Sex and Power

The social philosophy program on the ABC Radio, THE MINEFIELD, tried to discuss the socio-political effect of the sexual abusiveness of powerful men, mostly in media, but some in politics. It was almost shocking to me to hear the striking inability of the guest on that program to deal with the biological imperative of sex, seeming to relegate sex to a social construct. My own 58 years on the planet and conversations with many men and women, suggest that trying to sideline the biological imperative of sex is most of the cause of our modern challenge around sex. If we are to understand ourselves and sex, at all, we need to take on the whole picture of human being-ness and history.

We must accept the biological nature of sexual urge, as in the same category of thirst and hunger. Unlike thirst and hunger, we will not actually die from not satisfying the sexual urge. However our brain’s biology is not set up for ‘actually’. It is set up for ‘as it will’. From the point of view of biology, to achieve an action, the brain is set up for the imperative ‘as it will”. Regarding sex, the human biology is set up as that ‘we will die’ without it. ‘Actually, it is our species that will die without it. Biology doesn’t account for this distinction.

Understanding the biological imperative, we can then begin an historical exploration  with a view of our pre-homo sapien sapien behaviour. Taking non-human primate behaviour as reflecting that history, we can conclude that the early human social group was dominated by the alpha male who bullied other males to their possible death, and strictly controlled his own access to females for sex. Females also, in the main, capitulate to this social formation as access to sex and other emotional rewards.

Through these alpha males, what we could now call, psychopathic, from about 100,000 years ago, the groups journeyed across the world, establishing new groups and new territories. This journeying is continuing today, and the European colonial movement that we get caught up with in many political expositions, today, is just the recent and largest, lead expeditions. Since then, the psychopath has lost a lot of power, although to understand today’s conundrum around sex is to understand the current imposition of the psychopathic male and his ability to draw sycophants, both men and women, around him.

It is important to understand that the key transformative mechanisms that allowed human society to move from those alpha dominated groups to today’s yearning for an egalitarian society, has been the development of religious concepts and structures. Religious structures, being often built parallel to pre-existing political structures, have created access for men and women to sex and social power in new ways. Somewhat like an adolescent primate, religion has maintained only just enough ‘cheekiness’ to be allowed by the alpha, while eventually building up challenging levels of power that become alpha, and taken over by alphas (psychopaths) who wield their power across both religious and political spheres. Periodically, a new religious view would emerge to support another, more egalitarian view.  Over millenia, the play between religions and social politics and, eventually empire building, while not over-powering the psychopath (because it would take a psychopath to over power a psychopath), created a greater and greater sense of egalitarianism. Today’s complaint against sexual abusiveness must be taken in the context of that as modern yearning being built over thousands of years.

In a certain way, the broad spread complaint against sexual abusiveness (a badly kept secret the whole of my life from Marilyn Monroe’s suicide and movies being part of my childhood; noticing that adolescent males I knew who had been exploited by older gay men and many of whom died of AIDs in the 1980s; to the litany of allegations from workplaces), is part of the final movements of the world of humanity towards an equality of men and women.

Fundamental to that equality are that the mainstream of human society transforms on three fronts: being clear about sex, sexuality, and that equality means independence of men and women agreeing on monogamous sexual relationships (in otherwords, marriage); transforming economic systems by striving for independence, removing support for slavers, and other sycophantic behaviours, and ensuring equitable resource distributions; transforming political systems by supporting participatory democracy, education, and powerless attitudes in unity.

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Australia’s Fascist Attitudes

Keyvan Rahimian has just been released from 5 years gaol for teaching and organising an underground university because Baha’i youth are banned from University in Iran. His brother and sister-in-law were also imprisoned for the same ‘crime’. His wife died of cancer while he was imprisoned, leaving their daughter without her parents.

I recently read a post by a professor of health sciences, here, in Australia, suggesting that the Australian government should force religions to bring doctrines in line with ‘secular’ laws. I am constantly amazed by how supposedly well-educated people in the west are so ignorant of some of the basic reasons why secular democracy works:
1. the separation of state and religion (States should not make religions);
2 states that dictate everyone’s lives and organisational processes are no longer secular nor democratic but fascist or stalinist or maoist.
And yet these same people will parade their ‘professorialship’ to the public as if they are the expert on government, sociology, religion, democracy, and “what is for our own good”. The Iranian revolutionary Council certainly believes that their dictation is “for our own good”. There are some that believe that this attitude only lies with religious extremists. No, it belongs in the attitudes of ordinary scholars here in Australia. We could shrug it off by saying, “so lazy of that scholar” but that “laziness” has much of the current world without worthy leadership from the learned class, and our institutions in Australia fail people every day because of that.

The Big Me Dances

The universe, the world, is how it all occurs to me as a happening, an event, a contingency.

Recalling the words of Baha’u’llah as I would apply them to myself, “… the world is my unawareness of the Godhead and my absorption in aught else…” and that truth is founded in the primary spiritual attitude of the unfettered search: detachment from tradition; avoiding backbiting, boastful people, and evil-doers; cleansing the heart from love, hate, and pride; and living in prayer, patience, resignation, and forgiveness.

My experience gives me the sense that the Godhead operates for me through my declaration (to myself or others) in abandonment of all untrue considerations, for an enthusiasm, passion and joy.

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I believe that I am living in the world, a universe of elementary materials, from which has derived my organic construction as a capability for the flourishing of a metaphysical being. I am the root growing through the soil of human life, drawing sustenance for that budding fractal splicing and looping through all the dimensions beyond time and space, all the dimensions of eternity. I believe I am both contingent and eternal, always to be “unaware” and “absorbed by”, yet also to be a sense of Godhead through how I am in truth.

And so , I dance.

Being Fearless as Being Human

“O Son of Man!
Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.”  The Hidden Words.” Baha’u’llah

We grow into fear and shame from the earliest days of our lives. Our childhood environments can either minimise or amplify these affects. There is no judgment here, about these affects, just that they are. We could even say they are for good reason. Nonetheless, in the main, fear and shame can distort our growth into fully developed humans, and retard our growth.

Acknowledging fear and shame seems to me to be the first authentic attitude that can lead to it’s disappearance. The hiding of fear and shame is, I think, at the heart of separation, prejudice, scapegoating and war. Baha’u’llah’s words, then, draw attention to that next possibility, that we could be fully engaged as a human being with others, so long as we are able to stand where we might be killed or die because we have no defenses against such happening.

Even after many years since first thinking about this teaching and working with many people at many levels of society and politics, I find myself just much more aware of my own prejudice and separation from others. I have a great fear of being alone. I have a great fear of suffering that even finds me avoiding the step that might lead to a failure to predict the money I have, the resources for the life I want to live, of anything like homelessness or being a burden on others. My independence, therefore, seems driven by separation and, in that I have to question that independence. Can I be truly independent if I cannot face the a life in which tomorrow may have many unknown outcomes for my personal life, many problems requiring solution. I can only say that I don’t know what needs to show up or let go or otherwise happen, to be the person Baha’u’llah invites me to be in this teaching, and maybe in that “I don’t know” is a conversation opening up with everyone, with Baha’u’llah’s teachings, that will lead me to being human, being fearless.

Justice Requires Basis in Offense of Life

justice“O Son of Spirit!
The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor.” Excerpt From: Bahá’u’lláh. “The Hidden Words.”

Let’s consider that we could, in an adult world, do whatever we choose, without external constraints. We might, in such a world, choose to follow a moral formula. We might choose to follow no formula at all, making random choices in every circumstance that surrounds us. In such a world, we might reasonably question, “what about the social contract?”, “what about harming others?”

In considering harming others, we could consider turning the whole framing of this question around. Consider that, in an adult world, we accept that, in doing whatever we choose we might, advertently or inadvertently, offend the life of another or others. Consider that we all, then, have access to complaining about that offense. It seems possible that a justice system could be developed that is based on the complaint of offense against a life.

To consider what offense against a life might constitute, we can immediately consider those offenses that are often listed as ‘criminal’ such as stealing, assault, rape, murder. Starting from a place of strongest offense, society seems to consider that murder is about as strong as it gets. If we look at murder, we see that, as an offense on the life of others, it creates a conundrum. However it is in unraveling that conundrum that a more enlightened justice system can be established.

The conundrum of murder is that, while the victim has had a serious offense against their life, they no longer have a life upon which to offend, not do they have the possibility of complaint against that offense. However, the victim is not the only complainant in the case of murder. Consider that a murder victim is a 20 year old woman who has living parents, a brother and a sister, a life partner, ten cousins, 30 close friends and work colleagues, an employer, etc etc. If we conservatively estimate that the woman’s close circle is around 50 people, and her secondary circle of acquaintances is 200 people, then a case can be made that each of these have a complaint of direct offense on their lives by the murderer.

Putting that scenario aside for a moment, consider that a complaint-of-offense based justice system would have two roles: to determine that an offense against life had been made, and the degree of that offense; and the recompense, reconstruction, or transformative action required around of that offended life. These three accountabilities can be defined as: recompense (restoring the loss); reconstruction (providing alternatives where the loss is permanent); and transformation (creating complete and radical forgiveness from the offended through a caring relationship). How would we estimate what that would mean of 200 complainants of a life taken? Would it make any sense that the perpetrator spend 15 years in a prison? The evidence is that imprisonment rarely creates recompense for the offended, and even rarer, a transformative act for perpetrator and offended alike.

Consider that we might be able to have an authentic conversation about the degree of offense we believe we have suffered. Perhaps such a conversation, even with 200 people, might be facilitated by specialists in clarifying impact. In the case of the murder, that impact (degree of offense) would vary from the loss to a parent to the shock to a recent neighbour. Nonetheless, it seems very possible to be able to compile the full degree of offense. In each case (rather than as a whole), it is also possible to make a formulation about what it would take to transform that offense from the extreme separation and loss it has caused to a state of forgiveness and recompense. Without going into speculation about how each individual case might resolve, it is relatively easy to imagine that the perpetrator of a murder would be confronted with not being able to recompense for the social loss of any of the 200 people, although financial recompense could be argued by an employer who has lost employer productivity and costs to re-hire. In the case of murder it is difficult to see what could be reconstructed as an alternative to that loss to the close circle. It is then, left that the murderer becomes accountable for fully transforming their relationship to the close circle and the whole 200 people, into radical forgiveness and a caring relationship).

An offense against life based justice system has, as it’s core modus operandus, to create access for the perpetrator to transforming their relationship with the offended. For any similar offense, for some perpetrators such access may take many years, for others, much less, and for a few, the whole of their life. Such a system would necessitate that perpetrators play vital roles in community, and around the offended. While it may require certain restraints of the perpetrator, imprisonment would be far less necessary than the current vengeance systems. An offense against life based justice system would be able, maybe even more able than now, to ensure safety around violent perpetrators who have poor self management around their violence.

An offense based justice system can deal with neighbour’s compaints, family complaints, trading complaints, property theft, loss, and damage complaints, political complaints, and social complaints such as denigration, prejudice, or moral shock. An offense based justice system doesn’t work in prescription but can be completely flexible to the circumstances of perpetrators and offended. It can be imagined that an offense based system might be commonly used for many small offenses in life to cut across simmering resentments and optimise relationships across community.