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.