Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Thief in the Night

While it might not be exactly the apocalypse prophesied in the New Testament, there is something coming like "a thief in the night" that is frighteningly similar. I use the phrase not because I want to give this post a religious tone but because it is perfectly appropriate to the times.

The phrase, "like a thief in the night" was drilled into the heads of many of us since we were children. Jesus would return like a thief in the night which, we were told, only meant that he would come when we didn't expect it. But think about the words used in the phrase. There is something more being said here that goes beyond our merely being taken by surprise.

Thieves come in the night because that is when we are sleeping. As long as we and our neighbors are asleep, they can take their time picking the lock and looking for our valuables. If we wake up, they are faced with the choice of either running or using violence, neither of which is perferable to the original plan of taking your time if you are actually a thief after loot and not a violent psychopath out to hurt people for the fun of it. If you have to use violence you are running a risk of losing the struggle, after all.

We, as a culture, are asleep. There are thieves (who are also psychopaths) looting our house at this very moment. They are prepared to use violence if necessary, but they prefer to rob us blind while we sleep. So far, we have been very obliging on that point. Despite the rattlings from the other room that we can't help but notice, we prefer to tell ourselves that it is just the house settling or the wind, then drift back into deep sleep. On the plus side, we get a good night's sleep. On the minus side, we are in for a rude awakening in the morning.

The metaphor breaks down after awhile. They are like thieves in the night, but they don't just wait for us to fall asleep then tiptoe gently around the house hoping we don't wake up. They work to keep us asleep. They whisper in our ears to encourage pleasant dreams that make us want to stay under the covers, eyes closed tight. They convince us that what we dream as we sleep is what is real and that all they are taking is illusion.

What are they stealing? Your soul. That's right, that thing that isn't nearly as valuable as the car, house, new clothes and great new body they have been promising you in your sleeep.

Remember a time in your life when you didn't hold those things in such high regard? When life was not all about a race to get the latest thing? You probably smiled more back then...felt more joy. You were in touch with something called life. Then you began listening to the dream-making theives who convinced you to go to sleep in the fantasy world they helped create for you while they drained you of everything truly valuable.

You may think you have a soul, whole and safe from the theives? You can find out right now. Think of everything you heard on the news over the past week. What created the greatest level of excitement in you? Was it something about fashion, celebrity, technology, transportation, entertainment? Or was it the anger you felt at the killing of innocent people in the middle east?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

We The People

The new $10 bill in the U.S. has emblazoned across its face in red script letters to the right of the portrait of Hamilton, We The People. Those are, of course, the three words that begin the U.S. Constitution.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This opening is a long sentence that is focused on political ideals, not identification as “the people.” You might argue that there is nothing wrong with shortening this historic political statement to a three-word rallying cry. I would disagree. The problem with rallying cries (and the modern global communications equivalent, the sound bite) is that they are intended to drive people emotionally, to disengage their minds and convince them that their “belief” will carry the day.

In this case, the words “We the people” implies, for one thing, being set apart and special in all the world. We the people who have a democracy. We the people who God has favored. We the people who have achieved a level of civilization that is the envy of the rest of the world.

We the people who have taken the lead in arrogance and hubris for the twenty-first century.

It is taken as axiomatic by far too many people I talk with that the citizens of the U.S. are more free than the citizens of any other country. I admit, there are places on the Big Blue Marble where speaking your mind can land you in prison or worse, or where the government intrudes on the lives of citizens by opening their mail, tapping their phones, tracking their spending habits and keeping dossiers on them. For example, one of those countries would be...well, the U.S.

It could be argued that there is hardly as single human rights violation that this government is not guilty of. It is currently thumbing its collective nose at the Constitution and spying on its own citizens under the pretext of taking anti-terrorism measures. It has arrested hundreds of people and kept them locked up without formal charges being leveled. It has waged an illegal and aggressive war against a country powerless to defend itself, blatantly lying to its own citizens in the process about the reasons for the war.

One reason all of this has stood, so far, is the belief in “We the people.” Other empires have come and gone. Even tiny Portugal was an empire, once upon a time. Yet, that won't happen to us, we assure ourselves. We are “the people.” The middle of the 20th century saw a democratically elected president of Germany stoke the fires of nationalism and fascism and turn their democracy into a dictatorship under the pretense of fighting terrorism. But that won't happen here, we are sure, because we are “the people.” How can “We the people” suffer the fate of those others who were “them” not “us?”

Talking with a coworker the other day, the conversation managed to turn toward politics for a brief moment (normally a taboo subject in the workplace). His politics tend toward the left, so I felt pretty comfortable espousing my own opinion that this government is attempting a repeat performance of the Nazification of Germany here in the good ol' U.S. of A. His response was typical. He said, “I'm a cynic, but I'm not that cynical.”

I could have asked him what was cynical about coming to the conclusion that when a government follows essentially the same steps the Nazi party took to seize absolute control over Germany, they might be working toward the same goal? Rightly or wrongly, I didn't press the matter because I figured I already knew the answer. “We the people” love freedom too much. “We the people” are special and destined to lead the world to democracy and liberty. “We the people” have faced difficulties and always risen above them.

Of course, we haven't risen above anything really. We have become progressively less educated, more enslaved and less able to decide our own fates. Rather than rising above, we have learned to justify, rationalize and call each loss of freedom part of the evolving nature of our government. Subjugation to the whims of authority becomes the rule of law, virtual indentured servitude to corporations becomes economic opportunity and unlawful surveillance and detention of citizens becomes nation security.

The problem is one of belief, at least at one level. I don't mean to say that this is the whole or our problems, but it is at the root of them, I think. We believe that evoking the magic words, “We the people,” will make everything alright. The system might be going through a difficult time right now, but it will correct itself. It always has.

That begs the question, exactly how will the system correct itself? If the system is made up of “We the people” and we are not taking responsibility for the corrections, what form will those corrections take? The answer is, the system will correct itself in accordance with the desires of those who are putting energy into it. An apathetic “We the people” who are satisfied with accepting the direction and decisions of those in positions of authority will get a form of government that consists of those in authority making all the decisions. In other words, our belief in “We the people” means nothing when our actions are more in line with “They the power.”

The system will correct itself and it will do so in the way we deserve, based on our actions. If “We the people” choose apathy and self-absorption, allowing all manner of atrocities and human rights violations to be carried out in our name as long as we remain well fed and left relatively alone, we will become the slaves we are already acting like. And, if we think we are going to pull it together at the last minute and save our beloved democracy and freedom in a Hollywood-esque, “save the day” moment, think again. That makes for a nice feel-good ending to a movie, but it is wishful thinking.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Democracy and the Religious Right

Here's an interesting thought that occured to me while reading some analysis of the Old Testament. The religious right is fond of saying that this nation (the U.S.) is a light unto the world, bringing democracy to the opressed. We sing God Bless America with the understanding that God has blessed America, which leads logically to the conclusion that this spreading of democracy is something God has ordained.

So here is the question: why didn't this God give democracy to the ancient Hebrews? They, being "God's chosen people," could've been the light unto the world, showing the world how God intended government to be...but no! They had kings. Always kings. This God, an allegedly unchanging God, also allegedly decided who the king would be. And priests...this God seemed really big on priest. There is nothing democratic about a priesthood! The priests proclaim God's word and that is the end of it.

So when did God become such a fan of democracy? The answer, of course, is the "He" never did. Or, more precisely, He did when democracy proved itself a good way to control people.

The Democracy Illusion

Get out and vote. That is the rallying cry of those who champion democracy. Determine who will lead us for the next four years. Take control of the destiny of your country. What hogwash. There has not been an election in my lifetime (born in 1960) that has not been described in terms other than these: the lesser of two evils. Alright, maybe there was one. I was born during the Kennedy presidential campaign. Fifty-two days after I was born, JFK was elected President of the United States. Many people, even in retrospect, don't see that election as a choice between the lesser of two evils.

Kennedy's words did not make him seem evil. He once said, "mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind." I couldn't agree more. But, Kennedy was no saint. Let's not forget the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We remember that Kennedy stood firm against the Soviet Union when they installed missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States. What we forget is that the United States already had missiles in Turkey aimed at the Soviet Union. Fair is fair, as I see it.

Today we feel like we have a voice and a choice in our own future, because we vote for who will represent us in the senate, the house and in the white house. But do we, really? What choice do we have? Several hundred million people choosing between this guy and that guy. Is that a choice? We cast our ballot, then we turn away, while those we elected proceed to rape and pillage the rest of the world in our name.

Is it any wonder that our elections have turned more and more toward the lesser of two evils? We don't care any more. We cast our ballots...that is our definition of democracy. Once we've left our individal chad hanging, we leave it to whomever we decided was the lesser of two evils to do as they please. That isn't democracy. That is choosing the rapist, but getting raped nonetheless.

Excuse me for quote a broadway song, but this one pretty much said it the way it is. The musical was Shenandoah. Like most musicals, the lyrics are corny, but they have some truth to them:

Freedom ain't a state like Maine of Virginia
Freedom ain't across some county line
Freedom is a flame that burns within ya
Freedom is a state of mind

Democracy is not a matter of simply casting a vote then sitting back to see what happens. If you want freedom, you will only find it within your own mind. Freedom is not political. Freedom is individual. Freedom comes from knowledge, not from votes. And, freedom is not to be found in adherance to any religious doctrine. Think...for yourself. Are you free if you blindly follow the repetitious patterns prescribed by some religious leaders? If the God you follow was actually a proponent of freedom and liberty, would He supported kings for so many millinia, then given you mechanistic rules to follow each Sunday of the year?

Something fishy is going on here. The religious, whose God is clearly not a fan of freedom are claiming they are the champions of the same. Is it freedom they represent, or subjugation in the clothing of freedom? Think about the story of the wolf in sheep's clothing. Very often, those who proclaim most loudly that they are for us are actually against us.

Think...for yourself. Take the time to consider what you have been told. The words sound beautiful, but look at the man behind the curtain. As Jesus said, by their fruits shall you know them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Myth of Democracy

It is funny how deeply national myths go and how much they can form the thought process of the nation’s citizens. Case in point: an argument I had several years ago with an acquaintance who had just passed the bar. Her specialty in law school was constitutional law.

I claimed that we did not have a representational form of government. This pissed her off to no end. She began to spew expletives, claiming I was insane, anti-American, whatever she could come up with on the spur of the moment. I was OK with that, but wasn’t quite prepared for her denying that the U.S. Senate was a proportionally representational body.

There is no denying the math. There are two senators from California and there are two senators from Rhode Island, Montana, or any other small population state. Each senator’s vote has equal weight in the Senate, so the senators from the small states can out vote the senators for the large state, even though the large state senators represent vastly more people.

How and why this happened is a matter of history. The less populated southern states had no interest in a federal government that could maneuver them legally into a way of life contrary to what they enjoyed. Half of the states of the about-to-form United States of America would not take part if they were so outnumbered. As a matter of practicality, the senior legislative branch of our government was formed around arbitrary state boundaries instead of representing numbers of population.

I’m not faulting the southern states for looking out for their own interests. The curious thing is how we defend that decision even today. We insist that ours is the greatest democracy on the planet while, in fact, ours is the only democracy with such disproportionate representation.

Consider also the fact that in a two party, winner take all system, fully half of the population has no representation in government at any given time. It really is a bad situation when you stop to think about it. Yet, we hold on for dear life to the claim that ours is the best democracy in the world. Have you noticed that even in Iraq, we are not setting up a government modeled after our own? We are setting up a parliamentary system. How strange that we would model after the U.S., the greatest democracy in the world.

This is yet another example of how we think what we are told to think. Even someone who had specialized in constitutional law has a difficult time accepting the U.S. constitution for what it is. Why? Because she was trained to not question the authority of what amounts to a religious text in the U.S. Granted, it was an amazing document in historical context, but that does not excuse our lack of critical thought, today.

Then again, even if we had a fully representational government, such a government does not work when its people are asleep. Would we be much better off? We are such a people—asleep and not interested in the machinations of Washington as long as our jobs feel secure and our favorite TV shows can be TiVo’d. We want comfort, and we will support anyone who provides it. Unfortunately, that comfort comes at a price.

As long as we sell off our ability to think critically, we live as slaves. Slavery isn’t necessarily that bad, I guess, as long as you are at the top of the slavery food chain. The house slaves (there was a more crude term that we won’t use here) enjoyed fairly good lives, and helped keep the field slaves in line, to boot. Now, we as a culture that began with beautifully poetic words about independence have become a culture clamoring for little more than to be the house slaves. We want the position on the inside, forgetting that even there we are still not the home owner. We are still the slave of someone else who can end our life at any moment. We get the comfort as long as we maintain the status quo.

The question is, as always, are you really satisfied with being a slave? Do you feel a longing for something more? Read the stories of those who fought for emancipation. The fight toward freedom is not an easy one. There are those who’ve given all, not for freedom for themselves, necessarily, but for freedom for all.

Are you just a house slave, or do you really want to breathe free?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

It's What We Don't Know That Kills Us

You know the sayings: ignorance is bliss, what I don't know can't hurt me. I'm sure there are others, but the fact that there are any such sayings I find a bit disturbing. In fact, the only things that can hurt us hit us from the blindspots in our knowledge.

Knowledge protects, ignorance endangers.

One of the classic techniques used by those who have something to hide is to ridicule the truth. Once the truth is generally accepted as silly, it can parade itself all it wants in public, naked even. No one will pay attention. The most common method used today is to assign the words "conspiracy theory" to anything that troubles the Powers That Be (PTB).

Anyone who stayed awake for even a few minutes in high school history class knows that the history of government is one of conspiracy. This person conspired to take over this government or kill that advisor to the king. History texts read like veritable international intrigue novels. And yet, somehow, all this conspiring has stopped today. Curious.

We don't have to look any further back than the Nixon administration to find proven conspiracies that included late night break-ins and erased tapes, but not today. Nosiree! Today, everything is out on the table and all our problems are due to incompetence or a few bad apples that have weasled their way into the basically good bunch that will soon be uncovered. Once all these Republicans are indicted for their crimes or thrown out for incompetence, America will be back on the right track.

To put it bluntly, nonsense. But I digress. Let's get back to the hiding of secrets.

I'm going to tell you about a question I asked of two different people, both seasoned ex-military pilots, neither of whom had any reason to give me anything other than a straightforward answer. The question might cause you to roll your eyes. If it does, that's good. It gives you a chance to observe in yourself how you might have been programmed to respond to things you aren't supposed to think about.

The question I asked was this: in all your years of flying, have you ever seen anything you would classify as a UFO? The interesting thing is that both of these men gave me almost identical answers. They both said that they'd even been sent in pursuit of what they would simply call "flying saucers" and that when they landed were extensively debriefed, were told that they saw nothing and informed of what nasty things would happen to them if they had seen something.

One of these men was a bank president who was hanging around my circle back in my theater days because he'd always had a fantasy of being involved in entertainment. He was a terrible actor, but could regale you for hours on end with his flying stories. He'd taken every survival training the Air Force offered, from arctic to dessert. The other was my mother's late husband, who'd could similarly keep you spellbound with his flying stories. Since his father owned a small, private airport in Texas, he'd been flying since he was big enough to reach all the controls.

Anyone who has taken anything approaching a close look at the UFO phenomenon would have to agree that there is something strange going on. Even if all these things are our own technology or a mass delusion, there is clearly something interesting to study. Yet, the scientific community fights tooth and nail to deny that there is anything interesting at all in the skies. One has to wonder what they are hiding.

It could be, I suppose, that they fear all our cherished institutions--governments, religions, economies--would all collapse if we knew that not only are we not alone in the universe but we are being visited by someone else. I doubt it, though. More likely, we would run to our governments for protection, vote for a massive build up of our military strength, fall on our knees and pray more fervently than we ever have and spend ourselves silly on UFO books, shelters, aluminum foil to shield our brains from the "alien thought control rays" and all kinds of other things. OK, maybe I'm stretching it a bit on the spending thing, but who knows?

An alternate possibility is that someone doesn't want us to know about the technology we have. Admittedly, that is an important secret to keep for these guys. I'm sure they have a lot of technological gadgets they don't tell us about. But, given what has been observed of the capabilities of UFO's, if we are flying those suckers around we would have no problem taking over the whole world. No fighter plane can catch them. They seem to appear and disappear at will.

The possible reasons for the secrecy are too numerous to cover here. Going over them is not my point. The thing is to begin to see the methods used to keep us from even looking at the truth. Think about it for a moment. If you are one of those who is now thinking that my little red choo-choo has just gone around the bend for even writing about this subject, why do you think that? How much of the evidence have you looked at for yourself? I'd guess the answer is, little to none. You've taken the word of people you don't know and whose intentions you don't know. They tell you to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and you obediently do as they command.

Honestly, can you say that you think for yourself? If you'd like to do a little research, check out Richard Dolan's website.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

How to Create a Sociopath

In her book Unholy Hungers, Hort uses the metaphor of the vampire to explore the ways in which psychopaths drain energy from the rest of us. The metaphor is extremely apt. She hypothesizes that the vampire is a metaphor of a common (though well hidden) archetype in the human psyche. I suggest that it is this archetype that rules the psychopath. Having no emotional connection to the world (because of their lack of conscience) they must feed on the emotional energy of others.

From the book, speaking of the prevalance of the vampire myth around the world:

So many, many names, and among them lies a hard truth. The vampire stalks the living in every corner of the human world. Dracula is only a single vampire among a global horde, and what's more, he is a young member of the clan, for he was born in the mind of Bram Stoker only one hundred years ago, and he was based on a warlord who lived less than six hundred years agoa mere breath of time, considering it was more than three thousand years ago that the Assyrians and Babylonians described the monster ekimmu, an undead corpse who preyed upon the blood and flesh of the living in an effort to evade its own death. So it is between the vampire and us. Wherever we have lived, whenever we have lived, the beast has always been with us.

A little meditation on the vampire mythos goes a long way toward putting the psychopath question in perspective. One of the key aspects of the myth is that not all who suffer the bite of the vampire die. Many become vampires themselves. Considering how long this myth has haunted the mind of mankind and how it exists in virtually every culture on the planet, it seems curious that this archetype still roams freely amongst us, creating new vampires (aka, sociopaths) at will.

How is this done? Maybe another quote from the book will help to make it clear?

The difference between love and exploitation is often obscured, and it is easy to understand how we might be duped into seeking the power of exploitation when we can’t find the potency of love. Exploitation is only an imitation of love, however, just as some nonnutritive chemicals are imitations of real food. They may look and taste like food, but they provide no sustaining nourishment. Likewise, the power of exploitation may initially feel like the potency of love, but it cannot provide love's nourishing, self renewing energy. What's more, although the life force stolen in the process of exploitation appears to empower the exploiter, it inevitably does so at a cost to both the exploiter and the victim. Because stolen goods decay quickly in matters of personal energy, exploiters must constantly embezzle more energy from others in order to sustain their illusion of empowerment-a crusade that is ever we relate in this way, we are savoring the true sustenance of our souls, which we experience in this plane of existence as love.

As we journey through life, we seek love passionately, but not invincibly. If we are met with lovelessness too often, we begin to fear that we will perish emotionally. The prospect of emotional annihilation is terrifying to all human beings, and in order to escape it, we grasp at any lifeline that presents itself, no matter how deceitful its redemptive promise may be. As Bolen suggests, when we sense our impending emotional death, the lifeline to which we most often cling is power, or more precisely, exploitation-the pursuit of self-enhancement at another's expense. Sometimes we exploit others by coercing them with our demonstrations of unassailable dominance, sometimes by manipulating them with our displays of submissive vulnerability. Either way, we are engaging in exploitation, a profane relationship to the life force in others and ourselves in which both parties are dehumanized and objectified. In contrast, love is a relationship wherein we cherish the sacred humanity of another person while simultaneously cherishing the sacred humanity in ourselves.

It appears that if we are starved for love consistently enough, we willing run to the arms of the vampire/psychopath. Of course, starving an entire culture of love by means of denial would be impossible. But, notice what she says about the power of exploitation—that it may initially feel like the potency of love. That, I believe is the key.

Increasingly, global communications technology is used to flood our minds and senses with imitations of real love. Even more, media is used to glorify all those who give in to the imitation of love (exploitation and power) by parading them before us with cameras flashing and crowds cheering. We give special awards to people who live lives devoid of real love but whose images are used to feed us the imitation (the Academy Awards, Emmy's, etc.). Over and over again, we are shown the imitation, then throw a parade for those who buy it.

Who can stand up to such an assault, unless they are already aware of the truth and on their guard? No one. The moment we bought into the idea of television without understanding its potential to lead us away from real love and life, we pretty much sealed our fate. I have nothing against television, per se, but any technology that allows a few individuals to bombard everyone else with images of prescripted imitation life, then stage realistic dramas in which everyone is celebrating those who accept the imitation as real is a technology that will absolutely be exploited.

We can begin to see more clearly how this technique leads to a self-perpetuating cycle once begun:

Most people resort to exploitation only in situations where they are met with lovelessness. A person who seeks love, only to be rebuffed again and again, eventually slides toward the terrifying pit of emotional starvation. Undergoing an emotional death is like being the swimmer in Jaws-all of existence is reduced to a scream, without echo or answer, into a black, inhuman void. Every unloved person slides to the brink of this awful pit and teeters there, writhing in terror on the precipice of emotional oblivion. The loneliness of this place seems absolute, but then a new entity slithers up alongside. The newcomer whispers to the despairing soul about a way of life in which love will no longer be needed. It swirls the dark cape of exploitation and weaves for the unloved person a tantalizing yarn of triumph over agony and annihilation. The person takes hold of the glittering bait and embarks on the pursuit of exploitive power, rather than elusive love.

As more and more people accept the imitation, more and more people are also left in a state of lovelessness. Those people now begin a descent into the pit of emotional starvation, eventually joining the ranks of the exploiters who once left them loveless. As in any sort of "chain reaction" it doesn't take long before virtually an entire culture has given up on real love and spends all their time feeding off one another parasitically to maintain the imitation.

And that, boys and girls, seems to be the state we find ourselves in, today. Real love, of the giving without expectation sort, has beencome a quaint notion...even a foolish one. The legalities of marriage have overcome devotion. Everyone cries and declares the bride so beautiful in her dress, despite the fact that they all know she is a stark raving bitch. The groom looks so handsome and is perceived as such a great guy for the day of the wedding, despite the fact that everyone in the audience knows he is a philandering asshole who will be sleeping with other women within a few months, at most.

It is all a sham, but we keep it up because we are all looking for someone to con, ourselves; someone we can feed off of. That isn't love, that is an empty shell of a person looking to tank up at someone else's expense. Is it any wonder that so many marriages end in divorce these days? It has nothing to do with lack of religious faith or allowing gays to get married (the goofiest argument I've ever heard, I think), it has to do with the fact that once one partner has bled the other dry, they need to find fresh meat to fill up on.

You might read this as me being cynical about love. I'm not. I'm cynical about the imitation, and that seems to be about all anyone kind find these days.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What the Future Holds

How I wish I could say that the future is bright, but I've know since I was a child that it wasn't. As Art Linkletter put it, kids say the darndest things. I used to shock those around me with my dire predictions for the future of the Earth. Listen to kids today. They know where all this is headed, too. Really...take the time to listen.

Perhaps this is what must be. Perhaps we must suffer what is (in my mind, no doubt) coming because we have taken the easy road. We have chosen entertainment and comfort over life. That choice always leads to the same end--heartache and destruction. We always get the life we deserve.

Flashback: I was on the phone to my mother just before the election that would put, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, W in the White House the first time. I thought I was going to lose my mind. My mother and I have a good relationship. We are no longer mother and son, we are both adults who have known each other for a very long time and, so, can argue without taking it personally.

My mother has always voted republican. In the case of W, no exception. She thought the guy would do the country good. She'd lived in Texas during his gubernatorial term and thought he was charming and a good leader. Go figure.

I mention how my mother and I can argue without taking it personally as a lead up to the description of this "conversation." I was screaming at her over the phone. I remember well where this conversation took place. I was at a pub in east Sacramento, meeting some friends for a beer or two. Music was blaring on the patio, where my friends where situated, so I took the phone out into the parking lot. Eventually, feeling self conscious about how loud the talk was getting (on my side, at least) I moved further out into the alley. I'm not proud to report that my friends could still hear my ranting over the sound of the music on the patio.

This is not a normal state of affairs for me, that I'd get this loud. Sure, I have been known to make impassioned arguments, but this was something else. I knew, in the depths of my soul, that with this election we were turning a corner as a country. Things were about to get bad...bad in the way that I knew they would get even as a child. What I was saying to my mother in an overly loud voice was that her vote for W was a vote for everything she claimed to hate.

I told her that if he was elected, we'd be in a war in the Middle East inside a year. I was close in my prediction. I told her that a vote for W was a vote in favor of the completion of all the conspiracy theories we'd discussed and debated over the years. He would bring with him a cadre of people who were connected to all that sought war and manipulation of humanity for their personal gain.

Shortly after our argument, I apologized to my mother. No one deserves to be yelled at like that. I've since given up that kind of interaction. It does nothing but breed isolation and hurt feelings. And, I relate it here as a matter of record and as a confession, of sorts. I feel ashamed by my outburst...but I was right. My mother even agrees with me, now.

She, like all of us can be, was taken in by appearances and wishful thinking. It happens to the best of us. It happens to me all the time. The key, here, is to realize that these appearances are not happenstance. What appears to be true, what you and I are sold as our own thoughts, are carefully crafted. This is not "conspiracy theory," this is demonstrable fact. We think we look out on the world and make our own judgments about right and wrong, good and bad. We don't, unless we have worked very hard to get to that point. We see exactly what we are told to see.

Even worse, those who are programming us are not human beings. Don't worry, I'm not going into the Twilight Zone here with an Enquirer sort of story about alien mind control. Maybe that is the case. I don't know. I'm talking about something more down-to-earth. I'm talking about psychopaths.

You and I are being fed thoughts, through the media, by psychopaths on a daily basis. These are people who don't have even a moments hesitation about manipulating you, using you, then discarding you when you have lived out your usefulness to them. These are people who have the appearance of being human beings, but are lacking a critical component of humanness--a conscience. They can't feel compassion for another or remorse for their actions if they tried.

We--you and I--are being lead to our deaths by people without conscience. Think about it. We are at a crossroad. Never before, in generally accepted human history, have we been at a point where we have had the weaponry to wipe out all life from the planet. In addition to that, we have the global communications technology available to control those weapons from anywhere, and to put thoughts into the minds of people in every country.

Let me put it very bluntly and without losing my cool like I did with my mother. If we do not wake up to what is being done to us, we are screwed. Our leaders are not necessarily what we think they are. I do not accept that they are incompetent, making mistakes in going to war against Iraq and threatening war against Iran. They (or some of them, at least) are cold, calculating psychopaths who feel NOTHING for the lives of human beings. The deaths of thousands (or millions?) are nothing more than statistics.

Time to wake up. The snooze button has run out. Personally, being of the conscience filled human sort, I can't stand by and watch my fellow man go down in flames.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Psychopathy and Consumerism

It is difficult for us, by and large, to see any problem with consumerism. Sure, as a culture we might speak in vaguely disapproving tones about greed and how awful it is that both parents today are forced to work, leaving their children with day care, babysitters or after school programs instead of family. But we don't really see a problem with it. If we did, we wouldn't still be living these lives we lead.

The thing is, we tend to see the way things are at any given point as pretty much normal. For instance, most of the population of the planet for most of human history has not used money in the way we use it now. Yet, most of us see money as being something almost organic. We can't imagine human interaction without it.

The same goes for our particular uses of technology. Ask nearly any child today to imagine life in the days before television and you'll see that not only can they not imagine it, they have the impression that it must have been horrific. This is to be expected. It's naturally how our brains work. The world we see is modeled within the very fabric of our brains. Of course the way things are is the way they were meant to be.

I suppose there is truth in this, that things are the way they are meant to be. Nothing can be anything other than what it is supposed to be. But accepting that fact is a far cry from understanding how things are and that the way they are now is not the way they will always be.

And so, because we are immersed in consumerism, we assume that consumerism is the natural order of things. Yet, a brief tour of known human history will show us that this is not the case. The question is, why is consumerism so prevalent today?

The need to have, to possess, is a trait of the psychopath. Because they do not feel they seek to own. If you cannot love, you are only left with possession as an interaction with other beings. This will either take the form of possession of another through manipulation of their mind and emotions, or competition with others to see who can posses the most. As a bumper sticker I've seen too many times says, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins." It's not really funny.

Consumerism is indicative of a culture embracing psychopathy as the norm. Though the term psychopath and sociopath are used interchangeably in mainstream psychology, for the purpose of our discussion we will use the term sociopath in the way a mainstream psychologist would use the term secondary psychopath. That is, a person who is not genetically psychopathic but has taken on psychopathic traits.

I used to teach inner city kids. Sociopathy was common amongst that group. It makes sense that it would be. They have been placed in a situation in which they are always considered second-class citizens, at best. The only successful role models they have, those who have managed to pay rent, buy a car and provide for others, are psychopaths--drug dealers, pimps and hardcore gangsters. Many become sociopaths out of the need to survive.

On the other hand, I live in a rather affluent area of Los Angeles, though I am by no means affluent, myself. Curiously, the percentage of sociopaths among the population on this side of town seems even higher than in the inner city. In the ghetto, there are still people who will accept you no matter where you come from or what you have. On this side of the tracks, that's very rare, indeed.

Of course, the most affluent area of the city would contain the most sociopaths. In a consumeristic society, who will find the most success? The person driven by conscience, or the psychopath who is able to do anything at all in order to get ahead? The question doesn't need to be answered explicitly. We all know the answer.

We could limit the effect of psychopaths on our society by making the society one that is not so psychopath-friendly. If we held service to others in higher esteem than financial "success" the psychopath would obviously appear the odd man out. But that is not the path we have chosen. Rather, we have joined in the psychopathic race to posses. In doing so, we have learned psychopathic tendencies...we have become sociopaths in order to survive in the psychopath's game.

And we still hold on to the idea that it is the way things are meant to be. It is the way things are meant to be. When a culture makes the decision to follow psychopaths, this consumeristic culture is exactly how things are meant to be. But it is not how things must be. We need only a small fraction of what we desire. We work ourselves to the bone to enjoy a life during a brief vacation that we can enjoy on a daily basis, if we could only rid ourselves of our sociopathic tendencies.

Will we do it? Not to sound pessimistic, but I doubt it. It is not by chance that we have fallen into this pit. We have been lead here by something dark, something that hates life and love, something that we do not want to believe exists. We have never been left to our own devices. We are cattle, and the chief tool the ranchers have to keep us in line is our ignorance of their existence.

We are sleeping sheep, having a dream of a beautiful life with our big-screen TV's, SUV's and nice homes. And, if we don't wake up, we will suffer the fate of all sheep in a tended flock. We will be lead to the slaughter.
Reality makes fighters of us all.

No matter how passive we are in our day-to-day lives--even if we are wont to allow others to run roughshod over us in order to maintain the peace--we seem willing to fight to the death to maintain our illusions when faced with the grim spectre of reality.

A case in point. I was having a conversation with a coworker, recently. This particular fellow was not a passive person by any stretch of the imagination, so this is not a perfect case in point, but you'll get the idea. Somehow, the conversation turned toward 9/11 and terrorism.

Now, this fellow is someone whose political views lean way to the left of center. He is a self-described Bush administration hater. He considers this entire administration as murderous bastards seemingly capable of doing anything to gain and maintain power. I casually mentioned the fact that it is physically impossible that a 757 had crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. Suddenly, the conversation took a sharp turn from our agreements about the Bush administration to his belief that I'd completely lost my mind.

This didn't come as a surprise to me. I've been studying the workings of psy-ops and COINTELPRO long enough now to realize that these folks are capable of creating seemingly impenetrable blind spots in the vision of even the most open-minded person. What I found most instructive in our conversation from that point was observing the specific ways in which he'd been programmed to avoiding even considering the facts of the matter.

No matter what physical evidence I attempted to bring to his attention, he kept coming back to the fact that something had done serious damage to the Pentagon on that day and a 757 with a bunch of passengers on board had disappeared. If it didn't crash into the Pentagon, what happened to it? Was I suggesting that somehow "they" managed to keep all of these people quiet about the fact that their plane hadn't actually crashed on 9/11?

I pointed out that I did not think for a moment that any of those people were still alive. Surely, I reasoned, he was aware that there are other means of killing people and disposing of an airplane than by crashing it into a building. He wouldn't budge. In his mind, I'd lost mine (mind, that is).

I tried to turn the conversation toward the physics of the matter. In order to do anything like the damage that was done to the Pentagon, the plane would have had to impact that building completely normal to the face of the building! For those of you not familiar with the term normal, it means perfectly perpendicular. In other words, if this plane was facing slightly nose up or nose down when it hit, its tail section would either have bounced into the ground (leaving a really big divit to replace) or been flung toward the top of the building, leaving a lot of tail wreckage on the roof. Neither of these things happened. Considering the fact that the plane had to make a descent toward the building--it didn't hit the cars of the freeway, after all--it could not have been flying perfectly level as it would have had to have been doing for a normal impact against the building.

The conversation became a bit heated at this point, from his side, that is. He argued that they had clearly cut their engines and were descending while maintaining level flight because they were losing speed. He claimed that also accounted for why none of the witnesses reported hearing the eardrum blasting roar of those jet engines as the plane passed overthem on the freeway. He even went so far as to claim that all commercial airliners cut their engines completely when they come in for a landing.

Here, he'd descended into utter absurdity in order to defend his illusions. Anyone who has ever flown on a commercial airliner (and I know for a fact he can count himself amongst this group) knows full well that the only jet that lands without power is the one coming in for an emergency landing because it has unexpectedly lost power. How is the jet to taxi down the runway toward the terminal without its engines? It isn't until the last bit of the trip to the gateway that the aircraft is hitched up and dragged by one of those glorified golf carts. And what if the aircraft needs pull up because of an irregularity on the runway at the last minute? Without engines, it is screwed, to put it mildly.

He knew he was wrong on this point, so he retreated back to his fallback position. What happened to that flight if it didn't crash into the Pentagon? I agreed that this was a very good question. As a matter of fact, I told him, I'd take it one step further. What happened to that flight if it did crash into the Pentagon? What happened to the wings and the engines? Why wasn't there any wreckage of a 757 found at the site?

There is not answer to that question to report. By this time, our break was over and his mind was obviously swirling with thoughts of how I'd suddenly turned into a complete lunatic. He was perfetly willing to not only doubt my sanity but to rewrite the laws of physics on the spot in order to defend his illusions. The very laws that hold our universe together were not going to stand in the way of his personal view of the world.

In other words, hew was ready to fight to the death against the encroachment of reality upon his personal illusions. This is something we are all guilty of. Even those of us who consider ourselves open-minded generally maintain that view of ourselves through our clever avoidance of those aspects of reality that will challenge our illusions. In his case for example, like much of the political left in the U.S., he has skirted the reality of the systemic sickness of U.S. politics by demonizing the right and believing that a change of residency at the White House will solve any real problems. He has also hidden in the belief that what has been reported to have happened at the Pentagon must have happened, otherwise it would have been found out by now.

He, like so many others, believes in the power of global communications technology to make the truth known. What he forgets is that all power has two poles, like the postive and negative poles of a battery. The power to dissemenated truth via the Internet and communications satellites is match by the power to to spread disinformation and confusion. The problem is, the folks spreading disinformation and propaganda are organized, while those seeking the truth are not. Who wins in that scenario?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Greater the Beauty the Darker the Cloud

The greater the beauty the darker the cloud that attempts to obscure it. The more the potential for revelation of some truth, the more liars you’ll find crowded around.

I experienced this myself in a very tangible way during the summers of 2003 and 2004, when I was taken to England to shoot footage for a proposed documentary on the crop circle phenomenon. I approached the project with excitement. I’d read about crop circles, had seen a lot of pictures and talked to several people who actively investigate the phenomenon. At last I’d get a chance to experience them for myself. I was excited.

Because what I’d read was mostly written during the “heyday” of the crop circle phenomenon, when thousands would crowd into Wiltshire, England and environs to meditate, hold various rituals, take measurements and discuss the possible explanations of these mysterious formations in the fields, I had expected something of a carnival atmosphere of metaphysical musings conversation. What I found was something else altogether.

I should say right up front that there are many people involved in the crop circle experience that I like and respect very much. I met people who struggle year after year to make sense of something mysterious and ephemeral. And mysterious it is. I have no doubt that something is going on in fields all over the world (the fields of southern England being the most famous for it) that is outside anything we generally accept as normal…and I mean this in two distinct ways.

Do I think that at least some crop circles are formed by an unknown, non-human agent? Absolutely, yes. I don’t see how it could be otherwise. There have been too many similar reports from too many individuals across to great a time period of strange goings-on witnessed in the night to discount them all as the ravings of lunatics or wishful thinkers. There have been too many formations that have appeared on rainy nights when any walking across flattened crop leaves tell-tale signs of muddy footprints, yet no muddy footprints are to be found in the pristine formation at the break of dawn. There are far too many crop circles of high precision and great mathematical and artistic beauty to be accounted for by any reasonable number of hoaxers, especially considering the fact that the phenomenon occurs worldwide.

All this suggests that the crop circle phenomenon represents something we generally do not accept as normal in one way in the sense that the formations (or some of them) appear to be artifacts of interactions between our planet and an intelligence that is not accounted for in our philosophies and science. It is also outside what we generally consider normal in how infused the phenomenon is with PSYOPS and COINTELPRO.

We don’t consider this normal because we’ve been trained to think of this kind of spy stuff as the fanciful notions of the authors of spy novels or something that only goes on between governments in the dark alleys of eastern European communist countries. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is everyday life all over the world. We normally don’t notice it because one goal of the efforts of PSYOPS and COINTELPRO is to keep the populace corralled toward the middle of the road of opinion and knowledge. As long as you are living your “normal” life, going to work, watching your favorite TV programs and arguing politics within the parameters set by the mainstream news outlets, the agents remain quiet. Step just a little bit away from the center and you might feel their gentle hand guiding you in the form of a friend or loved one calling you back to the middle. Step a little further out and you might feel a metaphorical slap. Step out as far as the crop circle phenomenon and things get really weird.

My first direct encounter with one of the darker agents of those working to confuse the crop circle issue both put the hair up on the back of my neck and elicited such a strong emotional reaction from me that I hardly knew what hit me. I became almost immediately furious, so much so that I felt shocked by it. I verbally lashed out, loudly.

I would liken it to this strange situation that happened to me some years earlier. I was staying in a motel in my own town. Work was being done on my place and I needed to be out of the house for the night. Not wanting to spend a lot of money on it, I took a room in an inexpensive motel, though not in a bad part of town. In the middle of the night, I woke up to the sound of the door to my room being opened. Somehow, someone had a key to the room and was using it at about 3:00am. As I remember it, two men were coming in. It could have been that the hotel mistakenly given them a key to my room, or it could have been that they’d picked the lock and were coming to rob me. I’ll never know, because I instinctively reacted to the potentially dangerous situation by becoming a virtual wild animal.

My girlfriend of the time was with me. My reaction shocked her. My voice became very low in pitch and very loud, like the roar of a lion. I roared out, almost loudly enough to shake the windows, “What the fuck are you doing?” Whatever these two men intended, they changed their mind at that moment and ran for it. After we’d settled down from the surprise, my girlfriend and I were both a bit shocked by the force of my voice.

That’s the sort of reaction I had when encountering this fellow who claimed to be a crop circle hoaxer. In his presence, I felt something unmistakably dark, foreboding and malevolent. Just like in the motel room, the strength of my voice instinctively trying to drive this presence away shocked me and everyone else who was there. But here is where this situation and the motel situation were radically different. This fellow didn’t run. He wasn’t in the least bothered by my verbal attack. He seemed to like it.

Well, I didn’t quite expect that. I was under the assumption before this, as all of us are trained to be, that this sort of fellow was merely misguided or crying out for love and attention. At that point in my life, I didn’t accept the reality of a “dark side.” I optimistically saw all human beings as basically working toward good with varying degrees of success based on how much insight and mental clarity they possessed. I learned that day that this view is not accurate. The dark side—evil, if you will—is very real, and our barking does nothing to scare it away. It enjoys our anger. It feeds off the energy. Our righteous indignation is merely lunch for it.

The darkness of this sort of energy is enough to either scare off anyone who turns their mind toward the esoteric or drive them insane. I’ve witnessed both in the crop circle community. Those who don’t leave the fields in disgust usually end up holding tight to any manner of belief that seems to provide refuge from the darkness. In doing so, they become agents for the dark side. They begin fighting with their former friends who now espouse a competing belief, giving up on the search for truth in favor of defense of their new religion.

Those who peek in on the outskirts of reality like the crop circle phenomenon see all this fighting and, if they value their own mental wellbeing, stay away. Instead of looking for something extraordinary in this phenomenon, they maintain their interest at a purely aesthetic level by ordering crop circle calendars and logging on to one of the many crop circle websites each spring to see the latest formations as they appear along with the superficial geometrical analysis that always follows.

PSYOPS and COINTELPRO agents are all around us. They work this same scenario in every important arena in which someone might become interested. Politics, for example, is only palatable to the general public in the form of brief encapsulations in the newspaper and on TV or radio. Get in close and the average person comes away dazed, confused, angry and sickened.

The agents of the dark side have a job to do and they do it well. Their job is to keep us corralled toward the middle of the road. They are, effectively, shepherds of the flock, and we are the sheep. Stay in the middle of the flock and life is easy. Stray a bit and you’ll feel the gentle nudge of the shepherd’s crook. Get anywhere near leaving the flock and you’ll face the dogs and the darkness.

So, most of us remain close to the middle of the flock and convince ourselves that it is all that there is. It isn’t, but it is definitely more comfortable.