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This is liberating to read, in an era whose slogan is "if you aren't angry, you aren't listening." And even if you are angry, are you angry ENOUGH?

A recent example for me is the Hollywood strike. I believe in the cause and the efforts, and even if the strikers aren't perfect, they're helping us all out in a way. But... my distaste of the industry and of superiority complexes far exceed my appreciation of The Cause. And each time I felt in agreement with them, like I was on their side, I felt a tinge of self-betrayal.

I can't stop my own biases that pull me away from one side or another. But I should have the freedom to express a non-opinion, to be neutral in a time where nuance is dead, to not feel forced to pretend.

This is another symptom of prevailing tribal mentality. If you're not with us, you're against us.

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Well said. We hear things like "silence is complicity" and that you have to take a stand against neutrality. But not having a position can be just as strong as having one.

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I was raised in an environment where we were highly encouraged, and rewarded, for having opinions on everything! People were often talking out of their asses but to be part of the conversation you had to opine on something in some way. It does get exhausting but fighting and arguing is truly our love language.

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I actually appreciate this dynamic—as long as its contained in the family :) It really does make a difference when people enjoy talking to each other about everything, even if they don't necessarily know what they're talking about.

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Eastern thought provides valuable perspectives on this subject. Buddhism and Taoism both teach us the relative unimportance and fickle nature of thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Many of life's sorrows can be traced to the conflation of opinions, beliefs, and feelings with reality. The "reality" dictated by our beliefs and feelings enslaves us. The greater the degree of detachment we can maintain from our own (and others') feelings and beliefs, the greater our sum of peace, joy, and freedom. We might also add that the greater our detachment from feelings and beliefs, the more wisdom we can accrue, and the more compassion we will have available to extend to others.

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I agree with a lot of this—in theory. In practice, living in the modern mimetic world, it becomes very challenging in practice. Which is no excuse not to try. But I think the risk is presenting a somewhat unattainable ideal that is far removed from what most mere mortals are able to do.

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Hmmm...are we thinking along the same lines? Thanks for your article and response, btw. What I refer to are not ascetic practices, just taking a particular perspective. American culture strongly demands we choose a label, join a tribe, "own" a belief system. Those obstacles make clarity difficult to achieve. The process begins with refusing to apply labels to yourself, refusing to identify with your beliefs. That doesn't mean trying to eliminate beliefs. That would be impossible. But we can make the choice to detach from our thoughts, to rigorously and consciously reject the notion that what I believe or feel right now is the harbinger of any wider, universal reality--because it isn't. If this state of being required study, meditation, etc., I would agree with you. But all it demands is awareness. The state of being most people inhabit is one of clinging to illusion, which is exhausting. It is actually far easier to cease grasping and let go, once you get the hang of it. Good tidings, sir.

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Really liked reading this. I wonder if there is something in the time and space we lack in relation to deeper first principles. On holiday I have been reading Johnathan Israel's account of the French Revolution. What struck me was not simply the intensity of feeling but how quickly events changed on the ground. The effect was a need for a constant reaction leading to for some the principles of republicanism and revolution being overtaken by events of the day.

Perhaps in the world of 24 hour news and ever more wild political events we have become inherently reactionary. We bounce from one issue to another without the time or space to reflect on what and how we feel about the world around us. We can also see this in academic study where the sheer number of articles and books is impossible to keep track of. This narrows our ability to think freely and clearly about first principles.

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