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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

Related Q&A(s): 377 380 392 403 406 448 452 456 461 471 473 474 481 483 494 496 500 501 505 509 513 516 539 540 546 547 548 549 550

The Question (ID Number 505)...

    I feel like I've been lulled back to sleep, and I'm absolutely terrified. Maybe it was meeting so much apathy in so many people; as the school year ended, I found I no longer had the ability to be B. I have never suffered such a loss of identity, and I simply do not know what to do. Mother Culture has convinced me that there's no point--that nothing can be done. She screams it at me so loudly that I can't even get through a chapter of your books anymore--and when I try to make myself believe again, terror and shame overwhelm me and I go back to sleep.

    ...and the response:

    It seems obvious to me that, since you're terrified, you haven't been "lulled back to sleep." How can you be terrified and asleep at the same time?

    Convictions that go against the grain seem to need active expression in order to survive. This is why certain kinds of Christians find "revivals" invigorating, while other kinds (in past ages), took themselves to the tops of pillars, into caves, deserts, and monasteries, made pilgrimages, wore hair shirts, and so on. Cult leaders find they must give their followers rituals and rigorous (even absurd) regimens in order to persuade them that their convictions are meaningful and operative. These things authenticate convictions, and make them seem "real."

    But convictions that are deeply resident (that don't go against the grain) in an individual don't seem to need constant reinforcement of this kind. For example, died-in-the-wool liberals are going to react to issues in a certain consistent way, but they don't have to make pilgrimages to the grave of Franklin D. Roosevelt, don't have to remember to say liberal prayers before they fall asleep, don't need to go on liberal "retreats," don't need to recite the Bill of Rights daily. All the same, they can be counted on in any conversation to come down on a certain side of every argument. How hard do died-in-the-wool Takers have to work to maintain their allegiance to the Taker vision of the world? They don't have to work at it at all! For example, they don't have to constantly remind themselves that humans belong to an order of being that is separate from and higher than that of all other creatures. But look at how effective they are in devouring the world! They don't need programs of destruction, because their vision is inherently destructive.

    When enough people in the world share B's and Ishmael's vision, the devouring of the world will stop. What each of us can and must do is, like the died-in-the-wool liberal, be counted on to come down on a certain side of every argument. For example, whenever I hear someone say or imply that destroying the world is just "human nature," I refuse to let that stand. That's not human nature, that's the nature of our culture. When everyone in the world knows in their bones that what we're doing here is not just what humans were born to do, then it will be a different world. And how much more can you ask for than that?

    Related Q&A(s): 377 380 392 403 406 448 452 456 461 471 473 474 481 483 494 496 500 501 505 509 513 516 539 540 546 547 548 549 550


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