I’ve started this blog to provide a space to explore the development of the modern-day “self”. All are welcome. This is a space to explore, to consider, to think, and wonder aloud what it is that makes us who we are.
It appears to me that in some regard current narratives have become more popular in explaining us to ourselves. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but my sense is what is currently happening in today’s world is growing faster than we can adequately understand. This lack of sufficient understanding produces in our culture a massive increase in anxiety. And anxiety must be neutralized if we are to function in the day to dad world.
My concern is that due to dramatic increases in anxiety, we as a culture our more likely to be attracted to narratives of identity that seek to reintroduce into our chaotic lives a restored coherence. Obviously social/interpersonal coherence is a subjective experience; it simply means that overall we feel that life makes, if not total sense, than at least enough sense to where we can relax and pay attention to issues beyond the protection of the immediate self.
My concern is we haven’t reached a place where we feel life makes enough sense to where we can take our eyes off our own existential concerns. More and more, identity narratives are popping up everywhere to fill this need for personal meaning. They are here to connect us to each other and restore to us a sense of safety. Unfortunately, these transitional, and newly emergent narratives are now in a relative state of infancy, they haven’t lived long enough to have relaxed in their positions. These narratives are brand new, like babies, crying and demanding that all prior narratives be dropped.
A baby crying stops us in our tracks. A baby crying cannot take care of itself. We go to it, and are wired to protect it from predators. Over time, caring for this demanding creature provides us with a strong sense of purpose and direction. We feel valued and worthwhile and good for managing and tending to the innocent and vulnerable. We forget about ourselves and take solace in the fact that we are keeping the baby alive, growing the baby.
But then the baby grows, and becomes a toddler and we realize we need to begin socializing it and teaching it how to get along with others. But often times, for our own private reasons, sometimes due to trauma or grief or loss, some of us have a difficult time teaching the baby to acknowledge the world beyond itself. We don’t want to hurt or upset the baby. We are afraid the baby won’t be able to survive the truth that it is not the center of the universe. So we keep the baby there.
I feel that many of today’s self and identity narratives are performing the roll of the indulged child. We are spoiling our own selves, and those attached to these narratives, out of fear. We have grief and sorrow and loss and unfairness in our world, we have these realities to contend with, but it seems we believe the baby will give up all together and refuse to live at all if we ask it to address these aspects of the current world. In our fear of what has become of our world, its current lack of adequate coherence, we know that some do need the protection of a parental narrative, a narrative that shields and protects and neutralizes anxiety, that swiftly if not bluntly organizes the surrounding chaos. Unfortunately, these sorts of interim narratives, while introducing an essential and much needed safety, are unable to accommodate the demands and uncertainty inevitably induced by critical thinking.
As a baby’s most basic needs take precedence over that of an adults, what is to become of a society in which the thought leaders come to assume the psychological role of parent/protector/guardian? I’m honestly curious. Are our leaders becoming bad parents, the kind that in my work I need to help learn to “set boundaries”. The kind that are “enmeshed” with their unruly child? The kind of parent that conceives of him or herself as very good, a rule follower, but then for mysterious reasons permits his child to behave aggressively.
I’m curious about all this stuff.
I think we need a place to get philosophical, to care, and ask ourselves what we are doing by permitting ourselves to privilege infantilizing narratives that by their very nature preclude the exchange of more flexible and inclusive narratives.