A Little List of Awesome & Not-So Awesome!

Things that bother me intensely:

*Dishonesty – Boom, right up at the top there.

*Elitism – that is, considering you and your approved peers as better than other rejected individuals or groups, affording your consideration to this very small circle of friends, and forming your sense of identity (incredibly!) around the exclusion of others.

*Cutting Off Communication – Yep. It’s called not being a jackass.

*Littering – There are more than just Native American’s crying because of your ignorant and self-absorbed dumbass.

*Apathy – Yeah, apathy is pretty cool right now in a lot of circles, principle among them the hipster, that amorphous, stand-for-nothing type of person that floats among the sea of options, whether activist or entertainment, much like how they go shopping. What activist issue best expresses ME? None of them? Op, oh well. Maybe I’ll try on a pair of these ridiculously over-sized sunglasses. Because that’s what matters.

*Fake agreeableness, compliments and smiles (also called insincerity) – If you want to talk about creepy this takes the cake.

*Ego Games – Though, I gotta admit, if you can see the cosmic drama of life in a comedic light, and aren’t overly attached to your particular ego in the play, they can be pretty damn funny sometimes.

Things I like a Lot:

Well, the opposite of all of the above, really.

*Authentic Being-ness, for starters – No false fronts. No masks. You are you yourself, just as you are. Part of this comes from 2:

*Deep Communication – Being able to express your desires, needs, intentions, issues, hang ups you’re grappling with, beauties, joys, and dreams all with honesty and up-front transparency.

*Compassion – Ahhh yeah. This one doesn’t get a lot of play in the fashion or lifestyle magazines, but it’s pretty awesome. Loving someone when it may not necessarily fulfill one of your own desires may not be sexy. It may not promise the on-demand satisfaction and entertainment value that a more selfish, material-oriented world-view can offer, but I think it offers the difference between the instant satisfaction of Taco Bell verses the slow satisfaction of growing, cooking, and eating food you made yourself. Tasty!

*Mindfulness – Mmm, yeah I could devote a whole book to this… but fortunately someone already has. It’s called Teachings On Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. Read it and be amazed.

*Ego Relativism – Did I just make this term up? If so I’m putting a copyright on this term. Feel free to use it and send royalties to my home address. Haha. So what is Ego Relativism? It’s realizing that every conscious being on the planet earth has an ego, and that, as it was so finely put in Earthlings, we are all the psychological centers of a life that is uniquely our own.

That part we all understand. Here’s the crazy part: Our ego is not more or less deserving of happiness than any other ego. We all view life through the filters of our own ego’s needs and desires, but an ego relativist often steps outside of this filter to see a situation from all the other egos involved.

An example would be good here. Let’s say you’re dating a woman and she loves you but also still has feelings for her ex. The default habit here would be to put our own considerations above the considerations of the other two people, and especially the ex. The ex becomes a threat to our own ego’s happiness, so we get intensely jealous and possessive and may get angry and hate the ex and get mad at our partner for having any feelings that might threaten our own wants. An ego relativist, on the other hand, can see that their own wants are no more valid and deserving than their partner or their partner’s ex. Their egos are thinking exactly what you’re thinking. They want to be happy. You want to be happy. And from this realization, the only inevitable reaction becomes to work towards fulfilling the happiness of everyone involved – as best as you possibly can.

Now when I told my friend Eli about this, the first thing he asked was, “Well what if you’re in a situation where everyone’s needs can’t all be met? What do you do then? What if one of them is staunchly monogamous?” And I said, well, if you are firmly an ego relativist, then a flexibility to explore possibilities flows naturally from this original logic. Their happiness is your happiness. Their suffering is your suffering. From this understanding, a willingness to explore third-dimensional options beyond the usual 2D, black and white monogamous option becomes second nature. You might even attempt these explorations without even knowing there is a name for it. You just do it because it makes sense.

But, if you or the other two people are definitely not into an open-relationship situation, and there is no way for the needs of all three people to be met, then an ego relativist would handle the situation in the following two ways. Ultimately, your partner is put into the undesirable and tricky position of having to choose (a real tragedy in my opinion, but hey, it’s their choice to go this route).

If they choose you, then you can simply try to be as loving and considerate to the ex as you possibly can. You will probably experience deep empathy and ambivalence because you’ve been on that end of the equation many times before. You share their suffering as if it was your own, and whatever you can do to lighten this suffering, you do it.

If she chooses her ex, it is difficult, but you can experience some peace knowing that her ex is happier now that he can be with her, and that she is happy with him. Their happiness IS your happiness, too. Their happiness is equally as deserving as your happiness, and the dice just happened to come up snake eyes for you – this time. Next time it will probably come up sevens, and that’s just the nature of life.

Another question Eli asked, playing Devil’s Advocate at this point, “What about when two countries want the same oil?” And I said, simply, “They share.” It’s called the Oil Depletion Protocol, an international treaty that has not been put into place, but follows the same logic of Ego Relativism on an international level as it follows on an individual level.

Now as some might have guessed by now, when we believe that no ego is any more deserving of happiness than any other ego, this applies not just to human egos, but every conscious ego on planet earth – anything with a nervous system, in other words. Suddenly, consenting to the mass slaughter and suffering of chickens, cows, and pigs at the moment of our purchase and consumption of meat seems entirely unethical.

Of course, my decision to become vegetarian came from many angles, but what sealed the deal was the realization that the human-centered view that puts human interests above the interests of all other species was not based on any objective truth, but definitively a culturally conditioned mythology. It is speciesism – a step up from sexism and racism in the moral hierarchy of today’s culture, but a form of baseless and selfish discrimination nonetheless. It seems like if we are to follow Ego Relativism to its conclusion, then fighting for the rights and happiness of all animals seems to arise organically.

Hmm, I’m wondering how many people reading this were gung ho about Ego Relativism right up until this moment. Our eating habits are certainly a sensitive topic. It puts us face to face with our own limits to compassion – “Yea I’ll be compassionate all you want until you start talking about what I like to eat! Then we gotta a problem here.”

Well, fortunately, a side-effect of Ego Relativism is a good degree of moral relativism. I believe in being vegetarian and I hope someday all humans are, at least 90%, but I don’t hold it against anyone that isn’t. Everyone’s got to make their own choices in life. It’s why I’ve never held it against anyone I’ve dated that wasn’t a vegetarian, either.

Ah, trying to harmonize a strong belief in social justice and compassion with not judging people or cutting off my heart from them – it is one of the most beautifully complex balances to find, but it makes for a great life adventure!

Ah ha! Well. I seemed to have went on a bit of an unproportional tangent on that one. What’s the last thing I really like a lot you ask?

*The willingness and desire to learn and grow from every situation. – Yea, without this one, the rest seem pretty hard to achieve.

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