a subtle (or not-so-subtle) form of manipulation that fools no one but oneself.
An example of "old-story methods" would be as follows: I hear an inspiring story of forgiveness and decide I want to be like that. I decide to forgive so-and-so. What, I'm still mad at her? I am supposed to forgive her. Bad Charles! I'd better try harder. OK, good boy, now I don't feel angry, I've forgiven her. I am so forgiving. I get to approve of myself again. What I have achieved here is not forgiveness. It is self-righteousness. Quite often the anger is still there underneath, unacknowledged and therefore doubly dangerous. I've done this lots of times!
Even when the forgiveness is genuine, if it gets hijacked by the campaign of conditional self-approval, it sets the stage for fake forgiveness in the future.
Paradoxically, the very stories that demonstrate the power of forgiveness and inspire people to uselessly take it up as an ideal and a goal actually DO, in spite of that, help people become more forgiving. Stories bear their own power. I like to offer them, not framed as a moral exhortation, but as a kind of "field catalyst"; also as part of the framing of an alternative story of what a human being is, what kind of healing is possible, and how the world works.
Brad also notes that this happens on a political level too. Sacrificing freedom for the sake of freedom, fighting wars for the sake of peace, concentrating power for the sake of egalitarianism... it all fits the same template. This was one of Orwell's key themes in 1984. Love is Hate. War is Pace. Slavery is Freedom. We need a deeper kind of revolution than that. That is what I was getting at with "prefigurative politics." It is a revolution in means, not just ends. And yes, when "a revolution in means" becomes a new end, we are back where we started.
Yet, as I understand Brad's work (Radical Honesty), there is a kind of container for the anger. It could be provided by a therapist, or by a shared commitment to honesty and real listening. Otherwise, what's the difference between Brad's angry-couple scenario and a regular old fight that does not lead to forgiveness? I think that the story and felt possibility of forgiveness is part of that container -- without it being a goal or expectation. Politically it is the same: the stories, the current and historical examples, the experiences, and the ideals of peace, freedom, and equality provide a kind of container or guidance system for political action. They infuse themselves into our operating systems.
At the Green Party conference, I advocated the idea that the corporate baddies destroying our planet are not actually baddies, but are acting from the story that immerses them; that at bottom they are motivated by the same deep needs as all of us. This is a key principle of interbeing. But I am not saying, "Therefore we should strive to enact this understanding in our politics." I am saying, rather, that different political strategies and tactics will emerge from this understanding -- and that these, because they are grounded in truth, will be more effective. What these strategies are, I don't know. They may be no less confronting; they may be even more confronting. It is not about shying away from exposes uncomfortable facts. It might include putting one's life on the line in front of the bulldozers. Or it might involve various kinds of dialog.
I realize there some apparent paradoxes lurking here. At the conference some people were really triggered because, despite my disclaimers to the contrary, they associate seeing the humanity of the perpetrators with "letting them off the hook," or "treating the corporations as our friends." That response reveals the very mindset I'm talking about: the idea that the world is divided into good and evil, and that (granting we all have some of both) some people are basically more evil than others, so that therefore we should form alliances among the good, decent folk and unite to overthrow the greedy, evil people and establish a better society. To which I say: We've tried that already! Forever, those who commit horrors do so in the name of good, playing, as Brad says, the role of fools on a mission to foolishness.