From “news reports,” one would think the former. That’s what grabs the headlines. The sudden outbreak of violence, not the much more evident harmonious web of interrelationships that we take for granted. For example, just two days ago, in this unusually harmonious town, a drunk young man suddenly came on to the patio of a Turkish restaurant while yelling insults against Islam, grabbed a woman wearing a head scarf from behind, and nearly succeeded in throttling her — in full view of her small daughter.
Here is the woman’s extraordinary response. Well worth reading, all the way through.
This beautiful, very aware woman’s story exemplifies how we can utilize “evil” to seed even more “good” into whatever the situation we find ourselves in.
Meanwhile, here’s one man’s perspective on the everyday miracle of harmonious civility he notices inside a typical Starbucks cafe.
Paul Rosenberg – An unusual set of family events found me sitting in a Starbucks last Saturday night. It had been a reasonably decent day, but there are, as we all know, plenty of things in this world to be depressed about. And those things, as we also know, are massively amplified by the attention-seeking class. (Bad news sells.) Somehow, the parade of negativity had its effect on me.
Sitting in the Starbucks cured me.
What I Saw
It was a very average Starbucks in a very average location. And the very average people sitting with me were a near-perfect cross-section of the American demographic.
To my left was a middle-aged black man, doing something on his laptop. Just past him was a middle-aged white woman doing the same. Past her, in the corner, were three teenage girls – one black, one white, one Latin – studying something together.
Behind me was another black man with a laptop and piles of papers, and past him was a young couple falling in love over lattes.
At the big center table was a 25ish woman, with multiple piles of paper upon which she was working very hard. After a while, her boyfriend showed up. She hugged him, laid her head on his shoulder, and they kissed. It was sweet. Then he got to work with her.
There were also people coming and going. They were more of the same: A cross-sectional American parade of people behaving quietly and well.
This is the larger part of human life – the life that you don’t see on the news. And they reminded me that all is not dark, no matter how much darkness we see on television and streaming across the Internet.
This is the part of human life that we should be giving our attention to. Watching them, I decided that it would be far better to spend time helping these people than to obsess on all the bad things in the world. These people deserve our efforts.
What Would Help the Bright Side of Humanity?
That, of course, brought me to the question of how to help the bright side of humanity, and I decided that a great start would be to make one point very clearly:
Fear is a brain hack, a malicious and effective brain hack.
When people want to get their hands on your time and money – and don’t want to be bothered with that pesky ‘reason’ thing – fear is how they do it… over and over and over. Fear works.
So, if we want to move the brighter side of humanity forward, the first thing we need to do is to inform them that fear is their greatest enemy. They need to understand – and remember – that when someone tries to make them afraid, they are being hacked.
Second, we need to assure the brighter side of humanity that their way is right… that they have every right to live their way and not abandon their values to screaming political hucksters.
Power-seekers have always been with us, and they can succeed only by getting frightened people to line up behind them. But in order to line up with the fright-sellers, you have to absorb their slogans, respond to their fears, and take their rationalizations into your mind. And that is a mistake.
The problem is that the fright-seller’s ideas are nearly all inferior ideas. They serve dominance, power, and the inertia of archaic models of lordship. They do not serve human advancement.
The people I saw in the Starbucks held a different and better set of ideals. They believed that all people should be treated with respect and politeness; that coercion, theft, and fraud are wrong; and that everyone should be left alone to do what they want, so long as they don’t intrude upon others.
This decent side of humanity needs to know that their ideals should never be pushed aside for the sake of some political cause, no matter how Earth-shakingly urgent it is made to seem.
Let me make this very, very clear:
The people I saw in the Starbucks were morally superior to the powerful and the fear-peddlers.
Such people should understand that they are right to hold to their own values, to hold to their own lines of reason, to believe in their own virtues.
And Once They Do?
Once people of the type I saw in the Starbucks start believing in themselves, the world changes, and massively.
These people, you see – and there are untold millions of them – are productive and cooperative. Their problem is that they’ve been laying aside their virtues at the insistence of a fear-peddling overlord class. We are, as I seem to be saying frequently, living under bronze-age rulership. It no longer suits us, if indeed it ever did. And it is holding us back.
The people in the Starbucks don’t need edicts from an emperor or a priest-king… and they don’t need politicians doing the same thing under the guise of “the will of the people.”
Once the millions of “Starbucks people” decide that all the fear and overlordship were contrary to life itself, they will move into a better age. Any such transition is difficult, of course, but once these people truly believe in their own ways, the ways of the fear-peddlers will pass away.
May it be soon.