I have a practice of evening meditation. It’s the last thing I do before bed, designed to help unspool my mind after a long day so that I will be minimally inflicted by insomnia or otherwise restless sleep. When I first started this practiced, and again when I renewed it, I would play either soft music designed for such a purpose, or I would listen to nature sounds, or something along those lines.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing with a different idea entirely. I’ve started meditating with a random selection of instrumental music. Last night, I found myself meditating to Cliff Eidelman’s score to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Odd, no? Bear with me. I’m going on a little journey with this one.
I’ve never meditated to a film score before. My first thought was how inappropriate it was, and I almost turned it off. But then I didn’t move from my meditative position. I sat in the low light of the room, bathed in the glow of a dim yellow that gradually turned to red and then to black. That’s the sunset feature on my bedside Zenergy machine, which also feeds the music through via the Bluetooth on my phone. If you’ve never heard the score to Star Trek VI, it’s a dark score. I truly despise describing anything as “dark” as the word has all but lost meaning in the modern world. Perhaps a better word would be “haunting.” It’s music for uncertain and dangerous times, as befitting the nature of the film itself. Take a listen, you’ll hear instantly what I mean.
If you listen, it’s just over four minutes in that we get the theme used for the Enterprise and her crew, the hopefulness that’s born from their combined experience and distinguished service records, followed by the spiritual, peaceful theme of Spock’s wisdom, keeping in mind that he’s a very different character at this point than he was in the original series. And then, of course, we circle back into the themes of political tension. The film dealt with the potential of peace between two mortal foes in the wake of the impending collapse of the Klingon Empire, reflecting in our own world the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Following the midterm election cycle, in the wake of experiencing my own fears, and in looking for hopes to embrace, the themes took on new meaning. Part of what I’ve been trying to do is to refocus my thoughts through a Taoist lens so as to help to reframe my emotional state. I think we can all agree that, given the issues I deal with mentally and biologically, it’s a foregone conclusion that my brain is wired up a bit differently. In short, my emotions tend to control me rather than to serve me. When the situation is overwhelming, it is difficult to see the pinpoint of hope anywhere. One of the things I actively have to resist is the idea of becoming the monster I’m hunting. That’s where our politics have us right now, with extremists on both sides. And as much as I am a proponent of the middle path, it’s really difficult not to pendulum swing against those who would dehumanize me and possibly exterminate me. Like Kirk, I have personal reasons for not trusting the enemy given past experience and the rhetoric they live by.
In the film, and as reflected in the score, there are rogue elements in both the Federation and in the Klingon Empire who are actually collaborating to undermine the peace talks, not that the already distrusting sides need any help.
Everyone paints themselves as the heroes of their own stories, the ones in the right. I have to keep reminding myself that the problems in our country are deep and multi-generational. My meditations last night unfolded with some thoughts that I feel I need to keep in mind as I navigate my own way through this little minefield:
- Rhetoric from “red team” leadership is galvanized not to serve the common interest, but to serve the elite 1%.
- Rhetoric from “blue team” leadership is all over the place, and there is no central leadership role that the blue team can point to, let alone trust.
- Those who are aligned behind the red team right now tend to do so, not because they support those 1%, but because their spiritual ideologies are being leveraged. To go against the grain on this must resemble the same internal arguments as when the Reformation and Counter-Reformation were at their heights.
- Those aligned behind team red who are not necessarily aligned spiritually do so because of a level of comfort that they have worked to achieve and fear to lose in the wake of uncertainty.
- The “blue team” is divided by individual causes, and while the forward march of civil rights is ultimately the only “right side of history” there is, the methods to achieve it are sometimes questionable, if not hypocritical.
- There is a double standard in play. The red team, despite religious ideology, is playing to the lowest common denominator. That’s bringing out the worst in the blue team and giving the red team the examples they point at for their own purposes.
- Identity politics is a game that does more harm than good. The red team has demonized the blue team. The blue team has demonized the red team. Rogue factions on both sides are playing into the worst stereotypes imaginable in order to further drive the wedge.
- To lead by example requires more than rhetoric. It requires action. The example being set by the red team is abominable on both counts and represents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Republic.
- The example of the red team in the executive is being used as a distraction by the red team in the legislative, a fulcrum by which to undermine, divide, and conquer. It’s literally the oldest trick in the book… one that works way too well and far too easily because people refuse to admit when they might be wrong. They double down in an effort to prove themselves right. That’s what leads to civil war. The last time, we had Lincoln with his eye on the prize to get us through. Most civil wars end in an autocratic government. Rome — the model of the United States — became an Empire and all that implies.
- Unity is often achieved at the expense of a targeted “other” outside force. We have only unity of factions right now, not of country. It will require enlightened leadership on both sides to achieve unity without civil war and the inevitable, unconditional surrender. Again, this is where Lincoln shines. One wonders what might have happened if the Confederacy had enlightened leadership, but then… would they have had slavery in the first place? If Rome is any indication, the answer is a sad “yes.”
- The concept of freedom and civil rights is a work in progress, and relatively new in the whole of human history. Those entrenched in the power of the status quo have everything to lose in the shifts of history if they cannot or will not bend to the ideas whose time has come. The stronger the ideas become, the more desperate those in power become, and the more despotic their actions. Reference red team’s current leadership.
- If we are to avoid civil war, and if we are to come together in peace, then either leaders of both sides need to step up in exactly that rhetoric and denounce rogue factions that serve “in their names,” or an enlightened third party from outside must step forward with the sole intent of peacekeeping with authority granted from both sides.
In allowing these thoughts to manifest and release, combined with touching base from a couple of friends I’d not heard from but was worried about, I was able to lighten the burden of my soul. Sleep was restful. This morning, my thoughts are clearer, steeped less in drama. I can proceed forward on my own path with a greater understanding of my hopes, a reduction of my fears, and a renewed sense of optimism that my own path is one of spirit, not of politic. Politics will always be there for so long as I dwell on this earth, and I must be aware of them in as enlightened a fashion as I can be. I must fight for what I believe. But the greater work attends my soul, and unlike what most believe, the two have to remain separate. The Founders of this country understood that. That’s why we have separation of Church and State. They learned from history, from the examples of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, to name but two examples, which is quite the feat considering the extremist views that got passed down since in the Enlightenment and the Counter-Enlightenment only decades before the Revolution.
And so, in fiction, Kirk’s personal history with the Klingons must give way to greater truths and the nobler aspirations of the Starfleet and the Federation he serves. If I am not a threat, my enemy will stop perceiving me to be one, and thus I will not have an enemy. This is achieved in communication and in personal assessment of my own example. I must begin… at home, in my own family, with those who are set in their ways and complacent in their knowledge of “the enemy.” And at work, with those on both sides of the divides, with varying degrees of understanding or willingness to understand. To achieve this, I must continue to walk the middle path.
I need not force confrontations or even participate in them. I need only to open my heart and speak to them instead of at them, and only when invited to do so. A forced opinion is rarely welcomed and oft ignored. Time will do the rest where dedication is achieved.
I really should consider meditating to film scores more often. This was most productive.