Conspiracy theories hold us back while we should be ‘spiraling to higher ground’

By Adrian Murillo
Reader Contributor

While reading Jill Trick’s article on conspiracies [Perspectives, “On conspiracies: truth and relativity,” Feb. 18] I worried where she was going. Then she quoted Alan Watts. It triggered a flashback for me.

In 1970 when I was a freshman in college, a group of us would gather to listen to tapes (reel to reel) of Watts spinning his wisdom and brave honesty. We’d sit on the floor, candle in the middle, sharing a jug of cheap red wine, passing a joint. I was the only poet, my friends were math heads studying something called computer science they felt confident was the future. Listening to them I thought it was boring, nerdy escapism. But they had good weed and we all loved the Rolling Stones. I was too young to hear the sexism in their songs.

Watts once said: I want to politicize and eroticize all my relationships. I took that to heart, tried my damnedest as a young man to do just that. What I believe now is we belong to the earth, composed of elements of her greatness. We know the truth when we hear it. It arouses a love reflex (as Wilhelm Reich once said). By that I mean, empathy, compassion, awe at the interrelatedness of life, gratitude for one’s humanity and a humble acceptance of the responsibility that comes with that, the first being: Do No Harm. 

Racism, sexism, homophobia, nationalism, all that is ego tripping spreading the virus of contempt. Despite all the intense religiosity of these times, I think what Americans really worship is the almighty Algorithm. 

I see our surrender to technology with all the addictions, weapons, and impatience with human process and development it has created as a rebellion against organic, human existence. (Too many people are forgetting how to read and think, a precondition that led to the Dark Ages. A time when the church convinced people education was elitist and irrelevant to salvation.) 

It’s the revenge of the patriarchal nerds who couldn’t hang with the liberating energies of the ’60s and ’70s. We have no one but ourselves to blame for now being vulnerable to mass paralysis at the hands of anonymous hackers while some use technology to spread paranoid conspiracy theories. 

The flip side of the paranoid conspiracy vision is the ecstatic vision of our interrelatedness, a realization of the way life forms a seamless whole, ever dynamic, ever flowing. Life is right in any case. Something pure LSD helped me understand back in the day.

I suggest that to find the balance of justice, first measure your words. Life is a dance continually balancing equality and distinction. We’re not going round in circles or back and forth as media presents. We are spiraling to higher ground. The division cleaving the nation is not between left and right, that’s so 20th century. The division is between the past and the future. 

Regarding any theory, belief, policy that is proposed, always ask: Who does this serve? What kind of spirit does this law inspire? 

What kind of world do you want your children to inherit?

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