Sunday, March 14, 2021

Breaking Rules

 Diffusion 5

There are no rules…go against the rules or ignore the rules. Helen Frankenthaler

The above could have easily been expressed by Frankenthaler’s contemporary, Joan Mitchell. With a major difference in linguistic delivery. Mitchell would have simply said, “Fuck the rules.”

 Known for her contempt of any ideology that would straight jacket her sensibilities and freedom to live and paint on her own terms, she did not allow society to dictate her way of moving through this life.

 To find a new way of thinking, seeing, doing, you must be able to break the chain of acceptable behavior. Some posit you must know the rules before you can break them. Logical and yet, sometimes the rules are so entrenched into the psyche of the collective, that once you know them you almost fear to break them.

 The most dogmatic rules are fed to us, in tiny spoonfuls, by our earliest teachings from our parents and then our schools. Upbringing and religion provide tightly bound traditions that offer safety and succor if you stay between the boundaries of “acceptable” behavior. Dare go outside these social boxes and you risk being cast out and ostracized.

 After watching the horrendous, slow motion murder of George Floyd on national media, reminiscent of the blood sport spectacles in an ancient Rome arena, difficult to watch, yet just as hard to look away, many Americans and citizens around the world, woke up to the horror of acceptable discrimination and racism. Over the course of days, weeks, and months, a lava hot, slow-moving realization; prejudice was intrinsic to our behavior.

 Yet, I argue, not in our hearts. We are not born with prejudice; we are taught to be prejudiced through the language and the actions of our parents and other early influences. Then as we grow, these false beliefs shape our view of the world and we begin to mirror the micro society we are part of – our tribe.

 These behaviors are so subconsciously embedded in our psyche, that even when we meet “the other” it is difficult to see beyond the color of their skin. On the surface we behave with a certain decorum, but just beneath the veneer of civility, there are the whispers coming from the lips of our reptilian brain that bind us to those early influences.

 Similar to Morgana’s spell on Merlin, which kept him locked in the dark caverns of his ego, it takes tectonic events to break these familial and societal chains for the scales of discrimination to fall from our eyes and crack open our hearts. Suddenly these childhood rules shatter as we awake from the bardo and are reborn to see all people as people, and realize all religions are from the same tree; diverse branches lifting their arms towards the magnificence of the Universe.

Like fabled Humpty Dumpty, once cracked and shattered, the rules can never be put back together again.

 There is no glue that will erase the cracks of knowing, the wizard is revealed as a paper tiger. We are now free to “fuck the rules”. Humanity wins. We win.