Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Dismal Truth

I am wondering what it is about passion and relationship that would make even an astronaut drive half-way across the country in a diaper to seek revenge. What we do for love! What is this amalgam of emotion that causes so much pain and suffering? How does it become so confused and inappropriate to the idea of love? I just wonder what happens in the mind to create this high tension, this ripping away of civility, kindness, generosity. It's this shocking astronaut love-triangle that set me to thinking (yet, again) about this calamity called love. If even an astronaut can succumb to the hysterics of a relationship gone bad, what chance is there for me?

What is it that causes even very sane people to flip and become violent? I'm no stranger to this feeling myself. I have become confused and completely unclear about situation to the extent that I have acted badly. I have become blinded by emotion. I have never sought physical revenge, well maybe once, long ago, I THOUGHT about "adjusting" the breaks on a car of someone I was very, very angry with. But, that is just a thought, it is not action. How does one's vision become so tunneled that they actually act on causing physical harm?

I don't have the answer. I don't want to make cynical jokes about the astronaut and the thousands of other people who go off the deep end. I realize that I might just as easily become distraught in the face of conflict in a relationship. But, what is the difference between me and the "astronaut?" I do a lot of research. I could link to many studies that look at different discrete causes for violent action. These studies evaluate endless causes, from lack of physical affection for infants, to the hours of violent video games, to the repression of sexual expression. But, I want to work through my own sense of it.

Is inflicting emotional and financial harm, as happens in so many relationships that end, only different by degrees, from violent harm? What is that revenge button that gets pushed? Are we all just little monsters, after all? Is the defense of the ego through some kind of outward attack, the twisted center of us all---a center that all individuals indulge along a whole spectrum of possible responses? I think so.

Because, harm is harm. All philosophies and religions forbid it. In fact, I believe, the tenet to cause no harm is embedded in all faiths and philosophies because it addresses the raw, dark center of human nature. This dark center is such a powerful force that only consistent teaching, repeating, law-making and cultural taboos diminish it. I might feel smug about winning a court battle for the condo on the upper east side, as an example, damaging the financial survival of a former spouse. Isn't that a kind of violence?

Everyday the media presents visuals and stories of a violent, apparently, disintegrating world. I feel infused with these images. Maybe they undermine the kind of spell of cultural restraint. And, then, again, maybe the prevalence and shock of the images fosters moderation. But, I would suggest that none of this is particularly relevant to my concerns, because this urge to harm has existed from the first moment. It has pervaded human existence. It is built in.

Only with a better comprehension of this dark place, through understanding its nature and maintaining a practiced, remedial reflection, can we begin to contain its compulsive out lashes. None of us is immune to its drives; we can cause harm on the grandest to the smallest scale. The astronaut and I are of the same nature. I'm putting myself on notice.

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