Can Humanity's Systems Serve as Material Enablers for Evasion?by@maybenot
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Can Humanity's Systems Serve as Material Enablers for Evasion?

by maybenotMarch 14th, 2024
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Modern life's comforts often mask our inner darkness, fostering denial and projection onto others. Confronting our shadows with courage and recognition leads to genuine self-awareness, compassion, and societal transformation. By embracing our demons, we forge a path to autonomy, creating a world where differences are celebrated with dignity.
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Life happily carries on and we don’t even have to look at our own darkness. Perhaps the real problem with modern life is the benign micro-systems that foster the covert conspiracy- we agree to blame the world for things that are, in fact, within us all. Implicitly we agree to live in a superficial dystopia of masks and make-up, where the wounds of psyche and identity stay hidden below the surface.

The very comforts that our system affords us, also engage us in a conspiracy of denial, where we avoid the discomfiting process of taking a deep look within, and consequently, we allow the demons free space in our psyche. That’s why the unacknowledged, negative parts of us don’t simply lay dormant; they affect our thinking and our behavior, both conscious and unconscious, in ways that can be insidious and even destructive.

Recognizing our shadows is a positive expression of our autonomy, an alternative to the easy way of least resistance, it is a refusal to ignore parts of ourselves, and a positive act of contact with that essential but compromised figure we all carry around inside our heads in the form of ‘I’.

Recognition, then, is neither masochism nor resigned submission to this feature of our psychology. It is a positive move towards genuine self-awareness, which – by integrating in this way the previously separate shadow, by bringing that shadow into the full light of consciousness – is then powerless to continue the task it set itself, i.e, to deceive us into projecting onto other people the pain or injustice it embodies. No longer can we be unsuspecting hosts for the behaviors that are put to use by the shadow with such vicious selectivity.

It takes courage and defiance to engage in this process of recognition – both externally and inwardly – to challenge how confinement insulates us from the truth of our ambivalence, how confinement requires people to live in a suspended way, aware of only part of themselves. If we allow ourselves to acknowledge the full range of our humanity, we open ourselves to a greater capacity for change.

There is power in the acknowledgment of our demons, which changes their ability to function in the dark; it will not make us immune to them, but it should let us manage them better. Knowing that we have a dark side expands our compassion towards ourselves and others. We all are fighting a battle within, and this makes us vulnerable to each other. But awareness can transform vulnerability into a source of solidarity.

In fact, this recognition opens the door for a more equitable and empathetic society. In owning our inner conflict, we reduce the risk of projecting it onto others. This creates space for a culture of accountability and a compassionate conversation with our shadow as an integral part of the work of being in this world. It transforms the myth of ‘what was done’ to ‘what I’ve done’, and perhaps becomes a lifelong conversation with our courageous and compassionate inner voice: ‘This is what was done to me. Now, what can be done with it?’

To opt out of a system that not only permits but welcomes this denial of our demons is an act of profound individual and societal autonomy. It serves as an affirmation that we’re no longer willing to be accomplices to lying to ourselves and others; and, perhaps more vitally, that we decline to be complicit in the injustice of the status quo. Then, armed with this existential awareness of who we really are, we can begin to chart a course for a different kind of beings.

We can let our actions become less reactive and more reflective, our behaviors less governed by dark assumptions, and conscious biases – and more the results of a holistic sense of self.

In this emerging reality, autonomy and identity are no longer ideals we strive to achieve but realities we actively embody. They are a commitment to being human with grace, intentionality, and an intense dedication to becoming more fully human as individuals and a larger society.

If we pay attention to our demons, and create systems that nurture our deepest values, we unshackle ourselves from the painful inescapability of separate selves, and liberate ourselves to co-create a world in which human beings live their differences together in safety and dignity.