Loving the other in ourselves and peers

One of the people whose views I respect — to me he has “wise old man” status — is Denis Postle. Just today he has published a post on his blog called “Truthiness, Brands, Lies and Alternative ‘facts’” which to me — someone who practised hypnotherapy for a short time — is really fascinating. It tells of how we need to be alert to the trance-induction that we are too often subjected to by self-serving, elite-controlled media.

I was immediately moved to comment:

Perhaps we are also commonly entranced by our own hypnotic narratives about ourselves. What do we see as natural or inevitable for ourselves? Which is commonly caught from enculturation.

All the more important to help each other — fellow commoners — to be aware of entrancement, from whatever source; to discern the helpful from the harmful. This, to me, is one of the features often lacking from the psyCommons, perhaps due to the survival value of thinking-in-common.

So how do we do this well, between ourselves?

This connects in my mind to the most recent interview by Krista Tippett, “On Being“, with Alain de Botton. It’s called “The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships“, and contains many gems. Here’s my personal favourite extract (from their helpfully provided transcript):

Ms. Tippett: A lot of what you are pointing at, the work of loving over a long span of time, is inner work, right? [laughs] And it would be hard to film that. But I’m very intrigued by how you talk about the Ancient Greeks and their “pedagogical” view of love.

Mr. de Botton: That’s fascinating, because one of the greatest insults that you can level at a lover in the modern world apparently is to say, “I want to change you.” The Ancient Greeks had a view of love which was essentially based around education, that what love means — love is a benevolent process whereby two people try to teach each other how to become the best versions of themselves.

Ms. Tippett: Right. You say somewhere they are committed to “increasing the admirable characteristics” that they possess and the other person possesses.

Linking these together is an insight that came to me in Sunday’s Quaker Meeting for Worship. The inner silence that we practice together can be a help in silencing the stories we repeat to ourselves about ourselves, and in that silence, to arrive at an inner state where we no longer are compelled to act out those stories. Compare Galen Strawson’s essay, I am not a story, published by Aeon.

Aren’t stories about ourself just self-authorship? Self-authorship, I recognise, can also be self-deception. Seeing ourselves as having certain qualities, is inextricably linked to seeing ourselves as not having other qualities. Perhaps this relates to Jung’s concept of the ‘shadow’. As so many wise psychotherapists point out, we have a great tendency, and temptation, to project the qualities we ourselves disown onto other people, particularly onto people close to us. But, if we can silence such self-justificatory and self-serving stories within ourselves, we might free ourselves to love the ‘other’ in the other person; and through them, to come to recognise and love the ‘other’ in ourselves; towards our greater wholeness, which necessarily involves great humility.

Compare this extract in French from a fellow P2P Foundation Wiki contributor, Maïa Dereva:

Il me semble donc que les communs et le pair-à-pair ne pourront se développer harmonieusement qu’à la seule condition que les individus intègrent profondément que «pair», contrairement à son homonyme informatique, n’est pas synonyme de ce qui est «identique à moi» mais parle de connexion et d’amour d’une radicale altérité.
(from the blog post Pire to pire : le fantasme de la perfection sociale)

OK, my French is pretty basic, but let’s try a rough translation…
“It seems to me that the [communities of the] Commons, and Peer to Peer, can only develop harmoniously on condition that individuals [in those communities] deeply internalise [the understanding] that ‘peer’, contrary to its usage in IT, is not synonymous with ‘identical to me’, but speaks about connection, and about loving that which is radically ‘other’.”

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