You can be for something without being against something–Susan Corso
Have you noticed lately that, as a culture, we’re big on being against things? It doesn’t really matter what we’re against either. We just like being against things.
For one thing, it’s easier than being for things.
But it’s also epidemic in our society today. The place I find “againstness” most easily and often is in the conservative political machine and media. In their case, I smell a sour faux rat. Anyone else?
The faux outrage that the political right batter our electorate with exhausts me. Bill Maher, that genius of a political comedian, returns to the same joke every week in his monologue. I can’t replicate his poker-faced set-ups on the page, but the punchline is always the same: it still upsets the Right that Barack Obama is Black.
Did you notice the key word in that last sentence? It appears in two forms:
(I’ll spell it out, shall I?)
Set-ups … upsets
Set-ups, my friend, are what create againstness a.k.a. upsets. Every time. Usually, they’re internal set-ups and we know them by another name: expectations.
There’s a lot of confusing information in the world about expectations. We hear:
Expect nothing—that way you’ll always be pleasantly surprised.
Expect nothing—that way you’ll never be disappointed.
Both of these are set-ups.
Or, we hear:
Expect the best—that way, quite often, you’ll get it.
Expect the best—that way even if you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll land among the stars.
There is a way to use set-ups that is both positive and useful, and not a … well, um … set-up. And that’s this: to set yourself up to go for what you’re for and not what you’re against.
This is also known in some circles as dreaming, or creating, or, in business, goal-setting. Same, same, same. All forms of set-up with one tiny (crucial) difference.
Your Being, and hence, your well-being is not dependent upon the outcome.
Set-ups that are rigid, or against anything, set you up (sorry) to be dissatisfied, unhappy, and generally malcontent, i.e. upset. In fact, againstness has the same qualities.
This is because we humans don’t do very well with what we don’t want. In fact, we fail when we focus on what we don’t want because it requires living in a form of resistance, and resistance is just plain bad for us.
Okay, I’ll stop and address the nagging question in your mind: But what about poverty? Hunger? Rabid military regimes? And … and … and …. Yes, we can fill in those blanks with horror after atrocity, but hear me out.
What is it you really want when you address these issues? You’ll say: To eliminate poverty! That’s a set-up. Here’s why: you don’t know the paths of the souls in poverty, and you cannot (not must not) thwart their free will. So what you really want, for those who want it, is to have every person on the planet adequately nourished. (I know you can feel the difference between these two because I can as I’m writing this!)
What you are for, rather than what you are against, is much more empowering. Adequate nourishment. Increased wealth for everyone. Peace on Earth. Againstness, faux or real, is exhausting.
Remember that faux rat smell? I like Lily Tomlin’s wisdom on this one: Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.
The next time you find your Being caught in againstness and upset, and you will, stop and ask yourself: What am I for? Once you find it, you’ll also find reinvigoration, reinvestment, and a whole host of creative ideas that your againstness would have made you miss.
What am I for? is also a set-up, but not for upset. Or, only for upsetting the status quo, growing your Being, and getting to a newer, better place.