15. Mind the Denial

June 30, 2020 Minding Corona No Comments

More and more, I wonder why it is so very, very hard for many to see the mind in what is happening with corona worldwide.

June 30, 2020

Why?

In view of the possible collapse of the world economy and devastation of the health of millions, we should cherish every straw of possible relief. Conceptually, we do so. Subconceptually, I see nothing of the sort until now. It fills me with desperation. I cry out for help.

On top of this, for short-sighted economic reasons, the world is presently taking risks into the unknown, risks that may backfire immensely. In writing previous texts, I have made it clear, to myself at least, that we are dancing at the brink of the real precipice that we haven’t seen yet. Economy-wise, many countries cannot take a second hit, including prosperous ones like China, the US, and European countries. In the second, larger hit, a renewed general lockdown will be necessary and impossible.

In all this mayhem, it is understandable that one wants this nightmare to go away, but one cannot just wish it away. Europe and the US seem full of people who, one way or another, think they can. Acting as if the virus is away doesn’t make it go away. A child knows that, from around an age of four. So, why don’t we collectively see this quite obvious precipice? Why didn’t we see the one we just fell into – even while many are still falling? And why don’t we see the mind in this?

Attentive readers of Minding Corona may, by now, already tell me some reasons. Indeed, it is hard to see the mind in anything. Can a seer see himself if he doesn’t have access to a proper mirror? Also, we encountered body-mind dualism and the denial of nonconscious yet meaningful mental processing. Our blindfolds to these factors are culturally and profoundly embedded, thus with many associations into many domains. While at the surface, these domains seem independent, they are, in reality, very interdependent. This is also how we treat the world. It is also how we treat ourselves, for instance, in healthcare: as a mechanism of separate sub-elements: a heart, a brain, an immune system, even ‘a mind.’ At many levels, the reality is much more interdependent than what many people hold on to.

Denial?

A lot has been written about denial also in a social context. Denial by fear of having to change one’s usual ways of doing and relating, by blindness, incapacity, or unwillingness to see or even look whether there is anything to see in the first place. Denial by an act of faith: technology will solve our problems, so we don’t have to delve into anything that might turn out to be a cesspit (thus, the cesspit remains). And didn’t it work out well (denying the cesspit) in the past? Denial by fear of losing one’s status, money, reputation, and carrier, of losing the prospect of a future that one has imagined already so vividly — better keep the dream a while longer. Denial by habit of denialing.

Denial because it’s hard work to change an existing paradigm, and can be dangerous carrier-wise. Indeed, even nature wants it so because it’s costly to change paradigm. Nature is a tinkerer; evolution changes in little steps, trying to live life in the moment. A big change can be too costly and mean the end of everything – not sustainable, of course.

Being part of nature, we naturally tend to be in denial for many things as long as – in our perception – the cost of the alternative is higher than the cost of staying put. No revolution today, please. One can see this in science as anywhere else. Notably, Thomas Kuhn has written about the difficulty of scientific paradigm shifts.

Following nature

If nature wants it so, then I think we should follow that. Is this surprising? Of course, this doesn’t mean we should keep ourselves in denial and let the virus wreak havoc. The cost of the latter is way too high. Fortunately, following nature and having it our way may go together. At least, if we succeed in getting past any straightforward denial of our true selves – nature within us – that is getting increasingly and immensely costly. We are organisms, not mechanisms. We shouldn’t treat workers as mechanisms. We shouldn’t treat our personal health as that of a mechanism. We should also not treat animals as mechanisms. It is unnatural. We try to impose a mechanical paradigm upon nature. Nature resists. We feel it in an ever-increasing number of burnouts. We see it in climate change. We encounter it in this viral pandemic and more to come. It will not stop until we learn.

The present conundrum may even be seen as a test from nature. If we – as a human species – pass this test, we can get propelled into a bright future. If we don’t, we’ll have to redo the academic year and try better. Of course, nature is not a professor. It doesn’t even think as we do. But it made us, didn’t it? So, there is something one could very broadly call ‘intelligence,’ one way or another. I use ‘test’ metaphorically. Still, we might not pass it.

Underlying principle: us

At the basis of the COVID-19-crisis lies the same as what risks making it much worse, as well as why it is hard for many to see the mind in this even while it’s increasingly obvious if one cares to keenly look.

One may wonder why it’s so hard to get beyond the denial of one’s own deeper mind. The world is on fire, and we have to look the dragon into the eyes. I did that, and I saw a princess. I’m talking about nonconscious, subconceptual mental processing itself, the ‘thing inside that is invisible.’ And I’m not surprised by this since I earned a Ph.D. in medical science on this subject. It drives us in mind and body. If we don’t see that it is who we are, then it seems like a stranger driving us. Denying that, the stranger may become a symbolic dragon. Since one cannot see a symbol, the situation may become precarious. We then ‘see’ the dragon in something outside, whether it’s a virus or a person from another culture, religion or race. Of course, those things or people are really there. The problem starts when they become recipients of negative symbolism.

It’s frightening and so near, and so frightening because it’s near. At the same time, through denial and resistance, it’s also functionally far away. Then it’s terrifying because it’s far away and unknown and strange and, at the same time, still so near. Nothing can be nearer.

This is what we collectively need to see in order to pass the exam and get the prize’ cum laude.’ The immediate reward: much less suffering shortly. A long-term bonus: getting to know ourselves better and see how our self-ignorance is bringing us this and many other problems. Many of these are also health-related.

Who listens?

Almost nobody at the time of writing. Hey, that’s why I’m writing. Maybe you, dear reader, are listening while reading. Then please try to comprehend it as well as possible. Don’t take anything at face value.

Also, please help to get this message out.

 

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