The Rules of Engagement

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‘Civilization, after all, is defined by what we forbid, more than what we permit.’ (Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram)

‘I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create and who we include.’ (Joanne Harris, Chocolat (from the film script, can’t remember if it’s in the book))

The Rules of Engagement for human interaction are based on an avoidance of intimacy  through having an aversion to intimacy  conditioned into us. Within this context of relating, our instincts for connection cannot be satisfied. Somewhere along the line, though, we humans decided our instincts for connection – at least, the physical expression of them – are a bad thing. They’re uncivilized, y’see. What’s civilized is: keeping ourselves to ourselves.

We have created a society where loneliness is the norm.

Today I read an article that said people should conduct relationships with the opposite sex like “business meetings” because “close physical proximity is reserved for your spouse and your spouse only”. It suggests that people who are not in committed relationships are to be denied the comfort of intimacy with their fellow human. WFT??? And of course it says explicity that people in committed relationships are not to enjoy closeness with any other. Alas, this is a common attitude.

What on earth is wrong with us that we have allowed this attitude to become the norm? And that so many defend it? This sort of isolation simply isn’t natural for a pack animal.

The Rules of Engagement cause a great number of people a great deal of misery. They are unnatural. They are a bad habit we humans have got ourselves into. But, just because something has become commonplace it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing and alternatives are a bad thing. The RoE may well be an example of civilized behaviour, but I say they are an exercise in stupidity. We’re stupid because, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we persist in believing that exclusivity – and reclusivity – with regard to relating is a good idea.

The RoE care more about the maintenance of protocol than they do about people’s feelings, or about friendship.

Epitomised in the institution of monogamy, The RoE are an abomination of nature. Because of the misery they cause, I say the rules are the work of the Devil.

(‘Evil’, ‘Devil’, ‘Satan’, ‘God’, ‘soul’ and ‘heart’ I mean as symbols, not actualities, by the way.)

In the past few days I have found myself in several conversations about monogamy. Yet another friend has fallen for someone s/he ‘shouldn’t’ have (both are already in relationships) and is in distress. Oh, the nonsense of it all makes me so mad!

This is my viewpoint and it has arisen from my experiences in the past few years:

Monogamy is a relationship model adopted by the fearful and the deluded. That is: fear of being alone, which motivates us to cling to relationships like they were life rafts even when they are no longer satisfactory for either party, and deluded to believe that  a) once we have found our one-and-only-perfect-fit we be will incapable of having feelings for anyone else and  b) separating ourselves into exclusive micro-communes is an effective way to organise a society of individuals into a unified whole, and engendering feelings of safety. Monogamy, as the only option available to us, is a faulty haven in a hostile world. It’s a life raft riddled with holes.

The fear of being alone is very real in our psyches. That fear is hard-wired into us. Alone in the wild, we would soon be picked off by a predator. However, we have become hysterically pathological in defending a relationship model that perpetuates our separation from our wider community.

Monogamy offers one choice: depend on one person only  to satisfy all our needs for intimate communion, or depend on… no one. Be with one person or be alone. Sharing is verboten (notice the hypocrisy between this attitude and our insistence on teaching children to share?).

What’s wrong with us that we believe in this shit?

Surely an extended network of loving, supportive, intimate companions is the best safety net we humans can have for our psychological needs, but The RoE doesn’t allow this. It has reached such proportions in the West that most old people, once widowed, are left alone to fend for themselves, eventually being ‘cared’ for by paid carers with no emotional incentive to be loving towards them (partly because they’re paid a pitance and resent their situation).

When we say “I love you” are we not saying “I feel delight in your company”? Will those of you who defend monogamy please explain to me why we are not allowed  to delight in the company of someone other than our spouse/partner? Why is that such a wicked thing? (You know I’m speaking about non-kin here… people with whom there’s even the faintest possibility of – gasp – sexual congress… how did we get to be such prudes, I wonder.)

For myself (this may sound radical… get ready!), I don’t consider it any of my business who my husband is friends with or who he has emotional connections with. I don’t feel I have any right to interfere with the workings of his heart and his natural urges for human connection. Nor do I consider it any of my business who he has sex with. He is not my personal servant or my pet or my slave. I do not own him, and he can’t be ‘stolen’ by someone else. I do not have a right to dictate how he should live his life or conduct his relationships. And he, similarly, he has no right to dictate to me how I must live my life and who I am allowed  to love. It would be a cruelty on both sides. How can such cruelty be considered love?

Yet such cruelty is being perpetrated in countless households throughout the Western world, and has been for a very long time. Where is the love and respect for others in that scenario?

I know this is an unusual viewpoint – most believe they have the right to control who their partner interacts with. Most people, it seems to me from conversations I’ve had, confuse love and fear: if they feel fear at the thought of losing someone it’s proof that they love them. It stands to reason then that they would use fear – the threat of abandonment and/or censure – to control their ‘loved’ one.

The RoE are based on a ‘hands-off’ approach, which monogamy ‘allows’ us to suspend on one  occasion at a time. In all other instances (kin excepted, of course) The RoE require that we shun  love towards others, because every other human being is rendered inappropriate  for love. The result of being forced to put all our eggs in one basket means there’s a tendency to demand undivided attention from our ‘one and only’, s/he who has rescued us from our loneliness, and reject those who don’t satisfactorily provide this service of slavish devotion. Many believe this is right, good and proper… romantic, even. I say it is pathological.

To fulfil this requirement of refusal-of-love it is necessary to operate from a prejudice of rejection (that is, we must be predisposed to rejecting anyone who might move us). That’s why we are required to forsake (aka reject) all others before we’ve even met them! It’s a supreme prejudice. It requires that we conduct ourselves with an attitude of closed-heartedness. It requires us to dishonour love, dishonour ourselves, dishonour our partners, and dishonour every new human we encounter (again, kin excepted).

Of course, what’s really going on is that we’ve been conditioned to be disgusted by sex, and agreed that since we can’t help ourselves from indulging in our bestiality, and since it’s necessary for the creation of children, it’s acceptable as long as it’s morally sanctioned, ie with one person only.

How puritanical and prudish!

We are required to sacrifice our soul’s callings when we are moved by others: that is, when we are partnered up but still feel the stirrings of love for others involuntarily (and inevitably!) arise within us, despite our belief in its impossibility (one of many a false belief that’s indoctrinated into us), we are required to turn away, to shun these other people who our heart and soul have connected with in a meaningful way, to ignore our own feelings.

None of this means we need be impolite, of course. Politeness is still a requirement for being civilized. But politeness is not in itself an act of love. It’s not particularly difficult to be polite. You don’t need to feel love for someone to be polite to them. A person can be polite simply because they have had an aversion to impoliteness conditioned into them.

So, The RoE require us to shut off our feelings and smile at the world. They require us to be Stepford-like robots.

But should a ‘wrong’ occur – ie a hapless robot commits the wickedness of feeling feelings for another – The RoE insist that the only resolution to the problem it has created is: abandonment.

How cruel.

An intolerant attitude about monogamy makes us all vulnerable to abandonment. A tolerant approach to open-heartedness and inclusivity gives us all far more protection from being rejected. It’s the insistence on monogamous arrangements that is the cause of so many relationship/marriage failures. Monogamy is the problem, not the solution. Rather, it’s a symptom of the problem. Exclusive relationships can only exist in a fractured society of lonely, frightened people, starved of intimate communion with their fellow human and fearful of loneliness; a society in which unconditional love is virtually non-existent (because acceptance depends on performing a charade of behavioural criteria), despite so many people’s deluded assertions that they love so-and-so ‘unconditionally’!

If we were able to create for ourselves an extended network of intimate, loving connection, in which each member felt safe and supported, and whose acceptance didn’t depend on what clothes we wore, how we held our cutlery, which tv programs we watched, which political party we are loyal to, etc… then exclusive relationships would become obsolete. They would no longer serve their function of propping up a society of psychotics. They would fade away through lack of interest, like a tv series the audience has lost interest in watching. No longer would we fixate on a single individual with whom we would expect fulfillment of all our intimate needs, to be our saviour from loneliness, our ticket to happiness.

Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

And, yes, I’m really saying that monogamy is a symptom of psychosis. It’s bad for our psychological health. Of course, being alone is worse, so I guess it’s the lesser of two evils.

Here is an interesting take on the origins of monogamy in which the blogger argues that monogamy is “a cultural phenomenon that has its origins in economics”. That is: men of means wanted to be certain who their offspring were so cuckolds wouldn’t inherit their wealth on their deaths, so they forbade their wives from having sex with others. That fits with how I came to understand things during my studies for a history degree. So, nothing to do with love or respect, then. In his post, the blogger makes a point that I find crucial in the argument against the nonsense of monogamy: “What’s traditional in your culture might clash very strongly with your biological and emotional makeup.” I agree with the idea that monogamy doesn’t work because we aren’t built for it. Simple. We’re not bad, we’re just not built for it.

The RoE require that we suppress our natural, hard-wired urge for connection with our fellow humans. They require that we develop an aversion to intimate communion with our fellows. They require that we reject people, whether it’s new people who come into our lives, or current people. Some people are even forced to make a decision about whether or not to reject their children (as punishment for transgression)!!!!

What’s wrong with us that we believe this is okay?

In demanding a closed-hearted approach to human interaction, The RoE require that we walk the path of fear and shame, to turn away from the path of love, for the purposes of kowtowing to Satan’s Protocol (which is what I’m saying The RoE are… a thing of evil illustrated by the symbolic character named Satan). If we followed the path of love, the way of God*, our heart would be open to all of Nature’s phenomena and it would rejoice when it encountered a ‘specialness’ of any kind: a flower, a painting, a fellow human being.

* … if you want to use the word ‘God’ to label the Source of our existence… you could say ‘creative consciousness’ – which is not prudish or puritanical but is rampantly creative – or Mother Nature

But The RoE say that love is a beautiful gift from the universe only  when we are single, but a wickedness to be ashamed of, a temptation to be resisted, when we are partnered up.

The RoE idealise the concept of people having dominion over others’ thoughts, feelings and behaviour and defends the idea of such dominion being ruthlessly enforced with draconian punishments (ie, in dictating who partners interact with).

Open-heartedness and The RoE are incompatible modes of being. One belongs in a world of love; the other does not.

And this idea that our bodies are – effectively – not our own to do with as we will and are therefore – effectively – the private property of our partners, is ludicrous. The idea that we’re not ‘allowed’ to have sex with anyone* of our choosing at any time whatsoever during our adult lives, and that we should feel ashamed of our desires, is crazy. What’s equally crazy is that we buy into this belief. Result: mass misery.

(* Consenting and of age, of course… though here, too, our rules don’t necessarily align with nature.)

Of course, few have any choice in the matter because the world won’t let us be anything other than monogamous. And, I reckon its maintenance is ensured by fears of being alone in a love-deprived society of isolated individuals where opportunities for loving communion are few and far between (the result of adhering to The RoE). It’s this fear that makes people so possessive of their partners.

Though couples begin their togetherness with ‘good’ intentions, inevitably the inevitable will happen. Eventually, everyone  comes unstuck, one way or another. That is because we are humans, not robots. We are hard-wired according to the laws of Nature, not to the artificial laws of Civilization. But it is not we who are rotten, as is popularly believed. It’s the rules that are rotten. We are innocent but the world wants us to believe we are guilty.

Yes, we make a vow to forsake all others (even if not married, that is a requirement… as of the second date, for gawd’s sake!… because a desire to see someone again translates to mean: “I like you… ergo, it’s not possible for me to like anyone else… if I did that would make me a cad/slut and therefore unsuitable for a ‘proper’ relationship with a ‘decent’ person such as you.”), but I now realise that we do so in ignorance, not realising we are bargaining with the devil. Forsaking (aka shunning, rejecting, abandoning) all others can only be maintained through cruelty and suffering… it is anathema to our natural instincts for connection and it is anathema to the concept of love.

No way does ‘God’ intend us to be monogamous or to follow the civilized version of The Rules of Engagement. God intends us to be expresses ourselves freely… and shag a lot… with a lot of different people. S/he does not intend us to be snivelling cowards ashamed of our natures.

Monogamy has far more to do with control, dependency and fear of self-sufficiency than it has to do with love. It is an ideology of separatism, not unification. It is a manifestation of the pathological system of human networking that is endemic in our culture.

This is why I perceive it as an evil… it’s something that rains misery on humanity.

But Satan has jurisdiction only over the ignorant and the fearful. S/he is the king of cowards. I don’t really want to be subjugated by ideologies designed to make me fearful and ashamed. I refuse to kowtow to a set of rules that makes a wrong of love, restricts my natural urge for loving connection, and makes me an object of scorn because being married has not rendered me incapable of regarding other men as handsome, delightful company and – yes – sexy!

Hoorah! I’m free of the tyranny! I am free to love where I encounter love! As God/Nature intended for me, and everyone else, too.

What would you do if you were fearless? I’ll bet you’d break the ‘rules’ of love and sex. That’s because they’re too ridiculous to be taken seriously except by the fearful, the deluded and the indoctrinated, and any combination thereof.

So… my friend has a journey of suffering ahead, which might only be resolved in a crescendo of catastrophe that will involve someone being abandoned – all because of slavish, irrational devotion to inherited, pathological attitudes to relationships and sex. The only thing I have to offer my friend is sympathy. Mind you, it’s likely to be more than s/he’ll get from others.

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