bel esprit

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ

{And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks I will give you more but if you are thankless verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.}

(Ibrahim 14:7)

Gratitude is love. Love is the space consciousness whence creativity sprouts; all of life is creative. So when we make room in our hearts for the things in life that feel beautiful, our focus draws in more of it. This is the gist of Allaah’s promise that for the grateful, they’ll be increased.

Ingratitude is described as ‘kufr’. Linguistically, kufr means covering, burying. The only way someone can deny the blessings of Allaah is by suppressing parts of himself. Because in truth, everything in existence is a fractal blessing.

And what is the torment guaranteed for the ingrate? Is it a punishment meted out specifically for the failure to do something? No. The ingrate is punished by his very being. His heart collapsing in on itself under the weight of the ego blocks the space consciousness, being confined to a place of decay. Having one’s heart blocked to Allaah’s love and light is the epitome of torment.

كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلىٰ قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

{Nay! But their hearts were made impenetrable by the evil they used to do.}

كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ

{Nay! Surely they will be veiled from their Lord that Day}

ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُو الْجَحِيمِ

{ Then indeed, they will [enter and] burn in Hellfire.}

ثُمَّ يُقَالُ هَذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ

{Then, it will be said to them: “This is what you used to deny!}

Denial of the divine truth is rejecting what one needs in order to thrive, holistically.

I pondered all this thinking about love in our hearts. Can someone who is a qabiliste be grateful? Fully? Can someone who erects boundaries along lineage lines or political affiliation be willing to acknowledge blessings that could trigger cognitive dissonance? Can women who have been supporting and perpetuating the tradition of female mutilation be able to hold loving spaces for the divine inspiration? Can we outgrow cage?

We don’t need a bigger military or more intricate policies, but more tolerance for the in-between spaces. Instead of denouncing, ask yourself what could cause something. Instead of berating somalis who you deem despicable, ask yourself what in your heart has been shamed and suppressed by you such that seeing it in others flares it up. Instead of contracting from what irks you about others, expand beyond your comfort zone to keep an open heart to the discomfort that arises.

I said this before, and I’ll say this again : our collective healing lies in finding our way back to the creativity that once defined us.

“Man is thrown into this world without his knowledge, consent or will, and he is removed from it again without his consent or will. In this respect he is not different from the animal, from the plants, or from inorganic matter. But being endowed with reason and imagination, he cannot be content with the passive role of the creature, with the role of dice cast out of a cup. He is driven by the urge to transcend the role of the creature, the accidentalness and passivity of his existence, by becoming a “creator.”

Man can create life. This is the miraculous quality which he indeed shares with all living beings, but with the difference that he alone is aware of being created and of being a creator. Man can create life, or rather, woman can create life, by giving birth to a child, and by caring for the child until it is sufficiently grown to take care of his own needs. Man— man and woman —can create by planting seeds, by producing material objects, by creating art, by creating ideas, by loving one another.

In the act of creation man transcends himself as a creature, raises himself beyond the passivity and accidentalness of his existence into the realm of purposefulness and freedom. In man’s need for transcendence lies one of the roots for love, as well as for art, religion and material production.

To create presupposes activity and care. It presupposes love for that which one creates. How then does man solve the problem of transcending himself, if he is not capable of creating, if he can not love?

There is another answer to this need for transcendence: if I cannot create life, I can destroy it. To destroy life makes one also transcend it. Indeed, that man can destroy life is just as miraculous a feat as that he can create it, for life is the miracle, the inexplicable. In the act of destruction, man sets himself above life; he transcends himself as a creature. Thus, the ultimate choice for man, inasmuch as he is driven to transcend himself, is to create or to destroy, to love or to hate. The enormous power of the will for destruction which we see in the history of man, and which we have witnessed so frightfully in our own time, is rooted in the nature of man, just as the drive to create is rooted in it.

To say that man is capable of developing his primary potentiality for love and reason does not imply the naive belief in man’s goodness. Destructiveness is a secondary potentiality, rooted in the very existence of man, and having the same intensity and power as any passion can have.

But—and this is the essential point of my argument—it is only the alternative to creativeness. Creation and destruction, love and hate, are not two instincts which exist independently. They are both answers to the same need for transcendence, and the will to destroy must rise when the will to create cannot be satisfied.

However, the satisfaction of the need to create leads to happiness; destructiveness to suffering, most of all, for the destroyer himself.”

– Erich Fromm, The Sane Society

Respond to bel esprit

Fire away!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s