Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I wrote this on another blog a few days after the Tuscon Tragedy..

From a philosophical point of view, I find that almost everyone will see and hear what they want to (see and hear). Many claim that they are being objective, but, from my unbiased observation (HA!). they are actually filtering everything through a pre-disposed reference point. In other words, if 100 people were to observe any event, each would come away with their own interpretation about what they experienced. In reading the highly passionate and often aggressive postings here and on other sites over the last few days, it has become crystal clear to me that my assertion has been repeatedly proven.

I’d like to think of myself as a slightly left-leaning centrist and, from that POV, I can usually be fairly objective and am able to empathize with both sides of any conversation. That being said, it is laughable to me how far some people are willing to go to rationalize their perspective. And, judging from their level of writing style and their mastery of the English language, I’d have to guess that they are pretty intelligent people (and, I imagined that that intelligence would translate to a higher level of tolerance and common sense) It never ceases to amaze me how someone can spend so much time and energy defending an obviously untenable position. Of course, this may be more a product of my own unconscious biases than any real illogical assertions by the “other” poster.

So, what does all this mean? To me, it just seems insanely counter-productive for us to keep hammering away at each other just to prove we are “right” over every little seeming infraction perpetrated by the “other side”. I haven’t seen anyone budge an iota from their position, no matter how much “proof” is endlessly spouted at them. Other than hearing (and seeing) their own self-righteous spewings on a thread, does this blattering serve any real, positive end? The “other side” is obviously not going to suddenly have an epiphany and wholeheartedly embrace their assertions.Can we, as a species, afford the luxury of pointless, unending, non-productive, self-promoting posturing?

Am I the only one who sees that Rome is burning while we are fiddling??

ADDENDUM

After re-reading this, I’d like to add this: It is perfectly OK (and unavoidable) that each of us have our own opinions and beliefs. What seems to be causing all the problems is that many of us have forgotten (or choose to overlook) the obviously debilitating and impossibly polarizing effect of confusing those opinions and beliefs with “facts” and “truth”. Can’t we just drop our overwhelming need to be “right” and just sit down as intelligent human beings and have a conversation that works toward finding some common ground? Our very existence may depend on it!!

For What It’s Worth…

With all the conversations going on about the recent tragedy in Tuscon, I feel compelled to  add my thoughts:

GUNS

The biggest problem with guns is that they exist, and in great numbers. There is literally nothing that can be done about it. I don’t care how many laws are passed, they will surely continue to be available to anyone who really wants one (or two, three, or a hundred!). It would be impossible to collect them all and even if you stopped manufacturing them here, they would come from somewhere else. And, it is equally impossible to regulate them. Again, there are too many illegitimate ways to obtain a gun and any laws or regulations would be easily circumvented by anyone who was sufficiently motivated  to get one.

So, guns exist and are not going to go away, and, by themselves, are totally harmless. What makes anything into a weapon is, of course, how it is used. Which brings me to the my next point…

PEOPLE

Again, they exist and will for the foreseeable future (although it’s debatable how long that may be) AND they are beyond control due to an infinite number of variable inherent characteristics. No matter how many laws, rules or regulations are enacted, some will obey and some won’t, no matter what kind of punishment is threatened. They are the most unpredictable and, therefore, dangerous component of the whole equation. This point has been indisputably proven throughout history and you don’t need a PHD to see the truth of it. Which, again, brings me to my next point:

TARGETS

So, now we have guns and people, and the obvious need for targets. I mean, no one owns a gun simply to show them off or “collect” them… they are for aiming and shooting and, certainly, the intention is that a bullet will strike some predetermined target. Whether or not the bullet actually hits the intended target is of little importance in the final analysis for once the trigger is pulled, anything or anyone can be the “receptor”… collateral damage is inherent in the act of shooting. Once the projectile is on its way, no amount of second-thinking or regret will alter its course… the deed is done and the results are final. Although there were many opportunities to avoid this outcome, the choice has been made and is irreversible. Unlike an insult, a slap or a punch, a gunshot usually causes permanent damage, if not death. Yet, it seems many are able to perform this act with as little thought as it would take to order a Happy Meal at McDonald’s…. WHY?

DESENTIZATION

From my personal observation, I think, as a society (mankind as a whole) has become completely disconnected at the individual level. The “how” and “why” of it would require a separate lengthy discourse and I’m not going to go into it, here. I will say that I think technology (cell phones, computers, violent games, etc), the decentralized, mobile family unit and ego-centric “me” thinking has all contributed to this phenomenon. “You, your feelings and your life mean nothing to me” seems to be the mantra of  today’s society. People become nothing more than disembodied avatars in a surrealistic computer game and can be unemotionally blown away if they seem to be preventing anyone from winning their “game”. Yes, this is a generalization, and, as such, is not 100% accurate but I think it describes the situation fairly well.

CONCLUSION

This may seem to some to be dark and dreary “doom and gloom” synopsis… and, well, it is. To me, this shooting in Tuscon (and the vitriolic rhetoric that preceded it) are all just symptoms of a dysfunctional society. The larger problem, I’m afraid, is much more pervasive and dangerous. We, as a species, are on the brink of extinction and we can no longer afford the luxury of irresponsibly promoting our individual, self-centered agendas. We desperately need to engage in a new conversation that overlooks nationality, politics, money, religion and any other belief system that generates polarization rather than co-operation. And, there is no time left to waste in initiating it… the Gaea-clock is winding down and the “human experiment” is precariously close to ending. Isn’t it time for a change? Will you be part of the problem or part of the solution?

I thank anyone who has taken the time and effort to read this post, and I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough or eloquent enough to get my point fully across. In spite of my short-comings, I think that anyone who has the openness and willingness to understand it will be able to see what I’ve tried to communicate. Hopefully, it makes a difference in your life, and, either way, I’d love you to leave a comment and/or pass this on to others. PEACE!

Woodstock: The Aftermath

As I wrote my post on Woodstock yesterday, I was flooded with an internal dialogue about what happened in the “world” afterwards. For those who were there or were touched by it in so many ways, there was certainly many expectations and dreams that were inevitably formed in its wake. The general consensus was that the “world” would see that a large gathering of humanity (a community of 500 thousand) could not just survive but actually thrive with little or no rules or laws. Could this be a template for the salvation of humankind and the birth of a new “world society” where peace and love were the norm and everyone was able to live and grow without limits or government imposed restrictions? Had we just seen the birth of a “Utopian Earth”  and the beginning of a “Golden Age” that would carry all of us joyfully into the next millennium?

Obviously, none of this came to fruition and we are now, by my estimation, in a far more dire situation. What happened? Why didn’t any massive changes take hold? I have several assertions as to why this event not only didn’t bring about any significant transformation but, rather, may have spawned a negative outcome.

In the history of the drug culture, Woodstock took place when most “users” were consuming large quantities of marijuana and LSD (and many other hallucinogens) and there was a feeling of “family” among most of the participants. We all felt we shared a common set of ideals and that we were engaged in a “war” with the “evil empire” (otherwise known as the “establishment”) and there was an atmosphere of inevitable “victory”: eventually, “they” would all “convert” or die and “we” would assume our rightful place in a fresh, new world. Battle lines were drawn and we were going to “love the enemy” into submission. My first premise is that “the establishment” became fearful of their loss of control (and the security that goes along with it) and events like Woodstock only served to galvanize their  concerns and this caused them to become even more entrenched and proactive. In other words, our best intentions to create a “new world” just brought about a deeper rift and further polarization.

The other major factor that led to the ultimate failure of the “hippie agenda” was the proliferation of “hard” drugs into the culture: cocaine, amphetamines (speed), heroine (mostly brought back by Vietnam vets), etc. These drugs completely destroyed the trust and camaraderie that had so marked the “love culture” as rip-offs and other dishonest behavior became prevalent. This dis-unifying activity completely undermined the cohesion we had all enjoyed and destroyed all the impetus the movement had garnered. As the “enemy” became stronger, we became weaker and dis-empowered. The “movement” was over….

Not only did this kill any hope of any real change, it created a generation that is mired in apathy and inaction, and a deep despair seems to have griped the land. There is no focused energy or even a rallying cry (unless you count the wacko Tea Party)… we seem resigned to a bleak existence marked by endless meaningless political rhetoric and corporate greed. The average guy on the street has accepted his lot and his only consolation has become the hope that he has enough money to buy some beer and keep his cable running. A sad state of affairs, indeed.

I’ve had very little dealings with most of my friends from that era but, on the few occasions when I have interacted with them, I find that most have become the the thing we all feared. They are either entrenched in the “system” or still living some kind of pseudo-hippie, drug-numbed lifestyle. At parties, the main topic of conversation is the retelling of the same old “far out, mind-blowing happenings” we shared in the long-gone past. Very little is ever said about what is going on NOW, nor are there any discussions about what can realistically be done to correct the situation we are all faced with.

I have very little hope that anything can be done “out there” and I’ve devoted my time and efforts to “healing my mind”…. to evolve myself so that I can live a fuller and truly happier life. I can’t control what others do but I can make internal changes that allow me to be an example of what is possible. All real change always starts with the individual.

World View: Fact or Fiction?

As I travel around the Net and peruse the blogs and endless dialogues, I can’t help but wonder as to the real effectiveness of it all… I mean, there are tons of comments, arguments, statistics, chest-poundings and discussions ad nauseum…. and to what end?? It seems to me that this is a kind of distraction, a sort of mental masturbation, that enables the masses to avoid the real issues: How can we ALL live a happier, more fulfilling and meaningful life, here and NOW??

I think it is senseless to argue politics or religion (not a new thought, there) yet there is volumes of this blather all over the Net… does it really change anything?? Has it ever really made a difference?? (except for maybe the temporary feeling of smugness one feels while blasting some newbie who unwittingly posted an unsubstantiated “fact”). And, as for facts, there seems to be a tremendous misunderstanding of exactly what a “fact” is.

First, there is the confusion between facts and “strongly held beliefs”. For example,  anytime, anyone takes a stand based on quotes from the Bible, they are obviously mistakenly confused about fact and fantasy. Any intelligent person has to admit that the Bible, at best, is an epic novel, and, at worst, a compilation of outright propaganda. Although it may have some inspirational value, it was never meant to be a defining treatise. I’m not going to belabor the point here, but anytime a story is passed in in an oral tradition over hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of years, and then is scribed in one language and translated (with many biases and prejudices)  across several other languages, the best one can hope for is a muddied misrepresentation of the original event, if such an event even happened in the first place!!

Secondly, “facts” are often just theories that are put forth by someone who has resarched or studied a cerain subject and then quotes other “experts” as the defining “proof” that their assertion is indeed a “fact”….  anyone willing to be diligent enough to trace back through this self-validating process would eventually see the flimsiness of this particular assertion.

Thirdly, there is the “fact” that is presented as data or “reality”; you know, the kind of garbage we are inundated with by the press and media in an unending attempt to grab our  ever-so-sought-after attention. There is so much untruth and mis-information spewed out by all these sources that, to me, it is impossible to draw any kind of informed conclusion based solely on their offerings. Yet, many stand unwaveringly firm on a position they have taken based on this gobbly-gook… indeed, it has become the basis for a great number of heated debates. As an example, let’s say one was able to somehow be an objective observer, intimately involved in the process of passing some important bill in Congress, and was able to have access to ALL the back room discussions and insider prodding (not to mention all the lobbying and special-interest groups involved), that person still wouldn’t be privy to what the actual thoughts and motivations of ALL the parties involved would be. The best that person could hope for is some kind of incomplete conclusion based on external, variable and biased perceptions. Hardly “factual truth”. Now, take that information, stir in a bit of sensationalization, a tad of self-righteousness, a smidgen of intended bias, dump the whole thing into some politically aligned media blender (word processor… lol) and serve up in humongous proportions to the mostly malleable  public and you get todays “facts”… hardly anything “rock solid” yet it becomes the fodder of an interminable volume of “intelligent, informed discussion”… give me a break!!

This confabulation is certainly incomplete and imperfect but it does reflect a good share of my view on this subject. I hope to expand and clarify this further through dialogue and discussion and I hope you will contribute by posting your comments, thoughts and reflections. veiw