Saturday, 10 March 2018

Core Virtues

I'm bingeing Jessica Jones Season Two, and I noted two episodes in, that the central theme (just as Season One's was "consent") is clearly "dealing with the past/your shit." (and "keeping self-control so you don't repeat past mistakes" and "women being vicious and men being weak.")
    It strikes me that this "dealing" thing is a sacred cow of mine.  A core virtue.  And core virtues can make us stupid. We put our pet virtue up above all other considerations, and we get tipped off balance. By something important, but not all-important. 
    We can prioritize "rights" so much that we lose sight of the necessity for "responsibilities." We can prioritize "diversity" so much we lose sight of the importance of "unity/being able to work together."  For many of us, there's only room for one sacred cow. Being balanced and open is hard.
    Thing is, when we follow one core virtue and neglect all the other ones, we are easily, as a society, polarized into two or more warring groups who can't even talk to one another, let alone work together.  We rally around the flag of "free speech" or "the family" or "social justice" and we fail to notice that that flag is in a little livestock pen.  That we've been penned in.  Divided, we fall more easily.
    One time, I was troubled by a person who clearly didn't deal with anything problematic, whose life axiom is "Think happy thoughts. If it's not a happy thought, don't think about it and it will likely go away. It does no good to think about troubling things." And so I spoke of needing to "deal."  I felt pretty responsible and adult pointing that out.  Because I've seen m any, many TV shows about people fleeing their troubled pasts.
   But right away, I was asked what "dealing" even means.  ("What even is "dealing"?)  And I realized I was having trouble even thinking, let alone explaining to a closed-minded objector, about what my core virtue ("deal with problematic stuff, or it will become your Jungian nemesis figure") really meant. I just believed in it passionately without knowing why.  And people who don't deal with anything make me very uneasy.
    This is very cultural.  It's my growing up strenuously objecting to a church culture in which one wasn't to ever discuss anything we didn't already know we'd agree upon, lest there be "discussion." "Discussion" (but not communication or "dealing") broke out in my church and it blew up.  It was successfully quelled in my family by my father, who had seen discussion and trying to speak about troubling stuff break out in his own family growing up, and watched it all end in acrimonious divorce.  The lesson, he felt, was "there's no use arguing." So to this day, we don't talk much. It's my watching generations of not dealing with anything reach critical mass and implode.  It's watching situations at jobs and more social ones go nuclear because of a collective policy of passive aggression and snark over blunt directness, of adhering to a long list of topics not to be broached or in any way dealt with. Of fearing "dealing."
    But it's a personal core virtue.  A sacred cow.  Something to watch out for.  Because there's other stuff.  Other stuff that's also important. 
    Back to Jessica Jones and her superheroic jeans.