After a month of listening to Alan Watts, I understand that it is I who create the problems I perceive. And only I can grow out of them.
There is nothing more to say.
All my blogs have been for not. I think perhaps the only thing left for me to do here is attempt to master the art of writing a descent haiku. This is an ancient art form using words like paint brushes to capture things that cannot be said, only felt, in three brief sentences.
Haiku began in thirteenth-century Japan as the opening phrase of renga, an oral poem, generally a hundred stanzas long, which was also composed syllabically. The much shorter haiku broke away from renga in the sixteenth century and was mastered a century later by Matsuo Basho, who wrote this classic haiku: An old pond! -- Haiku | Academy of American Poets
The habit of thinking and writing about such thoughts; however, is hard to break. Thus, I will indulge in recalling that yesterday was September 11.
It has been 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. For 20 years, 9/11 is a day of remembrance, grieving, and reflection about all that has transpired since that day. This includes the war on terror, which has become known as the Forever Wars.
Reveal just aired a hard-hitting episode on the costs and aftermath of these wars. In short, over 3,000 people died on 9/11 and in the past 20 years as the US searched for those responsible for this horrific attack, more than 900,000 soldiers, contractors, and civilians have died in the Forever Wars.
It is so easy to tearasunder and destroy the delicate balances sustaining all life on earth. Human beings have proved to be especially adept at doing this due to beliefs, attitudes, values, and misguided directives that are held doggedly to inside our minds and that only serve to gouge out deep trenches inside of ourselves (inside our souls) that make it possible for a good and decent person to do the most horrible things. These trenches inside of us is what separates us from each other and most of us will never escape their great depth and gravity.
It does not matter what steadfast beliefs a person clings to or what side they are fighting for because the result is the same. Once a person begins to cling to symbolic thought (replacing insufficient symbols for reality), the digging of the Pit of Peril begins and grows deeper and deeper as more and more adamant beliefs replace reality with rote responses and reactions. The harder a person clings to their resolute beliefs, the deeper and wider the trench of separation grow inside. This is the story of separation. It is the fall of man.
It is so much easier to love one another and to try to listen to one another to understand each other and live in peace rather than cultivate the inner forces of hate and separation.
Following the theme of remembering 9/11, these are two photojournalistic reflections of this day of remembering and reflection.
The Last Enemy
I will also mention one more thing regarding a synchronicity that occurred around this time. It is always important to pay attention to synchronicities when they occur in one’s life. Each person’s synchronicities are utterly unique and appear to help you grow as a conscious being. I share mine synchronicity story only as an example.
It began when I received my latest Netflix DVD. The title was The Last Enemy. I had no idea what it was and why I had put this in my cue. I almost sent it back without watching it thinking it was probably nonsense and I had made a mistake. However, I ended up watching it the day before September 11, 2021. It was absolutely relevant to this moment in time. It was made in 2012 and is about a fictional future where a devastating terrorist attack (like what happened on 9/11) turns Britain into a super surveillance state to keep everyone safe from those who might want to do us harm… but is everyone really safe? There is also a mysterious pandemic going on too.
I understand why Qers, plandemic believers, and even anti-vaxxers grow and harvest such ideas inside their minds. These are exciting concepts rich with conflict and mistrust. And such concepts provides the mind with a powerful fuel that speeds people through their daily activities, and quite often very dull routines. It is a type of mind fuels that provides individuals with a deep sense of meaning and purpose that they are fighting something evil.
That’s what this series explores.
Set in a recognisable, near-future London beset by terrorism and illegal immigration, The Last Enemy features the introduction of "TIA" (Total Information Awareness), a centralised database that can be used to track and monitor anybody, effectively by putting all available government and corporate – i.e. credit card and bank activity, phone use, internet use, purchases, rentals, etc. – information in one place.
The story deals with a political cover-up centred on a sanctioned but secret medical experiment run amok with key members of the government trying desperately to hide all evidence of their experimental batch of vaccine that seems to be causing a deadly virus. The complex story unspools to reveal the moral, social and privacy concerns of this hypothetical TIA system in a post-7/7 world, including such control mechanisms familiar to both real life and science fiction as retinal scans, fingerprint identification and ubiquitous camera and cellphone surveillance footage.
The story is told through the eyes of a mathematical genius, Stephen Ezard, who is portrayed as a recluse showing some signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder. But the shy genius overcomes his own inhibitions to burrow into a highly compromised British government using his brilliance and their TIA system only to find himself ultimately trapped by the people he most trusts, and to learn he is a pawn in manipulative Security State machinations which take the people he most loves from him and compromise him forever. -- From Wiki
Lastly, this is one of the Watts lectures I listened to in the past month.
“Reality escapes all concepts. If you say there is a god that’s a concept. If you say there is no god that’s a concept. Nagarjuna is saying that always your concepts will prove to be attempts to catch water in a sieve.”
The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles
In the previous pieces of the Storytelling Species Series, we have explored how individual attitudes, beliefs, and thinking styles can influences our individual perceptions of reality. We also looked at how stories can influence our understanding of reality (inner and outer). We even explored how stories can become shared narratives that serve as foundational building blocks of our great civilizations and complicated societies. We also looked at how other kind of stories (e.g., conspiracy myths) can pull us together and shred our shared reality. These types of stories are carefully crafted narratives created by people craving attention and power and such people make up stories designed to tear us apart and make us distrust each other. They do this because in a civilization that is in a state of chaos and distrust, it is much easier to carve out a group of people who they can manipulate and control.
Each and every person alive today contributes to the quality of our shared reality–at local levels, at national levels, and at global levels. It all begins with our individual understanding of reality (our inner world), which is contributed to our shared reality (our outer world) through our thoughts, words, and deeds (conscious and unconscious), through our feelings (conscious and unconscious), and through our sensations, specifically, what we pay attentiontoand what we ignore. We also contribute to our individual and shared reality through our instinctual and intuitive responses to what happens to us as we journey through space and time.
Many of us know thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition as components of psychological tests like the Myers-Briggs Personality Type. Finding out what our default psychological operating system is can help us navigate the world better such as figuring out what kind of job or career we might be good at doing or happiest doing. Most of us consider this knowledge not much more important than knowing what our astrological sign is. But I suggest this knowledge is critical to understand not only how to navigate the outer world, but also how to navigate our inner world (the hidden world inside of us).
One of the most tragic aspects of being a modern human today is an all out denial of the reality of one’s inner world. Denying the reality of our inner world denies us the ability to navigate it. We must know our inner world in the same way we know the physical world (the outer world). We must know where the dangerous areas are inside of ourselves and why they are dangerous. We must know where the safe and nurturing areas are inside ourselves and how to navigate between these hidden places. Without this inner knowledge, we can feel lost, anxious, and fearful in the world.
This is what crystalized for me the day I met the bubble maker. The quality of our individual batch of consciousness is how we know and understand our outer (physical) world as well as our inner world (hidden world). The quality of our stream of consciousness can be greatly influenced by how we employ our thinking style, or how much we allow our feeling style to help us understand the world around us. The quality of our consciousness can be increased or decreased by the degree of sensation information we pay attention to (e.g., who is around us, how are we feeling around them) as well as the degree to which we are aware of how we are responding to people and things around us (i.e., are we acting unconsciously, in an instinctual way to people and things around us). When we react unconsciously, this impacts how much intuition we can access in the moment.
Our individual batch of consciousness is constantly changing for it needs to be dynamically balanced moment by moment with what remains unconscious inside of us. Many of us who have grown up in modern Western society are taught from very young ages to deny the reality of our inner world. We were taught to do this to survive the ways in which power is wielded in our super-huge, mega system of consciousness. We have evolved these systems of being because they have been super successful strategies to survive in an unpredictable and complicated world. These systems have allowed human beings to dominate the outer world.
When we deny the reality of our inner worlds, we do not to stick out, we do not individuate (i.e., we do not become a singular and unique human being as we were meant to be). We do not grow up to become the person only we can be. By not being unique and different we fit nicely inside our system of consciousness that values sameness (i.e., people and things that are readily replaceable within the system). By being the same as everyone else, we do not draw undo attention to ourselves by individuals who are more powerful than us and who could do us harm. Especially if our uniqueness and difference threatens their view of reality or if our uniqueness threaten’s their power (watch out then!).
When we become a target of a more powerful person, it is bad. We all know this. So most of us go along with the system because it is easier, and we can have comfortable enough life doing so. If we play it right, we can even possibly grow to have more power in the system too. However, do not delude yourself that if you become a person with power that you are immune to the corrupting force of power. Power corrupts and corrupts completely. It takes a great deal of consciousness to withstand the corrupting force of power. This can only be done by balancing power with honesty and humility. Since most of us lack awareness of our inner worlds, it is rare to find powerful people who can balance power with honesty and humility. It is also rare because our current system of consciousness does not reward individuals for doing this.
In addition to being very vulnerable to the corrupting forces of power, when we do not know our inner world, our physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being is greatly diminished. We become victims to our own unconsciousness, which condemns us to a life of ignorance that can incur terrible damage to our psyche. This damage is readily visible to other people because unconscious people are much more likely to participate in spontaneous acts of violence that they inflict on “other” people because they have projected that part of themself on the “other”, refusing to see it lives inside them and it is themself they are destroying.
If you think our current system of consciousness stinks and needs to change, the only lasting way to change the system is to change yourself. You change yourself by knowing more about yourself inside and out, which means understanding your inner/hidden world is real and has a reality that impacts you in powerful and significant ways. Doing this can be painful for it means going into the darkness of your soul and finding your inner divide.
If you are human, you have an inner divide. It is what allows us to be conscious. It becomes dangerous for us and other when we remain ignorant of this inner divide because this is how our unconsciousness flows into the world (our shared reality). When it does, all sorts of mischief and mayhem happens. So, if you are serious about creating a more beautiful world, get busy getting to know what is living inside of you–the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is only by knowing all of one’s self that a person can balance the oppositional powers always moving and flowing inside of us. It takes an equal and opposite force inside of us to balance a powerful force. When we remain unconscious of the psychological forces inside of us, we weld power in lopsided and destructive ways that hurt us and hurt others.
Recipe for Making a Better Batch of Reality Bubble Mix
Step1: Finding the Right Balance Between the Stories Rising Inside of You and the Ones Swirling All Around You, Especially the Ones You Choose to Eat
The Bubble Maker
On this day, I biked to the Big Wheel at National Harbor in Maryland, going across the Woodrow Wilson bridge. On some days when I cross this bridge when the wind is blowing it feels like flying. It was on my way back after this wonderful ride that I meet this extraordinary woman making gorgeous giant bubbles.
Earlier that day, I wished I had asked a group of men who were practicing a dance with scarfs that they waved above their heads if I could film them. The dance was so beautiful, even though I thought it was quite feminine for men to be dancing with scarfs. But I was too scared to ask them. Then, on my way home, I saw two construction workers horse playing after work. One held his hands up like a boxer looking for a good punch on his friend. His friend waved his t-shirt at him to distract his friend from landing a good punch. They were laughing…that’s how I knew they were playing around. And then, I knew what the men dancing with scarfs were doing–it was a highly ritualized war dance!
So, when I saw the Bubble Maker, I said to myself… ‘I’m not going to let this one by!’ I asked her and she said yes. We had such an amazing conversation as I filmed her making beautiful bubbles. She told me this batch bubble making solution was not her best batch. She explained each bubble mixture is a little different. Some batches make bubbles better than others, so she was struggling with this one. Despite this, she was a master bubble maker, and I got many beautiful shots of giant bubbles. It was magical in every sense of the word.
Step 2: Synthesize, ferment, and transmute your flow of consciousness.
Bubbles of Consciousness
As I watched her, I thought about a conversation I was having with my good friends in Germany about how the human mind is capable of crafting and believing such fantastic versions of reality. I began to think of these bizarre versions of reality were like bubbles created by the mind. Thus, the idea of Reality Bubbles popped into my mind. Some mind bubbles are very stable and last for a long time. Other Reality Bubbles are inherently unstable and pop almost as soon as they leave our minds. Most Alternative Reality Bubbles will pop soon after leaving the mind because the Rock of Reality is very hard.
I imagined the human mind is like the wand the woman making bubbles was holding in the park. With our minds, we make bubbles of reality that we put out into the world, which are visible through our thoughts, words, and actions. Consciousness is like the bubble making mixture in the bucket. As human beings, we channel and distill consciousness continually as it flows through us as experienced by our circumstances, station in life, visions, and dreams (sometimes nightmares). The consciousness contained inside of us is used to generate ideas that inform our individual actions. Thus, the quality of our individual consciousness determines the strength of the mixture used to manufacture the ideas we put out into the world through our Wand of Mind. It is the same wand every human being uses to put out bubbles of reality into the world, but the mixture of consciousness used can be vastly between humans.
Step 3: Explore, discover, repair, and revive your inner landscapes.
Reviving Our Lost Inner Landscapes
This mixture also forms our inner landscapes, mind-scapes. These inner landscapes are illuminated by the light of our conscious understanding. This is how we come to know who we are. This inner light of consciousness is what we inherited when we stepped across the threshold of consciousness many thousands of years ago. Despite all this time, this part of our consciousness is the smallest part of us. Vast amounts of every human mind remains cloaked under the darkness of inner unconsciousness.
But this is what we are here to do–to explore, discover, and claim inner landscapes by illuminating them with the light of our awaken consciousness. The more unconsciousness contained inside your mind, the less stable your inner landscapes will be as well as the bubbles of reality you manufacture with your mind and put into the world through your actions.
This is why it is important to see more of who were are as a human being, which always includes good and bad parts of ourselves. To make stable bubbles that are able to last through time, we need to maintain dynamic balances between good and bad elements existing inside of us and flowing all around us all of the time. We get glimpses of these cloaked areas through thoughts, dreams, and visions. But more often we become aware of our unconsciousness because we get triggered by the unconscious content living inside of us. They pop up just like instincts pop into action due to environmental stimuli that spurs an animal into action. When an animal acts based upon their instincts, nature has already worked out the dynamic balances over billions and billions of years evolution.
However, as newly awaken conscious beings, we have a lot to understand and work out dynamic sustainable balances. This is hard work and it is far easier to revert back to simpler ways of seeing the world such as black and white, right and wrong, good and evil, and then choose one side or the other side to rally along side. But, ultimately all opposites are inseparable because inside goes with outside, up goes with down, light goes with night. Every opposite is inseparable from its other side just like the other side of a coin. You can cut off the other side, but it is still there…the coin is simply thinner… and that is exactly what we do when we split reality and exist in only one side–we make it smaller. Another serious problem of existing only on onside or the other side of the Coin of Realityis a fatal lopsidedness will result. Living in our huge human collectives with lots of technology can delay the consequences of this fatal lopsidedness, but not forever… that is the Gift of Reality… it will always flow towards balance in the end, and as you are carried in this flow, you will hit the Rocks of Reality along the way.
So, think about your thoughts and how they are turn into actions in the world, which shape and create our shared reality.
I know this is all pretty abstract, but perhaps you will read the story I am writing about this when I finally finish it (Sapience: The Moment is Now). For now, I continue to make these mini movies to help me feel grounded to the Earth and connected to all the beautiful life around me and inside of me. By appreciating the beauty of Earth, I am able to continue gathering inner strength to pull back the projections I have put out into the world. As I pull them back, I find my inner reservoir of consciousness is replenished, which helps me endure.
Projecting our consciousness out into the world is perfectly natural because we cannot see ourselves when we are first born into the world unless we look in a mirror. That is what projections do. They allow us to see ourselves through others.
The trick is seeing: “Oh – that is me!” And, reclaiming that part of ourself that has been temporally lost into the world as a project. This is your power. This is all in my book… but I still must find deeper calm to write again since the latest calamity befell me and my family.
Step 4: Be here, now, that is all we ever have… everything we know, do, feel, become is wrapped in the now.
It is up to each of us to find critical inner balances between the self of the present and the self of the future. It is simply the price of being a conscious creature, and so, it must be navigated. At times, it can be very hard navigating between the needs, desires, fears, and fantasies of present self with the concerns and needs of future self, but that is what we are called to do a conscious human beings who have the gift of knowing.
Following are some of the activities I do that have helped me navigate my inner divide, which exists inside every human being. Often, it comes down to calming down my self-talk (the thing we call thinking and prize so much as modern human beings). Alan Watts often says that thinking is a good servant but a bad master. This is a fundamental teaching of Buddhism that the Western trained mind has a very hard time understanding.
Nature helps us see ourselves in balance with everything else. Being outside, we can step outside of our minds and open us to other ways of knowing and understanding ourself in relationship to everyone and everything else. But to do this, one must be willing to slow down and look! I’ve made a series of nature videos throughout the months of lockdown and social distancing due to the global pandemic, which required individuals to put the well-being and health of others ahead of themselves–that is why we were asked to wear masks and keep distances, not because we were being controlled by evil politicians and scientists. My goodness the stories circulating on the Internet are so creative and more entertaining in conspiracy myths than a Marvel movie. I would ask those flocking to such narratives, what is it inside of you that these stories are activating? If a story you read makes your blood pressure rise, your heart beat faster, your anger increase, who is trying to manipulate you to their point of view? Instead, go outside. Let your own inner truth rise. If you are holding your inner split in balance, you will feel peace, you will feel confidence, you will feel in control and trust yourself to know who is telling you porky (aka bullshit) and who is telling you something real (be it good or bad). Life is complicated. Nature is complicated. We are constantly surrounded by complications and need each other to understand and navigate a complicated world as we travel inside very complicated collectives (i.e., our super-huge civilizations). To see the full nature series, click here: Have You Been Outside Today?
Description: Think about the resolutions you made this year: to quit smoking, eat better, or get more exercise. If you’re like most people, you probably abandoned those resolutions within a few weeks. That’s because change is hard. Behavioral scientist Katy Milkman explains how we can use our minds to do what’s good for us.
Towards the end, Katy says, “So often we don’t understand the forces of opposition inside of us, such as the desires of present me (I want to eat that ice cream now) and the consequences of future me (I’ll have to deal with the extra load of calories and fat that might be bad for my weight, cholesterol, mood).” Through out the episode, she gives plenty of examples where her present me created problems for her future me. She said she found it far more productive to approach these situations as an engineering problem rather than falling back to judgemental self-talk (also known as thinking). To do this, a person needs to recognize the forces of opposition operating inside themself, such as Seinfeld’s conflict between Night Guy and Morning Guy and Day Guy. between present self and future self honestly and fully without judging them as lazy, no good, stupid, or anything else one has been told by family members, friends, and culture about the behavior.
Basically, my take away from Katy’s presentation is that anything that trips us up and subverts us from achieving our long-term goals is human. It is normal. And, it can be handled by understanding the inner conflict and engineering simple work arounds. To do this, we need to see the forces at work honestly and fully without judging them (e.g., I’m a lazy, no good, stupid *#$). Often we internalize negative self talk because we have been told this by family, friends, and our culture. It is easy to label and judge. It is much harder to see our internal conflict, which in an inner spilt due to being a consciousness creature, honestly and to accept it as part of one’s self that must be loved and nurtured just as much as the parts of ourself that are heralded as good traits (e.g., over-achieving guy or gal, bringing home the bacon guy or gal, or anything else we or others label as desirable behaviors).
Watts often liked to ask in his lectures: “Why don’t you know what you want?”
“First, you don’t know what want because you haven’t thought about it or you’ve only thought superficially about it. Then when you somebody forces him to think about it and go through and say yeah I think I’d like this, I think I like that, I think I’d like the other as the middle stage. Then you get beyond that say: “Is that what I really want? The end news day, now I don’t think that’s it. I might be satisfied with it for a while and I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, but it’s not really what I want.”
“Why don’t you really know what you want two reasons that you don’t really know what you’re not number one you have it.”
“Number two, you don’t know yourself because you never can. The Godhead is never an object of its own knowledge, just as a knife doesn’t cut itself, fire doesn’t burn itself, light doesn’t illumine itself. It’s always an endless mystery to itself.”
“I don’t know.”
“And this I don’t know, other than the infinite interior of the Spirit, this I don’t know is the same thing as I love, I let go and I don’t try to force or control. It’s the same thing as humility, and so the Upanishads say, “If you think that you understand brahmin, you do not understand it and have yet to be instructed further.”
“If you know that you do not understand it (dharma), then you truly understand for the brahmin is unknown to those who know it and known to those who know it. And the principle is that anytime you as it were voluntarily let up control, in other words cease to cling to yourself, you have an access of power because you’re wasting energy all the time and self-efense trying to manage things trying to force things to perform (the way you think things ought to be–like Rush H. Limbaugh–lol!). The moment you stop doing that that wasted energy is available. Therefore, you are in that sense having that energy available. You are one with the Divine Principle. You have the energy.”
“When you’re trying however to act as if you were God–that is to say you don’t trust anybody and you’re the dictatorand you have to keep everybody in line–you lose the divine because what you’re doing is simply defending yourself. So then the principle is the more you give it away, the more it comes back. Now, you say I don’t have the courage to give it away I’m afraid. And you can only overcome this by realizing you better give it away because there’s no way of holdings onto it.”
Haunted and the Edge
The haunted and the edge offer much in understanding our inner realities better, but they are often taboo and little understood. This is a playlist created by the Last DJ of Earth who is trying to save survivors of Earth after a global catastrophe. He hacks Multinational satellites to broadcast his musical sermons, working day and night to bring down Earth’s new overlords–the ones who worship money. Consciousness is the key. The Sapience Series tells the tale. Follow Sapience: The Moment is Now for when Book 1 is available.
You are beautiful. You are vital to this now. So, take care of yourself. Stay safe, stay well, and find some time to cultivate your beautiful patch of consciousness for it connects you to me and to all of life and the natural world! This is how we create a more beautiful world by seeing the beauty in each other, even when we disagree about things.
Sometime last fall, while biking, the word Sisyphus popped into my mind. I did not know what it meant. I knew it was familiar, but I could not remember why. It’s a weird word. Not a word you hear on a daily basis, not even a word you hear on a decade basis, unless perhaps you are a scholar. But, it kept popping into my mind randomly at least a dozen times or more into the beginning of 2021.
I Was Just Looking for Something Good to Watch
I was looking for a new series to watch on Netflix. I’d finished a score of good series, and then hit a patch of bad ones. I wanted something good…something I could sink into and get lost inside. I was looking for something like the shows I had recently finished watching such as:
Outlander: I never read Diana Gabaldon‘s books, but once I started watching this series, I was hooked. I was trying to find a replacement for Masterpiece’s Poldarkseries based on Winston Graham’s books, which is absolutely amazing. And when I saw Ronald D. Moore was producing this series, I was intrigued because his last big hit series was the updated Battlestar Galacticaseries, a TV drama I loved immensely in the 70s, and Caprica(this tells the tale of how that fictional human civilization fell by showing how the Cylon androids took over their worlds, but then it got abruptly and cruelly canceled before the whole story could be told).
Outlander does not disappoint from the very first episode onward. Its characters are complexed, nuanced, and compelling. The series does not rush the story, reveals each character honestly and humanely, and tells the tale in a captivating, mysterious way. Each season builds upon the last one. The characters grow as the times change around them. The difficulties and battles feel real and vital. Each character has layers of complexities that influence their choices and actions, just like real people do, making the story relatable; indeed, a symbol that transforms the complexities encountered in novel and unexpected ways. And isn’t that what you are really hungry for when you sit down to watch a story?
His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials: I never read Pullman’s novels but I loved the Golden Compass, which was made for the big screen in 2007. However, due to the financial crisis of 2008/2009, the next parts of this series never materialized. Then in 2019, HBO teamed up with BBC to reimagine this fantastic tale for the smaller screen/TV. They did an amazing job translating a complicated story to the screen. I found it believable, compelling, and thrilling. The characters are complicated. You think you’ve pegged one as evil and then realize later critical nuances that force you to reconsider your views. They mystery of the story is revealed slowly and unevenly, so you have to guess or imagine for yourself why this or that happened. Each new character has something new to offer in understanding the whole story. The special effects add to the story rather than overly dominate it.
I love this scene where the researcher and scholar Mary talks to Dust, then she realizes the Dust itself are the Angels. (From His Dark Materials | Season 2, episode 4. The Tower of Angels).
She asks: “Angels are creatures made up of shadow matter of dust?”
The Mysterious Something answers: “Yes.”
Mary further inquires: “And shadow matter is what we call spirit?”
The Mysterious Something replies: “From what we are, spirit, from what we do, matter. Matter and spirit are one.”
Mary asks: “You’ve always been there?”
The Mysterious Something says: “Making, stimulating, guiding.”
Mary queries: “So does that mean angels have intervened in human evolution?”
The Mysterious Something answers: “Yes.”
Mary asks: “But why?”
The Mysterious Something says plainly: “Vengeance.”
Now, I wonder what that means? I didn’t find out in Season 2, so waiting for Season 3. But after that exchange, Mary starts working with the I Ching–which is our world’s equivalent to the Golden Compass from Lyra’s world. Because of Mary, I got the I Ching for my birthday and learned to read the yarrow straws. I supposed that now I too am talking to the angels.
I use good TV drama like a support system, especially during this year of COVID where social distancing has put so many of us into isolation to extremes. My own Indra’s Network was already partially destroyed and broken. The connections I still maintained with friends and family were sorely stretched by time and distance. They were incredibly nourishing when time and attention permitted, but these moments were punctuated by long bouts of silence and little to no meaningful interactions with people who care.
Good stories, powerful dramas are ways I have found that soothe and nourish my soul, especially during times when kindness and caring human contact is in short supply.
As I was working on this blog, Liz Cheney spoke before Congress on the eve before the impending vote tomorrow (5/12/21) to remove her from her leadership position as the 3rd most powerful Republican Leader in the House. Republicans are doing this to her because she took a stand not to support Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. She named Trump as the chief sower of doubt in the hearts and minds of Americans.
The Dark Force
By the way, the I Ching says doubt is the Dark Force. Now, who is being a superhero here in the United States on this very day of May 12, 2021? Who is growing the fabric of time and space rather than ripping it to tiny shards of broken light?
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Tibetan Book of the Dead warns the soul of a dying individual not to follow the illusionary images and lights they have created inside of themselves and then projected into the world around them. They did this because they did not understood their true Self in life. They did not descend and understand their true identity as a space-time being. They did not understand the meaning and purpose of life. Death is a time thats unravels the net of confused pain each individual becomes entangled within throughout the course of their life on Earth. To not do so, condemns the eternal soul to return again and again and again–sometimes (perhaps often) as a lesser being in order to learn the lessons not mastered in the life before. This returning can occur again and again for the world of rock and buildings and money and power is like water–it continually flows, dissolving everything in time.
Those who use the power of the Dark Force may indeed achieve tremendous riches, success, and power on Earth. However, all this will turn to dust and scatter into nothingness at the time of death. Nothing here is permanent. At death, we lose everything. Nothing that we thought is real is real. If we don’t let go of everything we have clung to in life, the tiny light of consciousness every human being is born into at the beginning of their life will be born into another painful life, again and again and again.
Those who peddle in doubt and fear can live 10 billion, million lives, each one diminishing his/her original source of light until there is nothing left of that light.
Leonard Cohen narrated a beautiful documentary about the practices and wisdom contained and known within the Buddhist tradition. It is elegant knowledge, beautiful knowledge. It shows how we can grow as space-time beings, as we are suppose to grow, rather than collapsing into smaller and smaller living beings.
“People make hell realms out of their own anger. They make worlds out of passions, out of envy or complacency. We project our emotional states, and then believe it is the real world. But no matter what, everyone longs for compassion. Everyone wishes to be awake. So the best thing is to develop genuine compassion for all living beings and for ourselves too. And our compassion should extend beyond our friends and family and the people we like. It must extend to all people and to all living beings.” — From Documentary about The Tibetan Book of the Dead
This is how to wake up as a living conscious being.
The OA: This series is a mind-bending SyFy fantasy that often leaves viewers with more questions than answers. Word has it this is one of the reasons this show was cancelled after season 2 when 5 seasons were planned. Apparently the average viewer does not have the attention span or interests to dabble in complexity–perhaps this is the inevitable end to Carmel Marvel storytelling–everything has to be blunt, not complex, and nothing left to the imagination, much less to dabble with moral ambiguity. I loved this series. I guess I drank the Kool-aide and became part of its cult following late. And I agree with 110% with Brit Marling that storytelling in America has become not as good as it could or should be.
When the show was cancelled, one viewer went outside of Netflix’s headquarters and held an 8 day hunger strike. Refinery29 interviewed her and wrote a compelling article about why she did this.
“We are living in a time where it seems that things are going to go very badly,” explains Young in front of the Netflix building in Hollywood, where she has been protesting since August 15 and hunger striking since August 19. “The response to that has been ‘Okay, we’re going to make darker, grittier television.’ But in times of darkness, light is most important, and The OA is filled with light. We need something to let us know, ‘Yes, we can do something,’ because all the media around us is telling us that these are dark, grim times and there is nothing you can do about it.”
Created by Brit Marling and creative partner Zal Batmanglij, The OA tells the story of Prairie (Marling), a blind woman who returns after years in captivity with her sight restored. Season 1 of the series mostly exists within the narrative that Prairie tells a group of soon-to-be friends about her time in captivity and before it, in which she transcended time and space and found herself in alternate dimensions. Along the way, the show tackles themes of trauma, and of the importance of a human connection amongst it. Young isn’t wrong about The OA being different: There’s a hopefulness to The OA that is unmatched by more gritty prestige TV offerings like The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, even Game of Thrones.
Learning about this woman, Brit Marling and Zal Batmangli came and brought her water. Afterward, Brit posted this about her reaction to OA’s cancellation and how storytelling in America has become not as good as it could or should be.
This is no small thing that Emperial Young and Brit Marling are drawing our attention to in this protest and post, particularly this part: “… the role of storytelling and its fate inside late capitalism’s push toward consolidation and economies of scale.” This is a post about Sisyphus: Is Late Capitalism and its push towards consolidation and economies of scale perhaps not the rock Sisyphus not pushing up the mountain getting it to the top after great effort only to have it fall back down to the bottom again and again and again.
Invisible City (Brazil): This is a new Brazilian fantasy that is streaming on Netflik television series created by Carlos Saldanha that is based on a story co-developed by the screenwriters and best-selling authors Raphael Draccon and Carolina Munhóz. It is in Portuguese, so you have to read subtitles if you are only an English speaker. I was born in Brazil and once knew Portuguese, but have forgotten all of it. I loved listening to the characters speaking in Portuguese. It felt familiar and lovely. It is a musical language and the music in this series is alive and vibrant. I soon forgot I was reading subtitles and got lost in the rich and depth of storytelling unfolding through this complex, invigorating story. The characters are treated with dignity and respect. The puzzle of the drama unfolds in surprising reveals that add depth to the story and bring this mysterious world into vivid view.
Glitch (Australian): This is an older series that begins with a bang when a police officer and a doctor face an emotionally charged mystery as seven local residents inexplicably return from the dead. It is three seasons long, and the first two open up so many innovative ideas and possibilities, but season 3 falls flat on its face and destroys all the wonder and the miracle being explored, in my opinion. I am glad I watched it because I learned what I do not want to do as I write my tale.
I was so bothered by how they ended this series, I went on online to see if others were too and found this great blog: Old Ain’t Dead | Reviews of movies and TV focused on women … specifically Season 3 (so if you intend to watch Glitch, save this site for later because there are definitely spoilers, including my comment there).
Carmel Marvel Syndrome
When it comes to science fiction and fantasy, I have come to realize I am picky, and not all are the same. In fact in the United States, we are suffering from what I have come to term the Carmel Marvel Syndrome. It is a widespread a syndrome that is dumbing down how stories are being told in books and reimagined on screens. The good-bad divide in Carmel Marvel stories is stark, uncreative, and boring. Nothing is left in-between–you are either the good guy or girl or you’re the bad one. The bad ones almost always lose in the end, but you get there in terribly unimaginative, brutal, evil ways…as the good guy or gal finally finds a morsel of moral or spiritual strength and prevails. Romance is reduced to uninspiring sex scenes that clearly come from basal fantasies of pale males.
What bothers me most is Carmel Marvel storytelling is that they are not honest to the characters. They tend to stripe away their complexity and humanity and force them to do things against their character’s moral underpinnings. Yes, imagined characters have moral underpinnings, they are real and must strive for meaning, purpose and dignity too. I am not going to explain this now, but Carmel Marvel stories like to put their characters into highly contrived situations that they would never do unless forced to by their bored and uninspired creators. They are put into these situations purely for entertainment reasons, which really translates to money. Because Carmel Marvel producers and creators hope for billions and billions of viewers–and they think only highly fantasized modern gladiators well do this. After watching such a sickly story, nothing sticks or stays in the psyche or soul from the story. That is because there is nothing real there. There is nothing nearing the human experience of meaning, truth, reality, or wonder. Everyone knows these types of stories are junk food for the soul. They are cheap imitation of images meant to trick, deceive, and fill you up with a whole lot of nothing, just like if you ate only Carmel candy for all your daily nutrient requirements.
So let’s get back to that word Sisyphus that kept popping into my mind.
After being disappointed by another Carmel Marvel HBO series, I switched back to Netflix to hunt for a new series to watch. That’s when a 2021 Netflix out of South Korea caught my eye. It was called Sisyphus! Normally, I would have put it on my To Watch Later list since it required reading subtitles again. But because of the synchronicity, I thought what the heck, go for it!
I loved it! And I discovered that I love the Korean way of telling stories!!!!
The fabric of this story is rich woven with little bits of gold and silver throughout the 16 episodes. Each one takes the viewer on a journey, revealing a little bit more in surprising ways that adds depth to each character, even the evil ones. The villains have backstories that are as complex as the heroes. Villains and heroes alike are treated honestly and no high tech short cuts are used to substitute good storytelling. Throughout the 16 episodes, the viewer enters a journey (a world) that grows more and more complex as you go: you grow as the characters grow.
Sisyphus masters the art of subtle storytelling. This is a subject I briefly touched upon early in my blogging efforts in a blog questioning if Collective Transformation Possible. In it I talk about the Black Magician and the White Magician and their roles in our human psyche. I drew them while listening to a Chinese business-financial scholar talk about Trump’s power play back in 2018 with China on trade. (It’s didn’t end well by the way… this power play Trump tried… for Americans or for Trump who placed the livelihood of hundreds of small soybean and other farmers in jeopardy.)
Dr. Peter Chen pointed out Western ideas of negotiation are quite different from Eastern ideas. He said in Chinese, the most similar word they have to negotiation is tánpàn, which means talking and judging. For the Chinese, it is considered the dark side of economics with the East preferring to focus on conversation when working out deals. However, there are huge differences in how conversation is conducted by a Western diplomat versus an Eastern diplomat. By Eastern standards, Westerners are considered low-context communicators (i.e., direct and forceful, which can be considered very rude by Eastern standards). Eastern culture dictates a much more high-context style of communication, which is reserved, relies more on body language, and is based on relationships.
This why I loved Sisyphus. They tell this story using a much more high-context style of storytelling. I also love listening to the actors speak Korean. Every word they utter is full of meaning, purpose, and emotion. The tone and way a word is said is more important than the word itself. You understand a song by how the singer sings it, so too with Eastern languages. They are full of images, meaning, context, and emotion. And isn’t that what we are really craving in watching or reading a story? Deep meaning and purpose? Sure, lots of people will say they just want to escape into something entertaining… but if you discover something about yourself and others while doing so, isn’t that a whole lot better. Stuff that stick to you and makes you a better individual… helps you grow as a conscious living being?!
Even though we deny how powerful and essential good storytelling is in Western culture, we are starving for good, wholesome, spirituous stories that fed our souls as well as our fractured, confused minds. Stories that awaken sleeping spirits needed to defeat doubt: the force that splinters our psyche and traps us in endless delusions and illusions that only make us smaller, meaner, and contribute to the demise of all life on Earth.
A new friend I’ve made during runs with Pumper (another mom of dogs and kids) recommended another Korean Netflix show called Crash Landing on You. I didn’t think I would like it better than Sisyphus, but I love it even more. The depth of each character grows and spills out in unexpected ways in each episode. And don’t miss the little peaks at the very end after you think the episode has concluded. Not always, but often, they show you something not shown earlier. It is often something that fills in a gap and fills out the depth of the character–how they are thinking, perceiving, and acting in the world. How they are transforming through time and space.
My friend Fabian Navin has just posted something very insightful about why I loved this show. The Facebook embedding is not working, so I am copying below what Fabian has posted (go to his site above to see more of his posts):
*Warriorhood in Marriage and Relationship* Conscious fighting is a great help in relationships between men and women. Jung said, “American marriages are the saddest in the whole world, because the man does all his fighting at the office.”
When a man and a woman are standing toe-to-toe arguing, what is it that the man wants? Often he does not know. He wants the conflict to end because he is afraid, because he doesn’t know how to fight, because he “doesn’t believe in fighting,” because he never saw his mother and father fight in a fruitful way, because his boundaries are so poorly maintained that every sword thrust penetrates to the very center of his chest, which is tender and fearful. When shouts of rage come out of the man, it means that his warriors have not been able to protect his chest; the lances have already entered, and it is too late.
Michael Meade has suggested that both marital partners begin by identifying the weapons that have come down through their family lines. Perhaps the woman has inherited the short dagger, used unexpectedly, and the spiked mace, which she swings down late in the argument onto the foot soldier’s head. The husband may have inherited a broad sword, which he swings when frightened in large indiscriminate circles; it says “never” and “always.” “You always talk like your mother.” He might add the slender witticism spear to that.
Some people also use the “doorway lance.” When the argument is over, and the woman, let’s say, is about to go to work, the man says: “By the way,” and the lance pins her to the doorframe.
Man and wife might say which weapons he or she plans to use in the particular fight coming up. During such preliminary conversations the man’s warrior and woman’s warrior are welcomed in the house and honored. A good fight gets things clear, and I think women long to fight and be with men who know how to fight well.
When both use their weapons unconsciously or without naming them, both man and woman stumble into the battle, and when it is over the two interior children can be badly wounded. The adult warrior inside both men and women, when trained, can receive a blow without sulking or collapsing, knows how to fight for limited goals, keeps the rules of combat in mind, and in general is able to keep the fighting clean and to establish limits.
Marie-Louise von Franz once told a story about a woman friend. “This woman had gone through several marriages. Each marriage would go well until an argument came. Then she would throw a fit, and say damaging things. The terrible quarrels would continue, and finally the man would leave. One day we heard she had found a new husband, and we said, ‘Oh-oh, here it goes again.’ But something else happened. A few weeks after the honeymoon, the same old quarrel arrived and she brought out her poison and said terrible things. The husband turned pale, but to her surprise, said nothing, and left the room. She found him upstairs packing his bags. ‘What are you doing?’ she said. I know,’ he said, ‘that I am supposed to act like a man now and shout and hit you, but I am not that sort of man. I will not allow anyone to talk to me in the way you have, and I am leaving.’ She was astounded. She asked him not to leave, and he didn’t. The marriage is still going on.”
This story is not perfect. If a woman has a fair argument, it is not right for the man to leave; he should stay and fight. But von Franz’s use of the word fit implies that her friend had a habit of going over the line into possession. Her fits belonged metaphorically to Kali’s realm, rather than to the human realm. Men cross that line often as well. The inner warrior can tell a person when the partner is on this side of the human line, and when on the other side.
Marion Woodman remarks in The Ravaged Bridegroom, “Anger comes from the personal level, rage from an archetypal core. . . . The rage in both sexes comes out of centuries of abuse.
If it is taken into relationships, it destroys. Attacking each other in a state of possession has nothing to do with liberation.” The interior warrior in both men and women can help them to fight on the human plane. If men and women have only soldiers or shamed children inside, they will have to settle for damaging battles constantly. ~Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men
I am totally hooked now on the Korean way of telling stories!!
The stories we tell can liberate us or chain us to the rock we must push up the mountain of life only to watch it fall back down, again and again and again, like poor old Sisyphus. Who do you want to be in life? How are you going to become the best version of yourself, a better person than you have been so far? How will you grow you fragile light of consciousness and help others do the same?
Part 6: Final in the Seriesof the Storytelling Species
I started biking outside for exercise when my gym shut down because of the national lockdown issued in March of 2020. When my gym reopened in June, I went back only to discover they were allowing people to exercise inside without a mask. I was shocked. At that time, the effectiveness of mask wearing was still being hotly debated in the United States, but anyone paying an ounce of attention could discern that this was an airborne virus and wearing a mask was one part of an essential defense in bringing it under control. It felt their decision was extremely short-sighted combined with the fact they made me sign contract stating I would not sue them if I contracted Corona there. I did not to return to the gym after that day. The concern they projected about the health and wellness of their members was completely undercut in my eyes by making me sign that document in order to enter a gym I had been a member for over 15 years. I had wondered what they would do if the Coronavirus made it here… now I knew. It was very disappointing.
In fact, I believe someone already died from COVID-19 due to exposure at my gym. She was a cleaning woman. She was a hard worker. She had worked for the company for years. I’d known her for years as well. She was always kind to everyone. She was from Guatemala. She had lost an eye. She spoke broken English. She was a single mother. I learned she had died from another member at the gym. She died in January after a flu-like illness. This was more than a month before the first COVID case was confirmed in the U.S. I think COVID-19 was already here in the United States, on the East coast, spreading everywhere in January of 2020. I think people were dying then from COVID and were didn’t even know it yet.
I think I contracted COVID at my gym. It was a mild case, early in March when tests were not available yet. I never found out if I had it, but I had lingering effects for months after this–extreme sluggishness, bouts of dizziness, shortness of breathe, and bouts of extreme arthritis-like pain.
Inner Changes: Shifting from Me to We
Seeing More of Me
At first my commitment to exercise outside was entirely selfish. It was aimed only at keeping me and my family safe. However, as I remained outside, something shifted. It was something inside me. I could feel myself slowing down and disengaging from deeply embedded routines instilled in me since my childhood. It was cultural programming: all the things I’d been told I needed to do in order to be a good person and contribute to my society. But really, these were things and behaviors the economy required of me. They had nothing to do with me at all.
I began making movies on my bike rides. This slowed me down even more. The more I slowed down, the more I saw all around me, and then inside of me.
Seeing More of Nature
The first thing I noticed was the beauty of nature everywhere. The videos I made documented beautiful moments I saw that transported me to inner Islands of Tranquility. One such moment was a fight between a bee and a wasp on a patch of Goldenrod!
On the day I filmed this war between a bee and a wasp, news broke the former President, Trump and the First Lady Melania, tested positive for COVID-19. His infection was announced exactly one month and 1 day before the Nov. 3 election. Since the pandemic began, he’d played down the deadly nature of this new virus that was marching around the world. Trump took the strong man strategy. It is a strategy that rocketed the United States of America to number 1 in coronavirus infections and deaths within the first few months of the pandemic.
Trump’s failure to get the coronavirus under control was perhaps the single greatest factor in his defeat on Nov. 3, 2020. Although his arrogance andinability to tell the truth should have been the single greatest factor in his defeat because these were homicidal actions. He consistently chose to play to his base, to protect the economy over people, and to serve himself over everyone else. He refused to wear a mask. He held huge rallies cramming lots of unmasked people together. And he repeatedly said untrue things over and over again such as: ‘it’s nothing, it’s like the flu, one day: like a miracle, it will go away.’
In fact, it was far worse than the flu. His lie that one day like a miracle, it would go away turned into a nightmare. It killed more than 25,000 people by mid-April, 2020. By the time he left office, it would kill 500,000 Americans. One confirmed case turned into 2, that turned in 4, that turned into 8, then 16, then 32, and then 64, then 128, then 256… that turned into 13.6 million (this is how many confirmed cases of Coronavirus there are as I write this blog at the end of November 2020 — it’s far more now and this is just the United States). Around the world, the global infection continued to surge too. Even now with vaccines, terrible waves continue to kill hundreds of thousands of people everywhere.
Bob Woodward told us Trump was homicidal. In his book, Rage, in Trump’s own words (recorded), Trump reveals that he knew it was a deadly airborne pathogenin January of 2020. Trump would call Woodward during the early months of the pandemic to tell him what was going on at the White House. Meanwhile Trump tells the American people it is nothing. It will go away. The closest he comes to admitting reality is in an Axios interview in August where he says: “Nothing more could have been done.”
Reviving Beloved Memories!
Back to the bike rides! So, in addition to seeing the beauty of nature all around me, I found they also revived lovely memories with loved ones, which spontaneously bubbled up and burst into my field of awareness, mixing with the loveliness of the landscape I was peddling through. Each revived memory was helping me too. They were helping me reconstruct a life raft to float on the overwhelming Grief and Pain of the past few years that had created a Sea of Devastation inside of me
Most people still think I am stuck in grief after my father’s death. They are wrong. It’s not their fault. They are not paying attention. They are distracted by their own lives and drama. Every time they glance at me, they see the same frame and they think I’m stuck. They fail to grasp I am simply doing deep inner work.
My father would have perceived this. That’s what fathers do. They pay attention to the ones they love, especially their children. It is a rare and precious relationship. This is why the Death of a Father is devastating no matter how old the father is when he dies. It leaves a hole that cannot be filled by anyone else. Everyone will experience this lost at some point in life, unless they die before their father. There are spoiled relationships between children and fathers too. My father had a spoiled relationship with his father. This leaves a hole too.
So when I lost dad, I lost a powerful source of gravity in my life. He had kept me safe, protected me from reality barbs, held me in eternal love that grounded me to the Goodness of Earth. His gravity was his unconditional love. I didn’t even know it until he was gone. So as good memories of dad percolated up on my rides, they were precious and healing.
My bike rides also helped me sink deeper into my imagination. I need to do this to finish the story I’m writing about Climate Change and Consciousness. I won’t bore you with details of the story, but the timeline begins in 2020. So I have felt tremendous pressure to go faster, but I know now is when I need to go slower.
Imagination requires time to digest ideas that come to me from my daily reality as well as are coming through me. As modern humans, we are pretty ignorant about the need to digest consciousness daily. It is a lot like digesting food needed to sustain our bodies. To sustain our minds, we must digest ideas, dreams, visions, inspiration, and our day to day reality. This is how we grow as individuals. This is how we evolve as conscious beings. Our ancestors understood this, but we have forgotten this as modern humans.
This is one of the videos I made from my imagination digesting sessions:
Digesting the Daily News
Lastly, my bike rides provided ample time to digest the news and information I’d consumed on social media or other places. Information swirls around us all the time. It is embedded in everything we see, hear, touch, and experience in the world. As conscious beings, it necessary to pay attention and to weave together what is rising from inside oneself with what is happening outside oneself. To be a conscious being is to blend these two realities, and in doing so, something else is born. This is a timeless act of creation. One person reaches out across the void to share ideas, experiences, and feelings with another person. It is a miracle. It is how we create reality together.
As human beings, we have amassed expansive pools of knowledge. We do it through art, music, philosophy, theology, and many other systems of consciousness we have evolved through time that distill, sort, digest, and transform consciousness. An International Baccalaureate (IB) blog defines Fields of Knowledge as 8 Areas of Knowledge, including Mathematics, the Natural Sciences, the Human Sciences, History, The Arts, Ethics, Religious Knowledge and Indigenous Knowledge.
Some forms of knowledge elevate and enrich our individual pool of consciousness. Other forms of knowledge depress and pollute it. Some are down right dangerous and distort reality (see the previous blog in this series on collective story telling and fake news).
Making and creating relative reality bubbles to live inside is a luxury really only modern human beings are able to indulge. Thousands of years ago, human beings were preyed for more powerful creatures. One of the most fascinating stories I heard about this topic was about a young hominid child of the species Australopithecus africanus, a direct precursor species leading to Homo Sapiens. His small scratched skull was discovered in 1924 along with the mangled remains of many other bones of small to medium-sized animals, as described in an article written by By Ross Pomeroy (RCP Staff) in What Hunted Ancient ‘Humans’? Pomeroy says, “the best explanation for the skull and the accompanying collection of skeletons is that they were gathered by an ancient, large bird of prey – the leftovers of many, many meals.”
Our ancestors needed a keen, accurate understanding of reality because if they didn’t they would most likely become dinner for giant birds, crocodiles, and leopards. Early humans likely had to contend with bears, sabertooth cats, snakes, hyenas, Komodo dragons, and even other hominids. I write about this in my story, but that’s another story for another day. We consume information daily and we must digested it daily, just like eating food. This is how we grow our inner light of consciousness. If you eat a daily diet of outrage, greed, selfishness, or purple prose, you will become that. Your mind molds into what you feed it. Eat well my friend. Feed yourself with the realness of who you are each and every day. Don’t be afraid to see inside yourself the good, the bad, and the ugly parts. You need each and every part to grow whole and to fulfill your destiny.
Healing the Now... one person at a time…
What Are Your Stories?
You are the Maker & Creator of your Eternal Now. Each and every moment, you weave your reality into our Collective Reality. When you heal, the world heals. By creating you, you create me.
Previous Post in the Storytelling Species Series:
First Post in the Storytelling Species Series (Part 1)
— 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 thePrimal 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.
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
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
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 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…”
“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.
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
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.
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
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.”
“…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.”
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 listento 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.”
“Preaching is basically defending a set of sacred beliefs and saying, look, I found the truth. My job is to proselytize.”
“Prosecuting is the reverse. This stance in a conflict is to prove you wrong and win my case with the best argument.”
“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.”
“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 passion, the energy, the 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.”
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?
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.
This piece talks about personal transformation through work and struggle.
Women Take The Lead In Fighting ISIS In ‘Daughters Of Kobani’
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
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?
“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.
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
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, 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 Georgia. You 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.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
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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.
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 Obsession—Satan Fixation—Bully 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 Obsession—Satan Fixation—Bullying 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.
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? 😉
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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.]
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
* * *
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.”
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.
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.”
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 & ForgottenThought 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.
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.
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
He also provided two other pieces he has written that are also extremely profound and worth your time and attention.
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!
This video is a NASA animation of a Coronal Mass Ejection from our Sun.
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):
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
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.
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 individualswill 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.
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
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.
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...
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!!
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!
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!
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!
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 ofBig 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?”
“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.“
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
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 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?
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.”
Taking a break from the news over the weekend, I had not paid attention to the emergence of Naked Athena until I heard NPR’s Michel Martin talk with Portland NAACP President E. D. Mondainé about ongoing protests taking place there. Martin begins saying:
“Let me just go to the piece that you wrote. It’s gently worded, but it’s very tough in its message. You said that I don’t believe it’s a time for spectacle; unfortunately, spectacle is now the best way to describe Portland’s protests. Vandalizing government buildings and hurling projectiles at law enforcement draw attention. But how do these actions stop police from killing Black people? Was there a particular moment in the course of all this that made you feel this way? I mean, in your piece, you speak about the woman who’s being described as Naked Athena…”
Reality is Messy & There is Never One Simple Narrative to Explain It, Ever
I had to see Naked Athena in Portland, OR. When I found her, I did not see spectacle. I saw splendor. For centuries, women have live under lopsided male-centered, patriarchal cultural bondage. It goes on today taking many forms, but the core impulse is to control women and deny them their rights as a human being–often cruelly and violently. The same weekend as Naked Athena made her appearance in Portland, teenage girls were harassed and spit on by the Moral Police in Iran. I heard this report on the BBC and found it written up in UK The Daily Mail.
“An Iranian undercover morality agent spat at teenage girls and asked them ‘where’s your dirty owner?’ after seeing them without a hijab. In a shocking video, which has been circulating on social media, a man stops his car and gets out before hurling abuse at the youngsters.”
Think again. Reality is never as simple as we would like it to be as human beings. It never has been, nor will it ever be. But our propensity as a species to simplify reality is tremendous. It always has been, and probably always will be.
In times long past, humans used myth, folklore, and magical tales to explain complicated, perplexing, and frightening things that confronted them and challenged their survival. In my last blog, The Beautiful Gift of Outrage, I give an example of old Scottish folklore about fairies that swap out a healthy human baby and replace it with a changeling to explain why a new born infant would fail to thrive. They did not know modern medicine. They did not understand that their newborn baby was sick and needed care, not to be left out on a fairy hill to see if the fairies would bring the real child back to them. But our species has created many stories that now days sound strange and outlandish to explain the unexplainable.
And, we are still doing it today.
Untied States of Conspiracy
Frontline is airing an episode tonight titled: The United States of Conspiracy. Also, Fareed Zakaria aired a special on CNN about Conspiracy Theories; Mondaire Jones; Hillary 2016 Communications Director; Your Anecdotal Census; and Protesting During a Pandemic. Both of these episdoes explore the deep roots of misinformation entering into American culture, politics, and the rise of Trump who has long purported kooky conspiracy theories, such as the birther theory hurtled against President Barack Obama. Trump used this cockeyed theory to launch his political career (or more aptly to launch his political farce and mockery of democracy). Zakaria covers all the conspiracy theories of the past 50 years, including one of the most recent to emerge: QAnon, which is a far-right conspiracy theory detailing a supposed secret plot by an alleged “deep state” against U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters. Zakaria makes the connection between believing in fairies and fairytales in times past to believing in whimsical, outlandish, bizarre conspiracy theories today. Doing so, provide simple, linear explanations to reality, especially to people who feel like they are losing control of their lives or their values or their culture.
From the Frontline report , a write up says:
“The United States of Conspiracy includes a striking sequence that illustrates how Trump adopted Jones’ claims — voicing them publicly in a way that shocked even InfoWars staffers as he ran for the highest office in the land.”
As 2015 drew to a close, then-candidate Donald Trump made an appearance that was unprecedented in the history of modern presidential campaigns.
It was on InfoWars, the hard-right outlet run by extremist conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a trafficker in false information who had exploited national tragedies from 9/11 to Newtown. And it was brokered by Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone, a frequent InfoWars guest, in a bid to win over Jones’ millions of viewers.
A new FRONTLINE documentary traces how the alliance between Jones and Trump, facilitated by Stone, would help to bring conspiracy theorist thought into the political mainstream — ushering in the current era, in which misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic has spread like the virus itself.
Everything. The spectacle is Trump and the rise of modern myths and fairytales that millions of people believe–stories that are just as strange and farfetched as fairies and changelings. Trump is taking advantage of this human fallibility to win. He got away with it in 2016, but reality is catching up with him. The Coronavirus refuses to comply to his fairytale, and his complete and utter failure to deal with it is causing him to lose in the polls. Of course, he is losing in the polls because of this. We are nearing 150,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. Meanwhile, many European and Asian countries have successfully gotten the novel virus under control so they can reopen their economies safely and mark COVID deaths in the hundreds… not the hundreds of thousands. But, not us.
What exactly does 150,000 deaths looks like? What if all these deaths were concentrated in one geographic location? What would it look like?
It would be like losing McAllen, Mesquite, and Killeen, Tex.; Dayton, Ohio; Fullerton, Orange, Valencia, Torrance, Pomona, and Pasadena, Calif.; Syracuse, Borough Park, Astoria, and East Hampton, N.Y.; Savannah, Ga.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Naperville, Rockford, and Joliet, Ill.; Paterson, N.J.; Clarksville, Tenn.; Hollywood, Fla.; Kansas City, Kan.; Alexandria, Va.; or Springfield, Mass. Eric A. Gordon captures this for us to imagine in a compelling article titled: 150,000 dead of coronavirus in U.S.: What monument will they have?
So Trump needs a distraction. He needs his loyal believers of his fairy tale about reality to not look at the real spectacle of this moment–his utter lack of interest and ability to deal with reality–but to believe that America is falling into the clutches of the fatal-thinking, wacky left wing democrats. So, what does he do? He co-opts the beautiful, genuine cascade of Black Lives Matter protests and marches that are sweeping across the country, and across the world, after the brutal murder of George Floyd by a white police officer who believed he could get away with murder. Well, he didn’t. Here is a map a professor created of all the protests around the world evoked by George Floyd’s death.
This is the battle Trump is fighting. He is turning a long overdo moral accounting of White Privilege into an urban war to scare the hell out of his core supporters. He and his collaborators (like Barr) are not interested in saving or protecting human lives. If so, Trump would be sending PPE and swabs to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, clinics in the 70% of the country he said not to look at when he was telling America how well we were doing in combating the coronavirus. He would be much more concerned with human life (black, brown, elderly, and everyone else) rather than abusing his power as President of the United States of America to protect a building in Portland. In the same insane compulsion to win the 2020 election, Trump is systematically and cruelly undermining all the hope and promise that the Black Lives Movement is bringing into the light of day. This means coming to terms and reckoning with everything this country has done to black and brown people–slavery, Jim Crow laws, Redlining, endemic impoverishment of black and brown people due to racism and structural inequalities putting white people first, and police brutality.
This is Trump’s War. He is making sure these changes don’t happen on his watch and that’s why his supporters need to reelect him in 2020, but what he keeps hidden to himself is that he doesn’t have an ounce of empathy for his supporters. He does not care what happens to them after he is elected. He is demonstrating this right now in more outlandish ideas about miracle cures for COVID-19 citing a doctor (just yesterday) who talks about demon sperm. He just wants to serve himself to more helpings of greed and gluttony for another four years.
Wag the Dog
Most U.S. Presidents who have gotten in trouble just before their second term are fabled to begin a war to keep in power. Trump’s war is with Americans. He is sending in federal troops (many contracted military units not trained to deal with lawful protesters) to stir up trouble precisely so he can get great photos and video footage to bolster his lopsided narrative of America falling into chaos and violence. This is the spectacle.
Naked Athena is the beautiful emergence of ancient knowledge and wisdom of dealing with men like Trump and the troops his has sent into cities that do not want them there. It is no accident she was named Naked Athena–the Goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. These ancient Gods and Goddesses are not dead because we no longer believe in them. They live inside of us. They are part of us. They are the building blocks of our psyches that hold the energies inside each of us that move us to take action. How that action is expressed depends on the constellation of archetypes that begin to take shape when we are born and become consolidated when the ego is born at the moment of the Primal Split, as defined through Melanie Klein’s work and object relations theory. Archetypes were first described by Carl Jung. They are poorly understood by modern humans, but they hold the psychological templates of everything that we feel and do: love, fear, greed, war. If we do not pay attention to them and the balance of our inner worlds, they can get triggered and take over our minds–sometimes this is good, often it is bad. They can also emerge collectively in moments like these and quickly turn into monsters. Naked Athena placed herself between the beasts of our collective rage on both sides of the divide. She emerged at the right moment like soothing rain to calm the archetypes rising in rage against each other. That’s what the ancient myths, legends, and folklore are all about. They are stories about our own abilities to create reality or to destroy it. To me, Naked Athena is a beautiful counter force to hate and violence–in her nakedness, she is vulnerable and unadorned by trappings of modern civilization, placing her body bravely in the middle of the line of conflict. Some say this is the moment that these protests descended into spectacle. I say, it is a moment they ascended into a realm of transformation and good trouble. We must remember how to travel and navigate our inner spaces. This is where things become cloudy, inside the mind, for the body is a clear place.
Appendix of Resources
I am not going to digest all these things here, but all of them feed into my ideas about why Naked Athena is part of the Splendor of this moment rather than the Spectacle of it. White people have a lot to work out now and a lot of it is between other white people. So much has been hidden, kept secret, silently enforced. There is a reckoning going on many levels and the streams inevitably will spilt, but the force all of them are pushing back against is the spectacle of Trump, his base, and his collaborators, not naked Athena or any of the protests going on that include examples of Good Trouble and Bad Trouble, yes, reality is messy and there is not one easy, simple, all-inclusive narrative to explain any of it.
A flawed response to a global pandemic. A string of falsehoods concerning the efficacy of mail-in voting. A violent and undemocratic response to nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.
The president of the United States has a lot to answer for in the eyes of his critics.
Ibram X. Kendi is the author of “How to Be an Antiracist” and the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. He’s written a cover story for The Atlantic detailing how President Donald Trump’s racism has forced America to confront its own, especially the prejudiced systems which have allowed the oppression of minority communities in the United States.
Ed Yong is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He recently published a piece for the same magazine painstakingly detailing the numerous failures and inadequacies in the federal government’s approach to combating the coronavirus. Yong explores how the underfunding of medical resources left minority communities particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, contributing to the country’s skyrocketing death toll.
We ask both of them: Is America ready to reckon with its past? And what happens to America’s future?
This is a five-minute listen that is time well spent. One of the thing Jonah says is ‘we are going to see glorious video clips of how violent and degenerate America has become in future Trump for President ads and during the republican national convention.’
Seattle mayor calls Trump’s response to protests ‘un-American’ — Protesters and police again clashed in a number of U.S. cities over the weekend, including Portland, Oregon, and Seattle. President Trump has defended sending federal law enforcement to the cities, but many local officials say their presence is only exacerbating the existing unrest. Amna Nawaz reports and talks to the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, about what she’s seeing in her city.
I found the following part of this interview particularly compelling:
Amna Nawaz: Mayor Durkan, I should point out, your critics will point to the fact that, for weeks, protesters several weeks ago had basically taken control of a few downtown city blocks.Your police chief had to go in earlier this month with heavy machinery and riot gear to clear that area. There was already concern about violence over the weekend. The police chief called it a riot on Saturday night.Do you think that the presence of federal forces could help quell these protests before they get out of control, and something similar to what happened before happens again, where protesters are able to take over some chunk of city space?
Jenny Durkan: I think that when you saw that the area on Capitol Hill that we were able to return to normal, that our police were able to go in there and clear that area with very little conflict and restore it back to a place that all the neighborhood and businesses could enjoy it.Contrast what’s going on in Portland, where, night after night after night, it is proven that what they’re doing is not working. They have not quelled anything. To the contrary, they have escalated it.So I do not believe that there’s any evidence whatsoever that any of the strategies that the president is trying to employ will lead to peace. And I don’t think he wants it to.He’s been very clear that what he is doing is targeting cities that are led by Democrats to show that there can be division and the lack of law and order, so that he can run on that as a president.That kind of political maneuvering of law enforcement really is un-American. And I think it’s dangerous for us to go down that path.
Amna Nawaz: Mayor Durkan, very briefly, you weren’t told before the current federal team that’s on the ground in Seattle was sent in. Do you have any assurance you will be told in advance of any further deployment?
Jenny Durkan: So, the assistant secretary did say he would call the chief of police and myself if the posture changed. But I know that — look, there’s one person who’s guiding the activities of this administration, and that’s the president of the United States. And so, regardless of assurances that anyone else might give me or any other local government official, we have to take the president at his word. And he keeps escalating his rhetoric, and then the behavior follows that rhetoric. And so, as a mayor of a city, I will tell you, I do need the federal government’s help. I need more testing for COVID-19. I need to make sure that, as this health emergency gets worse, that my hospitals can withstand it. I need the kids who are hurting not going to be back in school to be able to learn. That’s the kind of help we need from this federal government that we don’t get. A president should step forward and lead the nation. And, instead, he’s dividing the nation. And I think it’s a really dangerous time for America to be on this point of inflection in our history. And what — our choices today will decide what happens for generations of Americans to come.
When Trump first pulled this stunt (with Attorney General William P.Barr serving as his hedge man and is is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this very day about this despicable day of failed democracy), I published this short video blog:
“White supremacy has made recent local news, between Jeremy Christian’s murder trial in Portland, and the presence of white nationalist groups in rallies across the state. A special edition of the Oregon Historical Quarterly is out now, that reminds residents that the problem is actually rooted deep in state history.
KLCC’s Brian Bull talked to the journal’s editor, Eliza Canty-Jones. Bull asked how ingrained white supremacy is in Oregon’s settlement.”
Chris Cuomo and Difference Between Good and Bad Trouble — The CNN anchor went on to define what is “good trouble” and “bad trouble.” Cuomo echoed Lewis’ assertion that the Black Lives Matter movement was “good trouble,” but noted that the “riots” and “touching to hurt” and “destroy” was not included, suggesting that focusing more on the violence rather than the protests is “bad trouble at work.”
This is a Fox News report. I watched this broadcast when Chris Cuomo made these comments and did not come to the conclusions being made in the Fox article. But, we all do this, twist what we see and hear to fit our narratives. Trump is a master in doing this. He has a natural born instinct how people are reacting and how to twist any reality playing out in front of him to appeal to his willing supporters and collaborators
“To the American reader, references to Vichy France, East Germany, fascists, and Communists may seem over-the-top, even ludicrous. But dig a little deeper, and the analogy makes sense. The point is not to compare Trump to Hitler or Stalin; the point is to compare the experiences of high-ranking members of the American Republican Party, especially those who work most closely with the White House, to the experiences of Frenchmen in 1940, or of East Germans in 1945, or of Czesław Miłosz in 1947. These are experiences of people who are forced to accept an alien ideology or a set of values that are in sharp conflict with their own.”
One of the powerful things Applebaum said during this interview is that politics are just ideas that men and women form in their minds, then get together to try to implement in society, nothing more. Often these ideas have nothing to do with the reality of the people. Rather, they tend to be overly idealized and simplified ideas of how to run a civilization. For Trump, it is even more lopsided because he knows the ideas he promotes has nothing to do with reality. To him, it is a game to see how many people he can get to believe them.
The example of the old Scottish folklore about fairies swapping out a healthy human baby and replacing it with a changeling, comes from Outlander. Claire is the lead character of this series, and she would soon find out why her friend Geillis Duncan warned her not to go up the Fairy Hill. Claire did not listen. She searched for the child, but found it too late. It died from exposure. All she could do was hold it tenderly; her heart broken because she could not find it in time. Her beloved Jamie finds her, puts the baby back in the tree, and takes her home… telling her perhaps believing the real child will live forever with the fairies will bring comfort to the parents who lost their child.
In the next episode or so, we find out why Geillis warned Claire not to go up the Fairy Hill. She was not warning Claire about the fairies, but the town’s people. When Claire and Geillis get arrested and put on trial for being witches, Claire listens in horror as the mother of the child she tried to save testifies to her witchery and spells. She realizes as she listens and looks at all the town’s people crammed into the court that they are turning into an alien, broiling, in-human lump of hate and violence that seeks only one thing: To see her and Geillis burned alive. The Fairy Hill was a metaphor for the townspeople who lived in a one-sidedness that was unsustainable. The monster inside of them all had to be let out once in a while, and it was coming out now as she and Geillis were about to be killed by these gentle folk. They were they fairies, and they were turning into zaries right before her eyes–evil, mischievous, in-human things.
I pay attention when things come in threes, and so it is now with outrage. I have also been writing about Cloud Atlas recently, which uses Fyodor Dostoevsky’s often-quoted maxim derived from his book The Idiot as its super structure: ‘Beauty will save the world.’
So, let’s get after how such a feeble, fleeting, and fragile thing like beauty intersects with outrage to save the world.
Number 1: “I’m Mad As Hell”
Chris Cuomo opened his show last night with this clip from Sidney Lumet, 1976 movie: Network.
I found a fellow blogger who writes eloquently about this clip and Beale’s speech. And, I love Neil Hughes byline — Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own! Bravo! We need more unique thought in this world! I leave it to Neil Hughes beautiful written recap of the circumstances causing Howard Beale to rebel live on TV. But, I will carry over this powerful speech, which still resonates vividly still today.
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’
Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. (shouting) You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’
I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!…You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’
Are you going to your window? I think this clip is an absolutely magnificent moment distilled by the writers and filmmakers of this movie from the 70s showing the beauty of being human. In our super modern world, we need such moments to keep us human.
Number 2: “Give Back the Goat!”
My new favorite series is Outlander–I don’t know how have I missed this story for so long? And so after getting my fill of the news, I switched to story, and last night I watched episode 5 of season 1. You guessed it… it’s about outrage.
Claire is the main character, and she is the outlander in this world. I will not spoil why she is if you are like me and have not read this story or watched this series. Do not read what comes next if you plan to read or watch Outlander because it will spoil all the surprises.
If you are continuing to read, Claire has proven herself as a capable healer and is taken on a road trip to help Dougal (who is the brother to the clan’s king) to collect the rents from their tenants of the land Mackenzie. While on the road she is faced with the horror of the conflict between the English and the clans (and the injustices of collecting rent from people who have practically nothing to give). While she grapples with these horrors occurring between landowner and peasants together with the growing conflict between the Scottish-highlanders and the British, she becomes keenly aware of the future bloodshed that her Scottish friends will soon face: The Jacobite rising of 1745, also known as the Forty-five Rebellion or simply the ’45. (Eye, 45, seems an ominous number throughout the course of human history).
This clip is a little cheesy, but it does a good job explaining why Claire feels outraged, which is absolutely beautiful in its purity, intensity, and passion.
My friend Jurgen, who is a brilliant blogger, sent me his blog several days ago, but I did not read it until today. He writes beautiful pieces on his site called Mach was!? (Do something!?). This one is titled: ‘A gentle reminder’. He begins this piece by saying:
“Having spent nearly three months in complete seclusion from the outside world, alongside a next-to-perfect disappearance of electronic communication channels for most of that period, I had a lot of time to think about, and feel into, the so-called Corona crisis. It was a time of intense joy over the increased quality of life, owed to civilization’s coming to an almost complete halt, and it was also a time of intense agony over what my growing understanding of the crisis brought to light, both in terms of outer truths and of the resurfacing of psychological traumas.”
He goes on to say: “It’s time to re-discover our common humanity and the huge pile of pressing issues we need to look at right now.“
Indeed it is. Jurgen writes extensively and from a point of consolidated consciousness that I find compelling about culture and civilization and we are indeed at a moment of reckoning now. He says: “My credo though – whether explicitly or implicitly stated – remains the same throughout: this culture will eat the world alive and turn it into poisonous trash.” This is the very same truth expressed beautifully in Cloud Atlas when the character Adam Ewing writes in what he believes to be his final letter to his beloved wife and family summarizing everything he’s seen over the last couple of months and says:
“One fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself.” (11.15.7)
And indeed this world is realized in the one where Somni-451 has been condemned to live, except she ascends consciously and learns the truth as to where her sisters (her fellow servers cloned by the corporation to cater to the banal needs of consumers who are also the prey of the corporation) are taken in Xultation. Sonmi-451 is a beautiful arch in this complex and dazzling story compelling us to examine what makes us human!
Truth and Trauma — Reality is a Gift
Truths and traumas are the common thread running throughout the three examples I have shared above. We are one human tribe and when one part of us goes a little bit rotten, or completely rotten, feeling itself entitled to rob ‘the other’ from their humanity and right to exist in space and time, it is mostly certainly WRONG and deserves our OUTRAGE!
It is entirely human to feel shock and horror triggering outrage when we encounter the grotesque wrapping of our shared human nature.
It takes courage to act on outrage, but most of us have been put to sleep or are too afraid to act on it any more, and this is another twisting of our birthright as human beings who have been granted the precious gift of consciousness. But, we are wasting this gift and turning Earth into a barren desert where life cannot survive.
What are these modern horrors that I speak of: consider the crisis in Yemen. This is entirely a manmade crisis of a more powerful group of humans destroying another less powerful group. I do not buy the narrative that these women, children, and beautiful people of Yemen deserve their fate or created these circumstances because they are vibrating on the wrong wavelength. NO! Their despair and suffering is on our hands. It is the failure of those of us who are not suffering like that to take action to mitigate and remove their source of pain. This lack of action to help ‘the other’ is what will be marked in time.
Or consider racism, the brutal enslavement of an entire race of people just because of darker skin. It is one group of people systematically and cruelly removing the humanity of another group. It is an unjust system that sanctions and allows individuals like George Floyd to be killed right before our eyes with impunity by officers of the law who are suppose to safeguard everyone’s human rights. But instead, because of the infection of racism, they have taken the lives of so many beautiful people of color who have been murdered by them under the cover of this barbaric system underpinning Western civilization, which all of us living now have been baked into.
Or consider the brutalities we allow as modern human beings to be conducted upon other living beings with whom we share this planet such as the recent revoking of a law banning hunters from blinding hibernating mother bears and their babies so the hunters can kill them easier. If these things do not strike disgust, shock, or horror inside your heart, there is a deep sleeping going on and a silent support and holding up of brutal ways of being in this world.
When one becomes conscious of injustice, brutality, and the grotesque wrapping of human nature, it deserves, in fact, demands our outrage. Without it, we are destined to wobble off the cliff of extinction as a species on this planet. This is what happens when we ignore reality by stifling our inner truths and failing to take right action to correct course.
Look around today. What do you see? Then, look inside yourself. Take your time like my friend talks about doing and really notice what is rising inside of you. What do you really feel in you now? Is now a time to be silent, to watch, and to do nothing?
I cannot answer your conscience. This belongs uniquely to you. But silence for me is not an option, nor is hiding under a Rock of Ignorance. To be clear, this rock is entirely mine. I was born under it and have carried it with me through time ever since. All of us are born into ignorance and must work steadily throughout our lives to shift through and dissolves the barriers to reality that living in groups has necessarily required of us. And yes, I still listen to the news. But, I choose my sources carefully. I agree with Jurgen…many sources of news have been co-opted by people desiring power…lots and lots of power. It gets twisted and warped into grotesque propaganda, but it appears so good to consume, which is what is intended so that it gets into your mind and sets up its workshop of ignorance manufacturing. And, news today, let’s face it, is mainly entertainment, especially social media where so many of us get our news these days, which is a little scary. So, you must choose your news wisely. I choose to listen to scientists and news sources I have grown to respect over time (e.g., PBS NewsHour). I also consume large amounts of other sources of information such as the writings of Carl Jung, Friedrich Nietzsche, Alan Watts, and many others.
Then, I digest what I consume over long walks and bike rides in nature, by journaling, or through artistic endeavors such as drawing or making mini artistic movies of my rides. It is very important to digest what is consumed through our culture, our media, and our lives. We often forget that digesting information is just as important as digesting food. This is how we grow our individual field of consciousness and diminish the burden of our Rock of Ignorance.
Most importantly, I act on what I have consumed and digested. Consumption without action is imbalance. It risks growing so huge and lopsided inside your mind that you will surely collapse under the weight of your own ignorance. Action must be taken daily to distill, transform, and sublimate what you have ingested into your mind. Only you can do this. I believe it is possible to reach a state of consciousness where knowledge of everything, including current events, is simply known inside yourself. My journey through time leaves me far from this state, and so I must pay attention to my surrounding, digest what I consume, and then I write. This is my act of transformation. Mostly I write the story I have been working on since 2012. This is a story about the collective transformation of human consciousness after the world falls over the climate cliff. I will also act wherever I can to stand up against racism and to participate in the politics of my country, which is failing right now, badly.
Lastly, as I write this blog (which is a process of digestion of the ideas I have consumed), I realize all along I have been doing what Neil Hughes suggests: Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own!
What is uniquely your own?
Find it, claim it — it is your precious contribution to Indra’s Net. Humanity needs every jewel of consciousness we can distill and sublimate now.
There is such a thing as False Outrage. This is a twisting of basic human nature for someone else’s purposes. It feels like it is your own personal outrage, but it has been carefully crafted by a swindler, a pretender, a cheat, a Confidence Man. In a time of rapid change and growing crisis, these men emerge like roaches from the woodwork of civilization where they are normally regulated to live. But during times of upheaval, people crave to consume confidence, simple stories of their lives and their fate, and they flock to such men giving them their time and attention and unquestioning loyalty. This simple thing makes such men grow big and strong, making them look like magic men, saviors, but they are not. They are twisted and wrapped. They are dangerous. And we, the Good of Earth, are extremely vulnerable to such men and the mobs they create during times of crisis. These men create and seed False Outrage. It is very contagious. This is why each and every individual must fed their mind with good, nutritious mind food that is fully digested and then put into action. This is the only way to grow your individual field of consciousness.
I add this due to two things consumed since posting this blog yesterday.
Number 2: Seeing Black Jack Randall’s real personality — Twisted Outrage
This is Outlander again. Yes, I consume lots of stories into my mind. I suppose it is like eating dessert when I am too tired to work but not tired enough to sleep (which is a super digesting time for the mind… watch your dreams… pay attention, especially now). This episode immediately following the one before where true human outrage is so beautifully expressed by Claire, now shows the viewer a twisted soul. A man who deceives and preys upon others for fun. These sorts of people live in every century. They are master manipulators and extremely dangerous individuals for they are not stupid. In fact they know how to sharpen their mind, but they choose destruction, disaster, monstrous actions in the world. This is their masterpiece, as Black Jack Randall gruesomely reveals to Claire in this episode. I will say no more for my story delves deeply into such souls. This recap does a good job explaining what happens.
I heard this last year, and it belongs here because I believe we are all being manipulated by False Outrage. Listen to this excellent episode of Hidden Brain to learn more.
VEDANTAM: Saturday, January 19, 2019 – Julie Zimmerman checked Twitter and saw something that made her upset. It was a video filmed hundreds of miles from her home in Ohio at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
JULIE IRWIN ZIMMERMAN: There was this older Native American man, and these kids surrounded him and were yelling things at him and laughing at him. And they were blocking his path. He apparently was trying to, you know, walk over to the Lincoln Memorial or something like that, and they wouldn’t let him through.
VEDANTAM: The kids surrounding this man looked like 15-year-old boys. They were nearly all white. A few were making gestures that looked like tomahawk chops. Some wore hats that read Make America Great Again.
ZIMMERMAN: These kids were making fun of this guy because he was Native American because he had a drum and was chanting something unfamiliar to them. It was pretty cringeworthy.
VEDANTAM: We’re going to look at Julie’s encounter with the story in some detail because it’s revealing about how outrage works today. Like many others watching that day, Julie fixated on one boy in the video. He was standing directly in front of the Native American man staring at him. He had what looked like a smirk on his face as the older man sang.
ZIMMERMAN: His image evoked all the horrifying things Americans have done to Native Americans throughout the centuries.
VEDANTAM: As the day went on, more details emerged. The boys were students at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky just across the river from Cincinnati, where Julie lives.
ZIMMERMAN: I started seeing tweets that the kids were chanting build the wall, build that wall.
The modern world has brought us many wonders. We understand reality so much better than just 200 years ago when folklore, myths, magical thinking ruled most societies. Not that there is anything wrong with myth, folklore, or magical thinking, it is only when it becomes a cage for the mind that trouble sets in, which has happened again in our modern age with the brand-new behavior (but very old instinct) of doomscrolling. Watch out. You are being imprisoned in your own mind. Don’t believe me? Consider several experts studying this phenomenon. Clinical psychologist Dr. Amelia Aldao warns that doomscrolling traps us in a “vicious cycle of negativity” that fuels our anxiety. She says, “Our minds are wired to look out for threats. The more time we spend scrolling, the more we find those dangers, the more we get sucked into them, the more anxious we get.” Not only this, all this doom is triggering massive releases of neurotransmitters that are attaching to receptors in your brain. The more you do an activity that triggers the same response, the more your brain gets wired to want more and more…it is like an addiction. Your brain actually grows (rewires itself) to be dependent on bad news and doom. Instead of harnessing your natural outrage to do good in the world, you turn it in on yourself and consume your own brain, reducing your mind’s ability for creative thought, rational thought, and the expression of kindness, compassion, and healthy emotions. You must take back your mind first, otherwise you will likely never leave your room of doom.
A postscript on Doomscrolling:
My friend, Rag Mars (pseudonym), provided a thought provoking comment to an update I posted about this blog to my friends on Facebook.
“As a German Biochemist Ph.D., in my view, it is the fast accelerating complexity and pressure [that we live in today as modern humans]. We have no way to understand the most simple things anymore. In the Supermarket, I saw a Mouse Pad [that was] imprinted with the periodic table of all chemical Elements. [Imagine that how taken for granted this knowledge is to humans today.] [Meanwhile,] the Alchemists [were rigorously trying to figure out all we know today.] [They] were convinced, Mercury is the Element that can be transmuted into Aurum [the Latin word for gold]. In Quantum Chemistry, we know [today], Hg, Mercury has 80 protons, and Aurum, Au, has 79 protons. We also know, when a proton captures an electron, it can be transmuted, converted into a neutron. When in the nucleus of Hg (Mercury), [if] one electron from outside hits a proton [inside], it will [be] converted into a neutron, hence becoming Au 79–Gold.
“The Alchemists had no way to know anything about Quantum Chemistry. So how did they use Hg to perform the transmutation to Au 79?[It remains] a mystery. Today, we have no Mysteries anymore, we know [everything, or so we think]. And we also know, economically, it makes no sense [to do this–convert Mercury into Gold this way]. But, [in this knowing] we have lost the mystery. A mysterious insight in the strange cosmos. Not knowing–and still gaining insight. This riddle puzzles me. In our hyper complexity, we could know a lot. [But,] we do not–[our lives are flowing much too] fast [and we consume way too much knowledge.] [Because of this,] we have lost All of the Ancient Mysteries and Insights [our ancestors had]. So in this view, we are much more impoverished. We may even ask, was there [ever a time of] so much mystery? [We have forgotten to leave space in our mind] as the little known [is] too [small] to fill a great and bright mind, and so an Alchemist had to search for a deeper, complex hidden world. [He did so rigorously and did not settle for simple answers, and he stumbled upon amazing things.] [What did] he find access to [within his mind]? Was there Magic [there?]–[an inner realm where he was driven to] because of [his more} simple reality? Mind boggling to me.”
“Once again you write about what I write about right now–mysterious things such as the parallels between quantum mechanicians and ancient knowledge of the Alchemists (and even further back!). I did not know about this strange link between Mercury and Gold. It is fascinating and it illuminates a little more of my own inner darkness — not that this darkness it bad, it is simply unseen.
Seeing is knowing and with knowledge we are able as human being to make different choices than what has proceeded us before. Knowledge is illumination–it is inner light (at least one form of it). Again, I veer to the story I am currently consuming Outlander to help add insight to these ideas. In this scene, Claire hears a baby crying in the forest. Her friend Geillis Duncan tells her this:
“Claire, that’s a fairy hill. That baby is no human child. That’s a changeling. When the fairies steal a human child away, they leave one of their own in its place. You know it’s a changeling because it doesn’t thrive and grow. If you leave a changeling out over night in such a place, the wee folk will come, take it back, and return the child they’ve stolen.“
Claire; however, knows different and runs up the hill to help the child, but she is too late, the child has died from exposure. She is devastated, but Jamie finds her on the hill and comforts her by saying, perhaps the belief that their child will live forever stay and happy with the fairies is a comfort to this family who placed the infant here.”
Believe as a comfort, even if it has nothing to do with reality, why do humans do this?
A couple days later, I watched a documentary about Trump and his conspiracies theories by Fareed Zakaria. After going through and showing us all the fanatical modern day conspiracies ranging from Q to Alex Jones and other fantastical conspiracies manufactured and believed by millions and millions of people in the U.S. (and around the world) is akin to believing in witchcraft and fairies and monsters from times long ago. Fareed explains this is because reality is complicated and people strongly desire to feel safe and in control of their world and their fate. Thus, if magical thinking explains why something devastating happens in a way that gives them a sense of lost control, they grab onto it, regardless of how little it has to do with reality. You can hear Fareed’s show in the link below.
Remember, you are beautiful just the way you are right now. Your inner beauty will save yourself and the ones you love, and even the world when you remember just how magnificent you are. Each and every one of us has tremendous capacity to do good in the world. This is power that is equal and opposite to the ones choosing to do bad in our beautiful world of so much complexity and life. In fact, I bet there are far more ‘Good People of Earth‘ than there are ‘Bad People of Earth‘. You spin your thread to freedom every moment of every day by the choices you make. Make them consciously.
The Logic of Rage— Neuroscientist Doug Fields was on a trip to Europe when a pickpocket stole his wallet. Doug, normally mild-mannered, became enraged — and his fury turned him into a stranger to himself. Today on Hidden Brain, we explore the secret logic of irrational anger.