From the publisher … Evolution and trauma

by Joe Courter

We humans have had to deal with a lot of changes in our sensory input and all the information that our brains need to process. Our early “technology” ( candles, lanterns) has brought us the ability to have artificial light, lengthening our productivity. The practice of writing broadened access to knowledge, giving us written information instead of oral histories. Science could flourish as knowledge built on knowledge.

As humans began to travel, trade could develop as well. This further spread knowledge among far flung people. Conquests could also occur, with the appropriation of wealth and territory.  This led to weaponry development.

All the above has exploded exponentially in the past hundred years. Communications are world wide and instantaneous.  Trade and conquest, whether for raw materials or territory, are on a planetary scale. Our weaponry is nightmarish in power, both on the grand scale among nations, and as well in smaller yet devastating weapons in the hands of individuals and non-state actors. It has even become a world economic system, based on keystrokes rather than tangible things like gold and silver.

Face it, we are not dealing with it well. It is quite distressing.

In a time when we need wisdom and understanding we are evidencing neither. Especially here in the USA.  This long lasting democracy seems to be cracking up, with extreme polarization and wealthy self serving egomaniacs hold the reins of government. Our communications media is dominated by a small cabal of ultra rich corporations with a firm agenda preserving their power. Those that are not wed to their wealth are wed to a repressive moralistic religion which they wish to impose on others. On us.

But that’s enough macro, let’s zero in on the micro … us. And trauma. We evolved to remember bad things in detail because it helped our survival. It makes a deep impression, and I believe all of us do this. What varies is the levels of trauma we individually experience. That is what we saw with Dr. Ford and her memory of her assault and as well her scientific explanation of this process in our brains. This is what #me too is about, the releasing of these indelible memories after being repressed by social convention. It is like an informal consciousness raising session, people relaying their personal experiences and then drawing conclusions from the testimonies. We never before could be as aware of the trauma of others as now, and since empathy is such a strong emotion for many of us (at least on the left) it can feel a bit overwhelming. But it can also be empowering.

There is a bit of trauma building in all of us now in the time of Trump, not just women.  We on the progressive side are seeing political gains we have made being threatened or overtly taken away. There has been a revival in the term “culture war,” and it has hit me that yes, it is at this point a war of sorts. It has been fought against us, we have been attacked and we are waking up and fighting back. We have fought for and won abortion rights, LGBT rights, environmental regulations, the right to collectively bargain in unions. These are like actual territory we now must defend. Add to that what women are feeling about the toxic male behavior they have been enduring up until now, the horror of the forced process that was done, and what the elevation of Kavanaugh to Supreme Court means for our future, and there is a lot of fuel for movement building.

Organizing and voting is one of the constructive ways we fight back. This election is absolutely huge. It is too late to register to vote, but those few unregistered reading this, or those prohibited from voting due to felony convictions, you can still get others to go to the polls.

People died for the right to vote.

Don’t give me cynicism about how both parties are corrupt and you are too pure to vote for them. Don’t give me pie in the sky third party advocacy; in the here and now, voting is math and a third party vote is one thrown away. The Right has played a very effective strategy, the Democrats been slow to respond, and it is up to the Left to step up our game.

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