The problem with boiling the Fort Smith experience down to just five words i.e., "all doing comes from thinking," is that, while it is not all that difficult for one to get their intellectual wits wrapped around the concept, it can be extremely difficult to take it into practical application. The doing is so in one's face that it seems to emphatically say, "All the answers can ONLY be found in the doing (the experience). Any changes that need to be made can ONLY be made in the doing." Thus, we are continuously attempting to change the world through the experience of the world, which then gives us the experience of laws, rules, regulations, constitutions, decrees, proclamations, police forces, jails and prisons, fines, court systems, counter-cultures, armies, war and a plethora of other things. In other words, we use varying degrees of force within the experience in an attempt to adjust the experience. Ironically, though, it is through thinking (choices being made in the realm of thought) that manifests the experiential means that we use to try and change the experience. If we really want to change something in the experience, it is necessary that we first change the way we think about it. Seems simple enough doesn't it? Yet we all know (through personal experience) that it just ain't so.
In the words of Buffalo Springfield..."There's somethin happenin here what it is ain't exactly clear."...with that thought in mind we proceed.
Here we are. We have descended through the very thin veneer that reflects the genuine optimism, kindness, and joy of Fort Smith, continuing down through a somewhat thicker sub-layer where the wishful and magical thinking collects and seems to coat the woof and warp of the city like a fog of gossamer appearing to be real but not so. The passage through this sub-layer is quickly over. Ah yes, we are now beneath the few thin veneers that compose the surface of Fort Smith and the light is already beginning to diminish. From here on the light from the surface will become increasingly less inclined to follow us. We will continue our descent into the darkness while not permitting ourselves to be caught in the nefarious current of the Karpman Drama Triangle (the victim, the persecutor and the rescuer). We also, most diligently and cautiously, stay clear of those seductive sirens known as judgment, blame and condemnation, which, by the way, are all formidable and alluring guardians of the deranged mindset that resides in the dark depths of Fort Smith. Those poor souls who could not resist the sirens call and found themselves caught in their tenacious grip have, truth be told, sentenced themselves to a prison of their own making where only they have the key to set themselves free. And, in such a place, the answers they seek, the relief they seek, will forever remain hidden from them. Let's not allow this to become our fate. And if you notice that someone in our group is beginning to slide in that direction, please quickly reach out a helping and firm hand to pull them back into the safe zone.
As we pause here in the fringe of an ominous darkness, we need to explore a simple question before we venture farther in (simple questions are always the most difficult to answer). The question: What makes the darkness? I will offer an explanation but in so doing I will be relying heavily upon both your ability to extrapolate and willingness to do so. You'll have to bear with me, my peculiarities and my means but by now, if you've been reading along in the series, I suppose you've already figured that one out. Also, it might be of some help for you to try anthropomorphizing Fort Smith. Looking at the city as if it were a person could perhaps make some aspects of the darkness more obvious and understandable.
If I were to draw you a representation of rational thinking that would be reflected in behavior that was also rational, I would simply draw a straight line. The drawing would be a linear line going directly from A to B to C to D and so on. Then, if I were to draw for you a representation for thinking and behavior that was irrational, I would draw a line that had many crooks and turns in it. The drawing would be a line that wanders randomly and unpredictably all over the place. This line does not go from A to B to C. Instead, it goes from A to K to E to Z and then, without any warning whatsoever, suddenly takes off to parts unknown. Rational thinking is straight and unifies. Irrational thinking is crooked and wanders, dividing, subdividing and separating as it goes. Irrational thinking is aberrant or, you could say, it's an aberration. By the way, the word aberration derives from the Latin aberrare, which means "to wander out of the way, lose the way, go astray." The psychological definition for aberration is: a disorder or abnormal alteration in one's mental state. The mass of darkness at the core of Fort Smith is an aberration in the psychological sense.
The obvious question to now ask is, "How does a straight line become a crooked wandering line?" Or, "How does thinking that is rational become thinking that is an aberration? Okay. Following is some of what I have to offer in answer to the questions asked. This is where we can begin to get an idea of how the darkness of irrationality is formed.
It begins when an unwelcome force, in varying degrees (either physical or emotional), is seemingly applied to the line from an outside source. The force is interpreted to be a problem. And what is a problem but simply a circumstance, situation or question that does not have an answer. The force, at the point of impact with the line, causes confusion and some degree of unconsciousness to occur in the line. In this moment of confusion (regardless of its degree), the line answers the problem with an arbitrary. The unusual solution given only appears to answer the problem but actually plants the seeds for many more problems to follow. In this way a kink is put into the line. In other words, the straight, A to B logical trajectory of the line, in a moment of force, impact and confusion, is knocked off its trajectory when the problem is seemingly resolved with an arbitrary solution. Even if the 'kink' in the line is so tiny that it is not even perceivable, as it is carried forward in time, will bring about many twists and turns in the line that beg for additional arbitraries to be adopted and the line wanders more and more. The introduction of an arbitrary tends to beget the introduction of more arbitraries.
Another way rational thinking is made to become irrational is through compromise and threat. The force or problem as we're referring to it in the paragraph above, has the characteristic that when it impacts the line, it causes the line to introvert and its field of abundant choices simultaneously collapses so that it now seems that there are only very few choices from which to choose between. And none of them present a choice that the line feels particularly good about. The line, though, believes itself to be caught in an "or else" situation where if a choice is not made between those presented, the consequences are too horrible to contemplate. Thus, the line, driven by its survival instincts, compromises what it knows is in its best interest and makes a choice that it knows is not in its best interest. Consequently, the line begins to harbor a grievance not only against what it assigns to be the cause of its being forced to compromise and act against its own best interest, but also against itself for having succumbed. The grievance against self often manifests as feelings of guilt, shame, self-hate, unworthiness, and so on. All of which will knock rational thinking and behaving over into irrational thinking and behaving. But the line, not being able to tolerate these intense and torturous feelings, will often times (convincingly or not) mask them all by assuming a persona that will adamantly attest that the right choice was made and then defend it. After all, the easiest person for anyone to fool is their self.
While there may very well be many different ways that rational thinking and behaving can be caused to become thinking and behaving that is irrational, there's only one more that I would like to address. And this particular one, I want to explore more in depth than the other two already mentioned. This one is the use of secrecy. As this post has long since carried on to a point of being too lengthy, we'll take up our exploration into secrecy in part 10.
In closing, I just want to say one more thing. No one desires pain. But, a person can get their "wires crossed" in such a way that they think pain is pleasure. No one would avoid their happiness. But, again...a person can get their "wires crossed" in such a way that they believe joy is painful, threatening, even dangerous. Through experience, we all get reflected back to us what we believe. Yes indeed, people, organizations, cities, nations and perhaps even an entire species, can be confused about the things they believe they want; the state they would attain.