We Are at War

We are all soldiers in a war that has endured for countless millennia and we are the enemy that we seek to destroy. We are the combatants, the prisoners, and the casualties. We are at war with Nature and, by implication, we are also at war with Humanity since Humanity is a part of Nature. And if we are at war with Humanity then we are also at war with ourselves as we are part of Humanity. We are at war with ourselves, our humanity, and our nature.

All people have confrontations with Nature but people who have learned to live in harmony with Nature rather than confront it, have also learned to live with their own humanity and their own nature. We refer to these people with adjectives like primitive, aboriginal, indigenous, backwards, and uncivilized.

“Civilized” people, on the other hand, see Nature as something which must be conquered, tamed, and made to do our will. Civilized people see themselves as striving to gain mastery over Nature and as being separate from it. By denying Nature, we also deny our own nature and suppress it. Civilization is is essentially the denial and suppression of Nature. Because civilized peoples see themselves as separate from Nature, they feel they are superior to it. This notion extends to other peoples whom we deem as less civilized than we are. We see them as inferior and separate from us. Anyone or anything we deem to be inferior must be controlled, suppressed, or destroyed. Thus, we declare war on them.

War is always about power and control over people, territory, and ideas. In our war footing, we have defined civilization, religion, commerce, and politics in terms of power and control.

From the Book of Genesis:

23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.
25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground after their kind; and God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
29 The God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for for food’; and it was so.
31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:23 -31 (Updated New American Standard Bible)

Genesis is the root of the three major Western religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These verses justify our war on Nature, Humanity, and Ourselves as a Holy crusade. According to this scripture, God told us to subdue the Earth and rule over everything that lives upon it. But in order to subdue the Earth and rule over it, we must separate ourselves from nature and see everyone and everything as separate form ourselves. Since, according to The Bible, God create it all, we must also see ourselves as separate from our God.

Yet we are not separate from nature or humanity. Nor are we separate from God. And we are certainly not separate from ourselves or our nature.

Religion can be an instrument of war and throughout history it has often been used as such. Religions are often instituted among men as a means to establish power over others and to acquire wealth, territory, and resources. Isn’t that also the purpose of war? Religion is often used in the war against ourselves. Religions demand obedience and use guilt and shame to force us into submission and conformance.

According to Genesis, God provided us with everything we needed for life but left it up to us to sustain it. If we look back on our progress in the great war with Nature, it should be obvious that Nature is victorious in the end. We are fighting a war we cannot win. It seems that the Holy mandate of Genesis 1:26 has doomed mankind to bring about its own extinction. When our time on Earth has passed, the earth that God created for our benefit will once again flourish, at least until the Sun dies out or the Earth is struck by a gigantic meteor.

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Penises

I think it’s reasonable to speculate that most heterosexual men do think about penises other than their own and will at least sneak a peek at them if they can do so discretely. The penis is the predominant symbol of a man’s masculinity and virility so it only seems natural that men are curious about them and, at least unconsciously, compare them to see how they measure up.

There was a time when men more openly, albeit very casually and with no overt homosexual overtones, compared penises. This was a time when men regularly swam naked together and routinely walked about naked in locker rooms and showered together. There may have been some good-natured ribbing about one’s equipment but one soon got over any embarrassment. Being too embarrassed to be seen naked in the locker room or shower inevitably invited ridicule.

Perhaps it in the latter part of the 1960s or early 1970s that this began to change. This would have been around the time that women began to seek opportunities in areas that were once considered the exclusive domain of men. With women becoming more liberated and more common in the workplace, men began to feel that their masculinity was being threatened. Men began to feel less secure about their manliness and this carried over to places where there were no women, namely male locker rooms.

Feeling less secure in their manliness, they began to avoid even inadvertently glancing at another man’s genitals, lest he be thought of as gay. Nowadays, this has gone to extremes. In today’s locker rooms men now cover themselves with a towel as they change or hide themselves in private stalls. Many men don’t shower at all after a workout and, if they do, they will shower in a swimsuit or in underwear. Many schools no longer require students to shower after a Physical Education class. When I went to school it was mandatory.

Now gyms and pools will have enclosed private changing cubicles and showers. Almost no one sees anyone casually naked anymore outside of nudist events and venues. It’s no wonder men and women alike loathe their own bodies. Advertising and entertainment media have sold us the idea of perfect bodies which, in real life, don’t exist. Everything in our culture tells us that we can never measure up to the ridiculous standards they’ve created while demanding that we aggressively pursue our efforts to reach them.

There is nothing wrong with seeing a penis that’s not your own and there’s nothing wrong with anyone seeing your penis. Nearly all males have a penis and, in the vast majority of cases, they all work the same. The differences in appearance are individual and have no bearing on your own penis or on your manliness. It’s just a penis.

It is my considered opinion that all the rhetoric I hear about clinging to conventional gender and sexual identities is a sign that they are becoming outdated, irrelevant, and meaningless. Many people are afraid of change and don’t want to give up the comfort of believing in the old, traditional binary identities of male and female, masculine and feminine, and straight and gay. The binary paradigms are becoming more fluid and more analog. Despite our dependence on binary technologies, we live in an analog world, a world that offers infinitely more options than those offered by our binary paradigms.

The long established patriarchies are beginning to crumble and the identities and paradigms they’ve created are falling by the wayside. Men are afraid of losing their power and their dominion over whatever they’ve felt they’ve had power over. That’s a good thing for humanity.

Power is simply Work over Time. Power as dominance is an illusion and maybe we are starting to finally sufficiently evolve to realize that.

Moving Forward

As individuals, as a society, as a nation, it behooves us to keep moving forward, to keep evolving as an intelligent species. We can neither stand still nor can we move backward. If you are not moving forward then you are falling behind. There are no other options. The United States is on the verge of becoming a backward nation, much closer to the edge that most of us realize or care to admit.

We can make America great again but only by moving forward through well thought out, progressive, and positive change. We cannot achieve greatness if we fall behind the rest of the world. Following the rhetoric of the conservative demagogues will only lead us to disaster and self-destruction. We cannot return to the past. The past only exists as history; we cannot reclaim it.

Shifting Paradigms

I’m sensing that a profound shift in our paradigms of how we view gender and sexuality is occurring. It’s been going on for quite a while and it may still be many years before the old paradigms are replaced. Conservatives, especially in political and religious arenas, have been the most resistant to these changes as they cling onto the old binary stereotypes of masculinity, femininity, and sexual orientation.

Despite our glorification of modern technology, the world is not binary and never has been. Our cultures and our institutions have always tried to force everyone and everything into rigid molds in which everything is classified as one thing or another. What doesn’t fit into one mold or the other is either forcefully stuffed into a mold or rejected entirely, cast out and demonized.

It’s been my own experience and observation that the most interesting people and things exist somewhere between the extremes. People are beginning to recognize the diversity and fluidity that exists in the middle, a spectrum where our preconceived ideas about gender roles, gender identity, sexual preferences are becoming more and more irrelevant. What difference does it make that Bruce Jenner, former Olympic athlete, identifies as a woman and is now Caitlyn? So what if a boy who identifies himself as a male, likes girls’ things? What does a person’s gender or sexual preference have to do with his or her ability to do a job to to be a good person? I’m more concerned with what kind of person they are, how they treat others, and how well they do their jobs.

Anyone or anything on either extreme is an outlier, not the norm, and, statistically, should be disregarded as irrelevant.

Hardwired to Discriminate

It’s probably true that we are hardwired to discriminate. I think it’s also true that our neural wiring is hardened and reinforced by cultural influences and learned biases. I’ve become quite aware of the influence of learned and cultural prejudices and biases that occur every day and I try not to let them affect my thoughts and actions. Easier said than done

My own life experiences have been, for the most part, diametrically opposed to this hardwired discrimination and the cultural biases I was brought up with. To some extent these experiences have, to some degree, undone some of this wiring. As a human being endeavoring to evolve to a higher level of consciousness, I intellectually know that we are all connected at a genetic and spiritual level and that our differences are actually rather subtle and trivial in comparison with our similarities. My own life experiences support this realization.

This hardwiring needs to be undone. I realize the need to transcend my intellectual knowledge and understanding of these influences and to know it intuitively and be the basis of my thoughts and actions. Intuitive and realized knowledge and understanding comes after the intellectual realization. Rewiring my mind to change my prejudices and biases require constant awareness and conscious effort. It’s difficult but I believe it can be done and needs to be done … by everyone.

Thoughts on Secrets

This is a topic I’ve written on before in my journals and my blogs but it has recently entered my mind and prompted some thoughts about it. My thoughts here may or may not agree with what I’ve said or written previously.

In our lives secrets are inevitable as is the suffering they may cause. The secrets we carry invariably have the potential to harm the keeper of the secret as well as those from whom the secrets are kept. Our secrets are an emotional burden we carry and we have to continually evaluate them to balance our desire for truthfulness and honesty with the avoidance of what harm the revelation of the secrets may cause. How we carry out this evaluation is very subjective and can be quite prone to errors in judgement. Making the wrong decision about whether or not to reveal it can have unintended and disastrous consequences.

In my estimation, it seems that truthfulness, honesty, and transparency in our dealings with others is the preferred approach. However, this may not always be possible depending on circumstances. We sometimes have to decide between being truthful and not causing harm. When we are dealing with other human beings it can be difficult to gauge their emotional state or their reactions.

I openly admit that I carry the burden of my secrets, many dating back to a time when I lived in a culture of secrecy that too often extended from my professional life into my personal life. Other secrets are more recent but still under the influence of that culture.

Yes, those secrets are a tremendous burden and the memories surface with greater regularity than I’d like. When the memories arise, I evaluate them and usually bury them again. They are in the past, I’ve learned from them and I don’t see much potential good in bringing them into the light. They’re my burden and there is no point in making them someone else’s burden.

I try to treat my life as an open book but there are chapters that have either been torn out or the pages have become stuck together. If asked about these pages, my response will likely be that the subject is not open to discussion. It’s my karma and I’ll deal with the consequences.

Good Guy With a Gun – Thanks but no thanks

The other night I watched a segment on The Daily Show about what it actually takes to be the “good guy with a gun” who can theoretically stop the “bad guy with a gun”. For starters, statistically the good guy with a gun only gets the bad guy about three percent of the time. It takes more than eight hours in a classroom or on a range and having a loaded gun at your disposal. One requires a lot of training with countless drills, simulations, and scenarios over and over again until they become ingrained, before one can hope to successfully take on an active shooter or survive a fire fight. The average good guy with a gun simply doesn’t have the resources to do that. Neither does the average school teacher that everyone is so anxious to outfit with a handgun or an assault rifle.

The amateur good guy with a gun is more than likely going to shoot an innocent person, cause substantial property damage, become a prime target for the shooter and get himself shot, or be mistaken for the shooter by the police and get shot by by them. There could be another good guy with a gun who mistakes the first good guy with a gun for the shooter.

No thanks, but I’d prefer to leave my life in the hands of trained professionals, not an amateur self-proclaimed Rambo. Maybe businesses, schools, and other institutions should train people what to do in an active shooter situation and how to increase their odds of survival.

Stricter gun control laws and designating gun-free zones won’t solve the problem but they are certainly part of the solution. Calmer heads need to prevail and cut through all the emotion and the rhetoric on both sides of the issue. There needs to be a major shift in attitudes about guns and violence in general. The America of the late 18th century was a very different place than what it is now. Then a gun was often a necessary survival tool used to hunt food, defend oneself, provide provide for one’s own security. The importance of a gun as a tool has decreased since then. Maybe it’s time to take a new look at the Second Amendment and perhaps redefine the terms.

I don’t own a gun and it’s probably been more than 25 years since I’ve handled one. I’ve had the training and I know that the controlled conditions on a firing range are much different than a real-life shooting situation. On the range, there is no one shooting back at you and you don’t have to make split-second decisions as you evaluate the situation and your target. I have never had to point a weapon at someone and decide whether that person would live or die and I hope I never have to.

I do not own a gun and, at this time, I have no intention to acquire one. That could change but it would be a very carefully considered decision. A gun is a lethal weapon whose only purpose is to kill and once the trigger is pulled there is no way to undo whatever happens when that round finds its target which may or may not have been the one you intended. Owning a weapon is a huge responsibility and I’m not sure that many gun owners are fully cognizant of the enormity of that responsibility or the potential consequences should you actually use that weapon.