The gender discourse more and more makes me feel like an alien better off talking to myself

alien_playgroundYa know, the more I read people’s opinions and stated positions online, the more I feel like a freak stuck in the outfield.  lol  Because so far as I can tell nearly everybody’s perpetuating the status quo, even those claiming to want to go up against it and call it out, and even my own self at the end of the day since all ideas I come up with would require massive concerted efforts that are basically a pipe dream at this point in time and won’t ever likely come to pass unless somehow humanity winds up knocked back into the Stone Age (maybe an asteroid can help us out there).

I see feminists arguing all across the board, contradicting one another and confusing the hell out of everybody out here. Then I turn to see MRAs fighting what basically amounts to straw feminists and taking up tactics not terribly unlike those embraced by the feminists they take such tremendous issue with. And what are all of these people essentially fighting for? Changed laws, mostly — seeking a legal remedy to what is at the core a human social problem. And it won’t work, not in a lasting way. What strikes me as rather nonsensical about the MRM strategy is that it’s arguing for changing the system to be fairer toward men, while in the same breath admitting that the system itself is the problem in a nutshell. And that’s where I get confused, because I too agree that the system itself is the culprit, though I’m able to acknowledge that this system isn’t pro- or anti-woman any more so than it is pro- or anti-male, at least not for long, because all that we have going on in modern times is decidedly anti-human in the long-run. And that’s where I wind up floating out of orbit and am unable to align myself with the expressed views of either “side” in this divisive gender clash. My own concerns are with modernity and where it’s led and continues leading us all. Men and women are all impacted in various ways, some that overlap more than others, but everybody stands vulnerable to being chewed up by this progression toward what I can only describe as the formation of hell on earth, 2.0.

My own views are apparently far more radical (strike-at-the-root radical, though probably viewed as extreme as well) than nearly everybody else’s I’m coming across both online and offline, not that that shocks me since I’ve been figuring this out for several years already. But when I stumbled back across the gender war online I was coming in after years of actively trying to shut much of that shit out of my mind, save for what directly affects me and those I come into contact with (not that I don’t care about the wider world, but we all need to take a breather from time to time). Why? Because the back-and-forth bickering is getting people nowhere anymore. Many are fighting for the sake of fighting and aiming to punish others rather than help construct something of real productive value. People would rather scream and outsource all blame to their “opposition” than recognize how we all play into this and nearly all wind up impacted by it to varying degrees. There’s no automatic privilege that comes with being a woman today anymore than there is with being a man, so these attempts to categorically stereotype and dismiss all who belong to the opposite sex strikes me as a major waste of time that does nothing but distract us from actually dealing with what humanity as a whole is confronted with today. And that boils down to being about money and power more often than not.

We live in the times of centralizing power and authority on a scale never before seen in human history. Economic gaps are widening and resources are being controlled by major corporations capable of purchasing political power outright. We all, males and females alike, are fast becoming no more powerful than specks of dirt blowing in the wind, though some cling to the illusion that they will be protected if they can align themselves with powerful movements and political groups that appear to hold sway.

Thoughts to be continued another time. Need to eat and then head back out to work.

What if we’re all dust mites on somebody else’s mattress?

My guy felt like playfully pondering tonight and came upon the topic of dust mites and asked me to look up images.

House dust mite - Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus

We’re pretty sure that’s what alien hamsters will look like.

Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of a Dust Mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus), magnification x 700

Fugly but rather fascinating to stop and think about the micro-world within our habitats, within us and on our skin at all times, in bed with us, undetectable by naked sight.

dust_mite

Beyond our visual capacity and only really made known to us through our most modern technologies. And my guy pondered if maybe humans are nothing more than dust mites on a huge galactic mattress. I wonder about that sometimes too and bring in the idea of multiple dimensions, most beyond our comprehension at present, where for us what we experience as macro might be the tiniest of the micros belonging to an indescribably larger fabric. What if our galaxy were but one small atom in that world? How would we know? I bet we could search outer-space forever and it would never tell us. Just a hunch. And that’s why the topic necessarily must lead back to metaphysical inquiries or otherwise wind up abandoned altogether. I doubt everything in life is or ever will be within human capability to prove, and even if we someday could, what good would such confirmation likely do us by then?

Makes me also think of how not only is our visual sight obviously limited, our conceptual “sight” is as well. We have blinders up all over the place boxing in our minds and determining what information gets in or gets noticed, due to biologically-ingrained ways of being, preferences and biases, accepted narratives and the subsequent denial required to assimilate within a given culture and its religion(s); basically being restricted to feeling out the world through what empirically-accumulated data we can access and test for. He brought up how we’re facing information overload, and why it makes him prefer to tune and opt out for the most part (aside from work and family and friends). It’s just too much for any one us to comprehend, so he says “ah well” and rolls over and goes to sleep. He knows it’s fucked up out here in the human world and Nature remains mysterious beyond our imaginings and most current findings. He wouldn’t word it that way, but I’m doing the typing here.

As much as a part of me wants to look at folks who take that sort of “fuck it” attitude as if they’ve given up, I’ve been learning over time that some just focus their energy locally. Some of these people out here provide quality work they take pride in, are attentive parents and loving partners and helpful friends and neighbors, and they aim to be decent to people wherever they go. He’s just happy to return home at the end of the day to a beer and be attentively listened to about his day and maybe get his back rubbed before heading off to bed so he can wake up and go about trying to earn a living all over again tomorrow. Obviously not all who aim to tune out are natured as I’m describing here, but of these who do manage to turn their “fuck it” into sunshine for others, they are a blessing, even if they couldn’t care less about politics or schooling or defining their spiritual beliefs. The proof is in the pudding in how they actively direct their lives, and I’d say their way of being is probably far more useful than most “activism” could ever hope to be, because they help make living worthwhile and bearable. Their labors exact a toll on their energy, but their spirits remain whole and good (at least more than most — no human being infallible).

Without examples like that, what are we really fighting for? What does it mean “to win” if it leads to a poor quality of life where we’re all distrusting and resentful toward one another?

But now I’ve completely fallen off the topic of dust mites and the cosmos. Ah well…

“…standing on the edge of the road, thumb in the air…” (on patriotism)

The song “Ride On” by AC/DC is still running through my mind. Such a sad tune. But a real one. Raw, real music. Unlike so much of the mindless bubblegum crap the music industry likes to spit out.

Music is art, and art is one depiction of life, framed, captured, isolated and beckoning for our inspection. Art isn’t appreciated merely with the mind — it goes deep to the heart and soul. All talk of logic and rationality and reasonableness becomes laughable, nonsensical, in the glorious realm of art.

Guess that’s why music matters so damn much to me.

Some of ya’ll want to talk politics and chatter about the latest news story and juicy gossip before moving on to the next and the next and the next. Some of you want to jump behind movements and parties and labels and fight one another on those ideological grounds. Well, have at it. Holds little to no appeal for me. I’m being drawn back to basics, back to my own core and to my own problems and questions. Politics can’t help me there.

I got to thinking earlier while driving that I wouldn’t consider myself a “patriot.” Watched a video on YT recently where a gal was coming out against war and in the end referred to herself as a “patriot,” and I couldn’t help but smirk a little. Maybe for a few years back in the day I wanted to look at my own objective as that, to be “truly patriotic” by resisting political chicanery and wars killing innocent people on all sides, arguing that this country needs to be turned in a different direction. The notion of patriotism had obviously been co-opted by charlatans and their blinded followers, and some of us wanted to strip it down and drag it back to where it rightfully belonged: in defending the U.S. Constitution.

Part of me still wants to believe that. I’m still anti-war and sick nearly to death of so much political and societal bullshit, and yes, we’re definitely headed toward a strange and uncool future in the U.S.  Probably unavoidable at this point. But the word “patriotism” means almost nothing to me anymore other than being a relic from an era in history, defending a great idea of setting up a representative constitutional republic based on the principle that a government that governs least governs best, structured with checks and balances built in. It was a phenomenally radical idea for its time, unprecedented, and people have fallen in love with the notion ever since.

Too bad people were not so motivated to maintain it. By the time I rolled onto the scene in the early 1980s, this country had already turned into something much more sinister. The government’s now bloated with power and money and cock-sucking leaches pulling huge pensions for the rest of their lives for simply having “represented” the people for a spell. Back in the 1700s there was no way for those folks to have imagined what a game-changer the corporation would prove to be, but they warned us to be vigilant.

It was a great idea, though it was constructed in an era where only landowners had a right to vote, leaving out the working majority and what may have been in their best interests. But once voting rights were extended out, society then ran up against the problem of most folks being ignorant and too easily misled. This problem has only worsened as society and our government have grown in size and complexity and technologies have advanced at break-neck speed. We don’t know what the hell is going on, not all the way around. There’s no way to know. It’s too big, too much to take in, and now there are too many secrets and lies and cover-ups and sleights of hand. We live in Bullshitville today. This is no longer America, not according to the dreams held in the imaginations of citizens of bygone times.

This is not America. But it does claim to be “too big to fail,” so most people will defend its upkeep tooth and nail, even while this society makes slaves of us all. Economic slaves — tied into earning a paycheck because everything requires money. Money comes from the banks, ultimately controlled by an “independent” Central Bank that maneuvered so as to be able to play puppet master to our government. Here’s how the Federal Reserve describes itself:

Who owns the Federal Reserve?

 The Federal Reserve System fulfills its public mission as an independent entity within government. It is not “owned” by anyone and is not a private, profit-making institution.

 As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.

 However, the Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by the Congress, which often reviews the Federal Reserve’s activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute. Therefore, the Federal Reserve can be more accurately described as “independent within the government” rather than “independent of government.”

 The 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by the Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized similarly to private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.

[bold emphasis mine]

There’s part of our problem right there. People following Ron Paul like to come out as “real patriots” wanting to see the Fed abolished. And I’m not against such a plan, assuming replacement ideas surface. But it appears to be a pipe dream these days. Most folks would defend the Fed with everything they’ve got, because we are all so dependent on this system, and some see themselves as doing well enough under it. Start fucking with people’s means of caring for themselves and their kids and they’ll come out with pitchforks at the ready.

See, everything winds up coming back to fighting other people, because we are all the perpetuators of the current system. Most folks can’t imagine it any other way and will scoff at any new ideas. While this system has been all about rapid change since its earliest beginnings, it provides a train for people to ride along on which we’ve grown accustomed to. Scary as this ride might be, people are leery of jumping off and seeing what else may come.

So what does it mean to be a “patriot” in this context? To belong to a minority that helps light brushfires in the minds of others? Lots of ways of going about that, not all of which are positively focused. What I mean by that is there’s another class of people who go their own way whom we commonly refer to as criminals. We tend to negatively associate the term, but when you stop and think about it all it’s really stating is the individual is a law-breaker. And the truth is that as we stand today, some laws deserve to be broken. Probably a great many. If there isn’t a principled reason of greater consequence behind the law, then of what relevance is it? That’s a question I always ask when examining any ‘lawful’ expectation placed on me.

I doubt most folks will have any clue what I’m talking about here, so let me try to break it down a bit. Some of us out here don’t swear allegiance to any particular nation or state or to whatever rulebook it’s decided citizens should play by. Some draw their inspiration instead from moral laws that they recognize as superseding any and all statist bullshit signed into law by stuffed business suits.

Part of what keeps me sane is knowing that the genie is already out of the bottle, technology is in the hands of average people, and we do have the power to circumvent legal channels in many cases. To me, this is an important aspect to freedom, because if we don’t maintain the right and the ability to do with our own bodies and minds as we see fit, we’re not free. Some might take this as a reference to drugs, but I’m referencing everything. Just finding ways to reduce the amount of taxes you pay in is a worthwhile act of rebellion in a time when the government’s aim is to redistribute wealth unfairly, usually taking from us and giving it over to war contractors or to bailout mismanaged industries also deemed “too big to fail.” Insurance companies are next under this so-called Obamacare.

Circumventing to the point of criminality in my mind isn’t necessarily a real crime. Oh, the State will claim it is and will try to lock us up on account of it. But we’re faced with a choice: we can either continue selling our souls for the illusion of comfort and security, or we can start taking risks and living according to what our minds and bodies are aching for us to do. Bending over and taking it isn’t what my body or mind want out of this life.

So I recommend we get creative. Call it whatever you will.

I personally have my own course of action and do what it is I feel is within my power and is correct for me. Others may have different ideas, that’s fine. But what I’m advocating for here isn’t a sense of lawlessness exactly, but rather a meditation of sorts on what is of real value to us, separating it off from the sea of bullshit we’re currently swimming in, and then taking individual action to uphold what we consider sacred. Because politics and laws can’t deliver this to us — it’s always been up to us to decide this for ourselves and then determine a course of action in sync with what it is we think matters most.

Granted, most folks think the current status quo is the best game in town, so they will act accordingly, and I cannot stop them. Can’t even barely reason with them. Hence why I’m better off figuring out ways to opt out in my own sphere, because those commie fascists have numbers on their side and are intent on steering this ship right into that iceberg. I’m on the ship, and I don’t like this one bit. But I only have my own life to live. It’s the only one I have much control over. And I damn sure don’t have to go along cheerfully or silently with this destructive American project.

More thoughts on peace inside each individual

Listening to music and my mind wandered back to this topic. Something else deserves to be mentioned.

The song playing at the moment:

Have loved that song for so many years. It hits somewhere in my core. Been a while since I last heard it.

“Gonna change my evil ways, one of these days…one of these days…”

That’s the gameplan. Been making progress. Still got a ways to go in key areas, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m kinda fucked up. Hence why I’m offering advice and ideas to others.  lol

God, I love that song. Fuckin’ A. The thing is these days I’ve settled down and can’t just pick up and move like I used to. Not able to travel hardly at all the least 5 years either. Kinda feels claustrophobic sometimes. Like there’s no way to escape. No more riding on. One or two trips a year these days. Busy. Working. No sick days off. And that’s fine. It’s the life I chose. But I can’t run anymore. I’m trapped, stuck dealing with the people I’m burning bridges with. That changes shit. Led to a good bit more isolation, self-inflicted by-and-large, because dramatic bullshit kept (keeps) happening too often out in public. I apparently don’t play terribly well with most others anymore.

And this relates to the topic of peace on the individual level. What does that mean and what does it require of us? How do I change my evil ways, but also maintain my own authenticity? Perfection means little to me in this context; it has nothing to do with what I’m aiming at here. What does it mean to improve oneself in this day and age? To do what more people pat you on the back for? Not necessarily. Probably not even usually, not IMO. Nearly everybody’s as lost as the next person.

This is a highly subjective inquiry. How should I live my life? What is this life asking of me, what do I have to give, and what can I improve upon? Who am I trying to be? Who am I now? Where might I go from here? Where am I headed now?

It appears evident that peace must begin in oneself. How can it be any other way? We’re the source from which actions and behaviors flow. We are the actors and the deciders. We are the lovers and the fighters. It is us. It is me, one part of a wider collective, one member of a civilizing species, one grain of sand, one soul among many.

But how does one make peace with what the U.S. is swiftly becoming? How do we make peace with wars fought in our names, with our tax dollars, when we are left feeling nearly powerless to stop it? How do we make peace with eating crap and watching crap and admiring crap and masturbating to crap? How does a measure of inner peace come about?

I won’t pretend to know. No, that one’s eluded me thus far. But I know the process must begin in myself. I am the only person I have any real control over, I know me better than anyone else ever will, and I depend on me to get by in this world. I am my own keeper. Who else can truly claim to be? Who else knows what you do in every waking moment? I am my own police. This is called self-government, and we don’t speak much about it in this country beyond basic hygiene and school or work performance, hence why the younger generations are so stupid about it (myself included). We are living out of balance, going with the flow of others in our same predicament.

How can we have world peas without individual peas? lol  Sorry, I read that somewhere.

But that’s the dilemma. And everything mentioned in my post right before this one factors in on top and further complicates the matter. It comes down to the question of what does a moral life look like? Can we sustain major nation-states and metropolises while maintaining our sanity? Because it’s changing us. It’s turning us colder, more fanatical, more depressed and anxious. Just look at the amount of intoxicants we’re using. It’s a form of escapism. Guilty as charged. Look at people exercising themselves nearly to death. Look at people working their lives away, seeing making money as the only real goal worth pursuing. Notice how disconnected we feel, from one another, from our own genuine ambitions and desires, from a reality that makes sense.

Can you envision 10 years down the road, because I can’t. Life is changing so rapidly. It’s difficult to know what to expect or how best to prepare.

All of this creates discord that appears inconducive to fostering peace within our hearts and minds. How do we get around this?

Well, I’ve been thinking and believe that even seemingly small acts have their place and can prove incredibly important in the long run. Some of us might be bigger jobs than others and therefore require more work to keep relatively steady. Some are simple and easily cheered and contented, but we didn’t all come from the same mold. And that’s okay. Such is life. There’s really no “normal” to speak of here. But I think regaining what reins we’re able on our own lives and our own selves is paramount. That doesn’t mean trying to strictly control oneself or one’s environment, but rather working toward the sort of things that give us real pleasure in the end and that we can be genuinely proud of ourselves for. Until our individual confidences are built up, where can we begin? How much can bloom from us if we feel sick and weak in the spirit, body and mind? And what does it take to replenish oneself?

I don’t rightly know, though I continue to seek out possibilities and ideas.

The beer has called an end to this posting.

21st-Century Schizoid Americans

[The video for King Crimson’s 1969 performance of “21st Century Schizoid Man” was removed on youtube, damn it all to Hades.]

Amazing song. It became a favorite almost immediately after stumbling across it on Pandora 2 or 3 years back.

Want to marvel more at the talent that goes into creating a sexy piece of music like that? See this “Premiata Forneria Marconi” cover of it:

Blows the mind. Daaammmn. What artistry, nothing like the techno-pop auto-tuned crap churned out today.

Every once in a blue moon I just like to chill with this song, run it through 2-3 times, let it sink in. This song’s peculiarity grabbed me right away. And then you look at the lyrics, and it’s sobering poetry:

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door.
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Blood rack barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets’ starving children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Right on. I get it. This is one of those songs worth us 21st-century schizoids meditating on from time to time. But maybe that would actually lead to more mindless nihilism (as opposed to conscious and principle-guided nihilism I suppose, having now listened to others’ arguments drawing a distinction).

And maybe what I typically think of when I use the word “nihilist” in an insulting fashion are people who are so deep in apathy that they no longer care what they believe in. They choose not to think that far ahead, or they reassure themselves and others that the future will simply sort itself out. Technology and scientific research are bound to pave the way to universal happiness, don’t ya know? Because they don’t really believe in anything, they turn their attention to everyday life and willingly become consumed by mindless entertainment with little to no educational value at a time when we really need to be paying closer attention to what’s going on around us all.

Because we’ve dropped the reins. Who’s running this show? Still placing faith in the invisible hand of the market? This is not a pure capitalistic economy in the U.S., not by a long shot. And our economy is fusing with our political institutions, or, more accurately, it’s buying out its seats and positions with campaign contributions and lobbyist bribes.

And who do we imagine is responsible for this? It’s not as if it came about through an act of God, if by that we mean the deliberate workings of a supernatural force or being. No, it’s the vast majority of people on earth’s fault — WE THE 99%.

Now, I was born at the beginning of the ’80s, and of course life in the U.S. has been bullshit for a long time before then. It’s been bullshit since WWI. It’s been bullshit since the Civil War. Might’ve been bullshit right out the gate, but who knows? None of us were there. The documents passed down tend to be those of famous and influential people of a given time, not opinion polls collecting data on what average folks had to say about things. Gotta keep it in perspective.

And it’s inquiries like these that are schizoid in their own right.  Ha  High abstract thinking requires a bit of unsanity, to quickly paraphrase the message discussed in a recent video by Professor Anton:

I appreciate the way he thinks, mild in manner and all.

Back to “21st-Century Schizoid Man”…

So, how did we let this happen? How did we let modern life become what it is? Well, one thing humans did is placed a tremendous amount of faith in science and technology to deliver an impressive future we’d enjoy. As noted above, we assumed the market would somehow bring this about (though much scientific research isn’t determined by public input or purchasing power, but rather through political allocations we trust elected officials and appointed persons to carry out responsibly on our behalf — and how has that worked out for us?). Humans tend to choose entertainment over seemingly abstract duties and responsibilities, and plenty are overworked and lack time to devote to taxing inquiries. We’re kept so busy with trying to figure out how to navigate in modern life, and our social lives have become infinitely complicated now that we come into contact with so many varied people on a regular basis.

Every temptation under the sun exists today and can be had for the right price. In a sense, we in the U.S. do live in a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. That chips away from people’s orientation toward commitment, honesty, dignity, practicality, intuition, imagination, thrift, and heart. We’re a bunch of kids in a candy store, and it’s not a secret. Nothing feels truly off-limits. What does dignity even mean today when everything’s for sale, including most of our souls? Can we even grasp which way is up? What might that look like? What fundamentals continue to truly matter in this day and age?

Is this what nihilism means to some people? To be stripped of everything you thought you believed in and then try to reconstruct a narrative that may be more convenient or perhaps tailored according to principles we individually define for ourselves? Sounds nice in theory, but how many of us possess the willpower, fortitude, and well-developed conscience to properly direct our lives in an honestly productive fashion? How many want to do so beyond keeping up appearances? Today’s “sin” seems to lie in not keeping up appearances and thereby setting others at unease.

How much faith do I have in us? Aggregately? Not much. In select individuals? Plenty. In myself? I don’t know. The game has warped me. We humans are not infinitely malleable and our environments play such a major role in molding us; life in today’s concrete jungle and all that spins off from that is creating a specially challenging situation to contend with.

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.

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.

Sunday thoughts on the neocon vision and our possible futures

Got angry the other day, but moods like that come and go. Caught up on sleep and felt a bit better. Created a video to capture my thoughts that cold and rainy day, but I don’t care to link it here. Just was an honest depiction of how I feel with all of this some days. But my own life isn’t bad and my job is wonderful most days. Storms and bad weather come and go, and I enjoy walking outdoors. Just eagerly awaiting spring up here, chomping at the bit, wishing this state didn’t cycle between summers and winters and skip the springs and falls. Transition seasons are the best. This year nature has decided to be a tease. Maybe next week we’ll finally be in the clear.

But I meant what I said. Edited it carefully to ensure that’s what I shared with others. Neocons drive me wild. Militant pro-lifers freak me out. We have technologies for everything, and that’s all fine and dandy, but when it comes to reproductive choices we should remain living in the Middle Ages. That’s some weird stuff. And I know why they believe that — because the more of us there are, the more competitive with one another we become. The less we each individually come to matter; the more interchangeable we become. Cogs in a wheel. Humanity being bent into machines for economic purposes. That sounds like hell on earth to me. I can’t imagine a worse way to live. How completely meaningless that would be.

Nineteen-Eighty-Four-George-OrwellOften I juxtapose in my mind between the themes in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I imagine both outcomes in a blended way. First Nineteen Eighty-Four‘s vision of strict class stratification; history being rewritten or disappeared; Big Brother Government communicating with us through spying computer screens (quite ingenious that he thought that up in the 1940s); being told how to live and expected to strictly conform; bratty, spoiled children rule and snitch on their parents (and adults are encouraged to snitch on other adults); genders divided and cold toward one another, treating sex as if rape, stubbornly locked in competition.

Brave-New-WorldOr maybe life is more of a pick your ending kind of book, assuming technologies advance in key areas that make Huxley’s vision possible: strictly stratified society determined by social engineering strategies, with babies all born in laboratories and all women on birth control; casual sex rules the day and pair-bonding is actively discouraged, beginning at a very young age; all citizens enjoy the drug Soma, which in small doses sounds like a lot of fun, but on gigantic doses proves lethal, enabling it to be used for euthanizing people; people have been turned into pets and it’s not clear exactly what all they do, though they maintain a lower working class (intentionally designed to be simple and stupid) to keep up on the laborious and assembly-line tasks.

Sounds to me like choosing to be made to be outright servants or dumbed-down pets conditioned to accept our chains and give up our humanity. Thankfully we’re not limited to those two possible narratives. But they go through my mind when I see and hear what’s going on out in society. Try my best not to stay up on the news these days, but bits leak in anyway. Always so much bullshit. What’s really astounding to me is that more people aren’t piping up about so much of this. Are they not scared? Because the levels of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drug prescriptions tell another story. Do happy people take drugs that say right on the label may cause “suicidal ideation”? Especially when reports now claim, in terms of treating the symptoms the drugs are actually designed to treat, they’ve proven no more effective than taking placebo pills. That’s no good.

People try to be happy, I give ’em that. But there’s a lot going on and it seems many would prefer not to look at it and see it for what it is, as if others will magically step in and resolve the problems for us, no effort required out of the rest of us. But that will never work. The answers being given are ones that serve a master that doesn’t care about the fate of humanity. It is about acquisition and dominance and little else. Why allow something as important as our destiny be left up to be determined by people proving not to have common people’s best interest at heart? Why wait for heroes to save us from ourselves, and how could they anyway? If we choose to stubbornly ignore what we’re confronted with and offer no active response toward a better way, where do we expect to wind up? In heaven?

big_brother_kindle

I believe heaven and hell to be only relevant when discussing life on earth, and both are entirely subjective. We possess the power to create heaven or hell for our own selves, for one another, and for other living beings. This is the truth, which we can clearly see. Whether heaven or hell await us in an afterlife or not, we do know approximates of heaven and hell await us right here, right where we stand today. This was demonstrated repeatedly by peoples of the past, even in wealthy societies. The future is not completely left up to chance nor has it 100% been pre-determined. We do possess some free will, enough to impress on one another and hopefully also enough to better govern our own selves.

I struggle with my own impulses and shortcomings and am not here to place judgment on others necessarily, just sharing my own thoughts.

We are not so weak as to be inconsequential. This I firmly accept as true.

Anger is not something to automatically fear in others or reject in ourselves. It serves its purposes too. I don’t believe people can honestly and deeply reckon with truths without it boiling us up inside at times, assuming we’re talking about people possessing functioning consciences. Because what we have going on today is some wicked stuff, and it’s not okay, and I wish to GOD we didn’t have to support it. Tax week. Ugh.

It hurts to hand over money to the IRS, knowing what it’s going to fund. Don’t others feel this way, and if so, what can we do? I personally recommend self-employment, though it’s probably only a matter of time before that option winds up being squeezed out of existence. The IRS prefers to collect our money upfront and out of every paycheck. So many comply and accept those conditions, and this creates a conundrum when it comes to telling the IRS to stick it. How does one collecting a paycheck throw off the IRS? Is it possible? If not, so long as we work, we work for them, and our fate is sealed if this isn’t changed.

What power can we claim to possess if we cannot refuse to pay a corrupt government? The power to boycott matters because money is all those jokers seem capable of responding to.

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