I never thought I'd say it: Fox News — Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, et al — are right.
They're right that
there is a culture war in America.
They are also wrong — about a lot
of things — but particularly, they're wrong about who this war is between.
They think it's between the "left" and the "right." The truth is, the
left and right are not at war, they are in a symbiotic relationship.
They orbit one another like a dual-star system, each defining the
other's orbit. If one of them ever disappeared the other would not know
what it is, because they only know themselves in reference to each other.
Eventually gravity will pull them together and this new left-right
entity will immediately start looking for another pole to create a new
binary system with. This is the life cycle of dualistic systems.
real culture war is between this left-right dualism and a third option,
an alternative (not an opposite) to dualism. This alternative is ethical
wholism. There is a war between dualism and wholism.
There are a
bunch of problems with this, however. First of all, when it comes to war,
wholists are like vegetarians at a barbeque. We don't like the war
language and energy, especially the various social "wars" that dualists
seem to love. We're also not big on "cliquing up." We're wholists and we
believe our clique is everyone.
But neither of these is our biggest
problem, the one that will do us in if we don't recognize and address it.
It is that many of us think we're liberals. This is a little like
the eagle who thought he was a chicken, but before we get to that, I
want to address the first two problems first.
We have a problem
with the dualistic language and energy of war. I understand that and we
can take possession of the language if we're engaged. But instead, we
poo-poo the whole notion. All that war talk is for crazies on the fringe
of both the left and the right. But just because we don't like the
language dualists use to describe a reality doesn't mean the reality
isn't real. If hordes invade your country the fact that you haven't
declared war doesn't mean you don't have to deal with the invasion.
it a war, a struggle or simply a clash, but there is a contest going on
in America and around the world. It's a real struggle between ideas and
for hearts and minds. We have no right to sit on the sidelines and
excuse ourselves from the struggle because we don't like the language. Yet this is largely what we're doing. We don't develop or stand up for
our ideas and we don't advocate for them. As a result America is
becoming more and more dualistic. The dualists are shaping our country
and our future because we've ceded the ground.
The second problem
is an extension of the first: As long as we deny that there's a
struggle we won't see any reason to pull together, to unite as a group,
and to learn to articulate our ideas and our vision of the future.
brings us back to the eagle who thinks he's a chicken. Most "liberals"
I know are either dualistic or deflated. The dualists are a quixotic
bunch passionately fighting but not really expecting to win their war
against the windmills of ignorance and reactionary thinking. The
deflated can't even muster a defense of their beliefs and keep them more
out of habit than passion.
I say many of these people aren't
liberals at all. They've just fallen for the old dualist trick that if
you're attacked by someone you must take up the opposite of that
position. Conservatives attack and we take up the position of liberals.
if you think of yourself as a liberal, take a close look at your
feathers. Ask yourself if the coop and even the barnyard have always felt
a little too small for you. Do you find yourself looking up at the sky
longingly? If so, you might be a wholist.
I'll leave you with that thought and the question: What does it mean to be a wholist?