Divvying everything up

Tonight I’m thinking about all this either/or, black/white, this/that talk that’s become the norm in public discussions. Everything’s reduced down to a debate, and so many seem hell-bent on proving their “opponents” wrong or incompetent. People seem to be running around with their dukes up, spoiling for some sort of hostile confrontation that serves as an opportunity to vent their frustrations.

Often I’m reminded of the “two minutes hate” in George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four, imagining people gnashing their teeth behind computer screens.  lol  Sad but true. So many reasons to diss and “hate”: racial clashes, political bickering, the sexes going to battle, warring ideologies and competing economic theories, religions vs. anti-religionists, etc. Lots of bullshit keeping people distracted.

But even if this bullshit is sown among us common folk from on-high, it’s still ultimately our responsibility to face and handle it. Nobody else can do this for us, so the responsibility must lie with us, right? And that’s where the issue gets really sticky, because, much as I tend to get pretty dismissive about knee-jerk labeling of one another, underneath it all there are competing philosophies that do deserve our attention. It’s a matter of struggling to figure out where the root of so much of this lies. Where’s the ultimate source of contention? Likely there is more more than one worth considering.

One important way it does boil down is to competing ideas on centralization vs. decentralization of power. Which of those do the currently powerful seek to support? Decidedly, centralization of power. Which of those do those aiming to become powerful support? They may pay lip service to decentralization in so far as it improves their chances of seizing power, at which point they revert to supporting the centralization of power. Why? Because these types of people aim for a disproportionate amount of power, and it’s not uncommon. Part of the human condition so far as I can tell. Some take it further than others, especially those lacking empathy or desire for meaningful connectedness with other humans.  Psychopathy (or sociopathy — are we still using the terms interchangeably?) is imitated by disenchanted people who’ve been peddled nihilistic fantasies.

It’s an effective strategy, but what’s particularly interesting to me here is that while colluding interests obviously help bring this about, plenty of us unwittingly perpetuate the problems ourselves. I’ve been guilty in the past and may still be guilty in some ways now (forever fallible).  Lots of people support the status quo through what they do to earn a living — hell of a conundrum that can be difficult to avoid. Plenty of us mean well but then get caught up in ideological bias without realizing it. Takes time to figure things out, including our own thought processes. Biases are a part of life, threads woven into the fabric of our individual subjective living experience. No two lives can be identical, and the uniqueness this grants us can feel like a double-edged sword at times. A sense of alienation accompanies this relatively new marvel of individuality taken to new heights.

It helps to put it in historical perspective.  The latest major rise of individualism came about during the Enlightenment Era, heralded as a brand-new way for humans to experience living, no longer mentally or materially shackled to familial clans as had been the case up through most our species’ history. Individualism as Western people experience it is truly revolutionary, unprecedented. But what allowed this to be so? What else occurred alongside this psychological leap within human beings? Economic and technological advancements ushered in new habitats and lifestyles, opening up our choices in terms of what to buy and where and how to live. People now are given the option to isolate ourselves, to live alone, to commute alone, in some cases even to work alone,  and now (thanks to the internet) to shop alone. We can choose to learn as much as we are able alone. Porn and sexual novelties make it easier to enjoy sexual pleasure alone. Many frequently dine alone. There was a time when this sort of thing spelled disaster for unlucky members of our species who found themselves abandoned or excommunicated, because so much of living involved socializing and individuals’ needs were met through the concerted efforts of clansmembers. No one person could manage it all on his or her own.

This shift cannot be overrated for its significance in impacting human psychology, which is something we continue struggling with adjusting to. Community had always mattered, and now we appear to be witnessing its dissolution, replaced by collections of people referring to themselves as communities despite members remaining unfamiliar and distant with one another. That’s a big change. Instead of depending on one another directly, we look toward government and agencies and businesses to supply what we need, and this is very often decided through competitive and coercive rather than cooperative action.

On a side-note, I’m reminded of the scene in the movie “Network” where the newscaster is talking about people living with anxiety, retreating to their homes, clinging to their radios and toasters and begging to be left alone.

Can’t speak for the rest of you, but I’m mad as hell too. It’s a natural reaction to a society out of wack. Part of the problem is just that so much change has occurred so rapidly that we’re made disoriented, especially now as each decade brings a plethora of new shit to get acquainted with. Easy to be dazzled and distracted in today’s world. Difficult to discern effective courses of action from wastes of time, particularly when it comes to waging legal battles through the largely defunct ‘proper channels’. Humanity is atomized into individuals set out on our own singular trajectories, trying to connect with others when able along the journey. Some are more introverted than others and relish so much solitude;  some grow deeply depressed due to lacking meaningful connections and a sense of purposeful living.

This is where modern “collectivist” movements attract attention, providing people with something to belong to, an affiliation to identify with, and access to others with relatively similar views to debate and socialize with. The “hating” toward the “opposition” provides members of the collective in question with something to bond with one another over. That last part is very important, because that’s the glue holding together modern groups. People feel the need to collect around some common goal(s), and standing in opposition to another group of people is an easy strategy open to all sorts. Anyone willing to obstruct the goals of “the opposition” is welcome, so long as you don’t harshly critique your own group in the process. Heck of a price of admission, but when people are lonely they do crazy things such as this. People do crave to experience a sense of belonging and identity, this being integral to how one’s personhood is defined.

Looked at from that angle, is it any wonder some people flock toward “collectivist” ideologies and movements? But this word “collectivist” isn’t a bad word in my worldview, per se. Humans are social creatures, yet individualistic at the same time. Hell of a way to be, but this is what human existence consists of. The balance varies from person to person and across cultures (and subcultures), but the fact remains in place. I am unable to comprehend individualism as if in a zero-sum competition with collectivism, as if individualism could win out and utterly defeat collectivism. No, and I don’t think we’d actually want that if it were possible. But does collectivism theoretically possess the power to potentially stamp out individualism? Maybe so. Hence why I’ve come to think of it rather as a ratio than an either/or proposition. Say, 70/30 in terms of protecting individualism and catering to collective concerns. Because individualism requires safeguards to ensure it won’t be so easily overtaken by collective/conformity-minded pursuits, but those ultimately responsible for policing this and making sure the balance isn’t tipped too far are our own selves, we the individuals. Authorities will not encourage the proliferation of independent thought and action, because that’s (rightly) perceived to be a threat to their own claims to power. Citizens have so far demonstrated we’re terrific at dropping the ball repeatedly, thanks in large part to us not being able to agree on barely anything and spending so much time fighting one another.

Sometimes I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation we find ourselves in. Not sure how to remedy it other than to strive to distinguish 2 or 3 core principles a great many of us can agree on enough to at least respect and uphold to provide some needed framework that binds us into a collective on one level, but through each individual’s choice and initiative. This means leaving aside all the ways in which we differ in views for a moment so as to support an effort that is of potential benefit to all humans.

The idea is to create a new (well, actually based on an old attempt that we Americans failed at) framework on which new narratives that serve common people rather than merely the most parasitic among us can have a chance at existence. There likely will have to be multiple narratives since there’s no way one size will fit all. There’s plenty of room for flexibility here, if we could only agree that we, as individuals as well as the communities we take part in, want to be in greater control of our destinies rather than submit to being leashed and muzzled by others vying for the power to exploit our labor and play on our psychologies to suit their own dreams of gaining wildly-disproportionate advantage. It’s called slavery, folks, and regardless of the form it may take, it’s the same old song and dance.

Just some thoughts during a loooong night awake with a cold.  sick

Looking into the Independent Women’s Forum

Tonight I decided to check into the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) on wikipedia where, come to find out, its sources of funding are listed. Definitely “right-wing”-funded. Brought in over $2M from Scaife Foundations alone (which helped fund William Kristol and Robert Kagan’s highly-influential neoconservative “think tank” called the Project for the New American Century), plus another $5M from other foundation donors including at least one Koch family foundation. When I see anything funded by the Koch brothers, I walk the other way.

What passes for conservative these days is mind-blowing. Neocons are not conservative, not in any way I understand the term “conservative” to mean. Neocons are radicals bent on uprooting nearly all traditions for the sake of reaching their individual and oligarchical economic ambitions, nevermind their lip service paid to “traditional values” and patriotism. They are gamblers and authoritarians who advocate economic macromanagement (as encouraged by Milton Friedman). If that passes for conservative today, then my and plenty of others’ views went stone-age. Paleoconservative. I’ve tried explaining to some of my more liberal friends that the “Right” has wholly disenfranchised its truly conservative constituents, though many continue handing over their votes to that side of the duopoly. Those who can’t go for either political camp wind up being pushed to a fringe and, ironically enough, labeled as radicals.

People are hopefully awakening to the corruption on all sides, bit by bit. Much easier to judge the corruption of others than of our own selves, but such is life. All I know is after looking into the IWF I’m reminded of a comment exchange on one of my video threads where someone roughly stated that the men’s rights movement will go up against feminism without relying on the government funding the feminist movement has access to, and I replied that their men’s rights movement will wind up needing “corporate-sponsored” funds if they are to compete through the ‘proper legal channels’ in this broken-down, bought-and-paid-for system. This is what I was referring to — foundations funded by wealthy families tied in with big, influential corporations with lobbying power. Apparently a few people didn’t appreciate that response, but it’s not what I’m advocating, just what it seems likely would be necessary to carry out expensive and time-consuming legal battles with a movement as entrenched and well-funded as feminism. I don’t like that reality any more than the next person, hence why I personally urge us as a society not to fall in that trap. Not fully sure what to do, but that certainly isn’t the best out of all possibilities.

When it comes to the money game, it’s just a bunch of soul-selling that winds up corrupting the players involved, because in order to raise the huge amounts of money needed to open doors and actively break out onto the big media-controlled mainstream it’s required that organizations and smaller movements align with powerfully influential entities in order to be granted legitimacy and political protection. It’s all a sham that eventually hollows out what smaller movements originally stood for as they come to be directed and swayed by major financial contributors.

But further ramblings on that topic will have to wait ’til another night.

Christina Hoff Sommers on Violence Against Women

Victims of violence are best served by the truth, I agree. It’s those same sort of statistics that pulled at my heartstrings in the late ’90s on into the 2000s when I embraced the label of feminist. And ya know, I don’t think it was an accident to put out false statistics of this sort. For as damaging as they are to men, they also serve the purpose of scaring women and eliciting sympathy from us for our “invisible” sisters who are dealing with what appeared to be a horrible societal “epidemic.” It used us by playing with our emotions and helped turn women against their brothers based on distortions of the truth.

I reflect back on my undergraduate studies when during the last 3 years my focus was on criminal justice, the plan having been at the time to pursue a double-major in that and social science. What I found in CJ textbooks and lectures was a refutation of these sorts of statistics, based on experience gleaned from law enforcement officers and federal bureaus. The criminal justice perspective implicated women in behaving violently in domestic situations, not only men, and of course we explored various criminal behaviors where women played an active role alongside their male counterparts. One crime that is almost exclusively carried out by women is Manchausen By Proxy, where typically a mother induces an illness in her children so as to draw sympathy and support from others to her own self. The more I explored that crime, the more that it became unavoidable seeing that women possess their own ability to behave very cruelly and that it isn’t only men one needs to watch out for. Many of us learn this truth early in life through admission into the School of Hard Knocks — no textbooks required.

And why doesn’t feminism say anything about this? Why did it gloss over women’s wrongdoings, sweeping them under the rug and downplaying them or finding a way to twist it into somehow being the fault of men or patriarchy? That bothered me, and it still does. Because I don’t need sugar-coating for the sex I belong to. I’m well-aware women aren’t little innocent lambs incapable of inflicting harm, so why does feminism attempt to perpetuate such a myth, as if it can stand the test of experiential knowledge attained through dealing with women? I don’t know. All I know is lies of this sort do more harm than good because they destroy not only feminism’s credibility but also that of women who’ve affiliated with and supported that movement. It’s a bad deal, a dishonest way to “help” people, if that were ever truly the motive (which I’ve come to doubt).

Elaborating on a “Response to an MRA”

A video I uploaded back in January titled “Response to an MRA”:

In that I was reading aloud an email response I’d sent back to an MRA who’d been corresponding with me. Having been approached by a number of self-described MRAs through email already, I figured it might be helpful to make this response public so as to cut down on me needing to repeat myself. I’m not interested in joining or backing any gender-related movement, having had my fill of making sense of feminism throughout much of my 20s.

In an exchange of comments with fabrizionapoleoni and Thermic Light on the comment thread since last night, I’ve decided to go ahead and post this here to try to flesh out my own thought process a bit.

As stated in the video and also in the comments, I’m not of the belief that waging a major legal battle against feminism will likely prove fruitful, and here’s why. First, let me expand on what I think of feminism.

From the way I see it, feminism became a tool of the government several decades ago intended to drive more women into the workplace so as to generate more taxable revenue and stimulate the economy. The feminist movement served also to divide the sexes and pit them against one another in workplaces as well as in academe, which trickled down to affect households and set off a boom in suing for divorces. We see this. The sexual liberation revolution that accompanied the second-wave feminist mantra came at a time of Judeo-Christian values dramatically losing their hold over people due to advancements in scientific understandings and economic concerns coming to eclipse all else (this trend had been in motion for a couple hundred years already, heralded by the Enlightenment Era and later the introduction of the Industrial Age), leaving people in the confused state of value anomie where greater subjectivity entered the arena and allowed much freedom of expression and experimentation that continues on ’til today. Not that I necessarily take issue with the sexual revolution, seeing it as a natural reaction to the suppression of female sexuality under Abrahamic religions, this being an attempt to establish a more favorable balance for women going forward. I take no issue with that on the surface, but what we don’t tend to think about is the propaganda promoted to tap into our selfish interests and to stoke hostilities between the sexes.

Keeping this as brief as I can, what ultimately wound up happening is feminism and its organizations grew in large part thanks to financial infusions from major contributors tied in with the government, as well as from the government directly. Why did the government do this? Because higher-ups sympathize with the plight of women? Not hardly. Rather it was because they and their corporate sponsors stand to benefit in a variety of ways. First off, feminism involves a lot of fear-mongering, particularly when it comes to topic of rape and child molestation (not that these aren’t incredibly important issues), where the fever-pitch scream over these matters inevitably sought redress through the courts and promoting protectionist legislation. Feminism preaches a great deal about “empowerment,” yet its real message tends to revolve around victimhood, which tends to focus primarily on women and children’s suffering. Every topic must be framed in how it affects women or mothers of children or female children, and this is justified by claiming that everything outside of feminism caters to the male perspective, as if the common man were being fairly represented already.

Saying nothing new to people so far. But what’s really interesting to me is how this sleight of hand proved exceptionally divisive, especially in light of more women increasing their dependence on the State and less so on men. But we have to remember it wasn’t too many decades back when these social programs were nonexistent and most men and women had to rely on one another to grow enough food and rear children. Pitiful was the widow or single mother who had to rely on the charity of others or churches or enter into some low form of servitude to make ends meet. Now that has all changed and feminism has aided in protecting women and children from bleak fates, or so it gives the appearance of doing. In there is where everything gets really complex and crazy, because the feminist movement embraced the notion of promoting and extending the role of the State in getting involved in our lives. The charity received is accompanied by government intrusion through the formation of an entire league of social workers and CPS employees — people who earn incomes from monitoring other people’s family situations.

But it goes deeper than that obviously. With the pushing of more laws and greater penalties, including mandatory sentencing, we saw immense growth in the penal system. More prisons built and filled, primarily with men. A huge number of which are in there on drug offenses, which is another area where the feminist movement supported tougher sentencing in the name of protecting children. Prohibition has ties with feminism going back to its inception, most notably in the alcohol prohibition of the early 20th century. In other words, when social problems confront us, the feminist movement tends nearly always to push for the State to step in and criminalize behavior on our behalf, but nearly all popular movements have aimed the same way over the last century. And where they branched off and called for individual action, their leaders were assassinated (as in the case of the most prominent civil rights leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X).

Let’s think about that for a moment, because what those two men advocated is largely where I am coming from. Dr. King spoke from the position of people changing their hearts and following their consciences, referring to the tradition of Jesus and other peace-builders. Because he understood that the problem lies within us all and that laws alone won’t change us. Malcolm X understood that power never concedes itself without being given a fight. He understood that new laws alone couldn’t rectify past injustices, remarking that you can’t stab a knife in a man’s back 9 inches, pull it out 6 inches, and then call that “progress.” He understood what ails us is deeply entrenched in our cultures and argued for the individual to grab hold of the reins of his or her own life, to take back power by refusing to bow to unjust authorities, by being willing to fight back by whatever means necessary (not excluding utilizing the courts, though he learned the hard way there too). He did not see this as a battle to be fought and won primarily within the courts, but out here in the streets, out here where we can make a difference through what we choose to do or not do, through our resistance and our rejection of that system. Both men died as a result of speaking the truth.

Returning to feminism, we saw the rise of the welfare state, promoted as needed to care for women and children and the disabled. Sounds nice in theory, except the programs established are ran by our horribly inefficient, bureaucratic nightmare of a government. Notice how little is said as to whether so many kids should be born out of wedlock as has become so common; instead attention is focused on blaming fathers for abandoning their children by not paying enough toward their support. Why have so many fathers stepped out on the families they’ve helped create? Does this not point back to people being chewed up by the economic wheel, either by employers (in conjunction with the IRS) or by the courts when marriages dissolve? I contend that it’s a cultural problem, a failure of this society to leave communities to care for themselves and determine their own collective fate. Over time communities have been broken down and each of us individuals are set out on our own, pulled primarily by economic pressures while attempting to dodge being taken advantage of. The feminist movement, whether intentional or not, helped exacerbate this problem and has done very little to counteract it.

Then enters talk of our public education system in the U.S. Lord, help us there. That’s an indoctrination program of our young people, teaching them false histories (or glossed-over history anyway) while encouraging them to engage in such movements that see the legal contest as most relevant. Furthermore, it’s a glorified daycare to set children while parents work, because nearly everything in life anymore revolves around money, acquiring it and, Americans’ favorite pastime, spending it. Young people are not taught to think critically, not unless it pertains to the scientific realm, and even there attempts appear to fall short.

Thinking about the scientific realm for a moment, another major player in this whole fiasco of the last century is the field of psychiatry, which one might initially think more women would oppose considering its history of focusing on “correcting” women who rebelled against previous societal norms. But no, feminism has become entrenched in that field, supporting and circulating its pseudo-scientific “findings” as well as accepting and adopting its lingo.  That right there worries me. Because psychiatry is closely tied to the State (not to mention advertisers and Big Pharma, but that will be discussed another time) and has been utilized to promote conformity, dicing the public up under labels said to require chemical or institutional “treatment” for varying degrees of “maladaptation.” I’m surprised more people aren’t spooked by such a field where their claims are based not on actual scientific evidence but on a social planning agenda. Psychiatry is the field of social engineering, plain and simple, and it’s brought forth tons of “experts” prescribing for us how we need to live our lives and how to raise young’ns (notice though how swiftly opinions within the field change, demonstrating how psychiatry and psychology are fields of study of human behavior, not unlike sociology, and have no place being equated with medical science). Psychology and sociology (and anthropology and philosophy, etc.) are all incredibly interesting fields of study, but they are not scientific in the way people have come to assume psychology and psychiatry to be. It is propaganda that has pushed that belief on the uncritical masses, allowing psychiatry to rise in popularity and fuse itself with our government (which is two-fold, because on one hand it is employed as a controlling mechanism to interfere with the social realm, but also pharmaceutical companies wield great lobbying power to influence Congresspeople to embrace and promote this insidious alliance).

And as in the case of everything these days, it all leads back to concerns over money and the economy. While the feminism movement is angling to promote women in positions of power throughout the power structure currently in place, it does nothing to overturn that system, though there are claims that once infiltrated, the system can then be altered from the inside out. All that says to me is this is one way in which fascism can establish itself, because the status quo will only be enhanced, never overthrown or dismantled from within as some feminists may dream. Fascism is the alliance of State and major corporations, whereby this combined power comes to control and exert enormous influence over nearly all aspects of society. When we consider that one arm at the government’s disposal involves the field of psychiatry and its drug sellers, can we doubt that will come to play a bigger role as time moves on, if only under the guise of promoting jobs and helping people? Because those are hot fields enlisting lots of foot soldiers to spread their message of “mental health” (whatever that means on any given day). A number of self-professed feminists are involved in the so-called mental health system, with a great many newcomers joining each year. That is disconcerting.

Whereas the feminist movement came out loud protesting against the Vietnam war, now we see mostly those on its fringes still making a fuss and joining in the serious antiwar rallies. Old women mostly, from my experience. The economic costs of endless warfare and the sacrifice of our young people to the war machine is one of the gravest concerns confronting us, yet the feminist movement busies itself worrying with injecting more women into academia and upper management positions in the business world, or embarking on slut-shaming protests, or squealing about differences in pay — trivial concerns if this system winds up buckling under due to financial overreach.

In a nutshell, the feminist movement today runs counter to what many of us thought it was supposed to be about, namely taking to task a system run amok. But whatever. Aside from securing voting rights and women’s reproductive control over their own bodies, the movement has been used to create more problems than it can solve. It’s time to move past reliance on gender-specific movements and to take in the bigger picture, which to me asks of us how we can fight back against these forces at play in our society. The only answers I can come to is that we as a people and various collectives therein must reestablish our ability to care for ourselves in community settings. What I’m referring to here involves neo-agrarianism, because without food and water, we won’t last long. More importantly, without regaining control over providing for our most basic needs, we will grow increasingly dependent on this system, that is our government and major corporations, to provide what we need at the prices they set, paid for by the dollars we must earn from them.

To bring about a neo-agrarian revolution, land must be secured and/or reallocated to serve purposes beyond pure aesthetics, and intentional communities will have to form in anticipation of future secession. I realize people don’t wish to hear this, but without taking the first step to generate what we need to survive, nothing else can progress. Because where we stand now we are hopelessly dependent on the State/major corporations (particularly food producers) to provide for our sustenance. And you can bet that will be one of the first things jeopardized if it ever comes down to civil war.

The way I see it is we have two choices: prop up the status quo, which includes the entire infrastructure we’ve grown dependent on, or figure out ways to reduce our reliance on that system so as to be able to fight against it. Without ground to stand on, disrupting the current system will likely lead to a lot of pain and little gain. But either way, it should be obvious that I favor the latter option. People who remain caught up in the legal contest are, unwittingly or otherwise, playing into and perpetuating the current system. The fines and taxes we pay feeds it. Do people realize that divorce courts are making a killing for the State, all because we allow the State to control the institution of marriage? Takes money and effort to change laws, and it takes even more to protect said laws once on the books, as feminists will tell you. Beyond that, there’s virtually no way to effectively attack all of the forces driving society today through the legal system because it is broken by already being bought and paid for. We will go broke trying, just as we will go broke thinking we can contribute even a fraction of what corporations contribute to buy the loyalty of politicians.

We are faced with a serious conundrum with no easy answers, and I don’t think it’s possible at this point for any consensus to be reached. For those operating under faulty logic, I say let them go their own way. Let them learn for themselves what will and won’t work. This is why my mind keeps returning to the notion of people fragmenting off into smaller, intentionally-created communities where the members share common objectives and beliefs. Much as I can appreciate diversity, and I believe it can still be preserved under this strategy through trade alliances, it has bogged us down to where we can’t agree on much. So we’d be better off splitting and going our own ways versus continuing to fight one another, tooth and nail, trying to convince one another, turning toward domination strategies when that fails. We’ll drive one another increasingly insane if we keep this up.

Furthermore, our evolutionary history prepares us for smaller group engagement whereby we have more influence and negotiations become possible. Once things get too big and too out of control, we wind up at each other’s throats down here on the ground while the puppet masters loot us and force leashes around our necks. That is no future I wish to take part in. Yet another reason I am keen on not producing children forced to contend with what lay in store. One way or another, it’s going to be ugly. It’s a matter of whether that ugliness will come through the preservation of the status quo and its ceaseless wars and its drive toward micromanaging us all, or if we’ll be willing to get down and dirty in defense of another way of life. As always, the choice is entirely up to us. If we take no action, we will simply be swept along with the tides, and surely we can see where that will wind us up.

That’s enough to say on that subject for now, but anyone wishing me to consider different angles feel free to post a comment.

Why I’m No Longer a Feminist

Now, let me back up to the month of November 2012 when I posted a video titled “Why I’m No Longer a Feminist”:

Probably would help if I added a bit of background information on who I am and what my experience with feminism involved. I originally became aware of feminism’s existence during teenagehood, though I had no direct exposure to it back then aside from television programs and talk in glossy magazines marketed to girls (like Cosmo and Glamour). During my freshman year in college (1999-2000), I purchased my first computer and discovered feminism in greater detail online. Now, I was attending school at Mississippi State University and wasn’t all that sociable with others, so at that time delving into feminism was pretty much strictly limited to the internet, though my husband (now ex) considered himself a feminist and we did discuss topics pertaining to that movement. We both come up with and embraced a libertarian spirit (as products of the same small county), which then dovetailed into supporting women’s rights to do with their own bodies as they see fit.

I remember becoming aware of NARAL and NOW online back when they were offering free kits to anyone who asked that included pro-choice literature and posters to put up around campus, but like I said we lived in Mississippi and my husband staunchly put his foot down on this due to the likelihood of this leading me to be targeted and given hell. This was at a time when there were no abortion clinics in the state, though I am told there now is one.

So I contented myself with learning and reading online, which is when I first came up against a band of feminists who really threw their weight around and ridiculed me and let it be clearly understood that I was naive and ignorant and should sit back and listen and read rather than speak up and interfere. That would’ve been when I was 19. So for a while that’s what I did. I read and listened and a couple years went by.

I moved up to the Midwest once again when I was 21 after my husband and I decided to split. As a young woman single once again, the world appeared to be my oyster, and I went about earning a living and picking back up on continuing my education. Continued reading and listening and then jumped back into the feminist arguments, again mostly online despite living in a much larger, more open-minded city. The reason for that probably has a lot to do with me not knowing a lot of women in person, and those I do know and get along with don’t consider themselves feminists necessarily and aren’t too interested in discussing those sorts of topics. The feminists I did run up against in academia or out in society didn’t seem to have much patience with me or my questions, so not much in-person dialogue took place that I can remember. Wasn’t involved in any local groups and didn’t attend any rallies. Most of my friends tend to be male, and we did and still do discuss feminism from time to time, but the breadth of their understanding of it was that it pertained to women’s reproductive rights, which they all pretty much support. Mostly I tell them what I’ve learned and they take it in. When I’ve asked how feminism has affected their lives, most stated that they don’t see really how it has, aside from being reared to be respectful toward women (as was the norm long before feminism came into existence). So, not much drama occurred there. Had a few verbal bar feuds, as to be expected when we drunks get to running our mouths.

But when I went back online and decided to really get into what all was being said and to speak my piece, I found out just how unpopular my beliefs were. One major source of contention between myself and many feminists I interacted with online revolved around the question of sexual agency. While on one hand they argued that we women have so much power, on the other and at the same time they spoke a great deal about us being victims to violence men can and do inflict upon us, particularly rape. Now, I don’t feel like going into much detail here on my experiences in dealing with men or what life has taught me, but I will say that I’ve always been a strong advocate for women arming themselves and becoming well-acquainted with their weapon of choice so as to be properly able and willing to use it if needed. Seems to me that cuts down significantly on worrying about being victimized when you are in possession of an equalizer. Doesn’t even have to be a gun; tasers and stun guns work too, as do knives and brass knuckles and whatever else happens to be handy. Well, you wouldn’t believe how unpopular of a position that apparently is in some feminist circles. Holy cow.

Now, combine that with my hesitation in accepting the notion that women should walk around scantily clad and expect no repercussions at all (that’s not to say we deserve to be attacked, not at all, but cat-calling is predictable) and you might imagine where those fights led. I still struggle to see their logic, because to me, if I’m out walking around in public half-naked I’d expect back then to have to deal with men’s come-ons. And because I’m no fool when it comes to understanding how some men will treat you when you appear young, dumb, and defenseless, I did make an effort to protect myself. Hell, even a canned air horn is something to consider to draw attention from others if you’re afraid and being confronted by a strange person. My point was that there are options, though I also certainly know that walking around scantily clad isn’t the only way to wind up receiving unwanted male attention. But the issue made over the right to self-defense really stuck in my craw when dealing with a lot of feminists because they were arguing in favor of gun control, which to me seems completely antithetical to their professed goal of remaining safe and secure. If a woman wants to remain safe, why not take power into your hands and do what you can to ensure it? That was my primary argument there. But many of them had jumped on the liberal bandwagon and the Democratic Party pushes for gun control, so they then followed in suit, and I don’t feel very many critically considered what they were advocating there. Because basically that’s arguing in favor of a situation where you have to rely on police protection, and one thing I do know is cops can’t be everywhere all at once. Depending on what neighborhood you live in, they might not even show up after being called. Besides, police are part of a retributive justice system, which is to say they seek out people who have already committed a crime. And my experience dealing with police has shown me that their response can be a mixed bag. Sometimes they care. Sometimes they don’t. Depends on which officer is on duty that day, I suppose. And they surely don’t want to receive a call every time someone feels creeped out by someone else who has not yet perpetrated a crime.

From there we went on to argue about prostitution and pornography and women’s agency in regard to being involved in those forms of employment. There’s lots of disagreement within feminism in relation to the sex industry, though many feminists appeared to take the position that women cannot freely engage in such work because they are being exploited, and even to desire to do such work is a sign of past psychological damage within the woman in question. So, if she wants to earn money engaging in sexual acts, she’s sick or seriously misguided and therefore lacks the agency to decide that for herself, but if she wants to “ho around” for free, that’s perfectly acceptable and nobody better talk bad about it. Okay. That makes no sense whatsoever.

The minority of feminists in support of sex work, those today referred to as “sex positive” feminists (which is a weird label, IMO), argued from the position that sex work somehow leveled the playing field between men and women, as if that were the preferable arrangement for any two people interested in seeking out sex. Some bolstered this with economic arguments, stating that the money is good so therefore that makes it worthwhile to pursue — basically benjamins speak and they listen. And let me say that plenty of the so-called “sex positive” feminists strike me as a bit kooky in their defense of sluttiness. And I don’t mean that to be mean necessarily, just an honest observation, because I see there as being more sides to the argument than feminists were bringing up. Either they’re victims in a male-dominated society or they’re empowered, money-making freak hos doing nothing of greater consequence than businessmen — no in between, no third or fourth possibilities, no deeper thought given to the intricacies of how using one’s body in so intimate a way affects the participants involved in such a transaction. And that’s about where I’d had enough and began backing toward the door. That would’ve been about 2007.

But there were many discussions throughout those years, such as women’s roles in the military, women’s advancement in businesses (with lots of griping and complaining that there aren’t more female CEOs), discussions among ethnic women about how mainstream feminism caters primarily to middle-class white women’s interests (which I do believe was true originally, though ethnic middle-class, college-educated women are being actively brought into the fold nowadays), socioeconomic class divisions with lots of talk on how to allot resources to the poor, the perceived imbalance of educational choices, and, of course, the ongoing debate about whether a stay-at-home mom supported by her husband’s income can even consider herself to be a feminist. I read a lot of people’s opinions, followed countless links and tried to make sense of an untold number of academic journal articles written by self-described feminists. The jargon employed within their movement got to where it turned me off, because patriarchy is a central tenet that you can’t get past, can’t deny, and can’t resolve to virtually anyone’s satisfaction.

What is patriarchy? I’ve come to see it as the old way, meaning the several-thousand-year period marked by societies and cultures being shaped, in part, by special attention paid to patrilineal lineage. That era only recently began to dissolve (100+ years back), something commonly attributed to the first wave of feminists in their securing for women the right to vote, though I tend to believe it was waning prior to that. Why? I don’t know. Probably because religions were already beginning to slowly die out, Abrahamic religions having provided the great narrative for patriarchal societies. With the lessening of that stronghold, cultures become more flexible and paradigms begin to shift. But with change comes chaos, so the trade-off brings with it growing pains.

What we’re left with today is a weird hodge-podge constructed in a past that no longer seems as relevant, updated and retooled again and again since the 1940s by men and women with new objectives, and no one seems to know where to steer this ship. Generally speaking, feminists place what I consider an unwarranted amount of faith in the State and centralized power to realize their dreams and to provide for their protection. Many men seem unsure of what their role is supposed to be anymore, and I can sympathize with their confusion and feelings of being left out of a meaningful position in the new narrative others are busily constructing for the future of society. I feel left out too, but in a different way. I feel like once all the talk about rights settles down, we’ll be left to realize we dropped the ball on our responsibilities to one another, especially a lot of women who believed the horrible Disney-fied lie that they could have it all (a committed partner, children, a demanding career, a healthy sex life, an active social life, exotic vacations, a fulfilling existence and time to enjoy it). They’re being run ragged by their own selves, and it shows. More than that, it affects everyone around them. When locked up in an echo chamber one comes to believe they’re on the right path, but what is it a path to? A fantasy is all it is. And not even that great of one when you really stop and think about it.

When I first took up interest in feminism, it was because I believed in my right to do with my own body as I see fit, and I still feel that way as much, if not more, today. What I discovered I didn’t want to sign up for or take part in was this great lie, this massive experiment in social distortion supposedly in favor of women but in the end appearing to not be truly in favor of hardly anyone. Men are not automatically our enemies, though specific individuals may prove to be, and the same holds true vice versa. Most men are no more guilty of upholding “patriarchy” than are most women, even self-professed feminists. The problem isn’t in men universally, it’s in people, all of us. History swings back and forth over time, favoring some more than others in any given period, but we were all simply born into it and none of us are responsible for having created the past. All we can do now is move forward, and I think that’s a discussion that needs to be brought out to include everyone, not just this sex or that one. This group or movement or that one doesn’t get to decide the fate of all going forward. No. That’s ludicrous. That, in itself, is bigoted, because it pretends that members belonging to one affiliation or another are necessarily more “enlightened” and therefore in the best position to decide for everyone. But plenty of us are deeply unhappy with the options being handed to us and we reject this queer “utopia” others seem intent on striving toward and dragging everyone else along in tow.

There’s plenty more I can say on the topic of feminism, but it will have to wait until another night.

MRM vs. Feminism & Additional Thoughts

In a video I created in January 2013 with the same title, I attempted to argue for why I see the MRM behaving not unlike the feminist movement. It wasn’t a great or well-planned video, but I went ahead and posted it up on YT because the sentiments expressed are true to how I feel. Some further details unfortunately were left out and were added in a follow-up video, which I’ll also post below.

Okay, so to spell out the comparison being made in the first video.

Feminism

  1. Has encouraged a spike in the divorce rate, in part by convincing women that they don’t need men and by helping elevate the status of the single mother in the eyes of society.
  2. Is instrumental in creating a situation where women increasingly depend on the State to meet their financial needs. Examples include economic assistance for single-mother-headed households and affirmative action legislation creating incentives for the hiring of women in choice positions. Women also depend on the State to provide for their defense, as in the case of domestic violence situations (because feminism asserts a non-violence stance that excludes the right to self-defense via the utilization of firearms or other weaponry).
  3. Women’s studies courses have abounded on university campuses over the last few decades.
  4. Granted women the right to abandon children (up to a certain age, depending on state laws) at hospitals or “safe havens” without requiring any further involvement, financial or otherwise, in their children’s lives and upbringing.

Men’s Rights Movement

  1. Discourages men from marrying, citing that the law benefits women at the expense of men and claiming that prenuptials don’t provide enough enough certainty when it comes to protecting one’s assets.
  2. Men are turning to the State in an effort to have laws drafted in their favor or to have existing laws enforced against female offenders proportionately. This seems fine and reasonable on the surface, but underneath we see the same drive toward creating a legal contest of one-upmanship. I argue that more laws on the books doesn’t ensure “equality,” whatever that terms stands to mean anymore.
  3. Men are dissuaded from acting without legal backing for fear of the law being used in turn against them and their interests.
  4. Men’s studies courses are now being proposed on a few college campuses.
  5. Given rise to men proclaiming the right to abandon children created without their express verbal consent (nevermind their sexual consent), leaving the mothers solely responsible for the children’s care and upbringing, which would lead more mothers toward greater dependence on the State in the absence of fathers.

I went on to say that both “camps” appear to share the goal to relinquish women and children to become financially dependent on the State. In such a scenario, the powers of the State are expanded to meet these expectations, which is a major concern for those of us who are libertarian-minded and strongly believe the government is already encroaching too much into our lives and families.

Feminism and the MRM sow seeds of distrust between the sexes and encourage battling it out through introducing legislation and in the courts. Both use children as a means of punishing and/or extorting partners. Both promote agendas that assuredly will expand the role and scope of government interference in our personal lives. Both proclaim to be about promoting “equality under the law,” even when taken to absurd extremes that are proving undesirable to most of us, male or female.

Leaving aside the notes I had written up for that video, I went on to talk about the grave and obvious difference between terminating a pregnancy and abandoning children already brought into full existence. And of course my views proved controversial and unacceptable to some who accused me of “using” the plight of children to defend women maintaining the upper hand in this ordeal, as is a popular feminist tactic (so I was told). So let me attempt to break it down like this. Here is my position in a nutshell:

  • As much as male and female adults and their rights do matter, those rights do not automatically trump concerns for any offspring they may bring into existence.
  • Children ARE NOT items or objects to be compared with a boat or house or any other non-living thing. Children are human beings in their own right and have needs that differ from those of adults that if not tended to may very likely result in children growing up into resentful, poorly adapted, emotionally stunted adults whom we all must live with. Poor quality upbringing affects the child in question, first and foremost, but over time it comes to affect those he or she comes into contact with and wider society as well. That’s no small matter.
  • There is much more to caring for children than providing for them financially. If this is not deeply grasped by prospective parents, I urge you (man or woman) to not breed. Love asks of us to 1.) genuinely care about, 2.) be responsible for, 3.) gain knowledge of, and 4.) respect the individuality of the person we claim love for. Simply providing child support payments does not qualify as love any more than simply coming home to someone every night. Love is a much deeper experience, and I find it is rarely if ever even mentioned in discussions of this sort, despite it being an integral component in the development of any person’s well-being.
  • If we can’t resolve these matters among ourselves, interpersonally and as communities, we will invite more government involvement in our lives and especially in the lives of our young. This is unacceptable for a great many reasons and most assuredly will not improve the situation for anyone, save for the selfish few of child-rearing age at this point in time who care more about doing what they want than tending to their responsibilities to persons they help generate.
  • Rights DO entail responsibilities, and the two concepts cannot be divorced from one another. To attempt to do so is to make both rights and responsibilities hollow ideas that no longer hold water.

Rights are protected by us — that entails us making responsible choices in defense of our rights. Take for example the right to vote. You can claim to have it all day long, but how do you ensure your vote is counted? If you cannot do this, the notion of having a right to vote means little. Take as a second example the right to bear arms. If one doesn’t bear arms or defend others’ right to do so, it becomes a moot point. Another example is the right to free speech. If we tolerate some speech being labeled as “hate speech” and thence outlawed, how free can speech really be? So circling back, we have the right to protect ourselves to the best of our ability from unwanted pregnancies. But so too do children have the need to be raised up with people who want and care about them, because otherwise what quality is there in an unwanted, unhappy existence? If you realize you do not have any interest in caring for a child, it is your responsibility to do everything in your power to ensure that unwanted pregnancy doesn’t become the outcome. Men do possess options here, as many if not more than women possessed prior to the legalization of abortion and the availability of modern contraceptive options. On that end, it is a practical consideration, much as I understand some people think it to be unfair and lacking. But the alternative to seeing it this way is to shirk responsibility and to allow the bulk of consequences to fall onto the only innocent party in the equation: the child created. That is truly unfair and unnecessary.

People speak of the importance of agency, and yet when it comes to sex it’s as if everyone puts their blinders on. Women currently have more options at their disposal to protect against unwanted pregnancies and should do better with putting them to use, but knowing that does not absolve men from their own responsibility in protecting themselves and children they don’t wish to co-create.

We each work with what we can. Nobody promised us a rose garden. Life isn’t perfect, nor will it ever be, nor can it be made 50/50 between the sexes at all times and on all levels. That’s not a world I’d even wish to see, because that would require a form of extremism that undoubtedly would drive us all up the wall. My goal wasn’t to be mean to any of you out there on the internet, but I have to take a stand and argue on behalf of the silent party in this battle between the sexes, because children lack a voice and can’t make an appeal to you until after being brought into existence.

My final argument on this subject is that this is no world to bring people into who will have no one to rely on, no one to protect them and their interests, no one to place their needs as a top priority. To simply assume that one parent or the other will suffice, that your involvement is not necessary, is a lie people are telling themselves to be absolved of guilt. If you’re not there, how will you know if the child you helped create is being raised right? How will you know if your child’s needs are being met or if Momma is off with her boyfriends, leaving baby at home neglected? It is a horrible lie to pretend that you, as co-creator, have no stake in that and no responsibility for allowing that reality to go on unexamined. I can completely understand people’s desire to not father children unless it is expressly intended, and this is why I urge you to do what is in your power to safeguard your decision and to prevent a new life from coming into being and potentially winding up damaged and full of despair. Because that’s no life for anyone to have to live. Not anyone. We, adults of today, have the power to do better than that.

Disputing legal reproductive rights

Okay. Think I’m finally ready to start broaching the topic of gender/sex on here. It’s not what I consider my primary focus, but gender relations are a significant concern today, me speaking as an American. Can’t deny it, can’t get around it, so might as well confront and dissect it and see what sense can be made.

To start with, I offer up a video from JohntheOther titled “Reproductive Rights” where he advocates on behalf of men saying that they deserve the right to decide whether or not to be parents, and if men choose not to they ought to have the right to refuse parental involvement and child support expectations. An argument he puts forth is that abandoning live offspring financially and legally is the male equivalent of a woman opting for an abortion, claiming the two situations are “parallel.”

I actually can understand, to a degree, where JohntheOther is coming from in terms of men gaining legal reproductive rights. He’s right that women have an option to terminate or prevent pregnancies, though I argue that men do also have power to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies occurring. Because men currently lack as many options as women does not negate that truth.  Pregnancy can be and often is imposed on both parents without that result intentionally being sought. Women have more options for avoiding pregnancy, but men do have options and that should not be ignored or trivialized.  Because women are now granted self-determination in terms of legal reproductive rights does not imply men have no such legal self-determination themselves. Abstinence is a choice too, as is undergoing a vasectomy, as is the decision to engage in sex with women who for whatever reasons are unable to become pregnant.  Those are choices men do possess, and let’s not reduce that down as if it ceases to matter. Unequal rights under the law, yes, but still both sexes do confront choices and options that can determine their fate.

In a society where women have to take abortion into serious consideration as an option when men are no longer held legally or financially responsible for providing for an unwanted child’s care, I imagine that will lead to women retreating back to past standards of conduct when abortion wasn’t an option. Meaning this legal shift will likely result in women becoming much more selective when it comes to partners they engage in sex with, assuming that many women continue to have moral qualms with undergoing abortions. Otherwise abortions will become the norm, and both sexes will have to cope with that (which I don’t think people will be able to without more resentment and disrespect coming between us). Perhaps a shift in attitudes where more caution returns to women when it comes to our sexual choices wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Feminists and others have declared for decades that women’s right to choose should be respected, and now that choice has come home to roost it appears. If women do have a choice, shouldn’t prospective fathers also be provided a choice?

My primary concern here is with children’s need to be cared for and loved and not wind up warded to the state by parents who bring them into this world and then abandon them. That is my moral qualm, which has been touched on in a video I posted on YT and will be expanded on here in a future post.

But let’s focus here on the dialogue going on back and forth between JohntheOther and Friendough. Friendough’s original video is viewable here.

JohntheOther’s analogy involving a gay couple where one opts to buy a boat compared with a man and woman determining care for a child are so completely separate and different that it strikes me as insulting. A child is not a piece of property, not an inanimate object. A child requires significant care provided to him or her that extends far beyond financial concerns. This is a question of how to manage bringing new human beings into the world and determining who ought to be held responsible for their upbringing — caring for our young being an extremely serious matter that extends also beyond legal concerns. It’s the creation of a new generation of people, and the quality of their upbringing has a significant impact on who they become as they grow up. Neglect and abuse them and you may psychologically destroy those individuals. Leave them warded to the State and let them be transitioned from foster home to foster home, where the chances of being sexually violated is 30% higher than in regular society, and I assure you that many will come to resent us all.

We are not simply determining legal responsibility here; we are actively deciding how to  fashion the future. We are determining what sort of existence future generations may face, and that is a heavy burden to consider. We must step outside of our own wants and desires long enough to take in the hefty implications of what is being proposed by both feminists and MRAs in agreement with JohntheOther. They are proving alike in their pushing for each respective sex to have the right to terminate care and/or walk away and leave living beings to be cared for by others or possibly institutions. I am arguing for a third way, perhaps viewed as more traditional in some aspects, though one of my major arguments is that it would be seriously useful at this point if more people paused and deeply considered how little reason there is to bring so many new beings into existence at this point in history. An argument to be expanded on as time rolls on.

And here’s Friendough’s response to JohntheOther:

The consequences of pregnancy do indeed occur whether or not we want this. We can do what we’re able to prevent it, but sometimes it does happen anyway. That is a fact of life.

But that does flip us back to women’s options to terminate pregnancies or abandon newborns. Personally, I take serious issue with women being granted the legal right to “surrender” their children (within a certain amount of time and depending on state laws) to so-called “safe havens.” That’s a bad law, IMO, and it complicates this entire situation by neglecting the interests of the child. I am aware of why these laws came into being, but because some women choose to criminally commit infanticide is not a good enough reason to make it legal for women to abandon their babies in a society where abortions are pretty much freely available during the first and at least part of the second trimester of pregnancy.

Life comes with all kinds of consequences and responsibilities, chosen or not, and that applies to both women and men.

There is a TREMENDOUS difference between abortion and abandonment, that I do completely agree with. Abortion terminates a life, whereas abandonment involves a human brought into full existence. I see abortion as clearly preferable to abandonment in nearly all conceivable cases.

I get the notion that women reserve the right to terminate pregnancies, whereas men lose control once conception occurs, and this leads me back to what I said up above about perhaps this leaving us little option but for women to return to being more discriminating with sexual partners and to become dedicated in their use of available birth control options if they wish to avoid undergoing abortions, or else get used to undergoing abortions if casual, unprotected sex is to persist. Apparently this is where we stand today.

That we devote this much time and energy debating the legality of these matters is what I’ve come to see as folly. Where is the moral consideration in people’s arguments? Has that dimension ceased to be important to some people, perhaps because we live within such a diverse social climate that morality seems too subjective to bring up in public debate?

“The Century of the Self”

This film is one of my personal favorites, offered by the BBC and titled “The Century of the Self”:

 

Key name to take away from this video: Edward Bernays, the grandfather of American public relations (a.k.a. propaganda) and nephew of Sigmund Freud. Very important information there that tells us so much about the last American century and how we as a people have wound up where we now sit.

Love = Respect, Care, Responsibility, Knowledge

Following is one of my favorite excerpts transcribed from Erich Fromm’s book The Art of Loving (1956).  Beginning on page 24:

It is hardly necessary to stress the fact that the ability to love as an act of giving depends on the character development of the person.  It presupposes the attainment of a predominantly productive orientation; in this orientation the person has overcome dependency, narcissistic omnipotence, the wish to exploit others, or to hoard, and has acquired faith in his own human powers, courage to rely on his powers in the attainment of his goals. To the degree that these qualities are lacking, he is afraid of giving himself—hence of loving.

Beyond the element of giving, the active character of love becomes evident in the fact that it always implies certain basic elements, common to all forms of love.  These are care, responsibility, respect and knowledge.

That love implies care is most evident in a mother’s love for her child.  No assurance of her love would strike us as sincere if we saw her lacking in care for the infant, if she neglected to feed it, to bathe it, to give it physical comfort; and we are impressed by her love if we see her caring for the child.  It is not different even with the love for animals or flowers.  If a woman told us that she loved flowers, and we saw that she forgot to water them, we would not believe in her “love” for flowers.  Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.  Where this active concern is lacking, there is no love. This element of love has been beautifully described in the book of Jonah.  God has told Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn its inhabitants that they will be punished unless they mend their evil ways.  Jonah runs away from his mission because he is afraid that the people of Nineveh will repent and that God will forgive them.  He is a man with a strong sense of order and law, but without love.  However, in his attempt to escape, he finds himself in the belly of a whale, symbolizing the state of isolation and imprisonment which his lack of love and solidarity has brought upon him. God saves him, and Jonah goes to Nineveh.  He preaches to the inhabitants as God has told him, and the very thing he was afraid of happens.  The men of Nineveh repent their sins, mend their ways, and God forgives them and decides not to destroy the city.  Jonah is intensely angry and disappointed; he wanted “justice” to be done, not mercy.  At last he finds some comfort in the shade of a tree which God has made to grow for him to protect him from the sun.  But when God makes the tree wilt, Jonah is depressed and angrily complains to God.  God answers: “Thou hast had pity on the gourd for the which thou hast not labored neither madest grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night.  And should I not spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand people that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”  God’s answer to Jonah is to be understood symbolically.  God explains to Jonah that the essence of love is to “labor” for something and “to make something grow,” that love and labors are inseparable.  One loves that for which one labors, and one labors for that which one loves.

Care and concern imply another aspect of love; that of responsibility.  Today responsibility is often meant to denote duty, something imposed upon one from the outside.  But responsibility, in its true sense, is an entirely voluntary act; it is my response to the needs, expressed or unexpressed, of another human being.  To be “responsible” means to be able and ready to “respond.”  Jonah did not feel responsible to the inhabitants of Nineveh.  He, like Cain, could ask: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The loving person responds.  The life of his brother is not his brother’s business alone, but his own.  He feels responsible for his fellow men, as he feels responsible for himself.  This responsibility, in the case of the mother and her infant, refers mainly to the care for physical needs.  In the love between adults it refers mainly to the psychic needs of the other person.

Responsibility could easily deteriorate into domination and possessiveness, were it not for a third component of love, respect.  Respect is not fear and awe; it denotes, in accordance with the root of the word (respicere = to look at), the ability to see a person as he is, to be aware of his unique individuality.  Respect means the concern that the other person should grow and unfold as he is.  Respect, thus, implies the absence of exploitation.  I want the loved person to grow and unfold for his own sake, and in his own ways, and not for the purpose of serving me.  If I love the other person, I feel one with him or her, but with him as he is, not as I need him to be as an object for my use.  It is clear that respect is possible only if I have achieved independence; if I can stand and walk without needing crutches, without having to dominate and exploit anyone else.  Respect exists only on the basis of freedom: “l’amour est l’enfant de la liberté” as an old French song says; love is the child of freedom, never that of domination.

To respect a person is not possible without knowing him; care and responsibility would be blind if they were not guided by knowledge.  Knowledge would be empty if it were not motivated by concern.  There are many layers of knowledge; the knowledge which is an aspect of love is one which does not stay at the periphery, but penetrates to the core.  It is possible only when I can transcend the concern for myself and see the other person in his own terms.  I may know, for instance, that a person is angry, even if he does not show it overtly; but I may know him more deeply than that; then I know that he is anxious, and worried; that he feels lonely, that he feels guilty.  Then I know that his anger is only the manifestation of something deeper, and I see him as anxious and embarrassed, that is, as the suffering person, rather than as the angry one.

Knowledge has one more, and a more fundamental, relation to the problem of love.  The basic need to fuse with another person so as to transcend the prison of one’s separateness is closely related to another specifically human desire, that to know the “secret of man.”  While life in its merely biological aspects is a miracle and a secret, man in his human aspects is an unfathomable secret to himself—and to his fellow man.  We know ourselves, and yet even with all the efforts we may make, we do not know ourselves.  We know our fellow man, and yet we do not know him, because we are not a thing, and our fellow man is not a thing.  The further we reach into the depth of our being, or someone else’s being, the more the goal of knowledge eludes us.  Yet we cannot help desiring to penetrate into the secret of man’s soul, into the innermost nucleus which is “he.”

There is one way, a desperate one, to know the secret: it is that of complete power over another person; the power which makes him do what we want, feel what we want, think what we want; which transforms him into a thing, our thing, our possession.  The ultimate degree of this attempt to know lies in the extremes of sadism, the desire and ability to make a human being suffer; to torture him, to force him to betray man’s secret in his suffering.  In this craving for penetrating man’s secret, his and hence our own, lies an essential motivation for the depth and intensity of cruelty and destructiveness.  In a very succinct way this idea has been expressed by Isaac Babel.  He quotes a fellow officer in the Russian civil war, who has just stamped his former master to death, as saying: “With shooting—I’ll put it this way—with shooting you only get rid of a chap. . . . With shooting you’ll never get at the soul, to where it is in a fellow and how it shows itself.  But I don’t spare myself, and I’ve more than once trampled an enemy for over an hour.  You see, I want to get to know what life really is, what life’s like down our way.”

In children we often see this path to knowledge quite overtly.  The child takes something apart, breaks it up in order to know it; or it takes an animal apart; cruelly tears off the wings of a butterfly in order to know it, to force its secret.  The cruelty itself is motivated by something deeper: the wish to know the secret of things and of life.

The other path to knowing “the secret” is love.  Love is active penetration of the other person, in which my desire to know know is stilled by union.  In the act of fusion I know you, I know myself, I know everybody—and I “know” nothing.  I know in the only way knowledge of that which is alive is possible for man—by experience of union—not by any knowledge our thought can give.  Sadism is motivated by the wish to know the secret, yet I remain as ignorant as I was before.  I have torn the other being apart limb from limb, yet all I have done is to destroy him.  Love is the only way of knowledge, which in the act of union answers my quest.  In the other person, I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man.

The longing to know ourselves and to know our fellow man has been expressed in the Delphic motto “Know thyself.”  It is the mainspring of all psychology.  But inasmuch as the desire is to know all of man, his innermost secret, the desire can never be fulfilled in knowledge of the ordinary kind, in knowledge only by thought.  Even if we knew a thousand times more of ourselves, we would never reach bottom.  We would still remain an enigma to ourselves, as our fellow man would remain an enigma to us.  The only way of full knowledge lies in the act of love: this act transcends thought, it transcends words.  It is the daring plunge into the experience of union.  However, knowledge in thought, that is psychological knowledge, is a necessary condition for full knowledge in the act of love.  I have to know the other person and myself objectively, in order to be able to see his reality, or rather, to overcome the illusions, the irrationally distorted picture I have of him.  Only if I know a human being objectively can I know him in his ultimate essence, in the act of love.

The problem of knowing man is parallel to the religious problem of knowing God.  In conventional Western theology the attempt is made to know God by thought, to make statements about God.  It is assumed that I can know God in my thought.  In mysticism, which is the consequent outcome of monotheism (as I shall try to show later on), the attempt is given up to know God by thought, and it is replaced by the experience of union with God in which there is no more room—and no need—for knowledge about God.

The experience of union, with man, or religiously speaking, with God, is by no means irrational.  On the contrary, it is as Albert Schweitzer has pointed out, the consequence of rationalism, its most daring and radical consequence.  It is based on our knowledge of the fundamental, and not accidental, limitations of our knowledge.  It is the knowledge that we shall never “grasp” the secret of man and of the universe, but that we can know, nevertheless, in the act of love.  Psychology as a science has its limitations, and, as the logical consequence of theology is mysticism, so the ultimate consequence of psychology is love.

Care, responsibility, respect and knowledge are mutually interdependent.  They are a syndrome of attitudes which are to be found in the mature person; that is, in the person who develops his own powers productively, who only wants to have that which he has worked for, who has given up narcissistic dreams of omniscience and omnipotence, who has acquired humility based on the inner strength which only genuine productivity can give.

[Bold emphasis mine.]

Stopping on page 30.

Feels important for me to return to this passage and re-read it from time to time.