PRISM—Can it bring us happiness?
A lot of people I talked to responded with a hint of boredom. “That’s been going on for decades.”
Some felt the need to defend the government’s actions, some felt paranoia, and some made fun of others’ reactions.
Outrage, feeling betrayed, boredom, defense, paranoia and teasing can be appropriate emotions, and they certainly do not need to be denied (i.e. repressed). But they are the easy reactions. They are automatic; they do not require any conscious effort. They do not necessarily evolve us or society. They decrease happiness, and often set us at odds with other people and our society at large.
So I ask myself, “What’s the tough reaction? What am I not seeing? What unconscious emotions am I holding onto, what versions of self am I projecting out onto the world so as not to deal with them internally?” Of course I have to hold this question lightly, or else I will have the same automatic reactions about my automatic reactions, which would be pretty silly (and all too common).
More simply put, I ask myself, “What is it all for?” and let that guide my actions and reactions. What I find is that my automatic, unconscious reactions are often in direct contrast to my consciously stated goals.
For example, one of my overarching goals in life is to remove the blocks the awareness of love’s presence in myself. My automatic reactions to the PRISM scandal do not help me achieve this goal. But asking myself that question “What is it all for?” do. I am able to accept my reactions for what they are, human emotions, and not put much stock in having them or not having them.
“What is it all for?” The answers to this question will be different for each person. Even my own insights in exploring this concept continuously change. Nevertheless I share my journey as it may illuminate places other people with completely different objectives are actually working against themselves. Let us look at an even more poignant example: the PRISM program itself. What would have happened if PRISM asked the question, “What is it all for?”
Naturally the argument behind PRISM is that it is designed to keep us safe. The ridiculous irony is that six years after the program’s inception, instead of feeling more safe, the public feels significantly less safe because of PRISM. Their goal is supposedly to protect our freedoms, but they have taken liberties to do that. Silly indeed.
What of it? Ask that question, “What is it for?” Always. What is my reaction to the above paragraph for? Trying to illustrate a point while both relating to people and practicing the open-mindedness and self-awareness I promote. Is that a good motivation? Check, keep it.
If it were not, I’d throw it out and choose a different response. Sometimes you will find that the question undermines your emotions, sometimes it will bolster them. Let us say you see someone getting beat up and want to intervene. Asking “What is this intervention for?” might give you extra courage step in and help out—just as finding out what is behind your PRISM reaction might motivate you to take action to make a difference, while the unexamined emotion might paralyze you.
How have you reacted to PRISM? What do you make of it? I notice in myself feelings of wanting more safety, trust, power, and control. I notice reactions against polarized responses, a reflection of my own fear of disconnection. What emotions are triggered for you? I ask simply because I find joy in connection, and I want to share that with you, my community. I find happiness in taking a story my ego uses for fear and repurposing for self-discovery, and I hope you will too.