Watching and reacting to Stefan Molyneux’s “How We Are Broken”

Stefan Molyneux’s video titled “How We Are Broken”:

Let me begin by stating I didn’t realize Stefan was sick until seeing this, and my heart goes out to him and his family. That’s a very troubling state of affairs to have to contend with, yet he still finds time to share his thoughts with all of us. That shows determination. [Edit in 2016: Do note that this guy turns out to be “sick” in more ways than that. I am no longer a fan of Stefan Molyneux and have been turned off on his material for a couple years now. He goes way beyond reason that I can back on so many levels that it has become extremely difficult for me to take him seriously. Just noting that since I’ve decided to let this post remain public. Watch enough of his content and see for yourselves. And look up Tru Shibes on YT while you’re at it for illuminating excerpts, then go to his original videos in question to place it in greater context.]

Pausing at 5:59, a thought that leapt to mind while he was talking relates with the story of Jesus. A few years ago I watched or read something where there was talk of the story of turning the other cheek being misunderstood in modern times. Now, I won’t defend this claim one way or another, but I found it very interesting that it was proposed that by turning the other cheek, rather than this being a purely submissive gesture, it was intended to allow aggressors to defile themselves. The claim was that back in the day there was a taboo over using the left hand while conducting certain activities, and doing so showed oneself to be base and primitive and basically uncivilized by standards of that society.

My immediate question upon hearing that claim was what if the aggressor backhands you with their right hand? Which likely would’ve been the case in a society where using the left hand for that sort of thing would be viewed by others as degrading your own self. According to some sources, it was common to backhand someone deemed to be a lesser, like a slave or child or wife, and that hitting with a closed fist was reserved for fights between equals.

What’s interesting here is the difference in context and how much that shifts the meaning of the message, at least in this one teaching. Also, let me say that I see there is much within the Bible that contradicts other parts or that appears barbaric compared against standards of today; plus, what’s been included and excluded from the Bible and how often it’s been altered over time — all of that undermines the reliability of that text in making sense of the context in which it was written originally. We’d have to learn to read Hebrew and become scholars of the Bible ourselves in order to gain a deeper understanding of the historical and social context during the rise of Judaism and then of Christianity. The inquiry remains quite obscure despite so much talk over it, and most of us base our opinions on what we’ve read in King James or newer versions of the Bible or on the claims of others going off limited information themselves. Common as it is for people to speak as if it’s granted that we know well enough about people 2,000-4,000 years ago, the reality is we do not. To delve deep into these religions and how they’ve transformed over time would literally require scholarly devotion.

So, going with my limited, unscholarly knowledge on the subject, I’ve read that such taboos did exist in first-century Palestine. And when we consider the passage in question, along with similar others, taking into consideration views from people who have investigated older versions of biblical scripture, the message seems quite clearly to not be asking us to submit to violent rule, per se, but rather to respond in a way that is neither passive nor violently retaliatory. Excerpts from a writer who discusses this can be found here (not that I’ve read more from this author than these excerpts, nor do I agree 100% with his position as stated — it’s offered as interesting food for thought).

Just felt like sharing that. Carrying on in listening to Stefan.

Children are born rational? Lost me on that one.

Parents pass their beliefs on to their children. That’s the way parenting tends to operate, though some do a better job of passing on quality principles, whereas others use religion and tales of fire and brimstone to command obedience for its own sake. But to say that parents do not possess the right to raise their young to share in their worldview is false, and this creates a tricky situation. I don’t know where the lines should be drawn, but I do know that outsiders, even the majority, do not reserve the right to dictate to all parents how they must raise their children. When we start talking like that, we forfeit any real notion of freedom. Now, I may agree that we can attempt to impress on one another when we do not agree with teaching and parenting methods, but can a reasonable person assert that children should be protected from enduring religious upbringings? What about healthy spiritual beliefs being handed down to children? Where could the line be drawn here? Are children to ONLY be raised in accordance with what’s scientifically-tested and child psychologist-approved?

See, as much as my own upbringing turned me away from wanting to have kids, it’s talk like that that weirded me out the rest of the way. Rights. How might we go about determining these rights are being violated, and then how might we react? Send in CPS and social workers to remove the children from their homes, even where physical abuse or neglect isn’t present? See, that’s where Stefan’s views really break with my own, and I can see the tyranny behind his message, regardless of what he may be envisioning. I understand his desire to protect children from unnecessary suffering and mistreatment, but it takes a leap of faith to believe public resources stepping in will much improve the situation in many cases. I understand he considers himself an anarchist who takes serious issue with our government, wanting to see it done away with altogether, but then who will then be made responsible for protecting children’s welfare? Will enough law enforcement remain intact to tackle this issue or will corporations step up to the task? And what does it mean to be free if the outside world has the ability to determine for you what is and isn’t taught to your own young children?

It’s a sticky debate, because we obviously do step in when abuse and neglect is reported, and perhaps that’s the right action (though sending kids off to foster care, where they face a higher risk of sexual abuse, comes with a host of problems all unto itself). But when it comes to teachings, words and ideas, religious or otherwise, can we claim it proper for adults to police each others’ “crazy shit”? When it comes to raising children, he argues the answer is yes, but I wonder how that could be enforced within a setup where all use of force is recognized as wrong.

In fact, I don’t comprehend his vision of a completely non-violent, non-forceful society and individuals therein. That strikes me as so non-human at its core, and I presume the means of achieving such a societal goal will require altering people severely in an attempt to fit this idealized mold. Because we’re prone toward violence and irrationality at times, and we do pass along our beliefs, whether right or wrong. How else do you get around this reality? How do we do away with all irrationality while retaining our humanity?

And how might we effectively deal with psychopathy and sociopathy without any use of force? I get that he’s hoping through changing our ways that we will create fewer psychopaths and sociopaths, but this assumes that all such ways of being are due to abuse or neglect, and that isn’t always the case. What about in cases of organic brain damage brought about through an accident? What about the child who’s abandoned during their fragile formative years by a parent who dies? (In that latter case, I actually know someone like that who was very young, maybe 3 or 4, when his mother suffered a brain aneurism while caring for him at home one day and died in his presence. It was hours before his father returned home from work to discover the situation. His father was never abusive, yet this boy grew up to become a pyromaniac and then a kleptomaniac, landing him in Boystown during his teenage years. I met him in his 30s and learned of the carnage he had done to everyone in his family and to his ex-wives and his children. Yet he was never a victim of abuse or neglect and had many opportunities afforded to him that he squandered, preferring instead to live as a predator on others. Just pointing out that even the best intentions don’t always produce a positive outcome, we being unable to control all possible variables. This man is a criminal, through and through, and always will be until someday he is stopped. That will require force. I’m not sure how to get around that.)

There’s a point where idealism loses me. I have trouble seeing as bad all that’s lumped into his categorization — to me there are so many shades of gray to where I’m careful to not paint all aggression or all forms of violence or even all existent forms of government as wrong and bad and needing to be completely done away with. It all depends, though I can see where philosophical guidance here is of the utmost importance. It’s just a matter of what philosophies we adopt and follow.

Personally, I cannot imagine a life free of every single form of coercion or force, and I’m not so sure I’d want to. But at the end of the day, it probably doesn’t matter. The future is coming regardless of what I or anyone else happens to think, and it looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better. That’s enough to say tonight.

“What Do Children Owe Abusive Parents?” (plus my Sunday afternoon thoughts on this topic)

This is Stefan Molyneux’s radio program on the topic “What Do Children Owe Abusive Parents?”:

Good topic that doesn’t come up very often. Few care to talk about it, and when they do, it’s frequently framed in terms of the grown child needing to forgive their parents and still provide for their care as they age. Arguments like that have bugged me so much, because truly, as the article Stefan was reading points out, there comes a time when we need to take care of our own selves and not risk being sucked back in to an unhealthy dynamic.

This is how I approach my mother now that she’s interested in sending text messages after nearly two decades of us barely speaking and very rarely seeing one another. And I’ve been given plenty of grief from others who don’t know the situation yet righteously declare that I SHOULD forgive her, I SHOULD work toward making amends despite her showing little interest in doing so over the years, that I should excuse her lies and unwillingness to take responsibility for her actions and just love her regardless.

Several times I did try going back to her, and every time she made me regret it by being rude and selfish like always. Back in 2009 I did sit down and write her an email outlining how I feel about her treatment toward me, and it was met with her typical denials and claims of not remembering this or that. My mother can change her story more than anyone I’ve ever met, and comes across as if she actually believes each contradictory tale, like she’s able to convince herself and rewrite history accordingly. But I was there and I grew up under the nonsense and haven’t forgotten. Each time she blows off my concerns or attempts to rewrite history to forever frame herself as the ultimate victim of everybody else, she makes it clear that no reconciliation is possible or worth pursuing.

Yet people on the outside, most of whom have never met her, still felt the need to tell me that I am now creating the problem by being selfish in keeping myself away from my mother. I am now the culprit who’s no better than her because I harbor resentment and pain that I can’t let go of. Ugh. People have said some downright nasty things to me on this subject, and again, these are relative strangers who may know me a little but who don’t know my mother. They’re operating under the assumption that a mother’s love is unconditional and always well-intending. But that’s not reality — that’s a mere fantasy people feed themselves in order to have something to believe in.

It was only a few weeks ago when I last listened to an older woman talk about how much disdain she has for this world and the people in it, stopping short of criticizing mothers’ love for their young, that being the one exception in this life that she personally appreciated. I did interject to say that even that isn’t perfect, which seemed to annoy her slightly. She serves as yet another example of people who willingly pull the wool over their eyes and tell themselves that a mother’s love is the last refuge in a world gone mad. But what if that mother’s love was absent? What refuge was there then? That question invites hostility from some folks, so I’ve learned to be careful treading there, preferring to not have to hear how out of line I am for suggesting that a mother’s love isn’t always pure and sacrificial and whole-hearted. Frankly, such talk makes me queasy.

Some mothers don’t care much about their young, and that’s a sad fact of life. Some mothers care more about positioning themselves financially than making sure their kids are properly cared for. Some mothers seem willing to forget they even have a child if they see him or her as a hindrance to them getting what they want. Some mothers throw their own kids under the train so as to save themselves. And some mothers choose favorites among their young, putting far more time and energy into those fathered by the new man in their lives, turning over to relatives the kids born out of wedlock from a time back before. Some mothers behave competitively with their young daughters, seeing them as rivals for attention, which can ultimately lead to tossing them out in order to punish them for the sin of making her feel jealous. Some of them laugh gleefully at the sight of their child’s pain and confusion, and rather than aim to protect them, they offer their young up to the wolves to be done with however they like.

My own mother wasn’t the worst of the worst, but she’s certainly an odd duck who formed serious resentment toward me soon after I was born. Of all the memories I have to reflect back on that pertain to her, more often than not I listened to her criticism of me, her laughter at my anguish, her dismissal of my need for her, and her complete ignorance of my own life story unfolding and her central role in it. She encouraged others to see me as “bad” and troubled as well, though always mindful of keeping the heat off herself in terms of responsibility as a parent. I came up understanding that I was a consequence of her frustration with her own upbringing and that I reminded her of a past she’d prefer to forget.

I grew up wondering why she hadn’t opted for an abortion when it appeared so obvious that she resented my existence. Her answer to that was that she wanted someone to love her unconditionally. And she got that, but it turned out to not be enough. I, forever the painful reminder than her life didn’t go as she’d hoped. I, the fatherless child who didn’t get along well with her husband and didn’t fit into the dream she envisioned for herself and her new family going forward. I, the remnant from a past better rejected and forgotten.

Just so happened that I also turned out to be flesh and blood rather than a figment of her imagination that she could turn on and off at will. And I grew into an angry, resentful young person who wound up making a lot of unsavory choices that she’s still in the dark about and doesn’t want to know. The sadness seeped deep into my soul and has never left me, not even as I now embark on my 30s. Melodramatic as it might seem to onlookers, I still can’t help but feel as if my existence is a problem.

I know, people will say that it’s time to get over it, time to move on, time to let it go, time to put on my big girl britches and accept that this is the way life goes sometimes. And I feel that I’ve done a lot of work on this throughout my 20s and am in a much better headspace at this point in life. Soon after turning 21 I moved farther away and created a life for myself without any of my family present to see me struggle. Worked through college and completed a bachelor’s degree, in part to prove to myself that I am capable of accomplishing something. Made my own money so as not to wind up at their mercy begging for a dime. Met a few people who turned out to be good friends over time, and thank God for them — they really saved me more than they will ever know, providing me with much-needed friendship and love that has radically altered my life and outlook. Seven years ago I moved farther away, and 5 years ago I created my own little business to sustain myself, which I continue to work at. Life is better. Even my stepdad and I learned to communicate and to treat one another like family after he and my mom divorced a little over a decade ago.

But still, there’s this feeling of being a waste, a problem, of living on borrowed time, and I can’t seem to ever shake it. People make it sound like you grow up and everything changes, as if a little age is all that’s necessary to set things right, but that’s delusional thinking. Pain can stick with you inside your heart, and I’m not sure how one removes it once it’s become fused in there from such a young age. One upside to this is it forces me to think deeply on how I’m perpetuating problems myself, even without meaning to, and what role I have in breaking cycles such as the one I grew up experiencing. This life has taught me the value of love and honest friendship, just as it’s also taught me about how wickedness beckons those who are hurting inside and wishing for a release or for someone to take it out on.

The past can’t be changed, and not all relationships can be salvaged, not even those between parents and their children. They say we grow to a point where we must pick up the reins to our own lives and direct this ship in moving forward, and this is true. But does it involve forgiveness? I can’t stand what Oprah and her ilk have done to the meaning of that word. Try as I have over the years, I am unable to forgive or forget. But at least the rage died down and I no longer feel something must be done to right past wrongs. Because there’s nothing that can be done, not at this stage in the game.

A couple years ago I took my boyfriend two hours away to visit my mother without giving her prior notice, fearing she wouldn’t see me if she knew I was coming. That was the first time she and I sat down in the same room together in … probably a decade or more. She behaved decently, and we agreed to communicate by text message afterward, and that’s all the contact we’ve had since. She’s never in all the years I’ve been away attempted to come visit me anywhere I’ve lived. She hasn’t picked up the phone and called me since the year 2001, and even then it was only to berate me because her marriage was failing once again. She doesn’t ask me what I’ve been up to or if I’m happy or how life has treated me. Nothing. Normally she just rambles a bit about her own day-to-day living and that’s about it. Might occasionally mention something my brother is up to. And that’s the extent of our relationship.

In the past I’ve told my brother that I won’t be helping out in caring for our mother as she ages. He didn’t seem to like that idea, but then again, he and I couldn’t have been raised more separately. He was afforded a life very different than my own, so it is up to him if he feels the need to someday provide for her. As I’ve explained to him, my (maternal) grandparents were the ones who made the sacrifices on my behalf and they were the ones who took me in when I had nowhere else to go and was being threatened with being warded to the state. I’ve committed to them, now having experienced my Papa passing away, with a part of my heart remaining standing at his bedside, and I’ll continue to do my best for my Grandma. Because they loved me, imperfect as they might’ve been — they sincerely loved me. What goes around comes around. It takes love to generate more love. Those who’ve loved me I am indebted to. Those who did not and who instead made life harder than was necessary because they wanted someone to blame or to make fun of — those people can remain going their own way. I may miss them, but that’s just the childish instinct within us all that calls out for our mothers — it can’t be helped.

What can be helped are the choices I make in my own life, in terms of whom I surround myself with and where I focus my energy. That’s my power, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to listen to anymore from people aiming to shame those of us who came up experiencing upbringings that don’t fit with their ideals. Didn’t fit with my ideal either, but such is life. What more can be done? At this point we try to pick up the pieces and do what we can to create a new life with value and meaning, one in which we do matter and where relationships are reciprocal and where we remind one another often, through actions and words, that we love each other.

Come a long way and still have a lot farther to go, but at least now there’s some sunshine and a greater sense of belonging. Everyone needs to feel they belong somewhere. I’ve created a new family of my choosing over time which includes my friends and select family members, and this is much better. I won’t pretend everything is rosy and that I’ve fully arrived, because it isn’t true. I continue to struggle with accepting real intimate bonds, and I’m having to relearn ways of coping since what I relied on for many years there turned out to be self-destructive. I continue battling impulsive behaviors and aggressive tendencies. But at least there appears now to be some light at the end of the tunnel. All is not lost.

Thoughts on American criminality

Just a thought. What do you suppose a “criminal” is? A law-breaker, yes, but why? Because they won’t conform to standards written into law. And why is that? Because they’re all simply a bunch of thugs?

Well, I think there are a few reasons as to why. One important one is that there are too damned many laws on the books criminalizing so much of our behavior to where undoubtedly we all break laws and likely routinely. Misdemeanors maybe, but still. The point is it’s difficult living tightly restricted, and it triggers rebellious instincts in some of us.

Which leads me to the second reason which is that it is my belief that some of us are wilder than others, and by that I’m talking in terms of being “primitive” vs. properly domesticated by the new standards being set. It asks of us to be completely nonviolent and even hold back on displays of affection. It asks of us to accept employment conditions that are weird and not in most people’s best interest outside of the immediate concern with earning an income. What’s deemed acceptable and legal labor is another matter riddled with contradictions.

We’re asked to live as wage and debt slaves, to entertain ourselves through life, to think positive thoughts about the future, to trust two political parties that are obviously out of control, to trust that lawmakers have our collective best interest at heart (despite them not even reading what they’re signing into law), to believe that science from here on out will solve all of life’s problems and mysteries and that machines are preferable to human labor due to efficiency given the top priority. We’re asked to accept so much bullshit, and for what?

Some buck back. Some live under the radar so much as they are able. Some prefer not to have the IRS all up in their business (and those who need the IRS up in theirs are major corporations who are given the green light to pay the lowest percentages). Some are just tired of this society and all of its games and hogwash, and they just want to live out their days unplugged from as much of it as possible. I can’t blame them.

Then there’s the people who actually deserve to be labeled as criminals, and they include murderers (without warranted cause as in the case of self-defense), rapists, child molesters, thieves (but even there we get into some gray area over what constitutes private property in all cases, because we live in a time when biological material is being patented by major corporations charging a fortune for access to needed information; also a time when wealthy individuals and major corporations have the ability to buy up huge amounts of land and dictate how its resources are used, even when the resource in question is water — they claim ownership of it — and THEN they go far enough to pressure lawmakers to pass restrictions on residents collecting rainwater).

But anyway, I digress. Other criminals include pyramid schemers and corporate crooks (white-collar criminals rob people of FAR more money than all black-market-level thieves combined), those who seriously abuse and use others, arsonists, bribe-accepting politicians, embezzlers, and who else am I forgetting? Basically people who demonstrate a complete lack of regard for being responsible for seriously harming others. How that’s being defined and carried out today though is a far cry from what would be suitable and sustainable.

Now nearly anyone can wind up labeled a criminal, without even knowing it. And some people just accept that this is the way life goes and that all laws shouldn’t be followed, because not all laws are created equal. How much respect do we really have for the fool who abides by laws that work against his well-being? Or the laws that aim to determine his or her private and personal affairs? Or the laws that tell us what we can or cannot do with our own bodies? We realize law-makers can be wrong.

It’s kinda like being labeled as poor — over time you grow used to it and it no longer seems all that degrading. Who’s a criminal? According to how shit’s set up today, we all are. And personally, I don’t grasp the big pull toward being more law-abiding, because right about now is when our resistance is needed. Unless you’re interested in more bullshit. Because that’s what’s coming. More restrictions, more laws, more rules, more governance, more micro-managing, and more hostility and resentment as a result. Sound like fun to all of you?

Apparently most folks don’t mind, or at least they’re more worried about escaping negative consequences than stepping up or truly going their own way. If “your own way” is the same way as the status quo, does it make sense to claim it as your own?

There are dangerous criminals out here in society, that’s a given, but we see law enforcement efforts being directed toward busting people for growing weed in their basements and for older teenagers dating younger teenagers. Really people? That’s why we deserve to be taxed as much as we are? That and to fund neverending war.

Why do I even tease myself with believing people are interested in regaining the reins here?

Time for bed.

Friday night movie: “Citizen Ruth”

On the menu for tonight was the quasi-comedy “Citizen Ruth”:

Available for instant viewing on Netflix.

All in all, it was worth viewing and humorously sums up the reality of the abortion debate situation, which is that many have lost sight of the actual people involved due to being blinded by political and/or religious agendas. Some people are better off not bringing (more) kids into existence, and pro-life sentiments do nothing to assure the well-being of fetuses in utero. That much we know to be true.

Flow: For Love of Water

“Flow: How Did a Handful of Corporations Steal Our Water?”:

More information on this film can be found on its official site.

We Enablers (Monday evening in May rambling)

If Americans, feminists in particular in this instance, cared so much about the conditions confronting Arab and African women and children, we wouldn’t be allowing our government and military to bomb and invade them. Because witnessing your child getting caught up in the crossfire isn’t exactly an improvement on living under patriarchal command. Neither is seeing your home and city be reduced to rubble. But we don’t care all that much apparently. Popular as it is to chat about the horrors of genital mutilation (god awful as that reality indeed is), for most folks living far removed from “those people” it’s more about philosophical and theoretical arguments, not actual human beings and not trying to get down deeper to the bottom of what’s happened to humanity. Because if we dig down deep, we come up with blood on our own hands too. We American women are not innocent, we’re not mere bystanders. We’re voters and tax-payers—in other words, we are enablers.

Breaking these chains requires placing the focus on oneself and recognizing the carnage we help perpetuate. In coming to terms with our own selfishness and greed, with our own fear and cowardice, our own lack of concern and our failures and shortcomings, we come to see how easy it is to be swept with the tide and to wake up one day in a world we do not recall co-creating. But we were there, standing idly by, entertaining ourselves with the latest fashions and bickering over the news of the day. We use the stories of distant people to bolster our arguments with one another, sheltered oceans away and content to remain blissfully ignorant of what all is being done in our names to them. Much better to keep the focus on the other guy, on some stranger we can stereotype and make light of, to distort distant people’s reality into an abstract exercise for our own amusement. Because if we really did care, we’d ask what it is we’re doing (or not doing) that is grievously harming others, and we’d take individual action to rectify these wrongs, by whatever means we are able. Right?

But no, it’s much easier to finger-point and to argue from comfortable perches.

We don’t care because we don’t know what it’s like, we can’t relate, our imaginations being so warped and narrow. For all the heinous shit we can imagine, it’s apparently too much of a stretch for us to see ourselves in the role of predator unto others, whether that be directly or indirectly, intentionally or inadvertently or due to a lack of curiosity on our parts to seek out the truth wherever it may lie. One such truth is that we each are working to pay taxes that fund our military machine that is directed by politicians (whom we also elect to power) who belong to parties that are bought and paid for by major monied interests who push to carry out agendas devoid of any regard for those unlike themselves, which is nearly all of us throughout the world. In this game, humans are treated like pawns, and we are rendered completely disposable and interchangeable. Yet we fund this scheme, unwittingly perhaps, believing there can be no other way and that it is outside of our control, as if we are barnyard animals caged in by electric fencing, awaiting our day to be led to slaughter.

Cowards, that’s what nearly the whole lot of us are. We’re accepting life lived on our knees, preferring to remain alive at all costs, even if that means selling our souls completely and watching hell on earth unfold all around us. We talk the big talk and we butt heads over this or that piece of legislation, but then tomorrow we’ll rise and shine and head to work so as to generate more money to feed the beast that’s killing in our names. We’ll bitch and bicker over how many cents on the dollar we’re earning compared to him or her while sipping our mochas and shopping online. We’ll gripe about common courtesies and hurl undue insults at one another, then return home to cook dinner and to snuggle up to our pets, flipping on the television and tuning out. The media doesn’t report on much of the mayhem done in our names anyway, and if it does there’s always CSI or Jersey Shore to retreat to.

And as we snuggle in at night under blankets sewn by serfs in China, we’ll take our Lunesta so as to bypass the dreams of how our time on this planet may be better spent.

Nevermind. Just roaming thoughts of a woman sitting in her Taiwan-manufactured computer chair, ruining her lungs with smoke, sipping water out of a plastic bottle, waiting for the clock to roll around to the time for my next job appointment. Hypocrisy-in-action?

A better use for feminist angst?

Was just chatting on the phone with a guyfriend when an idea struck me. I may have come up with a useful outlet for all this pent-up anti-patriarchy energy in my country. Consider this. Here in America we have many, many women highly upset with what remains of our patriarchal history, venting frustration over full 100% equality not having come into complete fruition as of yet. Despite several decades worth of feminist efforts, many feminists apparently remain nonplussed, arguing that something is still holding them back from whatever ultimate goal they envision for this society.

When arguments over gender matters arise, there’s the typical litany of examples of inequalities, including pay differentials and various other statistics. But also within these arguments there’s a good bit of talk about the patriarchal mindsets that maintain a stronghold in cultures outside of the U.S. Much arguing and finger-pointing ensues, using the Middle East as an example of the prevalence of male domination. BUT, what are Americans to do about practices occurring outside of our borders? How is it our responsibility to change people’s minds and lifestyles abroad? And especially how is it the fault of American men, or white men in particular, that men of other colors elsewhere on the globe are perpetuating patriarchy of old? Yet this is how the blame-game goes, and it’s proving very unproductive and disruptive in today’s society, particularly when the focus is on matters outside of our direct control.

Well, I gave this about 15 minutes worth of thought this afternoon and think I’ve come up with a plan for feminists who are truly sick and tired of the patriarchal past lingering on in modern times. Why not head to these countries in the Middle East and Africa and unleash that aggression on a source better deserving of it? Witness a man caning a woman in the street? Shoot him. Learn of an abusive husband mistreating his wives and kids and keeping them slaves in their own home? Abuse him. Ya know, give the men who behave like this a taste of their own medicine. This serves as a three-fold solution where American feminists (and Canadian and British and whoever else cares to join) can take a proactive stance going up against the very men they take most issue with, thereby dispensing justice where it arguably belongs and protecting vulnerable Middle Eastern women that Western feminists seem to care so much about, all while allowing feminists to put their aggression into purposeful use likely to bring about greater change than bickering online and pushing for evermore laws in the U.S. I see this as a potential win-win situation.

Now, granted, it would be tricky, and there’s no guarantees these feminists would prove successful, so they’d need to be smart and very cunning in their tactics. They could first take the opportunity of trying to reason with Middle Eastern men face-to-face, not that I believe that will wind up doing much good. But it’s worth a try before resorting to violence. Because many feminists seem to be holding onto an idealistic approach to solving gender relations, they might first try the tactics attempted here in the U.S. to see if they can make any headway, such as setting up shelters and attempting to work with Middle Eastern women to encourage them to join in taking a proactive and rebellious stance against this outdated form of subjugation. If and when that fails, it’s time to move on to plan B. I imagine that weaponry will be an indispensable asset in that phase of the initiative, because men do typically possess greater physical strength capable of overcoming unprotected women.

What’s great about this plan is that it brings academic theory down to the ground, so to speak, forcing it to contend with practical realities. Many American feminists shun the notion of using firearms, which strikes me as very stupid indeed if your ultimate goal is to protect yourself from rape, beatings, and other attacks. By heading to a country like, say, Saudi Arabia and learning how men get away with what they do in that country, it could prove to be a valuable lesson in how one utilizes their power in an effective response. The beauty of firearms is they are a great equalizer — no matter how brawny or beastly a man may be, he will still succumb to fire power. And the pulling of a trigger is so easy a child can manage it, as is commonly known. This is what makes weapon technology so impressive and incredibly useful in the modern world — because anyone can use it, not only men.

Feminists could take a firm and direct stand against that form of tyranny and free women of those countries to engage in lives that they determine on their own accord, not merely those chosen for them. Female and male genital mutilation could become a thing of the past. And the women of these countries might be impressed to learn that women can mobilize and respond with lethal violence in response to unwarranted male violence. Might give them a few role models to look up to, especially in the next phase where governments and laws are altered to declare women as possessing rights that have historically been denied to them.

If nothing else it would be a valuable learning experience on how power actually works, not only within “civilized” and centralized societies but within countries where a willingness to fight dirty has a greater influence than words. It’s an opportunity to take what academe in the West has taught and to see how far it can carry you when it comes down to the nitty-gritty side of life. Because I’m willing to bet many feminists would be radically transformed themselves to where they no longer placed so much value in social theories concocted by tenured professors living in the comfort of secluded American suburbia. This would demonstrate to women what they are really made of, what they are actually capable of, and they would see that they are not simply put on this planet to look pretty and to spend money on unneeded consumer items and to run our mouths without lifting a finger to take affirmative action.

Lastly, this would prove to be an alternative to enlisting in the U.S. military where women aren’t really wanted. They’ll recruit you, but they tend to resent you being within their ranks, as if that’s not readily apparent by now. Feminist women could opt to form their own militia and to root out men who endanger and suppress the possibility of the sexes coexisting in an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation for what each brings to the table.

Much progress has been made in the U.S. in terms of laws on the books intended to protect women’s interests, so at this point we in the U.S. need to shift our focus toward the sexes working together and seeing the value in one another. This necessary phase in our own social development is being obstructed by angry feminists intent on picking fights with men and pushing for more and more oppressive laws that invite our government increasingly into our personal lives, homes, schools, and workplaces. This is unacceptable and is breeding deep resentment that will likely result someday in a backlash if we do not change course immediately. By encouraging angry feminists to utilize their aggression and hostility in a more proactive way and direct it toward those who are openly and proudly upholding the patriarchal past, it shifts their focus from every man they come into contact with here in the U.S. and onto men deserving of more attention elsewhere. Again, a win-win situation potentially, assuming these feminists could carry out their plan with an eye toward justice and fairness tempered with mercy, as we’d expect from any ethical being.

It’s just a thought. beamup

On the question of freedom — an excerpt from the book “I and Thou”

Recently finished reading the book I and Thou by Martin Buber (1958) and I’d like to transcribe a little, beginning on page 51:

Causality has an unlimited reign in the world of It. Every “physical” event that can be perceived by the senses, but also every “psychical” event existing or discovered in self-experience is necessarily valid as being caused and as causing. Further, events to which a teleological character may be attributed are as parts of the unbroken world of It not excepted from this causality; the continuum to which they belong certainly tolerates a teleology, but only as the reverse side worked into a part of causality, and not impairing its continuity and completeness.

The unlimited reign of causality in the world of It, of fundamental importance for the scientific ordering of nature, does not weigh heavily on man, who is not limited to the world of It, but can continually leave it for the world of relation. Here I and Thou freely confront one another in mutual effect that us neither connected with nor coloured by any causality. Here man is assured of the freedom both of his being and of Being. Only he who knows relation and knows about the presence of the Thou is capable of decision. He who decides is free, for he has approached the Face. 

The fiery stuff of all my ability to will seethes tremendously, all that I might do circles around me, still without actuality in the world, flung together and seemingly inseparable, alluring glimpses of powers flicker from all the uttermost bounds: the universe is my temptation, and I achieve being in an instant, with both hands plunged deep in the fire, where the single deed is hidden, the deed which aims at me—now is the moment! Already the menace of the abyss is removed, the centreless Many no longer plays in the iridescent sameness of its pretensions; but only two alternatives are set side by side—the other, the vain idea, and the one, the charge laid on me. But now realization begins in me. For it is not decision to do the one and leave the other a lifeless mass, deposited layer upon layer as dross in my soul. But he alone who directs the whole strength of the alternative into the doing of the charge, who lets the abundant passion of what is rejected invade the growth to reality what is chosen—he alone who “serves God with the evil impulse” makes decision, decides the event. If this is understood, it is also known that this which has been set up, towards which direction is set and decision made, is to be given the name of upright; and if there were a devil it would not be one who decided against God, but one who, in eternity, came to no decision.

Causality does not weigh on the man to whom freedom is assured. He knows that his mortal life swings by nature between Thou and It, and he is aware of the significance of this. It suffices him to be able to cross again and again the threshold of the holy place wherein he was not able to remain; the very fact that he must heave it again and again is inwardly bound up for him with the meaning and character of this life. There, on the threshold, the response, the spirit, is kindled ever new within him; here, in an unholy and needy country, this spark is to be proved. What is called necessity here cannot frighten him, for he has recognized there true necessity, namely, destiny.

Destiny and freedom are solemnly promised to one another. Only the man who makes freedom real to himself meets destiny. In my discovery of the deed that aims at me—in this movement of my freedom the mystery is revealed to me; but also in failure to fulfill the deed as I intended it to be—in this resistance, too, the mystery is revealed to me. He who forgets all that is caused and makes decision out of the depths, who rids himself of property and raiment and naked approaches the Face, is a free man, and destiny confronts him as the counterpart of his freedom. It is not his boundary, but his fulfillment; freedom and destiny are linked together in meaning. And in this meaning destiny, with eyes a moment ago so severe now filled with light, looks out like grace itself.

No; causal necessity does not weigh heavily on the man who returns to the world of It bearing this spark. And in times of healthy life trust streams from men of the spirit to all people. To all men indeed, even to the dullest, meeting—the present—has come somehow, naturally, impulsively, dimly: all men have somewhere been aware of the Thou; now the spirit gives them full assurance.

But in times of sickness it comes about that the world of It, no longer penetrated and fructified by the inflowing world of Thou as by living streams but separated and stagnant, a gigantic ghost of the fens, overpowers man. In coming to terms with a world of objects that no longer assume present being for him he succumbs to this world. Then smooth causality rises up till it is an oppressive, stifling fate.

Every great culture that comprehends nations rests on an original relational incident, on a response to the Thou made at its source, on an act of the being made by the spirit. This act, strengthened by the similarly directed power of succeeding generations, creates in the spirit a special conception of the cosmos; only through this act is cosmos, an apprehended world, a world that is homely and houselike, man’s dwelling in the world, made possible again and again. Only now can man, confident in his soul, build again and again, in a special conception of space, dwellings for God and dwellings for men, and fill swaying time with new hymns and songs, and shape the very community of men. But he is free and consequently creative only so long as he possesses, in action and suffering in his own life, that act of the being—so long as he himself enters into relation. If a culture ceases to be centred in the living and continually renewed relational event, then it hardens into the world of It, which the glowing deeds of solitary spirits only spasmodically break through. Thenceforth smooth causality, which before had no power to disturb the spiritual conception of the cosmos, rises up till it is an oppressive, stifling fate. Wise and masterful destiny, that reigned, in harmony with the wealth of meaning in the cosmos, over all causality, has been changed into a demonic spirit adverse to meaning, and has fallen into the power of causality. The very karma that appeared for the forefathers as a charitable dispensation—for what we do in this life raises us up for a future life in higher spheres—is now recognized as tyranny: for the karma of an earlier life of which we are unconscious has shut us in a prison we cannot break in this life. Where hitherto a heaven was established in a law, manifest to the senses, raising its light arch from which the spindle of necessity hangs, the wandering stars new rule in senseless and oppressive might. It was necessary only to give oneself to Dike, the heavenly “way,” which means also our way, in order to dwell with free hearts in the universal bounds of fate. But now, whatever we do, we are laden with the whole burden of the dead weight of the world, with fate that does not know spirit. The storming desire for the salvation is unsatisfied after manifold attempts, till it is stilled by one who learns to escape the cycle of births, or by one, who saves the souls, that have fallen to alien powers, into the freedom of the children of God. Such an achievement arises out of a new event of meeting, which is in the course of assuming substantial being—out of a new response, determining destiny, of a man to his Thou. In the working out of this central act of the being, one culture can be relieved by another that is given up to the influence of this act, but it can also be given new life in itself alone. 

The sickness of our age is like that of no other age, and it belongs together with them all. The history of cultures is not a course of æons in which one runner after another has to traverse gaily and unsuspectingly the same death-track. A nameless way runs through rise and fall: not a way of progress and development, but a spiral descent through the spiritual underworld, which can also be called an ascent to the innermost, finest, most complicated whirlpool, where there is no advance and no retreat, but only utterly new reversal—the break through. Shall we have to go this way to the end, to trial of the final darkness? Where there is danger, the rescuing force grows too.

The quasi-biological and quasi-historical thought of today, however different the aims of each, have worked together to establish a more tenacious and oppressive belief in fate than has ever before existed. The might of karma or of the stars no longer controls inevitably the lot of man; many powers claim the mastery, but rightly considered most of our contemporaries believe in a mixture of them, just as the late Romans believed in a mixture of gods. This is made easier by the nature of the claim. Whether it is the “law of life” of a universal struggle in which all must take part or renounce life, or the “law of the soul” which completely builds up the psychical person from innate habitual instincts, or the “social law” of an irresistible social progress to which will and consciousness may only be accompaniments, or the “cultural law” of an unchangeably uniform coming and doing of historical structures—whatever form it takes, it always means that man is set in the frame of an inescapable happening that he cannot, or can only in his frenzy, resist. Consecration in the mysteries brought freedom from the compulsion of the stars, and brahman-sacrifice with its accompanying knowledge brought freedom from the compulsion of karma: on both redemption was represented. But the composite god tolerates no belief in release. It is considered folly to imagine any freedom; there is only one choice, between resolute, and hopeless rebellious, slavery. And no matter how much is said, in all these laws, of teleological development and organic growth, at the basis of them all lies possession by process, that is by unlimited causality. The dogma of gradual process is the abdication of man before the exuberant world of It. He misuses the name of destiny: destiny is not a dome pressed tightly down on the world of men; no one meets it but he who went out from freedom. But the dogma of process leaves no room for freedom, none for its most real revelation of all, whose calm strength changes the face if the earth: turning. This dogma does not know the man who through reversal surmounts the universal struggle, tears to pieces the web of habitual instincts, raises the class ban, and stirs, rejuvenates, and transforms the stable structures of history. This dogma allows you in its game only the choice to observe the rules or to retire: but he who is turning overthrows the pieces. The dogma is always willing to allow you to fulfill its limitation with your life and “to remain free” in your soul; but he who is turning looks on this freedom as the most ignominious bondage.

The only thing that can become fate for a man is belief in fate; for this suppresses the movement of turning.

Belief in fate is mistaken from the beginning. All consideration in terms of process is merely an ordering of pure “having become,” of the separated world-event, of objectivity as though it were history; the presence of the Thou, the becoming out of solid connexion, is inaccessible to it. It does not know the reality of the spirit; its scheme is not valid for spirit. Prediction from objectivity is valid only for the man who does not know presentness. He who is overcome by the world of It is bound to see, in the dogma of immutable process, a truth that clears a way through the exuberant growth; in very truth this dogma enslaves him only the more deeply to the world of It. But the world of Thou is not closed. He who goes out to it with concentrated being and risen power to enter into relation becomes aware of freedom. And to be freed from belief that there is no freedom is indeed to be free.

Let’s stop there for today, on page 58. That was a very timely piece that I’m glad to have just now reread while transcribing. Let it be known that I type up pages from books for others to enjoy, but mostly I do it for myself, to force myself to go over the words more carefully and to more deeply consider the content.