From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill: Surviving Universal Credit: A Contemporary Diary From The New British Underclass of 2019.
Go find the others
“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Go find the others…” Timothy Leary
Knowledge is not wisdom in the same way that learning is not comprehension. This is not an impromptu lesson in semantic priming. The consequences are stellar: a cold uncaring non-society or a common humanity of intuiting and wholly experiencing the essence of our bonding qualities.
The homeless sleeper with a dog. If, like some of my acquaintances, you experience such a person and instantly think ‘How come they can afford a dog? Hmmm. This implication of decadence really gets under my skin!’ … then you are applying knowledge – a kind of base retention of facts – and you are focusing narrowly on those facts. Zooming in myopically. Being clever. Honing your cognitive skills to argue a cool brand of razor like reason. The thing is, you have not noticed how your question seamlessly segwayed from inquiry to rhetoric. This leaves you superior, cold and unkind. Heartless.
Also now trending: the line of argument that homeless people are not really homeless or that they are so of their own volition.
Yet, whereas knowledge is a base retention of facts, wisdom is knowing what all the facts mean when they fit together. This is comprehension. A rounded understanding. A long lens zoomed out for a landscape view of the grand design. Not some dumb pinpoint inquiry.
The wise person will tend to get the whole context and break free from the attentive glare of the immediate knowledge: man with dog: ergo, dog costs money for upkeep: ergo sum, man must have money. This blatant inconsistency left swinging in the wind as a semi-conscious barrier to the dissonance we feel when we step over the shop doorway bodies without so much as a human nod, holding tight the loose change in our pockets lest it make the give-away chimes of mean-spiritedness. The whole rhetorical question constructed on instinct as a base foundation to justify our turning a blind eye. Our very questioning of the validity of the needy in our midst, paper-thin as it is, just the tool we need to continue on our ego-driven way without the nagging sense of shame or guilt. Move on quickly to thoughts anew. Best not dwell.
I’m not saying give all your money to the thousands of homeless people that line our streets. I am simply saying stop lying to yourself that some modern conspiracy has taken hold whereby wealthy people simulate neediness. Wake up to your privilege and the gratitude that it can unlock.
The wise will empathise and feel pity and gladness that some charitable projects have seen the light in funding the very poorest most wretched souls in our stinking rich society the opportunity for vital psychological company.
And the heart of the wise man and wise woman will see the cleverness of the knowledgeable for the disconnected damaging agent it is. This aside from the sheer dumb stupidity of choosing, of all demographics in our over privileged world in which to carry out a spot check financial audit, those with the very least.
Dogs for the wealthy and those with families are fine huh? You seem to want to deprive those with nothing to start with.
This is what happens when we retain facts and stop at the learning-knowledge level. It is vain glory. We look and sound clever. We give the impression of wisdom. But authentic wisdom only comes when we make the effort to execute the data banked into a genuine personal comprehension such that we know what sums of knowledge might mean. Without afforded meaning, we are cool calculating actors. Arrogant and unkind. Merely intelligent in the passive, sentient sense.
Wisdom is heart. Comprehension is compassion.
Turn the telescope around and zoom out to enjoy the all-inclusive perspective of panoramic detail. This is the birth of truth and context. This is the birth of unity.
Knowledge from learning is granular and atomic. Equipped thus we tend to see only our differences.
Wisdom from comprehension is our community: our common unity. Equipped thus we tend to see our true nature: that we are one.
When you are ready and able to find the humanity in the homeless guy with the dog. With the annoying guy in the office who won’t stop banging on about Brexit. With friends and relatives who have slighted you. With people who ask for favours all the time but never seem to acknowledge or give thanks with signs of learning or an expression of gratitude. With people who stand resolutely for interests that do not align with yours. With your perceived and actual threats and enemies.
Then you have gone and found the other people within those people. You have gone and found the others.
The late MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, was a dedicated humanitarian whose maiden speech to the House of Commons requested that we can all exercise the opportunity we get daily, for free, to concentrate on the things that bind us rather than the things that stand us apart.
Go find the others
Whenever you have an insight and, like a muscle, you exercise it and enshrine it with the frequent reference of new habit, personal growth occurs.
Often, at this stage, people will ask – what now? What do I do now?
It is a question of a practical nature and an indictment of our teleological consumer age, where we all have to be metaphorically “going” somewhere or doing something in a bid to continue the rush to get out of now and to make headway in the chase for some promised land that lies just up ahead. Over the brow of the next hill or round a bend in the road. Always just out of sight.
Yet, if you go find the others in the people you least like, as described above, there is nothing else to do because everything has already changed. This is change on a personal level.
And if you still care to satisfy that practical urge born of a utilitarian mindset, you can always take the phrase literally, and go find the other people in your midst who have discovered this self same insight. You can jump into their standing wave and in this manner you can hone the skill set and refine your relationship with it. You can join the existing community and continue along the curve of learning and inspiration that awaits for you there. This is a gateway to peace and joy.
Go find the others
Or, you can create your own standing wave for other people to join. Both such actions constitute change on an interpersonal level. Rather than embracing the existing community, you can take your new self, in demonstration, to the residual unwitting community at large. Again, this usually involves “doing” nothing. People, it seems, will be drawn to you for your newfound compassionate calm and the magnetic pull of the energy field you emit.
Since you have gone and found the others in a psychologically internal sense, the neonate others will come and find you in a very real and physically exterior sense. Personal begets interpersonal begets educational begets public and thus the ripple breaks out across the waters of culture and society at large.
These are the reciprocities of the higher chakras. The uncoiling serpent springing forth. Unity visible. This is kundalini rising.
Thanks for reading
The book From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill: Surviving Universal Credit is in final edit and will be available to the public in due course.