Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to Exterminate the Anthro-Hyena

Actually you can't exterminate them.  They dwell in the depths of life forms everywhere. In good times they are asleep.  In bad times they rule the world, spilling blood copiously. Not their blood  - the blood of their victims.

Homo Sapien
But how can humanity survive this threat? Like Thomas Paine's answer to the price of freedom - it's eternal vigilance.

Vigilance to what? The many ways humankind has chosen the will to power which normalizes oppression. Below is a list of habits that will maintain our relationship to the world and silence the Anthro-Hyena.

1. Question every decision that will affect the most vulnerable.
2. Reject notions of superiority. You are not superior. No-one is.
3. Listen to others.
4. Eschew violence wherever it is.
5. Admit to being vulnerable because we all are.
6. Write a list of all the times you felt oppressed but kept silent.  What kept you silent?
7. Apologize to those you have hurt.
8. Engage in difficult conversations with an open mind and heart.
9. Let go of being right.
10. Ask your inner child for their opinion of who you have become.
11. Know you belong here.
12. Get used to the fact that all who are here belong here.
13. Don't attempt to make others do what you want them to.
14. Take care of your home and all who live in it.

There is no magic in this. It is not a recipe for saving the world. It is a primer for keeping a society civil so that we can live together without causing harm. Be prepared for hard work without thanks. As the poet Mary Oliver says - you do not have to be good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Last Conspiracy Theory

While many hotly debated arguments raise the blood pressure of oppressed citizens, much attention is directed toward the need to get the facts straight. Who is causing what, who is to blame, and how to exterminate them.

All of the previously named culprits – capitalists, communists, patriarchs, narcissists, psychopaths or fascists, are not the cause. They are the carriers of something much more destructive and dangerous.

No you haven’t read about this before. You have never seen it, or heard it, and you won’t. The Anthro-Hyena blends into any group it seeks to dominate and control. It appears like any charismatic professional or business person. It professes an interest in the greater good, single-mindedly through stealth and charm.  The outcome however, to the shock of cohorts and witnesses, is destruction and chaos which occurs long after the Anthro-Hyena has left.

The MO of the Anthro-Hyena, revealed through centuries of revolution, war,  regime and ideology change, is to manipulate humanity by playing on our fears and basic desires. It works like a virus, entering the reptilian brain which then becomes inflamed and puts pressure on the limbic system. Human functions such as reason and language suffocate, unable to work.

Civilizations where people have lived and prospered for centuries endure intermittent episodes of madness and dysfunction where the focus moves away from stewardship to destruction.  This is known as war.

All resources are switched from food, health, community and beauty, to the basic binary of win or lose, kill or be killed, live or die. Civilization itself dissolves into competition, an obsession so ridiculous, mothers enter their babies into beauty contests. Education is rendered down to a series of tests. Infrastructure is neglected for the arms industry. Ruling nations are not progressive, effective or kind,  but simply the ones with the biggest weapons.

While the Anthro-Hyena itself is not limited to the reptilian brain it convinces humanity to discard all other sensibilities learned over centuries, for the bottom line, the lowest common denominator. In spite of the activism and intellect of a few, the Anthro-Hyena has won.

The over-arching narrative has fallen for the sensational siren and shut down public discourse for the masses. Politicians have given up on leadership to appeal to the lowest common denominator, for good reason – the system will sabotage the campaign that is life-affirming, justice-oriented and reasonable. 

Media is hostage to the noise, broadcasting propaganda without analysis. Movies, television shows, rarely play out the cause and evolution of the plot, simply going straight to the effects – explosions, crashing vehicles and pools of blood. Pornography  has trashed love and amputated the limbs of the human body from its final orgasm.

The Anthro-Hyena has corrupted art, beauty, wisdom, love, complexity, democracy and the future.  We are presented with corporate sponsored contempt for life in all its shades and colours. We are the everlasting dementia, looking for the next human sacrifice to be slaughtered for our brief exultation of having won. Replaying our delusional triumph like the circus it is.

Meanwhile the world of human capacities, civil society, literature, compassion and creativity is shrinking. Living communities are replaced with ruins and the continual rain of  bombs for which there is no solution.

No matter how smart, determined, courageous and powerful we may be, no matter how many hearts and minds are destroyed, life is made redundant. No theology, technology or philosophy can stop the fire, the floods and bullets.  The intention is that there be no witness, no argument and no narrative. To put an end to birth. Without birth there is no life, there is no light. Without light all that remains is the singular winner.  The one who destroys any chance of its own death by being the last to survive, by having the last word.

Who benefits from this nihilism? Nothing that breathes or thinks or hopes. There is no benefit other than the ego detached from everything except winning. This is the Anthro-Hyena. The thing that eats into our tender brains as we struggle so hard to conquer the universe, never seeing we have no time to live in it.   

Monday, September 12, 2016

Charter for Compassion: Promoting Peace

"As a 9/11 family member, this topic of peace is profoundly important to me. My brother, Donald Freeman Greene, having hugged his beloved wife and young children goodbye, headed off on an early flight on September 11, 2001 to visit our siblings on the West Coast. He died on that beautiful morning as a passenger aboard United Flight 93. Young men, deluded into thinking that they were acting in accordance to their religion’s beliefs and/or to benefit their people, had taken over the plane in an act of extreme violence. Their intent to use the airplane as a weapon, most likely aimed at the United States Capitol, was thwarted by passengers who came together to retake control of the cockpit." Terry Greene

Read the full article on Charter for Compassion: Promoting Peace website.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Write a list of the tasks you started or finished today. Write a list of the people you helped or who helped you. Write the name of those whose smile uplift your spirits when you see them.  Make a list of the people you worry about or would like to help but don't know how.

Now write a list of world problems you read or hear about in the media.

Which is the longest list?

If the list in the first paragraph is the longest then you are engaged in the process of being human.  If the list in the second paragraph is longer then you need to go back and check the first paragraph. It could be you have not observed all the things you have done, all the people you have helped or who have brightened your life.

All the small things that others don't notice, and the things that are not recognized for prizes or as "achievements", list those. If you washed dishes - list all the times you washed them - breakfast, lunch, supper.

Even the list of those you worry about or don't know how to help is a human endeavour.

Make a list of mistakes you have made and people you have offended. Make a list of the goals you thought you would achieve but haven't. Make a list of all the feelings you have experienced.

Are the world problems still greater than your list?

Now make a list of all the beliefs you started with when you were young. If you still believe them now put a  next to them. Those you discovered were wrong put an x by them.

Right or wrong, all of this is what it means to be human. You are not good or evil, hero or victim, winner or loser. You are not a simple descriptor.

What we read about in the media or books are constructs that help us compare ourselves and our lives with others.  If we forget to engage in our own lives we are digesting other people's thoughts and experiences, some of which will be very well developed.  And some of which are designed to influence the way we see ourselves.

The problem with the world is that it's dominated by propaganda that presents the masses as disposable, as nothing.  The message in media is that we must strive to be somebody, otherwise we are nobody. To be somebody is to be a thing. A carpenter, anthropologist, bank manager, teacher. A thing that strives to remove the human from the discipline. That we must prove to be superior even though we may become more destructive, hurtful and miserable.

Once we give up our humanity and see ourselves as numbers on a spreadsheet, we dissociate from the connections between our thoughts, feelings, and practices developed over centuries of evolution. We judge our worth based on the things we own, we begin to see others as things, as problems.

We are not problems.  We are the ones who can, with reflection and insight, fix problems. Not all of them. Not immediately. But by the way we live and the choices we make, we can explore more deeply, what it means to be human.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Is it possible to create radical change without violence?

"The climate crisis is here, now, but a compromised, corrupted media doesn’t want to know." says George Monbiot (The Purse is Mightier Than the Pen)

Who controls culture? Is it media, public opinion, or money?

Culture is starved of wisdom if we abandon it to the authority of the purse.  If leaders are mesmerized by money they will follow trends. They will believe they have no choice, and what has happened to western culture is the wholesale sacrifice of life to the altar of profit.

The Library of Social Science researchers and scholars have hypothesized a law of sacrifice in six ways, the first of which is "Cultures invent or create ideological concepts that they elevate into “absolutes”— worshiped as the essence of society. But how do people persuade themselves that the ideas their society has constructed are real? "

Propaganda is very sophisticated, and we often can't see how we are being persuaded if not manipulated. Our own desires are reconfigured to lead us to accept horrible outcomes. Like war, for example - do we leave our home and family to slaughter strangers or let the enemy slaughter us?

We are raised to fit into the community, to trust the authority of parents and teachers, who help and protect us, and who will punish us if we don't obey.

But what constitutes  a well functioning society? One that makes clear the rules and laws and where the masses are seen as stakeholders. It's not fear that preserves this but social responsibility and integrity.

The radical change comes from the actions of an observant citizenry that is informed, educated on history and politics, who understands the principles of fairness and the power of inclusion. Those who watch and listen to what is going on around them and weigh that against media headlines. Those who ask who benefits and who choose the greater good, and who do not trust an institution just because it has power.

This would be the seed of the radical - that we practice citizenship and refuse ideological absolutes.

Often what is presented as radical is an invasion of hostile ideologies that persuade us to sacrifice our lives for God, country, communism or capitalism. These require violence and human sacrifice in the thousands because they are a transfer of power.

Whatever is worth defending is that which asks our input and attention, our care and help - to live for it, not to die for it. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Unconscious Bias

Walking around the Farmer's Market on a summer morning I passed two craftswomen engaged in conversation.  What word describes the opposite of misogyny? In passing I chimed misanthropy. The second woman said that is the general term for the hatred of humanity. And the question was, what is the term used to express the hatred of men, males. I moved on because I didn't want to get ensnared in this conversation I had heard from others in different times and places.

I anticipated after the two women concluded there was no opposite to misogyny in our language, they felt that a hatred of men coming from women, was not recognized.  The second woman said it's not fair.

There is no opposite of misogyny because a hatred of males has not been a systemic tool. Women became the possession of men, chattels, and the institutions governed by men created a fear and hatred towards the feminine to justify the power men were given over women.

Less than a century ago, women who spoke out in public, who were engaged in challenging the status quo were often beaten, imprisoned and raped. It was mostly women targeted during the witch hunts. It was women who were trained to be submissive and obedient to men. It is women whose character is whacked in courts where rape is the charge. In domestic abuse cases, up to now, women were blamed for violence inflicted upon them. Our society claimed they must have asked for it. A man who beats his partner claims "she pressed my buttons".  Sexuality for a man is conquest, for a woman it is slut shaming. Doesn't every woman know this? How many more examples of men's contempt for women do we need to know? Southern states that try women who have miscarried for murder? The misogynist attacks on Hilary Clinton?

It was my assumption that the women at the market were feeling sympathy for men who were being attacked by the feminist movement. This made my blood boil. But perhaps they were saying its not fair how women are viewed. Perhaps it was the opposite of what I thought.

Yes there are women who hate men but it's not supported and justified by our social system.  Hate hurts us all on a personal community level, but when hate is used to support the violence towards a whole group of people it becomes a weapon, and weapons we can't see are devastating.

Had I inquired I might have pounced in judgement based on my assumptions.  Emotions operate first. Also I was not invited to participate in the conversation. Had they been shouting then their opinions would be open for comment, the volume entering and changing the environment.

But it's times like this when I feel there is a need for conversations about civil society and social justice, and a movement for adult education. Questions such as when do expressions of hate become a crime? When should the public intervene? In what ways are we implicated when misogyny, racism and homophobia are expressed?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Naming the Disease - Social Atomization

Henry Giroux writes in his recent Truthout article titled "Donald Trump and the Plague of Atomization in a Neoliberal Age" of Leo Lowenthal who warned back in the forties about the atomization of human beings under a state of fear. "What he understood with great insight, even in 1946, is that democracy cannot exist without the educational political and formative cultures and institutions that make it possible."

This confirms my sense that we are trying to fight a social disease with rational arguments while the supporters of fascist movements just want a messiah who will deal with the big problems so we don't have to, but who have no idea of the danger in giving unconditional power to a single ego. A functioning democratic society can be annoying and tiresome but it has many conditions that challenge power.

In a free and democratic society that pays taxes for education, justice, and social protections for the most vulnerable - we are continually being updated with facts that challenge assumptions of how we can instinctively know the leaders we pick will protect us. That we have social standards that can't be broken. Or that we will be okay as long as the economy is okay. Or, even that we have progressed and would never push a woman in front of a train because she was wearing a headscarf.

In the fifties and sixties I was given an education based on social justice. It wasn't in headlines but it underscored all that I learned. It didn't guarantee fairness or security but assumed we had a responsibility to care about one another. We didn't read Giroux, Lowenthal or Arendt, but we knew of Socrates and Orwell.

Yet many who graduated from this era were quite happy to throw it away because it wasn't perfect.

Now we are at such a stage of civil entropy we shrug while finance capital rules and public benefits are eroded. Those at the bottom are left without a means of earning a living wage, without hope, continually ground down by endless poverty and denied human dignity.

"Mass fear is normalized as violence increasingly becomes the default logic for handling social problems." Giroux writes.

If we stop to read this age and condense all the hostility around us, we will see that life itself is the enemy of fascism. Fascism silences conversation, it wants unquestioned obedience, human sacrifices, the glorious sunset, robotic armies.

Totalitarianism wants power without the human stain, without competing organisms, without reflection or question or thought. It is the muscle without a brain, The sperm without the egg. The knife without flesh. The future without compassion. The masculine without the feminine.

The corporate media keeps telling us this over and over again, in a thousand different scenes and sound bites.