Today I want to take a little dive into WHY we are a humanity that's so susceptible to radicalization. To conspiracy theory. To believing things that cause us to be harmful to ourselves and others. This blog isn't so much prescriptive, as it is a explanation, and exploration and something to think about and keep in mind as you move through the world.
This is my view of things as they stand, and I'm sure as I learn more this perspective will expand!
Let me know what you think when you have a chance to read, I'd love to hear your thoughts too!
Why Are We So Susceptible?
We are susceptible to conspiracy theories, religions, governments and other power structures that drive us to do harmful things, as well as being easily locked into patterns of black and white thinking because we are in PAIN and we don’t understand why.
At the ROOT of all the chaos we see in the world right now is PAIN.
Fear of not having enough.
Fear of provision going away.
Fear of love going away.
Fear of being left out and left behind.
Fear of the world continuing on without us.
Fear of exploitation and abuse on personal, community and global scales.
People who are literally seeing their security and ways of life being trashed, their foundations rocked. People who have never been supported by the systems that exist - that feel the need to defend, protect and be individuals because they don’t feel their best interests are being looked out for. People who live in areas where there is scarcity of resources, violent government and other extreme factors that play into their not having a safe life in general.
All the ‘isms’ we see. All the violence. All the division. All the complete ‘side taking.’ All the distrust. All the wild theories. We can wax poetic and even sit in judgement all we want about why this is happening, where it comes from, why these people ‘are like this’ - but I feel that in reality, it all comes down to people who are hurting, scared and feeling that their security is at risk. Their foundations for what is right and wrong, good and bad (and thus what will get them LOVED and therefore PROVIDED FOR) are being shaken. Have never been solid. They are looking for a sense of security that either hasn’t ever existed for them, or existed in a system that’s now crumbling due to more awareness.
We are seeing more and more every day that so much of the human way of life is causing chaos and destruction. Climate change. Mass hunger. Environmental destruction. Large groups of people not having their needs met. We are seeing the results of dominant groups of people exploiting other groups. We are seeing the ways in which our capitalist system that asks ALL people to deny their humanity ISN’T working for us. We are seeing how our religious structures are based on lies. We are seeing how the financial system is set up for robots not humans. We are seeing, seeing, seeing. We are having more and more people unable to keep up with/cope in the status quo - turning to addictions, coping mechanisms, self destructive behaviors and other ways to manage the pain, having no clue how to create a life that actually WORKS for them, and maybe not even considering that they could. We are being shown that there is one ‘right’ way to be - and if we don’t fit that - to bad. Change yourself. Medicate yourself. Fix yourself. Just get on with it - and again we are creating nothing but pain as we do this.
We have big problems.
With those big problems comes big pain.
Big not knowing.
On personal levels, we feel the same. So many of us feel unfulfilled, lonely, scared and like our lives lack direction and meaning. We are sick or hurting. We lack connection. We don’t feel safe in this world. We don’t have our individual needs met and it seems like no matter how hard we work, how much we try - it’s impossible to get ahead. We blame ourselves, we cope, we numb, we blame each other.
We Are Looking For 'The Solution'
With all of this, the fatal error I see humanity making is that we are caught in looking for THE problem and THE solution.
We all have a tendency to want our problems to be solved easily - We want AN answer to our health issue. AN answer to our relationship problems. AN answer to how to make money in a way that feels good. We want THE system change that will make getting ahead easier. We want to find THE root of all the evils we see so we can simply ERADICATE that issue and finally be free.
We want A bad guy - so we can feel like if we just get rid of ‘them’ the whole thing will fix itself. We will even settle for a bad ‘group’ that is behind ALL of humanities ails, again looking for that ONE THING that if we just find and fix, everything will get better.
We want A good guy - the thing or person or organization that if they were just in power, would save us all. We may even believe that it is the ‘self’ that is the ‘good guy’ - that if we were just FREE to govern ourselves, if all power structure and hierarchy were removed, we would have a perfect utopia where we all get along and everyone get’s what they need. We feel this way because we ALL think we know how the world ‘should work’ and we have a fantasy that if power was removed, society would start to operate just how WE think it should - and this is a fallacy we often don’t even see that we’re falling into. We think we know, we think people are like us and just doing ‘stupid’ things - rather than understanding that we don’t understand the complexities of the world, and our ‘solutions’ to many problems probably AREN’T true solutions.
We want A solution - the ‘thing’ that’s going to solve the madness - and when it looks like people in power aren’t using that simple solution that they MUST be EVIL - because DUH! There is a CLEAR ANSWER! If you’re not doing that, you must be evil or stupid.
We want the diet. The medicine. The course. The ceremony. The revelation. The action we can take that will end the suffering.
We want THE DISCLOSURE.
This is what we are ALL looking for - that one piece of information, that when it FINALLY comes out, we will all KNOW - and then when we all know, we can finally, finally DO what needs to be done to make it all better. Whether we think we know what that information is - again thinking we have the solutions to the problems and people just don’t get it - or if we think it’s being hidden from us - the outcome is the same.
We see this everywhere. We want the government to disclose. Medicine. Corporations. We want the Aliens to tell us. We want the body to tell us. Nature. God. SOMEONE somewhere knows - and we want to know. We think we know and we want the world in on it.
We are in pain. We want the bad guy to blame, the good guy to claim, and the disclosure that’s going to make it all go away. We are caught in fear, black and white thinking and limited perspectives that cause us to whittle down and simplify that which is incredibly complex and multifaceted - which then makes us even MORE upset, more in pain and more desperate for that simple answer. It’s a snake eating it’s own tail - the more we hurt the more we want the answer to be simple, the more we narrow our perception, the more we miss nuance, the more susceptible we become to radicalization and conspiracy as well as fantasy and not seeing the true bigger picture, the more we hurt, which causes us to shut down even more and so on forever.
This isn’t reality. The truth is, there is no ‘answer’ to our problems. There is no solution that’s going to change everything. Not in our individual lives nor on a global scale.
The answer we seek in the disclosure we crave doesn’t exist.
We don’t recognize that everything is complex. There’s no simple answer to any of our issues. Life isn’t perfect and there’s no one step we are going to take that will get us from the pain we’re in to the liberation we seek - and THAT'S what REALLY scares us.
Life Is Complex - This Is Scary:
The idea that there ISN’T a clear answer. A clear bad guy. A clear good guy. The fact that it’s grey. That the way forward is imperfect solutions that give us some relief but that then lead to other problems we have to learn from.
Two steps forward one step back.
Having to learn what we didn’t already know and then changing based on that new information - a process we LOATH because being ‘wrong’ usually got most of us rejected in our childhoods.
We learned that if the answer isn’t simple we are ‘stuck’ because most of us were never taught how to pragmatically problem solve. We saw the people around us stay stuck in their struggle.
We saw everyone continuing to push through and keep doing what they were already doing - even when it wasn’t working - because THEY never learned how to learn.
We all adopted the cultures we were born into, and to lesser and greater degrees have tried to shove ourselves into them, rather than admitting what doesn’t work about the systems (via acknowledging the pain they cause) so that we can CHANGE them.
Humanity has been struggling to survive, to evolve, to understand in this world that was absolutely NOT designed for us, forever.
We are where we are purely because we’ve been, generally reluctantly, willing to learn new things. To have pain, have that pain show us something we didn’t understand before, and then from that new understanding creating a new way of LIFE that works better than the old way did. Incrementally. Slow and steady. No over night transformations or perfection achieved. Just evolutionary steps. Trial and error. Taking steps that we thought would be better, discovering the outcome wasn’t what we thought it would be, having to re-adjust, try again, find out. Never being fully ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ - just evolving.
All the systems we have have been born out of people fumbling their way through the dark. They have been born out of some people having a natural capacity for survival that gave them an advantage over others - and humans have been exploiting this natural imbalance from the dawn of time.
We’ve been fighting against nature for our entire existence too. Our bodies, like the bodies of all other life on this planet, are vulnerable. To the elements, to disease, to lack. Again we were not created to withstand our environment - we are sensitive to everything. Too much sun. Too little. Every foreign pathogen. Storms. Drought. Floods. Childbirth. Predators. What we’ve had on our side has been our intellect - our capacity to witness patterns and adjust ourselves based on those observations. We want to believe there was some past utopia where humans had it easy, or some future place we are headed onwards (again if we just get that RIGHT answer!) where our physical existence will be of no thought. Where we will be evolved or adapted to earth enough that we no longer have to struggle to exist here - but that’s not reality. Our biology is complex. We know more now than ever before - and yet there’s still SO much to know - and what we don’t know CAN and DOES hurt us. And we are going to learn through that pain. More awareness over time, as we keep investigating what hurts, so we can learn how to support ourselves better. We weren’t born with perfect self awareness - as a humanity at large OR as individuals - we have to cultivate it. It’s hard.
On the micro and the macro scale - this life is just a large process of learning about ourselves, the reality and how to align to two so that the most pleasure can be experienced. It’s an ever unfolding path.
THIS scares us.
Figuring It Out - The Way Forward
The problems we face are all problems that have come from us just trying to figure things out/us not knowing how things work. Learning from reality as we go - that’s been our greatest advantage. Adapting where we have seen things not go well so that we continue to avoid going extinct - as all successful species do.
You do what you can to meet your needs, working with whatever understanding you have at the time around what is required to meet those needs, and when your actions contradict the end of survival you change. That’s how we got here.
Humanity is here because we have evolved our ways of being an innumerable number of times - constantly trying to find what ‘works’ in an ever evolving environment. This is HARD. It’s hard to change. Hard to learn from reality. Hard to adapt. Hard to figure out what we need and how to meet those needs. We don’t come with an instruction manual - only feelings and patterns to look at.
Now add to that the trauma of not being included in the social group. The fact that survival was dependent first upon our caregivers LOVING us and therefore providing for us in our early years where we could not provide for ourselves, and then on the larger community because no individual has what it takes to survive this world alone.
The point here is this - we are susceptible to radicalization, conspiracy, becoming violent or extremists because we are hurting and we want a simple answer. We are the way we are because we are unaware, learning is hard, pain hurts. There’s nothing WRONG with us or with humanity - being human is at once a complete, beautiful miracle AND a painful tragedy.
We want to learn, grow and expand - like all of life - but having the resources and tools to do this is rare.
Life is complex and that scares us. We want to know we are going to be loved, have community, have our needs met - and in this world none of those things feel certain.
We have people who use that fear and pain, driven by their own fear and pain, to push narratives, ideas and ‘solutions’ that get them followers, power and supply. We have the people who need someone to follow to feel that security. The perfect lock and key system.
Thus again, as always, it’s compassion we need to start with.
We are a species that wants pleasure and safety on a complex planet in complex bodies. We have complex needs and that is ok.
I believe we will move through this. We will evolve past this. The longer we go, the more we understand, the more we can come together and find safety within ourselves and within wider and wider communities - the less pain we will be in, and the more we will have ROOM for complexity. The more we will be able to be OK with the inevitable ebbs and flows of life. The more we will have ways of having our basic needs met so we can have less and less fear and pain.
Slowly, we will get there.
At this time, let’s just remember that it’s ok to be scared. To not know. To want support and love. It’s ok to process.
We will ride this out. We are learning.