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The schism wrought by '-ism's



We've recently seen some colourful interaction in our forums, as we have done from time to time, the effects of which are certainly not confined to our forums. They colour our everyday lives; they define us socially. They give an anchor to our self image by furnishing names for our values, our ideals, our causes, crusades and convictions about right and wrong. It comes by cause that one takes a position on one side or another of a controversy, then when met with contradiction (as is bound to happen in the multi-cultural, international community we are), one gets oneself worked up into a right beastly bother trying to convince the others how “right” one's position is, the statistics and other supporting (dis-)information starts flying, and we end up with pages upon pages of utterly useless rubbish. These immensely powerful mimes that fly such wonderfully bright battle fanions are our precious '-ism's.


We can make just about any noun an '-ism' and cause a cause about it, given enough others who will rally to it. And since the human being is naturally disposed to a need for belonging, there would probably be subscribers. There would also be dissidents. From here both sides could find supporting information and statistics and testimonies and particular cases to support what their position is – in providing that all those participating really and truly feel/think the same thing – and the conflict begins.

-ism :

a suffix appearing in loanwords from Greek, where it was used to form action nouns from verbs ( baptism );  on this model, used as a productive suffix in the formation of nouns denoting action or practice, state or condition, principles, doctrines, a usage or characteristic, devotion or adherence, etc. ( criticism; barbarism; Darwinism; despotism; plagiarism; realism; witticism; intellectualism ).

Compare -ist, -ize.

< Greek -ismos, -isma  noun suffixes, often directly, often through Latin -ismus, -isma,  sometimes through French -isme, German -ismus  (all ultimately < Gk) * from Dictionary.com


As it were, these conflict-filled, combative, hostile discussions go on interminably long … rarely arriving at a conclusion, resolution or absolution. Confusion … yes, we have that. Tao Te Ching 23 suggests :

Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature:
when it blows, there is only wind;
when it rains, there is only rain;
when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.

If you open yourself to the Tao,
you are at one with the Tao
and you can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
you are at one with insight
and you can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss,
you are at one with loss
and you can accept it completely. Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place.


There are a couple things going on herein. All these '-ism's class behaviours and knowledge into acceptable/unacceptable categorisations. So, as such one is '-ism'ing the World back into pieces (Watts). Among these pieces, one has preferred pieces with favourite sides. There is the desire for this or that piece to dominate all the other pieces, or for this or that piece to go away forever. And, as with all dual things desire and fear go together. There is not one without the other. Our '-ism' to which we adhere so religiously breeds the desire for some experiences to repeat (good), or for some practices (evil) to cease – neither of which are now, both are future; thus also arises the fear that the good should not repeat and that evil should persist.


A much more simple consideration is the fair or unfair dichotomy. One is often offended by the unfairness of the positions taken of one or another. As it were, we will most likely never arrive at “fair” by way of an '-ism'. Not even via Jediism. The only way to arrive at “fair” is to put an end to the conflict, to the rejection of the Other for whatever reason, to the violence within ourselves – ALL of 'ourselves', every one of us …



CAMPBELL : Only death is no trouble. People ask me, "Do you have optimism about

the world?" And I say, "Yes, it's great just the way it is. And you are not going to fix it

up. Nobody has ever made it any better. It is never going to be any better. This is it, so

take it or leave it. You are not going to correct or improve it."


MOYERS : Doesn't that lead to a rather passive attitude in the face of evil?


CAMPBELL : You yourself are participating in the evil, or you are not alive. Whatever

you do is evil for somebody. This is one of the ironies of the whole creation.


(* The Power of Myth)


For this reason, it may not even be such an ideal term to refer to our faith and its principles as “Jediism”. One could be in favour of simply saying Jedi, to avoid the '-ism' which begs its own dissent.


In discussing this with a friend the other day, we were in agreement about the only '-ism' really worth defending is “humanism”. If we could only understand that all the divisions, distinctions and differences we put into place to reinforce the “Us vs Them”, should we choose to notice the similarities and focus on those, then we would find that conflict resolution becomes quite naturally easy. One would best avoid taking a side to 'fight for the right' of one or another (or another, or another …) group, but for the totality of humanity.


Hell, we don't even need “human-ism” : let's just be “human”.


Just to end by a bit of darkish humour, in one episode of Babylon 5, Marcus says (I'm paraphrasing)

that 'it is good to know that Life is not “fair”. Imagine if it were. That would mean that rotten things that happen to you, you would actually deserve.'


Ergo, let's not so very often '-ism' ourselves into these seething rages for pages and pages and get down to trying to apply our Jedi principles to serve the Peace & Justice for everyone.


Respectfully submitted,

Alexandre Orion