“White Farmers Slaughtered in South Africa | Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux”

“Joe Rogan Experience #1081 – Bret Weinstein & Heather Heying”

“Russell Brand & Jordan Peterson – Kindness VS Power | Under The Skin #46”

Evening thoughts on Valentine’s Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Known unknowns of the future…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love can find a way.

A glimpse into Stephen King

Another lazy evening perusing on Twitter and Youtube, taking it easy. It’s cold as hell outside, and there’s nowhere to be until tomorrow. Sipping seltzer water like usual, watching the wheels go ’round and ’round. Which I need to do. Polished my nails. Re-watched one of Kevin Hart’s comedy specials (after first watching Dr. Jordan Peterson’s latest appearance on Joe Rogan’s channel). Baked brownies last night and handed them off to my neighbors this morning. Hopefully they like their new home. Liked having them as neighbors.

The gossip of the day: Stephen King came out typing shit about “karma” in regards to that train full of Republicans crashing into a garbage truck in Virginia. Killed the man in the truck who one source claims was 28 years old. Seriously injured another person. Sad state of affairs there, and then King wants to be crass about it. Pretty harsh, man. Especially coming from a guy who himself was run over by a van years back. Heard all about it in his memoir On Writing, purchased a year or so ago. Followed that with his book The Running Man, which I really liked (leading us to rent the film by the same title which turned out nothing like the book and sucked). Re-watched part of the movie Misery around Christmas time and even went to the theater with a friend a while back to see the new rendition of the movie It (which we didn’t care for, though I remember the original being terrifying back in the day). Grew up reading his books, from Cujo to Gerald’s Game, and watching a few movies based on his books.

So I’ve had Stephen King on my mind from time to time. Moved on to books by other authors (mostly nonfiction) for much of my adult years until randomly stumbling across his book Desperation at Walmart during my last visit to Mississippi in 2016. Proved entertaining enough.

No question that he’s a talented author, but I’ve never been a fan of his politics.

On a slight side-note, I recall watching a talk between King and John Grisham a year or more back where King’s demeanor struck me as kinda off-putting:

Is it my imagination or does the man ooze with a sense of superiority? Snooty and goofy, if you ask me.

Anyway, knowing what I know by now, it really shouldn’t surprise me that Stephen King would pop off a tweet like that.

That’s Stephen King in the raw. Can admire his craft but still think his personality sucks. Stuck in his own bubble.

Sad what political ideologies can do to people. Makes one wonder who a person might’ve otherwise been had they not gotten drunk on the asshole kool-aid.

“Joe Rogan Experience #1070 – Jordan Peterson”

What I’m listening to tonight:

Hello darkness, my old friend…

Come to find out, Twitter can be bad for the soul. Only started checking it more regularly in recent months, previously barely caring about the platform. Didn’t have much use for it other than as a place to store articles and links. But now I check the feed typically daily and scan through all the political grandstanding. Ideologies gone wild. Some are completely in love with Trump, while others entirely despise him. Then they foam at the mouth at one another and get worked up into a tizzy. Rinse and repeat day after day.

Feels like watching a bunch of handicapped weirdos attempting to compete with one another. Which in that sense is kind of nice since it helps me to feel more “normal” by comparison.  lol

Then again, sanity is fast becoming a rare luxury — or curse, depending on how you experience it. What’s that quote about how it’s no testament of health to be well-adapted to a profoundly sick society?

That’s the one. Krishnamurti said it.

It’s like living within a clown car, or a clown bus. Everybody’s at each other’s throats, looking for reasons to get offended or trying to get a humorous slam in. We’re going to meme ourselves to death on such platforms.

Was talking to a friend earlier today on the topic of U.S. politics and how people are losing their shit over Trump every stinking day since he took office. My friend has been tuning out the news for the most part, but he too considers Trump to be batshit insane. Okay. Well, I’m not interested in defending the man. Just strikes me as kind of funny since I can’t see how Hillary Clinton (or Bill too, for that matter) or Obama or 75% of Congress are any better. It’s one big fucking circus. And if you’re still buying into the Left/Right paradigm and believe one party or the other has your best interest at heart, you’re a naive and/or willfully blind fool. That’s my position and it has been for a long time now. Can’t shake my distrust of either side, especially knowing that each “team” received the same Big Corporate backing, meaning they’re serving the same masters.

Apparently it’s difficult for most people to accept that our politicians don’t give a damn about us. But they don’t. And once voter fraud becomes less detectable they won’t even care about winning our votes. Will just lie to us and keep the shitstorm humming right along. It’s what they’ve been doing as far back as I’ve cared to take notice and only gone off the rails more so in recent years. Like their aim nowadays is simply to entertain us and keep us divided and at each other’s necks, thinking we’re waging battles with one another that matter.

Meanwhile the richest get richer along with their politician lap dogs, and our government grows more powerful and less concerned about the will of its citizenry. Not that any two of us can barely agree on any one point. We the people are a clusterfuck of chaos jabbering at one another…just as I am doing on here tonight. Not sure if it makes more of a difference than talking to oneself. Seems not to since so many knee-jerk away from hearing or reading opinions they don’t already hold.

We will indeed wind up with the government we deserve…

Listened to my friend today lament how there should be “more compromise” between these two political parties and their adherents. Compromise? I had to laugh a bit at that notion, as if being a centrist is any kind of stance to take between those nut-job extremes. Said to him that we’re confronted with Party 1 which is pushing socialism/communism with the endgame winding up being totalitarianism vs. Party 2 which is pushing corporatism masquerading as free-market capitalism, also destined toward its own form of totalitarianism eventually. Pick your poison. Ultimately looks like a choice between different forms of slavery to me. Soul-sucking either way we turn.

In moments like that I wish the Libertarian Party were up to snuff anymore, but it hasn’t been since the days of Bob Barr. Gary Johnson, though I voted for him twice, is not a strong leader who makes enough intelligent, relevant arguments. Just keeps pining away for legalized marijuana, as if that might solve this nation’s problems. Frickin’ joke. All of it is. Which then makes me a bit more curious how the Alt Right will wind up factoring into this scheme, especially since so many claiming that political badge are associated with disgruntlement toward Jews and promoting the study of “race realism” in furtherance of their goal of racial segregation and the formation of ethno-states. Not a fan of their plan either.

No country for old men…or this middle-aged woman in the political outfield, wondering where the fundamentals of our Constitution have gone.

People talk, talk, talk, talk. Argue, argue, argue. And where is it getting us? Who are we convincing? Too many of those who come to see our duopoly politics as a big scam wind up tuning out and growing apathetic, which is understandable to a point since fighting this mammoth (along with so many people ideologically possessed on both/all extremes) looks like a losing battle. Futile. Basically like begging to go down history’s memory hole as a “lone wolf” madman framed as being against society. And in a sense we are against society, or at least what it’s becoming.

But there are no brakes on this clown bus. We’re cruising straight to where we’re headed. My bet thus far has been on the Political Left loonies winding up with the power to impose their utopian fantasies on the rest. But who am I fooling? Global corporatism is a force to be reckoned with, and they buy (or at least strongly seduce and help corrupt) most politicians of any stripe. So we’re looking at a fusion of wannabe-Communism/socialism within a corporatism context. How do you figure you’re going to get around this inevitability? The Alt Right doesn’t differentiate itself as being in favor of regulating corporatism, so that way doesn’t offer a true alternative either.

So then what? If people were going to stand up against this Machine, we’d have done it already, decades ago. The truth is that we’re too comfortable right now, too consumed in our own lives and the pleasure and curiosities new technologies bring. Many are also consumed with raising families — very energy intensive. Trying to earn money and then entertain ourselves to death, like everybody else is doing. Trying to learn life’s lessons and get our shit together. So no, most of us are in no position to do a damn thing about the trajectory we as a society are on. And as already stated, going up against this Beast, this Leviathan, would include going up against probably half the populace as well since they’re protective of this status quo (including the Progressives and so-called “radicals” who like to destroy shit). We’d all be lost without this convenient infrastructure, which would be severely damaged if enough tried going toe to toe with our current government. Would be viewed as treasonous behavior, unacceptable. Would mow you “patriots” down in the streets.

So what then? Vote? I’m so far past believing my vote matters, especially since I don’t vote two-party and most others do. Am a minority within a polarized/polarizing society.

Feels pretty pointless to keep bitching about it, but oh well. I’m going to anyway since that helps me keep my own sanity while observing what’s unfolding. This shit isn’t going to become functional — it can’t. It’s broken already, irreparably. Too corrupt — politicians, media, citizenry and all. We’re all already too dependent (no matter how independent you might like to consider yourself to be within this grid). And we’re too afraid. Rightly so, considering a true attempt at revolution would likely result in a bunch more of us locked in cages.

So what do we do? Pretending like it’s all okay isn’t an option for me. Nor is pretending that I don’t care. And don’t tell me to just go out and volunteer for some cause! Sick of that advice and already put in my time on that through the local peace community. Turned out to be a bunch of Leftist apologists for Obama, thereby not truly independent nor free from ideological obsessiveness. Hanging around with a handful of so-called “truthers” doesn’t sound too alluring either since unfortunately some of them are truly wackos.

Everybody frustrates me. This whole game irritates the hell of me. Try to tell myself not to take it too seriously, that perhaps we humans have to go through hell before we can recognize what’s truly of value. As humans before us have gone through over and over and over again. The lesson never sticks for long. Succeeding generations always wind up hell-bent on having to relearn it all the hard way, and perhaps it can be no other way. Technologies change our environments and lure us into thinking that this time if we try to play God it will work out for the best. This time we know something our predecessors didn’t know. This time around humans are more clever and innovative, talented and genius, plus connected through these amazing new digital networks. This time things will be different and we won’t all wind up victims to human fallibility and folly. This time we have precision, SCIENCE, on our side.

And this time we’re just as crazy and naive as any other time in history, albeit modern technologies allow us to take our dreams to greater heights that will lead to far greater destruction when our bubbles burst and cold, cruel reality sets in in the end.

Yeah, I’m the bringer of bad news. What optimism I reserve goes toward those speakers who do spread brushfires in the minds of many and get us dreaming outside of this box and reassessing what matters to us fundamentally. Never know what might prove to be a game-changer. Keeping an open mind for those unforeseen variables. “Nada es imposible.” So some like to say…

Feel like I keep writing this over and over again, year after year. Doesn’t change much, regardless of which political players switch positions. Just not sure what this perspective is asking of me. Seems to want to keep coming out, yet I’m no artist so I don’t know where to put it. Part of me says that what matters is the journey, not the destination. Because we may see a horrible crash up ahead is no reason to bow out of the game. If anything that should probably make us stronger, recognizing how little we have to lose in the end. But nations come and nations go. None are slated to last forever unchanged. If this is the future many of our fellow Americans want, then who am I to step in their way of having it? Don’t have any kids to leave behind in this nonsense. But it seems wrong to not resist the formation of hell on earth. Seems like that would be the ultimate calling for any of us, assuming we’re able to discern what’s what, which we tend to all disagree about. So we’re not going to be on the same teams, quite obviously, and so be it. It’s an individual endeavor anyway, regardless of what the collectivist ideologues would have you believe. Starts inside oneself.

We’re all dreamers…it can be no other way. To live and not dream is not to live. There will be no utopia in the end no matter which direction we choose to head in. Only approximations of hell, some better and some worse. Guess it’s a question of what suffering we’re willing to endure and for what, why. Because either way we’re going to suffer, you can bet on that. Most especially future generations once the public coffers dry up and more jobs are demanded to be provided by Big Government and its Big Corporate partners. In one sense this is history repeating, but in another this is a new phase with new challenges and new technologies very different from anything that came before. Greater likelihood for a far darker depth to descend into as well. In this age of manipulative psychology, global economics, and centralized power like never before seen.

It used to scare me, but I’m growing numb under its weight in recent years. Tired of being afraid of the unknown on the horizon. Also very tired of those who fancy themselves as optimists who are prone to freak out over my outlook, chastising me for viewing it this way, as if it’s simply a choice I make. Should we take pills and hide our eyes and cover our ears? Should we continue hiding in our addictions and drama and constant distractions? Is that truly the better way? Or should we learn to grow stronger in the face of these possibilities and set aside our utopian fantasy that we’re heading toward a fantastic future? Which seems like the most realistic and sane approach to you? Because you’re going to suffer either way, guaranteed.

The thought that keeps circling my mind this week is the fear of dying and the fear of living. So many of us fear both, and are thereby rendered paralyzed. So we stand idly by and watch what unfolds. Just another form of compliance since we wind up dragged along into the future whether we like it or not.

You would think such thoughts would be depressing, but I’ve been thinking along this line for so long now that they’ve actually transformed into something slightly reassuring. Perhaps because it forces me to view life in a day-by-day manner. Can’t change the past and can’t completely control the future. So we’re left with doing what we can with what we have right here and now. It boils down to how one lives his/her life. Outcomes be damned since that’s beyond our scope of power.

I do wish I had more answers than this. But apparently it comes down to one’s values, though I’d argue half the problem presently is that pet preferences have replaced values in our political arguments. Pro this and anti that is all we seem to hear anymore.

Getting tired so that’s enough journaling for one night.

Christmas Eve drama

Currently in the process of getting ready to head out, having baked some brownies last night I intend to share with a lady friend of mine, with plans to go over to my best guyfriend’s place to have dinner with him and his mom. But while sitting here in my livingroom right now I’m listening to the neighbors upstairs fighting, as they’ve been doing frequently in recent days. Sometimes it’s the man and woman, but this time it’s the man yelling at a little boy. Kind of unsettling. I try to give neighbors the benefit of the doubt since we all have our moments and get into loud arguments at times. Never called the police on any of them over it and am glad none have done so on me either over the years (though I’m much quieter these days). But still. It’s more difficult to tune out when a kid is crying on and on and on. Went upstairs and listened in the hallway a few minutes ago to try to find out how bad the fight is, but I can hear them more clearly through my own bathroom walls. Puts a damper on the holidays when these fights keep erupting over and over again.

But you have to be careful about approaching people over that sort of thing. Never know what all is going on on the other side of that door. And sometimes it just sounds worse than it actually is. Overreacting helps nobody. One time several years ago a young couple were living up there and fighting so loudly to where I did wind up banging on the door with my stun gun in tow. They were scaring the shit out of me with the way she was screaming. Turned out to not be that bad of a scene despite her dramatic screams, and they later apologized to me and kept the noise down after that. And I told them that I just cannot tune out the sounds of a woman screaming like that. Hurts the soul to try to do so. And they understood and rectified the situation and we all were cool after that.

But this family I’ve already had issues with since their kids were throwing boxes of lit matches out the window a few months back, pissing off a bunch of us neighbors who’d prefer the place not be burnt down. And the mother blew her top at everybody when we confronted her about it, immediately denying her kids had done anything wrong or been left unattended. Pure bullshit, yes. And she tried getting in the face of a man who lives downstairs, creating a very tense situation that took his girlfriend intervening to deescalate. Shouldn’t have gone that far, but that’s how people can be around here. Hence why I don’t knock on doors unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary, which is extremely rarely.

The landlord knows and just tells us to call the police. But most of us here prefer not to involve the police in our business unless it’s an emergency. Best to know what all is going on before calling them since they’re not there to mediate our personal affairs and someone might wind up going to jail even if it’s not fully warranted. So…there’s always that consideration.

They seem to be piping down now. That’s good. Just makes me nervous is all.

Sunday morning thoughts on that which we call God and the formation of hell on earth

A thought keeps returning to me lately. When in the Christian bible it is said that the meek shall inherit the earth, perhaps what that really means is that lower lifeforms will inherit the earth. Think plants, protozoans, and prokaryotes. (Or, thanks to human ingenuity, perhaps even nanotechnology.) The smallest of the organisms. That would make sense, when you really stop and think about it, considering how the cellular level always adapts and eventually triumphs over whatever we attempt. The microscopic evolve much faster than we do, putting us and other higher life forms at an ongoing disadvantage, with no end in sight.

Also, consider the scripture where it was said that lions will someday lay down with the lambs. Maybe by that what is really meant is that lions and lambs (e.g., higher-level lifeforms) will both succumb to death, as in going extinct as species. Just a thought…

Seems to me life is crazier than we can imagine and that it’s so obviously not constructed to cater to our human whims and wishes.

Was just listening to a youtuber Christian that I turn to from time to time to hear his commentary on current events. Today he was complaining bitterly about how stupid we human beings have become, how our civilization project has led us to become weak and incompetent, comparing us to modern farmed chickens and how far from natural they’ve strayed. What he’s pointing at there is domestication, and yes, we humans are subject to this as well, as should be apparent by now. Does it make us lazy and stupid? Yes. We too are far from natural in nearly every sense, having forgotten in a few generation’s time how to provide even the basics for our own survival. I’ve bitched about this plenty over time as well, noting how most of us nowadays only know how to wave around money, not create things of actual productive value. Sure, modern economics is largely to blame for bringing us to this point, and overpopulation, popular socialization, and increasing technological dependence will keep us here. Is this trend going to lead to human extinction? Perhaps. But such concerns no longer bother me much anymore. C’est la vie. Special as we are, we’re not above Nature. Though undoubtedly a few of us will brave the storm and survive on in the future dark ages. Maybe. Or maybe not, depending on the disaster(s) that befalls us.

I can understand people getting riled up over these topics, angry that we humans can’t seem to change course. But at the same time I also try to accept that we’re not as smart as we like to think, or at least we’re not as quickly adaptive due to our mega social/cultural/political/economic systems currently in place. The individual maintains more flexibility than the collective, yet we’re all absorbed in a major collective scheme at this point in time, whether we like it or not. Indeed, we will go down with this ship when the time comes because there is no alternative for most of us. I accept this and reckon I would be one of the first to go down when that day comes, assuming it’s a big catastrophic event rather than a lengthy decline (the latter seeming more plausible). Is what it is. I, for one, am thoroughly dependent on modern conveniences and technologies and can’t barely imagine life outside of them. Being subject to the elements directly and learning to hunt and gather when modern weaponry have run out of available ammunition strikes me as entirely daunting and best left to the survivalist types who train for such scenarios.

This is the downside of domestication. We grow increasingly dependent on the Systems humans have constructed. We know this, and yet some become very depressed when contemplating this reality. I used to as well, but then I came to see that that’s my expectations acting up. Rose gardens were never in the trajectory, much as we love to envision a utopian future. It’s just not realistic. Especially when you consider who are attracted to wielding such power over and within these Systems and how they tend to get there (hint: not through truly democratic voting into office).

Personally, I don’t wish to see the future past a certain point. Wouldn’t know what to do with it. Continually reconfirms my decision to not have children, having no way to prepare them for what’s to come. Just trying to imagine what 20-30 years into the future will hold is mind-boggling enough, based on my readings of where technologies are heading. Where others see possibilities and easier living, I see enhanced domestication and surveillance. That in no way warms my heart or makes me hopeful for my species, though I do aim to maintain an open mind since I have no way of truly knowing how it will all shake out in the end. Maybe we will get lucky and knock ourselves back into a stone age, that seeming to me to be a better alternative than winding up within intensely technologically-advanced totalitarian societies. The future looks very dystopian to me and has for a lot of years now, try as I might to imagine things working out more in the people’s favor.

Hence why I can’t stand these gender-bent movements and racial movements and other ideological oddities intent on separating us from one another. Just creates more suffering in the meantime, and very little of what they have to say is actually relevant in the big picture. Not really. Just keeps us blaming one another while our ship rocks and threatens to sink, as if that will change a thing for the better. Even our stupid political divides have come to look like nonsense to me over time. Corporate-backed teams with more in common than not, parading as if competing in our media circus. Just another smokescreen, another illusion that we all-too-willingly buy into.

So I guess when I think about these things nowadays, I’m overcome with the thought that we should probably make life easier on one another in the interim. Maybe quit paving the way to hell in our own individual fashions so far as we’re able. Cease blaming others who weren’t alive when the ball first began rolling and who individually have no more power than we do to stop it. Guess I’m taking more of a hospice outlook on life at this point, though I understand that simply making ourselves more comfortable isn’t necessarily the best idea either. But screaming profanities at one another constantly and casting blame wholesale and telling others to get off the planet certainly isn’t helping anything. Much as I don’t like the notion of coddling our illusions, I also take issue with the idea of stripping them from people and leaving them with nothing to believe in. Seems the latter will prove to be a more dangerous tactic, leading more into nihilism and a sense of despair and futility, which will only further paralyze people. That doesn’t sound like the right thing to do.

As I was talking about with a couple friends lately, everywhere I’ve explored has eventually wound me up at the same place, which is to go to God. And by that I do not mean religion, though I’m not exactly sure what it does mean. That’s just the feeling inside my heart and head more and more these days. Like this is too big for any one of us to comprehend and to take on, and perhaps we’d be better off giving one another reasons to maintain faith in humanity and that which is good and proper and reliable, rather than tearing it all down and leaving people with nothing to believe in. This is an intensely personal and emotional topic for me and not one that I typically care to speak about with others outside of my closest people, so I won’t run on much about it here. It’s just a recurring thought, a pull in a direction that I’m not yet able to fully grasp the meaning of but recognize it as significant. That which I call God isn’t what religions have taught about, though past people tried to point toward it to the best of their limited abilities. It’s incomprehensible in a way, yet very meaningful in Its reminder that life follows a “plan” we can’t control and dominate, try as we might. Perhaps referring to it as life’s “flow” is more accurate, though we tend to conceive of it as if it is a plan since we can note that its workings indeed do appear to have some sort of rhyme or reason. Just not in line with our human melodrama, which then perplexes us. I won’t pretend to understand It, and I certainly won’t attempt to articulate my thoughts about It beyond what I’ve said already since I’m not the one to attempt to do so. And that’s fine. Striving for a personal understanding is all one really can ever hope for, considering we can’t help but experience this life through our own subjective lenses.

As someone who hasn’t been religiously affiliated in over 20 years now, I admit that it feels a little weird to keep feeling this pull toward that which is greater than us, not knowing how to describe it or what it all may mean. Atheists and skeptics would look upon someone like me and say that I’ve grown scared enough that I’m just grasping for straws at this point, when in reality I’ve actually grown calmer through this process of exploration. I was far more scared in years past, back before I began to release my expectations and try to accept life simply for what it is, good, bad and ugly alike. That transition maybe was brought about originally through fear and fatigue from fretting, but I didn’t go searching for it so much as it just crept up on me over time. And I don’t know why or how or what any of it means, but I’m willing to listen to It and accept not having answers. Because there’s nowhere else to go, quite literally. So maybe it is some sort of figment of my imagination — that’s always possible. But perhaps it’s a useful one, far more so than all this bickering and team-joining and politicking and expecting humanity to find its way out of our myriad conundrums. I don’t think we can, not in the foreseeable future. And I do believe there are people poised and ready to take full advantage of whatever power grabs become available, because that’s part of human nature to do so. We’re not a good species, but we’re not entirely a bad species either. We just are what we are, complicated as that can’t help but be. Shortsighted and tribal, power-hungry and nepotistic, sometimes charitable but also unavoidably naive…and on and on it goes.

Seems to me there’s no good reason to loathe one’s own species, especially considering none of us are immune to its foibles and fallibility. This is who we are, right and wrong, and it’s what we have to work with. So many seek power over others, believing that to be supremely meaningful, but really it’s learning to exercise power over oneself that’s especially tricky. We’re not too good at that. Domestication may be partly to blame today, but this problem follows us back to the very beginning of human origins. It’s the perennial conundrum that most of us don’t even begin recognizing the importance of until we’re more than a couple decades into living and will struggle with for the rest of our lives. It’s certainly easier to deflect outward, to blame those over there for our problems, even those at the top, but really we’ve all been complicit in the games we play in this life. Whether we initially meant to be or not, we became so and remain so even after we start becoming aware of what’s going on. No political party or laws on the book can rectify this matter for us. It’s an innate flaw within us — just part of living as sentient life who are always growing and exploring and learning. Can’t be helped and can’t be altogether changed. So no, there is no utopian on the horizon, just more human errors in judgment and striving for power and popularity and playing of the games as have been set before us by previous generations. Plus more technological prowess that many of us don’t fully understand and that most of us will not be able to control.

And on and on it goes. Sometimes it feels very daunting to take in, but other times I feel relatively at peace about it, sad as it can’t help but make me. Am I still scared of the future? Sure. How could you not be if you’re really looking into what’s being developed and what ideologies are growing in strength and numbers? I worry a lot for my loved ones, but I take some solace in the fact that our lives will only last so long. Some say that’s pessimistic thinking on my part, but what really strikes me as pessimistic would be if we were designed to live 150 years or more. That sounds like hell on earth. Which gets me thinking about the reason why I lost my religion in the first place as a young teen: I couldn’t believe in infinite suffering in hell. That’s what broke me out of that faith originally, finding no answers to that question. And since then I’ve come to understand at least that hell is something we humans can create on earth, and I can’t help but believe that in the future we will construct a greater hell than has ever been known before. That’s not what I’d like to believe, but all signs keep pointing in that direction. Why? Because our good intentions don’t tend to jibe with reality, as has been proven time and time again, yet technologies can and will allow for the formation of far more invasive ways of life. And many people will embrace them, believing the hype and accepting the rhetoric claiming that these technologies will aid us in reducing waste and saving the planet/climate and becoming evermore efficient as societies and within corporations. People will believe it because they wish to, going back to that naivete mentioned earlier. And people will gnash their teeth and people like myself, calling us fear-mongerers and luddites and pessimists for not gleefully being on board. To which I say: we’ll inherit the life we deserve. So be it. We do not understand freedom and have shown nearly a fearfulness of it and the responsibilities it requires of us to maintain it. That much is clear by now. So we will get what we help bring about. Right or wrong.

I’m just grateful that life isn’t too long. Allows us to appreciate what time we do have and what people we’re lucky to know while alive. I can grieve for my country and my species in general, but it will change nothing. We’re an interesting lot, if nothing else. Life is indeed fascinating and mysterious, and I look forward to observing it continuing to unfold during my lifetime. I try to tell myself not to be afraid, that it’s just life and this is how it can go. That no suffering can go on indefinitely (though some torturers have demonstrated to the public that it certainly can go on far longer than one can sanely endure — hence our capacity for evil). Feels like a game of whack-a-mole sometimes where the objective for the average layperson is to not get shut up in a box somewhere, whether by a government entity or a crazed stranger or even in an abstract, ideological sense whereby the box is fictitious yet we treat it as if it’s real and keep ourselves within its parameters out of fear and/or obedience.

Life is crazy, life is mad. And it always will be, that much is guaranteed. But with the notion of God comes Love, and I think that’s of infinite importance right about now. Others in the distant past have said it’s true, but reality keeps demonstrating just how true it really is. But then again, that topic perplexes me too, so I continue to grapple with it, not comprehending what it’s even asking of me. Not known for being a very forgiving person myself, so I’m likely very limited in my understanding of what that all may mean. But I will continue to explore it, feeling that it’s very important and deserving of our dedicated attention and contemplation.

Makes me feel very humble reckoning with all this stuff, feeling like a little animal who’s just not competent to make sense of so much in this life. It can be very overwhelming, undeniably so. But I’m trying not to be paralyzed by reality so that I may participate in a more meaningful and productive fashion. However successful I prove to be at that is yet to be seen. My prayer today for all of us is that we be willing to reckon with all sorts of unknowns, particularly those which contemporary “wisdom” deems as off-limits, irrational, or otherwise heretical. I believe it will be good for us to do so, albeit difficult as well.

More on the book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis”

Wrapping up my thoughts on the audiobook Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance tonight, seeing as how I meant to get to this last week when I completed listening to it. Did enjoy its content throughout and would recommend the book to others.

I experienced what might be considered a sense of kinship while reading his story. Like that of a distant cousin. My family migrated to the South, and his headed to Appalachia and then Ohio. They sound like similar types of people, having originated from Scotland, Ireland, and elsewhere in northern England, so the culture he described is fairly relatable. Was glad to hear of his acceptance into Yale Law School, though admittedly much of what he described there sounded pretty foreign to me too. I also hadn’t realized that some of the most expensive and prestigious schools could be the most cost-effective for low-income students due to grants and whatnot.

There was a part in the latter portion of the book where he was talking about his mother and recognized that her ability to act like a monster was in him too. That resonated with me deeply. It’s amazing how many similarities we can share with those we think are crazy, especially when we were raised by them. And the culture reinforcing such behaviors certainly doesn’t help. He spoke of learning to keep his indignation in check and not being so reactive to perceived disrespects from others. Yep, that’s a tough lesson that undoubtedly requires ongoing grappling with.

But I felt proud for the author after listening to his book. Almost like how I’d feel toward a cousin who’s moving up in the world (as my own cousin actually is, graduating with a Master’s degree in spring of 2018—a first in our lineage—and we’re very proud of him too). It’s a humbling story to sit with and consider and one I’d like others to spend time with as well. Vance is right about a lot of things he mentioned there, particularly in regards to personal responsibility and accountability (which he learned about while serving as a marine). My own family has very mixed feelings about the military too. But I suppose it’s good at least in terms of instilling self-discipline.

I’ll admit, listening to this book made me realize, once again, just how class-conscious I am and apparently can’t help but be. Struggle with it as I might, it still remains ingrained. And maybe that’s largely due to socialization and culture, but I also don’t doubt a good bit of it comes via interactions. Difficult to shake that sense of “us and them” once it’s deeply taken hold. Almost like a defense mechanism where you can’t help but maintain this sense of tribal pride out of loyalty and as well as to stand up for your own people in the face of a society that likes to make fun of them and speak as if they’re unwanted and disposable, ignorant and backwards. I don’t think any amount of climbing the socioeconomic ladder can fully erase that either — your roots are what they are. Money doesn’t nullify that fact.

One point that I’m stuck on and have been waiting to address on here is the forgiveness he chose to show his mother. While I can understand the desire to do so and wish him well with that, I can’t personally endorse the idea in all cases. Sure, it’s the Christian thing to do (so we’ve been taught), but then there are concerns about enabling bad behaviors. Some people won’t change until the costs of not doing so become so great that they must, and others won’t change regardless. Maybe one important difference here is that Vance spoke of how much anger he had earlier in life toward his mother, whereas later on he came to feel sympathy for her. My own experience was just the opposite, having grown up with a great deal of sympathy toward mine the first 20 years of life, then figuring out that tough love was in order if I was ever to escape her bullshit. Then I got really angry. Nowadays I oscillate between irritated sympathy, frustration, and acceptance (in the last step in the grieving process-sort-of-way). It’s not a matter simply of what’s easiest, it’s about sanity preservation. Some people are toxic, for whatever reasons, and they either don’t see it in themselves or won’t. Either way, they’re unlikely to change if they can’t come to terms with the harm they’ve done and continue to do to those close to them. Sad but true. Not that I would encourage others one way or the other on these matters — that’s for each individual to decide for him or herself. But when he mentioned his mother getting onto heroin around the time he graduated…ugh…my heart sank for him. Some folks are inclined to chase pain, to recreate it and keep it rolling onward. And it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve a healthy relationship with someone hellbent in that sort of fashion. Much as it may be tough to accept, considering these are family members. But we each figure that out however we do, or perhaps the situation might change for the better over time. One can pray, and I do hope that’s the case for Vance’s family.

This man’s story did strike me as sad in places, though I’m glad he too had the love of grandparents to help pull him through. His Memaw sounded like quite a character. The people he described therein reminded me of various persons I’ve known over time as well, to whatever degrees. I appreciate that he was willing to be so brutally honest, sharing both the positive and negatives sides to their personalities. Because we’re all a complex blend of right and wrong, well-intending and misguided, ignorant and insightful. I feel he really brought his family members to life in the pages, which isn’t an easy feat. Kudos on a book well written!

Anyway, I’ve said enough on all this. Tripped down my own memory lane quite enough also. I’ll leave off in saying again that this is a book very much worth reading or listening to.