What is in a Word? Part Thirty-five
We have all heard things in our lives that we just assume as true, or take on as part of our thinking because they are the commonly percieved notion of all things. But just because they are a commonly held notion, does that really make them true? From the mundane to the deeply held convictions that guide ones life. Misconceptions are everywhere.
Why not read a few of these commonly held notions of our species and ask yourself which ones do you see as … fact….
Searing meat does not “seal in” moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture. Generally, the value in searing meat is that it creates a brown crust with a rich flavor.
Adding cooking oil to pasta that is being boiled is widely believed to prevent the pasta from sticking. However, oil is an insoluble hydrophobic substance, such that it will float on the surface of the water. Therefore, the pasta (which sits on the bottom of the saucepan) has virtually no exposure to the oil during the cooking process. The oil may eventually come into contact with the pasta only after draining. The primary reason to add oil is to avoid foaming and/or boiling over
Sushi does not mean “raw fish”, and not all sushi includes raw fish. The name sushi means “sour rice”, and refers to the vinegared rice used in it
There is no evidence that coffee stunts a child’s growth.
Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Double-blind trials have shown no difference in behavior between children given sugar-full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or those considered sensitive to sugar. It may be all the other chemicals that are put into many products that causes reactions, not the sugar.
Alcohol does not make one warmer. The reason that alcoholic drinks create the sensation of warmth is that they cause blood vessels to dilate and stimulate nerve endings near the surface of the skin with an influx of warm blood. This can actually result in making the core body temperature lower, as it allows for easier heat exchange with a cold external environment
A vegetarian or vegan diet can provide enough protein. In fact, typical protein intakes of ovo-lacto vegetarians and of vegans meet and exceed requirements. However, a strict vegan diet does require supplementation of Vitamin B-12 for optimal health.
Swallowed chewing gum does not take seven years to digest. In fact, chewing gum is mostly indigestible, and passes through the digestive system at the same rate as other matter.
Words and Phrases:
It is frequently rumored that the expression “rule of thumb” which is used to indicate a technique for generating a quick estimate, was originally coined from a law allowing a man to beat his wife with a stick, provided it was not thicker than the width of his thumb. In fact, the origin of this phrase remains uncertain, but the false etymology has been broadly reported in media including such places as the Washington Post, Time Magazine and CNN.
The word “fuck” did not originate in Christianized Anglo-Saxon England as an acronym for “Fornication Under Consent of King”; nor did it originate as an acronym for “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”, either as a sign posted above adulterers in the stocks, or as a criminal charge against members of the British Armed Forces; nor did it originate during the 15th-century Battle of Agincourt as a corruption of “pluck yew” (an idiom falsely attributed to the English for drawing a longbow). Modern English was not spoken until the 16th century, and words such as “fornication” and “consent” did not exist in any form in English until the influence of Anglo-Norman in the late 12th century. The earliest recorded use of “fuck” in English comes from 1475, in the poem “Flen flyys”, where it is spelled fuccant (conjugated as if a Latin verb meaning “they fuck”). It is of Proto-Germanic origin, and is related to either Dutch fokken and German ficken or Norwegian fukka.
“Xmas” is not a secular plan to “take the Christ out of Christmas.” “The usual suggestion is that ‘Xmas’ is … an attempt by the “ungodly” to x-out Jesus and banish religion from the holiday. In reality however, X stands for the Greek letter Chi, the starting letter of Χριστός, or “Christ” in Greek. The use of the word “Xmas” can be traced to the year 1021 when monks in Great Britain used the X while transcribing classical manuscripts into Old English” in place of “Christ”.The Oxford English Dictionary’s first recorded use of ‘Xmas’ for ‘Christmas’ dates back to 1551.
Bulls are not enraged by the colour red, used in capes by professional matadors. Cattle are dichromats, so red does not stand out as a bright colour. It is not the colour of the cape, but the perceived threat by the matador that incites it to charge
Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not sweat by salivating. It is not true that dogs do not have sweat glands or have sweat glands only on their tongues. They do sweat, mainly through the footpads. However, dogs do primarily regulate their body temperature through panting
Ostriches do not hide their heads in the sand to hide from enemies. This misconception was probably propigated by Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), who wrote that ostriches “imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed.”
It is commonly claimed that the Great Wall of China is the only human-made object visible from the Moon. This is false. None of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing any specific human-made object from the Moon, and even Earth-orbiting astronauts can barely see it. City lights, however, are easily visible on the night side of Earth from orbit. The misconception is believed to have been popularized by Richard Halliburton decades before the first moon landing. Shuttle astronaut Jay Apt has been quoted as saying that “the Great Wall is almost invisible from only 180 miles up.
Black holes, contrary to their common image, do not necessarily suck up all the matter in the vicinity. If, for example, the Sun was replaced by a black hole of equal mass, the orbits of the planets would be unaffected.
Seasons are not caused by the Earth being closer to the Sun in the summer than in the winter. In fact, the Earth is furthest from the Sun when it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Seasons caused by Earth’s 23.4-degree axial tilt. As the Earth orbits the Sun, different parts of the world receive different amounts of direct sunlight. When an area of the Earth’s surface is oriented perpendicular to the incoming sunlight, it receives more radiation than when it is oriented at an oblique angle. In July, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun resulting in longer days and more direct sunlight; in January, it is tilted away. The seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, which is tilted towards the Sun in January and away from the Sun in July
The idea that lightning never strikes the same place twice is one of the oldest and most well-known superstitions about lightning. There is no reason that lightning would not be able to strike the same place twice; if there is a thunderstorm in a given area, then objects and places which are more prominent or conductive (and therefore minimize distance) are more likely to be struck. For instance, lightning strikes the Empire State Building in New York City about 100 times per year.
A penny dropped from the Empire State Building will not kill a person or crack the sidewalk. The terminal velocity of a falling penny is about 30–50 miles per hour, and the penny will not exceed that speed regardless of the height from which it is dropped. At that speed, its energy is not enough to penetrate a human skull or crack concrete, as demonstrated on an episode of MythBusters. As MythBusters noted, the Empire State Building is a particularly poor setting for this misconception, since its tapered shape would make it impossible to drop anything directly from the top to street level.
The Big Bang theory does not provide an explanation for the origin of the universe; rather, it explains its early evolution.
The word theory in the theory of evolution does not imply mainstream scientific doubt regarding its validity; the concepts of theory and hypothesis have specific meanings in a scientific context. While theory in colloquial usage may denote a hunch or conjecture, a scientific theory is a set of principles that explains observable phenomena in natural terms. “Scientific fact and theory are not categorically separable”, and evolution is a theory in the same sense as germ theory or the theory of gravitation.
Evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life or the origin and development of the universe. While biological evolution describes the process by which species and other levels of biological organisation originate, and ultimately leads all life forms back to a universal common ancestor, it is not primarily concerned with the origin of life itself, and does not pertain at all to the origin and evolution of the universe and its components. The theory of evolution deals primarily with changes in successive generations over time after life has already originated. The scientific model concerned with the origin of the first organisms from organic or inorganic molecules is known as abiogenesis, and the prevailing theory for explaining the early development of our universe is the Big Bang model
Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees. The two modern chimpanzee species are, however, humans’ closest living relatives. The most recent common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees lived between 5 and 8 million years ago. Finds of the 4.4 million year old Ardipithecus indicate the ancestor looked like a small, long limbed chimpanzee with a rather short snout and was a moderately competent bipedal walker. Contrary to the idea of chimpanzees as “primitive”, they too have evolved since the split, becoming larger, more aggressive and more capable climbers. Together with the other apes, humans and chimpanzees constitute the family Hominidae. This group evolved from a common ancestor with the Old World monkeys some 40 million years ago
There is no evidence that Jesus was born on December 25. The Bible never claims a date of December 25, but may imply a date closer to September. The fixed date is attributed to Pope Julius the First because in the year 350 CE he declared the twenty-fifth of December the official date of celebration. The date may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after Christians believe Jesus to have been conceived, the date of the Roman winter solstice, or one of various ancient winter festivals.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say exactly three magi came to visit the baby Jesus, nor that they were kings, rode on camels, or that their names were Casper, Melchior and Balthazar. Matthew 2 has traditionally been combined with Isaiah 60:1–3.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Three magi are supposed because three gifts are described, and artistic depictions of the nativity after about the year 900 almost always depict three magi. The wise men in the biblical narrative did not visit on the day Jesus was born, but they saw Jesus as a child, in a house as many as two years afterwards (Matthew 2:11).
The Immaculate Conception is not synonymous with the virgin birth of Jesus, nor is it a supposed belief in the virgin birth of Mary, his mother. Rather, the Immaculate Conception is the Roman Catholic belief that Mary was not subject to original sin from the first moment of her existence, when she was conceived. The concept of the virgin birth, on the other hand, is the belief that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin.
The forbidden fruit mentioned in the Book of Genesis is commonly assumed to be an apple, and is widely depicted as such in Western art. However, the Bible does not identify what type of fruit it is. The original Hebrew texts mention only tree and fruit. Early Latin translations use the word mali, which can be taken to mean both “evil” and “apple”. German and French artists commonly depict the fruit as an apple from the 12th century onwards, and John Milton’s Areopagitica from 1644 explicitly mentions the fruit as an apple. Jewish scholars suggested that the fruit could have been a grape, a fig, wheat, or etrog.
The Buddha is not a god. In early Buddhism, Siddhārtha Gautama possessed no salvific properties and strongly encouraged “self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.” However, in later developments of Mahāyāna Buddhism, notably in the Pure Land (Jìngtǔ) school of Chinese Buddhism, the Amitābha Buddha was thought to be a savior. Through faith in the Amitābha Buddha, one could be reborn in the western Pure Land. Although in Pure Land Buddhism the Buddha is considered a savior, he is still not considered a god in the common understanding of the term.
A fatwā is a non-binding legal opinion issued by an Islamic scholar under Islamic law. The popular misconception that the word means a death sentence probably stems from the fatwā issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran in 1989 regarding the author Salman Rushdie, whom he stated had earned a death sentence for blasphemy. This event led to fatwās gaining widespread media attention in the West.
The word “jihad” does not always mean “holy war”; literally, the word in Arabic means “struggle”. While there is such a thing as “jihad bil saif”, or jihad “by the sword”, many modern Islamic scholars usually say that it implies an effort or struggle of a spiritual kind. Scholar Louay Safi asserts that “misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding the nature of war and peace in Islam are widespread in both the Muslim societies and the West”, as much following 9/11 as before.
The Quran does not promise martyrs 72 virgins in heaven. It does mention virgin companions, houri, to all people—martyr or not—in heaven, but no amount is specified. The source for the 72 virgins is a hadith in Sunan al-Tirmidhi by Imam al-Tirmidhi. Hadiths are sayings and acts of the prophet Mohammed as reported by others and as such not part of the Quran itself. Especially the hadiths that are weakly sourced, such as this one, must not necessarily be believed by a Muslim. Furthermore, the correct translation of this hadith is a matter of debate
A Dose of Sanity: Part Twenty-One
…And then it hit me…
The American culture of today offers young Americans (and more and more the youth the world over), the “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism.
All varieties of fundamentalism narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking.
While some progressives are fond of calling fundamentalist religion the “opiate of the masses,” they too often neglect the pacifying nature of America’s other major fundamentalism.
Fundamentalist consumerism pacifies young Americans in a variety of ways. Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance, creating people who feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities, the precise mind-set that the ruling elite loves to see.
A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies; and when a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulative-ness, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and form democratic movements.
Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements
The importance of Being Important: The Illogically Tempting Notion of Thinking Your “Better than That”
It’s easy for us to ridicule what we might call the foolishness or small minded behaviour of people down through history who believed in ideas, actions or other such things that turned out to be absurdly false or horrifically untrue. Our history is peppered with the actions of our species that we can look at (now) and scratch our heads in disbelief that anyone at that time would ever believe in such a thing. Like the Aztecs whom would make human sacrifices to appease a volcano god. Or the general thought of the majority of people at the time who were afraid Columbus would sail off the edge of the earth as he set forth to discover new lands. Most everyone in western cultures everywhere knows of the stories and actions of the people of Salem, Massachusetts whom would hang people for being witches and we could never imagine that in the world of today religious authorities would take such actions as they did when they burned Giordano Bruno at the stake for teaching that the earth went around the sun. And then there are the really big “lies”; the ones that resonate through our entire world, and act as a reminder to us all of the real deep dark places our species can go to in our thoughts and actions. I speak of things like the Holocaust and the other such actions of the Nazi regime. The ethnic cleansing that took place (and continue to do so in some instances) in the former Eastern Europe, and across vast regions of Africa. The Death squads of Cambodia… the jihad of a few that has blemished (in the eyes of many) an entire group of people, and their way of looking at existence… the list of the “lies” that populated our species seems endless.
When we look back on these now, in our (now sometimes self righteous ideas of a) higher thinking place of hindsight, most of us like to think we would have been on the side of truth and justice in all these cases (and those of us whom don’t believe some of these happened or were as bad as history states are seen as on the wrong side of the issue by the majority of us all).
But when I see the “lies” that perpetuate our world on a daily basis, I have to ask myself …Would we have?
What makes us think that we are so much smarter than those people who thought the witches were endangering their children or the world was flat or the Jews were a menace to society? It’s easy for us to know these things were wrong now, with the benefit of hindsight and when the people around us all agree that they were wrong. But would we have known it back when the problem occurred, if we were subject to the same influences as those who supported the false positions? If we had been raised with the same background, might we not have supported the same ideas? These “wrong” ideas were not supported by just (what we see as) madmen and maniacs - they were supported by mainstream people and powerful leaders. It could very easily be that you and I would have been on the wrong side on these crucial issues.
Perhaps we are on the wrong side of important issues today.
When I look at the world today, it seems to me that we often walk around with blinders on, thinking we can no longer fall into such traps. Many more “progressive” thinking cultures (and they like to champion themselves as being) seem to think that it could happen in other parts of the world but not here (wherever that may be) where we are so enlightened! This is exactly the complacent attitude that the misguided people of the past must have taken, and that so many people still take today. We have to recognize that we can be wrong, that we, too, can be fooled, and that the issues that are fooling us may not be as in our face as the blatant killing of another.
-Reliance on oil and what that drives cultures to.
-Free Market Globalization and the commercialization (commoditization) of everything.
-The Burgeoning Global Village and all the issues that brings with it.
-Ideas of existence (religious and so forth)
-Rights of different groups of people the world over in all ways in terms of this idea of “equality”
The list of things we can see that perpetuate “lies” is long and diverse, and we all fall on one side of these issues or another (in some ways).
And we all think we are right (and someone is wrong). It can be very difficult to know if a particular thing is true, such as whether a particular religion (or any at all) is true or whether a medicine is effective or whether a politician will do a good job. But it should not be that difficult to recognize when we do not know something. That it seems is the biggest problem with our species. Having the strength to simply say…
I really do not know…
More and more in our lives, we see that as a place of weakness and a place of (dare I say it) stupidity and an inability to lead. But it seems to me it is the smarter person whom can admit they don’t know… for it seems to me that is the person whom is more willing to really see, really open their thoughts and really want to understand the issue(s) at hand. Not just be sucked in by a tagline, quick fix thought or general understanding perpetuated by those around them.
I believe that people can learn this ability, but unfortunately our schools and our culture as a whole do little to help people develop it.
In our ever increasing world of entwinement we are now entering, the ironic thing that seems to be occurring is the more we become connected (through our technologies and the like), the more we are becoming polarized to a greater extent on many issues.
-One side of an issue appeals to us.
-We seek out facts to support this side.
-We get most of our information from advocates of this side.
-We feel superior for being on this side.
-We like the people on our side better.
-We trust the people on our side more.
-We believe advocates for our side without analyzing them critically.
-We distrust advocates for the other side.
-We feel the people on the other side have undesirable traits that led them to their wrong opinions.
-We jump on the slightest flaw in arguments made by the other side’s proponents.
-We find negative stereotypes about the other side very believable.
-When our opponents make negative references to us, it is further evidence of their bad character.
-Sources of information that treat us and our opponents almost equally must be biased, or they would recognize our superiority and the inferiority of our opponents.
-Rather than enduring such unreliable sources or listening to our opponents’ arguments directly, we learn of their misguided views and motives from our own trustworthy leaders.
-When an opponent is found to have done something unethical, it is reprehensible, but typical of what we expect from the people we oppose.
-When one of us is found to do something unethical it is not very important and possibly excusable if it aids our noble purposes.
-We are good.
-They are bad.
-The superiority of our view is so obvious that our opponents could not possibly be sincere. They are deliberately promoting evil, self-serving policies.
-They are our enemies, out to destroy us and our way of life!
-People like them should be ridiculed, stripped of power, silenced, punished, and perhaps even destroyed!
Sound familiar? Think it only happens “to someone else”, “in another country”, “not in my advanced culture and way of thinking”?
If we care about the welfare of humanity and we really want to see issues for what they really are, this is something that must change.
If each women or man could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, of base temptations and heartaches and of remorse as ones own…how much kinder and gentler would we be…
How much kinder and gentler, indeed.
(photo: Society: Bigger Fish Eat the Little Ones, Anton Semenov)
Remember the day you were born?
If you could remember back to that day, what do you think were the first words that were uttered as you found your way into this world? I would bet my last dollar (that for most people) it would be three little words.
“It’s a girl”
“It’s a boy”
Just those three little words. Nothing more would need to be stated, for in those three little words lay all that there is of our species. Never once would the first words uttered about your existence be things like “it’s a homosexual”, “ It’s a Christian Fundamentalist Reformist “, “It’s a Liberal/Conservative”, “ It’s a Black/Mexican/Chinese/White/Caucasian /Indigenous person” “It’s an illegal alien with two children and no husband sponging off my hard earned tax dollars wanting free health care and schooling” “It’s a 1 percent-er” “ It’s a ninty-nine percent-er… those (and many, many, MANY more), labels come later.
You know the ones. The ones that we as humans put on each other. The ones that make us all see each other as this or that, allow us to hate, to begin a life of struggles to be “equal” with everyone else. The ones that have created pages upon pages of laws/books of philosophy, ideas of existence and so on to show us we are equal (or not). The ones that we think help us to understand each other (and ourselves) so much better, but more often than not stifle us as a species. The ones that force us to waste our time on such small minded thoughts when we could be exploring the universe, seeking out cures, understanding our inner minds and all we could un-tap within them.
But instead we are worried about whom one is sleeping with, whom one is praying to, whom one is voting for. Instead we are wasting our time in the constant struggle to become, to be recognized as, and to have…equal/equality.
But the strange thing is… we already are, and when you came into this world, the only thing that anyone said was if you were a boy or a girl (sometimes even less.. you just need to know they were born), and for at least those few very first minutes, there was no thought of anything else. There were no judgments. There was not classifying, no burdening of labels and no segregating of thoughts. You just were and that was enough, (and in fact for those first few moments in your small little existence, you made everyone around you very happy).
So why as time goes on do we (all of us) allow this to happen? Why do we set ourselves up to need to struggle in life? Why do we not fight to maintain the euphoria of our births? Why can’t we just remember back to those first few minutes and understand we are all equal, all the same?
Perhaps it is because we can’t remember our birth, as generally humans can’t remember much before their first birthday other than fuzzy bits and pieces of half jumbled up ideas of memories of that time. We can’t remember back to the time when we did not have to worry about such things, because then our minds were really free. We only begin to really remember things when we begin to see things in terms of all the labels that humans put on everything, and in some ways it is understandable we label all things, for how hard would it be for us to understand anything if we did not have a basis to begin an assessment?
Then again, if we could remember back to that time, maybe our understanding (or lack there of) of the labels we now use and how they limit us all would help us to make a change. Maybe we could see we are wasting our time, trying so hard to fight to be equal to others.
Because no matter whom you are, not matter what status you have, what sex your are, what colour, what creed, what political affiliation, what thought you have about existence, whom you choose to have sex with (or not)… ALL of us are less equal (in the labels) of someone else’s eyes…. ALL of us.
So why not remember that the next time you decide to say we are not equal, when you stand up for the legislation to make us so, why not laugh and scoff at the human need to put in writing what was always ours to begin with. The next time a religion, a political idea, a group says that we need to fight for (or against) something? Stand up for real equality, not just equality of labels. Understand we squandered away our equality, sold it down the river. And all for a label to feel we belong.
It’s a boy, It’s a girl.
Equality is so simple, if you really want it to be. It is human thought that makes it complicated.
Photo: Jason Decartes Taylor
Do you ever wonder….. “is it worth it”?
Statistics say that every three seconds in the world someone attempts suicide.
The Quran forbids suicide (as does the Catholic Church, and most other religious ideologies in the sense of saying they will send you to .. you know, that other BAD place), but out of all the religions (despite the propaganda against them), Muslims kill themselves the least..
Those that identify as atheists are most likely to take that final step in their own demise.
Switzerland (with the third longest life expectancy in the world) does a brisk trade in “suicide tourism”, being that there, any doctor, friend, or complete stranger can help you kill yourself … it’s legal.
Think that is barbaric? We don’t think twice about putting down a pet that is suffering because of some painful affliction that they will never recover from, yet we can’t bring ourselves to let our loved ones have the same dignity and rights.
As with all things in life, nothing is black and white. Grays/Greys are everywhere
Snake Oil (sellers) come in Many Forms
Seeing through the Blacks and Whites to Understand (or at the very least know of) the Grays/Greys…
With the explosive growth of communication tools like the Internet, the flow of persuasive messages has been dramatically accelerated in the human species. We live in an age that now, for the first time ever, citizens around the world can and are participating in uncensored conversations about their collective future often in realtime ways. This is something the wonders of our new technologies has enabled us to do. This is a wonderful development, but, as with most things in our existence there is also a cost.
The information revolution has led to an information overload, and people are confronted with hundreds if not thousands of messages, images, slogans (and the like) each day.
As this phenomenon grows, the human race has yet to really comprehend this nor study how this is effecting our species overall in all ways or how it is/may be altering ways which we take in process and regurgitate the mass amounts of information we now (can) receive on a daily basis.
it seems fair to suggest that many people respond to this pressure (of information overload) by processing messages more quickly and, when possible, by taking mental short-cuts. One only has to look at the way in which many of our new services allow one to post or respond. They all limit the amount of letters one can use, and so due to this, and to the desire to stand out and be seen in the ever increasing mass of information, sensationalism and infotainment packing of real news (or stretching the truth to get across ones point) is becoming more and more common place.
Propagandists love short-cuts — particularly those which short-circuit rational thought. They encourage this by agitating emotions, by exploiting insecurities, by capitalizing on the ambiguity of language, and by bending the rules of logic.
As the history or our species showcases, they (intelligent or opportunists’ propagandists) can be quite successful. When most people think about propaganda, they think of the enormous campaigns that were waged by the likes of Hitler and Stalin in the 1930s. Western countries (like the United States) talk about the propaganda machines of countries like China, Russia and so forth. They assume that (in their own thoughts) since there is and has been/is being dissemination in their societies today in comparison to such things, propaganda is no longer an issue, or not an issue in their own backyards.
But propaganda can be as blatant as a swastika or as subtle as a joke. Its persuasive techniques are regularly applied by politicians, advertisers, journalists, radio personalities, and others who are interested in influencing human behavior.
Propagandistic messages can be used to accomplish positive social ends, as in campaigns to reduce drunk driving, but they are also used to win elections and to sell alcohol. Indeed propaganda is, in some ways even stronger in western nations (especially in places like the United States) than in many other countries, yet the people’s of those nations fail to see it in those terms. They look to other nations as the ones that do that to their people.
Propaganda has seeped into the mainstream of most all advertising, campaigns and the like. One only needs to listen to politicians talk to hear it. They speak about the terrible things of all the others, while never really laying out much about the real issues. They pander (to any side) to get the votes, and we all buy it because in some ways, we are just as much to blame. Our self-ego takes over and we start thinking from the I. Propagandists know this. They understand what people want to hear from them.. so they give it to them…. Like a baby suckling on the nipple of its mother… we drink it up.
So as we spend our days amid the trenches of the mass that is vying for our attention at every click our mouse, what is one to do?
Practice a bit of your own propaganda analysis.
Perhaps the most important thing one should do in a situation is come with an open mind… One that is ready and willing (or at least understanding of the fact) that all they think may NOT be all there is to an issue… or it may not even be the issue at all. One must always remember propaganda works best when we already have a mindset about something, because it is much easier to exploit that. Religion, Politics, Advertising…. They are all very good at these techniques.
An over abundance of name-calling, generalities, and/or euphemisms usually indicates propaganda is in play.
Transfer of an issue onto the back of something else is a tried and true technique of opening up the issue to a broader audience and in a grander scale that makes it look much more a societal issue as a whole. It is also good at deflecting the real issue, as now it has become mirky in a sea of other things..
Testimonials from “those affected” are great ways to sway the emotional side of people in the battle of the propaganda machine. They deflect from the real issues and make humans look at the purely emotional side (the one we as a species have a harder time controlling and really understanding in a logical straight-forward sort of way).
A disturbing trend I have notice in the past few years is this trodding out of “the plain folks”. I always ask myself… Who are these people? Are not most of us plain folks as well? If (like the slogan says) we are the 99 percent, it seems there are a LOT of these plain folks, so why is it that certain ones are more… plain… than others? Because they work better to get across the message one is trying to say without having to deal with all the other (often bigger picture) issues that surround it? Smells like Propaganda to me.
Hopping on the Bandwagon is another trend I see a lot of these days. The internet is in some ways like this crazy magical being that has the ability in humans to hypnotize us and turn us into zombies when it comes to rational thinking. So too do large crowds. Propagandists understand that we feed on each others emotions and energy, so getting us together in large groups is an easy way to bandwagon us onto issues with their simple messages. This is unnerving because often it seems that when this occurs people really don’t understand the issues at all and are actually, in some ways, hurting themselves, but the propaganda machine has done its work and by then it is too late… your hooked.
But by far the biggest friend of the Propaganda machine is the one emotion that humans have some of the biggest troubles getting a grip on and understanding…
Humans live in a constant fear of (practically everything). Ideas, thoughts, cultures, religions, politics, the colour of a persons skin, the country they come from… the list goes on and on. We are a species that reacts with fear (first) when we come across something we don’t know, understand, or cannot get a grasp on (in terms of our own thoughts and ways of looking at all things). We are a protectionists species (like all species on this planet), and we will do what we need to do to hold on to what we think is … ours.
Propagandist know this very well, for often they too live in fear of whatever it is they are championing against and so, they want others to share in their fear so that in some way they can feel “safety in numbers”. It may be as subtle as a simple indirect comment about a certain way of living (effecting yours) or influencing the ENTIRE population in the “wrong” way, or it may be overtly stated as just being wrong. In either way, when I hear a propagandist talk about liberty, freedom, self determination… and then add this little fear jab (which usually means.. but NOT these people or these thoughts or these actions, etc) it gives me great pause for thought about what their message is REALLY saying.
Humans are different, in many ways. That is, in essence what makes us… the same. We all have our likes, dislikes, rights, wrongs, and “moral” understanding of what we think everything should be and the direction we all should be moving in. That is a given. But when we blanket our ideas as the only ones (no matter what they are), especially ones based on little to no real substance in the aforementioned ways, it seems to me that this is not really anything more than….. Propaganda.
Propaganda analysis is an antidote to the excesses of the Information Age.
To Learn Something New (Why Not Take the Path You Took Yesterday)
1. Of recent origin, production, purchase, etc.; having but lately come or been brought into being: a new book.
2. Of a kind now existing or appearing for the first time; novel: a new concept of the universe.
3. Having but lately or but now come into knowledge: a new chemical element.
4. Unfamiliar or strange (often followed by to): ideas new to us; to visit new lands.
5. Having but lately come to a place, position, status, etc.: a reception for our new head of state.
What if one has come to an “understanding” that nothing we have ever seen, know (and so forth) actually exists at all? Nothing can ever be added (for how can one add to what does not actually exist)? If one were to forward this as a viable idea of existence, how would you react to such a thought?
What about this idea we have of the end? Is this not also the/a beginning? Every action in life (and it could be said even in our death) is preceded by another, so if one looked at existence in such a way, how could anyone actually ever see “an end” or “a beginning” to/of anything?
In terms of understanding our existence, we, the human species have come up with this notion of having a beginning. We call it the time of the first of all things (usually referred to as the Big Bang). We also have very well defined ends in all ways; to a job, to a song, to a meal…. to our lives… but this end we speak of (the final)…I often sit and wonder…
When does it ever REALLY come? (Even in death you begin … your time of whatever it is you believe, be it another plane, a rebirth or nothingness… all these ideas are still the beginning of something)
What if endings (as we have defined them) are not ending at all, not the beginning of something else but only just…connection?
Let’s say the answer is yes. There is no beginning or end. If it is yes, what would that do too many of our ideas/theories and thoughts about ends we have all the time? Probably not much of anything really, as we use this idea of time to gauge our own understanding. If we disengaged from the use of time it would hamper greatly (in essence disallow) us to see, feel or express much of our understanding.
Questions beget questions, thoughts beget thoughts, ideas are a never ending spool, unwound through our science, our religions (thought this one is most often never changing), our technology, our philosophies and so on. They are our insight, our continuing quests (these studies and explorations), and our vessels to (self and total) understanding. They are the things that make us think of ….”the new”
But how much is “new” in history? To look at such an idea, perhaps one needs to break down, to categorize things to better define this idea. Technology, from the wheel to the steam engine to nuclear fusion, the computer, the internet, micro biotics and beyond, is an area in our evolution (as well as others, like ideas of the universe, and understanding our own inner workings) that have vastly expanded in our scope of such understandings. But if one were to look closer and really think about all our new discoveries, are any of them actually… new?
Humans imply newness to come from something not of before, but indeed all things in order to be “discovered” must come from something else. Even if one were to look closely and really think about the definitions of new themselves one could see that there is that idea of the “new” having been there already. So in essence they are (in some way be it in physical form or abstract idea) always there, and so, logically are not actually really… new.
Let’s take a look at it in another way. Something that is very basic and simple. As a child I would sit and marvel at the Saturday matinees at the local cinema. My pockets laden with the freshly liberated funds from my mother’s purse (I never professed to being the best child), I would sit for hours in the dark, marveling at all I saw before me on the screen. Time travel, space travel, computers that talked to us, assisting us in everyway, weapons of untold capabilities (and destruction), flying cars, fuels beyond the oils that we use today… the list went on and on. Even then, even before the computers, we saw them in movies. We powered things with an energy other than oil (and still do in movies to this day), so many things that have come to pass (not only in movies but in books, scientific theory and so on). These all have come from the past…not the new.
They have all come from… our imagination.
In the scope of our (self) understanding, I often find the idea of imagination is lost, or dismissed, and I am never really sure why that is, as I think that imagination is something that plays a significant role in our understanding. It seems to me that imagination is the motion that is used as we move along the road to (our perceived) understanding. All that has come to be originated in the imagination (in some way) so often I ask myself…
Why do we underestimate the implementation of the imagination and the practical implications of such an action?
Where do these “imaginary” thoughts come from? What triggers, releases and allows them to foster and grow within us?
Human beings (for better or worse) are one of the best (I tend to think that cockroaches are better at it… but I digress) at adapting to and changing their surrounds for personal needs and use, and so if this is the case, how is this furthering our understanding or creating new? Are we not just adapting (or using tools like the aforementioned technology that have been got from a technology before it and a technology before it…and so on) to further what we already know? Why do we take such great pains and/or pride in proclaiming something to be … new?
Does this proclamation of new further our understanding of whom and what we are? Perhaps that is the key to this whole merry-go-round we ride everyday. Our desire to find the key to it all, and our connection (in thought) to this ideas that more understanding, (that is), more of this new, implies wiser, stronger, more advanced and greater than that that was before..
It would be nice if we knew where we came from, where we are going, what it all means and why. But we don’t know these things, and no matter how much we say we believe in (be it religion, science, aliens, or nothing) something it is hard to image anyone that at one time or another does not question what we (the human species) are doing here, what is our purpose and if there is any higher thing (no matter what that thing may be… it does not necessarily have to allude to a god) that created us.
It is this fundamental thought that I think drives this idea of what we deem new.
Call yourself an atheist or an agnostic if you want. (atheists seem to talk about the describing of something with no real meaning.. which seems more agnostic in its definition to me, but then agnostic is a belief in something as well so I won’t really say either is flawed in their thoughts, for I am not a religious person, but I am not atheist of agnostic either). The point is, anyone whom ever says they have never questioned themselves and their existence… is lying, or in denial of their self. Everyone at one time or another falls into the thought of finding out; of attempting to discover the new.
I am speaking a great deal in generalities about a great many things, so you will excuse me (and give me leeway) if I do so. I am speaking in this way as this is also how I see our species looks at many of the ways in which we search to understand ourselves, and indeed what we see as this new.
We are at a point in our evolution where the amount of “new” that is … advances in things such as disease control/detection and cures, uncovering more about our minds, and understanding more about the universe and it origins will increase at a rate never seen before. These are all directly related to the increases in technology we have acquired (and continue to do), and so we will begin to have more and more trouble assimilating all of this “new” understanding into what it is we already have learned and understood about ourselves.
Perhaps this will lead to (and indeed it has if we look at the world), a backlash of sorts, a lashing out by the old traditions, thoughts and ways (as they struggle to find where they fit in this world of the “new” we are creating).
Perhaps for those whom cannot see through this idea of new, or are scared of it, don’t understand it, or outright reject it, perhaps understanding it is not new at all… just a continuation and a product of what has come from before it, may help one to see that understanding is never easy, even for the most open minded, wanting and forward thinking of our species. No matter what one understands, or think one understands, questions will always remain, and problems of understanding another’s position will always permeate through our species and bring about opposition, anger, even the desire to lash out, hurt and kill.
Humans seem to become neurotic (in a way) when they content themselves with inadequate or (what they see as) wrong answers in life. They feel (where it is a conscious thought or not) that their lives are too confided, to narrow and lack sufficient meaning. And so they search for the new….Developing an idea of a more spacious personality or way to look at things may help, but it seems with our advancements comes more and more this feeling of selflessness and a general emptiness of life (directly related to science and technology helping us to more and more gain the understanding that we are here through the ideas of science more than the ideas of other thoughts… particularly those of a religious nature)
Perhaps humans need to feel a purpose beyond that of just being here in order to really feel they are… alive. Perhaps that is why we always strive for this new, because if we did not there would not (for many) really be much of a point. Humans need attachments to something (be in religion, a philosophy, a way of being and the like) to feel an ease and peace of mind (in themselves and the world around them), and with the increasing pace of our change, and indeed our way of life, all of this comes into question more than ever before.
Humans are very good at tricking themselves into thinking (whatever it is they) want to think. We do it all the time in life; we call it things like denial, avoidance, immaturity, lack of knowledge and so on. But we also call it things like happiness, a need, a yearning and…. Destiny.
An idea is something, such as a thought or conception, which potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity. New is one of those ideas that we seem to forget is a product of something that comes from something that is already there.
Every one of us, unconsciously, works out a personal philosophy of life, by which we are guided, inspired, and corrected, as time goes on. It is this philosophy by which we measure out our days, and by which we advertise to all about us person, that we are… .
It takes but a moment (in most) of time to “sense” the life philosophy of anyone. It is defined in our conversations, in the look of our eyes, and in the general presence of each one of us. It has no hiding place. It’s like the aroma of the flower — unseen to the naked eye, but known (the smell perhaps not the name of the flower itself) almost instantly. It is the possession of the successful, and the happy. And it can be greatly embellished by the absorption of ideas and experiences of the useful of this earth…
…Whether they are perceived as new or not.
Part of the reason we seem to have such a problem with certain groups, ideas, religions, ways of being and so on in life is because of our beliefs in things that happen in… death.
Strangly ironic and sad at the same time that one wastes ones time with such thoughts of dislike, spending what little time they have in this existence worrying about another in such a way, when they could actually be out doing something for the betterment of us all….. like these people in these boxes thought they were doing (agree or not with the reasons behind them being in conflict in the first place aside).
All these people in these boxes, no matter the colour, religion, sexual preferance, and so on. They are in these boxes because they (again right or wrong, that is not the issue at hand) were defending …. YOU. ALL OF YOU.
Hear no, Speak no, See no …. It’s Not Just a Proverb… It’s Your Monkeysphere!!
Picture a monkey. A monkey dressed up in an outfit of some type. We’ll call him… Slappy.
Imagine you have Slappy as a pet. Imagine a personality for him. Maybe you and he have little monkey adventures and maybe even join up to fight crime and the like. Think how sad you’d be if Slappy died.
Now, imagine you get four more monkeys. We’ll call them Tito, Bubbles, Marcel and CrapTosser. Imagine personalities for each of them now. Maybe one is aggressive, one is affectionate, one is quiet, and the other just throws feces all the time. But they’re all your personal monkey friends.
Now imagine a hundred monkeys.
Not so easy now (as the number gets higher). How many monkeys would you have to own before you couldn’t remember their names? At what point, in your mind, do your beloved pets become just a faceless sea of monkeys?
Even though each one is every bit the monkey Slappy was, there’s a certain point where you will no longer really care if one of them dies.
How many monkeys will it take before you stop caring?
Sounds cruel, inhuman? When you look at it in black and white it does, but in reality, that is how we live our lives.
Those whom study monkeys have concluded that the size of a monkey’s brain determines the size of the monkey groups the monkeys form. The bigger the brain, the bigger the little societies they build. They cut up so many monkey brains, in fact (we will leave the ethics of such actions to another writing), that they found they could actually take a brain they had never seen before and from it accurately predict what tribe size that species of creature formed.
Most monkeys operate in troupes of 50 or so.
As they were doing this study, they came across one brain in their research…a slightly larger brain and they estimated the ideal group or society for this particular animal was about 150.
That brain was human. (Where they got it and how it ended up in the study I have no idea… the research never stated)
Let’s leave that for a moment and think about a story…
Think about a tale you may have heard someone tell you about their actions for people they don’t know. Actions, that when you thought about them you found a bit… strange… they would do such a thing, or perhaps their actions were something you have never given any thought to doing. For example; What about a person whom takes half an hour to carefully box up any broke glass before taking it to the trash so the trash guy would not cut his hands?
You may think this is an unusual or useless little story to tell to illustrate the whole monkey analogy, but give it a minute and we will get to the connection.
None of us really spend much time worrying about the garbage man’s welfare even though he performs a crucial role in not forcing us to live in a cave carved from a mountain of our own filth. We don’t usually consider his safety or comfort first or at all and if we do, it’s not in the same way we would worry over our best friend or wife/husband/partner or girlfriend/boyfriend or even our dog or cat.
People toss half-full bottles of drain cleaner right into the barrel, without a second thought of what would happen if the trash man got it splattered into his eyes. Broken objects, dangerous edges… the list of things we toss that could hurt the person whom has to dispose of it are endless. Yet generally we just do it (for our own betterment and need), and think little about what it may do to others….
The trash guy exists outside the Monkeysphere.
The monkeysphere is the group of people who each of us, using our monkey-like brains, are able to conceptualize as people. If the studies of all those monkey brains are correct, it’s physically impossible for this to be a number much larger than 150 in the human species.
Most of us do not have room in our monkeysphere for our friendly neighborhood sanitation worker. So, we don’t think of them as a person. We think of them as “The Thing That Makes the Trash Go Away”.
Even if you happen to know and like your particular garbage person, at one point or another we all have limits to our sphere of monkey concern. It’s the way our brains are built. We each have a certain circle of people whom we think of as people, (usually our own friends and family and perhaps some neighbours, and then maybe some classmates, or coworkers and then a person or group who has made an impact in your life… (You know, like your church or political party association, and the like)
Those who exist outside that core group of a few dozen people are not really people to us (in the truest sense of the idea). More, in terms of the idea of the monkeysphere, they are sort of more this one-dimensional characters with no real defined meaning other than the superficial ones anyone would have from a one-dimensional character association of something..
Remember the first time, as a kid, you met one of your school teachers outside the classroom? Maybe you saw your teacher coming out of a cinema you were entering or you saw your principal out at the mall with his family. Do you remember that surreal feeling you had when you saw these people actually had lives outside the classroom/school?
It would have probably translated to something like this…They’re not people. They’re teachers.. that is my principal!!
Now let us look at it in another way. Given these examples, what upsets you more? Your best friend dying, or a dozen kids across town getting killed because their bus collided with a truck and it exploded into a ball of flames? Your Mom dying, or seeing on the news that 60,000 people died in an earthquake in Iran?
They’re all humans and they are all equally dead. But the closer to our monkeysphere they are, the more it means to us. Just as your death won’t mean anything to anyone on the other side of the world from you (unless they are of course someone whom has entered into your monkeysphere). For that matter, it is doubtful that hardly anyone more than 1000 meters so from where you’re sitting right now will care (or generally even know or give it a thought at all)
This type of behaviour is so ingrained into our hardware that to even suggest you should feel their deaths as deeply as that of your best friend/mother would probably sound a little ridiculous to most people. It is why when someone whom is “famous” dies, there is such stark differences in the reactions to those deaths (some people are hit very hard by a person they never met dying because they have, in some way entered into their monkeysphere, while for others, they have not). We are hard-wired to have a drastic double standard for the people inside our monkeysphere versus the 99.999% of the world’s population who are on the outside.
Something to think about this the next time you get really upset when you are stuck in traffic. If (and when) you start throwing finger gestures and wedging your head out of the window to scream, “LEARN TO F+#&ING DRIVE, F@&^ER!!””, sit back for a moment and try to imagine acting like that in a smaller group. Say you’re standing in an elevator with two friends and a coworker, and the friend goes to hit a button and accidentally punches the wrong one. Would you lean over, (your mouth two inches from her ear), and scream “LEARN TO OPERATE THE F$ING ELEVATOR BUTTONS, SHITHEAD!!”
If you did this, your friends and coworker would think you’d gone insane, and the reaction would be one of total shock and disbelief. You would probably at some point end up apologizing (or loosing them as a friend), but would you apologize to the person you yelled at in your car?
We all go a little insane, when we get in a group larger than the monkeysphere. It is why people seem to be able to act anonymous invincibility when sitting in a large crowd, screaming curses at a sports player they would never dare say to their face, or yelling at someone driving by for something stupid you perceived them to have done (and so on)
Generally humans probably don’t go out of their way to be mean to strangers, but the simple fact of our existence is, the needs of you or those within your monkeysphere will, at some point or another in your existence, require you to…screw… someone outside it (even if that need is just venting some tension and anger via exaggerated insults). This is why most of us wouldn’t dream of stealing money from the pocket of a friend, but don’t mind stealing cable, adding a shady exemption on our tax return, or quietly celebrating when they forget to charge us for something at the restaurant or at the grocery store.
You may have a list of rationalizations for your actions in these (and many other situations you encounter everyday) long enough to circle the Earth, but the simple truth is that in our monkey brains our friend is a human being while the cable company is a big, cold, faceless machine. That the company is, in reality, nothing but a group of people every bit as human as your friend or that people just like your freind actually work there and would lose their jobs if enough cable were stolen, rarely occurs to us.
Not to hate on religion, but if you really look at it logically, this is one of the ingenious things about religions. It is easier to put the screws to a stranger, so more often than not, religion teaches us to get a personal idea of a God in our heads who says, “No matter who you hurt, you’re really hurting me. (Also, I am all supreme, all knowing and can crush you like a grape).” It seems a bit like if they weren’t writing words inspired by the “Almighty”, they at least understood the monkeysphere (science being used to forward religion… now there is an ironic twist)
The monkeysphere is everywhere in the world. It exists in all ways in which we think, act, react and exist.
Conservatives talk about “The Government” as if it were some huge, lurking dragon ready to eat you and your paycheck whole.
Liberals describe “Multinational Corporations” in the same diabolical terms, an evil black force that belches smoke and poisons water and enslaves humanity.
“Libertarians” bemoan the evils of both sides and how their way to a utopian world will make everyone escape the monkeysphere (unfortunately they get tripped up when they tie everything… social and economic together… as it is not possible nor logical to be able to live in their idea of existence and be … equal)
Now I am not saying that Government is all good and is doing what needs to be done for everyone, nor am I saying that large Multinational Corporations are wonderful entities and we should love them, and I do like the libertarian idea of equality and self determination. I am merely pointing out the fact that we are an ironic creature and that our monkeyspheres ideas of things often dictate how we see the world (understand it or not).
Think of it in this way. Let’s take, as an example, a lone man who (with all his little helpers… so the story goes) builds children’s toys in his workshop. He is a sweetheart who just loves bringing joy at Christmas to all the boys and girls. What a beautiful story it is. Now cut to reality of where the toys really come from (developing nation’s factories with bargain priced workers), they are an inhumane soul-grinding greed machine… but yet it is actually them that are really bringing this joy to the millions of children at Christmas. Strangely enough, if the kindly lone toy making guy made enough toys and hired enough people and expanded to enough shops, we’d eventually stop seeing it as a toy-making shop and start seeing it the Evil monopolizing North Pole. Which story do you tell to your children? Does it (perhaps) depend on your own monkeysphere of life?
But wait, our thinking gets even more complicated. Sure, you can just dismiss the whole thing. The Liberal, the Conservative, the Libertarian. Just think of them as a bunch of egomaniacal blowhards. But the problem is… once you do that…. you’ve just done it again. You have turned real humans into two-word cartoon characters. But you see, this is what we do in our thinking… with pretty much all the seven billion human beings outside the monkeysphere.
What is hard to understand is that it’s also impossible for them to care about you.
That’s why they don’t mind stealing your stereo or vandalizing your house or cutting your wages or raising your taxes or bombing your office building or choking your computer with spam advertising diet and penis drugs they know don’t work. You’re outside their monkeysphere. In their mind, you’re just a vague shape with a pocket full of money for the taking.
I know you probably will (if you are still with me at this point in reading), think this a terrible analogy, but I am going ahead with it anyway. Think of Osama Bin Laden. Did you just picture a camouflaged man whom (before his death) spent his time hiding in a cave, drawing up suicide missions? Or are you thinking of a man who got hungry and had a favorite food and who had a childhood crush on a girl and who had athlete’s foot and chronic headaches and woke up in the morning with a boner and loved volleyball?
Something in you, just now, probably was offended by that. You may think there’s an effort to build sympathy for a person (like others in our existence down through time) whom was evil and murderous.
But the fact is, that by simply knowing random human facts about people, they do, immediately begin to tug a bit at ones “sympathy strings”, or at the very least become someone whom you can better take a look at. The more you know about people… or allow yourself to know about them… brings them comes closer to your monkeysphere, and they begin to take on dimension in ways you may never have thought about before..
It seems to me, that it is not about agreeing with the perceived evil (0r good) in this world. It seems to me that the key to understanding people like Bin Laden, or the numerous other persons, governments, organizations, ideas etc that we fight against in life is realizing that we are the caricature on their t-shirts. We are outside of their monkeyspheres of life as well.
Listen to any 16 year-old kid with his first job, going on and on about how the boss is screwing them and the government is screwing them even more (Think about the first time you got a paycheck and all the deductions on it.. how did that make you feel? How does it still make you feel?).
Then watch that same kid at work, as they drop a hamburger patty on the floor, pick it up, and slap in on a bun and serve it to a customer.
In that one dropped burger they have everything they need to understand those black-hearted politicians and corporate bosses. They see him in the exact same way he sees the customers lined up at the burger counter… Which is, just barely.
In both cases, for the guy making the burger and the guy running a large oil company, getting through the workweek and collecting the paycheck are all that matters. No thought is given to the real human unhappiness being spread by doing it in a crappy way. That many customers or employees just can’t fit inside the monkeysphere.
The kid will protest that he shouldn’t have to care for the customers for minimum wage, but the truth is if a person doesn’t feel sympathy for their fellow person at $6.00 an hour, they won’t feel anything more at $600,000 a year. This is not about saying one is better than the other, one is more responsible (and the like). This is talking about our monkeysphere, and how it effects us all (no matter what the status of a person may be in their life)
Look at it the other way, if we’re allowed to be indifferent and even resentful to the masses for $6.00 an hour, just think of how angry the some person in a factory on the other side of the world is allowed to be when they are making the equivalent of six dollars a week.
Charles Darwin and his assistant, Jeje (pronounced “heyhey”) Santiago deduced that humans and chimps were evolutionary cousins. As sophisticated as we are (compare our advanced sewage treatment plants to the chimps’ primitive technique of hurling their feces with their bare hands), the inescapable truth is we are just as limited by our mental hardware as they are. We have more capabilities in some ways but we still share the same limitations.
One of the primary differences between us and our cousins is that monkeys are happy to stay in small groups and rarely interact with others outside their monkey gang. This is why they rarely go to war. Humans, however, require cars and oil and quality manufactured goods and video games and the worldwide internets and, most importantly… governments. All of these things take groups larger than 150 people to maintain effectively. Thus, we routinely find ourselves functioning in bunches larger than our primate brains are able to cope with.
This is where the problems begin. Like a fragile naked human pyramid, we are simultaneously supporting and resenting each other. We bitch out loud about our soul-sucking job as an anonymous face on an assembly line, while at the exact same time riding in a car that only an assembly line could have produced. It’s a constant contradiction that has left us pissed off and finding numerous ways to vent our frustrations (that are really in the weirdest ways frustrations about our own behaviours)
This is why I think it was with a great burden of sadness that Darwin observed that we are the monkeys.
If you think about it, our entire society has evolved around the limitations of the monkeysphere. There is a reason why the majority of the “big” nations with the biggest SUV’s with the shiniest 22-inch rims all have some kind of what we term “representative democracy” (where you vote for people to do the governing for you)… or are being pushed to move in that direction for the betterment of everyone. All of them are, to some degree, capitalist (where people actually get to buy property and keep some of what they earn).. or what we now want the world to be… Free market
A representative democracy allows a small group of people to make all of the decisions, while letting common people feel they are doing something by going to a polling place every so many years and choosing someone whom will have their best interests at heart (notice I said their best interests first…). We can simultaneously feel like we’re in charge while being contained enough that we can’t cause any real monkey mayhem once we fly into one of our screeching, arm-flapping monkey frenzies (I could list endlessly the amount of mindless small, self ego-minded things we get ourselves into a monkey arm throwing freak-out at, but I will leave that up to each person to recognize in their own existence)
Some people in the distant past thought they could sit all of the millions (now billions) of monkeys down and say, “Okay, everybody go pick the bananas, then bring them here, and we’ll distribute them with a complex formula determining banana need! Now go gather bananas for the good of society!” For the monkeys it was a confused, comical, disaster.
Later, another man sat the monkeys down and said, “You want bananas? Each of you go get your own. I’m taking a nap.” That person was… Mr. Capitalism. As long as everybody gets their own bananas and shares with the few in their monkeysphere, the system will thrive even though nobody is even trying to make the system thrive. ( Hey. Maybe this is what Ayn Rand was actually trying to say in her non-stop monkeysphere-a-thon rants (and hence mine about her), that instead just got lost in all her hate.)
And somewhere along the way someone invented labels that led to things like…racism. This was a way of simplifying the too-complex-for-monkeys world by imagining all people of a certain race as being the same person, thinking they all have the same attitudes and mannerisms and tastes in food and clothes and music. It sort of works, as long as we think of that person as being a good person (“Those Asians are so hard-working and precise and well-mannered!”) but when we start seeing people as being one, giant, group of (terrorists, thieves, communists, socialists, religious fanatics, homosexuals, blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, poor people, the list goes on and on an on)….. our monkey happiness again breaks down.
Is it any surprise we as a species can’t really see or understand each other? How are we supposed to take on the worries, troubles, needs and actions of everyone in the world? It is not possible for us to do. Someone, somewhere, eventually will fall through the cracks and when that does, and it is recognized by others, the façade will begin to once again fade and the infighting will start once again. The utopian world we so terrible strive for will once again be out of our reach.
So what is it we should do?
It seems in life that claims that the root of a problem is simple should be treated the same as a claim that the root of a problem is Bigfoot. Simplicity and Bigfoot are found in the real world with about the same frequency. Sure, not every problem in the world is deep, dark and murky, but we as a species seem to think that most problems can be solved by simply doing one thing. We fail to see all the connections.
Reject binary thinking of “good vs. bad” or “us vs. them.” Know problems cannot be solved with clever slogans and over-simplified step-by-step programs.
But most importantly it seems (and this is the hardest for us as a species), it seems WE ALL need to remember (at times) ….That really annoying person you know, the one who’s always spouting about something, the person who always thinks they’re right, or has the answers? Well, the odds are that for somebody else you are that person. Take the amount you think you know, reduce it by up to 99.999%, and then (generally) you will probably have an idea of how much you actually know regarding things outside your monkeysphere. Even if you know more, it seems a good way to think as going into situations not thinking you know all the answers seems to me to be a much better way to leave one open to actually hearing and thinking about what others say.
There are no supermonkeys in our world, just monkeys. Someone may be better at something than you are, that is a given, so embrace it, but you don’t have to try and be it (or worse yet, resent it). They are living their monkeysphere, as you are yours. Convincing others that we can be (and should be) like them is something we seem to fall victim to in so many ways and is just us trying to excerpt our own self egos. It is not necessary to be like others to be “successful”. This thought is so hard for us to understand.
No one is above/immune or has found the secret success to being the better person. No idea of god, no idea of existence and certainly no individual person. We are all in this together, we all exhibit the same faults (some more than others, yes, but we ALL have the potential for anything we see in our monkey lives). When you begin to put others on a pedestal above you, you begin to fall into the trap of throwing around your feces. People are better at different things, and not so good at others. That is just a fact. Let it go and move on.
Don’t let anyone simplify it for you. The world cannot be made simple. Simple is, as with most things, relative to ones own ideas of such a thing. Anyone who tries to paint a picture of the world in basic comic book colours is most likely trying to use you as a pawn.