SOCIAL TRENDS & PERSPECTIVES

Do you remember when you were young and you used to play the stare game to see who could stare at each other the longest without blinking? Granted, it was a challenge physically, but did you ever recognize, let alone remember, the feelings that came and went while you were doing it? Looking into someone else’s eyes is one of the first steps to becoming intimate with someone. And when you did, did you stop? Did you feel paranoid, self-conscious, or maybe even embarrassed? Or did you enjoy it and even get a rush from it?

There’s a lot more to intimacy than just facing off. Although, if you asked anyone of the younger generations what they thought intimacy was, the number one response you would probably receive would be, “Having sex.” So, what is intimacy? How is it different now than from what we’ve known it to be in the past? Does the younger generation really have a different understanding of what it means to be intimate from previous generations?  I believe so. Our culture has gone through a dramatic shift in how we perceive each other and how much we will let others “see into us.” What’s the difference? How could this come to be? Depending on how old we are and how we were raised, we may, even now, still have no awareness or depth in our understanding of what it means to be intimate with someone. There are many changes in the way we live that have contributed to the change in how we perceive and understand it. Let’s look first at its definition and then the history that brought it into its current generational context.

The word intimate comes from the Latin word intimus (1630s) meaning “inmost, inner most, deepest” and "closely acquainted, very familiar." We can see very easily how most people can assume that this can relate to anything sexual. Since many people are primarily physically oriented to their world, this may be the only way that they understand how to allow another to know them. Being solely oriented to the physical may be simply due to the inexperience of not having learned and accepted life in its depth yet.

Even in light of their having been experienced in intimacy, they may still purposely shut down from exposing their deepest darkest secrets to anyone else as a result of being physically or emotionally wounded.

We can all understand the second concept of being wounded but the first reason, youth, is becoming more the case as our culture socially and technologically “evolves” us into becoming more emotionally isolated. The augmentation of emotional isolation is becoming a very potent cause for many of the growing human atrocities that are taking place. Let’s take a look at how and why we have been “progressing” in this way.

If we turn back the way back machine to about sixty or seventy years ago, we see whole families living together under one roof. Imagine, if you will, that you’re twelve years old and living at home with your family. The house is fairly large. Living together are your parents, brother and sister, a pair of grandparents and an aunt and uncle. The house has four bedrooms and one bathroom. Your parents live in one room, you and your siblings share the second, your uncle and grandfather the third and your grandmother and aunt in the fourth. In one house this will be close quarters, especially with nine people sharing one bathroom. Before the 1960s, this was not uncommon.

With so many people living together, especially scattered through three generations, everyone is privy to many more varied aspects of each other’s lives than we might realize. If we were to “throw back” to living in that type of environment, many of us would feel extremely uncomfortable with the feeling that our privacy is constantly being challenged. Privacy and our luxury of having it involuntarily regulates our potential for intimacy. How? Living apart, as more and more of us do, there are more aspects of our lives that are not exposed to other members of our family. This is precisely the point that has enabled any talent, let alone the need, for intimacy to dwindle into the shallowness that it seems to be growing into.

The fact that living as an extended family together in one house does expose many of its members to each other’s private business is a catalyst enabling the necessity and our opportunity to learn, grow and become intimate with each other. If we live in close quarters with other family members, we are going to see and learn things about them that we wouldn’t have had we lived separately. This “enforced proximity” makes it necessary to learn behaviors and social protocols so everyone can comfortably live together without the threat of what we now perceive as a fear of embarrassment or exposure. Learning to be intimate in this way develops not only depth but comfortability in dealing with close personal matters that family members who live apart might never have the necessity or opportunity to experience with each other. The fear of exposure that I speak of is not only the fear of having someone know intimate details about us but the fear of them being used to manipulate us, almost like blackmail. However, this fear goes much deeper in leaving us feeling out of control with intimacy issues because when so many of us live outside of a close family group we don’t have the opportunity to learn how to handle them. When we live in close proximity of other family members, it teaches us how to deal with intimacy almost to the point where handling it becomes second nature. The younger generations who have moved out at an early age have never been trained or exposed as how to deal with the embarrassment that comes with feeling exposed, embarrassed or out of control.

Another dimension lost by living separately is that children raised in a close proximal family situation have the modeling of the adults in the family to show them how to deal with issues of intimacy. In this they learn that the world won’t end if they feel embarrassed and they witness the responses that they may choose to use to help them feel comfortable with it.

Even though technology and the internet seem to be “keeping people connected,” that connection appears to be a quality devoid of any depth in terms of how people relate to each other now. The connection seems to be one of following each other and aspiring toward independence, self-sufficiency and projected influence over others rather than any expression of anything deeper or internal. In messaging or texting very little of anything personal emerges other than a sense of belonging to a group or party affiliation. This is most evident in the political bashing that occurs on Facebook. What is the least obvious to the average individual are the clues that are lost when we relate to one another in person. That is, expressions, body language and the overall feel that can be picked up from each other in person are completely lost when either messaging or texting. Most of us have seen how easily our meaning and intention can be completely misinterpreted through the generic transcription that messaging and texting provide. What’s both sad and frightening is that our youth not only lives in their phones and cyberspace but perceives this method as being an “expression” of what they perceive as personal emotional depth. Having never been raised in closely enforced proximity to their family and others, how could they ever know that anything’s been lost?

Another contributor to the fading of intimacy is speed. The faster we move, the less time we have to think or assess what we’re feeling, let alone where it’s coming from or why. These days, everything has to be done at top speed. If you’re not fast, you’re accused of being not smart enough, slow on the uptake, have no ambition or even lazy.

It’s sad but many years ago salesmen were trained how to create the “bum’s rush” to push their customers off kilter so they would be inclined to make hasty decisions in the salesman’s favor while not understanding the implications or limits involved in what they were buying. When was the last time you encountered a used car salesman? We all know that when we are in a rush or get pushed into a rush, we often forget or not notice things that might be important. How can we recognize and listen to our feelings when we always feel like we’re being pushed or in a lather trying to get things done at lightning speed? At lightning speed, thoroughness becomes a virtual impossibility. These days most people have no patience with themselves, let alone with anyone else. Hype has become the heart’s enemy.   Intimacy requires patience.

The ability to know and feel intimacy has all but disappeared from our socially learned pantheon of recognized behaviors. Machismo and posturing have taken their place as the primary defense mechanism and as a distraction from the exposure of our perceived embarrassment or exposure. Due to the loss of becoming unable to experience or understand intimacy, almost all measures of humility, compassion and appreciation have rapidly been replaced with feelings of entitlement, outrage, persecution and belittlement. These operate as a distraction from our perceived exposure simply because we’ve never learned to handle the intimacy that allows for their proper integration and development. Most of the younger generations, although they’d never admit it, are now afraid of intimacy since their inability to handle it now signals such a threat for embarrassment through the exposure of their sensed but unrecognized lack of experience in being open with people. Because most of the younger generation hasn’t had the experience of living in the close proximity with an extended family and learning how to deal with intimacy, their perception and scope of it has been reduced to seeing and feeling it almost solely as an expression of sex.

Being intimate with another includes trusting others with our hopes, fears and perceived inadequacies while putting ourselves at the mercy of their potential manipulation and hoping instead that they will express their love by allowing our frailties to go acknowledged and unabused. Perhaps much of the violence perpetrated by so many is a reaction to their feeling of isolation and being exposed to the point of having to trust others by being intimate.

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Throughout our lives we all come across people that we really like being around. When we are around them we seem to feel up, confident, encouraged and safe. For many, we never look any deeper than just how we feel. Just the fact that we feel good when we’re around them is enough to keep us satisfied with our rapport with them and coming back for more. These are the people I will call the motivators.

Then there are those people we tend to avoid like the plague. We see them coming and we literally turn and move in a direction that takes us out of their purview. All we know is that after we deal with them we feel, deflated, depleted and discouraged. They seem to have a way of making us feel tense, doubtful, limited and sometimes even paranoid or aggravated. I call these people the disablers because they all seem to deflate or undermine anything we feel, say or do.

As a small codicil, I will also add that some of these people have a way of making us feel that we either owe them some sort of attention, we should feel sorry for them or even that we might feel obligated to fix whatever situation they may be distressed by.

Then, there are other people who circle within and around our radar who have a minimal effect on us as they might be benign, unimportant or superfluous as we have not yet had any dealings with them of any consequence. I will call these inconsequentials. Since we have minimal connection to the inconsequentials, I will not cover them. But we enjoy and seek out the motivators, and since we have the most difficulty recognizing and dealing with the disablers, I will cover them first.

There are many ploys that the disablers use, and I have given them each an applicable name, so you may separate a recognizable modus operandi for each of their rapports. Their motive for acting the way they do will, essentially, all be the same. This I will explain later after we have covered a few and you can begin to see a similar underlying motivation in their patterns.

The first is the ruler hawker. This disabler gets you on two fronts: past and future. When you tell them what you’ve done or are going to do, they cite all the rules and protocols that you should follow or should have followed before your action takes place with the understanding that it would only then be successful and “proper.” They may say this directly or quote themselves has having followed these rules themselves while also implying or outright stating that it is your responsibility or duty to do the same. The importance of the action you intended or have already taken is now reduced to the rules rather than the excitement or pleasure of the action itself. In doing this the rule hawker believes they have acquired power or superiority over you. All it does for you is deflate your enthusiasm, make you feel like you’ve missed something and convince you that the action you took or are about to take is somehow inadequate or improper.

The next disabler is the problem seeker. This is a future oriented assault. This disabler looks at what you intend to do and tells you what could interfere or go wrong with it. What you might hear from them is, “You know what might happen if you…?” or “How are you going to handle…?” or “What will you do if…?” or “How will so and so feel about what you’re going to do?” They pose so many contradicting possibilities that you begin to think that your intended action hasn’t a prayer for success. You come away from a conversation with them discouraged, dis-enthused and doubting the validity of what you’re intending to do. This disabler will often cover themselves by saying, “I’m just offering some constructive criticism” justifying their assault and preventing feeling their own guilt in knocking you down.

The next disabler is the disqualifier. This disabler is happy just to poke holes in whatever you’ve done, what you’re about to do or what you’re even thinking about doing. You’ll receive comments like “You can’t do that because…” or “They won’t let you do that…” or “You don’t have enough (money, time, resources, support, courage, stamina, etc…) to pull this off.” Everything you verbalize receives a circumstance or condition that is likely not to be met by you or anyone helping you.

The next disabler is the responsibility assigner. This can be applied to past, present or future circumstances. What you will hear from them is “You know that if you’re going to do that you’re going to have to take care of….?” or “Now that you’ve done that you’ll have to answer to…?” or “Now that you’ve chosen to do that you know you have to…?” or “This is something you should have thought about before you…?” This type of ploy seems to be designed to make you regret whatever you’ve done, what you’re doing or about to do. This also is a ploy, conscious or unconscious, that makes the verbalizer feel as though they have power over you or that they know better than you.

The next disabler is the expert echo. This can also be applied to past, present or future circumstances.This disabler tells you what they’ve read, heard or have been shown by professionals that assumes authority over whatever endeavor you’re dealing with. The result is designed to make you feel inadequate to your task.You will hear things like “In college they showed me that…” or “The guy on TV was from so and so and he showed how he became successful with…” or “My doctor said that the only way to overcome that is to…” and many other statements couched with the implication that they know the best way to do whatever you’re doing, have done or are going to do and that it will only work if you follow their lead and “expert” advice.

The next disabler is the Justifier. This also applies to past, present and future. This disabler makes you feel that you must justify or validate what you’ve done, are doing or are about to do. From them you will hear “Why would you want to do that?” or “You did what? Why?” or “What were you thinking?” or “Are you kidding me? You did that?” Their goal is to put you on the defensive, deferent to their authority and make you feel that you must justify your reasoning to them. This is de-energizing, demoralizing and depleting in its effect on your enthusiasm and motivation.

The last disabler I will cover is the sacrificer. This disabler makes it seem that what they recommend, or proffer, is given at their own expense and that you should feel that you must acquiesce, so that their “sacrifice” might not have been done in vain. We often see a variation of this disabler in a parent saying, “I’m doing this for your own good” or “it’s only because I love you that I do this for you.” Changing the focus toward the disabler’s sacrifice distracts the child from perceiving any inadequacies that the adult thinks might be exposed if their “sacrifice” isn’t acknowledged and accepted. If the receiver of the “sacrifice” is an adult, they will usually feel obligated to accept what is given at the risk of being seen as unkind or selfish if they don’t.

All these disablers offer a few common threads. First, and even if they’re objected to, they consciously belief that what they are offering is helpful. There may also be an underlying desire for recognition or gratitude. Second, as humans we all want to have an influence over the people in the world we live in. Sometimes this influence overlaps into a need for control as a compensation for feeling ineffective or inadequate in our own daily lives. Third, if others can convince us to align with the limits that they’ve created for themselves, they can feel safe and validated when they’re around us. The deeper side of this third thread is that if we don’t align with their ideas and methods, they may think that we could expose what they feel inadequate about and then they’ll have to deal with some sort of shame for being less than what they think they should be or are. It doesn’t matter if the exposure is real or imaginary. The effect of the feeling will remain the same.

All three of these threads, whether conscious or unconscious, are based on looking to others for approval or acceptance. More precisely, values that emanate from external sources are seen by them as having more validity than their own personal experience.

There can be many variations of disabler, especially, since their characteristics are often paired in different combinations. These seven disablers and the three threads they follow are not only easy to spot but very easy for us to slip into when we’re feeling the least bit under confident. The idea of following an external authority over our own inner compass brings us to an interesting divide.

In living our lives, we live from one of two perspectives. Either we believe that the world controls our fate and that we are not responsible for our circumstances or that we choose our own fate and we are accountable for our circumstances. When we see the world as responsible for our fate, we employ what psychology calls an exterior locus of control. When we believe that we control our fate we employ and interior locus of control. As humans, we usually have a mix of the two depending on what circumstances we are the most sensitive or insecure about and how much confidence we may have in ourselves at the moment.

Generally, those who have low or no self-confidence and who ascribe to an external locus of control believe that they must either respond to the authority of others or they will have told themselves that they are above the authority of others. Contemporarily, this is the land of should’s, supposed to’s and those who believe that they will never be able to live up to what the world expects or requires of them.

Consequently, aligning with external rules and protocols then gives the people who follow them a perceived permission to absolve themselves of any accountability if what they are told to do becomes improper or ineffective. Offering what we’ve learned ourselves may come from the heart but offering what others have told us is proper or appropriate comes from a defensive feeling of based on responsibility or subservience. Conversely, if we feel good about ourselves, we have no need to influence or change others. This brings us to the motivators. Their authority is, essentially, internal and based on their own experience rather than what they’ve been taught or told. They may recognize and follow what authority may be externally appropriate but generally follow their own inner promptings for what they choose to do.

From motivators we hear things like “good job” or “now, you’ve got it” or “you can do it” or “I knew you had it in you” or if from a parent “I’m proud of you. ”Motivators emphasize support and the positive and encouraging side of tasks done by the people they encounter. They uplift and energize us by the things that they say. We have no call  to feel ashamed, inadequate or undeserving. On the contrary, disablers garner just that; shame, feelings of inadequacy and undeservedness but most of all, they deflate the enthusiasm and willingness of their “victims” to meet the trials and challenges of daily life. Because most of the disabler’s activities are proffered as being “constructive criticism” while even stating that they’re “just being helpful” or that they “just want to make sure that you’re aware,” they easily slip in and sabotage the confidence of the people that they are claiming to “help.”

Motivators follow their own authority. That is, their personal experience serves as the validator for what they feel or think is appropriate for them. Because they have learned to have confidence in their own counsel and experience, they feel no need to assert themselves over others or to validate themselves by seeking external approval. Because they feel comfortable in their own skin, they are able to allow themselves to give compliments and encouragement to others should they have a mind or heart to. Odds are, they are giving from the heart but not for any recognition or from any need to cloak their own perceived inadequacy through “service.”

Disablers come from a place of perceived self-inadequacy or shame over their own experience or lack of it. Almost all of this is unconscious. If a disabler is able to convince you to agree with their “recommendations” or cautions, attention is distracted away from their own history and they feel less threat for risk of exposure. They believe that this will keep them safe from outside judgment while also giving them the perception of power over you. By acting this way, they are, essentially, doing to you what they have been trained into, namely, following others to gain approval as a valued and respected (loved) individual. Another benefit for the disabler is that if they can convince you to follow their “advice,” they feel needed and useful; something they likely didn’t feel when they were growing up.

Whether you feel that you’re a motivator or a disabler, please understand that we all go through both of these at some time in our lives but eventually settle into, primarily, one or the other depending on how we feel about ourselves at the time and where we’ve learned to draw our authority from. Generally, those who look outside themselves for validation, and whose confidence in them depends on the responses of others, are more likely to become disablers. It’s important to understand that many people who swear that they trust themselves unconsciously only align themselves with what others around them espouse as the truth and what is “right” and “proper.” They honestly believe that what they are deciding is by virtue of their own guidance. Those who have learned to become confident in their own perceptions and who validate themselves through their own experience gravitate more toward being a motivator. The urgings of others have little effect on what they decide is true for them. The key to becoming more one than the other lies in our ability, or inability, to trust and validate ourselves based on our own experience rather than what we’re told or taught by others. Currently, our educational system is almost totally geared toward encouraging children to look outside of themselves to know what is “right” and “proper” for their clan or social group. The well-being of their own heart never enters the picture and is nowhere to be found in the new curriculums. The outgrowth of this is political correctness.

These days, following our own inner leanings as opposed to addressing ourselves solely to needs of others has become personal characteristic that induces a label of selfishness leading to the withdrawal of support from our clan or social group. It takes courage and a strong heart to overcome the need to belong rather than to align ourselves with our own intuition and inner urgings, especially, if following our own drummer denies our group’s expectations of us. This form of social blackmail has depressed and silenced many a good soul.

To be a disabler means that your Self-Trust has been shut down and that you are letting the world tell you who you are and who you should be. To be a motivator means that you have a strong heart, listen to yourself, and trust yourself and that you don’t need to convince others that your way is best in order to validate your own self-worth.

 

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Our Constitution guarantees us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our Bill of Rights and the following amendments dictate that we shall all treat each other equally in any public venue whether through race, religion, ethnicity or social “class.”

Although it’s not possible to legislate morality, the law does make provisions and consequences for abiding by our Constitution and its laws. However, until an offense is observed and officially objected to, we are all left mostly to our own consciences to determine what actions must be taken and how far we can or must go in aligning with those Constitutional dictates. Yet, in the Constitution there appears to be a lot of room for interpretation…or misinterpretation depending on what perspectives are taken and what level of perception exists within our personal and cultural dictates or, namely, each of our clans. It appears that equality among our citizens is not enough for some. Diversity is no longer simply a tolerable perspective but seems to be developing into a problem involving an expectation of deference. Contemporarily, it has ceased being regarded as an allowance and now appears to have become a requirement amidst what behaviors and preferences are expected or required among our citizens and depending on our clans and our affiliation with them. Diversity is no more regarded as a permissible allowance but now a required deference. So, what has happened to our concept of equality?

First then, what is diversity and second, how should it be regarded in relation to our citizens and how we treat each other? To understand this, we must first look at its meaning and then how it is being expressed and can be best applied.

Diversity, as a derivative of divert from the Latin divertere (14c), is “to change the direction or course of; change the aim or destination of; or turn aside or away." Simply put, it is simply changing direction. But as with all words of any import, time and culture add dimensions that are not often understood or agreed with, especially, for those who have a classical or literary education of which most of us, especially recently, don’t. In our common language we interpret the word as simply being different but in our deeper and perhaps unconscious perception we receive its meaning as a need for turning away from our own familiar direction and preference.

Our current confusion with diversity expresses itself in concert through several different perceptual avenues; inequality, the social erosion of thinking for ourselves, low or high cultural context, religion and lack of individual courage.  Let’s first look at inequality.

Almost everyone has a need to belong and be accepted as they are without any requirement to meet standards that might be different from what we have become familiar with or trained into. In the same way, different races and cultures, invariably, differ from each other in what is preferred, trained and then expected by our respective clans. When another culture or race intermingles with the long-time standing tradition of the cultural or race oriented behavior of our country, we feel an almost automatic resistance toward their behaving or their doing things any differently than what we’ve become familiar with. This not only extends to new changes between a traditional culture and a commingling culture, but even to anyone of our own culture entering our environment that does things differently, consequently, assuming that we will adjust to them in any way. Now, let’s take a look at thinking for ourselves.

There is a growing social erosion of thinking for ourselves that is becoming more and more prevalent every day. We seem to have experts and pundits espousing social rules for our behavior in every daily activity we find ourselves involved in. Doctors have received Carte Blanche in dictating their rules about our health. Advertisements tell us what we must do to smell “right,” look “right,” be smarter, faster, cooler, more intelligent, more desirable and wealthy. There is a drug that’s appropriate for every ailment under the sun independent of any causative circumstances or actions we should consider ourselves. On every level we’re being told what to think, feel, and what we should want. The insinuation is that if we don’t follow the socially prescribed rules we are labeled as odd, inadequate, unlovable, undesirable, and should be abandoned or ostracized by socially “acceptable” groups. There is something wrong with us if we even support the “wrong” political party. We’re slowly being trained out of thinking for ourselves. We’re being conditioned to consult an “outside source” for even unimportant decisions for fear of being criticized, shamed or ostracized by our peer group. On top of that, everyone of any influence is being investigated for anything that appears to be wrong doing. We’re now seen guilty by our accusers until proven innocent. We are being made to feel paranoid over the validity or properness of any action or inaction we take. We’ve been trained to become afraid of expressing ourselves in public for fear of reprimand or shame, especially, on college campuses. Now, let’s take a look at cultural context.

Our Western culture, especially in the U.S., has developed a pattern of values based on independence, individual accomplishments, self-reliance, personal strength and responsibility and being “actualized”, as a psychologist would call it, to be our level best independent of any outside support or assistance. This type of life perspective has been termed as belonging to a high context culture.  It is based on individual effort and the personal gain of recognition from a person’s peers and clan. Until recent years this has been the primary goal and perspective of most Americans.

Over the last ten or so years this perspective has been being slowly ebbing into a belief that others and the family are more important than any individual efforts or accomplishments. It has also been rapidly becoming more and more of a politically correct expectation that individuals should sacrifice their own interests and well-being in favor of the family’s interest and their clan’s well-being, political or not. By definition, psychologists call this perspective of a race or culture low context. That is, that the group is more important than the individual. In low context cultures the family or “clan” is dependent on the individual’s alignment for its structure, stability and well-being. Low context culture also has been gaining in a growing a current presence in our population now that is largely due to the tremendous influx of Hispanics into our American culture through an overwhelming emigration from “impoverished” countries.  Consequently, African Americans, seeing the Hispanic culture as having the potential for increasing their own influence and advantage over their host country, have recently aligned themselves in a similar perspective. For their elders, it is simply the resurgence of low context cultural traditions that were slowly buried during their assimilation into slavery as the African culture has, historically, been a low context culture. For the younger generations, it is perceived as a method to achieve social and economic advantage for their families and clans. Nevertheless, these minority cultures have serendipitously “co-focused” their objectives, mostly unconsciously, but still hold a conscious desire for their own separate advantage over the culture they have immigrated into whether introduced to it through enforced slavery, as with African Americans, or escaping their own national poverty as with the Hispanics. It should be noted that the earlier African American generations began with a low context culture but since their immigration here, their offspring very quickly acclimated toward high context objectives. This split between generations accounts for the mixed response toward aligning with the similar low context Hispanic drive toward achieving family and clan advantage. It should also be noted that the Christian base of our own population also professes to align with the values supported by a low context culture and have provided a virulent climate for the low context perspective to propagate. Lastly, let’s look at individual courage.

Having courage depends, essentially, on the propagation of one of two perspectives. First, that the individual has faith and trust in their own abilities and resources or, second, that the individual has the belief or hope that they will be taken care of and supported by the clan or family that they’ve aligned themselves with. The latter perspective has achieved an accelerated dominance in our culture due to the reduced tendency for people to actually think for themselves and the increased tendency for them to make their decisions based on externally dictated protocols.

All these factors may individually seem like they are inconsequential as to how we relate to other people who demand an attitude favoring their view of diversity when we relate to them. Yet, their combined effect produces a fullness of influence from so many seemingly different angles that it seems overwhelmingly natural for us to acquiesce to what’s being demanded of us. The fact that have been lulled or even trained into allowing, almost exclusively, external influences to determine how we act and believe is the primary reason that we have become convinced that it is our responsibility or even duty to sacrifice our own potential and well-being in favor of capitulating to the advantage others might gain over us; intentionally driven or not.

To look to the values and expectations of others who inhabit the world around us to the exclusion of our own gut feeling and common sense sabotages any semblance of personal autonomy or self-determination. Diversity has become a tool geared toward enabling the tyranny of the weak and the “less fortunate.” With the rise of a socially contrived requirement for acquiescing to the demands of this new diversity we have gone well beyond the tipping point for being able to save any autonomy, personal dignity or individualism that we may still possess. Despite the claims of our professed “superiors,” including those hiding behind the cloth of religion, we are not responsible for the fate or condition of others.

Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel

In this age of political correctness, racial profiling, special investigations, public assassinations and homogenized intellect- uality, is it any wonder that we have such difficulty talking intelligently with anyone without having to identify which side of the trending news or social gossip we align ourselves with? It seems that we must we pledge allegiance to a particular party, team, special interest group or underdog minority before anyone will consent to have a honest conversation with us. Now that we are just beginning to realize our privacy has essentially been obliterated, do we really believe that the Thought Police are listening? Does the Ministry of Peace have spies in our neighborhood groups? Is Winston Smith no longer the only one who must admit that two plus two now equals five? There seems to be a trending unconscious paranoia and public obsession with maintaining safety in anonymity while appearing to be in alliance with the socially perceived “winning” side. Why?

We seem to have become overly concerned with how others see us. The perception of our public image has become a very powerful focus. This has been strongly driven home by our witnessing the media unearthing every little thing that anyone of any notoriety has ever done. Everyone and everything is being investigated for some form of corruption. As a result we have become blame and prosecution crazy. Why and how has this become the dominating American focus of our time? I believe that this stems back to a “systemic” halted growth in our process of maturity and emotional development. How has this happened?

As we grow as children, we are trained to regard our parents as the authority for what we can and can’t do in our daily lives. For the things we want to do but are forbidden by them, we tend to do them anyway and then remain on the lookout for our being discovered by them. This trains us to pay more attention to what our parents perceive and believe is important than what we believe is right or appropriate for ourselves. As we get older and as our parents are either unable or unwilling to relinquish control over our lives and all along preventing us from maturing past them, we cut loose from them by transferring this feeling of authority to the outside world. Now the police, government, our bosses, our psychologists, our contemporary thinkers, our religious leaders take the place of our parents dictating what we can or can’t do in our daily activities. Over recent years, the media, with all its pundits, experts, priests, pastors, officials, social “elders” and investors seems to have been substituted for this parental authority.

This has augmented a tremendous undercurrent of paranoia in the average person. Most everyone seems to be petrified of being exposed for some social or legal infraction causing them to say and reveal little about themselves and what they’ve done or not that might seem to compromise their social standing. This has radically changed how we deal with the public. How does this progress?

These days it is commonly accepted that to converse with a stranger we must wade through conventional greetings that don’t really connect to the other person but only get their attention. This encourages us to believe that our safety with them can be assured and a comfortable format for interchange can be established. Saying “How are you doing?” doesn’t really want to know how they are doing but “tests the water” for our interpersonal comfort with them. Conventionally and with no connection other than this superfluous formality, it’s easy then just to move on if the comfort level doesn’t feel safe or comfortable. But these days this protective superficiality has extended well past initiating a connection deeply into the continuation of our conversations with them to test where the other person’s values rest. We now feel that we must ascertain who and what they align themselves with and what kind of authority or investigative media they might conform to. Even our educational system seems to have also been radically affected in that virtually no balance between progressive or conservative speakers has been allowed in college settings. Diversity of culture has become a sweeping demand effectively censoring individual opinion if it differs with the prevailing tendency toward deference in favor of socially acceptable views. Minority and special interest groups have made us feel that to express an opinion differing from their interests qualifies us as being racist and warrants admonishment or prosecution of some sort.

In our contemporary landscape social bonding has been evolving into a required alignment with others who express social dissatisfaction with any entity that expresses views that threaten their emotional security or exposes individual preferences to social scrutiny. Bonding with others through pain or dissidence is and has been an unhealthy way to approach the world. It does not allow free expression under the threat of banishment in the face of keeping up our public image.

On the surface the pendulum of free expression has reached an extreme in the suppression of allowing individual preferences to even reach the light of day under the threat of exposure, negative labeling, banishment or even persecution and prosecution.

Have we taken the requirement to align with diversity too far? Are we really threatened or offended by any opinion that even hints at diminishing or limiting any minority group’s advantage? How much handicap parking must we endure? How many languages must our official documents be translated into? How much lower must we reduce educational and skilled job requirements so we’re not seen as racist or discriminating? How much Affirmative Action must be allowed to penetrate our standards? How much must we restrict the expression or exposure of our accomplishments so those who are either challenged too lazy to work don’t feel less about themselves?

Are you offended? Yes? Well then, good! Now, get over it! You may now drink from the water trough of accountability that my offensively perceived questions have led you to. It will encourage you to dilute the indignation you’ve garnered against those who have not changed their behavior and not allowed you to project your own guilt, frailties and prejudices on them. This awareness makes it possible for you to not only recognize but to deal with your issues yourself instead of projecting them on others thereby becoming part of your shadow. Contrarily, are you not offended? Great! You are obviously not projecting anything on anyone and feel comfortable being accountable for whatever you are experiencing with me or anyone else.

As a contemporary culture we have taken the requirement for deference to the socially decreed underdog and self-censoring much too far. It’s time to allow exceptional effort and accomplishment to have full expression and exposure. It’s time to allow ourselves to express our pride and preferences to our peers and the public about who we are, what we’ve done and can do and what we like and don’t like without social emotional extortion threatening us with banishment, labeling, ostracization and persecution simply for being different from the prevailing group. Our current socially demanded and excessive expectation of modesty has become a lethal poison to our creativity. Becoming our brother’s keeper and provider has become a sanctioned monkey on our back. The concept of being of service to those “less fortunate” and in need has metastasized way out of proportion relative to the balanced importance it should have in our daily lives. It’s time to bring back the acceptance of some selfishness. It’s time to not feel blackballed or neglectful of others when we simply think for ourselves, especially, when it runs contrary to the paranoia contained in contemporary popular opinion. The age of political correctness has reached and passed its peak. We must catalyze its decline if we are to regain our self-respect and humanity…for ourselves.

For most of us, mainly in our current social context and deeply imprinted within our conscience is the belief that to be a good person we must do the right thing. It is also assumed that society knows what that right thing is and is watching our performance at any given moment to see if we are measuring up. When we do the right thing, there arises a feeling of satisfaction within us in relation to how our society and peer group sees us. We feel supported and secure in that we are accepted and have a sense of belonging to our clan. Yet, there also arises within us an undercurrent that gives us a gnawing and indescribable feeling that something is missing. It is as if something has been ignored or omitted relative to our own preferences and wishes. If we take the time, we then we sit back and feel inside ourselves. In that moment we realize that we’ve sacrificed a part of our own needs and preferences to the benefit of others. We might even feel a little cheated. But, we tell ourselves, we’ve done the right thing.

There is nothing wrong with ministering to the needs and wants of others. If we’re going to interrelate within our culture, it’s important that we also have sensitivity to its needs and preferences. But, by the same token, we must also be sensitive and responsive to our own needs and preferences even in spite of feeling pressed into sacrificing those needs in favor of doing the right thing for others. We must also do the right thing for ourselves, even in the face of being labeled selfish by those who expect our service. Both objectives must be present in equal measure within us if we are to feel balanced and peaceful in our daily pursuits within our culture. However, our current cultural perspective has been changing such that its emphasis has been leaning more and more toward service to others taking precedence over our own personal welfare. This meaning of doing the right thing must be shifted back to a balanced perspective between public needs and personal needs. However, in light of the direction of our changing educational system, this is not likely to occur any time soon. With this in mind, let’s look at where the evolving meaning of do the right thing has been progressing toward.

We’ve all heard this expression time and again. But for each of us, it registers differently depending on how and by whom we were brought up. But what do we really mean when we say the right thing? To define this will seem crystal clear for some of us but nebulous at best for others.

Rather than getting involved in a whole plethora of definitions, suffice it to say that the majority of us perceive the word right as meaning what is considered to be proper, moral and socially acceptable. That being said, there are many perspectives to be taken depending on our culture, religion, beliefs and past experience. This will make our expectations for ourselves and those we hold dear extremely diversified. However, any of our reasonings will fall into one of two categories; what we’ve been taught and what we personally feel internally.

In our modern-day world our concentration on life through the internet has encouraged us to be much more interactive as opposed to if we were left to our own devices without it. That is, we’re being groomed into putting much more stock in what the world outside of us believes and espouses to be true and proper rather than what our own heart may dictate. And although we’d also like to think that our children have been raised by us to think for themselves, the reality of the message they’ve received is if I am acknowledged at all, I must do as I’m told and what I feel or think comes second to world beliefs. The parental perspective of this message, usually held unconsciously, is do as I say not as I do.

Our culturally promoted world view, whether we are conscious of it or not, has evolved into the belief, or maybe just an accepted assumption, that a good person is to be altruistic or sacrificial to others by nature. A bad person is someone who is assumed to be selfish, self-absorbed and not considered to be a contributing part of his clan. In other words, altruism is defined as "having regard for the interest and well-being of others (1853)” and selfishness is defined as “self-seeking, self-ended and self-ful (1620s).” Unfortunately, our current society has been morphing into seeing any perspective in terms of only black or white. For many, the blending of the two is virtually impossible. We’re left with being judged as either good or bad.

Giving back to our society has become the gold standard for what is expected of us when we deal with the outside world. What we do in private, for all intents and purposes, is ignored by our culture unless it directly affects someone in public. Then, it receives judgments and consequences. This “manifesto” has been drilled into our psyches by the prevailing religious organizations who have their own control oriented agendas under the guise of the morality peddled throughout the centuries. The belief that God, Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed or Krishna are to be followed flawlessly as the only way to insure a rewarding afterlife and that there are special people and books who “know” the secrets held by these people. The expected public belief is to accept that there is an absolute universal perspective that dictates the behavior and perspectives that we all must abide by…with the exception of those who supposedly “know” the truth and administer rewards and punishments, of course. Bottom line, we’re trained into believing that the authority for how we run our lives is dictated by others who “know” how the world should be. Still, they were brought up as we were; following and doing what they we told. However, at some point they became aware of the manipulative dynamic in force, jumped on the bandwagon and assumed a position among the “knowledgeably elite.”

So, what is the right thing to do socially? It is whatever the elite dictates that allows them to maintain control over the masses (us). This funnels favor, opportunity, advantage and finance in their direction at our expense. So, what is the right thing to do personally? This depends on where we take our authority from. For each person it will be different. Do we subscribe to the absolute universal perspective peddled by the elite which almost always channels benefit in their direction or do we follow what our inner self or heart tells us is the best response for maintaining self-respect and domain over our own life circumstances? The former insures our safety and belonging in the clan. The latter often leaves us banished and without support as punishment for not ministering to the needs of everyone else before ourselves. To choose the former is easy but squelches our own preferences and creativity while promising safety and security through believing that others will support us if we fail. The latter activates our preferences and catalyzes our creativity but provides no social safety net if we fail. Oddly enough, these same scenarios resonate with socialism and capitalism, respectively. Think about it. The more we allow group principles to take precedence over whatever our own heart tells us, the more we move into becoming a socialist culture. One only has to look at other socialist cultures to understand the direction and circumstances that this migrating belief system will present us with.

To the extreme, doing the right thing has socially almost become synonymous with being politically correct. This has been cleverly developed into a weapon for coercion by many special interest groups also climbing on the bandwagon and looking for advantage through engendering guilt and emotional blackmail with our deprecating labeling and “excommunication” as its price for non-acquiescence.

So, what to do? We must each make a choice. Are belonging and social support the most important commodities in our lives? If so, we must align with what our culture demands of us as the right thing to do. We may gain belonging and support but there’s a price. We must forego our own personal preferences and individual creativity in favor of the needs and preferences of others.

Are being self-directing and individually creative the most important commodities in our lives? If so, we must align with what our heart tells us is the right thing to do. We will gain our independence and ability to express our creativity as we please but there is also a price. There will be no belonging, support or social safety net available to us if we fail.

One last point. Of the two choices, the latter requires more courage.  Who do you know who has been successful and has done everything they were supposed to do or were told to do? Odds are…no one. People like Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nicolai Tesla, Queen Elizabeth I, Albert Einstein, Joan of Arc, Jesus, Marie Curie, John Lennon, Janis Joplin and Nelson Mandela, to name just a few, have all followed their own path listening to their own heart and inner calling. Do you want to be successful? All we have to do is listen to that small voice inside us, muster up our courage and do the right thing.

What Has Happened to the News?

A commentary

When I was growing up, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw and all the stable anchors in news used to tell us all about issues and events throughout the world. It was all comprised of facts, figures and information about the events and issues. There were virtually no partialities, no political agendas or special interest groups involved in what was reported. The important thing that I find so glaring as compared to today’s news stations is that, then, there was a horde of reporters sent throughout the world gathering facts, figures and tangible information almost as if they were under oath to be factual and speak the truth about everything they saw and heard. Attendant with each thirty-minute broadcast was also only about seven to eight minutes of commercial advertisements. Things have changed. Today’s news appears to be VERY different in many ways.

The dictionary defines news as the announcing of current events and their attendant information and details.  Although we say that we have become an information driven society, we receive reports with a few morsels of information which are then followed by a deluge of opinions and perspectives that take center stage in almost every report. When a news report or “breaking news” is announced, the content is usually one of three stories which has been beaten to death from every possible angle and perspective. Panels, pundits and experts that most of us have never even heard of expound opinions and personal thoughts based on their own political affiliations and financial agendas. And even then, once the discussion has started, it often devolves into a shouting match between opposing pundits on the panel. What has happened to the “reporting?” Where did all the facts go?  Is it really any surprise that “fake news” has been metastasizing across the media like a forest fire in California?

We have become deluged by our media with a tsunami of personal opinions, thoughts, perspectives and political agendas based on each station’s political and financial supporters. How can we know what’s really going on? Is the truth that we must listen to all the differing stations and partisanships and make our own decisions based on our intuition? The only problem with that is that our culture has short circuited the use of doing this with promoting political correctness and an expected approval of only culturally specific affirmative action. But when you point this out, you’re called a racist, a homophobe, a radical or some other blanket term used to invalidate any thinking that might contradict the prevailing underdog’s group objectives connected to the issue. To not speak out leaves your position in society superseded by those in culturally preferred minority groups and leaving you feeling taken advantage of. To speak out or object makes you a target by putting you on the defensive. In accepting this, our altruism has become perverted. What to do? How can we maintain our rights without getting trampled by every underdog group looking to be one up on us?  Our values are being funneled into a narrow view of the world supporting the expanded entitlement of the most current and loudest protesting underdog organizations. And if we don’t visibly support their demands, we are looked upon as non-compassionate or racist.

For a culture espousing the necessity of scientific research to back every fact concerning our existence, we have certainly undermined our world image and perspectives with a barrage of one sided intangible and unprovable beliefs and idealist assertions geared toward manipulating popular opinion by corporate administrations and partisan leaderships over our social actions and perspectives. The “news” presents the perspectives and the minority groups enforce them.

Little known to most people, almost all of the major news entities are owned by one corporation which, incidentally, is politically aligned with the “left” or a liberal ideology.  This then promotes a “subliminal” barrage of information geared toward herding the American public into aligning with a perspective that perpetuates a radically pre-planned myopic view of the world; sort of a mass mind control. If we are all channeled into focusing on what each group or public figure does socially that contradicts the politically accepted and fabricated view of what is considered “right” and proper in the world, we miss the larger scheme of what is really occurring in current events. In short, the media has succeeded in conjuring a tremendous distraction from becoming aware of current events in the world through encouraging the investment of our attention into petty social minutia. In allowing this to occur, we become the perpetrators of our own brainwashing program. We’ve allowed ourselves to become the victims of a large “find the pea under the cup” scam watching the pea under the cup and ignoring the manipulator and his agenda.

So, where does this leave us in understanding what’s really going on in the world? Where? Out to sea without a paddle. With virtually no solid references toward evidence or factual data, we are left with using only the opinions and perspectives of those chosen by the media to rely on for our knowledge and understanding of world events. This leaves us totally out of touch with the reality of things. Through the media, those in power have a totally attentive, obedient, responsive and eminently moldable population. Now we are ripe for herding and fleecing. Only those of us who think for ourselves can see the reality of things. But we are rapidly shrinking in number as our children’s education in history, mathematics, and literature is becoming homogenized into an Orwellian story line emulating the news and social protocols of 1984. But by progressively shrinking in number, are we becoming helpless in effecting any change back toward life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Let’s hope not.

Tremendous attention and outrage has been applied to the act of bullying. Unfortunately, almost all of the energy has been directed toward reacting to the act with punishment for the perpetrator and sympathy and counseling for the victim. Its contemporary handling has been focused primarily on the prevention of the action, yet, almost no attention has been given to the causes that would encourage one to do so,to what the victim broadcasts to attract his perpetrator or what kind of education or training would contribute to its prevention for the perpetrator and the victim.

Nothing happens at random. Because we live and grow in the physical world, we deal with our experience from an action/reaction perspective. For most of us, these understandings and perceptions are understandable and seem even reasonable. But, closing the barn door after the horses have escaped does little to prevent their escape in the first place. In the same light, punishing the perpetrator and counseling the victim from a victim perspective does little to prevent future occurrences. Their predisposition toward bullying or being bullied emanate from a deeply ingrained behavior learned in childhood. For us to be effective in our handling of this type of event something more must be come into play than to simply to punish or console. I’d like to offer some options for understanding but I must warn you ahead of time. Those who have been bullied, have children who have been bullied or have done the bullying themselves may take great offense at what I’m about to say. Please put aside your indignation and allow this to unfold in your understanding before you fold your arms and shut the door on what I’m about to say. It takes two to Tango. It also takes two to bully and to be bullied. Both the perpetrator and victim are implicated in what occurs, whether we or they are aware of it or not.

Let’s first start off by examining the old adage “birds of a feather flock together.” The more modern version of this is “like attracts like.” We can certainly see that people who like or do the same things will have an attraction for each other and are often found in the same groupings of people. Artists attract artists. Business people attract business people and so on. But can we also understand that people who are, say, very frugal with their money will also be drawn to people who throw money away? Yes! Why? Because both character types have a learned problematic attitude toward the handling of their money. In this light we can also say that people who are overly compassionate also attract people who are not and users always seem to find people who are easily used. It’s just a fact of life that we also attract our opposites. Why? Because an imbalance in issues draws us together more than which side or polarity of the imbalance we take our perspective from. Included in this perspective is the understanding that extroverts and introverts are opposites and are also attracted to each other in the same way. Both have an opposing tendency in how and how much they will tend to allow or seek contact with the “outside” world. Opposites attract as nature’s way of attempting to rebalance an issue that has become polarized. However, people who are a little more evolved and finely balanced than we will, most likely, not be perceived by us as being extroverted or introverted. For them, attention will be given to the degree to which they do or don’t project according to the appropriateness of the response required, not that they are opposites. We won’t see the polarity because their action will be in line and appropriate for what is needed.

For those of us who might not be quite as evolved, and that’s most of us, people who either advance into or retreat from contact will be perceived by us as being either extroverted or introverted. Let’s take this one step further. Bullies will appear to us as being more extroverted and those who are victims will appear to be more introverted. The issue creating the “difference” between them, outward projection or inward retreat, can be as strongly polarized for us as we compare male to female; active and receptive again reinforcing the fact that opposites attract. Our awareness is triggered by the perception of extremes. To us, the issue appears secondary.

So, now that we can see that like attracts like as much as opposites attract as a function of the issues not because of the sides or extremes we take in or perspective. The sides we take are simply symptoms of an issue that is unbalanced. Let’s move on and fill in some other factors in the dynamic picture that’s forming.

In examining how we handle contact with others we must look at character. We can initially assume that our tendencies toward exhibiting certain types of character may be either innate or hereditary. To some degree, I will agree with this. We most certainly seem to bring some forms of character and tendencies into life with us. But this may not be the only reason for our exhibited behaviors. Our tendency to either project toward or retreat from contact with others can also be trained or encouraged in us by those in our early environment such as parents or siblings. If we project a behavior that displeases someone in our early environment, their negatively perceived reaction may encourage us to refrain from using that same behavior, not only in the family, but in other circumstances outside the family. If we feel is frightened or intimidated by someone in our early environment, this will also intensify our reluctance to express ourselves the same way within and outside the family nucleus. Someone who is not innately introverted may then be shown that introversion may be the best behavior to exhibit within and outside the family to assure their emotional and physical safety. Parents who are extremely authoritarian or exhibit fits of anger when they are not pleased may very easily discourage their children into introversion thereby preventing them from exhibiting their innate behavior for fear that they will elicit unpleasant reactions. The child’s innate emotional strength has a lot to do with their responses. We must also understand that a strong spirited child may act out against discouragement of unwanted behaviors by the parents and not be subdued.

Contrarily, a child who may be innately introverted may feel encouraged by their parents to be more extroverted simply because their parental encouragement may give them enough confidence and courage to step outside their comfort zone, and perhaps even past ethical boundaries, to try new things. This will also be true with abusive parents when the child is taught or modeled that abusive behavior is appropriate to get what they want.

In both cases, hereditarily and environmentally, we’re working with nature verses nurture; also known as genetics verses environment. We all respond to both but in many varying degrees depending on their mix. What is environmentally trained depends on the mix between how we as parents respond to the behaviors we perceive in our children, our own level of emotional maturity and the emotional strength and resiliency of our child. We have the power to create balanced adults, narcissistic monsters (spoiled children feeling entitled) or people pleasers (fear induced submissives) depending on our behavior and what we encourage or discourage in our children’s behavior. Bullying is often a consequence of a pairing between apparent narcissists and people pleasers as opposites. Both the parent and child may be either. A submissive will create a narcissistic monster and a parent behaving narcissistically will create a submissive.

Children learn by example. They not only react but also emulate what they observe as “effective” behavior. The “effectiveness” will usually be paired with a purpose or intention, whether they are conscious of it or not. If a child sees that kind and tender behavior elicits a loving reaction, they will emulate that behavior to receive that response from others. If they see that an angry or abusive behavior elicits submission to their preferences, they will emulate that too. Whatever behaviors appear to work in getting the desired response from others will be emulated. A child’s emotional patterns are usually set by age three. An important factor in the development of their character is to realize that the young child as yet has no understanding as to whether their behavior might be nurturing or hurtful. At that age appropriateness never even enters the picture. All they know is that what they see projected by an adult or sibling achieves a result they may want.

There is one additional factor I’d like to talk about which may seem totally unrelated but bear with me. I will tie them all up shortly. This is the fact that animals can sense fear in other animals. When they become afraid they emit pheromones and are simultaneously catalyzed into a “fight or flight” response. This pheromone can be sensed by other animals and has a primary influence on whether one animal will choose to attack another. As part animal, humans have the same tendencies to sense and to emit these pheromones relating to fear. But now it is almost always an unconscious “recognition.” But there is an additional factor that humans have that animals are believed to not have. That is the potential to be able to think about possible future outcomes. In additional to instinct, fear can be generated by our minds by the perceived possibility of what can happen. When we as humans feel the fear, we also emit the pheromone. If we now connect this with a child who is about to be bullied, we can see that his release of pheromones and his fear response concerning what could happen can be sensed by a bully whether the bully is conscious of it or not. It is my belief that a bully will only bully those whom he thinks and senses that he can bully. The important factor to understand is that the bully may operate not only from a perspective of entitlement but also from fear. If a bully feels somehow threatened, they will bully or attack someone who appears or feels to be unable or unwilling to defend themselves. This will go a long way to alleviate any feeling of powerlessness or inadequacy on their part.

There are two types of bullies. Those who feel entitled to their safety and preferences and those who feel the potential loss of them.The first group is raised by parents who cater to the child’s every whim and create a feeling of entitlement within their expectations of the outer world. These children almost always exhibit an absence of compassion or consideration for others. These are the narcissistic bullies.

The second group is usually the recipient of authoritarian or abusive parenting. The modeling of their parents has taught them that the only way they can maintain their safety and preferences is to act aggressively toward those who trigger their feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy. As a consequence of the feelings of worthlessness encouraged by their parents or siblings, they will also tend to seek out, mostly unconsciously, those who emit fear pheromones and feel defenseless and those whom they feel that they can bully and believe won’t fight back. Bullying them into submission enables them to cloak and submerge their own feelings of inadequacy and feel the power they believe they lack. However, the feeling is gained only temporarily. The feeling of power quickly evaporates. What is truly ironic is that due to their unwary projection of their own sense of powerlessness and worthlessness they will constantly attract those who will answer their imbalanced perception of themselves with reminders of their own inadequate feelings. (natural entropy – nature’s tendency to neutralize polarities through their attraction to each other or opposites attract).

Both fear induced bullies and the “victims” of bullies need, essentially, the same kind of counseling; encouragement for worthiness and adequacy. However, the trained narcissists will require a different kind of counseling than bullies who operate from a fear induced aggression. The narcissist feels little or no fear relative to others. They’ve been trained into believing that they are entitled to whatever it is that they prefer in spite of what is brought to their attention by others. Counseling for them would consist, first, of awakening some sort of understanding and acceptance that others have and are allowed their own preferences if different from theirs and, second, that their total lack of awareness or attention to the needs of others should somehow be considered a deficit. The first factor would be mildly difficult to correct as it would require the narcissistic bully to relinquish some of their preferences. The second factor will be much harder to induce since it is irrevocably tied up with the ego. The older the bully, the more ingrained and embedded the feeling of their entitlement as being appropriate. With young children, the change is difficult but not impossible but with adults, the change seems only to be a distant hope. Remember, we are emotionally “coalesced” by age three and by the time puberty is added to the emotional mix, our ego boundaries become rigid and almost impenetrable.

We can now understand where the sense of entitlement comes from but where does the pre-emptive strike come in? When the fear induced bully feels triggered by the victim into feeling his unworthiness and inadequacy, the urge to strike is born. This activates the old adage “the best defense is a good offense.” If the bully can induce submission in the victim, the attention is drawn away from the bully’s own feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy and focused on the power they feel over their victim. If this doesn’t subdue these feelings, their actions will be over-emphasized. The stronger their sense of worthlessness and inadequacy is, the more intense becomes the bullying. The more elusive the submersion or cloaking of the bully’s worthlessness and inadequacy becomes, the more violent their bullying.

So now we have a perspective understanding of the two types of bullies and the victim. All three have their issues applicable to the creation of the problem. It takes two to Tango. Yet, consoling the victim and punishing the perpetrator does little more than to push their feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy further underground. In fact, consoling and punishing has the opposite effect. It intensifies the issue because it often ignores and suppresses its causes. It is common knowledge that anything that is emotionally compressed surfaces more violently in other unexpected areas and circumstances.

Bullying can be prevented in our children by making sure there is a balance between Self-Trust and confidence and their consideration and compassion for others. There must be enough Self-Trust to build worthiness and feelings of adequacy but enough humility and consideration for others to keep their interaction with others balanced and congenial. This must be taught if we wish to decrease the incidences of bullying. This may require some adults to receive some form of counseling if they are to prevent passing on this emotionally destructive and debilitating pattern to their children.

With advent of the media’s blossoming controversy about fake news and the rendering of misinformation by them and private sources we have felt a growing frustration in attempting to find out what’s really happening in the world and obtaining a fair and honest rendering through journalism and news reporting. With the added intensity over the differences in our political landscape and those utilizing it for manipulation, our belief and trust in what we are now being told has diminished significantly. Do we believe what we hear? Who do we trust? Do they have a vested interest in what they’re telling us? Who owns the media? Are they politically biased? Prejudiced? Are they giving us the facts? “Alternate” facts? Misinformation? Who should we put our trust in? The answer has finally and essentially come to the fact that, more than ever, we must now trust ourselves.

This may seem simplistic but it’s been a long time coming. With our social structure being flooded with so many authorities, experts, pundits, licensed providers, vetted officials, approved representatives, isn’t it only natural and inevitable that we must eventually reach a saturation point in our dependency on other people for advice and permission to do only what’s generally accepted by our peer group? Doesn’t it seem like there are so many conflicting edicts presented by so many groups we’ve come to trust, yet, they almost all tell us that we must be or do something other than what we feel? Today salt is good for you. Tomorrow it’s not. Today, one politician is a criminal. The next, they’re a hero. The majority of doctors say this drug is a miracle. The next day we hear of class action lawsuits levied by lawyers on behalf of people who have been irreparably damaged by them. Who do we believe? Who can we trust? The writing on the wall begs for us to begin relearning to trust ourselves. Relearn you say? How can this be? Aren’t we a self-sustaining and self-responsible culture? Haven’t we been trained to listen to and trust our own intuition and feelings? The answer is no. We’ve been trained by our parents and the media to seek outside of ourselves for the answers to all of our important questions.

Through being browbeaten into believing that all the important answers about how and why we are to live our lives comes from an outside authority, through omission it’s been strongly inferred to us that our feelings and intuition can’t and won’t be validated, proven, vetted or authenticated by others. We’ve been trained to put all of our faith into the scientific community and the proofs that it requires. There is a perpetual drive for evidence, evidence and evidence. We must only accept proof, validation and verification by others giving us permission to act even if it doesn’t feel right. Why have we allowed ourselves to believe this? It’s safer. We can be accused of less if we can validate who we are or what we are doing by following the rules and requirements of the social status quo. The underlying expectation is, and to most of us this is unconscious, that in doing so we won’t have to be responsible for the outcome of our choices. If we do something that someone disapproves of, all we have to do is point the finger at the accepted authority and we become vindicated and faultless. We’ve done what we’re told was proper. We’re blameless. We followed "the rules." We can now expect to be loved.

If we view the universe as a self-correcting system, we must understand that all things change and evolve. The snowballing of fake news and misinformation is simply occurring as a self-correction that the universe has been slowly and naturally energizing  as a re-balancing much like a market correction. Not that it is in any way intended, although there are many of us that believe in intelligent design, but that, according to its own nature, energy “seeks” toward simplicity and conservation of itself. Our focus outside of ourselves has reached such an extreme that the pendulum must now swing toward the side of personal and internal judgment simply in order to re-balance itself. The "rub" is that it must also return us toward being accountable for our actions and inactions. We will no longer be able to remain blameless and will now risk the possibility of not being loved or included in our chosen groups, clans or families.

Moving from being externally aligned toward being internally self-directed will seem foreign to many of us and even frightening to some. We have been so indoctrinated into listening to what comes from outside of ourselves that trusting our own feelings and intuition has come to seem unnatural and even treasonous toward the society and culture that has trained us toward, essentially, remaining subservient and obedient to itself. We’ve been relentlessly bombarded with the belief that we are responsible for the welfare of others over our own…even if subconsciously. This outlook heralds all the way back to colonial times when we actually needed the help of others simply to survive. Then, this easily fell in line with Christian principles claiming that we are our “brother’s keeper.” But circumstances change over time and so do the prevailing traditions that evolve from them. So now, when it comes to our contemporary emotional and psychological health, nothing could have evolved further from the truth. Although we claim to be self-sufficient, we do need others to see ourselves “objectively.” We have gravitated so much toward a selfless and personally sacrificial extreme that we are now all in perilous danger of losing ourselves totally simply to obtain the approval and acceptance of our peers through acquiescing to their parroted and, now, obsolete traditional judgments. Yet, this makes us feel safe and blameless. The ironic part of this is that everyone is looking toward each other as an authority which amounts to only each others opinions gathered from everyone else… No longer does anyone actually have or know the necessary truths. Through accepting this mindless echo as our standard for well being, we have simply become the blind leading the blind.

The breakdown in the media is simply one more superficial indicator of how over-invested we have become in the opinions and judgments of others. The recent assertion by our new president promoting “America First” exemplifies a tacit undercurrent moving us toward returning to a sense of balance nationally. We are in dire need of bringing our feelings and intuition back into play as being a valid form of information used for our choices and direction. Our blind acceptance of the need to validate everything scientifically has obliterated the awareness and validation of our own worth except in the context of social service and responsibility. We need to begin to allow ourselves to be selfish at least to the extent that we are able to regenerate ourselves before being subjugated to the socially expected demand of service to others. “Doctor, heal thyself!” We must regain a balance between being responsible to ourselves before we can become effective in being of service to others. A drained social worker is of little use to anyone.

So, now, the recent explosion and exposure of fake news and misinformation is, essentially, providing us with an unexpected side effect and open door encouraging us to reacquaint ourselves with our own feelings and intuition while showing us the necessity of giving ourselves permission to trust our own judgment in spite of the historic and overwhelming pressure levied on us by external authority. Isn’t it funny how life always brings us back to trusting our own heart and intuition? Yet, building the courage required to live according to them is, more often than not, ignored or even buried under the fearful possibility of being socially outcast for non-compliance.

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Politically Correct is a term which is relatively new but stems from a perspective eons old. To put it simply, being Politically Correct is when you refrain from speaking from a perspective that might offend a social or political group even if your perspective is a fundamental principle that you ardently believe in. But then we must look at what might be considered offensive and determine if preventing someone else’s feelings from being hurt is actually our responsibility. We now must question where we draw the line between being actually assaultive or damaging and merely being expressive. What now happens to our right to be expressive? Does someone’s right to feel safe or secure now supersede our right to be expressive? There are many factors that contribute to how this may play out in our daily lives such as mixed company, political settings, proximity of children, vulnerability of participants, laws, customs, traditions and a whole host of other venues that may be used as a premise for the demand of its support or negation. Where do we begin? How did we arrive at this point? Probably the best place to start is our culturally progressive evolution toward tending to looking outside of ourselves for validation and approval through putting the importance of the feelings and opinions of others over our own. In this, self-effacement has become a required norm rather than an option. Here an example would be best in keeping with clarifying what we’re dealing with.

In my recent participation in a primarily spiritual group I encountered a circumstance that exemplifies the dilemma we face in understanding Political Correctness and how it can positively or adversely affect the participants in a situation.

The scenario occurred in a weekly meditation group that usually begins with good spirits, playful bantering, discussion of political and social events and relating personal encounters from the previous week before our sessions begin. The moderator was already present as I entered. No one else was present. Greetings were exchanged and a discussion ensued replaying some of the political and social issues and perspectives that had highlighted popular concerns during the week. Our discussion progressed to potential alternatives to actions that might be taken to ease some of the concerns people generally felt. At the peak of an engaging part of the discussion an older gentleman entered the room and shuffled to a seat. He listened for a few moments and then commented that the conversation was upsetting to him. He then stated that “the good lord had put us here to love one another.” I answered that that is just his opinion. He then stated that he didn’t want to be in this vibration and left the room. The moderator said he was sorry as the man left and then others entered the room. The usual bantering and joking ensued and we soon moved into silence for the beginning of our session. Before we began the moderator told the group that he’d like to apologize for his part in upsetting one of the participants who had left the room and asked that in future sessions the participants restrain their energies and expression as they entered the room to prevent disturbing other members in the group. The request was met with silence. It was obvious that this had put a damper on the elevated energy that usually permeates the group. We conducted our session and the group broke normally at its conclusion. I left very quietly while being pensive about what I had experienced. It had disturbed me but I couldn’t quite figure out why. It was a while before I came to understand what had actually transpired.

Let me first start off by saying that it is my choice to be either insulted or complemented by what someone else says. I must take responsibility for my own reactions. I really can’t blame anyone else for what I internally feel or generate myself. Therefore, I have no right to complain that someone has verbally hurt me even if I let myself buy into what they’ve said to me or about me. What I feel is my responsibility not a function of what someone else does or says. This being said, I am also not responsible for what anyone else feels as a result of what I say. They also have no right or room to complain. There is an old childhood saying that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” That alone says we either have or should have control over our own feelings and well being short of any physical contact. Let’s move a little deeper.

Our culture has become infected with a trending feeling that we must “dumb ourselves down” so others may feel comfortable and secure around us if we even think that they might feel frightened, jealous or intimidated by how we express ourselves. This perspective can very quickly become a slippery slope. It is a type of suppression that lends itself well to manipulation from within the cloak of political correctness and social etiquette. Psychologists call this the tyranny of the weak; those who use helplessness or infirmity as a guilt inducing tool evoking the relinquishing of our personal control and self-preference. In a crude fashion I can liken this type of behavior to someone dressing up as a beggar to panhandle in order to prevent having to get a job or a person who feigns sickness in order to evoke sympathy and special favors. Their behavior and assumption is geared toward us giving them deference in a number of ways. Currently, in our culture, we have become so brainwashed into believing that we are responsible for everyone else that when we do what’s good for ourselves we’re viewed as selfish or narcissistic.

I’m not promoting emotional anarchism as there are many instances where kindness for the frailty of another may be called for. But there are those of us who use that frailty as a tool for manipulation. Hypochondriacs are a prime example. And there are those of us who use the frailty and helplessness of others as a platform for their self-interest and our manipulation. We see this through guilt inducing tactics in blood drives, charity organizations, pet rescue commercials, feed the children commercials and more all insinuating that it is our responsibility to take care of those “less fortunate” while encouraging us to feel guilty if we don’t donate. A political example of this is “affirmative action;” the manipulation of one group to the advantage of another. The pendulum of who we should feel responsible for has swung way to the “others are more important than we are” side. In politics, I believe this is a stark reflection our population’s reaction and cheering on of Mr. Trump’s “America First” over the continued draining of our own country’s resources supporting every country who “whines” at us complaining about their woes and needs for rebuilding after they’ve done irreparable damage to their own resources themselves.

Now that we’ve done some exploration and laid some groundwork for how and what political correctness might encourage, let’s move back to my group experience expressed previously.

Was the older gentleman wrong in expressing his discomfort in remaining at the session? Not at all. He said what he felt and took action that reflected his feelings. He acknowledged his feelings and acted according to what he thought would be best for himself. A mature and commendable action.

Was the moderator wrong in apologizing for his part in the elder gentleman’s choice? No. He also made a decision based on what he felt and took action by informing the group of what he wished for his group in future sessions.

Were my feelings about what occurred wrong? No again. Although it took a little while before I clearly understood the dynamics of what had occurred. None of us had ill will at heart. Just preference based on what each of us had felt and decided based on our own previous and individual experiences. I doubt any of us felt manipulated or pressured toward any kind of action beyond our own choice as conditioned by our own historical experience.

I have not gone back to the group. I feel that if I can’t freely express myself there that it would not be a place for me to flourish or feel comfortable. But again, that was my choice based on my own preferences about how I’d like to live, whom I’d like to interact with and to what degree of freedom I’d like to have in doing so.

The important part of all of our individual decisions is that we didn’t take the actions of one another personally. Had we done so, blame, insult and all the other imagined insults would have led us toward taking immature and insecurity based manipulative action in order to exercise control or save face. Since we all remained responsible for our own feelings, the experience simply resulted in our individual choices leading us to put ourselves on an individual path comfortable for each of us.

If we are honest with ourselves, political correctness becomes unnecessary. In my opinion, political correctness is simply a manipulation and self-deception under the guise of needing a required personal sacrifice or suppression of one’s expression…yours or someone you’re “acting on behalf of.”

So the next time you hear the words politically correct, take a closer look. Is someone or something being shielded from the light of day or the truth? Is someone benefiting from the suppression of someone else? Odds are, most likely there is.

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fear-1Quietly sitting in a meditation group, a question was posed by one of the members. The question asked what significance fear has in our lives. At first it seemed like a simple question but upon deeper consideration I realized that it held tremendous influence over the way I and others felt. This led me to attempt to, first, define the feeling.

Most sources defined fear as sensing and reacting to danger. But now this led me to search out the meaning of danger. The earliest meaning I could find comes from the 12th century French dangier meaning “the power to harm, mastery, authority and control.” So, essentially, fear and perceived danger are a sense or belief that we are somehow out of control or in a Fight or flightposition where life and others have power over us. Why would being out of control evoke such an intense feeling? Granted, fear is a primal feeling and involuntary reaction innate to our animal natures. But that only relates to the immediate and impending physical consequences of survival. We as humans know fear as having a much wider and more powerful influence over our daily lives. So, where then does this power come from? I believe that it is trained into us beginning with our earliest ability to think.

As children and before our metal capabilities to think are developed, we have not yet developed the discrimination between self and other so what we feel deprived of or  assailed by only seems to register as a feeling of pain or discomfort to which we simply react by crying. At that point the fear response, other than concerning our primal survival, has not yet formed as we need to have the experience of pain or discomfort, pair it with the perception of a threat coming from outside of ourselves and then create a retrievable memory of it. Memory is solely a function of the mind existing in linear time. Until we develop the capacity to think, that dimension has no relevance to us yet and hence no memory. Yet, at that age, having the experience of pain or deprivation creates a future trigger response in our animal natures to its next occurrence. Once the mind is formed and time is perceived, fear can now have a solid perceivable reference point for which it can generate feelings about future circumstances. So what are we actually saying? That animals gain an instinctual bad-feelingfear through the experience of immediate circumstances and that humans gain this too but we also develop ability to project far into the future and create fear based on “wouldn’t it be horrible if” through the power of our minds. In short, animals can feel fear in immediate circumstances but we humans have also learned to project it way into the future.

Our next question, logically, must be “how and why would we learn to do this?” I believe that our tendency to do this comes from being trained to believe that we must control ourselves and our circumstances if we are first, to stay “safe,” and, second, keep our personal world in a static state through the belief that circumstances can remain unchangeable. Even in light of the fact that we honestly know that security is an illusion, and this is still an unconscious knowing for most of us, we still consciously hold an irrational belief that the world can be animal masteryheld in a static state and that we should be able to control the rest of the world and others in it. But now, we have to ask “where did this irrational belief come from?” The answer is that we’ve been taught by our parents to expect to be able to control our circumstances. As children, how would have been able to know any different? At that age, we simply accept it as fact because our parents tell us it is so. What’s sad and disconcerting is that many of our parents still believe that this is so as they were taught to believe this by their parents.

At this point you’re probably asking yourself what fear has to do with eclipsing the heart. Right? To understand this we must first recognize that the heart uses feelings and intuition as its medium of exchange for communication. We first feel and intuit and then thinking is used to put it in a comprehensible form we can recognize, explain, create a judgment about (preference) and then commit it to our memory. What we think is an afterthought. While feelings and intuition are innate to humans, thinking, or our mental facilities, are all learned. This occurs after we are born through our exposure to the physical world within the landscape of time (past, present and future). In other words, we come into this life with feeling and intuition fully in operation already but skill in thinking must be acquired and developed before it can be used.

Feeling and intuition, the heart’s non-descriptive form of bringing our attention to something, is forever delivering us urges and impulses that are neither comprehended nor explained until they are subjected to the separative discrimination of the mind. Feelings arise in a moving wave and intuition occurs in a flash. It is not until the mind springs into action that they become “solidified” as a judgment of preference specifying whether we’d like to approach or avoid the experience expressed by them.

strategy-1As our mental capacity develops more and more and our childhood physical world begins to take dominance over who we are and what we pay attention to, our feelings and intuition slowly become submerged under the monumental weight and emphasis on thinking. Thinking gradually becomes the strategic and dominant force determining virtually all the choices we make. When our mental functions change the channel to fear, it short circuits all of our considerations for how we choose to act…or not with “wouldn’t it be horrible if.” Our feelings and intuition no longer even have the opportunity to have an influence other than the fear generated by the mind through “wouldn’t it be horrible if.” In this way fear totally eclipses the heart. Other feelings and our intuition are still there but essentially crushed under the weight of our fear invoking mental gymnastics.

Granted, the fear that’s triggered by fight or flight encounters (innate animal survival instincts) is essentially unavoidable. But the fear that’s generated by our “wouldn’t it be horrible if” is something that can be reprogrammed. Remember, it’s only a mental perspective that has been trained into us. It can also be replaced by reprogramming ourselves to say and feel “wouldn’t it be great if.” All we have to do is consider the beneficial aspects of whatever circumstances we feel intimidated by. It’ll take work and time but in the long run the physical and emotional benefits far outweigh the tension, anxiety and stress triggered by the “wouldn’t it be horrible if.”