Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Reverse 9/11; 11/9 What we've done to ourselves: A Poisonous Dark Day for America

The cause of human suffering, as explained in Buddhist terms, are greed, anger and ignorance. 
These negative traits and fundamental evils are called the Three Poisons, because they are dangerous toxins in our lives. 
These poisons fill our lives with suffering, and unhappiness.
A cockerel, snake and a pig represent what are often referred to as The Three Poisons
The cockerel is greed, the snake is hatred and the pig is ignorance
I believe this Election was won largely based upon negative emotions, including a large dose of apathy on the part of many who ought to be ashamed they let this happen, and doubly ashamed of letting Trump get away with a campaign based upon ignorance, fear and greed. 

Unfortunately, it may take a long time for America to recover from this gross lack of collective wisdom. But, let's hope we do without bringing on more grief than we -and the world - can handle.

It is well known that emotional appeals have a time advantage over more rational arguments. We can see this demonstrated everyday. Maybe it would be helpful to examine this simple phenomenon from an ancient perspective, including the Greek Philosophers and Buddhist Scholars.

Emotion, in everyday speech, is any relatively brief conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a high degree of pleasure or displeasure.

Destructive emotions and Their Antidotes

Greed/Attachment - Generosity

Anger/Aversion - Compassion

Ignorance - Wisdom

Several years ago, when I was just starting to study Buddhist philosophy, I learned about these negative traits and fundamental evils that are called the three poisons. 

Fortunately, I also learned these also have antidotes; meaning if we are aware of the causes of the Three Poisons, we can counter them with three effective cures, but first, we must become aware!
Sometimes pride and jealousy are added, with pride being a combination of ignorance and attachment, and jealousy a combination of attachment and aggression.

Plutchik's Wheel of EmotionsRobert Plutchik's theory says that the eight basic emotions are:

  • Fear → feeling afraid. Other words are terror (strong fear), shock, phobia
  • Anger → feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is rage.
  • Sadness → feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief (a stronger feeling, for example when someone has died) or depression (feeling sad for a long time). Some people think depression is a different emotion.
  • Joy → feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness.
  • Disgust → feeling something is wrong or dirty
  • Trust → a positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker
  • Anticipation → in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.
  • Surprise → how one feels when something unexpected happens
  • Shame, opposite confidence (shame: how one feels about one's past bad actions or thoughts; shamelessness: one does not feel shame, but others think one should.)
  • Kindness (benevolence), opposite cruelty (kindness: when people are good to other people)
  • Pity (when people feel sorry for other people)
  • Indignation (feeling angry because something is not fair, such as undeserved bad fortune)
  • Envy, jealous (pain when people have something that one wishes for oneself)
  • Love, a strong emotion of attachment one feels for someone else. Ranges to family, pets, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband.
Emotions are what drive us and what drive us astray. You cannot persuade without understanding them well.

This leaves us with four "basic" emotions, according to another study: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted. 

It is common to think that emotions interfere with rational thinking. 
Plato described emotion and reason as two horses pulling us in opposite directions. 
Modern dual-systems models of judgment and decision-making are Platonic in the sense that they endorse the antagonism between reason and emotion.

We are persuaded by reason, but we are moved by emotion. Several studies conclude that up to 90 percent of the decisions we make are based on emotion.

Unfortunately, this seems all too true regarding the American public's selection of Trump as the most important elected official in the world!
God help us, and may God save the United States of America from the dangers of hate, greed and ignorance.

That is my fervent wish for us all, and the World....