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.

Sunday morning thoughts in mid-May

Been doing a bunch of thinking lately. Been also thinking about what a woman mentioned in the last post told me the other day. She said nothing I hadn’t already thought of — much of it was just the sort of things that blackens my heart from time to time and causes me to look upon humanity with disdain.

But, she also brought out my need to defend humanity against such cynicism, though admittedly I’ve flip-flopped since our conversation, sorting through all the horrible stories I remember hearing of, and this also being the week that Michele Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus were discovered after being held captive for a decade. Doesn’t help the case for optimism.

Every day I circle around and around in my feelings toward humanity, oscillating between extremes, but much of the time contemplating shades of gray. There is no confidence in this assessment, only aimlessly looking around and trying to take in what’s going on. People confuse me, and I confuse my own self. Our history boggles my mind.

The woman said she doesn’t believe we’ve evolved in any real sense over the last 10,000 years. And I can’t say one way or the other as to whether I agree. Personally, I tend to think our species’ apex occurred thousands of years ago, perhaps during some point in humans’ hunter-gatherer phase or during early agrarianism. But what would I know? Oh, I do imagine we have evolved, and by this I’m referring in terms of our becoming domesticated, and it’s a process still very much underway. Doesn’t necessarily make us better, and perhaps it has made us worse off, in terms of the civilizations we’ve created as well as what it’s made people into, psychologically. And perhaps I’m imagining things when I entertain the possibility of us ever having been any better than we are today. I can’t even say what might be “better.”

What strikes me as interesting is how we seem to have developed a sense of disgust over what humankind is capable of, and this makes it very easy for people to dismiss other humans as selfish, mean-spirited, corrupted, overly aggressive, deceptive beings. What I wonder, though, is how often that mirror is turned around on oneself?

Also, it’s come to my attention over time how many people out here take great issue with their own species, yet lavish love and heart-felt appreciation on other animal species, particularly their mammalian and avian pets. What troubles me about this is that the very traits they describe as despicable in humans, they tolerate in animals, as though animals simply cannot help their natures, yet we are different. I do believe, of course, that we do differ, yet the truth remains that we too are animals and remain bound to our natures as well (at least to a large extent). Because our natures differ and contain a greater measure of free will doesn’t lead me to completely sever us from the natural kingdom and declare us as “bad.” As I told the woman, the traits she described don’t strike me necessarily as all bad, and she abruptly responded that that indeed is how she feels. She said that humans are mostly “bad” by nature, and I’ve heard this over and over again from people. But what is it that they are pointing to? What makes us so horrible?

Is it that we have some power to choose, whereas animals are largely led by instinct (or, in the case of household pets, driven by habits and reinforcements)? Are we simply angry at one another for not living up to our potential, for not turning away from our base nature, for not making better choices? I can understand all of that. Yet, how much control do we really think we have? Because I don’t believe it’s as broad as we tend to imagine, especially not when we consider the societies we grow up in and what we’re exposed to that influences our thinking. How much free will does one possess when his or her imagination is stunted? How free are we really?

I think sometimes we take issue with one another because we do not like living in captivity. In modernest times, we face the very weird reality of cameras everywhere capturing us, recording us, documenting our whereabouts. With so many people around there’s little room to move about, to do as we wish, without hearing the complaints of others. Even our relationships are scrutinized, as are our financial decisions. Ideologies are at war with one another, and there can be no peace. Technologies have advanced beyond our capability to handle them responsibly, with the common drive for power distorting our worldviews and undermining ethical considerations. We are still very much tribal peoples — that apparently has not, and perhaps will not, change. Much as many have come to realize we all share in our humanity, that we on some level are ONE, these considerations don’t sink in as deeply as we might like to believe. A shift in consciousness radical enough to overwhelm the direction we find ourselves collectively heading in may indeed come too late to be of real use to our species. It is possible.

When people get scared, they tend to get angry, then tend to want to lash out against something. What we do not understand worries us. The unpredictability of others concerns us for our safety and our emotional well-being, and from all directions we are bombarded by news stories and personal accounts and claims of all sorts that degrade our faith in humanity. It all adds up to make it seem like life is meaningless, like it all boils down to avoiding suffering to the extent one is able.  Why not? Why not protect oneself from chaos? Well, because that sort of reflexive response typically points back to the very traits people take issue with in others. That blatant hypocrisy points to a greater truth, which has been paraphrased as: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Because others don’t wish to do it, we then don’t wish to either, because we are afraid of appearing to be suckers, and we’re afraid of being taken further advantage of.

But consider the logic, and we hear this sort of thing all the time. Because she has witnessed disturbing aspects of her fellow humans, she withdraws into her “cocoon” and avoids them like the plague. Because they are “self-centered,” she feels perfectly fine retreating to the comfort and security of her own home, away from all those “selfish” people. She is not made happier as a result though, so this strategy doesn’t seem to be benefiting her incredibly much. Though I will say that the blessing of privacy to return to at the end of the day is a wonderful thing, and I will not disparage its necessity and value. My qualm is only when we hide in here and use this secure perch to lash out at others, others whom we oftentimes do not even know well, whom we make assumptions about, whom we hide from and in person would say no such sort of things to. That cowardice is a bit confusing to me. I grasp the need to put on an act around some people because of the need to remain employed, but that’s not what this is all about. The internet has provided a space for people to vent relatively anonymously through, so we’re freed up to say the most wretched things to one another.

But that lady spends her time online looking at animals, not worrying with other people. She spends her time at home with her pet, and she claims to donate money to causes that benefit animals. And she works in a profession operating under the guise of “treating” people, albeit sometimes against people’s will. The people she comes into contact with are pretty often at their worst, in search of help or brought in in an ambulance. She, like a police officer, sees a disproportionately negative side of humanity as part of her daily work. I can sympathize with how that may skew one’s perception.

I guess my own views are that we are animals nowadays born in captivity and that we tend to be highly-reactive, self-concerned, and unfortunately not terribly good at self-directing in a productive fashion (which partly has to do with boundaries set within our society). We are expected to walk a new path as designated by the rules of our societies, even though plenty of this runs counter to our natures and plenty also runs counter to our interests. But even without our concrete jungle, we have likely always lived as contradictions and likely always will. Just as nature has her contradictions as well. We are not above that, nor are other lifeforms, including our beloved pets, simple as they may individually seem to be.

We have a tendency to reduce everything down to too small or narrow of a view, and once formed we tend to cut off information that contradicts that view, keeping it small and narrow indefinitely. What propensity exists in us to do this, I do not know, but I assume it has to do with individuals reaching their thresholds in terms of the will to process information. It seems all of us narrow our focuses as our lives unfold, hence the notion of us becoming old dogs unable to learn new tricks. It’s not uncommon to hear of old people being accused of being set in their ways, because it’s largely true. Most are. That is what typically becomes of us, perhaps because we cease being as curious, perhaps because the free hours in each day to explore and learn are very limited, perhaps because we’re exhausted from work and our own social lives. And perhaps because we’re not pushed to engage with others and come into less contact with others unlike ourselves due to positioning, as becomes possible when income increases and we can afford to move to the suburbs or when we take a job where we are in a position of power and interact with others unlike ourselves primarily through that lens. We’re molded by our life choices just as much as by what we’re born into.

So what might propel us to be the change we wish to see? What might motivate us to behave differently than that which we claim is “evil” or wrong? Apparently when it comes to the opinions of others, we’re pretty content with playing a part, putting on an act, so it’s unlikely that real and authentic connections can occur between us. What might motivate someone to take time with the people they criticize and condemn so as to gain a deeper understanding of why those people behave as they do? Because so often we judge based on superficial appearances and limited contact.

I’m asking myself these questions too. Perhaps what bothered me most about what that woman said is that I am well-aware of the wrongs in my own being. It is easy to get depressed and to become stuck right there staring at that reality, but I believe a more productive goal would be to step beyond, to continue exploring (particularly that which I find most offensive), and to seek redemption through improving myself and taking action of greater value. Perhaps it won’t prove a thing one way or another when it comes to debating whether humans are “bad” and beyond deserving sympathy, but that’s not what it’s ultimately about at the core. Underneath it all, each of our lives is a journey, and how we conduct ourselves has a lot to do with how we wind up seeing others and whether they wind up relating with us.

All of that is being said as someone who, if she only knew, belongs among those she derides and looks down upon. At one point she declared that she knows what she’s talking about, her being much older than me, nearly my grandmother’s age. I am still relatively young and perhaps still clinging to idealism that will fade with time. She spoke of my generation’s and younger people’s lack of work ethic, and I stood thinking to myself that I see no reason to work as a cog in the wheel for a business that by all accounts gives not one damn about me. If that is due to my lack of work ethic, then so be it. But I do believe our view of work is changing, that people are awakening to the pointlessness of the rat race. Transitions don’t always look like they have a purpose when observed from a traditional vantage point — to her it may seem like ridiculousness and nothing more. I see it as holding the potential for a grassroots revolution of sorts as people try to figure out other way to get by than selling their souls to a job that they loathe. There’s creativity in this. But I suppose it wouldn’t look that way to someone who’s tired from playing the game for so many decades.

I’m not trying to put her down, just trying to understand. She is angry about the reality unfolding, as am I, and our concerns overlap in areas, though I’d be willing to bet our proposed “solutions” would differ dramatically. But that doesn’t make us enemies, even if we can’t see eye to eye. She has been good to me over the last couple of years, and I’ve aimed to be good in return. But admittedly our conversation saddened me a bit. I realize she was just venting and sharing. But I wasn’t in a position where I could give her a full and honest response, nor would it have probably been worth attempting anyway. I too would like to keep my job. So I suppose she’s right at least on that count, that we tend to interact as actors.

Take a long, long ride with yourself

That was Rhinobucket’s “Ride With Yourself” — a terrific song.

Needing to decompress a little this Friday evening. The work schedule currently has me heading out for an appointment or two, back for a couple hours, out again, back again, out again, all weekend long. Which is fine. Such is my life. But doesn’t lend itself well to going out or making plans, needing to be up early tomorrow.  Hopefully Sunday afternoon we’ll find time for my beau to add freon to my brake lines (non-working air-conditioner in the car as of right now).

Had a conversation with an older lady I’m pretty well-acquainted with yesterday that’s left me doing some deep pondering, wrestling with her claims about life and her expressed cynicism. What troubles me most about her views is the field she works in while she professes such incredible disdain for the overall human population. I keep telling people it’s folks in social control-oriented lines of work we need to be keeping an eye on and learning more about, because they wield an inordinate amount of power in this day and age. We’ve placed too much faith in them and the ‘pseudoscience’ they often rely on, that is my belief. Not because I don’t like this woman — I do. But because those views coincide with her possessing authority. It strikes me as very unsettling. To perhaps be explained in greater detail another time.

Sunday night ponderings in May on human domestication, estrogen, and the future

Domestication. It’s a topic I like talking about because it’s difficult to not see it unfolding around us. We’re becoming domesticated on a whole new level. Was just thinking about birthcontrolbirth control pills and the convenience in using them to regulate your cycle, plus certain brands reduce breakouts. Plenty of side effects accompany hormonal birth control options, and I would absolutely never recommend the progestogen-only varieties (like Depo Provera — yikes!), so it’s a trade-off. But for a lot of years birth control pills felt like a risk worth taking for the peace of mind they offered in avoiding unwanted pregnancy.

But when you really think about the concept of taking hormones to control fertility, improve the complexion, and regulate the cycle to become more predictable and convenient — that’s pure science. The latest in technology. Convenient, but with notable drawbacks, to our own bodies but also to our environments. Think of what happens to all those hormones regularly flushed down toilets, whether they are even capable of being properly filtered out in treatment plants. Some evidence suggests problems loom there. Think of how that might wind up affecting men in a round-about way. But then again, we’re exposed to so much estrogen in our environment already, as we’ve discovered with plastics and also soy (which is now in damn near everything on the super market shelves, including our pets’ foods). Estrogen everywhere. Due to this consideration alone I expect people of tomorrow to turn out a bit different than all who’ve come before. Hormones are powerfully influential on our development.

drugs_glassofwater

Just makes me wonder what tomorrow could bring. Suppose it’ll be interesting to see what this lifetime might unfold, much as I doubt it will remotely resemble what I’d like to see for us. My spirit is paleolithic, I think, having always felt obsolete. lol

We like to say that people direct their own lives, that we can take the reins for ourselves, do something different, try another way. But how? We’re deep in this labyrinth already, and it would take such radical action to retreat and head in different directions. But then again, it would be much easier for smaller groups to break away somehow if there were enough to do so around the same time. But that’s a pipe dream, right? People want this, on some level, because we can’t imagine anything different, and if we can it still doesn’t appear feasible. The floor has fallen out from underneath us and we’re clinging to the walls, trying to keep up with what appears to be the only game in town. It’s a stupid game with so many unfortunate consequences that will likely culminate in disastrous effect. But how does ONE, just one person, go against the grain? Without winding up much poorer, much unhappier, less understood by others? That’s the thing — those are the consequences. Might wind up treated as a leper. Probably will lose friends. Definitely will be criticized. How many people would willingly sign up for that? It looks like social suicide to someone who cares about that sort of thing.

Had a couple drinks and felt like pondering out loud. Reflecting on conversations with people, wondering if indeed there is anything of major impact one can do. And honestly, a part of me says it doesn’t matter. It’s not just about influencing others the way we’d like to. If the many are going to collectively steer this ship into a glacier, either through stupidity or genuine but misguided intentions, what can be done about it? Doesn’t mean we have to conform entirely and go along with their program. No. Because life itself is the journey, and living itself is the source of redemption. When I think deeply on these sort of topics where the individual is being pulled along by the collective-run-amok, I gain an appreciation for the stories that point toward a higher purpose than simply following the herd. And by higher purpose, I’m just saying having respect for something bigger and beyond our human experience. All of life is paradoxical and filled with mystery, and there’s more to it than just our drama. We humans may indeed fail in this experiment in living, who can say? But we as individuals don’t necessarily have to. We are our own persons underneath it all, and we possess enough will to buck back when it feels right. If nothing else, we’re driven by orneriness. LoL

So who can say what the future may hold? And who can say that the most important emphasis should be placed on trying to change the hearts and minds of others? Seems to me if we really want to impact others, we’d work on our own selves. I’m trying to, much as I fail and stumble. Can’t seem to knock off getting irritated while driving. Haven’t taken time to get to know the new neighbors. Too often grumbling, complaining. Because I worry so much. But at the end of the day, what am I so worried about? That people might suffer. But perhaps that’s what’s needed to turn our lives around. Life’s tough love is letting us see how we can create hell on earth if we aren’t mindful of what we’re doing.

By John Conway

“Future Humans” by John Conway

It’s a cruel lesson that breaks my heart to witness, but I suppose such is the way of nature, and divorced as our habitats may seem, the natural world remains the ultimate game-changer.

If we choose to go along with living as domesticated pets, though in less luxury and expected to work, we will suffer what that fate entails. Perhaps there can be no other way, not until our infrastructure crumbles due to a lack of resources, or until political and economic conditions deteriorate to the point where that dream gets snuffed. I don’t know.

Maybe people will find ways to pacify themselves going into this New Age, and perhaps people of tomorrow will figure out a way to strike a new balance that my feeble brain is unable to conceive of. But it won’t be my world by then, so that is for them to create. In my lifetime I’d like to imagine how we might live smarter, more in line with what’s natural to us as people who need one another, who value relationships and reciprocity, who want to care, who aren’t content in slavery, who aren’t content being taken advantage of by the few whose only work is to manipulate and exploit the rest.

Then I wonder how it’s possible to not feel disgruntled in the face of so much disillusionment.

Sunday thoughts on collectives and groups, feminism and MRAs

I continue pondering over here where to take the conversation on feminism. Having made a couple videos speaking out against feminism and a couple in general response to MRAs I’ve come into contact with on youtube, I haven’t really fleshed out the topic in greater detail on this blog. Been hesitant to do so because I’m still collecting my thoughts. But one thing remains a constant: I continue to care about the rights of womankind. Just as I also care about the rights of mankind. My own views, however, break apart from the politically-minded feminist bandwagon, because I do not believe social problems can be remedied by legal means alone or primarily (as I will keep repeating). Much of what we face today stems from economics, which cannot help but deeply impact the social sphere because we are its workers competing for wages and we are its consumers. Our economy is largely backed by our government, so we are in a serious conundrum at this point. What’s even more unfortunate is how people have come to view everything as a legal contest and join sides and battle one another as groups on ideological grounds, creating deeper divisions between the people and painting complex issues with broad brushes that ignore relevant nuances and undermine further attempts at effective communication. In other words, people are declaring war, social and legal war, on other groups of people.

That I am tiring of. Is there not enough competition already to satisfy us that we must create more?

I do not automatically view men as my enemy, nor do I automatically view women as my enemy, nor do I automatically view members of either sex as compadres. This life has shown me firsthand some horrible people of both sexes, and wonderful people of both sexes, to where I am unable to take gender-related generalizations too seriously. People are people, it is true. We are individuals who must be known as such, and these generalizations tend to dehumanize us, robbing us of our individuality, ignoring our perspectives and histories and choices, rendering us nearly invisible to those who lump us into association with whoever or whatever else appearing to possess something in common, no matter how trivial or tenuous, and then dismiss us out of hand on that account. How is that respecting individuals? So many claim to care about individual rights, and yet they have blinders up when it comes to the individuality of those they stand in opposition to. Blinded by group affiliation, people demonize the “others.” As has been common all up through human history.

Makes me wonder why we like to boast how we’ve come so far when it is apparent we have so much farther to go, assuming we are able and willing.

There are men who had dramatic impact on my life. I do know what it’s like to be mistreated a bit, by men and by women, by family members and people I once looked up to, as well as relative strangers. I do not live in some fairy tale where all has been given to me or where others have walked as if on eggshells to appease and protect me (though perhaps to avoid arguments — I do get riled up at times). The reality I’ve witnessed, whether directly or through those I’ve met along the way, has been raw and has left scars that I am coming to terms with being a part of me for the rest of my life (as I’m certain I’ve left scars on others). There is nowhere to run to escape the reality we’re all helping bring about, so I turn to us—to myself and to others—to seek remedy. Because the power has always lied with us, much as we struggle to grasp that concept. Changes take time and there’s no way to rush these processes. But there are ways to hinder them, and we’re proving to do a fine job at that.

I don’t particularly get along well with other people. (Laughter and grimaces there — it’s not by deliberate intent, but whatever, that’s a separate topic.) With a few I do, and I love them dearly. But I don’t expect to win many more friends in this lifetime, and that’s all right. Striving for popularity never made much sense to me, because then you wind up acting in accordance with what members of your group expect from you, which is limiting. It cages you in and polices your thoughts and words, ridiculing you for speaking out of turn or saying something they don’t want to hear. Much has been documented about group dynamics and how we tend to behave differently when group-minded or in a group setting versus when we act and think on our own accord. But I do not say any of this to give the impression that all groups are worthless all the time — no, they have their benefits and purposes. But when group membership or classifications come to eclipse the individuals therein, as they always have, we then lose ourselves to them, and this I take extreme caution with.

Out of loyalty for the group, we tend to overlook the fanatics and extremists within, preferring to ignore them, thinking their views will shrivel up and die away eventually. Just as the majority of religious persons assume to be the case with fringe cults — until those cults gain enough followers to seriously challenge and contend with the wider religion, as happened over and over again. Extremists draw attention and their words appeal to the core where we desire radical change, tricking some into believing shortcuts are possible if they are willing to go on the offense and use whatever tactics are at their disposal to undermine their “opposition,” even if that leads to outright war. The more tensions mount on each side, the more that members within either “camp” become unwilling to criticize their own, especially publicly, because they are locked into a contest where they don’t wish to display “weakness.” Admitting there is flawed thinking within the ranks of the group you belong to apparently is viewed as “weakness” to people in a competitive mindset. So the extremists within each camp continue on largely unchallenged except by the supposed “opposition,” and the silence of their more moderate group members is taken as a sign of consent to the message being put forth. With no obstacles aiming to challenge the extremist message, newcomers take it in as representative of the larger group. If that weren’t the case, debate would be taking place, isn’t that so? And this is how feminism is being framed by people calling themselves MRAs. And I see where MRAs are doing the exact same thing without realizing it, as the video above helps point out.

I don’t know what to think of humanity most days. Not sure where we might go from here. Not convinced we’re willing and able to change direction from this path of least resistance, this descent into incessant bickering and fighting and feuding and competing. If enough people want it this way, they will have it this way. If people prefer to fight rather than seek outside the box for possible solutions and ways to work together, we will experience history repeating as it has so many times before. And we will demonstrate that we have not evolved near as far as we like to think we have — despite all of our modern technological gadgetry and scientific innovations, we are animals at war with our own selves, with both our potentials and our base natures. Collectively this problem cannot be adequately addressed because fundamentally it is an individual concern that requires each individual to grow as we are able. Collectives tend to take on lives of their own and come to discourage this sort of personal growth and exploration so as to use its members to suit its own political or social ambitions (and whatever those ambitions morph into over time).

And now I must head back out to work. I hope to return to this subject later today, if I feel up to it.

Carter, Eisenhower, and my neo-agrarian vision

Pres. Jimmy Carter – (1979):

Don’t know much about Jimmy Carter aside from him being a Southern peanut farmer and later in life volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in building homes. His isn’t a popular name within my wider family — all are Republicans so far as I’m aware. So forgive my ignorance about the man. Not sure I’ve ever really listened to him speak before. And that speech was amazing. Much more honesty than we’ve heard out of a president in … how long?

Eisenhower’s farewell address is the only other speech of its kind that springs to mind:

I appreciate what both men had to say. Both are warning future Americans (us) of the gravity of the choices and possibilities we’re faced with — on one hand the formation of the military-industrial complex, on the other the energy crisis. Both pointed to the social and ‘spiritual’ crises that would accompany these radically-changing times, and their words ring true.

What Jimmy Carter said up above speaks to this idea I’m continuing to play around with involving intentional communities branching off and reclaiming power in the hands of common people by producing more for our own selves and the communities we belong to and/or trade with, particularly in terms of the necessities (namely, food generation). Let me very briefly outline the benefits of the setup I envision:

  1. Providing for our own necessities within our own homes and communities to the greatest extent possible, particularly when it comes to sustaining foods, reduces our dependence on the Corporate State (that is, major corporations being backed by government).
  2. By implementing this form of neo-agrarianism and making better use of the land we have access to, we can reduce the amount of petrol otherwise required in Big Ag’s pesticide-laden monoculture megafarms (as well as the transportation costs typically involved). Through the use of new technologies surely modern farming of this nature can be made very productive with little or no harmful chemicals and big-brand fertilizers needed and while utilizing knowledge of biodiversity and the introduction of animals and insects useful in the process. (Farmer Joel Salatin could surely be of help in explaining this aspect in better detail to those who are curious — he’s mentioned in a few agriculture-related books and documentaries.)
  3. Our current dependence on Big Ag to supply us with food unfortunately is made possible through its heavy use of petrol in various stages of the food production process. It is said that at least 45% of oil used in the U.S. is imported, and we’re well aware where much of it comes from. The military has had a hand in gaining us access to the oil needed to fuel our economy, and this is having disastrous effects throughout the globe, injuring our relations with peoples in other countries to the point where our government stands on high alert, nonstop, ready to defend against probable attacks from foreigners. We as a nation are coming to be reviled, and this will have repercussions eventually. Whether we’ve hit peak oil already or will someday, the fact remains that the competition over oil is harming us, yet is currently needed to prop up the lifestyles we’ve grown accustomed to as well as to make the foods many of us otherwise would starve without. If we somehow lose out on procuring enough oil, it won’t only result in a social reset in this country (and others that wind up affected as well), but rather complete chaos and competition on a savage level. People will starve. And all because we rely too heavily on fossil fuels to maintain our modern ways of life. If we can reduce this dependency by providing for ourselves and take back a big measure of control over our own lives in the process, why not aim in that direction?
  4. Through learning modern farming and urban gardening techniques, we will likely become better acquainted with sciences and technologies, further broadening our awareness and enhancing our own power as individuals. The skills needed there calls for all kinds of creativity and innovation, particularly of the jerry-rigged variety, and this opens us up to so many possibilities and learning experiences. Atheists and others frustrated by others’ lack of scientific understanding should be pleased by this likely outcome.
  5. People desiring simpler lives with more straight-forward expectations (like myself) may find solace in this saner way of living. But it’s all in how each community and each individual therein chooses to bring it about. As always, we can pave the way to hell if we’re not careful.
  6. It’s come to my mind that slavery will always exist. And what I mean by this is we humans will either wind up slaves to one another or ‘slaves’ to the earth in terms of living within nature’s parameters (or possibly both if we’re as unlucky once again). The castle made of sand that we’re working and living within today is not sustainable — not ecologically but also not socially and psychologically. Debt slavery has a long history, but it is a human construct, not a condition imposed on us by the natural world itself. For as much drudgery that may be involved in farming and directly utilizing our own labor to provide for our own needs, it at least comes with the benefit of tuckering us out enough to where we, with any luck, will use what energy we have remaining more wisely and not waste so much of it bickering over our differences. The intentional communities going their own ways also helps reduce tensions by allowing groups of people breathing room who otherwise stay locked in irreconcilable arguments.
  7. The gender issue can be abated because, again, people are kept busy with creating something they do want instead of arguing nonstop with one another over what they do not want. Furthermore, men and women would need to contribute to the extent their capable, and this competitive environment can be put to productive use through struggling to prove themselves as able-bodied and relatively independent (and to admit where one or the other may generally be better-suited to certain tasks, however that may shake out).
  8. It is my belief that a greater peace than many of us experience today can be found through engaging in productive work that serves a real and necessary purpose. When we pull our own weight, so to speak, this boosts our sense of pride and satisfaction with living. And through observing the dedication in others, we may kindle respect and admiration for one another and go a step further toward solidifying community bonds. Because the notion of community exists only when it revolves around some sort of commonality, like shared life experiences and working toward common goals. Through working together we may also learn the importance of charity, as well as why shame deservedly accompanies abusing charities provided. Because people then see how, up-close and personally, that charity was brought about through the labors of others. Those who lack empathy in this manner should be noted and never promoted to positions involving much power.
  9. Love matters. And love involves respect, knowledge, responsibility, and care. Reacquainting ourselves with the land may go a long way toward healing our social wounds as we learn to see one another in the context of individuals we see and come to know rather than mere statistics printed somewhere. We need to bond, just as we also have a need for a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves, something greater. It is not about stepping back into the past so much as it is inquiring into what life has taught us thus far and see how we, individually and collectively, might do better. But it starts in the hearts and minds of individual people and spreads from there. The connections forged along the way may make the entire process worthwhile, even if humankind winds up beset by obstacles we prove ultimately unable to overcome. To genuinely become friends and loved ones and neighbors — is that not what gives living so much of its meaning and authenticity?
  10. If we are indeed facing “end times” or the emergence of a new Dark Age, self-reliant communities will likely have a better chance of surviving or at least winding out their days striving to make amends internally and get right with our creator. I do not envision a God as any that have been described so far, but something beyond that, the unknowable yet the intuitively felt. Everyone understands this in their own way, and I won’t elaborate further. If that creator is viewed simply as nature itself, that works too. The point is that it may help mitigate the suffering that may befall us and give what lives we have remaining greater quality. Maybe. Depends on a lot of variables, sure. But maybe.

I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do. But as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stated: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” He also said: “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” As well as this: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Showing appreciation and loving — Stefan Molyneux’s interview with Warren Farrell

Pausing at 11:54, I really liked what Warren Farrell said about how the process necessary for our survival (to be defensive) is the exact opposite of the process required to nurture love (to listen to your loved one without getting defensive or going on the attack). Kinda like the yin-yang — that’s how life balances out. Amazing, isn’t it?

Pausing again at 42:04. Wow. Great discussion they’re having! This came to me right on time — I need to hear every word and let it sink in. Thinking about asking my mate to please watch it through as well, though he’s not one to take much interest in computers. It would be nice, so I’ll try. This video generates a lot of thoughts and ideas, very timely.

Because I’m still learning in the love game. Admittedly. And I’ve made more than my share of mistakes. Oh yeah. My social awkwardness is of an odd variety apparently. Ha  Truth be told.

But great discussion, highly recommended!