Just Who are the Angels? Who are the Demons?
Well, it ‘takes one to know one’. Hmm, this childish refrain I’ve applied to ‘angels and demons’ happens to contain the truth about life – how you experience it, what you make of it, what it makes of you (and what difference you can make)…
Introduction: The Temptations & Perils of Demonisation
Angels and demons – what’s all that about, then? Well…
- What could possibly be the opposite of an angel?
- A demon? Hmm, in the words of Hong Kong Phooey, “It could be”.
- Okay, so what could possibly be the opposite of a demon, then?…
I ask these rhetorical questions in this angels and demons post by way of an introduction to a little piece I shared on Facebook a week or so ago, on the topic of what I’m going to call default demonisation.
Demonisation, it seems, is rampant online. And even the demonised, demonise in their defence.
I also include (with permission) two considered responses to my Facebook demonisation post. All is verbatim, so please forgive the errors if you spot them.
(My) Facebook Demons: Angels and Demonisations
WARNING, PROVOCATIVE (and a bit long):
If you passionately believe in a cause (ooh, let’s say ‘raising awareness of global warming’ or ‘keeping the UK NHS publicly owned’ or ‘highlighting animal cruelty’ or…), it seems the best way (the only way, even) is to highlight the wrongdoings, the ne’er-do-wells, and attack them!
And, yes, this approach does work, it’s always worked (to a degree), and it will always continue to work.
BUT, it’ll always be a hard, hard fight, and there’ll always be needless suffering. It’ll be like staking your life on getting water to flow upstream (naturally).
The problem with this approach, then: DEMONISATION!
This, dare I call it, ‘small’ way finds a demon, finds fault, makes the other person /belief systerm /country’s set of values WRONG.
Anyone who has made *any* progress in a personal/romantic relationship will attest, you don’t get very far when you attack the other party, when you demonise them.
It always takes two to create a problem, and it always takes two to solve it.
So – provocative! – if you’re demonising in your cause then you’re part of the problem you’re trying to change!
(Please re-read that last sentence.)
Education (mutual), love, awareness, commonality, listening, understanding… And a whole lot of other fuzzy-wuzzy ‘new age’ nonsense words are the answer.
- “What you resist persists.”
- “Love your enemy.”
Because when a struggle produces winners and losers, everyone loses.
This is the way (tao). The way of real progress. In my very humble opinion. And, yes, it requires a raising of consciousness of ALL, and not just “the others” that – for example – want fox hunting to be made legal again.
But this raising of consciousness can start with you, it can.
You believe in something passionately. And you find yourself demonising the other. Well, now you can do something about that – you can find the other way, the better way, the ’embracing all’ way; you can ask “what would love do?” (Or something.)
Honestly, I don’t know what you might do when you let go of demonising.
But I’d love to find out!…
Angels and Demons: Stef Cybichowski Responds
by Stef Cybichowski
Steve, so cool….
I’m going to be provocative too… When we see that the ‘enemies’ we are demonising are acting out of an innocent misunderstanding of how life actually works – they are doing the very best they can, given their current thinking (albeit it doesn’t conform to our version of what their thoughts/actions should be) we see that there isn’t much point in attacking them. The best we can do is point them in a different direction (and state of mind) to find the most effective and creative solutions – to paraphrase Einstein, ‘problems can never be solved using the same thinking that created them’.
Angels and Demons: Imogen Caterer Responds
Hard Seeing Beyond “The Enemy”
by Imogen Caterer
It can seem really hard to see beyond the “enemy status” we have put on people. Dividing between “right” and “wrong” can be a very tempting way of analysing of the world for some quick easier answers.
And though I doubt I’ve been a “big hater” and I don’t believe that politicians are evil… perhaps not seeing the full truth (but then neither am I) I do get stuck on niggles with people. People who haven’t done much but I’m annoyed because I think they could have done a better job.
One thing that has come up for me recently…. is the point that even wanting to forgive can let something beautiful burst through. Particularly if we are OK with ourselves that we haven’t forgiven yet.
I’m not sure how it happened or when it happened but I feel I have less niggles than I previously did. I used to moan my way round Facebook. I don’t anymore.
Angels and Demonisations: Time For Some Honesty?…
Be honest now, be brutal!
- Have you ever been demonised?
How did it make you feel?
What did it achieve?
And now, another question…
- Have you ever demonised?
How did it make you feel?
What did it achieve?
And now a final question to consider…
- Do you still think it’s right to demonise?
So, are you an angel, then?
Or a demon?
From the notions of right and wrong, comes the notion of angels and demons. Funnily enough, most of us think of ourselves (and those that think like we do) as the good guys, or ‘angels’.
As for everyone else, well it’s so easy to find fault, isn’t it; to notice and go on and on about what they’ve done wrong. (And Facebook is happy you do, by the way.) There’s a word for that, though: it’s called ‘demonisation’.
Here’s what I think: demonisation is what demons do, not angels.
STOP DEMONISING? Some Next Steps To Take…
The first step in making a difference, then – in doing what’s right – is to actually do things right. So, you can’t defeat hate with hate, prejudice with prejudice, or violence with violence. Because this is ‘transmission’, not ‘transformation’ (and human history is sadly filled with transmission after transmission).
- Instead, I encourage you to notice the truth of this statement, “What you ‘resist’ persists.” And then,
- Remind yourself of a time when you genuinely changed the mind of another for the better. (Was it with the force of your aggression and righteousness, or did you find a different, more loving way?)
More simply, I encourage you to see the truth of “transformation versus transmission” for yourself…
Do You Like Podcasts?
Well, Sonder Lust with Steve M Nash is my attempt to share caring, curious, often counterintuitive and occasionally challenging insights into being human. All in less than 15 minute episodes. And this blog post, or at least part of it, features in one of the episodes...