We Can Be Light
Posted on 20 April 2017
Light and its characteristics
Light can be demonstrated to behave as both a particle and a wave.
Using the Double Slit Experiment light is found to measurably behave as discrete particles. Light passing through the slits is absorbed on an observing screen at discrete points behind the slits, and when detectors are used, each detected photon of light clearly passes through one slit only.
However, the wave like nature of light passing through the slits creates an interference pattern producing bright and dark bands on the same observing screen, much like that found when two sets of waves on a pond intersect amplifying and deamplifying those waves when they meet. This displays the concept of wave-particle duality.
Okay, that was a bit technical. The point is simply that light simultaneously holds two characteristics which we usually expect to be exclusive of one another: particleness and waveness, singularity and continuity.
I start with this because I want people to hold in their minds the possibility that we can be like light. When we live within a healthy society we will always be mindful of each others individuality, while also supporting the continuity of human and living being. In our case this is something of a balancing act. Our culture has at intervals tipped too far in emphasising either the individual, or human collectives.
Humanity as wave
When we overemphasise our wave-like nature, we start demanding conformity. Conformity means that everyone’s behaviour is predictable. Sometimes we want that conformity. Every time we go through a traffic light we want people behaving predictably according to strict road rules. That way we can travel through the intersection safely and not worry about having our lives threatened by someone randomly barrelling through a red light.
What happens when a felt need for conformity comes from a need to dominate or paranoia? This regularly occurs when there are wars. Suddenly people want obvious ways to distinguish who is the enemy and who is not. During World War Two Americans of Japanese heritage were rounded up and put into internment camps. This included children with as little as one-sixteenth Japanese heritage. All American Asians were looked upon with distrust. Survival depended upon how much people could conform to not only European American culture, but physiognomy.
After WWII the Cold War began and ideological conformity became a concern. People who were considered a threat to the power of a white wealthy male hegemony could be accused of communism and imprisoned. People were made to feel afraid of speaking freely about social concerns or defending the rights of the poor, since they could then be accused of being traitors. I remember this still being true in the nineteen eighties when I was taking a course in political science and needed to buy a copy of The Communist Manifesto rather than borrow it from the library. Ronald Reagan had brought in new laws whereby librarians were required to report to the FBI those students who had checked out Karl Marx’s work.
A tactic those in power frequently use is demarking who are “us” and who are “them”. So long as people are focused on keeping safe from “them”, the government can make laws that benefit those in power and look like they are protecting the populace from “them”. These laws can attack freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom to protest, etc. This may look like it’s creating a more secure world for “us”, but those laws will equally apply to everyone.
Australia has been creating more and more laws to protect “us” from immigrants. I will regularly point out to friends that these laws they are seeing as applying only to Asian, African, or Middle Eastern immigrants equally apply to myself and their English, Scottish, German, etc family members. As an example we now have a law that says any immigrant found to have a mental disorder can have their citizenship revoked and be deported. I point out that if the government didn’t like me and discovered that perhaps I was seeing a psychiatrist about depression, they could use that as an excuse to revoke my Australian nationality. The response I regularly receive is, “They wouldn’t do that to you.” The fact of the matter is nothing says they couldn’t or wouldn’t. And why is it okay to have such a law, if it is going to be applied in a discriminatory manner?
So long as we conform to the government’s wishes and the general wishes of our social groups, not only do we often feel like we might be safer, we have more power to enforce our control, dominance, and wishes over other social groups. Though, within such a group we still become afraid of being found out for being different. Outside of such a group it becomes imperative to find a way to fit in so as to garner some safety and avoid suffering. This is when you have women taking on the values of toxic masculinity, people of non-European ancestry taking on Western values of success, etc. This is waveness gone too far.
Humanity as particle
When we start overemphasising our particle-like natures we see the collapse of community and eventually civilisation. Our individuality is exceptionally important to a thriving progressing society. Our differences make us stronger in so many ways. With more diversity more ideas, skills, and perspectives are available to us to create a better world. We know more peace when we are capable of accepting diversity as a mutual act.
However, there is a difference between individuality and individualism. Driving people apart makes the wealthy class wealthier. We are faced with an onslaught of manufactured fear through advertising every day. We are made to feel frightened of differing from others in order to sell clothes, deodorant, etc. We are also made to feel frightened of whether or not we are exceeding one another in the status game, and so are encouraged to buy more and more status symbols for which we need more and more money. So long as we are desperate for money, those in power can manipulate us to jump through hoops and lie to one another.
My partner and I a few years back were looking at a piece of property for sale. The real estate agent told us we had better make an offer fast because someone else had already made one, and we would need to be competitive. The land didn’t interest us enough to bother with that game, so we left it. Six months later that same piece of property was still for sale. I inquired again. The receptionist at the real estate office called the person managing that property and was told to tell me: “I had better make an offer fast because someone else had already made one, and I would need to be competitive.” Over two years later I noticed the property was finally sold. I refuse to have anything to do with an agency of liars.
Sadly, I can’t entirely avoid dealing with companies and shops that are going to be lying, manipulating, and pressurising me into handing over my dollars. In order to function in society I have to have sufficient trust in particular companies to just buy things and get on with life. As fewer paid jobs are available, every time I tell a commissioned sales person, “no”, they are terrified of losing their car, their home, their ability to feed themselves. Without the waveness of general safety nets, the individual becomes solely responsible for their survival. If their boss then told them, they had to work an extra twenty to forty hours a week or they would lose their job altogether, the sales person may very well agree to inhumane working conditions.
Under extreme competitive conditions people regularly have to prove why they are distinctly better than everyone else. They have to learn how to please those above them. This often involves a process of kicking those below them. Add to that a fear that the world is falling apart and we see an upswing in the combined attitudes of YOLO (you only live once) and “every man for himself”. So, the world is used up without care for any other human beings. This goes beyond “us” and “them”. This becomes me against the world. It leads to the three letter acronym MAD: mutually assured destruction—and not a single nuclear weapon needs to be brought out—just mistreatment of one another and the planet.
Individualism is used too often to make ourselves feel bigger, more important, and thereby apparently safer, but it’s not true. The more we isolate ourselves, the more vulnerable we are to danger. We also suffer more from loneliness. We have to learn how to be okay with being both different and the same as everyone else, without having to be “the best” at anything.
What I am asking of people here is to find our lightness. We have to find the courage to be both individual and part of the continuity of all living beings. We have to look out for the needs, safety, and well-being of all of it: in part and in whole. Probably the biggest “us” and “them” problem we have is how separate we see ourselves from the rest of life, and therefore feel a need to dominate and ultimately destroy life. We are even brighter lights when we include every creature that walks, flies, or swims the Earth; when we embrace all things that grow and breathe after their own fashion. Cultivate an attitude of universal goodwill. Act out of kindness. Commit to being truthful and serving humanity. Love community. Learn to share. Honour life. These are what will create a world where you will know peace and friendship.