The Dark Side of Simplicity



The burrow is the domain of creatures less able, or perhaps less willing to contend with the kinds of adversity that exist in the full light of day. It’s eyes become tuned to the blacks and grays of the shadows. It scurries out in reluctant circles to find food, doing only what is needed to satisfy the drives that compel it to act, all the while terrified it might become food itself. In this world, devoid of colors by way of the limited perspective through which reality is rendered in the dark, it carves out an existence beneath the threshold of possibility, in a cocoon of safety spun with fear. These creatures of the burrowed dark have, in effect, determined that the cost of contention with a full spectrum world is too high – or perhaps too frightening. Either way, it trades vision for safety, and in so doing sacrifices possibility on the altar of fear.

Each choice presented by nature is bloody – every proposition that renders benefit also comes with sacrificial costs. We sacrifice any hope progress by not taking the risks to brave the light of day. We gain safety at the expense a fuller embrace of reality, avoiding the dangers, but also the opportunities. We can form a prison of stagnation that returns the kind of clarity that only the limited vision of darkness can bring; not a clarity that forges an accurate view of the world, but the false certainty forged by a restricted field of vision.

In the shadows of a narrow mind peering through a simplistic lens we can gain a clear vision of things like “right and wrong”, not because we see an accurate representation of what is, but because the limited range of gray on black we paint our world with generates an illusion of clarity from a fraction of an otherwise full spectrum world. It is from this position of dark clarity that we can lay hold to false claims of absolute truth. From this vapor platform, we can then pronounce with certainty and clear conscience who deserves to be “in”, and who deserves to be “out” – who is worthy, and who is not. We can burrow ourselves deep in the safety of a mob that uses our selfsame brand of social currency – our repertoire of thought stopping clichés to execute our condemnation of those who dare to explore the outside the boundaries of our circle. All can be known if we hide from almost all there is. We can sacrifice the other for the sake of self when we make our pious judgment from high atop our visionary tomb.

When perched on our dark limb, the antagonist becomes anyone or anything that dares shine a light beyond the comfort of our ignorance. Fear becomes our primary currency of being. Uncertainty becomes the enemy. And through our false certainty, we fail to grasp that our life is diminished to a tale “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – and going nowhere. Wallowing in a high test reactionary world of responding to what happens, unable to conceive, much less take action to brave the waters required to make things happen. We live in the shadows of this womb, reacting to the currents on which our experience rides, without a voice. The womb of safety is also our tomb, because if we never emerge, we also will have only existed and never lived. This is nature’s proposition, a choice between bloody and bloodier, between bravery and the potential for doom but also for victory, or the the asphyxiating squalor of complacently and cowardice, accepting the way things are – a spectator critiquing the game played upon us.

In the same way that burrows protect the creatures of the dark in exchange for the possibility of vision and progress, simplicity is a borrow of abstraction for those of us see clearly – not because it renders an accurate image of what is, but because it renders an illusion of clarity representative of the limited extent of its field of vision. Those of us either unable, by virtue of ignorance, or unwilling by virtue of fear – give up the possibility of progress in exchange for safety and the illusion of certainty.

For those of us that discover the snare, the battle begins within us between the currents of cowardice and the promise of fruits that might come from contending – from disturbing our comforting place and stepping out into the unknown. Whether we exist in the shadows of the parasitic and predatory existence that living in fear offers, that devours our volition in a pool of acquiescence, or if we act to step out to contend with the devouring demon it is, depends on the choices we make after catching a glimpse of what could be. We stand on the cusp of order and chaos, staring at the divide between the shadow and the light. Which way we face determines whether we have things happen, or make things happen, both of which demand sacrifices, but only one of which offers the promise of progress.

2 responses to “The Dark Side of Simplicity

  1. Michael McCallion Sr.

    Perfect description of the Muslim ideological premise; beside the insanity of Islamic terrorism.

    • My guess is this topic is far more complicated that could be effectively analyzed here in this format, even if if any of us are sufficiently capable of doing so.

      As far as I can tell, any organism, such as a human or a human culture, that is in fight or flight mode, or biases itself toward that end of the spectrum, does so out of a response to perceived antagonists. Fight or flight is a behavioral immune response that, in humans, is often expressed in part by puritanical “either black or white” thoughts and actions. “You’re either with us, or against us” “They” are the problem, and we must stick together to defend ourselves becomes an emphasized part of the value system.

      PTSD exhibits this same profile, as do nations or cultures under attack, as do people who are exposed to ideas that are counter to what they have used to frame and navigate the world. The root cause of fight or flight behavior comes from some traumatic antagonist, which is perceived and being responded to. To understand why that type of reaction, with that type of emphasis it is being carried out happens, I think it is important to look for the cause of the antagonism. When we confuse the cause with the symptom we can end up blaming the spoon for being fat. That may serve as a cathartic release of emotional frustration over the situation, but it is not a path to remedy it.

      This topic may be above my pay grade at the moment. I tend to think that having each other’s backs without being a doormat is the center of value we should strive for. Nourish when we can, defend when and to the degree we have to, but always strive to bring it back to mutually nourishing behaviors as soon as practicable.

      I could be missing something(s)

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