Stay with me today, conscious politics practitioner. A deep breath will help — go ahead — for we are wading wide-eyed into a gargantuan, fraught, intergenerational morass of an American subject for the express purpose of demonstrating a core reality of conscious living: it’s always simpler than we think. To wit, I refer you to a single story about our war with/in (?) Afghanistan by veteran investigative journalist Craig Whitlock. It was published online last Wednesday and printed on the front page of The Washington Post on Thursday. Embedded in the online version is a 17-minute video supplement and, as I hope to demonstrate in our brief time together, all of it points to another simple, well-known truth about conscious living: intentions matter. They matter for you, they matter for me, and they matter for the entity that is the United States of America.
The gist of the story is that a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction was established in 2008 to assess “best practices and lessons learned” about our experiences there. In the course of its work, the “obscure agency” conducted about 400 “first-hand interviews with people who were involved” with the war such as, it seems, White House and Department of Defense staffers and officials, generals, diplomats, journalists, officeholders, and the like. Since discovering the project, Whitlock/The Post have twice sued our government during the last three years or so for access to the interviews because they view them as an original way to tell the story of the war. I’ll say. They are chock full of phrases like: “never defined;” “still unresolved;” “neglected to specify;” “never clearly identified;” “always opaque;” “a lot of verbiage and talk, but no plan;” not to mention “from the outset, the U.S. government never defined the terms of victory” not to mention this shit or this gem from Army Gen. Dan McNeill, a two-stint commander of U.S. troops during the Bush years: “I tried to get someone to define for me what winning meant, even before I went over, and nobody could.” Still he went, but I digress. As Whitlock says, “There’s a clear pattern that what was said in private in these interviews contrasted so greatly with what U.S. officials, presidents, members of Congress, military commanders — what they had been saying in public over 18 years.”
So yeah. Bring it. All of it. Of course. But we don’t need any of it to know why the American adventure in Afghanistan has been a cluster-fuck. By however we measure these things, the project seemed successful enough at about six months in, circa 2002: a reasonably clear mission reasonably accomplished. After that, however, a profound deficit of consciousness — not thinking, not being awake, not paying attention, not taking responsibility, not being clear — took hold and set the stage for a generation’s worth of chaos and confusion, smothered successes, obfuscation and opacity to say nothing of a rank dissatisfaction within our body politic that, if you ask me, permeates and pollutes it. “Endless war.” The interviews lay it bare, for sure, but it’s the deficit of consciousness, the absence of clear intention(s), that gave those hundreds of interviewees the experiences and insights they relay in the interviews, often anonymously. Simply, a conscious government would never have conducted “the war in Afganistan” the way America conducted it.
The interviews lay it bare, for sure, but it’s the deficit of consciousness, the absence of clear intention(s), that gave those hundreds of interviewees the experiences and insights they relay in the interviews, often anonymously.
When people in distress show up in my practice feeling emotions like anxiety, confusion, frustration, dissatisfaction, anger, disillusionment — and they do — it’s virtually always the case that there is an absence of a shiny, clear intention to guide them. When they find or create one and effort to stay aligned with it, those unwanted feelings dissipate. When I say — and I do — that problems are created by deficits of consciousness, not having shiny, clear intentions is a perfect example of a deficit of consciousness.
It’s tempting to think, well, this is the government of the United States of America we’re talking about and it knows war and what it’s doing and we citizens just don’t. And please! Enough already with that silly consciousness stuff because it just doesn’t apply here. Yet, of course, it does. It may not matter to you or anyone, really, that I failed to be clear about what I wanted and thus landed myself in a god-awful relationship — even if it matters tremendously to me. But it matters to hundreds of millions of humans in more than a few countries when, in our names, our government, comprised simply of a collection of human beings with specific responsibilities, chooses to spend its blood and treasure without being clear about what it is doing or why it is doing it. It’s the exact same thing.
Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” I’d revise that a bit to: One of the penalties for conscious people refusing to participate in politics is that we end up being governed by unconscious people.
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