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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 666)...

    Has anyone discussed the fact that the Leaver/Taker conflict is also a battle that rages in our psyches? For me this has been THE epiphany of reading Ishmael. I have personally suffered a lifetime of anxiety because the Taker culture in my mind (i.e. how to I think and behave "correctly" in this world, and raise "well-adjusted" children) has made every effort to destroy Leaver cultures (spontaneous emotional expression, sexual passion, empathy for "abnormal" people like me, childish joy). Once I gave up conquering myself, I found that there is room in my life for all my thoughts and emotions to "make a living".
    I have experienced more peace, more integrity, more mental health, in the year since I read Ishmael, than in the previous 41 years of my life. Anyone who asks "what to do?" might pursue this path. To save the world "out there" is it not just as important to preserve our own diversity and dignity "in here"? Are we intellectual Takers, striving to dominate our emotional, spiritual, and physical Leavers?

    ...and the response:

    It is, of course, delightful to hear that Ishmael had such a beneficent effect on you. Seldom have I heard its impact described in such terms. I can understand your seeing the polarity between Leavers and Takers as a metaphor for the polarity in our psyches between conformity and spontaneity, but I personally can't take it as more than a metaphor. There are, after all, plenty of Takers who are capable of "spontaneous emotional expression, sexual passion, empathy for 'abnormal' people, and childish joy." I just can't think that these things are somehow exclusive to Leaver peoples, though I agree that they're probably more readily found among them.


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