Letter: We all helped create insanity that traps us

From: Tom Lane


We are in strange times of hate and violence. We are quick to denounce the “other side” no matter who that is. Before you think I may be defending anyone, hear me out. There is an old Zen saying that goes, “The first step to killing someone is to name them.” Do you get that? Why is naming a step in killing? Naming is the first step to objectifying. We kill when those others are no longer real people.

I wrote a similar letter years ago, and I now know I cannot put in some of the names we humans use to objectify in the worst way. Cannot put in the “n” word, or the “b” word, and in my letter about being in the Army during Vietnam, I cannot put in the “g” word. Those from that era know what I mean. But this is the reality of human living. We objectify now with words like “Nazi,” “Jew,” “liberal,” “alt-right” and on and on. I am not taking any sides in this, but showing how we humans can justify killing each other.

It is a process view of living instead of a content view. Content is all about who is right and wrong and good and bad. We think all this stuff we made up about that, on both sides, is the truth. Truth is only in process. Life is an ongoing process upon which we humans have placed tons of content. The content is the naming. It is how we kill.

To see another human being, without a name, is to see the human struggle, the human suffering, the fear and sorrow. We prefer our justifications, our sides, our logic, our reasons that let us condone killing. In all ways. We fear showing up without all those names that create our positions and righteousness. To show up as simply a human being is to show up present, with no ax to grind, no point to prove, no God to justify, no race to prove superiority, no wealth to compare to. Just a human being showing up with other human beings.

With that said, I know many will say I don’t understand the real world and how separated and hostile it is. They will say, “We have to react and fight or evil will prevail.” And all that is somewhat accurate, but it leaves out that we collectively have created this insane world. And now that the game is afoot, we do not know how to get out of it. “A rose by any other name, will smell as sweet.” The name is not the actual. We are not who we name ourselves to be. We have created a collective insanity that has all of us trapped.