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Twenty-First Century Treatise: The Law of Diversity

As I’ve asserted earlier, we are as subject to Nature’s Laws as every other living thing on earth, even our social structures are bound by them. Current events in the US and Europe, manifested in groups such aIdentity Evropa or Unite the Right, whose aims are to create a homogeneous culture of religion and race, provide the opportunity to examine the merits of whether homogeneity or diversity enhance our societies.

There is no doubt that Nature exhibits a strong preference for diversity over homogeneity in the physical realm. No two snowflakes are alike, no two human finger prints are alike, and even identical twins develop differences in their individual DNA despite their origins from the same fertilized egg.

Consider the ruling families of Europe of not-so-long-ago who intermarried frequently as a way to keep a homogeneous bloodline and consequently curated a small gene pool as a result. Smaller gene pools equate to less diversity giving recessive genes higher probabilities of expression. This explains the frequency of  hemophilia in several royal families. (Conversely, unhealthy dominant genes could not be diluted in smaller gene pools, such was the case with the Hapsburgs.) The present kingdom of Saudi Arabia is challenged with problematic health issues due to its tradition of intermarriage at all levels of society: 

“But research at hospitals and medical centers indicates that the rates of some metabolic diseases may be as much as 20 times higher among Saudi Arabia’s 14 million people than they are in populations where the gene pool is more widely mixed.

Blood disorders such as thalassemia, a hemoglobin deficiency and sickle cell anemia, as well as diabetes are widespread, particularly in some provinces with high intermarriage rates…”

Humans aren’t the only animals that suffer from a lack of diversity due to small gene pools. Our fascination with purebred dogs means that these canines come with more inherent health issues than their mixed breed counterparts. Race horse breeders understand the problems associated with a small, homogeneous gene pool, and “have done comparatively well in maintaining genetic diversity…”

On the physical level, diversity allows for healthier outcomes overall, while homogeneity guarantees some genetic complications in future generations. But does the  strength of diversity  transcend the physical realm to the societal realm? We can unequivocally conclude that social and cultural diversity have a direct, positive effect upon our nations and their economics.

For example, studies consistently demonstrate,that mixed groups produce better outcomes to challenges than homogeneous groups when applied to workplace creativity and vibrancy.

Though people often feel more comfortable with others like themselves, homogeneity can hamper the exchange of different ideas and stifle the intellectual workout that stems from disagreements. (Kellogg School of Management)

Distinguished University Professor, Richard Boyatzis explains the benefits of diversity this way:

Diversity initiatives can have important and interesting social justice benefits, but the real reason you want to pursue diversity programs is for innovation. You want diversity of thought…Differences in race, gender, and socioeconomic background are three characteristics, but so are differences in learning style or differences in professional field….If a group has an ability to create dialogue, diversity of thought helps them not get into groupthink. 

A recent, extensive study  reveals that countries benefit greatly on an economic scale thanks to the diversity that immigration provides. For instance, young migrants tend to make up a larger portion of a population than natives, this is a crucial detail,  “Migration will play an increasingly vital role in coping with this transition and easing the burden on care and social security systems.”

Another economic benefit of immigration, among many, is that migrants are employed in “jobs…often characterized as ‘household production’ services. The increased presence of immigrants in this sector has made home services more affordable, which in turn has allowed more native-born women — especially highly educated women — to join the labor force or to increase their hours worked.”(Berkeley).

A venture into the political realm allows us to easily identify the problems with a homogeneous political system as those are most commonly known as dictatorships or tyrannies – where one strand of thought is compulsive throughout a society and any opposition is silenced immediately. There is no freedom in these societies. Historically and currently, there are plenty of examples of these – Mao’s China or Kim’s North Korea come to mind. But where two or more political parties exist within a nation, debate and compromise often lead to an overall better effect for the majority, as exhibited in the past few centuries of diverse governments across Europe and in the US. Additionally, these systems innately allow for freedom of differing opinions, freedom of research, as well as freedom for national discourse.

Our genetics, workplaces, economics, and political systems thrive best with diversity, exactly as Nature would have it. In the socio-cultural context, we witness that the Law of Diversity muscles its way through any attempt to homogenize our world.

One of the most obvious examples of cultural homogeneity is the ubiquity of American fast food chains exported throughout the world. Yet even these are not cookie-cutter establishments, their menus are adjusted to the native culture of their location. From “shrimp nuggets” offered by KFC in Singapore, to a “black Ninja burger” from Burger King in Japan, to a “dried pork and seaweed” donut at Dunkin’ Donuts in China, the Law of Diversity is manifested despite the homogenization of branding. Where imported cultural staples are adopted, there still remains a force of Diversity; New York sushi restaurants adapt the Japanese food to their Kosher clientele; in South America, sushi is dipped in salsa rather than soy sauce.

I’ve observed that workplace homogenization in the form of uniforms has prompted some eccentric personal grooming habits or accessorizing as a way of creating diversity; it’s the reason the tattoo culture has bloomed the last two decades, or facial piercings, or funky hairstyles and coloring. The trend of socks or ties in outrageous colors and patterns buck against the boardroom homogeneity of dark suits, allowing for an expression of differentiation. It’s as if on a subconscious level, we’re finding ways to be diverse from one another despite global, corporate pressure to look homogeneous.

At our very base, cellular level, there exists Diversity, and we are healthier for it. It should come as no surprise then, that our social structures, bound by the same Natural Law, are healthier when Diversity is preferred over homogeneity. Though some of us still strive to create a homogeneous culture, with one religion and one political system and one dominate race, Nature’s Law of Diversity will see to it that it is not permanent.

Here’s to our differences, for they constitute creativity and robust societies.

In peace,

Frankie


Toppled

A man* once predicted (I paraphrase) “We’ll have to learn the manners of being third world citizens.”

“What a grand crazy idea!” I thought, (though secretly I knew we were certainly on the path to such a claim). That was just a few years ago and today I know with certainty that we’ve lost our stature.

Most recent, and most troubling, is an all call advisory to the world that we have a gun violence problem and maybe people should rethink their planned visit to the US, “avoid crowded places like…schools, places of worship, shopping malls.”

  • A nation that once attracted the tourists of the world is now considered an insecure geographical area.

We’re dying because our healthcare system is built upon uncompromising avarice. “One thousand percent increase!” on a patent I didn’t create, on a loophole they don’t close, on body counts that are out of sight, out of mind. (“Senator, did you hear about the couple that committed suicide because of health care bills?”    “Why no, I”ll have my staff look into it.”)

  • The wealthy do not care that people die as a direct result of their greed. They have theirs, fuck the rest.

Armed forces are raiding workplaces and holding up random citizens or sending them back to a country they never lived in where they die.  “Where are your papers?” “Where do you work?” “What is your nationality?” “What is your main language?”

  • Militant removal of ‘others’ for the sake of purity of a chosen few – a police state of racism replaces the open welcome of diversity.

National leadership demonstrates a complete disdain for norms and processes. Professionalism and duty towards country is now usurped by name calling and sycophantic treason. “I’m proud I held up a SCOTUS nominee.”  “I’ll raise the price of membership to my golf club.” “I’ll visit an enemy country on our national celebration of Independence.”

  • Elected officials casually dismiss our founding tenets for the sake of self-preservation and power.
  • Refuse to replace staff, defiantly hold off on appointing cabinet members, gradually bring together all power under one authoritarian voice.
  • Perpetual insecurity, filling the populace with fear so it’s willing to submit.
  • Resisters are ridiculed; facts and logic considered crazy.
  • Truth is subjective, propaganda becomes norm.
  • The fourth estate is defamed.
  • Wealth disparity grows daily.
  • We’re in a heap of debt.

We are a toppled nation..

 

*Chalmers Johnson, “Dismantling the Empire”

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dis En Franchised

I am being deprived of my privilege.

Everyone wants to be equal and have the same playing field.

But if that happens, then I am no longer on top, no longer number one.

I’d have no claim to being special.

I’d no longer belong to God’s chosen race. 

I’d be just like all the rest – just like all them homos, just like all them foreigners. 

I don’t know what that means; 

How would I know my place in society if everyone is equal?

I don’t know any other world than this one with its sense of imperiousness: 

That calm, wide undercurrent I’ve felt in everything I’ve been taught.

The idea that only my kind worshiped the right God. 

Only my kind is civilized. Only my social structure is allowed.

What future is there for me without that undercurrent?

I can’t envision it.

There is no one who will define it for me or show me how to act within it.

The uncertainty makes me anxious, fills me with fear.

A fear that decides to haunt me and grows exponentially

until one day it tips over into an empty vat and morphs into a deep anger

that I can no longer control – and maybe I don’t want to.

It feeds me, this anger.

It validates me and then becomes my best friend and adviser. 

I’ve learned there are others who embrace the same anger, welcome the same adviser.

I am thankful for my online brothers,

ours is a private world where we talk about keeping our privilege,

we talk about lording it over others who are not like us,

we say “fuck equality,” we’ll do things our way here.

We encourage one another, “This is our Vietnam,

we’ve got to rid our country of those who think they could ever be equal to us.”

We ask about the best guns to own, we discuss how to cause the most damage,

we feel no remorse at ending the life of someone

who dares to think they could ever be equal to us.

No one can ever be like us. 

We won’t lose our privilege to anyone beneath us.

We will not conform to a society where our kind must yield to their kind who smell funny and talk differently, yet want the same treatment.

Even our own President says they’re invading us, and there’s only one solution to an invasion:

Kill the fuckers. 

They can’t deny my privilege and render me disenfranchised if they’re all dead. 

 

Author’s note: Some come close to describing disenfranchisement as one of the main underlying problems to many of today’s mass shootings and the white supremacy movement, but they don’t really come out and say it. I wrote this little prose so that we might better understand part of the process of disenfranchisement and open up dialogue about ways to address this issue. 

 

 


Poisonous Choice

In every circumstance there is a choice, whether it’s personal or societal.

From a societal aspect, it seems many of our choices boil down to choosing either a punitive or compassionate approach to solutions that challenge our communities. In the US, we seem to take a punitive approach to most of our societal issues.

An examination of our overall response to homelessness exemplifies the point. Instead of looking beneath the surface of the problem to discover solutions, we vilify the homeless as lazy and moochers instead. We think they should just pull themselves up and get a job and realize the American Dream, but we don’t want to help them do it. We cry ‘socialism’ and ‘entitlement’ and ‘dependence,’ and blame them for their own undoing. As Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs demonstrates, when one is focused on merely surviving day to day, anything else takes second place. But we refuse to offer the one thing that will help them, a means to have a roof over their head. In some cities like mine, we kick it up a notch by forcing the homeless out of public spaces and booking them like criminals. A blatantly punitive, not compassionate approach that only exacerbates the situation.

Norway provides an example of a compassionate approach. It dropped its homeless rate by a third in four years simply by getting to the root of the problem and providing housing.

“This means that homelessness is understood as a housing problem, not primarily or solely as a social problem, and the provision of housing with or without follow-up is considered essential to prevent and reduce homelessness,” says researcher and project manager Evelyn Dyb at the NIBR City and Regional Research Institute at Oslo and Akershus University of Applied Sciences.

The US obviously takes a punitive approach to drug addiction as well. Instead of applying compassion and the understanding that we’re dealing with a disease, we criminalize drug abuse. It’s my personal contention that by taking this approach, we actually enable their thievery and other violence. We keep our prison industry alive with drug offenders, with almost half of its occupants convicted on drug related charges. (rarely do the drug companies or doctors who push the pills suffer any consequences).

The nation of Portugal decided to approach drug addiction from a compassionate angle with robust positive results. But their society first made a conscious effort to adjust their perspectives:

Portugal’s remarkable recovery, and the fact that it has held steady through several changes in government – including conservative leaders who would have preferred to return to the US-style war on drugs – could not have happened without an enormous cultural shift, and a change in how the country viewed drugs, addiction – and itself. 

As a last example, I’ll utilize the current US border issue and the choice this administration is making by acting punitively instead of compassionately. Prior to the Zero tolerance policy, and at the behest of the Obama administration, migrants were released to relatives with ankle monitors to ensure their accountability to appear to court cases, etc.. There were social workers and agents involved to act as liaisons to help them through that process. Our nation does not act compassionately in this regard any longer.

Detention centers have morphed into concentration camps as they’ve become overcrowded and unsanitary due to defying the Flores Settlement as well as scrapping the prior administration’s more compassionate program of release with the ability to monitor.

I’ve observed a couple of compelling reasons behind the US’ consistent punitive approach to most social issues. The first is hard to miss: greed. The private prison industry takes millions in taxpayer money every year to house non violent drug criminals. GEO and CoreCivic are currently earning a whopping $775 a day to house migrants instead of releasing them to relatives. Drug manufacturers have raked in billions thanks to Oxycontin. Quite a few people became much wealthier by creating the housing bubble, which helped create the homeless crisis.

From another stance, there’s a healthy contingency in our midst that infuses a religious flavor to the idea of punity, choosing to draw from the notion of an authoritarian god instead of the example of a compassionate savior.

In each example, the compassionate approach is more humane and overall healthier for the society who employs it. The punitive approach only seems to poison a nation by reinforcing greed and authoritarianism. Would that the US could have a paradigm shift along the lines of Portugal and Jesus’ teachings.

In Peace,

Frankie


The Laws of Dichotomy and Balance

Installment 1 of 21st Century Treatise.


Nature is always, tirelessly, constantly, and ceaselessly striving for balance. This is because it is comprised of endless pairs of opposites:  matter/anti- matter, light/dark, positive/negative, on/off, high/low, male/female, animus/anima, ad infinitum.

There are two kinds of balance at work in Nature. We might immediately think of the scale kind of balance model, as in the ‘scales of justice’, similar to a teeter totter. A scale balance is an either/or situation: the energy on one side significantly outweighs the energy of other side, and we get a lopsided situation; or the energy is of equal weight on either side and balances perfectly. There’s no middle ground with the scale model of balance.

There is also a bell curve model of balance, where two extremes or opposites exist but the majority of the energy falls in the middle, creating a ‘bell shape.’ This inherently makes for a flexible, more stable kind of balance. The energy can shift slightly to one side or the other, but the system will remain viable and functioning. Since the dynamics of the bell curve balance place most of the energy in the middle of the spectrum, we can therefore perceive balance of this kind as belonging in the ‘middle.’ (Interestingly, our language is teeming with references to this ‘middle’ balance kind of model. We use the term ‘middle ground’ to indicate compromise, balancing opposite opinions if you will, and moving forward.  The term ‘middle class’ defines the bulk of a nation’s economic, social, and labor energy. The wisdom of the Buddhist concept of ‘The Middle Way’ encourages moderation instead of the extremes of asceticism or self-indulgence.)

Examples of both models of balance abound in Nature.

On a scale model of balance, we know there had to be just the right amount of gravitational balance on our planet in order for Life to have developed; if it were slightly more or slightly less, Life could not have formed. Atoms possess the dichotomy of positively and negatively charged protons and electrons. This dichotomy allows them to bond together to form molecules as their charges attract to each other to achieve balance. The wind that tousles our hair is the direct result of a low pressure system and a high pressure system meeting and striving to achieve atmospheric balance.

An example of a bell curve model of balance can be seen in the age distribution of any animal group, there are a few youngsters and a few oldsters (technically termed outliers), but the majority of the group is middle age.  If the energy of the system shifts too far one way or the other, let’s say there becomes an abnormally high elderly population, then we begin to see problems within the working model. In Japan, for instance, the growing elderly population is affecting the development of robotics. Since there are fewer caretakers than elderly, life size robots are being used as a substitute. In the US, the retiring Baby Boomer generation is leaving an imbalance in job fields such as engineering and electrical specialists since there aren’t enough younger people trained in these areas. It is also straining our Social Security and public retirement systems, which means funds to keep roads maintained or hire more staff for forest upkeep or open another sheriff’s position are compromised. Our current resources, both monetary and labor, are scarce due to an imbalance in retired citizens.

Nature is obsessed with balancing the millions of dichotomies inherent in its makeup.  We humans are as subject to this peculiarity as every other part of the Universe, in fact it is ingrained within our very cellular structure. The membranes of our cells are careful ‘gatekeepers,’ allowing only a certain amount of fluid in or out to maintain homeostasis – balance. If Nature’s Law of Balance matters at microscopic levels, then it’s not much of a leap to understand that even the things we create: our institutions, our social frameworks, our cultural elements, and even our personal lives – are subject to the same Natural Law. When an imbalance occurs, whether from a germ that causes a fever in an individual, or greed that has caused a nation’s economy to become imbalanced, Nature will ensure that it is resolved to a balanced system. That’s Her thing.

It’s not always a smooth process to achieve balance. High/Low pressure systems can produce some nasty, damaging storms. Social balance is difficult to attain if one group refuses to give up control or privilege, as seen during the Civil Rights movement in the US. National economic imbalance places undue, extreme hardship on a country’s citizens who eventually push back against the policies that created the imbalance, the storming of the Bastille, for example. Here’s the glitch about achieving balance: the process is often violent. As severe weather storms can sometimes incur human casualties, often the restoration of social/political/economic balance comes at the cost of human life as well.

Balance is one of the most obvious Laws of Nature for us to observe, but we often miss the principle that our social constructs are as subject to this dynamic as any other. Take a moment today after reading a news article to reflect on the influence of this important Law. Does the article relate to some nuanced issue of balance? Consider the many situations the Law of Balance affects our lives. Don’t we strive to balance our work / home lives each day? Finally, understand that we can make good decisions based on the actions of this Law, both personally and nationally.

Thank you for reading. Next in this series: The Law of Balance applied to Economics.

Peace,

Frankie


21st Century Treatise, Introduction

Nature will not let us fret and fume. She does not like our benevolence or our learning much better than she likes our frauds and wars. When we come out of the caucus, or the bank, or the abolition convention, or the temperance-meeting, or the transcendental club, into the fields and woods, she says to us, ‘so hot? my little Sir.’”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Spiritual Laws,” Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).

We humans have achieved some pretty amazing things since the agricultural revolution some twelve thousand years ago. Once we learned to manipulate Nature in various ways to suit our needs, we catapulted our species to soaring heights. Our clever inventions allow us to lead a very charmed life today compared to our ancestors.  We work in carefully controlled indoor climates, we live longer, and we are more aware than ever of our natural surroundings and how they function.  We understand the universe in ways incomprehensible to Copernicus and we understand our bodies in ways unfathomable to da Vinci. We don’t need to hunt any longer for our daily food and we don’t even need to have sex to pass on our genetics. We’ve been to the moon, we’ve put a tread mark on Mars, and some of us actually live in space. We homo sapiens have come a long, long way indeed.

While we bask in our achievements and enjoy their conveniences, there is cause for worry. As we’ve progressed from cave-dwellers to space station tenants, a great disconnect occurred between Mother Nature and her bi-pedal children because we are no longer as intimate with her workings as we once were. It seems a logical by-product of our advanced civilization: we live and work mainly indoors and get our food from cans and bottles and jars. Our experiences with Nature are confined to camping trips, gardening, and domesticated canines and felines. Limiting our interaction with Mother Nature, and becoming independent from her, means that we have lost touch with her. We fail to remember – and recognize – that we are as subject Nature’s Laws as the rest of the universe. In fact, even our social structures and the civilizations we build from them are governed by Nature’s Law’s – “So hot? my little Sir.”

Twenty-first Century Treatise explores the affect of Nature’s Laws on our social structures and civilizations in order to discover some very important lessons about ourselves and how our societies work. We learn how Nature’s Laws effect our personal lives. We learn that Nature’s Laws apply to our social frameworks and we can make pragmatic decisions using those Laws to develop policies that sustain healthy societies. We learn that it is possible to make conscious, long term, positive political decisions through the lens of Nature’s Laws. We learn that certain areas of each nation must be balanced in order to be healthy and growing; and that we can control those areas with effective legislation. We realize why it’s important to be diplomatic with our international neighbors.

It is my hope that this Treatise will provide some tools for positive decision making as we continue to grow and move forward together. We are an amazing creature, but we cannot forget that we are, and will always be, subject to Nature’s Laws, and so are the civilizations we build around us. “So hot, my little sir?”

Frankie

Read the next installment of 21st Century Treatise: The Laws of Dichotomy and Balance


God Given Freedom

You fashion laws into a millstone of false piety,

secure it around the body with a rope of self righteousness,

and sling it over a tree of disinformation –

killing those whose liberty you vanquish

in the name of life and consciousness.

But even God himself wisely allows us the freedom to choose.

 

You abusively decide for me what happens to my body,

when you cannot even conceive of the costs incurred

by it to bring a life into the world.

You follow a selfish mandate and rob

half your society of their autonomy.

Even God himself generously allows us the autonomy to choose.

 

With arrogant privilege you enslave

the very beings who brought you forth and nurtured you.

With outright insolence you seize authority

over a million bodies that are not yours,

over thousands of circumstances you cannot possibly predict,

over the inner sanctum of the holy moment of birth

where you do not belong.

Even God himself humbly allows us the grace to choose.

 

He said naught all those years we suffocated newborns

or left them out for the wolves because

just as he ordained throughout creation,

He keenly understood that all mothers had the right

to decide which child to feed.

He kept silent when a mother and her midwife

quietly comforted a dying newborn whose deformities

would be a burden to society:

A passionate Creator knows that quality matters more than quantity.

 

He specifically intuits that humans should be free to choose;

he even gave us the ultimate freedom to choose him.

So you who can not perceive of the mystery of life in the slightest,

keep your hands off my freedom,

keep your laws off my body.

You have not been ordained to surpass

the one you confess as Savior

whose own father allows us the freedom to choose.

 

 


Belonging to Facebook

There’s a subtle social struggle going on about whether to Facebook or not to Facebook. I talk about it with others and observe many comments in different forums online. I myself made the decision to step away from the platform some six-plus months ago.

My decision was based on two things: Facebook’s wont to mine our personal data and pass it on to marketers or god knows who, and the fact that I could not longer deal with seeing some of my old friends, or even family members defend things like child concentration camps, racism, or historically failed economic policies. I’d rather remember them as decent people than view them through the lens of an algorithmically curated timeline.

I don’t miss the frustration, but I do miss out on family pictures and social group connectivity, like posting local events or keeping in touch with local organizations. Yet when I conjure up the benefit/cost analysis in my mind, the result falls in favor of staying off the site.

As I gain further distance from the platform and engage or listen in on conversations about participating on it, I’ve formed an important insight: Facebook offers an incredibly strong sense of belonging, even if much of it is a false sense of belonging.

This is a worthy point to hone in on because the need to belong to a social group, to feel accepted and loved, isn’t just a flippant desire; it’s as hard wired a necessity as food and oxygen to our survival. Abraham Maslow backs this up with the scientific observation of his Hierarchy of Needs – if we don’t feel a sense of belonging and love, we can not achieve our full potential as humans.

By and large, the one reason people seem to be sticking with Facebook, in spite of its astonishing lack of respect towards private information, is that it plugs in to our human need to belong.

Every thumbs up and heart emoji translates to feeling like we belong, we’re connected, we’re appreciated. We live in a hectic, fast-paced, dog-eat-dog society that often makes us feel lonely in spite of the thousands of people physically milling around us. But if we  post a picture of our cat, vent about our ex’s new spouse, or share a news article, a select few friends will see and like or offer comments of support and BAM! we’re accepted, we belong, we feel important. 

It’s not a genuine sense of belonging, though, simply because Facebook relies upon algorithms to determine what we all see on our timelines. The end result is that we’re only sharing or posting stuff from a narrow, virtual, point of view and our sense of belonging is tied to the likes of those followers who are chosen to see our posts through an algorithmic determination. Neither the incoming or outgoing messages are organic, but the responses satisfy our need to feel important nonetheless.

On the broader scale, many are reluctant to leave Facebook since that’s where they can connect with local organizations. I often hear someone lament that, ‘It’s too bad there isn’t some other way we can connect and share with such-and-such demographic.’ This particular area is where I personally miss Facebook most acutely. This indicates that our need to belong is so strong, and satisfied so well by Facebook, that local organizations are dependent on the platform’s connective ability to market their events and causes.

To the point that Facebook does not filter its news outlets for veracity or authenticity, the reliance we have on Facebook to provide a sense of belonging becomes dangerous. Millions are subject to outright propaganda which transcends to polling results…check out where we’re at right now as a nation.

To Facebook or not to Facebook may not be as much of a choice as we think. Considering the impact it had in the last general election, I’m concerned we all ‘belong’ to Facebook in an indirect way no matter our conscious efforts.

The fact that its roots reach deep into our psyche and entwine themselves greedily should at least make us pause to think about the consequences the platform inflicts upon our society. And maybe, some smartypants kid will develop a better way to connect. Or, maybe, we could fulfill our sense of belonging with real life people instead of virtual avatars.

Peace,

Frankie

NB: I’ll admit that YouTube, Twitter, and other social media outlets offer a sense of belonging in the same way. I focus on Facebook due to its ubiquitous role in our lives comparatively.

For a similar analysis about the dynamic of belonging to a social group and its effects, here’s an article about how it works in religion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The US’ Other Opiate Problem

The same incredulous question arises nearly every day:  How can Trump still have a thirty percent approval rating considering his bungling, lying, crudeness, and refusal to lead? Who would still support him after child separation, farm bailouts due to trade wars, and Putin’s obvious influence in his decision making? Who? I have my own hypothesis, drawn from my experience as a former evangelical Christian/Republican and it echoes another voice:  Religion is the opiate of the masses.

There is a backbone to the idea that religion numbs the senses of the masses. It is the belief that the bible is right, the inerrant word of God, and to doubt it is to doubt God himself. This notion is infused into church teaching.  It’s preached to little babies, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me!” Then as an adult, “God said, I believe, that settles it forever.” We’ll even put ourselves through some hefty mental gymnastics to prove the argument. Confining a person’s knowledge base to only the bible acts like a spinal block to the logical, analytical areas of the mind, leaving them unresponsive and worthless.

Church leaders utilize the spinal block effects to their advantage and employ some impressive acrobatics to re-enforce the group-think. For example, Stephen Strang, founder of Charisma magazine, demonstrates his support of a lying, crude, selfish, president by tweeting that “God can use even a corrupt man.”

Here are the recent words of Jerry Falwell, Jr.

“It’s a distortion of the teaching of Christ to say Jesus taught love and forgiveness and therefore the United States as a nation should be loving and forgiving, and just hand over everything we have to every other part of the world.”

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, but this guy says that as one of the richest, ‘Christian’ nations in the world, we shouldn’t be concerned about starving Yemeni babies. Then again, if the spigot of information is drawing from just one well, the people tuning into Falwell most likely don’t even know about the crisis in Yemen.

Check out the amusing amount of hair splitting going on about affairs that happened while in the Oval Office and affairs that happened eleven years ago before a guy became president. This is particularly galling to me as I recall distinctly the thrashing Clinton got from local and national church leaders (I was still in the church at the time). Those same people now liberally tease out some very obscure angles from which to view morality in order to justify supporting Trump. Guess what? If the mind of the flock is numb, constricted by a singular source of information, its malleability around strangely shaped ideas is inevitable.

Falwell and Graham’s grandiose proclamations are reinforced with publications such as Charisma magazine. Its stories massage the marriage of politics and religion, interpreting political developments through the pinpoint lens of evangelical Christianity. A scroll through the sites’ news feed is anemic on information and knowledge, but fat on reassurance to their reader that, despite our current mess as a nation, all is going according to God’s plan. It’s like a little booster shot of Novocaine to the soul (Televangelists are superb administrators of similar anesthesia).

The pinnacle of evangelical Christian thinking is some apocalyptic end times gig, based upon the book of Revelation. So when Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it was a sign that god did indeed pick the right man to fulfill the role of ushering in His plan for the end of the world. You might wonder how we could buy that line of thinking. If I’m already subscribed to the mystical stories of talking snakes and partings of seas, then a drug induced hallucination including political developments as indicators of the rapture is easily plausible.

I was doing my own research outside of the church offerings by the end of Clinton’s tenure. I compared what I read in publications such as Charisma to what was being reported by outside sources that had decent track records of accuracy (WaPo, Guardian, Al Jazeera, NYT, LA Times, to name a few +  books). I found a lot of lies on the side of the church, which to me appeared necessarily invented solely to stir up fear. I observed that the wild prophesies I’d heard about Clinton simply didn’t manifest. I came to realize that having a mainline of information from just one source leaves the mind paralyzed; cut yourself off from the mainline, and the mind wakes up.

There’s not much to be done for a numbed mind and paralyzed logic. A person has to answer their own curiosity in order to shrug off the dense effects of evangelical opium. It is important to recognize the dynamic involved with Trump’s persistent portion of support, though. Evangelical mind-think is a contingency that’s not going away since it soothes the uncertainty of many a soul, we must acknowledge that. Perhaps we should stop questioning the “How?” and focus on a social coping mechanism instead: Do we ignore that faction? Engage with it? Exemplify an alternative?

I am open to suggestions…

Frankie

 


Presidential Robbery

There’s a fleecing going on – our tax dollars pay the bill to Trump Org. for the room and board of our national security detail that goes with protecting the president, at his own  properties. There’s a grifting going on – the corporate elite pay higher membership prices at Mar-a-Lago, where they have exclusive access to the president and his high ranking aides.  While these material slights are by no means benign and even have profound impact upon the way our government is currently functioning, they are far from the biggest robbery our president is committing: that is the robbery of our emotional security.

Emotional security, and a sense of belonging, are the second most important needs to be met in order for us to become fully actualized, or operating at our full human potential according to the wisdom of Abraham Maslow. Most of us get this first as infants and children, by parents who are attentive to our needs and provide us at least a constant roof and food and familial support. As adults we seek out partners, social groups, or strong friendships to provide a sense of belonging and emotional support.

There’s a similar sense of security we obtain as citizens and it’s as intangible and immeasurable as belonging to a family. Under the guises of the idea of the social contract, we pay our taxes to the government and it provides national defense as well as a functioning infrastructure. This relationship has allowed a majority of people to feel safe about the future and its ability to provide opportunities. It has enabled us to take personal risks in art, science, education, politics, and economics. We know the infrastructure, or scaffolding, is sustained by our tax dollars through the government and historically, that scaffolding has been steady, mostly secure, and highly profitable overall.

We’ve been robbed of that by Donald Trump.

Instead of worrying about overspending on Christmas, several hundred thousand federal workers are right now worried about how they’ll make their mortgage or rent in three days. Instead of the comfort of a plump 401k account, many baby boomers are wringing their hands over lost money, because of capricious Trump tweets. Instead of knowing that federal agencies will pick up the pieces after a natural disaster, he threatens to shutdown the government. Rather than assuring his audience that our nation is safe, he stokes fear by creating an immigrant caravan crisis that is nonexistent.

As we progress in years we learn that money is one thing but peace of mind and health are priceless. It’s the most astonishing thing, then, to realize our president is robbing us of our national peace of mind and security. It’s even more maddening because it’s a deliberate choice he’s making. it’s deliberate pain he’s inflicting upon his citizens, it’s a deliberate robbery of our sense of security.

Maybe there’s a German word that describes this kind of poor, selfish leadership. I can’t seem to fish the right adjectives from the English language.

Here’s to turning this ship around…

Frankie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chief (in name only, he