Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Bite of the Apple

There are many interpretations of the myth of the Garden of Eden, and I have mine.

In some versions of the story, what gets Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden is the fact they refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Adam blames Eve for making him take a bite of the apple (actually the word "apple" is never mentioned; it's just called "fruit"), and Eve blames the serpent.

What they're doing is scapegoating each other, and as M. Scott Peck pointed out in his book, People of the Lie, "Scapegoating is the genesis of human evil." And he's right.

Scapegoating is when people say, "I am good, and because I am good, I must project my imperfections elsewhere. Let's try you. That makes you evil and the cause of my problems."

It doesn't sound like much, but it is. The Nazis did it, and the Communists did it. In the 20th century I've read estimates of anywhere from 177 million to 200 million people dead because of State-sponsored scapegoating.

Today, you can see this scapegoating even in the United States. George Bush claimed we were attacked because "we are good and they are evil." Since "they" are evil, of course they have to be killed. All this ignores the horrible things the United States has done to other countries, such as blockading Iraq for ten years and leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, including children and infants.

Another interpretation of the story of the Garden of Eden is Innocence to Experience, and Unconsciousness to Consciousness. They are related to the scapegoating.

Adam and Eve are unaware of the difference between good and evil. They are innocent of it--unconscious of it.

Curiously, the story doesn't even suggest that evil doesn't exist, just that Adam and Eve aren't aware of it. When they eat the fruit, they then become aware of evil.

Before they eat the fruit, they are in the position I call, "I didn't know that." Evil exists, but people aren't aware of it. The example I use is to tell people that when the U.S. invaded the Philippines in 1898, they killed about 200,000 people, and lost about 4000 troops.

Usually people tell me, "I didn't know that!" They are Adam and Eve before they ate of the fruit: evil is there, but they're aren't aware of it.

The next comment I often hear is, "I don't believe it." This usually means they do believe it, but don't want to admit it. This position isn't in the story of the Garden of Eden, but you might call it, "Taking a bite of the fruit." People are nibbling a little bit of it, and are starting to lose their innocence and become conscious of evil.

The next comment I often hear is, "Well, I agree with it." These are the people who say, "We had to kill 200,000 Filipinos, or a few hundred thousand Iraqis."

These are the people who have eaten the whole fruit. They know good and evil, but the "good and evil" they know is the limited kind that Adam and Eve knew, the kind that got them kicked out of the Garden and bought evil into the world.

These are the people who are essentially saying, "I agree with it because we are good and they are evil." That's what makes it okay, to them, to murder hundreds of thousands of people. They're scapegoating them, just the way Adam scapegoated Eve, and Eve, the serpent. It's what brings evil into the world.

A comment I occasionally hear from people is, "Yes, I know we've done bad things." That position isn't in the story of the Garden of Eden, either. But these are the people who take responsibility, unlike Adam and Eve. It's a position that moves beyond scapegoating, moves beyond saying, "I am good and you are evil and therefore are the cause of my problems."

It's a position that realizes there is no "good" over here and "evil" over there, with nothing in between. In reality, if it's anything, it's a continuum. Seeing good and evil as either white or black always leads to scapegoating, and therefore looses murder and destruction into the world, because people--and especially nations--are always going to claim they are the good guys and other nations, the bad guys.

In the story of the Garden of Eden there is a angel with a flaming sword baring the way back in. People usually interpret this to mean we can't go back to the happiness of the Garden of Eden.

I have another interpretation. The flaming sword is a warning not to return to the folly of Adam and Eve, of denying responsibility for what we've done. It's as good of an interpretation as any other, and to my mind, a better one. It's saying, "Don't go back to denying responsibility for your actions, don't go back to ignoring evil, don't go back to rationalizing it as a good thing."

Stephen Mitchell put it this way: "The clearer our insight into what is beyond good and evil, the more we can embody the good."

As far as I'm concerned, the Garden of Eden would be a lousy place to live.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Forgiving You Enemies

Love your enemies…turn the other cheek…these sayings make no sense. Yet, they do.

There is what I call the Cycle of Murder and Revenge. It’s a self-adjusting feedback loop, what I’ve heard called a cybernetic system.

All murder is caused by feelings of humiliation, which engender the desire for revenge. It’s an attempt to replace humiliation with pride. It’s the story of Cain and Abel and what the ancient Greeks called Hubris followed by Nemesis.

Hitler in Mein Kampf, spoke of the “shame” and “humiliation” of Versailles, after Germany had been crushed by the Treaty after World War I, even though the other combatants were just as guilty as Germany. Germany just happened to lose the war.

Hitler was bought to power by his promises to restore Germany’s “pride” and “honor” – and he did. And that led to World War II, which is still going on today.

Had the victorious allies forgiven Germany after World War I instead of seeking revenge, there would have been no World War II. That is what is meant by forgiving your enemies and turning the other cheek.

The first recorded war is the Bible was over the “rape” of Dinah. Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, is “dishonored” by Shechem, a prince. The reason I write “rape” is that is doesn’t appear to be rape (the word is not used in the original texts): she moves in with him and they wish to get married. Jacob approves of this.

Jacob’s sons, however, do not. They consider their sister a whore and so to restore the family’s honor they kill Shechem and his entire tribe. They feel humiliated and so restore their “honor” by slaughtering an entire tribe of innocent men. They also kidnap the women and children and steal everything of value.

This story clearly came from a shame-dominated culture, as compared to the West, which is a guilt-dominated culture. This is why in shame-dominated cultures you read of such bizarre things as Palestinians killing their innocent daughters after they’ve been raped (there is at least no evidence Dinah was murdered by her brothers).

Jesus, then, was speaking to people from a shame-dominated culture, who would have blamed all their problems on other people, as those in shame-dominated cultures always do. He was being hyperbolic, as he usually was, but his point still stands.

He was telling people how to break the Cycle of Murder and Revenge. One way is to give up shame-dominated ethics (which does exists in the West), and that means to not see insults where they don’t exist. How, for example, were Dinah’s brothers exactly “dishonored” when she and her father didn’t think so? They were imaging the whole thing, which is the main flaw of shame-dominated cultures.

Another point is to not seek revenge, at least on a mass scale, which leads to war. Osama bin Laden called 9-11 “a copy” of the humiliations the United States had been visiting on the Middle East for 60 years. It was revenge, pure and simple. Then the U.S. sought revenge by invading Afghanistan and Iraq – and probably 99.99% of the people they killed were innocent. So then the survivors still seek revenge on us.

That’s why I call it a feedback loop, a cybernetic system. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t kill the guilty if you have to; the problem with revenge is that it’s almost always indiscriminate (as in the slaughter of Shechem’s innocent tribe).

I suspect Jesus was being somewhat ironic, which means he was amused. He knew he was dealing with shame-dominated people who imagined insults and would have sought revenge on the innocent (he actually called them sheep). That’s what he told to them to “change their hearts and minds” (often mistranslated as “repent from your sins”).

It’s very difficult, sometimes impossible to forgive someone who does something terrible to you or those close to you. Who can forgive a serial killer? Yet a serial killer is but a drop in the ocean compared to the lack of mass forgiveness that causes wars.

In the 20th Century alone it’s been estimated that 177 million to 200 million people died in wars – and all of them were started for revenge.

The Cycle still goes on.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Deal with Lunatic Mass Murderers

School Shooter: BLAM! BLAM ! BLAM!

Student: Ohmigod! There's a school shooter outside the door! He's going to break in and shoot all of us!

Armed Student: Ain't gonna happen. (Whips out .45 semi-automatic pistol)

Liberal Nitwit Student: Hey! It's illegal to carry a handgun! I'm calling the police!

Armed Student: Go ahead. The one hundredth call isn't going to make them show up any faster.

Female Student: Shut up, you liberal moron or I'll punch you!

Liberal Nitwit: Okay.

Armed Student (jumping behind door): Don't anyone look at me so he won't know I'm here.

School shooter (crashing through door): Ha ha! Everyone up against the wall so I can shoot all of you! I have a pistol and enough magazines to hold 100 rounds! I'm going to shoot all of you two and three times and kill 32 of you! Stupid liberals will blame it on the tool instead of the fool! Others will blame Stephen King because I read his novel, Rage. I'm going to get revenge on all of you for abusing, bullying and humiliating me all my life! Ha ha ha! I don't have any friends and have never had a girlfriend! I'm a virgin and have never even kissed a girl! I was molested by a homosexual pedophile! I was raised poor in a high school with snobby rich kids! My life didn't turn out the way I wanted even though I'm only 23! I'm on murder/suicide pills, aka Prozac. So I'll get rid of my hate and rage and envy and go out in a blaze of glory! You ignored me in life but you won't ignore me in death! Now up against --

Armed Student: BLAM!

Female Student (putting hands over eyes): Yuck!

Armed Student: Those point-blank headshots are messy. Anyone have a shovel? And a bucket?

Liberal Nitwit: That was cold-blooded murder! He'd been horribly abused all his life by us! This whole thing is straight out of Carrie!

Female Student: I’m sorry he was abused and humiliated, and no one should ever be treated like that, but it's too late now to fix that particular problem! And I told you to shut up! (POW!)

Liberal Nitwit: Ow! My eye!

Student: Where are the police? We called them 45 minutes ago and they're still not here

Armed Student: Now that this potential mass murderer is dead they'll show up. It'll be just like Columbine, where they hid until the shooting was over and everyone was dead.

Cop (bursting through the door, dressed like a ninja): Everyone on the floor with you hands on your heads!

Armed Student: The shooter is dead. He's right there in front of you.

Cop: Who shot him?!?

Armed Student: I did, with my .45. I just saved 32 lives.

Cop: On the floor! You're under arrest!

Armed Student: Is your name Richard Cranium, by any chance? We're the victims here, you know.

Cop: My name is Officer Dim, not Cranium! Now all of you on the floor! All of you are under arrest!

Students (chorus): This is ridiculous! We called you people over 100 times, you show up after the guy's dead, and now you want us to get on the floor with our hands on our heads!

Cop: That's right! All of you on the floor, now!

Female student (grabbing cop's M-16 out of his hands): You're worthless! "Peace officer," my butt! Get out of here!

Students (chorus): Get out of here! If we had depended on you dumbass cops, we'd all be dead by now!

Cop (running out of room): Mommy! They took my penis!

Student: You know, I feel a lot better now. Free and brave, like I'm not a brainwashed sheeple anymore!

Armed Student: That's the spirit! Like Thucydides said: "Be convinced that to be happy means to be free and that to be free means to be brave." You can't be brave or happy unless you're free!

Student: I never thought of that! And it's so simple!

Armed Student: Never learned that in public school, did you?

Female Student: Yay for armed students!

Student: And disarmed fake cops!

Armed Student: And yay for Americans! And how Americans are supposed to act!

The Permanent Cure for Babbling Women

Woman: Babble babble babble babble.

Man: Can you please not do that?

Woman: Babble babble babble babble.

Man: You’re being very disrespectful and violating my boundaries.

Woman: Babble babble babble babble.

Man: You’re going to force my hand.

Woman: Babble babble babble babble.

Man: Okay, you asked for it.

Women: Babble babble babble babb --


Woman: Wah! You spanked me!

Man: Are you going to be quiet now?

Woman: *Sniff* Yes.

Man: Good. Now fix me a sandwich, get me a beer, then draw a hot bath for me.

Woman: Okay.

Man: Ah….peace and quiet…blessed relief!

THE END (or is it THE BEGINNING?!?!)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hubris Followed by Nemesis

The worst problem in the world – the one that causes more violence than anything else – is the revenge created by feelings of humiliation.

Thousands of years ago both the Greeks and the Hebrews noticed that pattern. The Greeks called it Hubris, the god of arrogance, lack of restraint, insolence and wanton violence, followed by Nemesis, the goddess of fate and revenge. The Hebrews wrote, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Later, grandiose pride became the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins, because it is the basis of all the rest.

Hubris originally meant to brutally humiliate and denigrate someone in public (it still means that) and the Greeks banned it from the theater as obscene. It was fated to be followed by revenge.

In other words, brutally humiliate someone because of your arrogance and moral blindness, and those you humiliate will kill you. It’s an attempt to replace feelings of humiliation with feelings of pride, by humiliating those they see as their oppressors.

Even today, the U.S. government repeats the pattern. After nineteen fanatics flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the American public was told by the U.S. government that these mass murderers hated us for our goodness. They hate us for our virtues? No. It was the attempts of the U.S. government to rule the world, to have troops in 144 countries, to attack, shame and humiliate countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, and Serbia, when none of them had attacked us. Some three thousand Americans were unwittingly sacrificed to the gods of Hubris and Nemesis.

Osama bin Laden called 9-11 “a copy” of what the U.S. had been doing to the Middle East for 80 years, humiliating and abusing the countries there, overthrowing their governments, installing repressive regimes and allowing them to crush their people. 9-11 was pure, simple revenge – not, as the terminally confused, arrogant and morally blind George Bush thought, because they were the Evil Ones attacking us for our goodness.

The psychiatrist James Gilligan, who spent almost 40 years interviewing murderers and those who brutally battered people, when he asked them why they did it (and he interviewed thousands), heard, every time, “Because he disrespected me [or my wife, parents, children, friends, girlfriend].”

One day he realized what he was hearing was the story of Cain and Abel: “Unto Abel the Lord had respect….unto Cain He had not respect.” Cain, humiliated, sought his revenge on the innocent Abel, in a misguided attempt to salvage his pride and self-respect.

The feeling of humiliation followed by revenge is a staple of many novels. Take the influential The Count of Monte Cristo, or Moby-Dick. Or Stephen King’s Carrie. Or John D. McDonald’s The Green Ripper. Or Amadeus. Or Othello. Or the Iliad. Or the first war recorded in the Bible.

This problem of feelings of humiliation followed by the desire for revenge is part of human nature. It’s not going to change. The best we can do is minimize the problem, by not humiliating people, by treating them respectfully.

For one thing, when it comes to the U.S. government, it’d help is it minded its own business and not that of other countries.

The Only Way for a Women to be Truly Happy

“You horrid beast!” she cried, beating impotently on his muscular hairy chest with her tiny fists. “You, cruel, evil, lecherous, violent…male!”

“Shut up, wench!” he snarled and began to ravage her.

“Oh oh!” she cried in ecstasy, her clothes falling off. “I love you -- you, you – manly man!” She had finally, after decades of searching, found true happiness.

He grinned. He understood women. Men were masters and women were slaves. Now, she understood it, too. And she was happy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Women Who Own Cats are EVIL!!!

The animal a person owns is an expression of their personality. For example, almost every pit-bill owner I’ve known as had an attitude problem and a low IQ – just like the dogs.

I, on the other hand, am a pug person. Pugs are playful, funny, and an exceptionally affectionate breed. The only way in which they do not mirror their owners is that they’re aren’t the smartest dogs. In fact, “pug” and “intelligent” is an oxymoron.

It’s pretty much become a cliché that a single or divorced middle-aged woman without children, and with more than one cat, is a red flag -- the woman is someone for a man to stay away from. Why?

Because the cat is an expression of her personality –EVIL!!!!

Cats are cruel, narcissistic, selfish, inconsiderate little monsters who torture and eat helpless little things. Guess what? So are the female owners of these heinous beasts!

Even one cat is a red flag. Two and you’d better run away as fast as you can. You’ll save your soul from being eaten.

A cat is a walking personality disorder – “it’s not my fault; it’s yours!” Cats only pretend to be affectionate. In reality, they just want to use you. They believe you exist to serve them, just like people with character disorders.

No one has ever claimed dogs are the servants of the Devil. But cats? Yes. Black cats? Evil! Witch’s familiars? Cats! The symbol of Halloween? Cats!

Do dogs climb trees and eat baby birds? No. Do cats? Yes!

Women with cats, without exception, are cruel, evil monsters who want nothing better than to slowly torture you to death! And heartily enjoy it while they’re doing it!

You have been warned.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Guide to Avoiding Crazy Women

Some years ago I met a woman who was like no woman I had ever met before. I knew within about three hours there was something quite wrong with her, but I did not know exactly what. I ended up seeing her for a few weeks and in that time came to some conclusions.

After much thought, I was able to formulate Bob’s Guide to Avoiding Crazy Women.

The first red flag: if they start talking about how they were sexually abused when younger, stay away. I mean if they start talking about it within the first TEN MINUTES of meeting them.

That’s what this woman did, and I realized she was portraying herself as a victim. Then, not too long after the abuse stories, she told me that men are responsible for all (or maybe she said almost all) the problems in the world.

That’s the second red flag, because she was again portraying herself as a victim. When anyone – male or female – does this, they are full of hostility toward the other sex.

Since these people portray themselves as victims, they believe they’re always in the right, which means YOU are always in the wrong.

They have no sense of your boundaries, which they are always violating. On the other hand, they are excruciatingly sensitive to you violating their boundaries, to the point they imagine it when it’s not there.

She once told her she thought she was a stopgap to me, on my way to another woman. The idea had never occurred to me, and wasn’t true in the slightest. In fact, when I tried to protest, I couldn’t get a word in. Again, she was portraying herself as a victim – this time of me.

People like this are known as “character disorders.” To them, it’s never their fault; it’s always your fault. They don’t even know they’re doing it, and if you point it out, it doesn’t register. That’s why therapy doesn’t work on these people.

One of my friends got involved with a woman like this, because she hid what she was for a few months. It took him quite a while to get her out of his condo, and for a while ended up drinking a bottle of wine a night because of the stress. I told him he was an abused man.

Incidentally, most men who are abused by women don’t even know they’re being abused! It takes quite a while for the fact to penetrate.

Another bizarre thing about people like this is that they lack empathy, and don’t even know it. It’s why they wreak havoc in people’s lives, and especially in intimate relationships. It’s because your feelings don’t count. Again, they don’t do this on purpose – they don’t even know they’re doing it, and when it’s pointed out, still can’t realize it.

These people unfortunately can’t have real relationships, since other people, since they believe, even if they don’t know it, that other people exist to serve them. In a phrase, they lack respect and consideration for others.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monsters, Love and Humiliation

The word “monster” and “demonstrate” come from the same root word: both mean “a warning.” I find that curious. A monster is a warning. But of what?

When I found out about the connection between those two words, the first word that occurred to me was “Frankenstein.” Frankenstein (he had no name in the novel or any of the movies) was a monster, but was a sympathetic monster (and here I go again: the “path” in sympathy is related to the word “pathos” and means “to suffer with”).

Frankenstein didn’t want much more than a friend; he wanted to be part of a community, even if it was just him and the blind hermit. He was rejected and humiliated by everyone except the blind man, who couldn’t see him. Everyone else was horrified by him and wanted to kill him.

What then, is demonstrated by Frankenstein? Brutally humiliate someone, especially in public, and what can happen (and often does happen, if history is any guide), is revenge. Whatever love Frankenstein had was turned to hate and the desire to revenge.

Frankenstein belongs to the class of monsters known as the Undead, along with zombies and vampires. Where did the idea of these undead monsters originate?

I don’t know, but I suspect they somehow based on real people, people who described themselves as the living dead, or zombies, or vampires.

The psychiatrist James Gilligan, who interviewed violent prisoners for almost 40 years, noticed a curious thing: those who committed the worse crimes, say, brutally murdering and mutilating their victims, invariably described themselves as “dead” before they committed their crimes.

They didn’t mean biologically dead; they meant dead inside. They often described themselves as zombies, vampires, robots, monsters. They said their “selves” had died long before they began killing people. They were in fact the Undead long before they began making others dead.

There is a lot to be learned by looking at what words really mean. The word “mortify” means “to make dead by humiliation.” In other words, if you want to make a monster, brutally humiliate someone, especially in public.

The ancient Greeks consider brutally humiliating someone in public to be obscene, and they banned it from their theater. In fact, the original meaning of the word “hubris” meant to humiliate or abuse someone in public.

Hubris was followed by Nemesis, which is revenge. Brutally humiliate someone in public, and you are then fated to suffer revenge. If you want to see a demonstration of how to create a monster, brutally and cruelly humiliate people, and if it goes on long enough, they die inside (this mortification transforms them into zombies and vampires) and then they seek to wreak destruction on people. Isn’t destruction what all monsters seek?

The sad and puzzling thing about the townspeople is they never realized their treatment of Frankenstein – rejecting, humiliating and trying to destroy him – is what caused him to seek revenge. If they had accepted him there would have been no problem.

Whenever monsters – of course they are always people -- start roaming the earth, maiming, murdering and destroying, it is a demonstration that something has gone wrong with other people so that they mortify the innocent, transforming them into the Undead who seek revenge on the living.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Crackpots Who Rule Us

For many years I have been wondering about the relationship between the rulers and the ruled. With a nod to C. Wright Mills, I have decided many those who gravitate towards the State are merely crackpots. Or as Mills termed them, “crackpot realists.”

Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld struck me as prime examples. They appeared to be competent (merely competent) running large corporations. Their expertise didn’t translate into being statesmen. In fact, their marginal abilities to run large corporations (themselves creations of the State) didn’t translate in the slightest into running the government. In those positions they became extremely dangerous.

Although I can’t read their minds, I suspect Cheney and Rumsfeld would consider themselves “conservatives.” Yet leftists can be just as big of crackpots, and if history is any guide, much worse.

Van Jones – a buffoon if there ever was one – is clearly a Communist, which means he is automatically a crackpot. One of the main differences, in my view, is that almost all leftists can’t manage any business, although they are convinced they have the ability to run everyone else’s lives.

These crackpots act as if they are the grownups, which makes everyone less then grownup. Yet grownups are supposed to have some understanding of human nature. I have never seen it from any of these men. They are in fact fools.

I am reminded of the first Bush, who when he finally made his way to a grocery store, was amazed to see a barcode scanner. Clearly our ruling crackpots don’t get out much.

Being fools, they are unread and therefore uneducated. They are unaware of the simplest facts of human nature, to wit, you don’t humiliate people, and you certainly don’t humiliate countries.

There were quite a few people who predicted some kind of blowback against the United States, blowback that culminated in 9-11. Osama bin Laden said the attacks were “a copy” of the humiliation the United States had been visiting on the Islamic world for some 60 years, overthrowing governments, installing repressive regimes, and crushing popular uprisings.

9-11 was a demonstration of what the ancient Greeks called Hubris followed by Nemesis. The original meaning of Hubris was to humiliate someone in public, and the Greeks banned it from the theater as obscene. Nemesis is the goddess of fate and retribution.

In other word, humiliate someone (or countries) and the oppressor is fated to suffer revenge. And revenge, in the simplest of definitions, is the attempt to replace humiliation with pride by humiliating the oppressor.

The worst thing you can do to anyone (or any country) is to strip from them their pride and dignity. That stripping of those things from Germany after World War I (and Germany was no more guilty than any other combatant) led inexorably to World War II. And World War II, for all practical purposes, is still going on.

Do any of our crackpots understand these truths about what happens when people and countries are humiliated? No, they don’t, even though this fact was noticed by the Hebrews, the Greeks (Aristotle noticed it), and the early Christian fathers, such as St. Augustine and St. Aquinas. Not to mention all the modern researchers who have written about it.

Our crackpot realists, most unfortunately, appear to be bound and determined to humiliate everyone in the world. It’s not so much that they will be the ones who suffer Nemesis. It’ll be, as always, the innocent public.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Humiliating People to Death

Certain episodes stay in my mind.

When I was 16 years old I was walking down the street one Friday night, heading toward a party, when I saw a girl I knew from high school walking toward me. I did not know her personally, but recognized her, as she recognized me.

She was walking her dog. I had mixed feelings about that: surprise and pity. I was going to a party, and knew I was going to have a great time. She, on the other hand, was walking her dog on a Friday night.

She was not an attractive girl. She was fairly tall and chunky and even plastic surgery wouldn’t improve her looks all that much. And even if she lost weight, she’d never have a nice body.

As she got closer to me, I saw something in her eyes that really surprised me to the point of shock: fear. A lot of fear. I intuitively knew the reason why: she thought I was going to humiliate her.

I was so disconcerted by the fact she was afraid of me I walked by her without saying a word or looking at her.

I doubt anyone had ever purposely humiliated this girl. But she knew what she looked like, and was never invited to parties, and had ever had a boyfriend, and had never even been kissed. That’s pretty bad.

In college I knew a girl who one evening, for some unknown reason, told me that in seventh-grade she had been ostracized. She showed me a picture. A little overweight, with glasses set crooked on her face. But not bad; even kind of cute.

But she had been ignored and ostracized. Over the summer she became the proverbial ugly duckling blossoming into a swan. She got taller, lost weight, got contacts. When she got back to school all the kids who had ostracized her wanted to be her friends. She ignored every one of them.

Hers was a case of feeling humiliated followed by revenge. That’s generally what happens. In fact, it’s so common it’s a law of human nature. Just look at the story of Cain and Abel: Cain feels humiliated, so he gets revenge on his (innocent) brother.

The word that means overwhelming humiliation, namely, mortification, comes from Latin roots that mean "to make dead" {mortis, dead, and facere, to make). This is an old truth that is true today, and it’s a universal one: overwhelming humiliation can kill people.

I don’t mean mortification kills their bodies: it kills their selves. The evidence is so overwhelming I don’t even have to quote anything: all know that the overwhelming humiliation of children, for all practical purposes, kills their selves. And how do you resurrect a dead self?

Then they become adults they end up in prison after committing various appalling crimes, ones committed to get their revenge on “society” and to regain some sort of pride and self-respect.

I remember reading a comment from one teenage school shooter: “The world has wronged me, and I could take it no more.” The feeling of humiliation followed by revenge, which is in a sentence the attempt to replace humiliation with pride – and doing it by violence.

It puzzles me how this truth about humiliation followed by revenge (or as the ancient Greeks described it, Hubris followed by Nemesis) is so little-known. The humiliation of Germany after WWI (and England and the other countries, including the U.S., were just as guilty) led to the revenge know as World War II.

9-11 was revenge on the United States for supporting repressive regimes and overthrowing governments in the Islamic world for some 60 years. Yet, not so mystifyingly when you understand propaganda, it was fed to the American people as an attack by the “Evil Ones” on our “goodness.”

When you understand that natural law of humiliation followed by revenge, you can predict the future. It ain’t hard. And when people flunk their history lessons they have to keep going back to class until they pass.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Interdependence of Selves

I have no idea who first noticed it, but psychologists, philosophers and theologians have written about it: the interdependence of selves, the fact that to seek our own well-being we must seek the well-being of others.

One of the earlier philosophers who did notice this was Spinoza. I’ll quote at length:

Men, I repeat, can wish for nothing more excellent for preserving
their own being than that they should all be in such harmony in all
respects that their minds and bodies should compose, as it were, one
mind and one body, and that all together should endeavor as best they
can to preserve their own being, and that all together should aim at the
common advantage of all. From this it follows that men who are
governed by reason, seek nothing for themselves that they should
not desire for the rest of mankind…”

I’ve heard that passage described as “one of the most remarkable remarks in all [Spinoza’s] writings.

In other words, to seek well-being for ourselves, we have to seek it for others. As such, the difference between “self-centeredness” and “benevolence” doesn’t really exist, because all of us are interdependent on others.

This doesn’t mean we should “live for others.” It means, as a famous saying tells us, “to do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That Golden Rule exists in some form in all religions.

It is a fact, this is, the nature of reality, that our selves don’t exist independently. They only exist in relation to other selves. You can’t have a husband or wife self without a spouse, or a mother or father self without a child, and so on.

The example I often use about this interdependence concerns the prevention of violence and murder. Nearly all violent assaults and murders, as psychiatrist James Gilligan (and many others) has written, is essentially caused by people feeling humiliated (“The most dangerous man is the one who thinks he is a wimp”). Then they seek revenge, which is an attempt to replace feelings of humiliation with pride.

Gilligan noted, after interviewing many prisoners, that what he was hearing over and over was the story of Cain and Abel: I feel humiliated, so I’ll get revenge by killing you and so restore my self-respect.

If you want to damage or destroy your own well-being, then mock, ridicule, insult, humiliate and disrespect other people. Then, sooner or later, they will get revenge on you.

The ancient Greeks described this process in detail. Hubris originally meant to humiliate someone in public, and they considered it so obscene it was banned from the theater. Hubris was always followed by Nemesis, the goddess of fate and retribution.

Humiliate people, especially in public, and you are fated, sooner or later, to be the object of revenge. To avoid this, treating people with respect (what the Greeks called aidôs) avoids revenge. So, by seeking to preserve their well-being you preserve your own.

For that matter, by humiliating other people, you’re automatically not seeking your own well-being regardless of the effect it has on others. Those who seek to humiliate others have problems with the effects of Hubris on themselves, or what the Bible calls Pride. Both the Greeks and Hebrews considered it a type of insanity, and if you’ll read the Old Testament many of the stories and sayings in it are about the destructive effects of an excessive, grandiose pride.

William Blake once wrote, “Shame is pride’s cloak.” You can just as easily say, “Pride is shame’s cloak,” although I think “humiliation” is more correct, since shame is when you think you deserve it and humiliation when you do not.

Blake’s comment has been observed many times by other people: pride on top, masking feelings of humiliation underneath, although the definition of that kind of pride is more grandiosity, or excessive pride. It’s the kind of excessive pride that seeks to humiliate others: Hubris followed by Nemesis, or pride going before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Jane Middelton-Moz, who writes on shame and guilt, believes an excessive amount of both are the cause of almost all dysfunction in families (humiliating people, especially children, can just as easily make them feel guilty as humiliated, although with guilt they seek to hurt themselves, and with humiliation, others).

There are people who do attempt to live as if they are independent of others. They only think they are, and the havoc they wreak in their lives and on the lives of others is incalculable.

They’re called “character disorders” and what all have in common are certain characteristics: it’s your fault, never mine; they believe people exist to serve them, and they try to do this by domination, manipulation and control. All of them are afflicted, in varying degrees, with Hubris, or Pride.

Whether it’s humiliation or undeserved guilt, seeking to impose it on others almost always comes back on you. What goes around comes around, to use a very perceptive American saying.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why High School is Bad for Many People

It’s been many years since I was in high school, but even back then it dawned on me that high school fulfilled the purpose it was designed for – and it was a purpose in which I and many other students were not included.

First and foremost, the purpose of high school is to produce athletes, and after that, to produce students who make high grades.

It is a sad fact that the word “athlete” means “dumb jock,” and for all practical purposes it’s one word: “dumbjock.” Very few of them could
make it as professional athletes, so they joined the military and then became police officers.

So, then, one of the main purposes of high school was to produce not-too-bright rule followers, ones with police and military mentalities. The athletes, far more than any other group, got the attention, the crowds, and the newspaper pictures and articles.

For some of them – the Al Bundys and the Hank Hills – being a high school athlete was the high point of their lives. After that, it was just treading water.

Those who studied and made high grades, while they did not get nearly the attention the athletes did, still got praise and awards. Every high school has its valedictorian. They may have had fairly high IQs, and good memorization and analytical skills, but lacked creativity and originality. I always considered them to be potential corporate drones, programmed to spend their lives in cubicles.

Those were the only two groups that high school is designed to create. Athletes and grinds. Sports entertainers, soldiers, police officers, and corporate drones. No one else ever received any kind of support, and as far as I can tell, still don’t.

There was another group, which was pretty much invisible. They were the nerds. I was friends with a few of them, and one I knew since I was six years old became a scientist. Others became engineers. But in high school they were invisible, spending their time hanging out with the chess or science club, and never being invited to parties, since most kids never knew they existed.

The group I belonged to was the party kids. In my day, they were called freaks, and we were not invisible. In fact, we had to keep an eye out for the police. I ended up in jail twice, innocent both times.

We had hair down past our shoulders, and spent our weekends cruising, going to parties, and drinking and smoking dope. It was in many ways a cross between “American Graffiti” and “Animal House.”

Very few of us were intellectual, and those of us who were (which I was and kept hidden), found an overlap with the nerds. That’s why I realized I was about two-thirds freak and one-third nerd. I could easily move between both worlds, and when I was a junior I would before school play chess with one nerd in a science lab.

Had I been raised in another part of the country, I would have ended up being a long-haired, dope-smoking, science-fiction-reading, Twinkie-eating, computer-programming freak-nerd. Since I was not raised in another part of the country, I was all of those things except a computer programmer, since we had no computers where I lived, unlike, say, in Seattle.

To this day I still find it amazing that our culture praises those who contribute little to the advancement of society – athletes and actors -- and ignores and in many ways denigrates those who contribute a great deal, e.g., scientists and engineers. You just about have to be in a wheelchair, like Stephen Hawking, before anyone knows who you are.

The media, politicians and researchers howl about our educational system’s inability to produce graduates proficient in math and science. Has it ever occurred to them the schools are not set up to produce critical thinking, educational excellence, and good character? That they are set up to produce anti-intellectual athletes and corporate worker bees?

What can be done to fix these problems? Our socialized schools are ossified with bureaucracy and red tape. How do you “reform” that? You can’t.

Schools can try to force students to take more classes in math and hard science (and will try), but when it comes right down to it, they’ll still be designed to produce athletes and valedictorians, not mathematicians, not engineers, not biologists, not chemists, not physicists.

Most of all, they are not designed to produce smart, truly educated people.

The only cure I see to this problem is closing down the public schools and allowing private schools to compete with one another. In the not so long ago, there were no public schools, and America produced people like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and George Washington.

With competition, public schools that imitate the public schools will go out of business, and that is a good thing. It’s no loss at all. Trial and error, and the creativity that comes with liberty and the free market, will quickly show what works and what does not work.

If there are schools for athletes or those who want to make high grades, it’s a wonderful thing. But there should also be schools for those who are not interested in such things, and have more of an interest in the life of the mind.

Not only will the students benefit from such schools, but, in the long run, so will society.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My First Novel

"Shut up, maggot," evilly cackled the sadistic guard as he ground our hero's face into the dirt with his jackboot. "You're only alive because the State wants you alive!"

I'll write another one tomorrow.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Shame of Multiculturalism

The title is a pun.

Some years ago I was standing in line in a grocery store. The guy in front of me, who was at the counter, was some Asian guy with an accent, which meant he was an immigrant.

He had a cart full of soda cans. They must have been 200 of them. I was mystified why he had so many.

The check-out clerks, who were two men who must have been in their 70s, were having some problems with the cans. They were jumbled together in the cart, and many of them were different prices. They were having some difficulty getting everything straight.

Then this immigrant said something that amazed me.

“You’re treating me like I’m some kind of criminal,” he said bitterly. He said a few other things, all in the same vein.

I’ll be damned, I thought.

“You’re in the wrong country,” I told him. He looked at me and didn’t say anything, possibly because I was a foot taller than him and had 50 pounds on him. If he had been stupid enough to raise his hand he would have found himself unconscious on the floor. I’m sure he didn’t understand raising your hand to someone is assault (legally, assault is “I think he’s going to hit me” and battery is “He did hit me”). All I had to do is claim I thought he was going to hit me because he raised his hand and I would have had two clerks to support my claim. And probably store tapes.

“Those men are only doing their job, and you’re imaging things,” I said. “Don’t insult them again, because when you insult them, you insult me. I don’t like you, you’re a disgrace to my country, and you’d better not piss me off anymore than I’m pissed off. You do your business with them and then you leave.”

He didn’t say another word. He completed his business and then he left.

The clerks told me he came in occasionally and bought lots of soda. They knew he was upping the price and selling it in his little store, which had to be in a black area.

I knew what was going on in the mind of this guy. Asian cultures are more shame-based than Western cultures, which are more guilt-based. This deluded dwarf thought these clerks were trying to humiliate him. They weren’t. He was imaging the whole thing.

When you live in a shame-based culture, you think your problems are always caused by someone else. That’s why “saving face” is so important.

Arab culture is also shame-based, which is why there are stories of raped women being murdered by their families. They have “dishonored” the family and pride must be restored by expunging the sin. It doesn’t matter they were innocent victims. “Honor” is more important.

In a neighborhood I lived in many years ago there was a Palestinian man whose apartment was bugged by the FBI because they believed he was supporting terrorist groups.

When the FBI listened to the tapes one day, they found something horrifying. The man’s daughter, who was pudgy and unattractive, was dating black guys. The parents were humiliated.

So they killed her. I heard the tapes on TV. The mother held the daughter and the father stabbed her to death. “Die, die, my daughter.” Then screams, “Die, die.” Silence.

Of course, both father and mother spent the rest of their lives in prison.

Liberals and deluded libertarians fool themselves into believing all cultures are equal, which is why liberals believe in multiculturalism and “libertarians” think the free market (which has never existed) will trump the cultures of these people and unite everyone in an assumed love of SUVs, DVD players and Nikes. Oh, yeah – and Gameboys.

These people are as deluded as can be, thinking materialism will trump culture and religion.

Some people think, well, their children will grow up to be Americans. Then why do the children of Muslims in the West turn out to be radicals who go to the Middle East to fight?

You want to know why? Islam is a backward religion over a thousand years behind the West. These kids know this, even if they can’t admit it to themselves, and they’re humiliated. So they seek revenge by attacking the country and culture they were raised in.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn once wrote that leftists don’t merely misunderstand human nature; they don’t understand it at all. Unfortunately, the same applies to quite a few libertarians – the kind who think the free market is a panacea that will cure all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The United States as Mad Scientist

My clearest first memory of a Mad Scientist was in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “A Fighting Man of Mars.” I think I was about 11 when I read it, and I must have read it 20 times. I never got tired of it for at least two years.

The Mad Scientist went by the name of Phor Tak, and when he wasn’t cackling (and in the novel he really did cackle) he was inventing a weapon that would disintegrate metal but not flesh.

I sometimes can’t remember what I had for breakfast but I will always remember Phor Tak cackling “Heigh ho” and shrieking about getting revenge with his disintegrator ray gun.

The day came when I realized that all countries that become strong enough turn into empires – which the United has done – and they spend inordinate sums on developing weapons that some people just might consider insane. Heigh-ho!

Depleted uranium? Cluster bombs? What sort of fiendish intelligence came up with such things? They’re worse than what Phor Tak ever conceived.

Phor Tak was sane compared to what I see now. He just wanted revenge, something not so hard to understand. But bombing countries back to the Stone Age to improve them? Now that’s insane, if you define insane as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Phor Tak just wanted to attack and destroy the few people who did him wrong. But since WWII here is a partial list of the U.S. has done to the world, and what did any of these countries do to us?

Attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments.

Invaded some 20 nations.

Helped crush more than 30 populist movements which were fighting against oppressive regimes.

Provided support to brutal dictatorships in Iraq and Afghanistan, Zaire, Chile, Haiti, Nicaragua, Greece ,the Philippines, South Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and, of course, others.

I know why the U.S. has done the things it did, and still does – to “stabilize” the world,
to make it “safe,” to “put an end to evil.” Both Jesus and Aesop saw though that nonsense – both pointed out all tyrants call themselves benefactors.

What’s fun in fiction is often a horror in real life. I sure wouldn’t want to live on Mars – or as Burroughs called it, Barsoom. I wouldn’t want to live in Middle Earth, either.

The problem with being insane and not knowing you’re insane is that when you do horrible things to innocent people, and they get their revenge on you – these days called “blowback” – you never see it coming and don’t understand why it happened. You’re reduced to babbling nonsense about how they’re evil and attacked us for our goodness.

Now that I think about it, maybe I would rather live on Barsoom.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Meaning, Importance, Community

Everyone seeks community according to their desires. Such community could be as small as two married people or two friends. Not many people can live totally alone as recluses. Those who are truly isolated are defined as schizoid, which is listed as a mental/emotional disorder.

It’s not just community people seek; there is also meaning and importance, the feeling of being truly alive, of having weight to their lives, of being connected to something larger than themselves.

People have to feel emotionally connected. Unfortunately, this can be a good or bad thing, depending on what they’re connected to. If only it was a good thing! But it’s not, because people are inherently flawed.

The word “religion” means “to tie together, to bind.” In other words, to connect. To have community, meaning and importance makes people feel truly feel alive, satisfied and peaceful. The true meaning of that word, “religion,” is why I believe everything is a religion, for good or bad.

Community is so important to that one of the worst things that can be done to people is to ostracize them, to “shun” them. To cast them out of their community. Is the purpose of this not to humiliate people, to take away the meaning and importance in their lives?

John D. McDonald wrote that people are “herd animals, social and imitative.” This fact is why people are so sensitive to being ostracized, ridiculed and humiliated.

One of the main, if not the main, destroyer of community is the State. When I say “State” I specifically mean the unholy marriage of big government, international corporations and international banks.

While I believe in the free market, I do not believe in “capitalism” as defined in the Marxist sense. That kind of “capitalism” is exploitative and abusive, and attempts (quite successfully, too) to use State power to impose a mass culture on the world. This is why you’ll find McDonalds and Wal-Mart in nearly every country of the world.

This marriage reminds me of the Ferengi, who see profit in peace – and profit in war. And international corporations and international banks (both creations of the State) find their profits as much in war as peace.

This imposition of a mass culture by the power of the State destroys communities, because there is an inverse relationship between the size of the State and society, i.e., community.

The larger the State grows, the more community – indeed, civilization – regresses. Ironically, those who believe in the State do so because they want everyone, in fact the whole world, to be one big family. What they believe, and what happens, is exactly opposite.

The State attempts to destroy those naturally-evolved communities – neighborhoods, families, religion – and replace them with its own concept of community and meaning. This invariably means worshipping the false idol of the State, and being absorbed into it.

As I’ve said before, the purpose of the State is to turn people into cogs in a machine. Organic cogs, as in “Star Trek’s” Borg, but nonetheless machines. And if the main inherent characteristics of the State can be described in one phrase, it’s the Seven Deadly Sins.

The end result of this absorption (which will not continue to its conclusion – it never does) would be a vanishingly small minority of people with all the political power and wealth (which they stole through political power) and nearly everyone else in the world impoverished.

In many ways, the purpose of the State is to destroy community and therefore to impoverish, humiliate and degrade everyone. Then, of course, comes payback from the oppressed – revenge.

It’s been the history of the world, without exception.

Monday, March 7, 2011

On Forgiveness

That archetypical dysfunctional family, Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, explains how evil and then murder came into the world. That myth covers the relationships between self-consciousness, the knowledge of good and evil, shame, humiliation, projection (scapegoating), envy, hate, the desire for revenge, and murder.

Yet it doesn’t cover forgiveness, which breaks what I call the Cycle of Murder and Revenge. That didn’t happen until the New Testament, in the sayings of Jesus. There’s very little forgiveness in that festival of hate, cruelty and slaughter known as the Old Testament.

The dynamic, as I see it, is this: feelings of humiliation/shame lead to the desire for revenge, leading to murder. It’s a cycle, one that societies try to break by the creation of justice systems, so that people don’t seek revenge themselves. Not that they don’t try anyway.

Forgiveness breaks that cycle, stops it in its tracks. If it’s not broken, people end up as Robin Casarjian wrote in her book, Forgiveness, “…[they] get lost in anger, resentment, guilt, and shame… [become] emotionally stuck and disempowered,”

One of the more unfortunate things about the New Testament (and any translation) is its mistranslation. There is an old saying, and it’s a true one: all translators are liars.

The phrase, “You must turn away from your sins” is misleading. It’s better translated, “You must change your heart and mind.” The word used is metanoia, a Greek word meaning a radical transformation of your heart and mind (maybe heart/mind is better).

For that matter, the word “sin” comes from the word hamartia, which comes from archery and means “to miss the mark.” The admonition, “You have sinned greatly” is better translated as “You have missed the mark,” and that translation exists in modern versions of the Bible.

In other words, to forgive actually requires a metanoia. And as we all know, it’s exceedingly difficult. Who can forgive someone who has committed a horrendous crime against your or your own? That’s the problem.

Forgiving something that happens to you personally, especially if it’s really bad, is the hardest, sometimes verging on impossible. The real problem, though, is the desire for revenge on a mass scale.

I use the example of 9-11. Contrary to the delusions of Bush et al the attack wasn’t because we are Good and our attackers were Evil. It was revenge against us for the United States supporting repressive regimes in the Middle East for the last 60 years.

Muslims in the Middle East felt humiliated by the United States and sought revenge on us. Now we’re seeking revenge on them, and we’re been in two wars for longer than we were in World War II. It’s the Cycle of Murder and Revenge.

I don’t exactly forgive our attackers for 9-11. If I had my way, I’d kick every Muslim out of the Western world. But I understand why they did it, which requires cultivating empathy -- which I believe requires imagination. There is no anger in me, just an understanding of why they did what they did - and understanding something is pretty close to forgiving it (“Forgive us out trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”).

I certainly wouldn’t have attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, leading to the deaths and wounding of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Afghanis and Iraqis. That’s a lot of dead people for seeking a revenge that won’t work.

Who do I blame these problems upon? More than anything else, the U.S. government, humiliating, abusing and exploiting the weaker countries of the world (try reading John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hitman sometimes).

Do I hate the government? No. Why? “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Not knowing what they do…World War II was essentially caused by the Treaty of Versailles, and the crushing reparations against Germany (no more guilty in WWI than England) that lead to Germany’s humiliation and the desire for revenge against the victors.

I’ve read estimates that the number of people lost to wars in the 20th Century ranges from 177 million to 200 million. And it not almost all war about feelings of humiliation leading to revenge.

As bad as serial killers are, and rapists, and all the terrible things that people do to people (and it is oh-so-hard to forgive these things when they happen to you) they are but a drop in the ocean compared to the unending wars of mass murder and mass revenge that plague humanity.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Affecting the Inside from the Outside

It is a curious and not altogether beneficial fact of life it appears we have more unpleasant and therefore dangerous emotions than pleasant ones.

Most if not all of the trouble in the world is caused by the Seven Deadly Sins. Most people can name some of them if not all of them. How many can name the Seven Heavenly Virtues? Very few.

The capacity to feel all those things, pleasant or unpleasant, is inborn in us, and the fact those unpleasant ones are part of our make-up is why all religions consider humanity to be decidedly imperfect. Fallen, to use a description common to Christianity.

Envy, hate, greed, excessive pride…we’re born with the potential for all of them. What “actualizes” them, though, is what comes from the outside to the inside.

I have been unable to find a word to describe people being affected from what comes from the outside of them to the inside. “Feelings” describes what we feel on the inside; “emotion,” what we show. Yet there is no word, as far as I know, to describe what comes from the outside of us to affect us on the inside.

I thought the ancient Greeks, with their usual perspicuity, would have a word, but so far have been unable to find it.

Yet how we are affected on the inside by what comes from the outside is a profoundly important concept, especially when it comes to shame.

Guilt is when you violate an internal standard; shame is based on what others think of you. The Greeks did notice that respect – aidos – is the opposite of shame. If people are respected from the beginning, there will be little shame in them.

Shaming people when there is no need to shame them is a horrendous problem. The Greeks noticed that when they made Hubris – shaming and humiliating people – followed by Nemesis – retribution. Shaming people is fated to be followed by revenge.

They considered this shaming and humiliation of people to be so unacceptable they banned it from the theater as obscene.

The ancient Hebrews noticed the problem, too when they had Cain murder Abel because he felt shamed and humiliated – the first recorded murder in history.

All of us are affected by what others do to us because none of us are “independent.” Our “selves” are interdependent with other people. You can’t be a father or mother without children; you can’t be a husband or wife without a spouse. You can’t have a “mother” or “father” self,” or a “husband” or “wife” self without someone else. We don’t have one unified self, although there is something in us that gives us the illusion we do.

Although it is certainly not cut-and-dried, or unalterable cause-and-effect, the fact remains it is overwhelming true that when people are disrespected, humiliated and shamed long enough, they will react with violence – revenge.

This revenge includes not only murder, as exemplified by Cain and Abel, but mass murder, as in 9-11, which was simple revenge. You might call it Cain and Abel writ large.

This problem with lack of respect – or humiliating and shaming people – followed by revenge is going to get worse. The bad economy exacerbates it, since many employers think it’s acceptable to mistreat employees. Then one day some guy (and it usually is a guy) walks in with a pistol and decides to go out in a blaze of glory, taking several people with him.

And what happens? The talking heads in the media pontificate but never have a clue. The employers are similarly clueless.

The Greeks understand. So did the Hebrews. So did the ancient Christians. But today? Some, but not many.

The State Degenerates our Humanity

I am not one to believe our physical, emotional and intellectual development is either all genetic or else all environmental. I’m not even one to say we’re half and half. Nor will I say we’re 60/40, as in “We’re 60% genetic and 40% environmental.”

Believing our development is strictly based on genes is a belief in a determinism so complete it can lead to horrors such as Nazism, with its insistence that some people are born so inferior they have to be eradicated. Claiming our development is completely due to the environment can lead to other horrors such as Communism, because of its belief all of us are infinitely plastic and can be molded into gods – once you get rid of the people who cannot be molded.

This nature/nurture controversy has led to many furious debates not only in the past, but today. These arguments will exist in the future. There is a third alternative, one that I believe is much more fruitful than the simplistic view of “We’re mostly one or the other.”

The third one is known as fetal programming, which I heard about it several years ago, but hadn’t given much thought until I recently met a woman who has a Masters degree. Okay, lots of women have Masters degrees. But one brother also has one, in Mathematics. Another brother is a TV, stage and film actor. Then there is the sister who designs jewelry and sells it. I told her, “You do know of course the existence of your family is nearly impossible.”

She told me she came from a big happy family, and that got me to thinking about fetal programming. In short, and oversimplified, fetal programming is the theory that hormones released by the mother during pregnancy have a very powerful effect on the fetus.

My view, long before I had heard of fetal programming, is that a happy pregnant mother will release “good” hormones which wash the developing fetus, and an unhappy mother will release “bad” hormones. Her happiness in turn is dependent on her husband’s happiness, which of course will affect her. His happiness will be strongly influenced by a job he likes, and making a good living from it.

In other words, a happy family will create babies that from conception are the best they can be in body and brain, because of the optimum influence of hormones.

Here is a quote I ran across about fetal programming, and darn if I can remember where I got it: “A comprehensive number of epidemiological and animal studies suggests that prenatal and early life events are important determinants for disorders later in life. Among them, prenatal stress (i.e. stress experienced by the pregnant mother with impact on the fetal ontogeny) has programming effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, brain neurotransmitter systems and cognitive abilities of the offspring.”

In a nutshell, if you want happy, smart, healthy, talented kids, make sure the parents are happy. There are other very important determinants, such as nutrition and the environment after the children are born. Conversely, it’s not hard to create unhappy, not-so-bright kids prone to various sicknesses.

What I find disturbing is the destructive influence of the government on fetal development. I don’t find it such a bad thing if the government would confine itself to telling mothers to watch what they eat when pregnant, and to not smoke or drink, but apparently government officials don’t have the slightest clue about how destructive the government can be to families and children when it goes far beyond those simple commonsense things.

Here’s what I mean: wages in the United States stopped going up in 1973 and have been flat since. In many cases, they have been declining. As hard as it is to believe today, at one time a high-school graduate of a husband, on 40 hours a week and on his salary alone, could provide a nice house, a car, and raise several children with his wife. Those days have been gone so long most people don’t even know they ever existed.

Here’s an example of those days long gone: I know a retired man who bought his middle-class house in 1969 for $14,000. He was a high school drop-out and worked all his life as a carpenter. In 1969 he was making $14,000 a year, which meant his house cost one year’s salary. His mortgage payment was $141 a month, for 30 years. Try to find something similar today.

These days, both husband and wife have to work to maintain a middle-class existence – and they’d better have graduate degrees. When a baby is born it is, as soon as possible, given to a day-care center so the mother can go back to work. Then it’s sent to public school, unless the parents decide to homeschool. That means the wife has to quit work, which means they’d better go live in a cabin in a rural area and grow a garden…which is not such a bad idea.

The ogre Karl Marx and his demented modern-day followers (say, the buffoon Van Jones) consider destroying families and babies being raised by strangers to be commendable, but one thing they failed to predict is that in less than ten years we have had over 80 public-school shootings.

These shootings now have a shorthand label, and everyone knows what it means: “going postal.” It not only happens in schools, but workplaces, and even in public.

One of the reasons why these shootings happen? In two words, unending stress. People end up with adrenal glands the size of golf balls.

Then we have the high school dropout rate. What is it in some places? Forty percent? Yet I’ve read of high school principals in such districts making $100,000 a year. You might as well burn the money. It’s just tax money, anyway.

The State, in its attempt to “help” families and the economy, has instead damaged them, sometimes severely. The economy is badly damaged, pace court intellectuals, and has been for over 35 years. This damage was, and is being done, by government interference.

In attempting to help families, the State has damaged them. Just as it has damaged, and sometimes destroyed, neighborhoods, towns, and cultures. Grotesquely, the people who promote these policies can never see the bad effects, and instead convince themselves there are only good ones.

Is it not possible the unending stress that affects people also affects the fetus, right from the moment of conception? That it affects body, brain and character, throughout its entire life?

I have wondered for a long time what happened to the polymaths we had in the past. In our time, the only one I can think of offhand is Freeman Dyson. Where are our Thomas Jeffersons, our Ben Franklins, our Adam Smiths, our Isaac Newtons? Is the loss of these people because of environmental causes, or genetic causes? Or is there a third, better, explanation for it?

Back in the 1930s the dentist Weston Price travelled the world studying “primitive” cultures. He found some very disturbing things. When people ate “modern” processed food the children ended up with bad eyesight, crooked teeth and other life-long ailments. When they did not eat processed food their children had none of these problems.

Price called his book, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” Now, it looks as if this one should be written: “Stress and Character and Intellectual Degeneration: What the Government Does to Us and our Children.” What exactly are we dealing with now? PTSD right from the moment of conception?

Some fetuses are of course constitutionally stronger than others. But what about those who are not?

Utopia is not an option. But a better world is, and a better country. If the U.S. had not strayed from its original path, we’d have a small government, stable money, a growing economy, and many high-paying jobs. And stronger families.

Instead, we have a massive and ever-growing federal government, appalling deficits, unending wars with the attendant lies and propaganda, inflated money that has made the dollar worth a penny compared to its value a little over 100 years ago, an unemployment rate of over 10%, and the hemorrhage of tens of millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our wealth to our enemies in the Middle East and Asia (it was Saudi Arabians who flew those planes on 9-11, not Iraqis).

None of us are islands. We’re all connected to something. We are part of families, nuclear and extended; neighborhoods, and the other things I listed -- towns, cultures, countries, economies. These things should exist to support the most important thing, the family. For the most part, they do not, contrary to Hillary Clinton and her imaginary village.

Conservatives and libertarians are right in their beliefs that things should be bottom up, from what Burke called our “little platoons.” Those who believe things should be top-down, from the government down to you, have it exactly backwards. They are the ones trying to degenerate and destroy everything, including children. And, as far as I’m concerned, fetuses.

The Bible (which I see as excellent practical wisdom even more than religion) tells us the sins of the fathers are visited on the children. If only it was not so.

Love is a Drug

Not only is a love a drug, many things are drugs, excluding drugs, of course. Speed is a drug, that is, going fast, not the amphetamine.

Because love is a drug, it can be used by those who consciences are impaired to manipulative people. There is even a term for it: “love bombing.” It means simply overwhelming the person with affection. Cults do it, which is why they can be so effective.

Love bombing works in personal relationships, too. The people who use it are very often predators, who drug their prey with “love, admiration, validation, affection, flattery, laser beam attention, responsiveness and sexual and non-sexual touching.” They hang onto your every word and create a sense of instant rapport, connection and intimacy. These abusers play to your ego needs.

I tried to cover all the bases. If I left anything out, it doesn’t matter. You get the picture.

Many people are seduced by this kind of behavior.

I got the term “emotional bullshit” from a book of the same name: Emotional Bullshit, by Carl Alasko, PhD. He’s the one who came up with the Toxic Trio, although denial, delusion and blame are already well-known.

Denial says: There is no problem. Everything is okay. You’re exaggerating. The issue doesn’t matter; it’s irrelevant. (So I don’t have to change anything.)
Delusion says: Let me tell you what’s really true. Don’t believe what you see. Believe me. (The imaginary world I’ve created works for me.)

Blame says: You’re the problem. I was forced to do it; I had no choice. Or, it just happened. Destiny willed it. (No one understands my true motives. Your accusations only make things worse)

I knew a woman who I suspected (and still do) was a borderline, meaning Borderline Personality Disorder. She was always right; the guy was always wrong. She blamed her problems on men. She imagined things. She demonstrated denial, delusion and blame. She had no idea she was doing it.

I’ve also found: listen to your feelings. If you feel something is wrong, then there is. In other words, if there are red flags, pay attention to them.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The State, Hubris and Obscenity

Richard Weaver once pointed out the original sense of the word “obscenity” meant something that “should be enacted off-strange, because it is unfit for public exhibition.”

He wrote “they included intense suffering and humiliation, which the Greeks, with habitual perspicacity and humanity, banned from the theater.”

The Greeks definition of obscenity also fits in with their definition of Hubris. For all practical purposes, they are the same thing.

Hubris is the goddess of “arrogance, moral blindness, insolence, wanton violence.” It’s followed by Nemesis, the goddess of fate and retribution.

The original meaning of Hubris was to humiliate or shame someone. The worst way to do it was in public. It was considered so offensive it was deemed obscene, which is why it was banned from the stage True obscenity, then, is degrading, humiliating or shaming someone in public.

Shaming, humiliating and degrading someone, especially in public, is followed by revenge -- which, in a word, is Nemesis.

The psychiatrist James Gilligan, who spent some 35 years interviewing inmates imprisoned for murder and brutal assaults, when he asked them why they committed their crimes, always heard the same answer: “He dissed me” or the prisoner’s wife, girlfriend, children, parents, friends.

One day he realized what he was hearing over and over was the story of Cain and Abel: feelings of humiliation followed by revenge. The shortest and most accurate definition of revenge I’ve heard is the attempt to replace shame with pride.

The Greeks not only considered Hubris the worst crime; they considered it the only crime, since it is the basis of all other crimes. At one crime Christianity understood this: scholars placed Pride (another name for Hubris) ahead of all other sins and made it the only true crime, the mother and father of all others.

When it comes to those who run the State - corporations, “government” and banks -- they can never seem to figure out that shaming, humiliating, abusing and exploiting other countries leads to blowback against the United States. That was what 9-11 was – revenge against the U.S. because of its 60 years of supporting oppressive regimes in the Middle East. It wasn’t, as the terminally confused George Bush believed, because they were the Evil Ones attacking us for our goodness.

When it comes to history there is only one story, always repeated: the attempt of the State to expand its power until it absorbs everything -- and the people who have captured the State mostly do it because of their lust for money, but always operate under the guise of humanitarianism. This expansion invariably means people suffering and being humiliated in public. Then, always, comes revenge.

In other words, the expansion of government always results in the expansion of obscenity – shaming, humiliating, abusing and exploiting people, both abroad and at home. Unfortunately, the “modern” minds of many do not understand common-sense concepts noticed thousands of years ago, in more cultures than one..

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Goddess of Murder and Revenge

I pay more attention to myths than anything else. I don't pay attention to 99% of the Ph.D.s from Harvard and Yale and Princeton, all of which will someday disappear, the sooner the better. Those are the kinds of the "Best and Brightest" who got us into Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the most perceptive of old myths is the Greek one of Hubris followed by Nemesis. The full sequence is Koros to Hubris to Ate to Nemesis.

Koros means the surfeit which attends a base man who has too much, say money and power (this means base people are far more prone to hubris than normal people). Think of Robert Mugabe. For that matter, think of most politicians, almost all of whom (no matter how charming) are morally corrupt and have money, sex, drug and alcohol problems. Add political power to all those other problems and it's us who pays for it, not them. It's amazing that people—Mass Man, meaning Mass Morons—keep falling for the lies and mendacity of politicians.

After Koros comes Hubris—the God of Arrogance and Insolence. These days the word used is "grandiosity," a disorder in which the afflicted think they're far, far smarter and far, far better than everyone else. Thinking they've been chosen by God, or, if they go crazy enough, believing they are a god. History is full of leaders like this, all of whom are convinced they are justified in their behavior, and none of whom have any guilt.

After Hubris comes Ate, which is a kind of madness or folly. It happens when the hubristic get challenged, when they're told they are emperors with no clothes. It's when they go crazy and in their moral blindness start slaughtering people.

Next stop? Nemesis. Nemesis is generally translated as "destruction," but it really means "vengeance." Indeed, Nemesis is the Goddess of Vengeance.

Vengeance, or revenge, comes from *other people, *directed towards the hubristic. It happens when they are oppressed and humiliated and mocked to the point they rise up, overthrow and kill their oppressors, then hang them by their heels from lamp-posts.

What the Greeks noticed is the same thing the Hebrews noticed, when they wrote that "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

The Hebrews also noticed the importance of shame, which is just another word for humiliation or ridicule or mockery. The shorthand these days is "being dissed."

In the story of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve are naked and without shame, since they have no self-consciousness. Notice the first thing they feel is shame, not guilt. This means shame comes before guilt, which is not mentioned at all in the story.

For a long time I've thought Adam and Eve were about three years old... lacking self-consciousness, running around naked, blaming their problems on other people. For little children, does shame come before guilt? Perhaps. That's been my experience.

Guilt is when you feel as if you are oppressing others; shame is when you feel they are oppressing you. Shame is what leads to murder, not guilt. The murder is supposed to erase the shame; revenge is supposed to make the murderer 'whole' again.

Both the Greeks and Hebrews noticed how shame leads to murder. That's what Hubris followed by Nemesis means.

Shame leading to murder is also illustrated by the story of Cain and Abel, who are Adam and Eve's children. The first recorded murder in history, that of Cain killing Abel, is caused by humiliation. God literally disses Cain by rejecting his sacrifice, and Cain, humiliated, blames it on Abel and gets revenge by murdering him.

The social scientist James Gilligan, who spent 35 years interviewing prisoners, said he always heard the same story why they murdered or brutally assaulted people. What he heard, every time, was "He dissed me" or their children, wife, parents, friends. Gilligan one day realized what he was hearing, over and over, was the story of Cain and Abel.

Humiliation leads to revenge and murder. Cain and Abel. Hubris followed by Nemesis. Pride goes before destruction. The stories are the same.

How do these stories apply today? The United States has been humiliating and insulting the Islamic world for about 70 years, supporting Israel no matter what it did, and overthowing the governments of Islamic countries and installing its own puppets (think the late Shah of Iran or even Saddam Hussein, who the U.S. helped install and supported for many years).

Osama bin Laden said the attacks on 9-11 were "a copy" of what the U.S. had been doing to the Islamic world. The attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon were revenge—vengeance—caused by several decades of humiliation and disrespect. Cain and Abel. Hubris followed by Nemesis.

Is it any wonder so much of the world despises the government of the U.S.. the way it has spent over a century bombing, invading, conquering and oppressing so many countries? Humiliating and degrading them? Treating them with contempt and disdain?

George Washington had it right in his Farewell Address. Trade with other countries, but otherwise stay out of their business. Early American coins even had "Mind Your Business" engraved on them. We lost those wisdoms a long time ago.

Will any government ever listen to the wisdom of these old stories? Or course not. Hubris is also blindness. And so this fallen world of ours, chock-full of sleep-walking people, will continue on this cycle of humiliation and murderous revenge as long as the human race is around.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Satan the Politician

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." -- Luke 4:5-8

That is a very interesting little story. Satan offers Jesus political power over all the kingdoms of the world, and he refuses. What's offered is something that Satan already has, that's his to give as he pleases. Satan doesn't want political power; he already has it.

The only conclusion I can draw from this story is that political power is Satanic, as are politicians. Satan, then, is quite obviously a politician. So, no good can come from politics. That's been the history of the world, and certainly of the 20th century, in which up to 200 million people lost their lives at the hands of various States.

It's obvious from this story that on one side you have Satan and politics, and on the other God, and never shall the twain meet. That's something Jerry Falwell, John Hagee and the rest of their ilk should pay attention to.

The story of Lucifer that we are familiar with is actually a combination of two stories: the one in the Bible about his trying to overthrow God, and the one John Milton wrote about in Paradise Lost.

Milton states that Satan's problem is "pride." That's in the Bible, too: "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."

"Pride" is what the Greeks called "hubris." In their view, hubris was followed by nemesis. It's the same story as pride going before a fall. The Greeks saw the sequence as koros (stability) to hubris (an overweening grandiosity) to ate (a madness is which wrong appeared as right) to nemesis (destruction).

What we are dealing with here are three things: the lust for power over others, the lust for attention, and the lust to destroy. And if those three traits don't describe Satan, politicians, and the State, I can't think of anything else that does.

John Jackley, in his book, Hill Rat: Blowing the Lid Off Congress, wrote about Congressmen and their aides wandering the halls with their eyes "glazed with power." They were offered, didn't refuse what was offered, and are now in the hands of the Evil One.

Most are familiar with Lord Acton's comment, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I think a better saying is, "Power intoxicates, and immunity corrupts."

Dostoevsky, in his, The House of the Dead, put it this way, "Tyranny...finally develops into a disease. The habit can...coarsen the very best man to the level of a beast. Blood and power intoxicate...the return to human dignity, to repentance, to regeneration, becomes almost impossible."

I don't believe in any Satan "out there." There certainly is one "in here," in every human heart. That's all we need to explain evil. It's inside us. People have always made the mistake of thinking of Satan as some guy with horns and a forked tail, instead of a guy in a three-piece suit.

The Greeks didn't have a Satan. The closest they had might be their god of war, Ares. What's significant about Ares was that he was incompetent. Satan, for that matter, would have to be incompetent. You can infer that from his belief he could overthrow God, and also from Milton's accurate assessment of his hubris, always to be followed by nemesis.

The human versions of Satan, such as Hitler and Stalin, were also incompetent, except when they gained control of the State. Even then, they were only competent at slaughter and destruction. None could make it through liberty and the free market. Human Satans are screw-ups.

Hitler, for example, was at one time in his life, a lice-ridden bum who made his living begging passengers at a train station into letting him carry their luggage. Lenin was an ugly little Russian who was exiled by the authorities from Russia, and whom the local peasants wanted to lynch. Ho Chi Minh was a not-very-good pastry chef. And these are the incompetent human Satans who caused such slaughter in the 20th century, because they couldn't make it in the free market, and so instead made their lives in that monster known as the State.

Most politicians are the bottom of the barrel, with that that "last chicken in the shop" quality about them. The worst ones can't make it at all in the free market. That might be the clearest warning sign about them.

One meaning of the word "monster" is "a warning." It's related to the word, "demonstrate." When you have someone who is utterly incompetent in the free market, and instead becomes a politician, that's about the best warning there is about what they really are.