“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
– Robert A. Heinlein

Vital welcome (top photo)

I am getting really sick of helplessness – which is growing so fast now as to be perhaps the only serious challenger to mass-stupidity, for signature phenomenon of the age.

You know why helplessness is so frustrating to me? Because it is stupid – and I mean that in an absolutely technical sense. The reason that so many of us are feeling helpless and thus hopeless nowadays is very simple – we have decided that our emotions are more important than our reasoning, and so we keep on investing in false tricks to feel better, while steadily behaving in such a way as to make our problems grow ever worse.

We have somehow collectively and yet also secretly decided we can’t really handle the truth – we refuse to put the information we know, into a structure which would make it useful for our conduct – and then – this is the really tricky part – we all pretend-away this denial – giving one another mutual license for our shockingly obvious foolishness.

As long as everyone does this together – pretends that the world is nothing but a dizzying array of vast impersonal forces which inevitably grind us down like grain under the wheel – we can all enjoy feeling like helpless victims together, without ever having to face the way our decisions harm others who we will never see or even hear about.

When we all feel helpless together, we all decide on (and again, offer one another mutual license for) a policy of sociopathic abandon.  “Clearly, there is really no point at all in making that small obvious sacrifice before me, because that tiny good will inevitably be drowned in the harm caused by those more selfish than I.”  And just like that – we go directly to mass-predation.

When we put on that sad pathetic posture where we rush to assure each other that it is enough just to maintain and “cope” with our (entirely chosen) inevitable failure, we are turning away from actively embracing a steady cycle of learning and improvement in our understanding attitude and behavior, which alone would help us create increasingly realistic means and hope of solving our challenges together. With this choice we almost lackadasically create the vast hopelessness which enables our mass cop-out – sorry – I mean our tragic helplessness.

The first step is a Lulu

You want to feel more hopeful about change in the world? It’s easy as can be – just give up something you know is harmful. Make a principled sacrifice and stick to it, and in that willful instant, you have physically (in every way really) changed the world. You have also asserted your human dignity, because you didn’t wait for some delegated official authority-daddy to order you, before you found a way to make a morally helpful choice.

You decided what you could do – and did it. Self-planned, authorized and accomplished – world improved. No red tape other than the snake’s nest of doubts we all have about pretty much everything nowadays – and here’s something extra cool – those head-snakes are all scared of our positive actions too!

Biting is so much work, they like it best when we do the hard part for them by being afraid of their potential threat in advance, and never noticing they are so lazy they are almost dead.

Now – I don’t want my own tribe of poor friends (many of whom have already been forced to give up almost everything, by circumstance) to feel left out of the fun, or the hopeful exercise. And even when under heavy pressure, we really are not, because the other thing we can all do besides give up something negative, is start, grow or sustain something that is directly useful – and those of us at the bottom often see need more clearly (and feel compassion more keenly) than those who are eternally busy treadmilling, just trying to keep their picket fences shiny.

Of course lacking resources is a serious extra challenge in any life – but our cleverness, extra motivation and oddly durable friendships can sometimes help us bring very interesting new things into being, just by lining up the right kinds of people, energies and ideas with our hard-knocks determination.

It is not always easy to sense this, let alone get on top of the various forces and find the balance to ride them, but the world itself is an instrument we humans can sometimes actually play — (admittedly, it is also always a bit of a tough crowd, at the very same time) ;o)

Old fashioned Red

A few years ago, while having a nature walk in the deeply forested Rouge River valley, I found myself trying to explain my political frustration with my spoiled long-time fellow citizens, to a dear friend and somewhat more recent Canadian.

I said, “We are among the most fortunate people in the entire world in terms of cultural freedoms and self-expression, our right to self-define and actualize, and right to find and make our own purpose in life. We have lost much economically, security for the working class especially, but we are still comparatively wealthy, when measured against most other humans.

To me, the obligation that goes with this is a no-brainer.  Because we cost more per-capita in terms of energy inputs, exploited foreign labour and waste output, compared to the majority of people on earth, we ought to prove our gratitude for this special bounty by considering it our duty to become the smartest, kindest, most principled, generous, hard-working, problem-solving and self-sacrificial group of humans ever seen in all of human history.”

I wish I could adequately describe how very hard and whole-heartedly she laughed!

Everything important is not a nail

Single-issue focus is a kind of bigotry – and I am sincerely sorry to have to tell you that, because I do know a lot of people who are focussed on worthwhile issues – but we in the wealthy educated and still comparatively free west have got to stop pretending that we cannot be expected to exceed the mental or moral standards of obsessed narcissistic toddlers.

Can we ignore the ruin of the environment, the violence and hatred experienced by our friends, the disembowelment of the working class, housing crises as large as entire continents, the inhumane exploitation of foreign poor on our behalf by our sainted and institution corrupting corporations, or even the ruinous effects of our dinosaur sized pools of investment capital, simply because we love our kittens (or any other personal passion-point) with such a pure and wonderful intensity?

Not unless the only thing we love about our kittens is the abstract Platonic ideal conception of one, which resides nowhere else but in our minds.

Every person we love – every animal – every culture (and subculture) – every art form – every language group – every neighbourhood – every ecosystem – every parish, temple and pagan glen – all of these share a single precious stage.  Every one of these can thrive only on our unique, wounded but still very beautiful and always to be shared planet earth.

Time we stop specializing in hopelessness.

I am always curious about what you are thinking

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