The Problem of Abundance

So much information to consume;
So many directions and possibilities.

The exuberance lasts for a while,
But fades in the absence of mystery.
Exploring fruitless avenues is disheartening,
Only to be compounded by the totality of knowledge that both exists and is accessible.

How am I to ever chose a topic that is of both interest and relevance without slowing being dragged down into rabbit holes and quagmires of concepts?

I yearn to create;
To produce something that is new;
To intake information, digest it and synthesize something of substance — something of worth.

But how do I determine what is of worth without simultaneously needing to know about meaning, morality and how one ought to live?

For how can I navigate the myriad of information available to me without also needing to determine how that piece —despite how small it may be — fits together and manifests itself in the world?

Missing The Point

If religious laws and piety produce nothing more than judgement and elitism, then they are not from the spirit but rather the ego. They are societal parameters to regulate appropriate decorum determined by individuals crudely attempting to construct their ideal reality.

Aspects of the true spirit will produce fruit that manifests in forms of love, freedom and peace, not judgement, rigidity and angst. No man made laws, institutions or religious righteousness will bring you to God, but they certainly can distance you.

When you find your religious perspective is one from a high vantage, you should reevaluate what it is that you believe and what it is that you want from others. We are all equal in the eyes of God. We are all imperfect in our own ways, and to judge others for their specific imperfections, only deepens our own. And, deepening our own imperfections, deepens the chasm that divides us from God’s absolute perfection.

We should shift our eyes from societal things and the eqoic mind which feeds off of comparison and judgement, and instead turn inwards to gaze upon ourselves. Not from the point of view of judgement, but simply from the perspective of an impassive observer.

We should focus more on who we are and what we are becoming in relation to the absolute source that is God, and less about the faults of others in an attempt to falsely build ourselves up.

A Man’s Role in Social Change

Tony Porter references “the man box” as a list of assumed characteristics of a man that are imposed upon men through socialization. He talks throughout the video about this stereotype of men that they cannot show weakness because this shows vulnerability, and this leaves the individual’s identity susceptible to attack. Therefore, the remedy provided by this stereotype is to stuff down emotions repress them, and the repression of emotion is a prized characteristic among men; it illustrates what means to be a ‘man’ because it is supposed to illustrate strength. However, I believe it does quite the opposite.

Suppressing emotion does not show strength, it shows cowardice. The acceptance of emotions and walking out into the uncharted waters of vulnerability show courage and bravery. Real strength lies in the ability to be comfortable and secure, while simultaneously being vulnerable. I believe we should be fostering the traits of resiliency, sensitivity, hardiness and adaptive self-regulation in both men and women. However, the dominant narrative self-perpetuates through culture.

My mom was the strongest caregiver of my life and my most influential role model. She encouraged the idea that there are times to be tough and there are times to sensitive. But toughness was not strength and sensitivity was not weakness. Instead, she prized perseverance as strength. It was not about never having problems or being invincible to struggles; it was about addressing them and handling them properly. It was not about not having fear; it was about handling fear with courage.

However, I still have to work to overcome what feels like a built in script of this “man box.” It serves as a point of reference – a template for ‘manliness.’ A template that I believe has largely been impressed upon me through a combination of cultural influence and socialization. I think much of this idea of “manhood” is transmitted unconsciously and, therefore, only resolved through awareness. However, awareness alone is not enough to uproot erroneous world views. It also requires action. Tony Porter’s uses his horrific anecdote to demonstrate how all men take part in this “collective socialization” which allows for violence against women. Therefore, it is the impetus of all men to change this social paradigm.

Reference: https://www.ted.com/talks/tony_porter_a_call_to_men

Binary Oppositions

“You are an expression of your culture.” – Stephen West

Binary oppositions help us navigate the world but breakdown when forced to interpret the signified or thing referenced. If you say is this shirt clean or dirty? We know but if we say is mars clean or dirty we don’t know what to do with it. The binary opposition of clean or dirty are still there but the signified object has changed from shirt to mars. The meaning then does not lie in the terms or the rule but in the relation between the terms and their governing rules.

How does the term operate under those perimeters? Can it be answered? Or does it need further inquire? Better yet, how many signified objects do we use daily that more than likely need further analysis? We need to first understand both the operator and operated upon before we can understand their byproduct of meaning.

“What You Resist Persists”

Today’s social and political climate is polarizing. It is times like these that we need to remember what we are fighting for.

A cause may start as a righteous one, but it quickly descends into treachery the moment the fight itself becomes pleasurable: when we derive joy from the suffering of others, even those most heinous; we have lost the way.

It is easy to loathe and idea, a cause, or someone that embodies them; but, if we fine tune our focus on the feelings of hatred, then our minds are shifted from the change that we want to bring and consumed by the flames of hatred that we are fueling within ourselves.

Remember that any battle should not be about the battle nor the opponent; it is about the outcome. And if the desired outcome be peace, then it cannot be manifested by those who are consumed by even a seemingly “righteous” hate.

Resistance is necessary. Enjoyment is not. The eye’s gaze should never  leave the vision of beauty. If you are consumed by your enemy, you will never win. If you are consumed by your vision, you cannot lose.

 

Critical Thinking on Sustaining Power

“The best way to control people is to make it so subtle they know not they are being controlled. Allow some freedoms so they do not question but retard the true potential possessed in the human.”

It would be much easier to rule if simply all accepted to be ruled, but for the masses to accept a ruling agenda, it must sound like it will benefit them. If one rules by force, there will always be some factions that conspires to use force against them; and, one day, they will overthrow them because of the difference in numbers between the ruling and the ruled. But if you rule by benevolence, perceived or authentic, you limit those conspirators to nil or few; the few would be shunned by the masses as outliers and not allowed to influence the other group members that make up the whole.

Coercion & Freedom

What truly is freedom and how important is it? I think many would say it is the most important thing. I am American and our whole country was founded on this belief.

But if it is the most important thing shouldn’t we keep striving for more?

Americans believe themselves to be free and they usually contrast this statement by comparing their lives to totalitarianism regimes. Yes, by contrast, we are most definitely free. But what if we compared our freedoms to utopia? I think then our ‘freedom’ would seem quite inferior.

We believe ourselves to be free; but are we actually?

If I spend my whole day watching Fox News and find myself voting more conservative, I will think I did so because of my own volition, but did I really? Or was I passively influenced?

Similarly, if I see 7 commercials for McDonald’s cheese sticks, and then, the next day get in my car when I am hungry and buy them; did I do that out of my own free will? Or was I coerced?

So, when we Americans think about life. When we think about happiness and when we think about our futures and goals, reflect on who told you those assumptions you are making. Because it is likely some ambiguous outside source we call the media or society.