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.

* * *

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

* * *

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.

In Response To Π & Jan 6, 2021

“Old Heraclitus, who was indeed a very great sage, discovered the most marvellous of all psychological laws: the regulative function of opposites. He called it enantiodromia, a running contrariwise, by which he meant that sooner or later everything runs into its opposite.” – Carl Jung

What follows is an accounting of the very common channels psychological energies flow when a conflict gets triggered and grows. These are the very same channels psychological energies flow when a collective conflict is triggered or incited. If you are interested only in my response to Jan 6, 2021, then go to the end of this blog. If you are interested in the psychological maneuvers and levelers of conflict, then keep reading for individual and collective are the same.

In short, when individuals or collectives end up in separate corners during a conflict, refusing to see the other’s reality, the process of enantiodromia is triggered and fate will run its course. Our psychological is very ancient. As such, when speakers at Trump’s 2nd Impeachment Hearing spoke today (1/13/21) that history will be the judge, they are referring to the ancient knowledge only opposites maintained in dynamic balance will stand the tides of time. Lies are sweet and eagerly consumed by the mind, but they are quickly washed away in the onslaught of reality, leaving nothing behind. Truth stands because truth holds opposites in dynamic balance. Truth and reality are one and the same.


I admit, I wondered if Π had read Facebook Folly and if he understood a little bit more why I was angered by his actions. No sooner had I thought this thought than Π showed up on my Facebook page in all his brazen glory. 

The answer is no. He didn’t absorb a dam thing. He didn’t express a shred of regret for speaking ignorantly and in a way meant to demean me. In fact, much like Trump has done for 4 long years, he shamelessly repeated and amplified his degrading ideas of Barry and myself by calling my lived reality and Barry’s efforts to understand why I had been removed and blocked from his Facebook group a fantasy. Because of this, I shall respond. He is the one who fired first by making demeaning and degrading comments about me and my ‘dead parent’ behind my back. Then Π pressed go by disparaging Barry in the same scornful way, thus provoking him to share this ‘private conversation‘ with me. 

I will take Π‘s latest comments line by line, just as I did in Facebook Folly. 

It’s A Little Late to Start Paying Attention

ΠI’m getting a little worried by posts like this, I’m afraid.

In Response: Very funny Π because in the 4 years we’ve been friends on Facebook, this is the first time ever you have ever commented on a blog I wrote and posted on Facebook, including your group, EoST. I wonder what this fear is? Perhaps it stems from your duplicitous nature? Specially, Π, you have pretended to be a kind, caring, and supportive friend to me. Meanwhile, you have privately held very different views as revealed in Facebook Folly. In case you missed it the first time, you are the Fake Π.


Black & White

ΠThere’s a gradual polarised demonisation at work – the world is only good and bad, and if not wholly good then it must be bad – which fails to take into account human frailty, brought on by lack of time, human mistakes and observers making faulty assumptions.

In Response: There is no mistake in what you said about me behind my back. That is in black and white.


Dumpster Fires, Demonizing & Fragile Egos

ΠPeople aren’t evil, on the whole, but they generally do carry a great deal of human frailty, and demonising that serves only to pour petrol on the dumpster fire.

In Response: When an individual talks about another individual in a sneering, disparaging, dismissive, and disdainful way behind their back, who is demonizing who? Who held the gasoline can of scorn, then poured the petrol of disdain, derision, and contempt onto a fire that started out as a simple misunderstanding?


Good & Evil

ΠI make only one exception to that, in my lifetime, and the US wisely has just fired him. Things will get better from here.

In Response: Really, there is only 1 evil man in the entire world in your lived experience? How about Putin who ordered the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko (the first known victim of lethal polonium 210-induced acute radiation syndrome). Or what about Sergei and Yulia Skripal who were poisoned by Novichok and lay near death in a British hospital near Salisbury for weeks, not to mention the death of an innocent citizen of Salisbury who accidentally came into contact with this poison that only Putin could have ordered to be used.

And most recently, Alexei Anatolievich Navalny was also poison by Novichok. The man who poisoned him said he sprinkled it in his underwear, along the flaps. “You know,” he said matter-of-factly, “the kind men’s underwear have“–imagine that. Perhaps if evil is done methodically and matter-of-factly it’s not so bad, as far as evil goes. Perhaps even, if you spin well, it’s not evil at all… it’s just the business of getting one’s way over the wellbeing and good of others.

Navalny releases recording of call to his alleged poisoner (12/21/20) 

Image: AP | December 21, 2020

“Navalny fell sick during the Aug. 20 flight in Russia and was flown to Berlin while still in a coma for treatment two days later. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.”

“The man in the recording indicated that he was involved in cleaning up Navalny’s clothes “so that there wouldn’t be any traces” after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top critic fell into a coma while on a domestic flight over Siberia. During the recorded call, the man said that if the plane hadn’t made an emergency landing, “the situation would have turned out differently.”


Journalist Daniel Pearl Case Resurfaces In Pakistan — Here & Now | January 12, 2021

Image from NYP article

I suppose Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man who is believed to have behead Daniel Pearl, is simply carrying a great deal of human frailty too. His pending release is being widely reported now by BBC, NYP, and many other news outlets. This killing spurred the highly choreographed beheadings of Western journalists in the years to come. But apparently, no evil here, just human frailty at work.

Here & Now Description: “The lawyer for a Pakistani man convicted and later acquitted in the 2002 killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl is asking Pakistan’s Supreme Court to free his client.”

“Pearl, a 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter, was abducted on Jan. 23, 2002. His body was later found in a shallow grave in Pakistan.”


And as for America will get better from here: Are you kidding man? Did you see what happened on Jan 6, 2021?

The far-right Trump insurgency just scored a huge propaganda coup (Jan. 8, 2021 at 11:28 a.m. EST) — Opinion by Greg Sargent

Image from WP: Trump supporters who gathered to protest the certification of Joe Biden as the next U.S. President describe how they view the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. (The Washington Post)

Right-wing extremists vow to return to Washington for Joe Biden’s inauguration — “We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match,” wrote a popular Parler user who frequently posts about QAnon. (Jan. 8, 2021, 5:59 PM EST) — By Anna Schecter

Image NBC News: Riot police push back a crowd of supporters of President Donald Trump after they stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.Roberto Schmidt / AFP – Getty Images

Fact Check: The ‘6 Million Wasn’t Enough’ shirt wasn’t from the Capitol siege (Jan 8, 2021) — By PJ Grisar

Proud Boys’ Bigotry is on Full Display — “6MWE.” This code for “6 Million Wasn’t Enough” is a not-so-veiled reference to the Holocaust

These are some of the extremist groups responsible for the violence on Capitol Hill (Jan 8, 2021) by Christy Somos CTVNews.ca Writer

Image from CTVNews.ca

“The mob of U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters who overran police and stormed Washington’s Capitol Hill included members of several well-known extremist and white-supremacist groups.”

“The violence did not come as a surprise to Barbara Perry, Director of the Centre for Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University.”

“I think I was [only] surprised that it took that long for something like this to happen. A lot of us had anticipated that we would see violence immediately following the election, especially if he [Donald Trump] lost,” Perry said in a phone interview with CTV News.ca Friday.”

“Perry said she agrees that there has been a “mainstreaming of hate,” in recent years, and that the attack on the Capitol was a perfect example of it.”


To be clear, what happened on Jan 6, 2021 is not going away any time soon. The attack on the Capitol is just the beginning of evil and good mixing it up, this time in the USA, just as it has been doing for as a long human beings could perceive of the concepts of good and evil.

As Inauguration Nears, Concern Of More Violence Grows — January 09, 2021 — By Matthew S. Schwartz

Image from Here and Now: At a bus stop on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest in Washington, D.C., a notice from the FBI seeks information about people pictured during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

“The violence at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was unprecedented in modern U.S. history — but some pro-Trump extremists are promising it was just a taste of things to come.”

What happened on Jan. 6, this past Wednesday, might not be the end of the insurrection, but the beginning,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois told NPR’s Weekend Edition. [As Inauguration Nears, Concern Of More Violence Grows, Jan 9, 2021 


Democracy Under Siege (Jan 9, 2021) — Reveal

Image from Reveal

If you listen to only one thing listed in this post, this is the one that must be heard. Reveal takes aim on the myth that Jan 6, 2021 is not who and what America is. In fact, what happened on Jan 6, 2021 is exactly who and what America is. In fact, it is the latest wave of the Civil War, which has never really ended ever since it was fought (1861 to 1865)—156 years ago. The war has simply taken different shapes and used different tactics throughout this time. What happened Jan 6, 2021 is the latest surge of a very long, brutal battle for who holds the power in this fragile democracy.

Description: A mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, aiming to block the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. How did we get here? 

We start by examining President Donald Trump’s rhetoric over the last four years, as he stoked conspiracy theories, coddled White supremacists and laid the groundwork for inciting violence. 

Host Al Letson talks with Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, who took shelter in his office during the insurrection. They discuss what it was like inside the Capitol and the legacy these actions will leave on American democracy. 

We hear from two reporters who were also at the Capitol. Independent reporter Brendan Gutenschwager and Washington Post reporter Marissa J. Lang say there was a big difference between the meager police response to the Trump supporters  compared with the massive show of force with which they met Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer. 

Then we look back at another coup in American history that has eerie echoes of this week’s events. In the late 19th century, Wilmington, North Carolina, was a city where African Americans thrived economically and held elected office. This, however, did not sit well with White supremacists, who plotted to retake control of the city from democratically elected Black leaders. Their coup in 1898 set in place the structural racism that still exists today. 


Governor Schwarzenegger’s Message Following this Week’s Attack on the Capitol 

Governor Schwarzenegger’s Message Following this Week’s Attack on the Capitol | Jan 10, 2021

Schwarzenegger talks about how lies lead to the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht), which was one of the first events to take place in the lead up to the holocaust and WWII. To repair all the broken relationships that have been shattered more by decades of lies (FoxNews/Rupert Murdoch) and then supercharged and radicalized by 4 years of Trump, it is not going to be easy.


Judge & Jury of Someone Else’s Reality

ΠWhat I’m seeing in the story above is a fantasy unrolling, fed by folk who struggle to see beyond good and bad, and who assume that “their side is always in the right”.

In Response: That is a pretty dismissive, judgmental, and downright cruel comment to make about another person’s lived experience. I understand what Π is trying to do. He is trying to deflect blame from himself, again. It is obvious he didn’t even read the post he is commenting on. I will respond to his self-conceited comment with a story.


My father was a Lutheran minister. There’s not much money in being a Lutheran minister, but that’s not why dad was one. However, he did have a family and needed to provide for them. So despite loving the network of congregations he as serving in Northern California, he decided to accept the call from a fairly big congregation located in a very small town in South Dakota. It was a town you could probably throw a baseball right through downtown if you had a good throwing arm, but it served all the famers surrounding the town growing corn and soybeans feeding Americans and the world, so the congregation was quite big. This allowed them to not only provide a parsonage for the family to live in but also a salary—something none of the congregations in California could provide, only one could provide a parsonage and so my mother has to work to feed us.

It was heart-wrenching and terrible to move from the Redwoods of Northern California to the prairies of South Dakota. My brothers and I loved the trees of Redway. We roamed the mountainside behind our parsonage setting traps for Bigfoot and rabbits. I just remember feeling completely devastated seeing the flat, barren landscape of the prairie made barren by monolith fields of corn and soybeans—one after another after another. But dad had grown up on farm in Iowa and mom had grown up in parsonages scattered from MN to WI to IA, and so both my parents were happy to return to the heartland.

This was a typical drive as children in the Redwoods
This was one of the churches my father was pastor. Right next to it stands our home, the parsonage we lived. It was so beautiful.
This is Grace Lutheran Church – Sister church to Redway — and the other church my father served
We drove through trees all the time in the Redwoods
This looks like the main road below our parsonage and there were hitchhikers there all the time because we lived there during the height of the Hippies.

As we caravanned from Redway to Sinai, South Dakota, dad driving the U-Haul and mom driving the family station wagon, mom gave me Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I didn’t like it at first, but really had nothing else to do, so I kept reading. It would be a book that would save my broken heart and help me find new dreams to build my drastically transformed life around. We lost our beloved cat Puff on the way to Sinai. She got out of our car and wandered off somewhere in Oregon or Idaho at a campground we stopped at to sleep along the way. She was the first pet we ever had as children. Dad brought her home to us in paper bag, surprising us with a gleeful smile on his face. She was so glorious, a spicey calico cat who had lots of babies (these were the days before sterilizing pets was the norm). I am glad of this though because with us were some of Puff’s kittens—the ones we could not find homes for before leaving Northern California, so they were traveling with us to South Dakota. We had a mini, calico kitten who was missing one paw on her front leg. But that didn’t stop her. She would prove to be just as spicy as her mother and as fertile.

Downtown Sinai, South Dakota

Arriving to our new home was disappointing to be sure. However, the churches were beautiful and I would grow to love the big parsonage we moved into. I believe we arrived in Sinai the day before the 4th of July. We would find out soon the 4th of July is big stuff in small town, middle of the heartland of America. There was a town parade where all the children decorated their bikes with tissue paper and glittery things (that first year we kids did not have time to enter but subsequent years we sure did! It was a big deal!). There were bands and a huge firework display by the church where my dad would preach. And there was a day of festivities and games happening throughout the day—like a mini state fair. One of the activities that first full day in Sinai was the greased pig contest.

Sinai Lutheran Church & Grace Lutheran Church — the churches my father would serve with kindness, compassion, and love

Yes—it is exactly what it says. A local farmer donates a young pig. It is greased from head to toe and put inside a pen. Then all the children who sign up for the contest line up behind the fence. When the whistle is blown, the idea is to climb over as fast as you can and race for the pig. The kid who holds is around the belly the longest gets to keep the pig! 

Boy—now moving to Sinai, South Dakota was suddenly looking a lot more interesting. I was going to get that pig! I scrambled through the milieu of girls and boys I did not know. I got to the pig and I grabbed it around it’s center. I did not let go. I held on. There was a boy you held the pig around its neck on one side of me and another you had the pig around its back legs, but I had the center.  By their rules: I won! I get to keep the pig!

I heard a whistle blow and one by one all the other children piled on top of the three of us were picked off of us and told to leave the ring until only the three of us were left. I was sure I would be declared the winner. But then I felt a tap on my head. The farmer officiating the greased pig contest told me I had to leave, and the two boys would get to compete for the pig in the end.

I couldn’t believe I was being told to leave. I was the one holding the pig around its belly. I was covered in grease from head to toe. I was incensed by the double standard being displayed by the judge. But I had no power. I had to leave. I did not stay to watch which boy won. This would not be the last time I or my family would experience such hypocrisy. 

It would play out again but next time in a much more deadly way. The coming conflict would unravel slowly over a period of about 3 years. During this time, I found a way to love the prairie, I made many friends, dad even got me a pony who had a foal. Now that was sure the heck better than a pig. We had a huge garden dad tilled and grew all sorts of things—corn, squash, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes. He gave each of us small plots in the garden and taught us how to grow delicious, healthy vegetables.  We also had an orchard, about 8 or 10 trees—each one a different kind of apple. Each of us kids got to pick a tree and build a tree fork. I think I took the crab apple or maybe that tree was Pete’s tree. We played scary chase games around the church. We built massive snow forts in the mega drifts of snow that were left behind after blizzards. One year, the blizzard was so bad, it blew snow drifts that reached the roof of the church. School was cancelled for weeks that year and we kid’s tunneled snow forts into the drifts surrounding the church, which was also cancelled for weeks. Those forts lasted for weeks!

Fields of Corn — The 70s

We roamed the town and railways, making forts and hideouts everywhere. Some of our favorite hauntings were the old schoolhouse long ago left abandoned with old molding books and cups and plates and silverware still inside. We weren’t supposed to go inside the old school, but that just made it all the more fun to go. We also frequented the old, abandoned jail house, down a steep hill from the one block downtown. It was really nothing more than a one room building made completely out of concrete with bars for windows. We loved it! We also had a place just outside of town, perhaps a mile or so walking down the railroad tracks to a bridge where a train long ago had derailed and dropped a bunch of polished marble—big slabs.

Dad faithfully served the two churches partnering together to offer him the call. He got to know every family of both congregations by first name, every member and visited anyone in need at any time. He was beloved by many members of both congregations. Mom sang in the choir and helped with Sunday School and Summer Bible Camps. We were soon knitted into the fabric of the small-town community of Sinai, South Dakota. But there were rips in the fabric.

While dad was a Lutheran pastor, he loved science and read about all sort of scientific discoveries. He took us to see fossils in the Black Hills. We talked about how fantastic the Earth was and how much time it has existed in the universe. To dad, it was completely possible to believe in science and in God the Father, creator of the universe. To him, God used the mechanisms of physics and evolution to get to us. To him, this did not diminish who we are as human beings, sons and daughters of our Lord the Savior, but this made us so much more precious and important.

Dad sometimes wove some of his thoughts and enthusiasm into his sermons. To some who heard these ideas coming out of the mouth of their pastor, it was blasphemy—a foolish fantasy that had to be dispelled. A coalition went to work against my father. One of the leaders of this coalition was the mayor of our small town who also happened to be the butcher. 

I believed they tried to get dad never to utter such fantastical nonsense every again in church or anywhere where his congregation members might hear him. But that was not my dad. The division and the divisiveness grew wider and more aggressive. It would cumulate and boil over one fateful day when our dog Reckless (a black lab) disappeared. My dad would soon discover, the mayor had captured Reckless, taken him to his butcher’s shop in the center of town, and shot him dead, then disposed of his body with the rest of the used pieces of the cows and pigs he butchered that day.

We probably stayed one more year after that, but the writing was on the wall. Dad didn’t fit in there, and he was no longer welcomed there. I’m pretty sure shortly after Reckless death, he started looking for another call. It would take him a year to find an opening. It was the last year he would serve as a minister in a Lutheran church. He decided the politics were just too toxic. He entered a program to become a hospital chaplain. Soon we moved again. This time to a city, Minneapolis. It was another hard move for me to make. I had grown to love the prairie and the life I had learned to live there! It would take years to learn how to grow into and live in the city, but I would do that too, eventually and grow to love Minneapolis deeply as well.


It is so easy to be the judge and jury of another person’s experiences and their reality. Unfortunately, the human brain seems wired this way. Maybe we do it to simplify reality so we aren’t paralyzed by it. Reality is always so much more complicated than a single human being can perceive. This is why we need each other to understand more of it. But, when we judge each other in overly simplified ways, we fracture it instead. When we judge each other, we also stop seeing each other as human. Maybe we do this because we fear the ‘other’ might pop our own overly simplified bubble of belief about what the world is.

So dear reader, you tell me who is struggling to see beyond good and bad. Who is making the assumption that “their side is always in the right”.    


Ah — The Promised Land

ΠI suggest reading Barack Obama’s book A Promised Land.

In Response: I suggest you read it again. Perhaps you missed a few things the first time you read it.

“there are people in the world who think only about themselves. They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want. They put other people down to make themselves feel important. “Then there are people who do the opposite, who are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people. “So,” she said, looking me squarely in the eye. “Which kind of person do you want to be?” 
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

“Either grab a drink and sit down with us or get the fuck out of here.” 
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

“there was the unsettling fact that, despite whatever my mother might claim, the bullies, cheats, and self-promoters seemed to be doing quite well, while those she considered good and decent people seemed to get screwed an awful lot.” 
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

“The truth is, I’ve never been a big believer in destiny. I worry that it encourages resignation in the down-and-out and complacency among the powerful.” 
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

“I’d met my share of highly credentialed, high-IQ morons” 
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

“I suspect that God’s plan, whatever it is, works on a scale too large to admit our mortal tribulations; that in a single lifetime, accidents and happenstance determine more than we care to admit; and that the best we can do is to try to align ourselves with what we feel is right and construct some meaning out of our confusion, and with grace and nerve play at each moment the hand that we’re dealt.” 
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

“I experienced failure and learned to buck up so I could rally those who’d put their trust in me. I suffered rejections and insults often enough to stop fearing them. In other words, I grew up—and got my sense of humor back.” 
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land

“Perhaps most troubling of all, our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of crisis—a crisis rooted in a fundamental contest between two opposing visions of what America is and what it should be; a crisis that has left the body politic divided, angry, and mistrustful, and has allowed for an ongoing breach of institutional norms, procedural safeguards, and the adherence to basic facts that both Republicans and Democrats once took for granted.” 
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land


Paying Attention Takes More Then News Headlines & Quick Quips

ΠThis shows the dangers of this polarised approach, which includes the US inability to sign the Kyoto Treaty, why the US is sometimes slower to act than the world would like, and why the US makes policy mistakes.

In Response: So glad Barack’s book has given you, a person who sits across the pond, such a broad and insightful understanding of America. I have been sharing countless blogs in your beloved group in this past year (2020) about what is going on here. I live less than 15 miles from the White House. I’ve gone to protests (Black Lives Matter and MAGA).

Black Lives Matter | Jun 8, 2020
Cacophony — The Beautiful Humans of Earth | Nov 14, 2020

Oh, and I’ve also been to these minor events that have occurred in Washington, DC (and these are just a few of the interviews I’ve done):

First Women’s March held in Washington, DC on Jan 21, 2017 — Full version of Sustain the Flame includes interviews with over 39 individuals attending the 1st women’s march
Sapience Talks — March for Science — Climate Change is Critical
Sapience Talks (#3) — Science Builds Communities
March for Science — Climate Change is Single Most Critical Issue
Sapience Talks – Comey Fired – Interviews 4 &5
Sapience Talks – Day after Comey is Fired — interview 1
Sapience Talks – Day after Comey is Fired — interview 2
Sapience Talks #2 — The Intersection of Science & Spirit
March for Truth — State of World — Jun 3, 2017
March for Truth — Watergate Redux — Jun 17, 2017
Science March – Rising Seas – April 23, 2017
Web of Lies — March for Truth — Jun 3, 2017
Women’s March 2018 — Can’t Delete Reality — Jan 22, 2018
Women’s March 2018 — Handmaid’s Tale — Jan 22, 2018
Women’s March 18 — Immigrants — Women’s March 2018
March for Our Lives — Mar 25, 2018
No More — Mar 25, 2018
National Student Walkout — Mar 14, 2018
Deep Forgiveness (Darryl Green) & March for Our Lives — Mar 26, 2018
“I Want to Be a Scientist” — Science March 2017 —
Orange is the New Black — Science March 2017
I Skipped Senior Prom – Science March 2017
Chain Reaction – Science March 2017
Science March 2017 — Bio-medical Research and Cuts to NIH
Science March 2017 — Bio-medical Robots
Curiosity & Human Civilization – Science March 2017
Teens – People’s Climate March
College Students Climate March

I follow the news closely and digest it in my blogs. But, you couldn’t be bothered. And, I had to call your attention to the potty-mouth members of your group who were using immature words for vagina. Apparently, just the sight of a naked woman is enough to send their minds down to the bottom of their trunks.

I shared the post below in EoST at the end of July. This piece speaks specifically to the growing alarm at this time (last summer) about what Trump was doing to the psyche and minds of his loyal followers. It was clear back then he was twisting words and staging events to get images of out-of-control Black Lives Matter protestors so he could use them to enflame his base during his campaign.

Sadly, now we see where all this energy is flowing after Trump lost the 2020 election. This is energy man. It is produced inside the mind. It does not just disappear, especially after being super-charged by lies and misinformation used to construct a psychological monster. Many of Trump’s super-charged supporters were hunting for Pence to hang him simply for his ceremonial role of certifying the election results for 2020. But, no one in your group wanted to talk about this possibility back in July 2020. They just wanted to name all the other words for vagina. And you really never took any meaningful action about this behavior even after I called your attention to it occurring in EoST.

Naked Athena — Spectacle or Splendor

To Stop Dismissing & Belittling Takes a Lot of Work Too

ΠBi partisan work takes a lot of horse trading, and the simplistic adoption of I’m right you’re wrong attitudes really, really doesn’t help …

In Response: Just like the UK demonstrated its superior bi partisan work in leaving the European Union? And what precisely does bi partisan work have to do with a personal conflict? One you started by dismissing and belittling me to Barry as he tried to get to the bottom of why I was removed and blocked from EoST.


You Are Not My Friend

ΠRather than fantasise about motives and evil in the world, if there are real problems, then seek real solutions, with the people concerned. Critique and run will never solve any problems.

In Response: You belittled me behind my back. You didn’t think I had the guts to fight back. You were wrong. Your actions are wrong.  I am nothing like how you have painted me to Barry and others.  I am not trading horses with you. You are not my friend. You are my (click here to find out what you are). 


This is Not a Fantasy

I have digested all the disparaging ill-will you’ve privately held against me and then shared with Barry. You are the fakefake compassion, fake sympathy, fake concern for another human being. None of it is real, and then you have the gall to call what Barry and I have recounted as fantasy.

The one good thing about you calling my lived experience a fantasy is that I was going down the same rabbit hole as I began to write second blog in my series: The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles. That’s when I saw your comment.

Feature Image for new blog series: The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles

That’s when I understood (as I digested how my own lived reality was being dismissed as fantasy) how deadly such a dismissal of another human being’s lived experience and beliefs can be.

Police Officer Crushed During Capitol Siege | Cop Screams, Bleeds from Mouth | Jan 9, 2021

In response to you Πall I can say is that I once held you in high esteem and admiration. Now, I only feel disgust. As Barry pointed out, there is a psychological process of Enantiodromia (the tendency of things to morph into their opposites) that goes on in all human minds, mostly unconsciously. Mine has been completed of you. You emerged out of the mists of obscurity and back to obscurity I return you. You do not get to define who I am. I define who I am.

Enantiodromia by Bebe

In response to Jan 6, 2021, we are living through a moment of cultural, moral, and spiritual reckoning. The episode I’ve noted above from Reveal (Democracy Under Siege) is critical to listen to in order to understand what I am going to say next. Lacking this perspective (and/or lacking the willingness to absorb the facts of reality as it is and as it has been lived by black and brown people for far too long) about the long history of racism in American, you the reader will be trapped in your narrative bubble of reality.

In short, what we are witnessing is the enantiodromia of The Republican Party. Yes, enantiodromia can occur in groups as well as individuals. It is a psychological process, but long ago, mankind learned how to collectivize his individual psyche with his collective. It was necessary long, long ago to survive. Modern man is playing a dangerous game with his ability to synch his mind with a group he or she chooses to follow. I will not bore you with the details of the psychological underpinnings of what I am saying, but I do not say this in ignorance. Carl Jung and many others since him have opened a channel back into our collective unconsciousness. It is a channel purposefully blocked off and closed to everyone living in Western Civilization. Lacking access to our individual reservoir of knowledge, wisdom, as well as monstrous potential to do harm, we will destroy ourselves as a species.

Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president of the United States of America. The Republican Party is also referred to as the GOP (Grand Old Party). Under Lincoln’s leadership, the United States took a stand against slavery, entered into a bitter Civil War, and successfully banned it in 1865. This was a party that stood for courage, compassion, truthfulness, and the noble goodness of all men and women. 

In the wake of the Civil War, all the psychological energy of the losing side did not disappear. It submerged under the threshold of our nation’s collective consciousness re-consolidating itself in hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. The first Klan was founded in the tremendous wake of  the Civil War in 1865. It is an American white supremacist hate group whose primary targets are African Americans whose roots have spread across the country. But there was much more hate circulating under the threshold of consciousness of the American people. Reveal shows how the coup of 1898 that occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina (under the guise of Democratic Party of that time) provided a template for other vicious waves of hate that would manifest as Jim Crow laws, the 1921 massacre of Black Wall street in Tulsa, OK, hangings of so many innocent black men and women, cross burnings design to instill terror, and the seedings of white supremacist hate group around the world, the United States having by far the most (Germany a close second…remember Hitler).

What we witnessed on Jan 6, 2021 was the full and complete enantiodromia of the Republican party. It has become the thing it stood against more than 156 years ago. Indeed the Civil War has not ended. What we witness was more than coup on the capitol. It is a coup of the hearts and minds of the Republican Party that is infecting this group of people with the fuel of hate, lies, and misinformation that Trump ignited into a roaring fire on Jan 6, 2021.

Christopher Kerbs who was the Senior National Cyber Security Official fired by Trump because he came out against Trump and said the 2020 election was one of the most secure and accurate elections ever said recently, “We are on the verge of a breakdown of democracy and civil society. It is the equivalent of ignoring pain in your chest for a couple weeks, and then suffering a catastrophic heart attack. If you tell a lie big enough and often enough, people are going to believe it.” Kerbs says the most dangerous thing Trump has done is to synchronize all the hate groups in America that have long fought between each other with differing ideological views. Trump became a center of gravity that has organized them into a wave of action that is truly terrifying and is not done.


As I continue the blog series: The Storytelling Species — Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles, I will trace the roots of how simple conflicts such as described about between me and Π can erupt into great divides. If consciousness is not brought to bear on the powerful forces that rise from the Sea of Unconsciousness created from the cracks of conflict, powerful and destructive forces rise and flow into the conscious mind. These are fluid forces fully capable of hijacking the small and fragile light we call the ego. If this happens, hell flows forth. All humanity floats on this massive psychological sea living inside of all of us. It is our job as a conscious species to transform our own individual pool of unconsciousness into consciousness. When we fail to do this but rather retreat into smaller and smaller bubbles of reality that are spiked by lies, misinformation, and fear, tragic and terrible destruction can result. We are the creators of Hell on Earth. We do it using nothing more than our minds.


One More Thing

You Don’t Get to Tell Me Who I Am — I Tell You Who I Am: Stacey Abrams: How Can Your Response to a Setback Influence Your Future?

3 questions to ask yourself about everything you do | Stacey Abrams | Jan 8, 2019

The Double Standard — Hidden Brain (the second most important piece to listen to)

Description: It’s easy to spot bias in other people, especially those with whom we disagree.  But it’s not so easy to recognize our own biases.  Psychologist Emily Pronin says it’s partly because of our brain architecture. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore what Pronin calls the introspection illusion.


School Of Life – Ted Radio Hour — JANUARY 8, 2021

Image from Ted Radio Hour: andrey_l /Shutterstock

Description: Right now, many kids aren’t in their classrooms — but there is so much to learn outside of school as well. This hour, TED speakers explore life lessons that teach us far more than any textbook

Facebook Folly…The Mistake & the Fake

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”  Carl Jung, The Philosophical Tree

This is a simple and very common story. It is a story about a mistake that lead to a misunderstanding that descended into fatuity. Stuff like this happens all the time between people. Most of the time, it leaves both parties feeling moronic, doltish, and foolish.

The exception is when one person holds more power or authority than another person. Then such common occurrences get channeled down a most menacing passage way. One socially designed to keep the power holder’s dignity and respectability in place while decimating the other’s social standing or means of making a living.

You think I am exaggerating?

Injustices use the energy created inside the mind to effect action in the world. Systems of consciousness evolved to divert the psychological energies generated by simple mistakes and common misunderstanding unto a few. The few are the handful of people who have amassed resources and become rich and powerful in the world of human beings. These rich and powerful folks then engineer the social systems to reroute the blessings meant for all people living within a system (e.g., a family, a tribe, a city, a state, a nation, a civilization) unto themselves. This has been happening for centuries, entrenching power unto a few people existing on the top of the social hierarchy.

Still doubt me? Watch Poldark to see how the system worked in the late 18th century and early 19th century in England–a country that emerged as a supersized powerhouse in molding how modern day Western Civilization works today. Sure Poldark is a work of fiction, but all good fiction draws upon archetypal characters acting in the real world.

Poldark: The Best of Ross Poldark | Nov 20, 2019 | Throughout the series Ross Poldark must navigate the disruption and disasters created by his childhood nemesis George Warleggan–a man born into wealth and good fortune but who wants constantly wants more than he deserves.

George sets himself against Ross because deep down George feels inferior to Ross. There are many scenes where George uses his wealth, social connections, and the law to bring Ross to his knees. He almost does. But, Ross is made of something different than George…very different.

In this clip, George and Ross point guns at each other and George asks Ross: “On what side will you fight Ross for the civilized world or the revolution?” Ross answers: “On the side that stands with humanity.”

But even a foolish, stupid thing can be turned into a source of knowledge, even wisdom, if one seeks deeper understanding and is not committed to upholding the existing system of being, most often referred to as civilization. It is for this reason I choose to tell and share this story.

To me it is a navigation map. Something an individual in a conflict can refer to as a reference point for guidance in navigating the depths of misunderstanding, especially when all the Cards of Knowledge are not being lain down on the Table of Resolution. Knowing how to navigate the strong currents created by deception, power plays, and one upmanship maneuvers can help both parties avoid dropping down into the even darker realms of being human. Down there in these darkest realms of the human psyche, mistakes can quickly transform into ugly beasts of folly that are quite capable of inflicting terrible suffering on other people, and even of swallowing a fragile ego whole, just like a snake swallows an egg.

Snake Swallowing Egg | Set to Creepy Music

You think I am exaggerating again, don’t you?

Girl With Dragon — A Mini Series Chronicling the Premonition of the Confluence of Unconscious Content that Was Going to Come Together in a Terrible Way… Some of It Was Mine… Much of It Was Mixed With the Content of Others Surrounding Me in My Life at the Point in Time

If you are like me and taught the edges of your thought are the edges of yourself and believing this, you have probably constructed a pretty nice ego (or perhaps it should be called an egg-o!..lol..) to comport yourself through life, just like I did. Most of the time, your ego construct probably serves you just fine, just like mine did. But if you are like me and believed this to be all that you are–like that pretty egg just sitting there doing nothing to invite the devastation and destruction fate so often serves–then you encountered autonomous unconscious content inside yourself but outside of your egg-o, it was probably pretty traumatic, just like it was for me.

But wait, there is more: you realize such autonomous unconscious content exists inside everyone who you love, respect, answer to at work, depend on as friends, etc., ect. When you realize this, such an encounter with autonomous unconscious content can turn into something very devastating, just like it did for me.

I chronicle it in my girl with dragon story that tells about what happened to me as my autonomous unconscious content mixed with everyone’s else around me to create the perfect dragon storm of autonomous unconscious content acting in the world.

Girl With Dragon – Part 1 | Apr 2, 2019

If you’re not into reading blogs (even super short ones), I turned this story into a video series. But, there are only 3 because during this time of my inner journey, I needed encouragement and attention. This first video got a lot of likes and comments when I shared it, but the next two seemed to reach no one. So, I stopped making them. I didn’t have any more energy inside to do it even though they made me happy. I was relying on the time and attention others were giving me then. It is not a good way to live; however, the Facebook universe is built this way. It incites us to live on the outer most edges of ourselves, which are the most public, the social roles we play in our groups and society. Facebook promises fame and fortune for those who learn how to play this game well. But, there is a dark side to this game we are all playing on this platform.


The brutality is built right into the platform (as well as other social media platforms) and it can spill over into reality in terrible, evil ways. Consider the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. This genocide used Facebook to incite terrible, brutal violence in the real world. The New York Times conducted an in-depth investigation of this genocide and reported what they found in this article: A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military

“Members of the Myanmar military were the prime operatives behind a systematic campaign on Facebook that stretched back half a decade and that targeted the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority group, the people said. The military exploited Facebook’s wide reach in Myanmar, where it is so broadly used that many of the country’s 18 million internet users confuse the Silicon Valley social media platform with the internet. Human rights groups blame the anti-Rohingya propaganda for inciting murdersrapes and the largest forced human migration in recent history.”

“They posed as fans of pop stars and national heroes as they flooded Facebook with their hatred. One said Islam was a global threat to Buddhism. Another shared a false story about the rape of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man.”


There is also a brutality conducted daily on ordinary users of this platform. It is quite invisible but follows the currents of time and attention generated by everyone using the platform that day or point in time. We, the users, create the currents of time and attention swirling around on all the social media platforms. But since they are a collective creation, no one individual controls them. That’s what makes it fun–learning how to galvanize, shock, and stir up attention, and then send it this way or that. These are little streams of course, but if you’re good… they can grow… and if you’re really good, the currents of time and attention can transform you into a top dog or a shark inside a fish tank. Then, all the other little fishes in the tank will follow you anywhere you go.

But, if you fall outside the collectively generated currents, you will feel the coldness of being ignored, the silent treatment (even by your friends and family in your network) inflicted upon you for crossing some unseen social boundary, usually a taboo. In short, Facebook is slowly but surely turning its users into Attention Addicts. Any addiction of any nature usurps an individual’s inner psychological energy that is needed to think, to feel good about self and others, and to act with intergirty in the world. I believe this is a new type of addiction we are growing in ourselves, all around the world. It is to our own detriment for it is another channel being carved into our collective consciousness diverting the blessings meant for everyone unto a few. Not much is written about this evolving new addiction, much more needs to be written. However, I found this article, which is very interesting: Why I Was Addicted to Attention, Lies, and Drama by Vironika Tugaleva.


This is a tangent, and I will not take any more time to talk about now other than to say these places I speak about that are concealed deep inside the human psyche have been mostly forgotten by our civilized, modern world. They have been suppressed, denied, and rejected for centuries. The most common refrain used to justify this refusal to be a whole human being is ‘that’s not civilized.’

But these uncivilized parts of self exist inside every person’s psyche. They are the empty-headed, slow-witted, dopey, short-sighted, ill-considered, inept, cocked-eyed parts of self. They are the parts of ourselves that have been stashed and locked, and double locked away. No one wants to admit these parts exist: the asinine, loopy, unthinking parts of ourselves that can make us feel or look repulsive to others–perhaps even dangerous.

To admit such detestable vulnerabilities publicly can result in being ostracized. This is most of all true of modern day Western Civilization. And social shunning can have severe and damaging effects on the social roles that we are forced to assume and inhabit in order to live a modern, Westernize life that allows us to feed, cloth, and shelter ourselves and our loved ones.


The silent treatment is very effective, and it is a very old practice. It can be traced far back into the dawning of Western Civilization. My friend Barry Kort pointed this out recently, and I have researched shunning several years ago for the story I am writing.

Ignoring someone for some socially perceived fault was encoded into law by Hammurabi who was the sixth king of the First Babylonian dynasty of the Amorite tribe, reigning from c. 1792 BC to c. 1750 BC. The Hammurabi code of laws, a collection of 282 rules, established standards for commercial interactions and set fines and punishments to meet the requirements of justice. The laws varied according to social class and gender, and it took a brutal approach to justice. And these codes did not die out with the conquering of Babylon. There is a fascinating discussion of this code in this interesting book: Shared Reality: What Makes Us Strong and Tears Us Apart. Public shunning was one of the punishments devised by Hammurabi and disguised as coming from God. Today, we know the silent treatment is a form of psychological abuse.

An article in Psychology Today states: “The silent treatment is a strategy frequently used by people who appear to possess great self-control and claim to be more rational than emotional. At the same time, it is related not only to an expression of passive violence but also to a concealed strategy of psychological abuse. That is to say, it can profoundly damage the person on the receiving end.”

“The worst sin to our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that is the essence of inhumanity”

George Bernard Shaw

Image from Psychology Today article on The Silent Treatment as a form of psychological abuse

I postulate there is another way to navigate mistakes and misunderstandings. A way that evolves us as a species and helps us individually grow more whole. It is not an easy way, but it is a way that sheds light on these unseemly parts of ourselves that allows us to see them and bring them to the fire of one’s flame of consciousness. I propose that it is exactly these parts of ourselves that desperately need rescuing now. To not do so will condemn us to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors who have given us this current brutal system of consciousness. I put forward it is percisely the primitive, most primordial parts that live inside every human being’s psyche who needs the gentle hand of understanding and tenderness of love for no other reason that for being. 


What Happened…

I write about all this in my story titled Sapience: The Moment is Now. It is a story that required me to descend to great depths inside myself. It was so dark down there, I got lost. But the descent allowed me to resurrect some of the deepest, most forgotten parts of myself. And strangely, it is these parts that have helped me survive a terrible year–a year of sudden reversals and suffering around the world. Nothing more needs to be said except 2020.

All things, good and bad, hold power to awaken and illuminate more of who we are as tiny flecks of illuminated consciousness. Four years earlier, I was searching for venues to share a documentary I made about the first Women’s March. It was a super historical event. One that emerged organically like a super sentient being dressed in pink. This being, feminine of course, was a counter force rising in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 election win. The election that landed him in the White House. 

I interviewed 39 people that day, then used my new skills in iMovie to assemble a homemade documentary. It’s not that good. It’s too long and amateur. Some would say it’s exceedingly boring—except for the interviewees. Their voices are powerful.

Netherworld — Haunted House 2018

After making this long video, I wanted to share it. And so, I ventured into the Netherworld of social media. It is a place until this moment in time that I instinctively avoided as a vile, loveless Pit of Perdition. And, I was not wrong about this.

I’ll get back to this later.

In the wake of Trump’s election, lots of new Facebook groups were forming around the world. There were Women’s March groups, Indivisible groups, and groups dedicated to the idiocracy of Donald Trump’s America. I joined many of these groups across America and around the world. I also joined Climate Change and Environmental groups because these issues run through the storyline of the narrative I’ve been chasing since before 2009 and writing daily since 2012. A story that was bursting into reality with the election of Donald Trump. That’s why I went down and interviewed people. It was so uncanny–what I had written and what was happening–I had to talk to other people. Indeed, I can sum up my story in three words; it is one about Climate Change and Consciousness.

Promo Video for Sustain the Flame published Mar 26, 2017 | To see the full documentary, click here.

At this time of rapid uptake of joining Facebook groups, I came across a group called the Ecology of System Thinkers (EoST). It was a bit outside my wheelhouse. However, I reasoned I had a degree in Human Ecology with a concentration in the sciences. Plus the group promoted itself as an intersection of diehard Systems Thinkers and everyone else. So, it seemed to me that I fit the parameters they had defined.

At this time, I noticed the time and attention one admin gave to members, especially to members experiencing conflict and arguing (boy—were there arguments back then!). I was impressed by this and came to understand he was one of the founders of the group. I found him inspiring. We became Facebook friends. 

About a year later, I recall he took time off from his deep involvement in the group citing it took too much of his time, and he needed to put more of it into his family and other things going on in his life. I thought this was an admirable action too. The new admin replacing him was highly at first involved too. And we were already Facebook friends from another group. We had several in-depth, probing conversations. Then, the other guy came back and a few more admins were added. I noticed the first admin however was no longer as highly involved as before, except for a rare post here and there. In fact, he rarely commented any more on posts.

I remember being named as one of the members in this group who got high engagement from other members, but who was not participating or liking other members posts. He was trying to get more engagement from all the members. He was right. There is nothing more boring than a group where no one likes or comments on anyone’s posts. I liked and commented on other members posts for a time. But no one noticed. So, my engagement naturally declined, falling back to my pervious occasional posts. When I shared something I had done, I tried to make sure I connected its content with the interests of group with a comment of how it was relevant. 

After my father died, this admin and others added as admins in this group or would be soon added to the admin team of this group, appeared super supportive of my sad situation. But it was short-lived support. All of them soon moved on in their own veins of being and interests in Facebook endeavors. In fact, none of the admins (5 of whom were my Facebook friends) ever liked a post I shared in EoST or commented on a post I shared in this group.


One day this year, I noticed the group no longer appeared as one I belonged to.  I thought this odd but paid no mind to it until one day I searched for the group and could not find it, I became more curious about what had happened. 

By now, it had been several weeks after I noticed the group had disappeared. I decided to ask my Facebook friend who was one of the head admin of this group what had happened. After a day of inquiring with the other admins, he simply told me one of his admins (he didn’t know who) was cleaning up spam and removed me on that basis. Apparently, this admin did this without consulting with any of the other admins assuming that I was a fake account that was spamming the group. My friend, the admin, expressed no shock, no sadness, no remorse about what had happened. Rather, his message to me was more like a lecture: It was overly zealous admin who failed to be as zealous in checking who or what was spam. He also told me matter-of-factly none of the other admins were at all regretful of this zealous admin’s actions. To me, this demonstrated an unconscious complacency by the whole admin team in support of questionable, overly harsh actions.

I had a bad feeling. I could not say exactly what or why I was feeling this, but I felt I had to act immediately. So I did. I blocked all 10 admins from my personal account. Then, I answered 3 unanswered messages in messenger. I told them I was deactivating my Facebook account and very briefly why. Then, I deactivated it and was gone. I didn’t think anyone would even notice my absence.


The AfterMath of What Happened

But it turns out I left a wake.

It turns out I had an ally after all, Barry Kort.

I had recently featured him in my last blog titled AfterMath — The Magical Calculus of Consciousness. In this blog, I tell the story of how a casual conversation in another Facebook group sparked insight in me that aligned with content I was wrestling with in my story.

Unbeknownst to me, Barry was championing my case. He had taken it up with the admins of EoST. From what I’ve gleam from bits and pieces I learned about later, Barry was assessing and analyzing what had happened and why. He was spelling it out eloquently and illuminating deeper currents of thinking that were informing the actions occurring inside the group. 

He did not have all the information because much of it remained hidden; however, his analysis is excellent and offers opportunities for insight and growth. But of course, this kind of growth is hard. Because of this, it is often rejected, especially by collectives, because it is not pretty, it is not nice. It is the stuff about ourselves we have all had to reject and hide away because we would be viewed as monsters by others for revealing these parts of ourselves.

This is a trap. It is a trap built into our modern systems. It was built to divert the blessings meant for everyone within a system or a group unto a few. It happened long ago. Most of us now no longer remember how it use to be. We are taught to believe this is normal.

It is not.

It is inherently cruel.

Left unchecked and unchanged, our modern systems of consciousness are growing more and more lopsided. They are turning in on themselves and will soon devour themselves. Just like Beth Harmon, the star in the Netflix Original story about a young orphan girl who is a chess prodigy, we (the humans of Earth) are inflicting the consequences of our individual and collective unconsciousness on ourselves and on each other through thoughtless, careless, cruel actions.

Beth Harmon – Alone | Nov 5, 2020

A Brilliant Light — Image from The Sun, a Brilliant Lamp in the Sky

Barry has given me permission to share some of his analysis here:

Bébé, in her E-Mail to me, expressly decried the absence of an empathic human response. That created a dilemma for me, because Π was unable to provide the original context, so I had no useful information on what happened to cause Bébé to feel betrayed and wounded. Π could similarly see no reason for Bébé to be angry at him. But after I shared with him a bit more information, Π did see why her anger was directed at him. In other words, the failure to share relevant information blocks the possibility of empathy. If having and expressing empathy is the ultimate goal, then concealing information is anathema to that goal. — Barry Kort — December 17 at 6:13 PM

Barry has hit on something extremely important here in that: concealing information is anathema to the goal of expressing empathythis something that is actually very important to the world of Systems Thinkers. In the past 4 years that I’ve belonged in this group, no one has ever talked about the importance of empathy and understanding. I learned more about Systems Thinking in this one paragraph written by Barry than I gleaned over 4 years of being a member of this this group. The power of empathy in constructing Bridges of Understanding allows for repairs to the deep divisions engineered into modern living–systems designed to keep us separated and isolated in our individual thinking and group silos.  

As near as I can tell, this one admin departed from the model that Π and the other admins would have employed. As I understand it, this lone rogue admin unilaterally determined that it was correct to summarily boot Bebe out of the EoST and does not repent of that belief. It’s unclear to me how this lack of consensus among the Admins can be resolved. It may be too late for Bébé, but it means that this phenomenon is likely to recur, perhaps with another would-be contributor in the future. What has occurred is what Gregory Bateson would have called “Schismogenesis” meaning a fracturing and a fragmenting of Systems Thinking into two or more conflicting factions, each of which would employ disparate practices. As near as I can tell, this is why Bebe has lost faith in the integrity of the Systems Thinking culture. At least one faction would retain the practices of the anachronistic and deprecated model of the Police Culture. This disparity has roots that goes all the way back to the disparity between Theology and the secular Rule of Law. I had long hoped that the contributions of the more enlightened systems science would have at long last resolved that hoary and lamentable rift. — Barry Kort — December 17 at 11:37 PM

What more can I say, Barry sees a phenomenon at work and operating below the threshold of conscious awareness of this group. He has chronicled it in a most palatable way. Refusal to look at his analysis or to consider it in the light of understanding can only mean the undercurrents of concealment and denial are running deep and strong.

That’s what Π said, too. But it also reveals a phenomenon that troubles me far beyond this kind of commonplace mistake. Intention is one element in a Theory of Mind. Clearly the rogue admin misjudged Bébé, with respect to her intention. It’s clear from copious evidence that her posted content originated from a thread in GCC that included Sam, Doug, and myself (I am leaving Sam and Doug as they have been allies in this situation too). But another element of a Theory of Mind is emotional state. I was astonished at how erratic Π was in characterizing my emotional state. And Π’s inexplicable misconceptions in that regard helped me appreciate why Bebe reacted so strongly about the lack of empathy she encountered in EoST. I’m quite used to it, as almost no one ever gets it right when they try to assess my emotional state. Long ago, I learned that I have to expressly say that I’m chagrinned or disappointed or vexed and perplexed by some observable phenomenon on the social networks. But even having done so, Π still asserted an inexplicably incorrect character model, as if I were some chimera of his imagination. How the devil could he have gotten it so wrong? I reckon Columbo, Poirot, or Miss Marple would have a field day with this one. — Barry Kort — December 18 at 3:24 AM 

Barry is absolutely correct, this is a case for the all the Columbo(s), the Poirot(s), and the Marple(s) of the underworld of man’s psyche. I’ve been writing about this (and by the way sharing it in EoST to the sound of silence) for quite some time. I dubbed this work the work of Consciousness Warriors. I suspect my work is too artistry and suspicious for the Systems Thinkers of EoST. Indeed, Barry’s thinking seems to be received this way as well, which is a lost for the group.

«Clearly the mistaken action by the admin touched a deeper nerve, no?» Precisely so, Doug. As I understand it, Bébé posted something in EoST, whereupon some undisclosed Admin summarily deleted it and unceremoniously blocked Bébé, erroneously believing it was spam. Π said that’s all he knew; he didn’t even know which of 11 Admins it was. But according to Π, whoever it was did not believe it was an error to have deleted Bebe’s post and to have summarily blocked her. As to what Bébé posted, my surmise is that it was something related to this contemporaneous blog post, which contains content Bébé had just gleaned from a discussion thread in GCC. 

Sapience: The Moment is Now

 –Barry Kort — December 19 at 9:57 AM

cc: several people ~ I wonder if Einstein would have been unceremoniously ejected from the same Systems Thinking communities that Doug and I got booted out of. If so, would he have soothed himself by playing the violin? — Barry Kort — December 18 at 7:06 PM

Doug and Barry are indeed right, a deeper nerve was hit and exposed. It is right for Barry to point out this type of thinking/reaction sequence and how an individual who did not fit in such as Einstein would have been treated if the systems operating now and are ubiquitous in modern society had operated then. Would we know about black holes, the theory of general relativity, and the photoelectric effect?

«I try to remember the devil of second order cybernetics. Observe the observer. When I do, I am of course observing myself observing someone observing.» That’s the opening lines of one of the paragraphs in Nora Bateson’s article in the O.P. And it occurs to me that the long comment thread initiated in response to BPT’s question, “What happened?” is an instance of “the devil of 2nd order cybernetics: reckoning the observer. What did the observer know and when did he know it? What did the observer report, and when did he report it? Did the observer know and report the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Was anything left out or distorted? Was any of it paraphrased, glossed over, or taken out of context? To my mind, this cuts to the issue of Bearing Accurate Witness (and the consequences of redacting information that one would rather not have brought to light). I don’t know that we’ll resolve this issue here, but I submit that the political decision not to bear accurate witness is inconsistent with the fundamental tenets of cybernetic systems theory. As I understand it at this juncture, Bébé lost faith in the culture of systems thinking because it morphed from science to politics, and that departure introduced what she calls a “darkness” (and I call a corruption) of the fundamental tenets of systems science and systems thinking. — Barry Kort — December 19 at 6:15 PM

Barry is shining a brilliant light into a dark place. I have lost faith in the culture of Systems Thinking. The darkness of the human mind is indeed the source from which all corruption infiltrating the systems man has made creeps in. It takes conscious work to keep the darkness at bay. Most people don’t want to do this work because it is icky, painful at times, and humiliating at other times. So, we hide it in the dark places inside ourselves. But it does not go away. It remains quite actively there and very capable of acting autonomously and antithetically to our own self-interests. This is how the corruption works. I write extensively about it in my book.

As I see it, the community of systems thinkers have splintered into two discernible factions. The smaller faction, to which you and I subscribe, is that we employ the axiomatic principles and tools for thought of systems thinking to solve both systemic problems “out there” in the world at large, as well as systemic problems that arise within the corridors of our own discipline and practices. Moreover we do our work in public, so as to demonstrate that we are role models for our methodology even when we are addressing internal issues within our own community.

The larger faction (as apparently exemplified and revealed by at least three of the more prominent leaders in EoST) is that internal misadventures and departures from the governing axioms, principles and practices of systems thinking are not addressed in public (and perhaps not even addressed at all). 

In yesterday’s Barn Raising, it occurred to me that you and T. were especially articulate in characterizing this dichotomy that divides Systems Thinking into these two mutually incompatible factions — a dichotomy that only surfaces when the practice of systems thinking itself has veered off the rails with respect to keeping its own house in order.

If that analysis has any merit, then it’s our minority faction which is obliged to devise a way to proceed in a constrained manner that is true to the core principles without alienating ourselves from the larger faction. Per G.‘s methodology, the title of this drama would be, “Physician, heal thyself.”

Bébé uncovered a “darkness” in EoST that might be characterized as a shame-based cover-up that is then seen as a “corruption” of the professed principles and practices of systems thinking. At least that model explains her loss of faith in systems thinking as she experienced it first-hand in EoST. At least that model explains why she characterized them as a bunch of “fakes” (because they didn’t practice what they preached). In classical stories such as those found in the New Testament, the corresponding term of art would be “hypocrisy.”

There must be a “third way” to proceed that is both effective as a diagnostic process and acceptable to the likes of Π, Beta, and the otherwise unidentified “zealous admin” whose rogue actions precipitated the ensuing liminal social drama (and its 2nd-order offshoot on my timeline).

Sam, in the process of recusing himself, Beta (not real name) referred to a non-private chat in which he declared his intention to de-attend the conversation over the issue of doing it in public.

May I add your name to that non-private chat so you can provide your insight on why this process is going awry?


The Folly & the Fake

Barry has provided a powerful and in-depth analysis for those who have the strength to digest it. A lass, I doubt many do. In addition to these tidbits I gleaned from my deactivated account; Barry shared something further with me that floored me. It is the reason I felt I had to deactivate my account though at the time I could not tell you why I felt this.

Below is a small excerpt of a longer exchange. It is the most hurtful and it so full of misperceptions and misrepresentations; I do not even know where to start. I feel compelled to dissect it sentence by sentence from my point of view. The truth lies in-between and so too is our shared reality. Where you fall as a 3rd Party Reader depends on where you stand upon your own inner terrain of being. It has been this way with truth ever since man crossed the threshold into consciousness so long, long ago. 

Image of Folly by Colwords

Π: I already get a lot of email I would rather not have.

My interpretation: Dam it, Barry! Don’t you understand how busy and important I am! Why are you bothering me with this?

Π: Her anger, then, is pointless and achieves nothing, in terms of anything I can do, it’s too late for that. Rather it’s a phase she needs to go through personally to get to a period of acceptance.

My perspective: Π is pretending he knows me so well that he can instantly infer why and what I am angry about. His foolish attempt to assign value to someone else’s anger is folly. It reveals a reckless irrationality that is swimming about inside his mind. Not realizing the monster he fears lives inside him, he attempts to deflect blame of the injustices I have complained about as self-inflicted. This is a gross oversimplified of reality. One that is bound to create blow back.

Π: However …Over many years, I have suggested to her, indirectly, that writing her book was not in the end going to be the catharsis she seeks for the death of at least one parent.

My perspective: Π demonstrates his vast knowledge and understanding of me by showing he doesn’t even know which parent died. In fact, he doesn’t even remember when or how the death occurred. He is knocking his brain to recall if I even have already lost both parents. So, to not look completely stupid, he’s covering his bases with the stony-hearted phrase: the catharsis she seeks for the death of at least one parent. Besides being muddled in his mind about how long my parent has been dead, he demonstrates his utter lack of listening skills. I’ve told him many times I’ve been writing this story long before I ever met him or joined the EoST. I have written down enough material for 12 books with 12 more in my head. This is not a catharsis process grieving for a dead parent—what an inconsiderate, thoughtless, self-centered jerk!

Π: I suggested she was better engaged in writing for other people, but she did not want to pursue that. She has chosen her own path, in terms of adjusting to loss, especially ignoring counsel from others, and there are consequences for that in terms of teaching m recovery rates. Feeling sad about loss is one thing, taking out anger on others is actually counterproductive.

My perspective: Here again Π demonstrates utter ignorance of who I am, what I’ve done, even how old I am. He says, “I suggested she was better engaged in writing for other people…” …as if I were 22 or 23 years old. You know… I bet he does think that’s how old I am poor bloke. He’s about 30+ years off. I’ve written for lots of other people. I have raised more than $10 million dollars for individuals, non-profits, and corporations around the world from the things I have written for other people. I’ve been part of huge proposal teams that have written winning proposals for huge government contracts totaling another $10 million dollars. I’ve written media and new releases and planned/implemented special events, planned-giving, and other types of fundraising things raising another $1 to 2 million for other people.

Writing for other people provides as much safety and security as being the Press Secretary on board the Titanic who is ordered to whip out a flashy News Brief about how fabulous, sea-worthy, and unsinkable the ship is while it is sinking into the watery, cold depths of the North Atlantic. I made a video about this recently. Not that Π would have seen it as clearly I am not a person worth his time or attention.

White Flag — Miracle Day | Aug 2, 2020

So forgive me if I’m done writing stories for other people! These comments drip with his shallow, flaccid, artificiality. He reveals himself here as a self-obsessed, self-conceited bloke of magnificent proportions. Boy was my admiration misplaced in him. 

Π: Namely, I feel she has not properly got over the death of her parent, and also seems to blame others without reason for their ignorance – stupidity even – when she thinks they should know better. But I’m afraid we are all human beings. We all make mistakes. There’s nothing personal involved. No one knows everything, as pointed out at considerable cost by Socrates, a deep Systems Thinker himself.

My perspective: Here Π demonstrates once again how well he knows me. Again, he can’t even name which parent died–mother…father? He leaves the door open that both parents may very well be dead…because he really doesn’t know. Not only that, he asserts himself as an expert on grief. Then callously and cruelly blames me for my own suffering and pain.

Side Note: I wrote about this too…being blamed by those who really don’t know me at all for my misfortune on 10/31/18. At this point in time, my personnel tragedy was about 3 months old having occurred on 8/4/18. On Facebook, it was old news now. Looking back, this is when most of my Facebook friends vanished! Vamoose–all the individuals who were paying me so much attention before my father died…disappeared. And all the individuals who were not paying me much attention before dad died, joined the bandwagon of condolence wishing because–WOW–I was getting a lot of attention on Facebook then, and it would be a missed opportunity not to be seen by others on Facebook (you know… the murky, mutual friends that Facebook has engineered for us). Who hasn’t got Facebook suggestions: Hey, ‘so and so‘ is a friend of ‘so and so‘… someone you just became friends with on the platform and so you become friends with everyone else’s friends and pretty soon, you don’t really know who your friends are any more because everyone’s friend have become so inbred and artificial. Now, I understand why and what has been going on at a deeper, seedy level.

Dodo and reality barbs in vortex — Original art created by Bébé | The Divine Dodo series

But, back to the conflict… that’s what you really want to read, right? (wink):

Indeed, there are plenty of times I have brought misfortunate on myself, but this is not one of them. I along with millions of other people just like me get far more misfortune than we deserve. It is inflicted on us by the Systems of Thinking that have been designed this way. They are cruel systems dreamed up by unconscious Systems Thinkers. Our modern Western systems have been engineered to divert the blessings meant for everyone existing inside the system unto a few.

[See Postscript at the end of this blog about Charles Dickens Scrooge and how fair “the system” has been for so long of time to the masses-the ordinary men and women just trying to survive another day in it.] And you dare to call yourself an enlighten Systems Thinker… shame on you Π.

Even though this statement drips with cruelty and contempt, now, we are finally getting somewhere!!! This is what all the bells and whistles Π’s been throwing up into the air are all about. They are simply distractions because he’s afraid he will look stupid and cold-hearted (reptilian). He begs for his humanity meanwhile denying me mine. Then, in the next sentence, he has the gall to elevate himself to the level of Socrates—the father of Systems Thinker – ‘Oh my – we must be impressed with him now, mustn’t we?!

Π:I have deliberately not sought to take control of EOST, although I could have done so, BECAUSE I’m a system thinking guy, who sees those control patterns repeated again and again over history, with largely unsuccessful results, and much pain along the way. I will cite Hitler and the Jews here.

My perspective: This part of Π’s soliloquy is between him and Barry. But really man, come on… citing Hitler and the Jews just because Barry is asking you for accountability of the group you founded. Pretty high and mighty… and very sad.

Π:I have tried to work collaboratively with other Admins because I believe 💯% in working that way, and I’m unwilling to change that, underpinned by ST reasons.

My perspective: This part of Π’s speech continues to be between him and Barry. He’s a System Thinking guy… just so you don’t forget that aspect of who he is.

Π: “Bébé can return but chooses not to. Again, it’s not my choice, but a self-inflicted wound on her part. If she wants to return I will 💯% support that, because I know that it was a mistake on the part of Admins that we have discussed and can rectify.

My perspective: Thank you Π but no thank you!! For 4 years, I’ve contributed thoughtful content related to the “Systems Thinking ” from a non-systems thinker’s perspective (something you told Barry that was part of your aspirations for starting the group in the first place). During this entire time, neither you nor your admin team have given so much as a blue thumbs up… much less commented on a single post I’ve made in this group. Rather, I’ve been ignored, and now possibly, I see this is no accident,

Rather, in the past 6 months, I have engaged with your members more so than you or most of your admins who rarely post or comment on anything (except one who posts but rarely comments on members posts). During this time, I have encountered some of the most misogynistic, potty-mouth men than in any other group I have belonged (and that is a long list).  

Self-inflicted wound?! I don’t think so. It is more like you’ve been a poison swirling around in my pools of friendships on Facebook. Silently, but decisively, your hidden attitudes and beliefs about me have been undermining me and belittling me to others. You think your disparaging attitudes and false beliefs of me go unseen just because you don’t say them like you’ve said to Barry… but you are wrong… these things permeate and infect the mutual Pools of Consciousness we have shared…like the group of 11.8K members amassed and growing into a gelatinous pool of goo because big groups tend to pull the collective consciousness down to the lowest levels of being unless hard work (like Barry is doing here) is attempted.

Π: That’s the real point that she and you should be focusing on.

My perspective: More distraction – “Oh look… look over there… that’s where the fire is…” Aren’t we all sick if these types of shenanigans after 4 years of Trump?”

Π: For Bébé to blame humanity for being human and making mistakes is to expect folk to be superman. I’m sorry but that’s not a reasonable or Systems Thinking approach to take.

My perspective: No, I am blaming you. I simply expected that you wouldn’t be so shallow, fake, and artificial. Once again, Π reveals himself to be self-conceit and superior to others. [See It Feeds on Fear and Sadness… scroll to the bottom where you will find information about Superiority and Inferiority Complexes]

The Thing That Feeds on Fear and Sadness

Π: Consider her anger shared, BTW!

My perspective: Good, you are finally beginning the process of waking up. But given what I’ve seen, you’ll find a way to throw cold water on it.

Π: But please note, again from a Systems Thinking perspective, I think anger that blames others is a pointless and net negative activity, a view clearly endorsed by the Dalai Lama, another Systems Thinker, and this anger is currently a self-inflicted and perpetuating wound.

My perspective: Ah…the Dalai Lama! Yes, it would be nice to insert a little wisdom into such abundant false conjectures and accusations of a person that you clearly do not know. If he used even a little bit of wisdom, Π might even be able to locate the compassion inside of him, locked away in a place forgotten. He is so fixated on self-inflicted wounds… it makes me wonder if it is not himself that he is referring to. I am simply a convenient target to project it onto for a time. He’ll need another one soon.

Π: If you choose to share this with her, please give her the whole context, not a juicy extract of your choosing, where I think sometimes your own past suggests that you miss some of the fine points involved.

My perspective: Yep, got it all—loud and clear! Now I see you for what you really are: a self-absorbed, conceited man who needs to put others down in order to feel big and powerful and like a Superman or like Socrates or the Dalai Lama. Rather you are petty and cruel. It is really rather sad realization.


Why Calculating Consciousness is a Useful Activity

This is the accounting, the AfterMath, of a simple, reckless mistake, something that occurs frequently on a platform such as Facebook. Actually, something that is accelerating and growing within all social media platforms that are acting like incubators for unconscious autonomous content that exists inside every human being. 

What Barry revealed in his calculus of what went wrong rises beyond a simple, reckless mistake, but a refusal to grow consciously. He uncovered an aggressive unconscious projection that had been conducted upon me, and even onto him for his efforts to understand. Had Barry not undertaken this work, I would not have known the underlying inner narrative that was acting like a toxin between me and Π and that was having a corroding effect on everyone with whom we were mutual Facebook friends. Inner narratives are powerful. Even if never shared or spoken to someone else, they influence an individual’s choices and action in the world and this is how reality is made.

Without Barry’s intervention, analysis, and willingness to share what he learned with me, I would have remained in the dark with my feelings of worthlessness and that something nefarious was afoot, but unseeable. I sensed there were foul undercurrents working against me. Now, I know. Barry has shown me my feelings are valid and can be trusted

When someone is not treating you as as a friend should treat a friend, consider there may be a hidden inner narrative at work that is acting more like a devilish poison designed to wear you down and dissolve you for the benefit or entertainment of another. 

These things happen in real life as well as in the fake lives we live in social media. I call them fake lives because on social media platforms we are really performing–constantly curating our content and pretending to be our most ideal selves (never mentioning or acknowledging our other half because that would be less than ideal to mention). Even more nefarious, some people pretend to be someone or something they are not in order to sell or swindle things from other human beings who are simply seen as resources to be used then thrown away.  

So trust your feelings. If someone who has befriended you is not treating you as a real friend, a true friend, trust yourself and take action to protect yourself.

Thank you Barry!

Postscript:

The Numinous Power of Stories in the Human Psyche

Stories and narratives, especially those running inside our heads, have long played an oversize role in shaping our shared reality. All stories emerge from our inner spaces of mind. I call them mindscapes. We all have these sacred internal spaces that we build over time and reshape as we tell ourselves what has happened to us on our journey through time and space. These inner stories are powerful.


In this episode from This American Life, the power of how stories can shape reality is beautifully told in this Christmas mishap of storytelling that was a little bit too real.

Matt Cardy / Stringer, via Getty ImagesFrom This American Life episode: Lights, Camera, Christmas

How Narratives Shape Human Reality

Ever since humans gained consciousness, they have told stories about their experiences in space and time. We tell stories because we can, and they imbue life and energy into everything we do and believe and influence how we act in the world. This American Life tells wonderful stories about being human. I am selecting this one here as a prologue to the story of the Misadventure and Folly of Facebook to illustrate how power the narratives we hold in our head are in shaping our reality.

Lights, Camera, Christmas! — This holiday season, we bring you a show filled with stories of people going to great lengths to throw a special Christmas for their families. In particular, I want to highlight the story of the Mutchler’s who embellished the Christmas story of Santa and his reindeer and his elves in ways that grew to gigantic proportions within the minds of their 3 children. 


Humans: The Storytelling Species

We are a storytelling species. And, human beings can conceal these internal stories that shape our motivations and actions in the world. In the real world, where people encounter each other in the flesh and blood, bodies and faces reveal hints of underlying motivations, conscious or unconscious, that are propelling action in the world.

Over millions and millions of years, living beings evolved complex ways of perceiving and decoding essential clues contained in bodies and faces. Clues that if deciphered fast enough could hint to possible life-threatening or predatory intentions.

In the human world, our basic animal instinct to survive has been raised us above the ground of basic survival by becoming conscious. Consciousness also gives us our ability to think, and this has allowed humans to outcompete every other living being on Earth. It has also allowed us to change reality to suit our needs.

But there is a price for this power. The price of consciousness is to grow it or to incur a debt that must be paid by costly misadventures that arise from unconscious behavior and actions in the world. Some will be good, but other misadventures will result in trial, torment, and tribulation. They will be ordeals of misfortune, suffering, distress, trouble, worry, and woe. 

No human is perfect, of this there is no doubt, but some humans conduct themselves with greater compassion, gentleness, and humanity that conduct peace, warmth, and brotherly love into the world. Meanwhile, other human beings conduct themselves with heartless indifference in the world, a consequence of unconsciousness that burdens the bearer over time by warping our marvelous abilities of thought bending them into monstrous variants of the survival instinct rapacious greed and vulturine avaricious


What Does Scrooge Have to Do with Anything?

Want and Ignorance from A Christmas Carol (1984)

The classic story of Scrooge and the manifestation of Ignorance and Want as the children hiding inside the robes of Christmas Present. The Ghost tells Scrooge the children are the responsibility of all mankind.

On Quora, Gwendolyn Smith, a former teacher who has taught adolescents for 27 Years, answers this question: What is ignorance and want in ‘A Christmas Carol’?

Charles Dickens was a strong believer in social justice. He also understood that ignorance and want had the potential to doom our society if left unchecked. His use of the term want is different from our use today. To us, want means desire; to Dickens, it meant abject poverty, a complete lack of the barest necessities of life. Remember what the men who were collecting for the poor said — that want was felt even more keenly during this time of year — and Scrooge’s response: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” His solution was to throw the poor and starving into prison and the jobless into workhouses. In other words, “It’s not my problem.”

The Spirit emphasizes that, as bad as want is, ignorance is worse. Why? Because as long as people remain ignorant — lacking in knowledge, information, and understanding — they will continue to lack the resources to gain jobs and work their way out of want. Instead, the problems will just compound, until society is destroyed by them. Want is self-perpetuating. Those of us who have the resources to do so must help those who languish in want and ignorance if we are ever to do away with them.

Dickens believed so strongly in the dangers of ignorance and want that he allegorized them as children, possibly to show that we as a society must take a hand in caring for the poor and the ignorant and help them learn the tools and skills to help themselves — the way we help our children. If we refuse, we, like Scrooge, are doomed.

Ignorance and Want from Pinterest (no source cited)

Just as ignorance and want are the terrible consequences of people who have been subjected to injustice in the real world because of the unjust systems we have created and imposed on ourselves, but mostly we have forgotten this small detail. They also have devastating consequences inside the minds of men and women. They are born and sustained by beliefs and inner narratives that operate much like algorithms or sheep dogs that shape one’s mind into an ignorant, stupid, one-eyed ogre. The story of Scrooge is very much about this kind of ignorance and want… indeed, it is the external expression of ignorance and want in the world suffered by the poor and disenfranchised people of the world that individual’s like Scrooge could help alleviate in the world exactly because of his wealth and the opportunities this afforded him.  

It is because of the unlikely appearance of the apparition of Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s very miserly business partner that affords Scrooge to conduct an inner accounting of his beliefs and internal systems of consciousness that have governed his equally penny-pinching actions in the world. When we remain ignorant of the many different aspects of ourselves that exist inside our psyche, we tend to become very lopsided human beings that despite our best intentions to do good in the world usually end up doing a lot of bad things in the world, indeed, wicked things. This is because everything existing within the spectrum of consciousness is an energy and just because an individual refuses to admit certain aspects of who they are does not make them disappear. In fact, these lost, forgotten, unseen parts of self tend to gain energy and grow within the psyche, thereby gaining an outsized influence on an individual’s choices and actions. Even more dangerous, these splintered, unacknowledged aspects of one’s own psyche in a desperate effort to be seen by the Self so that it can be integrated into the wholeness of who one is as a conscious being, it will be projected onto “the other person” who becomes the villain or the cause of an undesired situation. This happens suddenly and naturally when an individual encounters a circumstance that triggers unconscious content into action. It is when we fail to recognize these aspects of ourselves and integrated them into the wholeness of who we are when we are most capable of conducting the greatest evil in the world.


The Real Story of Scrooge is Individuation

Scrooge is the story of individuation.

SCROOGE ON THE COUCH: HOW THE NUMINOUS TRANSFORMS | EPISODE 90 | Dec 19, 2019 | This is a fantastic podcast series Jungian in tone and flavor!

My friend Fabian Navin finds and shares absolutely wonderful concepts distilled and illuminated by Carl Jung and other individuals who took the process of individuation seriously. Ultimately, every man and every woman choose: to remain in the darkness of our own unconsciousness into which we all are born, or to release the light inside of us (trapped in matter) and reveal the divine, limitless being who walks between heaven and hell and survives.

Photo: Jolande Jacobi with C.G. Jung — From Fabian Navin’s post

Fabian Navin: December 26 at 8:30 PM  

“To many people it seems inconceivable that there could be in their psyche autonomous contents and an activity which is not “done” or “willed” by them. It is one of the most important achievements of the individuation process to experience this non-ego, to make it conscious to a large extent and to accept it as a helpful, constant companion. To live only within the limited confines of the ego is senseless and painful. But to participate knowingly in the boundless creative life of the psyche and in the archetypal images of the non-ego is full of meaning because whatever we do or omit to do is then resolved in something greater than the ego. 

Here a bridge may be thrown across to the metaphysical realm, and here Jung’s belief in God reveals itself. He asks: “The decisive question for man is: Are you related to something infinite or not? That is the criterion of his life . . . Only consciousness of our narrow confinement in the self-forms the link to the limitlessness of the unconscious. In this consciousness we experience ourselves concurrently as limited and eternal, as both the one and the other. In knowing ourselves to be unique in our personal combination—that is, ultimately limited—we also possess the capacity for becoming conscious of the infinite.” 

Knowing participation in the “infinite” follows, in the psychological realm, from the awareness of the inner God-image, of the Self. Intimations of heaven and hell have been man’s since the earliest times, for these are the two poles—the light and the dark—between which his soul swings. A swing towards one side is always followed by an equal swing towards the other. Peace is found only at the centre, where man can be wholly man, neither angel nor devil, but simply man, partaker of both worlds. The search for this centre, for this balance of the soul, is a lifelong undertaking. It is the basic task and the ultimate goal of psychotherapy. 

For this centre is also the place where the Divine filters through into the soul and reveals itself in the God-images, in the Self. It represents the moment of quiescence when the image of God can be perceived in the polished mirror of the soul. The “balance” meant here has nothing to do with what we call “happiness” in the ordinary sense of the word, nor with that state of freedom from care, suffering, and effort which hovers before most people’s eyes as the goal of their heart’s desire. Rather, it means a state in which both worlds, the light and the dark, the good and the bad, the joyful and the sorrowful, are united in self-evident acceptance and reflect the true nature of man, his inborn duality. 

In this sense the individuation process leads to the highest possible development and completeness of the psychic personality and is a preparation for the end of life. Whether one goes the “natural”, more, or less unconscious way of individuation or takes the consciously worked through way depends, presumably, on fate. But one thing is certain: unconsciousness or wanting to remain unconscious, to escape the call to development and avoid the venture of life, is sin. For though growing old is the inescapable lot of all creatures, growing old meaningfully is a task ordained for man alone. What meaning has our life? None but what we give it. 


The consciously undertaken way of individuation can, as we have seen, be considered from several points of view. In conclusion, we will list some of the most important.

As a process of psychological development, it represents the step-by-step maturation of the human psyche to the point where all its potentialities are unfolded, and the conscious and unconscious realms are united by integrating its historical roots with present-day consciousness.

From the point of view of characterology, it throws the typological profile of the individual into ever clearer relief. It facilitates increasing control of the auxiliary functions and of the undeveloped, inferior function and attitude, resulting in a growing capacity for judgment and decision and an extension of the freedom of the will.

From the sociological point of view, it integrates the individual with the collective and adapts the ego to the demands of life.

In psychotherapy it brings about a redistribution of psychic energy, assists the dissolution of complexes, identifications, and fixations, as well as the withdrawal of projections. It furnishes a means of recognizing and enduring one’s own shadow qualities, of finding one’s own values, and thus of overcoming neurosis.

Finally, from the religious point of view, it creates a living relation between man and the suprapersonal and gives him his proper place in the order of the universe. Through the encounter with the contents of the unconscious realm of the psyche and their integration with consciousness it lays the foundations of an independent, personal philosophy of life which, depending on the individual, may also ally itself with a particular creed. 

The individuation process, however, cannot be grasped in its deepest essence, for it is a part of the mystery of transformation that pervades all creation. It includes within it the secret of life, which is ceaselessly reborn in passing through an ever renewed “death”. 

“If man is to live,” says Jung, “he must fight and sacrifice his longing for the past in order to rise to his own heights. And having reached the noonday heights, he must sacrifice his love for his own achievement, for he may not loiter. The sun, too, sacrifices its greatest strength in order to hasten onward to the fruits of autumn, which are the seeds of rebirth.” If this sacrifice is made willingly—a deed possible for man alone and demanded again and again on the way of individuation — transformation and rebirth ensue.


Most people, however, prefer to be born only once. They are afraid of the pains without which there can be no birth. They have no trust in the natural striving of the psyche towards its goal. And so there are all too many who halt on life’s way. They venture nothing, they would rather forgo the prize. 

Often even those who go the conscious way of individuation have not understood that the greatest problems in life can never be finally solved. “The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution but in our working at it incessantly.” These words of Jung’s should console us for never having met a “fully individuated” person. For it is not the goal but the striving towards this goal that gives our life content and meaning.“ 

~Jolande Jacobi, The Way of Individuation, pp. 129-134


And here is another gem shared by Fabian Navin about individuation as experienced by the alchemists whom Jung studied and learned from greatly.

Fabian Navin: December 26 at 6:53 PM  

“One of the most fascinating aspects of the esoteric tradition is that they view the human being as a sleeping God, there’s none of the sin stuff, we are not sinful creatures, we are divine creatures, but we have forgotten who we were, because the light has been trapped in matter, and so long as my spark of light is trapped in matter I’ll just keep reincarnating over and over again. 

But if I can liberate that spark and then unite with it then, that would be the definition of enlightenment that the Anthropos symbolizes. So the Alchemists also believed that they were Redeemers ,they believed that they were Redeemers in many different ways, according to the Alchemists if the act of Christ’s redemption of the world was insufficient, it wasn’t complete, we have to complete it. 

And again it views the alchemists as a very powerful spiritual being on par with the divinity in some ways. One of the ways they express this: they would use the book of Genesis, as in alchemical texts, and so they would work with light, try to create light in the way that God did, in order to create in their little world this new divine being. But the ones that were a little less philosophic and ambitious also believed that alchemists were Redeemers because they were transmuting lead into gold

Now from their perspective, and I think this goes back to Aristotle, there was the idea that metals grew in the earth, that lead, if left in the earth for a million years would naturally become gold, it was their evolution. so lead is the sick gold, it’s a deformed gold, it’s an undeveloped gold. So the alchemist says: well I don’t want to wait a million years, I can do this in my laboratory in maybe five. They’re not just making gold so they have money, they’re trying to redeem lead, they’re trying to transmute it into its healthy form, and they had this idea with all of matter, that this earth could be a paradise if the impurities could be transmuted out and the lead of our own world could become a golden world. 

They applied that to the human being, as Jung does, we start out lead, we’re unconscious, we’re chaotic, we’re impulsive and destructive and what-have-you, but we can transmute our psyches into gold, and if we do that, then we experience the Anthropos and then we experience ourselves as more than human, as more than lead. You know, as was said earlier: if you take the world that we live in at its concrete terms it’s a pretty hopeless situation, but if you take the world that we live in as something that could be transmuted and redeemed especially through the imagination, and through the finding of meaning, then it’s not so hopeless.” —  Jeffrey Raff – Jung and the Alchemical Imagination

Jeffrey Raff – Jung and the Alchemical Imagination — Jun 13, 2020

We Are Numinous Creatures Who Have Forgotten So Much of Who We ARE

Raising of the Spirits, Chuck Connell | Jungian Genealogy, by Iona Miller | What a marvelous website!!

From Iona Miller (another find by Fabian Navin):

  • Interlocuteur: “If we became aware of the ancestral lives in us, we might disintegrate. An ancestor might take possession of us and ride us to death.” ~Carl Jung, 1925 Seminar, Page 139
  • “[W]ithout relatedness individuation is hardly possible. Relatedness begins with conversation mostly. Therefore communication is indubitably important.” –Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 609-610
  • We think we shape ourselves and try to act authentically. But our identity is malleable, and the unconscious plays a big role in that. To adapt with integrity, to be true to yourself, would require a clear sense of who you are, really and it is still context dependent. We are not the authors of our own narrative. Psychological well-being is tied to a coherent sense of self identity but is not its only source.

Here is a Real Systems Thinking Man

And this man is not known for his Systems Thinking, but he has done more to improve the systems we live inside than any Systems Thinker I have yet encountered: 

I should like now to pull together into one statement the conditions of this general hypothesis, and the effects which are specified. If I can create a relationship characterized on my part: by a genuineness and transparency, in which I am my real feelings; by a warm acceptance of and prizing of the other person as a separate individual; by a sensitive ability to see his world and himself as he sees them; Then the other individual in the relationship: will experience and understand aspects of himself which previously he has repressed; will find himself becoming better integrated, more able to function effectively; will become more similar to the person he would like to be; will be more self-directing and self-confident; will become more of a person, more unique and more self-expressive; will be more understanding, more acceptant of others; will be able to cope with the problems of life more adequately and more comfortably. I believe that this statement holds whether I am speaking of my relationship with a client, with a group of students or staff members, with my family or children. It seems to me that we have here a general hypothesis which offers exciting possibilities for the development of creative, adaptive, autonomous persons.” 

~Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy


One, Two, Three — Go Forth, Be Conscious!

The Glorious Beingness of the Middle of December | Series: Have You Been Outside Today?

This is one of the videos I have been making during 2020 to survive it. I always end my video notes with the following questions:

What will you do with your Field of Consciousness today?

More importantly, what will your Unconsciousness doe with you today?

Thank you for your time and attention!

After Math — The Magical Calculus of Consciousness

Here & Now

Arcade Fire – Afterlife (Official Video)

Recently, I had an astonishing conversation with a friend on Facebook. I consider it remarkable because so much of what transpires on Facebook (and all other social media platforms) is mindless. This is because that’s what Facebook peddles: distraction. Such platforms are the perfect place to project our deepest fantasies, dreams, desires, and distortions onto other people who have been reduced to simple icons or avatars. Instead of being ordinary people with complicated lives and good and bad qualities, just like ourselves, other people get turned into containers that we fill with our own undigested consciousness and more often with our unconsciousness–projections of ourselves temporarily lost onto others who inhabit the thing about ourself that we have not been able to accept or see inside ourself yet.

What woke me up in this exchange was something Barry said about the TV series Once Upon a Time (love the part in this sneak peak of this series where Snow asks ‘Where are we going?’ and the Evil Queen says ‘Somewhere horrible’ and laughs… doesn’t that sound like reality now?!). I had watched this series and enjoyed it. He had watched and observed something profound:

“Getting back to the remarkable dramaturgy in “Once Upon a Time,” I’m currently up to Season 5, where the main characters of Storybrooke pay a visit to the mythical Underworld, where they encounter a number of other incidental characters who have “Unfinished Business” which they need to resolve before going on to the “Better Place” or to the “Other Place” in the AfterLife. AfterLife is a term of art from Theology, but compare it to Aftermath (which should be written AfterMath). The “Math” is a reference to the individual calculating how they are going to handle a crisis in their life. The characters routinely argue over devising the best or most practical solution to the immediate crisis or dilemma.What happens throughout the series (but especially in the Underworld) is that the viewer at home learns key information about some character’s previously undisclosed Backstory and their associated Unresolved Burning Issues. How the characters eventually process it is often quite stark. Do they choose the unwise path of revenge (and thereby lose their “Happy Ending”) or do they choose the more saintly path of mercy, forgiveness, and healing.What astonished me is how beautifully this ABC-TV series illuminates the Storybook Character Model that I wrote up two decades ago within the scope of our NSF-funded research project at the MIT Media Lab. Click here for the narrative that attends this slide.”

Barry Kort
All credit to my friend Barry Kort who provided this in a comment on an ordinary post made November 3 at 7:58 AM  · 

This stopped me in my mindless tracks, since being mindless on Facebook is something I have learned how to do as a survival skill on this platform. I am exaggerating this a bit since I had several other meaningful exchanges on this post, but meaningful exchanges are rare on Facebook and most don’t last long.

Before I became a mindless user of Facebook, I use to bring my full attention into groups and conversations on Facebook because I thought there could be meaningful exchanges that could occur in this virtual space. But I quickly learned the constant flow of chatter drowned out pretty much anything meaningful transpiring there, sweeping it into the Sea of Forgettable & Forgotten Thought only to pop up again (almost word for word) in another group by someone else or on someone else’s timeline.

It is not plagiarism; it is only what the Sea of Forgetting does to all of us and it happens by design because our thoughts, behaviors, needs, and desires are being cultivated and harvested by these platforms for the good of others, not ourselves. So we are manipulated into thinking we are having a valuable exchange or conversation with another human being, but this is an illusion unless you bring your consciousness into the process, which most of the time, you will be punished for doing… so most people stop trying.

This is when we become most vulnerable to being herded by the algorithms, which constantly shift our NewsFeeds and point our attention here and there: all for the good of those who own the platforms (or who do business with them: the exchange of money). And like this, we become nothing more than Parrots of the Algorithms.

What do I mean by that?

Facebook knows basically at our primal core, we are herd animals. This means we can be herded and shepherded in very predictable ways. A lot like these sheep being herded and directed by sheep herders and well-trained sheep dogs to create the Mona Lisa with LED lights! Really, watch it…you’ll enjoy it.

Extreme Sheep Herding LED Art — Oct 19, 2012

On the Facebook platform, what is being herded is our time and attention— sent to places that are advantageous to the builders of the platform and the Captains of Commerce they are courting. When I say places, I also mean places in our mind: states of feeling, states of emoting, states of being; all these mental states affect us and inform our actions in the world (which of course is what Facebook and algorithms understand). And so the algorithms watch our every action. They even anticipate them like smart, bullish sheep dogs. And, they redirect us if we try to buck the system we are flowing inside by using the platform that has been created for us. Any undesired action or change of direction or new pattern–something that might wake us up, perhaps like genuine friendship and conversation–gets redirected (e.g., shut down, stops showing up in your NewsFeed, stops showing up in your friend’s NewsFeed).

I know about bullish sheep dogs. I have a Great Pyrenees-Pitt Bull puppy who can be very stubborn in getting me to do what she wants me to do, rather than what I want to do. After trying to use Facebook to cultivate generative conversations and reciprocal relationships (like friendships in the normal, real world work), I gave up after learning some hard and disappointing lessons.

  • I learned the more I chased after generative conversations on Facebook, the faster they dissolved and flowed somewhere else. It was like a bad episode in the land of Storybrooke where everyone suddenly forgets who they are and begins repeating the same mistakes that will lead to the same horrible outcomes, just as the evil Queen promises in the clip above.
  • I learned when most individuals sent me a friend request, they weren’t at all interested in being my friend. They simply were seeking a new follower for themselves because they had a carved out a wonderful space in their tiny corner of Storybrooke being played out all over the world on Facebook (and this includes any other social media platform one engages). In fact, I soon found out that it is virtually impossible to be a real friend on Facebook because the algorithms are constantly cutting us off from each other and directing us into community pools where intrigue, outrage, and wholly forgetting experiences are transpiring and repeating over and over again, basically the same mistakes occurring again and again for the good of a few.
  • I learned everybody wants to save the world on Facebook, and each individual believes they are the savior who has found the One and Only Solution, which makes them more of ruler, doesn’t it? You join their group and post something they don’t understand or don’t agree with and it gets quickly deleted or it doesn’t get approved or the worst Fate Ever on Facebook--it gets ignored.
Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Official Music Video) — [I love this group so much! They are definitely a favorite of my Last DJ of Earth character!!]

And so, I learned to bring my unconscious attention to Facebook because that is what Facebook traffics: unconsciousness and this is because it is always exciting and a little bit dangerous. But isn’t that why we go there? Because we are seeking the unexpected, a surprise, something to help us escape?

Escape what‘, you may ask?

Reality, of course. We, the Good People of Earth, have been reduced into beings who constantly seek escape from the extremely boring social containers we are forced to exist inside. We do this because that is the price of gaining the luxurious privileges of living inside the container of a modern Westernized civilization. But, of course, these privileges are not equal or fair for everyone. They simply appear to be fair, but it is an illusion cultivated by the system to maintain extreme imbalances baked into the system long ago.

I don’t think it is anyone’s fault for playing by the extremely unfair rules we were born to play. The system perpetuates these roles for it has been designed over thousands of years to keep us unconscious and divided because this way we are more easily herded like sheep for the good of the system. To not fall into the Pit of Greed designed into the system requires a feat of conscious growth that is definitely not encouraged and even actively discouraged because that would be dangerous for the well-being of system.

So, when Barry Kort said the above, I woke up, and then he added: “If there is one thing that guides my relentless and idiosyncratic drive to craft fundamental theories about the observable behavior patterns of our species and our culture, it’s the drive to Bear Accurate Witness. In “Once Upon a Time,” when Henry becomes the Author, that’s his guiding principle too.”

I asked him to comment more on Bearing Accurate Witness, saying: “Can you say more on the Drive to Bear Accurate Witness?I am pulling this over finally after a very distracting weekend 😉 … but I am bending my mind back to the task at hand. What you are saying is so utterly important in this Now.I am borrowing your brilliant insight AfterMath to title this resource page. I’ve added a tag — The Magical Calculus of Consciousness.Bear Accurate Witness is so important… could this be a baby Archetype forming inside the collective human sea of consciousness… one essential to take root and grow for us as a species to survive what is coming next? This election was very interesting, but we’ve just begun this struggle…”


When/if Barry responds, I will add his comments here, but the idea of Bearing Accurate Witness is extremely pertinent to the exponential rise of relative realities being projected into the world by the species Homo sapiens sapiens.

He answered: “There are three or four places where I dove into the concept of Bearing Accurate Witness.1. The stricture against bearing false witness is enshrined in the Ten Commandments.2. When I was in Grad School, studying arcane topics like Cybernetic Systems Theory and Feedback Control Theory, we came to the Fundamental Theorem of Feedback Control Theory. One-half of that theorem spelled out the requirement of reliably observing the current state, so that it can be compared against the goal state to determine the present amount of deviation. That deviation then drove the second phase, which was to compute the amount of adjustment to the controls to drive the deviation to zero as smoothly as possible. If you cannot reliably observe and report the current state, then you do not have a functional feedback control loop.3. Among the introductions Zen that one could find in an American bookstore was one by Bernie Glassman entitled, “Bearing Witness: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace.”4. In Judaism, the affirmation of One God (the “Shema”) is recited multiple times in weekly services. But this affirmation appears exactly once (in Hebrew) in the Torah scroll and it exactly fits on one line. In the calligraphy, the last letter of ‘Shema’ (the Ayin) is written in oversize lettering, and the last letter of the last word (Daled) is also written in oversize lettering. These two Hebrew letters, together form a two-letter Hebrew word that means “Witness.” When I told this story to a class, one of them created this drawing for me.”

— Barry Kort
Image provided by Barry Kort

He also provided two other pieces he has written that are also extremely profound and worth your time and attention.

The Ninth Intelligence by Barry Kort — September 6, 2013

Moulton Lava — Solving for the BackStory

Moulton Lava — Moultonic Musings — aka Barry Kort — Solving for the BackStory — THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2005

Now, I will boldly ramble on… thus, Now is a probably a good time to skim what follows.

Projecting consciousness is not a new ability. Humans have been doing this ever since crossing the Threshold of Consciousness. I talk about this in my story and have imagined what it must have been like for the first human to cross the Threshold of Consciousness bring the entire species into they type of consciousness we know and understand today. It was not always like this. Consciousness has taken many, many channels of bing to get to us.

I will not say more about this now other than to provide a simple metaphor illustrating our ability to project consciousness. It is very much like what our sun does in emitting light. Mostly, this is a good thing…after all, there would not be life as we know it on Earth without it. However, sometimes huge coronal mass ejections occur releasing dangerous amounts of plasma and its accompanying magnetic field, which roar from the sun like a hot solar wind. These flares can be very destructive to the fragile life forms clinging to the surfaces of surrounding planets like Earth. Indeed, some theories speculate it was exactly such a devastation that befell Mars, causing its fragile life forms to disappear.


The Netflix series Away explores this idea in a deep and gritty drama that feels terribly real as the first humans to venture to Mars in order to set up the first base station there (and perhaps reintroduce life!). The series explores deep and complex realities of living in space alongside even more complex complications of cherished relationships left behind on Earth. As the first astronauts travel farther and farther from home, the vast distance and time delays threaten to collapse fragile bonds of the loved ones being tested and strained by circumstances beyond their control. And of course, some of these circumstances cannot be fully calculated by us, fragile human lifeforms, bolding exploring our home solar systems. Definitely worth watching!

Away | Official Trailer | Netflix | Aug 10, 2020

This video is a NASA animation of a Coronal Mass Ejection from our Sun.

NASA | Magnificent Eruption | coronal mass ejection | in Full HD | Sep 5, 2012

And this Alan Watts video about consciousness (as I begin to transcribe this video, I am bulled over that Watts begins this lecture by saying human evolved a system of self-consciousness…I had not paid attention to this as I wrote my musing above):

Alan Watts | The Cosmic Masochis |Posted Nov 14, 2020 by Haunted By The TruthWithout thought of white there is no black, without self there is no other, without life there is no death.

Partial Transcript of Alan Watts’ Lecture:

00:01: Several thousand years ago, human beings evolved the system of self-consciousness.

00:10: And, they knew that they knew: “There was a young man who said though it seems that I know that I know; what I would like to see is the I/eye that knows me when I know that I know that I know.

00:24: You see, and this is the human problem: We know that we know, and so there came a point in our evolution when we didn’t guide life by just trusting our instincts and had to think about it and had to purposely arrange and discipline and push our lives around in accordance with foresight and words and systems of symbols accountancy calculation and so on. And then, we worry once you start thinking about things you worry as to whether you’ve thought enough.

1:03: Did you really take all the details into consideration? Was every fact properly reviewed? And by jove, the more you think about it the more you realize that you really couldn’t take everything into consideration because all the variables in any human decision are incalculable.

1:22: So you get anxiety. This though also this is the price you pay for knowing that you know, for being able to think about thinking to feel about feeling, and so you’re in this funny position.


I will not wax and wane about our ability of consciousness and how it has allowed us to warp reality because I write about this in great detail in my story about Climate Change and Consciousness. Rather, I will simply highlight a few other moments that have captured my attention and inform my thinking on this usually, very abstract, but also very old idea.

Shape of Stories

Kurt Vonnegut, Shape of Stories (subtitulos castellano)

I love how this clip starts: “Now…where the hell are we?

Doesn’t that about sum up reality, especially these days in the Year of Our Lord 2020 with a raging global pandemic right after a highly contentious US presidential election called a clear winner but the loser refuses to accept reality.

Now, why do I start out this resource list with this timeless clip about the Shape of Stories by Kurt Vonnegut?

Because stories are how we have learned to collect, consolidate, and direct consciousness to do things in the world. We use stories to do this be it an individual consolidating his or her consciousness to do something in the world or a state, a nation, or a civilization consolidating all its individual streams of consciousness into a powerful river of consciousness to do something bold and daring in the world.

Kurt Vonnegut, Shape of Stories — This is a cheat sheet of the main story arches we love to tell as humans, but listen to the whole lecture because a critical story arch is missing from this list. [Image gotten from The Shape of Stories — Broadsheet]

Current Events Informing the Shape of Humanity’s Current Reality — Our Collective Calculus of Consciousness & Story

I want to spend a little time on current events in America because they have an outsized role in shaping and determining many other stories unfolding inside the United States as well as around the world.


The first and most profound, probably the event that will gleam loudly in history books around the world like a glaring code red alarm, is Donald Trump’s catastrophic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the very beginning, he chose the path of ignorance, denial, rapacity, and blatant disregard for human life. He did this because he wanted to place the health and wellbeing of the economy (specifically the part that benefited him and his despicable, greedy friends) over the lives of the people of the United States of America. It is a crime against humanity, and one day, an accurate witness of this terrible reality will need to be borne by all of the members of this society–our collective: the United States of America. But for now, Donald Trump continues to muddy the waters of our collective consciousness with more lies, fresh deceit, copious bluffs and endless confidence tricks. His efforts are so vast and so endless, the good people of this country have been worn down and worn out. This has made all of us vulnerable to being swindled out of our goodwill, our commonsense, our intelligence, and most of all, our inner moral compass. Once depleted of these intangible, but infinitely powerful parts of any individual’s consciousness, we, the people, have been cruelly cast adrift on a savage sea of unconsciousness. Donald Trump did not create this sea. We, the people, created it by turning away from the truth in our exhaustion. But he is using it to pound away at the foundations of our fragile democracy. His endless subterfuge will take years, perhaps decades (even centuries), to repair the memory banks that contain the collective psyche of our great country, which guides and informs every individual living inside this system of consciousness we call the United States of America. This is because too many individuals will continue to believe Donald Trump’s lies long after this man of deception, artifice, and divisive duping is dead.

This article in The Atlantic beautifully articulates the damage he has done in 4 percious, short years of his reign of flimflam wiling of the American people. We are paying the price of reality, not him. That’s what the twisted rich do with their power. They thrown other people under the bus of reality for their bad calculations of consciousness forestalling their own awful fate for a little longer… but not forever. In the end, fate always catches up and swallows its guilty, gullible victims of ignorance who never bother to grow their individual field of consciousness.


Trump’s Indifference Amounts to Negligent Homicide

The president’s behavior may not meet the term’s legal definition, but it captures the horror a government is visiting upon its people. | Written by James Fallows | 11/20/20

Image from The Atlantic article: MANDEL NGAN / AFP / GETTY

Fallows begins by defining the title saying, “Negligent homicide has a specific meaning in the law books. The standards of proof and categories of offense vary from state to state. But the essence is: Someone died because someone else did not exercise reasonable care.”

Then Fallows quickly drills down to the nitty gritty details of death for which Trump ultimately is responsible.

“More than a year ago, I argued in these pages that if Donald Trump held virtually anyother position of responsibility in modern society, he would already have been removed from that role. The article was called “If Trump Were an Airline Pilot,” and the examples ranged from CEOs to nuclear-submarine commanders to surgeons in an operating room. If any of them had demonstrated the impulsiveness, the irrationality, the vindictiveness, the ceaseless need for glorification that all distinguish Trump, responsible authorities would long ago have suspended them. The stakes—in lives, legal exposure, dollars and cents, war and peace—would be too great to do otherwise.

At the time of that comparison, the main case against Trump involved his temperamental, intellectual, and moral unfitness for the job. But since then we’ve moved into the realm of manslaughter. Yesterday nearly 2,000 Americans died of COVID-19. By Thanksgiving Day, another 10,000 to 15,000 will have perished. By year’s end, who knows? And meanwhile the person in charge of guiding the national response does nothing.”

Take some time to read all of Fallows’ article yourself and draw your own conclusions. Even better, subscribe to The Atlantic to support their work for without this 4th estate (the media) operating free and open, Donald Trump probably would have gotten away with his scam upon democracy and the American people. He would have destroyed it and installed himself as dictator of the Greatest Nation that collapsed in on itself.


Photo: Bébé — Drawing on Fence Surrounding the White House the Day After the Election Was Called for Joe Biden

Another moment I would like to memorialize here is how Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon opened their broadcast on the day the election was called for Biden (11/7/20). It had been a long week waiting for the all the state counts to come in and CNN was maintaining continuous coverage of these events because this was such an important collective moment. They came on just after Kamala Harris and Joe Biden had given their speeches in Delaware and the moment was really sinking in for everyone, even Trump (though he refuses to admit it publicly still that’s not his shtik, a Yiddish word for act or gimmick, trick or a prank).

I love how Chris begins by asking how his cohost and friend Don is feeling. It was an important moment because this allowed something fragile, illusive, raw, and rare to emerge. All credits for the excerpt below goes to CNN’s transcripts page — thank you CNN!


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Good to see you, sharing history once again. And tonight is a big night for America. What does it mean? Well, we’ll discuss it together.

But we know this. For now, we have a President Elect Joe Biden. He came out, he addressed the nation and gave a call to give each other a chance, he said. That this is a time to heal. And literally, he’s right. We are sick from COVID right now, and a poison politics that is every bit as virulent. Don, how you’re feeling?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It’s – I almost can’t talk right now, because of the emotion that we will get to. So I’m not sure how much I want to say right off the top. But, you know, I’ve said all along, we have two viruses that’s infecting this country, and that’s COVID and racism.

And what we witnessed tonight was the complete opposite of racism, with the diversity, with the acknowledgement of all kinds of people, with someone saying they want to represent every kind of American, even the people who didn’t vote for him. We had been starving for that in this country. And it has nothing to do with being a Democrat or Republican, or being Conservative, or Independent, or Liberal. It’s about human decency.

So I have to be quite honest with you, the entire day I was asleep, because we got off this – we got off the air at what seven this morning. I forget it’s been going back and forth, 7, 8, 9; we got here at 7 o’clock this morning. I went ahead and had breakfast with my fiance, right. I’m a black man, a gay American. I live in New York City.

I went ahead and had breakfast with my fiance. I haven’t had time – that much time to spend with him. We had breakfast. I went home, I went to sleep. I am staying in a hotel because of these crazy hours not far from here. I heard – I’m on the 40th floor, Chris. I heard people cheering 40 floors below me. And I woke up and I said what is going on?

And I opened the drapes and I could see the city around me people were cheering in New York City. I turn the television on. And there were my colleagues announcing that Joe Biden had become the president elect of the United States, and not to forget, Kamala Harris, the first black woman. I didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed by that.

I didn’t realize the PTSD, that many marginalized people, that African-Americans, women, Latinos, people of color, all kind of White people – PTSD that people are feeling around this country, because we have had whiplash from someone who only cares about himself and not uniting people.

Chris over just the last 6, 7, 8 months, you and I have been together. You have been – you were sick. I was – I worried, I thought one of my best friends was going to die. I cried on the air. We have more than 200,000 Americans who have died. And as a journalist, we have an obligation to tell the truth.

And we have been telling the truth about what this administration, this President has been doing with this virus. And so you got sick. I’ve lost – I lost a close childhood friend, I lost a close adult friend. Both of them died from complications from COVID. And then along came George Floyd. And I had to sit in cover that story – we all did, about a man who died on the street and we all watch it on videotape, from someone who seemed to not care about human life, just sat there with his knee on the neck. And we had all these protests around the country.

So immediately, my thoughts went back to these protests that happened this summer and when I saw and heard what was happening today, all I can think of was – think of was, how could we not have expected that if Joe Biden became the president elect of the United States that the streets would not erupt after what had happened in this country?

Just – and I’m just talking about the last eight months. I’m not talking about all the stuff that we dealt with before – the fake news and people yelling at us on the street and people calling me nigger and fag and all kinds of things, and you’re fake news and all of that. Never before that I’ve been in this business since 1991, have I ever had to deal with the crap that I’ve had to deal with over the last four years. It is disgusting.

And so just over the last months – last couple months, we’ve had all of that. And over the past few nights we have been saying, we’re going to give you some information. We don’t know who’s going to win. We’re going to – America was – and they’re yelling at us, please, please call this. We are sick of it. We cannot take much more of it.

And so when the call finally came, and I saw my colleagues – and I love all of them and everybody around, they’re all talking about – what about this and who’s this and they were – Democrats didn’t do this and Democrats – that’s not what America wanted. America needed a release valve at that moment. And they wanted to get it off their chest. It was like a third world country, people who have been oppressed.

[23:05:00] Finally, the relief came that no longer that we have to live under this oppression. No longer that we have to live under people who’re pretending that up is not up and down is not down, that one plus one doesn’t equal two. And so I can’t help but be emotional at this moment. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to say. So forgive me. I may not say all the right things tonight. I am very emotional. And guess what, I’m speaking for everyone.

But I got to tell you, when I watched that Black woman come out on stage tonight, and I saw all of those people from of all ages and all different backgrounds – the whole entire theme was everyone is welcome under this tent, we don’t care who you are. We don’t care if you voted for us or not. You’re all part of this American experiment.

It was – I was so overwhelmed to hear that. I don’t care what people think. If they think I’m biased tonight, I don’t care, because I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republican, I’m not a Conservative, not I’m not a Liberal, I am an American. And we all deserve to be able to live in this country and have respect.

And what this administration and what this president doesn’t do, they do not respect people, or anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe. And so I’m very emotional. So when you ask me how I’m feeling right now, I’m sorry. That’s all I can tell you. This is how I feel right now. I am so happy to have this platform to be able to do this.

I may not have it after this. But I really don’t care. I am so happy to live in a country that has an administration that is going to go in regardless, I’m going to challenge them on their policies, I’m going to hold them to account. But when you say we’re all welcome, and we’re all equal in this country, amen. I’m in on that. And I love you. 

CUOMO: I’m glad I asked.

LEMON: Thank you for letting – thank you for letting me say that. And I got your phone call in the middle of the day. And I loved that you were out there with your daughter in the streets with people and showing her what true diversity is and what being a true American is. It’s not just performative – putting up flags and putting big flags in your yard. And I heard someone say, Oh, I don’t understand why – how Joe Biden could win, because I didn’t see a lot of flags and I didn’t see a lot of people with big events.

That is not what this country is about. It’s not about performative patriotism. It’s not about who can hang the biggest flag. It’s about who has the biggest heart. And who – who has class, who can turn the other cheek, who can forgive their neighbor. That’s what being a real patriot is. It’s not performative. It’s what’s – it’s what you hold in here and I hope we can get back to that. That’s it. I’m through for now. Thank you for letting–

Note: We should all take a moment to write our stories about this past weekend…imho...


Photo: Bébé — Drawing on Fence Surrounding the White House the Day After the Election Was Called for Joe Biden

In the past 8 months of watching CNN (more than ever I did before but I wanted to learn about COVID-19 and be informed about the Presidential election). In this time, I have come to greatly enjoy the little bits of dialog they share with viewers every night when Chris’ program ends and Don’s begins. They often tackle issues they do not always agree upon. They do it with passion, humor, and respect for each other. They are showing us in real time how all of us can have these types of extremely important, but often uncomfortable conversations. This is how we process, distill, and refine consciousness together. This work is absolutely necessary to sublimate consciousness as individuals and as collectives. You cannot transform consciousness and lift it to a higher level until you channel, process, refine, and purify–an refine again and again until you get different distillations can be sublimate a critical first step to transformation.

You skip these steps–your calculus of consciousness gets reset to the beginning and you get to start all over again–just like my friend Barry Kort was pointing out in his enjoyment of watching how all the crazy characters in Once Upon a Time were constantly recalculating their actions to get better outcomes and the aftermath that often follows miscalculations! Don’t we love the AfterMath and the chaos that often ensuing when we miscalculate our actions in the world. Thank you Barry Kort for this brilliant illumination of who we are as human beings… perhaps we are simply Consciousness Calculators… if we are, I love it!


Photo: Bébé — Drawing on Fence Surrounding the White House the Day After the Election Was Called for Joe Biden

The next moment from this broadcast I want to illuminate is Don’s interview with House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. This is important because back when the Democrats were trying to pick their candidate to run against Trump, it was James Clyburn when he made public who he was voting for in the Democratic Party presidential primaries taking place just before COVID-19 was going to turn the world upside down that consolidated support for Joe Biden that ended up being the spark that swept through Super Tuesday. All credits for the excerpt below goes to CNN’s transcripts page


LEMON: We are living history. Once again, another historic administration is coming – the Biden-Harris administration. Black voters overwhelmingly backed Biden by a margin – a margin of 87 percent to 12 percent, that’s according to the exit polls, playing a very crucial role in this election.

So let’s talk to the highest ranking Black American in Congress, and that’s House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. Thank you so much for joining us, Congressman, how you doing?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I’m doing good, and thank you very much for having me.

LEMON: Yes. I spoke to you. I think, it was one week ago and here we are now.

CLYBURN: Yes.

LEMON: I have to admit. I don’t know any other way. But honestly, it’s been a very emotional day for me. I tweeted out earlier that I was in Grant Park for Barack Obama and then now I am reporting on the first Black woman to be vice president of the United States. It’s an amazing time to be an American.

CLYBURN: It really is. And I think that people ought to think a little bit about this. Here we are about to inaugurate a gentlemen, who was Vice President to the first African-American president, as far as we know, and is also going to be president with the first African- American, Asian-American vice president. That is a tremendous thing. And also the daughter of immigrants.

I think this campaign when you’re still going to look at it and the Biden-Harris ticket, they say so much about what this country is all about. And you and I know, you are Louisianan, and I’m a South Carolinian, but we know what it is to live in a part of the country that has wrestled with these issues for years.

And we’ve been doing, I think, great work toward that more perfect union, until four years ago. And it turns out that the country took a big step backwards. And so this campaign and the success of this campaign, I think, is an indication of what a lesson Tocqueville said about the country when he wrote that America is not great because it is more enlightened than any other nation, but rather, because it has always been able to repair its faults.

The election Donald Trump opened up a fault line in the country. The election of Joe Biden is an attempt to repair that fault. And I think he will succeed.

LEMON: Did you have – I’m sure you did. But talk to me about how underserved – people who are in minority and underserved communities, what they had been dealing with over the last four years, this is beyond politics. Many of us have been under attack from this administration.

CLYBURN: Yes, and that’s what bothered me so much about the administration. George W. Bush and I have are good buddies. Yes, I won’t use the word friends, because we’ve never really had a close relationship. But we have a good working relationship. And we’re buddies and we still are.

We chatted at John Lewis’s funeral. Here’s George W. Bush, coming from Texas, to appear at the Homegoing service of John Lewis. And we got a president who barely acknowledges the first African-American to lie in state – in the state’s capitol. And I want to be sure that everybody understands, I know Rosa Parks, she was in repose. She was not in state. John Lewis was in state, and there’s a difference.

So he’s the first African-American, but we got a president who refused to even acknowledge that to be the case. It would seem to me he would have paid respects at the Capitol. That’s the kind of indignity that this guy has heaped up on African Americans.

I was on the program earlier today with Omarosa. I will never get over the fact that this president looked into a camera, spoke into a microphone and called Omarosa a dog. I will never be able to get over that.

[23:30:00]

I can’t get over the fact that this president looked at a mob down in Charlottesville, Virginia, and called them and said that there were good people on both sides. To have a president of the United States, driving wedges between people, it’s just not a good thing.

We know this is not a perfect country. This country back in 1619 brought their first African-Americans to these shores and they were enslaved and that’s lasted for 244 years. And then for another 100 years we had apartheid. He didn’t call it that. But “separate, but equal” was apartheid, no different than what we had in South Africa.

But this country wrestled with that. And in 1954, the United States Supreme Court in a unanimous nine to zero decision, Chief Justice, a Republican appointed by Republican, not partisan politics, but Americans said that’s wrong, and we’re going to do something about correcting that. And to have this president come in, and try to undo all of that, and try to turn the clock back, this is just too much to take for too many people.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about that, especially about working with – listen, there’s a difference between Republicans and Democrats trying to work together, then trying to work with someone who wants to deny reality, or deny that there’s systemic racism, or deny that people aren’t treated differently in this country. It’s really tough sometimes.

And I just have to be honest with you, Congressman, it’s really tough to sometimes to sit here and have to talk to people who you know are bigots, you know, they’re racists. And you have to sometimes pretend that there is some sense of fairness in the questions or in them, when you know, they’re not going to tell the truth, when you know, they’re making excuses for racism. 

How do you do that? Give us all some advice, including me. How do you do that when you are a representative? And you know over the past four years, many of the people who are not in your party have denied that there is even racism in this country, and has condoned every bigoted thing this president does, makes excuses for us. Help us out here what do we do?

CLYBURN: Well, I understand your frustration with that. And quite frankly, I’m frustrated a whole lot over the years. But I always try to look at the big picture. And I know what my parents went through much of what your parents went through. And I know a lot of the indignities that they suffered in order for me to be where I am today.

And so I take a lot of that, as part of what I need to deal with in order to make those three daughters of mine, those four grandchildren I have, to make sure that they have a better life. Strom Thurmond and I had a very good working relationship. Strom Thurmond and I did not agree on much, but we worked together on behalf of the people of South Carolina.

His sister Gertrude was one of my best friends and Strom, he is talking all the time. My sister Gertrude just loves you. Well, it’s because I recognize that our backgrounds, our experiences have been different. And I worked to do what I could to help reconcile those differences. I’ve always said that if the distance between me and opponent on any issue are five steps, I don’t mind taking three of them.

LEMON: Amen.

CLYBURN: And so that’s just the way that I have operated. And I will say to you, you do such a good job in the profession that you’re in. I just admire your work. I watch you every night. And I just think you do a good job. Don’t let the disagreements, the setbacks, define your profession, work to overcome that. And you do a good job of it. Keep doing it.

[23:35:00]

Don’t let anybody throw cold water on your dreams. And that’s what we’re doing. They come along, see your dreams and aspiration – I tell people all the time, I’m practicing Eleventh Commandment. And Ronald Reagan used to say it all the time. Though, I heard it before Ronald Reagan ever said it. Thou shalt not throw cold water on another man’s dreams.

LEMON: Amen. I got to – David, the producer is just giving me just a minute. I’ve got to ask this one question. I apologize. I’m going to take a little longer here.

CLYBURN: Sure.

LEMON: So this is what I want to ask you. Right after the president- elect talked about all the people he wanted this coalition, which includes every American, he said this, OK. He said he especially wanted to make – and I think he was talking about you in large part.

And he said, and “especially for the moment when this campaign was at its lowest, the African-American community stood up again for me. They always have my back. And I’ll always have yours.” That’s when I started crying watching that speech. And that was because of you what happened in South Carolina. You revived this man’s campaign. The reason we have a president-elect Joseph Biden today is in large part because of James Clyburn.

CLYBURN: And James Clyburn stood where he did on that occasion, because of who – a young – not so young lady at St. John’s Baptist Church, who said to me just before the South Carolina primary, I need to know who you voted for. And when I told her, she looked in my face, and she said to me, I needed to hear that and this community needs to hear from you. It wasn’t Jim Clyburn. It was Mrs. Jones, sitting on the front Pew of St. John’s Baptist Church in Richland County, South Carolina. I did what I did for her, because she told me that she wanted to hear that. So, yes, it wasn’t Jim Clyburn. It was those people, my constituents, who told me time and time again, how they wanted me to conduct myself. And Mrs. Jones told me on that day, how she wanted me to stand up in this presidential election. And I responded to her wishes. 

LEMON: Congressman, it’s always a pleasure. I thank you so much. 

CLYBURN: Thank you about that.

LEMON: We appreciate you, and we love you. Thank you so much.

CLYBURN: Love you too, brother.

LEMON: And I see that Omega Psi Phi. I see that back there cute dog. And we see that Alpha Kappa Alpha is out there all for–

CLYBURN: They are roaming in the room for all the haters.

LEMON: Say again?

CLYBURN: I said, they are roaming in the room for all you haters. I tell all my Divine Nine brothers and sisters, in the final analysis, you may not know it, but you will end up in your Omega Chapter.

LEMON: Thank you. And we are appreciating the AKAs out there as well and the Deltas and don’t get mad, my sister was a Kappa sweetheart, so you know, it takes all kind.

CLYBURN: Well, that’s great. That’s great. And look, just remember, I told her – Kamala that I was an AKA through November 3rd, so her success allows me to go back to being the cute dog that I have.

LEMON: Thank you, Congressman. You be well. Thanks.

CLYBURN: Thank you.

LEMON: So America is getting to know its next Vice President. And coming up, we’re going to talk to a lifelong friend about the Kamala Harris. She knows on this remarkable night in American politics. We’ll be right back.


Photo: Bébé — Drawing on Fence Surrounding the White House the Day After the Election Was Called for Joe Biden

One more clip that I want to illuminate from this moment is the following which aired November 8, 2020 – 01:00   ET (CNN transcripts).


LEMON: Mmm! 

Let’s discuss now. Big night for America. John Avlon, S.E. Cupp, Nia- Malika Henderson. Hello, one and all. 

So what happened today in America?

(CROSSTALK) JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, this is a day to savor. This is from the celebrations that have been breaking out across the country, from New York, I realize Biden finally won when people started clacking pots and pans outside their windows and the celebrations and the car honking. 

This is one of the moments, using Biden was favorite poems, where hope and history run. And I think you’re feeling a deep sense that our democracy that has risen up in unprecedented numbers and really shown how strong it is. 

LEMON: I want to talk about the diversity that we have seen across the country. Listen, whether you supported the president or not, you had to — you see the pictures. These are young people, old people, all different ethnicities, either out there today celebrating or at the acceptance speech tonight in Delaware. 

S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST: It was a really welcome, refreshing, uplifting, optimistic sight. And, you know, I experienced today from sort of two different perspectives, the first as a Republican who voted for Biden. 

And let me tell you, it has not been easy to be a never-Trumper over the past four years. It’s not always been comfortable. It’s been lonely. 

But I never bought into the need to make America great. I voted for Joe Biden to make America good again. And I think today our vote was not in vain. And that felt really good. 

The other way I experienced today was as a woman. 

And, Don, you and have I talked about this before. The greatest indignity of the past four years for women is not just that men are running the country; these men are running the country. 

And so to see a woman elected to go into the White House was really something. 

And I’ll just end by sharing a personal anecdote. I never talk about politics with my kid because he is 5 and he has a life. 

(LAUGHTER)

CUPP: Also, I just don’t want — why would I foist this upon him?

But it was big day. I was obviously watching TV and he comes in and he sees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on the screen. 

He says, “What’s happening, Mom?

And I said, “Well, those two people were just chosen today to lead the country.” 

And he goes, “That’s a woman.” 

Could you lead the country, Mom?” And to say that I got emotional is an understatement. But when we talk about the need to see people like us represented in politics, in positions of power, in popular culture, it is that simple as to why. It is childlike as to why. 

[01:35:00]

CUPP: Because it matters to see yourself depicted back, reflected back. And in that moment, my son became a man who believes that women can do anything. And that was a very positive experience for me. 

LEMON: Wow. 

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, I agree. All day hearing from friends and family about what this moment meant to them, my wife texting me as she was watching Kamala Harris, saying, wow, not only is Kamala Harris the vice president-elect; she acknowledged Black women in her speech, shouted them out in her speech and talked about Black women, the troubles and travails of Black women and the ways in which they’ve been the backbone of the country. 

To have that moment was really quite meaningful. My friend, who is Puerto Rican; his mom is 82 years old, lives in South Carolina, voted for the first time in a presidential election this year and was crying when the announcement came. 

And she felt like finally. This was a country that could she feel included in and that she voted for this president who was going to turn the world right side up again. So, so many emotions today seeing the outpouring of emotion of other people, because I think, over these last four years, there has been so much anxiety, stress and fear and pain, particularly from marginalized communities, women, people of color, gay folks like you and me, Don. 

And to just have this release today, that things will be different and we don’t have to wake up every day and see what Trump is tweeting, see what Republicans are excusing Trump from tweeting — 

LEMON: It’s like you become used to it. It’s normalized, right?

And all of a sudden you realize, it doesn’t have to be this way, there is, like I said earlier, there is this release valve. Wait a minute. 

CUPP: Exactly right. 

LEMON: This doesn’t have to be this way. And I have to say doubly so, we’re talking about diversity and minorities. 

But for women, for you to acknowledge what you just said, I thought that was beautiful, because your son may have grown up if this would continue. 

What is he, 5, 6?

CUPP: 5. 

LEMON: Not ever seeing what he saw today. And just the mere presence. 

CUPP: And he doesn’t know what he saw, right?

He doesn’t know. I don’t talk to him about feminism or — he’s 5. He cares about “Paw Patrol.” But what he saw was a woman could do anything. And he got that. 

LEMON: S.E., as a Republican woman, a conservative woman and you see what’s happened over the last few years with Trumpism, do you have any idea where this goes? 

What — have I some idea what the folks at home who are seeing because it shows up on my timeline, people who have found my contact information, you know. It doesn’t just go away. 

Is that wishful thinking to say that the madness and the craziness is going to go away from that group of people?

Because I don’t think it’s reflective of all conservatives but it’s certainly taken over the party. 

CUPP: Yes, listen. I think there is — we’ve seen two schools of thought right now emerging. And this is the mess that Joe Biden will inherit. There are people who want to unite enough to get him elected, right, and really want to come together. 

And then there are folks who really don’t have that interest at all. Those folks are on the Right. A lot of Trump supporters who have no interest in understanding one another

They’re also on the Left. A lot of folks who say, Trump supporters, eff you and good riddance and I’m going to step over your bodies on the way out. I think that attitude gets us three more Trumps at some point. 

We’ve got to figure out with a way to not excuse racism and bigotry disguised as economic insecurity; to not excuse it but to understand why we got here. 

LEMON: I got to get to the break, because I’m getting clobbered. Quick if you can. 

AVLON: Biden’s entire campaign core message was about this: question people’s judgment, not their motives. I’m a Democrat but I’ll be an American president. That I think ultimately is why you saw this turnout. We had a choice on this election between unity and division. And that’s why the relief. 

LEMON: Chris and have I been talking about. 

How do you do it?

That’s a mandate, if you want to call it, for the Biden-Harris administration but also, they’ve got to have people buy into it. 

How do you achieve that? We don’t know. But we’re going to try to continue to figure it out. We’ll be right back. 

You’re Fired… Or Wait… Maybe Not!!

Photo: Bébé — Drawing on Fence Surrounding the White House the Day After the Election Was Called for Joe Biden

S.E. Cupp is absolutely right!!! When our consciousness get split as individuals, it is considered a simple neurosis. When our collective consciousness gets split, the result into polarized politics. I think this splitting is entirely normal part of synthesizing and processing consciousness so that we understand it and can apply it more effectively in our lives. Doing this helps us see the other side more clearly–the divide begins inside. But, when we keep splitting and dividing until we grow so far apart from the other side we can no longer see the other side, then we have entered a very dangerous space within the Field of Mind. It is a very deep and dark place: the Pit of Division.

I made a mini movie about the day after we learned Biden won that I titled: You’re Fired — After the Math Was Done!

You’re Fired — After the Math Was Done

In the description, I say: “All of us are part of the light, if we choose to be. The light is love. Division is a deep, dark hole that we can fall into many ways…often starting small like getting angry with your brother or sister, or becoming pissed off about something a friend forgot to do, or getting pushed in by deceptive, manipulative people. It doesn’t matter how you get there… it’s just dark with the dirt of division, mistrust, hate, jealousy, resentment, bitterness, greed, rapacity, avarice…you get the idea. So, fill up you’re hole up with the sweet, nourishing waters of love, which runs deep inside of you… in the place we call soul.”


So we all have a role in the fate of the country. And we all can help heal the division by filling up our personal Pits of Division with the nourishing waters of peace, love, and understanding (I think there is a fairly famous song about this). There is nothing wrong or bad about falling into a pit. We all do it…all of the time…it’s one of the flaws or beautiful aspects of being human. It’s whether we stay there or not that really counts!

One Vote

(  Photo Credit: Dean Terry )

Description of this episode: “Come election season, it’s easy to get cynical. Why cast a ballot if your single measly vote can’t possibly change anything?

In our first-ever election special, we set off to find a single vote that made a difference. We venture from the biggest election on the planet – where polling officials must brave a lion-inhabited forest to collect the vote of an ascetic temple priest – to the smallest election on the planet – where there are no polling officials, only kitty cats wearing nametags. Along the way, we meet a too-trusting advice columnist, a Texan Emperor, and a passive-aggressive mom who helped change American democracy forever.”

Reported by Latif Nasser with help from Tracie Hunte. Produced by Simon Adler, Tracie Hunte, Matt Kielty, Annie McEwen and Latif Nasser. 


I only heard the beginning of this episode, but there are some absolutely shocking stories of where exactly one vote shaped world history. A couple of the things that shocked me included:

  • King Charles I of England was accused by the House of Commons in 1649 of treason against his subjects, one solitary vote cost him his throne and his head,
  • France from a monarchy to a republic in 1875 by one vote.
  • Thomas Jefferson was elected President by the House of Representatives in 1801 by one vote after an Electoral College tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.
  • Adolf Hitler was elected to be leader of the Nazi party by one vote!

— This list was complied from an article by Carl Hendrickson.


The Calculus of Chaos

Carduus — Thistle (Photo by Bébé)

Steve Schmidt (who was a senior advisor on John McCain’s campaign in 2008) is a co-founded of the Lincoln Project, which is a group of Republicans who banded together to help get rid of Trump. In an interview with Axios, Schmidt said, “Trumpism is a “noxious weed” and America needs to root it out.”

In an interview with Alex Kantrowitz, host of Big Technology Podcast, in partnership with OneZero, Steve Schmidt says:

“It’s impossible to talk about any of this without talking about the legacy of the most dangerous and the most injurious immigrant to America in all of our long history, and that’s Rupert Murdoch. And so we’ve had an increasingly extreme, very sophisticated, inner woven series of institutions that monetize billions of dollars driving anger and misinformation in this country, from talk radio, Fox; Facebook is a cancerous part of this mix as well now.

In essence, what voting has become for a lot of people in this country is an act of aggression where the vote is to impose punishment by electing a faction to do harm to the other faction that’s viewed as the enemy. And you see this playing out with Trump refusing federal aid for California because of the fires, threatening Democratically run states and cities.

There’s a lot, obviously, of racial animus that’s teeming throughout the Trump movement and that has been stoked by him. And the party that is the home for in our politics clearly in this era is the Republican Party. That’s part of it as well. We, as a country, have not addressed in any type of meaningful way the question of, what type of society, what type of country do we want to live in in 20 years?”

Schmidt explained that back in 2016, both Presidential candidates lied to the people:

“Hillary went there and lied and said that the clean energy jobs were coming. So this is an economically depressed, isolated part of the country, it’s really in a lot of ways fundamentally unchanged but for the devastation of the opioid epidemic since Bobby Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson toured through there in the late 1960s talking about poverty. And so Donald Trump went back and he said the coal jobs are coming back. What’s the easier lie to believe? The lie where there’s still remembrance of a life that’s no longer there but still seems within touch, or about jobs in a world that never existed ever in the first place, just a fantasy?”

Alex Kantrowitz begins this interview by asking Schmidt what’s happened to the Republican Party since 2008?

Schmidt replies: “The Republican party is in a state of moral, intellectual, and spiritual collapse right now. There’s not even a pretense that it stands for issues and you can evidence that by looking at the platform. And what the platform of the party says, ratified at the convention this summer, in essence confirms that the party is a cult of personality where to be in good standing requires obedience and loyalty to Donald Trump. And so what the party’s become in essence is an organized conspiracy to maintain political power for the advancement of the self-interest of the elected officials and the donor class that supports them.

It’s devoid of any principles, whether it’s the nutty pastors, the frauds, the money changers in the temple if you will, the Billy Graham Jrs., the Jerry Falwell Jrs., crazy Pastor Paul, the Joel Osteens of the world, these are the people that occupy a religiosity space around the party absurdly. You look at the Matt Gates’ and the Mark Meadows’ and the anti intellectualism, the anti-science, the abrasive incompetence, cronyism, corruption, the willful turning of the blind eye to all of Trump’s excesses.


If you are interested in these ideas, then you should read the full transcript of Alex Kantrowitz’s interview with Steve Schmidt, which is titled ‘Lincoln Project Co-Founder Steve Schmidt on Politics in the Age of Social MediaIf you have a message, you have conviction.

I am interested in Steve Schmidt’s insights because he sheds light (illuminates) the dark places on the Republican stage who the current actors on the stage want to keep hidden (mostly disgruntled, disgusting, angry white men). They want to hide and obscure these realities in the dark because it helps them mislead people down the path of authoritarianism.

This is what caught my attention about Steve Schmidt. I heard him say these things about Rupert Murdoch in an interview he gave to the BBC on Monday (11/9/20). Murdoch is part of a much deeper, darker arch of human consciousness playing out in the minds of ordinary men and women. It is a very old arch alive and well inside the human psyche. It is capable of ruthless totalitarian rulership that benefits only a chosen few. Those who are not chosen are at great risk of genocide. We have seen this before–many times in history. Unfortunately, unless we grow consciously as individuals and as collectives, we will see it again–just as S.E. says very accurately in the CNN interviews. She is a Republican woman, but she has not turned off her mind or heart, just as Steve Schmidt has not.

Will we pay attention and recalculate our collective path?

Or will we fall back into the Pit of Division and Darkness and Death?

And, I do understand the calculation of ignorance. It is a much easier path. Or so it seems when you first start down it. In the end, ignorance is the path to evil. It is the place in the human soul where the anti-lifers live. Spell evil backwards–l…i…v…e–those who end up in this inner hell cannot let others live and let live. They’ve sold their soul to the Merchants of Mischief and Misdeeds. And, these merchants have robbed them and left them naked and bear to a world that mocks them. So, to avert this sad and sorry end, the individuals marching down the path of ignorance must control everyone, everything. It is their only hope. Their favorite weapon is to ignore reality and to ignore others who do not look and act and talk just like them.

Knowledge is a heavy burden because once an individual knows something, action is required. And action takes strength, endurance, and energy. Right action is time consuming. It can eat so much of your time up that it leaves you no time to focus on yourself and what you want (or perhaps, it’s what you thought you wanted until you learned more about how reality works).

Ignorance is indeed a strong and noxious weed, just as Schmidt said in his Axios interview.

Do we have the courage, wisdom, and inner constitution needed to take action on what is real or is it more convenient to hide huge parts of our shared reality in the darkness of our ignorance?

Time will tell… that’s for sure…

How Whiteness Affected The Election

Image from 1A: Donny Wadkins holds a US flag outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center as ballot counting in the presidential election continues inside in Philadelphia.BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

The dirty little secret of American democracy is a long and destructive history of racism. It is a part of the current Republican stage kept wrapped in many, many layers of ignorance. It exists on Democratic stage too. If you are human, you are susceptible to secrets often kept for selfish reasons.

This is what I really like about this episode of 1A. It is a frank conversation about lies and selfishness. The guests take apart the monolithic ways we like to think of groups of people. No group is monolithic. Eddie Glaude says, “Black men can be just as selfish as white me.” He attributes much of the willingness of huge groups of people who voted for Trump as sprouting from a deep tap root of selfish impulses.


Trump is a very selfish man who promises to protect the selfish people of America. It is an effective rallying cry for individuals who have amassed a decent amount of money to live the lifestyle they choose that includes lots of fun time. It is a myth that Trump supporters are working-class and poor. We knew this back in 2016, see Washington Post article: It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class.

The Voter Study Group published a fascinating article about Trump voters in 2017 titled: The Five Types of Trump Voters — Who They Are and What They Believe written by Emily Ekins.

Graphic from The Voter Study Group

The danger of simplifying reality is that we won’t understand it and because of this we will not take the action required to equalize inequities, disintegrate lies, and repair tears and rips in our shared human reality. The costs of not doing this has been all too evident and clear in the past 4 years of Trump. However, the gravity of ignorance is strong for it promises the delusion that life is easy if you follow the rules of those holding power. Many do.


The Pandemic Is The Worst. What Can We Do To Keep Coping?

Image from 1A: Residents head out to the Bethpage Bikeway in New York. Many residents have mostly remained in their homes for the past weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

This entire episode is about loneliness and the pandemic. It is so nourishing to listen to Jen White talk about the deep impacts of being lonely with NPR’s Shankar Vedantam and the U.K.’s Minister of Loneliness.

Description: “People. We know it’s bad out here during the coronavirus pandemic. And at 1A, we’re lucky enough to be able to largely work from home and keep doing our jobs bringing the news to you. But almost everyone is having a tough time, especially with the emotional toll of maintaining social distancing, the labor to keep up with shifting pandemic guidance and the significant added stress on essential employees as they keep going to work.

The New York Times spoke with Aya Raji, 14, about what happened when her school turned to remote learning: “I felt like I was trapped in my own little house and everyone was far away,” Aya, 14, said. “When you’re with friends, you’re completely distracted and you don’t think about the bad stuff going on. During the beginning of quarantine, I was so alone. All the sad things I used to brush off, I realized I couldn’t brush them off anymore.


Will continue to add content from time to time.

Weaving Reality — So Many Humans, So Many Versions of Reality & How Did We Get Here?

Villagers – Occupy Your Mind (Official Video) — Feb 6, 2014

This song and video just seems to be the anthem for this resource-blog-post.


I went for a run late in the day after the remnants of Hurricane Zeta had dumped her worse on Virginia. I was running with my 10 month old puppy, Pumper, who looks a lot like a spotted furry bear and acts like one too. She was thrilled to get outside after so much rain to chase blowing leaves and scampering squirrels collecting their fall harvest of acorns like drunken sailors. My husband has taught her to sneak up on big trees to find squirrels, so now we stalk big oak trees, sometimes from a block away. It’s quite exciting for a 10-month old pup who is a crazy mixture of Great Pyrenees, Pit Bull, Boxer, Chow Chow, American Bulldog, Labrador, and the list goes on.

We proceeded down our favorite path that follows a small wooded stream that ends up at the Potomac River. Pumper pays attention to every thing. I do too, enjoying the wet leaves of fall still clinging to trees along with deeply inhaling the smell of damp leaves moldering on the ground. We were going at a good pace when Pumper suddenly stopped. She was staring at a tree that had fallen over by the roots because of the rains of Zeta.

I tugged on the leash gently to urge her along, but she didn’t budge. So I looked where she was looking, and there standing inside the root ball of the fallen tree was a raccoon! I had glanced at the fallen tree as I passed it but missed the raccoon who definitely saw us and was holding a defensive stance. If Pumper had been loose, I may not have been able to override her instincts. But since I had her on the leash, I coaxed her quickly away from the possibly frightened raccoon recounting stories in my mind I have heard about encounters with raccoons. A few hundred yards ahead, I saw a man running with his Doodle, which was running loose. So I warned him of the raccoon ahead and he quickly leashed up his beautiful Doodled and thanked me for the heads up.


This is a simple story, but I tell it to illustrate that all life once shared a common reality with benefits and consequences equal to all. Plants and animals evolved complex electrical and chemical signaling systems to help them respond and/or navigate their environment in order to optimize their survival (see The New Yorker | The Intelligent Plant). Among the mobile forms of life on Earth, instincts evolved that allowed animals to respond with split second intelligence allowing them to avert danger and live a little longer.


Man evolved a little further becoming conscious of his rising instincts, allowing him to alter them before acting on them. With this awareness, he choose an action much better than what his instincts would have dedicated. But, he could also choose an action far worse than what his instincts would have ever allowed. This ability allows man to choose and bring into the world through his action something divine or something dreadfully mortal. This ability gives man the power to choose to create Heaven or Hell right here, right now on Earth. It also gives man the ability to create alternative realities in his mind.

Different civilizations conceive of mind in very different ways. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to mind as most people immersed in Western Civilization think of it–as an unseeable place existing behind the eyes and between the ears. For the Westernized man, the magic of mind transpires somewhere between the scalawag of neurons creating the brain. This is where Western Civilization believes human beings make sense of and understand the world. For most people, they don’t care or think very much about how all this happens, happy to concede to the axiom:

“Cogito, ergo sum”

— René Descartes … “I think, therefore I am”

But, if you sit quietly and simply observe your thoughts, it quickly becomes very mysterious. They seem to pop into your head out of nowhere, continuously flowing like some dark imperceptible water streaming through your head. Perhaps this is where the phrase stream of consciousness arises because it is such a common experience among Westernized humans to experience thought this way.

If you continue to watch this flow and don’t try to control, a perceptive observer will begin to experience a spreading out of consciousness with it flowing everywhere and enveloping everything (inside oneself and outside of the self). Alan Watts describes this effect as flood light consciousness. He did not come up with this idea, but rather he was a magnificent translator of Eastern practices and Pools of Knowledge passed down from one generation to the next through practices and religions such as Taoism.

Flood light consciousness is a powerful form of consciousness, but man discovered he could also concentrate and channel his individual consciousness to accomplish specific actions in the world. The more concentrated his consciousness, the more powerful his actions, allowing him to alter the natural world to suit his needs, desires, and dreams.


I remember a song my parents loved to sing to me as a child:

American Folk Music (Southern): This Little Light o’ Mine — Voices in Time

Recently, I heard a rebroadcast about this song on NPR: ‘This Little Light Of Mine’ Shines On, A Timeless Tool Of Resistance that has stuck with me and transformed how I think about this simple, old song. Hearing this broadcast illuminated things I have been trying to imagine as I write my story about Climate Change and Consciousness.

The NPR story says, “It might seem odd to call such an innocent-sounding song defiant. But that’s exactly how blues singer Bettie Mae Fikes says she felt when creating her classic version of “This Little Light of Mine” in 1963. She improvised the lyrics after a protest in which several of her friends had been attacked. (…) Fast forward a half-century and the song is still unifying people.


This mysterious inner space illuminated by the consciousness we can observe is where we know everything we need to know about our world, or so we think.

Suffice it to say, we are complex products of the cultures and civilizations in which we grow up and are immersed inside and constantly bathed by the values, beliefs, and standards of behavior the collective has determined most advantageous for the survival of the group. These norms are seamlessly transferred from one generation to the next through customs, traditions, habits, conventions, procedures, protocols, as well as stories, fables, myths, and many other forms of communication used to transmit ideas and beliefs from one generation to another.

Collectives are incredibly complex things, perhaps even super beings, but they need the individuals living inside them to conduct action in the world. And, just like an individual, collectives have a dark side (the good, the bad, and the ugly).


What follows is a resource tool for another blog–a mind map, really, a collection of broadcasts, blogs, and individuals that have caught my attention and informed my thinking as I work to complete my story about Climate Change and Consciousness. I suspect this collective of resources will have little value to you (the reader), which is normal because YOU are an individual and are on your own journey through consciousness, meaning that you must discover, assemble and understandings that inform your actions in the world.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Time & attention are the most precious resources in the universe.

Time is mind.

When you tend to where you are spending your time, you are cultivating your mind.

So scan what follows, consume what you need, and leave the rest behind.

Warped Reality

Ted Radio Hour: Warped Reality — Picture by Mark Airs/dane_mark

There are 3 sections to this hour long episode produced by the Ted Radio Hour, which I have highlighted with things that struck me as important or illuminating.

We Are A Species Drawn To Highly Negative & Novel Things

How deepfakes undermine truth and threaten democracy | Danielle Citron | Oct 7, 2019

The first talk was given by Danielle Citron who began by telling how a deep fake video completely turned Rana Ayyub’s life upside down. Rana is a journalist in India whose work has exposed government corruption and human rights violations. But in 2018, her work and voice was cancelled by a malicious deep fake of a sex video that had her face superimposed on the female performing the sex act. A friend told Rana that she should have seen this coming saying, “After all, sex is so often used to demean and to shame women, especially minority women, and especially minority women who dare to challenge powerful men.”

Danielle says, “We’re attracted to the salacious, the provocative. We tend to believe and to share information that’s negative and novel. Researchers have found that online hoaxes spread 10 times faster than accurate stories. And, we’re drawn to information that aligns with our viewpoints. Psychologists call that tendency “confirmation bias.” And social media platforms supercharge that tendency, by allowing us to instantly and widely share information that accords with our viewpoints.

Danielle says,”Now, deepfakes have the potential to cause grave individual and societal harm.  Imagine a deepfake that shows American soldiers in Afganistan burning a Koran. You can imagine that deepfake would provoke violence against those soldiers.”

Next time you click on that outrageous, utterly interesting things you clicked on, ask yourself: “Do I really need to share this? Who is this thing really benefiting?


Mass Manipulation of Public Opinions From the Couch

And here is how our very human beliefs transform reality. When we act in the world to defend our beliefs because we feel deep in the core of our being that our beliefs protect us from all dangerous stuff out there threatening to destroy us and the ones we love. This is how we weave our shared human reality in the modern world. And now our technology not only insulates us from the harsh realities of nature, but have been and are being used to harness our natural instincts and hijack our fragile mind-scapes to turn us, the ordinary man and woman, into the bad actors of the world. These are my conclusions of Danille’s talk. You should listen to her talk above and the Ted Radio Hour interview for yourself to draw your own conclusions.


Inside the bizarre world of internet trolls and propagandists | Andrew Marantz | Oct 1, 2019

Andrew begins his talk saying, “Now, if you’ve been online recently, you may have noticed that there’s a lot of toxic garbage out there: racist memes, misogynist propaganda, viral misinformation. So I wanted to know who was making this stuff I wanted to understand how they were spreading it. Ultimately, I wanted to know what kind of impact it might be having on our society. So in 2016, I started tracing some of these memes back to their source, back to the people who were making them or who were making them go viral. I’d approach those people and say, “Hey, I’m a journalist. Can I come watch you do what you do?” Now, often the response would be, “Why in hell would I want to talk to some low-t soy-boy Brooklyn globalist Jew cuck who’s in cahoots with the Democrat Party?” To which my response would be, “Look, man, that’s only 57 percent true.”

However, Andrew does find people doing this who are willing to talk to him. Many are well read individuals who know the real facts. Nevertheless, this is their business–the business of propaganda: spreading falsehoods, half-truths, and lies to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view: often something that will benefit them in some way. Halfway through his talk, Andrew says, “I became convinced that we cannot just look away from this stuff. We have to try to understand it, because only by understanding it can we even start to inoculate ourselves against it.

I just listened to this again and this time Andrew’s description of how people fall into conspiracy rabbit holes really resonated since I have family members who have fallen into such holes. He explained how individuals click on content because it sounds plausible like How Jeffrey Epstein Ensnared Prince Andrew in His Sex Trafficking Operation. One might see how other rich or influential people are accused of child sex trafficking like Anderson Cooper and Hillary Clinton and they are part of a cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles run a global child… and if that is possible… well there must be a global group called the illuminati manipulating the world. And so down and down the individual goes into the holes of conspiracy thinking that takes a very tiny bit of reality and fantasizes endlessly about all the possibilities. In the chat rooms and groups, the individual is made to feel smart and intelligent for adding to the evolving myth in fantastic new ways. The feel goods of belonging to a supportive community that makes you feel good and smart pulls you deeper into the conspiracy hole where reality is put of the chopping board of conspiracy thinking skepticism.

Andrew says, “Being skeptical is good until you brain falls out the back of your head.”


I am writing about this very idea in my story, and I am with Andrew in his conclusion that we have to pay attention to this stuff…to try to understand it so that we can resist it. Reality is complicated. It always has been. And now, it more complicated than ever before because of what we can do with our minds and technology. But again, this is my conclusions. Yours are just as important but to make informed opinions, listen to Andrew’s talk above as well as to the interview with him on the Ted Radio Hour: Warped Reality.


Algorithmic Justice League — Pushing Back on the World Being Programmed by Pale Males

How I’m fighting bias in algorithms | Joy Buolamwini | Mar 29, 2017

Joy begins her Ted Talk saying, “Hello, I’m Joy, a poet of code, on a mission to stop an unseen force that’s rising, a force that I called the coded gaze,” my term for algorithmic bias.” And here is the really important part of what she opens her talk with: “Algorithmic bias, like human bias, results in unfairness. However, algorithms, like viruses, can spread bias on a massive scale at a rapid pace. Algorithmic bias can also lead to exclusionary experiences and discriminatory practices.”

“You can’t fight the dark forces if you don’t see them.”


We lose the very Middle Ground of Reality when we allow our time and attention to be dictated and directed by algorithms. Joy goes into very specific and scary uses of our Great and Fantastic Technologies, but I will leave it to you to pursue to the level of your interest for there are many, many issues constantly pulling at our time and attention, the most precious resource on Earth. Also, the Ted Radio Hour: Warped Reality is very good to listen to as well.

Not At the Dinner Table

Dysfunctional Family Dinner – SNL – Sep 16, 2013

The Highly Involved vs The Not So Highly Involved

This is an old but timelessly funny clip because all of us can remember an uncomfortable dinner conversation. Now more than any time in recent history, talking about politics is a recipe for disaster not only at the dinner table, but pretty much everywhere in our society. This week’s Hidden Brain explored an interesting counterintuitive idea about why this is. The idea is that we are not suffering so much from a massive political divide of Left versus Right but rather between those who are highly involved in politics versus those for who are just not as interested in politics.

Shankar Vedantan explores this idea Not At The Dinner Table with Yanna Krupnikov who is a political scientist at Stony Brook University, about an alternative way to understand Americans’ political views. and filter through the Zealous Voices of the Deeply Involved. I’ll let you listen and draw your own conclusions, or you can read a transcript at the Happy Scribe.

As I listened to this piece, the idea jumped into my mind that this divide doesn’t exist simply between just individuals who are deeply involved with politics and those who are not, but it exists between any one who has become deeply involved in any issue or field of interest, which is driven by our modern societies because to do well in the human world, people are told to specialize and pursue narrow bandwidths of interests from a young age. If you don’t pick a career and become an expert in it, then it’s your fault for not being good enough, smart enough, or worked hard enough to know everything in your narrow field of knowledge.

So, just by being a modern human being trying to survive and make a living in the ways of this world, we have by necessity isolated ourselves from everyone else who has not specialized in our field of expertise. Now there certainly are humans who maintain their natural inborn curiosity and stay engaged and want to learn about things outside of their own field of expertise. But the number of these individuals seems to decline precipitously as they get older and have to pay off student loans, car loans, parking tickets and credit card debts; need to pay rent and eventually (if your lucky) mortgages; need to buy food, prescriptions, medications; need to go out and have fun; eventually get married (that can be very expensive, especially if it needs to mirror a Cinderella pinnacle of achievement), and then have children (who are very, very expensive, but they are utterly worth every penny!). It is when a person gets here that they have an opportunity to go back to the beginning of this utterly modern cycle of life and remember what is really most important, which boils down to being alive, being here, being now. But, most people continue getting buried under the cycle of buying and having more than others.

This phenomenon of becoming highly involved in an area of expertise is required by our modern society to be somebody who can contribute something of value for the good of the group, but it may also be contributing to the cracking and shattering of our shared human reality. It is a trap, a catch-22, the cycle of the ouroboros…so how do we get out of it?

Consciousness… probably… cultivating curiosity… cultivating compassion… listening to someone who is highly involved in something that you are not highly involved in thinking about or doing like a scientist! This is called sharing and understanding realms and realities of other human beings who are just like us but know something we don’t know or have come to understand yet. This is how we grow our shared reality and how we grow our own Field of Consciousness. It’s pretty important because the alternative isn’t looking so good.

Climate Problems = Limbic Problems

A guide to happiness by Marc Picard (neuroscientist and admin of the Facebook group Climate Problems = Limbic Problems)

The following guide is written by my friend Marc Picard who is a neuroscientist and founded the Facebook group Climate Problems = Limbic Problems. Our natural born instincts (perfectly maintained by our limbic system) are absolutely part of the trap we have all found ourselves in. I will feature more of Marc’s insights in a new section of Resilience Resources, but if you are interested, you can go to Climate Problems = Limbic Problems to see more of his writing as well as others of liked mind and expertise. I have selected his guide to happiness to feature here because it fits perfectly.


A guide to happiness

1) DO NOT GIVE YOUR POWER AWAY

No one knows you as well as you know yourself. They have no idea who you truly are. Only you get to describe and define yourself. Others are always ready to use the negative of your past to judge you. Do not give them the power to belittle you or to raise you. It has begun with you, will continue with you, and end with you. Take complete responsibility of your life.At the end of the day, the only person you can 100% count on is you. Don’t make the unfortunate mistake of putting your happiness in the hands of others. We need to achieve happiness on our own before we can find someone else to share it with. Otherwise, it creates a detrimental dependency that prevents us from becoming self-sufficient.

2) ALL THAT YOU NEED CAME WITH YOU AT BIRTH

When you were born, you were gifted with every talent, every insight, and all the knowledge you need to excel in this world. You need to accept this and know it to be true. A lot of these truths won’t be obvious to you all the time, for which you need to develop patience. Your life experiences will help unveil some of those hidden truths. You have wisdom beyond your wildest imagination. Be patient and accept your beautiful self. With self-knowledge comes great responsibility. Be responsible.

3) PERFECTION IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

What might be perfect for one person may be the furthest thing from perfection for you. Every individual has their own opinion of what perfection means to them. The Media always has an opinion of what perfection is. You have to be skinny, small waist, big muscles, and of course brilliant in school; must be a doctor, lawyer, or an engineer. As a matter of fact, marketing and the Media will make you believe one thing today and, sometimes in less than a year, the same Media will tell you the exact opposite. Nope, there is no such thing as perfection! We were robbed of all original thoughts and turned into robots after birth. All those who loved us had a hand in modeling us their way. Somehow, we got lost.Begin by trusting your intuition, strive to be excellent, have really high standards (not just material) of how you want to live and be. Love yourself with all your flaws and change them if you want. Never confuse perfection with another people’s idea of how you should be. That will cripple you.Body image: There’s only 1 person’s opinion you should be concerned with when it comes to your body and that’s you. If you’re comfortable in your own skin, and healthy, then that’s the only thing that matters. Don’t let others tell you that you’re not beautiful/handsome. It’s a state of mind.

4) TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR THOUGHTS. TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE.

Become a witness to your thoughts and not a slave to them. “Automatic” thoughts are mostly noise which keeps you from getting to know yourself. Start by observing your thoughts as though you were watching a movie on a big screen. Your thoughts create your reality, and yet most of your thoughts are unconscious. You have only few original thoughts (you will have more and more original thoughts as you become an adult); all of your unconscious thoughts were given to you as you were growing up. You are now living a life that someone else created for you (software installed by the “manufacturer”). Start distancing yourself from your everyday thoughts and begin to think the thoughts that you want to think. Become a real you (where the magic happens).

5) YOUR LIFE IS YOURS TO PROGRAM

You become what you think. What you believe is what you create. Look around you and you will see the “software installed by the manufacturer” (your comfort zone). The way to reach your happy place (where the magic happens), is by constant vigilant practice. Think of your mind as the most powerful SUPER-smart cell phone with its original apps (when you get a new phone, it comes with the default apps that everyone gets). Add and replace those apps with the new ones that fit with your true dreams. You can add as many new apps as you want. They don’t cost any money, but they require practice, practice, practice; and willpower. I know you’re not afraid of hard work.

6) THE ONLY TIME IS “NOW”

Move out of the old and into this moment we call “now”. You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one, or if you tell yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow” (when you can do it now). “Now” is the moment you should pause, take a deep breath, and marvel about your future and how you’ll create it. Once you know what you want, you must actively work for its fulfillment. You can’t take a backseat in life and expect things to happen.Make the best of every opportunity. Commit yourself to a happy future by acting “NOW”. You deserve it!

7) YOUR JOB IN LIFE IS TO FULLY EXPRESS WHO YOU ALREADY ARE

It’s your duty to be true to yourself by being your authentic self. Do not try to be someone else. It’s good to have a mentor to learn from, but do not try to become a copy of them. There are no two people alike in this world (even identical twins have different brain architectures). You are the only model of you. Become the one you were created to be, find your purpose in life and live it fully. Never underestimate the power of truth. Honor yourself, your intuition, and inspire others to do the same. Aspire to be the best that you can be. Make it your life’s work to leave the biggest imprint of your heart on all whom you have encountered.

8) OPPORTUNITIES COME IN THE SHAPE OF A CHALLENGE

Don’t look at challenges with fear and anger. All things that look like obstacles are truly an opportunity to grow. It is your experience in life, more so the difficult over the easy ones which will shape you into being the best that you can be. All things difficult are an opening of a new door to make a more powerful and courageous entrance. Know that you are a diamond in the making. Look at me and how I reacted to my latest challenge. I wrote a book for you and your brother. The challenge I faced became an opportunity.

— By Marc Picard

Interview with Nicholas Christakis

A message from Nicholas Christakis about COVID-19 — Sep 11, 2020

Also, see AMANPOUR AND COMPANY interview with Christakis: Yale Sociologist on Humanity’s Innate Instinct For Good.


Denial And Lies Are ‘Almost An Intrinsic Part Of An Epidemic,’ Doctor Says

Heard on  Fresh Air — October 29, 2020

I heard Nicholas Christakis on Fresh Air yesterday where he goes into much greater detail and depth about how plagues are not new to the human condition, they are just new to us, living here and now. His depth of knowledge as a scientist and public health expert I find reassuring and hopeful. We can learn about these new pathogens that have been with us since the very emergence of life on Earth. We can see things our ancestors could not see and know how to buy essential time so that we can collectively take a safer off-ramp to get to the other side of this pandemic. I would rather take action on science and medical expertise rather than denial and political narratives designed to mislead rather than inform the collective to survive something humans have had to survive since becoming humans.I would rather take action on science and medical expertise rather than denial and political narratives designed to mislead rather than inform the collective to survive something humans have had to survive since becoming humans. Listening to his interview on FreshAir is well worth one’s time, of course reading his book is the most effective way to become informed and take effective action to keep oneself safe as well as others safe.

Several moments from the FreshAir interview that jumped out to me are highlighted below, but you should listen or read for yourself because these are my simple weavings to understand our shared reality.


CHRISTAKIS: Well, amongst my colleagues, everyone was greatly alarmed in February. Now, why our political leaders didn’t respond, I don’t know. And it’s the case that many political leaders around the world failed to take this seriously.

One of the arguments that I like to make about epidemics is that it’s almost in the nature of epidemics that denial and lies about the — about what’s happening is itself almost an intrinsic part of an epidemic, that in other words, everywhere you see the spread of germs for the last few thousand years, you see right behind it the spread of lies. And partly, that’s because the person on the street wants to deny what’s happening. And partly, it’s because our political leaders don’t want to take it seriously either. But it’s their job to do so.


CHRISTAKIS: Yeah. So I think what’s important to understand about this pathogen or about epidemics in general is that no single intervention is typically enough to stop an epidemic. And what I – the way I like to think about this and the way many epidemiologists think about this is something known as the Swiss cheese model. So imagine you have pieces of Swiss cheese that you’re stacking up, and each of them has some holes in it. And they’re random pieces of Swiss cheese, like you’re making a sandwich and you’re piling up pieces of Swiss cheese.

If each piece of Swiss cheese represents a defense, a layer of defense – for example, one piece is wearing masks, and another piece is closing schools, and another piece is banning gatherings, and another piece is washing your hands, and another piece is, you know, restricting travel or something. If each of those pieces represents some intervention and each of the holes is sort of randomly positioned in each slice, by the time you stacked up two or three or four slices, none of the holes overlap. And so a virus can’t get through. It can’t penetrate all the layers of defenses. So if you just use masks, you stop a lot of viral transmission, but you don’t completely stop the epidemic. You also need to do something else.

And incidentally, this is why there was a super-spreader event at the White House. They relied on just one line of defense, which was testing. Testing was not enough. You need to do testing, let’s say, plus masking or testing plus masking plus physical distancing. And this Swiss cheese model also helps us understand why different countries have succeeded in combating the virus using different mixes of interventions. You don’t all need to use the same intervention. You can – each country or each region can use a different mix of interventions and still have success.

So, for example, in New Zealand, you know, they had border closures plus testing and quarantining. And in Greece, they had school closures and mask wearing and contact tracing and so on. So this is why masks are helpful, but they’re not enough and also why we can understand a great variety of other ways in which our response to the virus among us can and should be optimized.


CHRISTAKIS: Oh, I mean, I think we clearly needed a national response. I mean, you know, having a patchwork of responses is like designating one part of the swimming pool as suitable for urination, but not the other parts. I mean, we are a whole nation that’s bound together. And so we clearly need, in my view, a national response.

In fact, in some ways, you could argue we need an international response. But certainly from our own parochial point of view, we needed a national response. And even though it’s the case that many other leaders in European countries made similar mistakes to our leadership, I don’t think that lets our leaders off the hook. We’re the United States of America. I expect more from us. We have the CDC. We spend 17.7% of our GDP on health care, and this is our level of preparedness? I mean, this is how our great nation is brought this low by this pathogen? You know, I think it’s awful, frankly. It’s incompetent. And it was, in many ways, unnecessary. We could’ve done and we should’ve done, in my view, much better. Why – when the Chinese shut down their country on January 24, why we weren’t preparing to manufacture PPE and ventilators is mind-boggling to me. It was as if we were trying to wish the pathogen away.


CHRISTAKIS: It is a bummer. But, see, this is the thing. You know, plagues are also a time of grief. You know, we’re grieving not just the loss of people we know, you know, who died or our health, we’re grieving our loss of a way of life. We’re grieving the fact that we can’t have dinner parties with our friends. We can’t go to movie theaters. I mean, this – just like we were earlier discussing how plagues are a time of lies, they’re also a time of fear and they’re a time of grief. And I think, in some ways, as a nation, we just need to – I won’t say grow up. That sounds too flippant. I mean, we need to accept this unpleasant reality.

And this is, again, where I think leadership is so important. I mean, one of the things that’s crucial is public health messaging credibility, you know, people who get up and tell it to us even if it’s uncertain. Say, I’m not sure of exactly what’s happening. But I think this is most likely and here’s the data, because we need to prepare the nation, in my view, for this reality. I mean, what makes us think that we’re so different, you know, that we Americans in the 21st century, in our wealthy country, will be spared this fate? There’s no reason we should be spared. And I think that preparing the nation to come to grips with this unfortunate reality is crucial.

And, you know, we will see the other side of it. I mean, one of the things that’s also important to recognize is that plagues do end. They have always ended. Even the bubonic plague ended. It’s rare that there are so severe that the society is entirely annihilated. Although, that has happened, too. But that’s not the situation we’re facing. So there is also grounds for optimism in ways we can talk about.


CHRISTAKIS: Well, let me explain why that’s not a good idea in a very direct way. So if you had gotten this pathogen back in March, you would have had a higher chance of dying from it than if you get it today. Why is that? Well, because in the last nine months, we’ve learned how to take care of you. And in fact, we have discovered that a drug called dexamethasone, which is a simple steroid – which incidentally, the president also got – if given to you, if you’re seriously ill, can prevent you can reduce your risk of death by 20%. In other words, if you got seriously ill from coronavirus in March, you would have a certain chance of dying. Let’s say 25% chance of dying. But if you get it now, you might have, let’s say, only a 20% chance of dying. That’s a – seriously ill. That is to say now you would only have a 20% chance of dying. That is a big difference, and that’s why we flatten the curve. So that’s why not to go for the rapid herd immunity strategy right now.

That’s one illustration of the reason is that by getting – by postponing the illnesses until a later point in time, we allow our scientists and our health care system to function better. If you get sick from this condition like that’s happening now, for example, in Utah and in Idaho and in parts of Texas and in Oklahoma that are – where many of their hospitals in many cities are being overrun, when would you rather go to a hospital, when it’s packed to the gills and the doctors are exhausted and the nurses are sick from the condition, or would you rather go when the hospitals are operating normally? Obviously, the latter. So this is why not to let the virus just run loose in our society.


CHRISTAKIS: I think both of those are true. I think there is – on the one hand, you would, you know, there’s this – when there’s a serious threat afoot, you can have a kind of temptation to have sort of every man for himself. But it’s also in the nature of contagious diseases that we need – that we’re sharing a common enemy, so the impetus to band together to confront the common enemy is heightened. And it’s in the nature of this enemy that collaborative work is necessary.

You know, if there was an invading army on our frontier, each individual citizen can’t do anything about that. I mean, you can, you know, grab your gun and go to the frontier, but you can’t stop the invading army. And even if every citizen independently grabbed their gun and went to the frontier, that’s not very effective either. You need coordination. You need leadership. You need a way of working together to repel the invader. And that’s the kind of invader that we have. That’s the kind of adversary we have in this virus. We must and we are – slowly but, you know – working together to confront the virus. And this working together includes things like collectively implementing the non-pharmaceutical interventions. It’s almost an oxymoron. You know, we have to work together to live apart.

But it also includes, you know, all this scientific and medical and other advances and public health advances that we’re making. You know, we are working together as a species to develop knowledge that we can then use to fight the virus. So I, you know, I’m optimistic in this regard. Like I said, you know, we’re going to see the other side of this. I think Americans are going to see that they – that collaborative effort is required. I think as deaths mount in the coming winter, I think the motivation to do this will rise. And, you know, I have hope and expectation that we will do a better job than we have in fighting the virus.

Interview with Mike Giglio

The point italicized above (in red) dovetail in a terrifying way with the FreshAir interview I listened to the day before this one. The interview below occurred last year, but it gives you an idea who Mike Giglio is and his years of experience covering complex situations and civil wars, including being kidnapped in Ukraine by pro-Soviet rebels.

AtlanticLIVE: Atlantic Exchange with Mike Giglio — Oct 26, 2019 — And this is the link to Giglio’s Atlantic article.

After Covering Civil War Overseas, Journalist Examines U.S. Militia Movement

Heard on  Fresh Air — October 28, 2020

These are excerpts from the FreshAir interview that really struck me as extremely important Now. Reality is complicated. And human reality is the most complicated because there are so many versions of it exiting inside our minds, individually and collectively. But, natural reality has never gone away. When we stray too far off the narrow-bandwidth of a good and sustainable shared reality, we fall onto the hard rock of natural reality.


GIGLIO: You know, there is a stereotype of the regular, let’s say, militia member in America – someone who’s an armchair warrior, probably has no experience in the military. They talk about civil war because they’ve seen movies about it, and they think it’s this amazing, glorious thing. I was interested in the Oath Keepers because they advertise it. They actually had people who were veterans of police and military in their ranks and who understood what violence really means and how ugly it is.

And what I found was – I did connect with some members who had actually seen combat and, because of that, were actually among those who were most afraid of violence and trying to be – in this context at least, trying to be most careful about whether they might provoke it through what they were doing. A lot of those people, I should note, had left the group by now because it has – the founder has become more radical in the things that he says.

And then there are people who served in the military but never saw combat or who didn’t serve at all, and I think they were a little bit more immature about really understanding what it means when they talk about violence and may be more inclined to be more aggressive in their posturing.


GIGLIO: You know, it’s true. He never did see combat. And he wanted to be in the Special Forces, which is this elite part of the U.S. military that goes overseas. And one of their core missions is actually going out among local populations and training Indigenous forces and getting populations ready to support U.S. intervention or foreign policy. And, actually, that’s how he sees himself with the Oath Keepers. He says, like, they’re on a Special Forces mission but just in America. They want to train the population. They want to go out and bring people into their ideology.

So I do think he’s found a way to live out what his military dreams used to be when he was younger in the American context. And I think that that’s a thread that is really common in this movement. And I do think it raises questions. Like, you know, we as Americans are so comfortable with the idea of sending people out into foreign wars, and now they’re starting to look at America itself as part of that battle space.


GIGLIO: They are most famous for having a team of people who went to the protests in Ferguson, Mo., after Michael Brown’s killing. And they went with their AR-15-style rifles, and they patrolled the crowds, and they stood guard on the roofs of – the rooftops of local businesses. And, you know, to them, they were protecting businesses from looting and arson and rioting. To the protesters, it was a provocation. You know, it was portrayed as, you know, them being there to intimidate the protesters. But, really, you know, this – it was also kind of like a coming-out party for the group. It was all over the media.

And, actually, I was overseas at the time, but that was the first that I ever heard of the Oath Keepers. I remember seeing a news image of an Oath Keeper standing on a rooftop with his rifle and kind of staring out into the distance and just the hair on the back of my neck standing up and just wondering, what is happening in America? You know, it was interesting for me actually to, over the course of reporting this story, connect with that same person and talk with him about, you know, what he saw, you know, through his own eyes while he was doing that.


GIGLIO: I think what the president says and what his allies say really means a lot. And one thing I found is that the Oath Keepers and the part of the militant right that they represent are listening very closely to what the president is saying. And they believe him. You know, they think he’s a truth teller. And, you know, one example of that is I asked – I spoke to dozens of people over the course of reporting this article this year, and I asked almost every single one of them, what will you do if the president says that the vote was stolen, if he’s declared the loser of the election, but he says that there was fraud and it was stolen? And almost every one of them said, well, we all know that there was massive fraud by Democrats in 2016. They just take that as fact. And it’s because Trump has been saying it for four years and also because parts of the conservative media establishment and Republican politicians have in different ways been supporting him and that idea, that voter fraud is this real problem and that maybe it did happen in some massive way, like the president says, in 2016. But they’re very attuned to that. And they’re listening very closely when he’s saying it’s already happening for 2020.


GIGLIO: One thing that I learned overseas covering civil wars is that the first step down that path is convincing yourself that the other side is bent on your destruction, is convincing yourself that they do not have good intentions, that the arguments that you have with your neighbors are not political alone, that they’re also existential. And, you know, I only moved back to America a few years ago. And I was just really struck by the fact that that is how people in America are portraying the political divide right now to a large degree – just the level of polarization and division. And, you know, actually, on all sides of the political spectrum right now, you know, the level to which people are convinced that the other side is out to destroy them is really jarring to me.

And I think that’s the fundamental anxiety that I – you know, that I really honed in on while I was reporting this piece. And if you look at how President Trump portrays his reelection bid, how – even look at the first speech he gave when he announced that he was running for reelection. It’s the other side is out to destroy you and your way of life. These are the stakes. And I’m the last thing that’s standing in their way. You know, he’s obviously tapped into a very deep-seeded anxiety that he’s able to exist politically while and gain traction while speaking in really dire terms like that.


GIGLIO: So I was kidnapped at a checkpoint. And I was put in a bus – I think it was a school bus – and blindfolded. And there were a number of these rebels around on the bus. And they were driving me and some other journalists who had been kidnapped to a place where they planned to interrogate us. And I remember just listening, because I couldn’t see anything, and feeling the bus slow down to go through a checkpoint that I knew was on the road – and it was a rebel checkpoint – and then hearing them cock their weapons.

Like, they were so scared themselves and so clueless as to what was going on, even though they were the ones kidnapping us and, supposedly, in charge, that they were cocking their weapons even as they rolled through their own checkpoints. And it was just, like, a reminder of the fact that when a war breaks out, and especially a civil conflict, like, it is just confusion. It is just people running blindly around and, really, not knowing what to do and just that chaos itself sort of perpetuating.

And I think that that’s fundamental to understanding, like, what civil conflict really is. It’s just – it is not directed clearly. Whatever side you think you’re on, you might end up, you know, shooting them by accident, shooting them on purpose. It’s just chaos. I can’t – it’s just suffering and confusion.

And, you know, that is what ended up playing out. That was at the very beginning of that war, and, I mean, that’s what ended up playing out. Like, it’s just a senseless war that’s gone on for years where everyone suffers. There’s no clear political end. And I’m sure if you went back and reinterviewed every single one of those people that I was with back at the early days when they were starting the war, they would say in a second that they wish that they never had done it.

Disposable Income to Spend on Fun

CNN — Oct 20, 2020 — Dunes and Deplorables’: A Trump rally in the sand

‘Dunes and Deplorables’: A Trump rally in the sand that took place in Winchester Bay, Oregon, where a group of Trump supporters gathered for a dune buggy rally in support of the president. CNN’s Elle Reeve talked to them about why they think Trump is the best man for the job.

Why Are We So Susceptible To Misinformation

PBS NewsHour: Why we are so susceptible to misinformation — Oct 28, 2020

Moments that jumped out to me from this very intelligent reporting


Dannagal Young: The people who are susceptible to misinformation includes anyone who has a preexisting opinion about anything, so anyone.

When you think about this in terms of evolutionary psychology, we are hard-wired for survival, especially when we are under conditions that mimic fear and threat.

So, you know if you are encountering a tiger in the jungle or something, you’re not going to do a slow pro/con list of the different courses of action that you might take. Instead, you’re actually just going to make a decision quickly based on emotions and intuition. And the person who writes the pro/con list will be eaten by the tiger.


Kell Bales: If Biden were to win the presidency, seems to be clear, pretty clear evidence of fraud. We’re all skewed, right? My particular Facebook feed is — it’s blown up with conservative, with like-minded individuals. We’re all going to do that. We’re going to surround ourselves with circles of like believers, like thinkers.


Arlene Lehew: I go online to Newsmax, Parler. I follow Dan Bongino. Yes, I don’t agree with that. I just feel it’s truthful. I don’t — I don’t know if it’s conservative or not. I think people that are on the Democratic side — and I used to be a Democrat. So, people that are on the Democratic side don’t really want to hear the truth sometimes.


Dannagal Young: If you can connect on the very needs and desires that are driving people to hold these beliefs in the first place, right, create those connections, that’s where we create an inroad.

It’s hard, because we’re asking you to have empathy for individuals who might be holding beliefs that could undermine your own freedom or undermine certain aspects of social justice. But this — if the goal is to correct misperceptions and — then those relationships have to come first.

American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself

CBS This Morning: Alexandra Pelosi discusses her new documentary, “American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself”

I listened to an interview with Alexandra Peloi on American Selfie on WBUR, Here and Now (October 29, 2020), and two things really struck me.

From the social fabric of family and public life to democracy, phones are “destroying us as human beings,” she says. “The thing about a gun is you can decide to pull the trigger,” she says. “But with a phone, someone else is pulling the trigger and sending little bullets to your brain that make you happy or sad or anxious or depressed.”


Unafraid to push back on her subjects, Pelosi asked one man in Las Vegas why he was a drug addict. When he said drugs make life more tolerable, Pelosi responded with, “You’re a white man. The world is set up for you.” The man said no, the world is set up for the rich.

Guns and Elections

CNBC: Why Gun Sales Are Surging Ahead Of The Election: CNBC After Hours — Oct 29, 2020 — CNBC’s Josh Lipton breaks down the reasons why gun sales have been surging across the United States ahead of the presidential election between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Listening to this episode on The Daily, which aired on Oct. 29, 2020, it was abundantly clear both, the Left and Right, are imagining specters of violence conducted by the other side. Each side is projecting their anxiety and worst fears upon the other. The irony is both sides just want to feel secure and safe. The reporting by Andy Mills and Alix Spiegel puts each side into human terms — they are people who are afraid right now, so what do we do? How do we get back to a more peaceful, secure, and safe reality for everyone? Is carrying a gun really the way to safety for all?


The Daily: The Field: The Specter of Political Violence

This episode contains strong language.

With an election in which uncertainty may abound, concerns are swirling around the possibility of political violence. Experts and officials — including those charged with the security of polling stations and ballot counting facilities — have been taking extra precautions.

Americans across the political spectrum appear to be preparing themselves for this possibility, too: Eight of the 10 biggest weeks for gun sales since the late 1990s took place since March this year. Many of those sales were to people buying guns for the first time.

Today’s episode examines these anxieties from two perspectives.

Andy Mills, a senior audio producer for The New York Times, speaks to patrons of gun stores in Washington State about their motivations and sits down with a first-time gun owner who relays his anxiety, ignited by the unrest and protests in Seattle over the summer.

And Alix Spiegel, a senior audio editor for The Times, visits three women of color in North Carolina, one of whom says the scenes in Charlottesville, the killing of Black people at the hands of the police and the threat of white militias have encouraged her to shift her anti-gun stance.

For the full article as reported in the New York Times (10/27/20), see: A Divided Nation Agrees on One Thing: Many People Want a Gun

Unreality of Now

This American Life — Photo for The Unreality of Now — Taken by DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP via Getty Images

This American Life: The Unreality of Now

This episode is covered through 3 acts that include:

Would You Like to Come Up to First Class? The journalist E. Jean Carroll is one of dozens of women who’ve accused the president of sexual assault or harassment. These stories have been so widely covered and everyone’s so used to them that to Carroll, it felt like at this point they were just being ignored.  Which seemed sort of incredible to her. She has a frank conversation with another one of the president’s accusers, Jessica Leeds. (16 minutes)

The Gun Reality of Now: The statistics on first time gun ownership are higher than ever in America. Producer Lilly Sullivan wants to know: What inspired people to buy a gun right now? What are people afraid of? (16 minutes) Lilly ends saying: “The United States of America is united in fear of each other…”

Second Time’s the Charm: Reporter Johnny Kaufman embeds with the election staff in Georgia’s most populated county to find out if the staff—who had a horrible go of it during the primary election—can possibly do better this time. (14 minutes) The election manager who Johnny interviews says at the end that he recently heard someone say: “I’ve lived through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and now every month of 2020!

Throughline: How We Vote

Aired on WAMU: Friday, October 30, 2020 at 1:00pm

Photo from WAMU Special Report: Nationals Park is one of three sports facilities that D.C. is repurposing as “super vote centers” for early voting and Election Day. Hannah Schuster / WAMU/DCist

This was a riveting hour long show that takes the listener all the way back to the days of George Washington and how we voted in America. I grew up thinking voting has always been the way I’ve experienced. I couldn’t be more wrong.

Drunken brawls, coercion, and lace curtains. Believe it or not, how regular people vote was not something the founding fathers thought much about, or planned for. Americans went from casting votes at drunken parties in the town square to private booths behind a drawn curtain. In this special presentation of NPR’s Throughline podcast, a look at the process of voting: how it was originally designed, who it was intended for, moments in our country’s history when we reimagined it altogether, and what we’re left with today.

How Whiteness Affected The Election

Image from 1A (11/9/20): Donny Wadkins holds a US flag outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center as ballot counting in the presidential election continues inside in Philadelphia.BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

This is an important conversation because it deconstructs the monolithic myth about we create about voters. Eddie Glaude Jr. who is the author, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for our Own, talks about the role of selfishness in shaping who a person votes for, believing that this or that person will better guarantee their interests. He points out selfishness is not confined to a single race, any one can be selfish.

They also discuss what Code Switch’s Gene Demby said in a conversation about the white vote on All Things Considered:

“But, you know, we in the media have a million euphemisms for the white vote. We have a lot of ways to say white without saying white. We say evangelical, soccer moms, suburban women, NASCAR dads, etc. Never mind that, you know, plenty of people of color overindex on things like church attendance or that, you know, the suburbs all over the country are becoming browner all the time. White is kind of implied in U.S. politics, and because it’s left implied, there tends to be this hyperfocus after elections on the way that nonwhite voters behave.

So right now we’re hearing a lot about Biden’s underperformance among Latino voters in Florida, for example, but far less about the fact that Trump won 60% of white voters in Florida. And white voters make up nearly two-thirds of the electorate in Florida this year, at least according to The New York Times. So Trump’s viability relies almost entirely on his consistently strong white support. But because we don’t talk about white people that way, we tend to focus on these sort of marginal shifts with people of color.”

What You Expect From The Biden-Harris Administration

Image from 1A (11/9/20): President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, stand with their spouses, Dr. Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, after addressing the nation in Wilmington, Delaware. Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

This is a thoughtful discussion of where we go from here, especially in light of so many alternative realities believed by and clung to by millions of people. Excerpt at 18 minutes, 30 seconds: What do you do about the millions of people who do not believe that Biden was elected fairly?

Dale Ho: “… I’m glad to hear a few voices in the Republican Party who have acknowledged the reality of the election results. I think it is very troubling for the health of our democracy that we have so many voices that are calling into question the integrity of this election in absence of any credible evidence of any widespread tampering with ballots or ballots unlawful cast. It is a microcosm of the the different kind of Fact Spheres that people right now inhabit, but when it comes to basic machinery of democracy when so many people have so many unfounded beliefs, it is something that is going to have to be confronted.

Founding Fathers Expected Today’s Political State

Image from Morning Edition (11/10/20): First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country, by Thomas Ricks
Harper

This was a fascinating interview about the long arc of history. Yes, bad men and ignorance have a long and deadly arch on human history, but so too do good men, commonsense, and basic human decency and compassion.

Excerpt: On whether the founders anticipated the sort of political circumstances we’ve had the last several years

“Absolutely. Thomas Jefferson, at one point, said bad men will get into power. And Madison says himself he’s not a memorable writer, Madison, but he has one memorable phrase I can think of, which is that if men were angels, we would not need government. Government is intended to restrain the bad impulses of people, so, yes, they saw that one day we’d have a president like Donald Trump. The Donald Trump of their day was Aaron Burr. Aaron Burr very nearly became president in 1800, 1801. In just a few years later, he goes on and he shoots Alexander Hamilton and then he is indicted for treason against the United States, for a murky conspiracy he was involved in. He was a bad guy, Aaron Burr. And the system was designed to check and balance people. And check is not an easy thing. Think of a hockey check. That’s a rough hit. Well, they wanted those checks to happen.”

1A Across America: Are The Red Cracks In The Blue Wall Getting Redder?

This is an absolutely beautiful report! My parents live in this area of MN, and I could not understand for the life of me why they voted for Trump. But this reporting helps me understand. They voted for him because they are standing with their community. At our core as human beings, we want to be accepted and belong to the communities that we live within. To go against the grain or against the flow of the popular beliefs, opinions, and needs being felt by one’s community is to risk being ostracized–sometimes, shunning is a fate worse than death.

I am putting this resource here because half way through when James Morrison is speaking with two young people living in Winona, MN, which is a beautiful little city located in spectacular bluff country along the Mississippi River. Winoa’s most noticeable picturesque landmark is Sugar Loaf–a bluff on the Mississippi River topped by a rock pinnacle that looks like a miniature Devils Tower. The city is named after legendary figure Winona who is said to have been the first-born daughter of Chief Wapasha III.

As they hike up Sugar Loaf, they talk about everyone having their own reality and how everyone is playing their own game in life. As we can clearly see in this Moment of Now, too many alternative realities all playing for the same small physical stage in the bigger game called life can have adverse consequences.

That is all I will say about this piece. If it interests you, you should listen to the full report and see what sparkles for you in your journey of understanding.

‘How To Make A Slave’ Author On The Advice That Changed His Writing Career

Heard on  Fresh Air— November 3, 2020

Great Nonfiction Writers Lecture Series: Jerald Walker — Brown University

The above video does not come from the interview Jerald Walker did with Terry Gross; however, he is a great thinkers and distilled his craft of writing into something polished and worth paying attention precisely because his life experiences are so different than those of us living in the mainstream of American society, which by default denies realities such as what Walker writes about.

The following excerpt of Walker and Gross conversation whopped me, especially what Walker learned from this experience he recounts to Terry.


GROSS: Let’s start with a turning point in your life. You were in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and submitted a story that you thought was quite good. It was about growing up on Chicago’s South Side. Describe the story or personal essay that you had turned in.

WALKER: Pretty much everything I wrote back then was about how white society had pretty much ruined the lives of Black people, and we were miserable, angry, bitter and poised for absolute failure as a result. That was pretty much my theme at the time. And I submitted it to workshop, quite proud of myself for really capturing what it meant to be a Black person in America.

And my professor, James Alan McPherson, had a different view. And he – when he began to critique the piece, he prefaced it by talking about how Black gangsta rappers often use similar themes and tropes in their lyrics, but often these rappers don’t live those lifestyles and, in fact, are quite successful and wealthy. And then McPherson, to my absolute horror, accused me of doing the exact same thing.

GROSS: And you were really angry, and you confronted him about it. What did he tell you about staying away from cliches about being Black in America and about growing up in the ghetto? ‘Cause you had told him, like, everything I wrote in this is true and, like – describe what you told him when you got really angry with him.

WALKER: Well, I didn’t sleep after workshop because I was so upset. And I called him the next morning and demanded a conference, and he agreed to meet with me. And when we met in his office, I went through the characters one by one, and I pointed out that they’re real people. These are my siblings. These are my friends. We live in this community. I’m not making this stuff up. I’m not simply using these tropes for the enjoyment of a white audience, which is what he accused me of. And I demanded that he apologize.

And he was so stunned, I think, by my response that he stormed out of the room, and he ran into the hallway. And then the director came chasing him in one direction, and someone else chased him. And I sat there for maybe five minutes watching these people run back and forth, seeing my future career as a writer go right down the drain because I was a huge, huge fan of McPherson, and I felt that he had somehow misread me, misread my story. And if this man, this Black man who I so admired, saw no value in my stories, then I felt that there was no hope for me.

GROSS: I’ll interject here that he was the first African American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for writing. So, I mean, you not only admired him; he had real stature in the world of writers. But you thought about it and then talked to him again. And he gave you some advice, which is very interesting advice, and I’d like you to describe what he told you.

WALKER: Well, I think one of the things that cause us to sort of not see each other in the proper light is that what he thought that I was doing was trafficking in stereotypes. And I was. I don’t deny that. But I was also, you know, a young writer, and I simply didn’t have a handle on my material. But he said something to me that was so valuable that it did change the trajectory of my entire writing career. He told me that stereotypes are valuable but only as a way to entice readers into the text because what they are presented with at the beginning is familiar territory, but once they’re in the text, he told me, you have to show them what’s real. And I asked him, what’s real? And he said, you.

And I didn’t know what he meant by that, but I reflected on it for about a year. And I went back, and I asked him to do a directed study with me because I wanted to study myself to figure out what is real. And the thing that I came to realize after working with him for several years was that the philosophy that I had adopted, that Black people were primarily victims of white racism, was false by the very fact that I had overcome these obstacles to even be in the writers’ workshop. And we’re talking about a place with a 3% acceptance rate, and yet there I was standing there, proclaiming that Blacks had no future in anything because we couldn’t overcome our obstacles.

And so he made me see that I was focusing too much on the obstacles in the Black person’s life, too much on racism, too much on oppression, but not on the very qualities that made it possible for me to find myself standing before him.

GROSS: So he wanted you to write about the strengths of Black people and the things they’ve overcome, even if they’re not having a successful career as a writer or getting into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

WALKER: Exactly. It’s not the victory; it’s the fight. And I think that he made it clear to me that I was failing to talk about the fight. And he made the point that for people who could endure the brutalization of slavery and its aftermath, by necessity had to be more than the sum of that brutalization.

GROSS: And just to be clear, he wasn’t saying, you know, like, Black people can just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and nothing else is standing in their way; you could achieve whatever you want to. He wasn’t taking that approach.

WALKER: Absolutely not. What he was simply saying is that we don’t come from a tradition of defeat; we come from a tradition of resistance and fight and struggle and that these are the qualities that make it possible for people to have success. But they’re also the qualities that simply make it possible for you to situate yourself in the whole span of humanity, that we are people, like all people, who do not simply identify themselves solely as victims of some oppression or some obstacle.


You are real, you are real, you are real. This is what hit me hard from this interview. As we attempt to understand our individual circumstances, our fate, our reality as individuals… we must start with ourself first. But not in an artificial, unnatural, hollow, shallow, contrived, or superficial way (more about that with Watts below). As Walker ends this excerpt from the interview with Terry Gross that I have included above, he is absolutely right in saying: “No, Black people can not just pull themselves up by the bootstraps…” …nobody can… it’s impossible.

You’re Using ‘Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps’ Wrong — Jun 10, 2017 [This is not what I was looking for but it does make the point I was seeking in a funny way]

“Telling someone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps just makes you sound like a jerk to normal people, and an idiot to super geniuses.”


You Cannot Improve Yourself – The Great Alan Watts — Sep 17, 2016

This is part of the transcript for this video marked by minutes into the lecture.

2:43: “We aren’t better because we want to be; because the road to hell is paved with good intentions; because all the do-gooders in the world whether they’re doing good for others or doing it to themselves are troublemakers.

3:01: On the basis of kindly let me help you or you’ll drown said the monkey putting the fish safely up a tree. We white Anglo-Saxon Protestants British German American have been on a rampage for the past hundred or more years to improve the world. We have given the benefits of our culture our religion our technology to everybody, except perhaps the Australian Aborigines. And we have insisted that they receive the benefits of our culture and even our political styles our democracy–you better be democratic or we’ll shoot you! And having conferred these blessings all over the place, we wondered why everybody hates us! See because sometimes doing good to others and even doing good to oneself is amazingly destructive. [This is] because it’s full of conceit.

4:10: How do you know what’s good for other people?! How do you know what’s good for you?!!

4:16: If you say you want to improve, then you want to know what’s good for you, but obviously you don’t [know] because if you did you would be improved! So, we don’t know!!

4:39: So, what instead therefore, if we see that you can’t outwit yourself; you can’t be, shall I say: ‘self-conscious’ unselfconscious on purpose; you can’t be designitaly spontaneous; and you cannot be genuinely loving by intending to love. Either you love someone or you don’t.

5:12: If you pretend to love a person, you deceive them and build up reasons for resentment. They say, ‘Well, I ought to be honest.’

5:26: That’s the beginning of oh so many lies you can’t imagine… like when I hear a lot said about lovethe big love thing on me… everybody’s got a love everybody, but it sings songs about love. Do you know what I do? I buy a gun and bar my door because I know there’s a storm of hypocrisy brewing.

5:48: So, let’s look at this thing from another point of view, which you will at first think highly depressing. [Let’s] suppose we can’t do anything to change ourselves; suppose we’re stuck with [how we are]. Now, that is the the worst thing an American audience can hear there’s no way of improving yourself because every kind of culture in this country is dedicated to self-improvement!

6:29: So, you see, you went out to do a self-improvement, making money. You see [this thing going out and making money] is a measure of improvement, a measure of your economic worthwhileness. At least that’s what it’s supposed to be. It isn’t anything of the kind. But you went out in other words for the status instead of for the actuality.

6:50: So, if in other words, you do an art (such as) you’re a musician. Why do you play music? The only great reason for playing music is to enjoy. If you play music to impress an audience, to be… read about yourself in the newspaper, you are not interested in music. So in the same way, why do I come and talk to you? Because I enjoy. I like the sound of my own voice. I’m interested in what I’m talking about. I get paid for it, and that’s smart in this life is to get paid for what you enjoy.

7:25: So, here’s the situation, you see, there is no… that the… the whole idea of self-improvement is a is a will of the wisp and a hoax. That’s not what it’s about.

7:37: Let’s begin where we are.

7:43: What happens if you know? If you know beyond any shadow of doubt that there is nothing you could do to be better.

7:55: Well, it’s kind of a relief isn’t?!

7:59: Now, you say: ‘Well, now what will I do?

8:07: See, there’s a little fidget comes up because we’re so used to making things better… leave the world a better place than when you found it sort of thing.

8:15: I want to be of service to other people and all these dreadfully hazy ideas.

8:20: And, so we think does…there’s that little itch still… but supposing instead of that seeing that there isn’t really anything we can do to improve ourselves or to improve the world. If we realize that that is so… it gives us a little breather. In the course of which we may simply watch what is going on, watch what happens.

8:53: Nobody ever does this, you see. Therefore, it sounds terribly simple. It sounds so simple that is almost looks as if it isn’t worth doing. But ever just watched watch? Watched what’s happening and watch what you are doing by way of reaction to it?

9:11: Just, watch it happen. And don’t be in a hurry to think you know what it is.

9:20: In other words, people look at it and say, ‘Oh, that’s the external world.

9:27: ‘Oh how do you know?‘ The whole thing from a neurological point of view is a happening in your head.

9:32: That you think there is something outside the skull is a notion in your nervous system–there may or may not be, but it’s a notion in your nervous.

9:51: You think this that exists is the material world. Well that’s somebody’s philosophical idea. Or maybe you think it’s spiritual. That too is somebody’s philosophical idea. This real world is not spiritual, it is not material, the real world is simply [Watt’s claps his hands]…

10:05: So could we look at things in that way? Without as it were fixing labels and names and gradations and judgments on everything but watch what happens? Watch what we do?

10:33: Now, you see if you do that, you do at least give yourself a chance. And, it may be that when you are in this way freed from busy-body-ness and being out to improve everything that your own nature will begin to take care of itself. Because you’re not getting in the way of yourself all the time. You will begin to find out that the great things that you do are really happenings.

11:12: For example, no great genius can explain how he does it. “Yes,” he says, “I have learned a technique to express myself because I had something in me that had to come out. I had to know how to get it out.”

11:36: So, if I were a musician, I had to learn how music is produced. That means learning to use an instrument or learning a technique of musical notation or whatever it may be. If I want to describe something, I have to learn a language so that others can understand me. I need a technique. But then beyond that… I’m afraid I can’t tell you how it was that I used that technique to express this mysterious thing I wanted to show you.

12:04: If we could tell people that, we would have schools where we would infallibly train musical geniuses, scientific miracle minds, and there would be so many of who we wouldn’t know what to do with them. Geniuses would be a dime a dozen and then we would say well these people are after all not very ingenious, you know, PhDs how many of them are there?

12:35: Because what is fascinating always about genius is the fellow does something we can’t understand. He surprises us.

12:45: But you see, just in the same way we cannot understand our own brains, neurology knows relatively little about the brain, which is only to say that the brain is a lot smarter than neurology.

12:58: Yes, yet there is this [thing]… which can perform all these extraordinary intellectual and cultural miracles, but we don’t know how we do it, but we did.

13:14: We didn’t have some campaign to have an improved brain over the monkeys or whatever maybe our ancestors, it happened. Then, all growth you see is fundamentally something that happens.

13:28: But for it to happen, two things are important.

13:34: The first is, as I said, you must have the technical ability to express what happens. Secondly, you must get out of your own way.

13:50: But right at the bottom of the whole problem of control is how am I to get out of my own way?

13:58: And if I showed you a system–let’s all practice getting out of our own way–it would turn into another form of self-improvement.

14:06: Here is the dynamics of this thing. And we find this problem, you see, repeatedly throughout the entire history of human spirituality.

14:19: In the phraseology of Zen Buddhism: You cannot get this by thinking. You cannot attain to it by not thinking.

14:36: It is only, you see, as you… as getting out of your own way ceases to be a matter of choice. When you see that there’s nothing else for you to do. When you see…in other words, that doing something about your situation is not going to help you. When you see equally that trying not to do anything about it is not going to help you. Where are you? Where do you stand? You’re nonplussed, and you are simply reduced to watching.


Oddly, as I finish this transcript, I also just watched ‘The Crown’ Season 4: Episode 4: “Favourites” [Don’t click this link if you are watching the Crown and have not gotten to Season 4: Episode 4 yet.]

The Crown Season 4 | Official Trailer | Netflix | Oct 29, 2020

This trailer sets up the conflict perfectly between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher…in an exciting way. If you have been following this series, then you know the Queen has had to learn the art of doing nothing. And many, many times, it has worked for her in spectacular ways. But, things are changing… as they always do… and there is a new fish in the tank… a woman of action. Hmmm… I wonder what’s going to happen?!!


Ram Dass & RELATIVE REALITIES

Photo from Ram Dass website by Rohit Gowaikar via Flickr. Used under the creative commons license.

“You have at this moment many constellations of thought, each composing an identity: sexual, social, cultural, educational, economic, intellectual, historical, philosophical, spiritual, among others. One or another of these identities takes over as the situation demands. Usually you are lost into that identity when it dominates your thoughts. At the moment of being a mother, a father, a student, or a lover, the rest are lost.” – Ram Dass

There is more if you go to the embed link to Relative Realities.


Dan P. McAdams

The Mind of Donald Trump Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity—a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.

The Atlantic — Story by  Dan P. McAdamsJUNE 2016 ISSUE

Mark Peterson / Redux

I found this older article in writing my previous blog: We Are Running Out of Time. I thought I had heard this on the radio recently, but I found it doing research on this recent blog. And then my good and trusted friends in Germany, Michael and Sonka, sent me a translation of a recent interview Dan McAdams that is featured on NTV: Politik, which they translated for me.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2020: US psychologist on Donald Trump “The best analogy is the chimpanzee”

“It’s like watching a primal force or a wild animal.” Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Arizona, one of the swing states.”

Donald Trump is obviously a narcissist, but that only partly explains him. US psychologist Dan McAdams calls Trump an “episodic man” who lives exclusively in the here and now. “He wakes up every morning ready to fight to win.”

In 2016, before the then presidential election, you wrote an article in “Atlantic” about the narcissistic traits of Donald Trump. In a more recent piece you point out that narcissists tend to attract people, but that these fans usually turn away from their hero at some point disappointed or annoyed. Before we talk about why his fans don’t do this: Is this the reason for the constant changes among White House staff?


Dan McAdams: I think so. Staff turnover in the White House is higher under Trump than under any other president in recent history. There are a number of reasons for this. One of the most important is that Trump is extremely volatile. It is difficult to predict what he will do from one day to the next. Working for such a person is almost impossible. Looking at my 2016 article, I now think there is something deeper than Trump’s narcissism – something that explains it completely. Trump is what I call the episodic man. I think this also explains the high staff turnover of his government.

What do you mean by “episodic man”?

That is the central thesis of my new book about Donald Trump, “The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump. Episodic Man means that Trump lives exclusively in the immediate episode, in this moment, in the here and now. He wakes up every morning and is ready to fight to win. For that he does everything: lie, cheat – everything that is necessary. Then he goes back to bed, wakes up the next day and starts fighting and winning all over again. Yet every day is a different episode for him. They do not fit together to form any story or narrative. He does not live continuously from day to day like most of us do.
It must actually be hard to work for someone like that.

When you deal with such a person, you never know what will happen next. Maybe everything goes well on Tuesday because you did something that helped him win on that particular day. But on Thursday he might have to win in a different way. And if you can’t do that, you’re out. It’s not possible to adjust to Trump because, unlike most of us, he hardly remembers what happened yesterday or the day before, and he doesn’t think about the future, as almost everyone else does. Most of us develop the story of our lives while living. Trump not. That’s why he can’t devise any long-term strategies.

But he does pursue political goals, for example in the occupation of the Supreme Court.

There is only one goal for Trump: to win. That is all he cares about. Of course he knows that the election is coming up. In this way, he can certainly take a longer-term perspective. But he is not in a position to develop a sustainable plan for political strategies. Take the Covid crisis, the biggest health emergency in generations for the United States and the world. Trump is unable to address this challenge because it would require a long-term plan. That is why Trump said in February and March, when the crisis hit the United States, that tomorrow it would all be over. “This is only a temporary moment” – he really said that. This is how he sees life, as a temporary moment, and you have to fight to win today. But when you are dealing with the virus, you need long-term concepts that work not just from one day to the next, but from month to month, maybe from year to year. He can’t do that. He has no idea how to do it. Nor does he let his experts and his employees work like that. Instead, he disempowers them all and fights to win on this one day.

For your book you asked yourself what it is like to be Trump. What is it like?

I tried to get inside his head. It’s not just the narcissism. He’s all wrapped up in himself and thinks only of himself all the time – but that’s only one aspect. For him, life is like a boxing match. The boxer gets up for the first round and fights for three minutes as if his life is at stake. Then the bell rings, he goes back to his corner, rests for a minute and gets up again for the second round. That is Trump’s life. This is probably how he has lived his whole life since his school days. He wakes up in the morning for the first round and will do anything to win. Anyone else would be devastated by such a life – not him. He loves to fight, he wants to eliminate his opponents over and over again. But you can’t solve long-term problems like this.

Then why on earth do 40 percent of Americans have a positive opinion of him, no matter what he does?

You’re right, it doesn’t matter what he does, and it’s probably more than 40 percent. Those 40 percent or more stick by him all the time. His approval ratings haven’t really risen much in the years he has been in office, but they don’t fall significantly below that mark either. Part of the reason is that Trump gives them what they want.

Trump’s constant fighting is simply a spectacle. It is like watching a primal force or a wild animal. Many of these 40 percent feel disenfranchised. This is a population group that tends to be less educated, older, white and male – not only, but predominantly. In a way, it is for them as if they were also in this boxing ring. And it is their last chance, because the United States is becoming more and more multicultural, multi-ethnic and increasingly post-industrial. The world simply leaves these old, uneducated white boys behind. They too are fighting a fight. But it is a hopeless endeavor. This population group is dying out. In a way, Trump is the last great white hope for them.

Do Trump’s fans actually see him as a real person or is he something like a fictional character for them?

For many of his fans he is not a real person. Even more: I believe that Donald Trump does not see himself as a real person. Of course his followers know that Trump is a flesh and blood person. But he has certain things about him that make him more than just a human being, as if he were a superhero or a mythical force. White evangelical Christians in the USA seriously believe that he is an instrument of God. To them, God’s will is manifested through him, although Trump himself is obviously not religious in any way.

Whether you see him as God’s instrument or as a wild animal fighting for you, or whether you see him as a little boy who is innocent in a crazy way, as some people think, the point is that he is above us. Trump does not have to play by the rules. As he once said himself, he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and he wouldn’t lose voters. To a certain extent, that’s probably true. For him, the rules don’t apply because he is more than a human being. From the point of view of his followers and from his own perspective, he is stronger, smarter, bigger. At the same time, he is also less than human because he lacks things that the rest of us have.

What does he lack?

He has no inner life. He has no doubts at all. He believes that he has never made a mistake. He does not just say that. He really believes that. He really believes that he is “a stable genius. There is something “non-human” about him. He has no empathy. If a tragedy happened, he wouldn’t think of cheering people up. As someone who is more than a human being in the sense that he is like a superhero and at the same time less than a human being in the sense that he has no inner conflicts, no doubts, no moral perspective and no empathy, he forms a category of his own. He can do anything, no matter how crazy it is. I believe that Trump sees himself that way too. He does not believe that the rules apply to him. And he doesn’t understand many things that others understand by nature. He fails to acknowledge the fact that more than 225,000 Americans have died of Corona. He just doesn’t grasp it, he can’t get a feeling for it either. There are not many people who are like that. He doesn’t hide it either. Trump isn’t hiding anything, it’s all on the surface.
So instead of being a real person, he plays the role of Donald Trump all the time. He has played the same role all his life, even as president. It’s really fascinating to watch that. It’s impressive, but it’s completely inadequate when it comes to the challenges we are currently facing.

You said he really believes he has never made a mistake. Is it true that narcissists often don’t think they are perfect at all? Is he different in that respect?

Trump is not your average narcissist. Narcissism is an important aspect of Trump, but this is. But there are many narcissists who see themselves as real people. For example, most narcissists can tell a story about their lives, about how they might have made a mistake once, but then got better and better. Or about how they got help from others or how they overcame problems and doubts. Narcissists tend to have stories like the one about going from dishwasher to millionaire, American dream stories.

Trump has no story about how he became what he is or how his life will evolve. Again, the comparison fits a wild animal. The alpha chimpanzee is not expected to have a story about how he became what he is and how he overcame difficulties. It is not expected to have a long-term plan for the future. It is not expected to think strategically. A monkey alpha male is expected to be intimidating and strong and powerful and to make deals to stay on top.

You compare Trump with a chimpanzee?

Well, he really behaves like a chimpanzee. He thinks he is powerful and forceful. He’s authentic and in many ways the opposite of most politicians – Joe Biden for example, but actually that’s true for everyone except Trump. They think strategically, they think long-term, they talk about things that will affect us in the future. Trump just wants to show everyone.

Could it be that Trump is a kind of projection screen for his supporters?

In a way, yes, they project wishes onto him. This whole fantasy of making America great again, of bringing it back to the way it used to be, whatever that might be – that’s a projection. But not in the sense that they see themselves in Trump. Donald Trump is admired by his fans, but they do not want to be like him. They are in awe of him. They see him as a tool for their salvation. But nobody says: I want to be like Donald Trump. Nobody says: When I grow up, I want to be God. Or: I want to be an alpha chimpanzee or a giant animal like King Kong. That is also the reason why his approval is so constant: He does not belong in the same category as the rest of mankind.

If Trump is so unique, who could follow him as a politician?

No one. He is unique. There is no legitimate successor. At the moment he cannot imagine not being president. If he wins the election – it won’t happen, and if it does happen, it will be because votes have been suppressed – he will probably want another term, even if that would be unconstitutional. He just has to win every time.

When we spoke four years ago, you said Trump was an imminent threat to American democracy because he delegitimizes the political system.

Things have turned out much worse than I predicted. I thought he was working to undermine democracy, but I could not imagine that he would succeed. Today I think he has succeeded to a certain extent in weakening our institutions. He has gone further than anyone could have predicted. Trump does not understand how a democracy works. The idea that power is shared between the institutions in a democracy is completely foreign to him.

NO DIAGNOSIS: Prof. McAdam is a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. In an earlier interview with ntv.de, he described his assessments of Donald Trump as “a kind of psychological commentary”.

His view on the work of a government is ultimately feudal. The best analogy is again the chimpanzee. The alpha male is the boss, the supreme leader, and he remains in power until there is an uprising against him and he is replaced by a new alpha male. This is how authoritarian states work, and Trump sees no problem with that. Trump says he will not lose the election. He has refused to commit himself to a peaceful transfer of power. Jesus Christ! Since George Washington, we have had peaceful transfers of power in the United States. Never, never, have Americans questioned this. Some people may not like an election result, they may demonstrate against it, they may even resort to violence. But no one has ever questioned that a president relinquishes power when he loses a damn election. We are facing a constitutional crisis. He could carry out all kinds of maneuvers that no one ever expected, because so far the norms of our system have kept presidents in check. But Trump does not respect norms.

Hubertus Volmer spoke with Dan McAdams
Source: ntv.de

We Have To Choose Our Hard

Photo by Bebe — 10/25/20

CNN: Chris Cuomo’s Opening Statement on the Eve of Halloween 2020 — 10/30/2020

From CNN.com — Transcripts

Anderson Cooper: CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You are our Iron Man. Anderson, I’ll be watching, and then I’d be at the ready for you until this end. Get some rest, when you can. 

Chris Cuomo: I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Happy Hallowe’eve! Not that reality isn’t spooky enough, right? 

We do have a real monster in our midst this year. It’s the virus. It’s on the move. It’s in the shadows. It’s in the light of day. The sense of foreboding that we all feel is very real. And yet, this is no boogeyman. It’s no figment of our imagination. It’s not true because somebody just tells you it is. And it’s not just in your head.

This has been the worst week ever for Coronavirus cases in the United States. We broke the daily case record again today. We have now surpassed 90,000 infections in one day

I know the President keeps saying “We are rounding the corner.” But be honest. Rounding the corner feels a hell of a lot more like spiraling into this complete hell of a hopscotching virus and more hospitalizations. 

The five worst days we have had have been basically in the last week. Five of the last eight days have been the highest five days we’ve seen. Not rounding the corner. Not going to disappear. There is no need for a jump scare in this story. The virus is no surprise, only Trump’s inaction is surprising. 

And yet, there is good news. The monster only haunts us if we allow it to. We know what to wear and how to live. But too many, in places with spread, are being told that they don’t have to, and they’re choosing to believe. That’s why the scariest people, this Halloween, ironically, will be the ones not wearing masks

Everywhere we look, from the pandemic, to protests, depressed economy, to our growing depression in our ranks, we are in a bad place. We have to be better than this. We must do better than this. And I believe we can. 

We’re treating one another as monsters. And these are polarizing times. But we’re making them that way. We could put the same energy into figuring out what we agree on, how to be together, and how to fight together. Why? It’s the same energy.

At the end of the day, living angry is hard. Living to be kind is hard. We need to choose our hard. Dividing is hard. Uniting is hard. Maintaining lies is hard. Sometimes telling people the painful truth is hard. Being sick is hard. Doing what you have to do to stay healthy is hard.

As individuals, and as one country, we have to choose our hard. Now, one choice is going to take us in a direction that’s going to feel like a trick. Another is sweeter. It’s better. It’s more who we’re supposed to be. And that is much more akin to a treat.

We’re not built for harshness. We’re built for sweet strength. We have always been, in this country, in a battle to get to a better place. We always have been. 

The question is, will that continue after Tuesday? That’s what this election is about. Both campaigns know it. They’re both focused in the places that matter. Today, the Midwest, and COVID is exploding all over. And you literally have a complete set of opposites in their final message.

Yes we are, Chris, yes we are: We are built for sweet strength and choosing this, living this, embodying this, especially now, is really hard. But we have to do it!

Some extra reports that resonated and reinforces why we need to work harder Now more than any other time to understand our shared reality.

Chilling Report on Meat Being Shipped to the US during the Pandemic

PBD NewsHour — Oct 20, 2020 — In Nicaragua, supplying beef to the U.S. comes at a high human cost

Judy Woodruff opens this report saying, “When outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat processing plants in the U.S. slowed production, American wholesalers and grocery chains turned to foreign beef suppliers. Producers in the small country of Nicaragua were happy to fulfill U.S. demand — but doing so has come at a high cost for local communities. Nate Halverson of the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal has the story.”

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