(NaturalNews) Understanding how conspirators justify harming others requires that we take an honest look at our own lives. Until we understand our own self-justifying acts and collusion with others, we are not prepared to help end the reign of conspirators in the world. While participating in our own mini-conspiracies, we are feeding the larger trend, like tiny streams that flow into rivers that feed the oceans. Ending conspiracy begins at home, within the minds and hearts of average people.
How do we conspire?
The philosopher Martin Buber introduced a singular idea to the world. He suggested that we have potential to perceive one another as either people or objects.
When we see others as people, their humanity touches us. We don't want to harm them. Being people who don't want to be harmed or taken advantage of, we have the capacity to identify with others who don't want to be harmed or taken advantage of. It's simple. When I am seeing others as real human beings, I want to be respectful in the least and helpful when I can.
For example, late one evening I was entering a deserted office building in Albuquerque. To my surprise, I passed an elderly and frail appearing woman on the way to the door. As I entered the building, she was close behind. I had a choice. Do I hurry on my way and let the door close on her or do I hold the door open? In my wildest dreams I cannot imagine allowing the door to close on her. I can identify with her needs. I didn't want to harm her, just like I could never leave a lost child alone in a crowded mall.
Can you imagine? The child approaches you, sobbing. "Can you help me find my mommy?" she pleads.
"Naw. I'm late for a movie. Sorry, kid!" you reply. Who cares! It's a four-year old girl scared because she lost her mommy. She'll figure things out. I don't want to miss the previews!
Most of us would never let a door slam on an elderly woman or abandon a child in need. Yet, children and the elderly, along with everyone in between, are being unnecessarily harmed every day by a multitude of wars, conspiracies, business practices, farming practices, chemical pollution, financial terrorism and so on. The needs of real people
are being ignored as a matter of course. How does this happen? Real people are being seen as less than real people.
It is the only way we can justify intentionally harming another - to see the other as an "it." According to Buber, people can become objects to us as easily as they can remain people. If we are honest with ourselves, we can see it happen in our own lives. Here is a simple example.
I'm on my way out the door to play tennis with my buddy and remember that I promised my wife, Hope, that I would sweep the front porch before she returned home. It would only take a few minutes, but I press on, muttering to myself that she has been too demanding lately anyway. I deserve some time to myself without all the honey-do stuff hanging over my head.
This simple act of self-justification cast Hope's desires under the bus and, in my head, positioned her as a less than
, undeserving of my efforts - or even that I honor the agreement I made with her. It may not seem like a big deal. This kind of minor negligence happens a million times a day. Yet, I submit that in these small acts of betrayal lies the lurking vulnerability of the human race. We have the capacity to see others as unworthy of respectful treatment, even those (or especially those) closest to us.
The story continues. Between sets, my friend Carl mentions that his wife has been nagging him lately. "She can be impossible to please," he said. "Nothing I do is good enough. So, I stopped trying. Why bang my head against the wall?"
"Yeah, well, women!" I reply. "Always needing to pick at you for one reason or another. Hope wanted me to clean off the front porch today, but you know what? Screw it! She can wait until I'm good and ready. If we don't draw the line, women will just use us 'till there's nothing left."
"Amen," Carl declares. We get up with an air of superiority and finish our set, self-appointed defenders of men everywhere.
Seeing Hope as less than
, I have now found a co-conspirator in Carl. He and I commiserate and complain, enjoying our alliance in defense of men. All women, now, have become less than
in our little joint venture to support each other's negligence. After a few months of this collusion
, Carl and I may find it difficult to break our bond. How easy will it be for me to say to Carl, "I really love my wife and I've realized that when we trash talk women, it doesn't respect her. And you know what? I agreed to sweep off that porch and didn't do it. It was wrong of me because I broke the agreement. So, why don't we hold women in a more respectful light?"
Carl may very well feel betrayed, even though it would put an end to our conspiracy
. To the degree that Carl and I have come to depend on our collusion, it will be difficult to break. In fact, I feel goofy writing this, like a lot of men may see me as "whipped." I'm entrenched.
Amp up this scenario 1000 times and you'll see it's potential for destruction. Carl and I may wade through our tiny stream of conspiracy without feeling like it does any harm. Most men get together and engage in all kinds of trash talk. Women love to get together, too, and tell their stories. Big deal.
It is a big deal. A million tiny streams of conspiracy feed ten thousand rivers. Could it be that we refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of larger conspiracies in the world because we are too caught up in our small time agendas? Are we too busy playing around in our small streams to acknowledge the ocean we are feeding? Family collusion. Collusion with co-workers. Collusion at the PTA. Collusion in local politics. Collusion to sell a car
, to make a phony business deal, to make a buck.
The other day I refused to look at the man behind me in line at the grocery store. I had cut him off, beating him to the register that had just opened. I won! To me he was the obstacle in my way and I overcame it. I wouldn't look at him, though. If I did, I might risk connecting with the person I was trying to avoid and be embarrassed that I had refused to acknowledge his presence. Another example from the tiny stream I'm wading through.
I can imagine the thoughts of skeptics at this point. Are you suggesting that your racing to beat the other guy to the grocery store checkout has something to do with the wars, murders, poisonings, genocides, terrorism, and brutality of governments over the people?
Yes, I am. I didn't see that man as an equal. I saw him as an obstacle. I didn't see his needs. I only saw my own. For all I knew, he could have had a very sick child at home waiting for dad to return with something to help. He just didn't factor in as a person, just like I don't factor in to those who routinely mislead me, advertise falsehoods, poison the food they would have me eat and send my children to die in unnecessary wars. It is the same concept. If I deny it in myself, I am likely to deny it in the larger world.About the author:
Mike Bundrant is author of the book, Your Achilles Eel, Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage
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