“Tony Robbins Meaning of Communications / Utilizing Your Emotions”

James Altucher on radical honesty (plus my thoughts)

An interesting podcast titled “Ask Altucher Ep 81 What Are You Reading Right Now”:

The portion I share for purposes here occurs beyond the 10:00 mark. Radical honesty. Hmmmm… I have ALL SORTS of thoughts on that topic. And I dug where James was coming from there, as someone who’s shared more than I ought to on too many occasions. Yup. The idea of being radically honest with oneself I can get behind, but James is right about putting the burden over onto someone else, particularly the ones we love. Mea culpa there.

Living and learning is a tough process. Heaps of thoughts on the topic of cheating (from all angles) have played on my mind for years. Continue reading

“Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame”

A 2015 TED Talk by Monica Lewinsky:

Appreciated listening to her perspective there. We really haven’t heard much at all out of her since the late ’90s, though people still do love to lob her name around for humorous effect. That “scandal” always bugged me, particularly in how Monica was vilified and yet Linda Tripp and Bill Clinton weren’t anywhere nearly as much, despite what all wrong they clearly did in the situation and them being older at the time. So a young intern formed a serious crush on an older, powerful man and engaged in sexual activities with him — so what? He’s the one who was married at the time and expected to act respectably in the office in which he’d been elected to serve. And Linda Tripp posed as a friend to Monica all while backstabbing her and then later making all those embarrassing recordings public. And for what? What did she really accomplish through all of that? Bill Clinton wasn’t impeached and wasn’t judged nearly as harshly in the aftermath of that storm, yet Monica’s reputation was ruined for well over a decade. And for what? Because she made naive, immature choices in her early 20s, as if the rest of us didn’t.

I agree with what she said about “upstanding,” which is basically standing up and showing compassion rather than passively behaving like an apathetic bystander. The internet is saturated with vitriol and cruel words — no question there. And that attitude problem has been bleeding over into society as a whole. It’s like television started it, then the internet exacerbated it, and now it’s flowing every which way today. How could that not have an incredible impact on the youngest people out here, especially when they wind up targeted and incessantly harassed? We’ve all seen it occurring online. Hard not to notice.

Politics can’t fix this, but I do agree that a rise in empathy could. And that appeals to us each on an individual level since that’s where it begins. We all get mad and feel scorned and want to lash out at times with our gossip. God knows I’m guilty of that too. But then you have to rein it in and remember to keep it in perspective and proportional. Shame is a hell of a social weapon. I know this personally in my own way, though Monica takes the cake in dealing with more ridicule and gossip than probably anybody should ever have to endure for years on end, especially for something that’s really not the world’s business. How she’s kept it together all this time is a testament to her character and her support network. Would’ve turned me into a complete basketcase going through what she did. We all said and did all sorts of crazy stuff during our time growing up. Reaching age 18 or 21 isn’t some magical line where suddenly we’re adults who had it all together. Not by a long shot. And emotions can be so strong when you’re younger and deeply infatuated.

I’ve embarrassed myself a million times over and likely will continue doing so pretty regularly since I’m slow to get my act together, even now in my 30s. But when you get locked in by a character assassination and treated as that and only that forevermore, it keeps a person from being able to grow and mature and learn from those experiences, as is the natural process. None of us were born having it all figured out, and those who pretend to are the ones I’d worry about the most since they’re deluded. Life’s a tangled web, especially nowadays, and it’s probably going to get more complicated from here on out. That worries me too, because it’s tough to muster the strength to continuously contend with this obstacle course known as modern living. Let alone to do so with dignity…that being an area I won’t pretend to know much about.

How can we not have empathy for people right about now, considering what all we’re up against? Interpersonal drama is hard enough to deal with, and I can only imagine how much more devastating it must be to have your dirty laundry publicly aired with your voice and photos and name attached to it, placed on permanent public record. That’s a lot for anyone to handle. And I think that’s why I do share as much as I do on here, in an attempt to desensitize myself to the scorn felt from others, because the alternative seems to be to hunker down and keep everything as private as possible at a time when privacy is being actively eroded all around. And because we’re just human beings out here living and learning, with no one of us having it all figured out. We like to judge others so as to deflect criticism from ourselves, but in reality we’re harboring our own sins and misdeeds. Who isn’t? I am and I can’t help but talk about it sometimes, probably partly because it does attract others who know what it feels like to be on one side of the situation or the other and can therefore meaningfully relate. Lets us see more clearly how human we really are when we honestly share back and forth with one another about our lives and choices.

But what we see happening today is a trend headed toward judgements cast anonymously and/or by those who conceal their own flaws and missteps and private failures. That’s a one-sided attack, not a bid for personal growth. That’s treating other people’s lives as little more than entertainment fodder — objectification in the rawest sense of the word. And that’s pretending and false righteousness. We all get indignant at times, but it’s a question of whether we can simmer down eventually and examine the broader picture, including our own mistakes and bad choices and wrongful treatment of others. Because I’ve never met a saint. And if one should exist, he or she wouldn’t behave self-righteously and scorn so many others with contempt. He or she would understand that all humans are fallible.

Sex role evolution, love, and neuroticism — an excerpt from Otto Rank’s “Beyond Psychology”

Today I’ll be transcribing a portion of Otto Rank’s book Beyond Psychology (1941), beginning on page 181:

Herein is anchored the true democratic ideology of Christianity, promising every man equality before God, that is, in his own self, whereas our political democracy, praiseworthy as it may be, always remains an unattainable ideal of the heavenly kingdom on earth. Interestingly enough, early Christianity proves to be more realistic in that respect than later periods of social planning. By proclaiming that man is not fundamentally bad, Christian doctrine simultaneously claimed that things were bad and had to be changed. While the Jew was constantly blaming himself for not meeting the ideal requirements of his God, the early Christians with Paul as their leader were keenly aware of the need for a change of order.

This change of order, which finally precipitated the collapse of the ancient world, was, however, brought about first by the change of the type of man through the new idea of love. This new ideology, purely conceived of as being loved by God with the meaning of accepting one’s own self as fundamentally good, was bound to be misunderstood, misinterpreted and misused in the course of time until we find it in our day thwarted and twisted in the neurotic type who is either fighting it willfully or giving in to it too “masochistically.” But, in one way or another, this genuine need of the human being to be loved became the strongest motive for the molding and building of personality-types. Yet, while the curse of the evil was overcome by being loved, meaning, being good, the trouble with this humanized love-ideology was that not being loved made the individual bad. In a word, the moral integrity of the personality became so utterly dependent upon the other person’s love that the individual either had to deny it willfully or submit to the insecurity of a personal God.

This humanization of the spiritual love-principle reached its climax in an era known as the Romantic period, which left its imprint on modern relationship in an ideology called Romanticism. This eighteenth century philosophy of love was prepared for in the Renaissance, which, as a cultural movement, evolved a new conception of love entirely original and quite different from that of the Middle Ages. While the ancients considered love a pleasure whereby human beauty was accepted as a mere aspect of nature’s beauty, for the Middle Ages it had been sin, and feminine beauty was looked upon as a temptation by man who no longer saw woman as a means of pleasure but as a cause of perdition. During the Renaissance, however, feminine beauty as its all-powerful stimulus became, together with a new conception of love, the object of philosophic speculation and the admitted source of poetic inspiration. In the synthesis, not entirely heathen and not fully Christian, which Renaissance culture represents, love was considered sensuous as well as spiritual, and woman was looked upon as fully equal to man, that is, endowed with gifts of mind as well as body. Contrary to the thought of the Middle Ages, love was no longer considered subordinate to virtue, or beauty denounced as a source of peril. In a word, the conception of original sin changed to the conception of original love. Love, that is to say, was appreciated not because it was a means of becoming good, but because it was good, which means not only pleasurable but beautiful, that is, part of nature.

In the Romantic period which flourished in Germany, this free philosophy of love could not be accepted. There it was not the beautiful woman who was appreciated and thus loved; it was woman as a group or class who became idealized. The leading intellects of that period, shaken in their fundamental selves by the repercussions of the French Revolution, saw in fully developed womanhood the perfect, that is, emotional expression of the true self. In a period of collectivistic ideologies glorifying folk-traditions, folk-lore and folk-art, woman became, so to speak, collectivized as the carrier of racial continuity. The challenge to love no longer appears epitomized in sheer beauty but in an abstract notion called the “beautiful soul.” Although this idea was taken over from Plato’s “Banquet,” the actual love-life of the poets in the Romantic period was anything but “platonic.” In fact, Wieland, to whom is credited the romantic conception of the “beautiful soul,” indulges in erotic phantasies bordering on the pornographic; whereas his English predecessors, the philosopher Shaftsbury and the novelist Richardson, had given the “beautiful soul” a moral connotation.1

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[Corresponding footnote:] 1Schiller, in his famous poem, “Anmut und Wuerde” (1793), defined the beautiful soul as the perfect balance between moral feeling and physical emotion.

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In his idealization of woman we recognize a reaction against her moralization brought about in the Middle Ages by the Church, which, in the obsession of witchcraft, had identified her with the evil symbol of mortality—sex. Through this about-face of romanticism man suddenly lifted woman into the role of representing the immortal soul-principle hitherto usurped by him. This role of the soul-bearer, in primitive conception, had been ascribed to her religiously in the soul-belief of totemism and socially in the institution of matriarchy. There, the man could still preserve his personal immortality in his belief of self-perpetuation, whereas in the romantic conception of the woman-soul he actually renounced his better self to her. She became the beautiful soul of the man, his eternal, immutable, immortal side as against the mutability and transitoriness of his individual self. This we saw struggling during that same period with the bad, condemned ego epitomized in the persecuting double.

Thus, in romantic love, the Christian love-ideology, as applying alike to both sexes, became divided up between the two sexes and thereby created a confusion under which we still labor in our sexual psychology. While during the Middle Ages man had made woman the symbol of evil, now by virtue of representing the beautiful soul she was supposed to make him good by allowing him to love her. This reversal of the moral evaluation had two far-reaching results. Through the collective ideology of the beautiful soul applied to her, the woman became, so to speak, “collective,” that is, promiscuous, as borne out by the not so “romantic” but highly sensual relationships among the leaders of the romantic movement, who may be said to have introduced the modern divorce vogue into our sex life. Secondly, this promiscuity, together with the freedom of emotional expression permitted her, gave women a decidedly masculine appearance, which basically was determined by her having been made the bearer of man’s soul-ideology.

As the woman was allowed so much freedom and encouraged to play the role of soul-saver for the man, he soon felt too dependent upon her; she threatened to dominate his whole life and even the hereafter. Thus in his eyes she became bad again. This change of attitude found expression in literary fashions and types, such as “The Fatal Woman,” or “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” which can be traced right to our own times in the writings of Oscar Wilde, André Gide and Gabriele D’Annunzio. In those man-made literary fashions which were instrumental in creating corresponding types in life, the woman not only appears unwomanly but hard and cruel in a masculine manner. Here we first meet the types of sadistic-masculine woman and masochistic-feminine man, who, although in their time they were accepted, indeed, highly estimated types, in our day have been diagnosed as “neurotic.” Their strange behavior started the first psychological speculations about the basic difference of the two sexes.1 Just as this difference, in view of nature’s bisexuality, does not imply any clear-cut distinction, so is there no sharp line to be drawn between sensual pleasure and pain as we find those sensations coupled in romantic sado-masochism. While this sexual terminology has actually been derived from two outspoken perverts, the psychological relation between pleasure and pain expresses a deep-rooted bond based on the duality of the life-principle itself. As sex naturally implies death in the surrender of the individual to the collective life-principle, we meet in romantic love a moralization of this very life-principle whereby man became submissive and created the picture of the fatal, cruel, in a word, sadistic woman. Side by side with this type, we encounter as a reaction to it, the satanic and diabolical man in the literature of the same period. This type is epitomized in the notorious Marquis de Sade and his “sadistic” writings, which influenced all modern writers up to the rank of such authors as Flaubert, Baudelaire and Swinburne.

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[Corresponding footnote:] 1On this subject, one of the most famous scientists of that period, Wilhelm von Humboldt, wrote an essay, “Ueber den Geschlechtsunterschied,” 1795.

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For the “beyond” of psychology it is particularly important to realize the order in which those types surviving in our sexual psychology appear in romantic literature: first, the masochistic man in bondage to the merciless woman, and only afterwards the sadistic man in an attempt to liberate himself from this self-imposed submission. The sadistic type, the creation of a decadent male, has produced another artifice of our psychological wax-cabinet—the masochistic woman. This invention followed when the man had again to divest the woman of the masculine characteristics he had bestowed on her. By making her “masochistic,” that is, completely submissive to him, he had to picture and thus make her womanly in an extreme fashion. True, this submissiveness is her basic self, but submitting to nature, not to the man. Such natural “sacrifice,” in fully accepting her biological role, is different from the woman’s artificially “sacrificing herself” for the man, which she can do only in true “masochistic” fashion. This sacrificial tendency, which might be conceived of as an exaggerated form of Agape, is deeply rooted in woman’s nature and not just a masochistic perversion in the sense of our psychology. As long as it satisfies the individual’s desire for happiness, we have no right to stigmatize it as “neurotic” or “perverse” just because we are not capable of understanding its vital significance. The Christian martyr can be as little explained by being labeled “masochistic” as, for example, can the Japanese soldier for whom sacrifice and self-sacrifice represents one of the highest virtues. The Freudian concept of “self-punishment,” derived from his masochistic interpretation of sacrificial tendencies, has been erroneously explained as the neurotic’s perversion to gain pleasure from pain. The pleasure derived from suffering has to be ascribed to the triumph of the individual will over pain, which thus ceases to be inflicted and becomes self-willed.

The masochistic submissiveness of modern woman reveals itself in the light of those moralistic ideologies as less neurotic than the narrowing psychoanalytic viewpoint makes it appear. Basically, such submissive attitude is an essential part of woman’s biological nature; its exaggeration and subsequent exploitation, however, is man-made and betrays the influence of man’s ideologies on woman “psychology.” Not a few women act masochistically, i.e. as if they derived pleasure from pain, for two admitted reasons: first, from a desire to give the man they love pleasure, if he is insecure enough to need their masochism to boost his ego; secondly, in order to be changed, that is, to be made submissive to their own nature, which has been distorted by masculine ideologies. Those classical cases of masochism which have been described not only in fiction but even in textbooks, belong to the same kind of romantic literature which produced the original type. In reality, those women were “masochistic” only once in their lives, i.e., in relation to one person; at other times they can be quite will-ful and resistive. Their “masochism” represents a period in their lives when they permit themselves to submit to one particular person so completely that only their volition to do so makes it possible. In this sense, their “masochism” becomes a will-ful, instead of a natural, acceptance of their feminine submissiveness. It is here, in this area of non-acceptance of the self, where the neuroticism of this type lies, and not in masochism, which merely represents an attempt to counteract its original selfish nature. The only justification I can see in labeling the masochistic woman “neurotic,” is in the unreality of the type itself.

All our neurotic terminology and ideology, in fact, originated from the unreality of personality behaviour and patterns, the reality of which has been lost. For example, the outstanding women of the Romantic epoch, which produced this type, were not considered neurotic but just strong personalities, at least, stronger than woman had formerly been allowed to be; sufficiently strong, at any rate, to scare the man into his sadistic psychology. This sado-masochistic ideology of the male, which still confuses psychoanalysts, sprang from an attempt on the part of the romantic type to extricate himself from his own conflict between dominance and surrender. The solution he found by dividing the two kinds of love—represented in Eros and Agape—between the two sexes led to our sexual psychology created from man’s need to justify himself and uphold his age-old prejudices.

The first prejudice, namely, that the sexual act is necessarily pleasurable, is obviously contradicted by nature herself. We have only to look at the animal kingdom to be convinced that as a rule it is a painful struggle, to be avoided, if possible; one which the human being had to idealize in order to accept it at all. Closely related to this widespread illusion is another assumption taken too much for granted, that every human being wants to live as long as possible, or for that matter wants to live at all. To risk death, or even to seek it, is not necessarily an unbiological gesture. There are people who want to die, without justifiably being diagnosed as “suicidal.” Especially when death comes suddenly and painlessly, it need not represent an escape but can be real deliverance, particularly when one’s life has been fulfilled or is to be fulfilled by dying. Last, but not least, is the prejudice which includes all others, namely, that everyone’s happiness is the same. For this assumption causes us to designate as “neurotic” any other whose ideas of happiness do not coincide with ours. Herein lies the greatest sin of psychology: that it sets up absolute standards derived from a rational interpretation of one prevailing type by which to judge not only our fellow men but also to interpret personalities and behaviour of the past.

In the realm of our own discussion we have only to take one of the greatest saints, Catherine of Siena, in order to illustrate the difference between psychological reality and unreality. In spite of her amazing asceticism, we could not call her “masochistic,” nor, despite her single-handed fight against the mighty Pope, could she be classified as a megalomaniac. In his recent study of Catherine, Joh. Jorgensen points out that her vast assumption of authority is the very reverse of egotism, springing as it does from complete self-surrender. The core of Catherine’s teaching is the need for absolute renunciation of self: it is St. Francis’ doctrine of poverty under a transcendental aspect. Here again is shown how man’s and woman’s nature and behaviour differ—even where saintliness is concerned. Being a woman, Catherine was able to completely identify her will with the will of the Church, which, representing the Bride of Christ, made Catherine the same through the mystical marriage. Thus she could become the conscience of Christendom, not because she was so presumptuous as to aspire to it but because she had emptied herself so completely of self-will that she felt the divine conscience working through her.

Experiences like this, and others in the past, could manifest themselves as powerful realities just because they were spiritually real. Not that these personalities were “neurotic,” but that they had, besides their neurosis, something else which enabled them to be creative in spite of it; in truth, they experienced really in themselves what we may only allow to remain a shadow or sham experience, that is, a neurotic one. In other words, it is not what the individual experiences, but how he does it, which makes our true conception of neurosis independent of any content, i.e., a matter of attitude. In this sense, the woman is not neurotic because she is “masochistic,” but is neurotic, one might almost say, because she is not really submissive and wants to make believe that she is.

The same holds good for the masculine counterpart, sadism, which we characterized as a self-assertive reaction against the presumable dominance of the woman. From a human study of the Marquis de Sade, the father of sadism, it clearly follows that it is not an original perversion exaggerated to pathological proportions by a neurotic personality. It is no sexual problem at all, in fact, but a problem of the man’s ego, thwarted by his hatred of women and mankind in general. He was as full of hate for the whole world as Catherine was full of love for God, but with both of them it was a real experience. The “psychology” of de Sade can only be understood from his fundamental hatred, which means it is at bottom a moral problem of good and evil, not merely a sexual aberration. As a matter of fact, the problem of love itself cannot be fully comprehended without the phenomenon of hatred. The simple observation that love so frequently changes into hatred when the individual feels disappointed or hurt indicates a deep-seated relation between the two emotions. Of course, love does not simply “change” into hatred, but both are manifestations of two opposite life-forces: the tendencies toward unification and separation respectively, that is, toward likeness and difference. This explains why hatred appears not infrequently as the result of a heightened love-emotion which carries the individual too far away from his own self to an over-identification with the other.

[All emphasis his. Footnotes omitted except the two cited.]

Stopping on page 190.

This whole book has provided a great deal of food for thought stretching back through human history. I hope to transcribe further portions of it going forward.

Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst who, for a couple decades, had been a close friend of Sigmund Freud before branching off to go his own unique way in trying to make sense out of human life.

Late-night personal thoughts in mid-October

Had another rough day on Sunday, for no particular reason. Nothing had gone wrong, and yet when I woke up everything seemed awry. It does this sometimes, pretty frequently actually. About every couple weeks or so it seems I get a bit depressed, sometimes provoked, other times not. Can set me in a panic. Honestly it is a bit maddening…and that may be an understatement. Continue reading

“Openness (Why it is Crucial to Be Open)”

Another good video by Teal on openness:

“You are restricted to the one perspective you call by your name.” Yes, exactly. And it’s something similar to her attitude expressed in that video that is fueling my own project in living out loud. Because why not? Only have one life to live (so far as we’re aware). Might as well explore it more fully.

It only hurts me when I cry… (personal story-sharing)

A song playing in my car today, Dwight Yoakam’s “It Only Hurts When I Cry”:

Got something on my mind right now. A male relative called and we discussed some matters that are pretty sad to contemplate. Continue reading

Dr. Robert Sapolsky On Depression in U.S. (Full Lecture)

Currently watching:

That’s interesting about the two versions of that gene and how glucocorticoids regulate their function. That discovery sounds very promising for finding better ways to help alleviate major depression, and I’ll look further into this subject and see what new information has been made available since that lecture came out in 2009 (this being the first I’ve heard of this breakthrough).

“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.