— Myths Are Passages Channeling Energies That Can Hold Us Together or Tear Us Apart
The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles
Part 4 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
The truth of any civilization is that it is not a monolithic, inanimate thing. Human civilizations live. They are complex living entities that are fed and sustained by each individual living within it. Because of this, civilizations can die when they become sick or too rigid to flow with the pressurizing forces of time.
Many years ago, long before humans where considered human, the motivation to live together in groups was pretty straight forward—survive. Lots of species on Earth live in groups or herds or packs or flocks because it is beneficial to individual survival. Of course, individual sacrifices are required to live harmoniously in groups. For example, there always seems to be many more low status individuals than high status individuals in a group. However, overall the enhanced survival benefit of being in the group rather than outside of it tends to be a powerful motivator.
The structure of groups and how they operate is determined primarily by instincts. There are lots of similarities in instinctual responses between species because all life has had to adapt to common environmental challenges on Earth, making lots of similarities of group life between species. But, there are plenty of examples of uniquely tuned instincts species have evolved to equip them to thrive in very specific niches, making very unique group structures–consider what it would be like to live inside a beehive.
What Are Instincts?
I will let Dr. Robert Sapolsky tell you about instincts and how human beings are exactly the same in these fixed action patterns as any other mammal on Earth, but also utterly unique in how we use fixed action patterns to do things as individuals and groups. He is a professor of biology, neurology, and neurological sciences at Stanford University. He has possesses an impressive body of field research and artfully combines his mastery of his field with a charismatic ability to communicate with others, allowing him to make complicated concepts understandable to just about anyone.
This is one of his shorter talks that it is well worth listening to if you have ever wondered about human behavior and why we do the things we do. In this talk, Dr. Sapolsky dispels every myth of how humans are unique and different than animals; however, in each instance where we act exactly the same as everyone else here on Earth, he also points out how we do it bigger, more extravagantly, and ostentatiously than any other animal on Earth, and that makes us utterly unique.
Living in groups is one of the things we do as humans that is utterly different than other animals on Earth. When we live in groups, we do it with pizzazz and with style. We like our groups to proceed in a manner and approach that generates vast, complicated, and intricate social systems that operate more like ecosystems, allowing the humans existing within them to seemingly live outside of or beyond the constraints of nature. No other animal lives quite like humans do in groups–that is for sure. Our precocious ingenuity has allowed us to occupy just about every livable niche on the planet. And when we encounter a non-livable niche, we can change it so we can live there too!
Stories of Hermits
It is possible to live utterly alone as a human being and still survive. There are many stories of hermits and monks who have lived alone for years, decades, their entire adult lives. Many are fabled to do this in order to overcome and master their most primal fixed action patterns. But some simply do not want human interaction or the entanglements that human relationships entail. These are important stories. However, our current collective story is not one about a world populated by 7.8 billion hermits. I doubt Earth could even sustain 7.8 billion human beings living utterly alone and unconnected to each other.
For a modern true tale of a man living utterly alone, Snap Judgement tells a riveting tale titled The North Pond Hermit.
Snap Judgment Description:
There was a legend in central Maine, about a hermit who had lived in the woods, unseen, for 30 years. Then, in 2013, the police arrested a man named Christopher Knight.
Produced by Joe Rosenberg, original score by Renzo Gorrio & Andrew Vickers
Why Do We Need to Care About Instincts?
To me, this is simple. If we do not bring our conscious awareness to bear on our daily lives, we are destine to act based on fixed action patterns (e.g., deeply encoded urges, impulses, and instincts). When we live in an unconscious manner, we do not feel and thus cannot fulfill our full potential as a human being. We live rather as our parents, forebears, and ancestors lived seldom taking a moment to consider if what we are doing now, what we have been taught to do and think and believe, is right for the moment we are living in.
When we do not bring our conscious awareness to bear on our constantly changing circumstances, our preprogramming is bound to kick in and run wild. Acting in this way stagnates our spark of consciousness as individuals and as a species. It can even make us lose consciousness, going backwards as an individual or a group (devolving rather than evolving).
In addition to instincts, human beings (being so darn clever and unique in how we live in groups) also bring cultural precepts, religious doctrines, community rules, and all the decrees, commandments, and directives deemed necessary to live in big, complicated societies and civilizations. We willingly agree to abide by these rules whenever we join a new group or alliance or club or clique. It’s the price we pay as human beings to belong to things we think benefit us in some way or another. In highly technological, modern societies, this can add up to be a lot of groups to which an individual must belong. If a person is not careful, this sort of belongingness can end up sabotaging the amount of and quality of consciousness that can be brought to bear, without fear or favor, to our situations, circumstances, struggles, and challenges encountered in life.
When we act unconsciously to our circumstances, we often fail to apprehend, understand, and act in ways that are needed to maintain harmony in our life and in the lives of those around us. Instead, we often end up acting no better than a troop of baboons. However, because we are human, we tend to put highly creative and imaginative spins on making our lives more miserable and difficult than they need to be, if only we would have brought a little more attention and consciousness to the situation, which would have allowed us to see the bigger picture and understand the interconnections present in all events transpiring here on Earth.
Stories Act Like Glue Holding Complicated Groups Together
So what keeps us from tearing each others faces off (like baboons can do when their status is provokedby a young upstart or lower status member)? What allows us to work together in more or less harmonious ways within our massive social conglomerations?
Religions have long served a fundamental role in creating and maintaining cooperative groups. Sports can unify and unite groups, even pull different groups together in friendly competition. Food is a great unifier too, so is music. And so are stories, especially mythical stories that activate numinous content in our psyche (I’ll talk more about this in a moment).
Here are some of the foundational stories that have helped create and define Western Civilization. It is a list put together by the BBC of the top 10 stories of Western Civilization. Let’s look at a few:
1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)
Bethanne Patrick, Contributing Editor of Lit Hub, says, “I believe the journey of Odysseus defined a streak of individualism particular to Western culture that has led to much change in the world – good and bad.”
Kenneth W Warren, Professor of English at University of Chicago, agrees. “The Odyssey has provided the architecture for the quest narrative and template for characterising male and female virtue in ways that shape, enable, and limit our storytelling habits into the present.”
Novelist Beverley Naidoo hones in on: “The multiple stories within Odysseus’ 10-year journey home after the Trojan war, while faithful Penelope waits for him and son Telemachus seeks him, have seeped deep into our cultural consciousness. The human elements within this myriad of stories continue to resonate down the centuries, allowing endless reinterpretation.”
Jenny Bhatt, writer and Contributing Editor at PopMatters calls it “the first widely-read political novel in the US” and “the first work of fiction that openly addressed the cruelty of slavery, human exploitation, the lopsided legal system, the entrenched patriarchy, the need for feminism, and more.” It became one of the most popular books of the century – in the US and abroad – and is credited with radically altering the perception of slavery, with many voters noting its influence on the abolition movement. Its human focus and call for empathy struck a chord among readers.
Author and novelist Roxana Robinson says it “told the story of slavery through the eyes of the enslaved, and was one of the first novels to show black characters as fathers and mothers, parents and children – human beings, who were living under inhuman conditions.”
3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
Nilanjana S Roy, novelist and Financial Times columnist, points out: “Frankenstein influenced scientists as well as writers… [and] speaks to the modern fear of the creations that spin out of our control”;
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, is “the quintessential story of the modern world” says Roger Luckhurst, Professor of Modern-Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck College, London.
The compelling story of the scientist who brings a creature to life has become one of the most enduring images in modern literature and beyond, and the monster serves as the “ultimate metaphor”, says Lena Wånggren, Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
There is an “uncanny accuracy” says Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History at Westminster University, in the book’s definition of modern tyranny: “Now more than ever, we seem to live in the framework it identified… Even the author’s name – ‘Orwellian’ – conjures up a world of thought control. Its precision about the mechanisms of propaganda and the machinery of oppression has got it banned by every authoritarian regime: they are scared of its power to name horror. It is a handbook for those who want to resist.”
All those who chose Orwell’s masterpiece seem to agree on one thing – the novel’s scary prescience. “Big Brother gets all the attention,” says novelist and columnist Nilanjana S Roy. “But it’s the rest, the eagerness to join mobs, to obey, to hurt, that he caught so unforgettably.”
Or, as BBC Culture Editor Rebecca Laurence succinctly puts it: “The ultimate 20th-Century novel becomes the ultimate 21st-Century novel. Terrifying.”
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)
Telling the story of the colonisation of a Nigerian tribe from the point of view of an African, Things Fall Apart explodes stereotypes about Africa and brought to life the true impact of cross-cultural misunderstandings. Achebe said that “this was the first time we were seeing ourselves, as autonomous individuals, rather than half-people, or as Conrad would say, ‘rudimentary souls’”.
The European colonial narrative could never be the same after this was published. “It’s an empowering African novel: it brought African experience to the world like no other African fiction has”, according to Dominica Dipio, Associate Professor of Literature at Makerere University in Uganda.
By changing the filter through which the continent was seen, “The novel showed readers what an African world looked like when it was not being reduced to canned images animated by racist assumptions,” says Ainehi Edoro-Glines, a Nigerian academic. “Achebe’s innovation was to change the conventions of modern storytelling so that instead of seeing darkness any time readers looked at Africa, they’d see what every novel was designed to show – a complex representation of life.”
6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)
“It gets at the primordial human desire for the story that never ends – which can very easily stand for life that never comes to an end.” Ahdaf Soueif, novelist, writer and commentator, points out: “Many characters, motifs and quotations (‘Open Sesame!’) from this set of stories within stories have become common parlance across the world.”
“It’s the deepest of wells,” says novelist and columnist Nilanjana Roy. “In medieval & modern times, from writers to singers and film-makers, we never stopped drawing from it.”
Critic Muneeza Shamsie admires “Sheherazade’s courage, intelligence and confidence and fact she succeeds, asserts the power of storytelling and imagination over tyranny and terror – a concept which has strongly influenced the ideals and ideas of our world.”
Lena Merhej, a comic artist from Lebanon, picked the book “because it gives a subversive voice to a woman that uses it as a weapon for her survival.”
To see the rest and read all of the reasons why these stories were selected, go to the BBC Culture page (note book images come from this page as well).
We Are An Unfolding Story
One could even say the United States’ Declaration of Independence is a collective story of the highest order and complexity that all its citizens (and even its non-citizens for no country or civilization operates in a vacuum no matter how powerful they have grown) play out every day. And so as it is played out, it is written–an unfolding story through time in space.
Manoush Zomorodi introduces him this way: “And it has been a year of thinking how our actions affect our neighbors, a year of realizing that many of our systems do little for the most vulnerable among us and here in the U.S., a year when the population further splintered over what it means to be an American. And so how do we talk about all this stuff without alienating each other? How do we move forward collectively? And what is our civic duty in the 21st century? These are big questions. And so on the show today, we’re going to explore ideas about How To Citizen with Baratunde Thurston. He’s been working on and thinking about this topic for years. And he recently came out with a new podcast series appropriately called How To Citizen.“
Through this episode Manoush and Baratunde explore some of his notable podcasts and TedTalks. The first individuals he brings up is the lawyer and civil rights activist Valarie Kaur and what she calls Revolutionary Love. He tells Manoush, “I picked Valarie as the opening voice in the podcast series, the How To Citizen podcast. I wanted her to offer a spiritual invocation to the whole idea of what it means to citizen as a verb. And that means to commit to each other.”
Thurston highlights something Valarie talks about, which is “In order to love others, see no stranger. We can train our eyes to look upon strangers on the street, on the subway, on the screen and say in our minds, brother, sister, aunt, uncle. When we say this, what we are saying is, you are a part of me I do not yet know. I choose to wonder about you. Number three, in order to love our opponents, tend the wound. Tending to the wound is not healing them. Only they can do that. Just tending to it allows us to see our opponents, the terrorists, the fanatic, the demagogue. They’ve been radicalized by cultures and policies that we together can change.“
Another person they highlight is
Thurston says, “So yeah. So to empathize and identify with the idea of hurt and pain and to acknowledge that I have played a role in probably someone else’s life where I was the opponent – to extend that to others, that’s when it makes sense to me, and it’s not just this masochistic endeavor.”
The next person Thurston brings up is Eric Liu (who he likes to call Mr. Democracy).
Thurston tells Manoush, “Yeah, I had been talking about this project of How To Citizen for years in some form, and I saw his talk at TED about making civics sexy again and these Civic Saturdays events and sermons, all this kind of religious faith language. But the faith was not in an all-seeing, all-knowing deity. It was in very fallible human beings and our institutions.“
There is much more to this talk and all of it is well worth your time to listen to in full or to read the transcript if you are interested in a healthy, diverse, thriving, democratic system. But this is why I am zeroing in on language and storytelling. We tell the stories through our thoughts, words, deeds, and actions (or non-actions). We are writing our living systems as we live it.
It is hard to keep a democratic nation. It is hard to balance differences (e.g., different perspectives, needs, desires, beliefs) as expressed and lived by lots and lots of different people from all over the world who have come to live in the United States. In the TedTalk mentioned above, Liu says: ” Democracy works only when enough of us believe democracy works.”
It takes work to keep a democracy. One of the most memorable points Liu made was out democracy does not automatically spring from constitutional rules but from the inner workings of civic spirit–that is us. We all contribute to the quality of this spirit and whether it is healthy or not.
I know it is hard to stay informed and to pay attention to all the things a complicated society like the United States of America requires its citizens know, but this sort of knowledge is important for the system to continually sustain and renew itself. It is tempting to clamp down and claim that one’s own personal set of principles or beliefs are the only ones to follow to move forward. It is hard to compromise and walk another’s path.
Moments of Illumination& Seeing More of the Story
One of things I think the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated is weakness in our existing systems of being around the world. Many of these weakness can be traced back to individuals living unconsciously; people choosing to live in narrow channels and closing themselves off to points of views that are not in alignment to their preconceived ideas and beliefs; people who refuse and are unwilling to see the world from someone else’s perspective–to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
An interview with Kai Ryssal of MarketPlace demonstrates vividly what is happening to millions of people who have lost jobs and feel like they have been forgotten, even thrown away by our current system of being in the world. A brief clip from this interview that drills down on the fissures in our system and collective way of doing things that is doing us in as a collective is the following:
Ryssdal: When we talked last time, I don’t even remember what I said, but you in essence said you felt you had been forgotten and overlooked. And just to break the fourth wall a little bit here, we kept in touch and you sent us a text in January that said, and this is you now, “I feel so astonishingly betrayed by the systems responsible for protecting and providing for our nation.” Do you as a guy on the lower rungs of the income ladder in this country, do you feel any hope that it’s going to get better post-virus?
Cairns: You know, I really don’t see a lot of silver lining. We are so eager to get back to normal that we’re probably going to ignore a lot of the lessons learned from this pandemic. You know, restaurants and bars are already trying to go back to business as usual. Customers, people in general, definitely want to just go right back to normal. And without some sort of structure, some sort of system in place to help facilitate people taking things easier, I don’t see how this is going to get much better in the future.
Ryssdal: But Neil, if a bar or restaurant opened up around the corner from you and said, “Hey, we can give you 25 hours a week,” would you do it?
Cairns: Probably. Yeah. I don’t think I’d have a whole lot of choice, and that’s exactly the problem — we should. You know, providing for people in situations like mine, like those who are in worse positions than mine, to be able to stay home, to choose when to go back to work in a way that is best for them, I think is really important, and I don’t see any indication that we’re gonna make any attempt to do that.
How toTell Better Stories
To tell better stories, we need to see each other–everyone. The PBS NewsHour explores this idea in the rising occurrence of hate crimes against Asian Americans. In large part, Trump ignited and inspired this collective hate to be acted out in cruel and brutal ways. He gave a green light to let this hate rip through the delicate fabric that holds us together as an utterly unique collective–something that has never existed on this Earth below at this level, but only if we can keep it, as Thurston so beautifully expresses in the TedTalk above.
In the PBS piece, it is said:
“The absence of knowledge is a way of keeping people fighting each other.” Missing in History – The void of knowledge of Asian Americans has and is being replaced by garbage – caricatures of Asians being animals, disease infested, monsters.”
“The problem is invisibility. Justice is not a zero sum game. Justice is a fabric that extends across all communities.”
To tell better stories, we need to see more of ourself by embracing moments of illumination (often triggered by a crisis, a setback, a disaster) to boldly go where we have not yet ventured inside ourself, the realms where our invisible self dwells. Sometimes to tell better stories means we need to see the biases we harbor, the prejudices we protect, and the injustices we perpetuate. Other times it means seeing the power we have lost because we have projected onto someone else. But when we see it exists inside of us too, we grow stronger, we heal, we become more whole inside–we grow as a conscious being. When we finally see we are the thing we hate, we can even transform.
HiddenBrain did a beautiful piece on the power of stories in transforming ourself.
Description: The Story of Your Life: “We can’t go back and change the past. We can’t erase trauma and hardship. But what if there was a way to regain control of our personal narratives? In the second part of our series on storytelling, we look at how interpreting the stories of our lives — and rewriting them — can change us forever.”
The Power of Myth
This is the power of myths and storytelling. They show us ways to channel the intense energies that surge inside of us when we are provoked by our circumstances. These energies begin as instincts but what consciousness allows us to do is to sees these energies rising before we act on them. This ability gives us a moment to choose an action different than what our innate instincts would otherwise dictate that we do.
In the heat of the moment, many of us may well act on the instinct triggered. However, when we do bring our conscious attention to these moments, we can alter our instincts in a great variety of ways. This is what Jung calls archetypes. They are mirror images of instincts but altered by consciousness. This allows the energy to flow forward in any number of different ways different from how they would have otherwise contained in nature. The number of variations of rising instinctual responses are as vast as the number of human beings who have chosen something differently.
These are the stories of Gods and Goddesses from every culture around the world. These stories tell about what befell a God or Goddess after choosing an altered instinctual response to a situation encountered. Each God and Goddess embodies qualities and energies of our most primal, basic instincts. Together, instincts and archetypes make up the building blocks of the human psyche.
Jung came to believe archetypes are empty templates that we fill anew each time we alter our instinctual responses triggered by circumstances we encounter. They are fluid, flexible, and powerful like water. When we meet our situations and circumstances consciously, we live mythic lives.
A Few Modern Stories Offering Strong Modern Mythic Images to Ponder
A new Netflix series I have loved watching is Invisible City. The trailer says, “What if the legends of your childhood are living in plain sight?” Which of course, they are. This is a beautiful drama that weaves in the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest and its people and animals with Brazilian Folklore entities and deities. Season 1 explores what happens if one of these vital entities gives up.
Previous Post in Storytelling Species Series | Part 3: Death of the Father
Next Post in Storytelling Species Series | Part 5: Collective Storytelling: Who Is Q & What The Heck Is the Plandemic and Anti-Vaxxers All About?!!
The video below is an artistic-musical journey of some of the events that defined and reshaped our shared reality over the past year. It spans natural disasters, disease disasters, and human made disasters that occurred beginning around Feb. 2020 to Feb. 2021.
I began by drawing the sad woman sitting by a fire contemplating something. I drew her early in 2020 before most of what happened transpired. Behind her is a dreamlike landscape, which was drawn some years earlier. However, I felt it belonged in this dream-like landscape. I then wanted images to appear between the flickering fire, but I didn’t know how to choose which ones to draw or feature among all the disasters and terrible things that occurred last year all around the world.
I decided to focus on the United States and found a regional map that I redrew artistically. I found other maps of where fires occurred, where the derecho hit Iowa and left a 750 mile path of destruction, where hurricanes came ashore, where Black Live Matter marches took place after the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis (my hometown), and where COVID-19 infections were rising. I artistically re-envisioned and redrew these maps as layers that could be used over the Regional Map or alone.
I blended live videos of 2020 events (e.g., driving through fire, driving through the derecho, hurricane mapping and video, Black Live Matter marches) as well as murals painted by artists worldwide honoring George Floyd and/or illuminating the collective struggle of COVID-19 into this video montage of 2020.
Towards the end, I include drawings I made many years earlier. There were lots so many glitches in getting this video posted, including having to throw out 6 songs at the very end and replace them since the musicians did not allow their music to be used with anything other than their original videos. I understand this, it is their creation. However, I am deeply grateful to the musicians who do allow their musicto be used with ad revenue going to them (as it should). I have cited all musicians and tried to give credit to all videos and images used that are not my own drawings or photography. I list these sources in the description section on YouTube.
It is with gratitude I offer Mother of Grief — Remembering 2020
Remembering who we have lost and how our lives have changed is important, especially as we prepare and begin making choices on how to move forward as individuals and as communities. Our choices matter. Without taking time to reflect and to grieve for what has been lost, we are bound to go in circles and repeat fixable mistakes in attitudes and ideas over and over. Taking time to remember and grieve is a sacred act. No matter if your life has been impacted in big or small ways, this past year has caused a pause–and Now is the time to reflect, remember, and cherish the precious gift of life–something that is so fragile and fleeting for all of us. This is how we grow and transform by remembering, reflecting, and cherishing what has been lost and using this remembrance (this accounting of one’s life to this moment in time) to make different choices moving forward.
Recently, I’ve been reading a book about the philosophy of the I Ching. It is a book one of my brothers got a long, long time ago. I don’t know how I ended up with it. For years it sat on my bookshelf collecting dust. Perhaps I would not have understood what the author was revealing had I picked it up earlier. However, after 5+ years of significant reversals, setbacks, and losses, it really resonates with me today.
Carl Jung said the East charted inner landscapes and developed a deep understanding of who and what we are as conscious living beings while the West turned its time and attention to charting and understanding the outer world. Neither focus is bad. Both are part of reality; however, the Western focus on the reality of the visible, outside world grew lopsided (very lopsided), creating an imbalance in the psyche that resulted in a lost of awareness of sacred inner landscapes forming one’s inner realities. This forgetting has put the wellbeing of individuals in peril, and possibly placed our collective survival as a species, a civilization in jeopardy as well. All hands are needed on deck to heal the chasm created by this extreme lopsidedness; I will tell you more about this in my book: Sapience.
Returning to what I was reading last night that felt like it belonged in this post. I was reading a chapter about the Student-Sage Relationship. The I Ching believes student and sage are one. And, we come to know our inner sage by developing inner discipline and quieting our mind. This is how our inner sage can be heard, understood, and followed for the good of self and the greater good.
What felt like belonged here is the following:
The Sage is polite, but firm in stating cosmic principles.
It is through such firmness that we perceive his total personality as gentle, kind, firm, and correct–one that believes in us in spite of our deviations.
He waits while we exhaust our enthusiasm for false ideas; he allow us to self-destruct if we stubbornly insist upon doing so, but would rather we did not, because, as he tells us, we have the potential for achieving something both great and permanent for the good of all, if we will do it.
While working with the Sage, we feel a nourishing, helpful presence.
If we become arrogant, however, this presences departs and we begin to feel lonely.
We are hardly aware of this presence until we lose it and miss it.
When we return to our path, the presence gradually returns.
It is as if an inner light comes and goes.
By his coming and his going, he teaches us about himself and about our relationship with him.
The book is called: The Philosophy of theI Ching. It was written by Carol K. Anthony who I came to discover recently died in August 2020. She founded her own publishing company and lived close to me. I could have met her had I been a little faster in my curiosity about the I Ching, but time and fate is what it is. Her biography is beautiful:
Carol began her study of the I Ching in 1971, during a mid-life crisis, when she was age 41. Her difficulties made her receptive when a friend, desiring to be of help, introduced her to the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the I Ching. It taught her to meditate in a way that helped her to understand what the hexagrams were saying. She kept notes of these insights as they occurred. Within seven years she had a complete set of notes on each hexagram that helped friends understand the hexagrams they received. She quickly realized that her notes filled a unique need. Two meditation experiences led her to publish them under the title, A Guide to the I Ching, and to found Anthony Publishing Company. This book was followed by The Philosophy of the I Ching, in 1981, The Other Way, Experiences in Meditation Based on the I Ching, in 1990, and Love, An Inner Connection, Based on Principles Drawn from the I Ching, in 1993. These books interested other publishers and some of them were translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Croatian.
Kojo is retiring soon and will be missed. This was a wonderful look back on a year that turned world upside down.
It was Friday, February 28, 2020 on The Politics Hour when we first covered the coronavirus in any detail. We discussed it again briefly on The Politics Hour a week later. But at that those moments we had no idea how deadly the virus would become and how the year would unfold. We were talking about elbow bumping and hand washing.
Over the days that followed cases started to gradually increase in the D.C. region and throughout the country and the world. And on March 10 we devoted the entire show on the virus with doctors and public health officials and began covering the COVID-19 pandemic regularly.
This broadcast will take a look back at the year of COVID, with insights and reflection from Emergency Physician and Professor Dr. Leana Wen, Washington Post Columnist and Parenting Coach Meghan Leahy, and WAMU/DCist Staff Writer Elliot Williams.
Description:The year 2020 was one of painful loss. We said goodbye to respected leaders and lawmakers, to gifted athletes and entertainers, to people who have inspired us and enriched our lives even if we didn’t know them personally. In some cases, people were taken from us far too soon, victims of a pandemic that has caused death and suffering around the world. And some of those we lost were the victims of grave injustice, cruelly robbed of years of life they might have spent with family, friends and loved ones.
To lose these people is a reminder of the fragility of life, and a reminder to take care of one another to the best of our ability. But in the midst of feeling sorrow for people who are no longer with us, we should also take comfort in the gifts they gave us while they were here. Here, TIME pays tribute to those who left us in 2020, people who changed the world for the better and helped show us a path forward.
The year that COVID built: a look back on 2020
The World Economic Forum put together a wonderful snap shot of 2020 based on what we searched for on the Internet as well as other key moments of 2020.
The timing was uncanny. Indeed, it was synchronistic. So, I paid attention. And, I took notes. I will share some of the take aways I gleamed for this important show. If you have been struggling with anxiety and depression, especially this year, this show is well worth a listen.
Between the uncertainties of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, going back to the office and staying connected with one another, it’s no wonder anxiety is on the rise.
As the pandemic recently reached its one-year anniversary, about a third of U.S. adults say they have experienced sleeplessness or anxiety in the last week, according to the Pew Research Center.
We’re talking with Dr. Judson Brewer, a neuroscientist and associate professor at Brown University about the science behind our anxious feelings and explains why common fixes, like simply willing yourself to be okay, don’t work. His new book is Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind.
What’s causing us to feel anxious these days? And how can we treat it?
Dr. Judson Brewer discusses how worry and curiosity are binary functions in the brain. When the brain engages in worry, it cannot engage in curiosity. Worrying makes us feel smaller and contracted while curiosity makes us feel bigger and expansive. Both have evolutionary origins and functions. The problem is how complicated our modern lives have become tricking our brains and causing destructive habits and patterns to develop and become entrenched in the brain.
Dr. Brewer talked about the part of the brain that gets engaged when a person worries. It is an older part of the brain known as the cingulate cortex. This is a critical part of the limbic system and involves a group of interconnected brain structures involved in emotions along with processing emotional destress of pain. It helps us survive.
The Cingulate Cortex
I found this image of the part of the brain that gets engage when we worry while I listened.
Dr. Brewer discusses how the Cingulate Cortex is a much older structure of the brain, making it very powerful in establishing behaviors and patterns in our life. The parts of our brain that get engaged when we become curious are more complex and they also activate and engage the Prefrontal Cortex, which is the newest part of our brains and the weakest.
The Prefrontal Cortex & the Role of Curiosityto Our Wellbeing and Mental Health
Why is the sky blue? Staring up at the big, wide space above their heads, children often ask a variation of this question to an adult. Although the answers may seem clear enough, we’re not always satisfied with what we get. Why we know, or why we care to know about the world around or inside of us is due to a distinct desire: curiosity.
Curiosity motivates us to understand the world, our communities, our bodies, and our brains. Click on the targets in the image to explore how curiosity inspires us to investigate the mechanisms of our daily life.
Dr. Brewer explained how we can strengthen this part of our brain and ability through mindfulness training. Meditation is one part of a bigger circle of learning how to be more mindful in our bodies, especially when we begin to feel to collapsing feeling of worry and anxiety.
Everyone learns habits that get encoded in the brain through the Cingulate Cortex and other lower brain structures. Everyone also has the ability to bring awareness to their situation, both internal (e.g., are you worrying, feeling anxious, feeling fearful) and external (e.g., what triggered this inner feeling [the present], where did this feeling originate from [the past], how valid is this feeling now and moving forward in your life [the future]).
The 3 Gears of Changing Your Brain
Once you bring awareness to your situation, you can begin to remap your responses to them. You can rewire your brain! Dr. Brewer outlined 3 gears to work through that include:
Gear 1: Mapping Habit Loops
Ask yourself what the behavior you are engaging in (e.g., going on social media, over eating, compulsively cleaning, compulsively shopping, binging Netflix, taking mind altering drugs) attempting to help you do. Often these repetitive behaviors are attempting to help you overpower intense, uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, worry, and fear that have become ingrained in patterned repetitive behavior that does not do a good job of calming these feelings. The trigger is less important than the behavior you slip into to calm the rising anxiety and worry. Bringing your awareness to map you habit loops is the first step, the first gear to get yourself out of it.
Gear 2: Mindfulness
This is where you use your ability of awareness to get curious about your behavior: “Hmmm… what am I getting from worrying?” So you realize by becoming curious about your behavior of planning a trip to the airport 20 times isn’t doing anything to keep yourself and your family safe. This insight give you a space to do something different. You can also use mindfulness to practice retrospective reflection as well because sometimes the compulsive behavior is so powerful it is impossible to avert it until you strengthen this other part of your brain: curiosity, mindfulness, and awareness.
Gear 3: The Bigger, Better Offer
This is where you offer your brain a better offer to deal with a situation that triggers anxiety, worry, or fear. Dr. Brewer talks about how we become habituated to compulsive attempts to reduce our anxiety (e.g., ‘Oh, I feel anxious, I am going to look at puppies on the Internet’, soon the brain becomes habituated to puppies and needs a stronger stimulus, so now you need to find puppies and kitten together; then the brain become habituated to puppies and kittens, so now you need to find puppies, kittens, and baby chicks… and so it goes on and on… a compulsive addictive behavior has been established). What the brain does not become habituated to is curiosity! This is the key to get out of the loop.
They were running out of time at this point in the program, so go to Dr. Jud Brewer’s website to learn more:
Have a Great Day! And remember, you are the master of your Ship of Self — go forth and explore new inner territory inside your mind and by doing so, repattern your brain.
— 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?
“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” — Abraham Lincoln
Part 3 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
The Death of a Father is a devastating event regardless of if it occurs to a family or a civilization. Fathers represent half the sacred act of creation. In Buddhist philosophy, “Yang represents Heaven, the Father, and the Creative…while yin represents Earth, the Mother, and the Receptive. Yin and yang are dependent upon one another…” To read more about the symbolism of Yin & Yang, see this beautiful blog: Yin & Yang Symbol: Between Heaven and Earth.
TheCollective Death of the Father
Why am I comparing the Death of a Father as experienced by an individual or a civilization as a similar event? Because civilizations are nothing more than of millions of individuals who have agreed to come together as a collective to achieve a greater good. Part of what they do to accomplish this greater good is contribute some of their individual consciousness to the collective pool of consciousness needed to do this. Note when I refer to consciousness, I mean illuminated consciousness, the part we are awareness of that tells us who we are, where we are, what we can do, and allows us to do and accomplish things in the world.
Collectives of any size draw upon this greater pool of consciousness to do things a single individual could not do alone. In ancient times, this larger pool of knowing and ability helped people synchronize and organize themselves to bring about the greater goal. Back then, the great goal was surviving, but our ancestors recognized how a well synchronized group of people could afford to divide up critical survival tasks such as hunting (protein), gathering (critical vitamins, minerals, and other trace nutrients), building (shelter), and safety (fighting off beasts or other humans who want to steal your resources or creating/sustaining fire) to overcome the challenges that probably would kill an individual acting alone.
Imagine for a minute that you are an ancient human trying to live alone in a world due to circumstances beyond your control. To do this, you must hunt, gather, build your own shelter, and protect yourself from all sorts of danger and challenges. You must also know how to heal yourself if you get hurt or become ill. Necessity will allow you to use your great mind to overcome some of the obstacles to survival. But, pretty much all your time and energy will be dedicated to surviving, leaving little time to imagine, much less build, a new and better way of living in the world.
But thankfully you are a modern human who is living in a modern world, so surviving is much easier. But it is also vastly more complicated. That is because our modern luxuries comes with a price, which necessitates that you put more of your individual consciousness into the ever-evolving more complicated collectives. There are many ways individual’s contribute their individual consciousness to the collective. One obvious way is by internalizing and abiding by the rules of the systems sustaining the collective (e.g., go to work, make money, spend money to employ other people who must go to work). Collective concentrations of consciousness are supposed to sustain the good of all people living inside of them. However, just as an individual can choose to use their consciousness for evil, so too can a collective.
It does not take many individuals who have bended and been broken by the lure of the Corruption to pollute a collective’s pool of consciousness. All human beings need to navigate the lure and pull of corrupting impulses, desires, yearnings, longings, and fancies that live inside our psyche. In Western civilization, these Corrupting forces are immortalized as the 7 Deadly Sins: pride (modern day manifestations is narcissism), greed, lust, envy, gluttony (hoarding more than you need, thus taking away things other people need to survive), wrath (a corruption of anger that turns it into an obsession to get even and punish anyone who wrongs you, even if the wrong you perceive is fantasy).
The United States of America right now is watching such forces play out in the second Impeachment of Trump. Here a prideful, wrath-filled, vengeful man along with his complicit and powerful, imaginative cronies (e.g., Steve Bannon, the Mercers, Rupert Murdoch, Stephen Miller, etc.) corrupted an entire political party. They managed to warp reality and get millions to believe it is real. It is a process of radicalization that has been going on for a long time. Donald Trump’s win of the 2016 election was a huge payoff for this steady and persistent warping of reality. Once he took power, an intense period of stepped-up deep radicalization transpired. It is a period that has played upon deep-seated fears mainly residing white people who fear losing their long-standing position of privilege.
Trump uses fear like a subtle knife (a reference to His Dark Materials) to cut an opening into the hearts and minds of ordinary men and women. He cuts deep with it going back to the rage and division of the 1850s, even further to the primitive foreboding fear of ‘the other’ who could be a raiding party coming to kill you. The House Impeachment Managers have laid out a damning case for how the former President seeded, cultivated, and grew an alternative reality resulting in a raging mob that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It was a moment of pure madness that caused the deaths of 7 people, injured 140 police officers (e.g., losing 3 fingers, the tip of his index finger, crushed discs, brain injuries, eye gouged out, one officer run through with a metal fence post, another suffering a heart attack after being stunned with his own stun gun), and damaged the Capitol building itself.
I suggest we are struggling through as a collective the Death of the Father. In this case, it is the Death of the Founding Fathers. All civilizations must grow their collective pool of consciousness through time just as individuals must grow their sphere of consciousness. Eventually, every civilization will grow beyond the boundaries of what their founding fathers envisioned. It is utterly natural to grow beyond the boundaries defined by the founding fathers. What set of humans being can see beyond their time, much less 200, 500, or 1,000 years into the future. A father wants his child to grow, just as the founding fathers want their nation to grow physically and psychologically.
As a civilization grows, it must redefine itself and reorganize according to what new knowledge has been learned. To do this well requires new men and women of great imagination and vision. People who can help the collective see far upon the horizon of time and help it adapt and change to new challenges coming at it that could crush it if it doesn’t evolve. When a civilization fails to grow and adapt, it begins to split and fracture because the Corrupting forces live inside all men and all women and it will seize control of the rudder of a civilization that is drifting due to the death of its founding fathers—a natural death because the collective (the civilization) has flourished under their vision and grown beyond it.
What Cain and Able Teaches Us about the Death of the Father in a Collective
The Cain and Abel is a story about the Death of the Father (in this case, it is an immortal father what has retired to the immortal realms of heaven). When a father leaves, a void is left behind that must be filled by a new leader (a new father).
“After God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, they joined together and Eve gave birth to Cain, who became a worker of the soil. And then to Abel, who grew up to be a shepherd of the flocks.
In time, Cain made an offering to the Lord of fruit from the ground. And Abel brought the firstborn of his flock with its fullness and fat. The Lord respected Abel’s gift, but had no regard for Cain’s. And Cain was angry, and his face fell. And the Lord said, “Why are you so upset? If you do well you will be accepted, but if you don’t do right, sin is waiting for you by your door. And sin will want you. But you can conquer it.”
One day, when the brothers were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel and killed him.”
We are indeed hearing about the first murder committed by the first mortals of the world after God banished his children from Eden for disobeying him. But we also are witnessing the rise of the new father of Western Civilization. Charles Johnson explains further:
“When he kills Abel, to me it’s not really about Abel. It’s about striking back at God. And think, for just a moment, because I think this is very interesting for a novelist, about the phenomenological, if you will, experience of envy. You know, what is that- who do you envy, really? It’s someone who must be enough like you with just a little bit of difference, right? You don’t envy somebody who’s totally different. You- you’re related. You have a relationship. Maybe you’re in the same profession? Right? I’m not going to envy a doctor. I’m gonna envy Oscar Hijuelos (LAUGHTER), as a novelist or John Barth. And the question is, why? Why is their offering, which is their self, received so fully and mine not? So, the envy’s gonna be really tremendous. Because there’s this relationship, I really think, between self and other. It’s almost like a doubling. Almost like a twin.”
And yet, your- equality is not in the world. It’s something that we have to accept, you know, whether we like it or not. So that the only thing he can do is eliminate him. But by eliminating him, he gets rid of his better possibilities.”
It occurred to me after publishing this post there is a modern retelling of the succession aspect of the Cain and Able tale. It is an HBO mini series titled Succession, which is a brilliant retelling of the somewhat good son and the somewhat foolish and ruined son lining up to succeed their aging dad who has amassed an international corporate empire. This modern tale adds an important upgrade by throwing in the beautiful, accomplished, and somewhat dangerous daughter who is also standing in line to take over this modern empire that has the power to amass an army to sow ignorance, division, and confusion around the world–which of course benefits the empire. It is a brilliant telling of how these ancient archetypes have evolved in the human mind and an insightful telling of how power is wielded in the modern world.
Splitting the Father in Half & the Fight for Control
Circling back to what Charles Johnson said above about Cain and Able, this sounds strikingly similar to what is going on in the United States of America presently, doesn’t it? In this case, Trump was getting rid of his better possibility by demonizing it, denying it, and creating an alternative reality that he served to this followers to drink to the dregs. The drink was spiked with the Big Lie he had carefully concocted and designed to pick at and incite his followers deepest fears, darkest biases (among them a deep belief that white people deserve all the power), and worst impulses as human beings.
I believe worldwide we are fighting over our founding fathers. We have been splitting them in half. This splitting was done by the people the fathers once ruled with wisdom, truth, compassion, and justice. Once the fathers have been split, the people war between themselves for which father will rule—the Benevolent Father or the Malevolent Father? Both father images have powerful appeal to the people. However, the choice is an illusion because the one Father consist of both benevolent and malevolent potentials. A wise father knows this and knows how to balance these forces inside himself. A foolish, stupid father has no such awareness and lets his basal instincts (i.e., primeval, animalistic, self-serving, or ignoble motivations) rule him (like Trump has done and has managed to skillfully impart these same unconscious impulses to his base of followers).
The Human World Struggles to Grow Consciously As Collectives
The US is not alone in this struggle between the good and gentle brother (who stands in line to replace the father) and the dirty and angry brother (who also stands in line to replace the retiring father). Note the dirty, angry brother is only so because he works in the field, he grows the food from the soil. Perhaps God himself played on this brother’s feeling of inadequacy by having no regard for his gifts from the land that he, Cain, had brought as an offering. Perhaps that was a test. If it was, it was a cruel test showing God’s potential to be both good and bad at the same time.
There are many examples around world of cultures, nations struggling through this succession according to their own cultural and historical origins. Where a splitting of the father has occurred within the collective body of the people, an eruption of chaos is unfolding with deadly consequences. I heard Adam Curtis interviewed on the BBC yesterday. He has been tracing these struggles and how they have been playing out around world in a provocative new series entitled: I Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World.
Adam is right to embark on this journey and to bring this knowledge back to us through this novel series embedded with deep insights needed now for we are in an existential crisis for for which father will rule. Lincoln said as much 150+ years ago in his House Divided speech: “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” (…) “It will become all one thing or all the other.” In other words, either Cain will prevail or Able will prevail, but one will kill the other. CNN is about to air a new series Divided We Stand about Lincoln and this time of crisis.
Individual Death of a Father
My own experience of losing my father was devasting. It flung me into an existential crisis that set me on a journey I scarcely understood. As I tried to survive this crisis, it felt like I was floating on an endless sea. Most of the time, I was utterly alone.
I was still on this endless sea when 2020 arrived, but I knew how to float and I actually felt more understood and less alone. But floating in uncertainty and limbo is exhausting and my last routines of relief had taken away with the arrival of COVID-19. So, I had to find new ways to hold onto hope. I began making documentaries of moments of beauty encountered during bike rides in 2020.
Moments of Insight & Healing in the Wake of Death
In Blue So Deep— Pulling Back My Power, I document a day when I understood how I have been losing essential inner energy by projecting parts of myself onto others. The previous year, I recognized the bad parts of myself I was projecting onto others and because of this, I was losing energy. I pulled them back. I began to heal. By making these videos I started recognizing how I was projecting good parts of myself onto other (e.g., the deep thinker, the doer, the seer, the dreamer, the successful one, the popular one). I realized I needed these parts back in order to survive on the sea that I still am adrift on more than 2 years later after losing my father.
I also saw this picture and a contest to caption it.
To my great surprise I won the contest!
Through this picture, I realized how my father had protected me from the brutal barbs of reality. I realized how he was my shield against the steady bards of what have become cruel systems and ways of being in the world. In the wake of his death, I was left completely exposed to the brutality of all the barbs being sent my way. I had not realized how dad protected me simply by being there to listen to my woes and understand me without judgement and offering only love and compassion. There are many reasons why we are cruel to each other, we envy what another has, we lust to have more than we deserve, but the most common reason is fear.
Why Fear Can Incite Us to be Cruel to Each Other
We fear each other because we have lost part of ourselves to “the other”. We do this by projecting some part of ourselves that is remains in the darkness of our unconsciousness. People do this all the time. It is a natural psychological process that helps us see, know, understand more of who we are in the moment of recognition: “Oh – that is me!”
In that moment of recognition, we grow as a conscious being because we are empowered to pull back the projection temporarily lost to the other. This natural psychology process becomes pathological when we fail to recognize our projections and pull them back, thereby failing to grow. We can only become whole by knowing more about who we are and what we are capable of doing—both good and bad.
A psyche trapped within chunky, inflexible, lopsided belief systems can become quite grumpy. It is also very vulnerable to demigods and other master manipulators who want to co-opt their consciousness and their bodies to do bad things in the world. Trapped psyches can quite easily blow up into a terrifying one-eyed psychic monster capable of getting the people co-opted into the beast to do savage, ferocious, barbaric acts of destruction. It is bad enough when this happens inside an individual. When a bunch of people have been synchronized to such a beast, it is a catastrophe.
I will tell more in upcoming blogs how I managed to recognize and pull back my projections as I floated on my Sea of Sorrow. I tell my story in case it offers hope to anyone else finding themselves on such a sea of misery and misfortune.
Bell: Who are we unifying with? We are not unifying with Black and Brown people who cannot get away with anything in this system. Black and Brown people get beaten and killed for doing Nothing. They get executed by the state for Nothing. Today we have 2 Senators who participated and helped to incite the insurrection, and all we are talking about is Unity. Democracy is not about Unity; it is about who has more votes! The White Privilege is mad about its slipping power and privilege. Bell tells about a real estate woman who went to the Insurrection like it was a Super Bowel Game and while attacking the Capitol promoted her real estate business, then back in Texas, asked Trump for a pardon. If it had been Black and Brown people descending on the Capitol, it would have been a massacre.
Kondabolu: Voting should be about values not team. I have a baby and I have to have hope because I have a baby who hasn’t even had ice cream yet… I’m not ready to go down with the ship.
My friend Fabian Navin shared this post the other day that is very appropriate to how an individual participates in the collective consciousness of his or her society and the toll it can take on the individual psyche… there is an invisible price of belonging to collectives:
“The spontaneous painting I began to do helped me not only to discover my personal story, but also to free myself from the intellectual constraints and concepts of my upbringing and my professional training, which I now recognized to be false, deceptive, and disastrous in its impact. The more I learned to follow my impulses in a playful way with colors and forms, the weaker became my allegiance to conventions of an aesthetic or any other nature. I did not want to paint beautiful pictures; it was not even my goal to paint good pictures. All I wanted was to help the truth to break through. In this way, when I finally confronted my own truth and was strengthened by it, I found the courage to see with ever-growing clarity how the conventional methods of psychoanalysis block the creativity of patients as well as analysts.” ~Alice Miller (in the Preface to the 1990 edition of “The Drama of the Gifted Child”)
See this previous post on moving through moments of adversity with wisdom.
See also it Feeds on Fear and Sadness for the psychological complex known as Death of the Father.
Previous Post: Storytelling Species Series (Part 2)
“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.
* * *
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? 😉
* * *
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.
Synchronistic stories are like bread crumbs I like to gather for a rainy day when I can ponder them more deeply and seek out the connections (to me, to others, to the moment). They are stories or conversations that have gotten me thinking about things beyond what I would normally ponder in the business of surviving another day. During these extraordinarily abnormal times, synchronistic stories are especially good to contemplate. Who knows, perhaps they hold the key to a new idea, an insight, or understanding how to move forward in a difficult moment. Here are a few more stories that got me thinking about how having a boring life isn’t so bad…if fact, highly desirable.
“Writing Forces You to Think Through Things” — Now is a Good Time to Think Things Through
“Young people often have this desire to try to make their life interesting,” says actor, author, and director Ethan Hawke. “Life is so interesting all by itself. You do not have to try to goose life.” He’s pictured above in Paris on Nov. 25, 2019.
Words of Advice
While on book tour in Berlin, Hawke met a German editor who gave him some advice: “He said, ‘The problem is you’re having the same dilemma that famous writers have at the end of their career … You are not a famous writer — you are a famous person who’s writing.’ “
The editor suggested he just embrace it. “He advised me on my next novel not to run away from it, but to run into it … and then, of course, it took me 20 years to do it.”
On why he framed the story around Shakespeare’s Henry IV, a play he performed in 2003
I started trying to do King Lear, but I’ve never performed King Lear, and I realized that I just wasn’t intimate enough with the play and that the play’s themes didn’t speak to my themes that I wanted to write about. You know, Henry IV probably explores fathers and sons and masculinity and the attempt to arrive at some kind of, quote unquote, manhood or adulthood about as well as literature can do. And that was what my story was.
So I kept kind of coming back to Hotspur. One of my favorite things about acting is seeing yourself as your character’s lawyer and defending his position. And in the novel, I have this sense that William is trying to prove to himself — that he’s the good guy and he’s trying to do the same thing for his character and there’s something kind of wonderful about that realization.
On revisiting a difficult time in his life – he was performing in Henry IV around the time his marriage to Uma Thurman ended
I had a lot of growing up to do, and one of the things that I really love about writing is it forces you to think through things, and think through situations, and create a fictional universe where you can see things that maybe you can’t see inside your own life. That’s what the title is about, you know, “a bright ray of darkness” is the unity of opposites, so to speak, that we learn by suffering.
On the complex relationship between celebrities and their fans
I’ve spent so much time thinking about this because I experienced celebrity young. I’ve had a desire to break that glass wall. … When I look at Michael Jackson, or Elvis, or any of these people who have reached extreme celebrity, it’s like they’re in some isolation tank and they’re just going mad. And we’re watching them, kind of loving watching them die.
When everyone else is staring at you, it’s hard not to start staring at yourself like them. You start to see yourself in third person. You start to be writing the narrative of your life and it’s just a toxic way of thinking.
And yet, it’s fun to sell out a theater. It’s fun to get a standing ovation. It’s fun to move people and have them tell you they were moved. So the positives are this huge high and the negatives are just people chopping at your ankles. It’s been very confusing throughout my life.
Danny Hensel and D. Parvaz produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Beth Novey adapted it for the Web.
Threads from Facebook – Weaving Stories Together to Understand Things
I shared this post on January 27, 2021 in one of the last remaining groups I belong on Facebook, adding the following comment:
Truth… wisdom… bearing witness to the world as it is… does this what the image conveys… perhaps… I am getting attacked right now for making an artistic, celebratory video on the inauguration of Biden and Harris… someone asking where are the fact checkers… (perhaps they meant to say where are the fantasy checkers?).
I suspect he was referring to the stories that inspired the raid and sacking of the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021. It was an insurrection inspired by lies, misinformation, and fantasy. An alternative world created by alternative facts that compelled people to believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and then it didn’t take much to poke at this fantasy and pop the mind bubbles making them burst into a deadly reality. How much of our human world is shaped by fantasy and by beliefs that we’ve ceased to examine critically by using all our human faculties of thinking, feelings, sensation, and intuition?
These things (beliefs, story, fantasy) become shortcuts we hold inside our mind to explain reality. So cherished they can become, we can be inspired to act on our short cuts for reality. If they are lopsided and out of whack with reality, bad things tend to befall all humans involved. This is the danger of creating alternative worlds inside our minds that become more precious to us than the world we share with each other.
The only antidote is to grow your mind, your light of consciousness by using all your conscious abilities: critical thought, feeling, sensation, intuition.
The original post came from: Chaim Mendel * January 25 at 7:00 PM * If there were one philosophical truth that you could teach everyone in the world, what would it be? What is the most interesting philosophical question?
An Online Conversation
The following conversation ensued. It is a story. But it takes an open mind to explore and unlock the possibilities explored.
That’s what we are here to help each other do—unlock our inner possibilities.
All of us have infinite inner possibilities, but we must squeeze them out one at a time as we travel through space and time.
Being an ancient species and new species at the same time, we confront many paradoxes, obstacles, and challenges as we try to remember who we are and what we are here to do.
Many tools of insight and understanding have been developed by every people and all civilizations to help people find, cultivate, and grow their inner power. Most are cloaked in mystery and numinosity. Most have been lost to modern man.
This conversation explores the wisdom of the Tarot and traces its deep, enigmatic roots.
I’ll have to look that image up on Google I guess because I have no idea what it means other than cross daggers in the wheel of progress.
Not exactly sure, but the nine swords are symbolic.
Occultism … And perhaps a progression of the (still alive) nine swords meme tarot card (fantasy stories)
Auntyflo says about the Nine of Swords: “When the Nine of Swords becomes present in your reading there is an experience in your life that you are going to need to analyze very carefully.
Focus on your priorities and keep moving. This card is representative of ill tidings coming your way. Sometimes life throws us curveballs that exist for the purpose of giving us the experience of working through the problems that they create and this is the case for you at this time. Often this card is depicting some kind of loss that has thrown you completely off of your normal routine.
The image that is depicted in the Rider-Waite deck shows a woman waking up in the dead of night in despair. Her head is in her hands and there are nine heavy swords hanging over her head. This is symbolic of loss, suffering and sometimes misery or oppression. This card could be symbolic of a loss of a loved one either in an end in a relationship or a death. When you have gotten this card in your reading you will need to take a step back emotionally and take a look at your situations as they currently are.
If you are experiencing this level of loss and you are right in the middle of grieving this could be hard to do. But this card tells you that it is important for you to keep focused on your end goal primarily because for one thing it will help with your grief and for another you will find that even though this is a difficult time, much growth will come as a result of you having the strength to keep on moving. You will definitely need to prioritize because you will not be able to take on very much right now, so what you do take on needs to be gentle and easy for you to handle. When you prioritize then you are giving the pain something positive to transform into, and often times pain and suffering can be excellent motivations. You need a distraction that will help you get through your grief. Immerse yourself totally and trust that you know what you need to do to succeed. At this point, the higher mind can take the wheel, and you should allow it to. Healing is found when one connects to their higher source energy.
Right now the combination that can be found in Knowledge and in Wisdom should be treated as interrelated. You cannot carry out a responsibility without the knowledge necessary to do so and you can’t be truly informed or knowledgeable on anything without the assistance of responsibility. There is a copasetic relationship here that cannot be denied. At this point in the Suit of Swords, you must take the responsibility inherent in the Knowledge that is at your fingertips so that you might get through this devastating time unscathed.
The time to fine-tune your personal philosophy and set goals for this lifetime is now. Even though it may be difficult to do so, there is nothing healthier for you at this time then to focus on improving yourself in life. Take the time now to consider how you are putting yourself down and being counterproductive, what is causing you suffering at this time? What is causing you to be depressed?
During this time of COVID-19, we are all experiencing deep loss and most probably depression at some level. Go to Auntyflo to read more of this ancient wisdom contained within the cards of the tarot. She explores The Nine of Swords in Love,The Nine Of Swords As Feelings, The Nine of Swords in Health, The Nine of Swords in Work and Wealth, Nine of Swords Advice,Nine of Swords Outcome, and Reversed Meaning – Nine Of Swords (this is like Runes of Ancient Nordic cultures. I was writing about runes and reversed meaning at the time my father died two years ago.)
Note : I am an atheist, but the card is interesting indeed: “If there were one philosophical truth that you could teach everyone in the world, what would it be? “
Summarize Philosophy to One Truth
The Desiderata seems to find a balance with metaphysical Naturalism … Humanism … Desiderata (things that are desired)
GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
This is such deep, beautiful wisdom. Sage advice for how to live a boring but deeply meaningful, productive, shining life. I told Colin this was gold. I never heard of it before. Thanks to Colin digging deeper, my post (which I had not thought very deeply about) suddenly went much deeper into a vein of wisdom I would have missed had Colin not paid attention and contributed this work above.
Tarot Cards, Major Arcana & the Kabbalah
Then, Barry Kort continued the dive, going further back in time and space.
The Tarot Deck (especially the Major Arcana) come from the Kabbalah. Originally the 22 cards of the Major Arcana were illustrations of 22 passages in a generic life story. I’m not sure of this, but I think Colin’s version of a life story is what he calls a Journey Map.
A 20th Century secular version of a generic life story would be found in “Passages” by Gail Sheehy.
By Journey Map or Quest Map is for a specific journey of one endeavor. I will be explaining the various “maps” in the next while. Defiantly cognitive sense-making tool. Not a solution to life, that is 42. (22 for Dave M)
Thanks for your interest.
There are many variations on illustrations for passages in a Life’s Journey. Here, for example, is a kit of cutout illustrations for “Life’s a Journey.”
Here is an artisan in Italy who makes custom Tarot Cards for any passage in a Life Journey.
By the way, ‘Tarot’ is ‘Torat‘ spelled backwards.
In Hebrew, ‘Torah‘ and ‘Torat‘ are the same word, meaning ‘Theory‘ or ‘Science‘.
If you want to say, “Epistemology” in Hebrew, you say, “Torat Emet” (literally the Science or Theory of Truth).
The reason for adding the consonant is so one can understand two successive words where the first word ends in a vowel and the second word begins in a vowel. So you don’t say “Torah Emet” because it would sound like “Toramet.” Adding the extra ‘t’ helps separate the two words when they are spoken aloud.
So don’t be tormented by “Torah Emet” but say “Torat Emet” to mean Epistemology — the Science or Theory of Truth.
The Fool’s Journey
The totality of a generic life journey is known in the lore of the Kabbalah as “The Fool’s Journey” and it’s illustrated by the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.
The totality of a generic life journey is known in the lore of the Kabbalah as “The Fool’s Journey” and it’s illustrated by the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.
«The Fool’s Journey is a metaphor for the journey through life. Each major arcana card stands for a stage on that journey — an experience that a person must incorporate to realize his wholeness. These 22 descriptions are based on the keywords for each major arcana card.»
“We begin with the Fool (0), a card of beginnings. The Fool stands for each of us as we begin our journey of life. He is a fool because only a simple soul has the innocent faith to undertake such a journey with all its hazards and pain.
At the start of his trip, the Fool is a newborn – fresh, open and spontaneous. The figure on Card 0 has his arms flung wide, and his head held high. He is ready to embrace whatever comes his way, but he is also oblivious to the cliff edge he is about to cross. The Fool is unaware of the hardships he will face as he ventures out to learn the lessons of the world.
The Fool stands somewhat outside the rest of the major arcana. Zero is an unusual number. It rests in the exact middle of the number system – poised between the positive and negative. At birth, the Fool is set in the middle of his own individual universe. He is strangely empty (as is zero), but imbued with a desire to go forth and learn. This undertaking would seem to be folly, but is it?“
The Nine of Swords
Barry Kort relays: «When the Nine of Swords becomes present in your reading there is an experience in your life that you are going to need to analyze very carefully.
Focus on your priorities and keep moving.
Sometimes life throws us curveballs that exist for the purpose of giving us the experience of working through the problems that they create. Often this passage is depicting some kind of loss that has thrown you completely off of your normal routine.
The image that is depicted in the Rider-Waite version of the Tarot Deck shows a woman waking up in the dead of night in despair. Her head is in her hands and there are nine heavy swords hanging over her head. This is symbolic of loss, suffering and sometimes misery or oppression. This card could be symbolic of a loss of a loved one either in an end in a relationship or a death.
This passage tells you that it is important for you to keep focused on your end goal because for one thing it will help with your grief and for another you will find that even though this is a difficult time, much growth will come as a result of you having the strength to keep on moving.»
How to Grow Your Mind Space: N.E.M.E. — Notice | Engage | Mull | Exchange
It is altogether fitting and significant that this thread is an instance of “N.E.M.E.” ~ Notice / Engage / Mull / Exchange.
Just as in “The Grapes of Wrath,” we’re all fermenting the same w(h)ine, but affixing different labels to the bottle.
Have to take a side note here: The Whiniest Heroes In Movie History (whiners might just play a critical role for humanity)
He’s ranked #10, but I like the picture.
Whiniest Quote: “It just isn’t fair! I’m never gonna get out of here!”
Though Luke grows into one of the greatest heroes in the galaxy, he begins his days as a rather angsty, reluctant teen. His journey is a rough one and he is rarely afraid to let those around him know it. His list of complaints is so long that whole compilations have been made that show off his whiniest moments.
The 22 Cards of the Major Arcana are similarly numbered by the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.
Each card of the Major Arcana corresponds to a major passage in the life of a typical person on a typical Life Journey.
The remaining numbered cards within each of the four suits of the Minor Arcana — Swords, Pentacles, Wands, and Cups — correspond to specific Cognitive-Emotive States that a person may find themselves in somewhere in the midst of any given Life Passage in their Life Journey.
Re the unknown symbolic card deck, they were beautifully drawn, and it might not have been Tammy.
I remember the ‘alphabet code’ and thought it was an interesting creative tool for idea catalysts.
Let me see if my link still works to the article Tammy wrote.
Lovely Virtual Conversations — The New Collective Way of Sharing Time
Barry Kort shared two lovely interviews (and you can find a third at The Wisdom Factory) related to this conversation, but also uniquely different.
I really liked Heidi we had some fun talking and we had a little bit of a dispute going with our takes on Jordan Peterson although I agree with a lot of what Jordan Peterson’s academic work. At least I think I do.
One thing to note about Heidi is that she always had a hard time understanding Doug because he would use such flowery language and go on and on and she would try to get him to get to the point or explain it in a way somebody could understand/I don’t have a hard time understanding Doug for the most part although I do think he stays at a high level where more concreteness could help with verifying understanding.
We did several shows on the alphabet code hopefully I’ll have my query database running soon.
I’m starting to become more of a video producer than programmer and plus I got several other things on the go like this guy who’s giving me a lot of grief in a difficult conversation coexistence group I’m in.
Around the world, people are grappling with the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do our minds process that risk, and why do some of us process it so differently? This week, we talk with psychologist Paul Slovic about the disconnect between our own assessments of risk and the dangers we face in our everyday lives.
Shankar Vedantam says, “Our feelings are shaped by stories, images, and the people we are with. (…) Our sense of control determines our sense of risk. Take for example calculating our sense of contracting and getting COVID-19. We perceive that we have greater control going to a restaurant and thus might believe we have less of a risk getting COVID there while we perceive less control of making the vaccine and thus perceive this as more dangerous to us.”
Psychologist Paul Slovic says, “The modern world has a whole range of dangers much different than the world in which our brains evolved, which were inside hominoids who were living in caves. (…) There is no gatekeeper in our brains that vet feelings. This was very adaptive a long time ago helping humans survive by accessing their instincts at a moment’s notice (e.g., hearing growl in the grass). There was no time then to analyze every possibility. But our feelings do hijack the mind and this can be dangerous in our complicated modern lives that have Collective Consequences that are very different than Stone Age Consequences. (…) Take example wearing a mask to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID. We don’t see the consequences of taking such a collective action right before our eyes, and thus may underestimate the harm of not wearing a mask to ourself and others. If we then choose to not wear a mask, the virus wins and spreads and mutates. But, if we wear a mask and pay attention over time to the results of lots of people also wearing masks, we see the collective benefit and reduction of the spread of COVID-19. But many people don’t connect long-term results with short-term sacrifices, and thus continue taking wrong action. This is the same phenomena playing out in taking right action to reduce the harmful effects of the coming massive, global climate change.”
This podcast is profound because to explores how our feelings shape our actions in the world. Often they do so in ways we are very unconscious of, but they do so in ways that have huge impacts on our shared reality.
Psychologist Paul Slovic says, “We tend to help others because we feel good when we can do something that makes a difference. But when we realize there are others who we cannot help, then bad feelings enter our minds and this dampens our empathy capacity and lessens our action to do something. This is crazy because we should do what we can where we are at with what we have.” For more, see Arithmetic of Compassion.
And BEWARE how Save the Children has been coopted by QAnon to hook people into crazy beliefs. More about this soon in The Story of Q.
“It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles
Part 2 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
The Sea of Misery: What Have We Done As Country…As A People?
In Part 1 of this blog series, I wrote: “As the global pandemic made its watery march around the world, I began to see stories shared by people I thought I knew that shocked me. Most barely clung to reality. Rather they floated in the air like blithe, colorful bubbles reflecting what was happening, but with a strange, surreal spin to it. Given the freakish, unearthly nature of these stories, most would pop upon encountering the first Blades ofReality growing out into the Sea of Being that we all live within and must comply to basic cause and effect realities. When this happens, then fate will run its course drawing momentum and energy from the psychic contents spilling out.”
While I wrote these words, a pro-Trump mob was descending on the Capitol of the United States. Thousands of people participated in the insurrection. It was a savage siege. One fatten up on lies and misinformation designed to trigger and incite the submerged psychic energies of the deep currents of White Supremacy that runs through our country. The President and his power-hungry cronies breathed new life into this diabolical narrative. They proved adept in using symbols and images to inspire and consolidate lots of fringe groups who are nursing their hate in chat rooms and shooting ranges. What Trump did is no small feat. He provided a center of gravity for all these fragmented groups to orbit around and synchronize their hate.
Once uniting all these discombobulated groups, Trump pulled them tighter into his circles of lies crafted to create even more mistrust, fear, and hate. His revolting bitterness fermented and grew even more toxic in groups such as QAnon (a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against U.S. president Donald Trump, who is fighting the cabal), Proud Boys (a group who refers to themselves as God’s warriors), the boogaloo movement (a loosely organized far-right, anti-government, and extremist political movement in the United States), the Three Percenters (re an American and Canadian militia movement & paramilitary group described as having right-libertarian and far-right ideology), and many more descended on the Capitol.
Warner Leger of the Anti-defamation League warns throughout 2021 there will continue to be flash points like we saw on the 6th.
FBI Warns Of Extremist Violence Ahead Of Inauguration— January 14, 2021 — Former FBI special agent and domestic terrorism expert Michael German joins Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd to discuss security concerns following last week’s deadly breach of the U.S Capitol. “Law enforcement has so long turned its gaze away from these far-right groups, they don’t really know what’s going on.” “What shocks me that this has been a patterned for a number of years—Portland, OR and Michigan.” “In this group, people were trained by the US military.”
So irresistible was Trump’s Monkeyshine for the Mind, violent chatter continues although they are scrambling for platforms that will tolerate their hate. In short, Trump and his minions have turned Washington, DC into a war zone just before the inauguration of Biden and Harris.
How do so many people get hoodwink into believing and then acting on an alternative reality?
With participants such as Jacob Chansley (who is known as the QAnon’s Shaman), I was very tempted to write the whole thing off as a dreadful and misguided fantasy.
But then, someone called my lived experience a fantasy.
Narratives, fantasy, and imagination have always served as powerful tools for humans to mold and shape reality in accordance to their deepest desires and benefit. When thousands of people storm the US Capitol with some willing to commit murder or die, there is something deadly real going on, even inside a fantasy story chock full of lies.
Narratives, Fantasy, Lies & The Rise of Western Civilization
Narratives, fantasy, and imagination are used by storytellers to create mind nets that are cast into the depths of the individual and collective human consciousness. They are especially effective in the unconscious realms of the human mind. Without myth, fantasy, or sacred symbols, human beings would probably sink back into the Sea of Unconsciousness from which we emerged long ago, becoming ignorant beings again who are guided by nothing more than animal instincts. The magical Alchemy of Mind that man can do is because he is conscious. It allows human beings to make their inner reality an outer reality. It is a power that has defined the Rise and Fall of great civilizations for time immemorial.
Western Civilization evolved much like any other civilization, though it developed a distinct appetite for gobbling up other groups of people by conquering them. Throughout time, the winners of such conflicts are able to consolidate even more power and gain more resources (often more than they need) along with obtaining the right to write the history of how they came to be the superior human beings. Such historical narratives are not really about the past, but rather they are meant to set the Stage of Mind for the living members inside the group (aka Western Civilization) to inspire them to move forward together in a specific pattern. In the case of being a conquering people, the narrative is intended to inspire the belief that they are the glorious, chosen people bestowed with the manifest power to conquer and control other people. The sole purpose of this collective belief is to grow even stronger and to become even more powerful.
Myth, fantasy, and fibshave always served as cornerstones for just about every group of people who have ever aspired to be something greater than they were. Indeed, myth, fantasy, and fibs have proved to be essential tools of the mind needed to consolidate the psychic energy of individuals who are needed to conduct the desired action. Civilizations are nothing more than a bunch of human actors performing in such a way necessary to build the desired empire (in other words, they are following the scriptand playing their roles). Such narratives are imbued with the numinous power of myth and legend. The greatest empires that have ever existed in Western Civilization have attained their greatness by drawing from this dark, mysterious, deep well that lives inside every human being. It is a well that extends all the way down to an inner sea, a collective sea, that is constantly flowing and constantly influencing human reality.
Great storytellers know how to use narratives like nets cast into this inner sea, the Sea of Unconsciousness. They fish for forgotten fantasies, desires, and lost energies that are lying below the Threshold of Consciousness. This threshold is the demarcation line between animal instinct and human knowledge. The knowledge is that using the light of consciousness, man can see his primal instincts rising and can manipulate them before acting in the world. If unconscious content gets caught in the narrative net, then an individual is vulnerable to the numinosity of the narrative. The most dangerous narrative nets use myth, fantasies, and lies to manipulate and control the minds of the individuals who get caught inside the mind net. Individuals with unconscious content caught inside these nets can become part of the narrative–parroting out the lies, myths, and stories of the ones who are casting the net to control others. In effect, they grow the net, adding their individual psychic energy to the numinosity of the narrative. The bigger the narrative net grows and the more numinous it becomes, the more people are drawn and caught inside the net. Highly numinous narrative net grow a psychic gravitational field that attracts even more people to it.
When this happens an alternative reality bubble is born.
Alternative Reality Bubbles
As long as an alternative reality bubble keeps growing, it tends to remain stable. But sometimes they veer too far from the stable, solid ground of reality. When this happens, such a bubble can pop suddenly and dramatically dropping all the mental constructs and numinous content back into the Sea of Unconsciousness. This can be a terrifying experience because suddenly all the ideas and beliefs that have been constructed around the ego to make oneself feel safe, important, and powerful are shattered. The first pieces of the ego’s outer protective shell to fall are from the false narrative that have been incorporated into the individual’s psyche–this is how an individual merges into a collective. It is a powerful feeling because they feel bigger and greater than they did as an individaul. Stripped from their shell, it can be an experience akin to being casted upon a great and endless sea without a boat to float upon. The boat in this case are the ideas and beliefs that make the individual feel they have a sense of purpose, feel secure, feel part of something bigger than himself, feel powerful.
Alone and without a Boat of Self to float upon, the Sea of Unconsciousness can invoke a primal fear (the kind our ancient ancestors probably felt just before being devoured by a more powerful beast). Such fear is dangerous, especially when felt by a living being that has attained consciousness for now they can manipulate this fear, warping it into an energy that is capable of dreadful, desperate, menacing action in the world. The most dangerous aspect of this state of being is that an individual often does not recognize the threat is rising from inside themself. Not recognizing this, they turn their murderous rage at anyone standing near. The ‘other‘ becomes the scapegoat—the cause of all the misfortune being suffered by the individual or the group. In the end, everyone suffers from this type of circular thinking and circular action architected by the creators of manipulative myths, fantasy, and lies. These stories are carefully crafted to siphon off some of an individual’s Field of Consciousness and submerge the rest. This is how an individual’s personal psychic energy is contributed to a collective fantasy or belief, thereby growing it. Narrative nets such as these often lead to conflict, bloodshed, and war. The only antidote to this mind disease is to grow one’s individual Field of Consciousness.
You think I am exaggerating again, don’t you?
I understand your mistrust. I have come to understand through my own personal adversity how we have been taught to mistrust the deepest parts of who we are as human beings–the hidden parts, the invisible parts, the inner parts of ourselves. This is where our mythical, fantastical, divine and demonic parts of being human reside and live. This is why we need stories…why we are driven to tell and share stories. They help us understand who we are, where we are, what we are as a conscious living being existing in space and time. It is an awesome ability that comes with an implicit responsibility to self and other. We are responsible for each other’s realities and wellbeing.
Before you past judgement or read further, take a break and listen to this episode that aired on Snap Judgement on January 21, 2021. It is a deep dive into an apocalyptic cult that claimed the lives of 39 individuals in the late 90s.
Apocalyptic cults are not new. In fact, Snap Judgement’s host Glynn Washington grew up in an apocalyptic cult. He recounts in this episode the day the 39 individuals were found dead with purple shrouds put over everyone expect the last 2 people to die…meaning they took their lives in waves over a long period of time. Washington remembers everyone in the bar where he was when the news broke stopping and watching in disbelief for a minute until shaking their heads and writing the whole thing off as fanatical individuals duped into death by a fantasy. Once writing out off the tragedy as a bunch of crazies, everyone went back to what they were doing. But not Washington. He knew how close he himself came to the same fate in apocalyptic cult he grew up in and he understood how close to this edge every human being exists.
This is a podcast well worth listening to. Washington says so poignantly, “Story is the closest way of touching someone else’s divine.” Without story, we are locked out of our own divinity…our own soul. We need stories. We need to tell our story. And, we need to hear other people’s stories. This is how we know what we know. This is how we create reality.
In 1997, thirty-nine people took their own lives in an apparent mass suicide. The events captivated the media and had people across the planet asking the same question… ‘Why?’ 20 years later, those who lost loved ones and those who still believe – tell their story.
Snap Judgment presents a special spotlight on Heaven’s Gate. Find out the story behind the cult that changed the world.
I cannot talk for someone else’s experience on the Sea of Unconsciousness. I can only talk about my own experience of finding myself on this endless, hopeless inner sea. I did not intend to write about the collective experience of being cast upon the Sea of Unconsciousness when I began this series, but the events of Jan 6, 2021 compelled me to mention how our collective narratives can infiltrate our minds, seep into our thoughts, and dictate our actions. Once inside the mind, they go to work creating alternative reality bubbles.
At first these narrative feel and seem like a Godsend, the answer to the hardships and difficulties being experienced. These manipulative narratives offer explanations and answers. These stories make an individual feel that they know something everyone else remains ignorant about and this makes a person feel powerful.
When you find yourself floating on the Sea of Unconsciousness because of bad luck and misfortune such a story is very appealing. But the story is made of the sugary content of lies and misinformation, it can be a very dangerous story to cling to. The question for the United States of America now is will we rise together as a united people determined to mend the rips, lacerations, and gashes that have been made in our collective fabric of life in a democracy? Or will we let our differences, fears, and mistrust (aka mislead instincts) let us tear us apart?
I do not know.
I can only tell you how I learned to pull my inner energy back inside myself so I could float and survive another day on this hopeless, miserable sea of misfortune. All of us end up here at one time or another because no one is spared from fate.
To me, fate is a coming together of one’s own unconsciousness with the unconsciousness of others in such a way that things previously believed to be safe and normal are no longer effective at keeping you and others safe. Normality gets flipped upside down. The arrival of COVID-19 is an example of such a time, but just about any reversal or set of misfortunes can pop one’s Reality Bubble. When this happens, you get dropped on the Sea of Unconsciousness, which can often feels like the Sea of Misery because nothing feels or works normally anymore. Depending on how much of one’s self is submerged below the Threshold of Consciousness determines how well you can navigate in the new reality and how fast you can build a new boat or better Reality Bubble.
I’ve been floating on this sea for some time. For me and my family, the growing currents of misfortune began in 2015 when my husband was targeted by cruel co-workers who were eyeing his small department’s budget for their own purposes. The fateful currents of misfortune continued in 2016 when I was targeted in a massive layoff made necessary due to an ill-conceived decision by the CEO to compete with a collaborating company. I was told I would lose my job 12 days before Christmas.
The Fates of Misfortune double down on us in 2017.
Perhaps the cruelest moment of misfortune was when the CEO of the low-paying job I had to take after being thrown overboard the corporate ship fired me for being with my dad as he struggled for his life in the ICU at the Mayo Clinic. He had experienced a massive heart attack. Against all odds, heroic first responders revived him. And then valiant efforts of doctors, nurses, and aids at the Mayo Clinic almost brought him all the way back. I’ve written about this and what happened before, so will not elaborate now.
This is when I let go and fell into the Sea of Misfortune &Despair. I did not let go because my father died. I let go due to the cruelty of others…due to calculated callousness I had been experiencing before dad died, and then even more, after dad died.
Looking back, I can see how my father’s death acted like a lightning rod or the gunpowder of transformation that woke me (violently) to my role and responsibility to Bear Accurate Witness to my reality. It is something I have been doing my entire life, but did not realize it.
In the System of Consciousness we are born into as citizens of modern Western culture, those born into privileged classes or strata of people are taught not to notice or see the inequalities, imbalances, polarities, and unfairness that are baked into the system. Things that determine what a person can do, where they can live, how far they can advance in their career–things that determine how well a person can survive inside the collective system of being in the world. This is not true of individuals who are forced to survive at the bottom of the system. They see the inequalities because not seeing them can mean the difference between life or death.
Our modern System of Consciousness has been constructed to steal the blessings and resources meant for everyone living inside the system and redirect it unto a few. Most of the civilizations that modern man exists inside is like the lottery–everyone buys into the belief that anyone can make to the very top if they just work hard enough and long enough. The truth is, which is the reality of the system, is that making it to the very top of the system is very rare. Most modern Western systems purposefully deprive people of what they need to live so that a few at the top who have made it can have a lot. It is really fun living at the very top because it means an individual can enjoy more than they need or deserve. This very system that has diverted the blessings meant for everyone, also blames the people from whom these blessings and resources have been stolen for their own misfortune. It is a cruel, inhuman system that refuses to see another person’s reality, especially if that person is perceived to exist below others existing in social strata above them.
Being white, I was born into a privileged class and taught not to notice the inequities existing all around me. However, being my father’s daughter, I was taught better than this. He showed me how to see them and how to hold all people as equal, beloved, and valuable. From an early age, my father taught me how to Bear Accurate Witness to my reality. It is something I would be punished for over and over again. And, I would learn there are many nuances existing inside the ‘superior’ class of people and that those who do not obey the silent rules and expectations of conformity would be throw into the Sea of Misery without a boat or any hope of rescue.
Scapegoats, Whipping Boys & Aunt Sally
Let me be perfectly clear: No one deserves misfortune. And, no one deserves fake sentimentality in place of true empathy, compassion, and help in the wake of the Maelstrom of Misfortune. No one asks for it, at least not consciously. And most people who are just trying to survive in our modern world have done nothing to deserve it. Rather, they are victims (scapegoats) of a system of consciousness we have evolved as humans to live inside. The one we live inside today is sick, lopsided, failing. It is a system that has engineered misfortune, injustice, tragedy, trauma, and grief to effect and impact some people more than others. Our modern system of consciousness channels blessings meant for everyone living inside the system onto a few.
Our systems are engineered to protect the few who are receiving blessing they don’t deserve. They are protected by automatic reactions that get triggered and expressed by the masses who reject any person who gets labeled as an oddball, an outsider, a freak or bad boy/girl…the wackadoodle weirdo who no one cares about.
These are deep subterranean psychological channels engineered by our system of consciousness that activate and trigger certain behaviors by the common man and woman living in the system. Most don’t even know they have been triggered by the system of consciousness they are living inside. It happens below the threshold of most people consciousness. Unaware of their unconscious reaction, they act in accordance with the expectations of the system that have been designed to maintain the imbalance of power.
When a person gets labeled as an outsider or eccentric oddity, the system gives the masses the permission to dismiss them, disengage from them (ignore them), and disenfranchise them from the benefits everyone else receives for following all the rules of the system without questioning them.
No one deserves to bea scapegoat,a whipping boy,an Aunt Sally(a game played in some parts of Britain in which players throw sticks or balls at a wooden dummy called Aunt Sally), the fall guy or girl for a wicked system. It is something that is done to them, so resources and blessings that should have naturally flow to everyone in the system is redirected only to a few who are living at the top of the system and holding the power and authority over everyone else under them. To heal this injustice, which is a disease of the collective soul, requires the entire system to stop blaming innocent people for the immoral, corrupt, black-hearted actions of those who hold power over others.
When the blessings meant for everyone living inside a system are redirected unto a few, terrible consequences are inflicted on those from whom resources, benefits, and blessings have been diverted. The result is that perfectly innocent individuals suffer, more than they should, all for the good of a few greedy people. This is nothing less than the Theft of the Blessings meant for all living beings on planet Earth. It is an embezzlement conduct by a corrupted system of human being existing in a system of consciousness that has been engineered to steal the blessings meant from the masses and redirect them unto a few.
It is an imbalance engineered long, long ago.
It is dead wrong.
During the final days of the Trump Administration, we are seeing it play out in magnificent awfulness. While huge tax breaks were approved for the very rich and corporations by Republican Representatives and Senators two years earlier, the same individuals now reject raising the insufficient COVID relieve payment to individuals earning less than $70,000 from $600 to $2,000. The result of thefts like this is that the most vulnerable people suffer, especially the children as reported by PBS Newshour in this segment.
The Scapegoat & the Mainstream
So why does our system of consciousness, which defines all the manmade systems that we live and work within disenfranchise and scapegoat people? What exactly is a scapegoat anyhow?
A scapegoat is a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it (Lev. 16) [Definition from Oxford Languages]
Judeo Christian beliefs contribute much material to the ancient channels of consciousness that grew to keep earlier groups of men and women safe from harm. However, what causes harm has been interpreted in vastly different ways according to the needs and environments in which the small groups of tribes of men grew. These ancient channels that hold the beliefs that sustained these ancient cultures–beliefs such as a goat can symbolically hold the sins of the people and be sent into the dessert to die for their sins–continue to flow through the channels of consciousness that live in the minds of modern men and women existing within Western Civilization.
We even have a word for this: Mainstream.
The banks of the mainstream hold and maintain the most commonly held beliefs and conventional ways of being in the world. It is broad and shallow. The banks of the mainstream are mostly made out of foregone and often very primitive social and cultural taboos.
The Banks of the Mainstream & the Role of Taboos
Many Western Civilization’s taboos originate from ancient Greek and Roman cultures, which themselves absorbed and assimilated the cultural substrate of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Western Civilization that we recognize today was chiseled out in medieval Europe. Some of the most powerful sculpting tools was Medieval Christian religion and feudal society with its dispersed power-structures that concentrated power in kings and courts and evolved economic dynamism — see Western Civilization TimeMaps.
However, since Western Civilization is old and very big, it has absorbed many beliefs, ideas, and cultural/religious taboos from many other smaller civilizations and cultures it gobbled up in its domination of the world of men. All of it and everyone gets incorporated into the ever-growing Banks of Being, which is the template for how to fit into Western Civilization. When you flow between these banks, you are flowing in the Mainstream.
Every child born into Western Civilization or every individual assimilated into it by choice or by force is indoctrinated into its particular ways of being. Some conditioning is plain to see. It happens in schools, places of worship, the workplace. It is maintained by rules of a community, a state, a country. It is also transmitted seamlessly and invisibly from parent to child and through peer networks, flowing like water constantly moving from person to person. It contains all the hidden cultural biases, prejudices, partisanship, favoritism, and bigotry built in the system of civilization in which the person lives.
These invisible codes transmitted are the taboos that have been defined long, long ago. They include all the illicit, illegal, unutterable parts of a being human deemed prohibited by the group, the tribe, the civilization. Most people mistakenly believe if they do not utter or see these dreadful, awful, unmentionable things banned by the group, they do not exist, or at least can be caged and contained. This is dangerous myth.
Taboos & Autonomous Unconscious Content
Cultural taboos are very fragile and easily broken because they are very old and worn out. People feel this, which makes individuals conceal and hide the darkest parts of self in the deepest recesses of the human mind. It makes people weak because it keeps them in the dark. They don’t grow their consciousness. The illuminated part of their mind. The part modern men call the ego. The result is that the vast majority of consciousness, remains hidden in the darkness of unconsciousness where it is ready to pounce on our puny illuminated minds directed only by the ego. Once captured, these dark parts of self can hijack the little ego.
When autonomous unconscious content hijacks the mind, a person may engage in actions extremely counter-productive to their personal wellbeing or the wellbeing of others. This is what the taboos were originally were trying to do: hold back dangerous autonomous unconscious content. But they are not working so good any more. They are breaking, fragmenting, collapsing. When they completely fall away, a huge wall of unconsciousness is going to fill the collective sphere of human existence found inside the human mind.
As mentioned, long ago taboos were constructed to protect us from our inner darkness and potential to do harm to self or others. Every culture constructed taboos. And indeed, they worked and protected their members from possession of autonomous unconscious content existing inside every human being. Not all this unconscious content is bad. Indeed, a great deal of it is superior, magnificent elements of being human.
Most ancient tribes and civilizations understood this. But they also understood it took training to master the darker realms of mind. Each culture created taboos aligned with the collective needs of the group to help them survive most optimally within the environment they existed. Taboos took into account availability of resources needed to survive as a collective as well as forces of competition limiting these resources.
When a person steps outside his or her cultural boundaries, they often were punished, sometimes harshly. And some become a scapegoat for their tribe who pile on to this individual all the unconscious content the other members of the tribe does not want to accept or see about themselves. It is a shortcut that is extremely short-sighted in the long run for the wellbeing of the tribe or civilization.
All systems of human consciousness have evolved taboos to maintain order in the group. Taboos are simply shared customs prohibiting or forbidding discussion of or behavior deemed dangerous to the wellbeing of the group. Sometimes what is deemed dangerous drifts because it becomes taboos to maintain power by those holding power in a group.SeeThe Boy Who Ate the Wrong Part of the Crocodileas an example of forbidden action. A taboo can also be associated with a particular person, a place, or thing.
Why Taboos Aren’t Working So Well for Modern Man
The problem for modern man is these banned behaviors and thoughts are really, really old. They have been maintained inside man’s mind for so long, their origins are mostly forgotten. During this time, they have become very rigid. Repairs have been attempted through religions and rules civilizations erected on the graves of the old ones and the old ways. But under the demands of modern Western civilization and rapid globalization, these repairs are cracking and fragmenting. Modern life is very complicated and human cooperation, understanding, and empathy are crumbling as they system grows even harsher and crueler in a futile effort to maintain control. All around the world, mankind stands at the brink of disaster–one coming from inside.
Collectively, mankind stands at the edge of a Primal Split existing inside the mind of every human being. It is a split that gives man consciousness, but the human race has been using its ability of consciousness to rejigger the flow of blessings and misfortune that are supposed to be distributed equally unto all living creatures of Earth, unto a few. This causes more misfortune to flow onto the masses. This lopsidedness has grown so powerful we are shattering all guardrails of the mind… it’s everyone for themselves… when this happens, we are very near the end.
The rearranging of blessings unto a few and misfortune unto the many has been going on for a long time. It has created an uncrossable abyss cutting the ordinary man and woman off from some the most powerful aspects of who they are as human beings. Cut off from their most powerful inner resources, the ordinary man and woman are deemed much easier to control. The people holding power use fear or rage or threat of further misfortune if they don’t behave. Basically, stay on your boat and follow the rules of your captain.
Most human beings living today have no choice but to shut themselves off from their power emanating from the darkest regions in their mind. Yes, there are fearful, even deadly, beasts there… but there are many, many aspects of being a sentient being that include spiritual, atman, ka, anima/animus–the inner being possessing transcendent knowledge. Every human being has both aspects hidden in the unlit parts of their mind. It is the birth right of every human being to claim more of their inner worlds–to grow their individual Field of Consciousness.
But rather, today, we are forced to shut down our natural impulse to grow our inner light. A soul that is not growing is shutting itself down, thereby shutting off life. To be an inner voyager is to walk a very narrow high wire between intensely uptight external systems one must fit into to live and the inner self longing to grow and know. I keep falling off the high wire. I always seem to break taboos. Here are some I’ve broken.
At my father’s funeral, one of his cousins told me other members of his extended family clan had always looked down their noses at him, his brother, sister, and father. They had failed to be strong and sturdy enough probably. The tragedy began shortly after my father was born–probably exacerbated by unrecognized and untreated postpartum depression–but it led to a mental health breakdown that would result in the institutionalization of my grandmother. She had been born into a dominated cultural belief that no matter what: yougot to tough it out mentality. Trauma was viewed as discipline and mental health issues were considered a sign of weakness. My grandmother retreated to her parents’ home where she did receive loving care and where my father and his siblings were being cared by his mother’s family. However, my grandfather felt humiliated that she had left him, leaving him an angry and broken man. And so it was that he and his twin brother (who probably suffered from an undiagnosed mental health disorder) schemed to get the children back into my grandfather’s custody. They began by stealing my father right out of his highchair while his grandmother hung the laundry…at least that is what my father remembers happening. He would sue for custody of my father’s older siblings, but this would take a year or so. He was deeply traumatized from this and his father was known to be overly harsh with his children. However, no one in his family confronted him or did much to help the children besides smalls acts of kindness here and there. His older brother would go on to suffer from schizophrenia. These formative years would leave an indelible mark on my father for his entire life. It haunted him in nightmares that made his scream and kick and fall out of bed two to three times a week. It was one of the reasons I moved him to comfort care in his final days because he got trapped in an endless delirium with these phantoms of long ago visiting him. I knew them well. I’ve grown up with them. I was marked with the taboo of bearing accurate witness to mental illness running in our family rather than pretending it was not there.
As my series of misfortunes piled up in the past 5 years, the last group of people I saw on a regular basis began to distance themselves from me. I had become a radioactive Contagion of Misfortune, and I was being blamed for my own misfortune. I doubt they even knew that they were doing this, but getting invited in group activities, conversations, and outings grew more and more infrequent.
One of the most glaring exclusions occurred at the opening of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie. I had been invited to join my little gym group for the last several Star Wars movies–though reluctantly for I knew there was invisible resistance inside this circle of friends to even include me as one of the groups. But due to circumstances, we saw each other every single day and so probably the taboo of pretending to be a nice person all the time was more powerful than the one to exclude me because I did not quite fit in with their dominate interests and form. However, as my misfortunes piled up, the balance tipped and when this movie came out, no invitation was forthcoming.
I had just lost my job with a government contractor 12 days before Christmas and my husband had been pushed out of his just one year before. It was a very stressful time. So, my friends were steering clear of me. But I loved Star Wars and needed a distraction to my misfortune, so I selected one of the opening showings, got a seat by myself, and went by myself. I enjoyed it immensely. I didn’t feel alone because the characters feel so vital and alive in my psyche. I sat watching the credits until the lights came up. I was sitting in a row close to the screen. When I got up and made my way to the closest isle, coming down the steps almost colliding with me, were ‘my friends‘ who this time did not include me. It was awkward, very awkward. I find it hilarious now. But then it was quite painful because I understood I had been marked with the taboo of bearing accurate witness to my circumstances, which mademy friends uncomfortable. I made them uncomfortable because I was experiencing misfortune and talked about it.
One of my first corporate jobs was working for a hospital that was conducting cutting edge research in treating AIDS and cancer. It was located on the West Coast but treated people all across the country and world. I was hired by a high-spirited, dynamic woman who was opening a new regional office in Washington, DC. I rose quickly through the ranks to Director of Development with my boss based on the West Coast. I loved the job and my co-workers (who except for the woman who hired me), I helped hire. We got a lot done, raised a lot of money, and had lots of fun being together. Not long after rising to Director, word was racing through the workplace grapevine that there was a tremendous power struggle going on at headquarters.
When I was first hired, there was a CEO and 4 or 5 Vice Presidents who oversaw various activities such as workplace giving programs, unions, special events, and so on. I worked under events planning and my boss was friendly and helpful. One by one, the VPs fell but we thought in DC my boss would remain because he was best friends with the VP making the power plays. We were wrong. He did him in too. At the next all staff meeting that doubled as the biggest gathering of volunteers from across the country, which always took place at the Beverly Hills Hilton, our new VP let us know the new rules. This was probably my 3rd all staff meeting and previously we were treated like adults who could conduct themselves appropriately and we did.
But this time was different. The new VP of everything was letting everyone know that he was the new boss in town. He lectured everyone the very first night that there would be no use of the pool, the exercise room, all employees were assigned set up and clean up shifts for the big thank you fundraiser of long-time volunteers. He made it known these were mandatory regardless of if there was anything to do or not. Having come from the East Coast to the West Coast, I was not hungry at the proper time and went for a run instead. I arrived at my assignment on time just to sit for 5 hours because everything was done. During this time, I grew famished and light-headed because I had not eaten breakfast or lunch.
My co-worker from Philadelphia told me to go get a sandwich and bring it back, she’d cover for me if anyone asked but she was sure no one would notice. So, I slipped out, went downstairs to the little cafe, and ordered a sandwich to go. While I waited, I chatted with a man eating a late lunch. I thought nothing of it until I felt a forceful tap on my shoulder. I turned around and was shocked. It was the VP of Everything. He had noticed I was gone. He forced my co-worker to tell him where I went. He had come to fetch me back. I had to go immediately. I could not even wait for my sandwich even though I said I was light-headed and needed protein. His response was tough luck. You had your lunch time. You didn’t eat. There are candy almonds on the tables. Eat those. It is pretty funny now. I was kind of scared then.
Fortunately, the man I had been talking to downstairs knew where the VP took me. He brought me my sandwich telling me that the whole thing was pretty unbelievable. I broke the taboo of being human and putting my own physical needs above the edicts of VP. Super controllers often try to imprint this taboo on everyone through loyalty pledges. They do this because they are making a power grab, so anyone willing to break their edicts becomes dangerous.
Social media platforms are weird and very sugary environments. The idea that individuals all over the world who do not have any previous real life, face-to-face relationship of meaningful exchange can establish and maintain any kind of genuine human system is farcical. Facebook is a space that allows people to migrate to the most superficial extremities of who they have defined themselves as human being. Here, they marinate in the outermost cosmetic personas of themselves. But they do this at the expense of true knowledge of who they are as a complex being with good and bad qualities that must always be calculated and balanced in every moment, especially the liminal space where thought is manifested into words or deeds.
Because of the vast superficiality of this virtual space (i.e., a space lacking in thoroughness, depth of character, or serious thought) the worse parts of being human tend to rise inside of individuals where it quickly gains dominance and power over thought and actions, which attracts others of liked mind and superficial attitudes. It is a space that cultivates addictive personalities. People who crave the time and attention of others to such an extreme other people stop being human beings with whom they can have a real and genuine relationship but become food for their vainglorious superficial self.
Such environments tend to create vacuums of consciousness where one-sided, narcissistic thinking grows and thrives, lacking the normal brakes of reality that exists in the real, normal, drab, everyday life of being a human being who must cooperate and offer basic respect and decency to the people around them. I broke the taboo of being individual, being real, and sharing this with others pretending to be something else and ultimately, the taboo of being more complicatedthan the stick figure I had been made out to be by Fake Friends on Facebook.
You can read all about it in this post:
Taboo Breakers, Consciousness Warriors & the Inner War
While the folly recounted above was unfolding, my friend Reinhold from Germany (who recently deleted his account from Facebook) sent me the following e-mail. Since I am not very good at responding to messages and e-mail, he had no idea what was going on with me. And his messages are always a bit code-like, but this one really resonated with my moment. And it synched what was happening to me externally to my ancient wisdom inside me that helped me shape the structure of this blog. He said:
We are in a Historic Phase Transition… …like 1914 1932 1945 2001 2008 2020 and there is MORE to come!
…even… …if there were any working solutions WHO??? is able even WILLING to attack it– WHO…?????
No place in Taboo Land for any sacred person...
We are all sacred people, if only we could remember we were so.
Another case occurring in the nebulous realms of our collective virtual world is recounted here (Moulton/Comedy of Terrors) by Barry Kort. There are times when names and details need to be remembered and recounted so that how we get to a moment is understood. Below in Supplement Resources, I include Take No Prisoners about the AfterMath of WWII.
There is a poem Margaret Thatcher recites to the Queen in the fourth season of The Crown in the episode called ‘The Balmoral Test’? The poem is “No Enemies” by Scottish poet Charles Mackay, who lived from 1814 to 1889.
“YOU have no enemies, you say?
Alas! my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You’ve never turned the wrong to right,
You’ve been a coward in the fight.”
I call taboo breakers Consciousness Warriors.
Consciousness Warriors tend to break lots of taboos, but the war is an inner war. We need more Consciousness Warriors now than ever because modern life has grown more complicated than ever, and more unconscious than ever. Western Civilization has been herding humanity into the shallowest waters of consciousness for a long time, but now social media with its algorithms are doing this work at an unprecedented rate and level herding our collective psyche into long-standing rigid patterns designed to benefit a few.
Description: Conspiracy theorists have enjoyed the Trump presidency. Wild false notions about the deaths of high-profile American figures and what was really going on behind closed doors in Washington and Hollywood took over certain sections of the internet.
But the link between online conspiracy theories and real-life behavior has clarified as conspiracy theorists like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) began running for elected office. And as President Trump, along with his associates and supporters, began questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election despite no evidence of fraud.
It all came to a head when insurrectionists, who believed the president’s lie that the election had been stolen, stormed the Capitol building while Congress was certifying the electoral votes for the 2020 election.
Why are conspiracy theories so enticing? And how can we combat conspiratorial thinking?
How The Capitol Mob Compares To Black Lives Matter; Actor Wendell Pierce
Here & Now | January 18, 2021: Some on the right have compared the violence of the insurrection to last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. Historian Ashley Howard explains why the comparison doesn’t hold up to reality. And, “The Wire” star Wendell Pierce talks about the role of art in advancing social progress. That and more, in hour one of Here & Now’s Jan. 18, 2021, full broadcast. You can find more at hereandnow.org — and follow us on Twitter, Instagram or join the conversation on Facebook.
This interview is so inspiring. This is one way to hold onto more of our consciousness as human beings.
Description: “Host Michel Martin talks with Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C., about the message of his New Year’s Eve Watch Night service this year.” Three things he said that really resonated in me are:
“2020 didn’t do anything to us. Systemic racism and America’s refusal to treat human beings as human beings did it to us.”
“We too much rest and must remember if we become human doings without rest, we will not accomplish much. Rest is revolutionary.”
“The importance of the message of perseverance must be remembered because they have always come… they won’t stop coming… in the words of Sterling Brown, we too must keep coming with love… bending the world towards justice includes efforts, work, muscle… we can build better multicultural, multi religious communities where every one has a seat at the table…”
NPR’s Scott Simon talks with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough about his book, Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western Civilization. When Scott asks Joe if he will miss the ratings after Trump leaves the White House, Joe said absolutely not. It’s been exhausting and politics has been turned into a tribal sport. Thirty years ago, a liberal could sit down with a conservative and strike a deal and get things done. Today, it’s all about winning and it is killing our democracy.
Description:“The stakes are sky-high in this week’s Georgia dual Senate runoff election. Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler to become Georgia’s first-ever Black senator. The race between Jon Ossoff and Sen. David Perdue is still too close to call. Democrats are halfway to reaching their goal.
If Ossoff can pull off a win, control of the Senate and Congress will shift to the Democrats. If Perdue emerges victorious, control remains with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and the GOP.
Those outcomes, whichever comes to pass, will decide what goals the Biden administration can expect to accomplish. Reports indicate the president-elect’s team is optimistic for a victory given record voter turnout and Republican missteps on the campaign trail, but bracing for the consequences of defeat.
However, it might not be apparent who won for some time. Just like in November, there’s a chance that Americans won’t know which party is in control of the Senate for several days.
Plus, Congress still has important business ahead. Senators are due to meet on Wednesday as a part of a joint session of Congress to certify President-elect Biden’s victory. But some Republicans, including Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, say they will object. Although any allegation of voter fraud is completely unsubstantiated, these senators have called for a commission to investigate the 2020 election.
What will the results of the election mean for the Senate? And for the federal government as a whole?”
Jad Abumrad is the creator of RadioLab. In this TedTalk he tells how Dolly Parton helped him understand the deeper currents operating inside people that activate during conflicts and how she found a way to unite people in a safe space even though her fans run the gamut of ideologies, beliefs, and ways of being in the world that recently have ended up in deadlock rigid conflict.
In December 1944, Frank Hartzell was a young soldier pressed into fierce fighting during the Battle of the Bulge. He was there battling Nazi soldiers for control of the Belgian town of Chenogne, and he was there afterward when dozens of unarmed German prisoners of war were gunned down in a field.
Reporter Chris Harland-Dunaway travels to Belgium to tour Chenogne with Belgian historian Roger Marquet. Then he sits down with Bill Johnsen, a military historian and former dean of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to ask why the Patton Papers don’t accurately reflect Gen. George S. Patton’s diary entries about Chenogne.
The massacre at Chenogne happened soon after the Malmedy massacre, during which Nazi troops killed unarmed American POWs. The German soldiers responsible were tried at Dachau, but the American soldiers who committed the massacre at Chenogne were never held accountable. Harland-Dunaway interviews Ben Ferencz, the last surviving lawyer from the Nuremberg Trials, about why the Americans escaped justice.
And finally, Harland-Dunaway returns to Hartzell to explain what he’s learned and to press Hartzell for a full accounting of his role that day in Chenogne.
Listening to this episode, after hearing Jad Abumrad‘s and his realization about the scared space between us is complicated and perhaps only a person with a high degree of empathy can truly begin to hold and honor all these complications was striking in comparison to this story and the heat of war. Here the scared space of possibility is collapsed into instinct, repetitive training, and orders. What a man or woman might have done differently in a moment if they had more time to consider their options is not an option during war or high stress conflict. During these times, people act and the winners control the narrative, which always only tells half the truth. This is a compelling listen.
UK Judge Blocks Extradition For Julian Assange. What’s Next For The Wikileaks Founder?
I found this 3 minutes very interesting. Assange’s mental state remind me of how bad mine became due to unrelenting circumstances beyond my control. Yes, Assange brought the fury of the US upon himself when he stole and dumped classified content onto the Internet. But then, I thought back to what I heard yesterday in Chris Harland-Dunaway‘s story about Chenogne, Belgian and the notes he found in General Patton’s personal diary expressing the hope this could be covered up and never revealed. The truth is, as one of the last living army man from this day tells Chris, both sides of a war are capable of committing terrible atrocities and crime. And, it is the winner to determines and controls the narrative (or those in power).
I also listened to this yesterday, which influenced the connections I made between all the content I was listening to as I wrote this blog. This is an excellent piece about how we develop healthy habits and unhealthy habits. A lot of what determines a healthy habit vs an unhealthy habit is how much consciousness you bring to forming it (another way to view this is how much time and attention do you apply to developing a health habit). I would further argue that putting more time and attention into developing and maintaining healthy habits has an added benefit of growing one’s individual Field of Consciousness.
And this is another awesome listen for developing the inner flexibility and health you need to survive the Sea of Misery when you find yourself afloat upon it… as most people have found themselves upon as 2020 unfolded… and most of us continue to float upon as 2021 begins.
A few excerpts from this wonderful interview:
On why he recommends seven to nine hours of sleep at night for optimal brain health
The brain is not at rest the way people might imagine it to be when we’re sleeping. … There are several important things that are happening. … One is, that is the time when we really do consolidate memories. So, you’ve had all these interesting experiences throughout your day — people that you’ve met, conversations you’ve had, experiences you’ve had, whatever it may be. You have these things in part because you want to remember them and add them to your life narrative.
That process of actually putting them in the memory book, if you will … really happens at the time that you sleep. That’s the “consolidation of memory” sort of phase. Some of it is actually placing the memory. Some of it is moving memories from short-term to longer-term memory and those sorts of things. So you have to be able to sleep well in order to remember well. And you also have to be able to sleep well to in order to forget well, because you want to, in order to make that life narrative as cohesive as possible, you’re doing a lot of editing along the way. … A lot of that is happening while you sleep.
Another more recent finding about sleep is that there is a sort of rinse cycle that’s happening when you sleep — a rinse cycle that allows certain neurotrophic factors to bathe the brain, but also to remove certain waste as well from the basic metabolic processes that are happening. … So during sleep, it’s really this consolidation of memories, this removal of waste and this nourishing of the brain that takes place more efficiently than at any other time during the day.
On why multitasking doesn’t really work
The idea that you move from one task to another sounds great and very efficient. The issue was that they found you actually divert a fair amount of attention each time you do that. You may not notice it yourself, but when you start to objectively measure this with different types of brain scans, scans that are measuring the function of the brain or particular parts of the brain, at any given millisecond, you find that you actually expend quite a bit of energy just to switch from one task to another. So you think you’re doing both simultaneously, but you’re probably doing neither as well as you could be, and you’re probably going to take more time than if you just did them linearly in some way.
“Science cannot rescue us from ourselves if we don’t have the leadership.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
On how the unrelenting stress of the pandemic impacts the brain
It’s been really challenging. I think that there is a thing about stress and the brain that has long been documented. And the headline is that stress is not necessarily the enemy. In fact, we need a certain amount of stress. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning, makes us perform well on tests, hopefully, all that sort of stuff. But it is that second adjective you used — unrelenting — that is really problematic here. We need these breaks from stress. You need that constant sort of ebb and flow, and that’s what’s missing. Again, you don’t want it to all be good all the time, but you need to have that sort of up and down to some extent. … The idea of eliminating stress … it is not attainable nor is it necessarily a good idea for the brain.
In this short segment, Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd speaks with Derek Thompson, about what these shifts mean for our lives and communities. Thompson is a staff writer at the Atlantic and he talks exactly about what I am writing about here — the fragmentation of reality. He says, “Community is where you show up again and again… however during this past year, we have not been able to show up in the places we normally did.” This is worth a listen.
Here & Now‘s Tonya Mosley speaks with SirDavid Attenborough and executive producer Alastair Fothergill about their new five-part documentary series, “A Perfect Planet.”
The part I most love about this clip of A Perfect Planet occurs at about minute 1:24 when Attenborough says:
“Volcanoes are certainly destructive but without these powerful underground forces there would be no breathable atmosphere, no oceans, no lands, no life. We can’t control volcanoes but they’re vital for all living things on planet earth…for you.“
I will advance this as metaphor to the power of story, to possessing the power of consciousness, to know that we know as human beings. Just like volcanoes result from powerful subterranean forces that break through Earth’s crust and transform our planet, so too is consciousness which erupted through the shell of instinct and routine and birthed us–a species who can think, can know things, can tell stories about who we are and where we are going. So as it is with Earth and underground forces constantly at work shaping our planet making it the perfect place for life, so too it is with our minds with unconscious forces constantly at work shaping our shared reality.
I end all my Have You Been Outside Today videos with the following questions:
What will you do with your plot of consciousness today?
More importantly, what will your unconsciousness do with you today?
Previous Post:Part 1 of The Storytelling Species Series
Next Post: Part 3 of The Storytelling Species Series
Supplemental and Resource Posts for the Storytelling Species Series
“Old Heraclitus, who was indeed a very great sage, discovered the most marvellous of all psychological laws: the regulative function of opposites. He called it enantiodromia, a running contrariwise, by which he meant that sooner or later everything runs into its opposite.” – Carl Jung
What follows is an accounting of the very common channels psychological energies flow when a conflict gets triggered and grows. These are the very same channels psychological energies flow when a collective conflict is triggered or incited. If you are interested only in my response to Jan 6, 2021, then go to the end of this blog. If you are interested in the psychological maneuvers and levelers of conflict, then keep reading for individual and collective are the same.
In short, when individuals or collectives end up in separate corners during a conflict, refusing to see the other’s reality, the process of enantiodromia is triggered and fate will run its course. Our psychological is very ancient. As such, when speakers at Trump’s 2nd Impeachment Hearing spoke today (1/13/21) that history will be the judge, they are referring to the ancient knowledge only opposites maintained in dynamic balance will stand the tides of time. Lies are sweet and eagerly consumed by the mind, but they are quickly washed away in the onslaught of reality, leaving nothing behind. Truth stands because truth holds opposites in dynamic balance.Truth and reality are one and the same.
I admit, I wondered if Π had read Facebook Folly and if he understood a little bit more why I was angered by his actions. No sooner had I thought this thought than Π showed up on my Facebook page in all his brazen glory.
The answer is no. He didn’t absorb a dam thing. He didn’t express a shred of regret for speaking ignorantly and in a way meant to demean me. In fact, much like Trump has done for 4 long years, he shamelessly repeated and amplified his degrading ideas of Barry and myself by calling my lived reality and Barry’s efforts to understand why I had been removed and blocked from his Facebook group a fantasy. Because of this, I shall respond. He is the one who fired first by making demeaning and degrading comments about me and my ‘dead parent’ behind my back. Then Π pressed go by disparaging Barry in the same scornful way, thus provoking him to share this ‘private conversation‘ with me.
I will take Π‘s latest comments line by line, just as I did in Facebook Folly.
It’sA Little Late to Start Paying Attention
Π: I’m getting a little worried by posts like this, I’m afraid.
In Response: Very funny Π because in the 4 years we’ve been friends on Facebook, this is the first time ever you have ever commented on a blog I wrote and posted on Facebook, including your group, EoST. I wonder what this fear is? Perhaps it stems from your duplicitous nature? Specially, Π, you have pretended to be a kind, caring, and supportive friend to me. Meanwhile, you have privately held very different views as revealed in Facebook Folly. In case you missed it the first time, you are the Fake Π.
Black & White
Π: There’s a gradual polarised demonisation at work – the world is only good and bad, and if not wholly good then it must be bad – which fails to take into account human frailty, brought on by lack of time, human mistakes and observers making faulty assumptions.
In Response: There is no mistake in what you said about me behind my back. That is in black and white.
Dumpster Fires, Demonizing & Fragile Egos
Π: People aren’t evil, on the whole, but they generally do carry a great deal of human frailty, and demonising that serves only to pour petrol on the dumpster fire.
In Response: When an individual talks about another individual in a sneering, disparaging, dismissive, and disdainful way behind their back, who is demonizing who? Who held the gasoline can of scorn, then poured the petrol of disdain,derision, and contempt onto a fire that started out as a simple misunderstanding?
Good & Evil
Π: I make only one exception to that, in my lifetime, and the US wisely has just fired him. Things will get better from here.
In Response: Really, there is only 1 evil man in the entire world in your lived experience? How about Putin who ordered the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko (the first known victim of lethal polonium 210-induced acute radiation syndrome). Or what about Sergei and Yulia Skripal who were poisoned by Novichok and lay near death in a British hospital near Salisbury for weeks, not to mention the death of an innocent citizen of Salisbury who accidentally came into contact with this poison that only Putin could have ordered to be used.
And most recently, Alexei Anatolievich Navalny was also poison by Novichok. The man who poisoned him said he sprinkled it in his underwear, along the flaps. “You know,” he said matter-of-factly, “the kind men’s underwear have“–imagine that. Perhaps if evil is done methodically and matter-of-factly it’s not so bad, as far as evil goes. Perhaps even, if you spin well, it’s not evil at all… it’s just the business of getting one’s way over the wellbeing and good of others.
“Navalny fell sick during the Aug. 20 flight in Russia and was flown to Berlin while still in a coma for treatment two days later. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.”
“The man in the recording indicated that he was involved in cleaning up Navalny’s clothes “so that there wouldn’t be any traces” after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top critic fell into a coma while on a domestic flight over Siberia. During the recorded call, the man said that if the plane hadn’t made an emergency landing, “the situation would have turned out differently.”
I suppose Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man who is believed to have behead Daniel Pearl, is simply carrying a great deal of human frailty too. His pending release is being widely reported now by BBC, NYP, and many other news outlets. This killing spurred the highly choreographed beheadings of Western journalists in the years to come. But apparently, no evil here, just human frailty at work.
Here & NowDescription: “The lawyer for a Pakistani man convicted and later acquitted in the 2002 killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl is asking Pakistan’s Supreme Court to free his client.”
“Pearl, a 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter, was abducted on Jan. 23, 2002. His body was later found in a shallow grave in Pakistan.”
And as for America will get better from here: Are you kidding man? Did you see what happened on Jan 6, 2021?
The far-right Trump insurgency just scored a huge propaganda coup (Jan. 8, 2021 at 11:28 a.m. EST) — Opinion by Greg Sargent
These are some of the extremist groups responsible for the violence on Capitol Hill (Jan 8, 2021) by Christy Somos CTVNews.ca Writer
“The mob of U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters who overran police and stormed Washington’s Capitol Hill included members of several well-known extremist and white-supremacist groups.”
“The violence did not come as a surprise to Barbara Perry, Director of the Centre for Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University.”
“I think I was [only] surprised that it took that long for something like this to happen. A lot of us had anticipated that we would see violence immediately following the election, especially if he [Donald Trump] lost,” Perry said in a phone interview with CTV News.ca Friday.”
“Perry said she agrees that there has been a “mainstreaming of hate,” in recent years, and that the attack on the Capitol was a perfect example of it.”
To be clear, what happened on Jan 6, 2021 is not going away any time soon. The attack on the Capitol is just the beginning of evil and good mixing it up, this time in the USA, just as it has been doing for as a long human beings could perceive of the concepts of good and evil.
“The violence at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was unprecedented in modern U.S. history — but some pro-Trump extremists are promising it was just a taste of things to come.”
“What happened on Jan. 6, this past Wednesday, might not be the end of the insurrection, but the beginning,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois told NPR’s Weekend Edition. [As Inauguration Nears, Concern Of More Violence Grows, Jan 9, 2021
If you listen to only one thing listed in this post, this is the one that must be heard. Reveal takes aim on the myth that Jan 6, 2021 is not who and what America is. In fact, what happened on Jan 6, 2021 is exactly who and what America is. In fact, it is the latest wave of the Civil War, which has never really ended ever since it was fought (1861 to 1865)—156 years ago. The war has simply taken different shapes and used different tactics throughout this time. What happened Jan 6, 2021 is the latest surge of a very long, brutal battle for who holds the power in this fragile democracy.
Description:A mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, aiming to block the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. How did we get here?
We start by examining President Donald Trump’s rhetoric over the last four years, as he stoked conspiracy theories, coddled White supremacists and laid the groundwork for inciting violence.
Host Al Letson talks with Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, who took shelter in his office during the insurrection. They discuss what it was like inside the Capitol and the legacy these actions will leave on American democracy.
We hear from two reporters who were also at the Capitol. Independent reporter Brendan Gutenschwager and Washington Post reporter Marissa J. Lang say there was a big difference between the meager police response to the Trump supporters compared with the massive show of force with which they met Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer.
Then we look back at another coup in American historythat has eerie echoes of this week’s events. In the late 19th century, Wilmington, North Carolina, was a city where African Americans thrived economically and held elected office. This, however, did not sit well withWhite supremacists, who plotted to retake control of the city from democratically elected Black leaders.Their coup in 1898 set in place the structural racism that still exists today.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s Message Following this Week’s Attack on the Capitol
Schwarzenegger talks about how lies lead to the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht), which was one of the first events to take place in the lead up to the holocaust and WWII. To repair all the broken relationships that have been shattered more by decades of lies (FoxNews/Rupert Murdoch) and then supercharged and radicalized by 4 years of Trump, it is not going to be easy.
Judge & Jury of Someone Else’s Reality
Π: What I’m seeing in the story above is a fantasy unrolling, fed by folk who struggle to see beyond good and bad, and who assume that “their side is always in the right”.
In Response: That is a pretty dismissive, judgmental, and downright cruel comment to make about another person’s lived experience. I understand what Π is trying to do. He is trying to deflect blame from himself, again. It is obvious he didn’t even read the post he is commenting on. I will respond to his self-conceited comment with a story.
My father was a Lutheran minister. There’s not much money in being a Lutheran minister, but that’s not why dad was one. However, he did have a family and needed to provide for them. So despite loving the network of congregations he as serving in Northern California, he decided to accept the call from a fairly big congregation located in a very small town in South Dakota. It was a town you could probably throw a baseball right through downtown if you had a good throwing arm, but it served all the famers surrounding the town growing corn and soybeans feeding Americans and the world, so the congregation was quite big. This allowed them to not only provide a parsonage for the family to live in but also a salary—something none of the congregations in California could provide, only one could provide a parsonage and so my mother has to work to feed us.
It was heart-wrenching and terrible to move from the Redwoods of Northern California to the prairies of South Dakota. My brothers and I loved the trees of Redway. We roamed the mountainside behind our parsonage setting traps for Bigfoot and rabbits. I just remember feeling completely devastated seeing the flat, barren landscape of the prairie made barren by monolith fields of corn and soybeans—one after another after another. But dad had grown up on farm in Iowa and mom had grown up in parsonages scattered from MN to WI to IA, and so both my parents were happy to return to the heartland.
As we caravanned from Redway to Sinai, South Dakota, dad driving the U-Haul and mom driving the family station wagon, mom gave me Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I didn’t like it at first, but really had nothing else to do, so I kept reading. It would be a book that would save my broken heart and help me find new dreams to build my drastically transformed life around. We lost our beloved cat Puff on the way to Sinai. She got out of our car and wandered off somewhere in Oregon or Idaho at a campground we stopped at to sleep along the way. She was the first pet we ever had as children. Dad brought her home to us in paper bag, surprising us with a gleeful smile on his face. She was so glorious, a spicey calico cat who had lots of babies (these were the days before sterilizing pets was the norm). I am glad of this though because with us were some of Puff’s kittens—the ones we could not find homes for before leaving Northern California, so they were traveling with us to South Dakota. We had a mini, calico kitten who was missing one paw on her front leg. But that didn’t stop her. She would prove to be just as spicy as her mother and as fertile.
Arriving to our new home was disappointing to be sure. However, the churches were beautiful and I would grow to love the big parsonage we moved into. I believe we arrived in Sinai the day before the 4th of July. We would find out soon the 4th of July is big stuff in small town, middle of the heartland of America. There was a town parade where all the children decorated their bikes with tissue paper and glittery things (that first year we kids did not have time to enter but subsequent years we sure did! It was a big deal!). There were bands and a huge firework display by the church where my dad would preach. And there was a day of festivities and games happening throughout the day—like a mini state fair. One of the activities that first full day in Sinai was the greased pig contest.
Yes—it is exactly what it says. A local farmer donates a young pig. It is greased from head to toe and put inside a pen. Then all the children who sign up for the contest line up behind the fence. When the whistle is blown, the idea is to climb over as fast as you can and race for the pig. The kid who holds is around the belly the longest gets to keep the pig!
Boy—now moving to Sinai, South Dakota was suddenly looking a lot more interesting. I was going to get that pig! I scrambled through the milieu of girls and boys I did not know. I got to the pig and I grabbed it around it’s center. I did not let go. I held on. There was a boy you held the pig around its neck on one side of me and another you had the pig around its back legs, but I had the center. By their rules: I won! I get to keep the pig!
I heard a whistle blow and one by one all the other children piled on top of the three of us were picked off of us and told to leave the ring until only the three of us were left. I was sure I would be declared the winner. But then I felt a tap on my head. The farmer officiating the greased pig contest told me I had to leave, and the two boys would get to compete for the pig in the end.
I couldn’t believe I was being told to leave. I was the one holding the pig around its belly. I was covered in grease from head to toe. I was incensed by the double standard being displayed by the judge. But I had no power. I had to leave. I did not stay to watch which boy won. This would not be the last time I or my family would experience such hypocrisy.
It would play out again but next time in a much more deadly way. The coming conflict would unravel slowly over a period of about 3 years. During this time, I found a way to love the prairie, I made many friends, dad even got me a pony who had a foal. Now that was sure the heck better than a pig. We had a huge garden dad tilled and grew all sorts of things—corn, squash, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes. He gave each of us small plots in the garden and taught us how to grow delicious, healthy vegetables. We also had an orchard, about 8 or 10 trees—each one a different kind of apple. Each of us kids got to pick a tree and build a tree fork. I think I took the crab apple or maybe that tree was Pete’s tree. We played scary chase games around the church. We built massive snow forts in the mega drifts of snow that were left behind after blizzards. One year, the blizzard was so bad, it blew snow drifts that reached the roof of the church. School was cancelled for weeks that year and we kid’s tunneled snow forts into the drifts surrounding the church, which was also cancelled for weeks. Those forts lasted for weeks!
We roamed the town and railways, making forts and hideouts everywhere. Some of our favorite hauntings were the old schoolhouse long ago left abandoned with old molding books and cups and plates and silverware still inside. We weren’t supposed to go inside the old school, but that just made it all the more fun to go. We also frequented the old, abandoned jail house, down a steep hill from the one block downtown. It was really nothing more than a one room building made completely out of concrete with bars for windows. We loved it! We also had a place just outside of town, perhaps a mile or so walking down the railroad tracks to a bridge where a train long ago had derailed and dropped a bunch of polished marble—big slabs.
Dad faithfully served the two churches partnering together to offer him the call. He got to know every family of both congregations by first name, every member and visited anyone in need at any time. He was beloved by many members of both congregations. Mom sang in the choir and helped with Sunday School and Summer Bible Camps. We were soon knitted into the fabric of the small-town community of Sinai, South Dakota. But there were rips in the fabric.
While dad was a Lutheran pastor, he loved science and read about all sort of scientific discoveries. He took us to see fossils in the Black Hills. We talked about how fantastic the Earth was and how much time it has existed in the universe. To dad, it was completely possible to believe in science and in God the Father, creator of the universe. To him, God used the mechanisms of physics and evolution to get to us. To him, this did not diminish who we are as human beings, sons and daughters of our Lord the Savior, but this made us so much more precious and important.
Dad sometimes wove some of his thoughts and enthusiasm into his sermons. To some who heard these ideas coming out of the mouth of their pastor, it was blasphemy—a foolish fantasy that had to be dispelled. A coalition went to work against my father. One of the leaders of this coalition was the mayor of our small town who also happened to be the butcher.
I believed they tried to get dad never to utter such fantastical nonsense every again in church or anywhere where his congregation members might hear him. But that was not my dad. The division and the divisiveness grew wider and more aggressive. It would cumulate and boil over one fateful day when our dog Reckless (a black lab) disappeared. My dad would soon discover, the mayor had captured Reckless, taken him to his butcher’s shop in the center of town, and shot him dead, then disposed of his body with the rest of the used pieces of the cows and pigs he butchered that day.
We probably stayed one more year after that, but the writing was on the wall. Dad didn’t fit in there, and he was no longer welcomed there. I’m pretty sure shortly after Reckless death, he started looking for another call. It would take him a year to find an opening. It was the last year he would serve as a minister in a Lutheran church. He decided the politics were just too toxic. He entered a program to become a hospital chaplain. Soon we moved again. This time to a city, Minneapolis. It was another hard move for me to make. I had grown to love the prairie and the life I had learned to live there! It would take years to learn how to grow into and live in the city, but I would do that too, eventually and grow to love Minneapolis deeply as well.
It is so easy to be the judge and jury of another person’s experiences and their reality. Unfortunately, the human brain seems wired this way. Maybe we do it to simplify reality so we aren’t paralyzed by it. Reality is always so much more complicated than a single human being can perceive. This is why we need each other to understand more of it. But, when we judge each other in overly simplified ways, we fracture it instead. When we judge each other, we also stop seeing each other as human. Maybe we do this because we fear the ‘other’ might pop our own overly simplified bubble of belief about what the world is.
So dear reader, you tell me who is struggling to see beyond good and bad. Who is making the assumption that “their side is always in the right”.
Ah — The Promised Land
Π: I suggest reading Barack Obama’s book A Promised Land.
In Response: I suggest you read it again. Perhaps you missed a few things the first time you read it.
“there are people in the world who think only about themselves. They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want. They put other people down to make themselves feel important. “Then there are people who do the opposite, who are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people. “So,” she said, looking me squarely in the eye. “Which kind of person do you want to be?” ― Barack Obama,A Promised Land
“Either grab a drink and sit down with us or get the fuck out of here.” ― Barack Obama,A Promised Land
“there was the unsettling fact that, despite whatever my mother might claim, the bullies, cheats, and self-promoters seemed to be doing quite well, while those she considered good and decent people seemed to get screwed an awful lot.” ― Barack Obama,A Promised Land
“The truth is, I’ve never been a big believer in destiny. I worry that it encourages resignation in the down-and-out and complacency among the powerful.” ― Barack Obama, A Promised Land
“I’d met my share of highly credentialed, high-IQ morons” ― Barack Obama,A Promised Land
“I suspect that God’s plan, whatever it is, works on a scale too large to admit our mortal tribulations; that in a single lifetime, accidents and happenstance determine more than we care to admit; and that the best we can do is to try to align ourselves with what we feel is right and construct some meaning out of our confusion, and with grace and nerve play at each moment the hand that we’re dealt.” ― Barack Obama, A Promised Land
“I experienced failure and learned to buck up so I could rally those who’d put their trust in me. I suffered rejections and insults often enough to stop fearing them. In other words, I grew up—and got my sense of humor back.” ― Barack Obama,A Promised Land
“Perhaps most troubling of all, our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of crisis—a crisis rooted in a fundamental contest between two opposing visions of what America is and what it should be; a crisis that has left the body politic divided, angry, and mistrustful, and has allowed for an ongoing breach of institutional norms, procedural safeguards, and the adherence to basic facts that both Republicans and Democrats once took for granted.” ― Barack Obama, A Promised Land
Paying Attention Takes More Then News Headlines & Quick Quips
Π: This shows the dangers of this polarised approach, which includes the US inability to sign the Kyoto Treaty, why the US is sometimes slower to act than the world would like, and why the US makes policy mistakes.
In Response: So glad Barack’s book has given you, a person who sits across the pond, such a broad and insightful understanding of America. I have been sharing countless blogs in your beloved group in this past year (2020) about what is going on here. I live less than 15 miles from the White House. I’ve gone to protests (Black Lives Matter and MAGA).
Oh, and I’ve also been to these minor events that have occurred in Washington, DC (and these are just a few of the interviews I’ve done):
I follow the news closely and digest it in my blogs. But, you couldn’t be bothered. And, I had to call your attention to the potty-mouth members of your group who were using immature words for vagina. Apparently, just the sight of a naked woman is enough to send their minds down to the bottom of their trunks.
I shared the post below in EoST at the end of July. This piece speaks specifically to the growing alarm at this time (last summer) about what Trump was doing to the psyche and minds of his loyal followers. It was clear back then he was twisting words and staging events to get images of out-of-control Black Lives Matter protestors so he could use them to enflame his base during his campaign.
Sadly, now we see where all this energy is flowing after Trump lost the 2020 election. This is energy man. It is produced inside the mind. It does not just disappear, especially after being super-charged by lies and misinformation used to construct a psychological monster. Many of Trump’s super-charged supporters were hunting for Pence to hang him simply for his ceremonial role of certifying the election results for 2020. But, no one in your group wanted to talk about this possibility back in July 2020. They just wanted to name all the other words for vagina. And you really never took any meaningful action about this behavior even after I called your attention to it occurring in EoST.
To Stop Dismissing & Belittling Takes a Lot of Work Too
Π: Bi partisan work takes a lot of horse trading, and the simplistic adoption of I’m right you’re wrong attitudes really, really doesn’t help …
In Response: Just like the UK demonstrated its superior bi partisan work in leaving the European Union? And what precisely does bi partisan work have to do with a personal conflict? One you started by dismissing and belittling me to Barry as he tried to get to the bottom of why I was removed and blocked from EoST.
You Are Not My Friend
Π: Rather than fantasise about motives and evil in the world, if there are real problems, then seek real solutions, with the people concerned. Critique and run will never solve any problems.
In Response: You belittled me behind my back. You didn’t think I had the guts to fight back. You were wrong. Your actions are wrong. I am nothing like how you have painted me to Barry and others. I am not trading horses with you. You are not my friend. You are my (click here to find out what you are).
This is Not a Fantasy
I have digested all the disparaging ill-will you’ve privately held against me and then shared with Barry. You are the fake—fake compassion, fake sympathy, fake concern for another human being. None of it is real, and then you have the gall to call what Barry and I have recounted as fantasy.
That’s when I understood (as I digested how my own lived reality was being dismissed as fantasy) how deadly such a dismissal of another human being’s lived experience and beliefs can be.
In response to you Π, all I can say is that I once held you in high esteem and admiration. Now, I only feel disgust. As Barry pointed out, there is a psychological process of Enantiodromia (the tendency of things to morph into their opposites) that goes on in all human minds, mostly unconsciously. Mine has been completed of you. You emerged out of the mists of obscurity and back to obscurity I return you. You do not get to define who I am. I define who I am.
In response to Jan 6, 2021, we are living through a moment of cultural, moral, and spiritual reckoning. The episode I’ve noted above from Reveal (Democracy Under Siege) is critical to listen to in order to understand what I am going to say next. Lacking this perspective (and/or lacking the willingness to absorb the facts of reality as it is and as it has been lived by black and brown people for far too long) about the long history of racism in American, you the reader will be trapped in your narrative bubble of reality.
In short, what we are witnessing is the enantiodromia of The Republican Party. Yes, enantiodromia can occur in groups as well as individuals. It is a psychological process, but long ago, mankind learned how to collectivize his individual psyche with his collective. It was necessary long, long ago to survive. Modern man is playing a dangerous game with his ability to synch his mind with a group he or she chooses to follow. I will not bore you with the details of the psychological underpinnings of what I am saying, but I do not say this in ignorance. Carl Jung and many others since him have opened a channel back into our collective unconsciousness. It is a channel purposefully blocked off and closed to everyone living in Western Civilization. Lacking access to our individual reservoir of knowledge, wisdom, as well as monstrous potential to do harm, we will destroy ourselves as a species.
Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president of the United States of America. The Republican Party is also referred to as the GOP (Grand Old Party). Under Lincoln’s leadership, the United States took a stand against slavery, entered into a bitter Civil War, and successfully banned it in 1865. This was a party that stood for courage, compassion, truthfulness, and the noble goodness of all men and women.
In the wake of the Civil War, all the psychological energy of the losing side did not disappear. It submerged under the threshold of our nation’s collective consciousness re-consolidating itself in hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. The first Klan was founded in the tremendous wake of the Civil War in 1865. It is an American white supremacist hate group whose primary targets are African Americans whose roots have spread across the country. But there was much more hate circulating under the threshold of consciousness of the American people. Reveal shows how the coup of 1898 that occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina (under the guise of Democratic Party of that time) provided a template for other vicious waves of hate that would manifest as Jim Crow laws, the 1921 massacre of Black Wall street in Tulsa, OK, hangings of so many innocent black men and women, cross burnings design to instill terror, and the seedings of white supremacist hate group around the world, the United States having by far the most (Germany a close second…remember Hitler).
What we witnessed on Jan 6, 2021 was the full and complete enantiodromia of the Republican party. It has become the thing it stood against more than 156 years ago. Indeed the Civil War has not ended. What we witness was more than coup on the capitol. It is a coup of the hearts and minds of the Republican Party that is infecting this group of people with the fuel of hate, lies, and misinformation that Trump ignited into a roaring fire on Jan 6, 2021.
Christopher Kerbs who was the Senior National Cyber Security Official fired by Trump because he came out against Trump and said the 2020 election was one of the most secure and accurate elections ever said recently, “We are on the verge of a breakdown of democracy and civil society. It is the equivalent of ignoring pain in your chest for a couple weeks, and then suffering a catastrophic heart attack. If you tell a lie big enough and often enough, people are going to believe it.” Kerbs says the most dangerous thing Trump has done is to synchronize all the hate groups in America that have long fought between each other with differing ideological views. Trump became a center of gravity that has organized them into a wave of action that is truly terrifying and is not done.
As I continue the blog series: The Storytelling Species — Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles, I will trace the roots of how simple conflicts such as described about between me and Π can erupt into great divides. If consciousness is not brought to bear on the powerful forces that rise from the Sea of Unconsciousness created from the cracks of conflict, powerful and destructive forces rise and flow into the conscious mind. These are fluid forces fully capable of hijacking the small and fragile light we call the ego. If this happens, hell flows forth. All humanity floats on this massive psychological sea living inside of all of us. It is our job as a conscious species to transform our own individual pool of unconsciousness into consciousness. When we fail to do this but rather retreat into smaller and smaller bubbles of reality that are spiked by lies, misinformation, and fear, tragic and terrible destruction can result. We are the creators of Hell on Earth. We do it using nothing more than our minds.
Description: It’s easy to spot bias in other people, especially those with whom we disagree. But it’s not so easy to recognize our own biases. Psychologist Emily Pronin says it’s partly because of our brain architecture. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore what Pronin calls the introspection illusion.
Description:Right now, many kids aren’t in their classrooms — but there is so much to learn outside of school as well. This hour, TED speakers explore life lessons that teach us far more than any textbook.
“We no longer agree on a common set of facts, on a common reality, and that is a big problem for democracy.”— David Becker, Center for Election Innovation and Research, Jan 6, 2021 on 1A
Part 1 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
A DANGEROUS GAME
2020 – what more need be said. It was a year of enormous reversals, lost, and tragedy. Colossal waves of misery circumnavigated the global hitting every continent of consciousness like tsunamis of misfortune. These billowing waves of ruin quickly laid waste to norms, routines, and traditions keeping humanity flowing in elaborately engineered channels of business-as-usual.
The cause of this terrific ruinous wave was not a stupendous subterranean seismic shift. Rather it was a submicroscopic infectious bundle of nucleic acid molecules. A minute bundle of pre-life substances that decided long ago it was far more effective to replicate itself inside of the cells of living organisms emerging at the same time long ago. Rather than grow all those high energy organelles themselves, this teensy-weensy replicon simply evolved the capacity to bind to cells of living beings and invade them. Upon gaining entry, the little replicons go to work doing what they are best at doing: replicating. It’s not that hard to understand how a thing that replicates so much mutates and jumps from one species to another.
Before 2020 was half over, it was clear no part of the globe would be spared from the tiny replicon that made the jump to us, and then it got worse. Nevertheless, small pockets of human triumph emerged (places in the world where quick collective action kept the little replicon at bay). I found this website tracking which countries are winning in the fight against COVID-19, which are nearly there, and which need action. I was surprised because thought I knew which ones were winning. It turns out many countries I thought were doing fine have faltered, while others who are winning or nearly there, I’ve never heard of—places like Djibouti, Holy See, and Vanuatu.
To be sure, many of these are smaller countries or island nations, which naturally confers an advantage in winning the war against this tiny replicon. However, the most powerful tool in the arsenal of every continent of consciousness has been messaging a rather new type of communiqué to emerge in the human world. It is a word used frequently in workplace settings. But it is also used wherever there is a need to get a lot of people on the same page to accomplish a collective action.
Study.com defines messaging into 3 types: 1) informational messages communicate routine, repetitive daily tasks or convey instructions, codes, steps, or workplace procedures; 2) persuasive messages are designed to convince an individual or group to take certain specific actions; and 3) goodwill messages are used to show or instill a sense of kindness or friendliness in a workplace or community.
To combat COVID-19, blending these 3 types of messaging together has proved to be the most effective strategy in repelling the tiny virion. It turns out this blend of messaging is a modern distillation of a much older form of human communication, storytelling.
Every people, culture, and civilization that has ever existed has stories that are passed down from one generation to the next. Stories tell what has happened to the people through time. Stories weave wonderous narratives of where the people have come from and where they may be going. Stories entertain, frighten, warn, and make fun of aspects of being human and of living together in groups. Some of our most beloved stories are of individuals who overcome overwhelming obstacles to accomplish something extraordinary that benefits the people. These are the stories of heroes, winners, celebrities, and luminaries—a civilization’s shining stars of how to be a superb human being in the adoring eyes of all its citizen members.
Almost as beloved but for different reasons are stories of individual who commit dreadful, appalling, horrifying atrocities on other living beings. These stories tend to serve as warnings But sometimes they get twisted and become a template for emptying the space inside the minds of individual citizens and filling this space with warped and twisted content designed to serve the narrator of these stories. When this happens, it is always a dangerous time for everyone in a group.
Stories have long been used to galvanize collective action for as long as mankind can remember. They are powerful tools because they work inside the invisible spaces of the human mind. They settle into the darkest recesses of the human psyche. They take root and grow within the human soul.
Throughout human history stories have galvanized individuals living within a group or civilization to strive for something greater or for something mingy. Stories reveal the best and worst of the people who tell them because they reveal pieces of their soul.
As the global pandemic made its watery march around the world, I began to see stories emerge from people that shocked and surprised me. Many stories barely clung to reality. Rather these stories seemed to float in the air like colorful bubbles that would most surely pop as soon as encountering the first blade of grass growing out of the Rock of Reality… the one we all live on… our beloved Planet Earth.
In this blog series, I will explore how stories alter human reality. It is something we’ve been doing for a very long time. The difference now is there are so many more humans living on Earth all creating slightly different versions of reality inside their mind. These realities take form and burst into the world whenever an individual acts upon their inner stories. All of us have them. These are the stories we tell ourselves about what has happened to us through space and time. It is self-talk, but inner talk that creates bubble-like realities inside our minds.
We need these mind bubbles. They generate energy that power our minds. It is very much like how living cells grew organelles, little bubbles, inside the cell to power the cell, creating life! Mind bubbles create awaken consciousness. There are other organelles inside the mind creating human consciousness, but I will focus on the ones creating mind bubbles through stories, which we consume to feed our mind.
Most modern human beings have forgotten this. Forgetting this, we have descended into consumption patterns that are quite destructive. It’s a lot like eating fatty, sugary, highly processed morsels of food that has become more artificial than natural to sustain the body. It doesn’t end well. The same is true of feeding the human mind, it requires nourishment and this nourishment sustains the soul.
I believe humanity is playing a dangerous game. Most of it is occurs inside our minds until it erupts into action. When action is informed by reality, humans have done and accomplished amazing feats. However, when human action is informed by human fantasy and misinformation, terrible things can occur.
Today, one of these bubbles popped in a most distributing way.
Most of us have stumbled into this game. Many have been pushed by super manipulators of dangerous and false narratives. What these stories do is stir up sleeping forces living deep inside us. Most modern men and women have forgotten they are there. Without the light of consciousness, they can be deadly. It is a game humanity has been playing for awhile and it has been steadily dragging the entire world to the brink of catastrophe. If humanity survives this game, future humans will remember 2020 and the beginning of 2021 as the beginning of the coming catastrophe that will resonate throughout the entire century created by a meltdown of the human mind.
In upcoming blogs, I’ll explain more of what I mean that we are a storytelling species playing a dangerous game of bubble realities. These games transpire inside our minds and can turn off our hearts. This ability gives humans tremendous power. Stories can ignite the human soul and inspire it to act in terrible ways. Stories can also extinguish the flame of destruction and heal hearts and souls. Both of these potentials come from inside us. As perhaps the only storytelling species of planet Earth, we hold the magical power to create or destroy our shared reality through stories.
Yesterday, I was working on this piece while listening to NPR as I usually do. When it got towards 1:00 p.m., FreshAir was airing something I was not as interested in when it occurred to be that the Congressional counts were beginning. So I turned on CNN and listened to it as I wrote. I did not intend to put the videos and pictures above in this piece. At that moment in time, the reality bubble had not yet popped and spilled into reality in disturbing, violent ways.
Just before it did, I began taking pictures and videos to make a short video about dogs watching history (like I did one year earlier during the Impeachment Hearings). I thought it funny and a nice way to document and remember this historic moment. I finished this video just before the Capitol was invaded on Jan 6, 2021–incited by the President’s speech one hour earlier and his steady drip of misinformation that he won the 2020 election by a landslide and the election was stolen from him.
Here is the first video I made yesterday. Moments after making this, CNN began to cut to marchers surging upon the Capitol.
After the Capitol was breached and distributing reports streamed across the airways, I kept filming and made a second more serious video.
These are the Impeachment with dog videos I made a year ago.
This was on the ground footage of one of the first Pro-Trump rally in DC.
And, this was one of first Black Lives Matter protests in DC after Trump violently cleared Lafayette Square for a photo opt.
Some of Jan 6, 2021 AfterMath
Who were the groups at the rally? By Shayan Sardarizadeh of BBC Monitoring — I will be talking about QAnon a little be later in this series. I heard about this guy. Pretty stunning.
I have been following Anne over the past year as she is an expert in these matters and really, really smart! She opens her piece in The Atlantic saying:
“We have promoted democracy in our movies and books. We speak of democracy in our speeches and lectures. We even sing about democracy, from sea to shining sea, in our national songs. We have entire government bureaus devoted to thinking about how we can help other countries become and remain democratic. We fund institutions that do the same.
And yet by far the most important weapon that the United States of America has ever wielded—in defense of democracy, in defense of political liberty, in defense of universal rights, in defense of the rule of law—was the power of example. In the end, it wasn’t our words, our songs, our diplomacy, or even our money or our military power that mattered. It was rather the things we had achieved: the two and a half centuries of peaceful transitions of power, the slow but massive expansion of the franchise, and the long, seemingly solid traditions of civilized debate.“
… She talks about the years after WWII and how America stood as an example, but more than that… a symbol of democracy. Symbols act very powerfully inside the human psyche. Stories use symbols to conduct their magic. Anne goes on saying:
“During this period, many American politicians and diplomats mistakenly imagined that it was their clever words or deeds that persuaded others to join what eventually became a very broad, international democratic alliance. But they were wrong. It was not them; it was us—our example.
Over the past four years, that example has been badly damaged. We elected a president who refused to recognize the democratic process. We stood by while some members of Donald Trump’s party cynically colluded with him, helping him break laws and rules designed to restrain him. We indulged his cheerleading “media”—professional liars who pretended to believe the president’s stories, including his invented claims of massive voter fraud. Then came the denouement: an awkward, cack-handed invasion of the Capitol by the president’s supporters, some dressed in strange costumes, others sporting Nazi symbols or waving Confederate flags. They achieved the president’s goal: They brought the official certification of the Electoral College vote to a halt. House and Senate members and Vice President Mike Pence were escorted out of the legislative chambers. Their staff members were told to shelter in place. A woman was shot to death.“
… Anne talks about how anti-democratic countries are and will continue to use what happened yesterday to push down democratic efforts among their people. They are already twisting what happened at the Capitol yesterday equating the rioters who rampaged the Capitol as the same as the demonstrators in places such as Russia and China that have violently dealt with individuals seeking free and fair elections, equating the MAGA rioters ignited by a false narrative promoted by Trump as the same.
“America’s enemies said less but surely enjoyed the images more. Yesterday morning, after all, the Chinese government arrested the leaders of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. In 2020, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who did so much to put Donald Trump in the White House, was accused of poisoning his most important political opponent, Alexei Navalny. In recent memory, the Saudi crown prince ordered the gruesome murder of a journalist who was one of his most prominent critics; Iranian, Belarusian, and Venezuelan leaders regularly beat and imprison dissidents in their countries.
After the riot at the Capitol, all of them will feel more confident, more secure in their positions. They use violence to prevent peaceful debate and peaceful transfers of power; now they have observed that the American president does too. Trump has not ordered the murder of his enemies. But now nobody can be sure of what he might do in order to maintain power. Schadenfreude will be the dominant emotion in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Caracas, Riyadh, and Minsk. The leaders of those cities—men sitting in well-appointed palaces, surrounded by security guards—will enjoy the scenes from Washington, relishing the sight of the U.S. brought so low.“
Yes indeed, America was significantly damaged yesterday–all in the service of one man’s bruised ego.
Slate’s Aymann Ismail was with some of the insurrectionists as they breached the Capitol:
The people I managed to speak to didn’t seem to understand the gravity of what they had done. Inside a building they had broken into, they described themselves as “peaceful” to me. I talked to a kid from Florida, who must have been no more than 17 or 18. He told me, “This is nothing compared to what Antifa does.” I said, “Look, they’re breaking the glass.” He answered, “Yeah, but at least they’re not destroying the things.” I showed him pictures of things destroyed. It didn’t register. On the way up, there was a woman holding a sign saying, “If we were leftists, we would be rioting.”
After multiple calls to do so by Republicans and Democrats, in the afternoon, President Trump asked the mob to stay peaceful. In the same video posted to Twitter, President Trump also insisted the election was stolen from him, which is a lie. After these videos were posted, the president was banned from his Twitter account for 12 hours.
The insurrection was the third MAGA-related event in the last few months as Trump-affiliated demonstrators previously clashed with counter-protesters and police in November and December.”
One of the guest speakers is talking about the narrative going back decades such as Newt Gingrich saying he wanted to make politics a blood sport (and he has). This speakers says a conscious choice was made to court the worse instincts in their supporters. The problem is once these instincts ignite, the manipulators loss control.
Jen White says: “We knew because he told us over and over.”
Rep Tim Ryan (D-OH) says (approximately): “I’m not impressed with all the Republicans jumping on the right side of history in the last 13 days of the Trump Administration. And the Republicans still riding the Trump bandwagon know better. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and a handful of others. They know better. They received the best education possible in America and still they propped up Trump’s false narrative.”
Description of episode: “In a September presidential debate, President Donald Trump told the Proud Boys “to stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys are a right-wing extremist group with ties to white supremacy. But those comments weren’t the first time he appeared to encourage violence from his base. And on Wednesday, thousands of pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol building.
Despite previously encouraging them to go to the Capitol, President Trump urged the mob to “go home,” though in the same statement he continued to falsely claim he won the election. And after this, some are wondering whether it’s still safe for the president, and the lawmakers who challenged the vote certification process, to stay in office for the rest of his term.”
Greg Carr, Chair, Dept. of Afro-American Studies, Howard University, said (roughly): “They… who are they (the people who poured into the Capitol yesterday)… they are the people who see ‘their’ country slipping away… the power they use to have as a majority, as former slave owners and landowners, as people who have become use to having advantages over black and brown citizens of the United States of America. They were promised to bring all these things back… and they saw this promise slipping away… and so they went into ‘their’ house to hold state in ‘their’ country. That is who they are...” (…) “This country was founded on the enslavement of a people. What we saw today is a continuation of this struggle. … There is a moment when the black police officer is retreating up the stairs from the mob chasing him. When he finally gets up to the 4th floor and encounters several white police officers, you can see the moment when he stops and looks at them and you know he is thinking — are they with them or are they with me? He does not advance to defend himself and the capitol until he sees the white officers advancing on the insurrectionists. That moment tells you everything about what was going on yesterday.”
Dana Fisher, Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland; Author, “American Resistance: From the Women’s March to the Blue Wave”, said (roughly when asked what is the difference between a protestor and insurrectionist): “Protesters expertise their right to voice their disagreement to something going on in the country, but protesters do not carry arms, invade a building of government, and call for shooting and hanging the traitors they believe have failed them. These are insurrectionists… these are domestic terrorists…“
Stay safe… remember love always finds the most inclusive, gentle way to live together in peace and harmony. It is our choice to act through love or to act through hate.
Next in The Storytelling Species Series | Part 2: The Sea of Misery: