Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Love and Envy and Gratitude

I should start with a definition of envy: that rage and resentment the dependent person feels at the power someone else has to make him happy or sad, to give life or take it away.

All of us are dependent, and in fact are enmeshed in an immense, indeed infinite, web of dependencies and relationships. “Independence” does not exist, starting not when we are born, but before we are born.

In a sense, our “self” does not exist, because it is created by the relationships with something or someone else. There can be no fathers or mothers without children, no lovers without each other, no wife without a husband or a husband without a wife, no friends without another friend.

In other words, there cannot be any envy or love or gratitude without other people.

Having written the above, I’ll now write about the first time I fell in love. I was 18 years old, and the girl involved, I had only gone out with her one time. I hadn’t been impressed by her.

A month or so after I had dated her that one time, I was at work one night, and when I thought of her, I was suddenly consumed with jealousy, which I had never felt before, but somehow knew exactly what it was. It was an awful feeling, in fact the worst I had ever felt.

She also worked nights, at a place about three blocks from me. That night, I did not know if she was at work or not. If she was not at work, I thought she might be out with a guy she occasionally dated.

I had a nearly overwhelming compulsion to leave work, go those three blocks, and find out if she was there or not. Or if she was out with that particular guy.

Just like that, I realized I was in love with this girl. Even though I had never felt love before, I knew what it was, just the way I knew was jealousy was as soon as I felt it.

Some years later, when I thought about it, I realized jealously always involved three people and so is always a triangle. I was jealous of this guy whom I thought she might be with. These days, I don’t even remember his name. In those days, I barely knew him.

I ended up having feelings for this girl for two years. Overall, it was not a bad thing, although I was puzzled for years why there was jealousy in love. Finding the answer never obsessed me; I knew that, sooner or later, I’d figure it out.

The next time I fell in love I had just turned 27. That time it was a different story. There was no jealousy. There was envy.

Envy is far, far worse than jealousy. The feeling is not just awful; it is horrendous. It is truly a base feeling and I see no good in it at all.

That feeling of envy was generated because the relationship with her did not work out. Unfortunately, my feelings for her were far more intense that hers were for me. In fact, she wasn’t serious at all. She had power over me, and I had none over her.

That relationship with her is when I realized that in love there is always envy. Love in fact is in large part based on the envy of the loved one.

People fall in love because they have certain things in common. Certain interests, certain similar traits. People who are intelligent, witty and knowledgeable tend to be attracted to others with the same traits.

At the same time, no one is completely ‘whole.’ Everyone has deficiencies, or holes, they need filled in them. These people tend to fall in love because the one person has something the other doesn’t. There is a hole one fills in the other. That’s what causes the envy.

I am not normally a jealous or envious person. It’s only activated in a relationship with a woman. I find that curious as to why this is so, not only for me but for many other people.

Since no one is perfect and everyone has holes in their characters, in any love relationship there will always be envy on both sides. And envy, unfortunately, is a species of hate. That’s why love and hate are so closely related. In fact, in another time, I could have killed the second girl, or beaten her. If I couldn’t have her, I wanted to destroy her.

It’s not so much love and hate; it’s love and envy. And while jealousy involves three people, envy always involves two. Add that third one and what you’ve got is jealousy. So I conclude that envy is the basis of jealousy, even if you don’t feel the envy.

I’ve always been intrigued by that original dysfunctional family: Adam and Eve and their two children Cain and Abel.

Adam blames his problems on Eve and Eve blames her problems on the serpent, which is a symbol of envy. They are two people. Worse, murder enters the world when Cain kills his brother out of his envy of him. Again, there are two people involved.

There is not a word in the story of the Garden of Eden about guilt, just shame for Adam and Even, and humiliation – which is a species of shame – for Cain. There is no hate involving Adam and Eve. Hate enters the picture with Cain. All the problems involved are caused by envy.

Blaming your problems on other people, envy, shame, humiliation, hate…all are related to each other. In fact, envy appears to be the basis of hate, shame, humiliation, rage, murder and revenge. If this was not so, the story of the Garden of Eden would not insist on envy being the cause of all four people’s problems.

There are those who claim our envious feelings ran back to when we are infants. That wouldn’t surprise me. I have for years thought for years Adam and Eve were about four years old, since they had no self-consciousness until they ate the fruit. And before that, they also had no shame, just the way babies and very young children have no self-consciousness and shame.

The second woman I was involved with, I hated her because I envied her. Even though intellectually I knew it was ridiculous because it was not true, emotionally I felt she was the cause of my problems. While we can control our behavior, and to some degree our thoughts, controlling our feelings is nearly impossible.

Now I will go back many years before I met the first girl.

A few months before I turned 12 years old I was friends with a girl I had met in the sixth grade. I used to go over to her house. She was, for want of a better description, my best friend.

One time when we were in her back yard she took my hand, simply because she wanted to hold it, and I remember looking at her with something I had never felt before. I couldn’t describe it at the time, being only 11, but I realize now it was gratitude – thankfulness -- that I knew this girl. I also remember the feeling of amazement at how wonderful that feeling was.

There was no envy towards her. None. And even thought I was not in love with her, I realized decades later envy and gratitude cannot exist at the same time. While envy is not the basis of gratitude, gratitude is what overcomes envy.

In any relationship, each person has power over the other. There is no way around that. That power, it goes without saying, should never be abused, although very often it is.

The first defense all of us engage in is to blame our problems on other people -- what psychologists call ‘projection.’ It’s generally known as ‘scapegoating.’ Scapegoating, based on envy, is the lesson of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel: “It’s your fault…you made me do it.” How often have all people heard that, especially from very young children?

So, of course, in any love relationship, because there is always envy involved, we are going to see the other person as holding our happiness in his or her hands. Our emotions are going to tell us they are the cause of our problems.

In times past nearly every child would have been taught the Seven Deadly Sins, with envy probably the worst, since it’s the basis of all the rest. It’s the sin of Satan, his envy of God. These days, on the other hand, envy is almost never mentioned, not in school, not by parents, and certainly no longer in church.

Neither are children taught about gratitude. Love, hate, envy, jealousy…these days you’re supposed to figure it out on your own. So people end up seeing semi-clueless therapists and swallowing anti-depressants, which are band-aids and not cures.

We are bound to hate the ones we love. I once had a woman I was involved with beat on me with the bottom of her fists – the way women hit – because she thought I was seeing another woman – which I wasn’t. I remember her screaming, “I hate you!” And at that particular time, she did.

I see no way out of this mess inherent in us except through gratitude. And that involves humility and forgiveness and appreciation on both sides.

The benign form of envy is admiration, which means if you envy someone, you find something admirable in them. That means you want to emulate them, and that emulation is based on the ‘holes’ in our characters we want filled.

The one important thing that does not exist in the original story of the Garden of Eden is guilt, although Christianity later added guilt. Accepting the envy and the guilt, and the admiration and emulation, on both sides can allow the reestablishment of appreciation and gratitude.

Only when we own up to our own destructiveness and envy, and stop blaming them on the other person, can we accept the good in another, and learn to appreciate them and be grateful.

Kill all the Short People

When Randy Newman came out with his song “Short People” and sang they should be killed, he got a lot of criticism. Many people didn’t understand he was being ironic and mocking the attitudes of many people toward short men.

I have no idea how tall Newman is, but he looks short. So he knows what it’s like.

I am not short, by the way. I’m six-feet-tall, but I do have short friends, and they have told me stories.

I get the impression there are women out there who want short men to, basically, die. “How dare you not be six feet tall? Why don’t you just die?!?”

I had one friend tell me he asked a woman to dance at a nightclub and she told him, “You’re about a foot too short.” I wonder how she would feel if some guy told her, “I’m dumping you for a better-looking woman. Younger, too, and has bigger tits”?

Another told me that in college he put a sign in the student building saying he was driving home over the weekend and looking for riders to share gas. He got a call from a girl, a student there, and got along very well with her on the phone. Instant chemistry.

However, when he met her, he told me, “I could see the disappointment in her eyes,” because he was 5’7”. And on the drive she told him, “On the phone you sounded like you were six-feet-tall.”

I occasionally wonder how tall I sound on the phone.

Another guy told me he went over to a girl’s house to pick her up and she had left. You might claim that wasn’t because he was short, but would she have done this to a good-looking six-foot-tall guy? I seriously doubt it.

Probably the best story I heard from a short friend is when he was going to take a girl bowling while they were in college. She wanted to stop at a bar first.

It turned out some of her friends were there. She told my friend, “I don’t want to go bowling.”

“Do you want to do something else?”

“No,” she said, and turned and walked away.

“I was sitting there in a bar with my bowling ball,” he told me.

One of my short friends became a dentist and oral surgeon. He is quite wealthy, has a one-hundred-year-old three-story house with one of those huge attics people used to put the crazy aunt in, and a big back yard with a privacy fence. He was his office in the backyard, so he’s basically home all the time.

If I was a envious person, I would envy him. When he’s not working on patients, he works on his garden and plays with his dogs.

He married an Asian woman a bit shorter than him. I’ve spent a lot of time at his house and have seen the looks of many of his female patients when they saw his wife. “How dare you be rich and marry an Asian woman! You’re supposed to marry a white woman! And how dare you be 5’6” instead of 6’. I hate you! Why don’t you just die?!?!”

It is bizarre.

There have been times I’ve stood in stores with a short friend and the woman behind the counter flirted with me, but didn’t even look at him. I wondered if it ever occurred to them he was a friend of mine and they should at least say hi to him?

Hmmm…perhaps all short people should just die. Now that I think about it, they’ve caused me a lot of trouble.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Hypocrisy and Cruelty of the Leftist Feminist

"For surely thou art plagued on account of friends…"

“Feminists of the Sixties and Seventies,” wrote Nicci Gerrard in The Guardian, “have had to pay a terrible price for their dedication – most of them are forgotten, reviled, poor, and alone.” To that I’ll add there are even some from the Eighties and Nineties who are in the same condition.

How did they end up like this? Didn’t the late Betty Friedan and the still-alive-and-babbling Gloria Steinem promise them otherwise? Paradise on Earth? Of course, there is often a difference between what one promises and what one does in one’s personal life – that is the definition of hypocrisy. And what Friedan and Steinem promised to others, and what they did in their personal lives, made them the most deplorable of hypocrites.

Both of these women insisted women follow their teachings, when they, in their personal lives, didn’t follow them at all. In reality, they lived their lives in exact opposition to what they told women to do. They expected other women to make the sacrifices, but never them.

Friedan’s most famous book is The Feminine Mystique. A Marxist tract written by a life-long Stalinist, it was about “patriarchy” and “capitalism” and “female oppression.” A best-seller and a very influential book, it was, in many ways, the start of Sixties feminism.

Yet, when Friedan wrote it, she was married to a very wealthy man and living in a mansion on the Hudson River in New York. She was not employed, and in fact only one job in her life (a journalist when young). She spent the rest of her life instructing others how to live theirs. The housework in the mansion – I’m shocked! Shocked! -- was done by a maid.

All of this is of course rank hypocrisy. A woman writing leftist fantasies about downtrodden and oppressed women while living a life of luxury so opulent that the housework was something done by domestic servants? How could she possibly know anything about any woman’s life other than her own?

I’ve tried to imaginatively place myself in Friedan’s place to understand her puzzling behavior. She was an unattractive woman. Was she hurt by being ostracized in high school, not invited to parties or on dates, and envious of better-looking women? Like many envious people, did she cover it up with a spurious desire for “social justice,” which is no more than a desire for revenge?

She apparently wanted revenge on men – to drag them down because of what they did to her when she was younger. But why did she not attempt to drag women down too? Perhaps it was because the Zeitgeist allowed fame and fortune by attacking men but not women?

Gloria Steinem, in her own way, was worse than Friedan: a former Playboy Bunny, she was very attractive, oftentimes appearing in boots and mini-skirts, but she misused her appeal. She was the glamorous poster-girl of feminism, making it seem a wonderfully easy and sexy thing to do.

In her books, her articles and her many well-paid public appearances, she insisted that marriage and romance were a trap and a delusion for women, and that they could never fulfill themselves unless they learned to be emotionally and financially self-sufficient.

So how did Steinem lead her life?

Starting in college, she saw the same wealthy man -- television writer, producer and musician Blair Chotzinoff -- for close to 30 years. They were going to get married, but she called it off in college. Still, she saw him for three decades.

She called her relationship with him “a long-term romance.” People told of seeing both of them walking arm and arm in the park, and dining and drinking wine in cozy restaurants. She said this romance was about “passion and curiosity.”

For three years she was involved with Mort Zuckerman, a wealthy faux-conservative who bought her expensive presents. Now why would a flaming liberal feminist be involved with a “capitalist” and a “conservative”? Does love and money trump ideology? It does appear so in Steinem’s case.

Her friends remember her visiting fertility clinics in order to determine if she could have children with Zuckerman. (By the way, the most well-known liberals don’t raise their kids permissively – Hilary Clinton, for example, refused to let her 11-year-old daughter get her ears pierced).

Steinem never said a good thing about marriage in her life -- until she one day suddenly did a complete flip-flop. For decades she called marriage “an ownership contract” and that married women were “part-time prostitutes.” She also said repeatedly she would never get married because it would vacuum the brains out of her head, and that women needed men, to use a cliché that is thank God long out of style, the way “a fish needs a bicycle.”

Then one day she met a wealthy South African, David Bale. Her fuzzy liberal brain did a complete somersault on her life-long opposition to marriage, and not long after she dressed in white, he held her hand, and they got married in a park. She claimed things had changed and marriage was now acceptable. She never explained how things had changed so rapidly, when in fact she had still viciously attacked marriage less than two years before she tied the knot.

Peter Schweizer in his eye-opening book, Do As I Say (Not As I Do) referred to Steinem as a “hopeless romantic, dependent female [and] serial monogamist.” In her mind these things were good for her but bad for other women – if they acted like her they were traitors to Steinem’s leftist cause. Again, rank hypocrisy on her part.

Other feminists have shown the same hypocrisy. Susan Brownmiller wrote a famous book, Against our Will, in which she claimed men were rapists who historically used rape to dominate women. Yet she admitted she always wanted men and marriage and romance -- she just wouldn’t lower her standards. Which ones? Finding some spaghetti-spined liberal male to eagerly agree with her assessment that all men were rapists? Like Germaine Greer (author of The Female Eunuch), another lost leftist-feminist soul, Brownmiller never got what she so badly wanted.

People, unfortunately, are flawed creatures, and can be exceptionally deluded.
While Friedan and Steinem were cavorting in the limelight and living lives of ease and privilege with very wealthy men, many of the women who believed their falsehoods ended up as Nicci Gerrard described them.

Friedan and Steinem got what all of us want – importance and meaning and community in their lives. Yet they were engaging in one of the worst things people can do – they were lying to themselves. And before you can lie to others (even if you don’t know you are lying to them) you first have to lie to yourself…even if you don’t know you’re lying to yourself.

I do not understand the blindness, unwitting cruelty, and cupidity of people like Friedan and Steinem, except to blame it on their self-deception (which also leads to them rationalizing their behavior, no matter how outrageous). This self-deception appears to a mental illness, a cognitive dissonance that allowed them to do one thing and say the exact opposite with no sense of anything being wrong. To use an old saying, the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing.

How could Friedan attack men and capitalism when it was men and capitalism that gave her nearly everything good she got out of life? How could she not see the glaring contradictions of how she led her life and how she told other women to lead theirs?

How could Steinem so brutally and uncompromisingly denigrate men and romance and marriage for other women when they were what she wanted more than anything else – and got? Did it ever occur to her that some women would idealize her and her beliefs, and years later find that by following Steinem’s pronouncements their lives had become self-defeating, self-destructive and unworkable?

Yet I’m sure in her mind, with her self-deception and rationalization, there is no guilt and no responsibility for what she did to her loyal followers. Even today, she sails on, never looking back.

Perhaps Friedan did not, and Steinem does not, want women to succeed to the extent they did. Perhaps they idealize their own sex as a defense against their envy of other women – and in envy you always want to drag others down. Friedan’s envy I understand. Steinem’s I do not, but one thing is clear about her – she has no personal relationships with the average women, except to instruct her how to live. She clearly has no respect for them, although she deludes herself she does.

There is no such thing as “independence.” It doesn’t exist. All of us are involved in an immense web of dependencies, and need others to survive, starting not only when we’re born, but before we’re born. Everyone and everything is connected to everyone and everything else, and nothing exists solely on its own.

So when Friedan and Steinem lectured about “independence” and “autonomy” as being desirable feminist goals, they were speaking of things that don’t exist.

Leftists wish to destroy the existing order and replace it with laws enforcing their opinions, which they consider not opinions but facts. Yet the existing order gave Friedan and Steinem fame, fortune, men, and romance. Did it ever occur to them that if it had been replaced when they were young, neither of them would have had what they got? Of course not.

One of the main platforms of Marxism (and Friedan was, and Steinem still is, a Marxist) is to destroy the family, and have children raised in common (in reality this means by poorly-paid strangers) while mothers are forced into the workplace whether they want to or not. The fact the many women want marriage and home and a family – these are right-wing delusions, a Frankfurt School “false consciousness.” For them, that is, but not for leftist-feminist leaders.

This hypocrisy is, in fact, the essence of leftism – its tenets apply to you, not me. One need look no farther than Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Al Gore, the Clintons, Cornel West, Norman Lear, Barbra Streisand, Nancy Pelosi, the Kennedys, the Obamas…all of whom are multimillionaires leading lives of luxury while calling for the under-people public to make crushing sacrifices.

When leftists don’t follow their own teachings, their lives get better. Why? Because leftism doesn’t work. That’s why leftists don’t follow their own beliefs in private. They just make a lot of money with their public faces.

Unfortunately, as Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote in Leftism Revisited, the Children of Darkness are cleverer than the Children of Light. Cleverer in the sense the average person falls for their promises of an almost god-like freedom and happiness – promises that can never materialize through the politics the left so fervently worships.

Instead, people are herd animals, social, imitative and hierarchical, and they seek a confident leader to give them guidance. That can be used against them by the cynical…or the hopelessly deluded and idealistic. Whether cynical or idealistic, I consider both kinds to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

In the long run, none of this damaging leftist feminism will last, because it goes against human nature — and human nature, contrary to left-wing delusions, is neither a blank slate nor infinitely malleable.

There will, unfortunately, be a lot of heartbreak and wrecked lives until better days arrive. And those better days, I dread to say, are going to be a long time coming.