The Boy Who Ate the Wrong Part of the Crocodile

Chris Cuomo said on Valentine’s Day: “The opposite of love is not hate—the opposite of love is indifference.” When someone plainly sees an injustice or wrong occurring and does nothing about it, this person is choosing to let the fabric of our shared reality rip and become ruin. Cuomo made a direct link to the role indifference played in the rise of the three brutal Dictators of World War II. After the chaos of WWI and global economic depression, great numbers of people were left without means of meeting their basic needs. Many looked to strong men with bold visions who said things like: “I can fix this! I, and I alone, can make our country great again!” These strong men possessed an uncanny magnetism that attracted people to them—people being crushed by their circumstances. These men were of course Adolf Hitler of Germany, Benito Mussolini of Italy, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan. 

At the beginning of WWII, the United States refused to enter it, fed up after the extraordinary loss of life, resources, and money poured into Europe during the first Great War. This combined with the Great Depression left Americans sunk deep inside a well of isolationist thinking. Many believed Europe needed to work out its own problems, which they felt were rooted in ancient tribal differences and racists tendencies played out over centuries. This thinking prevented Roosevelt from sending U.S. ships to help Churchill get his army out of Dunkirk where they were penned in by Hitler’s army, which was sweeping across Europe in a frightening and virtually unstoppable power grab. I believe Roosevelt sent some airplanes, but they had to be pushed over the Canadian border, not driven or flown, so they could take off from Canada allowing Roosevelt to claim he was not helping Britain, Canada was. Churchill was left in an impossible position for he did not have enough naval ships to evacuate his men. Without a British army, Hitler would invade the island nation forcing Churchill to surrender. Imagine the world if this had happened. Fortunately, Churchill prevailed by using every private water vessel available to cross the English Channel to get his men out.

After Pearl Harbor, America could no longer remain uninvolved in the second Great War now erupting just as brutally in the Far East. To help change public opinion and prepare men for battle, the United States government commissioned a series of movies to explain and justify involvement in yet another war. One of these movies was Prelude to War made by Frank Capra depicting the Nazi propaganda machine and disinformation being put out by the 3 dictatorial regimes. Inspired by Leni Riefenstahl‘s Germany propaganda film Triumph of the Will, Capra sought to create a movie that would counter hers, but to do so, he knew he needed a powerful idea. From Wikipedia:

Capra made his primary focus the creation of “one basic, powerful idea” that would spread and evolve into other related ideas. Capra considered one important idea that had always been in his thoughts: ‘I thought of the Bible. There was one sentence in it that always gave me goose pimples’:Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”[3]

As a result, his goal became to “let the enemy prove to our soldiers the enormity of his cause—and the justness of ours”. He would compile enemy speeches, films, newsreels, newspaper articles, with a list of the enemy’s hostile actions. He presented his ideas to other officers now assigned to help him: ‘I told them of my hunch: Use the enemy’s own films to expose their enslaving ends. Let our boys hear the Nazis and the Japs shout their own claims of master-race crud—and our fighting men will know why they are in uniform.’[3]

Weeks later, after major efforts and disappointments, Capra located hard-to-reach archives within government facilities, and by avoiding normal channels was able to gain access: Peterson and I walked away on air. We had found the great cache of enemy films—and it was ours![3]

If interested in these historical strands of fate and destiny, watch Capra’s Prelude to War and the Darkest Hour (an interpretation of Churchill and Dunkirk). After watching or reading about this time, I believe it is possible to grasp just how precarious human time and attention was during this moment as strong men worked day and night to divert and misdirect human attention to obscure their evil deeds. It is a timeless story repeated over and over in the human world. However, Now, here we stand again, this time closer to the edge than ever before, and yet so many people seem blissfully unaware, or worst, indifferent to the danger. 

Or, perhaps it is not an edge at all. 

Perhaps we face a collision of two different consolidations of human consciousness. What if every moment of our lives and every other human being’s life leaves a trace upon the warp and woof of space and time? What if these traces create a substrate from which our shared conscious reality rises and is expressed? One of the most fundamental expressions of this consciousness is through relationships (i.e., family, friends, community, country, world). Sometimes these relationships are strong, balanced and healthy, and they put good into the world. Sometimes these relationships are broken and unhealthy, and they pour bad into the world. These bonds and the traces they leave behind are immeasurably subtle and elusive for they are of an emotional-psychic-spiritual nature, thus escape our eyes, and even our minds, but not our hearts.

What if these traces of consciousness, this subtle energy, bump into each other and form bonds just like electrons and protons do in the visible universe? What if these bonds glob together and create landscapes, even planets or consolidated bodies of consciousness? Of course, these places would be invisible to the eye for they are spaces created from psychological-emotional-spiritual expressions or memories of our collective co-existence as human beings up to this point in time. There would be beautiful and safe places in this realm as well as dangerous ones. There would be ancient places charted long ago by our ancestors but Now forgotten. And, there would-be dried-up places, submerged places, verdant places, and crowded places. One would need to learn how to navigate these terrains just as one learns how to navigate the physical world, and these places would create the bedrock for our collective conscious co-existence. In short, they form the fertile invisible ground from which new conscious life sprouts and is expressed through time. 

Now consider two different consolidations of conscious terrain have formed over the expanse of human conscious co-existence and share the same orbit around the sun of humanity’s awaken consciousness—just as Earth shared the same orbit around our sun with Theia , which is believed to have been a Mars-sized planet orbiting the sun in the same Goldie Locks trajectory as Earth. Scientist believe Theia struck Earth about 4.5 billion years ago in a collision so massive it knocked Earth off its axis, sending it spinning so fast that one day was completed in 5 hours. The colossal amount of debris thrown into space created our moon, which eventually slowed Earth’s spin from 5-hours to 24 hours and created Earth’s tides once water returned. As life emerged, Earth’s crooked axis was transformed into our seasons, and from this destruction and chaos, a new equilibrium rose—one where life could thrive.

Further imagine the destruction and tragic loss of human life that happened 100 years ago and again 75 years ago were near misses of this other consolidation of human consciousness—merely pass-byes, not collisions, but nevertheless capable of generating tremendous gravitational forces within both consolidations of consciousness, which would widen and deepen natural riffs existing within these spheres of consciousness. This fracturing would prevent either sphere from seeing or taking necessary action to avoid a collision with the other. The question becomes can we absorb a direct impact, heal from it, and return to a new dynamic balance—one that supports  life—all life. 

After writing these strange thoughts, a friend posted one of Rumi’s timeless poems. I believe Rumi felt the possibility of such other realities existing beyond our visible one. Born September 30, 1207, he says so beautifully:

“I have abolished duality from myself.

I have seen the two worlds as One!

One I seek, One I know,

One I see, and One I call.”

~ By RUMI

Returning back to Western Civilization’s definition of reality, Cuomo went onto connect what happened 75 years ago to what Republicans are doing now by protecting a person proving himself to be a pathological liar and holding the most powerful office in the country. Barely two weeks later, Michael Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress where the gentle Republican men and women came at him hard, employing virtually the same tactic, which was to call him a liar, attack his integrity, and suggest he is simply seeking to profit by his lies. Many gave passionate 5-minute speeches to their base using emotion like super weapons to inflame them (e.g., “I told my wife don’t listen to this, please don’t listen and she said to me don’t worry honey, I won’t listen.”)—all to protect a man shown to have made 6,420 false or misleading claims since he took office (Washington Post, 11/2/18). Of course they were angry, Cohen was no longer lying to protect their man—the President. Many wouldn’t even let Cohen answer their questions saying things like: “This is my time. Don’t interrupt me!” Halfway through his testimony, Cohen admonishes Congress for by now even the gentle Democratic men and women are using their time not to question Cohen but to make counter statements to combat the highly charged mini emotional speeches made by the other side. The result was a shredding of any truth to be found and trampling on the remnants. One of the most profound statements Cohen made was that what people surrounding Trump are doing Now is what he did for him for 10 years, and they will end up where he is Now. He also said when Trump took office he became the very worst version of himself (I’ll get back to this). Don Lemon added later that people protect their own,which is tribal behavior (e.g., BBC interview of U.S. 2020 voters 3/7/19, “Do I vote for character? No, I don’t vote for character… character doesn’t put money in my pocket.).

This idea of social reality as tribal is critical to understand and get underneath in order to grapple with the realities facing us Now. Tribal co-existence is one of the most natural states for human beings to exist. Throughout human civilization, tribes have been the building blocks for how to live together. Tribes protect and nurture their members, and when threatened, fiercely defend them. With the rise and dominance of Western Civilization, the physical embodiment of many tribes around the world has been greatly diminished—which is a tremendous loss of the magnificent diversity and vibrancy of human civilizations as it has evolved on Earth. A question to consider Now is this (Western Civilization) the most stable consolidation of human co-existence we can create? Are there perhaps other more stable and life sustaining consolidations of human conscious co-existence that are more balanced and capable of recognizing and nurturing the realities of inner and outer space. 

Despite the dwindling number of so many of the world’s native tribes, tribal ways of thinking have not disappeared. Indeed, with the rise of social media, they are resurging in ways never previously imagined possible. And, why wouldn’t this be so for humans have always found tremendous comfort in groups of other liked minded humans. Tribes, as previously stated, protect and sustain their members from harsh realities of life, and this is true of virtual tribes as it is for real tribes. In essence, they create an external model of reality that reflects and protects the internal world experienced by most of its members. They also serve as effective mechanisms to teach young members about beliefs, traditions, rituals, and knowledge deemed essential for survival in an uncertain world. A tribe is not inherently good or bad—be it ancient or modern—rather it is as good as the human beings making it up and their thinking. However, if a tribe becomes off balanced, its members tend to become off balanced too.  

Veering sharply from present to past, I want to contrast current political tribalism with the challenges faced by a real, living tribe. I’ve selected two stories from the book my friend M. sent me to help me cope with my father’s death, child of the jungle, which is about the Fayu tribe in New Guinea. This tribe was facing a serious crisis after having become deeply knocked off balanced by vicious revenge killings. These imbalances permeated into every aspect of their lives, including how they treated their own members and families. As this more aggressive and cruel side of the Fayu’s collective psychic-spiritual landscape grew bigger, it submerged their more loving and nurturing side. Failing to recognize their lopsidedness, they became locked in a tangled web of cruelty. 

I am very aware how Western colonization often took place first through missionary work; however, through this story, I have come to understand it is how this work is done that makes the critical difference. In this real-life story, the father felt deeply called to be with the Fayu people, and he did so with a compassionate heart. He did not enforce his way of doing things, nor impose his beliefs, but rather sought to learn their language, engage in conversation, and demonstrate through his own life kinder, gentler ways of being and living together. This was not a one-way street either for he and his family learned from the Fayu people as well. In fact, the family’s very existence in the jungle was only possible because of the Fayu’s help and knowledge, which they shared freely and frequently to help the family live and survive in the jungle—a place of daily wonders and danger. Most importantly, it was only by the invitation of one of the chiefs who expressed how tired he was by all the killings that the family came to live with the Fayu.

Two key moments that vividly demonstrate to me just how far off balanced the Fayu had become are as follows:

Painting By Donna Alena Hrabcakova

Chapter: Nakire — The Woman and the arrow

“It happened while I was playing outside. Several women were heading into the jungle. The husband of one of the women called her back, but she did not immediately respond. When she finally did step out of the trees, he took his bow, notched an arrow, and shot her in the breast.

The Fayu are excellent marksmen. The husband knew exactly how much pressure to exert on the bowstring so that the arrow would wound but not kill his wife. The woman collapsed, groaning, onto the ground. I felt sick. I wanted to scream, to run away, to kill that man. Everyone could see that this woman was pregnant.

Mama heard the cries and came running out of the house. When she saw the scene, she lost it. I have never seen Mama roar as she did on that day. Mama ran over to the woman, extracted the arrow, and helped her to the house. The man was standing there, laughing at our reaction. I threw him a look of contempt as I followed Mama and the woman into our house. Papa was also very upset, but when he confronted the Fayu about it, they just laughed at him as well.

Today it is different. Over the years, the Fayu watched the relationship between my parents, and what they saw – their respect and love for each other – began to change the way they treated their own wives. It was a new concept for the Fayu that a man and a woman could work together, be happy at it and be able to incorporate humor into their relationship. With my parents, they could see how important love was and the argument didn’t have to be settled by arrows or death.”

Painting By Donna Alena Hrabcakova

Chapter: My Brother Ohri — Boy who ate the wrong part of the crocodile

“But this time our concern was justified. When I saw Ohri step out of the brush, I shouted for Mama and hurried to him. He collapsed to the ground, weak and with a high fever. I wanted to help him up but didn’t know where I could touch him. His entire chest was a huge, infected wound covered by a thick layer of green-grey fungus. The Fayu had shot him with an arrow and left him for dead in the middle of the jungle.

Mama came running and helped Ohri into our house, Papa asked the Fayu what had happened and was told that Ohri had eaten a forbidden piece of a crocodile. This was his punishment. They completely ignored him and acted as though he didn’t exist anymore.

I started to cry when I saw his pain-streaked face. He smelled like rotting meat. The wound was obviously gangrenous. I sat next to him and held his hand. Mama brought bandages and medication and rolled Ohir on to this side. She mixed potassium permanganate with water and poured it over his chest. An inch-thick fungal growth slowly loosened itself and fell off him onto the leaves we had placed underneath him.

Ohir was in great pain. His entire chest was an open wound filled with maggots. Mama cut a bedsheet into large strips, covered them in antibiotic cream, and bound his torso with them. She changed the bandages every day. Papa took the leaves and dressings out behind the house and burned them.”

Ohir would survive his ordeal, and he would be accepted back into his tribe. The author does not tell us if the Fayu changed their ways after this event, but you see love and compassion demonstrated by the family as the Fayu watched, and most importantly, paid attention. The author does say later: “Words alone are empty. You have to live out what you hold to be true. The Fayu needed to decide for themselves whether they wanted to change, for true change comes only from the heart.” Thus, it was the compassionate, tender, and loving side of the Fayu people re-emerging simply by watching and paying attention to how these strange, white people did things differently. This simple act empowered the Fayu to remember the submerged parts still existed inside of them (like an energy being activated through the mere act of observation). The change was slow, one person at a time, one choice at a time, but little by little they began to bring this side of themselves back into their shared psycho-social-spiritual conscious sphere. Thus, this is how a gentle transformation occurred. 

When we strive to become the best version of ourselves, we pay attention to our inner life as well as our outer life. We learn how to channel our most destructive human emotions and nature in less destructive ways. We help others learn how to do this too. This is love.  Love is simply paying attention to ourselves and helping each other do this too. It is doing what we can with what we have to make the world a little bit better. It is helping each other heal wounds (those inside of us or inflicted on us by outside forces or fate) for we are all human beings making a wondrous and perilous journey to become more conscious, and hopefully kinder and more loving beings as well, but this is a personal choice. The journey begins by looking inside and seeing and validating our inner truth and reality. This can feel risky and even dangerous because most of us are taught that our inner realities are nothing more than crazy mutterings, insane ramblings, or unhinged thoughts. Correcting this imbalance in our collective vision (i.e., verifying and validating the truth of each person’s inner reality in balance with every other person alive) may be the only way to move forward together. This can only happen by paying attention to what is happening inside and helping each other do the same—one person at a time. It’s not too late to change our shared reality. As long as we have life, we have choice, and until our dying day, we leave traces upon the warp and woof of space and time. 

* * *

One More Story about the Cost of Indifference: In this story, the price of indifference is human life. 48 Hours In Syria is a powerful story told by Kassem Eid about spending two years living in a city under siege. It began after he and his neighbors took part in the protests during the Arab Spring in 2011, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad began to punish towns like Kassem’s. His forces bombed them, surrounded them, and starved them. That’s when Kassem decided to fight back.  

The Dalai Lama Talks About How to Tackle the Indifferent Mind: How to Train Our Mind: His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains how to train the mind to tackle destructive emotions during his meeting with a group from India at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 11, 2019.

Stories About Weaving Strong (Even Destructive) Emotions into Making Legal DecisionsRadioLab: Null and Void – These stories tell about jury nullification with a particular passionate interview and story beginning at 40 minutes into the show. 

Stories About the Vortex of Conspiracy Theorists: Beware the Jabberwock: Stories from the upside-down world where conspiracy theorists dwell – These are stories about Lenny Pozner whose son, Noah, was killed at Sandy Hook. In the years after Noah’s death, Lenny and his family were harassed by people who believed the shooting at Sandy Hook never happened–that it was all a conspiracy. Until one day, Lenny decided to fight back.

1A: Male Masculinity in the 21stCentury: How to Raise Boys –  How do we teach men how to acknowledge that “I feel pain, I feel fear?” This is an in-depth discussion about the messages and confusing narratives that swirl around men and boys today and how it shapes their understanding of what it means to be a man and how they should act.

One Way a Different Consolidation of Consciousness Might Split Off from the Whole and Grow:  Conflict and strong emotions have always been hard for humans to navigate, especially in groups—be it a group of 3 or a country of millions—but navigating them together may be our only evolutionary option. Some groups favor acting on strong emotions and openly engaging in conflict (tic for tac approach), but this can escalate or lock a conflict into a static pattern. Some groups prefer ignoring conflict and strong emotions, pretending it’s business as usual, while the intense emotional energy is submerged into the unconscious realms where it tends to grow and morph out of sight of conscious awareness, typically transforming into something much worst (to play the unconsciousness game, see the animation-graphic above).

Unconscious Forces Rising — by Bébé

Some groups don’t believe they have any responsibility to guide the emotional energy of its members at all, rather believing this is the job of family and friends to soothe disaffected individuals. But we’ve seen this play out with middle income and middle of the country Americans, many who are white and feel the systems that once supported and elevated them left them behind. They face uncertain futures where they cannot care for themselves and their families. They feel pain and fear that can surge very strongly at times and need to be sorted and channelled. But with broken systems, their voices go unheard, and so they do talk to their friends and family, and they are angry too. The result is a splitting from the whole and formation of a consolidation of individuals who weld enough will and power to elect Donald Trump.

Whenever a whole is divided and becomes polarized due to lack of effective strategies to channel strong emotions that can flow from time to time within groups, the polarized sides can begin to fracture, allowing even more powerful, destructive potentials (forces) to fill the cracks. Repairs might be attempted on both sides (i.e., the stained glass), but without dealing with the originating causes of the fracture, these repairs are often too little, too late, and too weak to hold the whole, causing everything to break apart—a story as old as time. See The Divine Dodo — In Maidjan (The Corruption) for the story for which the gif below was created to tell.

Repairing the Cracks: Venus Rising — by Bébé

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