Even when we are sitting, we are in motion. Can we ever be still? Even when we try to be still, the world pulls us along like specks of dust in its wake. Is change therefore inevitable?
The physical world is irrelevant. Of course we are in motion due to the earth's rotation on its axis, and its revolution around the sun. It is our inner world that flexes and shifts whether or not we like it because as greater reality ruthlessly presses on, we are cast into new experiences. We are our experiences. And our experiences of life are constantly changing. So we are change.
Hating change, or even resisting it, is therefore a futile effort. Yet our civilization does because it compels us to cling to things like tradition, monetary vocations, and the past because they provide comfort. Is comfort therefore our enemy?
In essence: Is it even possible to comfortably change?
Resentment is not about resolution because it subjectively romanticizes a past that affirms what the subject believes ought to have happened in the first place. This is a false form of retribution, because resentment is inward and self-enclosed and retribution offers some kind of compensatory payout for transgressions. Resentment offers no payout whatsoever, and only prescribes a cycle of negativity.
Mentally travelling back through time, or reflecting upon the past, is not detrimental in itself because it helps us discover and understand things we missed, which can help us enrich our future meanings and make better choices. The problem with resentment though is that it is so self-enclosed and emotionally festered that the intellectual mind is prevented from reconciling the emotional experience with actual reality. In other words, resentment is so entrenched in me-affirmations and confirmation biases that when we reflect upon the past, we mutate reality to fit our subjective models, rather than the other way around. So unchecked resentment ultimately inhibits our ability to see the actual future (instead of a merely palatable future) because our intellect is what is needed to extrapolate those future, realistic variables.
This actually answers why we resent. Humans (barring the severe mentally handicapped) have the ability to imagine the past and future, in addition to experience a variable-rich present. It is one of our strongest gifts. However, if we do not strengthen our minds and our ability to intellectually understand these realistic variables--which exist in all three frames of time--then we are left with operating subjectively across these time frames, forcing all the variables we allow to serve or affirm us in some way. (This is why a subjective perspective avails us to a tiny sliver of reality, and why an objective perspective avails us to a much larger one.)
Since our modern culture:
1) Encourages immediate gratification,
2) Tells us that we are not of nature but above nature,
3) Concludes that if history turned out this way, it "couldn't" have turned out any other way, therefore must be the "best" way,
the subjective perspective dovetails seamlessly with this modern culture, despite all its limitations.
Resentment is destructive because it offers a no-win scenario, and due to this socially-encouraged subjective perspective, its not trying to see a bigger picture. It is literally the self waging imaginative war on something else without intending to ever outwardly engage it to reconcile it. The risk of being wrong through engaging something outside of its self-enclosure--or greater reality--is too great. Thus, resentment is a rudimentary cost-benefit equation which by default prioritizes the safety of the subjective self-enclosure over the engagement of--and resolution with--greater/outer reality.
Plenty of people exist who do not subjectively operate: they are called objective. (I feel the need to say this because many believe subjectivity is the only way to operate.) Kristhoffer teaches objectivity through telling individuals to "prove themselves wrong." This search for our wrongdoings releases us of our subjective shackles, allowing our minds to operate more freely, searching for those variables that exist whether or not we are there to acknowledge them. Reality is indeed much larger than we are, and is home to a plethora of variables of resolution.
Ultimately, resentment prevents resolution, and those who resent engage in such a strong me-affirmative cycle that the very possibility of objective, reality-based resolution turns into a myth. So when we participate in resentment, not only do we inhibit an ability to be objective to non-human reality and other humans as well, but also to ourselves. It is that damaging. But each of us has the ability for self-objectivity, and despite some thinkings going around, will not make us robotic. It will simply help us develop more self-sufficiency because we will be adapting to reality instead of making it fit our ideal, as resentment does.
I know as well as anyone that labels can be slippery slopes: I am a writer, you are Chinese, she is a bank teller, he is a football player. Let us face it, labeling can lead us into murky water if we do not understand why and how we are labeling in the first place. The good news is that labeling is not a unique activity; it is actually extension of what we do on a daily basis because it is part of our nature. In short, a label is simply an extension of our natural inclination to judge and categorize.
I have heard it numerous times: you are being judgey; you cannot judge until you walk in someone else's shoes; people do not think the same so you cannot apply universal principles to them. All these are overreactions to misunderstanding what, as base, judgement is. Did you make coffee this morning or tea? Whichever you chose, well, you judged that. Did you brush your teeth this morning? If you did, it is because you judged oral health more desirable than oral unhealth. See where I am going with this? Our inclination as humans to judge is inevitable and unavoidable, which is why I argue that we ought to drop the relativistic overreactions and practice doing it well.
But judgment is not that simple and convenient, you may say. People's feelings and unique life experiences are involved. I understand, and would never homogenize the realm of human experience, thinkings, and feelings. What I am saying is that judgement is what allows us to make a decision between options. Let us keep it simple; we have beaten up this inclination enough.
Let us talk about labels again. Blacks are often labeled as lascivious, whites as easily corruptible to power, Spanish as thieves, the list goes on. We judged that. How? Because confirmation bias was practiced instead of objective judgment. Think just because judgement is natural that we cannot practice it? Wrong. We can hone it. And it certainly helps ourselves and the rest of the natural world if we do hone it. Look at atrocities like Holy Wars, the Holocaust, and any hate crime. These are perversions of judgment because the person(s) judging did not apply their intellect to objectively expose the tenets of their own thoughts and beliefs. When thinking about categories and judgments and such, its so easy and convenient to think about what we are judging as if that ought to be our primary focus. I say no. I say we ought to grill ourselves as to whether our ability to judge is mature and honed, not even thinking about outward stimuli.
When we think about outward stimuli before we hone our ability to objectively and reasonably judge, catastrophes are pretty much inevitable. We then make statements like : I was raised suspicious of [insert group], or, that's just what I was taught, or, If so many people think/feel like I do, then I must be right. I cannot tell you how often I hear these awful, destructive arguments, and what makes them awful and destructive is that tucked within them is an unwillingness to clean up the inherited judgments (aka: beliefs), or even look at them and judge them with a fresh set of eyes! This is partly why America is judgment-phobic; we believe toxic judgments are a sample that fully represents all judgments. That is just not true.
Judgments, categories, and labels are intimately related. Yes, this is a complex issue due to its abstract and moral/ethical nature. (Add fear to that; revealing and judging ourselves is scary at times). However, I am going to simplify it.
If we ask ourselves, What judgments have I inherited?, we encourage a conversation and exploration within ourselves, which is a lot better position to be in than simply expressing/imposing them upon others. What can be the harm of a self-exploration, anyway?
Years ago I judged that I was a good writer, but when asked why by another, I was forced to reevaluate the meaning of the word good. And writer. Had I established healthy, productive literary practices? No, I just assumed I had them because writing came relatively easy because I am a natural writer. So the investigation allowed me to see my flaws and fix them, rather than remain stagnant and in self-deception. This is one of the main reasons for developing objective judgment; it allows us to explore and view reality for what it is, rather than what we want it it be, no matter what we were told (indoctrinated) in our upbringing. Honing our ability to judge allows us to mature intellectually, and since that allows us to be more honest about ourselves, it allows us to develop emotionally.
All this from labels, judgments, and categories. We judge as a matter of species-necessity. Being judgey is thus a human obligation. Deal with it. Badmouthing it is like badmouthing locomotion, or food and water. Our lives are flooded with conflicting options: move left not right, front not back, eat this not that, work at this place not that, don't work at either, love this way not that way, hate this way not that way, befriend this person not that person. We are inundated with conflicting options and as sentient beings we choose among them as a matter of course. So why not clean up our course? Do we not care to?
I am not denying that poor (abusive, destructive, exploitative) judgments exist, or that labels can restrict who and what you want to be. I constantly tell myself that I am more than a writer. That there is much more to me than reading and writing, despite it being my primary focus. But labels properly made (through an open exploration of values, judgments and beliefs) can help us take ownership and responsibility of our lives. A refusal to label who and what we are is a form of apathy. It is merely saying that we would rather avoid revealing ourselves than improve ourselves. Ironically, judging that I mis-labeled myself a good writer years ago allowed me become a much better writer. So as fixed as we think our labels are, if we approach them with an adaptive fluidity, encouraging and embracing judgment along the way, then we will see our inner world and outer world (remember the previous statements about blacks, whites, and Spanish?) more fully, rather than what confirms our inherited judgments.
Popular question: Why do people have to be assholes?
Already the discourse is wanting due to the term's ambiguity, as well as from preconceived notions about the term. I cannot dismiss that the word is loaded, however, I can critique how exactly it is loaded. And if you think the word is not loaded, that the meaning of asshole is blatantly obvious therefore unnecessary to investigate, then I challenge you to briefly suspend your assessment long enough to permit another perspective. After all, challenging "obvious" perspectives has been the basis of most technological, social, and philosophical enlightenment, so there is only something to gain from hearing how the meaning of the term asshole may be different than popularly attributed.
To keep this simple, this whole conversation pertains to a competition between an us group and a them group. More specifically, the us group are those who abide by society's conventional standards and customs, and the them group (assholes) are those who abide by their own set of rules, customs, and standards.
Since not all humans want to conform (some outright cannot) to social standards and customs, never will 100% of the human population abide by them. Not everyone finds solace in a herd; this is a lost truth. What this shows is that assholes are not aberrations, yet thinking, feeling people in their own right. That they are part of the natural human order. It is the next part of the discourse where the topic becomes hotly debated, though.
Is there virtue in being an asshole?
First off, assholes are not the only types of people whom do not conform well to social standards and customs. There are many different types, and it is here I will briefly call upon geeks and nerds for the purpose of giving context to this discussion of anti-sociality. Geeks and nerds do not fit in well because they lack social tact and often develop obsessions for vocations that are slightly off (or wholly off) from what are deemed socially valuable or productive. Further, geeks and nerds are passive, both in nature and practice. This is why it is easy to marginalize them, though also why it can be extremely effective to vet them for socially productive activities, so long as they are fed the right incentive. Since they are passive, they can more easily be corralled, indoctrinated, and directed as if they are some wind-up toy. I am not insulting or denigrating them. It is just that due to their passive nature, geeks and nerds often have trouble standing up to existent power structures, because their primary concern is manipulating and ascending technical or methodical systems, not manipulating and ascending social systems or structures.
This brings assholes back into the picture. Assholes are distant cousins of geeks and nerds because they are off-center, though are active. They see and openly communicate the discrepancy between themselves and the socially imposed standards and customs. Due to their inclination to be active rather than passive, assholes cannot easily be pushed around, unlike geeks and nerds.
I know what you may be thinking. "Assholes are just bullies." Well, no. Bullies are power-based. They sniff out weakness and move toward it to either obtain some kind of resource as easily as possible, or use what they overpower as yet another coffer to hide their own inadequacies. Assholes do not prey upon weakness because they are more focused and centered upon operating according to their own core thoughts, values, and beliefs, rather than against the us-based social group. Assholes are not rebels, they are merely people who are willing to stand toe-to-toe with convention if the convention impedes or imposes upon them.
Does this make assholes right all the time? Not even close. If it is one premise I want to be abundantly, ridiculously, redundantly clear on it is that just because one is an asshole, does not make them a truth-teller. It simply means they will venture to have their own thoughts and boldly present them to the world, without the requisite approval of the social body in power. Assholes thus can have tremendous social value, not only because they strive for indigenous thoughts, but if they are wrong they have the fortitude to admit it. For this reason, they are not anarchists. (Talk about teachers of humility.) Remember, assholes do not require social approval, so admitting to the social body when they are wrong is not a problem. Society's approval is not required in the first place!
It may sound odd, but living like an asshole is actually a practice of determining and strengthening one's character. It is not an adventure in seeing how many waves one can create (that would be a bully), but is a lifestyle calibrated upon the self. For this reason, assholes become labelled assholes as a byproduct of the effects they genuinely cause. Bullies, on the other hand, deliberately choose to be bullies because they seek power over others. An asshole is simply an orientation to command one's life according to what they are bold enough to discover and communicate as an individual. Facing their own faults. This causes a social rub because they do not defer to social power mechanisms or traditions.
Is a society of assholes possible? That is a different discussion, but a worthy one to have, considering it sheds light on how modern us-groups (civilized societies) have a particular distaste for raw individuality, conflict, and strength of character.
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