“Russell Brand & Jordan Peterson – Kindness VS Power | Under The Skin #46”

Evening thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Maybe I will come to repent on certain matters. It’s a question of damage to souls.

Looking back, there are lots of reasons why, lead-ups and bad influences, and I’ll continue to take them into consideration when contemplating this matter. Not much more to say about them aloud though. Tired of my complaining anger. It was understandable at the time, but I’d really like to live the next half of my life without its bitter input. Scarred the mind, distorts the thoughts. Turns one into a full-grown problem child.

Amazing the webs we humans can weave for our own selves.

Civilization’s a hell of a drug. Plus, all this new responsibility foisted on all of us right as religions began dying. Interesting how that worked out. Though it probably couldn’t have been any other way.

To think that ideologies aren’t busily filling that vacuum is naive. Welcome to most-modern life. It’s bound to be a wilder ride.

It’s easy to get scared about the future, to feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful about what rights we may lose. Nervous about crime rates spiking. Weirded out by the extremist fringes on sex and race being paraded in the mainstream press as if heroic and prominently promoted in various colleges — only to then have their ideologies embraced by global tech-giants Google and Facebook.

Known unknowns of the future…

Don’t know what’s going to happen to us as a nation or as the West. I care very much, but arguing with people over it isn’t changing a thing. There’s gotta be a better way. Put our money where our mouths are and gets some skin in the game.

So modern civilizations are fucking us up? Some say so. I don’t doubt it so far as its alienation is concerned. But what it’s become isn’t necessarily what it must be. Is there not room for positive change, for better innovations and more sustainable, psychologically-healthier options? I think there is. Why not have faith in that possibility?

But nothing will come into fruition the way we’d like it to if we sit here wasting time bitching while taking no effective action. No, standing around with a sign or pressing the government for more laws to govern what we’re allowed to say to one another does not count as effective action. That is unless you’re in cahoots with the idea of expanding government’s power, which isn’t a smart move any time but especially now when major corporations have come to exert more control over our political system than the voters. Not a good time to call on government to start censoring us over our pet grievances. Not smart — it won’t stop there.

We American fiddles are played easily. Get us up in arms over this or that cause, getting us foaming at the mouth at one another and demanding new laws to set limits on one another down here on the ground. It’s almost as if we humans don’t know how to stay out of shackles. Can’t seem to learn that trick. Too easily persuaded to put politics before principles. That’s us. Welcome to it.

I’ve been chomping at the bit for years. As have bunches of people. Most probably haven’t fully figured out why yet. We get to focusing on our petty grievances, our personal life drama, our perplexing pasts and upbringings, political drama, social drama, TV drama, internet drama. Can distract us for years. Often does. Hard to not get caught up in these traps — maybe even impossible. We feud as if sectarians, as if the other has caused our current national situation. Not I. Never I.

Man, I get so tired of chomping on that bit, waiting and wondering, feeling so powerless to do anything about the state of the world, let alone figure out my own personal bullshit. Then an idea struck me, something I first looked into about 10 years ago. Researching those possibilities currently. Gives me a little more hope and reminds me that this game isn’t over yet. We still do have options, at least in how we choose to live out the lives we have. Might not be able to control the future, but perhaps we can add alternatives to the mix. And perhaps we’d be better off in doing so. Maybe we’d learn more tolerance for one another, learn to work with one another on projects of actual value. Real work and real living. Ten thousand communities going their own way. It’s a beautiful dream that isn’t dead yet.

Maybe through reconnecting with nature and the roots of our survival we’ll learn a thing or two about that which we call GOD in the process. Just maybe. And likely we’ll be better off for it.

We’re not dead yet. We’re not bought and enslaved yet. Our minds and bodies haven’t ceased functioning yet. Nor has our creativity, good will, and desire for community. There can be more to this life than what some of us experience.

Isolation has its limits. Alienation is soul-damaging. Bitterness, resentment, depression, envy, false pride, and procrastination are ruining our lives.

Love can find a way.

“Identity Politics & The Marxist Lie of White Privilege | Dr. Jordan B. Peterson | SNC 2017”

Tonight I believe I found the best speech thus far from Dr. Jordan Peterson:

“Joe Rogan Experience #1070 – Jordan Peterson”

What I’m listening to tonight:

One man’s struggle with quitting drinking

A timely video on the subject of one man’s struggle with alcohol addiction:

I relate with so much of what he said in there. Know the feelings expressed inside and out by now. The drinking game definitely does get weirder over time, as does the barscene. Weirder and scarier once you realize how much of a grip it really has on you.

That man’s name is Noah (a.k.a. BigNoKnow) btw. And here are a few other videos I watched by him today that share about his journey thus far, beginning with where he’d been sober for a year:

Going back 4 years, his dealings with relapses and trying to get sober:

His decision to start drinking again in 2016, with the goal of keeping it under control:

Brave of him to put all this info out on the internet so that the rest of us can observe and relate and hopefully learn vicariously. He shares some very raw details, particularly when it comes to his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. I very much relate with the feelings he expressed throughout, as well as being familiar with some of the logic he was operating with at various points. My own mind is an insane chatterbox too, and the thought of being trapped with it forever with no means escape is a daunting prospect.

Actually helped me today to stumble back across his channel. Watched a little from him in the past and was already subscribed, but then his 1-year sober video came up in my feed and gave me pause, leading to binge-watching a few of his videos this evening. Nothing better to do since I handicapped myself and am laying around feeling miserable today.

Daunting is the best word to describe how it’s making me feel on this day. So tired of this insane game — long past being fed up with it, and yet still playing it. We definitely are cruising toward a worse outcome. Seems inevitable. I feel super lucky that I’ve gotten by relatively unscathed as much as I have so far, but it’s always a gamble and not one I’m likely to beat all odds on indefinitely.

Anyway, just wanted to save his videos here.

The “black pill” of modern times

More and more I stumble across posts online referencing “the black pill,” which is to say acknowledging the futility of our modern crises when it comes to Leftist control over major institutions (academe, mainstream media, political duopoly party setup, etc.) and the average citizens’ seeming inability to effectively resist and fight back. And I understand the sentiments expressed and largely am of the same mind, though many tend to still cling to some idealized sense of hope that I personally have lost a grip on.

The dream being to “fight back,” to “overcome,” for “truth to win out in the end.” Sounds like something worth striving for, and indeed it probably is. BUT…with that said and accepted, I still get the strong feeling that this societal train (or global trend, to put it in greater perspective) is heading where it is whether a good many of us like it or not, regardless of how much we dig in our heels and attempt to resist and redirect its trajectory. Sound nihilistic? It does to me too, but I’m not seeing a way around this fate at present.

Of course stating that just winds up pissing everybody off, hence why I tend to keep such thoughts largely to myself or confined to this blog. My goal isn’t to come out telling people that their dreams will be dashed and that all hope is lost, because I’m not convinced that’s necessarily the case either. Instead my thinking leads me to the realization that the focus is better placed on the journey itself, the day-to-day living and unfolding, rather than the eventual outcome. Because the outcome itself needn’t negate the drive we possess within ourselves toward the formation of a more sane society (whatever that might turn out to be). The drive remains real and is rooted in our psychologies and is unable to be ignored and turned off without (further) dire consequences to us as individuals. We see evidence all around of the psychological harm being done to folks who willfully play ignorant, who allow their cognitive dissonance to go unexamined, to pursue power (via their special interest groups of choice) without concern about the likely fallout. In other words, we see the blackening of one another’s souls as we sell out and give up and try to escape into hedonistic distractions so as to avoid the reality we’re being presented with (and helping co-construct, actively or passively).

Makes it so easy to cast blame elsewhere, external to ourselves. Always this group or that groups fault, ultimately. If not for them we’d have peace on earth, right? But who grants them power? The rest of us. Even the powers-that-be on their own aren’t powerful enough to control us all without our cooperation, and we’ve given it to them. Why? Largely because we didn’t realize the game we were playing until it was too late. Misinformation is a bitch, no question about that. But we’ve opted to go along so as to get along. So as not to stand out and wind up hammered down. Forever afraid of losing what freedoms we still lay claim to…

Falsely believing that these “freedoms” can be protected at this stage in the game. Mere privileges are all they’ve become by now.

People tend to have to learn some things the hard way. The reality is that we don’t know what to do with the freedom we’ve got, so we squander it. But it seems to me that’s all this life is really about, figuring out about freedom and learning to live within it, to give it expression so as to grow and unfold and expand outward. Not necessarily to win some race in the end, to succeed (whatever “success” even means anymore). Sounds fatalistic? Well, it is, and so is life as a whole. Just the nature of the beast. Welcome to this tragic existence. Sorry you were misinformed about it and believed a rose garden lay in store someday. That’s just not the reality.

Living is suffering, and no matter how much we humans attempt to reduce suffering still it occurs. In fact, it seems we generate even more suffering in the First World despite all our fancy technologies and full bellies and warm homes. The suffering turns psychological when the physical needs are met. Such is the human condition.

People say we can’t carry on without a sense of hope. That’s probably true, but hope in what? Changing human nature? That won’t ever happen? Eradicating our species eventually? Seems that some are angling for that, probably out of loathing of what we are and how life is. Hoping to turn back the clock and return humanity to “traditional” ways of being? Good luck with that. Seems to me the genie is already out of the bottle in terms of Progress, and it won’t go back in. That’s the paradoxical nature of reality. And even if we bombed ourselves back into a stone age, I don’t doubt that humanity would work its way right back to the present conundrum in due time. Seems unavoidable, for whatever reasons.

Sometimes such thoughts do get me down. Certainly does appear to be a great time to not have children, at least from my view (the rest of you can do whatever you wish, and will obviously). But more and more it’s ceasing to depress me. Actually seems to open up possibilities and allows for the letting go of unrealistic expectations. Teaches me to stop taking life quite so seriously, despite the horror show that accompanies it.

I don’t have any answers. Just a whole lot of questions, few of which my fellow human beings are capable of answering satisfactorily.

The notion of Love appears to matter more now than ever. Agape, as well others forms. There’s a time to compete and a time to simply relate and experience.

People always talk about being afraid to speak up and out, to live authentically, worried that they’ll wind up stuck in a cage by the government or lose their jobs or wind up socially ostracized. All are understandable concerns that I too share to some extent. But the monotony of living pent-up within one’s own mind, of screaming inside while smiling on the outside to others, pretending…forever pretending and acting and putting on a show — all of that is quite alienating in its own right. What good is the job if it merely pays for a life that we’re profoundly troubled by? What’s the real difference between their cages and the one in our minds? What’s all this freedom really worth if we don’t know what to do with it and are so inclined to escape from it and the responsibility attached to it? Seems to me a lot of us are the walking dead already…

Fight, fight, fight. Resist, resist, resist. So as to do what? To keep those tyrants from tyrannizing us? Sure, okay, that’s understandable. The goal here isn’t to be so passive and tolerant that we wind up crushed by the agendas of others, since where’s the fun in that? But it seems, for all our talking…talk talk talk talk talk…that we’re too afraid or too unwilling to actually make great sacrifices for that which we claim to care about or are aiming to preserve and pass along. As if arguing alone ever resolved and defused a grab for power.

Is this really about power fundamentally? On some level, yes, it really is. Because some choose to make it that way, per their drives and aspirations and fantasies. Many of us take a self-defense position, just wishing to be left alone so as to live as we see fit so far as we’re not encroaching on others unlawfully. But then the laws change, the culture shifts, the goalposts forever move, and we lose ground to stand on. But arguing with willfully deaf people doesn’t alter anything. Some will hear and see only what they want to. Truly appears to be a form of hallucination, as Scott Adams remarked on recently. And what do you do with that? You think you can force people to see what you see? Force them to understand it as you do? Think you can reason with those whose life experiences differ so greatly and who adamantly refuse to seriously entertain anything you say or do or are?

But in fighting back, egos get wounded, which will then just fuel the resentment needed for the next generation to feel justified in striving for more power. Funny how that works…

I see no way out of that situation. So focusing on the eventual outcome seems like a moot point. Just a bunch of wishful thinking that humanity will dramatically change and come to its senses and cease these attempts at power grabs. Not going to happen. The technologies currently on the scene are indeed paving the way toward a totalitarian future, sad as that is to contemplate. Once again, I believe it’s a good time to not have children, because this is the world they will be forced to inherit, and how do you prepare them for that? I don’t know. Hard enough preparing oneself for handling this, even halfway through one’s lifespan.

So much can seem futile, but I believe that’s our egos and idealistic expectations fucking with us. Are there objective truths? There indeed seem to be, and figuring them out appears to be a better use of our time than trying to force a square peg into a round hole in perpetuity. Learning what our humans natures ARE and what they require so that psychologically we might remain sane and therefore construct and maintain sane societies seems like a worthwhile approach in this life. Because seem to grasp hardly a thing about that, important as it is. It points to the underlying reason why communism/”socialism” keeps failing and why capitalism can feel as though it’s stripping meaning from our lives. It’s the reason these power grabs go on and on, generation after generation, up through history and with no end in sight. And our ignorance in this arena is why ignorant, naive forms of idealism keep capturing the minds of so many and leading to ideological possession, especially now in the post-Religion era. Probably a good time to start exploring that realm instead of continuing bickering with one another over matters none of us individually has much direct control over. Even attacking the major institutions can’t alone resolve this matter, because others will surely fill any power vacuum created and then start paving their way to hell just as assuredly as those that came before did so, good intentions be damned.

It’s not what people want to hear probably, but it’s all I’ve got to offer at this moment. Right or wrong.

My reply on the topic of the “Unnecessariat”

I was sent a link to an article titled “Unnecessariat” by a youtube commenter who has asked me on a couple of occasions to address what was written. Not sure if the commenter was the original author of that article, but I did finally get around to trying to comment on it today on that blog, but for whatever reason it did not allow my post. So, I will post my thoughts here instead:


I was sent a link to this article and asked to comment on the condition of the unnecessariat (a designation I quite obviously belong within as well). Hmmm. What really can be said about all of this? It is true that times have changed and that nearly everybody wishes for a return to “the good ol’ days” but that it’s not going to happen (as the angry commenter above already explained). Is this a depressing reality? Sure. But must it lead us to drug abuse and alcoholism and completely giving up? NO.

Basically what you’re asking here is what’s the meaning of life, or what meaning can sustain a person through a decline with no end in sight. I guess the best place to look would be at the words of those historical figures who endured slavery and bitter poverty and the like to get an idea of what helped them to carry on. For many, it was a deepening sense of spirituality and connection with the Creator. For Stoics, it was adopting a simpler, more principled life so as to be able to appreciate the small pleasures that do exist despite the harshness of reality. That’s where I’ve been turning my attention in recent years.

I did notice the sentence in the article about “why they’re shooting drugs and not dynamiting the Google Barge” and while I can understand the anger it stems from, you have to remember that people make their own choices. Fight technology why? Fight the major corporations why? And the author also disparaged entrepreneurship, dismissing it as “self-rescue with unicorns and rainbows.” So you’re really leaving nobody any out here. I personally am self-employed and it suits me. Will such a strategy work into the indefinite future? Who knows? More importantly, why should I care? It allows me to live a simple life and get by, which is enough for now. Is the goal in writing this to incite people to blow up Google, and do you really think that will stop human progress? Do you really think that might reset everything back to times we like to romanticize about being simpler and more predictable?

The past is gone. And if ever humans manage to knock themselves back into a dark age where we effectively do reset our civilizations and have to begin building again, you can bet that eventually we’ll arrive right back at this point once again. Because that’s what humans do. It’s how we’re driven, right or wrong. Trying to fight all of this can wind up being about as useful as trying to fight the wind. Life’s not easy and there were never any promises deserving of being taken to heart that this project in living would all work out great in the end. That’s our own expectations fucking with us. Adaptation and/or utilization of the current power structures so as to effect change are our best options. Blowing the place up will only create a vacuum wherein another group of ideologues will rush in to fill the void, likely resulting in even more dire results.

Not saying that to sound apathetic, but I do believe it comes down to a question of what it is we’re really expecting in this life. To live on forever and ever in peace? That’s unrealistic. To believe we’re entitled to green pastures into the foreseeable future? That’s utopian. Sure, it’s understandable to not wish to be screwed by those who’ve grown most powerful, and we can work toward booting those people out of positions of power and figuring out how best to protect ourselves from such exploitation in the future. Won’t be ushered in via socialist utopian fantasies, though, that much I’m willing to bet. So, yes, in a real sense it is a “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” scenario. Because we humans have a tendency to both strive toward power as well as become corrupted, and that doesn’t change under a socialist setup either.

My own decision was to not have kids. People love to scream about how horrible the future is bound to be, and yet they keep churning out more kids who will be forced to confront these job and resource shortages. Seems folly to me. Perhaps this is a terrific point in history to forego having kids and instead of losing ourselves in drug and alcohol abuse actually do our best to educate ourselves about what is and what all has come before. Just so we can become better oriented in this life and therefore perhaps better capable of handling whatever is in store.

“Logic Is Not Enough”

From the Corbertt Report.

Sunday morning thoughts on that which we call God and the formation of hell on earth

A thought keeps returning to me lately. When in the Christian bible it is said that the meek shall inherit the earth, perhaps what that really means is that lower lifeforms will inherit the earth. Think plants, protozoans, and prokaryotes. (Or, thanks to human ingenuity, perhaps even nanotechnology.) The smallest of the organisms. That would make sense, when you really stop and think about it, considering how the cellular level always adapts and eventually triumphs over whatever we attempt. The microscopic evolve much faster than we do, putting us and other higher life forms at an ongoing disadvantage, with no end in sight.

Also, consider the scripture where it was said that lions will someday lay down with the lambs. Maybe by that what is really meant is that lions and lambs (e.g., higher-level lifeforms) will both succumb to death, as in going extinct as species. Just a thought…

Seems to me life is crazier than we can imagine and that it’s so obviously not constructed to cater to our human whims and wishes.

Was just listening to a youtuber Christian that I turn to from time to time to hear his commentary on current events. Today he was complaining bitterly about how stupid we human beings have become, how our civilization project has led us to become weak and incompetent, comparing us to modern farmed chickens and how far from natural they’ve strayed. What he’s pointing at there is domestication, and yes, we humans are subject to this as well, as should be apparent by now. Does it make us lazy and stupid? Yes. We too are far from natural in nearly every sense, having forgotten in a few generation’s time how to provide even the basics for our own survival. I’ve bitched about this plenty over time as well, noting how most of us nowadays only know how to wave around money, not create things of actual productive value. Sure, modern economics is largely to blame for bringing us to this point, and overpopulation, popular socialization, and increasing technological dependence will keep us here. Is this trend going to lead to human extinction? Perhaps. But such concerns no longer bother me much anymore. C’est la vie. Special as we are, we’re not above Nature. Though undoubtedly a few of us will brave the storm and survive on in the future dark ages. Maybe. Or maybe not, depending on the disaster(s) that befalls us.

I can understand people getting riled up over these topics, angry that we humans can’t seem to change course. But at the same time I also try to accept that we’re not as smart as we like to think, or at least we’re not as quickly adaptive due to our mega social/cultural/political/economic systems currently in place. The individual maintains more flexibility than the collective, yet we’re all absorbed in a major collective scheme at this point in time, whether we like it or not. Indeed, we will go down with this ship when the time comes because there is no alternative for most of us. I accept this and reckon I would be one of the first to go down when that day comes, assuming it’s a big catastrophic event rather than a lengthy decline (the latter seeming more plausible). Is what it is. I, for one, am thoroughly dependent on modern conveniences and technologies and can’t barely imagine life outside of them. Being subject to the elements directly and learning to hunt and gather when modern weaponry have run out of available ammunition strikes me as entirely daunting and best left to the survivalist types who train for such scenarios.

This is the downside of domestication. We grow increasingly dependent on the Systems humans have constructed. We know this, and yet some become very depressed when contemplating this reality. I used to as well, but then I came to see that that’s my expectations acting up. Rose gardens were never in the trajectory, much as we love to envision a utopian future. It’s just not realistic. Especially when you consider who are attracted to wielding such power over and within these Systems and how they tend to get there (hint: not through truly democratic voting into office).

Personally, I don’t wish to see the future past a certain point. Wouldn’t know what to do with it. Continually reconfirms my decision to not have children, having no way to prepare them for what’s to come. Just trying to imagine what 20-30 years into the future will hold is mind-boggling enough, based on my readings of where technologies are heading. Where others see possibilities and easier living, I see enhanced domestication and surveillance. That in no way warms my heart or makes me hopeful for my species, though I do aim to maintain an open mind since I have no way of truly knowing how it will all shake out in the end. Maybe we will get lucky and knock ourselves back into a stone age, that seeming to me to be a better alternative than winding up within intensely technologically-advanced totalitarian societies. The future looks very dystopian to me and has for a lot of years now, try as I might to imagine things working out more in the people’s favor.

Hence why I can’t stand these gender-bent movements and racial movements and other ideological oddities intent on separating us from one another. Just creates more suffering in the meantime, and very little of what they have to say is actually relevant in the big picture. Not really. Just keeps us blaming one another while our ship rocks and threatens to sink, as if that will change a thing for the better. Even our stupid political divides have come to look like nonsense to me over time. Corporate-backed teams with more in common than not, parading as if competing in our media circus. Just another smokescreen, another illusion that we all-too-willingly buy into.

So I guess when I think about these things nowadays, I’m overcome with the thought that we should probably make life easier on one another in the interim. Maybe quit paving the way to hell in our own individual fashions so far as we’re able. Cease blaming others who weren’t alive when the ball first began rolling and who individually have no more power than we do to stop it. Guess I’m taking more of a hospice outlook on life at this point, though I understand that simply making ourselves more comfortable isn’t necessarily the best idea either. But screaming profanities at one another constantly and casting blame wholesale and telling others to get off the planet certainly isn’t helping anything. Much as I don’t like the notion of coddling our illusions, I also take issue with the idea of stripping them from people and leaving them with nothing to believe in. Seems the latter will prove to be a more dangerous tactic, leading more into nihilism and a sense of despair and futility, which will only further paralyze people. That doesn’t sound like the right thing to do.

As I was talking about with a couple friends lately, everywhere I’ve explored has eventually wound me up at the same place, which is to go to God. And by that I do not mean religion, though I’m not exactly sure what it does mean. That’s just the feeling inside my heart and head more and more these days. Like this is too big for any one of us to comprehend and to take on, and perhaps we’d be better off giving one another reasons to maintain faith in humanity and that which is good and proper and reliable, rather than tearing it all down and leaving people with nothing to believe in. This is an intensely personal and emotional topic for me and not one that I typically care to speak about with others outside of my closest people, so I won’t run on much about it here. It’s just a recurring thought, a pull in a direction that I’m not yet able to fully grasp the meaning of but recognize it as significant. That which I call God isn’t what religions have taught about, though past people tried to point toward it to the best of their limited abilities. It’s incomprehensible in a way, yet very meaningful in Its reminder that life follows a “plan” we can’t control and dominate, try as we might. Perhaps referring to it as life’s “flow” is more accurate, though we tend to conceive of it as if it is a plan since we can note that its workings indeed do appear to have some sort of rhyme or reason. Just not in line with our human melodrama, which then perplexes us. I won’t pretend to understand It, and I certainly won’t attempt to articulate my thoughts about It beyond what I’ve said already since I’m not the one to attempt to do so. And that’s fine. Striving for a personal understanding is all one really can ever hope for, considering we can’t help but experience this life through our own subjective lenses.

As someone who hasn’t been religiously affiliated in over 20 years now, I admit that it feels a little weird to keep feeling this pull toward that which is greater than us, not knowing how to describe it or what it all may mean. Atheists and skeptics would look upon someone like me and say that I’ve grown scared enough that I’m just grasping for straws at this point, when in reality I’ve actually grown calmer through this process of exploration. I was far more scared in years past, back before I began to release my expectations and try to accept life simply for what it is, good, bad and ugly alike. That transition maybe was brought about originally through fear and fatigue from fretting, but I didn’t go searching for it so much as it just crept up on me over time. And I don’t know why or how or what any of it means, but I’m willing to listen to It and accept not having answers. Because there’s nowhere else to go, quite literally. So maybe it is some sort of figment of my imagination — that’s always possible. But perhaps it’s a useful one, far more so than all this bickering and team-joining and politicking and expecting humanity to find its way out of our myriad conundrums. I don’t think we can, not in the foreseeable future. And I do believe there are people poised and ready to take full advantage of whatever power grabs become available, because that’s part of human nature to do so. We’re not a good species, but we’re not entirely a bad species either. We just are what we are, complicated as that can’t help but be. Shortsighted and tribal, power-hungry and nepotistic, sometimes charitable but also unavoidably naive…and on and on it goes.

Seems to me there’s no good reason to loathe one’s own species, especially considering none of us are immune to its foibles and fallibility. This is who we are, right and wrong, and it’s what we have to work with. So many seek power over others, believing that to be supremely meaningful, but really it’s learning to exercise power over oneself that’s especially tricky. We’re not too good at that. Domestication may be partly to blame today, but this problem follows us back to the very beginning of human origins. It’s the perennial conundrum that most of us don’t even begin recognizing the importance of until we’re more than a couple decades into living and will struggle with for the rest of our lives. It’s certainly easier to deflect outward, to blame those over there for our problems, even those at the top, but really we’ve all been complicit in the games we play in this life. Whether we initially meant to be or not, we became so and remain so even after we start becoming aware of what’s going on. No political party or laws on the book can rectify this matter for us. It’s an innate flaw within us — just part of living as sentient life who are always growing and exploring and learning. Can’t be helped and can’t be altogether changed. So no, there is no utopian on the horizon, just more human errors in judgment and striving for power and popularity and playing of the games as have been set before us by previous generations. Plus more technological prowess that many of us don’t fully understand and that most of us will not be able to control.

And on and on it goes. Sometimes it feels very daunting to take in, but other times I feel relatively at peace about it, sad as it can’t help but make me. Am I still scared of the future? Sure. How could you not be if you’re really looking into what’s being developed and what ideologies are growing in strength and numbers? I worry a lot for my loved ones, but I take some solace in the fact that our lives will only last so long. Some say that’s pessimistic thinking on my part, but what really strikes me as pessimistic would be if we were designed to live 150 years or more. That sounds like hell on earth. Which gets me thinking about the reason why I lost my religion in the first place as a young teen: I couldn’t believe in infinite suffering in hell. That’s what broke me out of that faith originally, finding no answers to that question. And since then I’ve come to understand at least that hell is something we humans can create on earth, and I can’t help but believe that in the future we will construct a greater hell than has ever been known before. That’s not what I’d like to believe, but all signs keep pointing in that direction. Why? Because our good intentions don’t tend to jibe with reality, as has been proven time and time again, yet technologies can and will allow for the formation of far more invasive ways of life. And many people will embrace them, believing the hype and accepting the rhetoric claiming that these technologies will aid us in reducing waste and saving the planet/climate and becoming evermore efficient as societies and within corporations. People will believe it because they wish to, going back to that naivete mentioned earlier. And people will gnash their teeth and people like myself, calling us fear-mongerers and luddites and pessimists for not gleefully being on board. To which I say: we’ll inherit the life we deserve. So be it. We do not understand freedom and have shown nearly a fearfulness of it and the responsibilities it requires of us to maintain it. That much is clear by now. So we will get what we help bring about. Right or wrong.

I’m just grateful that life isn’t too long. Allows us to appreciate what time we do have and what people we’re lucky to know while alive. I can grieve for my country and my species in general, but it will change nothing. We’re an interesting lot, if nothing else. Life is indeed fascinating and mysterious, and I look forward to observing it continuing to unfold during my lifetime. I try to tell myself not to be afraid, that it’s just life and this is how it can go. That no suffering can go on indefinitely (though some torturers have demonstrated to the public that it certainly can go on far longer than one can sanely endure — hence our capacity for evil). Feels like a game of whack-a-mole sometimes where the objective for the average layperson is to not get shut up in a box somewhere, whether by a government entity or a crazed stranger or even in an abstract, ideological sense whereby the box is fictitious yet we treat it as if it’s real and keep ourselves within its parameters out of fear and/or obedience.

Life is crazy, life is mad. And it always will be, that much is guaranteed. But with the notion of God comes Love, and I think that’s of infinite importance right about now. Others in the distant past have said it’s true, but reality keeps demonstrating just how true it really is. But then again, that topic perplexes me too, so I continue to grapple with it, not comprehending what it’s even asking of me. Not known for being a very forgiving person myself, so I’m likely very limited in my understanding of what that all may mean. But I will continue to explore it, feeling that it’s very important and deserving of our dedicated attention and contemplation.

Makes me feel very humble reckoning with all this stuff, feeling like a little animal who’s just not competent to make sense of so much in this life. It can be very overwhelming, undeniably so. But I’m trying not to be paralyzed by reality so that I may participate in a more meaningful and productive fashion. However successful I prove to be at that is yet to be seen. My prayer today for all of us is that we be willing to reckon with all sorts of unknowns, particularly those which contemporary “wisdom” deems as off-limits, irrational, or otherwise heretical. I believe it will be good for us to do so, albeit difficult as well.

Book of interest: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” (my thoughts)

Today I began listening to the audiobook Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance and am currently on chapter 10, putting it on pause until tomorrow. Definitely speaks to my own spirit and life experiences, both directly and indirectly among people I knew.

To begin with, rarely have I heard of anybody else referring to a Memaw and Peppa. That’s what my stepdad’s parents were known as too. Memaw Allen we called her, and Peppa Pete we called him. Weird to write down those names now since I’ve long since switched to referred to them as simply Mr. and Mrs. Allen, having effectively divorced myself from accepting them as kin since back in my teenage years.

J.D. Vance’s description of his Appalachian Kentucky-rooted family shares similarities with what I’m familiar with in my section of the Deep South, though notable differences as well. Enough similarities though that his story really is resonating with me, reminding me very much of various family members, particularly my Papa (my maternal grandpa, not to be confused with Pepa Pete mentioned prior). Though I’d say that my own people tend to be a bit more conservative both in mannerism and political affiliation, as well as religious involvement. Interesting to observe the overlap between our two camps, not that it should be too surprising considering we share historical ethnic heritages (Scottish primarily). His people and my people came originally from the same regions of the United Kingdom at roughly the same time, belonging to the same socioeconomic class as well. Some went to Appalachia whereas others populated deeper parts of the South. The rowdiness he described there among his people is reminiscent of that which was described by Dr. Thomas Sowell in his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals, which also resonated with me. But the differences are worth noting here. He spoke of his people being Christian yet rarely attending church services, whereas many of my people remain lifelong active in their churches. He tells of his people voting Democrat because they were union folks and associated that political party with being for the working men, while my people viewed the Conservative political party as more beneficial for the working class, if only because they viewed government encroachment on their lives as doing more harm than good more often than not. Though I can see the commonality in the underlying political sentiments despite our camps belonging on opposite sides of the political divide, most markedly in their distrust of getting the Law involved in their personal affairs and vying to align themselves with the political party least likely to screw them and theirs over (though it appears we’ve all failed in that regard, both political parties demonstrating over time that they don’t give much of a damn about the working class aside from paying lip service to gain votes).

Parts of the book struck me as very funny, particularly when he described his grandparents hillbilly ways and inability (and/or unwillingness) to adjust to the established middle class norms and expectations in Ohio where they migrated to in search of jobs and an escape from Appalachian poverty. My Papa shared a lot in common with his people, from the gruff talk to the gun-toting, as well as the years of drinking and the damage that did to his family. But also the defiant pride and desire for your children and grandchildren to go to college so as not to have to work in laboring jobs like he and others in his generation had to. So much Vance said on all of that had me tripping down memory lane about my home county in Mississippi and various family members and neighbors. But we’re not hillbillies since we never resided in hill country — we were rednecks. Though I suppose to outside onlookers we all appeared to simply be “white trash” (a pejorative I do not like or accept being applied to my people).

Our stories differed in important ways, such as my mother thankfully not subjecting us to a carousel of husbands and boyfriends (to which I give credit to my stepdad for working with her as much as he did expressly to ensure that did not happen). And my mother never became a drinker nor a drug user (prescription or otherwise). Was just crazy in her own right, though not necessarily in a uniquely Southern/redneck fashion (we speculate it being due to brain damage likely experienced early in life during a car accident). But I knew those kind of people too. And I also wound up being raised largely by my grandparents and proved better off as a result thanks to the stability that offered. I also grew up hearing rough stories of violence and abuse, including episodes between my grandparents back when Papa was drinking. I can also understand the feistiness  among women that he described, though my own female family members tended to be a little more reserved about it than his. Among my people it was less acceptable for women to smoke and drink and curse like the men did, though some did anyway (myself included). And even among the men it wasn’t viewed as positive attributes to do so, the only exception being when they channeled their aggressive tendencies in the service for protecting the family. There is especially where I saw the women behave like junkyard dogs themselves, because all bets are off when it comes to defending one’s own. It’s a matter of pride and protecting, checking disloyalty and disrespect. And yes, it can go too far and wind up creating total chaos in some circumstances, which I myself have had to discover the hard way in my own behavior and reactions.

Perhaps that’s the biggest difference I noted there between our camps of people: self-control. Not that mine are terrific at maintaining self-control, but it’s definitely prized among them in many social situations. Because they deem it necessary for moving up in this world, though they too expressed feeling conflicted about it when it came to accepting poor treatment from others. There’s an underlying resentment toward those who look down upon you, who see you as nothing more than a member of a downtrodden class not worth much and treat you accordingly, leading to the manifestation of a great deal of class-related distrust (which I too continue to struggle with). On one hand they want you to do well in school so as to have greater opportunities, but on the other they don’t want you to get “too big for your britches” and forget where you come from and who helped you along the way. It does create a bit of cognitive dissonance within us to come up with so many contradictory messages. Want your daughter to marry well but then resent the man she does marry because he’s some highfalutin academic who doesn’t really with the rest of the family. Kind of sets up a no-win situation in a way. But that’s the way it goes. Probably has something to do with why I prefer to date working-class men — feels like there’s too much of a social divide between myself and my people and folks of middle-class origins for a romantic partnership to likely prove workable long-term.

In chapter 7 where J.D. Vance spoke of his Pepa dying, it really pulled at my heart strings. Especially when he stated that his Pepa died on a Tuesday and how that Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Tuesday’s Gone” played on the radio afterward. Was out walking in a neighborhood while listening to that part and had to turn off the audiobook so as to compose myself. Breaks my heart to hear of someone losing such an important father-figure while they’re still so young, he only being in his early teens by then. My Papa died 6 years ago when I was 29 and I still can’t barely talk about it without crying. Just can’t. Losing the big man in one’s life is a tragedy we don’t easily recover from apparently. In J.D. Vance’s case, it was so sudden with no warning, which is really sad. My Papa had cancer so we knew he was going down for a year and a half and tried to prepare ourselves for it, so much as one is truly able to do so. And I can understand how one wrestles with the memory of someone so important to them who also happened to have had drama with others in the family, largely due to his own doing through drinking and acting wrongly. You love him so much, and yet you can’t pretend he was perfect. We’re lucky in that our grandpas did change over time, they did both quit drinking (his in 1983, I believe he said; mine in 1990) and they sought to become better people toward their loved ones so as to find some sort of redemption. I think there’s a lot to learn from life stories like that, demonstrating that many people we consider good and valuable had to make a conscience effort to become that over time. They weren’t necessarily born that way, or their life experiences didn’t incline them toward a more noble direction originally. They had to make the choice themselves at some point, and often it comes after years of pain and strife created within their own families unfortunately. Pain likes to pay forward, and that can be a very difficult cycle to break. Speaks a lot to their merit as people, I would say. To come up in such rough circumstances, to fall into bad habits, and to eventually pull out of it. But we each wind up experiencing these events in life differently, especially us grandkids who weren’t yet alive for the worst of the storm.

He mentioned a book that really resonated with him that actually was about black people in urban areas and the problems they face. Many times I’ve noticed similar overlaps between members of the black community and my people as well. People like Thomas Sowell attribute that to a shared Southern culture, which I don’t doubt plays a role to whatever extent. But this is one reason why I find it difficult to view black people as if foreign, as if their community’s problems are entirely unique. There are similarities worth noting there, as I hope more of us explore in going forward since we’re all Americans here and share more in common than some may care to acknowledge.

When he spoke about his mom claiming her addiction was a “disease” I couldn’t help but cringe. He’s absolutely on to something when he stated that regarding addiction as a disease, while that may be somewhat true insofar as brain chemistry is concerned, winds up causing the addict to have less success in kicking the bad habit. It’s almost as if thinking of addiction like a disease winds up being some sort of crutch whereby one can dispense with personal agency, and that’s not a good situation. He spoke of his Pepa giving up alcohol after years of drinking without much fanfare or going to meetings, and my Papa handled it the same way. Yet I see so many out here returning to treatment facilities and turning to AA only to relapse again and again. But we’re not supposed to judge them because they have a “disease.” Yeah, a disease of the spirit, I’d say. An excuse to give up and give in to craven desires that destroy one’s life. It’s no good. Am currently 6 months into sobriety myself and while I’m proud of me, I’m very wary of myself also because I know me and I know the allure of alcohol and how much trouble it’s caused me and others. It’s an ongoing decision to leave that lifestyle and substance alone, one that has to be renewed with each waking day and bout of temptation. It’s not easy, but it is indeed a personal decision. A choice, ultimately. Yet some folks prefer instead to remain infantile and blame all off on external factors, as if the substance itself has the power to penetrate our bodies without our willful involvement. He has my sympathy in dealing with all of that. I’ve known many people who’ve had drug-addicted and/or alcohol-dependent parents and it sounds like a horrible way to come up. My former partner’s parents both drank (and still do) and I hear the resentment in him pretty frequently, reminded of the fighting and negligence. My ex-step-aunt and her husband were like that too, and it wound up producing nothing but carnage. Some people can manage their drinking and drug use better than others, but many can’t.

He spoke of his mom being unable to comprehend the significance of her father dying on her kids who viewed him as a father figure. Gotta admit, no disrespect intended toward the author (considering how sensitive he admits to being when it comes to his family), that level of selfishness burned my soul a bit to hear. My mother was like that in her own way, unable to comprehend how I could view her father differently than she did, she opting to blame everything in her life on him. And when he died, she didn’t attend the funeral and didn’t even so much as contact me or anybody else in the family. Asked her last year for the first time what she thought of his passing and she simply said she would not talk about it, so I dropped the inquiry. To her he’s a monster. To my aunt, he was her daddy but they grew apart emotionally over time, and I think she was bitter about that. To my uncle, he was a frustrating man but his daddy, and I think he has a lot of conflicted emotions too. None of them aired their grievances to him while he was alive, so now they’ll fester on, unresolved. Very unfortunate. But I can recall back when I was little and my grandparents were fighting for custody of me and I got caught in the middle and was made to choose on the spot between my mother and my Papa. I didn’t know what to do, being only 6 at the time, so I laid still until she began crying and walked away. In her heart I doubt she’ll ever let me live that down, and it still bothers me sometimes since I didn’t know what to do. I had to go with him — he was more trustworthy than her, more dedicated. Yet all she’s ever seen is her own view of him and her own sorrows from her upbringing, conveniently forgetting that she had a kid that had to be raised by them and who bonded with them. But in her warped mind, she just sees betrayal. As a result, I now see her as a lost cause. Like a perpetual child unable to grasp anything outside of her own perspective. Forever. No drugs or alcohol even needed to cause this to be the case. It is very frustrating to deal with, especially when you felt loyal to them all and loved them all.

I hate those memories. They always get to me, no matter how many times I’ve been over them in my head and recognize the situation for what it is. Left me feeling like the best way to stop this stupid cycle was to refuse to ever become a mother myself. Never wanted to let anybody down to that extent. Tarnishes one’s view of motherhood, whether we mean for it to or not. Some are able to overcome these types of upbringings and do better by their own children, which is good. But some of us think it’s best to withdraw from taking on such obligations, uncertain of ourselves in such a scenario and very wary of what the past brought. Guess we all must handle such matters in our own individual ways since there indeed is no one-size-fits-all answer to be found. That aggressiveness he spoke of I feel inside myself and express from time to time, always making me think that it wouldn’t be suitable around children. Not in this day and age, most definitely. Especially not outside of a tribe where such expressions are regarded as the norm, though even there it tends to prove dysfunctional. In my mind’s eye I can hear police sirens and crying, and I’ve never wanted any part of it, never wanted to bring children into such a life. Right or wrong, that’s been my resolve since I was young and remains so. Tangles my emotions to read or hear of parents fucking up, of children have to raise themselves and one another, of new men being cycled in and out of kids’ lives, of mothers who don’t understand the harm they’re creating, etc. Ugh…it messes with my head. Definitely stopped me in my tracks long ago, thank god. I just cannot imagine bearing the burden of bringing new people here and then winding up failing them. Yet, it goes on all the time…

Burden. J.D. Vance mentioned that word in reference to his Memaw having to raise him. I can most definitely relate with that. It’s quite embarrassing to feel like a burden on one’s family, so once again he and his sister have my sympathies on that. My Grandma would say things sometimes too, mostly when I was a teenager, like how she couldn’t afford me anymore. Hence why I kept moving around, trying to find ways to take care of myself so I wouldn’t be such a burden on her and Papa. Though I kept having return to her home, at least until I was old enough to attend college. Went into debt for it but never returned home to live again. Gave her and Papa money throughout my 20s in an effort to try to offset some of what they had to spend on raising me, as well as paying back what I owed her directly. Yet that feeling of being a burden hauntingly lingers on. I feel it with friends and loved ones even now sometimes. Live alone and try to be as independent as possible, yet still it lingers, whispering that if not for others I would be nothing and that I ought to find some sort of way to succeed so as to make it all worth it in the end. However success is to be defined here. Never do I forget where I come from or how much I am indebted to my grandparents for taking me in and providing so much love. Their commitment to me was a game-changer, no question. But I don’t wish feeling like a burden even on my worst enemies. Messes with the head and trains you to see yourself as a lesser-than, like a little parasite — needy. Because you can’t help but be needy as a kid. But when your own parents can’t or won’t take care of you properly, others have to, and that entails a sacrifice. I don’t know if it’s possible for such a realization to not color one’s outlook on life. But such is life. Guess it’s most important to take to heart what others have been willing to do for us and to carry that love forward in whatever ways we can. They made a choice because they love us, and I’m infinitely grateful for that. The alternative would’ve been to be perceived as a burden by people who didn’t give a damn about us, which would’ve been so much worse.

I know I’m rambling off on here a lot about my own people and upbringing, but this book tapped into all of that. And it’s a very good book so far. Very worthwhile. The author became a lawyer, so he really did manage to succeed. That makes me very happy for him. I look forward to continuing on in chapter 10 tomorrow.