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.

“Jordan Peterson LIVE: 12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos”

His 4th appearance on the Rubin Report:

White nationalists worry me too

Just finished watching a couple videos by the youtuber Braving Ruin where he was discussing identity denialism and critiquing how individualism went wrong. He’s a smart guy with a different vantage point who offered up plenty of food for thought. But as I keep looking into videos like his and those from Millennial Woes and similar, and also read the comment sections, I’m left with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Especially when folks get to talking about how mixed people can’t understand their positions and are basically left in outfield in these discussions. Indeed, I do feel as if I’m unwanted by all who take such positions. Such talk makes me nervous, very much so, because they speak of those of us who happened to be mixed with a type of degrading pity, as though we don’t belong, as though we’re somehow not real Americans who care about Western cultures. And that’s neither fair nor accurate.

That right there is the type of shit that has always boiled my blood when going up against white supremacist types. I’ve met them down South in the past and on a few occasions up here in the Midwest. They’re the ones who felt it was perfectly legitimate to call me out (when I was much younger) in front of people and state loudly that I am not “all white,” as if that were a putdown. I recall one such episode when I was a teenager in my hometown in Mississippi very clearly. But it didn’t get to me much at the time since most folks didn’t treat me poorly, so I chocked him up to being some random asshole. Now I’m seeing these random assholes appearing regularly online and chiding others in similar ways. Their message invariably is that because we’re not “all white” that somehow that means we’re defective, unwanted. But where do they imagine we’re supposed to go when this is our home and all we’ve ever known too?

Someone in a comment section tonight brought up a few good questions pertaining to this inquiry, asking why mixed people would want to support nationalistic agendas framed in this sort of way when it’s pretty obvious that eventually we’d be discarded by such a movement. We don’t fit their demographic criteria, no matter what’s in our hearts and minds, no matter how we may choose to live, no matter how much pride we might feel for this country (despite criticizing its shortcomings). Someone like me would be a FOOL to support an ethno-nationalist agenda — I’m well-aware of that fact and always have been.

But then I also get torn because all of my family is white (with a little Native American mixed in for good measure) and most of my friends are also white. And since I care about them I want to see them be okay in the end ultimately. That pits me and my own interests against those of my loved ones, though I know that none of my loved ones support an ethno-state and don’t believe in such divisions according to race. But this sort of ideology itself aims to pit loved ones against loved ones, don’t you see? It’d be asking my Grandma to turn her back on me, which she would never do. And it’d be asking me to separate myself from my closest friends, which I’d rather die than experience. Absolutely serious on that point. My friends and family mean the world to me, they are all that keeps me sane and I would completely lost without them. So to think of some crazy ideology wishing to separate people based on something so arbitrary as race alone is just sick. Deeply disturbing.

Yeah, I’m getting emotional on this topic tonight. Been emotional the last couple of days already, but this one really hits a nerve. It’s been tough enough coming up the product of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, born to a woman who wasn’t really suited to motherhood, and thereby winding up being raised a good bit by my grandparents. I’m very grateful for the sacrifices they made in taking me in when I needed them most. Hate to imagine how life might otherwise have gone. My Papa and my Grandma represent what blood and soil means for me — and understanding that cuts straight down to my core, needing no explanation to strangers. My love with them has always been fierce and I pity the son of a bitch who’d ever aim to divide a family’s love just because somebody isn’t “white enough” according to their standards. Ya know, I grew up feeling like a burden and it’s given me a complex that I haven’t been able to shake to this day, and it makes me awfully sad to think that there’s a growing number of people out there who’d agree with that sentiment based purely on some blood differences. Not even cultural differences, not national differences. Just some fucking blood, some genetic material that only ever can lead us to generalized assessments of groups, saying very little about each individual therein.

I’ve told myself over the years that I ought not feel like a lesser person than others, that I have as much of a right to walk this earth as any of them do. And it’s true. Just as it’s true for all of you (save for those who forfeit that right by exterminating others unlawfully). We were born and we’re now here whether folks like it or not. Regardless of how much some might like to wax poetic on topics of ethnic pride and homogeneity. Sure, we do differ, but that’s true intraracially as much as interracially. Go read about it. I’m sure Dr. Charles Murray could explain it you.

Then I get to thinking about my best girlfriend (American of German and Swedish descent) and her Mexican husband and their mixed kids. They have a good family, and may they never be parted. To look upon them as a union that should’ve never taken place sounds to me like blasphemous thoughts. How dare you. Seriously. How dare someone concern themselves with matters that are truly none of your fucking business. Love trumps such nonsense. As it should. Thank God for that!

Yet these same people so often call themselves Christians. That hypocrisy is one reason I prefer not to live down South anymore. Yeah, I said it and I meant it. Though I recognize the Midwest has their fair share of jerks and tools too — at least up here people are more inclined to keep their opinions to themselves on such matters. Keep it behind closed doors and among close friends at least. Unlike some of the loud-mouth Southerners I’ve encountered who just can’t control themselves when it comes to blabbing about shit that doesn’t concern them. From other people’s religions (when it’s not affronting your own), to their sexual preferences (when it’s not impacting your own), to their family situations (as if you all came up perfectly!), to their race and the race(s) of their loved ones (which in no way directly affects YOU). I’ve long since been sick of it. And it makes me feel guilty still after all these years when I get irate at my fellow Southerners over this age-old bullshit, but oh well. Sometimes it needs to be stated aloud. Seeing as how they’re so notorious about not keeping their damn mouths shut, then maybe they deserve to get an earful back every once in a while.

But this isn’t about Southerners specifically…those are just my own past demons flaring up. Living among them just taught me originally how sick I am of such mindsets and solidified why I refuse to join suit. Not that it would make any sense if I tried. Because here’s the thing: when it all boils down to blood, there’s absolutely nothing you can do or say to change the situation. Can’t erase one’s genes. I could probably lie about mine, but why do so? Why should I have to? For what? Shouldn’t have to lie just so as to live in peace without being harassed by idiots and assholes over matters that shouldn’t concern them.

Though I can hear it already, from the peanut gallery that is emblazoned within my imagination, that these people DO see themselves as affected by persons like myself and unions like my friend has with her husband because we’re all part of this society and can’t help but be impacted by its decline. To which I’ll argue that the decline isn’t a result of people loving one another. Quite the contrary. Seems to me a big reason for the decline is all the divisiveness being sown. Which politicians just adore partaking in. Which we idiots on the ground can’t help but lap up.

Sure, there are real general differences among groups of people. And some perhaps will deem it impossible to live together, to which I say “bye.” Go wherever you’re going then. But that doesn’t entitle you to try to remake this entire society in your idealized vision. No. Certainly doesn’t entitle you to speak of doing violence against people just because you think the races ought to all be kept separated. Such talk is bananas and will be fiercely resisted. For all the wannabe nazis out in the crowd, there’s a whole lot more reasonable and sane people. The latter just happen to have better things to do than engage in battles of the wits with dumbasses online. People like to talk down about the so-called centrists out here, but I’d say don’t sell them short. They’re the many, and while they don’t get as crazy about politics as the nutjobs tend to, that doesn’t mean they’re a bunch of timid lambs waiting to be led to slaughter. Most of my closest people don’t care all that much about politics, but they do care about self-defense and they care a WHOLE BUNCH about their families, friends and neighbors.

I really shouldn’t let this junk get to me, but more and more people keep speaking as though they take these narratives seriously. As if they’re waiting for severe enough economic problems to arise so that they can take advantage of the situation like the opportunistic cockroaches that they are. America was never a white nation. We are indeed a melting pot. Hell, you’d have a hard time finding a white American who isn’t mixed with various European ethnic lineages. Not as if “white” were some sort of monolith. No. We’re all a bunch of mutts. And I imagine this trend will only continue, much to the white nationalists’ dismay. So be it.

If they were really serious, they’d focus more on preserving Western cultures, histories and ideals, instead of placing so much emphasis on race alone.

Race alone doesn’t tell you much about a person. As if we all haven’t met retarded jackass white people. Or retarded jackass black people, for that matter. Or retarded jackass native American people. Or retarded jackass Hispanics. Or retarded jackass Arabs. And I’m willing to bet there are even retarded jackass Orientals as well. ha

As if we don’t know this. As if somebody’s skin color alone is enough to make us want to have something to do with them, no matter how poorly they behave or how they treat us. Because someone’s white doesn’t guarantee they’ll behave loyally toward you any more than it guarantees a non-white won’t. Some out here like to say that individualism has become a problem, that we’re all off living in our little unsustainable bubbles but will eventually be made to recognize the importance of group identities. OK. But there are FAR better bases for forming group identities than race. Or sex/gender, for that matter. Whatever happened to those principles conservatives claimed to care about??

Just gotta remind myself that life is a shitshow sometimes. Not much can be done about that. And we humans aren’t as evolved as we like to think we are.

Shit like this gets me feeling like a misanthrope, like I can’t identify with any of the options being presented, nor do I want to. Want to love the ones I’ve got and do my little part in not horrendously fucking things up so far as I am able, and then not leave descendants to have to deal with this nuthouse.

Individuation process vs. hiding within collectivistic identity-based movements and groups

My thinking seems to oscillate daily. Sometimes I get irate over racist extremists — like black supremacists and their push for “communalism” (“one mind, one choice” to quote Latausha Nedd, a.k.a. Eye Empress Sekhmet) and outright rejection of individualism. As was the case yesterday. Then the next night rolls around and I realize just how much they’re fighting an uphill battle, not against white people or society but again Nature unto itself when it comes to trying to staunch and reverse humanity’s gravitation toward individuation. It’s where humans have been heading for the last few thousands of years and it won’t cease just because some ideologies wish for it to. In fact, those ideologies are destined to fail and cause grave destruction on account of going against the natural flow in trying to force human groups backward into outdated modes of existence. Won’t work. Hasn’t thus far. The 20th century demonstrated how devastating attempting to go down that path will be, and the 21st century will prove it again if enough feel so inclined to keep trying to force a square peg through a round hole.

It’s foolish to think we can return to the past. Not possible. Yet it remains popular for people yearn for and romanticize past epochs, believing life to have been simpler then and people to have been kinder (at least within one’s own tribe). We infuse these dreams of the past with magical properties, and then take the view that we have fallen from the grace they represented. That’s the interesting thing about dreams and imaginings — we can concoct them any way we wish. Their adherence to factual reality is irrelevant to us. We gaze fondly upon an imagined past most likely because we’re so uncomfortable with the uncertainty of the present and the future. And that too is a natural inclination.

When I refer to us humans as a bunch of modern-day Luddites, I’m only half joking. We really are, and it’s understandable in a sense. And because of this we’re keen on seeking out someone or something to blame: God, other races and groups and nations, modernity itself, other political camps, influential philosophies that we take issue with, etc. This is all part of the reckoning process that comes with living, especially in such drastically changing times. Lifestyles of a century ago are so foreign to us that we cannot relate, and because of this we get to thinking we’ve been robbed of something precious. Well, we have lost what once was, but, in turn, we’ve also gained what now is and what perhaps may someday be. Everything in life involves a trade-off, whether we like it or not. And Life doesn’t consult with us on whether we’re cool with that — it simply rolls on and we either learn to roll with it or get dragged along. Right or wrong, that does appear to be a fact of life.

On hearing that I’m sure some folks will dig in their heels all the more and proclaim someone like me to be jaded, overly cynical, even nihilistic perhaps. They may think I’ve given up hope, which is not the case. I’m just coming to terms little by little with what’s in my control and what isn’t. The past most definitely isn’t. Though you and I can impact the present and possibly the future as well. So that’s where I am being called to turn my attention, having long been one of the most stubborn Luddites out here who also liked to entertain dreams of what may have come before and harbored resentment over it being wrested from us. I too have been angry over so many things and cast blame in various directions, and still do at times. But, little by little, I’m starting to see this world a bit differently along with my role within it.

The individuation process is very necessary. Consider it the next big leap in the evolutionary progress of humankind. Another step in our progression away from pure animality and primitive sapienhood. Of course the process is painful and trying — when has living and growing not involved suffering? Suffering actually appears to be fundamentally necessary here, prompting expansion of one’s mind and empathetic reflections to enhance relations with other people and the world at-large. Don’t take that in the lovey-dovey sense, as if I think we’re all going to come together and sing kumbaya anytime soon. No, I’m referring to alterations to how we view and live in the world and communicate with one another, which are all forged through trial and error and many hardships and pain and sorrow that can lead us toward a greater consciousness and appreciation for Love, connections, critical inquiry, and grasping what’s of real value.

But this path I speak of is a lonesome valley. Can’t be any other way. People are trying (unconsciously or sub-consciously) to seek refuge in groups and movements and identity politics in an effort to avoid this path and all that goes with it. You can run but you can’t hide. There is no past to retreat to. It’s no more than a fiction in our minds at this point so far as retreating is concerned. Yet people keep trying to go that route, perhaps more and more nowadays, probably because they’re growing all the more terrified with life and where it might be headed. As is understandable, to an extent.

“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself” is an empty platitude that is often repeated but rarely heeded. Why? Because we’re all scared. Very difficult not to be. Uncertainty terrifies us, as does suffering. As does unfolding our own individual potential — that too scares us terribly for some reason, perhaps more than anything else. Maybe because it can’t help but be such an intensely solo (thereby lonely) project, not to mention fraught with worries over being judged by others for whatever fruits we attempt to produce (whether we fail or succeed). Fear of personal failure, especially while observed by others, is huge. And then there’s this nasty requirement that we put in so much effort and learn to turn away from unnecessary distractions (plenty of which we find entertaining). Beyond that, I wonder if it also has something to do with appearing naked in front of our Lord/creator (metaphorically speaking). The group, the hivemind, is a place of refuge not unlike a forest where we appear to be just one tree among many. To stand alone is to stand judged, and that’s a mightily uncomfortable proposition for anyone to contend with. Doesn’t sound like something most of us would willingly sign up for, and many of us therefore don’t.

But life has a way of forcing our hands. One such way, so it appears, is hiding within a group or movement until it grows strong enough that it becomes a monster in its own right that devours a good many of its own as well as those it stands in opposition to. Then all those individuals hidden out therein wind up with a bunch of blood on their own hands (assuming they survive and aren’t one of the ones targeted by the beast of their own making), which they then wind up judged for. Possibly for generations to come. They may cry out that they themselves, individually, were innocent and did not envision nor endorse what the beast eventually became, but others will mock them as cowards and pretenders in response, and rightly so. You built up that aggregated beast through your own individual efforts and contributions — that was a choice. Perhaps it was the easiest choice at the time, but it remained a choice nonetheless. To have otherwise faced scorn and ridicule, rendered alienated or been effectively deserted or maybe even targeted for attack and possibly killed — STILL it was a choice. Because the decision is difficult and the consequences potentially dire does not negate the fact that a choice was made.

So people can wind up tainted by the sins of that which they help create and build up and attempt to hide within, or we can risk being tainted by the sins of our own direct doing without a refuge to obscure us and our activities. Many of us prefer the former since if we do indeed prove to be wrong, the blame and shame winds up distributed among all involved, lessening our own sense of culpability (and/or public witness of it) via camouflage. Seems like a good plan, until it isn’t. Great consequences can be meted out to those deemed responsible for horrific wrongdoing, plenty of which are psychological in nature. And those who truly weren’t comfortable with the direction their organization was heading but who remained involved just the same wind up tarred and feathered along with the rest in the aftermath. No pity shown for them either because they chose to go that route. Here we can reflect on how societies across the world today view the German Nazis and the Russian Communists and the Chinese Maoists of yesteryear — still unforgiven (and unforgivable) decades later. And on and on it goes…

But one doesn’t hide within one’s race unless one makes a conscious identity of it. Because others attribute unwarranted characteristics to you based on your race doesn’t make you automatically guilty. There is a difference between what one is and can’t change and what one chooses to partake in (like an identity-based movement).

Either way, we will potentially face scorn and hardship and blame, no matter who we are. Attempting to hide within a human-made forest won’t change that, nor will standing alone on one’s own merit. BUT at least when one goes his or her own way and grapples with life in an authentic fashion, we’re hiding less from ourselves and others and thereby are capable of learning and clearly observing what will and will not work (assuming one’s goal is to be fruitful, and by that I mean honestly productive, e.g. life-affirming in orientation). Obscuring such truths only prolongs the process and the accompanying pain inherent in it. So taking the easy way today might very well lead to much greater long-term suffering for oneself and/or our descendants (those we claim to care so much about).

No group/movement is capable of instilling these truths into the minds of its members. Each individual has to reckon with and come to terms with what is and what is not on his or her own. Nobody else on earth can do it for us. If one opts to tune out and refuses to explore and examine information for oneself, then potential growth will be stunted for that particular individual, with no one else possessing the power to change that fact. If we choose the less studious route and allow a group or movement to indoctrinate us with talking points in place of real information that we have fact-checked and quibbled over, then we’ve allowed ourselves to be misled. That is one’s own responsibility since we are our own gatekeepers as adults. And if that group/movement we’ve chosen affiliation with goes into beast mode and creates havoc, we deserve our fair portion of the blame for having provided it fuel to grow and become what it has.

At bottom, there’s no way to escape personal responsibility. Try as we might to fight it and run from it, we’ll keep being returned to face this human truth. Again and again and again. Until we learn it and strive to act in accordance, it will continue being Ground Hog Day on this planet — repeating the same mistakes over and over with painful consequences that provide an opportunity for reflection, introspection and personal growth. It is ultimately our choice on what we each decide to do. If people prefer to create hell on earth by refusing to come to grips with this, then hell we shall have.

There are rules that are beyond our making but that must be lived in accordance with if we’re to ever transcend our current conundrums. I’d like to tell you that I’m sorry for this, but actually I’m not. It’s just life. Is what it is, and that’s okay. I happen to find it very interesting and awe-inspiring, albeit unnerving and very tough to come to terms with each step of the way. My prayer for others is that they too come to embrace Life’s wonder and strangeness without letting too much fear and pressure from other humans get in the way of exploring the possibilities. Take care.

“‘PRO BLACK’ IDENTITY EXTREMIST” (a message from TheMadHeadDoctor)

I’ll copy and paste what I stated in his comment section:

You’re right. Unfortunately the consequences of those black folks who choose to behave like major jackasses online through celebrating injuries to cops and increasingly calling white people “nonhuman” while not calling out pro-black icons like Latausha Nedd WILL VERY LIKELY wind up distributed across and/or impacting all black people in this society. Seems virtually impossible that that won’t be the case, particularly when it comes to shifting public perceptions as is already underway.

People out here are admittedly getting scared whether we care to openly state it or not, so more will start turning toward the police for protection (as well as employing more self-defense measures), because average citizens fear the Law and police far less than they do black extremists posing as potential threats. Some will blame it off on “racism,” but it’s primarily rooted in fear and a desire for safety, not ill will against black Americans as a group. But if things keep heading where they look like they’re going, there will inevitably be a backlash from on high. A nation can’t be expected to accept all of this lying down, but in the end we’ll [ALL] lose since, like you mentioned, the government will utilize this opportunity to further encroach on the rights of all citizens that much more.

It’s an unnerving scenario unfolding, but I don’t know what to do. The polarization appears hell-bent on continuing, and is being stoked along by outside forces as well. It truly is as if people don’t give a damn, like they think this is a joke and can’t comprehend how much tensions are escalating. Nihilism…

 

Resentment, oppression and examining one’s dark side (quick clip from Jordan Peterson)

His lecture content remains highly relevant and is freely accessible for those curious enough to take time with what he’s sharing. His full lectures are available on his YT channel.

Evergreen’s Educational Model (Weinstein / Heying Interview)

Part 2:

That was an interesting conversation to listen to. Helped change my opinion a bit, based solely on what I’ve read and heard online about Evergreen State College this year. Helps me to realize that the way the curriculum was structured there wasn’t in itself the problem and actually sounds rather nice for non-traditional students. But indoctrination can happen anywhere, and like they acknowledged, perhaps the environment structured within Evergreen allowed it to be taken a bit farther than we might expect in other institutions of learning because the students spend so much more time with a particular professor. If that professor happens to be Naima Lowe, well, then Houston we have a problem.

Good conversation overall. Interesting to learn more about Bret Weinstein and his wife (and fellow professor).

Ideological craziness as exemplified by Evergreen State College

More coverage (click here and here for more background info on this topic) on what’s been going on at Evergreen State College up in Olympia, Washington, where a portion of the students and staff have decided to increasingly push a super-divisive, Leftist narrative wherein white folks are othered on the basis of simply being white (because of “eurocentricism” and “white privilege” being viewed as a perpetual threat to minorities) and ridiculed accordingly and where police are automatically rejected and demonized as racist and oppressive and also where very loud and obstructive protests are encouraged at every opportunity. Yet what they’re demanding exactly isn’t clear. They just wish to push this new narrative and switch up the power roles as they perceive them to be at present.

A student at Evergreen State College, Benjamin Boyce, who graduated last semester has documented much of what’s been going on there lately.

Faculty and students finally began publicly speaking back to this movement:

And lastly, an informal interview with Professor Bret Weinstein who was targeted at Evergreen back in the spring:

Also, thanks to all the chaos, controversy, and blatant disrespect fomenting on that college campus, Police Chief Stacy Brown decided to resign. And can you really blame her? I would’ve too. Life’s too short to put up with working somewhere where you’re obviously unwanted and are restricted by the administration from doing your assigned job.