Last week I posted re this Shakespearean note: With devotion’s visage and pious action we do sugar o’er the devil himself. I then paraphrased this wisdom into, “Wind me up and watch me be pious.” I’m going to elaborate a bit.
This “wind me up…” concept can be applied to the whole of our life. We are all “wound up” with a core identity and the verbal/ideological template that goes with it. For example, I am again today saying with my thought and behavior, “Wind me up and watch me be…for want of a better term…a liberal.” Many will be similarly wound-up today. Then there are the conservatives. “Wind me up and watch me be conservative”. There are many of them too.
For, we are all “wound up” with some core identity, some template that we impose on the world and this template is usually not given any attention because asking someone to pay attention to his/her “template” is like asking fish to see water. And then we have the human tendency to affiliate ourselves with other groups who subscribe to some similar template, thus shoring up our otherwise tenuous identity.
This problem is so apparent in our government. Our leaders seem to be very smug, very rigid, very sure that the other side is wrong. There is limited, if any, capacity to realize that the perspective of the other side deserves respect. And corresponding with this arrogance is the all-too-human tendency to demonize those that view the world differently than ourself. So, today go watch the news and watch the dog-and-pony show continue—-people saying, “Wind me up and watch me be Democrat” or “wind me up and watch me be Republican” or “wind me up and watch me be a Tea Partier.”
This is a deadly trap and this is a spiritual problem psychologically/emotionally. And ultimately this is a Spiritual problem. This reflects a fundamental problem with our culture. We are all “wound up” and cannot, or will not, consider the possibility that all we have to trot out each day of our life is a mere perspective, it is not the ultimate grasp of reality. Those people that we heap into the category “them” deserve a modicum of respect at least.
I conclude with the relevant wisdom of two of my favorite poets. Conrad Aiken noted, “We see only the small bright circle of our consciousness beyond which likes the darkness.” Our challenge, individually and collectively, is to venture “into the darkness” and offer respect to someone else today. And W. H. Auden accused us of dwelling safely “on the heath of the agreeable, where we bask, agreed upon what we will not ask, bland, sunny, and adjusted by the light of the collective lie.”