‘Oh, it was meant to be.’
‘It was destiny.’
‘It happened according to fate.’
Or, worst of all:
‘It is God’s will.’
In a conversation about the types of people ‘we bring into our lives’, I realised that this phrase is loaded with ignorance. Ignorance of psychology and ignorance of social identification.
Earlier, I was accused of ‘choosing’ certain types of people. I tried to explain that I do not choose to become involved with tramuatised and damaged people but that I automatically respond to other’s pain. There is no choice involved but there is my personal reaction.
The other party was quite adamant that I stop ‘choosing’ people with personality disorders and deep, unexpressed pain to be with. When I probed, their choice was to simply stop interacting with all other people due to their history of ‘choosing’ abusive people.
I postulate that those of us who have been through abuse, have complex trauma, who have empathy, and want to help others, do not choose abusive people but that we naturally respond. The choice is whether we continue the relationship or not.
In Western society where the vast majority of us are disconnected from our heritage, connection being replicated by capitalist participation, we are due to experience a lack of control.
With no community, our psychology seeks to identify with a larger community, to belong and to reassert control.
Some people are turning back to religion, many identify with their socially defined gender and race, or their socio-economic position. With no education of the intergenerational nature of trauma or education of sex, gender and identity, with no education of how the West still benefits from colonisation and genocide of First Nations people, most Westerners are detached from themselves and their culture.
When an entire culture has gone through extended upheaval, just as when an individual has, trauma skews perceptions and behaviour reflects this. Dislocation within a group, within history and from the world may be ameliorated by associating with something larger. Once someone has identified with that larger group or idea, that group or idea becomes empowered – regardless of how realistic that idea is.
Humanity is unique in the way it relates to ideas and then communicates ideas. Throughout our evolutionary development, we have created many ideas and identified how to evaluate which ideas are plausible and how they are useful.
Employing ideas such as destiny, fate and deities to explain reality was soundly refuted with the Enlightenment: there must be evidence. Employing ideas such as maladaptive behaviour and personality disorder elucidates many painful encounters. Climate science explains the interaction between atmospheric composition and weather. Neoliberalism explains the disconnection of Western people from the environment. Social Identity Theory defines the mechanism by which we become supporters of an idea, regardless of that idea’s veracity.
A case in point: It was karma which brought you to read this article? If we define ‘karma’ as the cause-effect of our responses to phenomena based on our personal development, then yes. If we define ‘karma’ as something which was set in motion before our birth, then I would have to say no. I say it was your desire to explore, to investigate, to be associated with or to simply click on a link out of boredom which brought you to this article.
Wishful thinking is a poetic way of perceiving the universe and our place in it, but it is not realistic and it is very disempowering. There are also certain types of people who, once they have convinced you to engage in wishful thinking, then take advantage of you such as gaining your political and economic support. These include politicians, religious representatives and family members.
Knowing which ideas are valid and reliable is a vital skill as the West attempts sustainable practices. We as individuals need to confirm what implausible ideas we have identified with and reject them. We must recognise the context of our choices.
I am interested in self-empowerment. I do not engage in wishful thinking.
I want our civilisation to continue, not our self-destructive economic hegemony.
All people must accord each other equal respect.
Time has run out: reducing energy consumption is imperative.