Calculating Hate… It’s in Their Eyes

On April 25, 2023, Carolyn Bryant Donham died in Westlake, Louisiana. She was 88 years old.

Sixty-eight years earlier, as a 21 year old girl, she accused the black teenager Emmett Tilll of whistling at her, grabbing her hand, and asking for a date. All of this except maybe the whistle (which could have been someone else, even someone white) was a lie, but her husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. Milam took it upon themselves to mete out justice, Jim Crow justice, justice laced with hate and loathing.

With Carolyn in the car, Roy and Milam broke into Emmett’s uncle’s house, kidnapped him, then beat, shot, and lynched Emmett beyond recognition. They threw his broken body into the Tallahatchie River where it would not be found for days.

The year was 1955. Because of the bravery of Emmett Till’s mother who insisted on an open casket funeral, the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi ignited the spark for the Civil Rights Movement, which would crash across America trying to washout hate.

But hate is a mighty sticky thing. It clings to craggy rocks inside the mind that are full of grievances, grumbles, and grudges. White people cling to hate in order to feel important, in command, and confident about their place in the world. Having seizing power centuries earlier, White people have created tremendous systems of inequality and injustice. And now, White people cling to these corrupted systems for dear life!

They do so because they don’t know if they really can stand on their own two feet. They really don’t know if they can make it in the world where everyone has equal rights, equal opportunities, and true equity. White people are afraid of their own incompetence, ineptitude, and inadequacy. I am White. I know.

I also know hiding behind a wall of seething hate makes people feel powerful for a minute, but that feeling is fleeting. And hate is a very heavy thing. Hate drags people down into Pits of Ignorance. These are very deep, very dark, and very nightmarish place inside every human being, except we are too scared to look.

Notes for Book

But that’s the cure! Looking!! That is the only way to vanquish the haunting ghost of hate. Looking and confronting your own Pit of Hate, is the only way not to be controlled by hate. A person has to face it, to own it, and eat it. It is part of being a conscious being.

If you are human, you are processing all sorts of awful feelings and emotions that are in direct competition for your conscious attention. The only way not to get sucked in to one hole or another is to keep both opposites, both sides of yourself, within your gaze of conscious awareness.

Justice is a very important element in digesting consciousness and growing a stronger psychological-spiritual body over time.

Will There Ever be Justice for Emmett Till?

This undated photo shows Emmett Louis Till, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the Mississippi Delta in August 1955 after witnesses claimed he whistled at a white woman working in a store.
(  File / AP Photo ) | Photo from The Take Away, May 1, 2023

No, there won’t. They last person involved in his murder has died.

This is the woman responsible for telling the lie that got Emmett Till killed.

I only learned about Carolyn Bryant Donham’s death yesterday (about a week after she died). I was wrestling with a section in my book about hate. I heard about her death on the Take Away while taking a break trying to do a refresh of my muddled mind.

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry was speaking with with Timothy B. Tyson who is the author of The Blood of Emmett Till and senior research scholar at Duke University. She was also speaking with Keith Beauchamp who is an award-winning filmmaker behind the documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Till” and producer of the movie “Till” about what Bryant’s death means in the quest for justice in Emmett Till’s murder.

Side note: I am so disappointed with NPR for cancelling this show. We are living through times of unprecedented violence, ignorance, and hate. To survive such times, we need diverse voices. Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry through this show provides such a voice. It is a significant lost on the landscape of sanity, truth, and recovery from the fatal infection of hate.
This 1955 file photo shows Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused Black teenager Emmett Till of making improper advances before he was lynched.
(Gene Herrick, File/AP Photo) | Photo from The Take Away, May 1, 2023

The Take Away — Emmett Till

Melissa Harris-Perry recounts the events of that fateful day in 1955.

On August 28th, 1955, two adult white men, Roy Bryant and JW Milam, kidnapped 14-year-old Emmett Till at gunpoint from his uncle's home in Money, Mississippi. It was the middle of the night. Bryant and Milam beat and shot Emmett. They used barbed wire to tie a cotton jean fan to his neck, and they threw him into the river. When Mamie Till-Mobley received her son's remains, the child was disfigured beyond recognition.
She made a choice so vulnerable and courageous; it altered the course of history. At her insistence, for five days, Emmett's mutilated body lay in an open casket. More than 50,000 people visited the Southside Chicago Church where he lay and millions more saw the shocking photos of the brutalized Boy in Jet Magazine. All bore witness to the stomach-churning realities of Bryant and Milam's racist violence.
Image from: Emmett Till’s Accuser Carolyn Bryant Donham Dead At 88
by The Michigan ChronicleApril 29, 2023
"When people saw what had happened to my son, men stood up who had never stood up before. People became vocal who had never vocalized before. Emmett's death was the opening of the Civil Rights Movement. He was the sacrificial lamb of the movement." -- Mamie Till-Mobley
Melissa Harris-Perry: Her steel-spined courage launched a movement for justice, but Mamie Till-Mobley never received even a modicum of accountability for the murder of her son. In 1955, an all-white Mississippi jury refused to convict the killers, and in 1956, Look Magazine paid the men $4,000 to print their confession to the murder. Throughout it all, there was a third co-conspirator, Carolyn Bryant now Carolyn Bryant Donham. It was Mrs. Bryant who told her husband and brother-in-law that Emmett Till whistled at her. It was Mrs. Bryant who told the 1955 Mississippi jury that Emmett physically accosted and sexually propositioned her.
It was Mrs. Bryant, who during the trial, brought her own young sons to the courthouse, dressed in their Sunday best. It's Mrs. Carolyn Bryant captured in a Black and white photo who stands with her head thrown back in laughter, embracing her husband Roy at the end of that farce of a trial. It's a photo that still haunts my dreams and my waking. Late last week, Carolyn Bryant now Carolyn Bryant Donham died at the age of 88 while in hospice care. Joining me now is Tim Tyson, senior research scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and author of The Blood of Emmett Till. Tim, welcome to The Takeaway.

You can read or listen to the entire interview here.


My Take Away of The Take Away

I zeroed in on a point in their conversation about how jovial and happy the defendants were when a white jury found Roy and Milam Not Guilty.

Several months after their acquittal, the two men with the help of their defense attorney sold their story to Look Magazine where they admit their guilt. They get even more recognition and celebration by vast swaths of the White Community bathing in racism and hate.

I had to find a picture of these jubilant hate-filled white people. I did. It is very jarring. They are so young, so jubilant, so ignorant (and happy of it). What is even more jarring is that Carol’s sister-in-law, Juanita, looked a lot like me when I was that age.

With that recognition, I immediately realized that if had I grown up in a community infused with hate and racism, I could have easily been that girl smiling so brightly in the courtroom knowing they had all just gotten away with murder.

This recognition of how easily I could have been her is frightening. It elicits a deep and profound feeling of disgust and self-loathing inside myself. I want to condemn her and them, but I know I need to be honest about my own ignorance and hate.

So how do I do that?

The first step is recognizing that hate lives inside of me. It lies in wait like a sleeping dog ready to jump up and bite anything that threatens me, rejects me, injures me, makes me feel bad about myself, threatens my family, threatens my livelihood, threatens my beliefs.

Hate lives inside all of us. If you are a human being who thinks, you are creating hate. It is a natural byproduct of thinking, just like pooping and peeing are natural byproducts of eating. We all produce it just by being human and thinking.

Thinking is division. Thinking is cutting the world up into smaller and smaller pieces to understand it, predicate it, and make it feel safer for us to exist. But when you split the world into pieces in an effort to control it, you always get opposites. We name these opposites Good and Bad, or you might know them as Us and Other (the Evil Other).

So, I recognized myself in the picture of Carolyn and her sister-in-law laughing in court. And then, I found this picture of Carolyn. This picture captures her hate. I see it in the rigid tilt of her head, the stiffness of her shoulders, the hardness of her face, and mostly, I see it in her cold pinpoint, hard eyes.

Woman whose accusation led to the lynching of Emmett Till has died at 88, coroner says | Image from CNN report on Carol’s death

When a person is calculating hate, their eyes narrow like slits. The pupils grow smaller and hard like bowling balls. Their glare hardens like ice picks. They are calculating how to kill you.

This the glare I see in this picture. It glare people recognize all over the world. When you see this glare, you should run!


Getting Away With Murder

Another source about Carolyn and the murder of Emmet Till is accounted by American Experience: Getting Away With Murder.

It turns out that Roy, Carolyn, J. W. Milam, and Juanita were poor, really poor!

American Experience recounts:

Carolyn Bryant, the daughter of a plantation manager and a nurse, hailed from Indianola, Mississippi, the nucleus of the segregationist and supremacist white Citizens' Councils. A high school dropout, she won two beauty contests and married Roy Bryant, an ex-soldier.
The couple ran a small grocery, Bryant's Grocery & Meat Market, that sold provisions to black sharecroppers and their children. The store was located at one end of the main street in the tiny town of Money, the heart of the cotton-growing Mississippi Delta. They had two sons and lived in two small rooms in the back of the store.
To earn extra cash, Roy worked as a trucker with his half-brother J. W. Milam, an imposing man of six-feet-two inches, weighing 235 pounds. Milam prided himself on knowing how to "handle" blacks. He had served in World War II and received combat medals.
On the evening of August 24, 1955, Emmett Till went with his cousins and some friends to Bryant's Grocery for refreshments after picking cotton in the hot sun. The boys went into the store one or two at a time to buy soda pop or bubble gum. Emmett walked in and bought two cents' worth of bubble gum. Though exactly what happened next is unconfirmed. She stormed out of the store. The kids outside said she was going to get a pistol. Frightened, Emmett and his group left. -- American Experience

Their collective act of violent hate made them popular! In fact, it made them celebrities for a minute.

Carolyn Bryant, Chicago Defender | Photo from American Experience — Getting Away with Murder
Some reporters talked about Roy and Carolyn's "handsome looks" and J. W.'s tall stature and big cigars. They even alluded to Carolyn as "Roy Bryant's most attractive wife" and a "crossroads Marilyn Monroe." -- American Experience: Getting Away With Murder.

She is pretty in this photo. The hate is not in her eyes. She looks soft and like a doll, which how women had to look back then. Even though women had won the right to vote several decades earlier, misogyny still ruled and ran rampant just like racism. Carolyn knew being pretty was her only asset.

During the trial, the families arrived with their sons dressed in their Sunday best, Roy and J.W. in starched white shirts while their wives donned cotton dresses. Many whites in the surrounding counties showed up to watch the show. They brought their children, picnic baskets and ice cream cones. Meanwhile, African American spectators were relegated to the back and looked on in fear.
Carolyn testified under oath, but outside the presence of the jury, that Emmett said "ugly remarks" to her before whistling. -- American Experience: Getting Away With Murder.

Making up her lie about Emmett Till lifted Carolyn above her station in life, which was a pretty poor station with very few prospects, despite being pretty.

She hadn’t even graduated from high school. Her biggest accomplishments up til this time was winning two beauty contests and marrying Roy, then popping out two babies all before turning 21.

But suddenly, she was popular! Really popular! Hate had made her Great! She was getting noticed and being showered with so much love by others harboring and clinging on to hate, which was most White people in the South just like her.

Now, fast-forward to May 3, 2023. Have we changed very much since this horrible crime?

Archetypal Animation from January 2022 blog | When Do We Get To Use Violence?

Hate Is Popular

Young protestors during the Birmingham Campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, May 1963. The movement, which called for the integration of African Americans, was organized by Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth amongst others. (Photo by Frank Rockstroh/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) | From 1A; May 2, 2023

Emmett Till’s death ignited the Civil Rights Movement. And a little less than 10 years after his brutal murder, it would be written into law through the civil rights act of 1964.

But not before a lot of pain and suffering occurred as recalled in this interview on 1A.

Hate was popular,” Jeff Drew tells Jen White in an interview about The Birmingham movement, 60 years later produced by 1A. “What we were trying to do and continue to try to do is bring awareness that everyone is important. Every human being is important.”

On May 2, 1963, hundreds of school-age kids in Birmingham, Alabama, woke up with a plan.  
Through coded messages broadcast by local radio DJs, they were given the signal to leave the classroom and meet at the park for a peaceful protest against segregation in the city.  
“My mother said, ‘I’m sending you to school, don’t get in any trouble’,” said Janice Kelsey, who was a 16-year-old high school student in Birmingham at the time.  “I was going to school. I just wasn’t going to stay.” 
Jeff Drew also participated in the Children’s March. His parents were involved in the Birmingham movement for civil rights and hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in their home.
“You cannot imagine the joy of being on one of those buses on your way to jail,” said Drew. “We were nearly dying to participate.” 
Janice Kelsey and Jeff Drew joined us at the Carver Theater in Birmingham last month for a community conversation on the fight for civil rights then and now. Their actions as students in the spring of 1963 brought national attention—and a new momentum—to the civil rights movement, support for which had been waning as more adults were jailed and reluctant to be arrested. 
Civil rights leaders, including James Bevel, recruited young people to participate in a peaceful demonstration on May 2, 1963 in what became known as the Children’s Crusade. Hundreds of kids were arrested by police for parading without a permit. Images of police dogs and firehoses being used on students in the city highlighted the injustices in Birmingham and prompted President John F. Kennedy to express support for federal civil rights legislation. 
On our trip to Birmingham, we also spoke to the next generation of activists. Ashley M. Jones is a Birmingham native and the Poet Laureate of Alabama. At 32 years old, Jones is the state’s youngest-ever poet laureate and the first person of color to hold the position. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin also joined us to talk about how the city’s past informs his role today. 
This conversation was recorded in April as part of our Remaking America collaboration with six public radio stations around the country, including WBHM. Remaking America is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

And, 59 years after the Civil Rights Act, White Americans are still rolling in raging pools of hate. Hate is still immensely popular, so popular, people are making tons of money selling it to all the grumpy people holding onto grudges and hurts and who need to take a daily swim in their pool of hate to feel better about themselves!

We have lots of new celebrities helping to spread and celebrate hate. Here are three who have recently been in the news. But there are tons more! We are literally being drown them.

The Donald, The Rupert, The Tuckered-out Carlson — Drawing by me

America has a huge problem with hate. We love it so much we want to tear our country in two again. The Civil War really did not end on April 9, 1865. It lives inside the minds of people who are swimming in their private pools of hate.

But, we don’t have to worry… collective hate is running rampant all over the world.

Hate remains really popular everywhere!

Collective Hate

So, let’s tackle Collective Hate.

We all know what it is. Collective Hate is when one group of people dreams about crushing another group of people because it makes them feel powerful (for a minute, this kind of power is fleeting too).

When a group of people full of hate actually act on their hate-filled fantasies, they act like fanatical freaks. That’s because they are… because they have drained the humanity from their being, leaving nothing but a husk that looks human but acts like raging monster crushing, killing, stealing everything from the people they hate.

Collective hate is visceral. It is so toxic it drives the people infected by it mad. Mad humans infected by hate will do the most vicious, brutal, savage things like Roy and Milam did to Emmett Till. Mad, hate-filled humans act in barbaric, fiendish, heinous, hideous ways. It’s an epidemic on Earth right now.

Let’s delve into how hate wraps around a person’s heart and mind to steadily squeeze the humanity out of them.


Carolyn Bryant’s Story (or More Aptly Her Great Disappointment)

Now, there is no way I can possibly know what Carolyn was thinking or feeling that terrible day, but let’s suppose, she was feeling a little bit sorry for herself and unhappy about her life. She was a beautiful woman. She knew she was a beautiful woman.

If only things had gone a little bit different 90 years earlier, which is when the Civil War ended (April 9, 1865), she would probably, no: most certainly, she would be living a completely different life right now! (Hate always happens in the Now)

Why instead of being the daughter of a plantation manager and a nurse from Indianola, Mississippi, Carolyn Bryant might instead be a beautiful, beguiling Southern belle like Miss Scarlett O’Hara! But, if only for one tiny, little glitch, that snatched her wonderful, beautiful life away like Gone With the Wind!

Of course the wind that blew her dream life away was that the Confederate lost the Civil War.

Scarlett O’Hara’s best lines (Gone with the Wind)

Because of this glitch, she was condemned to run a small grocery, Bryant’s Grocery & Meat Market, selling provisions to black sharecroppers and their children. She took turns with her sister-in-law, Juanita, watching their children and tending the store while their husband’s drove trucks to make extra money because they were all very poor.

The store was located at one end of the main street in the tiny town of Money, the heart of the cotton-growing Mississippi Delta. And also right next to Indianola, Mississippi, which was the nucleus of the segregationist and supremacist white Citizens' Councils. 

Carolyn was a high school dropout, she won two beauty contests and married Roy Bryant, an ex-soldier. They had two sons and lived in two small rooms in the back of the store. 
                          -- American Experience: Getting Away With Murder

This was not the life she was supposed to live. She was sure of that! And this made her mad, and more than a little bit grumpy as well as resentful.

These feelings are the perfect ingredients for hate to take root and grow. Combine her personal grievances with the steady drum beat of the Southern Segregationist and White Supremacists constantly spreading their toxic thinking far and wide and polluting the collective swimming pool of human connections that everyone needs to survive, Carolyn Bryant was the perfect instrument of hate.

She bought into the thinking that White people are suppose to give the orders and be in control. She bought into the feeling of being deeply wronged that White people couldn’t stack the social decks in their favor they way they used to do. She bought into the fantasy of yearning for and bringing back the old way of life in the deep South.

Carolyn Bryant was the perfect poster girl for Southern Hate.


Crash Course on Cognitive Dissonance

Segregationist and White Supremacists use cracks between reality and people’s dreams/fantasies to break social bonds. One of the things they work hard to increase in the hearts and minds of hurting humans is cognitive dissonance.

In the field of psychologycognitive dissonance is the perception of contradictory information and the mental toll of it. Relevant items of information include a person's actions, feelings, ideasbeliefsvalues, and things in the environment. Cognitive dissonance is typically experienced as psychological stress when persons participate in an action that goes against one or more of those things.[1] According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent.[1][2] The discomfort is triggered by the person's belief clashing with new information perceived, wherein the individual tries to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.[1][2][3]
In When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World (1956) and A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance(1957), Leon Festinger proposed that human beings strive for internal psychological consistency to function mentally in the real world.[1] A person who experiences internal inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable and is motivated to reduce the cognitive dissonance.[1][2] They tend to make changes to justify the stressful behavior, either by adding new parts to the cognition causing the psychological dissonance (rationalization) or by avoiding circumstances and contradictory information likely to increase the magnitude of the cognitive dissonance (confirmation bias).[1][2][3]
Coping with the nuances of contradictory ideas or experiences is mentally stressful. It requires energy and effort to sit with those seemingly opposite things that all seem true. Festinger argued that some people would inevitably resolve the dissonance by blindly believing whatever they wanted to believe.[4]    -- Wikipedia: Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance in Politics

Cognitive dissonance theory might suggest that since votes are an expression of preference or beliefs, even the act of voting might cause someone to defend the actions of the candidate for whom they voted,[72][self-published source?] and if the decision was close then the effects of cognitive dissonance should be greater.
This effect was studied over the 6 presidential elections of the United States between 1972 and 1996,[73] and it was found that the opinion differential between the candidates changed more before and after the election than the opinion differential of non-voters. In addition, elections where the voter had a favorable attitude toward both candidates, making the choice more difficult, had the opinion differential of the candidates change more dramatically than those who only had a favorable opinion of one candidate. What wasn't studied were the cognitive dissonance effects in cases where the person had unfavorable attitudes toward both candidates. The 2016 U.S. election held historically high unfavorable ratings for both candidates.[74]
After the 2020 election, which Joe Biden won, supporters of former President Donald Trump questioned the results, citing voter fraud. This continued even after such claims were dismissed by numerous state and federal judges, election officials, governors, and government agencies as false.[75] This was described as an example of Trump supporters suffering cognitive dissonance.[76]

Cognitive Dissonance in Self-perception Theory

In Self-perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena (1967), the social psychologist Daryl Bem proposed the self-perception theory whereby people do not think much about their attitudes, even when engaged in a conflict with another person. The Theory of Self-perception proposes that people develop attitudes by observing their own behaviour, and concludes that their attitudes caused the behaviour observed by self-perception; especially true when internal cues either are ambiguous or weak. Therefore, the person is in the same position as an observer who must rely upon external cues to infer their inner state of mind. Self-perception theory proposes that people adopt attitudes without access to their states of mood and cognition.[81]
As such, the experimental subjects of the Festinger and Carlsmith study (Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance, 1959) inferred their mental attitudes from their own behaviour. When the subject-participants were asked: "Did you find the task interesting?", the participants decided that they must have found the task interesting, because that is what they told the questioner. Their replies suggested that the participants who were paid twenty dollars had an external incentive to adopt that positive attitude, and likely perceived the twenty dollars as the reason for saying the task was interesting, rather than saying the task actually was interesting.[82][81]
The theory of self-perception (Bem) and the theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger) make identical predictions, but only the theory of cognitive dissonance predicts the presence of unpleasant arousal, of psychological distress, which were verified in laboratory experiments.[83][84]
In The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance: A Current Perspective[85] (Aronson, Berkowitz, 1969), Elliot Aronson linked cognitive dissonance to the self-concept: That mental stress arises when the conflicts among cognitions threatens the person's positive self-image. This reinterpretation of the original Festinger and Carlsmith study, using the induced-compliance paradigm, proposed that the dissonance was between the cognitions "I am an honest person." and "I lied about finding the task interesting."[85]
The study Cognitive Dissonance: Private Ratiocination or Public Spectacle?[86] (Tedeschi, Schlenker, etc. 1971) reported that maintaining cognitive consistency, rather than protecting a private self-concept, is how a person protects their public self-image.[86]Moreover, the results reported in the study I'm No Longer Torn After Choice: How Explicit Choices Implicitly Shape Preferences of Odors (2010) contradict such an explanation, by showing the occurrence of revaluation of material items, after the person chose and decided, even after having forgotten the choice.[87]

There’s a lot more to cognitive dissonance, but I digress and I am sure you see how this is a very handy tool in sowing fields and polluting rivers full of hate.

Now let’s get back to hate mongers and how they used cognitive dissonance to grow huge toxic waste pits of fetid, stinking hate. That is because hate is a natural malodorous waste product of thinking. A normal healthy human being is supposed to poop it out, not eat it. But that is what hate mongers know how to do. They know how to make people eat their own shit.


Here’s How Hitler Did It — Hitler’s Ignis Fatuus

Let’s define Ignis Fatuus so you know what I’m talking about:

Ignis Fatuus is a mid 16th century word. It originate from modern Latin speakers amd literally means ‘foolish fire’ (because of its erratic movement). It has evolved to mean: something deceptive or deluding.  

This definition and images come from Oxford Languages Dictionary.  I kind of like Foolish Fire!  And I think men like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Putin (some of the biggest killers) like it too!  It's like possessing the power of Dark Magic, knowing how to get people to believe Foolish Pipe Dreams... stuff men like Hitler can say, knowing he will never, ever deliver on the promises he is making to the masses.  They are illusions, delusions, nightmares cloaked by glitter and sickening charm.

So back to Hitler’s ignis fatuus. He was part of a great body of people who just suffered a huge lost. This big lost was due partly to a style of self-inflated vanity, stubbornness, snobbishness, and stupidity corrupting the German hierarchy, which led to a massive miscalculation that lost the war.

All Quiet on the Western Front | Official Teaser | Netflix

The war Germany lost was WWI. And they were punished by the victors, and rightly so, but like Carolyn Bryant and lots of White people who used to make lots of money using slave labor, some of the German people were sore losers.

Among these sore losers was Hitler.

Let me be very clear, not everyone who experiences trauma or crisis ends up becoming a sore loser. In fact, the vast majority of people do not, many even grow stronger and get even better at accepting and assimilating reality.

But there is also a percentage who don’t grow or can’t grow. This is who I am talking about here, Germans who could not accept and assimilate that they were wrong, they lost, they needed to change.

Among this group of sore losers is Hitler: a roguish, impish, and deceitfully deluded man as well as brash and brazen. He captivates just enough sore losers to gain some traction. One he got a little power, he leveraged it to get more.

Then, many more Germans flocked to him like some new, exciting lover. Not all, of course, many Germans were afraid and for good reason.

Hitler understood all this, and manipulate everyone to leverage even more power. One way he galvanized public support was creating a good foil/a scape goat. Hitler attacked the Jews and mongrels. He was going to make the world pure again.

This fantasy was the cornerstone of his convoluted ignis fatuss and the disaffected Germans fell for it–hook, line, and sinker.

Adolf Hitler came to power with the goal of establishing a new racial order in Europe dominated by the German “master race. -- United State Holocaust Memorial Museum -- 9/20/19
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis believed that the world was divided into distinct races. According to the Nazis, each race had its own traits. These ... -- Nazi Racism | Holocaust Encyclopedia -- 12/15/22
Hitler’s Plans for the World if He Won
Adolf Hitler Speech in 1935

Stalin’s Ignis Fatuus

Stalin’s ignis fatuus is similar, but he rode to power on the back of Lenin and the Russian Revolution, a wave that was sweeping across the world. It was a backlash to rapid industrialization and the ridiculous amount of power and wealth landing up in the hands of a very few; the rich, evil capitalists! See a pattern here?

Stalin carefully calculated his chances to take control of this great wave. When his chance came, he took it with tremendous ruthlessness–killing every rival in his party without mercy.

His passion for control mutated him into one of the world’s biggest control freaks. Russia still suffers to this very day from the devastation Stalin wrought. He is the very reason why Putin now controls Russia. Putin is imitating Stalin to a tee. Putin is pushing his foolish vision of a Great Russia once again on his poor, demoralized, broken, diminished people. They are so because Stalin killed so freaken many enlightened, differently thinking Russians.

Stalin's “revolution from above” sought to build socialism by means of forced collectivization and industrialization, programs that entailed tremendous human ... -- Library of Congress
Starting in the late 1920s, Joseph Stalin launched a series of five-year plans intended to transform the Soviet Union from a peasant society into an industrial ...  -- History Channel
Terrifying Story Of Joseph Stalin’s Rise to Power
A Day in The Life of a Dictator: Joseph Stalin
"Once he decided to attain absolute power, he would never relinquish it," observes Alexandre Allilouiev, nephew of Joseph Stalin. "He was a monster." In order to achieve his goals, Stalin set about re-imaging the vast empire in his own image, which included the extermination of all those who dared oppose or refused to adhere to his ideology. The film follows the activities of Stalin on November 24, 1938 - a crucial day that set in motion the end of his Great Purge. -- A Day in the Life of a Dictator: Joseph Stalin
He believes he's been chosen by providence to create the ideal socialist, communists society. To do this, he must destroy everything to recreate it.  He puts into action a scientific, systematic plan to purge unwanted peoples of Russia. - A Day in the Life of a Dictator: Joseph Stalin

Pol Pot’s Ignis Fatuus

Another brutal killer who cloaked his ugly shit under the same auspices of the Russian Revolution, the backlash to a rapidly changing, globalized world. Lots of people longed to go back to the old ways, the old life, the idealized past. And, this is what Pol Pot sold bundled up with with a lot of hate.

The Khmer Rouge, organized by Pol Pot in the Cambodian jungle in the 1960s, advocated a radical Communist revolution that would wipe out Western influences in Cambodia and set up a solely agrarian society. -- History Channel -- Jan 7
Pol Pot wished to create a state focused on their rural idyll, with all citizens pledging loyalty in a way which prohibited all ... -- Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
Pol Pot's objective was to construct a classless, communal and self-sufficient Kampuchea, unspoiled by foreign influences, intellectualism and ... -- Alpha History -- 9/12/20
In 1960, a small group of Cambodians, led by Saloth Sar (later known as Pol Pot) and Nuon Chea, secretly formed the Communist Party of Kampuchea. -- United State Holocaust Memorial Museum
The party's aim was to establish a classless communist state based on a rural agrarian economy and a complete rejection of the free market and ... -- Al Jazeera -- 2/3/12
World’s Most Murderous Dictator Pol Pot

Mao Zedong’s Ignis Fatuus

Moa Zedong also rode the Red Wave. He also sold an idealized, backwards looking China who would vanquish all the evil Capitalists and live happily ever after! Xi Jinping is riding on the back of Mao now.

Mao and his communist supporters had been fighting against what they claimed was a corrupt and decadent Nationalist government in China since the 1920s. Despite massive U.S. support for the Nationalist regime, Mao’s forces were victorious in 1949 and drove the Nationalist government onto the island of Taiwan. In September, with cannons firing salutes and ceremonial flags waving, Mao announced the victory of communism in China and vowed to establish the constitutional and governmental framework to protect the “people’s revolution.” -- Mao Zedong outlines the new Chinese government
Cultural Revolution: Mao believed that this would ultimately create a new society where there was no gap between urban and rural, laborers and intellectuals. What are some of the ... -- University of Washington
Communism, Capitalism, and Democracy in China: Mao wanted to eliminate capitalism and its emphasis on property rights, profits, and free-market competition. He followed the ideas of Karl Marx, who envisioned ... -- Constitutional Rights Foundation

Moa Zedong was willing to kill to make his dream a reality. He was willing to kill lots of people, and he did.

Why Mao Zedong Was The Most Brutal Tyrant

Putin’s Ignis Fatuus

Let’s play a different game with Putin! Let’s pretend he had an ideal childhood and experienced lots of love growing up and was surrounded by peace-loving, Earth-loving Russians. Perhaps the descendants of people Stalin was trying to kill but missed. This Putin is a happy, pot-smoking hippy!

Young Putin | 1967 Peace Rally on the Red Square

Yes! Before Putin was a KGB agent and mass murder, he was a happy, happy hippy!

It’s true! It’s written about right here in the The Unlikely Hippy Past of Vladimir Putin.

What nice eyes this young, happy, hippy Putin has!

If only we could have this Putin back!

But sadly yes, this is a deepfake. It is made with AI. I saw an interview with the man who is making AI deep fakes, but he’s hiding, so I can’t share it.

Collective Hate

Collective Hate rises from inside each and every individual. It is the collective accounting of grievances and wrongs every civilizations harbors, especially if they have been around for a long time. All civilizations go up and go down; the stock market goes up and down; all people’s lives go up and down; all living beings experience ups and downs… that is called being alive.

Hate attempts to grab hold of only one side of the wave. Haters only want to exist on the up part of the wave (the up and up, we’re going up, we’re on the rise).

But in order to do this, reality must be split into Good and Evil. Hate mongers step into the Good Fairy Bubble and spew the Evil they have cut off from themselves on everyone else.

They know the ordinary man and women are afraid of their own shadows. Of course they know this because most modern societies and civilizations teach people to be afraid of their own shadows!

Hate-filled fear mongers tap into this pervasive fear and anxiety that plagues pretty much ever human living in a civilization. They tell people how unfair the world is treating them. They get them really good and frighten about all the things coming to ‘get them like the boogeyman‘, and then tell them that the Evil Others did this to them. Then they tell them that they better fight like Hell to keep their lives the way they want it and get their fair share.

Really, what hate-filled fear mongers are really doing is getting people to eat their own shit. If there are people who don’t do as they are told, and if the hate-filled fear monger has power, the disobedient people are killed.

“Do as you are told or else!” — the hate-filled fear monger cries

This is a tale as old as time, which for human beings living in civilizations is about 5,000 years that when all this hate and fear and more hate and more fear really started to grow. You’ll have to read my book on why this is so.

But in the meantime, do we really want to live a world ruled by Shitty Ideas and Foolish Fires?!

Feature Archetypal Animation

Image From Funeral Home

Image From: CBS report | Grand jury declines to indict woman in Emmett Till killing

Image From: CBS report | Grand jury declines to indict woman in Emmett Till killing

Music: Jim Crow the Musical Add-2 | [9] Mama Said Skit


Second Archetypal Animation

Image From: Britannica

Image From: Stalin | Wikipedia

Image From: PBS | Who’s Who: Cambodia

Image From: Salon | The American Mao: Donald Trump has led the Republican Party into a cultural revolutionthat’s pretty fucking scary…

Music: It’s in Your Eyes | Disappeared Completely

I found this song entirely by accident. I love putting together ugly images with beautiful music. And this one matched better than I could ever have intended!

Lyrics by Musixmatch

You always do this stuff
We’ll never be enough
You were floating in the life
We were floating in the life
It’s in your eyes [Hate lives in the eyes]

You think that’s not fun, the day is done
With no other feelings
Just why are your eyes not shining in lights? [Hate shuts down life… the shining lights of life]
There’s more than one meaning
Just get what you want, but again you got numb, [Greed feds Hate]
It’s because of freaking illusion [Hate grows in Foolish Fantasies, delusions, and illusions]
That life is not fiction, the sense in the description of love, [Life is wiggly… it goes up and down… fiction tries to make life all up all the time… that’s a lie]
It’s an awful conclusion [No one likes to admit they have to poop and pee, but it is true — the origins of Shame another great catalyst of Hate]

You could always turn it back [Yes, turning back is always such a great idea! Look where we are as a world in the year 2023! It’s so Great!! Let’s do more turning backwards!]
Get another heart attack [Let’s see… there is the Putin heart attack, Xi Jinping heart attack, Trump heart attack… should I go on?!!!]
We roll!
We’ll find ourselves in love

Oh fuck… [Yep… we are pretty much fucked as a species due to our propensity to engage in Foolish Fantasies]

There Was An Old Woman

There was an old woman who lived in a Speakeasy.

There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Speakeasy

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

Cheating People is So Easy!

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

“I killed Santa with my chainsaw!”

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

“Ahhhhh! The Money Monster!”

The End

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


Postscript

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

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

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

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

Tahiti and the Thing

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

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

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

The Money Trap

Is there any way out of the money trap?


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

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

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

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

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

Alan Watts – You are EVERYTHING (Black Screen, No Music) [3.5 hours long] — Just Google the the title… it’s a constant game of whack a mole on the Internet with music and things…

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

Diamond Body and the Secrets of the Golden Flower

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

How to Feel Better and Create a More Beautiful World

What Matters & Reality

Love matters reality just as lack of love matters reality.

What kind of reality do you want to experience today?

And remember, don’t be cheesy.

Blood & Bringing Into Being a Kinder, Better World

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I was working on my story while listening to NPR, as is my habit. I remember perking up and paying attention when This American Life introduced the subject of this episode: Bloody Feelings — Stories about the Power of Blood. The stories were not at all what I was expecting from the title.

Bloody Feeling — Stories about the Power of Blood | This American Life

Act 1 was about Adele who she described herself as “the worst phlebotomist in the whole hospital.” She was a physical therapist until the Coronavirus gripped the country. With all her physical therapy sessions cancelled, she was not needed there. But what the hospital really needed was more people to do blood draws. I loved her story.

Act 2 is about the discovery of 30 century-old postcards written in old Yiddish by a distant family member challenges David Kestenbaum’s ideas about the unimportance of blood ties.

Act 3 is about a Shakespeare theater production that involved a lot of blood that was a little too real for the audience and what befell everyone.

Act 4 is about fibroids and a uterus that gets turned into a play titled: There’s No ‘Us’ in Uterus. Oh, Wait…

Act 5 is about a broken heart… no, not a love sick broken heart… a heart that required open heart surgery.



Walk In The Woods

While I enjoyed these stories, I wasn’t bowled over by them as other stories I’ve heard, although the color red stuck in my mind. I finished what I was doing and got my pup ready to go for a trot. This is our pandemic routine. Pumper loves our trots, especially when we see other dogs! I am pretty sure that she thinks all dogs exist on Earth to play with her. She plays well with all dogs no matter their size or temperament, adapting herself to whoever she mets for an instant playdate.

So, when we caught sight of big dog ahead of us, it was Pumper’s mission to catch up with them. They were walking fast, but Pumper was pulling me faster. Eventually, we caught up and found out the big dog was a Great Pyrenees-Poodle mix– a Pyrepoo! It was the first one we’d ever met, and it was only 7 months old but already twice as big as Pumpernickel (now 15 months). I was admiring all the similarities between the two dogs who got along splendidly together. The owner of the Pyrepoo just told me how the Great Pyrenees were guard dogs of a flock not herders. And I just told her my dog was a Pyrepitt (she’s actually many more dogs mixed in but the Great Pyreness and Pitt Bull are the most dominate) when a Pitt Bull came upon us.

The guy walking the Pitt looked a bit anxious, but neither I nor the owner of the Pyrepoo took alarm. As he passed us with the Pitt on a super short leash, the Pyrepoo pup went over to say hello. This is common doggie custom to greet all new incoming dogs with a sniff. But no sooner had the pup approached the Pitt to sniff when he yelped in pain. The Pitt had bite him and would not let go. Both owners tried desperately to pry the Pitt’s jaws open. Pumper and I stood stunned and helpless watching what was happening before us.

Finally, the Pitt released its grip and Pyrepoo pulled back to a safe distance. I was relieved to see his nose was not the part bitten, but blood dripped from his lower lip. There was also blood in the Pitt’s mouth, and blood on the hands of both owners. It turned out the man was helping his sister with her dog and apparently didn’t know the Pitt’s temperament. The whole thing was terrible. I helped flag down a Kleenex for the owner of the Pyrepoo, then they were off to the vet get stitches. I felt so bad because had we not stopped them to say hello, they would have missed the Pitt Bull.

The synchronicity of the moment was duly noted. I have learned to pay attention to such moments when I recognize them. There is usually more going on that needs to be understood, but I had no idea what. Ruminating on blood was something I did not do, really at all… perhaps due to cultural programming.


Brooklyn Center — Then & Now

The next day, another terrible synchronicity occurred when Daunte Wright was fatally shot in Brooklyn Center, MN during a ‘routine’ traffic stop. The shooting occurred hardly more than 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. And it happened right in the middle of the trial of Chauvin, which had just completed its second week of heart wrenching testimony about George Floyd’s final moments, his life, and lost potential and presence in the lives of all who loved him. It was painful to absorb. And then, another young black man lost his life at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota.

What to Know About the Trial of Derek Chauvin | NYT: Last Updated April 16, 2021, 12:31 p.m. ET

Police fatally shoot man, 20, in suburban Minneapolis, sparking protests | Washington Post: April 12, 2021 at 3:52 a.m. EDT

These deaths hit close to home because I grew up in North Minneapolis. I know where George Floyd died and where Daunte Wright was shot. I could walk to Brooklyn Center from where I lived. I often went to the old Brookdale Mall in Brooklyn Center because that’s where you went with your friends in high school (well, maybe that’s where the nerdy kids went). It was a place we could go to feel young and free.

I remember meeting my girlfriends at Rocky Rococos, then walking around the Brookdale Mall. We mostly just walked and talked, dreaming about our futures. None of us had much money to spend, but every once in a while, one of us would buy something special there. I remember hunting for prom dresses there with my friends and buying one even though I didn’t have a date and did not go to my high school prom. But I wanted a picture in a prom dress…lol. Looking back at these moments, they were times we were pretending to be all grown up, and the Brookdale Mall was the perfect backdrop to step into our fantasy lives.

Back in its day, the Brookdale Mall was part of cutting edge suburban social architecture being one of 5 malls opening around downtown Minneapolis to provide the perfect place to go for suburban housewives and families who needed ordinary household supplies, furniture, school supplies and clothes–whatever was needed for a suburban household. They were knows as the Dales and included Brookdale (Brooklyn Center), Rosedale (Roseville), Ridgedale (Minnetonka), and Southdale (Edina). Brookdale first opened in 1962 and grew in stages. A lovely blog called Abandoned Retail recounts the rise and fall of the Dales surrounding Minneapolis, specifically the Brookdale Mall.

When I was growing up, I never considered the privilege my white skin afforded me as I walked around places like the Brookdale Mall or drove to it myself after getting my driver’s license. I never thought about how the dreams I entertained or how the gallivants with my friends at the mall were carefully packaged in specific ways designed to make us believe we each had a chance to become Cinderella and to find our Prince Charming.

The Old Brookdale Mall that used to be in Brooklyn Center, MN — Where Your Dreams Could Come Ture

From the Strib’s archives: A trip back in time to Brookdale | StarTribune:  MARCH 13, 2015 — 7:49AM


It would take decades before I realized how fatal the childhood fairytale fantasies I reveled in were. How they obscured brutal realities embedded throughout American society, inherited from its long history of slavery and institutionalized racism. Places like the old Brookdale Mall sold the white suburban fantasy to white Americans, but it was an artificial, super sugary coating trying to cover up the cruel realities faced by black and brown people every single day.

I have never feared for my life being pulled over for a traffic violation. I never felt watched by workers at stores who worried I might steal something. I know now my friends and I got get out of jail free cards simply for being white. This was not so for my friends and classmates who were brown and black who were losing their lives for making the very same mistakes I had made.


Policing & Justice in the United States of America

How Policing Works in the Suburbs | 1A | WAMU

Image from 1A (WAMU) | A woman holds up a portrait of George Floyd as people gather outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Description of this episode: Last summer, millions across the country took to the streets to protest police violence. Now, against the backdrop of the trial of Derek Chauvin, criticism of the criminal justice system in America is once again under scrutiny. Recent shootings of Black men by police officers in the suburbs, including in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, have attracted new attention to the changing demographics of the suburbs and the tactics police use there. 

We recommend this thread from researcher Will Stancil, who is one of our guests for this conversation:

From 1A | WAMU | April 19, 2021

And conditions are often different for people in wealthy, white suburbs. From a piece called “The Case For Defunding Police Is In Our Affluent White Suburbs” in Mel Magazine:

Homicides, robberies, rapes and other violent crimes happen disproportionately in poor minority communities. Crime rates have been falling across the country for the last 30 years — it’s statistically the safest era to be an American. But Black and brown people, especially those in inner-city communities, are victimized by crime that’s practically unseen in whiter, more affluent suburbs.
Those suburbs aren’t safe and clean and orderly because they’re white and wealthy. White, wealthy suburbs are safe because they benefit from two world-shifting factors: 1) the police harass less and solve more serious crimes; and 2) there’s significant funding for municipal and social services, whether that’s schools or health-care facilities or simply park space.

How are police and local officials responding to changing demographics in the suburbs? Have police been able to answer calls for justice from local residents?

We’re talking about how policing works in the suburbs.


Chicago Police Killing of Adam Toledo Brings Police Violence Against Latinos Back in Focus | The Takeaway | WNYCStudios |

Image from The Takeaway | WNYCStudios | April 19, 2021

Description of this story: What happened to the 13-year-old at the hands of police draws national reaction after police release footage showing Toledo had his hands up before he was gunned down.


Throughline: Policing in America

Image I made for Throughline’s Powerful Podcast on Policing in America
Black Americans being victimized and killed by the police is an epidemic. As the trial of Derek Chauvin plays out, it's a truth and a trauma many people in the US and around the world are again witnessing first hand. But this tension between African American communities and the police has existed for centuries. This week, the origins of policing in the United States and how those origins put violent control of Black Americans at the heart of the system.

Ayanna Pressley Reintroduces Bill To Address Disproportionate Punishment Of Black Girls In Schools

Image from Here and Now | WBUR | April 19, 2021 — Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

Description: Black girls are suspended six to seven times more than white girls in schools across the U.S. Now, Rep. Ayanna Pressley is reintroducing a bill that aims to disrupt the school-to-confinement pipeline.

Here & Now’s Tonya Mosley speaks with Rep. Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, about the bill to address the disproportionate punishment of girls of color in schools.

This segment aired on April 19, 2021.


State Rep. John Thompson Pushes For Police Reform In Minnesota

Image from Here and Now | WBUR | State Rep. John Thompson Pushes For Police Reform In Minnesota | April 19, 2021

Description: Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson was an activist who joined the legislature in 2020 hoping to be more effective in the push for police reform and accountability.

He reflects on how impactful it’s been so far and how his community is grappling with this moment.

This segment aired on April 19, 2021.


The Future of Policing in America | The Takeaway | Series of Five Stories

Images from The Takeaway series on Policing in America

Description: Recently, The Takeaway convened five of those voices, across law enforcement, advocacy, and academia, and asked them to come together to talk about the way forward. What is the future of policing in America? In our ongoing coverage, we tackle what’s broken in today’s system and what it would take to fix it.


April 20, 2021 — Today Was A Monumental Day, But We Are Not Done

PBS NewsHour full episode, Apr. 20, 2021 | Derek Chauvin Guilty on All Counts

Wow — I did not expect this verdict today. What a relief. It is one step in the right direction towards justice, but there is still a long ways to go and a lot of work to do to transform as a people, a society, a nation that values the lives of all its people–black, white, Asian, indigenous, immigrant, religious, non-religious–whoever you are, you belong in a society that treats everyone with dignity and respect and justice.


Black Lives Matter | Filmed June 2020 on Black Lives Plaza in Washington, DC

Today Was A Moonwalk Day | April 20, 2021 | I shot these pictures just before the verdict was announced in the trial for justice for George Floyd today. This is dedicated to George Floyd and his family and loved ones.

Mother of Grief — Remembering 2020 | Excerpt about the Impact of Coronavirus and Racism in America | Mother of Grief video is a journey through art and music remembering some of the events that reshaped our shared reality over the past year spanning roughly Feb. 2020 to Feb. 2021.

In this excerpt, the base video credits go to The Power of Street Art Under COVID (aired on PBS 7/7/20) — https://www.pbs.org/video/the-power-of-street-art-under-covid-tg7su0/ Photos from the Black Lives Matter march were taken by me during a march in Washington, DC in June 2020 seeking justice for George Floyd and so many more black and brown people killed by police in the United States.

This clips ends with a little girl dancing on the Black Lives Matter mural painted on the WDC street leading to the White House with a street musician singing justice, justice. Yesterday, George Floyd’s family got justice with guilty verdicts handed down to the police officer who murder him on May 25, 2020.

To read more about the full length video (Mother of Grief — Remembering 2020), go to: https://www.sapience2112.com/2021/03/20/mother-of-grief-remembering-2020/

We Are a Nation of Beautiful People and Each & Every One Is Precious, If We Could Just Learn to See

The United States of America is at another inflection point; a time of reckoning of cultural precepts obscured and hidden through false politeness and talk of freedom for all, but with harden attitudes and deep brutality and injustices baked into our systems, our stories, and our brains. To change deeply ingrained attitudes, actions, and behavior, they need to be made visible. Even when they are made visible, they need to be reckoned with honestly by each individual in which they exist.

Perhaps that is why my attention got drawn to blood and its brutalities just before another police officer killed another precious soul in my hometown. Just the word blood conjures up violent, brutal images. But it also heralds new life (though any mother will tell you labor is hard and painful work). To do the work necessary to transform collective reality requires lots of individuals doing the hard work of self-development. A good place to begin is how we are programmed by our culture. For a modern man or woman, this gets complicated fast because modern society frequently requires belonging to lots of groups with each possessing its own unique culture that exerts an influence an individual’s mind space. This is important because it is here in this invisible space of mind where our values, beliefs, and attitudes are formed. These then inform our actions in the world, which create our collective reality.

Honor Culture

Shankar Vedantam explored recently how culture and the cultural narratives we carry around inside of us influences our individual attitudes and actions in a podcast called Made of Honor. He introduces this episode saying, “Stories help us make sense of the world, and can even help us to heal from trauma. They also shape our cultural narratives, for better and for worse.” His guest speaker, Ryan Brown, begins with a story from his childhood where he finds himself along with his boyhood friends flying down a dark country road with no headlights on, no seatbelts, no helmets. The car was driven by a friend but appeal to him to go slower only goaded him to go faster. It was a moment Ryan believed he and his friends would die. It was also a moment that led Ryan to become a psychologist at Rice University in Texas.

Ryan Brown now understands why his fried refused to slow down nor apologize later for his reckless behavior. His friend was following a cultural script based on honor culture. “Honor cultures are societies that put the defensive reputation [of the group] at the center of social life and make that defense one of the highest priorities people have.” It is a culture that encourage excessive risk-taking behavior to show how brave and tough a person is, especially males in the culture. Doing so is a way to build and solidify one’s reputation in the society. In an Honor Culture, if your honor is threatened, you never back down, especially as a man, then you can only double-down and never show an ounce of weakness.

Ryan tells how his ancestry traces back to Southern Scotland that is steeped in the values and beliefs of Honor Culture. Residue of Honor Culture have been brought over from Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and many other immigrant groups that had these beliefs. These attitudes and values took root and grew strong in the Southern colonies, even when the United States had not been born yet. And they continued to flourish when the Southern colonies transformed into the Southern states, and then they pushed West.

Ryan says (12:39): “And so if you think about westerns, if you think about Western movies or Western history, there are always rough and tumble guys with names that sounded kind of Scottish, a McTavish McDonald, McDougal, Graham, et cetera. And that’s not an accident. So even today, even though most people in the us in the South, I don’t think of themselves as byproducts of Scottish history. You can still see this cultural residue in some fairly powerful patterns of, of social life, that social scientists, many others, including myself, have documented over the last 20 years.”

Over the past 20 years, Ryan and his colleagues have documented a strong connection between Honor Culture and Military Valor. This is a positive trait of this culture but there is a dark side too because honor cultures can get trapped in endless cycle of violence where retribution for dishonor is followed by retribution upon retribution of escalating violence. Honor cultures are found all over the world in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and also found in black and brown communities in the U.S. Honor culture is particularly prevalent in states like Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas. The names of towns and businesses even reflect honor culture such as a little country town in Texas called Cut and Shoot. But, naming places is only one small example of how honor culture shapes the lives of millions of people.

Honor cultures tend to take the stance: “That’s not my people. That’s not my family. That’s not my community.” Such a mental stances discourages individuals to reflect on situations that arise that end in conflict, even violence, and these cultures do not cultivate empathy, kindness, and compassion. These qualities are considered signs of weakness. If you lose your honor in an Honor Culture, you lose your value, your standing, your reputation and never get it back. Honor cultures tend to have a veneer of extreme politeness, but violence bubbles below and can break out at the slightest perceived slight. For instance, a simple insult in an honor culture can rapidly escalate into a violence.

Gender roles tend to be highly rigid as well in Honor Cultures with Ryan saying (29:59), “If you’re a real man in an honor culture, then that means you’ve built a reputation as someone who’s strong, tough, brave, loyal, and utterly intolerant of disrespect. If you’re a woman in an honor culture and your considered a good woman and honorable woman, that means that you’ve lived up to the social standards that say you should be loyal to family, especially loyal to your husband and sexually pure.

In a complicated country such as the US, honor cultures have effects on how politics play out (47:55) “And what to spend a few minutes talking about the role of honor culture in politics. You’re a list of States where there is a strong honor. Culture include South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee and States that don’t include Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Minnesota. It’s hard not to see a division there between, you know, a prototypical red States and prototypical blue States, Republican States and democratic States, right?


April Sometimes Brings More Than Showers

A Partial List of Mass Shootings in the United States in 2021 — The shootings never stopped during the coronavirus pandemic, they just became less public, researchers say. | The New York Times — April 16, 2021

Honor Culture explains a lot, but it’s not the only influence shaping individual attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. There are many factors shaping who we are as individuals. Circumstances such as social status, economic status, rural or urban dweller, religious community all exert tremendous influences on individuals. To be a modern human living in a highly technological society requires belonging to many systems and groups that all have unique cultures all exerting expectations and limitations on individuals. In short, modern humans live in very complicated worlds, made so by us. Although living in groups has proven to be an undeniably successful strategy to survive, there is a price and there is a dark side. The eruption of violence seems to be a deadly cost of living in huge groups.

As I did research for this blog, I came across an article about how April 14 to April 20 is historically a Bad Week for violent or disastrous events to occur. I will not speculate why bad things seem to cycle in patterns or occur in series, but here is a partial accounting of this week through time:

  • April 19, 1995: Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City on
  • April 19, 1993: a 51-day siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX ended in a devastating fire that killed more than 50 people, including children
  • April 20, 1999: the Columbine shooting occurred that left 12 students dead and 21 injured happened
  • April 16, 2007: the Virginia Tech shooting killed 32 people and wounded 17 others
  • April 14, 1912: the Titanic sank
  • April 18, 1906: the most deadly earthquake in U.S, history hit San Francisco.

To see more of the dreadful events that occurred during this week, see the article by AFRO: April 14 to April 20: An Historically Bad ‘Week That Was’ (4/19/13)


In the Aftermath of Violence & Disasters

Regardless of the type of violence or disaster, the aftermath is trauma, which leaves deep, lasting scars on the inside of people.

Grieving Parents Share Pain of Losing Daughter in Mass Shooting | WYC Studios | April 19, 2021

Image from The Takeaway | WNYCStudios | April 19, 2021

Description of story: Sandy and Lonnie Phillips lost their daughter Jessica Redfield Ghawi during the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado


How Gun Violence Affects American Children | 1A | WAMU | April 14, 2021

Playground Image from 1A (WAMU) | How Gun Violence Affects American Children | April 14, 2021 | John Woodrow Cox’s new book is “Children Under Fire: An American Crisis.”Scott Olson/Getty Images

Regardless of whether violence is because of honor culture, racism, or the growing disease gripping the United States of America of mass shooting, it leaves a on survivors too. One group, impacted more than most, is hardly ever heard. Millions of children around the country are affected by gun violence every year. Whether it’s sitting through safety and violence prevention programs in school, losing a friend or loved one, or being a victim themselves, this brand of cruelty has an effect on the young.

1A talks with author John Woodrow Cox who shares powerful stories from young victims–and looks at what their experience can tell us about preventing further harm, both physical and mental.


Healing After Chauvin Murder Conviction: Is It Possible? | Here and Now | WBUR | April 21, 2021

Image of London Williams bursting into tears on April 20, 2021, in Washington, after hearing that former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd from Here & Now (Jacquelyn Martin/AP) | Other Photos I took or from NPR podcast series on White Lies

Here & Now talked to racial trauma therapist Resmaa Menakem in this interview. He brought up something terribly important in the wake of the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death almost one year ago. Menakem says what Chauvin did was not only traumatic but meant to inflict terror in the community as well. He says (which has been said by many others as well in the past 24 hours) that “— guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughteris not justice, but rather accountability. It took uninterrupted, uncut video evidence to prove what people of color have been saying for decades about the police.” He said, “This particular video, compared to other taped incidents of police violence against Black Americans, represented white body supremacy so clearly that people could not dismiss it anymore. [But] still, there are significant swaths of people who don’t believe there are innocent Black and Brown people who are profiled and unfairly targeted by police.

I know such people. I know what Menakem says is true about white people in particular.

Menakem further states that “there’s pain in not being believed, and also trauma from racialized gaslighting — a form of psychological manipulation that white bodies in the U.S. have done to Black, Brown and Indigenous people for centuries.

I’ve experienced gaslighting, and I know people who still suffer from the pain and trauma of being gaslighted by people they depended on who gaslighted them instead of took care of and nurtured them. Mencken is right to point this out. It is tremendously painful and highly effective at tearing apart the fabric that sustains us all. A gaslighter is a person who makes other people feel like they are the one who is going crazy. They are insidious, crafty, deceitful people.

Gaslight (1944) – You Think I’m Insane Scene (5/8) | Movieclips | “You Think I’m Insane“: After becoming hysterical at a friend’s house Paula (Ingrid Bergman), Gregory (Charles Boyer) shares his frustrations with her.

If a white body says something and then a body of culture says something else, what ends up happening is that the white body is always given the benefit of the doubt,” Menakem says. “So throughout the trial and verdict, people of color held onto hope for accountability on one hand while on the other hand, knew “white bodies will never admit that this system is feral.”

It is feral. The United States of America has a completely lopsided, feral system. And because of all the sugar coated, fluffy fantasies white kids get fed in their youth combined with being instilled with you’ve got to be somebody, white people are left with very little inner resources to see and deal with the truth. It is much easier to pretend not to see how brutal, how feral, how sick our culture really is.

Healing is possible, Menakem assures. He ends saying we need to start by turning towards each other and seeing other other rather than away from each other. This is powerful advice.

Lots of Human Beings, Lots of Disasters

Human beings seem particularly prone to creating circumstances that end in disaster:

Mother of Grief — What We Loss in 2020

You get the idea. Now, how do we get out of cycles of violence and disaster (mostly human made)? How do we recover and get to a place where something better can take root and grow?

Spirit Blood

Alongside Our Red Blood Cells is Another Kind of Blood — Consciousness — It Allows Us to Synthesize & Decide How To Use It

Something else flows alongside the red blood cells in our bodies. It is not something that is visible, but it can be felt. This invisible substance (or perhaps force) is essential to sustain our inner spaces and to maintain a healthy state of mind. Each and every human being is born with this invisible force flowing through them just like blood flows through them. Because we are human, we are aware of this force and this awareness allows us to channel it and to alter instinctual responses and urges before acting on them. Human beings can suppress instinctual responses. They can amplify them, and they can transform them into something else entirely. Carl Jung called this ability consciousness, or perhaps it is spirit blood.

It is through our choices and how we alter instinctual responses before acting on them that our collective reality is created. Eastern traditions, religions, and philosophies call this power Karma, which is simply the recognition that every action creates a reaction, a consequence.

This all ascends quickly into the realm of spiritual and metaphysic concerns, which is a realm most often regulated to religions to grapple with the nebulous inner spaces where thoughts, attitudes, and bias materialize into action.

I was raised Lutheran, but during the time of my father’s death, I found my childhood religion negated the realities of powerful synchronicities that occurred and inner experiences my father and I experienced during the 10 days he lived beyond the moment he should have died. I have written about his previously, so will not do so again here.

Father | Celestial Tendencies

Instead, I would like to highlight something that my friend Ali Raza Saleem posted, which caught my eye during the time my attention was focused on blood. My friend is a neuroscientist and scholar of Jung and posted the following:

Qalb (Faculty of Heart) and Lataif e Sitta

The faculty of heart (Qalb) is the faculty of the Spirit, not the biological pumping heart when we refer Qalb in terms of spirituality. The nerves associated with heart are primarily concerned with pumping of the heart, conveying signals to muscles, as well as sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system to control the pace of heart beat.

Faculty of Heart, spiritually speaking, isn’t tied strictly to ’emotional aspects’. Brain has designated centers for emotional perception and the affects are mediated through signals to the body including changing contraction and pace of the heart, bodily sensations, fight or flight mechanisms etc.

Faculty of Heart is the faculty of immaterial Rooh (Spirit) that along with other faculties (lataif) ‘feels’ Love, Suffering of the other Soul, Compassion, Benevolence, Bliss, Tranquility (itmenaan), Gratitude, Spiritual longing and Joy of Union with Beloved, Divine Beauty and Majesty etc, and blocked by Greed, Anger, Arrogance, Bukhl (stinginess), Hasad (Jealousy), Bughaz (spitefulness), malice, malevolence etc stemming from unpurified Lower Nafs (Ego). The emotions resulting from gratification or failure of gratification of lower Nafs (Ego) are also more of bodily/’brainy’ in nature. But in a loose sense, speaking poetically, heart can be said as preceptor of emotions in general as their ‘Affect’ is ‘felt’ at the heart.

The immaterial lataif including Qalb (heart) have specific locations on the body (metaphysically superimposed on various organs like heart as in the case of Qalb) as described in Lataif e Sitta, where the virtues associated with them are experienced spiritually.

He further sent me this graphic.

From Ali Raza Saleem | The Productive Muslim Company

And he explained:

For a Sufi his body is in service (submission) to Divine Will helping him fullfil the tasks for nourishment of the Spirit/Soul. 

The terms in this diagram maybe used in different meanings compared to the ones used in Psychology like the term Self here have meanings different to what we use in Psychology. This article further explains the model and the meaning of terms used in this diagram.


I know so little about Muslim teachings and wisdom, but I find everything Ali Raza Saleem shared extremely helpful in understanding the workings of the Invisible Self. These are the parts not visible to others unless we share them through words or actions. I have also been reading The Philosophy of the I Ching by Carol Anthony and have found her writing also very illuminating about the Invisible Self. Beginning on page 35, she writes:

People who can hear within are called psychic, but, in truth, we all have this ability; it is simply suppressed in most of us. Through inner listening we can also become aware of other people’s conscious thoughts. Our superior self listens and looks, but does not speak. What we receive from the inner world that we perceive and know as intuition comes from inside and apart from ourselves, just as what we see of the outer world is outside and apart from ourselves. What we hear within comes from the teacher, the same Sage who speaks through the I Ching. It knows the way and comes to help. We can only hear it when we maintain emptiness, innocence, and receptivity. When we jump to conclusions because of fear and impatience, we can’t hear the quiet suggestions of the Sage within.

When we say a thing ‘comes totally out of the blue,’ this is an intuitive ways of saying that we are helped by the Sage. We say ‘out of the blue,’ because our words have the clarity of the sky and come from nowhere. What we say is what needs to be said and is perfectly appropriate. Innocence and emptiness make it possible; we are noticeably free of emotional attachment and our words come in the vernacular of the moment; everyone understands and agrees. when this happens we are always a bit surprised. The fact is, we are not in possession of such moments, although we make them happen through being in a complementary relationship with the Creative Power. This we can do only through cultivating our superior man within.

This makes me thinks how each of us is a living work of art constantly in progress and transformation. As living works of art, we are both artist and the art. We choose the colors, patterns, subject, and background–and by so doing, we live them, we feel them, we see them, we know them. The canvas is our mind. And we develop our art of being by listening and learning how to regain our innocence and inner emptiness that allows us to be open and receptive to every moment we met. This is how we can transform ourselves, and by doing so, transform the world.

Inner Sage — Spirit Blood — Nourish Your Beingness in the World

Collective Storytelling: Who Is Q & What The Heck Is the Plandemic and Anti Vaxxers All About?!!

Myths of Fear, Marks of the Beast, and the End of the World

Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles

Part 5 in The Storytelling Species Series

Conspiracy Myths

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (11/12) Movie CLIP – Three-Way Standoff (1966) HD — MovieClips

Oh How We Love Scary Tales & Stories Skirting the Edge of Being Bad

We play with reality. We do this with our minds. The world is not a perfect place and a lot of bad things happen in it. When we don’t understand something, it is in our nature to make sense of it, and we do this most often by telling each other stories. Collective stories provide a critical glue that hold people together in a common understanding of reality. But that is not all collective stories do. Collective stories activate our inner worlds. They energize them and inspire action in the world. They are powerful and people who seek power know this and they know how to manipulate stories to benefit themselves or a small few.

Recently, the idea of alternative facts and reality has entered the mainstream Western lexicon with a vengeance. It’s been confounding to watch common, ordinary facts get twisted and ripped apart, then thrown in the air like confetti. Today, pretty much anyone can be a Magician of Reality; pretty much anyone can concoct elaborate myths and illusions of reality, and then peddle their piddle as truth. People do this for lots of reasons: to entertain, to distract from something bad they’ve done, and to manipulate and misguide others to make a lot of money.

Profit & the News (or Should I Say Altered News Meant to Tantalize, Titillate, and Terrorize)

People profit from misinformation. People like Alex Jones. It is so very tempting, in fact, it is irresistible to become a Master of Illusions. If you have not heard This American’s Life episode titled: Beware the Jabberwock, now it a good time to stop reading and listen to this episode.

Image from This American Life: Beware the Jabberwock | Stories from the upside-down world where conspiracy theorists dwell.

There are two acts in this episode. The first is one is called: Down the Rabbit Hole where producer Miki Meeks picks up 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. (24 minutes)

The second one is called: Alex in Wonderland. It is narrative by Jon Ronson who travels to Alex Jones’ hometown to validate the Alex Jones myth. He finds many, many holes in Alex’s recollection of his own past.

This act’s description is: Alex Jones spread the idea that Sandy Hook was a hoax, on his radio show and website for years after the shooting. He’s probably the country’s most famous conspiracy theorist. He’s even had Donald Trump on his show. Reporter Jon Ronson travels to Jones’ hometown in Texas, to investigate the story Jones tells about himself, and how he became who he is.  Jon Ronson and his producer Lina Misitzis originally created a version of this story for Audible. They also produced Jon’s latest series, a longform Original “The Last Days of August,” the never-before-told story of what caused the untimely death of 23-year-old porn star August Ames. It’s available exclusively on Audible.com.  (27 minutes)  

Fake News, Fake News — Everywhere You Look — Get Your Fake News Hit Today, Just Click Here

Much has been written about misinformation, but it was not until after the election results of 2016 that more people started paying attention to the real life effects that misinformation can have on ordinary, every day, real people. the AmericanPress Institute published a very good article: Factually: How misinformation makes money in 2019. Just a little teaser from this article:

There has been much written about how fake news websites and other sources make money from spreading misinformation. During the 2016 election in the United States, it even became a cottage industry.

Now a new study quantifies just how much misinformers are profiting from online advertising. Spoiler: It’s a lot.

Because There Is Billions and Billions of Dollars Out There

An article in GWToday reports on a virtual forum hosted by GW’s Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics that explored the harm being caused by online disinformation related to COVID-19 and social media regulation (or lack there of it). This article reports that Facebook netted $17.4 billion in advertising in its most recent quarter (back in 2020).

Image from GW Today | Social Media Companies Profiting from Misinformation | June 19, 2020

“Fear mongering, fraudulent groups are using social media to scam users with false rumors and fake claims about COVID-19,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. Foreign actors including Russia, but not exclusively there, are flooding platforms with conspiracy theories and lies to sow national dissent as America protests racial injustice. Even our own president is using social media to fan the flames of intolerance and hatred during this precarious time in the nation’s history.”


So, Let’s Hurry Up and Make a Page That Misleads, Misguides, and Makes Lot’s of Money TOO!

Insider reported in October of 2020 about 40 Facebook pages identified as ‘super-spreaders’ of election misinformation that were reaching million of users.

Image from Insider | In this photo illustration a Facebook logo seen displayed on a smartphone.
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

The Bigger the Lie — The More We Will Make!!

Sadly, we know how this misinformation cumulated into the Big Lie touted by Trump and his diehard cronies in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. In a letter to the editor of Lehigh Valley Live, one person summarizes the danger this type of information presents to us all.

Image from Lehighvalleylive | One of the supporters of President Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 carried a confederate battle flag into the rotunda.Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Big Lie headlines once again. Joe Biden and political commentators reference “the big election lie” to describe President Trump’s narrative regarding the election results. With repetition, the big lie takes on a life of its own. It becomes the truth to many and empowers its believers to think and act according to itself. Trump, his big lie and the believers of the big lie are cited by non-believing white people as the destroyers of democracy and the bearers of death.

Trump’s lie may be the modern Big Lie, but what is the biggest lie, the lie that has endured years, decades and centuries … the lie that shelters itself in our hearts … the lie that is passed from generation to generation?

If we white people of good will refuse to see ourselves reflected in the white supremacy that rose up on Jan. 6, then we choose to reject the truth that will free all of us. The truth will enable us to destroy our protective wall of white privilege and co-create with all our fellow human beings a society that respects the worth and dignity of each of us.

The biggest lie is the lie we choose to live. Choose truth.

Christine M. Condon | Whitehall Township


Dark Money | Dark Secrets | That’s Reality Today

In May 2020, Open Secrets explored how dark money networks hide political agendas behind fake news sites. One of the most super successful Master of Illusions to rise in recent history is Donald Trump (who Alex Jones counts as a close friend).

Image from Opensecrts.org | ‘Dark money’ networks hide political agendas behind fake news sites | A screenshot of a Facebook ad run by ACRONYM.

“Tax records analyzed by OpenSecrets reveal ACRONYM’s most recent financial information and shine light on its cozy relationship with affiliated entities.”

“ACRONYM raised $9.4 million from secret donors during its second year of operation through April 2019, more than seven times the prior year according to its tax returns. Three anonymous donors giving more than $1 million each made up more than half of that, with the top donor giving more than $2 million.”

Terrorizing people and misleading them is BIG Business!

Misinformation Superspreaders

And still, here we are reporting on the costs and consequences of misinformation in the world. For instance, this article about the very real dangers of COVID-19 misinformation was published on Jan 6, 2021. Ironically, the day the U.S. Capitol was ransacked by people who had ingested, believed, and acted on another myth filled with misinformation fed to them by the Big Lie.

Ex-QAnon follower: It’s like a doomsday cult | 709,676 views • Jan 22, 2021

The article Misinformation ‘superspreaders’: Covid vaccine falsehoods are thriving on Facebook and Instagram explores how falsehood continue to thrive on social media. It reports how big Facebook accounts still condemn vaccines while anti-vaxxers banned from Facebook have fled to Instagram.

“In late November, researchers NewGuard, the company that rates the quality of news sites, identified 14 large public English-language Facebook pages as “super-spreaders” of coronavirus vaccine misinformation. Twelve of those Facebook pages were still active in late December, said John Gregory, NewGuard’s deputy editor for health news. He added that the majority of individual vaccine misinformation posts flagged in that November report are also still live on the site, without any factchecking label.”

Misinformation ‘superspreaders’: Covid vaccine falsehoods still thriving on Facebook and Instagram — The Guardian

Anatomy of Conspiracy Myths

Anti-Semitism, Evil Powers, the End of the World Oh, and Don’t Forget How Eve Messed Everything Up

Michael Blume, a political scientist who serves as anti-Semitism commissioner for the government of Baden-Württemberg against anti-Semitism since 2018, has explored theories of religion and the effects in the brain (“neurotheologies”). In a recent interview, he says:

Supporters of conspiracy myths believe that evil powers rule the world, says Michael Blume, who has just written a book on the subject. It is not a question of education: “You can have an engineering degree, a PhD or a professor’s degree and use all your intelligence to sink all the deeper into conspiracy myths. With regard to the QAnon conspiracy myth, Blume predicts that the movement will disintegrate after the US presidential election. The remaining followers will, however, become more radical, he fears. ‘It cannot be ruled out that further violence will result from this conspiracy movement.‘”

Interview with Michael Blume and ‘The anti-Jewish myth links the far right, radical Islamists and far left

In another interview, he was asked about Querdenken 711 and explains:

So you’re not surprised about some of the statements being spread in these demonstrations? [i.e., Germany’s anti-lockdown movement “Querdenken 711”]

Image from Wikipedia: Blood libel — an antisemitic canard that alsely accuses Jews of murdering Christian children (or other gentiles) in order to use their blood in the performance of religious rituals.

Yes, it’s always been like that. Whenever a pandemic has occurred in history, we have had two possibilities. Either we face the fear and uncertainty and inform ourselves, while living with the fact that we don’t have any ready answers. For example, we do not know when the vaccine will be available. And the other option is simply to block it out: I don’t accept the fear, I look for a group to blame. All I have to do is shout at them and go out into the street. And then everything is supposed to be fine.

Many of these conspiracy myths already existed in the 15th to 19th centuries. Sometimes it even gets a bit boring, because they are always the same building pieces. People demonstrate together, whether they are left, center, or right, but what connects them is their image of the common enemy. And that is the important thing: People are so fixated in their fears that it is not even creative. They never come up with a Brazilian world conspiracy or a world conspiracy of Quakers or the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s always, always, always Jews and women behind it.


Anderson Cooper did a special on QAnon. This myth follows the age old conspiracy myth anatomy that has long been used to demonize Jews and undesirable people right down to eating babies. It is worth watching this clip when a former QAnon follower apologizes to Anderson Cooper for believing he ate babies.

In another clip from another interview, Jitarth Jadeja explains how he found QAnon in 2017, and then spent two years entrenched in this virtual cult. His biggest regret he tells is sharing the conspiracy theory with his father.

Escaping QAnon: How he left the virtual cult after two years | 17,119 views • Oct 16, 2020

And Good Morning America explored how QAnon is tearing families apart.

Families speak out after losing loved ones to conspiracy theories l GMA | 320,010 views • Jan 27, 2021

But Let’s Return to the Plandemic Myth & Dig A Little Deeper

The myth that COVID-19 was planned follows the classic pathways of myth creations humans have been using since we began telling stories about ourselves and what has happened to us as we journeyed through time and space. It uses pseudo sources of trusted sources of information about the coronavirus. One such pseudo experts is the radiologist that Trump appointed to the U.S. Corona Task Force. Trump appointed this idiot because he preaches about the benefits of herd immunity–something Trump was preaching in his vain effort to get re-elected. To Trump, the Coronavirus was an unwelcome reality check that pulled the covers off his levees of lies and levers of deception he was using to hoodwink his supporters into believing he was looking out for them. But, he wasn’t. He doesn’t look out for anyone but himself. Every moment of his life is a transaction he must win. So, Anthony Fauci’s science-based knowledge about what was happening to us was inconvenient to Trump’s failed narrative of how he would Make America Great again. Thus, enter the pseudo expert, a radiologist with no knowledge or understanding of infectious diseases spouting off the lies Trump wanted you to believe.

Trump Adds Dr. Scott Atlas to COVID-19 Task Force After Fox News Appearance | NowThis | Aug 20, 2020

Or the doctor Trump retweeted promoting hydroxychloroquine as a legitimate treatment for Coronavirus despite overwhelming evidence this immunosuppressive drug normally used as an anti-parasitical treatment for malaria had significant risks of triggering a heart attack in Coronavirus patients. In this same video the Trump greatly amplified through his mindless retweet, this pseudo doctor blames America’s current health problems on demon sperm. I’m not exaggerating…I really, really wish I was, but Trump really retweeted this doctor.

White House press secretary discusses the president’s controversial comments on COVID-19 — CBS: Jul 29, 2020 — DailyBeast: Kayleigh McEnany Struggles to Defend Trump’s Demon Sperm Doctor Retweets

Trevor Noah explains it much more plainly.

Keeping Up with Corona: Twerking Contests & Dr. Demon Sperm | The Daily Social Distancing Show — Jul 28, 2020

Global Goop

As you know, this sort of crazy thinking is not contained only to the United States. It is spreading globally like a goopy goo crisscrossing the glove through social media channels–being spread through anonymous document like the one I got hoodwinked into editing. It is absolutely a mind virus spreading and has many names; the most popular being “Plandemic“.

(Image: © Shutterstock) — Debunking the most dangerous claims of ‘Plandemic’ by Stephanie Pappas – Live Science Contributor May 13, 2020

Let’s Make A Myth & Make It Stick (Like Really Sticky Goopy Goop)

One story line of the Plandemic (there are many out there depending on who you want the enemy to be) goes something like this: There is a group of global elites who created the virus and unleashed it on the world to make more money (as if global elites don’t have anything better to do with their lives than commit mass murder, well…maybe some, but this narrative is hiding something lacking in the person drawn to it).

There is something incredibly glittery about pinning all the ills of the world on some super elites (and I agree they do share a bigger burden for perpetuating many of our current problems), but it’s too glittery, too black-and-white, too clean and neat… and reality is not clean and neat, it is messy and confusing, and confounding most of the time. But that is the appeal of myths, they make sense out of ignorance, mindlessness, folly, foolishness, idiocy, imbecility, incapacity, senselessness, and stupidity.

Photo by Bebe

Now, Back to QAnon & the Shaman!!

Now, let’s dig deeper into another glittery conspiracy myth: Q (or better known as QAnon).

Remember this guy?

Jake Angeli, who stormed the US Capitol yesterday, claims he can visit ‘higher dimensions’ where ‘pedos and rapists hide in the shadows’

Well, he says Q sent him to the Capitol on January 6, 2021. His name is Jake Angeli. He is 32 and was pictured wearing a horned fur hat as he stormed the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021. He also claims others things that are very tantalizing tib bits to the myth as reported by The Sun in this article: Horned QAnon ‘shaman’ Jake Angeli who stormed Capitol says he can ‘travel to other dimensions to fight pedos’ in rant.

This article labels Angeli as Inter-dimensionally Stupid, but is he, really? Is he not rather tapping into something deep living inside all of us that is trying desperately to navigate its way through intensely troubling tremendously stressful, fully anxiety riddled, and sometimes quite terrifying times?

Everyone is looking for answers to really scary, complicated stuff that leaves even the best and brightest of us feeling incompetent and with no personal control of what is happening to us, to the ones we love, to the world. It is during times like this when myths are more powerful and important.

So Who Is Q?

Picard Meets Q for the first time | Star Trek: The Next Generation – Encounter at Farpoint

No, Q is not the beloved, mischievous character from Star Trek. Although one might just consider this for a minute. I bet the Star Trek Q is exactly who the Russian Special Disinformation Agent known as Sergei was thinking of when he scribbled out a scrappy story for his Internet disinformation campaign he had been assigned to back in 2016.

Sergei just happened to hit gold dust when he scribbled down and spewed out his fictional character Q onto the social media channels he had been assigned to pollute. Oh how the angry Americans he was interacting with gobbled Q up in the lead up to the 2016 election. Sergei crafted his mysterious Q to have mysterious access to all the dirt on Hillary Clinton. Since then, Q has evolved into the great peculiar leader of QAnon, a conspiracy theory/myth alleging there is a battle between good and evil in which the Republican Mr. Trump is allied with the former.

Sound familiar?

Good Bubble | Bad Bubble

It should be. It is the classical story arch all great stories and myths follow. Returning to our good friend Mr. Trump, it is as if he found and is guarding the good bubble of reality for all of us to step into and be safe just like Glinda the Good Witch of the South who arrived just in the nick of time to help Dorothy survive the land of Oz.

Glinda the Good Witch of the South in the Wizard of Oz

But if you have a good bubble and a good witch, there must be a bad bubble and a bad witch, right?

I’m Melting! – The Wizard of Oz (7/8) Movie CLIP (1939) HD

And This Guy Named Q

The Wall Street Journal reported on this newest (and pretty strange story) about this guy named Q saying: “QAnon followers are awaiting two major events: the Storm and the Great Awakening. The Storm is the mass arrest of people in high-power positions who will face a long-awaited reckoning. The Great Awakening involves a single event in which everyone will attain the epiphany that QAnon theory was accurate the whole time. This realization will allow society to enter an age of utopia.”

So, Sergei still sits in his sod hut somewhere on the Siberian Tundra typing out tangy new details about Q while chomping on Spicy Cheetos and shooting down shots of vodka. Sergei is particularly proud about how QAnon has inspired enthusiastic new believers to carry out a despicable vandalizing attack on 3 galleries in Berlin. These vandals used some oily substance, which they threw on ancient artifacts such as Egyptian sarcophagi, stone sculptures and 19th-century paintings held at the Pergamon Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Neues Museum sustained visible damage during the attack on 3 October, as reported by The Guardian. Reportedly, they did this because these museums were thought to be one of the centre of ‘global satanism’.

This is crazy stuff, right? But it is happening now in 2020 landing it right up there with the man who drove up from North Carolina, entered a beloved family pizza place called Comet Ping Pong, and shot off rounds from his rifle. Terrified families threw themselves and their children under tables while he babbled about freeing the fictional children enslaved in the basement of the pizza joint by Hillary Clinton and other Democrats elites. It is a very sad moment now known as Pizzagate.

Splitting — The Magic Ingredient of Conspiracy Myths — A Kind of Mind Bubble That Tend to Pop Pretty Fast When It Hits the Rock of Reality (Mother Earth… the ground upon which all life must stand upon)

To spin his illusions Sergei counts on our human fallibilities that get heighten during times of highly charged social unrest such as current American politics or the pressures of globalism or the looming calamities Climate Change promises to rain down on us. Sergei knows when humans feel stressed and not in control of their stress, he can prey upon the looming hopeless and despair threatening to crush them. When people feel like this, it is easy to lure them back into an immature and destructive psychological defense mechanisms called splitting.

Splitting allows humans to make just about anyone or anything into an instant enemy. Sergei knows this and makes his mysterious Q just vague enough so people project whatever they want into his fantasy character. Once frighten desperate people have their leader, it is very simple to create an enemy out of just about anyone or anything in 4 easy steps:
Step 1) Take ordinary reality and cut it into good and bad parts,
Step 2) Walk inside the good bubble created by splitting reality into polar opposites,
Step 3) Inhabit your good bubble and invite your friends, then zip up your bubble,
Step 4) Everything remaining outside of your good bubble is the enemy, this is the bad bubble that must be popped.

Anyone can do this. In fact, we have all done this because it is a normal psychological defense mechanism all children pass through on their way to becoming adults. It becomes a maladaptive psychological defense mechanism when adults continue to do it long into their adult years. When it becomes the only thing they do to deal with the unpleasant aspects of reality it can be pathological. One of the best write ups I have read describing psychological defense mechanisms (i.e., they range from the most highly evolved and mature mechanisms to the most neurotic, immature, and pathological mechanisms) is this excellent blog simply titled: Defence Mechanisms.

Previous Post in Storytelling Species: Part 4: Collective Storytelling: The Stories We Tell Become the Myths We

Collective Storytelling: The Stories We Tell Become the Myths We Live

Next Post in Storytelling Species: Part 6: Individual Storytelling — The Magic Ingredient

Part 6 of Storytelling Species Series | Individual Storytelling — The Magic Ingredient

Related Resilience Resources to Series

Facebook Folly … The Mistake & The Fake
Weaving Reality — So Many People, So Many Versions
The Magical Calculus of Consciousness
In Response To Π & Jan 6, 2021
Rational vs Intuitive
Mother of Grief | 2020
Now — The Taoist Way
Blood
Conflict — Nourishing Fruit or Poison Apple
What Do I Do With the Mad Inside Me
The Boy Who Ate the Wrong Part of the Crocodile
We’re Losing Time
Presencing
Wake UP, Wake UP
The Sea Within Us

Conflict – Nourishing Fruit or Poison Apple

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

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

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

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

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

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


The First Mortal Conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost in the Garden of Eden

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Here are fascinating moments from Esther’s talk:

There’s Energy In the Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Massive Transformation 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Bad Business Breakup

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

On a Time of Working from Home Using Too Much Zoom

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

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

On Losing A Job

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

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

Trapped in a Fairytale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image from Pinterest — Fool Images

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

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

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

On Competing Powers of Self

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

The Downside of Always Being Agreeable and Wanting Harmony

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

Agreement Bias

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

The Problem of Always Going with Your Gut

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


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

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

Test Your Gut

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

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

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

The Soup Nazi & the Drivers of Obstinacy

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

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

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

Task vs Relationship Conflicts

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Less Conflict is Better: A Critical Mistake

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

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

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

Adam’s Study on Groups 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belief or Value & the Dragon Scale

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

Conflicts That Clarify Rather Than Confuse

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

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

To disagree without being disagreeable.”

On Correcting Others

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

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

On Trust, Dignity & Respect

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

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

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

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

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

Inner Dictator to the Rescue!

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

Corner Stones of the Totalitarian Ego Are Obstinacy and Stubbornness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Preacher

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

The Prosecutor

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

Getting Stuck

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

The Politian

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

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

Strategies that Help People Reconsider Cherished Opinions

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

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

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

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

They would sometimes even shoot for hours back and forth.

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

The Power of Scrapping

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

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

Even Brilliant Visionaries Need a Team to Scrap With

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

The Problem with Highly Agreeable People

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

Creating a Great Challenge Network

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

Cultivating a Fertile Idea Field & Planting Idea Seeds that Grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspiring the Curious Seeker

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

Madhvi Parekh: A Curious Seeker

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

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

The Real Magic Happens Inside

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

Habits of Highly Effective Thinkers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Resources Related to Conflict

Throughline: Billie Holiday and Shirley Chisholm

Image from Throughline — Billie Holliday

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

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


Searching for meaning in the North Dakota oil boom

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

This piece talks about personal transformation through work and struggle.


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

Image from  All Things Considered

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

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


Quantum Mechanics, Free Will and the Game of Life

Image from Scientific American | Credit: Getty Images

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


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

Have A Boring Life…

…the Secret to a Good Life

Synchronistic Stories Series

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

Actor And Author Ethan Hawke: Writing ‘Forces You To Think Through Things’ (Weekend Edition Sunday with Lulu Garcia-Navarro, January 31, 2021)

Image from Weekend Edition Sunday with Lulu Garcia-Navarro aired on January 31, 2021

“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.

See also, Ethan Hawke On Playing John Brown, Early Fame, And Making A Friend Of Fear (October 5, 2020) 


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.

Image probably from a Tarot card deck

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.


The Nine of Swords

Colin Kilburn

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)

Image: The Nine of Swords from AuntyFlo

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.)


Colin Kilburn

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)

The original art of these Desiderata prints and posters are in beautiful calligraphy by Sherrie Lovler.

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.

Barry Kort:

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.

Image from The Major Arcana

Passages

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.

Shared by Barry Kort — not sure origins

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.”

Life’s a Journey — Collection Reveal

Here is an artisan in Italy who makes custom Tarot Cards for any passage in a Life Journey.

The Handmade Art of Tarot Cards

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 Theory of Apostrophe by Barry Kort — THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2013

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

Nine of Swords from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck

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.

John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath | In his iconic novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), John Steinbeck portrays the hardships of life during the Great Depression in the United States.

Just as in “The Grapes of Wrath,” we’re all fermenting the same w(h)ine, but affixing different labels to the bottle.


Whiniest Heroes

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.

  • Played By: Mark Hamill

Hebrew Alphabet & the Major Arcana

Barry Kort

Hebrew Alphabet (Aleph-Bet)

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.

Tarot: The Major Arcana — from Three Queens Yoga

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.

Glenn and Tammy
Women Matters

Barry Kort

 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.

Colin Kilburn

 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.


Afraid of the Wrong Things | Hidden Brain

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. 

Jaws | Final Face-Off With the Shark in 4K Ultra HD | 27,527,510 views•Jun 10, 2020 | Look how many views in less than one year of posting… we love scary things as human beings… we really do…

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.

What Does 2021 Have in Store for Children? | Save the Children | 1,634 views•Dec 18, 2020

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.

QAnon, coronavirus and the conspiracy cult – BBC News | 188,994 views•Premiered Jul 27, 2020 | A bizarre conspiracy theory has surged in popularity in the US since the pandemic, according to exclusive research seen by the BBC. | Since this video was posted, QAnon has been linked to the storming of the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021 — it is a violent conspiracy cult that baths its followers with ancient, awful myths of imagines that trigger their most primitive feelings, which trigger ancient animal instincts in vile ways.

Frightening Stories That Fascinate Us

The Sixth Sense (1999) – Official Trailer
The Shining – Official Trailer [1980] HD | 916,305 views•Apr 6, 2012 | “Here’s Johnny…”