“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.”
Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, less than a decade after WWII. During this period, there were book burnings and banned books and a Great Purge. There were blacklists and mass propaganda mediums and censorship and imprisonments and executions. There were fears of an impending nuclear war. The annihilation of all humanity in a mushroom cloud.
Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 after expanding themes from two of his short stories and one novella. He finished his first draft in only nine days. Since his novel’s original publication, a number of schools have censored, redacted, and banned his work.
In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag is a fireman who exists in a dystopian future. Rather than putting out fires, he burns books. People in his society are consumed with vapid entertainment, distracted from critical thinking and wonder, alienated and lost and alone, unable to express themselves, unable to speak to each other meaningfully.
They don’t sense the miracle of life in a blooming flower, in a breath, in each other.
They lumber around with seashell radios embedded in their earwax. They consume life from inside a prism (or prison) of screens. Then when they are tired (they are tired all day), they swallow a sleep of pills, drifting into dreamlessness. They are force-fed the regurgitated information of the State. There isn’t any time to think, to sit in silence, to contemplate the flowers and trees and clouds. To be alive, meditating on the world in quiet, is not a consideration. They gaze at an amnesia of images, barren within.
Montag is at first like the Others, lifeless, married to a wife who doesn’t love him, brash in his opinions, stinking of kerosene and ignorance. Then he meets a curious teenager. Her name is Clarisse McClellan and she is unique and alive and radiating out through her youth. She sparks an awakening in Montag.
She shows him that there is more to reality than in his mechanized worldview. There is a mystery that he cannot grasp. In his realization that life is more, more than consumption, more than subservience, more than a routine until death, he desires to awaken others.
Knowledge is a fire that “illuminates away the darkness of ignorance.” It catches in the hearts of those who dare to learn. Montag is a fireman who burns books to snuff out the fires within others. Books are dangerous. They are dangerous to those who wish to control, who wish to suppress certain ideas from coming to light. When people are capable of critical thinking, they will question and consider new ideas. They will rebel against what is unjust. Their fires will expand from inside them, reaching others. They will seek their own unique meanings. They will take action.
Those who control a population, who manipulate to secure their power, money, and status, always want more for themselves, while feeling insecure about losing what they have stolen. They fear uprisings that burn for the truth. To maintain their power and control, they will distract, censor, and divide. They will use violence when they can, but if the people internalize the values of the system, then the oppressors will not need physical violence all the time.
As George Orwell said, “All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed, they must rely exclusively on force.”
People in Montag’s society are taught to be obedient. They desire what they are conditioned to desire. They are given the slimmest choices for personal freedom and believe that they are free. Life feels like it is free to the enslaved when they do not know any other way to be. For those who know of more but do nothing, who remain silent at times of injustice, suffer in cowardice. They could have helped, but didn’t.
Montag is reborn like the salamander of his firetrucks. In folklore, salamanders make their homes in the flames without being consumed. Montag once lived from inner darkness. Now he lives through his own glow, aware for the first time.
Many members of his society confuse their darkness for light. Their souls have withered away so much that they are only flesh on skeletons. They do not want to be freed because they desire the comfort of their ignorance. They live automatically, unable to think, to choose how they will authentically be. They do not want to challenge themselves to learn because they fear what is unknown. They fear their own inferiority in comparison to those who are educated. Beyond all their petty dramas, an entire universe stretches infinitely over them. Knowledge is their insignificance.
They huddle together in hate because they are numb to the suffering within themselves. These people plug themselves into the dominator system, addicted to the violence of the media. They’re conditioned to passively accept themselves as separate creatures with egotistical wants. They don’t realize that they live in a community, except through their shared consumption of technological entertainment, a hidden form of mass indoctrination. There’s no unity, compassion, or caring between them anymore, because any humane organization is a threat to the system. There is only a city of lost people.
In Fahrenheit 451, love is a commercial product, happiness is sold as a pill. People are not only watched, but want to be watched, under constant surveillance. Clouds choke over the black butterflies of dreams. Dissidents are silenced until their language is felt dimly but not spoken. Never spoken. Once the flames are all put out, there is absence.
Haruki Murakami doesn’t run because he’s competitive. He runs only to run, improving himself every day, at longer distances.
He recognizes his own age when he runs, slowing down years after his prime. As he pushes on, he passes scenic landscapes in different countries, seeing the steam of his breath in an Autumn park, feeling the flutter of his heartbeat, listening to the slow beat of jazz.
Running helps him to be alone, which is natural for him. Being alone is necessary for his mental and physical well-being.
As he runs, he accepts the clouds of his thoughts. Ideas float by in an endless sky, drifting in and out of awareness. Mostly, he runs in a void, unconscious of any inner chatter.
Murakami deeply absorbs the people and places in his life. Physical exertion allows him, just like in his writing, to process his joy and sorrow.
He never suspected that he would become a famous novelist. At first, he made more money from owning a jazz bar than from writing, but then he chose to sell his business to write fully. After concentrating only on writing, he worked for several hours every day, sacrificing his health.
After he ran for a while, he quit smoking cigarettes and eating junk food. He didn’t like long-distance running at first, but enjoyed the process once he could control how he ran. Running every day helped him to become better at time management, healthy eating, and losing weight. He shed bad habits while gaining more of an appreciation for self-discipline.
Murakami has run for over twenty years, starting at the age of thirty three, and considers the beginning of his running practice to be when he became a real novelist.
Running marathons has humbled him over his career. Whenever he would train too little, or think too highly of his skills, he would suffer his consequences alone.
Running can be scary and nerve wracking. It can be tough in the rain and snow and cold and heat. It can be tiring and long and painful. But then there are mornings of sun and moments of flow and high adrenaline.
Running, as well as writing, depends not only on the people who engage in those activities, but on the dynamic conditions that influence each person.
For Murakami, a novelist needs three main qualities to be successful at their craft: talent, focus, and endurance. He believes that writers are born with a certain amount of talent, which will eventually leave them, as they age and lose their energy. But a writer can compensate for a lot of their weaknesses with supreme focus.
As a writer writes, they become more skilled at concentrating on their task. To write daily is to build up one’s writing muscles, just as a runner develops their muscular endurance through running.
A novelist needs to have enough energy to write, not just for weeks, but for years. For them to be able to write for that long, they need to write often.
People are born with different levels of innate abilities as well. These abilities can be stretched overtime, but some people naturally have more ability than others. Murakami believes that people need to accept their strengths, as well as their limitations, and progress from there.
Through his maturation as a running novelist, he has learned that everyone moves at their own pace and time. He doesn’t write or run (or do anything) to prove himself to others, but rather, participates for the sake of the activity.
Through his artistic work, he inadvertently benefits his running. Through his running, he inadvertently benefits his writing.
He compares writing a novel to climbing a mountain. Eventually, his lungs will shrink, his legs will give out, but he still pushes himself farther up the steepest slopes, until hopefully, reaching the top. Every novel is a mountain.
After running mile after mile, he still steps forward. While he may not be the fastest runner, he will continue his journey, over and over, on and on, silently and alone, until he cannot go anymore.
Love in modern capitalistic societies is often treated shallowly. People are seen as commodities to be used. Each person has a specific package of qualities, which when depending on the value-judgements of others, make them appear as favorable or unfavorable.
They perceive other perspective members of their groups as objects to be possessed, but not as actual human beings.
Once a potential match is made on the market of personality, an individual will enter into an arrangement where they’ll hope to gain some sort of benefit. If their expectations are not fulfilled, then they’ll no longer see the point in giving their “love” to the other person.
People market themselves based on their attractiveness, popularity, status, financial security, and whatever other sets of traits are trending at the time. Opinions change as to what is acceptable. The masses will adapt themselves to what is in favor and promote themselves for future success.
Many people in materialistic societies become infatuated and then mistake their infatuation for love. The intensity of their initial intimacy soon becomes antagonism and boredom, especially once the mirage of passion is gone. As they enter into their relationships with expectations of having perfect partners and ideal mates, they are often led to more failures than successes.
2. Alienation and False Unity
As people grow and become more aware of themselves as individuals, they eventually sense their separateness from others as well. This alienation makes them feel anxious, fearful in their loneliness, and confused about what the purpose of their existence is. They seek out a meaningful direction for their lives that can transcend their loneliness and cosmic insignificance.
People seek to transcend their anxiety of separateness through drugs, orgasms, and conformity to the practices and values of a group.
In many totalitarian societies, conformity is forced on the general population through fear, imprisonment, torture, execution, starvation, and repressive controls in the media. In democratic societies, mass propaganda, political corruption, and expensive marketing is often used to manipulate the masses into servitude.
Many members of capitalistic societies feel that they’re non-conformists, even though their opinions are strikingly similar to the opinions of the rest of their group. They all go to the same schools, work at the same jobs, read the same books, watch the same movies, and share the same favorable ideas with each other.
They have been indoctrinated into certain social, religious, and political groups from the time of their birth, not realizing that their desires have been carefully molded. They genuinely believe in what they do, and who they are, but they don’t realize that if they believed in something different, they wouldn’t have their preferred status.
Conformity is not true unity, but rather, a relinquishing of one’s free thought to the shackles of group rule. In conformity, one seeks an illusion of security while fearing exclusion.
Any unity formed through only sex and drugs is a pseudo sense of unity. Those who seek the highs of either will become attached to expectations of more and more pleasure, which will diminish overtime, after having been temporarily gained.
3. Immature Love and Mature Love
When one person submits to another to escape from their feeling of alienation, they’ve surrendered their integrity for dependence.
They have given up their boundaries to be exploited by the other. Just as that person enters into a masochistic relationship, the one who they’ve come to depend upon is dependent on them as well. The sadist is attached to the masochist just as much as the masochist is attached to the sadist.
In mature love, people unite while still maintaining their integrity. In immature love, people form false-unions in a passive relationship based on mutual exploitation.
Love is active and growing. It is ultimately done in the spirit of giving. To give is not to give away one’s principles or dignity. It is not to forgo one’s values either.
Those who are raised in modern industrial society often expect to receive because they have given. To give without getting anything for their effort makes them feel impoverished. They may even give out of a mistaken belief in sacrifice, and out of a grim obligation to the group, rather than from any sense of joy.
When a person is giving, they are showing what is alive within themselves. They’re genuinely expressing who they are. A giving person cares for the world with active interest, not passive narcissism.
They help other people to grow rather than forcing them to become carbon copies of themselves. They respect the individuality in other people, while also feeling responsible for their own well-being.
Respect is built on the foundation of freedom, not dependence. Only with freedom can there be authentic love.
With love comes acceptance. One learns to accept each unique person as they are, and not judge them.
It’s impossible to know anyone fully, to penetrate into their deepest hearts, but even in the uncertainty between people, there’s appreciation in intimacy, in being together, in learning about each other.
In the act of love, one not only learns about others, but about oneself. The mature person is humble about their incapacity to know the secrets of life, while being in awe of all its mystery.
They’re committed to caring for the world, but don’t cling onto the world greedily. To love is to let go as much as it is to care, to accept as much as it is to change, to grow as much as it is to know the limitations of knowing.
4. Sex and Love
Sexual intimacy can be a manifestation of love. At its height, two selves merge into one, immersed in the present. During sex, one forgets oneself temporarily in a bliss of togetherness.
When the masculine and feminine are distorted in a relationship, then those in that relationship overcompensate for their insecurities. They exploit though lies and manipulations and force. The masculine descends into sadism while the feminine falls back into masochism.
5. Development into Adulthood
While inside the womb, the fetus is entirely dependent on its mother for survival. Then when that baby is born, he or she depends on their mother (or guardian) for milk and warmth and shelter and water and food. As the baby develops into a toddler and child and teenager and so on, they learn of their separateness from other people and things.
During their early development, they’re unconditionally loved by their mother or guardian simply for existing. They receive love for being alive, not necessarily for anything that they have done.
The child, at first, passively accepts love for being who they are. It is only later in their development that they consider giving back.
When a person matures out of their old habits of childish egocentricity, they learn to love in another way. They learn the freedom of independence in newfound knowledge.
As they grow, they figure out how to walk and talk and dress themselves and share and laugh at jokes and write and on and on. They learn the way of the world and how to act properly in that world to be successful. They gain acceptance from others based on what they do and how they think. They fear the absence of warmth that comes from not being accepted.
Mature parents care for their children while also teaching those children how to be independent from them. They do not drag their children down into a state of perpetual dependency.
If parents are successful in their roles, then their children will have internalized their lessons, growing into unique people, engaging their lives with competence and confidence. Parents have to make sure that they are not transferring their own anxieties and prejudices onto their kids. Everything that they think and say and do will influence their children’s development.
6. Brotherly Love
Love is an orientation toward life. To love one person while neglecting the rest of humanity is only an inflated egotism of two.
To truly love one person is to love all of life.
There is no exclusiveness in love, but rather, a deep oneness with all that is.
To love is to love everyone, even those who are helpless, weak, and poor. One gives without thinking of giving and helps only to help. People are neither judged as superior nor inferior. They are viewed only as equals, worthy of affection and dignity.
In western culture, love is often seen as a spontaneous grip of intense feeling, or a clinging devotion to the life of another.
Love is not merely a feeling, but an expression, a commitment, and a promise. Feelings come and go. Love is as much an acceptance of oneself as that of another.
Self-love is not narcissism either. Those who cannot love themselves cannot love others.
The selfish person only desires more for themselves while never being satisfied with what they have or who they are. They take without any consideration for others. Those who are selfish are insecure and devoid of any creative purpose, lacking the capacity to enjoy anything for long.
To love oneself is to love others and vice versa. There’s no true difference between the two.
7. Mythological Symbolism
Matriarchal religions usually emphasize the equality of all life coexisting together. Patriarchal religions are often dominated by hierarchical structures.
In mythology, the mother-figure is one of unconditional love and interdependence, whereas the father-figure is one of justice and truth. There are often hidden mother-figures in patriarchal religions and hidden father-figures in matriarchal religions. An acceptance of these symbols, and their prevalence, depends on the conditions within a given society.
In the deepest mystical parts of religion, God is nameless, or cannot be named, because God is infinite, and there’s no way to contain what is infinite.
Many people view the idea of God as that of a helping father. They expect that God should give them what they desire, such as a partner, a happy life, enlightenment, bliss in the afterlife, a job, and so on. They perceive their religion through a childish dependency instead of though a mature love.
When people realize their ignorance, and no longer assume that they know the truth about all of life, then they become wise in the knowledge of knowing that they don’t know.
Symbols are useful but limited tools that represent aspects of life, while never being life in itself. The ultimate mystery cannot be named. It cannot be described with any accuracy. Models of reality are not reality. Some religions try to define reality, others try to define through claiming what reality is not, while others deny both the denial and the definition. Meanwhile reality, in all its endless mystery, escapes the grasp of intellectualization.
In western religions, love often comes in the form of belief and faith. In eastern religions, love often comes through a feeling of oneness with all that is.
Interwoven in most of these mythological systems are the stages of development in all of humanity, from worshiping a mother protector to obeying a father authority to being fully one with a namelessness that transcends the ego.
8. Modern Capitalistic Societies
Contemporary capitalistic societies place the idea of love in the market. People are conditioned to be productive members of the systems that they are embedded in. They are taught to obey those in power and to play acceptable roles in the social machine. Most people in western societies are alienated from their work, from their communities, and mostly from nature.
These people feel alone while longing for unity. They fill their desperate alienation with the consumption of books, movies, music, cigarettes, phones, religions, and other people, as if these were disposable products.
Everything is a refuge, a distraction, from underlying feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and fear. People are judged by how they can satisfy each other while they don’t really know each other.
Modern western societies often encourage infantile forms of love though mediums such as movies, romance novels, and magazines. Consumers are taught to chase after abstractions of love, to idolize their partners, and to depend on rituals of manipulative seduction to win over attractive mates.
All too often, many people transfer the dependencies of their childhoods onto their partners. They see their mates as another form of their parents or other authority figures. They expect to gain security and love and care and so on, usually until they grow bored, or their partner fails to fulfill their unrealistic expectations.
They live in the past and future, never the present, projecting all their problems onto others. Often they avoid real conflicts with their partners, and settle instead for petty dramas, because they fear being alone more than anything.
Individuals often sacrifice their integrity for apathy in conformity. They no longer seek truth, but rather, copy others for success in the market of personality.
Their lives are routines in a system where they must comply. They wake up to work from 9–5, marry, raise 2.5 children, listen to the radio hits, surf the web, post on social media, and consume, consume, consume in a state of idleness.
In order to learn how to love, people need solitude. No television, no phone, nothing but themselves. If people cannot be alone, then they will never know the vitality of their thoughts, feelings, and sensations. They’ll never learn how to listen to their inner voices.
Mature people take care of themselves. They are aware of unhealthy people and unhealthy environments and avoid those situations when they can. They listen more than they speak. When they do listen, they absorb what is being said from a place of deep openness, rather than waiting to respond.
They are fully present in what they do, whether they’re eating a bowl of rice or driving a car or sitting in a waiting room.
When people deeply concentrate as a habit, they learn to be sensitive to the changes within themselves and others. They’re not tense, but alert, not worried with doubts, but open to what may come.
10. Transcendence in Love
As people learn to love, they gradually transcend their narcissistic orientations. Rather than thinking only of themselves, they’re sensitive to the inner-worlds of others.
Those who love are humble. They strive for objectivity in every situation, while knowing how much they don’t know.
Love comes not only from each individual’s independence but from their deep trust in who they are, despite what anyone else thinks or says or does. They are faithful, not merely to their opinions, but to their dignity as human beings. They’re present, open to the world, while never betraying their inner worth.
Love can permeate every aspect of life. It is ever bountiful, passing from neighbors to strangers.
As people trust in themselves, they learn to see the value in serving others. They do not find love in any system or group, but only in themselves, and in each other.
“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why. Not until the future eats the present, anyway. We know when it’s too late.”
Stephen King wrote an epic time travel book after extensive research.
In 11/22/63, a humble high school teacher is sent back to the ’50s to prevent the assassination of JFK. What he doesn’t know is the significance of the butterfly effect. Every small action ripples out, affecting everything and everyone, in an interconnected web of spacetime. In Indra’s net.
King explores the responsibility of using freewill (is it really that free?) in a probabilistic multiverse, where the obdurate past harmonizes itself. As Alan Watts once said, “You never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.”
For our main character, Jake Epping (George Amberson), the consequences matter. Friends will die, lovers will suffer, and whole futures will be annihilated in a plume of radioactive dust.
11/22/63 is not merely a story about time, but about the significance of our actions, and whether those actions matter metaphysically. It is a tragic timeline of love experienced in another life, strangers intertwined, synchronicities, and cosmic patterns that cannot be seen from limited human perspectives.
From generation to generation, we will pass on our ghosts. We may have been born with different faces and have come from different places and eras, but we will often repeat the same traumas that have scarred us from our past.
We will still build and destroy.
We will still love and hate.
We will still be born and grow old and die.
Like an ouroboros swallowing its tail in an infinite cycle, we’re in a process of integration and disintegration. We cannot escape our future.
If you look at the “Trump phenomenon,” it’s not so surprising. During the last fifteen years, in election after election, more candidates have arisen that were once considered “intolerable” to the Republican establishment. The answer for this intolerability is that over the years, under neoliberal policies, the democrats and Republicans have shifted more to the right.
“The democrats — by the ’70s — have pretty much abandoned the working class.”
In 1978, the Humphrey–Hawkins Full Employment Act was the last kind of progressive policy (which Carter had ordered down “so that it had no teeth”). While democrats shifted to resemble moderate Republicans, Republicans moved so far right that they fell off the spectrum.
Republicans have a primary constituency — extreme wealth and corporate power — that they have to serve. It’s hard to get votes when serving those interests. Therefore, they historically have appealed to evangelicals, southern racists, and disenfranchised white people, under the pretense of certain issues such as voting against abortion or fighting for gun rights. These issues are not necessarily favored by the establishment (and were previously not supported by the Republican party), but they are tolerated in recent decades because they ultimately serve the real constituency.
“As for Trump’s base, they are indeed quite loyal. Most Trump voters were relatively affluent and probably are fairly satisfied with the ultra-reactionary policies. Another important segment was non-college-educated whites, a group that voted overwhelmingly for Trump (a 40 percent advantage). There is a close analysis of this group in the current (Spring 2018) issue of the Political Science Quarterly. It found that racism and sexism were far more significant factors in their vote than economic issues. If so, this group has little reason to object to the scene that is unfolding, and the same with the white Evangelicals who gave Trump 80 percent of their vote. Among justly angry, white, working-class Trump voters, many apparently enjoy watching him stick his thumb in the eyes of the hated elites even if he doesn’t fulfill his promises to [working-class voters], which many never believed in the first place.
What all this tells us, yet again, is that the neoliberal programs that have concentrated wealth in a few hands while the majority stagnate or decline have also severely undermined functioning democracy by familiar mechanisms, leading to anger, contempt for the dominant centrist political forces and institutions, and often anti-social attitudes and behavior — alongside of very promising popular reactions, like the remarkable Sanders phenomenon, Corbyn in England and positive developments elsewhere as well.”
Trump, on the other hand, understands how to serve corporate interests while getting the votes of evangelicals and extremists. The democrats, in their focus on his outrageous antics, are helping him succeed in the 2020 election. For example, democrats vigorously attacked Trump for Russia-Gate, for which evidence was slight (possibly for corruption), but there is more evidence for important things like the Israeli election interference. Furthermore, the highest interference in the United States elections is campaign funding. Campaign funding alone gives the highest prediction of who will win. Not to mention, the United States interferes with elections often, overthrowing leaders in coups, installing dictators and puppet leaders, placing harsh sanctions on impoverished countries. While the democrats invested a lot of their energy into Russia-Gate, they wasted a lot of time when they could’ve focused on crucial problems that can devastate the world, such as climate change.
Trump is basically a conman, a showman. He’s never had any political experience prior to being president, speaks all over the place in his speeches, never showing a consistent political position.
He knows how to get the mainstream media to focus on him.
“In order to maintain public attention, you have to do something crazy. Otherwise nobody’s going to pay attention to you.”
While he’s showboating, lying, or doing something to offend a lot of people, in the background, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and other members of the government that are writing executive orders, are working to “systematically dismantle every aspect of the government that works for the benefit of the population.” This ranges from worker’s rights to health standards to environmental regulations. Those in power want more power for their constituency at the expense of the people. Meanwhile, some of the most disastrous policies under the Trump administration are barely discussed.
“This generation is going to have to decide whether organized human existence is going to continue. Global warming and nuclear war are the two main issues… Trump’s actions are making both of them much more dangerous.”
The United States has pulled out of the international effort to reduce the effects of climate change. Trump hasn’t only withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement, cut a large portion of the EPA and environmental regulations for multinational corporations, but he’s actively increased the threat of climate change. Even in his State of the Union Address, he barely talked about the environment or pollution — other than “beautiful, clean coal.” His administration has drastically taken away funds for research on renewable energy sources, but has increased the subsidies for multinational oil and gas companies.
Additionally, when Trump started his second year in office, “the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advanced their Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, citing increasing concerns over nuclear weapons and climate change. That’s the closest it has been to terminal disaster since 1953, when the US and USSR exploded thermonuclear weapons. That was before the release of Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review, which significantly increases the dangers by lowering the threshold for nuclear attack and by developing new weapons that increase the danger of terminal war.”
Meanwhile, his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is “an enormous gift to the very wealthy, [giving] virtually nothing to anyone else.” The architects of the bill, such as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, worked to undermine the already weak welfare and benefits systems of the general population. Paul Ryan had successfully accomplished his goals with the “‘Donor Relief Act of 2017’ and the deficit cuts that open the way to sharp reduction of entitlements: health, social security, pensions — whatever matters to the people beyond the very privileged.”
He exploded the “the deficit (a trademark of Republicans since Reagan), which means that they can move on to cut away at entitlements, as the chief architect, Paul Ryan, announced happily at once. The US already ranks near the bottom of the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries — the 35 richer and more developed countries — in social justice measures. The Republican triumph will sink it even lower. The tax scam is only the most prominent of the devices being implemented under the cover of Trump buffoonery to serve wealth and corporate power while harming the irrelevant population.”
Trump’s policies on immigration, such as separating children (even infants) from their mothers, is having disastrous effects on people already in turmoil. Many of these families are fleeting from poor countries, suffering the consequences of US foreign policies, seeking security far from their homes. For example, “Honduras has been the main source of refugee flight since the US, almost alone, endorsed the military coup that ousted the elected president and the fraudulent election that followed, initiating a reign of terror.”
Trump’s hateful rhetoric has roused the passions of many extremist groups. His leadership has further pushed the narrative of fear for outsiders or “invaders,” including his claims about a Nicaraguan army ready to invade or a caravan of miserable criminals that want to cause harm. He’s exploiting people’s resentment and anger about their stagnating conditions, which has grown for more than forty years, due to the effects of enhanced corporate power.
He has strongly supported the Saudi War in Yemen. Despite UN agencies warning that the Saudi blockade could lead to one of the largest famines in modern times. The blockade prevents many “desperately needed imports of food, medicine, and fuel.”
Yemeni people are tragically dying from the world’s worst cholera outbreak. With “firm U.S. backing of systematic Saudi destruction,” priceless antiquities destroyed and countless deaths out of control, there seems to be little help for civilians.
There is little help for victims elsewhere either, such as in Raqqa, after a US-led attack on ISIS had absolutely obliterated the city. Rather than rebuilding or helping those harmed from such destruction, Trump has instead “sharply cut funding to the [United Nations Relief and Works Agency], which barely keeps millions of Palestinian refugees alive. In general, ‘make America great’ means great at destroying, and that’s where the greatness ends. It’s by no means entirely new, but is now raised to a higher level and becoming a matter of principle.”
Trumpism is a consequence of neoliberal policies. Many lives have declined or stayed the same while only a few have become more powerful. Deregulated financial institutions are bailed out of multiple crashes while those who suffer are ignored and forgotten. American voters have become bitter, angry, and depressed, while they compete on a global scale for stagnated wages. “The real surprise in the election was the Sanders campaign, which broke with a long tradition of pretty much bought elections, and was stopped only by machinations of the Obama-Clinton party managers. The Democratic Party is now split between the donor-oriented New Democrat managers and a growing activist social democratic base.”
“What all of this portends, worldwide, is far from clear. Though there are also significant signs of hope, some commentators have — with good reason — been quoting Gramsci’s observation from his prison cell: ‘The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.’”
[On Trump’s response to the George Floyd protests during the coronavirus pandemic] Trump wants to call forth a strong military response to those protesting against police brutality. His ideology is very simple. It’s called “me.” He wants to appeal to his white supremacist/racist base by calling for law and order.
Trump is concerned with his own power. His outrageous antics will be tolerated by the corporate sector as long as he enriches them (the already rich and powerful). While at the same time, during COVID-19, he’s removing regulations for how much air pollution can be emitted. This is estimated to increase the number of deaths by the tens of thousands, mostly of poor black people. What matters to him are his electoral prospects, not the people who suffer the consequences of his policies.
Trump-Republicans are trying to pass legislation to immunize corporations, so they can order their workers back to work, despite the threat of Covid-19. White-collar crime prosecutions, such as for wage theft and environmental violations, have dropped significantly, while the general public is being consistently robbed through tax havens and stock buybacks.
[In response to the Coronavirus pandemic] The government could have used their resources to do research on viruses and prepare for vaccines. They’re blocked by (Reagan and Thatcher) neoliberal policies, which aim to put decision-making power into the hands of private tyrannies (corporations), whose goals are short-term profit. While the government is partially accountable to the public, the corporate sector is not.
“This is a capitalist crisis exacerbated by neoliberalism, exacerbated further by malignancies like President Trump. Countries did respond in one or another way to the crisis. The US just didn’t respond… Since the stock market went down, he finally noticed. Since then it was just efforts to cover up on chaos. Some of the things that have been done are just surreal like [for example] everyone’s concerned, of course, about getting a vaccine. There was a scientist in the government in charge of vaccine production. He was fired by the president. Why? Because he questioned some of his quack remedies.”
Trump has surrounded himself with sycophants like Mike Pompeo. Everyone else has been kicked out and not just in the last few weeks. For example, he had purged all the inspector generals, who were hired (incidentally by the Republicans) in the departments of the government to weed out corruption.
“Trump has created a total swamp of corruption. He has just fired all of the inspector generals. That’s a coup reminiscent of a fascist state.”
This pandemic was caused by a “capitalist crisis, neoliberal crisis on top of it. Gangsters from the top capitalist class exacerbating it.” The corporate sector manipulates this terrible crisis to make profits, while the poor suffer the most.
“The Trump administration has purged the executive branch of the government of any independent voices. Nothing left, except sycophants. The Congress, years ago, had installed Inspectors General to monitor the performance of executive offices for corruption, maleficence. They began to look into the enormous swamp of corruption that Trump had created in Washington. He took care of that just by firing them. They’re gone.”
There was an election on November 4, 2020. It was a total disaster. The Republicans — who completely fell off the political spectrum — are now comparable to European parties with neofascist origins. They are “environmental denialists, ultranationalists, evangelical Christians, militarists, xenophobic, racist, white supremacists… very dangerous organization.”
The Republicans won the election at every level — from state legislature up to Congress. They only lost the presidency because of a hatred for Trump rather than a love for Biden. Trump will presumably leave office on January 20, 2020, not conceding that he lost. Trump’s absurd legal maneuverings (suing with claims that the election was rigged, that dead people voted, etc.) will energize his base, showing them that the election was stolen. He wants to appear to be a hero who lost a rigged election because of the deep state. His increasing support will enable him to set up his “true” government, alternative to the “fake news, liberal” government.
The Senate, which is controlled by the Republicans with Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader, will block anything that the Democrats propose. They want to pass legislation that empowers the corporate sector, enriching the already rich, while passing the burden onto the public.
Secondly, they want to stack the judiciary with ultra-right lawyers who will “block any mildly progressive legislation for the generation, no matter what the public wants.” With Trump removed from office, they will do whatever they can to make the country ungovernable.
In regards to the pandemic, countries such as China and Korea, have taken measures to effectively deal with the coronavirus. In the US, the government has given up on its people. US citizens are inundated with right wing propaganda, which says that there is no virus, the liberals made it up, there is no real crisis, masks take away our freedom. “People are literally dying in hospitals, claiming that there is no disease.”
Noam Chomsky: If Trump Falters with Supporters, Don’t Put ‘Aside the Possibility’ of a ‘Staged or Alleged Terrorist Attack’, chomsky.info/20170327/.
Johnson, Stephen. “Noam Chomsky Says Trump and Associates Are ‘Criminally Insane’.” Big Think, Big Think, 7 Feb. 2019, bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/chomsky-says-trump-is-criminally-insane?rebelltitem=3#rebelltitem3.
Polychroniou, C.J. “‘A Complete Disaster’: Noam Chomsky on Trump and the Future of US Politics.” Truthout, Truthout, 7 May 2018, truthout.org/articles/a-complete-disaster-noam-chomsky-on-trump-and-the-future-of-us-politics/.
From www.shihengyi.online: “Shi Heng Yi belongs to the 35th Generation of Shaolin Masters and is the headmaster of the Shaolin Temple Europe 歐洲少林寺 located in Germany.”
Always take the perspective of a student, a beginner, even when you are skilled in one area of your life. There is always something to learn. Stay humble in the grand mystery of this universe.
Seek answers, but remain open to what you don’t know.
A well-known professor went to visit a Zen master. As the master served tea, the professor described his learned understanding of Zen. The master remained quiet as the professor spoke, continuing to pour.
When the tea reached the brim of the cup, the Zen master kept pouring.
The tea overflowed, spilling onto the tray, the table, and the carpet, until the professor could no longer stand it.
“Stop!” he said. “Can’t you see the cup is full?”
“This is you,” said the master, positing to the cup. “How can I show you Zen, until you first empty your cup?”
How can you live in a healthy way? Pay attention to what food you put into your body, how you think and feel, how you breathe, what exercises you do. There is a strong relationship between your mind and body. You can choose where you want to develop more, where you want to expend your energy, pushing yourself beyond what is comfortable. Your growth comes from learning through discomfort. Going beyond your current limitations.
Breath is not just in and out.
It is a foundation for life, creation, transformation.
From Shi’s interview with Jean-Pierre De Villiers: “The main problem about living is… in case you are caught in any type of preference. If you’re caught in a preference or in a rejection. So that means, either you are living a life where things are always adding up, adding up, adding up. There’s nothing bad about it. The problem is, you cannot hold it. No matter what you are attaining, you cannot hold it. It is just a matter of time until you can lose all of this. Not only talking about money. You can spend a lot of your time having a very great career, a very very nice family, financial stability, absolutely everything is working perfectly for you. You live a really great life. But it’s going to end.”
Nothing will stay how it is. Nothing is permanent.
Despite this constant change, however, there is a deep stability in life.
It is within you but also outside yourself.
When you truly master yourself, there is no duality between the two.
“In [meditation] leave your front door and back door open. Let thoughts come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.”
— Shunryu Suzuki
When we first begin our meditation practice, we often want to meditate to attain a goal. That goal may be happiness, inner-peace, well-being, security, health, or whatever else our minds can conjure up. Then we may practice for a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months, consistently and inconsistently, until our practice drops off.
Many people expect to gain immediate results, chasing ideas of enlightenment or permanent happiness. They may even have experienced a sense of peace in the past, now clinging to the idea of peace in every session. When they don’t get what they want, or get what they don’t want, they don’t practice as much as before. Some people quit entirely.
Overtime, meditating only for our own happiness feels a little self-centered. As our practice deepens, however, we soon begin to realize that our happiness will not last. Our security will not last either. Our grasping after ideas will only make us suffer more. Only when we can let go of these ideas can we be open to our joy and sorrow.
Our peace cannot be peace if it is only for ourselves.
There is no genuine happiness in our lives unless we work for the happiness of others.
What underlies all Buddhist teachings is the wish for all beings to be free of suffering.
This is because we aren’t separate from our environment. From other living creatures.
It is one thing to know this intellectually, but quite another thing to experience it directly.
Through our meditation practice, we can learn to see what is. Over and over again.
Even if we forget ourselves — lost in our daydreams and distractions — we can return to where we are.
Whenever we experience a thought, a feeling, or sensation, we can let it come and go. There is no need to follow it. We don’t have to get caught up in our stories, our dramas, our complex thought-patterns.
We can treat our inner-processes like guests. They can come inside, walk round in our house, and then leave. While we’re not inviting them to stay forever, we don’t need to kick them out the backdoor, or lock them in the basement.
It is important to allow space into our practice. Our space can embrace our anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear — without letting these states take over. We can lovingly be aware of when we are feeling tight in our chest, cramping, on the verge of crying, breathing shallowly, and so on. There is no shame in how we think and feel and sense. We don’t have to shut ourselves down, repressing who we are, and we don’t have to identify with every emotion that arises.
As Tsoknyi Rinpoche wrote in How Mindfulness Works, “We also gradually cut through the habit of identifying with each emotional wave that passes through our awareness. We can be angry, jealous, or scared without having to act on those emotions or let them take over our lives. We can experience joy or love without becoming attached to the object that we think is the cause of our joy. All too often, the emotions we experience, along with the thoughts and behaviors that accompany them, become part of our internal and social story lines. Anger, anxiety, jealousy, fear, and other emotions become part of who we believe we are, creating what I would call a ‘greasy’ residue, like the oily stuff left on a plate after eating greasy food. If that residue is left on the plate, eventually everything served on that plate starts to taste alike; bits of food start to accumulate too, stuck to layers and layers of greasy residue. All in all, a very unhealthy situation!”
Through our meditation, we can see ourselves as we are: human. When we create space in our lives, in that space, there is freedom. Our aliveness comes from being intimately connected to each moment, not judging, not condemning, but being open to the mystery. What comes is not expected to stay forever. That includes our heartbreaks, our friends, our professions, our physical capabilities, our memories.
We don’t own our life as if we owned a bank account.
We are life itself.
An energetic process, transforming. We are passing through “whatever this is” as visitors.
We cannot take our time with us.
We cannot stop ourselves from growing old, sick, and dying.
Every moment is so precious. Only we forget.
Meditation helps us to realize that we are interconnected with everything in this universe. In all our infinite relationships, there is no true division. We create division in our discriminating minds, in our judgements and opinions, in our intellectualization.
Our daily practice lets us be more aware. We start to feel a sense of responsibility, because we see another person’s joy and sorrow within ourselves. As we suffer, they suffer. As we wish for peace, they wish for peace. When we harm the world, we harm ourselves, when we harm ourselves, we harm the world. Meditation is a way for us to return to who we are, and where we are, in the miracle of each moment.
He does not justify himself, therefore he is revered.
He does not boast, therefore he is honored.
He does not praise himself, therefore he remains.
Because he opposes no one,
No one in the world can oppose him.
The ancients said:
Hulk to be whole.
Are these just empty words?
Indeed, he shall remain whole.
When you compare yourself to another person, you are putting that person’s head higher than your own. Comparisons often make you feel that you are not enough. You become envious of those who have succeeded, while never feeling fully satisfied with what you do have.
Comparisons create divisions within you. Those divisions are based on your own ideas of what’s worthy and unworthy, praiseworthy and blameworthy. They are not reality, but rather, develop into a narrow view of what reality is.
You’ve been conditioned to compare. You’ve been told that you must be smarter, stronger, more attractive, more powerful than others, to gain rewards and avoid punishments.
You fear that you will lose what you have while desiring to gain more.
More is never enough. You are like one of the hungry ghosts: human-like creatures with sagging bellies and necks as thin as needles. While they ravenously desire more and more, they can never satisfy their cravings, suffering from their own greed.
Willard and Marguerite Beecher once wrote in Beyond Success and Failure, “Comparison breeds fear, and fear breeds competition and one-upmanship. We believe our safety depends on killing off the one above us by outrunning him at his own game. We have no time to enjoy any game of our own making lest we lost ground in our race against others for status and preferment. And we may not rest lest those below us steal ahead in the night when we are not aware. The higher we rise, the greater will be our fear of failing. And so we are fearful regardless of whether we win or lose the daily skirmishes.”
Comparison reinforces your fear of not being enough, not having enough, not being worthy enough, not doing enough, and so on. When you are afraid, you will boast and criticize, while feeling a sense of inadequacy. Only when you‘re present can you be free of possessiveness.
When you compare, you fight for an illusion of superiority, while looking over your shoulder for any threats. You know that your accomplishments and rewards are only temporary. They will never satisfy you for long and will fade away.
Eventually, someone who is smarter, more talented, younger, and so on, will come along and beat you at your own game. Habitual comparison makes you feel weaker, emptier, lonelier. It is a feeling of greed and impoverishment. It degrades you overtime.
When you follow the way, you do not need to blame and praise. There is no need prove how superior you are to others when you are able to be yourself. To follow the way is to adapt to the nature of what is, and to walk each step mindfully, open to a mystery not put into words.
“NOAM CHOMSKY is widely regarded as the most influential intellectual of our time. Filmed over four years, these are his final long-form documentary interviews.”
Inequality in America is unprecedented. A fraction of one percent of the population have super wealth. Because of this unequal wealth distribution, there is a corrosive effect on the principles of democracy.
The notion of class mobility is now antiquated. While back in the Great Depression, there was an expectation of future prosperity, of idealized success. In this modern period, the American Dream has collapsed.
In a real democracy, the public has influence over policy decisions. For privileged elites, however, democracy takes power out of their hands and puts it into the general population’s. They desire a concentration of wealth for themselves, so they can have more power, more influence. If politicians want to win elections or even to run, they’ll need ever-increasing sums of money. In order to get funded, candidates must serve corporate interests that financially support their campaigns. Corporate power becomes legislation through their influence on those running and elected. Legislation passed protects the rich, helping them to gain even more power, often at the expense of taxpayers.
This cycle is inherent in the United States. Adam Smith, in “The Wealth of Nations,” wrote that in England, the “principal architects of policy are the people who own the society.” In the 1770s, the merchants and manufacturers were the architects. Despite the impact on other members of the population, their interests were always taken care of. Nowadays, instead of manufacturers and merchants, financial institutions and multinational corporations are in control.
They are the “Masters of Mankind.”
PRINCIPLE #1: REDUCE DEMOCRACY
James Madison believed that the United States should be structured. He wanted most of the power to transfer to the senate at a time when the senate wasn’t elected. Senate members were selected from an elite class of white men in the population.
In debates of the Constitutional Convention, Madison said that “the major concern of society has to be to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” He wanted the constitution to prevent the majority from taking the property of the rich. Whereas Aristotle wrote that a democracy should reduce inequality, Madison wrote that an unequal society should reduce democracy.
The general population often pushes for more democratization, such as in the 1960s with civil rights, environmental rights, and anti-war activism, while the masters want the population to be apathetic, subservient, and powerless.
PRINCIPLE #2: SHAPE IDEOLOGY
There has been a coordinated effort to undermine democracy. When “previously passive and obedient” members of the population, who are sometimes called “special interest groups,” have tried to become politically active, the state resists them. Private businesses can lobby, buy elections, staff the executive branch, but when young people are “too independent and free” and not responsive to indoctrination, they’re deemed as dangerous and must be subdued.
PRINCIPLE #3: REDESIGN THE ECONOMY
Since the 1970s, financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies, have gained more power. For example, in 2007, before the economic crash, they had 40% of corporate profits. The United States once was the greatest “manufacturing center of the world.” Financial institutions had a smaller part in society, performing roles like distributing unused assets. They were regulated with more control over their risky investments. By the ’70s, there was an increase in speculative capital, risky investments, money manipulations, and so on. Manufacturing was exported out to third world countries, putting workers from different countries in competition with each other, which reduced their wages while exploiting the poorest of workers. Top managerial positions have shifted to more business graduates than graduates from other departments, financializing the country even more.
“Workers can’t move, labor can’t move, but capital can.”
While highly-paid professionals are secure, workers are made insecure. They fear losing their jobs, discouraged from attaining livable wages, better health and safety conditions, and unionization.
PRINCIPLE #4: SHIFT THE BURDEN
Dissidents are often vilified. Depending on the society, critics are imprisoned, abused, executed, tortured, or censored. The United States has a high degree of freedom, compared to other countries. Yet terms of abuse, such as anti-American and Marxist, still arise when one criticizes corporate state power. Abusing critics in a developed democratic country, such as the United States, is a sign of the influence of elite culture on the general population.
During “The Golden Age” of the ’50s and ’60s, there was a high period of relatively egalitarian economic growth. The lowest fifth of the population was improving about as much as the upper fifth. When the U.S. was considered the largest manufacturing center in the world, businesses were made to be more concerned with consumers domestically.
When only a small percentage of the population owns an increasing amount of wealth, however, what happens to American consumers matters far less. What matters to the wealthy is their quarterly profit, even if it is due to money manipulation, higher salaries for their top executives, and decreases in taxes for multinational corporations.
“Taxes on the wealthy has reduced, while the tax burden on the rest of the population’s increased.” The pretext for this drastic shift is so there will be more jobs and investment. Despite the lack of evidence for this poor rhetoric, to truly stimulate production and job growth, money should go to poor and working people. The reality is far different, however. Corporations pay little to no taxes, receive exponential profits, while sending their manufacturing work offshore. They shift “the burden of sustaining the society on the rest of the population.”
PRINCIPLE #5: ATTACK SOLIDARITY
The masters want to indoctrinate people to only care about themselves. To care about other people is dangerous. They have put in a lot of effort to undermine people’s instincts for compassion and generosity, such as with the attack on social security. Social security is about helping others. “I pay payroll taxes so that the widow across the street can get something to live on.” A lot of the population survives on social security. The rich don’t need it, so they want to destroy it. They will first defund it, eventually privatizing it. A similar attack has happened to public education. The United States used to be a leader in funding mass pubic education. Now most college students are burdened with tuition. If they don’t come from wealthy families, they are trapped in debt.
PRINCIPLE #6: RUN THE REGULATORS
“The business being regulated is often running the regulators. Bank lobbyists are actually writing the laws of financial regulation; it’s gotten to that extreme.” The business world has worked steadily against the welfare measures of the sixties, ending with Nixon as the last “New Deal” president. Businesses didn’t like “consumer safety legislation, safety and health regulations in the workplace, the EPA,” and so on, because of high taxes and regulation. They began a coordinated effort, through lobbying, to overcome it. When regulations started to become dismantled, there were more economic crashes. Then the government bailed out the banks, over and again, under the Reagan, Bush, and Obama administrations. Taxpayers were forced to bail out the institutions that started the crisis. These financial institutions had become “too big to fail,” not responsible for their risky investments. Instead, they were chosen to fix the crises that they created.
PRINCIPLE #7: ENGINEER ELECTIONS
“Corporations are state-created legal fictions” that have manipulated the fourteenth amendment to be considered persons. They use their “persons” status to have personal rights and the right to due process under the law. This notion of “persons” is expanded for corporations, but not for actual people. If taking the amendment literally, undocumented immigrants would not be deprived of rights because they are persons. In the U.S., however, General Electric is more of a person than someone from another country.
In Buckley V. Valeo (1970), “the courts decided that money was a form of speech.” Later, in Citizens United V. Federal Electric Commission, a corporation’s free speech couldn’t be curtailed anymore, because they could spend as much money as they wanted. Now, corporations can buy elections, completely unrestricted.
PRINCIPLE #8: KEEP THE RABBLE IN LINE
“Organized labor is a barrier to corporate tyranny.”
Because organized labor is a democratizing force, leading to worker’s rights and those of the general population, it has been consistently attacked. The United States, in comparison to other developed countries, has had a long history of violently opposing organized labor. The core principle of free association, of political pressure through the masses, is a threat to business interests. Violence against workers, campaigns of propaganda, threats, and imprisonment, has drastically reduced unions.
PRINCIPLE #9: MANUFACTURE CONSENT
It is not easy to control a population by force alone, especially in developed countries like the United States and Britain. Manipulating a population’s beliefs and attitudes is far more effective. To control what the public wants, turning people into consumers is the goal of business. The masses are taught to crave superficial things, distracted from meaningful change. They spend their lives buying what they don’t need and wanting what they don’t have. They are seduced by advertisements, uninformed about desires, persuaded against their own interests.
Ever since Reagan, the PR industry has been marketing candidates like toothpaste. There is little discussion of policy issues and more discussion of personality. Meanwhile, private interests are marginalizing the public, while securing their selected candidates into office.
PRINCIPLE #10: MARGINALIZE THE POPULATION
Most of the population doesn’t influence policy. People are increasingly frustrated with institutions, alienated, demoralized, but are often lost for answers. The manufacturers want the population to turn on each other, to hate and fear each other. They want activist groups to fragment. They want people to care only about themselves and not about others. If a society is controlled by private institutions, it will reflect those values. A society based on the value of greed will not last.
To progress as a society, institutions should be under a participatory democratic control. All structures should be questioned for legitimacy. If they’re not just, then they should be dismantled or improved upon. If there are oppressive structures, the public must come together and not accept them. They must organize and challenge what is unjust. To become a better citizen, to change the world, people need to learn, to contribute, to find opportunities for speech and direct action. As Howard Zinn once said, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean.
“Young lady,” he asked, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
“The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die.”
“But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference.”
The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference to that one.”
We have traded our intimacy for social media, our romantic bonds for dating matches on apps, our societal truth for the propaganda of corporate interests, our spiritual questioning for dogmatism, our intellectual curiosity for standardized tests and grading, our inner voices for the opinions of celebrities and hustler gurus and politicians, our mindfulness for algorithmic distractions and outrage, our inborn need to belong to communities for ideological bubbles, our trust in scientific evidence for the attractive lies of false leaders, our solitude for public exhibitionism.
We have ignored the hunter-gatherer wisdom of our past, obedient now to the myth of progress.
But we must remember who we are and where we came from.
We are animals born into mystery, looking up at the stars. Uncertain in ourselves, not knowing where we are heading. We exist with the same bodies, the same brains, as Homo sapiens from thousands of years past, roaming on the plains, hunting in forests and by the sea, foraging together in small bands.
Except now, our technology is exponentially increasing at a scale that we cannot predict.
We are overwhelmed with information; lost in a matrix that we do not understand.
Our civilizational “progress” is built on the bones of the indigenous and the poor and the powerless.
Our “progress” comes at the expense of our land, and oceans, and air.
We are reaching beyond what we can globally sustain. Former empires have perished from their unrestrained greed for more resources. They were limited in past ages by geography and capacity, collapsing in regions, and not over the entire planet.
We have grown arrogant in our comfort, hardened away from our compassion, believing that our reality is the only reality.
Yet even at our most uncertain, there are still those saints who are unknown and nameless, who help even when they do not need to help.
They often are not rich, don’t have their profiles written up in magazines, and will never win any prestigious awards.
They may have shared their last bit of food while already surviving on so little. They may have cherished the disheartened, shown warmth to the neglected, tended to the diseased and dying, spoken kindly to the hopeless.
They do not tremble in silence while the wheels of prejudice crush over their land.
Withering what was once fertile into pale death and smoke.
They tend to what they love, to what they serve.
They help, even when they could fall back into ignorance, even when they could prosper through easy greed, even when they could compromise their values, conforming into groupthink for the illusion of security.