We have a thinking problem in the United States. We are ignorant to simple basic operations of thought. Ignorant in the denotative meaning that we were never aware. A great portion of the population is unaware, for example, that two people can concurrently hold culpability. People are unaware that it is not only likely this is true but it is also beneficial to hold this view: where there are two people involved in an interaction, both hold responsibility for explicit and implicit communications and actions.
We lack minds that can hold concurrent values. We fall into a trap of either/or, a split of mere agency and passivity, doing and being done to, which then leads to an outcome of total guilt and total innocence. Lacking the capacity to see agency/passivity meets with agency/passivity and we don’t see that both individuals hold both poles (seen or unseen through explicit or implicit actions) so we construct a system of dangerous imbalance and immutable subsets. What I mean by subset is that if you are X then a, b, c, d necessarily follow without fail. And if you are Y, the same is true. And that we have made the a, b, c, d one-sided and fixed. This has proven profoundly dangerous with respect to oppression. In terms of racism, for example, some have the belief that if you are brown, you are inferior, uneducated, and lazy. This is, more often than not, an unexamined attitude that runs through our culture.
It takes genuine effort to dismantle the unconscious operating of a thought pre-programmed into the mind. It can, and must, be done, however, for a healthy consciousness. Anyone of good conscience recognizes this to be truth. Unexamined thought about other, in the case of those we perceive to be inferior, drives a whole host of then-unconscious behaviors and institutions to arise and exist until enough collective consciousness builds to dismantle the outcomes of this process. Unless we get at the root of such thinking, merely tearing down the structures, while satisfying in the moment, will not make the unconscious conscious and until the unconscious becomes conscious, the thoughts, behaviors, and structures will simply re-emerge at a later date, more sophisticated and difficult to dismantle. This level of eradicating at the root is often seen as a luxury we cannot afford in times of duress. The thinking goes, we must do something now, “We must take action.” I would suggest that this fear and pain-based action, not informed by wisdom, is the reason that the forms have become so virulent.
We need to hit bottom on the belief that there is any way other than eradication at the root, which requires making the unconscious conscious. Without this, we will merely be living in shadows combatting shadows.
Now, while it is thought mandatory to consider the shadow projection—the notion that within a class, race, or gender is an inherent, immutable, fixed quality when we are looking at perceptions of inferiority—it is considered emotional labor to suggest that the wholly inferior individual examine their notions of wholly superior subsets of the other. I would suggest it is miscast as a sign of power to reify, to create a unified hardened perception of a “them” and then to “protect” oneself by holding this generalized perception and casting aspersions according to social agreement.
We send in unexamined beliefs about “superior” to do battle with unexamined beliefs about “inferior.” In other words, there may be the notion that woman is inferior. She is the subset of unintelligent, emotional, childlike. When a woman interacts with a man and perceives that this is the driving belief behind his treatment of her, she is instructed to counter with the belief that men are arrogant, self-serving, and insensitive. The two beliefs go to war in their various ways without the individuals involved ever making contact.
Contact—individual soul meeting individual soul—is what would melt and dispel the hardened ideas that rob us of the human injunction as social animal—that we both belong and that we be who we are. What would make us have to choose between one or the other. The most important thing to understand is that in this relating of ideas and beliefs and relating with ideas and beliefs, we believe that there is something other than our own mind making us do things.
In a mind that has fixed, immutable beliefs about other, we must necessarily have fixed immutable beliefs about self so that when the other does something, we, having only the fixed complement within, must do that complement. Our individual coding may vary, but our sense of choice will not. If we are a woman and we believe that men are entitled, then when a man speaks over us, we will have an automatic response. We may “go silent,” “get angry,” “go into shame.” He will be “making” us feel or do these things.
On the other side, he may believe that women are dangerous and emotional and whenever we move outside of the spectrum of what he feels familiar with, he may feel impelled to step in and handle the situation so that it does not get out of hand.
We do not want to look at what is happening below the surface, but if we do not, this becomes all that happens; we live with our beliefs dragging us around in such a way that we feel slaves to what others do. When this happens, in the United States anyway, we get to policing. Policing looks like this: group A feels beholden to a set of behaviors based on the set of behaviors of group B. Group A therefore, must collectively change the behaviors of group B. We ignore that both groups run spectrums, made up of individuals with varying capacities and levels of consciousness.
We also ignore another d option—the deactivation of the automatic response of group A. I, as a woman, may perceive (again, a belief fixates a perception to a pre-existing idea meaning that I perceive something in the general range of a behavior and link it to a believed cause) that a man is acting entitled and dismissive as I begin to speak and he speaks over me. My unalterable response, because I believe him to be overbearing and myself to be the complement—powerless—is to go silent. If I were to choose to deactivate this pattern, I would start by dismantling the chain of beliefs, which has at its root a belief of powerlessness in the face of certain conditions. .
I could go in and do the work to undo the links such that in any condition presenting itself, I would know my power, and speak and respond from that power, rather than from an alternative surface response. This would mean that no one outside of me would ever have to change their behavior in order for me to speak;I would be reliant on nothing outside of myself.
But it would mean something deeper. It would mean that I could respond intelligently in two primary ways. I could perceive with a 360-degree perspective. I could see the man, in this case, from his perspective. I could see the power of unconscious habit, that the counter had run so powerfully in me. I could see that we shared a habit, the two different sides of the same coin. I could see how the habit of my silence reinforced his habit of over-speaking.
But I might see other nuances like the fact that he felt it his duty to keep the conversation going and the negative volition she ascribed to him came from a positive intention, albeit conditioned or habituated. This is called mentalizing, the ability to see another’s behaviors from their perspective devoid of the meanings we prescribe. What we discover as we grow more skillful in mentalization is that ultimately everyone is doing what we do, however skillfully or unskillfully, based on our attempt to reach the same states of consciousness.
The person holding up the liquor store and the person feeding people in soup kitchens are ultimately both attempting to achieve a sense of relevance and meaning according to the limitations of what they have learned. This is not to excuse transgressive behavior but to understand it so we may work with it more skillfully.
From this understanding, we can determine that in order to heal, rather than merely get revenge for robbing the liquor store, we need to replace the method that an individual uses to achieve relevance with something that is more beneficial both to the person carrying out the act and to society. It is disturbingly impersonal and non-emotional which is why it requires that the people looking at the transgressor, in this case the robber, to be running not from their own unconscious keyhole response of outrage and punishment. Crime met with punishment is not crime amended. It is a constant chronic eternal zero-sum game. They co-create each other.
We understand that crime creates punishment. What we do not understand is that punishment creates crime. And, until we do, there will be many weeds in the garden, with the roots intact whether they are cut off at the top or not. Punished people repress but they do not change. This is the challenge we face in our culture and one that requires a depth of response beyond what we as a culture are ready to face. We think we can merely push it down, conceal it, deny it, and it will go away and not exist because we do not see it. Instead, we wind up with record high anxiety levels in our culture; everyone is being chased by a shadow they will not address and demanding that others do the same.
We then issue warnings that if you do not conceal behaviors considered “shadow” to the culture of the U.S. then the consequences will be dire in an ever-escalating removal of freedom: freedom to speak, to act, to earn a living, and eventually to roam outside of a prison cell.
The shadow is closing in on us. As I write this, the pandemic is happening and the “smart” people are escaping the cities. I would suggest that the “smart” people need to escape the notion that freedom is located in the world of appearances, as freedoms are progressively being removed. We need to establish a freedom within that cannot be threatened externally. And while the world of appearances has convenience just like the city does, we are more prone to dis-ease in the appearance world.
In truth, in reality, we are all sending and receiving concurrently at all times. And where activity occurs, the invisible signals have locked in. This is incredibly threatening to the fixed, immutable notions we carry of unidirectionality with the simplistic notions of unilateral blame and unilateral harm. While those are convenient notions, they are not accurate. And if truth is an immune system to dangerous delusion, this primary inaccuracy has been fundamental to creating weakened systems. The convenience of the view has made for weak minds; minds that are easily sent into a collective trance, minds that cannot hold the burden of responsibility and consequence and, more importantly, minds that cannot withstand shadow material and in a mad attempt to eradicate it, destroy their own system.
That a greater portion of communication is occurring under the radar is baffling to us because we deny altogether the animal portion of the social animals we are. Language and gesture are in fact adornments to the communication that happens between the feedback loop of our nervous systems. The unconscious operates in this underground, seeking out others to fulfill what we will not admit we desire, to feed off of or be fed off of, setting off deep responses that only occur on a dense surface as an uneasy feeling, an irritation, or a mysterious attraction.
What is written and encoded in our unconscious mind, were we to admit that it determines reality and that surface appearances are a result of the whole world that is occurring, can be read and accessed. But here’s the thing, because we live in a world of “at fault,” to take the responsibility one would have to take is associated with blame or being at fault for one’s part in a sea of send-responses, thus no one wants to do this work. It is much easier to put in on a “them.”
The logic is lost. There is a whole invisible world where I am sending and receiving signals and everything that happens on the surface, material level is a result of this, and if one were to be logical, one would think, I likely should make my attention subtle enough to tune in and listen to that level and learn to control my signal. To be clear, this is not to say that there are not myriad streams of signals and that we can “control” reality, only that we can hear it where it is actually occurring and operate cooperatively with it rather than being moved around by it, feeling oddly at the mercy of something and then pointing a finger at a particular group as the cause.
At a root level, you are always and only ever at the mercy of your own consciousness. That is not to say that awful things do not happen on the surface and that things need to be addressed. Sexism is wrong. Harm is wrong. But to be clear, if it is sexism at play, if I am drawing something in unconsciously, what is the solution that will end the activity rather than the mere appearance of it?
Here’s an example. A male gorilla will travel some two hundred miles, drawn by an estrus signal in a female gorilla. This is a strong invisible signa. Within women lies something similar but it is not merely biological; it is something that can be activated from a state of arousal, although it may emanate from the parasympathetic, and thus unconscious, nervous system. A woman may be sending a signal to a man, nervous system to nervous system, bypassing the conscious mind if it is not connected.
This is important information for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the unimaginable power a woman who is directing this signal might wield. This is where it gets tricky: a woman’s mind can unconsciously trigger a man’s biology, like the male gorilla, and send him into an unconscious drive response. This, too, seems vital to examine. If it is the case that these signals are being sent and received without conscious senders and receivers, we might want to figure out how to make these processes conscious.
But alas, no. Not in the trembling world of appearance, the driven world of science, where not one, but multiple, scientists have said something along the lines of, “It is common knowledge in the science community that this is possible or even likely but I cannot research it because were it proven true I would, in essence, be saying that women are to blame when they are raped.” Weak thinking collapses into blame rather than responsibility in this world. With responsibility we could say, this is a biological factor that I would do well to learn to operate, the operation of which would decrease my potential for danger in a place where I have felt powerless. But, I could use this to assert the beneficial power.
It is absolutely taboo to say but what we might discover were we to study this phenomenon, is that a women’s signal goes off like a live wire, randomly drawing in and repelling. And, were she to learn to harness and steer it, she would discover that precisely where she felt powerless is where she commanded tremendous power. Do you understand? Our attempt to protect women from themselves, from “blame,” keeps women precisely out of our power and potential. What people hear in their limited hearing is,“you are blaming her” or “she is at fault,” when what is being said is that she could potentially, by making conscious the unconscious, build such a strong field about her that danger is virtually non-existent. I italicize virtually because no one can ever be in control at all times in all situations, karmic streams are far too complex. But that a woman might go from mere perpetual hapless victim, always a passenger in the vehicle, to driver is a profound potential.
Would some people misuse this information? Absolutely. Would she know the power she had to stand up to and disarm others? Without question, yes. Does it actually put her into the arena? Yes. Finally. Would it, were it true, prove biologically humbling to men? Most certainly.
This is just one scenario where you can see the carefully constructed ecology of a delusion that keeps harm in place with the notion that it is “protecting.” Protecting translates to not exploring, not making conscious, enjoying collective denial.
Back to the “set” and subset. In the case of immutable man/woman sets and subsets, she must be wholly blameless and he must be wholly to blame. This is the weak-mind danger of absolutism. And to see from this perspective we must necessarily remain on the level of dogma that is encoded in the material. For example, it is never okay that a man hit a woman. As I write this, there is the story of a woman who cut off a man’s finger. There are photographs of cut digit and tip lying apart from the digit. It has been a media circus to figure out how to hold him accountable because it messes with our fixed notion of reality. We cannot hold that in an altercation with domestic violence, she was to blame. The power of the belief is so great that we will arrange reality around the belief rather than change our belief because it gives the false notion of a static, and therefore safe and stable, reality.
We would rather close our eyes, rearrange, deny, and collectively ignore a truth than admit that the whole of reality is profoundly insecure, dynamic, co-created, interdependent. Not to mention what would be required to become fluent in the invisible that would equally take into account the signals, biological and implicit, that operate in every situation. We deny whole swaths of reality and, in fact, the pointing out of denial is cause for takedown in and of itself. Because to question the unilateral agreement made in this culture shakes people at the level of survival.
It is unimaginable to say, “But what about these factors?” The illusion of belief is so great but a few can see the trick. The most obvious to me can be seen in eighty percent of the recent takedown stories. “But what about the fact that she showed up at his door naked at 2 am?” What about the years of texts? What about the “I love yous?’ Mind you, these are only mid-level signals. These are still in the world of appearances and we deny that these are valid points as we lay absolute responsibility on him. The moving target of consent is supposed to be entirely clear to a man who is aroused, a naked woman before him saying she loves him. I have to be honest; I consider myself fairly skilled in signals and I would find that challenging. There would be signals in all directions.
Now, if we are to take into account the wholly invisible signal. You know the feeling when you see a loved one, for example, down a platform getting off a train. That involuntary arousal? Or when you see someone attractive and you can’t help yourself, something swells and your heart rate shifts. That is received biologically by perhaps not just that person but by those around you. Few know where various signals are coming from and what often happens is we look around for who fits our preferences and attribute the various sensations to them.
But imagine you are being moved by a signal of arousal, and the person is not acknowledging it. Okay, so most men have come to know that this is woman. Woman is “indecisive,” she wants it, she doesn’t want it, she gets upset that you don’t know that she wanted it. She gets upset that you thought she wanted it.
What is rarely figured into the equation is that a mind sent in two opposing directions where there is no potential of “winning” will go into either a state of learned helplessness or overdrive, the overdrive being acting on conditioned or default behavior.
The solution to a person’s overdrive is a strong carried signal.
Now, figure in two other factors that might scramble the signal. One is shame, guilt, and self-blame. If you have an absolute idea of woman as a set, the subset is “innocent.” Enjoying sex for example is not “innocent.” She is then left to either sift through shame for her choice or to retroactively foist responsibility onto the “guilty” set of man.
As a split collective we have a social agreement that this is not only good, it is accurate. Meaning, there is an invisible understanding that especially white women in the United States have: women do not have equal desire for sex and are not equally responsible for the outcome. We tell that to our brains, but our bodies do not agree. We can constrict so that we do not perceive pleasure, but we cannot stop the body from hungering for what it hungers for (in equal proportion to men) regardless of how much of the load we put on them.
Can you imagine what this world would look like if women were to own and claim, with relish, their desire for sex? How the laws would change? How human behavior would change? If we were to reveal what we all spend so much effort denying? If she were to unleash her volition in the world. What’s funny is that men would be running for the hills. Remember it is an interlocking ecology, the set of Man would be threatened if the set of Woman took on the volition of her sexuality; he would be less “manly.” Were we to look down at the root to equalize power, this is what would happen. Instead, we look at the surface.
Another key is that she would then mentalize his position and he hers. She would understand operating with a drive not locked down by the super-ego and he would understand the navigation required in having a force come at you. See, men do not know what it feels like as woman has not been that to or for him. And women do not know, for the most part, what it is to have a drive so potent that it pulls you out of your capacity to steer.
What we cannot mentalize we often prescribe malintent to. Until a woman knows what it is to come at a man and watch him pull away, what it is to have that drive unleashed, to have him come toward and move away from, she will always presume that he is just an animal who does not respect her. But, interestingly, because to pull away is not considered “manly,” when he does this, we call it “ghosting” as a sign of narcissism, whereas the same response from a woman is considered self-care and protection.
This goes across domains. I have a friend, for example, who is a black woman who believes that white people do not find black people, women especially, attractive. She has what I call beauty dysmorphia, a dysmorphia that ascribes white woman’s competition, surreptitious jealousy, appropriating rather than acknowledging as personal. As a white woman, we just know that this is what we do to each other. As a black woman, even though we are copying her facial features and body type, she must dismiss, deny, and diminish any evidence that would support the notion that white women are in fact filled with jealousy and envy.
If your fixed beliefs are operating you are beholden to them. All incoming information must be filed in such a way as to conform to the belief, the “why” of any behavior that you ascribe will support the thesis of the belief, unless you have a mind that is held open by the reconciling of the two poles, that life is happening to you but you are also happening to life. It is all a co-creation.
Again, this is often heard as “it is your fault.” No, this is your opportunity to engage as a co-creator with every experience. But to do so you must pick up the live wire of your volition. And this is often funny and challenging because almost invariably in the scripts we write we are blameless and helpless.
The live wire is every secret agenda you had, owning your transgressor. You can start with “I wanted this so I did this,” as a subtle whisper just admitting to yourself, the things you would never say or admit to another person. Therein lies your power. We talk about giving our power away. We have it wrong. We do not give it away by acquiescing. We give it away by not owning our transgression and projecting it onto others until it is coming at us.
The shadow greed of the “violator” is the shadow greed of the “victim.” Violator greed sends a system into an overdrive to acquire and builds a series of justifications. This we acknowledge. The compliment, victim greed, sends a system into overdrive in order to draw in and builds a series of reasons to feed the state of victimhood. Once a system gets a result of external attention for a real (or imagined) victim state, it can generalize until it is finding a way that every situation is an infraction. It can only feed off of the mind state of hurt so it will develop a hyper-sensitivity and retroactively scan the mind for infractions it can now draw energy from.
There are people who make entire careers at seeking out this state. The perpetual dissatisfaction is coded as “needs to get to the bottom of every infraction” rather than needs to activate my understanding of my volition. Any one-sided system, perpetrator or victim, will necessarily suffer. The solution for both lies in the middle, responsibility.