Hyper-sexualized stupidity of the 1990s (one clue as to what’s wrong with so many of us)

It’s one of those days when my own melodrama strikes me as humorous. Just remembering back, reflecting and thinking, as I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Phases come and go in this journey called living.

Today I’m reflecting on just how bull-headed I was (and probably still am). This sprang to mind while remembering songs I listened to in the early ’90s. Ugh. So much sludge for a youngen just stepping into adolescence. And sadly enough, some of it I still can’t help but groove to. ha

Our minds seem to soak up so much during those years, and what was my generation sponging up? Tunes from N.W.A., 2 Live Crew, Lords of Acid, Snoop Dogg…probably easier to provide examples, beginning with an embarrassing one:

That version of the song still runs through my mind routinely. Ran through my mind today even, which is what set off this stream of pondering. Such a dumb song. Ha  Never even watched the show; this was just something my frickin’ sex-obsessed ‘cousin’ introduced me to when I was 13.

Here’s another group she brought to my attention that same year:

Yep. Can’t listen to that without feeling like some narcissistic pervert. LOL  Again, it’s one of those songs that wound up burnt into the soundtrack of my life, permanently.  haha  And it’s always made me feel like a weirdo, more so now. Not because of the masturbatory stuff, but because of how self-obsessed it is.

More greetings from the early ’90s…

Hmmm. Yeah. Those songs are from an N.W.A. album frequently played in the car of the cheerleader paid to give me rides to school in the 9th grade. And they too are burnt in my mind forever, nevermind that they’re mentally retarded songs and I’ve personally never wanted to try swallowing. But shit gets in your head at that age and just gets stuck. ha

(BTW, never saw the pool party footage before now. All taken together it’s pretty graphic. That video could open up a whole separate conversation on the topic of people’s values and priorities, particularly women’s since shit like this can’t help but stimulate cognitive dissonance. But that will have to wait for some other time.)

What’s even worse is my partner’s teenager come to find out is already familiar with those songs too.  headshake  Sad but true.

Another I found out he’s familiar with is this:

But that’s about a decade newer than the other songs posted. But still, it’s pretty harsh for a 14 or 15 year old to be listening to. Way to go, Snoop, in infiltrating the psyches of another generation of young folks. tongue_out  But parents also stand by and let it go on under their noses, and nowadays I’m not sure how you’d restrict kids’ access to such stuff. It’s on their phones and on the television and on the internet, and nearly every household subscribes to these services.

Going back to some older Snoop tunes:

Back when I was junior-high-age we had no access to computers with anything remotely resembling the internet and that was back before cell phones became common, but we still managed to jack ourselves up on porn and adult content contained in music and movies. It’s all over society. Hang out with older kids and you will be exposed. Go to school and wind up exposed. Turn on the tv and it’s right there, dancing before your eyes. These are the times we live in.

Let’s see. What else?

So much inanity is trapped in my psyche. Those last two I especially wish I’d never heard.

And people wonder what’s wrong with my generation.  lol  What can be said? We’re saturated with pornish ridiculousness. Of course we love porn — how could we not after all of that? We like to think it’s done us no harm, but I’m not so sure. It’s definitely had an impact in some way, shape or form.

“…standing on the edge of the road, thumb in the air…” (on patriotism)

The song “Ride On” by AC/DC is still running through my mind. Such a sad tune. But a real one. Raw, real music. Unlike so much of the mindless bubblegum crap the music industry likes to spit out.

Music is art, and art is one depiction of life, framed, captured, isolated and beckoning for our inspection. Art isn’t appreciated merely with the mind — it goes deep to the heart and soul. All talk of logic and rationality and reasonableness becomes laughable, nonsensical, in the glorious realm of art.

Guess that’s why music matters so damn much to me.

Some of ya’ll want to talk politics and chatter about the latest news story and juicy gossip before moving on to the next and the next and the next. Some of you want to jump behind movements and parties and labels and fight one another on those ideological grounds. Well, have at it. Holds little to no appeal for me. I’m being drawn back to basics, back to my own core and to my own problems and questions. Politics can’t help me there.

I got to thinking earlier while driving that I wouldn’t consider myself a “patriot.” Watched a video on YT recently where a gal was coming out against war and in the end referred to herself as a “patriot,” and I couldn’t help but smirk a little. Maybe for a few years back in the day I wanted to look at my own objective as that, to be “truly patriotic” by resisting political chicanery and wars killing innocent people on all sides, arguing that this country needs to be turned in a different direction. The notion of patriotism had obviously been co-opted by charlatans and their blinded followers, and some of us wanted to strip it down and drag it back to where it rightfully belonged: in defending the U.S. Constitution.

Part of me still wants to believe that. I’m still anti-war and sick nearly to death of so much political and societal bullshit, and yes, we’re definitely headed toward a strange and uncool future in the U.S.  Probably unavoidable at this point. But the word “patriotism” means almost nothing to me anymore other than being a relic from an era in history, defending a great idea of setting up a representative constitutional republic based on the principle that a government that governs least governs best, structured with checks and balances built in. It was a phenomenally radical idea for its time, unprecedented, and people have fallen in love with the notion ever since.

Too bad people were not so motivated to maintain it. By the time I rolled onto the scene in the early 1980s, this country had already turned into something much more sinister. The government’s now bloated with power and money and cock-sucking leaches pulling huge pensions for the rest of their lives for simply having “represented” the people for a spell. Back in the 1700s there was no way for those folks to have imagined what a game-changer the corporation would prove to be, but they warned us to be vigilant.

It was a great idea, though it was constructed in an era where only landowners had a right to vote, leaving out the working majority and what may have been in their best interests. But once voting rights were extended out, society then ran up against the problem of most folks being ignorant and too easily misled. This problem has only worsened as society and our government have grown in size and complexity and technologies have advanced at break-neck speed. We don’t know what the hell is going on, not all the way around. There’s no way to know. It’s too big, too much to take in, and now there are too many secrets and lies and cover-ups and sleights of hand. We live in Bullshitville today. This is no longer America, not according to the dreams held in the imaginations of citizens of bygone times.

This is not America. But it does claim to be “too big to fail,” so most people will defend its upkeep tooth and nail, even while this society makes slaves of us all. Economic slaves — tied into earning a paycheck because everything requires money. Money comes from the banks, ultimately controlled by an “independent” Central Bank that maneuvered so as to be able to play puppet master to our government. Here’s how the Federal Reserve describes itself:

Who owns the Federal Reserve?

 The Federal Reserve System fulfills its public mission as an independent entity within government. It is not “owned” by anyone and is not a private, profit-making institution.

 As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.

 However, the Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by the Congress, which often reviews the Federal Reserve’s activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute. Therefore, the Federal Reserve can be more accurately described as “independent within the government” rather than “independent of government.”

 The 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by the Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized similarly to private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.

[bold emphasis mine]

There’s part of our problem right there. People following Ron Paul like to come out as “real patriots” wanting to see the Fed abolished. And I’m not against such a plan, assuming replacement ideas surface. But it appears to be a pipe dream these days. Most folks would defend the Fed with everything they’ve got, because we are all so dependent on this system, and some see themselves as doing well enough under it. Start fucking with people’s means of caring for themselves and their kids and they’ll come out with pitchforks at the ready.

See, everything winds up coming back to fighting other people, because we are all the perpetuators of the current system. Most folks can’t imagine it any other way and will scoff at any new ideas. While this system has been all about rapid change since its earliest beginnings, it provides a train for people to ride along on which we’ve grown accustomed to. Scary as this ride might be, people are leery of jumping off and seeing what else may come.

So what does it mean to be a “patriot” in this context? To belong to a minority that helps light brushfires in the minds of others? Lots of ways of going about that, not all of which are positively focused. What I mean by that is there’s another class of people who go their own way whom we commonly refer to as criminals. We tend to negatively associate the term, but when you stop and think about it all it’s really stating is the individual is a law-breaker. And the truth is that as we stand today, some laws deserve to be broken. Probably a great many. If there isn’t a principled reason of greater consequence behind the law, then of what relevance is it? That’s a question I always ask when examining any ‘lawful’ expectation placed on me.

I doubt most folks will have any clue what I’m talking about here, so let me try to break it down a bit. Some of us out here don’t swear allegiance to any particular nation or state or to whatever rulebook it’s decided citizens should play by. Some draw their inspiration instead from moral laws that they recognize as superseding any and all statist bullshit signed into law by stuffed business suits.

Part of what keeps me sane is knowing that the genie is already out of the bottle, technology is in the hands of average people, and we do have the power to circumvent legal channels in many cases. To me, this is an important aspect to freedom, because if we don’t maintain the right and the ability to do with our own bodies and minds as we see fit, we’re not free. Some might take this as a reference to drugs, but I’m referencing everything. Just finding ways to reduce the amount of taxes you pay in is a worthwhile act of rebellion in a time when the government’s aim is to redistribute wealth unfairly, usually taking from us and giving it over to war contractors or to bailout mismanaged industries also deemed “too big to fail.” Insurance companies are next under this so-called Obamacare.

Circumventing to the point of criminality in my mind isn’t necessarily a real crime. Oh, the State will claim it is and will try to lock us up on account of it. But we’re faced with a choice: we can either continue selling our souls for the illusion of comfort and security, or we can start taking risks and living according to what our minds and bodies are aching for us to do. Bending over and taking it isn’t what my body or mind want out of this life.

So I recommend we get creative. Call it whatever you will.

I personally have my own course of action and do what it is I feel is within my power and is correct for me. Others may have different ideas, that’s fine. But what I’m advocating for here isn’t a sense of lawlessness exactly, but rather a meditation of sorts on what is of real value to us, separating it off from the sea of bullshit we’re currently swimming in, and then taking individual action to uphold what we consider sacred. Because politics and laws can’t deliver this to us — it’s always been up to us to decide this for ourselves and then determine a course of action in sync with what it is we think matters most.

Granted, most folks think the current status quo is the best game in town, so they will act accordingly, and I cannot stop them. Can’t even barely reason with them. Hence why I’m better off figuring out ways to opt out in my own sphere, because those commie fascists have numbers on their side and are intent on steering this ship right into that iceberg. I’m on the ship, and I don’t like this one bit. But I only have my own life to live. It’s the only one I have much control over. And I damn sure don’t have to go along cheerfully or silently with this destructive American project.

More thoughts on peace inside each individual

Listening to music and my mind wandered back to this topic. Something else deserves to be mentioned.

The song playing at the moment:

Have loved that song for so many years. It hits somewhere in my core. Been a while since I last heard it.

“Gonna change my evil ways, one of these days…one of these days…”

That’s the gameplan. Been making progress. Still got a ways to go in key areas, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m kinda fucked up. Hence why I’m offering advice and ideas to others.  lol

God, I love that song. Fuckin’ A. The thing is these days I’ve settled down and can’t just pick up and move like I used to. Not able to travel hardly at all the least 5 years either. Kinda feels claustrophobic sometimes. Like there’s no way to escape. No more riding on. One or two trips a year these days. Busy. Working. No sick days off. And that’s fine. It’s the life I chose. But I can’t run anymore. I’m trapped, stuck dealing with the people I’m burning bridges with. That changes shit. Led to a good bit more isolation, self-inflicted by-and-large, because dramatic bullshit kept (keeps) happening too often out in public. I apparently don’t play terribly well with most others anymore.

And this relates to the topic of peace on the individual level. What does that mean and what does it require of us? How do I change my evil ways, but also maintain my own authenticity? Perfection means little to me in this context; it has nothing to do with what I’m aiming at here. What does it mean to improve oneself in this day and age? To do what more people pat you on the back for? Not necessarily. Probably not even usually, not IMO. Nearly everybody’s as lost as the next person.

This is a highly subjective inquiry. How should I live my life? What is this life asking of me, what do I have to give, and what can I improve upon? Who am I trying to be? Who am I now? Where might I go from here? Where am I headed now?

It appears evident that peace must begin in oneself. How can it be any other way? We’re the source from which actions and behaviors flow. We are the actors and the deciders. We are the lovers and the fighters. It is us. It is me, one part of a wider collective, one member of a civilizing species, one grain of sand, one soul among many.

But how does one make peace with what the U.S. is swiftly becoming? How do we make peace with wars fought in our names, with our tax dollars, when we are left feeling nearly powerless to stop it? How do we make peace with eating crap and watching crap and admiring crap and masturbating to crap? How does a measure of inner peace come about?

I won’t pretend to know. No, that one’s eluded me thus far. But I know the process must begin in myself. I am the only person I have any real control over, I know me better than anyone else ever will, and I depend on me to get by in this world. I am my own keeper. Who else can truly claim to be? Who else knows what you do in every waking moment? I am my own police. This is called self-government, and we don’t speak much about it in this country beyond basic hygiene and school or work performance, hence why the younger generations are so stupid about it (myself included). We are living out of balance, going with the flow of others in our same predicament.

How can we have world peas without individual peas? lol  Sorry, I read that somewhere.

But that’s the dilemma. And everything mentioned in my post right before this one factors in on top and further complicates the matter. It comes down to the question of what does a moral life look like? Can we sustain major nation-states and metropolises while maintaining our sanity? Because it’s changing us. It’s turning us colder, more fanatical, more depressed and anxious. Just look at the amount of intoxicants we’re using. It’s a form of escapism. Guilty as charged. Look at people exercising themselves nearly to death. Look at people working their lives away, seeing making money as the only real goal worth pursuing. Notice how disconnected we feel, from one another, from our own genuine ambitions and desires, from a reality that makes sense.

Can you envision 10 years down the road, because I can’t. Life is changing so rapidly. It’s difficult to know what to expect or how best to prepare.

All of this creates discord that appears inconducive to fostering peace within our hearts and minds. How do we get around this?

Well, I’ve been thinking and believe that even seemingly small acts have their place and can prove incredibly important in the long run. Some of us might be bigger jobs than others and therefore require more work to keep relatively steady. Some are simple and easily cheered and contented, but we didn’t all come from the same mold. And that’s okay. Such is life. There’s really no “normal” to speak of here. But I think regaining what reins we’re able on our own lives and our own selves is paramount. That doesn’t mean trying to strictly control oneself or one’s environment, but rather working toward the sort of things that give us real pleasure in the end and that we can be genuinely proud of ourselves for. Until our individual confidences are built up, where can we begin? How much can bloom from us if we feel sick and weak in the spirit, body and mind? And what does it take to replenish oneself?

I don’t rightly know, though I continue to seek out possibilities and ideas.

The beer has called an end to this posting.

On the topic of peace

But what do we mean by peace? This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to, especially during the time I spent volunteering within my local “peace community” (i.e., non-violent social justice activist organizations). And I gotta say, my thinking on the subject has taken new shape over time.

“Peace” has become a shallow buzzword. People on youtube like to sign off with the word, even after spouting off hard-core against another group of people. It’s an overused word, like “love,” covering such a broad spectrum that it’s become incredibly hazy to the point of being trivialized. What do we mean by “peace”? What might it look like? In detail. People like to start rattling off what Lennon said in the clip above, saying it’s about peace in the home and peace in the schools and peace on the planet. But what the hell does that even mean? What would get us there? And what would it take to keep us in that frame of coexistence if ever humans did ‘evolve’ to that point?

I’ve been forming some ideas.

Ask yourself: which individuals tend to be most peaceful? Those with shit to tend to, in other words people with jobs and/or responsibilities and/or creative endeavors that absorb a good deal of their time and energy. Now let’s pause there. I’m not a fan of nor advocating for busybodyness — there are productive and nonproductive uses of our time and ways of earning income (that being a discussion all unto itself). But ever heard the saying that “idle hands are the devil’s tools”? Yup. We get bored, go looking for entertainment and wind up getting into mischief. We know this. And I happen to think unsatisfying work provides an added incentive to seek out new stimulation.

What I love about the concept of gardening/small-scale farming is that it calls for our physical labor, at least in a conceivably sustainable setup where many more people contribute to food production and Big Ag’s oligopolies are broken up into more manageable and fairly competitive pieces (keeping in mind monopolies and oligopolies are anti-trust violations and anti-capitalist in terms of disrupting the free market by making conditions hostile to small businesses). While technologies surely can aid us in ways our foreparents could only dream about, I do believe the exertion of our own physical labor is good for us. If it weren’t we wouldn’t have so many people buying gym memberships and workout videos. Physical exertion is good for our physical and psychological well-being, yet it’s become for many estranged from the activities required for earning a living.

When you honestly consider this it almost seems like by splitting the two apart, we created new problems: the centralization of food production scheme (i.e. Big Ag) that allows most Americans to not participate in any way directly with their food’s creation; as technology advances and populations increase due to a stable and relatively cheap food supply, many of the jobs made available involve office or service work that are widely considered soul-draining, boringly repetitive, and wouldn’t be undertaken if not for need of a paycheck; there’s now a need to find time to exercise outside of working hours, and a collective lack of motivation to run on a treadmill has led to an obesity epidemic. We are now consumers, and many consume more than we expend in terms of our individual energy. This appears to me like life out of balance, and what’s worse, I can’t see any real benefit to sticking with the current status quo.

Modern agriculture is heavily dependent on fossil fuels from start to finish in the process, and its distribution network has trucks and ships and planes headed in all directions around the clock and around the globe. (That show about ice road trucking up in Alaska springs to mind.) We’ve grown utterly dependent on this system, and heaven forbid it ever shut down.

We could go on to think about the risks associated with the heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers (including the possible link to bee populations dying off, which crops absolutely require), the shitty conditions for animals inside factory farms (and what it does to us to knowingly dine on disrespected beasts — spoken as one diehard meat-eater), GMOs and high-fructose corn syrup in damn near everything, the bullshit business practices and marketing schemes that most Americans have no way of escaping, etc. But this appears sufficient to prompt others to consider the value of one’s labor and how perhaps we might have had our fingers on a good thing before we allowed it to get jacked up to the extent it is today. Or perhaps that was a necessary phase in human history because of the innovations it has brought, though, too, there’s the infrastructure it’s spawned, and that is ultimately what holds us back from turning any other way. We’re bound by laws and property taxes and the need to earn money in order to survive in this modern world. Near-subsistence living, in this setting, doesn’t look practical.

We’re in a conundrum here. No question. Perhaps we can focus now on utilizing what we’re able, like purchasing produce from community-sponsored farming networks. But it’s tough to circumvent the Big Boys these days. Damn near impossible.

So going back to this idea of peace, it seems like the most productive and meaningful trek toward that goal requires a diffusion of power. Because part of the problem today is people feeling and largely actually being disempowered. I’m not a fan of that word either thanks to its over-usage, but the concept remains relevant at the core. How much power do any of us really possess anymore? The power to choose between brands and service providers? How many choices truly exists in a sea of illusive conglomerates?

What do average, ordinary people want out of life? Many will say work that feels meaningful, love and support from family members and friends, good food, good beer and wine, good sex, a sense of belonging somewhere and an ability to contribute something to society of value — a relatively simply life, in all, albeit one rich thanks to social ties and labor that serves a worthwhile purpose. Rearing young up well and producing the sustenance needed to continue living both fit the bill, as do plenty of other tasks and jobs needing to be fulfilled to serve the needs of people.

But that’s far from what we have. So far that it seems like a pipe dream, nonsensical utopianism. And perhaps that’s correct — maybe it’s not going to happen. But that’s one place where we may have power, and if we were able to exercise it we could, through boycotting efforts made possible by providing more for ourselves, possibly dismantle the mammoths calling the shots currently. We buy what they sell because it’s quite nearly the only options on the shelves. And this extends far beyond agriculture. Whatever happened to human handicrafts in America? Now everything we purchase is shipped from China.

We are not free and never will be free because we have lost touch of how to care for ourselves. Unless we recover this ability, we will have little say over the course of modernity unfolding. We will be led so long as we remain unable to lead ourselves, and if we can’t even provide for our most basic needs, will we not always wind up as slaves to something or somebody else? What ground do we have to stand on otherwise? As it is now, most of us are being swept along on a moving train, watching life whirl by while feeling powerless to stop and settle down into a less chaotic existence.

This is not all people of today’s fault, but it is our problem. I personally do not own a yard or property, so this all can’t help but be offered up as mere food for thought.

So around and around we go. Without power within our own hands and labor that feels meaningful that also provides something of actual value, we will remain agitated. In a world ablaze with warfare and divided by deep economic disparities, and in societies where we feel trapped by laws we’ve never even heard of and conditions we never willingly signed up for, we will remain anxious. A situation like this leads people to start chomping at the bit in hopes of finding political resolution to what ails them. Therein enters mass movements that attract disgruntled souls wishing for change that they know not how to help bring about. And from there we see clashes and great rivalries and much bickering and people feeling like they must choose a side to identify with. Everything becomes framed as a competition, another spectator sport, which devolves into a senseless back and forth where people lose focus on what really even matters.

And on and on it goes.

You want peace? Well, I want relative peace. Peace at any cost holds no appeal to me. Human life involves drama and problems and disagreements and conflicts, and I accept that. Child-rearing isn’t all about hugs and encouragement; it also necessarily involves discipline and rules to follow. We cannot escape all authority, but we could certainly reassess what authorities we’re willing to tolerate and abide by. One authority our efforts will never fully trump is Nature, that being a given, our human constructs paling in comparison. So it seems to me we have a choice to either work within it or continue fighting an uphill battle to nowhere we really want to be. The latter allows us to be more lazy and unproductive — it’s become the path of least resistance.

I’d love to see others and my own self find ways to become engaged in this dilemma, and hopefully as a result of needing to cooperate to a larger extent in order to problem-solve and through focusing our attention on more productive uses of our time we will leave one another the hell alone so far as nit-picking and generally behaving like asses with nothing better to do than start unnecessary drama.

Maybe getting back to basics on some level would do us all more good than we realize. And maybe through that the goal of achieving some sort of peace will stand a better chance.

Why follow the leader? — another excerpt from the book “The True Believer”

Feel like transcribing a little bit this afternoon. Been a long and stupid weekend. So, picking back up in Eric Hoffer’s book The True Believer (1951) on page 108, section 92:

The total surrender of a distinct self is a prerequisite for the attainment of both unity and self-sacrifice; and there is probably no more direct way of realizing this surrender than by inculcating and extolling the habit of blind obedience. When Stalin forces scientists, writers and artists to crawl on their bellies and deny their individual intelligence, sense of beauty and moral sense, he is not indulging a sadistic impulse but is solemnizing, in a most impressive way, the supreme virtue of blind obedience. All mass movements rank obedience with the highest virtues and put it on a level with faith: “union of minds requires not only a perfect accord in the one Faith, but complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and the Roman Pontiff as to God Himself.” Obedience is not only the first law of God, but also the first tenet of a revolutionary party and of fervent nationalism. “Not to reason why” is considered by all mass movements the mark of a strong and generous spirit.

The disorder, bloodshed and destruction which mark the trail of a rising mass movement lead us to think of the followers of the movement as being by nature rowdy and lawless. Actually, mass ferocity is not always the sum of individual lawlessness. Personal truculence militates against united action. It moves the individual to strike out for himself. It produces the pioneer, adventurer and bandit. The true believer, no matter how rowdy and violent his acts, is basically an obedient and submissive person. The Christian converts who staged razzias against the University of Alexandria and lynched professors suspected of unorthodoxy were submissive members of a compact church. The Communist rioter is a servile member of a party. Both the Japanese and Nazi rowdies were the most disciplined people the world has seen. In this country, the American employer often finds in the racial fanatic of our South—so given to mass violence—a respectful and docile factory hand. The army, too, finds him particularly amenable to discipline.

93

People whose lives are barren and insecure seem to show a greater willingness to obey than people who are self-sufficient and self-confident. To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief from the burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for individual failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility. Moreover, submission by all to a supreme leader is an approach to their ideal of equality.

In time of crisis, during floods, earthquakes, epidemics, depressions and wars, separate individual effort is of no avail, and people of every condition are ready to obey and follow a leader. To obey is then the only firm point in a chaotic day-by-day existence.

94

The frustrated are also likely to be the most steadfast followers. It is remarkable, that, in a cooperative effort, the least self-reliant are the least likely to be discouraged by defeat. For they join others in a common undertaking not so much to ensure the success of a cherished project as to avoid an individual shouldering of blame in case of failure. When the common undertaking fails, they are still spared the one thing they fear most, namely, the showing up of their individual shortcomings. Their faith remains unimpaired and they are eager to follow in a new attempt.

The frustrated follow a leader less because of their faith that he is leading them to a promised land than because of their immediate feeling that he is leading them away from their unwanted selves. Surrender to a leader is not a means to an end but a fulfillment. Whither they are led is of secondary importance.

[Bold emphasis mine]

Stopping there on page 110. That piece jumped out at me when I read it the other day, so I wanted to share it with others.

Hurts me soul too

That was “Hurt Me Soul” by Lupe Fiasco, this being a song I stumbled across a little over a year back on Pandora Radio. Tonight it was chosen specifically due to its title.

Hurts me soul.

I hurt a bit lately. Changes. A couple current family-related concerns drudge up old memories and the blues. Drudges up some anger too. But whatcha gonna do? Can’t change the past. Just trying to keep managing the present as I go. Like my guy reminded me tonight, I do have most of what I ever wanted now, today. That being the love and company of my partner and support of close friends and Grandma, a non-corporate means of earning a living, keeping a roof over my head and food (and beer) in my belly, all the books I’ll ever have time to read, a reasonably well-behaved feline, a decent car, entertainment, freedom from participating in past lifestyle choices, etc. So why let the past poison the present? Well, that’s the tricky thing about our pasts…

It lives on in our minds, replaying bits and pieces triggered by whatever’s going on throughout each day. Smells, sights, similar circumstances, etc. The past doesn’t just fade away because we may will it to do so. And it never stops being a part of us. It’s what shaped and molded us, for better or worse — everything that occurred in the past and all the people we came into contact with interacted with the cores of our being and together helped chisel the art that is oneself.

Free will enters in to whatever extent, but is it not also influenced by the expectations of others? We certainly weren’t free to choose our families or the people we were tossed in with by them in our early years. And if you come up with any discipline you know you certainly weren’t free to interact in that environment and with those people as a free, autonomous agent. Resentments form and can simmer for years.

And then we hit adulthood and people expect you to flip a switch and turn off concern for all of that. Mine it for its good points and let the rest go. Spent much of my 20s trying to do just that. It was a worthwhile endeavor that taught me a lot about myself and others. Broadened my empathy for people I’d previously over-simplistically caricatured.

But I continue to struggle with the notion of forgiveness. It’s an Oprah-ballyhooed trendy idea. Forgive whoever who has wronged you so that you can feel better within yourself. You can release the anger and resentment and pain all on your own with no effort or apologies needed from the other parties. You can choose to not be controlled by your pain. You are responsible for your own feelings — no one else can make you feel anything. Those are the claims. Yeah, well, in case it needs to be said: it’s nearly all bullshit. It’s a guilt-inducing lie that tells the individual that they and their emotions can and do exist in a vacuum where they hold the reins and wield all of the power, independent of what others may do to us.

And it’s shit like that that makes me skeptical of the extremes people are willing to go to, in this case in the name of individualism. The notion of individualism taken so far as to expect us to behave as if completely atomized and capable of behaving with robot-like control over our minds and bodies is the talk of psychopaths, not ordinary people. Such cultural expectations would prove unsustainable due to the widespread psychological harm it would do. This damage arguably is going on already.

What a terrific performance by the Avett Brothers.

The tragedy of all that stated above is that more and more seem to be accepting Oprah and Co.’s logic, ignoring the reality that there remains a tension between each individual and all others they interact with, extending out to wider society and then to all of humanity. It’s a web, and it also stretches back in each one of our pasts to all interactions with others and our environments experienced before. Sounds abstract, but we intuitively understand this or at least behave as if we do.

People may want to argue that bringing in our connections with others is some sort of scapegoat in our attempt to deflect personal responsibility outside of ourselves, holding to the belief that we each possess ultimate power over our emotions and our lives and that those who can’t toe the line are just lazy and lacking in will power and therefore deserve to be miserable. But who do you figure they’re referring to in that last bit? Why, most of us, that’s who. Nearly anybody possessing a conscience and sentimentalities of the heart.

Some people want to talk nowadays as if everything ought to boil down to “logic” and “reason” and “rationality” and “proof” and “empirical evidence” and mathematics, but that’s only one half of life. If that’s the yin, where’s the yang? It’s in our heart-felt emotional lives, our connections with others, our families and clans of belonging, our impulses and creativity — so much of what makes life feel worth living. We are social beings first and foremost, which is to say that if logic gets in the way of that, we tend to stray from being too logical (always while convincing ourselves that we’re indeed very logical — when don’t we?).

I’d argue sticking with the “yin” described above and neglecting the “yang”-side of life will prove a serious detriment to humankind eventually, making it illogical in the end. It’s pandering to a life out of balance, and when scales are tipped too far one way they tend to ‘knee-jerk’ back in the opposite direction before settling out. It’s anyone’s guess how long it could take, this being a process that plays out on and on and on.

Individualism vs. collectivism is the great social paradox. It’s a tension that cannot be naturally resolved. Not that I see it as a problem necessarily needing some sort of permanent resolution. It’s just the way life is, and we experience it on many levels, from the political sphere on down to our interpersonal dynamics and the memories that spin off from that and follow us throughout our lives. We like to think we individually are so mighty as to not need help from others, but it is an illusion disproven from the moment of conception. No human is capable of being an island, not fully and completely. Adults who attempt it frequently wind up going mad with depression. We are social beings, first and foremost.

Our lives are woven in the fabric of this tension. We are products of paradoxes that we have little choice but to learn to live with. Because they belong to the designs of the natural world, the framework we are bound to exist within.

Brings to mind another funny paradox about living as slaves. Humans have enslaved one another for at least as far back as civilizations have existed and perhaps even before then. Slavery is probably what allowed civilizations to come into existence in the first place. Cheap expendable labor, freeing non-slaves up to tend to other matters, like sitting around theorizing. Slavery allowed the West to rapidly ascend, and it arguably formed the foundation for capitalism (though we don’t call it slavery anymore, preferring economic jargon that sounds more sophisticated and somehow less barbaric). Capitalism was special, though, in that it freed masters from responsibility for their slaves. No more needing to house or feed them, while still not being required to pay employees a living wage. It’s clearly evident this, at bottom, is a cost-cutting scheme dreamed up by masters-of-old.

But anyway, what’s funny is that slavery is what we humans are fighting to try to stay out of with one another, now taking the battle to the political arena, and yet without slavery ever having existed the world would look very different today. Most people would likely still be either farmers or hunters out of necessity, because people would have to pull their own weight as best as able. This means big, centralized civilizations would serve no function, and therefore wouldn’t have come into being. Rather than be slaves to other groups of people, all humans are left to contend with their dependence on nature, the ultimate slave master. People wishing to escape that reality wound up in no better position unless they belonged to the master class(es), oftentimes determined by technological advantage achieved off the backs of those previously conquered. And which is worse? In the end will we not wind up being forced to contend with nature as ultimate master anyhow?

Ah well. Strayed far off the original topic of guilt, resentment, family, and individual power to forgive and move on. How much power does one individual possess, and does that amount of power fluctuate throughout our adulthood? Can we always help weak or tormenting spells, and should we always try to stomp them out? Do they not potentially provide value as well in allowing us time to think and ponder and rehash and soul-search?

Which brings me to the thought that initially inspired me to blog this evening: I am a soul; I have a body. This came to me after reading the titles of a couple of videos by atheists disputing the idea of people possessing souls. They say there is no evidence that souls exist, and I can’t help but chuckle. None of us really understand what a soul is, and how can we? It’s understood intuitively as representing our essence, of which our body is the vehicle. How might someone convince a skeptic of this truth? Probably can’t, because it’s not of the realm of science, at least not at this juncture. I suppose it doesn’t matter much what others happen to think on this topic — at least not to me. It’s not even a subject we can wrap our feeble languages around, let alone hope to prove or disprove.

So I continue on in speaking and thinking as I do on that. And today I am aware of suffering within my spirit. It began with a memory popping in mind first thing this morning, and more reflections followed as the day wore on. It happens. Even if I could fully forgive everything, I can’t forget. Beyond that, I’m not convinced everyone deserves forgiveness, particularly those who never ask for it. Maybe on some level it becomes the right thing to do, just to release the situation and let it rest as what has already come before. But a desire to stay the hell away from certain people seems unavoidable as well as healthy in plenty of cases. And then there’s grief over what’s been lost or broken, that being a tough pill to swallow and simply accept. To say that we can and should simply exercise our power to repress and move on strikes me as shallow and non-introspective, and in people who aim to do this I’ve witnessed the pain popping up later in life and dismantling their present. So it seems to me something we can’t simply walk away from and ignore but rather must go through and out the other side of, however long that may take.

But what does one do if stuck? I guess that’s where will power must come into play. If I will not direct myself, others may try to use me to serve their own ends, or I may be abandoned by those who lose faith in the health of our connection, and I wind up a slave to circumstances then.

Harshly put, Firefall. Noted.

… All is easier said than done.

… Is it really coming down to picking our preferred form of slavery?

Just thinking out loud again.

Hatred as a Unifying Agent — an excerpt from the book “The True Believer”

Another excerpt from Eric Hoffer’s book The True Believer (1951), picking back up on page 85, chapter 14:

Unifying Agents

HATRED

65

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. It pulls and whirls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his weal and fortune, frees him of jealousness and self-seeking. He becomes an anonymous particle quivering with a craving to fuse and coalesce with his like into one flaming mass. Heine suggests that what Christian love cannot do is effected by a common hatred.

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. When Hitler was asked whether he thought the Jew must be destroyed, he answered: “No. . . . We should have then to invent him. It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one.” F. A. Voigt tells of a Japanese mission that arrived in Berlin in 1932 to study the National Socialist movement. Voigt asked a member of the mission what he thought of the movement. He replied: “It is magnificent. I wish we could have something like it in Japan, only we can’t, because we haven’t got any Jews.” It is perhaps true that the insight and shrewdness of the men who know how to set a mass movement in motion, or how to keep one going, manifest themselves as much in knowing how to pick a worthy enemy as in knowing what doctrine to embrace and what program to adopt. The theoreticians of the Kremlin hardly waited for the guns of the Second World War to cool before they picked the democratic West, and particularly America, as the chosen enemy. It is doubtful whether any gesture of goodwill of any concession from our side will reduce the volume and venom of vilification against us emanating from the Kremlin.

One of Chiang Kai-shek’s most serious shortcomings was his failure to find an appropriate devil once the Japanese enemy vanished from the scene at the end of the war. The ambitious but simple-minded General was perhaps too self-conceited to realize that it was not he but the Japanese devil who generated the enthusiasm, the unity and the readiness for self-sacrifice of the Chinese masses.

66

Common hatred unites the most heterogeneous elements. To share a common hatred, with an enemy even, is to infect him with a feeling of kinship, and thus sap his powers of resistance. Hitler used anti-Semitism not only to unify his Germans but also to sap the res0luteness of Jew-hating Poland, Rumania, Hungary, and finally even France. He made a similar use of anti-communism.

67

It seems that, like the ideal deity, the ideal devil is one. We have it from Hitler—the foremost authority on devils—that the genius of a great leader consists in concentrating all hatred on a single foe, making “even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category.” When Hitler picked the Jew as devil, he pooled practically the whole world outside Germany with Jews or those who worked for them. “Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States.” Stalin, too, adheres to the monotheistic principle when picking a devil. Formerly his devil was a fascist; now he is an American plutocrat.

Again, like an ideal deity, the ideal devil is omnipotent and omnipresent. When Hitler was asked whether he was not attributing rather too much importance to Jews, he exclaimed: “No, no, no! . . . It is impossible to exaggerate the formidable quality of the Jew as an enemy.” Every difficulty and failure within the movement is the work of the devil, and every success is a triumph over his evil plotting.

Finally, it seems, the ideal devil is a foreigner. To qualify as a devil, a domestic enemy must be given foreign ancestry. Hitler found it easy to brand the German Jews as foreigners. The Russian revolutionary agitators emphasized the foreign origin (Varangian, Tartar, Western) of the Russian aristocracy. In the French Revolution, the aristocrats were seen as “descendants of barbarous Germans, while French commoners were descendants of civilized Gauls and Romans.” In the Puritan Revolution the royalists “were labeled ‘Normans,’ descendants of a group of foreign invaders.”

Pausing for just a moment here, in today’s heated battle of the sexes we can also see how each sex is being framed as if foreign through the use of Evolutionary Biology and Evolutionary Psychology teachings that in the hands of some are being misused to drive a wedge between the sexes by playing up our distinctions and differences. The argument tends to be that women and men are hard-wired to be very different, and while this certainly tends to be true on some levels, the push here is to gloss over similarities and also to ignore cultural influences that arguably have tremendous impact on how we live, what roles we adopt, and how we view ourselves and one another. In short, the evo-psych-fused-in-with-evo-bio argument can be used by nefarious individuals to narrow the inquiry so severely that it produces a false dichotomy that serves the purpose of promoting polarization between the sexes.

Carrying on, picking back up on page 88:

68

We do not usually look for allies when we love. Indeed, we often look on those who love with us as rivals and trespassers. But we always look for allies when we hate.

It is understandable that we should look for others to side with us when we have a just grievance and crave to retaliate against those who wronged us. The puzzling thing is that when our hatred does not spring from a visible grievance and not seem justified, the desire for allies becomes more pressing. It is chiefly the unreasonable hatreds that drive us to merge with those who hate as we do, and it is this kind of hatred that serves as one of the most effective cementing agents.

Whence come these unreasonable hatreds, and why their unifying effect? They are an expression of a desperate effort to suppress an awareness of our inadequacy, worthlessness, guilt and other shortcomings of the self. Self-contempt is here transmuted into hatred of others—and there is a most determined and persistent effort to mask this switch. Obviously, the most effective way of doing this is to find others, as many as possible, who hate as we do. Here more than anywhere else we need general consent, and much of our proselytizing consists perhaps in infecting others not with our brand of faith but with our particular brand of unreasonable hatred.

Even in the case of a just grievance, our hatred comes less from a wrong done to us than from the consciousness of our helplessness, inadequacy and cowardice—in other words from self-contempt. When we feel superior to our tormentors, we are likely to despise them, even pity them, but not hate them. That the relation between grievance and hatred is not simple and direct is also seen from the fact that the released hatred is not always directed against those who wronged us. Often, when we are wronged by one person, we turn our hatred on a wholly unrelated person or group. Russians, bullied by Stalin’s secret police, are easily inflamed against “capitalist warmongers”; Germans, aggrieved by the Versailles treaty, avenged themselves by exterminating Jews; Zulus, oppressed by Boers, butcher Hindus; white trash, exploited by Dixiecrats, lynch Negroes.

Self-contempt produces in man “the most unjust and criminal passions imaginable, for he conceives a mortal hatred against that truth which blames him and convinces him of his faults.”

69

That hatred springs more from self-contempt than from a legitimate grievance is seen in the intimate connection between hatred and a guilty conscience.

There is perhaps no surer way of infecting ourselves with virulent hatred toward a person than by doing him a grave injustice. That others have a just grievance against us is a more potent reason for hating them than that we have a just grievance against them. We do not make people humble and meek when we show them their guilt and cause them to be ashamed of themselves. We are more likely to stir their arrogance and rouse in them a reckless aggressiveness. Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us.

There is a guilty conscience behind every brazen word and act and behind every manifestation of self-righteousness.

70

To wrong those we hate is to add fuel to our hatred. Conversely, to treat an enemy with magnanimity is to blunt our hatred for him.

71

The most effective way to silence our guilty conscience is to convince ourselves and others that those we have sinned against are indeed depraved creatures, deserving every punishment, even extermination. We cannot pity those we have wronged, nor can we be indifferent toward them. We must hate and persecute them or else leave the door open to self-contempt.

72

A sublime religion inevitably generates a strong feeling of guilt. There is an unavoidable contrast between loftiness of profession and imperfection of practice. And, as one would expect, the feeling of guilt promotes hate and brazenness. Thus it seems that the more sublime the faith the more virulent the hatred it breeds.

73

It is easier to hate an enemy with much good in him than one who is all bad. We cannot hate those we despise. The Japanese had an advantage over us in that they admired us more than we admired them. They could hate us more fervently than we could hate them. The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners. An American’s hatred for a fellow American (for Hoover or Roosevelt) is far more virulent than any antipathy he can work up against foreigners. […] Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.

The undercurrent of admiration in hatred manifests itself in the inclination to imitate those we hate. Thus every mass movement shapes itself after its specific devil. Christianity at its height realized the image of the anti-christ. The Jacobins practiced all the evils of the tyranny they had risen against. Soviet Russia is realizing the purest and most colossal example of monopolistic capitalism. Hitler took the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion for his guide and textbook; he followed them “down to the veriest detail.”

It is startling to see how the oppressed almost invariably shape themselves in the image of their hated oppressors. That the evil men do lives after them is partly due to the fact that those who have reason to hate the evil most shape themselves after it and thus perpetuate it. It is obvious, therefore, that the influence of the fanatic is bound to be out of all proportion to his abilities. Both by converting and antagonizing, he shapes the world in his own image. Fanatic Christianity puts its imprint upon the ancient world both by gaining adherents and by evoking in its pagan opponents a strange fervor and a new ruthlessness. Hitler imposed himself upon the world both by promoting Nazism and by forcing the democracies to become zealous, intolerant, and ruthless. Communist Russia shapes both its adherents and its opponents in its own image.

Thus, though hatred is a convenient instrument for mobilizing a community for defense, it does not, in the long run, come cheap. We pay for it by losing all or many of the values we have set out to defend.

Hitler, who sensed the undercurrent of admiration in hatred, drew a remarkable conclusion. It is of the utmost importance, he said, that the National Socialist should seek and deserve the violent hatred of his enemies. Such hatred would be proof of the superiority of the National Socialist faith. “The best yardstick for the value of his [the National Socialist’s] attitude, for the sincerity of his conviction, and the force of his will is the hostility he receives from the . . . enemy.”

74

It seems that when we are oppressed by the knowledge of our worthlessness we do not see ourselves as lower than some and higher than others, but as lower than the lowest of mankind. We hate then the whole world, and we would pour our wrath upon the whole of creation.

There is a deep reassurance for the frustrated in witnessing the downfall of the fortunate and the disgrace of the righteous. They see in a general downfall an approach to the brotherhood of all. Chaos, like the grave, is a haven of equality. Their burning conviction that there must be a new life and a new order is fueled by the realization that the old will have to be razed to the ground before the new can be built. Their clamor for a millennium is shot through with a hatred for all that exists, and a craving for the end of the world.

75

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.

76

Whether it is true or not as Pascal says that “all men by nature hate each other,” and that love and charity are only “a feint and a false image, for at bottom they are but hate,” one cannot escape the impression that hatred is an all-pervading ingredient in the compounds and combinations of our inner life. All our enthusiasms, devotions, passions and hopes, when they decompose, release hatred. On the other hand it is possible to synthesize an enthusiasm, a devotion and a hope by activating hatred. Said Martin Luther: “When my heart is cold and I cannot pray as I should I scourge myself with the thought of the impeity and ingratitude of my enemies, the Pope and his accomplices and vermin, and Zwingli, so that my heart swells with righteous indignation and hatred and I can say with warmth and vehemence: ‘Holy be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done!’ And the hotter I grow the more ardent do my prayers become.”

77

Unity and self-sacrifice, of themselves, even when fostered by the most noble means, produce a facility for hating. Even when men league themselves mightily together to promote tolerance and peace on earth, they are likely to be violently intolerant toward those not of a like mind.

The estrangement from the self, without which there can be neither selflessness nor a full assimilation of the individual into a compact whole, produces, as already mentioned, a proclivity for passionate attitudes, including passionate hatred. There are also other factors which favor the growth of hatred in an atmosphere of unity and selflessness. The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others. The impression somehow prevails that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is that the surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance. The true believer us apt to see himself as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit this earth and the kingdom of heaven, too. He who is not of his faith is evil; he who will not listen shall perish.

There is also this: when we renounce the self and become part of a compact whole, we not only renounce personal advantage but are also rid of personal responsibility. There is no telling to what extremes of cruelty and ruthlessness a man will go when he is freed from the fears, hesitations, doubts and the vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgment. When we lose our individual independence in the corporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom—freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse. Herein undoubtedly lies part of the attractiveness of a mass movement. We find there the “right to dishonour,” which according to Dostoyevsky has an irresistible fascination. […]

Thus hatred is not only a means of unification but also its product. Renan says that we have never, since the world began, heard of a merciful nation. Nor, one may add, have we heard of a merciful church or a merciful revolutionary party. The hatred and cruelty which have their source in selfishness are ineffectual things compared with the venom and ruthlessness born of selflessness.

When we see the bloodshed, terror and destruction born of such generous enthusiasms as the love of God, love of Christ, love of a nation, compassion for the oppressed and so on, we usually blame this shameful perversion on a cynical, power-hungry leadership. Actually, it is the unification set in motion by these enthusiasms, rather than the manipulations of a scheming leadership, that transmutes noble impulses into a reality of hatred and violence. The deindividualization which is a prerequisite for thorough integration and selfless dedication is also, to a considerable extent, a process of dehumanization. The torture chamber is a corporate institution.

[Bold emphases mine]

Stopping there for today, on page 94.

An Honest Dialogue Between Science and Religion

Honest Dialogue Between Science and Religion:

More Honest Dialogue Between Science and Religion (Part II):

Pinker, the Blank Slate and the Divine, Science and Religion (Part III):

The Shallow Theology of the Intelligent Design Movement, Science and Religion (Part IV):

Cantor, Set Theory and a Rational Mysticism (Part V):

Just listening to what people have to say out here in the world…