When Do We Get To Use Violence?

And Other Things to Remember about January 6, 2021

First Archetypal Animation | Trying to Work It Out 

Trying to Work It Out | Music: 40 Thieves – The Work Of A Craftsman | The Noam Chomsky Music Project | An Incredible Moment

In the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, my brother-in-law was heard telling his son, “I can’t wait for the shooting and killing to begin.”

I don’t share this to expose what a despicable man he is (although after spending 2.5 weeks with him after attending a memorial service for my sister-in-law who lost her battle to breast cancer, he showed me just how repugnant, wretched, beastly, and hate-filled he has become as a sorry excuse for a man. I am video blogging about the good, the bad, and the ugly in my Big Sky Series).

Rather I share this sad sentiment to shine light on the reality that the 309,000 people living in the US who do not believe in the Big Lie and do not believe violence is justified to overturn an election whose results they don’t like probably know someone who does.

The Conversation reports:

The University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats have been tracking insurrectionist sentiments in U.S. adults, most recently in surveys in June. We have found that 47 million American adultsnearly 1 in 5agree with the statement that “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” Of those, 21 million also agree that “use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency.”

Why should we be paying attention to this when there are so many other Big Problems such as Climate Change, poverty, and disease that need our time and attention. Because the ramifications of the United States of American falling prey to autocratic, authoritarian, dictatorial rule are huge. And as a democracy, we have never been nearer to such an outcome since the Civil War.

Here is what Timothy Snyder, Yale history professor, predicts would happen if a Trump 2024 coup that is carefully being architected right now through our legal systems and then shored up with new legislation restricting voting rights and further bolstered by installing more compliant men and women at state and local levels who are willing to do as the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refused to do when Trumped asked him to “find” enough votes to overturn his loss in Georgia.


Yale history professor Timothy Snyder predicts the horrific aftermath of a Trump coup in 2024

If Trump runs in 2024, he will lose the popular vote. If corrupt GOP state legislators install Trump as President, the United States will quickly and catastrophically cease to exist. That's what Yale history professor Timothy Snyder says in the latest issue of his "Thinking About" newsletter.

“In a situation where he is installed as president after losing an election, Mr. Trump would vainly try to control what will quickly cease to be the United States. His allies who wish to destroy the state will be the only winners.  The precise scenario of the collapse of the United States is impossible to predict, but some of the following is likely to happen, and quickly. 

Tens of millions of people protest. Paramilitaries on both sides emerge. Violence leads to fake and real stories of deaths, and to revenge.  Police and armed forces will know neither whom they should obey nor whom they should arrest.  With traditional authority broken, those wearing uniforms and bearing arms will become partisans, take sides, and start shooting one another.  Governors will look for exit strategies for their states.  Americans will rush to parts of the disintegrating country they find safer, in a process that looks increasingly like ethnic cleansing. The stock market and then the economy will crash. The dollar will cease to be the world currency.” 

MARK FRAUENFELDER  | BoingBoing | 8:38 AM THU JAN 6, 2022
Snyder is the author of the short book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. Read Mark Frauenfelder's full article for highlights from this book. It sounds frightening like Margret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale!

It would perhaps be easier if the 47 million people who believe the election was stolen, and especially the 21 million who are ready to take violent action to right their misperceived wrong, lived in a single state like Texas, and then let that state secede from the union like the South wanted to do during the Civil War. But that is not our shared reality. We are interwoven and connected to the 47 million American adults who believe the election was stolen from Trump and cross paths with the 21 million adults who are willing to use violence to get their way.

They are our brothers (or brother-in-laws), sisters, uncles, aunts, parents, children, and friends. So what do we do?

We stay informed. We find was to stay sane as my Big Sky Series is video blogging about. We endure the uncertainty and the extreme discomfort, anxiety, and fear that goes with it. And despite it all, we find ways to restore our sense of faith in people that at our centers, we are capable of heroic acts of kindness, goodness, and unselfishness as demonstrated just yesterday when Los Angeles police officers risked their lives to pull a pilot from his crashed plane seconds before a commuter train crashed into it.


What follows is a curation of some of the reporting on Jan 6 one year later and what has been learned as well as what remains a threat. It is by no means a comprehensive list. For example, I have made a conscious decision not to highlight “news” sources touting the Big Lie even as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pulls the oldest trick days after marking this sad day in American history. It is a standard go to trick in the authoritarian’s playbook, which is pretend the other side is doing exactly what you are doing.

The Hill reports:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office knocked Democrats over “the left’s Big Lie” — which it pegged as the belief that “there is some evil anti-voting conspiracy sweeping America” — as Democrats look to push for federal voting rights legislation.

A memo from the minority leader’s office on Sunday predicts that Democrats will “try to use fake hysteria to break the Senate and silence millions of Americans’ voices so they can take over elections and ram through their radical agenda,” likely referring to calls by many Democrats to abolish the filibuster in the Senate to pass voting rights reforms.

I have roughly laid out the information below by news sources, begining with a compelling interview with Evan Osonos about the building of a Right-Wing media empire just in time for the 2024 election.


FreshAir Reporting

Second Archetypal Animation | Purveyors of Rage

Building of a Right-Wing Media Empire to Cancel Cancel Culture

Purveyors of Rage Culture | Music: Madvillain – The Illest Villains – Madvillainy

And How Dan Bongino is Building a Right-Wing Media Infrastructure in time for 2024

January 6, 2022; 1:40 PM ETHeard on  Fresh Air

Fresh Air Interview with EVAN OSNOS who wrote about Dan Bongino in the New Yorker about how he is building a right-wing media empire just in time for the 2024 election--how to cancel cancel culture.

A Several Things That Grabbed My Attention:

When Evan Osnos asked Bongino for an interview, Bongino refused stating, “Why should I want to talk to the enemy.”

Bongino calls face masks mouth diapers and face burkas. While Bongino is vaccinated himself, he tells his followers to remain unvaccinated. When asked about this, he doesn’t see the connection to his vaccination status and continued health versus his followers deaths because they listened to him, remained unvaccinated, caught COVID, and died.

His fellow secret service agents said, “It’s like there are 2 Bonginos; the one who was a secret service agent and the one he is now.” He plays into the suspicion conservatives have that government is not working for us–the common man and woman in America with conservative values.

Bongino made the link between war and the battlefield with politics and differences between parties. He has been very successful in marrying the idea that violence and politics go together. He wrapped himself very tightly around Donald Trump that helped his growing business rise exponentially. He is better at tapping into rage than Alex Jones and others doing the same. Rush died. FoxNews and Matt Drudge are grappling with intense competition on the right for the spotlight.

He has a lot of gun related advertisers and survivalist businesses as well as Omaha steaks and sleep products. Guns and survivalist thinking are phenomena confined to the right. He promotes the idea that elections are rigged and are not to be trusted. He grew up during the time of the NRA dominance and embraces the idea and term the NRA promoted about having a combat mindset.

It is important to understand why we are at the moment we are now, which is arguably worst than one year ago.


Wildland: The Making of American Fury

Book by Evan Osnos

Images from top to bottom:


“A sprawling, fascinating journey through the dawning decades of the 21st century . . . through acute observation, extensive interviewing and dogged research, Osnos weaves an intricate tapestry that gradually reveals how Americans experienced the last two decades.”

Lizabeth Cohen, The Washington Post

“One of the books of the year . . . Wildland by The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos draws the backstory to America’s rage through deep reporting and ‘thousands of hours of conversations’ in three places he lived before D.C.”

Axios

“Osnos offers the most personal and the most powerful description yet of a country ‘so far out of balance that it [has] lost its center of gravity’ . . . My hope is that everyone who reads this great book will be enraged enough to redouble their efforts to undo the damage the greedy have wrought, and to take back America for its decent citizens, once and for all.”

Charles Kaiser, The Guardian

“Visionary in scope, compassionate in procedure, Wildland brilliantly transmutes our national chaos into absorbing narrative order. Evan Osnos has penned a definitive portrait of what we have allowed ourselves to become: a nation reaping the harvest that long negligence has sown.” 

―Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies


Day of Rage

6 month NYT Visual Investigation

This is a six-month Times investigation that has synchronized and mapped out thousands of videos and police radio communications from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, providing the most complete picture to date of what happened — and why.
Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol | NYT Visual Investigations
6,344,823 views, Jul 1, 2021

This is a 40-minute documentary about January 6, 2021. It was produced by The New York Time’s Visual Investigations team that synchronized and mapped thousands of videos of the U.S. Capitol riot to provide the most complete picture to date of what happened on Jan. 6 — and why. It was a massive effort that occurred over six months and involved resources from across the Times newsroom. The Visual Investigation team went to court to unseal police body camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications and interviewed witnesses.

Haley Willis, The New York Times

Peril

Book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa

Sources for images from top to bottom:

  • Peril Hardcover – September 21, 2021 | Amazon
  • Democrat Party cartoons and comics | Cartoonstock
  • 7 Basic Characteristics Every Democracy Needs | The Advertiser Mirror, March 2, 2021 | (1) Civil liability, (2) Democratic values, (3) Guarantee of rights and common welfare, (4) Decentralized democracy, (5) Political participation, (6) Constitutional principle, (7) Democratic models
  • ‘American democracy will continue to be tested’: Peril author Robert Costa on Trump, the big lie and 2024 | Interview by David Smith in Washington | A Trump 2024 sign seen at a vendor’s table during an anti-vaccine, anti-mask mandate rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, last month. Photograph: Paul Weaver/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock | The Guardian, Sep 26, 2021
  • Arkansas school apologizes for political news summaries in yearbook | By Joseph Wilkinson, May 25, 2021 | Daily News | “The yearbook from Lincoln Junior High in Bentonville, in the state’s northwest corner, falsely but confidently read, “President Trump WAS NOT impeached” under a photo of the former president, according to photos obtained by local CBS affiliate KFSM.”
  • Chaos in Washington as Trump supporters storm Capitol | Tuesday, Jan 11, 2022 | Israel Hayom — This is where we stand | US President Trump tweets: These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots.
  • The Dan Bongino Show | iHeart | He’s a former Secret Service Agent, former NYPD officer, and New York Times best-selling author. Join Dan Bongino each weekday as he tackles the hottest political issues, debunking both liberal and Republican establishment rhetoric. [Note: He is a former Secret Service Agent and NYPD officer…he is not so much debunking Republican establishment rhetoric as wrapping it and building a new authoritarian narrative to pave the way for Trump’s glorious return.]
  • Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World? | The Great Manipulator | By David Von Drehle | Feb. 2, 2017 | Cover of Time
  • Top Fox hosts lobbied Trump to act on Jan. 6, texts show | By David Bauder, December 15, 2021 | AP | “The revelation that Fox News Channel personalities sent text messages to the White House during the Jan. 6 insurrection is another example of how the network’s stars sought to influence then-President Donald Trump instead of simply reporting or commenting on him. Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade all texted advice to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, as a mob of pro-Donald Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice chair of the congressional committee probing the riot.”
  • Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa review — the secret plan to keep Trump in power | The veteran journalist Bob Woodward reveals just how close America was to a coup this year. Review by Justin Webb | The Time UK

Peril is a book by American journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa about the last days of Donald Trump’s presidency, as well as the presidential transition and early presidency of Joe Biden. The book was published on September 21, 2021, by Simon & Schuster.

 Wikipedia

“The book details how Mr. Trump’s presidency essentially collapsed in his final months in office, particularly after his election loss and the start of his campaign to deny the results.” — Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times

“The clear theme of Peril is not a rehash or account of what transpired over the past year or so. It is a waving red flag designed to warn the electorate and chattering class that this story is far from over.”—Mediaite


Marketplace Tech Reporting

The tech legacy of tracking the Jan. 6 insurrectionists

Marketplace Tech Description: One year after the assault on the Capitol, more police departments have deployed artificial intelligence programs for surveillance.
Image from The tech legacy of tracking the Jan. 6 insurrectionistsKIMBERLY ADAMS AND DANIEL SHIN

Excerpt:

In the weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, law enforcement agencies and internet sleuths identified hundreds of people who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Many were later arrested or faced consequences at their jobs or in their communities.
Authorities used a variety of technologies to speed up that process, which was needed because there were millions of images, videos, messages, social media posts and bits of location data to parse.
Anjana Susarla is professor of responsible artificial intelligence and information systems at Michigan State University and has been studying the role that tech, especially image recognition, is playing in the ongoing search for suspects. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Amanpour and Company Reporting

Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun

“Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun,” Reports Barton Gellman of The Atlantic | Amanpour and Company 166,157 views, Dec 10, 2021
Overview: Barton Gellman was among the journalists who predicted in 2020 that President Trump would not admit defeat if he lost the presidential election. Now, in a cover story for The Atlantic, Gellman says the former president is in an even better position to seize power. He speaks with Hari Sreenivasan about why he believes democracy will be on trial in the 2024 presidential election. Originally aired on December 10, 2021.

PBS NewsHour & WAMU Reporting

January 6 Was A Shot Across the Bow | It is a Harbinger

Jan. 6 attack was a ‘warning shot’ and likely a ‘harbinger,’ experts say. Here’s why
9,706 views, Jan 6, 2022
To read the full transcript of this report, see Jan. 6 attack was a ‘warning shot’ and likely a ‘harbinger,’ experts say. Here’s why

The Possible End Of American Democracy As We Know It

December 9, 2021, 3:52 PM ET

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barton Gellman says the Republican party is increasingly unwilling to accept defeat and, in fact, is "prepared to win by sacrificing the essential elements of democracy." His new Atlantic article is 'Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun.'

Third Archetypal Animation | As The End of Democracy Draws Near

As The End of Democracy Draws Near | Music: American Democracy: The Endgame of the Human Race by Noam Chomsky (Available on Spotify)
[Also see a Dec. 30, 2021 Interview with Noam Chomsky on Rising Fascism in U.S., Class Warfare & the Climate Emergency | Noam Chomsky warns the Republican Party is “marching” the world to destruction by ignoring the climate emergency while embracing proto-fascism at home. Chomsky talks about the January 6 insurrection, how neoliberalism is a form of class warfare and how President Biden’s climate plans fall short of what is needed.

The voices of those who experienced the Jan. 6 Capitol attack firsthand | January 06, 2022 | By Naomi Starobin and Gabe Bullard, WAMU

The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol affected many people — residents, elected officials and their staff, journalists, and the police who were called in to protect them.
WAMU's Naomi Starobin and Gabe Bullard put together this montage of the voices of some of these people who talked about the events of that day and how it impacted them.

America Interrupted

This is the full episode of the PBS NewsHour for Jan. 7, 2022. At minute 23:30, Judy introduced a podcast she and three amazing women reporters witnessed and reported on live while the insurrection unfolded. Lisa Desjardins was inside the Capitol as the rioters invaded and had to hide. She tells about her experience inside the Capitol that day. Amna Nawaz was previously a war correspondent and has parachuted into dangerous places to report on them. She was outside of the Capitol as the rioters invaded and interviewed them in real time. She said the force and energy was just as violent and vitriolic as any of the places she reported during her days as a foreign correspondent reporting on wars. Yamiche Alcindor was at the White House as the day unfolded reporting on what Trump was not doing as the carnage at the Capitol unfolded.


The Jan. 6 insurrection, 1 year later | PBS NewsHour presents
7,241 views, Premiered 4 hours ago
Description: Congress is still investigating the people and organizations linked to the Jan. 6 attack — the most violent assault on the U.S. Capitol since the British attack during the war of 1812. The PBS NewsHour looked back at what happened that day, the lasting impacts on those who survived, where the investigations stand, and the broader effects on American politics, culture and democracy itself.

Fourth Archetypal Animation | Carnage at the Capitol

Carnage at the Capitol | Music: Noam Chomsky — Propaganda & Control of the Public Mind | A Real War

The Conversation Reporting

21 million Americans say Biden is ‘illegitimate’ and Trump should be restored by violence, survey finds

The Conversation

September 23, 2021 | 8.29am EDT

For months, my colleagues and I at the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats have been tracking insurrectionist sentiments in U.S. adults, most recently in surveys in June. We have found that 47 million American adults – nearly 1 in 5 – agree with the statement that “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” Of those, 21 million also agree that “use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency.”

The Guardian Reporting

Trump’s ‘cult-like control’ of Republican party grows stronger since insurrection

The Guardian | David Smith in Washington@smithinamerica, Wed 5 Jan 2022 02.00 EST

Fifth Archetypal Animation | “I Just Want to Occupy Your Mind”

“I Just Want to Occupy Your Mind” | Music: Noam Chomsky — Propaganda & Control of the Public Mind | Controlling the Public Mind
"In the year since the insurrection that reverberated around the world, Trump’s stranglehold on Republicans has seemingly become stronger, not weaker. Graham was soon back on the golf course with him; McCarthy was soon kissing the ring at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Many leaders of the party have set about changing the narrative of the insurrection to portray it as a heroic last stand – a new “lost cause”.

(…)

"Trump was the first president in American history to inspire an attempted coup. After a rally where the defeated incumbent urged supporters to fight like hell”, the angry mob laid siege to the US Capitol to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory."
"Five people died, scores of police were beaten and bloodied and there was about $1.5m in damage in the first major attack on the Capitol since the war of 1812. More than 700 people have been charged in one of the biggest criminal investigations in American history."

(…)

"Today the loudest voices in the Republican party belong to the extremists. For them, Trump’s “big lie” that the election was stolen from him due to voter fraud, rendering Biden an illegitimate president, goes hand in hand with the lie that the insurrection was a morally justified crusade, an righteous endeavor to save democracy, not destroy it."
"Trump himself perpetuates this through a regular barrage of interviews, rallies and emailed statements since he was barred from Twitter. Notably he has sought to lionize Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead during the riot, as a martyr."
"Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican congresswoman, has cast rioters currently held in detention in a similar light. In November she visit a Washington jail’s so-called “patriot wing” and complained the inmates were enduring “inhumane” conditions because of their political beliefs."
"Other pro-Trump Republicans in the House echo these messages – one referred to the Capitol attack as a “normal tourist visit” – or do little to contradict them. Some Republican senators are evidently more uncomfortable with the web of deceit and urge the party to look forward to the next election. But again only a small minority are willing to take Trump on directly."

WBUR Here & Now Reporting

Dark day on the calendar of American history’: Historian explains how Jan. 6 will be remembered

Even in the early moments of the insurrection, Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley suggested former President Donald Trump would need to take some responsibility for goading on his supporters.
One year later, he joins Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd to reflect on Jan. 6 and how history will view that day.
This segment aired on January 6, 2022.

It is kind of like a NeoCivil War still going on today. It really is all hands on deck to save democracy and the right to vote today.

Douglas Brinkley

Vermont Democrat reflects on fleeing the Capitol on Jan. 6 riot, one year later

WBUR | January 06, 2022

"Rep. Peter Welch (VT-D) joins Here & Now's Scott Tong to reflect on trying to flee angry rioters in the Capitol building on this day last year, and what the legacy of that insurrection is today."
"Capitol police told us to get on the floor and put on our gas masks. Then, I heard a shot from the floor below us.  There was an immense sense of peril."

Sixth Archetypal Animation | No Way Out!

No Way Out! | Music: Noam Chomsky — Propaganda & Control of the Public Mind | Conscious Manipulation
Plays clip of Danny Rodriguez accused of tasing Officer Fanone who breaks down crying saying he couldn't believe how stupid he was he thought he was going to be a hero.
New FBI Video Shows Interrogation Of Jan. 6 Defendant Accused Of Tasing Officer
240,380 views, Nov 30, 2021

Extremism and accountability: how the aftermath of Jan. 6 impacts future plots

WBUR | January 06, 2022 by Amanda Beland & Tiziana Dearing

It started with 'The Big Lie." Many argue that led directly to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th last year.
Over the last twelve months, hundreds have been arrested and charged in connection with the insurrection, including nearly a dozen from New England and six from Massachusetts.
But that's just a fraction of those who breached the Capitol that day. And as investigations - both by law enforcement and Congress continue - it has become clear that there was coordination, planning, at least by and for some of the participants, behind that breach.
We talk more about accountability, and what the future may hold for extremism locally and nationally with Joan Donovan, Research Director at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and Andrew Lelling, former US Attorney for Massachusetts under the Trump Administration. Lelling coordinated with the U.S. Attorney's office in the District of Columbia on prosecutions.

POLITICO Reporting

The legacy of the Jan. 6 committee … and what’s still left to do

POLITICO By RYAN LIZZAKYLE CHENEY and KRYSTAL CAMPOS

The legacy of the Jan. 6 committee … and what’s still left to do
1,200 views, Premiered Jan 6, 2022
Description: One year after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, the House select committee’s investigation into what happened that day is far from over. Much of the committee’s work has been behind closed doors, but the bipartisan group of lawmakers plan to enter a more public phase in 2022. This week, Kyle Cheney joins Ryan Lizza to answer a big question: What has the Jan. 6 committee accomplished so far?

The 2021 Lie of the Year: Lies about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and its significance

POLITICO Visual Reporting Team | Possible Up for An Academy Award

ANNOUNCING: PolitiFact’s 2021 Lie of the Year
7,615 views, Premiered Dec 15, 2021

More Amanpour and Company Reporting

Seventh Archetypal Animation | Blessed Be The Fruit

Blessed Be The Fruit | Music: Tjenerindens Fortaelling (The Handmaid’s Tale) Symposium Prologue (2195AD) [Offred and the Handmaids]

Margaret Atwood Sounds the Alarm on Authoritarianism | Amanpour and Company
58,856 views, Dec 29, 2021
Description of Interview: President Biden has promised to face down authoritarianism and defend democracy – something Margaret Atwood sees as surprisingly fragile. The author is renowned around the world for her dystopian novels, including "The Handmaid’s Tale." In her latest project she takes a turn, with a focus on utopian ideals and how we might do better. It’s all part of a new online learning experience on Disco called "Practical Utopias: An Exploration of the Possible." Originally aired on December 7, 2021.

“Did you ever imagine when you wrote the Handmaids Tale that this amount of reality would shape up decades later.”

Amanpour and Company
Amanpour and Company
Is Trump Laying the Groundwork for a Coup in 2024? Bill Moyers Weighs In | Amanpour and Company
79,722 views, Jan 5, 2022
Description of Interview: Clashing ideologies about the meaning of democracy in America are no less harrowing than the events of January 6. Journalist Bill Moyers, a 30-time Emmy Award winner, shares his views and concerns in the new PBS documentary "Preserving Democracy," airing tomorrow. Moyers speaks with Hari Sreenivasan alongside historian Kathleen Belew – who also appears in the film – about the insurrection and the danger of a recurrence. Originally aired on January 5, 2022.
Ronan Farrow: Who Were the Rioters on Jan. 6th? | Amanpour and Company
1,327,162 views, Feb 10, 2021
Description of Interview: In the Trump impeachment trial, a key element of the prosecution's case is a dramatic video taken at the Capitol during the insurrection. Who were the actual faces in the crowd? Ronan Farrow has profiled three different rioters to learn more about their backgrounds. All three have been arrested and now face criminal charges. One made threats on Farrow's life. Michel Martin speaks with the reporter about his investigation. Originally aired on February 10, 2021.
Jason Stanley Warns: “America Is Now in Fascism’s Legal Phase” | Amanpour and Company
76,730 views, Jan 6, 2022
Description of Interview: Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley sees January 6, 2021 as part of a history of fascist impulses in American politics. This is the focus of his book "How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them." His latest article in The Guardian is titled “America is now in fascism’s legal phase.” Stanley speaks with Michel Martin about what he calls an “extremely critical moment” for democracy around the world. Originally aired on January 6, 2021.
A New Study Shows Us the Single Biggest Motivation for the Jan. 6 Rioters | Amanpour and Company
881,468 views, May 6, 2021
Description of Interview: A new study on the January 6 Capitol insurrection finds that of the nearly 400 rioters arrested or charged, 93% are white and 86% are male. Michel Martin speaks to the study’s principal investigator, Professor Robert Pape, to discuss these findings and some surprising revelations about the attackers and their motives. Originally aired on May 6, 2021.
Jason Stanley: Did This 2 Min. Video Help Incite the Jan. 6 Rioters? | Amanpour and Company
1,111,612 views, Feb 12, 2021
Description of Interview: As former president Donald Trump's second impeachment trial enters its third day, the question remains whether his words or actions incited the January 6 assault on the Capitol. But little attention has been paid to a video that was shown that same day, at the January 6 "March to Save America" rally in Washington, D.C. Jason Stanley, a scholar of fascist propaganda, claims that this short video -- shown immediately after Rudy Giuliani left the stage, prior to the attack on the Capitol -- was full of themes and tactics that threaten liberal democracy. Stanley breaks the video down with Hari Sreenivasan and elaborates on its role in the violence that took place on that infamous day. Originally aired on February 11, 2021.

“Red Flags Everywhere:” Why Did the FBI Dismiss Jan. 6 Warnings? | Amanpour and Company
110,875 views, Nov 10, 2021
Description of Interview: "Presidents are not kings, and the plaintiff is not president." These were the words of a U.S. Federal judge rejecting former President Donald Trump's request to withhold records about the January 6th insurrection. The ruling will give a bipartisan house committee access to hundreds of pages of documents from the Trump White House. The committee also has issued 10 new subpoenas to former Trump officials. The Washington Post has conducted its own extensive investigation called "The Attack: Before, During and After." It included more than 75 journalists and interviews with over 230 people. Here is Michel Martin speaking with Post reporters Amy Gardner and Aaron Davis about the cascade of warnings received before January 6th. Originally aired on November 10, 2021.

CNN Reporting

What it will take to save American democracy | Opinion by Fareed Zakaria | January 10, 2022

Fareed Zakaria | January 10, 2022
"We often hear that, unlike in fledgling democracies, America's institutions are strong. But, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man." If people abuse them, attack them, disregard them, they will slowly collapse."

Also, keep an eye out for Fareed Zakaria’s latest special on CNN: The Fight to Save American Democracy. It provides a deep dive into the rise of totalitarian, authoritative, and fascist regimes that follow surprisingly similar recognizable patterns to grab power and control thereby crushing previously democratic societies like Hitler did in 1930’s Germany. The parallels are terrifying. This special will be available at the link above on Jan 16, 2022.

Fareed Zakaria fears American democracy could be in peril
293,953 views, Dec 1, 2019
Fareed: Democracy is decaying worldwide
130,539 views, Feb 25, 2018
Fareed Zakaria: This is how Republicans keep their power
716,275 views, Sep 27, 2020
Is democracy safe for the world? — with Fareed Zakaria (1998) | THINK TANK
2,718 views, Dec 13, 2020
Fareed Zakaria: Is this the Worst of Times? | The Agenda
50,996 views, Jun 15, 2021
The Future of American Democracy
1,221 views, Jan 20, 2021


New York Time’s The Daily Reporting

The Daily | NYT

Jan. 6, Part 1: “The Herd Mentality’

Inside an F.B.I. interview with one of the Capitol rioters.

Eighth Archetypal Animation | Herd Mentality

Herd Mentality — Hey Guys — Just Follow the Herd | Music: Music: Noam Chomsky — Propaganda & Control of the Public Mind | Delusion

Jan. 6, Part 2: Liz Cheney’s Battle Against the ‘Big Lie’

A conversation with the Republican House member about the Capitol riots and the state, and future, of the Republican Party.

The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi Reporting

The Politics Hour: January 7, 2022

Description: Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md., 8th District) talks about the year since the Jan. 6 insurrection, which he writes about in his new book, Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy. Virginia Delegate Marcus Simon (D-53rd District) previews the legislative session, and the strategy for Democrats in a Republican-controlled House.

Power of Denialism

Denialism Is A Dangerous Virus | The Daily Show

January 6th: Did It Even Happen?! (Spoiler: Yes) feat. Chris Hayes & Jordan Klepper | The Daily Show | 587,715 views, Jan 3, 2022

“Don’t Look Up!”

DON’T LOOK UP | Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence | Official Trailer | Netflix
14,080,063 views, Nov 16, 2021
Description: Based on real events that haven’t happened - yet. Don’t Look Up in select theaters December 10 and on Netflix December 24. DON’T LOOK UP tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth. Written and Directed by Adam McKay.

This awesome movie with an all star cast (better watch out conspiracy theory believers (that’s you QAnon, Deep staters, False flagers operations, “Stolen election” conspiracy theory, Illuminati believers, etc.) totally captures humans ability to ignore and deny reality and facts in pursuit of selfish, egotistical, self-obsessed, money-grubbing, miserly, opportunistic, self-absorbed interests. Did I miss an adjective here?


Where Do We Go From Here?

Paul Solman explores Political polarization prompts efforts to bridge the gap through shared experiences
4,427 views, Jan 10, 2022

This was such a hopeful and inspiring segment in the face of so much depressing realization of the forces at work in this moment and the terrible odds the U.S. has it to make it as a democratic nation beyond 2024.

Description: PBS NewsHour spent much of last week trying to examine what still divides our country and the deep polarization that preceded the Jan. 6 riots. Now, Paul Solman looks at multiple efforts to bridge those major political and cultural fissures in the U.S., beginning with smaller steps forward.

Is There Room for Redemption in Our Cancel Culture? | Amanpour and Company
3,914 views, Jan 7, 2022
Description of Interview: Loretta J. Ross is a visiting professor at Smith College whose teaching focuses on white supremacy in the age of Trump. Ross speaks with Michel Martin about January 6 as a possible opportunity for reflection and healing. Originally aired on January 6, 2022

I wanted to link you, my readers who have made it this far down, to Christiane Amanpour’s January 7, 2022 episode, but it is only available to view on your local PBS station. In this episode Christiane with Doris Kearns Goodwin and Timothy Snyder; Loretta J. Ross speaks with Michel Martin on whether January 6 provides an opportunity for reflection and healing.

Here is the link to Christiane’s interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin and Timothy Snyder that really hits it out of the park as far as what are the take away lessons from Jan. 6, 2022 and things to pay close attention to in the years leading up to the next US Presidential Election in 2024. Will this fragile democracy make it? Listen and learn for you are part of the answer.

I was also looking for Christiane’s interview with the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu who died in the early days of this dawning year. Christiane’s Jan 7, 2022 episode was a recollection of interviews she had done that spoke to the actions and ramifications of the events of Jan 6, 2021. I have not found a link to her interview, but I found this one on the Dalai Lama’s Finding Joy and Happiness station on YouTube. It speaks to the same spirit that Christiane had recognized and was illuminating with her interview with Desmond Tutu.

Finding Joy and Happiness | 207,835 views, Jul 1, 2021
Description: His Holiness the Dalai Lama reunites online with Archbishop Desmond Tutu from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 24, 2021, on the occasion of the release of their new movie "Mission: Joy - Finding Happiness in Troubled Times". For more info please see https://missionjoy.org/

We have so much to learn from these two Holy men who stand outside of the self-destructive forces of modern Western Civilization that seems hell bent on standing in a circle and annihilating the world in a mutual massacre of scapegoats. It doesn’t matter what side you stand on when the massacre of scapegoats begins the world is at the beginning of the end for the human race for we have evolved technologies too powerful for our primitive, puny minds to handle with the compassion, understanding, and care necessary to use them anymore.


What is our collective fate? I have no idea, but I am certain each and every person is casting their votes in the ever unfolding moment. We do it in their hearts and minds. We do it in the thoughts we think. We do it even more loudly in the actions we take.

As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Recently, as I have been struggling to understand and survive my husband’s toxic family structure long poisoned by his mother’s narcissistic personality disorder, I ran across this truth in a video by clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani who is a leading expert on Narcissistic Abuse, Psychopathy, and Sociopathy. She counsel her patients who are mainly the victims of narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths that their words and what they say they will do is always in direction opposition to what they do. It is the very same issue that all of us must heed now in our struggle to save our democracy and this is because our current most dominant system of consciousness, Western Civilization, rewards people who are narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths.

We have the power to create a more perfect union, but this creative process is on-going and must be lived with as much consciousness of ourselves and our own inner, hidden motives as possible. Without that, without conscious growth as an individual, we are doomed to live out our fate, which is our own unconsciousness projected out onto others.

Sources for schema above include (beginning from bottom to top, except when repeated from same source):


Remember that you are a beautiful conscious being! Let your light shine today. When you are fully connected to who you are deep down at the center of your being, your actions will align with life and you will be a creative force for change rather than a destructive force.

The choice is always yours.


The Breakdown of Archetypal Animations

Feature Animation

Hate = Fate

See Human | Heaven | Hell for sources of images and music.


First Archetypal Animation | Trying to Work It Out 

Image Source: Donald Trump’s Latest Reality Show: The 2020 Election | Trump has been gearing up for the next presidential election since he took office. | By John Feffer for The Nation, March 10, 2020

Image Source:
Soldier/submachine gun by WikiImages | Pixabay | Deutsch  •  Member since Dec. 13, 2011
Dead man by soumen82hazra on Pixabay |
English  •  Member since April 24, 2020
Gild Walking with Teddy Bear by reyerbaby on Pixabay | lisa runnels  •  Age 59  •  magee/united states  •  Member since Jan. 13, 2012

Image Source: Four officers who responded to U.S. Capitol attack have died by suicide by Jan Wolfe for Reuters, August 2, 2021

Image Source: 7 Basic Characteristics Every Democracy Needs | The Advertiser Mirror, March 2, 2021 | (1) Civil liability, (2) Democratic values, (3) Guarantee of rights and common welfare, (4) Decentralized democracy, (5) Political participation, (6) Constitutional principle, (7) Democratic models

Image Source: US Capitol riots: Police officer’s death intensifies Capitol siege questions | Jan 8, 2021
“Trump supporters near US Capitol where they stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. They also erected a noose in the Capitol grounds. Photo / Getty”

Image PixabayApocalyptic War Danger | hucky | Other images by Hucky

Image PixabayDisaster Apocalypse Apocalyptic tomasvl


Music40 Thieves – The Work Of A Craftsman | The Noam Chomsky Music Project | An Incredible Moment

40 Thieves – The Work Of A Craftsman | The Noam Chomsky Music Project
25 views, Dec 3, 2021

Second Archetypal Animation | Purveyors of Rage Culture 

Images from Pixabay:
Red monster by GregMontani
Greg Montani  •  Age 46  •  Bayern  •  Member since May 11, 2015
Green Scream by DaModernDaVinci
Shaun  •  Perth/Australia  •  Member since Dec. 15, 2018  •  #947
Man Eating Hand by Sammy-Sander
Sam Williams  •  Italy  •  Member since Nov. 8, 2018

Music: Madvillain – The Illest Villains – Madvillainy

Madvillain – The Illest Villains – Madvillainy (Full Album)
1,361,909 views, Jul 1, 2014

Third Archetypal Animation | As The End of Democracy Draws Near

Pixabay Images:
Sinking Statue of Liberty by PhotoMIX-Company
Photo Mix  •  Europe  •  Member since Oct. 21, 2015

Chaos in Washington as Trump supporters storm Capitol | Tuesday, Jan 11, 2022 | Israel Hayom — This is where we stand | US President Trump tweets: These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots.

Image from: Bipartisan commission to investigate January 6 attack on U.S. Capitol by Megan Coleman, May 14, 2021 | CNYCentral

Image: Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World? | The Great Manipulator | By David Von Drehle | Feb. 2, 2017 | Cover of Time

Image: Peril Hardcover – September 21, 2021 | Amazon

MusicAmerican Democracy: The Endgame of the Human Race by Noam Chomsky (Available on Spotify)


Fourth Archetypal Animation | Carnage at the Capitol

Images from Pixabay:
Watching the World Fall Apart by Alexas_Fotos
Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay  •  but it continues on Pexels.com/under the same name  •  Member since Jan. 6, 2015

Chaos in Washington as Trump supporters storm Capitol | Tuesday, Jan 11, 2022 | Israel Hayom

Image from: Bipartisan commission to investigate January 6 attack on U.S. Capitol by Megan Coleman, May 14, 2021 | CNYCentral

Image from:Q Shaman’ Deeply ‘Wounded’ And Disappointed That Trump Didn’t Pardon Him by Tommy Beer for Forbes, May 4, 20211

Music: Noam Chomsky — Propaganda & Control of the Public Mind | A Real War

Noam Chomsky Propaganda And Control Of The Public Mind Full Lecture
162,371 views, Jan 12, 2012

Fifth Archetypal Animation | “I Just Want to Occupy Your Mind”

Pixabay Image: Mysterious, Fiction, Vampire, Wizard by Sammy-Sander |Sam Williams  •  Italy  •  Member since Nov. 8, 2018

Image source: Top Fox hosts lobbied Trump to act on Jan. 6, texts show | By David Bauder, December 15, 2021 | AP 

Image source: Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World? | The Great Manipulator | By David Von Drehle | Feb. 2, 2017 | Cover of Time

Image source: The Dan Bongino Show | iHeart 

Music: Noam Chomsky — Propaganda & Control of the Public Mind | Controlling the Public Mind (See above)


Sixth Archetypal Animation | No Way Out!

Pixabay Images: Statue, Human, Move, Run by Filmbetrachter | Deutsch  •  Member since Jan. 28, 2017
Fallen exit sign | TBF

Music: Noam Chomsky — Propaganda & Control of the Public Mind | Conscious Manipulation (see above)


Seventh Archetypal Animation | Blessed Be The Fruit

Image from: The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode Release Guide by Louisa Mellor for Den of Geek

Image from: How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’s Twisted Theology by Mary McCampbell for Relevant

Image from: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 4 Arrives On Hulu On April 28; See Details Here by Arundhati Vivek for RepublicWorld

Music: Tjenerindens Fortaelling (The Handmaid’s Tale) Symposium Prologue (2195AD) [Offred and the Handmaids]


Eighth Archetypal Animation | Herd Mentality

Images: TBA

Music: Music: Noam Chomsky — Propaganda & Control of the Public Mind | Delusion (See above)

There Was An Old Woman

There was an old woman who lived in a Speakeasy.

There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Speakeasy

She lived in a Speakeasy because she loved money so much she could cheat people all day and all night saying, “It’s so easy!

Cheating People is So Easy!

She cheated so many people out of so much money for so long she built a great big pile of money that she kept to herself as she smiled like an evil elf tittering all day and all night, “Hee Hee.”

“I killed Santa with my chainsaw!”

She loved this great big pile of money so exceedingly that it leaped to life one day and gobbled her up, whereupon it said, “Hmmmm, that was cheesy!

“Ahhhhh! The Money Monster!”

The End

Be sure to listen to the songs embedded in each of the moving animations above. Just click the sound icon to hear them. I am sure you’ll want to run out and get the song for the evil elf animation!


Postscript

Note: See Mark Wagner’s Wild Scenes Crafted from Currency, which are some the images used to create the last animation above.

Here is another great work of art created by Mark Wagner:

by Andy SmithPosted on December 8, 2018
Mark Wagner — Article by by Andy Smith says, “Wagner’s artwork is an entry point to a conversation extending far beyond the art world,” a statement says. “Decades dedicated to destroying banknotes has provided Wagner with a unique perspective on the nature of money. Modern man’s obsession with finance and our wistful attempts to tame it through economics belies money’s emotional, mercurial… even fictional nature. Wagner addresses these issues in writing, lecture, and interview as eloquently as he does through his artwork.”

Also see Tahiti and the Thing for more on how greed and self-absorption and can do terrible things to a person and everyone around them.

Tahiti and the Thing

Another facet playing into uncontrolled self-absorption and greed along with contributing to an uncontrollable evil willingness to destroy just about anyone and anything is narcissism. There is a reason why Trump chooses orange make up when he goes on camera.

I came across this great series of blogs as I was coming to grips with navigating the complexities of narcissism in my own family tree.

Defence Mechanisms –– This is a spectacular blog on defense mechanisms every human being depends on to navigate life’s complexities. The problem is when we get stuck on the lowest levels, then we are heading into pathological living patterns that don’t end well for anyone, especially the narcissist and their loved ones.

The Money Trap

Is there any way out of the money trap?


Alan Watts said once upon a time about there was an old woman and other matters relating to rampant capitalism and rugged individualism that tilts so far one way or the other that it becomes a pathological way of being in the world and relating to each other. He said:

George Herbert Mead where he called the conceptions that we have of ourselves the interiorized other in other words the sum total of all the things that people have told us we are because you do not know yourself as a self except in a society–just as you do not exist biologically without a father and a mother–you do not carry on an existence without a society.”

The reactions of other people to you provide you with the mirror in which you attain a realization of yourself you know who you are in terms of your relationships with others.”

So then now, uh, when we contemplate this disappearance of privacy and a completely integrated human society we can look at this from two different points of view pro and con.”

Let us first look at the pro point of view how great to have nothing to hide how great to give up all worries about ownership because you could say if somebody says that they would like something you have, and you say, “Please have it,” because you know very well you can go to someone else and say, “Could I have that?” and they’ll give it to you.” — Min 124:49

Alan Watts – You are EVERYTHING (Black Screen, No Music) [3.5 hours long]

Also, see this blog as another possible antidote to greed and the money trap:

Diamond Body and the Secrets of the Golden Flower

And, check out this blog about being in the world and how we create the world we live in each and every moment of every day:

How to Feel Better and Create a More Beautiful World

What Matters & Reality

Love matters reality just as lack of love matters reality.

What kind of reality do you want to experience today?

And remember, don’t be cheesy.

Poems & Koans | Reflections on Time

Time flies like butterflies

Time Flies

*
*
*

Sipping the nectar

Sipping the Nectar

*
*
*

of Distant Stars

Distant Stars

*
*
*

Haikus

After a month of listening to Alan Watts, I understand that it is I who create the problems I perceive. And only I can grow out of them.

There is nothing more to say.

All my blogs have been for not. I think perhaps the only thing left for me to do here is attempt to master the art of writing a descent haiku. This is an ancient art form using words like paint brushes to capture things that cannot be said, only felt, in three brief sentences.

“Haikus can be written for just about anything. There are haikus for humor, to raise social awareness, to evoke emotions, or to reminisce on the past. The idea of compression, though, remains the same. Haikus are a microcosm of a larger idea or feeling.”

Poetry with a Purpose: Why the Haiku?
Haiku began in thirteenth-century Japan as the opening phrase of renga, an oral poem, generally a hundred stanzas long, which was also composed syllabically. The much shorter haiku broke away from renga in the sixteenth century and was mastered a century later by Matsuo Basho, who wrote this classic haiku: An old pond! -- Haiku | Academy of American Poets
Bashō is usually credited as the most influential haiku poet and the writer who popularized the form in the 17th century. Outside Japan, Imagist writers such as Ezra Pound and T.E. Hulme wrote haiku in English. -- Haiku | Definition, Format, Poems Example, & Facts | Britannica

Thinking Is A Hard Habit To Break

The habit of thinking and writing about such thoughts; however, is hard to break. Thus, I will indulge in recalling that yesterday was September 11.

It has been 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. For 20 years, 9/11 is a day of remembrance, grieving, and reflection about all that has transpired since that day. This includes the war on terror, which has become known as the Forever Wars.

Reveal just aired a hard-hitting episode on the costs and aftermath of these wars. In short, over 3,000 people died on 9/11 and in the past 20 years as the US searched for those responsible for this horrific attack, more than 900,000 soldiers, contractors, and civilians have died in the Forever Wars.

Photo from Reveal | September 11, 2021 | Episode: Forever Wars

It is so easy to tear asunder and destroy the delicate balances sustaining all life on earth. Human beings have proved to be especially adept at doing this due to beliefs, attitudes, values, and misguided directives that are held doggedly to inside our minds and that only serve to gouge out deep trenches inside of ourselves (inside our souls) that make it possible for a good and decent person to do the most horrible things. These trenches inside of us is what separates us from each other and most of us will never escape their great depth and gravity.

It does not matter what steadfast beliefs a person clings to or what side they are fighting for because the result is the same. Once a person begins to cling to symbolic thought (replacing insufficient symbols for reality), the digging of the Pit of Peril begins and grows deeper and deeper as more and more adamant beliefs replace reality with rote responses and reactions. The harder a person clings to their resolute beliefs, the deeper and wider the trench of separation grow inside. This is the story of separation. It is the fall of man.

It is so much easier to love one another and to try to listen to one another to understand each other and live in peace rather than cultivate the inner forces of hate and separation.

September 11

Following the theme of remembering 9/11, these are two photojournalistic reflections of this day of remembering and reflection.

Today Was 9\11
A Day Between 9 11 Flags | Sept. 6, 2021

The Last Enemy

I will also mention one more thing regarding a synchronicity that occurred around this time. It is always important to pay attention to synchronicities when they occur in one’s life. Each person’s synchronicities are utterly unique and appear to help you grow as a conscious being. I share mine synchronicity story only as an example.

It began when I received my latest Netflix DVD. The title was The Last Enemy. I had no idea what it was and why I had put this in my cue. I almost sent it back without watching it thinking it was probably nonsense and I had made a mistake. However, I ended up watching it the day before September 11, 2021. It was absolutely relevant to this moment in time. It was made in 2012 and is about a fictional future where a devastating terrorist attack (like what happened on 9/11) turns Britain into a super surveillance state to keep everyone safe from those who might want to do us harm… but is everyone really safe? There is also a mysterious pandemic going on too.

I understand why Qers, plandemic believers, and even anti-vaxxers grow and harvest such ideas inside their minds. These are exciting concepts rich with conflict and mistrust. And such concepts provides the mind with a powerful fuel that speeds people through their daily activities, and quite often very dull routines. It is a type of mind fuels that provides individuals with a deep sense of meaning and purpose that they are fighting something evil.

That’s what this series explores.

The Last Enemy
Set in a recognisable, near-future London beset by terrorism and illegal immigrationThe Last Enemy features the introduction of "TIA" (Total Information Awareness), a centralised database that can be used to track and monitor anybody, effectively by putting all available government and corporate – i.e. credit card and bank activity, phone use, internet use, purchases, rentals, etc. – information in one place.
The story deals with a political cover-up centred on a sanctioned but secret medical experiment run amok with key members of the government trying desperately to hide all evidence of their experimental batch of vaccine that seems to be causing a deadly virus. The complex story unspools to reveal the moral, social and privacy concerns of this hypothetical TIA system in a post-7/7 world, including such control mechanisms familiar to both real life and science fiction as retinal scans, fingerprint identification and ubiquitous camera and cellphone surveillance footage.
The story is told through the eyes of a mathematical genius, Stephen Ezard, who is portrayed as a recluse showing some signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder. But the shy genius overcomes his own inhibitions to burrow into a highly compromised British government using his brilliance and their TIA system only to find himself ultimately trapped by the people he most trusts, and to learn he is a pawn in manipulative Security State machinations which take the people he most loves from him and compromise him forever. -- From Wiki

Alan Watts

Lastly, this is one of the Watts lectures I listened to in the past month.

Alan Watts – What Real Ideas Do You Operate On

“Reality escapes all concepts. If you say there is a god that’s a concept. If you say there is no god that’s a concept. Nagarjuna is saying that always your concepts will prove to be attempts to catch water in a sieve.”

— Alan Watts

Diamond Body & The Secrets of the Golden Flower — Lessons for Our Time

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” ―Lao Tzu

There are so many problems in the world; huge, convoluted, intricate, life and death problems that have no easy answers or solutions. If you are listening to someone who is saying: “I KNOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD.” This person has no clue what is wrong or what to do about it.

Humanity in its broadest sense is floating once again on a vast and mighty Sea of Uncertainty. For some (and I am only talking about the individual level, not the collective), the uncertainty is no less than life or death. For others, they can only watch as a helpless observers to the multiple crises unfolding and must bear witness to the individual and collective descent of humanity, doing whatever they can to help, no matter how small the action may seem. For still others, this moment fills them with fear and they run away and deny the realities of this moment, preferring to hide their light of consciousness under a bushel. The worst among us, are using this moment and their light of consciousness to misled, misdirect, confuse, and frighten others so they may benefit and profit from the disorientation, confusion, and mayhem touching everyone’s life right now (e.g., this might mean they cultivate a flock of admirers who hang on your every word; they sow seeds deceit to gain money, power, status; or they indulge their criminal instinct certain no one will notice in all the chaos).

An illustration of the parable, together with the parable of the Growing Seed, which follows it in Mark chapter 4 (Source: Wikipedia)

"And no man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but putteth it on a stand, that they that enter in may see the light. For nothing is hid, that shall not be made manifest; nor [anything] secret, that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he thinketh he hath."— Luke 8:16-18, King James Version

Crisis and complexity is not new to us as human beings. We have always been a species who had to find a way to survive through crisis and calamity. Long ago, such fate was visited upon us as a species by nature. More recently, we create the fate we must survive be it culturally, socially, politically, or any thing that calls upon our membership to the human race. It is not possible to be alive today without wearing both hats: that of an individual and that of a member of a collective.

Today, witness the shambalic pull out of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

PBS NewsHour West live episode, Aug. 19, 2021 | The Fall of Afghanistan

The destructive earthquake in Haiti:

Haitians left homeless by 7.2 magnitude earthquake now brace for storm

The brutal, heartless War in Yemem and the death toll of children.

Stalked by death: How rising food insecurity is killing war-torn Yemen’s children

The desperate journey immigrants from around the world make across the Darien Gap.

How U.S. immigration policy affects fate of migrants braving the deadly Darien Gap

Anti vaxxers fueling the Delta variant’s death toll, even among children.

Vaccine, mask opponents are fueling the delta variant’s death toll. Will incentives help?

I have left many tragedies out. But if you are a human of goodwill and good conscious, you know what I have left out. Again, I am focusing on the actions and consequents or non-actions and consequents of individuals, not collectives (of which we are all members of one kind or another; the actions/consequents or non-actions/consequents of collectives are an entirely different order).

Because I am human and because I am enraged by the tremendous amount of misinformation spread by anti vaxxers, I am going to pick on the anti vaxxers for a moment to illustrate something critical in understanding the Secrets of the Golden Flower and Diamond Body.

I have had a glimpse into their world, and I have seen them congratulating each other for getting kicked off social media platforms when the spread misinformation. I see them admitting to each other how they choose not to get vaccinated nor wear a mask and then just pretend in crowds they are vaccinated–taking a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to what they view as an unjust infringement of their individual liberties. I see them celebrating sickness and their body’s ability to fight off anything. I see them comparing mask mandates to Hitler’s Germany. I hear them proclaiming if they resist, they will rise up on the other side of this as the people who are going to bring in a more beautiful world or the people who are going to overthrown totalitarianism in all its manifestations or the people who will be the new Super Athletes of the world (a echo of Hitler’s Super Race myth). I hear them crying fowl that they might not be allowed into bars, restaurants, gyms, workplaces, or even to donate an organ if they cannot prove they’ve had the vaccine.

Have they not seen the suffering of individuals crossing the Darien Gap? Have they not seen the children dying in Yemen because they don’t have food? And there are many children in the mighty Untied States suffering from food shortages too–where is their attention and empathy for striving children anywhere in the world. Or for the plight of the people in Haiti who 6 days later still lack medical equipment, food, water, or help of any kind! Or the millions of people left stranded in Afghanistan after Western powers left (primarily my country: the U.S.) leaving them to the mercy of a brutal, barbaric, backwards, twisted regime that hunt and kill people based on a warped and twisted worldview and religious interpretation filled with hate, especially against women and girls or men who choose to believe different than they do.

Apparently, they have not. They have been too focused on their own fears (real or not) that their rights are being trampled on and the world is going to be ruled by Hitler’s once again.

I have also caught a glimpse into some who are promoting some of the most stubborn and kooky anti-COVID theories. Among some of the staunchest anti-vaxxers, you will hear how society is sick and going to die now. These messages send their followers into pure panic to the point some are digging bunkers and preparing for the end of the world. I know some who are doing this.

Many of the farthest out narratives draw upon religious symbolism and language such as expressed by Catholic Cardinal Burke, who recently was put on a ventilator due to the disease he denied existed. Just in December of 2020, he preached about forces, totalitarian in nature, determined to rule over us .

Where I have seen some of the most infantile responses to COVID-19 is inside the Facebook bubble that I got sorted into. It is a group of people who are passionate about Climate Change. They are people who want to change the system in order to bring in a new, better, more beautiful world. Who could argue this is wrong, expect COVID-19 has revealed to me that there is a long and very dark shadow carefully hidden underneath many of my duly sorted Facebook men and women good intentions to save the world (and I count myself among those concealing a dark shadow).

Here is what Alan Watts says about do gooders:

Alan Watts – The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions | AfterSkool
Alan Watts – The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions | AfterSkool
Alan Watts – The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions | AfterSkool
Alan Watts – The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions | AfterSkool

I know for a fact that I suffer from the same unconscious desire to save the world, and I hide the same shadow underneath all my flowery virtue-isms. I am not that guy standing in the creek, facing down the alligators while holding a log for others to walk safely across. I am a slow learner and it has been hard to accept I can’t do a damn thing about the world, expect possible try to live my own life with a little joy and attention to those I love, and possibly cultivate a little more High Virtue actions by accepting all of who I am.

I know that most of my vexation and annoyance at the selfish and immature behavior of the anti vaxxer crowd is a sign I am not fully become conscious of my own annoying, naive, and stupid behavior. Nor have I fully forgiven myself for the foolish, puerile behavior I have become conscious of.

Alan Watts also says further that when one sets out upon the path of self-development, all the debtors suddenly appear seeking payment for your past karma (karma is nothing more than action and all action (or non-action) has a consequence).

Alan Watts ~ Becoming Free Of Past Karma |
577,631 views; May 20, 2020

“It is believed generally in India that when a person sets out on the way of liberation his first problem is to become free from his past karma. The popular theory of karma the word that literally means action or doing in Sanskrit. So that when we say that something that happens to you is your karma it’s like saying in english it’s your own doing. But in in popular Indian belief karma is a sort of built-in moral law or a law of retribution such that all the bad things you do and all the good things you do have consequences which you have to inherit. And so long as karmic energy remains (all the bad things you do and all the good things you do) you have to work it out and what the sage endeavors to do is a kind of action which in Sanskrit is called: nishkama karma nishkama. This means without passion or without attachment.— Alan Watts

The Taoist Way – Alan Watts Chillstep Mix | 186,070 views; Dec 3, 2020

“Now when the time comes that you start to get out of the chain of karma all the creditors that you have start presenting themselves for payment. In other words a person who begins say to study yoga is felt that he will suddenly get sick or that his children will die or that he’ll lose his money or all sorts of catastrophes will occur because uh the karmic debt is being cleared up and uh it there’s in no hurry to be cleared up if you’re just living along like anybody. But if you embark on the spiritual life a certain hurry occurs and therefore since this is known uh it’s rather discouraging to start these things. The christian way of saying the same thing is that if you plan to be to change your life shall we say to turn over a new leaf you mustn’t let the devil know.” — Alan Watts (around minute 23)

I foolishly got into a debate about which perspective was right regarding COVID–is it a lie or is it really happening. It was a futile discussion for if I had truly learned anything from listening to hours and hours of Alan Watts via YouTube, I would have simply accepted this position as part of the great happening we are all apart of… and yet, sometimes, I find myself separating from Watts universal, masterful perspective and descending into questioning… but why?

In the course of this rather rancorous discussion, we found we agreed on relative realities and I shared my series on bubble realities.

The Storytelling Species: Makers and Players of Reality (Part 1 of 6)

However, that was about all we agreed upon. After a lengthy illness from which I have still not recovered, I found considerable criticism of my thinking. It is futile to engage in further thought of our ongoing disagreement, but one negative assessment must be addressed. My dialogue partner said: “A story is just a story.”

Well this is true if you are perceiving and arguing simply from the physical realm of reality that we all live in. This includes bodies and bridges, cities and towns, trees and skyscrapers– you get the picture. This is not true when you are perceiving and working from the non-physical world. The dimension where the Diamond Body exists.

In this realm of being, nothing is concrete or enduring. Here, we are confronted with the very best that dwells inside of us and is part of our psyche and developing personality. And, here, we are also confronted with the very darkest, destructive, may I say, evil parts of ourself. Every human being on the planet has a good and bad side. Without these poles, consciousness as we know and understand it would not be possible.

To live together in harmonious groups of people and not tear each others heads off, human beings had to build internal ramparts to protect the individual from out-of-control collective action and to protect the collective from out-of-controlled individual action. We call individual action that is not in accord with the harmony of the collective criminal behavior.

Stories are one of the most important ways societies build and maintain these inner ramparts that protect individual and collective from catastrophe action. When these powerful inner forces begin to crash over and break down the social ramparts carefully constructed over centuries, some of man’s most destructive instincts are let loose. For some of us, this brings death.

Carl Jung was well aware of the dangers that come from inside a perfectly normal man and a perfectly respectable woman, even child. Here are several case Jung handled during his career that helped him understand what is happening the psyche of human beings–the realm of the Diamond Body.

The Symbolic Life | Carl Jung Depth Psychology | Image for blog by Mr. Purrington | 9.7.20
Carl Jung on ‘Crime and the Soul’ | Carl Jung Depth Psychology
As a result of the murder, the woman was plunged into unbearable loneliness — even the animals and plants knew she was a murderess | Carl Jung Depth Psychology

That’s about all I am going to say about current events, anti vaxxers, clearing karma, and the Diamond Body for now. I may turn this into another series. I would just like to point you to the work of Richard Wilhelm who wrote The Secret of the Golden Flower in 1931. He work proved pivotal to Jung’s work on human psychology and psyche, and Jung and Watts were close friends. Watts often drew on the understandings he obtained through long conversations with Jung before Carl Jung died in the early sixties. Sadly, Watts, though much younger, would die himself in the early seventies.

We have been here before as a species on the brink of unrecoverable disaster. If we are luck, we will find a way forward together (as we have done before) and have another opportunity to pull ourselves back from the brink of extinction. Or, as Alan Watts, loved to say, “Perhaps we are that species who does itself in in interesting ways.”


THE SECRET OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER  -- A CHINESE BOOK OF LIFE  | Translated and explained by RICHARD WILHELM with a European Commentary by C. G. JUNG | First published - 1931
TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE 

The original German edition of The Secret of the Golden Flower, of which the following is the authorized English translation, appeared first in the autumn of 1929. On March 1st, 1930, Richard Wilhelm died. In May, 1930, memorial services in his honour were held in Munich, and Jung was asked to deliver the principal address. The latter finds an appropriate place in the English version, 1 which is published a year or more after the co-author's death. The address will be welcomed, not only for what it tells the reader of Wilhelm, but for the further light it throws on the standpoint of the East. 

The relation of the West to Eastern thought is a highly paradoxical and confusing one. On the one side, as Jung points out, the East creeps in among us by the back door of the unconscious, and strongly influences us in perverted forms, and on the other we repel it with violent prejudice as concerned with a fine-spun metaphysics that is poisonous to the scientific mind. 

If anyone is in doubt as to how far the East influences us in secret ways, let him but briefly investigate the fields covered to-day by what is called "occult thought ". Millions of people are included in these movements and Eastern ideas dominate all of them. Since there is nowhere any sign of a psychological understanding of the phenomena on which the ideas are based, they undergo a complete twisting and are a real menace in our world. 

A partial, realization of what is going on in this direction, together with the Westerner's native ignorance and mistrust of the world of inner experience, build up the prejudice against the reality of Eastern wisdom. When the wisdom of the Chinese is laid before a Westerner, he is very likely to ask with a sceptical lift of the brows why such profound wisdom did not save China from its present horrors. Of course, he does not stop to think that the Chinese asks with an equal skepticism why the much boasted scientific knowledge of the West, not to mention its equally boasted Christian ethics, did not save it from a World War. But as a matter of fact, present conditions in China do not invalidate Chinese wisdom, nor does the Great War prove the futility of science. In both cases we are dealing with the negative sides of the principles under which East and West live, and it has not yet been given, either to individuals or to nations, to manage the vices of their virtues. Mastery of the inner world, with a relative contempt for the outer, must inevitably lead to great catastrophes. Mastery of the outer world, to the exclusion of the inner, delivers us over to the daemonic forces of the latter and keeps us barbaric despite all outward forms of culture. The solution cannot be found either in deriding Eastern spirituality as impotent, or by mistrusting science as a destroyer of humanity. We have to see that the spirit must lean on science as its guide in the world of reality, and that science must turn to the spirit for the meaning 
of life. 

This is the point of view established in The Secret of the Golden Flower. Through the combined efforts of Wilhelm and Jung we have for the first time a way of understanding and appreciating Eastern wisdom, which satisfies all sides of our minds. It has been taken out of metaphysics and placed in psychological 
experience. We approach it with an entirely new tool, and are protected from the perversions the East undergoes at the hands of the cult-mongers of the West. At the same time, its meaning for us is greatly deepened when we know that, despite the gulf separating us from the East, we follow exactly similar paths when once we give heed to the inner world. 

But this book not only gives us a new approach to the East, it also strengthens the point of view evolving in the West with respect to the psyche. The reshaping of values in progress to-day forces the modern man out of a nursery-world of collective traditions into an adult's world of individual choice. He knows that his choice and his fate now turn upon his understanding of himself. Much has been taught him in recent years about the hitherto unsuspected elements in his psyche, but the emphasis is all too often on the static side alone, so that he finds himself possessed of little more than an inventory of contents, the nature of which serves to burden him with a sense of weariness rather than to spur him on to master the problems that confront him. Yet it is precisely the need of understanding himself in terms of change and renewal, which most grips the imagination of modern man. Having seen the world of matter disappear before his scientific eye and reappear as a world of energy, he comes to ask himself a bold question ; does he not contain within his psyche a store of unexplored forces, which, if rightly understood, would give him a new vision of himself and help safeguard the future for him ? In this book his question is answered from two widely different sources, an ancient Chinese yoga system and analytical psychology. Stripped of its archaic setting, The Secret of the Golden Flower is the secret of the powers of growth latent in the psyche, and these same powers as they reveal themselves in the minds of Western men also form the theme of Jung's commentary. 

In the commentary he has shown the profound psychological development resulting from the right relationship to the forces within the psyche. 

In the German edition Jung's commentary comes first, followed by Wilhelm's exposition of the text, and then by the text itself. At the author's request, the order has been changed so that his commentary follows the text. 

The Chinese words in this edition are in the Anglicized form. For making the necessary transcriptions, I am indebted to Mr. Arthur VValey, and to Colonel Egerton of Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co. The latter has been kind enough to give his personal attention to the editing of my manuscript. 

As a possible aid in keeping in mind the relationships between the various Chinese concepts such as ksing-ming, kuei-shcn, etc., I have added two summaries, one written and one diagrammatic. 

Fortunately for me, I have made this translation under the supervision of Dr. Jung, and to that fact, and to the further aid I have received from Mrs. Jung, I owe any success I may have had in meeting the difficulties presented. 

It has also been my privilege to have the completed manuscript read and criticized by Dr. Erla Rodakiewicz, and for her invaluable 
assistance I am deeply grateful.

1 See Appendix, p. 139. | Cary F. Baynes. Zurich, March, J 931.

May we find peace, understanding, and love among all humans once again.

Alzheimer’s & Gamma Rays

Another amazing Radiolab aired May 5, 2021 (Staph and Gamma) that revisited and provide updates on two simple scientific discoveries that potentially hold huge ramifications for our modern times. This episode began by replaying an earlier show Robert Krulsich did with Molly Webster back in 2016. At the time, this was breaking news. This episodes includes updates as of 2020.

Brainwaves

Li-Huei Tsai is a professor and director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. Li-Huei explained to Molly how most research on Alzheimer’s disease (a disease that affects every family) has focused on genes predisposing people to developing this disease later in life. But, Li-Huei took a different approach at looking at this disease. Her work centers on gamma frequencies, which are like a beat in your brain (a type of brainwave).

Gamma Waves | Type of Brain Waves Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease | Animation by Genolve

Entire groups of neurons will beat at the same time. Some beat at 1 beat per second. Others beat at 600 beats per second. A person who needs to super focus his or her attention requires groups of neurons to beat at 30 to 100 beats per second. These are gamma beats. We can measure them through EEG recordings.

Image from Technological Basics of EEG Recording and Operation of Apparatus

They look like this.

Image from Technological Basics of EEG Recording and Operation of Apparatus

Brainwaves and Alzheimer’s Research

Li-Huei explains how the human brain has billions and billions of neurons. To do what we do as humans, process information, have a thought, problem-solve, communicate with each other, and remember things, all these neurons need to communicate with each other. The neural cell has long tentacles that reach out towards other neurons like waving hands. When an electrical signal passes through them, it is like a zap that sends a signal (neural transmitter) across the gap to another neuron, which turns it on.

Synchronizing Neurons | Magic of Everything | Animation by Genolve

To walk, write a poem, or compose a song, whole groups of neurons must turn on and fire in synchrony. The gamma frequency (or synchrony) has been considered very important for the higher order cognitive function. However, Molly Webster explains that when you look at an Alzheimer’s brain, what you see is there’s actually less gamma happening. Or people say, like, the power of gamma is reduced.

Li-Huei says this is because not all the neurons can be recruited to oscillate at the gamma frequency and this is because of plaques that build up around neurons gunking them up. the more plaque, the harder it is to think…sort of like cobwebs in the brain.

Let’s Manipulate Gamma Oscillations

So, Webster and Li-Huei wondered: What would happen if they could just bring gamma back to the brain?

Working with mice that have an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease measured by elevated levels of beta amyloid peptides, they drilled a small hole into the skull of the mouse’s head, slide a very thin fiber-optic cable into the brain (specifically, a group of cells modified to be sensitive to light), and then using blue laser light, flicker it at 40 beasts per second: a gamma wave.

The Beat Goes On | Animation by Genolve

They did this for one hour, the looked at the mice’s brain to see if anything was different. Not expecting to find much, they were shocked. After one hour of pulsing light, there was nearly half as much of the nasty plaque gunk filling up their hippocampus (a 40 to50% reduction of beta amyloid in their brain).

Who knew blinking light would do that? But, somehow, the pulsing light triggered the brain’s cleanup crew (microglia) that gobble up the gunk.

In a normal brain, these janitor cells are constantly gobbling up the gunk, but in an Alzheimer’s brain, it is sort of like the janitors have gone on strike. After one hour of light, the microglia cells seem to get a lot bigger, meaning they’ve gobbled up beta amyloid mucking up the brain.

With less gunk, more neurons are available to oscillate together at the gamma wavelength needed to concentrate and do higher level cognitive work.

Wait, It’s Even Better

These findings were really exciting, but drilling holes and inserting fiber-optic cable into brains is pretty invasive. So, Li-Huei wondered if there was another way to get light into the brain. Perhaps through the eyes?

It’s Goes Through the Eyes into the Brain | Animation by Genolve

So, they created a flicker room for the mice by using duct taped strips of LED lights. They put the mice in the altered cages and let the LEDs flicker at 40 beats per second. They let the mice bathe in the flickering LED glow for 1 hour. And then took a look at the amyloid beta levels in the visual cortex and once again found a 50% reduction.

Over time, they found out that if the mice are not put into the flicker-light room at least once for an hour every 24 hours, the plaque comes back. So, they are trying to see how to keep the levels down longer, or ever for good.

The Update to This Research

Since Radiolab first reported this research, Li-Huei has tried sound at 40 hertz per second for one hour with her mice.

Exact 40 Hz Gamma Brainwave audio used by MIT to prevent Alzheimer’s | It sounds a lot like Cicadas!
Light with sound | 40hz per second flashing Alzheimer s disease light therapy

The same thing! A 40 to 50% reduction in plague in the brain.


They are just moving into human trails, but there is a whole movement out there not waiting to find out the results. Here are just some of the interesting efforts underway, but people, companies, and meditation tapes aren’t waiting.

Gamma (40 hz) LED Lamp Flasher | 7,365 viewsDec 28, 2016 | Home project to build an LED lamp flasher as described in the Radio Lab “Bringing Gamma Back”.

Gamma Brain Waves Meditation 40 Hz frequency 1 Hr Producing Focus, Calmness, Happiness | Gamma Brain Waves (40 Hz) are the fastest of our brainwaves, sweeping across our brain 40 times a second producing increased focus, calmness and even happiness.

RubyLux Gamma Light & Sound Therapy Set

And there are many other products available.



Several other videos describing this light therapy include the following.

40Hz Gamma | 🎧 Pure Binaural Beats | 432Hz Based | Brain Reset

Light-based therapy for Alzheimer’s disease | MIT

How to build your own Alzheimer’s light treatment relay with Arduino/Espruino

Image from blog: How to build your own Alzheimer’s light treatment relay with Arduino/Espruino
While far from conclusive and so far untested on humans, the results of the studies detailed in the podcast are extremely promising. The gist is by flickering light at and around the gamma frequency for extended periods of time, brain plaque caused by Alzheimer’s is dramatically reduced in lab mice.
This got me thinking how one would go about building a flicker box for this purpose if you wanted to try it out for yourself. My first thought was to just build a simple website (seizure warning):

40 Hz Gamma – Pure Tone Binaural Beat – Brain’s Operating System

Exact 40 Hz Gamma Brainwave audio used by MIT to prevent Alzheimer’s | 35,748 views * Oct 21, 2020

Bigger Butts … Bigger Brains

The Amazing Journey of Human Evolution

I absolutely loved a recently aired episode of RadioLab titled: Man Against Horse. It originally aired December 28, 2019, but I heard it May 23, 2021. I had been working on my story trying to getting straight in my head man’s long line of evolutionary changes that ultimately lead to us, the living beings who stare at screens and do everything to extremes.

Man & His Ancestors

There was Australopithecus afarensis who emerged 3.67 to 2 million years ago in the Middle Pliocene to Early Pleistocene of South Africa, an extinct species of australopithecine. Spread: Southern Africa (Lucy’s species). I love them. Look at those eyes!

Source: Natural History Museum Smithsonian

There was Homo habilis who emerged 2.4 to 1.5 mya inhabiting parts of sub-Saharan Africa from roughly 2.4 to 1.5 million years ago (mya). In 1959 and 1960 the first fossils were discovered at Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania – roamed Eastern edge of Africa, moving from the Horn of Africa to the tip. Spread: Western to Southern African


There was Homo ergaster who emerged (“working man”) is an extinct hominid species (or subspecies, according to some authorities) which lived throughout eastern and southern Africa between 1.9 to 1.4 million years ago with the advent of the lower Pleistocene and the cooling of the global climate: 1.9 to 1.4 mya (although some classifications include additional individuals that extends their range to between about 700,000 and 2 million years ago). Spread: Africa: 1.9 to 1.4 million years ago. Considered an early, exclusively African form of Homo erectus. Started making stone tools 1.6 million years ago.


And of course, there was Homo erectus who emerged 2 mya, evolving from either a late form of australopith or one of the more primitive forms of Homo, and went on to spread into many parts of Asia. Spread: Western African, Europe, Arabian Peninsula, Southern Asia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, Eastern coast of Asia to Bering Strait

There are many more early hominoid species that evolved, lived for thousands (and some more than a million) years, and then died out and disappeared. This is where I was getting lost, and this is when I took a break and tuned into RadioLab and heard this episode that straighten everything out in my mind. It all came down to the nuchal ligament and the human butt.


It’s All About the Butt

I was skeptical at first because this episode started out with Matt who began saying:

Okay, so this story comes to us from Heather, who is a fantastic writer who brought us this story that, if I were to boil it down, is about a horse, a lone man running through the desert, and what it fundamentally means to be a human being. And weirdly, butts. I didn't see this coming, but it's about butts. Just butts. Your butt. It's about your butt.

Heather is writing a book about the cultural history of the female butt. She said:

I thought I'd save that one for on tape. It started as an essay that I was just working on because I have a big butt, and I grew up in, you know, the suburbs of mid-Michigan. That was -- it was pretty white. And in high school in the '90s, it was very much like, not good to have a big butt. Like, I got made fun of, et cetera, et cetera. But then sometime in the mid-aughts, all of a sudden this body that had sort of been bringing me all this shame became attractive in sort of a mainstream way.

As Heather started taking apart and looking into issues such as race, appropriation, beauty, her essay about the butt ended up becoming a book about the butt. She asked herself:  what does the butt mean? Like, what does it symbolize and why does it symbolize that? Then, she realized she had to answer a more fundamental question: Why do we even have a butt at all?

Butts | Animation by Genolve

Gluteus Maximus & Evolution of Man

Daniel Lieberman is an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University who is interested in the evolution of the human body and the effects of physical activity for a long time. He wanted to understand how and why the human body evolved the way it did. Back around 1992, he was a post-doc doing research on pigs…miniature pigs running on treadmills!

Treadmill Pigs | Animation by Genolve

Lieberman was looking at how different parts of the skeleton respond to the effect of the loads caused by exercise. Lieberman says, “Sounds like an exciting thing, but believe me it eventually gets kind of — kind of dull.” This is until the day a fellow called Dennis Bramble, a professor at the University of Utah, came to Harvard to do his own research next door to Lieberman.

Dennis Bramble recalls turning to his co-researher saying, “What the hell’s that sound? Is somebody doing something there?” And they said, “Yeah, and this guy Dan Lieberman is running pigs over there.” I said, “Oh, I gotta — I’ve gotta see this!”

Pig on a Treadmill | 32,031 views•Oct 13, 2007 | Petunia the pig trains for glory.

Lieberman recounts Bramble popped his head in and watched the pig, then cocked his head to the side and said, ““You know Dan, that pig can’t hold its head still when it’s running.” Lieberman said, “It’s funny I’d spent hours watching pigs run on treadmills, but I never really thought about it.

Bramble said: “You know Dan, I bet that pig’s head is flopping all around because it doesn’t have this thing called the nuchal ligament.” This ligament provides support for the head and neck. It is like a rubber band attached to the back of the animal’s skull and runs down the spine to keep the head straight as it runs. Bramble pointed out that all mammals that have specialized as runners have this nuchal ligament–everything from cheetahs to leopards to antelopes to horses, to jackrabbits and dogs. Animals who are bad runners don’t have this ligament–like pigs.

This is where my attention perked up: humans have a nuchal ligament.

But, our closest hominoid cousins do not have a nuchal ligament. This includes apes, chimps, gorillas.

It’s All About the Nuchal Ligament | Animation made by Genolve

Humans Evolved to Run

Way back, our closest hominoid relatives split off into the genus Pan, while humans split off into the genus Homo. The first hominoid in the genus Homo to have this ligament was Homo erectus. Paleontologist can tell this by a sharp ridge on the back of the skull that this ligament leaves behind as a trace.

Daniel Lieberman says, “It doesn’t have a snout, it has smaller teeth. It’s — it’s the first species that’s really very much like you and me from the neck down.

Around the time that Homo erectus emerged, spectacular changes were occurring with its foot (e.g., toes were shortening, arch was forming, Achilles tendon), hips (i.e., taller, narrower, twisty that helps us stay stable on two feet), arms (shorter), legs (longer), inner ears (semicirucular canals got larger to balance), joints (got bigger to bear the load of running), and butts!

Butts evolved for running. Lieberman explains that when humans run, the gluteus maximus muscles fires twice with every stride to prevent the trunk from pitching forward and falling face first.

Let’s Go! Gluteus maximus! | Animation by Genolve

Lieberman explains:

"Running is a controlled fall. Very different from walking. And so your gluteus maximus fires just before your body's about to -- your trunk is about to pitch forward and make you hit your nose on the ground, and it helps pull your trunk backward. And the other time the gluteus maximus fires is when your leg is swinging forward when you're in the air, and it helps decelerate the leg so that you bring your leg down onto the ground. So the gluteus maximus plays a very important role when you're -- when you're running, and turns out to barely be active when you're walking. And, you know, you don't need the fancy equipment in my lab to figure this out. You can just do this yourself at home. Just walk around the room and hold your butt and, you know, clench your kind of butt. And -- and when you're walking your butt will just stay kind of normal, right? It'll stay kind of, you know ..."

But Why Did Homo Erectus Evolve Bigger Butts?

Climate change! That’s what happened about two million years ago. The tree filled jungles were disappearing and being replaced by open grasslands. This was triggered by an ice age that was drying out Africa. These vast open spaces were quickly filling up large grass-eating animals such as the kudu and antelope. Carnivores were rapidly evolving to catch and eat these big food sources such as lions, tigers, and cheetahs.

Compared to these apex predators, Homo erectus was puny and not a good runner. But, Homo erectus could do something they could not do. Homo erectus could sweat! This meant Homo erectus could chase his prey over long distances. He didn’t have to be fast; he simply had to have endurance, pay attention to tracks, and be patience.

Daniel Lieberman explains:

"The trick is you find that animal before it's cooled down, because of course the animal would have run away, and when it runs away it gets hot. Like, when you -- running generates a lot of heat. And these animals aren't very good at dumping heat."
Sweat Fitness | Animation by Genolve

There is a lively, fascinating argument on this episode of RadioLab as to whether Homo erectus tracked and followed its prey to exhaustion or if he simply looked for vultures and other scavengers that an apex predator killed and banded together to scare them away. We don’t know. Probably a little of both. But, the extra protein, fat, and nutrients he got this way helped his brain grow bigger and other evolutionary changes to occur. So, the evolution of a bigger butt and nuchal ligament were pretty important to get to modern human beings.


Man vs Horse

The last half of this episode you just have to listen to… really, you should listen to all of it… I skipped a lot of good stuff. But it is all about a crazy race that takes place in Prescott, AZ every year. It is a high desert long distance race (50 miles) between a group of human runners and a group of horses with riders.

The story goes like this:

HEATHER: So in 1983, a city councilman in Prescott comes into this bar in Whiskey Row, like super-old west America.

MATT: And he gets there, he sits down, and he has a beer. And down at the end of the bar …

HEATHER: There’s a couple of cowboys. The city councilman’s just run a marathon.

MATT: And at some point …

HEATHER: The city council guy says, “I just ran this crazy race.”

MATT: And one of the cowboys says …

HEATHER: “My horse could run that far easily.”

MATT: “You’re not that fast.”

HEATHER: “My horse could do that in an afternoon. Wouldn’t even break a sweat.” And then the city councilman’s like, “You know, I’m not sure he can.”

MATT: “Actually, in fact, I bet I can outrun your horse.”

HEATHER: And for 30-plus years, they have been sort of seeing who’s right.

Matt and Heather follow the racers and it is fantastic, fun story. Who do you think wins? Listen and see!

Man vs Horse | Animation by Genolve | Listen to the blow by blow race as covered by RadioLab here

Rational vs Intuitive

Recently on The HiddenBrain, I heard Iain McGilchrist talk with Shankar Vedantam about our divided brain and the making of the Western world. Shankar introduces this episode saying:

"I'm Shankar Vedantam. If you type in the words left brain versus right brain on YouTube, it's not long before you'll find yourself in a vortex of weird claims and outlandish hype. (...) For decades, pop psychology books and plenty of YouTube videos have made dramatic claims about people who are left-brained and people who are right-brained. It got to the point that respectable scientists felt they had to steer clear of the study of hemispheric differences. This week  we follow the work of a researcher who went there. What he's found is much more nuanced and complex than the story on YouTube. His conclusions, though, might be even more dramatic. He argues that differences in the brain and Western society's preference for what one hemisphere has to offer have had enormous effects on our lives."

Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist who has spent years studying the human brain through case studies of his patients and a detailed examination of scientific research. As I listened to him, he reminded me of a blend of Oliver Sacks and Alan Watts. He is the author of the book: The Master and His Emissary; The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press, 2010.

The program is called: One Head, Two Brains. I will highlight pieces that really resonated with me. Vedantam begins by highlighting all the pop science and psychology that has emerged over the past 20 to 30 years about the hidden powers of the left or right hemisphere of the brian.

McGilchrist adds: “Well, the conventional model is something that sprang up probably in the ’60s and ’70s and had some life into the ’80s and even into the ’90s and is now, probably, mainly at home in middle-management programs and pop psychology books. And I was told when I got involved in this area – don’t touch it. It’s toxic. Don’t even go there. And basically, that was that the left hemisphere is logical and verbal and the right hemisphere is kind of moody and possibly creative. But all of this turns out to be much more complicated, and some of it’s plain wrong.”


The Brain: Super Computer or Musical Masterpiece

McGilchrist explains: “In motor terms, (the brain) is fairly straightforward that the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and receives messages from it and vice versa. But in terms of psychological life, they have quite different kinds of roles. They have quite different dispositions. And I believe evolutionarily, they are – if you like – addressing different questions. (…) It’s there in all mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects, nematode worms – which have, you know, like – one of them has 302 neurons, but it’s working asymmetrically. And in fact, the oldest creature that we know of that has a neural net of any kind is called nematostella vectensis. It’s 700 million years old, and it’s thought of as the origin of neural networks. Guess what. The neural network is asymmetrical.”

He is adamant the human brain is much more than a biologic computer saying, “(First of all), it’s a vast waste of computing power to have this brain divided into two bits.” His research has revealed that brains have evolved with two different hemispheres to provide living beings with two different views of reality: the right focuses on the big picture, the left focuses on details. Both ways of understanding the world are essential because if you can’t see the big picture, you don’t understand what you’re doing. And if you can’t hone in and focus on the details, you can’t complete the simplest tasks.

McGilchrist provides the example of listening to a piece of music, say Mozart’s Requiem.

Mozart – Requiem | 99,589,610 views • Mar 5, 2009

McGilchrist explains that “the right hemisphere takes in the whole at the start. The left hemisphere unpacks that and enriches it. But then that work being done, it needs to be taken back into the whole picture, which only the right hemisphere can do.

All living creatures must do this simultaneously to survive.

Left brain: In order to manipulate the world – to get food, to pick up a twig to build a nest – you need a very precise, targeted attention on a detail in order to be able to achieve that and be ahead of your competition.

Right brain: But if you’re only doing that, and if you’re a bird just concentrating on the little seed, you’ll become somebody else’s lunch while you’re getting your own because you need, at the same time, to be paying the precise opposite kind of attention – not piecemeal, fragmented and entirely detailed but sustained, broad and vigilant for predators and for other members of your species.

In every living being with a complicated brain, the two hemispheres are connected by a bundle of nerve fibers named the corpus callosum; often described as a bridge passing information back and forth between the two hemispheres.

McGilchrist explains: “All living creatures need to be able to attend to the world in two different ways, which require quite different attention at the same time. And this is simply not possible unless they can work relatively independently. On the one hand, in order to manipulate the world – to get food, to pick up a twig to build a nest – you need a very precise, targeted attention on a detail in order to be able to achieve that and be ahead of your competition. But if you’re only doing that – if you’re a bird just concentrating on the little seed, you’ll become somebody else’s lunch while you’re getting your own because you need, at the same time, to be paying the precise opposite kind of attention – not piecemeal, fragmented and entirely detailed but sustained, broad and vigilant for predators and for other members of your species.”


The Master & The Emissary

Where my attention really perked up is when Vedantam and McGilchrist began talking about the title of his book, which comes from an old parable about a wise spiritual master who rules over a land. The master appoints an emissary. He’s a smart messenger. His job is to carry the master’s instructions to the far corners of the land.

The Master & Emissary — Animation by Genolv

McGilchrist recaps this very old story:

This emissary was bright enough but not quite bright enough to know what it was he didn't know. And he thought, I know everything. And he thought, what does the master know, sitting back there seraphically smiling, while I do all the hard work? And so he adopted the master's cloak, pretended to be the master. And because he didn't know what he didn't know, the result was that the community fell apart, essentially.

Sounds a bit like Harry Pottery and the cloak of invisibility; however, what McGilchrist is pointing out with this story is what Vedantam says next: “Iain argues that the right hemisphere of the brain is supposed to play the role of the wise master of our mental kingdom. The left hemisphere is supposed to be the emissary. Iain says we have grown infatuated with the skills of the emissary. We prize the details but scorn the big picture. He makes an analogy about the relationship between the hemispheres.

McGilchrist stresses the brain is not a computer. It is far more sophisticated; however, in terms of function, he says the left hemisphere, in a limited sense, is a little bit like a very, very smart computer. Like any computer, it collects massive amounts of information, but it does not understand it. To do that, the ability to set back and analyze the interconnections and patterns of the data collected is necessary.

McGilchrist warns that for the first time in the West, we have become enamored with and slipped into listening only to what it is that the left hemisphere can tell us and discounting what the right hemisphere could have told us.

The right hemisphere is the master… the left hemisphere is the emissary. One sees the small picture…the other, the big picture.

Two Hemispheres — One World | Animation by Genolve

See it! Grab It!

McGilchrist says that modern man lives in a world that prizes what the Left Hemisphere of the brain offers while offering contempt for what the Right Hemisphere does. What results is that the emissary usurps the master. However, just like the parable, the Left Brain doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. Adding to this, the realities constructed by each hemisphere of the brain are very different.

McGilchrist gives a very simple example of the types of realities each hemisphere specializes in creating for a living being, particularly, one that using language.

Language has many components. One of them is attending to the tone of voice in which I say something. For example, I can say yes, or I can say yes. I can intone that in probably a dozen different ways with quite different meanings. So for example, I say, it's a bit hot in here. You, using your right hemisphere, know that what I mean is, could we have the door open? Could we put on the air conditioning? But your left hemisphere is wondering, meanwhile, why I'm supplying this quite unnecessary meteorological information.
Because of this, all kinds of things happen. Because of its narrow focus, it doesn't see anything that isn't explicit. It only sees what's right in the center of the focus of attention. And it doesn't understand things that are not said. Often, that's as important as what is said. The way in which it is said, my facial expression, my body language - all of this is lost, as well as the interpretation in the whole picture.

For a person who becomes overly reliant on the functions and abilities of the Left Hemisphere of the brain, metaphor in language is lost.

McGilchrist points out that “this is no small thing because as some philosophers have pointed out, metaphor is how we understand everything. And they point out that, actually, particularly scientific and philosophical understanding is mediated by metaphors. In other words, the only way we can understand something is in terms of something else that we think we already understand. And it’s making the analogy, which is what a metaphor does, that enables us to go, I see, I get it.”

He adds:

Now, if you think that metaphor is just one of those dispensable decorations that you could add to meaning - it's kind of nice but probably a distraction from the real meaning - you've got it upside down. Because if you don't understand the metaphor, you haven't understood the meaning. Literal meaning, however, is a peripheral, diminished version of the richness of metaphorical understanding. And what we know is the right hemisphere understands those implicit meanings, those connections of meanings, what we call connotations, as well as just denotations. It understands imagery. It understands humor. It understands all of that.

McGilchrist says that the Left Hemisphere is “very goal-driven but very short-term goal driven. It wants to grasp things that are within reach. Remember, the left hemisphere is what controls our right hand with which we grasp things that are within reach. So it has a very direct, linear idea of a target and let’s go and get it.”

Apple, Pear…Any Good Thing…Let’s Go Get It! | Animation by Genolve

McGilchrist beautifully sums up what this extreme focus on details can do to individuals and civilizations when he tells Vedantam this:

Time can be seen rather like the flow of a river, which isn't made up of slices or chunks of river that are then put together. We, as personalities in time or cultures in time, are like this flow. The left hemisphere can't deal with anything that is moving. It fixes things. It likes things to be fixed because then you can grab them. You can't grasp your prey, you can't pick up something unless you can at least immobilize it for that second while you're interacting with it.
So it doesn't like flow and motion, which are, in my view, basic to not just life but actually to the cosmos. So instead, it sees lots of little punctuate moments, little slices of time. And things have to be put together by adding them up.

Vedantam says, “It’s almost like a form of calculus, you know, of taking slices and then trying to integrate them together.”

Thanks to my friend Barry Kort, this topic has been previously explored in depth. You can find it under Resilience Resources.

McGilchrist agrees saying: “You’re absolutely right. And calculus is an attempt, actually, to achieve something which is indivisible by dividing it in slices.”


Two Hemispheres; Two Very Different Sets of Values

Vedantam says that the left hemisphere prefers to reduce moral questions to arithmetic.

McGilchrist tells a story to demonstrate how the Left and Right Hemisphere come up with very different values that translate into very different realities.

Hypothetically, let's say you can temporarily disable the right temporoparietal junction with a painless procedure, and then ask people to solve moral problems. They will give quite bizarre answers to them based on entirely utilitarian understanding of them. 
For example is, a woman is having coffee with her friend. She puts what she thinks is sugar in her friend's coffee but it's in fact poison, and the friend dies. Scenario two, a woman is having coffee with her friend who she hates. (Laughter). She wants to poison her. And she puts what she thinks is poison in the coffee, but it's sugar, and the friend lives. Which was the morally worse scenario?
Now, all of us using our intact brains say, well, the one in which she intended to kill her friend. But no. If you disable the right hemisphere, the good old left hemisphere says, well, obviously, the one in which she died. The consequence is what matters. So values are not well-appreciated, I think, by the left hemisphere.

Right Brain Damage

Another example of how the two hemispheres operate and see the world very differently is an exchange between a physician and a patient who experienced right hemisphere brain damage. This example bowled me over! McGilchrist explained that her left hemisphere (the detailed, likes things still and not moving, focusing part of brain) is still intact. The patient has a strange belief about her own arm. We asked a couple of producers to read the exchange.

UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER #1, BYLINE: (Reading, as physician) Whose arm is this?
UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER #2, BYLINE: (Reading, as patient) It's not mine.
UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER #1: (Reading, as physician) Whose is it?
UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER #2: (Reading, as patient) It's my mother's.
UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER #1: (Reading, as physician) How on earth does it happen to be here?
UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER #2: (Reading, as patient) I don't know. I found it in my bed.
UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER #1: (Reading, as physician) How long has it been there?
UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER #2: (Reading, as patient) Since the first day. Feel. It's warmer than mine. The other day, too, when the weather was colder, it was warmer than mine.
That’s Not My Arm! | Animation by Genolve

McGilchrist explains:

What we're seeing is a phenomenon called denial, which is a feature of the way the left hemisphere works. So if you have a left hemisphere stroke, so your right hemisphere still functioning, you're very aware of what deficits you have. If you have a right hemisphere stroke, you are completely unaware of there being anything wrong. So if you have a paralyzed left arm, which is often a consequence of right hemisphere stroke, more often than not you will deny that there's any problem with it. If asked to move it, you will say there, but it didn't move.
If, on the other hand, I bring it in front of you and say, whose arm is this, can you move it, they say, oh, that's not mine. That belongs to you, doctor, or to the patient in the next bed or, as in this cut, my mother. It's extraordinary because these are not people who in any way mad. They don't have a psychosis. But they're simply incapable of understanding that there is something wrong here that involves them.

Denial. Denying facts. Denying reality. And creating alternative versions of events. Does any of this sound familiar? Narcissists are particularly good at denial and creating fantastic alternative realities. Perhaps they have become completely stuck in their Left Brain Hemisphere. Sure, narcissists can be highly dynamic people and fun to watch. They count on that affect because they feed on your time, attention, and pocketbooks. Narcissists tend to be extraverts as well and know how to hook and reel in their targets. Such a person likes to be in front and most will lead you (dear admiring follower) right to the Gates of Hell, and then give you a kick inside.

Only My Reality Matters!! I Rule the World | Animation by Genolve

My series Collective Storytelling takes a deep dive into how and why we create alternative reality bubbles, and knowing how the Left Hemisphere works helps to explain why these concocted alternative realities are so convincing–so much so, people are willing to raid the Capitol and die for the alternative facts they have absorbed as the truth created by a master storyteller of anything other than the truth or reality.

See Blog and Collective Storytelling tab

Left Brian Damage

McGilchrist says about damage to the left side of brain creates interesting complexities too; however, the structure of reality seems to remain in tact:

It's really fascinating because the consequences are so obvious. You can't speak. And sometimes you can't appreciate the structure of a sentence that's being said to you. The other thing that happens is you can't use your right hand, which is a bit of a bummer if that's your important hand. But effectively, the structure of reality is not changed. That's why it is easier to rehabilitate somebody after a left hemisphere stroke than after a right. The left hemisphere is the one that sees body parts whereas the right hemisphere is the one that sees the body as a whole. It has something called a body image, which is not just a visual image but an integrated image from all senses of the body.
But I've been looking at all the interesting neuropsychiatric syndromes, many of them described by Oliver Sacks, which follow brain damage. And all these quite extraordinary delusional hallucinating syndromes that most people can hardly believe can happen to a human being happen either only or very largely after damage to the right hemisphere, not after damage to the left. So the succinct answer is the left hemisphere is to do with functioning and utilizing - reading, writing and grasping - and it doesn't really deal with the structure of reality whereas the right hemisphere does.

I love Oliver Sacks. I researched and helped the common man and woman understand so much about ourselves and our brains. McGilchrist reminds me of Oliver Sacks and Alan Watts. Here are a few amazing Oliver Sacks interviews. Sadly, he died on August 30, 2015.

“The Last Hippie” – Oliver Sacks discusses Brain Injury, Amnesia and Music Therapy | 14,167 views•Mar 11, 2011
TED TALKS LIVE Short – Rapture | 5,771 views•Jan 18, 2017
What hallucination reveals about our minds | Oliver Sacks | 5,525,698 views•Sep 18, 2009

Emotion & the Brain

McGilchrist explains:

Broadly speaking, the right hemisphere is more emotionally literate. It reads emotional expression, and it gives emotional expressivity to a greater extent than the left. But it's not a simple matter. And some emotions to do with particularly understanding another person's point of view, what it feels like to be that person, are very profoundly connected with the right hemisphere. However, there are some emotions that are more particularly associated with the left hemisphere. Perhaps the most striking one is anger, which happens to be the most lateralized of all emotions. And it lateralizes to the left hemisphere.
So I think it's that the left hemisphere always has an immediate task because it wishes to accomplish. And if it encounters any opposition, it's dismissive, and it becomes enraged. I mean, that's a simplification, but I think it works. And after a right hemisphere stroke, the range of emotions open to somebody is limited. It's mainly irritability and anger.
Anger Gets Processed in the Left Hemisphere — Making It Sharp, Focused, Explosive | Animation by Genolve
I’m Mad (Version 2) | Animation by Genolve

Music & Humor

Music and humor would not exist without the abilities of the Right Hemisphere. You can listen to HiddenBrain’s discussion of music, I will highlight just a little about what McGilchrist says about humor:

So humor is another example of something very human and very important that the left hemisphere doesn't get. Humor is an example of something else, which is the ability to understand the implicit in poetry. You can't really understand poetry by paraphrasing it any more than you can explain the joke and expect it still to be funny.
And that's very close to my heart because I used to work in the area of English literature. And in brief, I left it partly because I loved poetry too much. And it seemed to me that these internally implicit, unique, embodied creatures - the poems - were being turned into explicit, general and entirely abstract entities. So I thought this was a destructive process. I wrote a book called "Against Criticism" and went off to study medicine and become a psychiatrist!
It’s A Jolly Holiday When Both Brains Work Together! | Animation by Genolve

Empathy

In a Right Brain Hemisphere world:

The right hemisphere, if it were really without the left hemisphere, would see a lot of connections between things and would see a broad picture, but it might not be so good at focusing on details. Emotionally, the timbre might be somewhat melancholic and sad. Because I think it's one of the aspects, I'm afraid, of the right hemisphere's realism and sympathy, a capacity for empathy, that it does feel suffering. We would not be able to make calculations in the same way. Most arithmetic calculations are made by the left hemisphere.
We Need All of Ourselves to Heal Ourself…And Healing Self Comes Before Healing the World | Animation made with Genolve

In a Left Brain Hemisphere world:

There'd be an emphasis on the details, instead. There would be a great emphasis on predictability, organizability, anonymity, categorization, loss of the unique and an ability to break things down into parts but not really see what the whole is like. There'd be a need for total control because the left hemisphere is somewhat paranoid. After right hemisphere damage, people often develop a paranoia, and that's because one can't understand quite what's going on and one needs, therefore, to control it. Anger would become the key note in public discourse. Everything would become black and white.
The left hemisphere needs to be decisive because, don't forget, it's the one that's catching the prey. It's no good at going, well, yeah, it could be a rabbit, but it might not be. It's going to go, I'm going to go for it. So it likes black and white. It doesn't like shades of meaning. So in this world, we would lose the capacity to see grades of difference. We would misunderstand everything that is implicit and metaphorical and have to make rules about how to achieve it.

In the world we live in now, McGilchrist warns:

I think what I observe is an overemphasis on predetermined systems of algorithms. The sense of social alienation. The way in which we live divorced from the natural world, which is a very new phenomenon. The insistence on extreme positions, which is what the left hemisphere understands, not a nuanced argument about the pros and cons of every single thing.

Here’s what we need to shoot for:

I love science. Since a child, I was captivated by science. I depend on science in my work, and I depend on scientific discoveries for my life. The argument in my book, as people have pointed out, is sequential, analytical and rational. In fact, people say is quite a left-hemisphere book. And I say, good, I hope I used both my hemispheres in writing this book because if not, it wouldn't be a very good one. So we need both. And what I feel is that science and reason depend on a balance of these things. There is a distinction to be made between rationality - by which I mean the mindless following out of rationalistic procedures - and what I would call reason - which, since the Renaissance, has been exalted as the mark of a truly educated person, which is to make balanced, informed judgments - but not just informed by data but informed by an understanding in the whole context of a living being belonging to a vibrant society of what this actually means.
In other words, judgment - judgment has been taken out of our intellectual world and replaced by something a machine can do. And that may look good to a certain kind of way of thinking, but I think it's a disaster. The right hemisphere sees the need of the left. That's in the image of the master and the emissary - the master knowing the need for the emissary, the emissary not knowing the value of the master. And if I may use a quotation from Einstein, I think this gives us the full picture - he said that "the rational mind is a faithful servant. The intuitive mind is a precious gift." We live in a society that honors the servant but has forgotten the gift.

Nation’s New Youth Poet Laureate On The Power Of Poetry: ‘I’m Able To Process Darker Emotions’

Perfect timing! This announcement and our new Youth Poet Laureate’s message could not have aired more synchronistically!

Alexandra Huynh of Sacramento, California is the nation’s new youth poet laureate. The 18-year-old’s appointment was announced Thursday night in a virtual ceremony hosted by Urban Word and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Here & Now learned more about the four laureate finalists on Thursday, and now has more about Huynh and her future plans.

This segment aired on May 21, 2021.

Trolls!

It is Syttende Mai, and I just heard the most delightful story on Morning Edition–about an invasion of Trolls! But they are not coming to destroy the world, rather they are showing up to show us how to save it!

Thomas Dambo makes gentle giants from scrap wood, old pallets, twigs, and debris. In Maine, he is constructing a team of trolls that resemble a different part of a tree: the roots, trunk, branches, leaves and flowers. He is making a bunch of trolls in Maine, each with a particular story and like a different part of a tree: the roots, trunk, branches, leaves and flowers. Birk is one of these Maine trolls and he is intentionally rough and “bumpy” because he is emerging from the soil. Dambo says, “A lot of my trolls, they have fur, but this one is naked. I’m imagining … that this troll used to be underground and now it’s pushed itself out of the ground.”

Cicadas 2021

Like the cicadas are doing right now in DC…the big brood–billions and billions of them.

Dambo created Birk as if he is pushing himself out of the ground: that’s why his skin is naked.

Image from Morning Edition (NPR): This Dambo troll is part of the Guardians of the Seeds experience at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Tory Paxson/Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Dambo knows a lot of the stories and concepts he creates probably gets lost on visitors. But, he says, “It doesn’t really matter for me because what matters is his trolls draw people into nature where they can have a good experience.” 

Birk’s Emergence to Seeds | Animation by Genolve

Dambo makes trolls all over the world and enlists a team of local volunteers to help him build a troll, which reminds me of where the heck is Mike videos (I love these videos! Oh and he has two beautiful kids now!! What a way to unite the world in love and unity through music, dance, and laughter and the joy of life).


Back to the trolls, Dambo says, “Everybody wants to be a part of some big positive project” and building a great big troll is perfect! Dambo says, “I think everything needs to be really important where you are, because that’s where you can fight your fight and that’s where you can make the change.” 

I love his story about  Hector the Protector; a troll he built on the Puerto Rican island of Culebra.

Hector sat on rocks at the water's edge, protecting the island. In his hand, he originally had a rock "ready to throw at invaders," smiles artist Mark Rivera, one of Dambo's collaborators. But Hector did not survive Hurricane Maria.
In 2019, Dambo returned to the same spot to make Hector 2.0. Instead of a rock, he's now holding a lantern embedded with a solar panel so boats can see the coastline in a hurricane.
Protect Islands: Hector the Protector
But the first Hector was destroyed by a hurricane and so here is the new Hector the Protector

Trolls that Block Paths

Dambo builds trolls that .

Troll that Fish & Swing

Trolls that Hold Swings
Trolls that Point at Stars

Isak Heartstone
Isak Heartstone new home
Isak Heartstone coming down

My favorite story of this interview was the troll Dambo built in Breckenridge. He was named Isak Heartstone and was removed by the city because he got so popular!

Isak Heartstone Killed by the Goverment | 6,057 views•Nov 23, 2018

I love this song about Isak Heartstone. It is absolutely fun, brilliant, and done in the spirit of trolls (who really don’t want to harm anyone). I would only add that I doubt it was really the doing of the mayor or government who did poor Isak Heartstone in. It was the property owners who lived nearby. Suddenly, due to the lovely nature of Isak Hearstone, hundreds of people who didn’t live in the neighborhood were showing up, parking on the street, hiking to see Isak Heartstone, taking pictures, probably not cleaning up all their trash–and for individuals owning property nearby–well, they probably feared this was reducing the value of their lovely homes as well as their privacy. And so, that’s where the mayor and government come in… they are there for the people to take care of all the things the people care about… and at that time, it was the value (most likely) of their properties.

That is why we organize governments, to carry out the will of the people. But, we are the people. We make the rules and then enforce them, no matter how much they stink because they really only represent a very few people. Often the one’s with the most money who can influence the rules and how they are enforced.

Take for instance the Presidential election of 2020 in America. Joe Biden won by a landslide. Trump and a lot of other Republicans didn’t like the results and so Southern state after state are changing the voting laws and rules, making it harder to vote by mail, to vote in person, and to vote, especially if you are not a pale male with a Republican bent.

It’s all on us. We live in the system. We use the system. We suffer under the system when it gets rigged against those who have less status, less money, and less power. For far too long, status, money, and power in Western Civilization has been titled to benefit white males living in the systems of power within which everyone else must find a place and a way to survive.

W. Kamau Bell has been writing and talking about this for a long time. He use comedy to have tough conversations about race, inequality, and inequity. A recent opinion piece he wrote introduces some of the topics he digs into. To really understand, it takes a willingness to do so and time to learn about and see all the connections that we contribute to just by living in a system like Western Civilization: W. Kamau Bell: Until those in power act right, I’ll see you in the streets.

But, back to Dambo and what he is doing. I just love the spirit he is literally building into the world through his fantastical trolls! His joy and fun and surprises rejuvenate the human mind and spirit. His fanciful trolls situated in whimsical places help us to realign mentally and bring us back into a harmony with each other and with all of the life. Sure, once my Nordic ancestors believed trolls were real. But, then that is why we have our fantastic minds today. We became conscious beings in a living world. At first, it is only natural to project one’s mind into the strange, beautiful, and scary things all around us.


Jung says, “When there is no consciousness of the difference between subject and object, an unconscious identity prevails. The unconscious is projected into the object, and the object is introjected into the subject, becoming part of his psychology. Then plants and animals behave like humans beings, human beings are at the same time animals, and everything is alive with ghosts and gods (and trolls). Civilized man naturally thinks he is miles above these things. Instead of that, he is often identified with his parents throughout his life, or with his affects and prejudices, and shamelessly accuses others of the things he will not see in himself. He too has a remnant of primitive unconsciousness, of non-differentiation between subject and object. Because of this, he is magically affected by all manner of people, things, and circumstances, he is beset by disturbing influences nearly as much as the primitive and therefore needs just as many apotropaic charms. He no longer works magic with medicine bags, amulets, and animal sacrifices, but with tranquilizers, neuroses, rationalism, and the cult of will (e.g., capitalism, communism, socialism, nazism…choose your ism… there are so many we cling to these days).


So go out today and find a troll or better yet, make one–a little one, a big one, an imagined one is just as good–the real point is getting outside again and melting into the magic of being here, now and alive.

Primeval (May 17, 2021) | Another Type of Whimsical Beingness in the World

Conflict – Nourishing Fruit or Poison Apple

Are We Lost in the Garden of Eden or Trapped in an Endless Fairytale 

Conflict–what a terrible and yet beautiful word. Conflict is something all human beings must learn how to do from the moment they realize they are a different entity from their parents, primarily of course the mother. In psychology, this moment is known as the Primal Split. In Judeo-Christian doctrines, it is known as Original Sin as epitomized in the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis telling how God created the world and all life in it and then created Adam and Eve to live in it and enjoy it.

Image from Wiki: Lilith Lilith (1887) by John Collier in Atkinson Art Gallery, Merseyside, England

But like any children, Adam and Eve inevitably disobey God’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge; the one capable of inspiring inside of them the knowledge of good and evil. The conventional story tells that it is Eve who picked the tempting fruit after being deceived by a sneaky snake. But did you know Eve was Adam’s second wife?

Eve was Adam’s second wife. Adam had a secret first wife whom God created at the same time and in the same way as Adam. She was his equal and opposite in every way. Her name was Lilith. History mostly remembers her only as a demonic figure. One must look to medieval Jewish tradition to find where Lilith is remembered as Adam’s first wife, before Eve. However, when Adam insisted, she play a subservient role, Lilith grew wings and flew away. 

I suspect what really happened in the Garden of Eden was entirely all too human. Upon getting his new beautiful, obedient but docile wife–certainly not his equal–Adam carried on an affair with Lilith. Eve never caught on, but God did. The only snake in this story is Adam’s manhood, and God was mad for his transgression for he created Eve for Adam on one condition to be faithful to her and Adam disobeyed. So, he had no choice but to throw Adam and Eve out of Eden. Lilith having transformed into a different sort of being, simply flew away


The First Mortal Conflict

Conflict Styles: What Sciences Says — And how Liberating Structures can help create an environment where the most effective styles are possible. *** Medium blog by Christiaan Verwijs *** Most conflicts happen under the waterline. Illustration by Thea Schukken. *** You can also listen to this blogpost in this episode of our podcast.

So here we are: humans of the world left to find our way forward after the dramatic fall from Eden due to the first conflict of the world! A parent-child conflict, of course, just as the Primal Split is a primal parent-child conflict awakening the psyche to consciousness, but that is another story.

For this piece, I am sticking with the supernatural conflict between God the Father and his children, us. So super charged was this first mighty conflict, discord and strife remain the default mode of knowing in the world.

When conflict is done in an open, fluid, inquiring way, it can illuminate the world between us and inside of us, at least for a moment like a flicker from a spark caused by conflict. These sparks help us see more of what we don’t know about the world, about each other, or about ourselves. When we see the unknown, we can begin to know it. When we know it, we can integrate it into our Field of Consciousness (the part of ourselves illuminated by consciousness–i.e., what we know). This is how we grow our consciousness by seeing and learning more about the world around us and inside of us–most often through conflict.

But conflict can also cause us to get stuck within static, standing patterns of disagreement, disaccord, disharmony, and dissension. These patterns grow instead of consciousness. Over time, these patterns become rigid, unyielding, taut, stressed, tight, solid, and harden objects tend to collapse under pressure, trapping the individual’s desperately trying to sustain and defend them from attack. This becomes a crushing process, a dying process because locked into a standing pattern of permanent defensive conflict, the psyche does not grow and what does not grow in this realm, dies.

I will illuminate two talks I heard recently that were inspiring. I believe they offer opportunities of learning better ways to engage in conflict. This is important to learn because conflict is not going away anytime soon in the human world. So we might as well get better at doing it. I have imagined two common standing conflict patterns that all of us get caught in at one time or another. The first, I call getting Lost in the Garden of Eden. The second, I call getting Trapped in a Fairytale.

Lost in the Garden of Eden

Image from Wikipedia: Depiction of the sin of Adam and Eve by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Pieter Paul Rubens

When we come together in relationships, we recreate a little bit of the Garden of Eden inside ourselves and inside of others. This little bit of Eden is a safe place to grow and learn about the world and ourselves. Of course learning means conflict because we are human now, but in relationship, we are in a place where we can be safely seen and heard for who we are–the good and the bad. This is love. Love is capable of holding the opposites of who we are in dynamic balance as we learn and grow through conflict and mistakes.

There is nothing bad about making mistakes or having conflict, except we can get stuck in bad patterns of conflict that hold us down in inferior patterns of behavior, second class beliefs, mediocre ideas, average/commonplace/uninspired ways of being in the world. This is how we get lost in Eden. We let our inferior self lead.

This leads me to the first talk I want to highlight. It is given by Esther Perel about how we can develop resilience in our relationships. I heard it on the Ted Radio Hour.


Esther Perel: How Can We Develop Resilience in Our Relationships?

Image from Ted Radio Hour: Listen Again — Esther Perel: Building Resilient Relationships *** kts7/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Esther Perel begins her talk saying, “People want to feel alive in their relationships. And they want it in their friendships, they want it at work, they want it in their romantic relationships. It’s essential.” Esther says this feeling of aliveness is what inspires us as human beings to build trust with each other, to collaborate or compete with each other, to build intimacy and maintain it through time.

One of the most powerful things about relationships is that they can help us weather uncertainty and survive against the odds. Esther says any “prolonged uncertainty …is accompanied with a sense of grief and loss, not because we lose people only but because we have lost the world that we knew.” She explains that she focused her work on working with couples because the couple inside the family really transformed. When marriage was a no-exit enterprise, then it didn’t really matter if the couple did that well or not. I mean, it mattered a great deal, but it didn’t matter for the survival of the family. People stayed together miserable if they had to. Once people could leave, the expectations and the demands from their intimate relationships completely changed. And I found that transition really fascinating.

Here are fascinating moments from Esther’s talk:

There’s Energy In the Room

I realized that there was an energy in the room with a couple. You could actually see the change happening in front of you if you helped people to connect or to open up or to be vulnerable with each other or to speak truth to each other or to apologize to each other.

We Think We Can Be Happier: But Really, We’re Just Walking Deeper & Getting More Lost in the Garden of Eden Inside Our Soul

Today, we don’t leave because we are unhappy necessarily, but we also leave because we think we could be happier. And that is how consumerism has entered modern marriage.

The Crisis of Desire is A Crisis of Imagination: We Need Each Other to Get Unlost in Eden

I stumbled upon sexuality. It was absolutely not planned. And I stumbled about it, actually, around the Clinton scandal because what interested me was how sexuality in every society, in every culture becomes the place where the most archaic, traditional, rooted aspects of that culture are lodged or, on the other end, where the most progressive, radical, transformative changes take place.”

So, we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide. Give me belonging. Give me identity. Give me continuity. But give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort. Give me edge. Give me novelty. Give me familiarity. Give me predictability. Give me surprise. And we think it’s a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that.

…the crisis of desire is often a crisis of the imagination.

When I say that we cannot have one person give us what once an entire village used to provide, what I’m saying is that there is a kind of individualization in romantic love that I think is problematic. Look. At this moment, I’m not just even meeting a partner. We are meeting a soul mate. A soul mate used to be God; you know. But at this moment, people are talking about ecstasy, transcendence, meaning, wholeness, you know, things that we used to look for in the realm of the divine that have now been transcended into romantic love. It was meant to be. It’s almost a divine intervention. It fell from the heavens in front of me.”

What I will say is that people need community, and they need other friends. They need other people to talk to. They need other people to share activities that their partner isn’t interested in. To ask one person to do all of that – to give me belonging, to give me meaning, to give me community, to give me transcendence, to give me – and then all the other stuff of everyday life – succession, children, family life, money, etc. – that is…

Massive Transformation 

Relationships are undergoing massive transformation on all levels. But especially couples have gone through an extreme makeover. There is no other relationship that has gone through so much change.

The following comment comes at the end of a segment where Esther and Manoush listen to part of a piece that aired on “Where Should We Begin?” dealing with infidelity… the most difficult type of conflict a couple can attempt to grapple with, especially because of the shame and failure our culture tends to attach to it. What Ester zeros in on is something I think all conflicts hold in common and that is coming to a better understanding of each person’s humanity and their individual journey that has brought them into the current conflict.

And interestingly, when you reach the end of the session and you hear his – you know, his challenges around his feelings about masculinity, about the fact that he could not have a genetic connection to his children, about the way that, you know, he became the way he is not out of nothing. He becomes humanized. You may not like him, but you begin to understand him.”

For anyone playing at being an armchair therapist or just genuinely trying to be a friend and advise someone in a difficult conflict, what Ester says next is very important to remember.

And that is the role of the therapist. The wife has to decide what she wants to do. And nobody lives with the consequences of her decisions but her. So, it’s very easy to tell people do this, do that. We are not in their seat. We help people gain clarity. We help people there to do the things that they are afraid to do if that’s what they say they want to do. But we also understand that this is a couple that has two decades together almost, that they have a rich life, that they actually often get along quite well and that…

The Wonderful World Work & How the Bottom Line Accelerated Our Disorientation that Dumped Us on the Sea of Unconsciousness (Now We’re Really Lost in Eden)

Another fraught and difficult realm to navigate conflict is the workplace. Ester says, “When people go to work, you interview them about their official resume – what schools did they go to, what experience of work have they had? And nobody’s asking you about your unofficial resume, and your unofficial resume is your relationship history, and that relationship history does not stop at the door when you go into the office; it travels with you, and it is going to influence how you work with your colleagues or with your father or with your co-founder, etc.” 

In a character from the Netflix miniseries OA, the young woman playing OA talks about the invisible self. It is the part of ourselves that we hide from others…sometimes hide even ourselves. But this invisible self is a reservoir holding all our potential selves. It holds our values, virtues, principles, ideals, and ethos–what the I Ching calls an individual’s superior qualities/Superior Self. It also holds our deceitful, empty, fruitless, idle, inconstant, ineffectual, nugatory, null, profitless, shadowy qualities/Inferior Self/Selves. It is hard to underscore just how important it is to illuminate more and become acquainted with all of who we are. It is the only way to truthfully, justly, compassionately navigate our fate, which is all those parts of ourselves still hidden in the darkness of the invisible self. We create Eden in relationship to each other. We get lost in Eden when we break our relationship to each other by letting the Inferior Self take control of our thoughts, decisions, and actions in the world we share together–this is how we create Hell.

The OA | We’re Angels | 1,061,667 views•Oct 25, 2017

Esther discusses how for years; it was very hard to get invited to companies to talk about relationships because it was considered a soft skill. It wasn’t part of the bottom line. And soft skills were often considered feminine skills, and feminine skills were often idealized in principle and disregarded in reality. She goes on to say this changed as transformations in workplaces changed and then suddenly, relationships become the new bottom line because no amount of free food or money…Compensation, benefits is going to compensate for a poisonous relationship. And then I began to think, you know, I would love to go and show how these relational dynamics that I have been exploring, they don’t just take place with your partner, your romantic partner; they actually are part of your relational life.”

A Bad Business Breakup

I ask everybody, how many of you and your businesses have bad breakups? And to what extent do those breakups and in what way do these breakups influence the way you start to work with the next person and even who you hire? Often, we tend to hire the person whose strengths match the weaknesses of the one before you. I think work is a very rich ecology to explore the overt and the covert, the seen and the unseen relationship dynamics that people bring. We expected more in our personal relationships, but it happens no less at work.”

On a Time of Working from Home Using Too Much Zoom

So, I would say I don’t think we are working from home, Manoush. I think we are working with home. I am with my family, my children for some of us, my partner for some of us, my parents, my siblings, my roommates. I am inhabiting all the roles at the same time. I am the parent, the teacher, the lover, the friend, the child of the colleague, the boss, the CEO, you name it. And it’s all happening often on the same chair in the kitchen.”

So, we have all these disembodied experiences. And people talk about exhaustion for a reason – because even the phone is much better, you know, where we actually are in synchronized time and not in a delay constantly. And we’re not trying to look at people with whom we actually never make eye contact. So, I think it’s a very different reality.”

On Losing A Job

And when I lose my job, I lose a fundamental part of my identity. I thought I mattered because a younger generation has been raised with a deep sense that they are important and that they matter. And I can – I am totally dispensable and nobody actually really feels responsible for making sure that I will have something to eat. I think what a pandemic does for work and for personal is it rearranges your priorities. It makes – you know, a pandemic is an accelerator. Every disaster is an accelerator of relationships. It’s an accelerator because it brings mortality to the forefront or loss – loss of job as well. And at that moment, you basically say, what am I waiting for? I’m going to go do what’s really important.

Relationships rest at the center of who we are, who we want to be, how we become what we want to be, unless we get trapped in a standing pattern of conflict that can get us lost inside ourselves and in relationship with each other. Ask yourself what relationships are you in and what is their quality, vitality, fluidity, and spirit? Are they growing? Are you growing? If not, why not?

Trapped in a Fairytale

ABC’s Regina the Evil Queen of Once Upon a Time

Conflicts can rear up into ugly, unexpected things that tear relationships apart or trap them in stagnant, unchanging patterns that don’t allow for true growth. The trap may be beautiful where every wish is granted—a fairytale. Or the trap can be frightening and disorientating—another sort of fairytale. Both are dangerous because both end up separating you more and more from the hard work any real relationship requires to stay strong, supple, and grow through time.

If the separation grows too wide, too deep, a rupture of reality occurs. We do this all the time when we fail to heal the cracks caused by conflict, but rather focus on the cracks in another person’s story, ideas, beliefs. When we dissect and vivisect each other through constant unresolved conflict. When we fail to take responsibility for our part of the conflict. When we fail to hold the other in compassion and love and trust both people want to know the truth of who they are, who they are in relationship to each other, who they are in relationship to the world and universe. This is how we break reality into a million, billion, trillion pieces that just keep shattering more and more. This is how we create alternative realities, fairytales, where we may have control, but we don’t have knowledge… we don’t know anymore who we are, what we have become, or that we are trapped in a fairytale where we are the author, the characters, the victims, and the victor.  

Once Upon A Time 1×21 “An Apple Red As Blood” – Regina Forces Snow White Ate The Poisoned Apple | 722 views•Nov 2, 2018

Whole groups of people can become locked inside fairytales, the boundaries of which are defined by one-sided arguments and lopsided beliefs. This is how human conflict becomes polarized. This is how radicalization forms and grows into a monstrous thing like a horrible fairytale.

Our modern lives are very complicated. Because of this, there are lots of conflicts… many, many of which go unresolved and fester. This is what I am calling getting trapped in a fairytale. The trap is inside our own mind and it causes us to lose sight of who we really are turning us into characters like the big bad wolf or Mary with her little lamb and making us ignorant of if we are eat the nourishing apple of the Tree of Knowledge or the poisonous apple brewed by the Evil Queen. The I Ching would say when this happens, one’s inferior selves have gained control are are trying to get rid of one’s superior self… the war is inside.

I really found Adam Grant’s talk with Shankar Vedantam on The Hidden Brain illuminating. I particularly found how Adam talked about two common types of human conflict:

Relational conflicts are inherently much more difficult to see clearly and navigate smoothly.  I think every adult human being on Earth can cite a relational conflict that never was resolved and remains an open wound between both individuals involved. This is a tragedy always when a conflict cannot be resolved for it leaves an open wounded inside each individual’s mind that becomes inscribed within the growing consciousness—potentially causing it to grow lopsidedly, which will recreate the unresolved conflict over and over again with new individuals in desperate attempts to heal and continue conscious growth. 

Task conflicts are very different actually essential for groups of people who have come together to solve a problem or to implement a collective effort. Task conflicts are how collectives grow the collective consciousness. However, if we are individuals who have not mastered relational conflicts, task conflicts are easily co-opted by an individual’s psyche and turned into a relational conflict, which serves to inhibit and sink the efforts of a group to grow and solve challenging problems.

Hidden Brain with Adam Grant – The Nice Guy – author of The Fool’s Journey

Image from Pinterest — Fool Images

Shankar Vedantam introduces Adam Grant by saying, “Grant is an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School. He’s the author of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. He’s interested in the question of obstinacy. Why do so many of us find it difficult to question our own beliefs and challenge our own views?”

Adam begins his talk by recounting a conflict where he refused to admit he was wrong

I think I was 12. My friend Khan was on the phone with me. It was a commercial during Seinfeld and we got into an argument. I don’t remember what it was about. And I just refused to give in, even though he had really good proof and eventually he hung up on me and I called him back and I said, did the power go out?”

On Competing Powers of Self

And as long as I can remember, I’ve been agreeable. And it’s weird because on the one hand, I hated admitting I was wrong, and I was extremely stubborn. (…) But on the other hand, I really liked Harmony and I wanted to get along with other people.

The Downside of Always Being Agreeable and Wanting Harmony

Yeah, I think like everything else in life, it has tradeoffs. So, on the one hand, agreeable people create a lot of harmony. They tend to get along with other people. They’re constantly encouraging. But if you look at the data on leadership effectiveness, one of the things you see is highly agreeable people tend to be worse at leading organizations and teams than people who are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. (…) They say yes to everything and they don’t challenge people enough.

Agreement Bias

“…agreeable people are really prone to what’s called agreement bias.” Adam tells how this can be bad: “Cleverly. Where you come to the table, somebody offers you a terrible deal, but you hate the idea of saying no. And so, you say yes to something that’s not in your best interests.”

The Problem of Always Going with Your Gut

I remember my mom telling me if you’re unsure of an answer on a test, go with your gut. Go with your first instinct. And yet, if you look at the research, if you do go with your gut versus your second guess your first instinct, which is better, and on average, the vast majority of students who reject their gut, they actually improve their scores on average.” 


“And so, there’s a fallacy that your first thoughts are your best thoughts. A lot of times, intuition is just a subconscious pattern recognition. And the patterns that you’re recognizing from the past may not be relevant to the problem you’re solving right now in the present.”

I want to jump in here because we have lost so much knowledge of our inner realities our language and shared understanding about it has become muddled too. The confusion between instincts and intuition is one of these things. Instincts are short cuts to reality that help the individual survive dangerous and challenging circumstances. They are indeed triggered by pattern recognition that are recognized as dangerous, life threatening, or life promoting circumstances. Intuition is the ability gained by becoming a conscious being. It allows a conscious person to glimpse into the darkness of their unconsciousness and know something that would otherwise not be apparent or knowable. Repeated glimpses into the unconsciousness might recognizes patterns, but it takes conscious effort to unpack it and truly understand it. So, I would reword Adam’s second paragraph as instinct trying to navigate a world in which it never was evolved to live within… no wonder it gets multiple choice questions wrong!

Test Your Gut

And so, you don’t want to trust your gut. You want to test your gut. And even when you tell people about this evidence, they are still reluctant to rethink their first answer…” like what happened with Blackberry “I think we can both remember a time when basically everyone you knew had a BlackBerry and they just dominated the market. And then BlackBerry fell apart because – Mike and his colleagues were unwilling to rethink the very things that had made BlackBerry great.” “And they just got locked into this set of assumptions that what people wanted out of a BlackBerry was a device for basically work e-mail, as opposed to essentially a computer in your pocket for home entertainment.”

Big Stakes Can Led to Big Mistake: The Importance of Rethinking What We Know

“Our reluctance to think again can have even bigger stakes in the 1980s, NASA downplayed a brewing problem in the spacecraft Challenger. Since the spacecraft had completed many missions, officials assumed it was safe. But in January 1986, the spacecraft exploded moments after liftoff, killing seven astronauts on board. […] Or take the U.S. war in Iraq, where President George W. Bush and his colleagues failed to rethink their views after their initial rosy expectations of the war.

The Soup Nazi & the Drivers of Obstinacy

Shankar  says, “Adam, I want to talk about some of the drivers of obstinacy in our lives. I know that you’re a fan of the TV show Seinfeld. And there’s a famous scene which features a restaurant owner who is called the Soup Nazi.

Adam laughs as he explains what drives the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, “He makes great soup, but he cannot tolerate the slightest criticism or deviation from the script. I want to play you a short clip where the character Elaine visits the Soup Nazi.”

The Soup Nazi | 1,914,009 views•Jul 22, 2017 | “NO soup for you!”

Task vs Relationship Conflicts

Shankar  recaps, “So the Soup Nazi illustrates something that you talk about at home, the difference between relationship, conflict and Task conflict.”

Adam replies, “Most of us, especially those of us who are agreeable, when we think about conflict, we are thinking about Relationship conflict. That’s the personal, emotional, of us, especially those of us who are agreeable, when we think about conflict, we are thinking about Relationship conflict. That’s the personal, emotional, I think you’re a terrible person. And my life would be better if I never had to interact with you.” 

[…]

There’s another kind of conflict, though, that an organizational psychologist named Eddie Jan and her colleagues have studied. Task conflict, and it’s the idea of debating about different opinions and perspectives. It’s potentially constructive because it’s actually about trying to get to the truth. It’s not personal. It’s not emotional. We’re not trying to beat up the other person. We’re not feeling like we’re being attacked.

How the Soup Nazi Inside Us All Turns Task Conflicts into Relationship Conflicts

“We’re trying to hash out or sought out different views through what might be a feisty conversation. But it’s intellectual. And I think one of the biggest problems that the Soup Nazi had is he could not have a task conflict without it becoming a relationship conflict.”

How the Soup Nazi Inside Us All Turns Task Conflicts into Relationship Conflicts

“We’re trying to hash out or sought out different views through what might be a feisty conversation. But it’s intellectual. And I think one of the biggest problems that the Soup Nazi had is he could not have a task conflict without it becoming a relationship conflict.”

The moment that you object to his line, that you don’t follow his rules, he takes it very personally and bans you from his soup oasis.”

Less Conflict is Better: A Critical Mistake

I think the mistake that a lot of people make is they assume that less conflict is better. That if you want to build a successful collaboration or a great team, then you want to minimize the amount of tension you have. But as some researchers have argued, based on a lot of evidence, the absence of conflict is not harmony, it’s apathy.

How We Create Collectives of Apathy: Fairytales That Don’t End Happily Ever After

If you’re in a group where people never disagree. The only way that could really happen is if people don’t care enough to speak their minds.[…] in order to get to wise decisions, creative solutions, we need to hear a variety of perspectives. We need diversity of thought. And task conflict is one of the ways that we get there by saying, you know what, I think we actually don’t agree on what the vision for our company should be or what our strategy should be or how to design this product.”

Adam’s Study on Groups 

I tracked team performance over a number of months, and I surveyed people in teams on how often they were having relationship conflict as well as task conflicts. In one group, even if they agreed on nothing else, they agreed on what kind of conflict they were having and how much of it.”

It turned out in the failed groups, they tended to have a lot more relationship conflicts than task conflicts, especially early on, they were so busy disliking each other that they didn’t really have substantive debates until about halfway through the life cycle of their project.”

And by then it was almost too late to change course, whereas in the high performing groups, they started out with very little relationship conflict and plenty of task conflict, saying, look, before we design a product, we really want to get all the ideas on the table about how we might do it or what it might be for. […] …once they sorted those out, they were able to really focus and align around what their common mission was.

Where and How Things Go Wrong in Groups: Enter the Poison Apple or the Dragon

Adam says most often in a group, “Someone raises an issue with something that the group is doing, and people behave like the soup Nazi. They react and take things personally.” When this shift happens in a group, then “Everything that gets raised by the other person is interpreted in the most negative light possible. And then I think the other problem is people sometimes just they don’t even hear the substance of the idea because they’re so invested in defending their ego or in proving the other person wrong.”

But Wait… There’s More: Sometimes Conflict Arising Due to Confusion Over Beliefs & Values

Shankar  says, “There’s a related idea to this distinction between task conflict and relationship conflict that you explore in your book. Adam, you say that one reason it’s hard to admit we are wrong is that we sometimes confuse our beliefs with our values.

Belief or Value & the Dragon Scale

Adam says, “When I think about a belief, I would say that’s something that you take as true. A value is something you think is important. And yeah, I think a lot of us make a mistake of taking our beliefs and opinions and making them our identity. And since I spent a lot of time studying the workplace, I really enjoy thinking about how dangerous the world would be if people in the professions that we rely on every day did that.

Conflicts That Clarify Rather Than Confuse

There are examples of leaders who basically model what it’s like to have task conflict without relationship conflict. I was thinking of something that President Obama said some years ago when he invited someone, he disagreed with to play a prominent role in his administration.

We’re not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.

To disagree without being disagreeable.”

On Correcting Others

Shankar recaps, “I think many of us forget this lesson at and we think that if someone else is wrong, our job is just to correct them. How we correct them is unimportant.”

Adam replies, “Yeah I think that’s such a common mistake in communication. We think it’s the message that matters. But so often whether somebody is willing to hear a message depends on who’s saying it, why it’s being said and how it’s being delivered.”

On Trust, Dignity & Respect

“I cannot tell you, Shankar, the number of times that I have rejected useful criticism because I didn’t trust the person who was giving it to me. Or they delivered it in a way that I found disrespectful or offensive.”

On Threats to the Ego: The Big Bad Wolf or Poison Apple Problem 

Not all of us listen to useful feedback even when it’s presented clearly and without rancor. That’s because we confuse challenges to our views with threats to our ego.”

Or Maybe It’s Just a Case of the Totalitarian Ego

“There’s a term that I love for this which comes out of psychology originally Tony Greenwald’s term. It’s the totalitarian ego. The idea is that all of us have an inner dictator policing our thoughts. The dictator’s job is to keep out threatening information, much like Kim Jong Un would control the press in North Korea.”

Inner Dictator to the Rescue!

“When your core beliefs are attacked, the inner dictator comes in and rescues you with mental armor and, you know, activates confirmation bias where you only see what you expected to see all along, triggers desirability bias, where you only see what you wanted to see all along.”

Corner Stones of the Totalitarian Ego Are Obstinacy and Stubbornness

“You can see the totalitarian ego at work in a study conducted some years ago by researchers in Australia. They asked volunteers to think of a time when they did something wrong and apologized for it, and to also think about a time when they did something wrong and did not apologize for it. Researcher Tyler Okimoto explains what they found.”

Adam: When you refuse to apologize it actually makes you feel more empowered. That power and control seems to translate into greater feelings of self-worth. [00:24:41]

Shanker: And in some ways, the sounds like the inner dictator when we when we apologize, in some ways we are disarming ourselves. And when we refuse to apologize, in some ways we are mounting a form of emotional self-defense. [00:24:50]

Adam: Yeah sadly, staying attached to wrong convictions makes us feel strong. And psychologists have also found for decades that the act of resisting influence only further fortifies our convictions. Because we can we basically get inoculated against future attacks. We have all of our defenses ready and we end up sealing our beliefs in an ever more impenetrable fortress. [00:25:04]

Edges of Convictions, Beliefs, and Conflict: Maybe This Really Isn’t Your Fight… Your Just A Scale in the Armor of Your Group Who’s in Conflict with Another Group

“So, I have a brilliant colleague, Phil Tetlock, who wrote a paper about how almost every decision you’ve ever made, almost every opinion you’ve ever formed, is influenced by your relationship to the people around you and by the groups that your part of and the identities that you hold about who you are in the social world.”

Preacher, Prosecutor or Politician – Do You Know What Your Conflict Mode Is?

“What Phil observed is we often spend time thinking like preachers, prosecutors and politicians.”

The Preacher

“Preaching is basically defending a set of sacred beliefs and saying, look, I found the truth. My job is to proselytize.”

The Prosecutor

“Prosecuting is the reverse. This stance in a conflict is to prove you wrong and win my case with the best argument.”

Getting Stuck

“Any time an individual or group has strong beliefs. It’s pretty unlikely they are going to rethink any opinions or decisions if they slip into preacher or prosecutor mode, because we already know.”

The Politian

“We’re a little more flexible when we shift into politician mode. […] when you’re thinking like a politician, what you’re trying to do is get the approval of an audience that you care about.

“And so, you might be campaigning and lobbying. And sometimes that means adjusting and flexing at least what you say you believe in order to fit in and win them over. The problem is that we’re doing it because we want to prove our allegiance to a tribe, not because we’re trying to get closer to the truth.”

Strategies that Help People Reconsider Cherished Opinions

Shanker asks Adam to tell the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who invented the first successful airplane. Adam describes:

“Of all the moments in history that I would love to witness, I think watching the Wright brothers argue would be pretty high on my list. So, if you look at the history of what the Wright brothers created together, it seemed like they were constantly in sync. They created their own printing press together. They ran their own bicycle shop. They made their own bikes together. They launched a newspaper together. And of course, we all know they invented the first at least successful airplane together. And I always assumed that they were just lucky to have such harmony.”

“And if you read any of the biographies that have been written about them, if you read their own letters and personal communications, if you read the stories and the anecdotes from people who knew them well, it was very clear that arguing was their default mode and it was almost the family business. What I think is fascinating about the Wright brothers is they mastered the ability to have productive task conflicts without it spilling into relationship conflict.”

It was typical for them when they were trying to invent their airplane to argue for weeks about questions like how do you design a propeller? 

They would sometimes even shoot for hours back and forth.

At one point, their sister threatened to leave the house because she just couldn’t take it anymore.”

The Power of Scrapping

But they seem to get a kick out of it. They called it scrapping and they said, look, the whole point of an argument is it helps both people see more clearly if you do it well.

They never saw an argument as personal that their mechanic used a phrase that I think about almost every day. He said, I don’t think they really got mad, but they sure got awfully hot. […] “That to me, captures the passionthe energythe feistiness that goes into, you know, duking out a set of ideas that’s really important to you, but not leaving that interaction angry.”

Even Brilliant Visionaries Need a Team to Scrap With

“You tell the story of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, obviously a brilliant visionary, but he was also famously stubborn.

The Problem with Highly Agreeable People

When you think about your network, we all have a support network that’s usually the highly agreeable people who we know are going to have our back and, you know, really lift us up or pick us up when we’re down. I think what we overlook is that we also need a challenge network, which is a group of people that we trust to question us to point out the holes in our thinking, the flaws in our logic, the ways that our decisions might be leading us astray from our goals.

Creating a Great Challenge Network

“It’s not clear to me that Steve Jobs did this intentionally, but he was very lucky to be surrounded with a group of people who played that role of a challenge at work for him. […] He was dead set against making a phone. He complained for years about how smartphones were for the pocket protector crowd. And Apple makes cool products. We don’t want to touch that. He could rant for hours at a time about how, you know, everybody was beholden to the cell phone carriers and they didn’t know how to make an elegant product. And sometimes he would even throw his own phone against the wall and shatter it because he was so frustrated with how bad the technology was.”

Cultivating a Fertile Idea Field & Planting Idea Seeds that Grow

“Luckily, Jobs surrounded himself with brilliant engineers and designers who knew how to get him to think again. You have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. A lot of the things they did as part of his Challenge Network are things that we’ve seen people do every day. They would plant seeds.

They would say, ‘Hey, I hear Microsoft is talking about making a phone. How ugly do you think that’s going to be? And if we ever made one of those, what would that look like?’

They would ask questions like, you know, hey, we did the iPod. We’ve already put 20000 songs in your pocket.

What if we put everything in your pocket? And what they were doing was they were activating his curiosity.

Taming the Inner Prosecutor: The Sneaky Little Gremlin in Any Good Fairytale

“If you told him he was wrong, he would immediately go into prosecutor mode and tear your argument apart.”

Taming the Inner Preacher: Every Terrible Fairytale Needs a Sinister Minister

“If you told him about your idea, he would preach about his idea” 

Inspiring the Curious Seeker

“But if you could ask a question that intrigued and led him to realize that he didn’t know some things, he might then go out and try to discover them or give you the green light to go and discover them. And those kinds of conversations finally got him to reverse course and make a phone.”

Madhvi Parekh: A Curious Seeker

Beware the Logic Bullies: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall — Enter Evil Spock

Adam tells how he got the nickname logic bully: “I had a former student named Jamie [who came to me] for some career advice. It was clear in the first minute or so of our conversation that she was already locked into the plan she had made. I was worried she might be making a decision that she would regret. So, I told her all the reasons why I think [she was] making a potentially big mistake. She listened patiently for two or three minutes, then said, ‘You’re a logical.’ She [told me] that I overwhelmed her with rational arguments and data, and she didn’t agree [with], but she didn’t feel like she could fight back.”

The Real Magic Happens Inside

“The curiosity we show in trying to understand more about [our] own views and motivation to change [this type of] thinking. That’s where real thought happens.

Habits of Highly Effective Thinkers

“There’s a classic study by Neil R. and colleagues [that examines] experts versus average negotiators where they compare what their habits are.

One is [average negotiators] spend a lot more time both in their planning and in their actual negotiations, thinking about common ground and talking about common ground, saying we want to build areas of consensus before we find out where we’re opposed.

They asked a lot more questions (e.g., OK here are two or three possible proposals. What are your reactions to this? What do you like? What do you dislike and what are your thoughts? And that allow them to both learn more and again, signal more flexibility as well.)

Getting to the Great Ideas – Is It A War or A Dance?

Shanker summarizes: “We often think of trying to change someone’s opinion with the metaphor of, you know, a tug of war, that the harder I pull, the more I can get you off balance, the more likely I am to win. And the model that you’re suggesting here is a very different model, you know, model where you’re asking a lot of questions, where you’re seeking common ground, where you’re willing to make concessions, where you’re open to figuring out how you yourself might be wrong.

Adam adds: “There are some psychologists who have said we should think about disagreements, less wars and more as a dance. And I can’t dance at all. […] But what I like about the dance metaphor is, you know, that in a dance your job is to get in sync with your partner.”

You Can’t Lead All the Time to Save the Planet!

That means if you’ve both shown up to the dance with an idea about what steps you’re going to take; you can’t lead all the time and expect your partner to do all of the adjusting.

You actually have to be willing to step back and let your partner lead from time to time. And that’s what expert negotiators seem to do, its what great debaters seem to do, and I think it’s what all of us could do more when we have polarized conversations.”


 

I’ve taken you 40 minutes into this very beautiful and important talk, but there is more. You can read or listen for yourself if you have found any of this helpful. Adam and Shanker discuss how to frame multiple versions of an idea, setting up effective challenge networks, creating psychological safety to get to more and better creative ideas (idea places where people aren’t punished or penalized for offering opposite ideas), and creating group cultures based on trust and respect (critical part of psychological safety). Psychological safety does not mean sloppy:

[00:44:38] — Amy Edmondson is quick to point out that psychological safety is not about being nice or having low standards. We actually need psychological safety with accountability. We can have high expectations for people, but also give them the freedom and permission to rethink some of even what we might have called best practices.

They discuss creating environment where people are rewarded for being nuanced rather than punished. They talk about how to avoid becoming a group that is solution averse like what is happening with Climate Change.

[00:45:55] — “So, let’s say with climate change, for example, if you say, well, we need a whole bunch of companies to reduce their emissions and you’re talking to somebody who’s a staunch free market conservative, they’re not necessarily going to like that idea. And so, their motivation then is to deny the existence of the climate problem in the first place. And I think we should be really cautious about jumping to solutions. We would be better off saying, hey, I’m aware that there are some problems when it comes to climate change.”

[00:46:30] — “We shouldn’t spend all this time talking about why my solution is right or why your view that climate change isn’t an issue is wrong. Instead, I should say, well, given your views about what we should do on climate policy, how would your proposed solutions work and how would you implement them? And when you ask those questions, something really intriguing happens.

They talk about the invisible balance between idea flexibility and inflexibility (e.g., [00:48:15]

Winston Churchill facing down, you know, Adolf Hitler, even think of, you know, people like Mahatma Gandhi, you know, very singular, focused in terms of what they were doing, very unwilling to reconsider sort of the rightness of their views.)

They talk about explanatory depth, which is the idea that we think we understand complex systems much better than we actually do. They talk about the importance and benefits of being a little bit more intellectually humble, curious, nuanced, more doubting, and less dogmatic. These are the behaviors and habits that help people moderate their own views, become more patient with others, and become less extreme. In a time of extreme polarization on almost every conflict of existential crisis to human existence, isn’t learning how to become less extreme inside yourself a beautiful idea?!!!

Are you ready to rethink your cherished ideals and ideas today?

Click here to see full transcript of Hidden Brain with Adam Grant provided by the Happy Scribe

Click here to hear the full talk with Adam Grant on Hidden Brain, go to The Easiest Person to Fool

Other Resources Related to Conflict

Throughline: Billie Holiday and Shirley Chisholm

Image from Throughline — Billie Holliday

This tells about two women you stood in conflict against oppressive, lopsided, racists beliefs, behaviors, and practices. Because of their sacrifice and courage, our shared reality has been changed.

Description: When Billie Holiday was harassed by U.S. government agents and told to stop singing ‘Strange Fruit,’ she refused. When Shirley Chisholm ran for president and was ridiculed and told she shouldn’t aim that high politically, she refused. On this episode of Throughline, two pioneering Black women, Billie Holiday and Shirley Chisholm, who set their own sights and never backed down from a fight.


Searching for meaning in the North Dakota oil boom

Image from MarketPlace | An oil drilling rig in North Dakota in 2013. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

This piece talks about personal transformation through work and struggle.


Women Take The Lead In Fighting ISIS In ‘Daughters Of Kobani’

Image from  All Things Considered

Sometimes conflict is essential to change the world and bend it back into balance.

So much of the news from Syria consists of sad stories of chaos, of brutality, of war. But a new book — while a story about Syria and about war — brings us a refreshing story of hope, of female courage, and of heroes.


Quantum Mechanics, Free Will and the Game of Life

Image from Scientific American | Credit: Getty Images

Excerpt: “Before I get to the serious stuff, a quick story about John Conway, a.k.a. the “mathematical magician.” I met him in 1993 in Princeton while working on “The Death of Proof.” When I poked my head into his office, Conway was sitting with his back to me staring at a computer. Hair tumbled down his back, his sagging pants exposed his ass-cleft. His office overflowed with books, journals, food wrappers and paper polyhedrons, many dangling from the ceiling. When I tentatively announced myself, he yelled without turning, What’s your birthday! Uh, June 23, I said. Year! Conway shouted. Year! 1953, I replied. After a split second he blurted out, Tuesday! He tapped his keyboard, stared at the screen and exulted, Yes! Finally facing me, Conway explained that he belongs to a group of people who calculate the day of the week of any date, past or present, as quickly as possible. He, Conway informed me with a manic grin, is one of the world’s fastest day-of-the-week calculators.”


There is so much we don’t know. An open, fluid, flexible mind able to navigate complexity and conflict with curiosity, passion, and compassion is beautiful. They world needs more beauty now. Are you ready?

Just Breathe

“Breath Is Too Precious for Hate” — Rev. William Barber

In a time of Great Grief, one must find a thread of Great Belief to hang onto. Not just any thread, but one grown and spun from the center of your heart… the core of who you are as a living being traveling through space and time with other living beings all struggling to survive the setbacks and challenges inherent in being a space-time being. It must be a thread spun with compassion, understanding, truth (at least a willingness to sink into and see truth as it is revealed through time), kindness, patience, and love. This is an elusive thread to find because so many of our systems of being are based and reward the opposites of all these precious qualities of being human. But to survive Great Grief, this is the only way that will lead you and everyone you love to a better place in space and time.

But how do you do this? How does one find this rare and precious thread inside oneself to hang onto as the waves of lost, injustice, disease, death, isolation, exploitation, cruelty, ill treatment, and so many other things that happen to us as we try to survive through time…things that wash away at our very soul?

Just breathe… breath is powerful.

In a Scientific American article that I link to below (Vision and Breathing May Be the Secrets to Surviving 2020), the Stanford neurobiologist Andrew Huberman discusses two things all of us can do to control our response to distress, trauma, pain, and suffering, even during a high-stress time such as this past year has been with an extremely divisive election, racial disparities spotlighted in brutal, traumatic ways in the killing of George Floyd (and so many more individuals unjustly) and unequal access to wealth and healthcare causing black and brown people to suffer the highest death tolls from the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world.

Breathe has never been more forefront and center than it has been this past year with the tragic events leading to chants across the country, indeed the world, of “I can’t breathe” combined with COVID-19 patients struggling to breathe as the novel coronavirus robs them of their ability to do so.

In the article mentioned, Andrew Huberman says, “Breathing represents a bridge between the conscious and unconscious control of the body.” Since I’ve been writing about consciousness and unconsciousness in my story Sapience, drawing much from Carl Jung’s work, I wondered what is the equivalent to breath for the psyche. Then, I remembered this song Breathe by Télépopmusik.

Breathe – Télépopmusik – Album: Genetic world

I brought you something close to me
Left for something you see though you’re here
You haunt my dreams
There’s nothing to do but believe
Just believe

Just breathe

Another day, just believe
Another day, just breathe
Another day, just believe
Another day, just breathe

(…) From LyricFind

Breath has long been a symbol for spirit–that invisible force powering all living beings. As human beings, we are aware of this spirit that is powering us and flowing throughout our life on Earth. Jung talks of the importance of this thing that is aware, he calls it Self or psyche. He explains that this small part of self that is aware must swim between that which is conscious inside oneself and that which is unconscious inside oneself to generate the energy necessary to maintain consciousness. This is what gives us the ability as human beings to choose actions different than what our instincts would otherwise dictate. It requires us to ascend up and down within the parts of ourselves that we know about because they exist within our sphere of consciousness and the parts of ourself that we do not know about because they exist within the sphere of our unconsciousness (the bigger sphere). Belief might be like a psychic vessel (a ship, a submarine, or maybe a fish) that we create inside ourselves (in our mind space) in order to make our epic journey through space and time.

However, belief is not omniscient (all-knowing, all-wise, all-seeing) in and of itself. Belief is a part of the immortal body that exists somewhere in the realm of mind, but it is also very mortal and because of that imperfect. For belief to exist through time, just as the body exists through time, beliefs must be refreshed and refined with new knowledge (hopefully even wisdom) all the time, just like the lungs must be refreshed all the time with new air, fresh air so the corporeal body may live.

So how does one hold on during a time of Great Grief, Great Sadness, Great Stress, and Great Lost--like now? It is breath. It is belief. But one must take care to keep the immortal and mortal air breathed clean and refreshing for beliefs can lead individuals into very dark places as well as into illuminated places. It is up to you to choose which place you journey through space and time.

Following is a collection of stories percolating through me since I heard them that have inspired these thoughts. Or perhaps, I should say immortal breaths…and so, another day, just believe, another day, just breathe…

* * *

Michel Martin’s NPR

Civil Rights Activist Weighs In On Biden’s Early Days In Office — NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with civil rights activist Rev. William Barber II about his inaugural homily and what he makes of the first few days of the Biden administration. 

Excerpt from NPR transcript of this interview:

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: And finally today, it’s been less than two weeks since the Biden administration took office, and it has already been a whirlwind. The president has signed more than two dozen executive orders addressing everything from immigration to climate change, as well as one of the issues he says propelled him to run for the presidency for this third time, racial justice.

So we thought this would be a good time to check in with civil rights activist, the Reverend William Barber II. He was invited to offer the homily at the inaugural prayer service. The text came from the prophet Isaiah.

SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING of the Rev. WILLIAM BARBER II:

And so the prophet gives the nation God’s clear guidance out of the jam it is in. Choose first to repent of the policy sin, and then repair the breach. The breach, according to the imagery of Isaiah, is when there is a gap in the nation between what is and how God wants things to be.”

MARTIN: It was both an affirming message but also a call to action, so we wanted to hear Reverend Barber’s take on what that should look like. To remind, he is the president of an organization called Repairers of the Breach, which is based in Goldsboro, N.C. He’s a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant, and the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. And he is with us once again.

Reverend Barber, welcome back to the program. Thanks for joining us.

BARBER: Thank you so much for having me on today.

MARTIN: What gave you the inspiration for the sermon?

BARBER: Well, I was asked to deliver it, and that was quite a humbling request. And then they asked me, did I know much about Isaiah 58? And, of course, that is one of the major passages of scripture recognized by Jews, Muslims and Christians especially. It is a scripture specifically speaking to the nation about how to repair itself after it has been through lying leadership, extreme leadership, mean-spirited leadership, oppressive leadership. And it really gives a step-by-step what has to be done.

MARTIN: Well, to — you know, to that point, I mean, the president in – President Biden in running for office and certainly at his inaugural message has been stressing a message of unity. And during your homily, you spoke of unity. I mean, you said the breach would be knowing the only way to ensure domestic tranquility is to establish justice, but pretending we can address the nation’s wounds with simplistic calls for unity. Can you expand on what you’re saying here?

BARBER: Well, surely. You know, one of the things I think more than just being a civil rights activist, I’m trying my best with others to be, you know, a moral leader, one who looks at things through the lens of moral analysis, moral articulation and moral activism. And you can’t have a simplistic view that all we need is “Kumbaya.” All we need to do is slap back — is pat each other on the back. No, no, no, no. There are real forces — and we have seen them — forces that we saw that would rather put a person on the Supreme Court than protect people from dying in caskets from COVID, forces that would rather give trillions of dollars — trillions — to corporations during COVID while billionaires make almost a trillion dollars and then fight to just give a few trillion to poor and low-wealth people and those who are hurting. These are real battles. And some people are not going to unite with justice. But if enough of us can unite with justice and love, we can move this country forward.

MARTIN: But I am interested in how you feel that happens when some have made it abundantly clear that they do not agree with this agenda. I mean, for example, I mean, your first, as I – you announced on Twitter that beginning tomorrow, the Poor People’s Campaign will be holding special Moral Mondays events. Your first event will center on increasing the minimum wage. Your group is calling for some very ambitious things like universal health care, limiting defense spending. I mean, the fact is that a significant number of people in this country don’t agree with that. So how does he reconcile both the desire that some people clearly have for a more sort of temperate, more moderate, more constructive tone and yet people like yourself who say, no, there are ambitious things that need to happen? How does he resolve that?

BARBER: Now, yes, 70 million people voted for Trump, but over 80 million people voted for Biden and Harris. They knew they were going to pass – they were going to fight for living wages, addressing systemic racism and to address health care. Biden won 55% of all poor and low-wealth people voting under – that made under $50,000 a year. In Georgia and other places, poor and low-wealth people voted for Biden and Harris at a rate 14% higher.

We’re talking about, how do we heal the soul of the South Side? And it’s only by healing the sickness in the body. And so what we’re talking about is a must – is a must. These things must happen, and when you have the power, even if you only have one vote – Republicans showed us something. They did it for the wrong reason, but they didn’t care if they had just one vote. They did what was wrong. So people who have one vote now must do what is right.

MARTIN: I can’t tell from listening to you whether you feel encouraged or you still feel frustrated.

BARBER: So I’m encouraged because the movement is encouraged. I’m encouraged because more people turned out to vote in the midst of COVID than ever turned out in the history of this country. I’m encouraged because 6 million more poor and low-wealth people turned out in this election than they did in 2016. I’m encouraged because this country has shown us that if you run on a progressive agenda, if you talk about health care, living wages and dealing with racism, you can win in California. You can win in GeorgiaYou can win in Pennsylvania. You can win all over this country if you give people a vision of progress for which they can vote.

I am discouraged on one thing, and it’s — but it’s going to come — that we still don’t hear enough about poverty. We hear Democrats talking about the middle class and workers. But if 43% of this country was poor and low-wealth before COVID, and 8 million more have been thrust into poverty since May of last year, and if only 39% of this country can afford a thousand-dollar emergency, we must use the word poverty. We must talk about poor and low-wage people. We must say their name and say their condition. And we must say we’re not going to lift from the middle up. We’re not going to trickle down. We’re going to lift from the bottom up.

MARTIN: So before we let you go, I want to acknowledge that, as you have acknowledged, that many people are still struggling because of the pandemic, because of the downturn. Obviously, some people – many people were struggling before that, but a lot of people are suffering right now. And this is something that you brought up in your homily. And I just wondered if you had some words of encouragement for people who are struggling.

BARBER: You know, as a pastor, I will tell you, in this season, sometimes I have not had words. I’ll just be honest. All we’ve had is presence, even if it was distant presence. All we’ve had is love. All we’ve had is sometimes just getting on a video and crying together when people couldn’t go visit their loved one. Sometimes that’s all we’ve had.

You know, one of the things some of us have done is ask the question real seriously, why are we still alive? I mean, in this moment when any of us could be gone in seven days, seven minutes – you know, we could contract COVID. We could be breathing fine one minute, and it could all shut down – why is it that we’re still alive? Or more importantly, what is it that we’re going to do with the breath we have?

And some of us have decided in the midst of the tears, in the midst of the hurt, in the midst of the pain, we decided that breath is too important to waste. We don’t have any breath to waste on being mean and hateful and unjust and hurting people. The only real use of our breath is to try to breathe some more love and truth and grace and justice into this world and in this society.

And so whether we live seven minutes, seven days, seven months, seven years or 70 years, that’s what we’re committing ourselves to do with every breath we take from now on because this moment has been a moment where we all have to face the potential of our own mortality in a very real way. We can end any moment, be alone on a breathing machine with nobody able to come and see us. And many people have died like that. And in their name and in their memory, even with our pain, we must use every breath we have to turn things around, to push our political system to do right from the bottom up, with every breath we have left until we have no more breath in us.

MARTIN: That was the Reverend William Barber II. He’s president of Repairers of the Breach. He’s co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. Reverend Barber, thank you so much for joining us once again.

BARBER: Thank you so much. And blessings to you and your staff.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

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* * *

After hearing the Rev. William Barber speaking with Anderson Cooper earlier in the year of 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and then again in the aftermath of the brutal murder of George Floyd, I was so inspired by his deep wisdom, knowledge, and words that I created a playlist: Repairers of the Breach. We are all responsible for the existence of this breach, which grows deeper and wider with every act of ignorance, malice, and hate that we conduct into the world through our thoughts, words, and actions.

But we are all also healers of this breach, and we can repair this breach when we act with knowledge that we have distilled from our experiences in the world and that we have gained by taking the time to educate ourselves about things, about great mysteries and unknowns in this complex and beautiful world, and when we pay attention to great masters/teachers who have lived throughout time who can help us remove the veils of illusions and delusions–sadly created by others who have chosen to trick and deceive people for their own self-betterment.

We can repair this great divide, the breach we have all forged inside ourself and between each other when we conduct ourself with love and compassion, when we take time to pay attention to other people, especially to people who are suffering, who are in need, who have been ignored and left behind, who have not received the blessings meant for all living being on Earth because these blessings have been diverted and hoarded by a few, especially in these modern times.

Each of us is a healer and repairer of this terrible breach that has broken so many families and friendships recently, but we must constantly refresh our beliefs.

* * *

This American Life

Beware the Jabberwock — Stories from the upside-down world where conspiracy theorists dwell

Image from This American Life — Matt Chase

I had heard Act 1 of This American Life before (Down the Rabbit Hole, which is the story of 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).

This is a powerful, heart-breaking, and terribly important story to hear. So, if you have not heard it, you should start with Act 1.

Act 2 is new to me, and it blew me away. Reporter Jon Ronson travels to Texas to uncover the origin story of Alex Jones, infamous founder of InfoWars. Having just finished watching HBO’s Watchmen, I was into origin stories. This is one that needs to be heard because it encapsulates an Archetype of our time. One that is dominating the minds of millions and millions of people these days. One defined by Conspiracy ObsessionSatan FixationBully Compulsion tendencies. It is so prevalent in America society today, percolating even more fiercely by the isolation imposed on every human being in the world due to COVID-19. Alex Jones is a man who had great sway and influence on our former President, Trump, who has a very similar mental world bound by the same Conspiracy ObsessionSatan FixationBullying Compulsions as Jones—something we all saw fall off the page of Facebook and come to life in the storming of the Capitol of the United States of American on Jan. 6, 2021.

I can just feel how one’s breath must tighten and grow shallower and shallower as one depends deeper and deeper into such rabbit-holes of deception and obsession that leads to hate, grief, and pain all for the good of someone like Alex Jones or Donald Trump, not for the good of the ones going into the holes.

* * *

The Moth — An Hour of Incredible Stories

Crashing the Coronation by Bokara Legendre“And she turned to me and she said, ‘Did you know the queen’s wig was eaten by a yak this morning?'”  

Photo by Sarah Stacke as featured on The Moth

Which direction in life will you choose to go? The journey running away from grief and pain by going to fancy parties and coronations in fancy golden high heels? Or will you choose to climb the highest mountain to see the llama or the Lama? 😉

* * *

The TedRadio Hour

Breathe — “Breathing is essential to life. And lately, the safety of the air we inhale, or the need to pause and take a deep breath, is on our minds a lot. This hour, TED speakers explore the power of breath.


This episode is all about breath. I did not think too much about it after I heard it, but then I heard the words of Rev. William Barber and I saw the importance of these stories in a new light. Because of this, I am highlighting them here and providing links to them so you can listen to them as you have time and interest to do so if you decide to explore the links between breathing, believing, and life. [Note that the images accompanying each story do not necessarily match the TedRadio Hour images but rather link to similar ideas/stories but different sources.]

Image from TedRadio Hour Benjavisa Ruangvaree Art/Shutterstoc

First Story: Tanya Streeter: How Can Breath Help Us Understand Our Limits And Our Potential? 

Image from Everything You Need to Start Free Diving — BY MEG LAPPE, MAY 18, 2019

Description: In 2002, free diver Tanya Streeter completed a record-breaking dive of 525 feet—in one breath. She reflects on the obstacles she faced, and the experience of pushing her body and lungs to the limit. This is a riveting story!

About: Tanya Streeter is a world champion freediver who was inducted into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame in March 2000. For more than two months, she held the world record — for both men and women — diving to 525 feet in the “no limits” category, which is still the women’s world record for No Limits Apnea.

She has been featured in the documentaries, Freediver, and A Plastic Ocean. She also hosted a show on BBC Two called Shark Therapy, in which she attempted to overcome her fear of sharks.

Streeter received degrees in Public Administration and French from the University of Brighton.


Second Story: Andy Puddicombe: What Is The Connection Between Mind, Body, And Breath?

Image from Manhattan Mental Health Counseling: TOP 5 SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS ON MEDITATION/MINDFULNESS

Description: Mindfulness expert and Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe guides listeners through a meditative reflection on appreciating breath.

About: Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and the co-founder of Headspace, a project to make meditation more accessible to more people in their everyday lives.

Puddicombe also writes for The Huffington Post and The Guardian on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living.

He attended Wellsway Comprehensive School in Keynsham, and studied Sports Science at De Montfort University. He also has a Foundation Degree in Circus Arts.


Third Story: Beth Gardiner: What Are The Consequences Of Breathing Dirty Air?

Image from Smart Cities World — Who cares about dirty air?

Description: Journalist Beth Gardiner and activist Yvette Arellano explain the long-term health effects of air pollution. Yvette lives in a Houston neighborhood near the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S.

About: Beth Gardiner is an American journalist based in London. For ten years, she reported for the Associated Press in New York and London.

Now, her reporting primarily focuses on the environment. She has discussed her work on NPR’s All Things Considered, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, and the BBC’s World at One.

Gardiner is the author of Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution, an exploration into the long-term health effects of air pollution. Gardiner received grants to support her work on Choked from both the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Society of Environmental Journalists.


Fourth Story: Emma Schachner: How Did Dinosaurs’ Lungs Help Them Dominate The Earth For So Long?

Image from TedTalks

Description: Dinosaurs ruled Earth for 180 million years, but to dominate they had to outcompete a slew of other animals. Paleontologist Emma Schachner thinks their lungs could have been the competitive advantage.

About: Emma Schachner is an anatomy professor at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. She also specializes in the 3D digital modeling of anatomy from CT and MR images, as well as scientific illustration, which merges anatomy, art, and scientific communication.

Schachner’s research uses an interdisciplinary approach to study the soft tissue and skeletal anatomy of a broad range of animals including alligators, chameleons, parrots and ostriches. She uses these data to reconstruct the biology of extinct reptiles, particularly dinosaurs and the fossil ancestors of crocodilians.

She received her master’s degree in paleontology at the University of Bristol and her PhD in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.


Fifth Story: Andy Puddicombe: How Can Breathing Help Us In An Ever-Changing World?

Image from Scientific American | Vision and Breathing May Be the Secrets to Surviving 2020 | Credit: Bonnie Tarpey Getty Images

Description: Mindfulness expert and Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe guides listeners through a meditative reflection on breath and impermanence.

About: Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and the co-founder of Headspace, a project to make meditation more accessible to more people in their everyday lives.

Puddicombe also writes for The Huffington Post and The Guardian on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living.

He attended Wellsway Comprehensive School in Keynsham, and studied Sports Science at De Montfort University. He also has a Foundation Degree in Circus Arts.


Sixth Story: Caro Verbeek: What Can The Scents Of The Past Tell Us About Our History?

Image from article: Life Without a Sense of Smell | Losing your sense of smell takes away more than scents and flavors — it can fundamentally change the way you relate to other people. By Emma Young | August 4, 2015 1:00 AM | Discovery Magazine [I chose this image/article because COVID-19 is robbing the sense of smell from many people, sometimes for months… and we don’t know how long yet this could last]

Each day, we breathe about 22,000 times–and all that time we smell. Scent historian Caro Verbeek recreates scents of the past. She says, just like music and art, smell is a part of our heritage.

About: Caro Verbeek is an embedded researcher of olfactory heritage at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum and International Flavours & Fragrances. She creates olfactory tours and interventions for museums.

Verbeek teaches the course ‘The Other Senses’ at the Royal Academy of Arts The Hague and is the curator in chief of the olfactory culture program ‘Odorama’ at Mediamatic Amsterdam. She is also an advisor for immaterial heritage projects at Mondriaan Fonds.

She received her M.A. in curatorial studies at VU Amsterdam University and her M.A. in art history at the University of Amsterdam.


Seventh Story: Andy Puddicombe: How Can Breathing Help Improve Our Relationships?

Image from Tiny Buddha | Let Go of Control: How to Learn the Art of Surrender By Dr. Amy Johnson | “You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ~Steve Maraboli

Mindfulness expert and Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe guides listeners through a meditative reflection on how breath can bring us closer together.

About: Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and the co-founder of Headspace, a project to make meditation more accessible to more people in their everyday lives.

Puddicombe also writes for The Huffington Post and The Guardian on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living.

He attended Wellsway Comprehensive School in Keynsham, and studied Sports Science at De Montfort University. He also has a Foundation Degree in Circus Arts.

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NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro Interview with Sophie Fustec

Sophie Fustec’s New Albuum Is A Journey Through Her Grief

NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks with Sophie Fustec, known artistically as La Chica, about her new album La Loba, in which she comes to terms with her brother’s recent death who died after jumping into a hot spring to save his dog. I was deeply touched by this interview and Sophie’s beautiful voice.

LA CHICA – LA LOBA | Dec 2, 2020

LA CHICA – OASIS | Dec 5, 2015

LA CHICA – Agua | Dec 3, 2020

LA CHICA – Sol | Dec. 3, 2020

ALTERLATINE | La Chica | Jun 27, 2019

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Sophie Xeon

Then there is the tragic death of another beautiful Sophie–Sophie Xeon who was popularly known as just Sophie. She died at 34 after a terrible accident where she fell from a roof that she climbed to get a picture of a full moon. Ludovica Ludinatrice, Sophie’s representative, said: “True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell. She will always be here with us. The family thank everyone for their love and support and request privacy at this devastating time.”

SOPHIE — It’s Okay To Cry (Official Video) | Oct 19, 2017

Concluding Thoughts

Each breath we take is precious for every breath links us to every individual we ever come into contact with each and every day. Breathing\believing is how we weave the web of life (our shared reality). It is a timeless process done in our corporal bodies through breath and in our immortal bodies through belief. We all need to breath…to believe to survive and thrive.

What will you do with your breath today?

It is so precious…you are so precious…and life is so fragile and short.