Evening thoughts on Valentine’s Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Known unknowns of the future…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love can find a way.

“Ep. 148 – Neil Strauss: The Truth About Relationships”

A very good podcast from James Altucher featuring the author and former PUA (pick-up artist) Neil Strauss:

http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2015/12/ep-148-neil-strauss-why-you-cheat-yourself-and-how-to-stop/

Listened to the audio version of his book The Truth a month or two ago and found it very intriguing. Would share it with certain others if they’d be open to reading it or giving it a listen. Struggled/struggling with some similar issues as Neil. I do feel where he’s coming from and our paths share a few similarities, though my own journey is veering in a somewhat different direction. Still working my thoughts and emotions out on that one.

Good food for thought regardless. The man earned my respect for his willingness to be so introspective, publicly transparent, and raw.

the_truth_neil_strauss

“Spiritual (Existential) Suffering”

A very good video by Professor Anton:

On the topic of agency, yes, that’s the word I ought to stick with too instead of saying “free will.” Thought about that in relation to videos I’ve created, wishing I hadn’t put it like I did, because none of us are truly and fully free. Our minds are impacted by so much around us, by our families and wider communities and greater society and other societies, by art and popular media and music, by laws and expectations foisted upon us, by the environment and our own inborn limitations, etc. So the word “agency” holds much more water here and gets the idea across more accurately that we do possess however much power and can choose to whatever extent to act on it.

The rest of the video hit on so many good points. On the topic of the afterlife, I’ve personally never had a whole lot of use for the notion, though I do play with the idea at times. My Grandma very strongly believes in heaven and has a tough time imagining hardly anyone winding up in hell after dying, her Christian views being a bit more compassionate and merciful than what we typically see in the mainstream. But the way she tells it is you have to work on improving conditions in this life where you’re able so as to be admitted to heaven, or to at least have “God” be proud of you and satisfied with what you’ve tried to do. That’s an important aspect of the religion that unfortunately seems to be falling to the wayside now that people are jumping on the Evangelical bandwagon that directs more attention toward recruiting more followers and impacting legislation. In the case of the Evangelicals many seem to believe they are simply destined to a heaven in the afterlife due to asking their “Lord” for forgiveness, and I used to watch the hypocrisy in this assumption play out in my hometown down South where people would behave awful toward one another all week, spreading lies and gossip, fighting and fucking each other’s partners, then go into church on Sundays and ask forgiveness, only to walk out feeling like they have a clean slate they can go back to scribbling hell on. That’s a damaging way of looking at it and it lets people off the hook, so to speak. And it’s attitudes like that that poison what remains of major religions.

But me personally, I won’t claim to know anything one way or the other about the afterlife, assuming there is such a thing. For all I know our souls will wind up reincarnated into other lifeforms, or perhaps will dim with our dying bodies and serve the earth as worm food. I’m okay with either possibility. But we won’t know until we’re there, and by then it’s too late to come back to share the news with others. So, I do tend to turn my attention to right here on earth and the question of what it would mean to create hell or heaven on earth. In my thinking, hell appears like a much more concrete reality than heaven — as in the formation of hell being well within our grasps. Whereas I see heaven as more of an ideal we aspire toward and perhaps can never fully arrive at, and that’s okay, because it’s through that striving and the diligence required that our lives become infused with meaning and purpose, both individually and collectively. In other words, the notion of creating a sort of heaven on earth calls for vigilance and a mind toward both justice and mercy, and that means challenging ourselves deeply and honestly as well as one another. Heaven in this sense becomes about a process, not a place or a destination. It’s a working toward that if we don’t remain mindful of, we default back to heading in the other direction which culminates in the creation of hell on earth.

Think about it like this: hell can be brought about by not giving a damn, by not lifting a finger, by walking right past injustices without caring to take notice, by allowing apathy to block our hearts and minds. We can create hell by simply being selfish to the point of ceasing caring about the welfare of others, or by trying to force our will onto all others. This is what is meant by the idea that the paths leading to hell are wide and varied, as opposed to the path leading to heaven being narrow. This proverbial path to aspire toward the creation of heaven on earth requires effort, introspection, and care taken, whereas we can travel on the roads to hell as passive passengers. Do you see how that works? The formation of something like heaven on earth can’t be achieved by sitting back and doing nothing or by hiding our heads in the sand, though such approaches can easily help push us toward creating hell. Different paths calling for totally different strategies and levels of cognizance. At least that’s how I’ve come to see it.

But then I try never to forget that the road to hell can also be paved with good intentions. What this means, I think, is that we can be misguided and biased and thereby blind to the potential consequences of what we’re aiding and abetting. Plenty of ideas seem good on the surface, but when we scratch deeper we realize how dangerous they might be if manipulated in the hands of people lacking integrity and fortitude and who are more interested in serving their own selves at the expense of others.

A modern example of this was president George W. Bush expanding the powers of the executive branch of government disproportionately, under the guise of protecting our nation after the 9/11 attacks. For plenty of people, many in my own family, this seemed to them the right thing to do at the time, and they turned away from the warnings that future presidents will be able to utilize that expanded power as well, and that once power is attained it does not concede itself. Meaning future presidents might be tempted to use such power in even more horrific ways, and that sets up an even tougher battle for citizens going forward to get a leash back on our governmental system. Now, I could go deep and wide into this topic and level all sorts of criticisms against G.W. Bush and Obama and other presidents who came before them who also helped paved the way for this, but I’ll save that for another time. The important point here is that knee-jerking into going along with self-serving schemes in the short-run can lead to travesties on down the line, and this is why we must remain vigilant and strive to become as well-rounded as we’re able in order to seek balance in our minds so that we can question our motives and intentions and protect the principles that matter most. And we Americans have roamed a long ways from home in that respect.

Hell, for me, involves slavery of various forms because humans wind up reduced down to utilitarian value — objects serving others’ ends. This necessarily causes me to be critical of any and all economic schemes and political setups, as well as the direction of civilizations in general. And it is because of considerations like this that I dream of what I’ve referred to as “10,000 communities and clans going their own ways,” because it opens up so many possibilities and allows for innovative approaches to governance and trading and resource allocation and utilization. A one-size-fits-all, top-down approach cannot do this — it is authoritarian by its very nature and morphs to become totalitarian as more and more power is centralized. It is forceful and coercive and demands conformity, even (or perhaps especially) when it is corrupt and leading its citizens toward demise.  I try to dream outside of that box in wondering what power we might have and how we might could use it going forward. How we might create saner lives through the formation of saner communities that are held together by saner objectives.

But when societal change doesn’t look likely to occur in a real and positive way during my lifetime, I turn my attention to what I’m doing and who I’m affecting — what is within my sphere of influence. And here I’ve made many mistakes and hurt myself and others, and it is a very heavy burden to carry. But I believe if we hold on to one another with love, that’s something. If we can help one another get through this life and do what we need to do and stand up for what we need to stand up for, that’s something, and it isn’t trivial. Gotta start somewhere. Even when we fail, gotta get back up and gotta keep walking on. Nobody promised us a rose garden… If we don’t grow it, who will? If we don’t try, who might? If we can’t love, we’ll never fully appreciate the “thou” in ourselves and others. And without that, the sacred is diminished and we keep sliding toward hell on earth.

The bitterness and pain is nearly impossible to block out some days, but it’s not a punishment put on us so much as it’s just a fact of life that calls for a courageous response, hard as that is. So much is easier said than done, especially when we do not know where to apply our efforts and we’re injured so thoroughly spiritually and psychologically that all we want is comfort and escapism. That’s the present dilemma as I see it. It’s a tough call, and courage doesn’t come easy. We suffer, yet we have to be mindful of how pain pays forward. We have to be mindful of what we’re doing if ever we are to break the chain so as to create something else in its place. And we do need support from one another as we reckon with this reality and what it’s asking of us. That boils it back down to being about love and recognizing the needs of the soul (as Prof. Anton mentioned, the difference between “sickness of the soul” and “health of the soul”).

Unfortunately some folks out there are too embittered to do anything but laugh at a message such as this, believing it to be naive rambling of little consequence. But they likely are blind and biased — there is no reasoning with them. If they are to be won over, if that’s even a possibility, it will have to come through our works commanding respect. Basically showing them another way so that they might be touched by it and not just words on the subject. This is why love matters — it’s about devoting time and energy to one another, trying to learn more about one another, honoring the inherent worth of one another, and thereby creating a draw for cooperation going forward. If we continue trying to use one another to serve our own ends, we harm each other and break people’s spirits and cause them to distrust us, because they know underneath it all we do not really care about them. They are just fodder intended to serve our own interests and nothing more, and that is a form of slavery. If others recognize themselves as disposable in our eyes, we have harmed their spirit and undermined their value and contributions, and that is not fair. More than that, it’s poisonous and generates apathy in people aiming to escape that sort of reality. And on and on it will go until we pay heed and work toward breaking the chain as we are able.

It is a very sad day over here, so I expect to do a lot of writing in days to come. This is my therapy, my reaching out, my attempt to connect my dreams and understandings with others. Something tells me this is the only way to heal what ails us, and a broken heart goes a long way in demonstrating how painful existence can be. Life’s hard enough and always will be, so I try in my own way to strike at the root of those entities and systems that are proving toxic and further damaging to our social relations. It’s all I know to do at this point in my life, small as my ambitions may appear. But I am one person, and this is my life, and these are my loved ones, and dammit, we do matter. We work with what we have.

MRM vs. Feminism & Additional Thoughts

In a video I created in January 2013 with the same title, I attempted to argue for why I see the MRM behaving not unlike the feminist movement. It wasn’t a great or well-planned video, but I went ahead and posted it up on YT because the sentiments expressed are true to how I feel. Some further details unfortunately were left out and were added in a follow-up video, which I’ll also post below.

Okay, so to spell out the comparison being made in the first video.

Feminism

  1. Has encouraged a spike in the divorce rate, in part by convincing women that they don’t need men and by helping elevate the status of the single mother in the eyes of society.
  2. Is instrumental in creating a situation where women increasingly depend on the State to meet their financial needs. Examples include economic assistance for single-mother-headed households and affirmative action legislation creating incentives for the hiring of women in choice positions. Women also depend on the State to provide for their defense, as in the case of domestic violence situations (because feminism asserts a non-violence stance that excludes the right to self-defense via the utilization of firearms or other weaponry).
  3. Women’s studies courses have abounded on university campuses over the last few decades.
  4. Granted women the right to abandon children (up to a certain age, depending on state laws) at hospitals or “safe havens” without requiring any further involvement, financial or otherwise, in their children’s lives and upbringing.

Men’s Rights Movement

  1. Discourages men from marrying, citing that the law benefits women at the expense of men and claiming that prenuptials don’t provide enough enough certainty when it comes to protecting one’s assets.
  2. Men are turning to the State in an effort to have laws drafted in their favor or to have existing laws enforced against female offenders proportionately. This seems fine and reasonable on the surface, but underneath we see the same drive toward creating a legal contest of one-upmanship. I argue that more laws on the books doesn’t ensure “equality,” whatever that terms stands to mean anymore.
  3. Men are dissuaded from acting without legal backing for fear of the law being used in turn against them and their interests.
  4. Men’s studies courses are now being proposed on a few college campuses.
  5. Given rise to men proclaiming the right to abandon children created without their express verbal consent (nevermind their sexual consent), leaving the mothers solely responsible for the children’s care and upbringing, which would lead more mothers toward greater dependence on the State in the absence of fathers.

I went on to say that both “camps” appear to share the goal to relinquish women and children to become financially dependent on the State. In such a scenario, the powers of the State are expanded to meet these expectations, which is a major concern for those of us who are libertarian-minded and strongly believe the government is already encroaching too much into our lives and families.

Feminism and the MRM sow seeds of distrust between the sexes and encourage battling it out through introducing legislation and in the courts. Both use children as a means of punishing and/or extorting partners. Both promote agendas that assuredly will expand the role and scope of government interference in our personal lives. Both proclaim to be about promoting “equality under the law,” even when taken to absurd extremes that are proving undesirable to most of us, male or female.

Leaving aside the notes I had written up for that video, I went on to talk about the grave and obvious difference between terminating a pregnancy and abandoning children already brought into full existence. And of course my views proved controversial and unacceptable to some who accused me of “using” the plight of children to defend women maintaining the upper hand in this ordeal, as is a popular feminist tactic (so I was told). So let me attempt to break it down like this. Here is my position in a nutshell:

  • As much as male and female adults and their rights do matter, those rights do not automatically trump concerns for any offspring they may bring into existence.
  • Children ARE NOT items or objects to be compared with a boat or house or any other non-living thing. Children are human beings in their own right and have needs that differ from those of adults that if not tended to may very likely result in children growing up into resentful, poorly adapted, emotionally stunted adults whom we all must live with. Poor quality upbringing affects the child in question, first and foremost, but over time it comes to affect those he or she comes into contact with and wider society as well. That’s no small matter.
  • There is much more to caring for children than providing for them financially. If this is not deeply grasped by prospective parents, I urge you (man or woman) to not breed. Love asks of us to 1.) genuinely care about, 2.) be responsible for, 3.) gain knowledge of, and 4.) respect the individuality of the person we claim love for. Simply providing child support payments does not qualify as love any more than simply coming home to someone every night. Love is a much deeper experience, and I find it is rarely if ever even mentioned in discussions of this sort, despite it being an integral component in the development of any person’s well-being.
  • If we can’t resolve these matters among ourselves, interpersonally and as communities, we will invite more government involvement in our lives and especially in the lives of our young. This is unacceptable for a great many reasons and most assuredly will not improve the situation for anyone, save for the selfish few of child-rearing age at this point in time who care more about doing what they want than tending to their responsibilities to persons they help generate.
  • Rights DO entail responsibilities, and the two concepts cannot be divorced from one another. To attempt to do so is to make both rights and responsibilities hollow ideas that no longer hold water.

Rights are protected by us — that entails us making responsible choices in defense of our rights. Take for example the right to vote. You can claim to have it all day long, but how do you ensure your vote is counted? If you cannot do this, the notion of having a right to vote means little. Take as a second example the right to bear arms. If one doesn’t bear arms or defend others’ right to do so, it becomes a moot point. Another example is the right to free speech. If we tolerate some speech being labeled as “hate speech” and thence outlawed, how free can speech really be? So circling back, we have the right to protect ourselves to the best of our ability from unwanted pregnancies. But so too do children have the need to be raised up with people who want and care about them, because otherwise what quality is there in an unwanted, unhappy existence? If you realize you do not have any interest in caring for a child, it is your responsibility to do everything in your power to ensure that unwanted pregnancy doesn’t become the outcome. Men do possess options here, as many if not more than women possessed prior to the legalization of abortion and the availability of modern contraceptive options. On that end, it is a practical consideration, much as I understand some people think it to be unfair and lacking. But the alternative to seeing it this way is to shirk responsibility and to allow the bulk of consequences to fall onto the only innocent party in the equation: the child created. That is truly unfair and unnecessary.

People speak of the importance of agency, and yet when it comes to sex it’s as if everyone puts their blinders on. Women currently have more options at their disposal to protect against unwanted pregnancies and should do better with putting them to use, but knowing that does not absolve men from their own responsibility in protecting themselves and children they don’t wish to co-create.

We each work with what we can. Nobody promised us a rose garden. Life isn’t perfect, nor will it ever be, nor can it be made 50/50 between the sexes at all times and on all levels. That’s not a world I’d even wish to see, because that would require a form of extremism that undoubtedly would drive us all up the wall. My goal wasn’t to be mean to any of you out there on the internet, but I have to take a stand and argue on behalf of the silent party in this battle between the sexes, because children lack a voice and can’t make an appeal to you until after being brought into existence.

My final argument on this subject is that this is no world to bring people into who will have no one to rely on, no one to protect them and their interests, no one to place their needs as a top priority. To simply assume that one parent or the other will suffice, that your involvement is not necessary, is a lie people are telling themselves to be absolved of guilt. If you’re not there, how will you know if the child you helped create is being raised right? How will you know if your child’s needs are being met or if Momma is off with her boyfriends, leaving baby at home neglected? It is a horrible lie to pretend that you, as co-creator, have no stake in that and no responsibility for allowing that reality to go on unexamined. I can completely understand people’s desire to not father children unless it is expressly intended, and this is why I urge you to do what is in your power to safeguard your decision and to prevent a new life from coming into being and potentially winding up damaged and full of despair. Because that’s no life for anyone to have to live. Not anyone. We, adults of today, have the power to do better than that.