“Alan Watts – Western Psychology vs. World Religions”

Something goes strange with the audio shortly before the 40-minute mark. But it’s still worth listening to.

A question of courage when confronted with abuses of power

Was just watching another video compilation of police brutality. Not too hard to find videos like that anymore. Very upsetting footage I keep coming across. And when I’m watching these people being beaten and tasered and shot, many of them unarmed, my mind gets stuck calling out “Jesus.” And I think it’s a prayer, more like a begging. It’s in moments when I witness shit like that when it’s clear why people turn to religious belief systems. Because life and most especially humans can be fucking wicked, and you just so badly want to believe in some sort of higher order in this universe capable of overcoming and setting right what’s happening here. Humans are preying on one another, and we’ve created so much unnecessary suffering. Power goes straight to people’s heads and they can turn in to merciless tyrants.

The weight of that reality is just so heavy. It bothers me to no end how much shit we have going on, but I don’t know what to do. Gotta do something, but don’t know what to do.

I gotta say it — I’m sick and fucking tired of the folks out and about who demand that we all smile and put on an act and pretend life is peachy or else accuse us of being “too negative” or “too serious” when in reality we’re all reacting to so much negativity around us. People do so in different ways, and some prefer to follow a ‘script’. Those folks demand that you suck it up and pretend it away, for their benefit and convenience because they don’t want to know. More fun to squabble over ground-level bullshit. They’ve told me so many times over the years that they are happier not knowing what’s happening around them in society and that people like me are assholes for sharing it with them. Well, goddamn it — sticking our heads in the sand doesn’t make the shit go away. We like to think it’s not our problem, until the day comes when it is…

For several years I researched more about my country than I ever planned to—curiosity killed the cat—and it left it me so sick in the spirit. And during that time as I was learning and watching and reading intensively (and finally graduated from college during that phase), most of my so-called “friends” went away, one by one. Turned out they preferred mindless bar chatter or sitcoms or vampire movies or getting high and doing nothing or chasing tail, but they sure as hell didn’t want someone like me confronting them with news stories and clips and so many questions. And to be honest, it all kinda fucked me up worse than I was already, first in trying to come to terms with the world I live in on a deeper level and then having to accept that most folks prefer to tune out and not explore much about it.

That confuses me. I don’t see how shit will change if we’re unwilling to look at it. You have to go down in that abyss and examine it and sit with it for long hours before you get sick enough to put your foot down and say “NO.” Because change starts with us, right? But if the majority prefer to remain as ignorant as possible, then what? And if those witnessing injustices up-close and personal just stand there and do nothing, say nothing, what happens then? I know what happens then…shit gets worse, because power concedes nothing without a demand. To quote Fredrick Douglass:

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

It was true before he said, when he said, and it remains just as true today.

But now that we live in the era of technologies and distractions galore, we are able to entertain ourselves to death, and people refer to that as happiness. Past a point, I don’t understand that. Fun and games can’t last forever, and all the distractions in the world can’t erase injustices.

More and more, my own view on the matter is that everything’s become too centralized and the common people are being led because we handed over our power, thinking we could exchange it for a sense of security. Now too many of us live as scared, impotent beings worried about our own boats not getting rocked. But they will be rocked and even overturned eventually.

Yeah, I can understand why people search for answers outside of humanity and why they so desperately cling to the belief that there’s more to this life than what’s directly behind and before us. Because without such aspirations I imagine many people would just give up. It would feel like all hope was lost if they only had to base their existence on trying to dodge the bullshit going on out in society, with no expectation of shit ever improving while losing their sense of agency.

It makes me a little more sympathetic to the people who hide their eyes, because they are afraid and learning more only scares them into paralysis. What do you say to them? How do you ease their minds and stoke their courage? Hell, how do I stoke my own?

It’s a wild ride, this life. How does one take in the horrors and not comprehend how we factor in, how we are also responsible for allowing so much of this to go on unchecked? From the wars waged with our tax dollars to economic imperatives devastating communities as collateral damage, we’re fucking up. From employing personal means of escapism just so we can cope to jacking around with everybody else’s lives and freedom because we can’t or won’t sweep our own damn doorsteps and acknowledge the skeletons in our own closets, we are hurting ourselves and one another. And this continues on because we are ruled by fear.

Fear of what? Fear of being exposed for what we are? Fear of being shunned by the rest of the herd? Fear of giving up conveniences we’ve grown accustomed to? Fear of suffering or maybe even dying? Fear of failing or losing? We’re afraid of so much, but why?

It’s only life after all.

Reminds me of a saying that goes through my mind often enough: it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Isn’t that still true or do we even comprehend that anymore?

We are primal underneath it all and we are powerful, and that hasn’t changed. But we’ve forgotten that thanks to choosing the domesticated route. One thing we shouldn’t forget is that the most dangerous predators we face today are other people and constructs created by humans. Nature was tough enough to contend with; now we have that plus welcome to the concrete jungle.

Rolling over and taking it never solved a thing.

Yet here we stand. Divided and conquered.

Sad state of affairs we got going on in the U.S. I’m certain it’s no better in plenty of other countries. We have a lot of problems on our hands, and it’s not yet a crime to state it plain, though apparently it makes one unpopular to do so. The ones choosing to behave as sheep follow wherever power leads, so I suppose it’s the job of those who give a damn and are interested in investigating to call out abuses of power until the rest come around to paying attention, assuming they ever do.

Back when involved in the local peace community (call us “social justice warriors” if you must) in 2008-2011 we were instructed that it’s best not to bring up problems unless we can also offer ideas toward a solution. Okay, well, that kinda cramps my style, but here goes one perspective on the matter: I’ve addressed on this blog and in videos on YT that it would likely be in the majority of humans’ best interest to provide more for our own selves and to bring power back down more to local levels where we as individuals actually have some influence. Because we’re disconnected and being swept along at this point, living in a huge society ran by crooks who are more interested in exploiting us than protecting us, and we’ve lost meaningful control over so much to where many are rendered anxious and depressed (which further fucks up our social relations). Have a look at the statistics on that last point — people are suffering and this shit is not going to prove sustainable. People say it would be asking too much to drastically overhaul the present framework of society, but either we take the initiative or wait for it to eventually implode and plunge us down to deeper depths in the process. That’s our choice, so far as I’ve been able to figure it, and we’ve been presented with the notion of this reality for a long time, dating back at least a couple thousand years. It’s been coming and it will keep coming unless enough of us take up more effective strategies.

Societal perfection isn’t a realistic aspiration, most especially not in large-scale societies. We’re not all the same and we aren’t all compatible enough to live slammed together under a shared umbrella. The United States “melting pot” origins have proven this clearly enough. There came to be too many of us with too much diversity, and our conflicting demands bogged the system down. Now it’s broken and is being used as a vehicle for big corporate and banking interests since we the citizens lost control of the reins during all the radical transitions over the last 200 years. So goes being distracted and increasingly disconnected. Tough situation.

Makes me think perhaps I don’t give us Americans enough credit. As a nation we’re contending with incredible diversity which began at day one once Europeans found their way here and took to decimating the native populations. Most countries elsewhere on the globe experienced more homogenous circumstances for lengthy periods of time throughout history. The U.S. has played the role of modern-age laboratory, and one lesson we’re learning is that there’s no such thing as too big to fail. Guess it depends on how one defines success and failure though.

That’s enough thoughts for tonight.