Individuation process vs. hiding within collectivistic identity-based movements and groups

My thinking seems to oscillate daily. Sometimes I get irate over racist extremists — like black supremacists and their push for “communalism” (“one mind, one choice” to quote Latausha Nedd, a.k.a. Eye Empress Sekhmet) and outright rejection of individualism. As was the case yesterday. Then the next night rolls around and I realize just how much they’re fighting an uphill battle, not against white people or society but again Nature unto itself when it comes to trying to staunch and reverse humanity’s gravitation toward individuation. It’s where humans have been heading for the last few thousands of years and it won’t cease just because some ideologies wish for it to. In fact, those ideologies are destined to fail and cause grave destruction on account of going against the natural flow in trying to force human groups backward into outdated modes of existence. Won’t work. Hasn’t thus far. The 20th century demonstrated how devastating attempting to go down that path will be, and the 21st century will prove it again if enough feel so inclined to keep trying to force a square peg through a round hole.

It’s foolish to think we can return to the past. Not possible. Yet it remains popular for people yearn for and romanticize past epochs, believing life to have been simpler then and people to have been kinder (at least within one’s own tribe). We infuse these dreams of the past with magical properties, and then take the view that we have fallen from the grace they represented. That’s the interesting thing about dreams and imaginings — we can concoct them any way we wish. Their adherence to factual reality is irrelevant to us. We gaze fondly upon an imagined past most likely because we’re so uncomfortable with the uncertainty of the present and the future. And that too is a natural inclination.

When I refer to us humans as a bunch of modern-day Luddites, I’m only half joking. We really are, and it’s understandable in a sense. And because of this we’re keen on seeking out someone or something to blame: God, other races and groups and nations, modernity itself, other political camps, influential philosophies that we take issue with, etc. This is all part of the reckoning process that comes with living, especially in such drastically changing times. Lifestyles of a century ago are so foreign to us that we cannot relate, and because of this we get to thinking we’ve been robbed of something precious. Well, we have lost what once was, but, in turn, we’ve also gained what now is and what perhaps may someday be. Everything in life involves a trade-off, whether we like it or not. And Life doesn’t consult with us on whether we’re cool with that — it simply rolls on and we either learn to roll with it or get dragged along. Right or wrong, that does appear to be a fact of life.

On hearing that I’m sure some folks will dig in their heels all the more and proclaim someone like me to be jaded, overly cynical, even nihilistic perhaps. They may think I’ve given up hope, which is not the case. I’m just coming to terms little by little with what’s in my control and what isn’t. The past most definitely isn’t. Though you and I can impact the present and possibly the future as well. So that’s where I am being called to turn my attention, having long been one of the most stubborn Luddites out here who also liked to entertain dreams of what may have come before and harbored resentment over it being wrested from us. I too have been angry over so many things and cast blame in various directions, and still do at times. But, little by little, I’m starting to see this world a bit differently along with my role within it.

The individuation process is very necessary. Consider it the next big leap in the evolutionary progress of humankind. Another step in our progression away from pure animality and primitive sapienhood. Of course the process is painful and trying — when has living and growing not involved suffering? Suffering actually appears to be fundamentally necessary here, prompting expansion of one’s mind and empathetic reflections to enhance relations with other people and the world at-large. Don’t take that in the lovey-dovey sense, as if I think we’re all going to come together and sing kumbaya anytime soon. No, I’m referring to alterations to how we view and live in the world and communicate with one another, which are all forged through trial and error and many hardships and pain and sorrow that can lead us toward a greater consciousness and appreciation for Love, connections, critical inquiry, and grasping what’s of real value.

But this path I speak of is a lonesome valley. Can’t be any other way. People are trying (unconsciously or sub-consciously) to seek refuge in groups and movements and identity politics in an effort to avoid this path and all that goes with it. You can run but you can’t hide. There is no past to retreat to. It’s no more than a fiction in our minds at this point so far as retreating is concerned. Yet people keep trying to go that route, perhaps more and more nowadays, probably because they’re growing all the more terrified with life and where it might be headed. As is understandable, to an extent.

“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself” is an empty platitude that is often repeated but rarely heeded. Why? Because we’re all scared. Very difficult not to be. Uncertainty terrifies us, as does suffering. As does unfolding our own individual potential — that too scares us terribly for some reason, perhaps more than anything else. Maybe because it can’t help but be such an intensely solo (thereby lonely) project, not to mention fraught with worries over being judged by others for whatever fruits we attempt to produce (whether we fail or succeed). Fear of personal failure, especially while observed by others, is huge. And then there’s this nasty requirement that we put in so much effort and learn to turn away from unnecessary distractions (plenty of which we find entertaining). Beyond that, I wonder if it also has something to do with appearing naked in front of our Lord/creator (metaphorically speaking). The group, the hivemind, is a place of refuge not unlike a forest where we appear to be just one tree among many. To stand alone is to stand judged, and that’s a mightily uncomfortable proposition for anyone to contend with. Doesn’t sound like something most of us would willingly sign up for, and many of us therefore don’t.

But life has a way of forcing our hands. One such way, so it appears, is hiding within a group or movement until it grows strong enough that it becomes a monster in its own right that devours a good many of its own as well as those it stands in opposition to. Then all those individuals hidden out therein wind up with a bunch of blood on their own hands (assuming they survive and aren’t one of the ones targeted by the beast of their own making), which they then wind up judged for. Possibly for generations to come. They may cry out that they themselves, individually, were innocent and did not envision nor endorse what the beast eventually became, but others will mock them as cowards and pretenders in response, and rightly so. You built up that aggregated beast through your own individual efforts and contributions — that was a choice. Perhaps it was the easiest choice at the time, but it remained a choice nonetheless. To have otherwise faced scorn and ridicule, rendered alienated or been effectively deserted or maybe even targeted for attack and possibly killed — STILL it was a choice. Because the decision is difficult and the consequences potentially dire does not negate the fact that a choice was made.

So people can wind up tainted by the sins of that which they help create and build up and attempt to hide within, or we can risk being tainted by the sins of our own direct doing without a refuge to obscure us and our activities. Many of us prefer the former since if we do indeed prove to be wrong, the blame and shame winds up distributed among all involved, lessening our own sense of culpability (and/or public witness of it) via camouflage. Seems like a good plan, until it isn’t. Great consequences can be meted out to those deemed responsible for horrific wrongdoing, plenty of which are psychological in nature. And those who truly weren’t comfortable with the direction their organization was heading but who remained involved just the same wind up tarred and feathered along with the rest in the aftermath. No pity shown for them either because they chose to go that route. Here we can reflect on how societies across the world today view the German Nazis and the Russian Communists and the Chinese Maoists of yesteryear — still unforgiven (and unforgivable) decades later. And on and on it goes…

But one doesn’t hide within one’s race unless one makes a conscious identity of it. Because others attribute unwarranted characteristics to you based on your race doesn’t make you automatically guilty. There is a difference between what one is and can’t change and what one chooses to partake in (like an identity-based movement).

Either way, we will potentially face scorn and hardship and blame, no matter who we are. Attempting to hide within a human-made forest won’t change that, nor will standing alone on one’s own merit. BUT at least when one goes his or her own way and grapples with life in an authentic fashion, we’re hiding less from ourselves and others and thereby are capable of learning and clearly observing what will and will not work (assuming one’s goal is to be fruitful, and by that I mean honestly productive, e.g. life-affirming in orientation). Obscuring such truths only prolongs the process and the accompanying pain inherent in it. So taking the easy way today might very well lead to much greater long-term suffering for oneself and/or our descendants (those we claim to care so much about).

No group/movement is capable of instilling these truths into the minds of its members. Each individual has to reckon with and come to terms with what is and what is not on his or her own. Nobody else on earth can do it for us. If one opts to tune out and refuses to explore and examine information for oneself, then potential growth will be stunted for that particular individual, with no one else possessing the power to change that fact. If we choose the less studious route and allow a group or movement to indoctrinate us with talking points in place of real information that we have fact-checked and quibbled over, then we’ve allowed ourselves to be misled. That is one’s own responsibility since we are our own gatekeepers as adults. And if that group/movement we’ve chosen affiliation with goes into beast mode and creates havoc, we deserve our fair portion of the blame for having provided it fuel to grow and become what it has.

At bottom, there’s no way to escape personal responsibility. Try as we might to fight it and run from it, we’ll keep being returned to face this human truth. Again and again and again. Until we learn it and strive to act in accordance, it will continue being Ground Hog Day on this planet — repeating the same mistakes over and over with painful consequences that provide an opportunity for reflection, introspection and personal growth. It is ultimately our choice on what we each decide to do. If people prefer to create hell on earth by refusing to come to grips with this, then hell we shall have.

There are rules that are beyond our making but that must be lived in accordance with if we’re to ever transcend our current conundrums. I’d like to tell you that I’m sorry for this, but actually I’m not. It’s just life. Is what it is, and that’s okay. I happen to find it very interesting and awe-inspiring, albeit unnerving and very tough to come to terms with each step of the way. My prayer for others is that they too come to embrace Life’s wonder and strangeness without letting too much fear and pressure from other humans get in the way of exploring the possibilities. Take care.

“World Views and Values: Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Women” — lectures by Dr. Sadler

“World Views and Values: Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Women” presented by Dr. Gregory B. Sadler.

Lecture 1 in the series follows:

Lecture 2:

Lecture 3:

He’ll undoubtedly be uploading more as time goes on, and I’ll add the rest here once I’ve had a chance to view them as well.

What I appreciate most about these lectures, along with most provided by Dr. Sadler, is he takes material many of us normally thought of as bland and dry and difficult to relate with and presents it in such a way that is very engaging and brings the subject matter to life. I’ve been lectured on Mary Wollstonecraft by college professors during my undergraduate studies, but always my eyes glazed over so I never much cared. Somehow Dr. Sadler manages to make such information and ideas interesting and to show how they remain relevant for us today.

“Terence Mckenna – The 1000 year binge on materialism and primate dominance hierarchies”

Some interesting food for thought…

Leon Wieseltier on what it means to be human as we navigate in modern times

Leon Wieseltier & Meir Soloveichik – “The Future of the Soul in America”:

I relate to so much that Leon said here, in my own way, knowing virtually nothing of Judaism beyond what I happen to read or have watched in films and what’s come to me through Christian and/or spiritual and moral inquiries. Sometimes seems I gravitate toward Jewish authors and whatnot, not necessarily intentionally. Just kinda happens for some reason. *shrugs*

But I dig what this man is talking about, here and in the other couple of interviews I’ve watched thus far. Very interesting man to listen to, brought across my radar by my online pal Wyrd Smythe’s blog. Check him out too. nod

Talking about secession

Thought just went through my mind that I probably should share to help better clarify my position on secession in the United States. I’ve come to the point where I think we’d be better dissolving the Union into however many factions it takes to get most of us off of each other’s necks. We need some breathing room. And there I’m mostly thinking about physical space, our present environment and those we interact with daily. When it comes to locality, we need to be able to agree on at least a few things. We need some sense of unity and belonging within groups we can navigate in effectively, unlike how we have it today with a national population stretching toward 300 million. Even in our states we have, what, a couple million at least? In our cities and towns we’re up against thousands if not a million or more people, and this creates the situation we have now where we have lost political control.

Can’t hold onto the reins anymore. Not under these conditions. At present, we’re screwed. I’ve thought about all of this for a long time and can’t figure out how to get the majority of Americans to embrace truly life-affirming principles that we can practically all agree on, not when these contradict and threaten the current political setup and its financiers. Most people are too invested in this Game — they’re not willing to turn tail and try something radically different. BUT, I personally think the risk could pay off if we can start laying the groundwork for producing the basics we need to survive. If we can’t break free from our dependence on major corporations and government aid and subsidized goods, we’re in no real position to bargain with the powers-that-be because we have no alternative to retreat to. We’re growing increasingly dependent on this system, plain and simple.

So there I see physical and legal secession as useful to break apart from the stranglehold of federal power. I also see it useful for separating ideologically opposed groups so they can cease fighting incessantly and just go live how they think is best. This is real diversity — tolerating people going their own ways. Some folks will never reconcile their differences and preferences, so I say let’s see what happens when ideologies and social theories hit the pavement. I want to know how various groups will fair if left to do so. Trade relations and cooperation across groups is fine and dandy, but maybe we don’t all need to live right next door to one another. Maybe this violation of our sensibilities can never be fully cured because some people will remain bigoted or otherwise opposed to others no matter what. How else can we ends these useless political feuds? They’re turning out to be competitions to nowhere.

With all that said, I think the internet is fantastic for allowing various people to observe, listen to, or read the works of people we are curious about. This is where we can really come together on some level because we’re each at a safe distance from one another and can take time with one another’s inquiries and arguments. This is a wonderful medium for allowing people who otherwise wouldn’t come into contact in a candid setting to be able to consider and express ideas. This is where we shouldn’t all divide off into separate tribes but instead come at it with our own questions, concerns and thoughts. In a sense, the internet is a good place to get real. Anonymity aids in that as well. Unfortunate that we so often waste this opportunity by spending our time provoking and jabbing one another, because we are provided a safe distance. This medium can allow for so much more than that, and I see so many smart people reaching out to interact. Would be nice if we could turn our attention to more important matters than popularity contests of opinions and cutting others down to make ourselves feel better.

There appears to be a yin and a yang to human needs. On one hand, we need physical space and separation. On the other, we need community support and identification. We require both respect of privacy and freedom of expression in order to be fulfilled. We need a place to rest our weary souls and be loved, and we need a place for intellectual stimulation and interaction with a wide assortment of people and ideas. Maybe if we could get the fuck up off each other’s necks, we’d be in a better space to community more openly and honestly. But as it stands now, we’re all turning neurotic, all jammed up under one big umbrella together, trying to drag one another in the direction we think the whole society should go in. There is no one-size-fits-all that people will be satisfied with, so we’re guaranteed to feud forever. What’s the point in that? We get to where we can’t discuss anything since we’re so much in opposition and projecting onto—to where we wind up mirroring—competing groups. These aren’t all matters we can compromise on. People’s principles are involved and idealized visions vary. Just a fact of life.

This experimental melting pot has been useful in showing us new ways of relating and exposing us to people we otherwise might not have bonded with. This has allowed people to expand beyond old tribal thinking where racial homogeneity was typical. We now have the power and insight to redefine how we shape tribes, if that is to be desired. But we have to keep in mind that humans have evolved the entire time up until fairly recent history to be tribal peoples. Our psychologies are adapted to handling clans and tribes. Confederations proved valuable as well over time. But where we’re headed now with our civilizations is proving destruction and unsustainable — ecologically, socially, and psychologically. In short, our current path is fucking us up. And we know this. And I’m not convinced we can navigate effectively in this massive of a system as we have today. That’s my own opinion.

But we can faction off, theoretically anyway. We possess that power as both citizens and human beings. But we must create sustainable alternatives in order for this to be feasible.

We’re not all going to get along, no matter how small the group we associate with, but when it comes to shared values, we do need a community on board with us. That’s social empowerment, and it helps us stay in line with our key moral beliefs when others we interact with share them enough in common that we can coincide in relative harmony (as compared against the chaos of today in our neighborhoods and cities). We want different thing in life,  and we can’t coerce all others into accepting our way of looking at things.

This is just my dream. I don’t expect it to occur, but this is where my imagination keeps taking me. I wish there were a way, because I think we’d be happier and more tolerant of differences if exposure in some cases could be more limited. We’re currently locked in moral/legal competitions that getting us nowhere other than in hotter water. While we stay distracted with that shit, those who do possess great amounts of power continue sealing a deal that most humans won’t be better off with. Because that’s the nature of power. This is how it can and usually does roll if left unchecked. And we’re way past the point of controlling the reigns through the legal “proper” channels.

Care to hear a song that captures my attitude about those who wish to live 180° differently than some other group? Here ya go:

You can move
You can move to the moon
If I don’t see you again for 20 years
It’ll be too soon

That was “Time To Let It Go” by Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm. Pretty much sums up my sentiments at this juncture.

Clans are what we make of them. We’re always going to face disagreements, but as it stands today we can’t avoid them bombarding us. At what point do we let it go and turn in another direction?

Sunday thoughts on matters of the heart and individual power

So many sad and awkward days. That’s what happens when hearts break, even when you did the breaking. Some things, once broken, might never be repaired.

Friendships, relationships, sacred bonds…

Very tough lessons to learn. To find out just how much power you really do possess, only in the worst ways.

But shit like this is how come I know about power, observing it in myself and others. We at least, obviously, possess the potential to inflict great pain and misery on ourselves and others, whether intentional or not. We know that much for certain. Then it becomes a question of how to better utilize what power we do have to improve the situation so much as any one of us is able. One thing I know is that most of the suffering we experience is generated by human beings — could the inverse be true as well? In short, we’ve demonstrated we can create hell, but are we capable of striving toward something better instead? Is that within our power? And if so, I have the strong feeling no top-down approach could bring it about or maintain it. It’s a matter of us as individuals and how we rule our lives in total.

Tough fucking situation we’re in. Hard to act better when we’re coming up around all of this. To think we aren’t heavily impacted by all the input directed at us is insane. The impact of so much information, big and small, seemingly important or trivial, cumulatively conditions us to accept insanity. By that I mean insane realities — not compatible with psychological health and overall well-being. That’s what I’ve come to believe.

So much bullshit pelts down on the individual, beginning with input from parents and family members, then peers, classmates and authority figures, then you hit adulthood and the weight of society as a whole presses in on you with its conflicting demands and expectations. The individual’s life can go oh-so-many directions, influenced in countless ways by all kinds of information and ideas. Can’t wrap our minds around our own lives anymore, let alone anyone else’s. Everything’s gotten too big and too chaotic, and the remedies being offered up promise to keep it big and grow it even bigger while stifling the chaos through prescribed policy measures. Sounds as Orwellian as it can get, IMO. Bigger and bigger means less and less power any one of us possesses relative to the whole scheme, and that winds up enforcing mass herd mentality. Dangerous deal there.

But down here on the interpersonal level, what are we doing to one another? Are we not being exploitative and disloyal and insensitive toward one another more often than we know is right? Especially to those closest to us. They always seem to catch the greatest hell behind closed doors. Because that’s how it’s all functioning for us now. We’re corrupt, or at least I’ve been figuring out the ways in which I am. Observed enough others to know plenty of them are too, to varying degrees. And we corrupt one another, and more often than not those who don’t deserve it. Because that’s how pain, whether manifesting through rage or apathetic lack of concern, operates and pays forward onto others. Whether we recognize it or not, that’s power. Raw power at its roots. We have the power to shape, mold and influence one another’s perceptions, for better or worse.

Our power to break one another’s hearts and spirits is no small concern. It forms the very basis of our social realm. Without loving bonds, not much of real value matters to people, and we decay inside. We turn toward greed and self-fulfillment and lose sight of what matters more. Because we don’t know how to love one another. At least some of us apparently don’t. We’ve so far made a mess of our adult attempts to do so. The past molds us, and that conditioning can be so hard to overcome, but ultimately that becomes one’s responsibility to those they love, doesn’t it? Because otherwise what is there to this life? Hobbies and interests? Entertainment outlets? Shopping? Just looks like a bunch of hours and minutes to me, ticking by without much purpose or reason. And that strikes me as being a self-created hell on earth.

That’s happening to how many of us though? How many would be so honest if handed a questionnaire asking about that? Can’t even get at a topic of that magnitude with multiple choice questions. Impossible to capture it that way. Statistics have definite limitations on what they can illuminate. We read about how so many people admit to living in a depressive fog, but how is it slanted? It’s sold as some sort of biochemical problem in our brains rather than totally understandable feelings of depression stemming from our lifestyles, our choices, our upbringings, our suppressed passions, our sense of helplessness in a world seeming driven willy-nilly in a direction that looks evermore confusing and alienating to the soulful individual.

Makes a person sick in the spirit. I know I am, and I imagine lots of others are too, whether they recognize it this way or not. The sensation is felt by me as obsoletion — my dreams are outdated. But what I do have control over is how I treat the people most important to me and others as well, and I’m having to call on strength to do better and to try to make amends. Don’t know how to mend some of this though. And I’m still so bitter about some of those who’ve done me wrong. Hard to move on past all frustration — won’t claim to know how.

I’ll leave it at that tonight. Still have a little more work to do on this dreary, cold and rainy day.

Have a song on my mind worth sharing before I head out, Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees”:

Haven’t watched that video in a coon’s age.