Desire and selflessness


There is a desire crisis in the west. We are distracted by bread and circuses (from Rome – not a capitalist society), while society slowly (or now apparently rapidly) deteriorates. 

In the west are not really in touch with our core desires, although we have a lot of STUFF (this is changing with covid and rising economic inequality, but this has probably been the case for a while even now.  There are many reasons for this, but one is that we are lead to believe we desire certain things (such as a car), but really this is a false desire cultivated by our capitalist society.  We can also see ourselves being distracted by bread and circuses (from Rome – not a capitalist society), while society slowly (or now apparently rapidly) deteriorates. 

Perhaps I really don’t desire a car, perhaps I desire adventure, or freedom, or something else…

Often times desire is framed in the first person singular. What do I want? However, it is easy to get caught inside a self-absorption feedback loop, and in a consumption feedback loop. I want THAT.  And although I do believe that we have to learn how to take care of ourselves in addition to taking care of others … I want to think about desire in a more inclusive manner. 

On way to begin to expand this is to the 2nd person: I desire you.  That is the desire for another person. But if we reframe this, I desire to be with you, something that moves from the first singular to the first plural. Then we can talk about you what do I desire for you, how do I incorporates thoughts of you into my desire. You can be a you individual, it can be you groups, it can be trees, plants, the planet.

What does it look like when we start thinking about desire in conjunction with other people rather than only for ourselves?

I dont really think the third person is applicable here. And maybe that means that the third person is a mirages. That there is something objectifying about the third person – the it and the they. The YOU implies witness, the IT/THEY implies detachment. How can I be personally invested in a desire in conjunction with a third person. This seems impossible.

So what would some 2nd person desires look like?
I can think about my children: I would like you (my child), to have fun today, to be carefree, to feel loved, to be in flow. What part do I play in this? I would like to share this fun with you? How can we do this? Maybe we can read a story together or play soccer, or sit and watch the flowers.

I can think about my community: I would like for my community to be harmonious. How might I contribute to that? What exactly is my community? I am part of many communities. Perhaps this desire is too abstract I need to refine it.

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