The Savage Within
A liberal’s guide to purging our common hypocrisy and taking our role in cultural reconciliation seriously.
Our 2nd Amendment is rooted in the belief that a group which views itself as elite has the right to control others with weapons in order to assert dominance. It’s a line of thought that the “real Americans” need weapons to protect themselves and maintain advantage over the “savages.”
Of course, as power wanes from this elite group, the stronger they are inclined to claim their rite of superiority under the guise of “self-defense” — all for the sake of protecting their own unique status of authority and worth.
This is why you should believe NRA-backers when they say they feel a need to defend themselves! They likely do! The catch is that their compulsion-to-defend often stems NOT from a threat to physical well-being but from their own cultural identification with being superior.
The threat that their emotional body is registering is both real and imagined: their identity of significance, once vindicated by their culture, is no longer valid by imposition of new, upgraded culture.
From their emotional body’s perspective, it makes no difference whether the new culture is on its own more advanced than what came before. Merely the fact what’s being proposed is new and different means that it’s not worth the compromise from the perspective of someone strongly attached to their cultural identity.
Tempting as it is to write-off those people struggling with violent superiority complexes, you’d be quick to write-off past versions of yourself, too. America was birthed with superiority on its sleeve. We are conditioned to be baselessly proud of our being proud. To this day we are encouraged in our personal development to “stick to our guns” at the expense of assimilating new information. This is the definition of insane, and you, too, are part of this primordial stew.
The mind can have a thousand good reasons to adopt a new habit, but the emotional body needs just one core attachment for them to be rendered moot.
We are living through a time wherein Americans’ emotional identity (in the form of an attachment to firearms) literally depends on millions of innocent people dying. This is a fact. So how might we reconcile this heinous reality?
Somehow the impetus to remain a proud American has taken precedence over real-time inquiry into the source of our pride and its potential to serve the common good. Somehow the paranoia we employ to protect our imagined status of worth has come at the real and regular cost of protecting our children.
When a culture dims the torch of future generations to protect its own narrow values, we are not only lost, but we are actively seeding the next generation’s cycle of oppression.
Today, it’s liberals (I identify as one) who represent our culture’s modern-day-elite. And often in the same breath that we preach progress we throw stones at our modern-day “savages” in the form of NRA-backers for not “knowing better” or “getting with the times.”
We liberals may not need a gun to assert our dominance, and we may have the smarts to see through a gun culture’s shallow virtue, but make no mistake: today’s brand of left-wing intellectualism does a stellar job of taking others’ power away, too:
- We invalidate the beliefs of others to reinforce our own;
- We weaponize our identities against those we perceive as flawed;
- We raise our fists like we, especially, have the preeminent right of doing so.
In an epic irony, our collective intolerance toward savagery has empowered its very rise—because as a whole we remain blind to the savage within.
We liberals must learn the humility to have a dialogue with the savage within — the part of us that unwittingly perpetuates these forms of oppression, having unconsciously confused them for our own nobility.
We liberals must learn the patience to sustain this dialogue between our higher mind and emotional body so that we can better prevent the spread of savagery. Having patience with ourselves entails a quality of seeing our emotions as equally worthy as our ideas.
We liberals must learn to reconcile our ideas for an elevated future with their accessibility to those who we perceive as savage. We must learn to have as much passion for our ideas’ receptivity as we have for the ideas themselves.
Perhaps greatest of all, we liberals must cultivate compassion for those people who do terrible things.
Never lose sight of how our personal capacity for loving those who hurt us profoundly impacts our collective capacity to actualize a peaceful society. Can you love your enemy enough to put faith in their eventual emotional rebirth? Or are you writing them off? If the latter, it’s not a brighter future you’re devoted to but your own brand of righteousness.
It’s time we start acknowledging patterns of oppression everywhere they exist and not merely in our projection of the enemy.
It’s the only way I see to lift ourselves as a whole from the trench of hypocrisy: Until our aim to connect to the other is more true than our aim to convince, we remain wanting power over others, and we continue to be active perpetrators of oppression.
So connect. For liberals like me, that often starts with connecting with the savage within.