A great deal of the backward-looking conservatives in the world have a desire to return us to a simpler, happier time. They have this nostalgia for a life that was slower, less complicated, and in their minds easier.
Never mind the rampant racism and sexism of the age they have in mind; or the other major social injustices of that era. Oh, and also never mind the fact that this period in history NEVER ACTUALLY EXISTED.
This is part of the overall notion that simple is easy. But the reality of this is that simple is not necessarily easy. Simple just means uncomplicated.
I have experience with this. When I teach fencing, the first thing I do is begin to show the en guard position. The stance, how to hold the blade, where to balance, and so on. It’s pretty simple overall to get into guard and position yourself correctly. Basic movement from this position is also relatively simple, advancing and retreating isn’t difficult to understand.
Yes, this is simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. The way you hold a sword, a rapier, in this case, is generally unfamiliar nowadays. The stance puts you at an angle and balance point that most people wouldn’t think of for any other martial art. Then the movement itself, though simple, isn’t easy because it is unfamiliar and unlike just walking.
The basic en guard position and movement therein is simple, but due to the unfamiliar body mechanics not easy. Over more than two decades I have taught this to at least a couple dozen people, and simple as it is, I know it is not easy, because it wasn’t easy for me, either.
Why do we want things to be easy?
There are a lot of people in the world today who find the connectivity, the ability to communicate globally instantaneously, and our continued advancements on these lines deeply scary. They fear what it is turning society into.
I think that their deepest fear, however, is a loss of identity. The complexity of globalism and connecting between vastly different cultures many find frightening. Then, because you and I live in a fear-based society, those “in power” emphasize those fears to gather more power to themselves.
This selfish behavior, in turn, creates more fear, which gets turned outwards and takes some rather ugly shapes. This is where white supremacy lives. It is using this fear that gives Trump his base of support. This fear is where Brexit comes from.
To further personify the fear, artificial and superficial lack and scarcity get played upon. You get told that “they” will consume your resources, take your jobs, steal your women, seduce your children, eliminate your cultural identity, waste all the money, and generally change everything familiar. Is it any wonder people follow the so-called leaders who are actually the ones doing them the most harm?
To win the following of people through fear, these leaders paint pictures of a simpler life, where everyone lives in comfort and ease, and the scary global infrastructure sails past while you gently float on a cloud of a simple life where “they” cannot touch you.
If you look behind the curtain, though, you will see that the Wizard is just a man — and not a very good man at that. He manipulates you for his own gain, whether he is a politician, religious leader, business leader, or wealthy mogul concerned with naught but his own benefit.
Complexity is not a bad thing
Some people find complex things to be a lot of fun. They are puzzles to be solved, situations to be understood. Complex things can come with a lot of nuances, as well as variations that can be interesting to unlock and understand.
Some people do not like complexity. They prefer things to be simple because they equate simple with easy.
An example of this is the idea of the Emerald Tablet from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. The secret of alchemy and creating a masterwork, the Philosopher’s Stone (which can be used to turn any metal into gold) and the Elixir of Life (which cures all illness and slows the aging process dramatically) is written on a single emerald.
The text is not just meant to be read and understood, it also needs to be felt. You take the words of the Emerald Tablet into your soul in a way that goes far beyond reading and comprehending.
The Emerald Tablet is simple, but not easy to understand. So over the centuries scholars created tracts and texts and research full of code and complexity to translate what is written on the Emerald Tablet.
The protagonist in The Alchemist, Santiago, encounters an Englishman who is in search of the Alchemist. The Englishman has numerous books full of research into what is written on the Emerald Tablet.
A simple thing that is not easy, for which complicated interpretations and extrapolations were created. Work of fiction or not, this is something that people do all the time.
For example, you and I have the same basic composition. But the color of our skin and hair likely differ, as might our accents, nationalities, religions, philosophies, and more. The simplicity of our sameness gets lost in the complexity of our uniqueness — but that’s not a bad thing.
Simple does not mean good, just as complex does not mean bad
Certain things seen as complex get equated with being bad, while simpler things are made out to be good. But the truth is that both can be good AND/OR bad, depending on any number of factors.
Further, I want to point out a really important fact in ALL of this. Good and bad are constructs of the human race that are often interchangeable. That is why some people saw President Obama as good while others saw him as bad. You can apply this to just about everything in the world you can imagine.
The most important thing about good and bad is what resonates for YOU. Does this thing make you feel good or make you feel bad? What is it that is most true to you, who you are, and who you want to be?
I believe that globalism is a wonderful thing. There is this amazing potential of getting to know cultures vastly different from my own intimately, and to gain new perspectives and ideas. I do not see this as a loss of my way, I see it as a potential expansion. Sure, it may be complex, but I also enjoy many forms of complex mind puzzles.
You might disagree. You might see this as a terrible thing. Too complicated, too much potential loss of the way you know and are comfortable with.
Which is the crux of the entire idea of seeing simplicity as easy. Ease is all well and good, but the biggest issue is comfort. More specifically comfort zones.
Your comfort zone and change
Change is inevitable. Yet change also represents the potential to be uncomfortable, and stepping out of a given comfort zone can be scary. It is unfamiliar, and it is fraught with uncertainty. What if this is bad? What if this change makes life harder and more complicated than it already is?
This is how our fear-based society tends to view change. It will probably be scary. Yet the truth is that given the inevitability of change, and the fact of its constancy, most change is barely a blip on your radar.
Equating simple with easy, and ultimately comfortable, is how bad leaders disempower people. By giving you something to fear they give you themselves as the answer to that fear. But the only way to truly combat fear is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the awareness of what you are thinking and what and how you are feeling. That mindfulness allows you to best choose intentional actions for your life experiences. Mindfulness also tends to put you in the here-and-now, and that in turn helps you to defeat fear and find alternatives to live the best life you can.
When all is said and done simple is not necessarily easy. This idea is part of the societal disempowerment created by leaders who fear to lose what power they have. When you can see this for what it is and that it can be altered by and for you, YOU empower yourself.
Simple or complicated, you have the ability to find and/or create a life experience that makes you feel whole and complete.
Be the best you that you can be.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, whether you choose simple or complex options for your life.