This is a quote from Byron Katie which always makes me squirm because while at some level it feels true, I don’t particularly want it to be accurate. It would mean I’ve got a ton of spiritual work to do before I achieve perfection, and we all know I was getting so close…
Nevertheless, as with many things I come to eventually believe, this one lodged like a splinter under my skin. I’ve since been looking for a real-life examples of the principle. Something that isn’t personal, so I don’t have any investment in the outcome. A way to externalize the idea and see if it works before asking more of myself in my interactions.
Then, a few days ago, when looking for some outrageous “fun,” I think I spotted it in Da Ali G Show.
Are you familiar with Sacha Baron Cohen’s work? If not, here is the series’s premise from imdb:
An ignorant, wannabe-Jamaican British b-boy; an anti-Semitic, misogynistic but friendly Kazakhstani television reporter; and a homosexual Austrian fashonista–all played by Sacha Baron Cohen–conduct interviews on unsuspecting Americans, who include prominent pundits in the political system and celebrities, that reveal deeply hidden prejudices and challenge social mores within American society.
Here’s a clip of the Ali G character. To make it clear that human frailties cross international lines, I’ve chosen a now-deceased Canadian hothead in a less-than-fine hour:
This show is not easy to watch. Though there are plenty of comedic moments, Baron Cohen has a diabolic genius for honing in on people’s hot-button topics and pushing them with a gusto familiar to bullies.
His work reminds me of the famous Milgram psychology experiments where people were guided into giving supposedly fatal electric shocks to test subjects simply because they were asked to by an authority figure in a lab coat. Baron Cohen comes armed with a character’s bombastic personality and camera. That’s all it takes to expose troubling veins of elitism, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and anti-Semitism.
To bring this back to the defense-is-the-first-act-of-war premise, however, Baron Cohen’s “subjects” seem to follow four distinct trajectories: