People

Let me begin by saying, there are individuals who absolutely, positively, through no fault of their own, possess any capacity for intelligence. I get it and I’m not discussing that segment of our population. It is beyond their control and abilities, and are not being judged in this opinion piece.

The term stupid is considered derogatory, and yet, also a statement of fact about someone’s intelligence. A stupid person is one who tends to make poor decisions or careless mistakes because of a lack of intellect or understanding. The implication being that stupid people require more knowledge or education. However, even when given more information, they are not likely to absorb it properly. I see part of the problem as an unwillingness on their part to comprehend additional information. Another part is the lack of critical thinking skills. That’s the reality.

It would seem that many stupid people want to stay at their own ignorance level instead of proactively making the effort in understanding the issues, problems, and concerns surrounding their current situations needing dealt with. Throw into that lack of intelligence unfettered emotions that add absolutely no value to a problematic situation and well, you see, you have a mess. This scenario just leads to no resolution and generally more confusion for the stupid person. And frustration to those around them who are impacted by the stupid person’s poor choices and decisions.

I’m not sure if this current COVID-19 situation brought these thoughts out in me or if it’s 45’s (lack of) leadership that has irked me to no end. And just so you understand, I’m feeling more than just irked.

#ENDRANT

Image: pxhere.com

The Stories Have No Power

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That’s how you know you’re a skeptic.

It’s like leaving a relationship; you realize the love is gone in a relationship, and you finally stop trying to summon that feeling of cohesion. You feel sad and possibly terrified, but mostly you feel relief because you know there isn’t an actual relationship between you two. The next step is you are on your own but you will be okay.

It’s not our lack of belief in a god that concerns most fundamentalists. It’s the fact that their words have absolutely no power over us. The Jedi mind tricks don’t work. The threats of hell don’t work. Screaming louder does not work. They realize that they have been disarmed and they are more than a little frightened and bothered by it.

I would caution them to get over it. 🙂

Billy Collins – An Inspiration

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Recently, I wandered unto the Poetry Foundation’s site and stumbled upon this poem by Billy Collins. Several books of this American poet are sitting on my book table as I write this. I do believe I should take some time as soon as possible to immerse myself in his works if I can expect more like what I’m about to share with you.

What impressed me the most were the multiple layers. I could read through it once and see Collins speaking to readers on what to visualize; then, in the second read through, it struck me that he was also talking to writers and poets on how to be open to inspiration. He not only interjected humor into it like a professional comedian, but you could see he was authoritatively guiding a student’s mind as a teacher as well. Written with such ease but yet it was interweaving the subject matter like a piece of M.C. Escher art. I found this piece amazing. It left me with a smile on my face and sighing loudly. And hoping that I might one day write so well.

May this piece hit home for you as much as it did me. 

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Image credit – Steven Kovich

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins, “Introduction to Poetry” from The Apple that Astonished Paris. Copyright � 1988, 1996 by Billy Collins. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press. Source: The Apple that Astonished Paris (University of Arkansas Press, 1996)

Plugged In

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It was around 2009 that social media became a part of my life. I joined reluctantly. “Who has 1000 friends they communicate with regularly? It’s just a shallow trend!” was frequently heard uttered by not only myself but others.

I’d seriously underestimated the positive as well as the negative I found there eventually.

The initial intent was to stay in touch with faraway friends and family, but my circle quickly grew to include lost friendships from high school, in-common friends I’d not ever known, and new friends who shared common interests. It was a wide variety of people from all walks of life and which had a wide range of interests that I began to include in my daily life. I can honestly say this brought me a great deal of joy. Adding Twitter and Instagram to the mix allowed me to share with even more people, most of which I’d never met, but they seemed to like what I added to their lives. Hopefully, as much as what they contributed to mine. It turned out to be a good decision to join up on all these platforms.

There were drawbacks, though. The thing which became glaringly obvious was the amount of time one can spend at the computer, phone, or tablet keeping up with all that was shiny and new to see. It may be fascinating, but oh, the time suck!!! There was much left undone in those early days that genuinely needed to get done, and where was I? At the keyboard, of course, looking at the monitor, having fun and interested, and unable to tear myself away because I wanted to read JUST ONE MORE THING! Dishes in the sink, laundry waiting for attention, a dust-filled house crying cleaning – all not considered as necessary anymore because there is something way more interesting going on in the place called the Internet. I’m ashamed to admit it, but early on, that’s what happened.

More and more, I watched social media polluted with a new form of comedy. The news feed streamed a lot of the satire sites, confusing our thinking with content, which was not true but purported to be real. Sometimes it was just that – satire, but so many times it was propaganda pushed onto the masses for an agenda. It was distracting, and in that sense, a time-waster because it required more research to determine whether it was true or not. That was frustrating to me, and many of my friends who were striving for knowledge and accuracy. And it’s discouraging to see so many others who ingested all content they were inundated with as if it were fact.

Personal details about our friend’s lives endear us to them even more with this far-reaching tool, but with anything, when used to manipulate for gain, then it’s a detriment, not beneficial. And so many can’t see it as it’s happening. Drama after drama plays out online, and tugs at heartstrings. The generosity pours out, but sometimes the people are just pawns. It’s sad to see, and devastating to those who succumbed to the deception. Social media has the potential for harm and teaches us to be warier and to be less trusting because of it.

Social media can allow us to feel more anonymous and thereby more confident in the presentation of ourselves to our audience. But some choose to remain anonymous just for the sake of being bold, extremely deprecating, and even insulting to others. It’s like social media has given them the super-power of assholey-ness, and they have a worldwide audience. I’ve talked to many who have had encounters that have left them feeling demoralized, marginalized, angered, and humiliated at times.

I also think having this tool to be more “social” also impacts us more negatively. Information gets to us quicker, but it is more devastating when our constructed social network or our personal ‘community’ is injured more dramatically than ever before. It can escalate or dial-up the drama at a much faster pace, and the negative can ratchet up to unheard-of levels quicker than ever before. The misery of others is the fodder in our everyday news cycle, where previously, it may have taken weeks, months, or not at all to hear the gossip. Now, it’s a laid out on our Newsfeeds. And what a nasty pile-on it can become.

Stepping back, when I evaluate it realistically, social media is just the extended version of real life. All of the things I mentioned above do occur in person to person contact. The only difference is it happens on a much grander scale in the online world. There are more people involved, more interactions, more hype, more distraction, and more drama. It’s helped make our community bigger but in a much different way than we thought it would. Social media is representing life on a larger scale, where it’s become louder and more visible.

Thankfully, we will encounter good individuals in our electronic travels, but people being people, some of them using these platforms will be twat-waffles. Unfortunately, that group will dim the positive impact social media can have on our world.

But isn’t that always the way?

Life’s Patterns

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Existing as a human, a random outcome when DNA perhaps combines joyously stacks the odds against us right from the beginning. We’re rather frail and vulnerable, but with care, nurture, and hopefully love, or maybe not, we manage to survive and even sometimes thrive despite what life can throw our way. The disasters we encounter – natural or otherwise – can be life-altering. There’s nothing more devastating than having to fight life’s indiscriminate catastrophes. Dealing with and even overcoming some of these moments can be excruciating. It is a “Survival of the fittest” world, just as Darwin described it. The physical world endures merely because of having the strength to survive.

When I look at this capitalistic society, it primarily operates the same way. The financially fittest are a class unto themselves. “Here’s a wild statistic: The 26 richest people on earth in 2018 had the same net worth as the poorest half of the world’s population, some 3.8 billion people.” It’s only a small top tier of obnoxiously wealthy individuals whose wealth sets them apart from most humans. Financial woes will probably never be an issue for them unless they do something so heinous that it topples their kingdom. Some individuals repeat that mantra with a vengeance. And some of those, survive in such a fashion that is a detriment to others — shame on them. Being rich, even ultra-hoarding rich, is not the problem, hurting others to remain rich is. And that’s the point. They think that only they should survive. 

It is sad to see so many people perish because the arrogant don’t care. Watching those far removed actively engaged in the destruction of other’s lives for their gain seems monstrous to me. How do they sleep at night?

A fair amount of my life is over, and statistically, I might see about another 20 years. I hope that wealth inequality in this world sees a tremendous change before my demise. There is no reason in this universe that there should be starving children, homeless people, or otherwise destitute individuals.

We should be taking care of each other.

WWGD

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No, not What Would God Do. It’s all on you.

Much of our lives is undoing the damage we brought forth from our childhood into the adult version of us. For years we reacted from an uncomfortable emotional space, unconsciously inhabited, but seemingly normal. Angry, sad, desperate children trapped in a much taller and larger body. But is it possible we could picture how an adult would respond instead of opting for a knee jerk pitch from our past? Might the outcome be different? Even if we can’t always do the best thing in every situation, isn’t it worthy of a try? It would seem to be a good enough reason to make that conscious effort of saying to oneself, “What would a grown-up do?” precisely because continuing to repeat old patterns of behavior gets us nowhere.

Just a thought.

 

Past Lies

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“Whites saw Indians as obstacles to settlement, not rightful proprietors. Whites possessed presumptive rights because they represented a superior civilization. Indians were merely “savages”, incapable of putting the land to its highest possible use.” “Feel-good morality tales, in which the good guys can do no wrong and the bad guys can do no right, are far from harmless. They feed the notion that one side, inspired by righteousness, possesses the right to kill. They fuel the destructive cycle of revenge, for the villainous acts committed by the bad guys must be avenged. The emotions stirred in stories such as The Patriot are elemental but base: we want the enemy to go down. Justice is achieved through killing.”
Ray Raphael, author of Founding Myths – Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

This thought-process explains why the military defense gets over half of the US budget. The mindset of the powerful is and has always been one of conquest. They expect everyone to feel the same and fall in line. Those who whitewash history know this. It’s precisely why our children don’t learn the reality of this country’s past as teachers shovel feel-good stories about patriotism. The United States tries to deflect on every level all the shit they have done.

It’s disgusting.