Individually we can and will transform for the better, but what then? Change will need to ripple out on a mass scale and with speed if we are to avert apparent disaster. The secret to survival has always been community. What is required is for each of us to drop the victim script, change the way we play at life from survival to service, and come together to form islands of sanity. By asserting our individual power, uniting as collectives (while avoiding the trap of confrontational tribalism), and calling power to the carpet, we build a foundation for the kind of upheaval that must be sought and fought for to move into the next phase of human achievement.
In the twilight of the 60s, people began to look to the stars again, not as guides for life on earth but as destinations in themselves. It was a visionary time, and we had grand dreams of building new worlds, but we didn't follow through. The will was there, but we got distracted by various sideshows and our output didn't match our fantasies. It may be for the best. The way we have behaved as terrestrial explorers doesn't bode well for how we'd fare as space colonists.
Looking to space still feels like the next logical step for a species looking to shake off stagnation and return to its roots of adventure, but taking the current domination/victimhood game to other worlds would be a staggering tragedy. If we take seriously the very real and imminent threat to our home world and use that fire to get our asses moving toward collective maturity, we may find the world we wanted was already here underneath the one we rushed to build out of fear. Once we've grown up enough to take care of this planet, I'll feel better about making footprints elsewhere.
A modest proposal.
People love a fight, and so do the people that manage people. Infighting keeps us common folk busy while the Champagne Club find new ways to rig the game. Besides that, it's a waste of energy.
On a person-to-person level, fighting for fighting's sake gets nothing done but wearing us out, and in the end all we're doing is filling the bellies of emotional parasites that grew along with our developing egos.
Starve the bastards, say I.
No one actually “wins” an argument that relies on insults and curses. Far better to be humble and accept that no one knows everything than to lose friends and loved ones over “being right.” This is a lesson I’m still learning. It’s one of the Big Ones. When engaged in verbal battle, stand up for yourself, but never forget the other person is a human being with legitimate emotions and concerns, most of which may be yet unknown to you.
You can catch your hackles rising and keep them down. You can slow the rush to out-shout or out-wit or out-hurt the person on the other end of the argument. You can, with Herculean effort, move beyond the primal need to react, to win, to destroy the other. You can walk away.
If you stick it out without resorting to cheap tricks, there may come a moment in the midst of a word-war where your eyes meet those of your “opponent,” and the mask of rage drops for a split second. There’s opportunity there. If you detect a smile when you expect a smirk, reflect it. Let it become a laugh if it’s happening. Those are the moments when perception has dropped from the head-view to the heart-view. This is exactly what you want and need to work toward peace rather than toward violence.
From the head-view reality is often a set of circumstances that don’t match desires. We get beat down by this. It’s frustrating and painful, and we’re jealous of each other. It’s this pain, this sense of unfairness that kicks behavior into feral, hurtful, even sinister territories. The heart-view knows this. It sees the tragedy we share, the futility of fighting it, and thus the dark comedy of our situation. It may put a smile on your face at inappropriate times. It's not a smile of amusement exactly, more like one of understanding.
How much dwindling time and energy do we waste trying to squash the Universe into our idea of its ideal form? How much more do we waste hurting each other without solving the problems that cause the suffering? Were we to take the energy we waste on fighting, we could put that energy to better use, together, and improve our station. That’s one of the cosmic jokes.
We tend to pick up anxiety and the reactionary behavior that we use as a shield against it when we are quite young. We’re still forming our personalities and it’s usually a response to trauma, so it runs deep and can take a long time to deprogram. The slow going can be frustrating, but if you own your reactions, you’ll stay honest. I am not pitching ease here, but I am pitching freedom. By increasing observation and decreasing mindless cooperation you can learn how your inner demons operate and how they take you over.
Emotions are often looked at as choices, but like thoughts, they’re more like electro-chemical events. They may be aided by habit but they aren’t quite our fault. Our reactions do fall within our responsibility, and it is our reactions that create our reality. It’s tempting to believe we’re just victims of fate when things are tough, but it’s dis-empowering and only keeps things worse than they need to be. Everyone is going through this. Be merciful.
Think back on some of the “bad days” you’ve had. How much of that drama was preventable? Was it really just a rain of bad luck or can you trace the dominoes back to choices made in a flash of anger or the exhaustion of despair? Think now on a “good day,” and try to run the tape backward. Did the good luck flow from better choices made by a calmer head? Chances are that you’ll see these patterns.
You can catch the parasites in the act when they use your mental energy to suit their aims, and in time you can send them packing before they get warmed up enough to play puppet show with you. You never sold your soul, and they don’t own you. If they claim a contract, tear it up and walk out of the Ring of Fire into a path you forge by your own will. Try not to throw coals at people. Most don’t deserve it, and the ones who can will just duck. Either way you’ve still burnt your hands. Like a lot of things that appeal to ego in the moment, it’s not a winning move.
There's an old saying: "Measure twice, cut once." This prevents extra work and extra damage. We do well to know each side of the story whenever we can get it. Regarding argument and all human relationship, perhaps the saying should be, "Measure twice, then don't cut at all."
At the moment I can't be bothered to give a tinker's damn about the human allegory in the White House or the FBI or the other alphabet agencies or news orgs or whatever. PBS>CNN forever anyway. What I'm concerned about is a little thing called the shared predicament of the whole damned human race. And it is one race, with myriad adaptations manifesting as physical differences that a bunch of yard apes still think is important enough to scrawl swastikas over. Screw em, that kind of person is lost and dying out anyway. I am focusing on the rest of us. People who can still see, and feel, and think.
We’re in a pretty uncomfortable boat, all told. It's tough out there in the Grid. We crave acceptance, social standing, and love. As we play soul-Tetris, we often have to play the piece that doesn’t fit. Without the satisfaction of being received as we are, isolation comes on as sure as puberty (and the two are likely to coincide). Feeling alone when we’d rather feel connected is a very strange sensation to explain. I’ve never lost an appendage, but I imagine it’s quite like the syndrome known as phantom limb.
In this case, it’s not an arm or leg we miss. It’s the rest of the human race and the web of life we dismiss as fuel and food. It’s the sense of clan, or family, or community in general. It’s the feeling of being connected to everything that we get in glimpses from time to time. That fleeting joy that leaves a gaping space when it goes. It hurts, damn it.
The more we suppress awareness of this pain the more it manifests as ignorant and destructive behavior. We’d do well to cop to that and start addressing it in the form of solutions. Otherwise we’re just passing the buck to our kids and their kids and so on forever or until we’ve wrecked the place beyond repair. I suspect our best hope of escaping the undertow of mass extinction is to stop pretending this is working for anybody and start getting creative right now.
I leave it to you to determine what that means in your life.
*Lifted from the song above.
A long, long time ago, we hired ego to run the shop. It festered and got drunk on its own power. We fed it our allegiance and it metastasized into a dark god with as many forms as there are imaginations. I call it Adversary: a kaleidoscopic projection from the sadistic fantasies and masochistic nightmares of every human mind into the material world, with human action as its vehicle.
Every culture has an archetypal form of this night-side of our species: The Bogeyman, the Scapegoat, the Trickster. It is hated and denounced, yet its gravity is such that it draws worship and obedience, especially when it infects and displaces our notions of authority and divinity. Mankind needed a Devil, so we made one, but forgot both the origin and the responsibility. Some time just after taming fire, we grew frightened of our magic and pushed it down.
In the shadows of the subconscious, our collective darkness wove itself into a perfect deception. To Adversary, centuries blew by like dead leaves. It dressed up as other gods. It made delicious promises and terrifying threats. We started working for it. We learned to bow and to sacrifice without question. We gave it our children.
We convinced ourselves it was the god we wanted. We whitewashed our shadow instead of integrating with it. The more we deny it, the bigger it gets. Darkness, when visible, can be balanced with light. Darkness unchecked only hungers and devours, never filled.
Recent events have reminded me to question initial interpretations, whether in the form of packaged media or my own estimations of what's going on. It keeps one honest to be willing to throw out comfortable paradigms in the light of new data or context.
People (including me) toss around the idea that perception is reality, but it's a bit more complex than that.
Perception effectively becomes reality, assuming that when incoming sense data sticks to existing bias/expectation, the individual welcomes habitual thoughts which reinforce a worldview embraced out of familiarity. Our impression of an image is always colored by the frame in which it appears.
Ok, more than a bit.
What we fail to remember is that we are the makers of the frames as well as the images. The eyes merely gather the light. It's in the brain that identifiable shapes, colors and meanings are born. We are all so busy now that our brains fill in the gaps with what we think ought to be there. How often are we more projector than camera?
Something to ponder when you find yourself beset with thoughts that put you in a mode of anger, jealously, anxiety, depression, and so on.
Maybe the picture is fine. Maybe it's just in a tacky frame.
The lights went off on the iconic statue, unlit for the first time in at least my memory. Ominous to some of us, confusing to others. Maybe nothing? But it's harder and harder to take "maybe nothing" seriously these days.
One rumor is that it was a symbolic gesture for International Women's Day, but given Washington's attitude toward the feminine, I have my doubts. Sounds nice though. A useful rumor that I hope is the simple answer.
Another I heard was that maybe an insider put the lights out in response to the #Vault7 leaks (about the threat to the 4th amendment via "intelligence" agency malfeasance and malware). Same day. Could be.
The official answer comes from the National Parks service, saying:
"the outages were a temporary, unplanned outage. The outage was most likely due to work related to an ongoing project to activate a new emergency backup generator that is part of our last remaining Hurricane Sandy recovery projects.”
That's satisfactory, but the first thing I thought when reading it was what else could it be? Worst case nightmare scenario: Reichstag Fire. Cutting the power to install a means of remote detonation for the theoretical Big One, an attack engineered or allowed that would put the last nails in? I don't like to empower the possibility, but the people who run the machine at a certain level do not look at this world or its life as we do.
Somebody in the deep deep deep state (and it's there, however obfuscated and whatever the papers whose strings it tugs say) salivates over my nightmare, I'm sure. I hate that I went there so fast, and I concede it sounds mad. I hope very much to be wrong. I've developed a sort of paranoid stoicism: imagine the most horrible thing and try to accept the possibility, while simultaneously not believing I've solved any puzzles at all.
I don't know, y'all. I consider myself an optimist despite it all, but it's taking most of my reserves to keep the Lovecraftian sense of creeping dread from my conscious mind so I can go about my business. After posting I'm making it a point to get some sun and exercise and hug my kid a lot.
I hear the lights are back on. I suggest we add our own to them. Couldn't hurt, and sometimes all one can do is not assist in harm. I'd love your thoughts on the matter.