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  • Writer's pictureClaire Spencer

Connection and Devotion

"Purity tests are the tools of fanatics, and the quest for purity ultimately becomes indistinguishable from the quest for power.” - Jennifer Senior. Earlier this year, I got into a debate about the efficacy and outcomes of cancel culture. The person I debated with believed that cancel culture is an unequivocal win, a powerful tool for social justice. They think that the exposure of those who leverage power for abuse, sexual crimes, control, and personal gain is an inarguably positive path forward. I disagreed. I see the beneficial side of bringing transparency and truth out in a public way. I also know the historic failures of mob intimidation. The line between justice and vengeance is blurry and complex. The conversation shook me, and I had to renegotiate my relationship with the individual. It was not because we held views that were in opposition to one another. The individual I was debating with held that their position was correct and that anyone who disagreed with them was not only wrong but evil. One question I've seen in the plant medicine world is, "What is the difference between medicine and drugs." My favorite "answer" is to ask, "Am I moving towards, or away from, wholeness?" Medicine moves us towards wholeness, and we are left more whole than we started. Drugs move us towards depletion, and we are left worse than when we started. I have also begun to apply that to my conversations, with how and whom I will debate within the wild times we live in. Are the values of this debate to move towards wholeness? I steer clear of giving my energy to arguments that seek "one right answer" or ostracize or demonize those who hold an opposing view or even those who do not agree with enough veracity. I move away from "purity" and towards complexity. I move away from righteousness (disconnection) and towards compassion (connection). Lex Fridman's podcast with Michael Levin discussed the possibility of curing cancer. Cancerous cells lack a specific type of connection to the cells around them (at the risk of misquoting, you can google gap junctions, connexin, and cancer cells if you want to nerd out). The theory of the cancer research discussed is the hypothesis that by re-establishing connections to the cells around them, the cancer cells stop operating from the strategy of a separate cell (grow as much as possible) to be part of the whole (support the function of the organism as a team). I believe wholeheartedly that the same is true for our human experience. That our relating to one another can be creative or destructive. Each interaction can drain us and separate us from humanity or cultivate a connection to our inner world and to each other. Commerce thrives from disconnection - when we believe that a product or thing can give us an experience (pride, joy, self-esteem) rather than connecting to our inner ability to generate it, we spend our lives trading our labor for objects. Oppression thrives from disconnection - when the powerful pit the less powerful against each other, it ensures that the many can never overthrow the few - we are too busy fighting with each other to organize. The media, dependent on views and likes for advertising revenue, thrives on our emotions of fear and anger - feeding our collective disconnection and seeding dehumanization. The greatest threat to humankind is humankind. The greatest threat to humanity is falling prey to righteousness, seeding disconnection from ourselves and others. The greatest threat to our collective undoing is to reject the seeds of disconnection and live with relentless devotion and commitment to connecting with ourselves and others. With Love, Claire Resources: The Apocalyptic Psychology of Mobs—and Media When Journalists Stop Believing in Debate Teen Fiction and the Perils of Cancel Culture Cancel Culture: A Tool for Social Justice or Modern-Day Mob Intimidation? Lex Fridman #325 with Michael Levin Gap Junctions and Cancer: Communicating for 50 Years

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