Mindfulness from blood-sport

Americans haven’t found a constructive was to discuss inequality and power distribution. We like quick, violent arguments and fights that focus on zero-sum outcomes: one group wins, another losses.

Things like GameStop throw all that inequality and weirdness on the table and so we have a chance to discuss it and act aghast.

In this instance, the aghastness is:

  1. Why can’t I have some of that money?
  2. Is this illogical system worth all the sacrifice and worship we give Finance?
  3. Is this the best thing to spend our time on?

Also, it’s a good story – entertainment with clear villains, but also ambiguous heros.

There’s little, if anything, about race and gender in the discussion, morals even. This is a huge change from years of culture wars. This is just like watching gladiators, context free of any culture wars. It gives you that focus one one thing to exclude all the stuff you’re anxious about. In a gentler system, this would be called “mindfulness”: focusing on “the now” to stop the voices in your head.

For the most part, gladiators were slaves (I think). In the case of GameStop, both sides volunteered.

What I’m saying here is that you can’t have sympathy for either side if you base sympathy giving on: they had no choice or were somehow tricked into the negative situation.

I don’t think that means much, but it does highlight another American oddity: we don’t really think about downside as a real thing. We are raised to value the underdog, and much of our folklore is about the underdog winning. However, that doesn’t happen much. We can’t deal with the concept that people just lose, that you get defeated, that there’s no way to win. We get upset when that happens to us as individuals: it’s not fair!

I don’t know other cultures much, but my sense that this idea that you deserve success is part of American-think.

This idea that you would be resigned to your fate is incredibly un-American. In fact, it’s perhaps the worst sin you can commit: idle hands and all that. When people are poor and underprivileged (until very recently) American culture assumed it was just because they didn’t try hard enough and have given up. Boot-straps and all that.

We can’t conceptualize that most people don’t win most of the time. There must be cultures that are more aligned to this style of thinking.

That’s part of what makes mindfulness and “living in the now” so hard for me to…believe? If I’m not always struggling, planning, worried…bad things will happen. If I give up and accept things as they are, then things will go bad, I’ll lose all my money, security, etc., happiness.

This, of course, isn’t the point of mindfulness. It’s not giving up and letting yourself float around in a sea of shit. But, it’s hard to even think otherwise with this American notion that the only way to be happy is to fight, to work for it and suffer along the way.