Saturday morning, May 17th, while browsing on Twitter, I happened upon the question, “Is Affirmative Action still necessary?” I tweeted straight back, “It was NEVER necessary. The goals are still valid; the legislation missed the point, triggering backlash without valid solutions.” On second thought, I tweeted “AA my thesis subject; response not made lightly; see http://wp.me/p46Y5Z-7h. All best!”
Then, out of curiosity, I looked up the folks who asked. It’s a suspiciously faceless group using the same familiar but empty buzz words that attract all, but satisfy none. “Change is Coming. Engage. Unite. Inspire.”
It’s my ongoing work to take back and revitalize the language. Change is my subject. The Unified Theory inherent in Einstein’s famous formula is the message. Reinventing democracy by inspiring careful thinkers to Positive Action is my intended result.
Hence, today’s blog is dedicated to the history behind my answer. Take time to balance the overlooked neutral and positive meanings of “discrimination” with the overworked negative ones. It’s important.
An earlier blog posted on January 5, 2014, I spoke to a comment about discrimination made on “Off the Record” by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. She said racism exists and it’s terrible. But using the race card wrongfully is just as bad. Public figures who stir up the pot are dividing the nation, not healing it. They’re doing a real disservice to those with valid grievances. She called for “Real Solutions to Solve Real Racism.” I agreed whole-heartedly.
I continued, “Bottom line: exploitation is an energy dynamic, a symptom of self-destructive imbalance. To the extent that individuals operate on incomplete, inaccurate and false paradigms, they remain insecure, unconscious and functionally disconnected from their higher potentials. Out of that pain and suffering, like Kissinger, like Soros in the extreme, they will continue to feel justified in dominating, controlling and exploiting whomever they can, however they can — playing out power addictions with hypocritical talk of philanthropy.
“Affirmative Action legislation has not changed these dynamics — nor, as discussed earlier, could it. Looking in the wrong places doesn’t help. Tacking Affirmative Action legislation as an overlay on the surface level, while failing to address a deeper, divisive worldview, couldn’t help, and most likely would make matters worse.
“Blaming outside enemies as an excuse to avoid self-examination and correction is a futile waste of precious time and energy. Although venting frustration in politically motivated social movements — even terrorism and outright war — may temporarily feel good, it doesn’t address the underlying paradigm deficiency that drives hatred, violence and injustice. It therefore can’t put an end to catastrophic outcomes.”
Here then, is the supporting Essay from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide.*
“Relying more on the social scientists than on legal precedents . . the Court insisted on equality of the mind and heart rather than on equal school facilities. . . . Brown symbolizes the Good America, rather than the country that slaughtered Native Americans, subordinated women, and enslaved blacks. — Jack M. Balkin, What “Brown v. Board of Education” Should Have Said
Dealing exclusively on a rational level with an issue like discrimination which is deeply emotion-laden (sub-rational) on the one hand, and highly value-laden (super-rational) on the other, fails to acknowledge and draw on the levels where problems begin and where solutions can be found. — Patricia West, “Positive Action: The Next Generation”
Seeing and hearing are like food and drink; you need them every day, but you also need to digest and eliminate them every day. If they are not digested and eliminated thoroughly, they remain in the gut, eventually producing illness. — Taoist Meditation, trans. Thomas Cleary.
Three levels of definition attribute opposite, contradictory meanings to the single word discrimination. In the last century, failure to recognize and sort out this confusion resulted in muddled perceptions of purpose, inconsistent implementation and half-hearted compliance with Affirmative Action legislation.
The Oxford English Dictionary’s rational definition of discrimination posits a neutral function of mind. To discriminate is to distinguish with the mind or intellect; to perceive, observe, or note the difference in or between. As an analytical tool, discrimination is the neutral function of mind used to dissect a situation’s parts and deduce cause/effect relationships amongst them. As a tool, effects of its use, whether creative or destructive, depend on the motives and competence of the user.
The last given definition adds a preposition: against. To discriminate against is to make an adverse distinction in regard to, to distinguish unfavorably from others. This negative definition is the sub-rational use. It describes abuse of the critical faculty of mind to separate, distance and subordinate others, and to rationalize exploitation. Discrimination as a function of biased, negative emotions such as fear, hate, envy, arrogance or greed is the polar opposite of objective analysis.
Still further from the rational meaning of discrimination is its super-rational definition. It is not included in The Oxford English Dictionary. However, in Eastern scriptures, the highest function of mind is called buddhi (hence the name Buddha), translated into English as the power of discrimination.
This usage alludes to the ability to see through deceptive illusions, to recognize the eternal in the midst of change, to be aware of all-pervading spirit operating within gross material forms. While rational discrimination is neutral and sub-rational discrimination has separatist results, the super-rational function of discrimination is unifying in effect.
Depending on the user’s mind-set, the I Ching can be used to serve rational, sub- or super-rational motives. Ideally, it’s used to facilitate the process of mental metabolism. When the senses are overloaded with impressions, the Book of Change can be approached as a discipline for settling down and organizing one’s thoughts sufficiently to define the immediate situation and ask questions about it.
As negative emotions surface, they’re named and released, not unlike the process of separating toxins from useful nutrients, eliminating them as waste. Rational thoughts are then simplified, prioritizing essentials and aligning them to basic purpose. Then, when emotions and rational mind are harmonized and stilled, the higher mind is invoked.
It is in this state of tranquil revere that one pierces the veil of ordinary thought, allowing the transcendent awareness attributed to genius to come forward. Einstein, for example, acknowledged that his famous e = mc2 formula came in a flash of inspired contemplation. He faulted his peers for what he called the “fateful fear of metaphysics,” a pernicious prejudice that’s easily as dangerous as racism or sexism.
Mercy and compassion ameliorate the effects of negative discrimination. Introspective activities like self-analysis and use of the I Ching promote the positive capacity to discriminate, make correct decisions, and act wisely. In human law, the opposite of discrimination is justice and equity. In an equitable society, wisdom is promoted as the foundation of harmony and order.
The discipline of positive discrimination is neglected in an unjust world. Ruthless extortionists in positions of political power will kill to prevent discriminating thinkers from recognizing and opposing their abuses. Tyrants promote negative discrimination. They exploit hatred, weakening the people by turning them against each other, conquering by dividing them.
What “Brown v. Board of Education” Should Have Said. Ed. Jack M. Balkin. (New York
University Press: New York, 2001.) pp. 4-5.
Patricia West, Positive Action: The Next Generation of Affirmative Action. Unpublished paper. (Madison, WI, 1976).
Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body, trans. Thomas Cleary. (Shambhala: Boston, MA, 2000.) P. 57.
* See the Conscience Page for illustrations, description of the structure-within-structure format of the Sixty-Four Essays, an overview of CONSCIENCE: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, and an alphabetical list of the Essays.