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Friday, March 16, 2012

Materialism, Politics, and Addiction

In my youth, I was politically active, and while I still have opinions, I am much less impressed with the subject.  Why?  Mostly because I think that politics misses the point: happiness is not achieved through policies, but through our union with God. There is no salvation in the ballot box.  On the other hand, politics almost certainly will create misery.

Political attitudes are mostly the product of materialistic notions.  We assume that either the acquisition of property, the protection of property, or the distribution of property is where all our answers lie.  The problem of politics is that it inevitably ends up telling someone what to do.  The most effective politics, therefore, is when a politician offers to do something else to someone else in exchange for your vote.

Politicians rarely get up and promise to make your life tougher.  They would not get elected that way.  They are also pretty good at condemning someone else, be that person from another party, another belief, or just different in some other way.

But, what this results in is the problem we have now that people want change without having to change themselves.  They want others to be responsible without having to be responsible.  They want others to stop doing something or start doing something, yet without a reciprocal change.

That's a materialistic idea: materialism ultimately means there are no interconnections between subjects beyond their material boundaries.  The only shared connections between subjects is like matter, which must always behave in a predictable manner.  For example, water always freezes at 0°C and boils at 100°C.  If you apply this to politics, then 'conservatives' are always 'greedy' and liberals are always 'gullible.'

When we treat humans like matter, then we take away from them the ability to differentiate from whatever category we have assigned them to.  Obviously, there is a reason to rob someone else of his individualism: it makes it easier to hate him, and even easier to legislate to control his behavior.

With the amount of law-passing in the modern American scene, politicians must objectify those that they seek to control.  Given that there are so many people, that is a lot of humans who's humanity must be ignored.  Once you ignore someone's humanity, you can dismiss their opinions and don't even have to worry about thinking too hard about your own: your ideas might not be the best, but since you are the only 'rational creature' around, your ideas are the only one's that count.

What does this have to do with addiction?  Well, addicts and those with serious mental disorders do the exact same thing.  This is part of why most of us sense the utter madness of modern politics.  Modern politics has become a battle over what people are to be dismissed and ignored.  Addiction dominates the addict by dismissing the humanity of those whom the addict hurts with his disease.

For the addict, like the politician, the needs of others only impinges on his own designs.  He wants things, and sees people as either 'good' because they facilitate his acquisition or 'bad' because they interfere even if just by being in the way at the time.  If an addicted father hears the pleas of his children for his time and attention, this only seems a nuisance that prevents him from spending more time doing what he wants.

The addict will not sacrifice for the other, and he won't change if he can help it.  So, he objectifies other people, placing them in simplistic categories (usually all bad), so that he can ignore their cries and continue in his selfish drives.

Sound familiar?  Yes, the politician is much the same.

For our world to change, we all need to grow up and stop looking at others as the enemy.  The recovery of the addict comes when he sees others sharing in the same humanity that he has and how we are all wrapped in bonds of suffering that we wrap each other in.  When the addict moves from hatred to compassion, he ascends from a materialist views of humanity to a spiritual one: he sees the bonds between all of us.

If we are to help our modern world, it is going to be through this awakening to God, who ultimately is the bond between all people made in His Image and Likeness.   

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