Monday, June 24, 2013

What my media is all about: It can't fit into "123 words".

I’ve faced considerable pressure to conform to the demands of the “real lives” of others at some points in my life.   I’ve created media trying to communicate my experience, and tried to maintain objectivity, avoiding partisanship or visible solidarity.  I’ve preached the libertarian (and liberating) virtues of personal responsibility and competitiveness, and tending to eschew playing victim.
I get some personal feedback, and some further looping in my own thought processes, about what seems like a lack of personal stake in the lives of others, especially in the future.  I seem emotionally aloof and unresponsive to needs of others.  I can say that their problems did not (directly) result from my choices or actions, and that “public life” is more in tune with what can be done for people with special needs than it was when I was growing up decades ago.  I also am sensitive to my past experience of social interaction as humiliating, to be eschewed if following my own agenda works (and it often has).  But what seems most disturbing is that I am not immune to bad luck either (and may have had better economic support than many others), and if improving the life of someone else required some sacrifice from me, I would feel I had really accomplished anything positive.  The moral importance of social interdependence is becoming apparent.

It is not easy for me to step in to situations requiring personal attention and "intimacy" (as it was not for my late mother) when I did not raise a family myself.  Yet the lack of family could be viewed as reciprocal to a basic lack of interpersonal emotion, itself related to social and physical shortcomings.  It feels as if my brain or soul did not have the capacity for what it wanted to do, and for the attentiveness to others that was demanded of it.  
I often have to deal with other people’s notions of what should be expected of me on some moral (or sometimes religious) grounds.   Sometimes this (unsolicited) “advice” subsumes ultimately contradictory ideas, One can, however,  through some inductive reasoning, develop a certain ethical philosophy over how people who are “different” are expected to behave. 
This may be a shocking notion today, inasmuch as we try to celebrate diversity including the contributions of those with disabilities.  But whether my problems, especially with male physical competitiveness, constitute disability (possibly in the autism spectrum) would provide a real question and put me on a sharp mountain “knife edge” indeed.  What “different” people can do may be more critical today than in past generations because of globalization and technology with leverages individual asymmetry.
So I think it’s important to look at the question of “difference” through a moral lens, and relate it to issues of sustainability, which connect themselves (among environment, security, social inequality, and demographics) to make us really wonder about what the future brings.  It seems morally important for people to have personal stakes in the future.  It is also important to realize that it is impossible to achieve all policy goals perfectly and simultaneously, such as “equality”, privacy, security, and intergenerational responsibility. Trade-offs and choices have to be made.
Although the pressure on me came about at first with respect to self-expression and maybe limelight seeking, the “energy” transferred to concerns about my homosexuality early in the college years.  I’ve never found “immutability” a completely satisfactory justification for modern ideas of open acceptance and equality, because the arguments don’t  completely work in other areas where clearly destructive behaviors (directly impacting others) may occur.  My own experience, influenced by physical issues with logical learning toward social upward affiliation, may not be as typical as I used to think.  Still, I have always (ever since my first cultural skirmish at college in the early 60’s) wondered why others made my lack of heterosexual passion their business and would punish me for it.  I think we know some of the answer:  reproduction, and the whole familial social structure it maintains,  is important to others (particularly if you’re an only child).  In some families, especially if expressive individual opportunities are limited,  it can become “the” issue.  In my case, some people seemed distracted by my tendency to “notice” men and develop a lot of fantasy substance around it; others could fear that I was setting a dangerous example for others on the edge.

In some  situations, men are expected to join in cohesion to protect women and children in a community, although that perspective has been largely defused.  Religious authority, most of all the Vatican (as well as fundamentalism in many faiths) likes to emphasize openness to sharing the personal  sacrifice and personal complementarity  that comes in sustaining a community.  One way to impress this was to articulate a rule that sexuality should be experienced only in the setting of permanent monogamous (heterosexual) marriage open to procreation as long as possible.  That way, a lot of family responsibility was guaranteed to be shared by everyone “no matter what”.  Such a rule affects persons of different emotional tempers very disparately.  Yet, spiritual authorities say that variability of personal sacrifice required in a community is inevitable. Because of the entropy and sense of meaning in any community, no one should live without owning up to the need for complementarity or at least polarity.   Such a theory sounds like it would maintain social stability and sustainability, but it obviously can facilitate an existing authoritarian religious, economic or political power structure, and it can remain to oblivious to existing injustices for generations (look at slavery and segregation, which used to comport with “family values”). 
It seems important to me to look at “personal responsibility” systematically in a broader manner, about how individuals with such different temperament and capabilities share the more difficult risks (both physical and emotional) in a culture that faces real issues to its sustainability.  I don’t see easy or perfect answers.  

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