What is Mankind to do?

Embed from Getty Images

I am not here to disparage or discount the suffering of those people oppressed by systems put into practice long before I walked this noble earth.

I come only to ask a simple question? What is the way forward?

I see now the justifiable pain of millions swelling before us like a tide that threatens to destroy all in its path, but beyond it, I see the counter.

History is a pendulum of bloodshed perpetuated upon one another for the slights of the past.

It only stops when the debts of the past are forgiven.

Now people misunderstand that word. To forgive is not to forget. When you forgive a debt it is not struck from the ledger, and anyone who wanted to could look back and see that the debt existed and to whom it was owed.

However, to forgive the debt means that it shan’t be collected upon. That those to whom it is owed decided to let it slide, not out of compulsion, but out of a desire to stop a cycle of violence, and oppression.

I am not so naive to think people will want to forgive, and I am not so naive to think that everyone on the side of control will even be able to see that they owe a debt to those they’ve oppressed, but I hope that this generation can learn.

We’ve tried hyper capitalism, we’ve tried communism, and hate, and war. We’ve done it all. The ideologies of the past have failed and yet I do not see many who are volunteering new ones?

The way forward I think is to look at the past, and forgive it. To realize that to be Err is human and then with a heavy sigh begin the difficult work of a holistic and nuanced ideology based not on a single utopian idea, but perhaps under a realistic embrace of the idea that we are never done.

There is no stopping point for the human race, because to be complicated is to be subject to entropy. Everything falls apart, everything changes, no static system can stop that, mainly because those systems were built by ever changing humans.

So what is a mankind to do? Mankind must use our great big beautiful brains to think ourselves out of the problems of the past. Or at least die trying.

We don’t sweep a floor once and think, “there, I’ll never have to sweep it ever again.” so why would we assume something as complicated as politics would be that way?

The Forest

We awake blinking, wipe the sleep for out eyes, and adjust to the quiet. Just beyond our resting place a bonfire burns, the crack of logs breaking the the night. Great thin trees lance upwards into the sky, or where you might think a sky would be if not for the flurry of branches that block out the stars.

Approaching the fire we see we are alone but for the footprints and pottery of past visitors. For a while, we sit warming ourselves, and by chance we look up. Here and here alone in this dark and endless forest we see them, pinpricks of light, where heaven pokes through.

After some time, too long a time to remember we rise, morning is not coming we realize, the dark is pervasive, permanent and real. We venture to a pile of logs nearby, and put one on the fire before heading out into that vast and unknowable darkness, seeking fires that may or may not exist, hoping that the fire can burn a little longer, and that maybe in some other form we might find it again.

Algorithmic Dystopia: Part 1

… to keep sheets of paper together.

Choose a company. Any company at large that is publicly owned will do.

Now go find a scandal. It won’t be hard.

If you look through the jargon, and the bullshit every move made is in pursuit of profit. This makes sense. As a whole organism the company is like the proverbial paperclip making machine.

The one goal of the modern corporation is not to just make money, but to make money now. If you dig a little further down you can find out why.

The word used like a crucifix to ward off criticism is, Shareholders.

We had to move the factor to China, the shareholders demanded the 5% profit increase. We had to fire 5000 people, the shareholders wanted a high dividend. We had to break the law, the shareholders would have fired the board and made the next one do it.

Not to be hyperbolic, but this level of obedience to a faceless force resounds a little to closely to the Nuremberg trial’s excuses of “I was only following orders,” for me.

The notion of stockholders conjures for me a room full of people in their 40s and 50s, with a few young guns in sharp suits smoking outside waiting for the meeting to start but according to research the truth is much grimmer. 10% of the wealthy own most of the stock that exists.

Moreover, people do not realize that most trading is done not by humans but by machines.

Algorithms designed to buy and sell stock. No human needed. Which means when a company follows the blind will of its “stock holders” they aren’t even following the will of the top 10% of wealthy people. They are following the notions of the automated machine that they built for them.

Add in holding companies, and mutual funds and you end up with a near endless loop of wealth that isn’t commanded by anyone, except the unthinking hand of machines that are built to eschew human decency in favor of making money.

This of course all makes sense. It’s a product of the Loss of Legacy.

How are you doing?: We need to start opening up a little

The common greeting, how are you doing, is a rhetorical question. “I’m good, ok, fine!” is the refrain, however, this needs to change.

The time has come to change that.

Mental health is at the core of many of the problems we struggle with today.

It’s my sneaking suspicion that most humans who struggle with different aliments of life if they be addiction or overeating, are at their core dealing with a mental health issue.

Somewhere along the way, we lost empathy for one another. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I think the constant erosion of community that has dominated culture since it’s inception, but especially now in the digital age.

Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit feel like connection but like junk-food only ever seem to satisfy.

Young men especially wander aimlessly in a desert that feels hopeless. Thus often their anger wells up, and they are prone to acts both big and small of violence and resentment.

Somewhere in the corporate marketing haze we lost sight that humans are not sterile emotionless creatures, but social beings that need connection and care.

Shame doesn’t work to correct the long term behavior of a human, it just forces those people who relate to the shamed further down the rabbit hole.

Disenfranchisement is deeply rooted in the USA

The Founding Father’s did not intend for you to vote.

If we are being completely honest, most of the founding fathers held what we might call troublesome beliefs about nearly everyone.

If you were not a White Anglo-Saxon Male with property, the founding father’s did not think you should vote, or really have rights.

We have to remember these were not ignorant men. Jefferson literally wrote about how slavery was a “hideous blot” all the while owning slaves.

The electoral college’s initial position was to prevent someone the ruling class didn’t like from getting into office.

So the current idea that somehow we are enlightened, and we’ve come from perfect stock is ridiculous.

The United States is a nation where Feminists, Abolitionists, Progressives, and Minorities pulled their right to vote kicking and screaming from an entrenched political establishment.

It’s been this way since day one. The problem is one of the most human problems. The problem of self interest.

We should have term limits on everything. Supreme Court Lifetime appointments made sense when people lived until they were 70, but now an appointee at 60 can judge on the bench for 30 years.

The same Congresspeople and Senators can keep their positions not out of merit but complacency for 30 years.

The trouble comes that how do you convince people to work against their own self interest? Especially in a world without Legacy?

I wish I knew.

Mindfulness as a way out

Most people misunderstand mindfulness.

In most people’s mind meditation is a check-mark on the to-do list.

the most common refrain, and the refrain i used as a shield from the terror of mindfulness, and it is terrifying, is that “i cannot concentrate.”

this is because the modern mindset is one lived in the shadow of the ego. The internet in all it’s fantastical power has done much to help us, but spiritually it drains us.

Each day it unveils another horror perpetuated by man on man. It is easy to become disheveled and depressed at the sheer number of horrors. Not only that the various social media platforms program themselves to feed a steady serving of this bad news to us, as our minds are naturally problem solvers.

The problem with that is of course that these problems are nuanced, layered and complex. They require systemic solutions that will take years, and in the mean time we are ultimately powerless.

But the actual issue, is of course the modern human rarely pulls himself out of this world of symbols.

To Paraphrase Milton ” the mind is a place unto itself, it can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.”

People fundamentally in this world of horrors, to-do lists and constant movement lose sight of the true goal of mediation.

Meditation is practice in waking up, over and over, each day knowing that it will never be the last time until we live this mortal coil. Mediation, is trying to stir yourself awake enough times so that at the end of your life you can look back at it and think yes I lived.

Mediation is a practice.

The best metaphor I heard about meditation was this ” meditation is like sweeping a floor. One does not sweep a floor once, and think there it is done, I shall never have to sweep the floor again. Meditation is the acceptance that though the floor is clean temporarily it will need to be swept again.”

Toxic Masculinity is Toxic to All Parties

It is a curious phenomena that despite being overwhelmingly privileged in many areas Men are poisoned by toxic masculinity as much as anyone else.

For instance, as a white hetro-normative male, I will rarely, if ever find myself under the boot of police discrimination. (unless of course I am poor, the western world’s new serf class).

However, I may find myself looked at strangely if I express even a passing interest in say the education or entertainment of children.

When I was a substitute teacher for k-6 children, a job I adored, Teachers and parents alike eyed me with keen suspicion. By all accounts, the culture dictated that if I chose to work with children there must be something wrong with me, as that was not a Man’s place.

Now not all saw me this way. Many teachers were absolutely thrilled about the prospect of a male teacher joining the fray, but the attitudes of the other teachers made me think twice about becoming an Elementary school teacher. (that and the atrocious work load dumped on the most passionate people.)

Men are overwhelmingly jailed, under/unemployed, and depressed. This is not to say our ancestors did not construct a world where they did these things to the less able. It is the legacy of hundreds or thousands of years of sexism.

But there comes a time I wonder if the efforts of our culture to eradicate sexism have become more about punishing past wrongs.

To show emotions is to err. To be well spoken is to be a snob. To stand up for ones self is seen as aggression. To kowtow to the mob is weakness. It seems that for many less educated men, they cannot seem to find the correct footing that will grant them access to the culture.

It is in this isolation I fear. In isolation and shame grows hate, and as the hate grows, the frustration, I see a rising tide of men who see themselves with nothing to lose. That is a scary thing, a man who thinks he has nothing to lose, and with no other outlet often will seek violence. They cannot see of course this violence will do nothing but further fragment and isolate, but in that moment of social pain they cannot do anything but double down on their own toxicity.

I am not trying to evoke pity. I am not attempting to justify the horrors that ancestors past, and some men currently perpetuate, I am simply questioning the rhetoric, and the end goal.

What is the cultural end goal for the modern man? Where are we to go? What are we to do? We are human, and many of us don’t believe in the zero-sum, rule or be ruled ideas of the past.

What is a modern man to do? I wish I knew.

History is a store of ideas, some of them rotten…

Growing up my classmates often lamented about history. They said ” What is the point of learning the past.”

I think this is part of a bigger problem in education, schools rarely give students the full picture in which the piece they are currently learning sits, but I digress.

History comprehension is the key to understanding the now.

Take for instance the protests currently occurring world wide to oppose the murder of people of color by the United States’ police forces.

These events are by and large a product of nearly (if not more than) 500 years of racial discrimination, eugenic idealization and voter disenfranchisement. (voter disenfranchisement is part and parcel of US history but again, I digress)

I am not the right person to speak on this, I don’t claim to be. I am not a scholar of African American relations, but a simple google search, a skimming of Wikipedia, a trip to the library, they illuminate a dark and sinister web of self interested people all attempting to enforce policies that benefited them at the expense of communities of color.

What we are seeing now in our streets is the anger of a people systematically held underwater to drown, and that somehow survived, every so often being able to thrust their heads up and take a breath.

To this injustice, Anger seems like a perfectly justifiable response. History teaches us this.

History also teaches us, how empires fall, how they rise, how revolutions begin and are taken over. History teaches us empathy and understanding. History teaches us why today is today, and how we can change the future.

I lament those who forsake history, not because they are doomed to repeat it, that does happen, but because in doing so they give up agency. The past is teaching us why today is happening, and a better informed person is a more powerful person.

If you are lost and confused about why the people in the streets are angry. I’d advise you to go read some history.

Read about Emmett Till, read about Billie Holiday, and read about George Stinney, and if you aren’t angry, well then you might need to read some more.

The unfortunate truth is you won’t lack for content.


Loss of Legacy Part 4

Standing in the dust of the east the men of the west clutched their pearls while laughing nervously as the Soviets crumbled slowly, their eyes wide with a silent fear.

For around 10 years or so, the world sat in a sort of of consistent and odd high , the 90s were a time where everything seemed possible, and the new century loomed.

2001 changed all of this. The slumbering giant of the Military industrial complex awoke. It looked upon the ruins of the twin towers and with pointed teeth grinned a corpse-like grin, one eye turned to Washington while the next turned to the middle east.

In this post terrorism United States, the long held belies learned in the cold war ramped up once again, they’d found a new enemy. In the cold and fear of the winter of 2001 the men in charge took advantage of that fact and plunged us into a now nearly 20 year old war.

The corporations that run the proxy war were the only victors.

The men who grew up in the shadow of the bomb shoveled young men like themselves, to a country that hated them, to a pointless war, and broke every law possible in a rampant quest to stave off the realization of what they’d done.

It is a curious aspect that people tend to grip harder to their untruths when presented with evidence to dispel it. The real truth was that the bomb simply unveiled our own human fragility, and in the blind fanaticism to get theirs before the world ended, the men and women of the past tipped off another slower, and more menacing threat.

Climate change.

In an Oedipean twist of fate, those who sought to escape death did so, the mega wealthy burned the planet down in the quest to quench their fear of death, to make the most of a dying world and in doing so caused the world to die.

Now older, they look back at their lost legacy and cringe. They poisoned the rivers, killed the animals, and crosscut the rain-forests. In the face of the very destruction they feared they turn away now from the truth, because they are ashamed.

What have they left behind? A boiling planet? A series of bleeding fractured drug war ravaged countries? An endless frivolous war?

The legacy lost has been found again, but it is not a legacy of peace and beauty, but one of conflict and destruction.

That is the final truth, you may put aside and not worry about what the future generations will think of you, but they will come and will judge you, whether your try or not.