Thoughts on the “realism versus idealism dispute”

Recently, I was in a conversation and said some interesting things.  I don’t know if its true or not but here’s the thought:

It seems, to me, that the U.S. is going through something like a “social dispute”.  Basically, there has developed a division in the U.S.  It has split into two camps that are opposed to each other.  These are philosophies that are not compatible and even contradict each other.  I called it the “realism versus idealism dispute”.  As it appears to me at this time, these seem to be increasingly opposed to each other.

IDEALISM

Idealism is based in basing life on an image of “an ideal world”, of an image of “how life should be”.  It is primarily a “pie in the sky” thinking.  In general, they are trying to fit things into a pre-conceived image which they like and find appealing.  In other words, life is forced to fit into an image . . . the ideal.  In some sense, they are trying to make the world fit into a mold.  As a result, they are trying to force things to be a certain way.  A good example is something I saw the other day.  I saw a sign, apparently advertising for some girl group which had the name “GIRL” then said something like “G – go-getter , I Independent, R – ????, L – leader”.  You can see what they are doing.  They are using the letters for the word “girl” to force or fit the female so she fits American ideals, which were created by males.  In actuality, these traits don’t really reflect the female character.  In this way, they are trying to make the female fit into an image that appeals to them even though it doesn’t reflect them.  This is a good example of how idealism actually promotes an alienation in some situations. It shows how the “pie in the sky” thinking tends to create a detached and alienated situation that is removed from the real world situation.   As a result, their viewpoints often tends to become impractical.  The idealists image is not generally sufficient to live by and tends to fail as a result.  It may work for a while but it eventually fails.  In other words, idealism tends to have a life span and is not long-lasting.

The great strength of idealism is in the fact that it “sounds good” and, in that way, is satisfying.  In fact, idealists tend to as if wrap themselves up in the “pie in the sky” ideal as if it were a warm blanket.  In this way, idealism has a quality that it makes the idealists feel secure and safe.

Idealism often gets wound up with “high cause” and self-righteous attitudes.  They often think their ideal is the “answer” and the “ultimate”.  This, it seems to me, is an attitude that comes from Christianity.  Basically, “Christ as an answer” turns into “the ideal is the answer”.

Because of this self-righteous attitude many idealists tends to become upset when it begins to fail and it can affect them in a number of ways:

  • It is devastating for them.
  • They go through denial
  • They act like the world is against them.
  • They act like the world is falling apart.
  • They have to find some means to defend their ideal, even to the point of criminalizing and villainizing people.

It seems, to me, that we are seeing these very attitudes displayed in this society by the idealists.

I associate the idealism that we are seeing now with the idealism that appeared after WWII as a result of the glorification of the U.S.  The victory of WWII, by the U.S., and the technological achievements and economic progress that followed it, made it appear as if “America is the way to be” and that “the American way is the right way”.  This became a great matter of pride and still is for some.  It created a great idealism of American values and principles as well as its political and legal viewpoints.  Many idealists use this as a basis of their ideal.  In this way, the idealism that we are seeing really refers to an “ideal American world” where all the American values work.  As a result, many idealists think that they are representative of American values and principles. 

In addition to that, their emphasis is on the ideal and do not look elsewhere.  In this way, idealists tend to have an attitude of “looking at life through a tube”.  They tend to be narrow in their conception of things and limited in their views of a “solution”.

Here are some of the qualities we see with idealism:

  • A glorification of American values.  These include things like equality, democracy and an emphasis on things like individualism and achievement.
  • They are rooted in the “glory days of the past”.  In general, an ideal is something the past created.  As a result, in glorifying the ideal they glorify the past.
  • They are not progressive and do not look to the future.  The looking to an ideal tends to make them not “forward looking” . . . they are “ideal looking”.
  • They tend to be blind, and not cautious, often not looking at the big picture.  Because they are “ideal looking” they tend to look at life through a tube and, as a result, they don’t get the big picture.  This tends to give them a blind quality and display no caution.
  • It has a “voice” in the media.  This tends to give idealism a particular power and presence in the society.  The media seems to be idealist in orientation . . . they are reporting what wants to be heard.  This is often social ideals.  As a result, they tend to state, promote, and reflect the ideal.
  • It is self-righteous.  As I said above, idealist tend to take on a “high and mighty” attitude, as if they are the “answer”.
  • It tends to be a point of view popular with females.
  • It tends to be a point of view popular with liberals.

REALISM

Realism is a point of view that emphasizes a confronting the world as-it-is.  It does not follow or promote an image of an “ideal world” nor does it try to force things to fit an “ideal image”.  As a result, realism tends to be somewhat spontaneous and reactionary.  Because of this, realism lacks security and safety.  This often creates, in realism, an attitude of caution.  In this way, realism tends to look at things more deeply and, in so doing, tends to be more implanted in the situation.

Being spontaneous to conditions realism often can be blunt, violent, and forceful.  This scares many people, particularly idealist who want the comfort of an ideal.  Often, one does not know what will happen with a realism.  But what we do see is that realism is often very creative.  Idealism, on the other hand, tends to be uncreative and stagnant as its rooted in a constant ideal.

The great power of realism is that it is based in the world and in confronting it.  As a result, it creates a real-world perspective.  But, often, the real-world is not pretty, is unpleasant, and can be terrifying.  As a result, realism is often hard for many people to handle.  In fact, my observation is that most people who cater to realism tend to take a realism point of view but with a “dash” of idealism to soften it.

Realism tends to need a number of things in order to work effectively:

  • Leadership
  • A plan
  • A direction

Without these, realism is as if lost and is ineffective.  In these ways, realism needs some organization to deal with the world.  In a way, a realism without organization is not a realism at all . . . it is just an idea.

Generally, realism will develop a plan and direction and will develop a system to coordinate it.  Its not uncommon that the system created by realism can become so powerful and overbearing that it begins to strangle people and society.

Realism tends to have qualities such as these at this time:

  • It is a point of view based in confronting the world.
  • It can be a harsh, violent, or difficult point of view to handle.
  • It is progressive in character.
  • It is spontaneous and reactive.
  • It tends to take a cautious perspective and point of view.
  • It needs organization.  It needs leadership, plan, or direction.
  • It currently has no “voice”.  Realism seems to gain its “voice” in a social structure, tradition, culture, etc.  These are all things that have deteriorated since WWII.  As a result, realism does not have firm “voice” in society.
  • It tends to be popular with males.
  • It tends to be popular with conservatives.

THE INFLUENCE OF AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

We are now facing an uncertain future, of a situation in which we do not know what to expect.  In short, there is anxiety in the future.  This, it seems to me, has a great impact on this dispute and has probably played a large part in its creation.  Its influenced each side:

Idealism – As I said above, idealists tend to “wrap themselves up in the ideal” to make them feel secure.  In this way, the ideal protects them from the anxiety and uncertainty of the future.  This seems to suggest that they are frightened deep down.  It also shows how idealists are holding onto the ideal to combat their fear of the future.  Overall, idealism tends to emphasize the past without regard to the future

Realism – This point of view is based in the world and, accordingly, will be more accepting of the unknown and uncertain future.  The problem is that it doesn’t know how to do it. In this way, realism is better equipped to deal with the future but it has no plan.

THE PROBLEM OF “AMERICAN GLORY”

There is an aspect of this dispute where it seems to revolve around the difficulty in letting go of “American glory” and moving on to a “new world”.  In this way, it is reflective of an awareness of a post-American world by many Americans.  This is primarily an attitude of the idealists which means that they basically don’t want America to change.  Harking back to “American glory”, and its ideals, makes idealists feel safe and secure.

This point of view isn’t all seen with idealists.  There are some realists, though, who tend to emphasize “American glory”.  Realists primarily tend to emphasize “American glory” as a basis of how to do things and progress.  In other words, they use it as a “model” for the future.  This, it seems, is primarily because it is something to be “relied upon”.  In my opinion, though, it is just a realists version of how the idealists don’t want America change.  In both cases, the past is looked upon for the future.

What this shows is that “American glory”, and the success of America in the past, has become something as a hindrance to the future.  Both are only wanting to “replicate” America’s success in the past.  The future, in my opinion, needs something else.

THE FAILING OF IDEALISM

As I said above, idealism, being based in an image, tends to work only for a short period of time.  I tend to think that American idealism is largely failing.  One reason for this is that this idealism is rooted in the post WWII world and the conditions of that time.  That era has long past.  As we move further and further away from that time that form of idealism is increasingly becoming removed from the times.  Personally, I think that a lot of American idealism is failing and many people are struggling with this fact.  In fact, I’d even go on to say that the “realism versus idealism dispute” is very much based in the idealists not wanting to let go of their idealism and ideals.

THE LACK OF A “VOICE” AND ORGANIZATION IN REALISM

At this time, realism has no “voice” in society nor is it organized.  This means that realism is impaired.  It almost seems as if realism is waiting for a “voice” and organization to appear so it can manifest itself.  I would even go on to say that a large part of the “realism versus idealism dispute” is that realism cannot develop a “voice” or organization to manifest itself.  

My conversations with people seem to show that most males, anyways, reflect the perspective of realism.  This shows that realism seems to be a growing attitude and point of view.  It is appearing without a “voice” and without organization showing, in my opinion, that the times are “calling out” for realism.  Its appearing naturally and because of need.  This, I think, is very revealing.

 MY FEELINGS

I tend to feel that, of these two points of view, idealism is something of a hindrance even to the point of being a threat.  I think this for a number of reasons:

  • It is alienated from the real world
  • Its trying to fit things in a preconceived image
  • It is not reacting to the conditions
  • Its too high and mighty
  • It is not progressive

Realism, though, has some problems:

  • It has no leadership
  • It has no direction
  • It has no plan
  • It has no defined philosophy

In other words, we don’t know what to expect from realism at this time.  Despite this, realism seems to be the wisest path for the times.  Idealism will only keep us in the past and, in a way, keep us from confronting the uncertain future.  Considering the situation of today we need a more practical real-world perspective in order to move on.  Idealism, with all its high cause and self-righteousness, simply does not offer that.

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Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Society, The U.S. and American society | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the dilemma of interpretation

Here’s a thought I had:

It seems, to me, that there is increasingly becoming problems of interpretation of things.  By “interpretation” I refer to giving an explanation or meaning to things and events.  In other words, interpretation is the “making sense” of things.

I tend to think that the problem of interpretation is a somewhat serious problem as unity in interpretation is unity as a people.  In short, the less we interpret alike the more divided we become.  It seems to me that what we need most, nowadays, is unity as a people and the problem of interpretation is only going to add to that.

Interpretation is important for a number of reasons, such as:

  • It gives meaning to things
  • It provides unity
  • It is a means for authority

Science, which often professes “truth”, is largely failing as an interpretation as has religion.  The proliferation of interpretations, as a result of social media and such, are only contributing to the problem.  The fact is that almost any interpretation can be dis-proven or an alternate interpretation can be found.  Its almost like any interpretation is becoming redundant and useless.

THE MYTH OF SCIENCE

It seems that much of so-called science is not science at all.  To me, the bulk of science is doing nothing but reflect what I call the “popular interpretation of information”.  What this means is that what is considered “truth” is often nothing but a reflection of the popular interpretation at the time.  Because of this, the “truth” changes from time to time.  Its not science, its “popular interpretation”.  I sometimes speak of this as “pretend science”.

Not only that, each new interpretation almost always is supported by studies and apparent scientific “proof” to support it.  This shows that what constitutes “proof” is a matter of interpretation, not science.  In short, what and how you consider something as “proof” depends on how you want to look at it.  If you accept it as “proof” then it becomes “true”.  The effect of this is that the “interpretation becomes the proof”.  This is why everyone has “proof” of their “truth”.  This, of course, is not “real science” but its generally claimed to be and most people seem to accept it as such.

All this is a reflection of how a person wants to interpret the “facts” or “findings” of research and studies.  What this means, basically, is that science is not as scientific as it may appear and is professed.  It seems to me that the question, nowadays, is no longer in scientific method, tests, research, or studies but in the question of how all this information is interpreted.

It seems, to me, that the only “real science” is found in some chemistry and physics.  Everything else, really, is largely dependent on interpretation.   I consider it as “real science” because it has these qualities:

  • Testing is done in a controlled environment
  • It can be measured
  • It can be replicated

Most fields of knowledge do not display these qualities.  In fact, in many fields of “science” none of them can be demonstrated.  In this way, we see that “real science” is a limited area of knowledge.

Schools of thought

A lot of science, and knowledge in general, have become a matter of “schools of thought”.  This, really, refers to different ways to interpret information.  It shows how some people interpret one thing one way and another thing another way.  This is even seen in some areas of chemistry and physics.  It runs rampant in the more “vague” fields like psychology and economics.  And, of course, every school of thought has its “proof”.

The fact that there are schools of thought show these things:

  • Science does not come up with the “ultimate answer”.
  • There is a problem of interpretation.
  • That how one interpretes plays a significant role.
  • That there are differences in interpretation.

It all shows that science is not as “sure” as it claims.

“I AND I”

It seems, at least to me, that a lot of “pretend science”, and knowledge in general, is what I have begun to call “I and I”.  This means “Inquiry and Interpretation”.  This is a process that entails the seeking of a “missing element”.  In other words, its a seeking for something that isn’t obviously there.

There are a number of forms of how this “missing element” may appear:

  • As information or a “knowing”
  • A way or style 
  • An awareness
  • A transformation of some form

Science is generally trying to find the former.  The other forms are seen in other forms of knowledge.

We must remember that discovering the “missing element” is not the end of the matter as it still has to be interpreted.  This points out that inquiry tends to give information or “known things” but it does not, by itself, interpret them.  That’s a whole other process.  Sometimes, though, they are so closely related that one quickly blends into the other.  My experience, though, is that there are usually these two distinct stages.  Because of this, there is an ability for each.

Inquiry

Inquiry is the means or method of looking at something.  To be more precise, it means looking at something with a missing element with the intent of finding that missing element.  In this way, it is looking at something with a purpose.  This tends to make a person look deeper into things, to find out what’s “behind” it or to discover what one cannot see.  As a result, inquiry has a “peering into” quality.

Inquiry often takes this format:

  1. A missing element – a need, question, or unknown which needs a solution
  2. The “means”  – a way of coming up with the solution
  3. Realization – understanding the solution

An interesting point is that a person must be aware that something is missing as well as the realization of the solution.  This shows that inquiry is very much based in a “sense”.  This reveals that a lot of inquiry is not something one “chooses” . . . it comes from necessity.  This “sense” can be unconscious or conscious.  That is to say, it does not have to be overtly conscious.  In many cases, people inquire without consciously knowing the reason why.  This is a very interesting point.  In the same way, a person finds a solution consciously or unconsciously.  In other words, a person may find the solution without knowing it!  I think this happens a lot more than one would think.

The realization appears a number of ways:

  1. Intuitive
  2. Experiential
  3. A process or method

Most inquiry, in my opinion entail all forms, in one way or another.  The more of a “sense” it is the more intuitive and experiential it is.  The more abstract it becomes the more it becomes a process or method.

I’ve seen a lot of people who think a process or method is what makes it “science”.  What they are saying is that “procedure makes science” which I don’t believe is true.  Its like saying that anything done with a procedure makes it “true”.  Many forms of inquiry, all over the world, involve means of a process, method, or procedure but its not the same as science, nor does it make it “true”, nor does it come out with the same solution.  This means, more or less, that “procedure does not automatically make it science”.

There is, oftentimes, a skill in inquiry.  I tend to think that many people don’t know how to inquire.  As a result, its often haphazard and erroneous.  In fact, I often feel that many people they do what can be called a “pseudo-inquiry”.  Some of the ways this appears include:

  • They basically repeat what others come up with as if they came up with it.  This is often what “learning” is . . . they discover what another person discovered.  In short, learning about it is their discovery!
  • They casually look at things and do not look at things deeply or seriously.  Things are given a “quick glance”.
  • They easily jump to conclusions or solutions.  This is often done without great thought.
  • They expect instant or easy answers to appear as if out of nowhere.
  • They base things on “first impressions”.  In short, there is no inquiry.

The result of this is an often quick and shallow solution.  In many cases, though, this is enough but in other cases it is horribly inadequate.  Some inquiry needs to be deeper and entail more to it.  This is why, I suppose, that inquiry, in its many forms, often becomes a “specialty”.  There develops people like philosophers, people who experiment, and such who take inquiry more seriously.

In addition, there seems to develop, in many societies, people with an “inquiring character”.  They have qualities such as:

  • They spend a lot of time inquiring
  • They use their experience  help them inquire in the future
  • They do a lot of reflection and thought on what they do

My experience is that they may or not have a defined process or method in how they work.  The best “inquiring character” are people who do this naturally, as part of their natural tendencies.   That is to say, they don’t do it because something like school, or their job, teaches them to do it or makes them do it.  A school or job can help the “inquiring character” develop in some people, though, as it can give a means or framework for it to develop.  But if a person does not have the natural inclination and are taught to do it then it often becomes mechanistic and they soon rely on process or method.  In some cases, this is done almost exclusively.  They “pose a question” and then use a process or method to find an answer.

Inquiry comes up with material but the material needs to be interpreted . . .

Interpretation

In my opinion, the manner of interpretation has nothing to do with science or “truth” as some great abstract concept.  That is to say, interpretation is not to create some great “concept” or “idea” as if it were written in stone.  It seems, to me, that interpretation revolves around what I call “relevance”.  This is the quality that makes things important to you and your condition.  In many was, relevance determines the direction, path, and truth of interpretation. 

Relevance primarily consists of taking “bits and pieces”, coming from the inquiry, and making a sense out of them that fits you and your situation.  But, in so doing, we discard other things or not even notice them altogether.  In this way, relevance only uses a small portion of what is there before you.  As a result, other people, with a different relevance, will see those things you missed and come to other conclusions.  In other words, interpretation is taking various facts and information and organizing it into a manner which makes it relevant to whoever is interpreting it.  Its because of this quality of relevance that makes everyone come to different conclusions even though they are looking at the same thing.  Science, and scientific method, also reflects this quality of relevance.  This is because science is taking facts and fitting it into a form that fits the relevance established by the condition of science.  In so doing, it also takes “bits and pieces” from the big picture.

Examples of things that affect interpretation include:

  • The person.  A lot of interpretation must be relevant to the person and have meaning to that person.  If it doesn’t then it has no value.  In this way, a person often gives value to what is relevant.  
  • The society The social culture, situation, etc. often determine what is relevant and, accordingly, how things are interpreted.  Society often determines what is relevant.
  • A condition.  Various conditions, or situations, often determine what is and what is not relevant or the way in which it is relevant.  For example, a newly discovered medical fact may be relevant, in different ways, to business (who may use it to market a new product), a medical specialist (who may see more into its meaning), or a general practitioner (who will use it to guide diagnosis or give advice), or an individual person (who may use it to be live more healthy).  Conditions often determine the way things are relevant.  

So we can see that the relevancy of interpretation rests on many different qualities.  The above qualities vary from place to place, person to person, and typically change through time.  In this way, relevancy is ever-varied and ever-changing.  Since interpretation is a matter of relevancy it means that interpretation is also ever-varied and ever-changing.  This means there will never be a “one” interpretation because there is simple no “one” condition of relevancy.  In other words, always expect that there will be different interpretations in any situation.

There are a number of qualities needed in interpretation:

  • The “information”.  This is the “facts” that need to be interpreted.  They are like building blocks that must be put together in a specific way.  This “putting together” is the interpretation.  In actuality, the “information” used in an interpretation is actually made up of “bits and pieces” coming from all the “information”.   We only use the “information” that is relevant to our condition.  
  • The background of the interpretation.  Any interpretation is based on a person, or persons, who have an already existing “background”, such as a culture, previous education, established attitudes, experience, etc.  These form the foundation for any interpretation.  Because of this, any interpretation a person, or persons, make is automatically somewhat biased due to their specific background.  As a result, there is, in reality, no such thing as an unbiased interpretation.  This basically means that the claim that “scientific truth” as not being biased is not correct, for example.
  • The motive of the interpretation.  The purpose, or reason, of the interpretation determines what is important and often determines the overall scheme of the interpretation.  In fact, the motive is often what makes things relevant.  In this way, we see another tendency of bias in interpretation for the motive dictates the relevancy and form of the interpretation of the “facts”.  This is not surprising as no one, as far as I have seen, interprets information without a motive.  To go even further, my observation is that even the noting of specific “information” is based on motive.  That is to say, when there is no motive things are not noticed as “information” and, accordingly, they are not noticed or acknowledged.  This is why many things go unnoticed in life . . . there’s just no meaning in it.  Once it has meaning we notice it.
  • An interpretation accepted as “truth”.  In life, we make many interpretations ranging from “vague” to “definite”.  Many of these are not “taken to heart” but are as if “hanging there”.  Perhaps we could call these “floating interpretations”?  But there is a point when these “floating interpretations” are considered “true”. Once this is made the interpretation becomes a “definite interpretation”.  As a result, the how and why one makes it “definite” is very influential in interpretation.  In many cases, it is dictated by the motive . . . once it seems to satisfy the motive it is now established as “definite”.

Oftentimes, many people have an already established point of view that is the background or basis of their interpretation.  In fact, in many cases, the interpretation is nothing but this established point of view restated in the “guise” of new “information”.   In this way, their interpretation is nothing but the established point of view restated in a new way.  This is often gives a similarity in interpretations by a culture, people, belief, etc. and why one can often tell where certain interpretations come from.

As with inquiry, interpreting takes a skill.  I tend to feel that interpretation takes an artistic ability, and is often comparable to something like poetry or art.  This means that skill in interpretation is probably seen less in people than in inquiry.

PROBLEMS OF INTERPRETATION

Nowadays, we’re seeing many problems with interpretation:

Too many ways to interpret

Nowadays, there are too many points of views and, accordingly, too many interpretations.  You can get a group of 10 people looking at the same thing and you’ll get 10 answers, all which “make sense”.  Some of the thing that have caused this include:

  • The breakdown of culture
  • The breakdown of belief
  • The influence of various forms of media (news, social media, etc.)
  • The opening up of the “world”

These really describe two qualities:

  1. The fall of our traditional-based interpretation
  2. The influx of other different interpretations

In these ways, interpretations are becoming undermined and usurped.  Nothing, really, is maintaining a constancy in interpretation that has any form of authority.

Media-based interpretation

The rise of media has created a new form of ‘pseudo-interpretation’.  Sadly, this media-based interpretation is starting to usurp a lot of traditional and practical interpretation in the world.  It is very lacking, though, and is not sufficient to offer wise and adequate interpretations.  This is because it has qualities such as:

  • It creates what seems like a unity by its prevalence
  • It is based in mass mentality
  • It attracts people by its “dazzlement”
  • It tends to lack a relevancy
  • It does not fit all conditions
  • It tends to offer a single explanation
  • It lacks common everyday sense

An effect of these is that it creates an illusionary “one explanation” for everything which it actually does not do.  Its like trying to paint the world out in one picture.  In some respects, media-based interpretation is worse than science in trying to create a “one explanation”.  This is primarily because of its ability to attract and “dazzle” people.  It appears, to me, to be comparable to a form of  “brain washing”.

I should point out that there are various forms that this media-based interpretation appears:

  • Commercialism
  • Various forms of entertainment
  • Social media
  • News
  • Education and schooling

Through things, such as these, the media-based interpretation makes its influence.  One see’s an absence of things like these:

  • A way of life
  • Religion
  • A belief system
  • Social structure
  • Morality

Things, like the above, are typically the primary source of interpretation in the world since the beginning of time and, with the media-based interpretation, they are absent.  This, I think, is a significant point.  In my opinion, what is happening is that we are basically exchanging genuine pearls for cheap plastic pearls because they are more easily produced.

The fragile condition of “unity of interpretation”

A culture, society, or people tends to create a “unity of interpretation”.  This unity tends to create an image of “ultimate truth” in that culture as everyone interprets the same way.  In this way,  the power of “unity of interpretation” is not in “truth” but in unity.  It is what holds many cultures, societies, and peoples together.  This unity creates security and belonging.

Unfortunately, this “unity of interpretation” is quite fragile.  Several things can easily upset it:

  • Some form of breakdown (such as social, religious, belief, political, etc.)
  • The intrusion of other interpretations (such as by foreign influence, new ideas, takeover, etc.

Any one of these can cause a loss of “unity of interpretation” that could even lead to the breakdown and fall of the whole society.  The “unity of interpretation” is a very precarious, fragile, and touchy situation.  Its easily disrupted and destroyed.  This is what we are seeing in the world today.

Overdoing research

In my opinion, research in many fields are becoming “overdone”, as I always say.   Some things have been looked at so many times that it has gotten to the point that it is nothing but “beating a dead horse”.  Everything nowadays is looked at from the same background, the same basic information, the same education, and the same point of view.   They often come to the same conclusions that can even be predictable.  There are really too many people doing research nowadays.  I wouldn’t be surprised that, in some cases, thousands of people are researching the same subject.  Over the years it could be 10’s of thousands and maybe even millions of people who are researching the same exact subject.  All these people looking at the same thing.  Just recently, I was at Dinosaur Land in Vernal, Utah, where I posed these questions:  “How many people does it take for a new theory to be developed?  How many hours of work is required for a new theory to develop?”  For any new theory to develop god only knows how many people look at it and the hours that is consumed by this must be massive.  I wondered if all the time, manpower, and expense to do this was worth it.  To make matters worse, most of these new theories are nothing but speculation anyways and it has no real impact on life, only people interested in dinosaurs.  Is all this really worth it?

I tend to feel that, in most fields, there is nothing much to discover anymore.  Most of it is “beating a dead horse”, as I said above.  Despite this, people are still doing research.  I sometimes speak of this as “forced research”.  Things that cause this include:

  • There are too many people doing research
  • People need to do research to pass a class or get a degree
  • Its part of their job
  • The success of science and the modern world has made research an ideal and so it keeps going on and on

In many of these we see that what motivates research is based on monetary and social causes.  We can ask this question:  “Is need motivating the research?”  In truth, I don’t think that need motivates many cases of research.

Because of ‘forced research’, a lot of research and studies are taking on qualities such as:

  • It actually states nothing . . . its a bungle of words
  • It glorifies details
  • It creates a pseudo-knowledge (such as the how everything originates with the aliens)
  • It creates endless different points of view 
  • Its a repetition of something earlier
  • It becomes a matter of “splitting hairs”
  • Its nothing more than an opinion that’s passed off as a discovery

The net result of all this is that many “new discoveries” are not the discoveries they seem to be.  In fact, many are not discoveries at all.  This has become particularly prevalent in the 21st century, in my opinion.

INTERPRETATION AND AUTHORITY

It seems, to me, that the issue is not about interpretation but, rather, the authority behind it.  As a result of this, the problem of interpretation is really a problem with authority.  Interpretation is really only a means for authority to manifest itself.  Without authority there is no interpretation.  In fact, the importance of authority in interpretation has been referred to above with “relevance”.  What is relevance but the demonstration of authority?  When something is relevant it has authority . . . that’s what makes it relevant.

In addition, the interpretation issues seems to be greatly influenced by the Christian conversion.  To make a long story short, Christianity is based in conversion which required people to have to reinterpret how they viewed the world according to Christian lines.  This was not done easily and people weren’t all that willing to change their views.  One of the ways people were converted to change their interpretation of the world is that it was done in the name of authority – God – which gave the new interpretation great authority.  This establishes a strong connection between interpretation and authority in western society.  In this way, the Christian conversion had great impact on the the interpretation issue.

When the Protestant Reformation came it caused a new interpretation which conflicted with the Catholic version, and its authority.  This caused further breakdowns in Christianity that, in effect, undermined Christianity and broke it down.  It still hasn’t recovered.

After the breakdown of Christianity science came in and offered itself as the “ultimate truth”.  Science has failed to maintain itself as a solution in the popular mind (that is, it works if you are scientifically minded but not everyday people).  Since science has broken down we’re back to where we started with the breakdown caused by the Protestant Reformation.

What seems to be filling the gap caused by a failed authority are the various forms of media accentuated by the opening up of the world.  This has created the “media-based interpretation” talked about above.  At the time, at least for some people, it seems to be a sufficient substitute for the failure of religion and science and authority in general.  But it, too, will fail in the end.  Sometimes, it seems as if we are all scrambling to find some authority deep down.  We can find substitutes, which are short lived, but can’t find any that’s long-lasting.

INTERPRETATION AS AN ARTISTIC EXPRESSION – INTERPRETIVE EXPRESSION

In many ways, interpretation is an artistic expression of ones self, as a people or individually.  It is through interpretation that one “paints an explanation”.  In this way, we see that interpretation is not a “truth” but an expression of ones self and ones association with the world, often laid out in an artistic meaningful way.  We could call this the “interpretive expression” quality of interpretation.  This fact has largely been forgotten by western society who tends to take the “ultimate” interpretation viewpoint founded by Christianity and its preaching of the great “truth”.  My observation, though, is that most peoples interpretation of things is a form of expression, and one that is, or can be, very artistic in form.  It is not a matter of it being “right” or “wrong”.  Instead, it is more whether it displays these qualities:

  • It expresses themselves
  • It expresses their conditions
  • It expresses their quality or style

It is things, such as these, that make an interpretation “right”.  Who cares if it is supported by scientific fact or other peoples point of view or beliefs?

Because of this artistic quality, interpretation has qualities such as:

  • A style.  This refers to a specific form or way in which it appears.  This tends to make it different for different people.
  • A unique meaning.  Each interpretative expression has a unique meaning to whoever expresses it.  That is to say, an interpretation is an expression of qualities found in a specific people or person and, therefore, are not “generic”.  This makes any interpretive expression unique, particular, and specific.
  • A “personal stamp”.  A deeper interpretation means that it has a deeper meaning to ones self.  This makes the interpretive expression more “personal” and meaningful that goes beyond the overt more “official” meaning.

Because of these qualities, its quite obvious that variations in interpretation are inevitable.  In other words, there will never be a “one” or “ultimate” interpretation.  Christianity tended to believe that it was professing the “one truth”.  This attitude carried over into science.  It has then carried on down to popular opinion and point of view as a general attitude in western society, knowledge, and science.  As a result, many people in western society tend to think that any knowledge they accept is automatically “ultimate”.  This attitude, in my opinion, has caused a lot of confusion, misinterpretation, and misguided acts by western society.

Much of the life of primitive people is in this realm of “interpretive expression”.  Their religion, way of life, beliefs, traditions, etc. are very much rooted in this orientation and gives it its unique quality.  But this expressive quality is something western society could never quite understand.  This is primarily because of the more “ultimate truth” orientation of western society which has made them forget this expressive quality.  In some respects, western society has become impaired because of the loss of this expressive quality.

THE QUESTION OF INTERPRETATION

All this seems to suggest, at least to me, that interpretation is not the critical issue nor is it as definitive as its made out as.  In other words, the fact that there are so many interpretations that “work” suggests that interpretation isn’t that important.  Over the years we have become very bogged down and lost in the “truth” of any interpretation, focusing only on its “truth” and nothing else.  This has, in a way, led us off the track in life.  I can remember, when I was a kid, the obsessive concern over the “truth” of interpretation was.  This obsession always mystified me but I, too, began to take that orientation just because everyone else did.  Over the years, though, I began to feel that there was something wrong with it and that it was not the correct orientation.  I now believe this to be the case.

PROBLEMS OF THE 21ST CENTURY

I can see some unique problems with knowledge and research in the 21st century.   These include:

  • A “cheapness” has appeared in knowledge.
  • Things are becoming “overdone”.
  • There are too many points of view
  • A problem of unity.

The net result of this is a loss in authority and meaning.  In some sense, knowledge is becoming “babble”, an endless this, that, and the other thing that has no real value or meaning.

A new reformation???

I often wonder if we may see a breakdown in knowledge similar to what happened in Christianity after the Protestant Reformation (1500’s).  When this happened we saw a number of things that appeared in the following two centuries (1600-1700’s):

  1. Loss – A doubt, a disbelief, or failed belief
  2. Breakup – The existing belief was dashed into many forms
  3. Replacement– Something new appears to fill the void of absent belief

More than likely, if something similar happens we will probably see the same traits.  Already, I can see these traits in society now.  Unlike the Protestant Reformation, where this happened rather suddenly, I would think that it is going to be more slow moving.  It may be so slow moving, in fact, that it may not even be noticeable.

Whether that’s true or not I cannot say.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Education and learning, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Primitive society and people, Science and technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the struggle with awareness and its effects

Here’s a thought I had:

I have always felt that there is a struggle with being aware when we are born.  For some, the residue of this continues for a big part of our life.  In fact, it seems to me that we are all continuously struggling to be aware to the point that we could say that life is nothing but a continuous struggle with awareness.

AWARENESS IN THE WOMB – “BASE AWARENESS”

It seems to me that awareness begins in the womb.  That is to say, we begin to be aware while we are resting in the womb, though it is very limited awareness.  Its effects, though, are felt throughout our life.  I seem to think that this awareness in the womb is felt by all people but to varying degree’s, such as:

  • For most people it gets lost in the depths of their mind.
  • For other people, its forgotten but surfaces in other ways, such as religious feelings.
  • For some people it is very strong and persists throughout life, often creating a spiritual outlook.

Much of where one is a result of a number of qualities.  Some of these qualities that may affect different people include:

  • A persons innate character
  • A tendency to under or over-sensitivity.
  • Unique events or happenings in the womb.
  • Health conditions.

The awareness in the womb seems to originate from a number of things, such as:

  • Breathing.  I often think this is the “first awareness” one has that is really fully defined and constant.
  • A sensation around the mouth.  This seems to be a result of breathing and may be a result of fluid passing through the mouth as one breaths in the womb.  This may cause a predisposition to a “focusing” on the mouth as a means to associate with the world.  It seems, to me, that this tendency eventually leads to the importance of speech.
  • Movement.  This primarily refers to the sensations of the muscles as the child moves about in the womb.  This is because there is no interplay with objects or space relations at this point in ones life.
  • Skin sensation.  Moving around, and perhaps variations in temperature, may lead to a sensation on ones skin that a child can sense.
  • A “floating awareness” or an “unattached awareness”.  This is an awareness that is not attached to any sensation.  In a sense, it is as if a “door of perception” is open which may or may not sense anything.  When its not sensing anything specific, I would refer to it as “floating awareness” or “unattached awareness”.
  • Desires and wants.  I seem to think that desires and wants can begin to be felt in the womb.

Some of the senses that awareness in the womb causes include:

  • A sense of “allness”, that everything is “one”.  In the darkness of the womb, everything is “one”.
  • There is no distinction between self and world.  This is because there is no self and no world is differentiated.
  • A sense of a “livingness”, or some “energy”, as part of the awareness.  What we are really feeling, in this case, is our own sense of being alive.  This may be involved with desires and wants.
  • A rhythmic or cyclic sense, of things happening on a somewhat regular basis.  This could originate from things like the cycle of breathing and the alternation of being aware and not aware.

I think that these senses are the base of a spirituality and religious feelings.  In other words, spirituality and religious feelings actually originate from the awareness in the womb.  For some people these senses can become profound and cause an intense and involved spirituality.  In fact, I tend to believe that spirituality is trying to regain this original awareness that originates in the womb. Because this awareness is the beginning of a “deep awareness” I often speak of the awareness in the womb as the “base awareness”

I sometimes think that some people become so aware in the womb that they have a hard time dealing with it.  In this way, it as if “drives them up the wall” while in the womb.  This, it seems, persists after they are born, often influencing their character.  I often wonder if this predisposes some people to a “nervous disposition”.  When one becomes over-aware in the womb there is nowhere for it to go and react.  As a result, this causes a tension that one holds “within”.   In this way, one as if is sitting there with all this tension and no outlet.

AWARENESS AFTER BIRTH – “FORCED AWARENESS”

The events following birth, it seems to me, can become quite a shock in regard to awareness.  All of a sudden, we are bombarded with things like:

  • Being awake and alert.
  • Sensations.
  • Feelings.
  • Desires.
  • Unpleasant feelings.
  • Reactions.

All of these, of course, we have never experienced before . . . they are totally new.  This is the case whether we want it or not, whether we are ready or not . . . we are forced to be aware.  Its because of this that I call this “forced awareness”.  In some respects, in the same way that a mother goes through labor to give birth the child goes through a labor of its own, of giving “birth to awareness”.  And just as the labor can be painful for the mother becoming aware can also be painful for the child.  I tend to believe that a lot of the crying, fidgetiness, etc. of newborns is often a result of this struggle with awareness, a lot more than we think.  For some people, I think, this “forced awareness”, with its “shock”, can be a traumatic experience or at least can affect them the rest of their lives.

Some of the struggles caused by “forced awareness” include:

  • The need to get used to awareness.  I think that there is a period of time for a child to be able to handle awareness.  I also think that different forms of awareness tend to require different periods of time.
  • The fact that “forced awareness” can bring out other qualities that can be more difficult than the awareness.  I often feel that the difficulties posed by “forced awareness” can bring out the beginnings of dark and sinister feelings and conflicts.  For some people this can be severe.
  • Being overwhelmed by awareness.  Sometimes, awareness is so overwhelming that some children struggle with it.  For example, it may cause some kids to sleep a lot or become restless or cry.

A significant point is that the reaction to “forced awareness” is often based on the inherent character of the child.  In fact, the reaction to “forced awareness” is often the first introduction of the inherent character of the child.   It can sometimes bring out the beginnings of difficult, problematic, and sinister character qualities in the child.

“Awareness shock”

“Forced awareness” tends to cause a generalized “shock” for most people.  We can call this “awareness shock”.   This can cause great strain on a newborn and infant.  This is not all that surprising for, in some respects, it is our first battle as a person.

This shock appears in different ways in different people.  It can appear in ways such as:

  • A “shock” that appears and is overcome or grown out of.
  • An intensified sense of shock that causes a prolonged struggle.
  • A more continuous, generally mild, struggle that may affect a persons life.
  • A traumatic shock that a person has difficulty dealing with.

The same qualities that affect awareness in the womb also seem to affect how one reacts to “forced awareness”.  These are:

  • A persons innate character
  • A tendency to over-sensitivity.
  • Unique events or happenings in the womb.
  • Health conditions.

Any of these can greatly intensify, or lesson, “awareness shock”.

“Awareness angst”

Because newborns are forced to be aware they have to get used to it.   This takes time, though, and can be difficult.  It seems to create an anxiety or anxious quality.

In my opinion, we are always trying to “get used” to being aware throughout our whole life and we never quite feel comfortable with it.  In fact, I think that it is the cause for much despair, anxiety, and unhappiness in people.  This ongoing struggle with awareness, that continues throughout ones life, we could call the “awareness angst”.

Some of the things that provoke this sense include:

  • An oversensitive nature makes it felt strongly.
  • A sense of self-protection can give it greater meaning and make it more intense.

The “awareness angst” is further complicated by the fact that there is an inability to fulfill desire, need, or want.  We are unable to fulfill any of these, though we are aware of it.  All we do is experience them and that’s it.  This inability to satisfy them, and bring them to fulfillment, plays a big part of the “awareness angst”.  It shows that “awareness angst” has much root on the process of desires and their satisfaction.  Since we are unable to satisfy them it as if disrupts a cycle of the phases of process of fulfillment.  The phases could go something like this:

  1. The impulse (the desire, need, or want).
  2. The awareness of the impulse.
  3. The action to satisfy the impulse
  4. The fulfillment of the impulse

Basically, we feel the impulse and the awareness but we are unable to complete the last two phases.  This causes an angst which tends to lead to a frustrated and anxious disposition.  Being unable to fulfill our impulses in the womb means that we are all born with a somewhat frustrated and anxious disposition.  And because this is one of the first introductions to awareness it also means that awareness becomes intimately associated with frustration and anxiety.  As a result, it as if hangs over our lives.  In fact, I would even venture to say that this is the source of much of our despair and unhappiness in life.

The importance of sleep and dreaming

It seems that sleep as if alleviates”awareness shock” by removing us from it.  This shows that sleep has great importance in regard to awareness.  Sleep as if “relaxes” us from the burden of awareness.   Because of this, sleeping becomes an avenue to alleviate the problems and burdens of awareness.

Now, sleep, by itself, just “relaxes” us from awareness.  Dreaming, it seems, brings on another aspect.  Basically, dreaming is a continuation of awareness but in a modified no-so-intense form.  In this way, dreaming creates what can be called a “relaxed awareness” . . . one can be aware but not burden by its shock.  In this way, dreaming becomes a “middle road”.  As a result, dreaming becomes an “escape” from “forced awareness” and all its various problems.  Because of this, as one develops and grows in awareness the importance of dreaming grows in importance.  It becomes more real and more significant.  This is so true that conflicts can come out dramatically as in a nightmare.

The act of dreaming reflects these qualities:

  • The self – this refers to the sense of “me” as opposed to the world . . . the self-as-independent
  • Projection – this refers to the projection of ones self onto the world so that the world as if becomes ones self . . . in this way, we become “placed” in the world . . . the self-in-the-world
  • Passion – this refers to the emotion, desire, etc. that motivates the dream
  • Awareness – this, of course, refers to being aware of things

The dream is really an absence of self and projection.  All that’s left is passion and awareness and it is these that become portrayed through the dream images.  This fact shows that the “shock” and burden of awareness is actually rooted in the self and projection.  It is these that we struggle with . . . it is not passion and awareness, as one would normally suspect.  This would make sense as the self and projection is a manifestation of the self-as-independent and self-in-the-world . . . it places us, as a reality, in the world.  Because of this, the pressure is on them.  This gives them great focus and importance.  This absence of the self-as-independent and self-in-the-world creates the “dreamlike”, “surreal”, or “otherworldly” quality that is found in dreams.

Because of the absence of the self and projection the dream tends to take on the quality of “base awareness” of our early years.  This gives dreaming a “deeper” quality to it.  Dreams are one of the ways we “reconnect” with the “base awareness”.  Since the absence of self and projection are associated with spirituality and a spiritual sense, its not all that surprising that dreams are often associated with spirituality or a spiritual sense.

We could say that there are two forms of dreams:

  • Pre-self dreaming.  This is a dreaming before the self has developed (the pre-self) or from that part of us that stems from the pre-self.  It is related to “base awareness”.  These, I think, tend to have that “surreal” quality.  They tend to be more generalized in orientation and not be related with events and happenings.  They can be almost to the point of being religious.
  • Self dreaming.  This is dreaming with the self.  This is the dreaming as we normally know it.  These dreams tend to revolve around specific issues and have a “worldliness” about them.  That is to say, they are more related to events and happenings.

I think that a lot of dreaming tend to be a mixture of these two.  It seems, though, that the “pre-self dreaming” is more prevalent when one is young (that is, when the self is not developed and the sense of the “base awareness” is stronger).  As we get older the self develops and, as a result, we start seeing more “self dreaming”.

FORCING THE SELF TO DEVELOP 

Awareness tends to force the self to develop.  This, of course, begins in the womb and goes at an accelerated rate after we are born.  The world puts great pressure on awareness and, through awareness, the self is developed.

This shows that the self is really something that is born by necessity . . . the reality of the world makes it necessary.  In other words, confrontation with the world, and being alive, forces awareness on us which, in turn, forces a self to develop to deal with the world.  In this way, one could say that the self is a “world dependent” entity.

Being “world dependent”, the self establishes one in the world in these ways:

  • A “grasping” – it allows us to “grasp” the world and the things in it.
  • A “reality” – it creates an image of reality that places one in the world as something real and tangible.

The self, then, creates an awareness that is world focused and dependent.  What this does is make it so that the nature of the self is opposed to the nature of “base awareness” . . . they are like opposite ends of a spectrum.  The self causes an emphasis on an external world awareness whereas the “base awareness” creates an awareness that is rooted interiorly.  As a result, there becomes a conflict between the interior side of us and the external side of us.   This is the base of the “spiritual versus world” conflict that is a common theme seen in religion and philosophy.

I should point out that its not uncommon that the forcing of the self to develop often brings in “bad” aspects of ones nature.  In fact, it often does.  For some people, this can bring on some of the most difficult of feelings as they often originate from deep within.  I often tend to think that forcing the self to develop brings on the first battles one has with ones self.  In some cases,  this can continue on into ones whole life.

THE ILLUSION OF THE SELF – “STABLE AWARENESS”

The existence of the self tends to cause various forms of illusions.  Being based in the world, and forced into existence, the self naturally tends to put great emphasis on the world, the things in the world, and ones association with it.  As one becomes confident in ones association with the world one develops a confidence with ones “standing” in the world.  This creates what can be described as a sense of “stable awareness” . . . that is, that ones awareness is “correct”.  But the self often tends to make us feel alienated from ourselves as it detaches us from the “base awareness”.  This can cause a dilemma that can upset “stable awareness” and put one self in great conflict.  A number of ways this conflict can appear include:

  • That the world is false.
  • That there is another world.
  • That one is being deceived.
  • That everything is a lie.
  • Despair.
  • Hopelessness.

All this creates a doubt that can appear many ways:  doubt with ourselves and doubt with the world.  This can be extended in other ways:  doubt about god, doubt about belief, doubt about any belief system, doubt about the government, doubt about society, etc.  In this way, the sense of “stable awareness” can become something of an illusion.

SPIRITUALITY – SEEKING “BASE AWARENESS”

As I said above, “base awareness” is the source of spirituality and a spiritual sense.  Because of this, spiritual-minded people are actually seeking “base awareness”, the awareness of our earliest years and even awareness in the womb.  In spirituality one is usually trying to regain the “sense” of “base awareness”.

Seeking base awareness” can create things such as:

  • A calmness – because our earliest awareness is without “clutter” and confusion
  • Insight and intuitions – this is because ones normal state of mind does not know them
  • A “connectedness” with things and feeling closer to life – this is the original sense of “allness”
  • A purpose and meaning – this refers to a more “uncluttered” and confused state of mind
  • It accentuates life and a more “rounded” life – it brings out more of ones being and mind
  • It encompasses ones whole being – this is because it entails deeper aspects of ones life
  • It gives a sense of “purity” – this is because it originates from the first “non-shocked” awareness

As a result, the effect of these can be very powerful and influential in life.  Its because of this that spirituality can become so important in life.  This seems to be the case, though, only for some people.  Sometimes, too, it is only effective for a period of times in ones life.  It seems to vary with personality and situation.  In other words, seeking “base awareness” isn’t for everyone. 

The illusion of spirituality

Its not uncommon that the seeking of “base awareness” – spirituality – becomes an illusion as well.  I have found that spirituality is not the “ultimate” and is only effective for some types of people.  Too much spirituality can become a problem for some people.

Some of the effects of the illusion of spirituality include:

  • The seeking of “base awareness” can turn into a seeking of a “non-awareness” or a “non-self” state.  This creates a great dilemma in spirituality as we cannot be non-aware or have no self once the self has developed.
  • Though we try to regain “base awareness” we will never really achieve it.  That self is basically gone.  We only grasp a remnant of it.  I tend to feel that trying to seek “base awareness” – spirituality – is something that should not be done too excessively.  One could say that it is something that should be done sparingly as it “adds spice to life”.  This is why I think the monastic lifestyle may be a bit “too much”.
  • Often, the meaning of spirituality wanes.  In some cases, people end up having to “fortify” a failing spirituality with abstract belief.  This often turns it into a mechanical act over time.

The result of these is that spirituality tends to fail or break down.  “Base awareness”, or spirituality, seems to be best as something like an attitude and not something prominent.  That is when it seems to have the most power.

CONTEMPLATION – “BASE AWARENESS” BECOMES REAL

I’ve often described contemplation (or mystical prayer), and whats often called “meditation” in Eastern religions, as a “waking sleep”.  In fact, one could probably describe it as a “forced waking sleep”.  In other words, contemplation is a retraction of self and projection, as in dreaming, but it is done in a waking state.  In addition, contemplation is something we generally have to force to happen.  That is to say, it doesn’t always “just happen”.  This is why it becomes something one “practices” and tends to entail a “procedure” or “technique”.

I could go on to say that contemplation is an attempt at “reviving” the womb-like awareness of “base awareness” and the pre-self dream-like condition as a reality, not as a sense (which is seen in spirituality).  In this way, its like “relearning” and “reviving” it.  Some of the common senses that are revived include:

  • A loss of self (this leads to a sense of detachment)
  • An awareness of an “allness” (this often becomes a sense of God)
  • A sense of the eternal (this is awareness without the self or projection and creates a sense that time is not “grasped”)

In this way, we see that contemplation is something like a regression to a state in the womb or as an infant.  This is not done for the sole reason of “regressing to a more pleasant period of time”.   There are deeper meanings and value in it.  Some of these include:

  • Contemplation hits to the “depths of ones being”.   Since contemplation hits to the depth of awareness and the self (for its going before the self has appeared), it has a quality of “hitting the center”, so to speak, to the “depths of ones soul”.  This does, in fact, happen and is part of the power of contemplation.
  • Contemplation opens up hidden parts of ones self.  Since contemplation entails the abandoning of ones self, as one seeks the pre-self and “base awareness”, it often uncovers hidden aspects of ones self.  One discovers aspects of ones self that one never thought existed, for example.
  • Contemplation makes a more unified self, the “greater self”.  Since contemplation goes to before the self (the pre-self) it as if unifies the different aspects of ones self, making a more unified holistic self.  In this way, the self is not fragmented and a person feels more whole.
  • Contemplation creates a sense of union with the “allness” of life.  The sense of “all” is part of the “base awareness”.  This “allness” is often described as the sense of god.  It also is a sense of “being one with the world”.  In this way, there develops a sense of being part of the world and in it.

So we see that contemplation – the “regression” to ones earliest awareness – has great impact on a person’s self and their sense of being in the world.

Contemplation, though, is not for everyone.  Like spirituality, it only has value for some people.  Most people, I think, who start contemplation cease doing it within a short period of time.  Personally, I think that true contemplatives are rare.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE

In general, the male has a strong self orientation which is absent in the female.  It appears, to me, that this difference in the self causes great difference in the male and female in regard to “base awareness”.

I tend to view the strong self in the male being a result of the fact that nature has given the male a quality of dealing with the world.  The self is that quality that gives the male the ability to deal with the world, to confront the difficulties, trauma, horror, and reality that the world dishes out.  It does this a number of ways, such as:

  • The ego.  I always call this “false confidence” which allows the male to do things that he otherwise would not do in the world (such as killing a walrus with a spear or traveling in inhospitable places).
  • A unity and collectiveness of self.  This is a sense that one must be “together” as a person.
  • A directedness in motive and direction.  This refers to the need to “have a plan” with meaning and purpose.

All these qualities allow the male to better deal with the conditions of the world.  As a result, the male has a stronger self to deal with than the female.  Because of this, the male tends to suffer from self problems that the female generally does not suffer.  It also means that the male suffers more from the illusion of awareness.  As a result, males often have to work harder.  This struggle often makes the male look more deeply as well.  But, at the same time, the struggle also makes them more easily disillusioned.

It seems, to me, that females tend to have a “base awareness” that is more easily accessible, due to the absence of a strong self, but it lacks depth.  In addition, they don’t seem to benefit from its awareness as much as males do.  They also don’t struggle as much.  Being less impacted by self problems, it seems that females get easily swayed by emotional aspects, particularly after menstruation begins (which makes females more susceptible to emotions).  It seems that many females who start off seeking “base awareness” quickly change to seeking emotional aspects and, as a result, tend to easily go off in other directions and lose sight of it.

In short, the males seem to struggle but find depth.  Females don’t struggle as much but don’t find the depth.  In other words, male spirituality tends to be self and awareness oriented, female spirituality tends to be more emotion oriented with the self and awareness lacking.

This seems to show some interesting aspects of the self and awareness.  It shows that the conflict with the self and awareness is very influential, at least for the male.  It reveals these qualities of the self:

  • The self is the source of depth
  • The self forces a greater expansion of the self
  • The self requires greater work and suffering
  • The self creates a greater unity of self

These are things that are primarily seen in males, as a result of the conflict with the self, but seem minimally with females who do not have the conflict as extensively.

For similar subjects see:

Thoughts on the pre-self, primal self, world self, post-self, and the greater self

Thoughts on the progression of projection

Thoughts on boredom and depression – the importance of the self’s need for projection

 


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Children and play, Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Dreams and their interpretation, Existence, Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Religion and religious stuff, The male and female | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the “media situation” and its effects

Here’s a thought I had:

After looking at American history for many years I cannot help but think that one thing it reveals is how the media creates an inability to resolve issues.  To put it another way, the nature of media tends to actually hinder the resolution of conflicts and issues.  In this way, these issues and problems tend to persist and go on and on.  This, it seems to me, has greatly affected the U.S., particularly after the 1960’s, and defines many of its problems, characteristics, and behavior.  In some respects, I would even go on to say that it has impaired American society and keeps it “stuck” in certain conditions, realities, and problems.  The U.S., in particular, is very much “stuck” in the 1970’s (for example, see my article “Thoughts on some origins of many ridiculous attitudes of the American mentality – the ongoing effects of WWII, Cold War, and the Vietnam War era, fear, and on how the U.S. is living in the past“).  Its probably no surprise that this is the situation as the 1960′-70’s is when the media began to make its greatest impact in American society.  In this way, the U.S. is as if “stuck” in the era where media first made its appearance and unable to progress.  This, I think, reveals a lot about the nature of media.

As I looked on this situation further, I could see that, in actuality, the media causes a number of dilemma’s, such as:

  • Conditions, attitudes, points of views, etc. seem to continue on even though they are no longer legitimate, valid, or exist . . . there becomes a tendency to become “stuck”.
  • There is an inability to resolve problems and issues.
  • It seems to often create problems that don’t exist.
  • It often causes an inability to progress.
  • Things are blown out of proportion.

In this way, it suggest that the media tends to create an impairing quality, or so it seems to me.  This, of course, conflicts with much of its claims and what many people think.

This impairing quality makes me wonder of the value of news and media.  Is it really worth it?  I cannot fully answer that question.  I would say that it is one of those situations where it is a “double edged sword” . . . it both helps and harms, depending on the situation.  I do know that the media should be looked at with great suspicion and never automatically assumed to be true.

My own experience is that the only real value of media is in the conveying of practical information.  This includes things like the weather, accidents, robberies, etc.  It tends to fail the more we get into things involving opinion or speculation such as social issues, politics, religion, scandals, etc.  Once it gets into these things its actually best to turn the news off.  Nowadays, especially, there’s too much opinion and speculation in the news and media.  Its starting to take on the quality of a tabloid.  This is why I often speak of the media and news as a “sub-tabloid”.  That is to say, its only tabloidish some of the time (when it does not deal with practical information) and so its not quite a complete tabloid . .  its “under” it, so to speak.  This is true with almost all news media, it seems to me, and is perhaps worse with the big business news, such as CNN and NBC.

THE “MEDIA SITUATION”

A lot of the impairing effects of the media reflects qualities that are inherent in the media situation.  The “media situation” is the conditions that naturally appear when media is existing.  I’ve always felt that there are two specific qualities to this situation:

  1. The fact that we sit passively
  2. The fact that we are told things

I often compare the “media situation” with being an infant . . . we are sitting in a comfortable chair and being “spoon fed”.  Instead of being “spoon fed” food we are
“spoon fed” information.  In this way, we are really nothing but passive recipients.  This, in many ways, sets the tone of the “media situation” and leads to many of the basic problems seen as a result of the media (as shown in examples below).

Forms of media

There are many forms of “media” which include:

  • The news
  • Social media
  • Education and learning
  • Gossip
  • Chit-chat

What we seen, then, is that the media is more than listening or reading the news.  When I use “media” it really refers to any situation that entails the two qualities above, we are sitting there receiving information.  This would then entail even everyday events such as gossiping and even education.  To be more precise, “media”, as I’m using it, refers to the conveying of information to people.  In this way, we could say that a lot of communication is a form of media.

There is a spectrum of the conveying of this information with the extremes being:

  • The conveying of information to an individual person.
  • The conveying of information to the masses.

It seems, to me, that the more its directed toward the masses the more problems there are.  In fact, many of the effects described below are referring to the effect on the masses.

There are a number of means of communication:

  • Person-to-person (such as in chit-chat or gossip)
  • Person-to-group (such as in school)
  • To the masses (such as on TV or social media)

The way the communication happens also varies:

  • Word-of-mouth
  • Reading
  • Seeing
  • Some form of interaction (such texting)
  • Technology-based

With the arrival of technology, and its power and influence, we find that media-through-technology takes on a very potent and powerful form.  As a result, the problems the “media situation” create are intensified.  It is this aspect of things, really, is what I am discussing in this article.  In other words, I am speaking of the effects of the technology-based, mass-directed form of media below.  More specifically, I am speaking of the effects of the news, various forms of mass communication (such as the internet), and social media that is seen nowadays.  These have created conditions that are unique, more intense, and more extensive than any other form of media that has ever existed.  As a result, their negative effects are much more extensive than previously.

EFFECTS OF THE “MEDIA SITUATION”

The “media situation” has many ways it effects things, many of which have negative or impairing effects.  Some of these effects include the following:

Two natural qualities of the media

The nature of media has qualities in it that make in inherently misleading or controlling.  Two of these qualities entail aspects of the media are:

  1. The passive quality.   This refers to the natural tendency of the media to influence people.  That is to say, the media, being a medium of reporting and stating things, has an inherent tendency to affect people by that nature alone . . . it just happens.  When something is stated it tends to affect people.  A good example of this is the 1938 radio broadcast of H.G. Well’s book “War of the Worlds”.  The first part of the broadcast was portrayed as a reporter on-site reporting the news and sounded so convincing that people began to believe that aliens had actually invaded.  This shows that, by just stating things in a believable way it tends to influence people.  Since the media does this it has an inherent tendency to influence people, whether its intentional or not.
  2. The active quality.  This refers to the active effort by the media to alter things.  The media, for example, will interpret things the way they want, distort things, deliberately change things, add things, leave out things, etc.  In this active way, the media forces things into a certain direction.  This active quality can be done deliberately (that is, intentionally) or unconsciously (not intentionally done).  Either way, the media is directing things in a certain direction, a direction THEY dictate.  As a result of this, the active quality makes it so that we are not hearing “all the viewpoints”, as the media often suggests, but the viewpoints they dictate and show us.

In these ways, one could say that the media tends to naturally affect people and naturally leads things toward a specific direction.  These are conditions inherent in the “media situation”.  That is to say, the “media situation” is not a place where a person has control, or a place where a person has all the information, or a place where a person can choose things.  In actuality, the “media situation” is where a person sits “passively”, and is shown things that lead to a specific direction, and is affected by it.  As a result, a person naturally tends to go down the direction the media suggests, blindly and mindlessly.

The “blind following mentality” and the “media-influenced lifestyle”

For many people there is an assumption that everything the media says is “true”.  I seldom see people question what comes out of the media (the ones that do are usually older adult males).  Many people take the point of view of that “if the media says its true then it must be true”.  In this way, many people become nothing but blind followers, believing whatever they’re told however nonsensical or silly.

My observation is that the media tends to create a “blind following mentality” which makes people automatically believe what they are told without question.  This mentality often goes beyond the media and into everyday life and can even become a “world view” which dictates how they act in the world.  What this shows is that the influence of the media, and the mentality it causes, can affect peoples attitude and behavior in life.

I tend to believe that the rise of the media in mass communication has had tremendous impact on peoples behavior in life.  In this way, we could speak of a “media-influenced lifestyle”.  This would show that the media has greatly altered peoples lifestyle and how they live.  Some aspects of this include:

  • An attitude of blind following.
  • A blind reliance on things like opinion, society, and such.
  • An absence of self and in doing things for ones self.
  • The creation of a “mass mind”, where one views themselves as part of a mass of people and not an individual person.
  • A sense of being part of a society or situation.  This is a good effect of the media.
  • A tendency to be over-reactive or jump to conclusions.
  • A blind confidence that one knows what’s going on.
  • A sense of being helpless to everything.
  • A tendency where problems don’t get solved.

In these ways, the “media-influence lifestyle” turns people into something like ants, in a way.

Its appearance has come about, over the years, in a successive of different forms which have become more and more influential:

  1. The newspaper and magazines
  2. The radio
  3. TV
  4. The internet and digital forms

With the later forms it has infiltrated into everyday life making the “media-influenced lifestyle” more and more influential.  Even in my own life I can see a difference in people.  More recently, with the internet and digital forms, especially, I can see people are becoming more and more like ants and less and less like individual people in life.  I think the effect of the “media-influenced lifestyle” is far more tragic than it at first seems . . . at least in my opinion.

The media as “idealism”

Many people tend to view media in a very “high” way, almost like its some form of revelation.  For example, many people view the media as having qualities such as these:

  • It portrays “objective information” that is assumed to be unbiased.
  • It expresses different ideas or points of view to issues.
  • It is complete in its portrayal of the facts.
  • It gives a platform or means for resolution of conflicts by the people.

These assumptions have always mystified me.  I tend to believe that they are based on several ideals that are prevalent in Western society:

  1. The ideal of rationalism and logic.  For example, its assumed that the media is a platform for “rational” thought.
  2. The ideal of democracy.  For example, its often as if assumed that the “people” will logically know how to use the information.

These ideals originate with the enlightment in Western Europe, which is rooted in the revival of Greek philosophy.  In particular, they refer to Greek logic and Greek democracy.  As a result, the context of media is looked at from these values.

From the logic perspective, the media tends to be viewed as a platform for “objective analysis” and can even be viewed something akin to an “education”, as I’ve even heard people say.  In this way, people will view the media as something that is “teaching them what’s going on”, almost like a classroom.  In fact, for some people, the media is viewed as the ONLY thing explaining what’s going on and it is the source of information about everything.  Because of this they do not question it.

And since the media is broadcast to the general population it is viewed as being “democratic”, a means to convey the “facts” to the “people”.  As a result, it is viewed as benefitting the people, informing them, and helping them to make decisions.

These, in my opinion, are not a very good point of views besides being erroneous.  I don’t see much truth in these points of view.  It seems, to me, that people are making the media more than it is and giving it more influence than it really has.

A reason why these points of view are erroneous is that they are based on ideals.  We must remember that ideals are based in an image of “what would be good”.  Typically, though, ideals do not fit the “real world reality”, as I believe the case to be here.  The “real world reality” of the media situation does not fit these ideals.

The importance of the “hook” 

The “truth” of media is often based on what I call the “hook”.  This is that part of media that makes a person “pay attention” to it and, in so doing, it tends to make a person believe it.  In this way, the “hook” is very important for the media.  In fact, a lot of the behavior of the media is in trying to create this “hook”.

Forms of the “hook” include:

  • Stating facts.  The news and media is rooted on happenings and reporting them and this is often how it begins.  This is the best part of the media.
  • Emotionalism.  This refers to catering to subjects that affect peoples emotions.  It could include things like “pulling on peoples heart strings”, or preying on issues that get people upset, etc. 
  • It touches on “touchy subjects”.  This is often politics, religion, scandals, and such.  Often, these are controversial and encompass deep feelings to the point of causing arguments and fights.
  • Sensationalism.  This is making things out bigger than they are, often to the point of giving things qualities that they don’t have.  Basically, its like “dressing things up” to make them appealing.

In these ways, the news and media “gets peoples attentions” which tends to make them more believable.  This is because, typically, once peoples attentions are gained, they tend to believe very easily, and once they are believed they watch the news.  This, of course, is the purpose of the media and what keeps it in business.  As a result, we can see that the “hook” is really only the beginning of a process that the media needs to stay in business.

The reactionary nature of media situation and its effects

The nature of media situation is that it is reactionary.  There are a number of ways this happens:

  • The reactionary stance of the media.  This refers to the fact that the media, itself, is only reacting to an event or situation which it then reports it.  In other words, the media situation is based in reaction.
  • The reactionary stance of the people.  The refers to the fact that the people who cater to the media are only reacting to what the media states.  This shows that the purpose of the media situation is to cause a reaction.

So we see that the media situation is based in a reaction and whose intent is to cause another reaction . . . “reaction in, reaction out”.  In these ways, the nature of the media is that it creates a condition where “reaction is the only path”, you react and that’s it.  Aspects of this reactionary condition include:

  • A person is given something to react to.
  • A person does not initiate anything.
  • A person is not in control.
  • A persons response is dependent on the dictates of the information supplied by the media.
  • A persons reaction has no value and does nothing in the end.

In other words, a person is as if “confined” to the conditions of reaction whose end result, in actuality, is nothing.  The reactionary condition, then, tends to limit a persons ability to respond which, in a way, creates a sense of helplessness.  Some news is particularly like that.  You’re shown something, and may be appalled, but there’s absolutely nothing you can do . . . all you can do is react, and that’s it.  This helplessness is one of the problems of the reactionary condition.

The medias quality of “leading you on” and “distant observance”

We must remember that when one listens to the media it is the media who is controlling things . . . you are only listening (and reacting).  This creates a condition where the media is “leading you on”, they are directing where things go.  They do this a number of ways:

  • The media determines what to report.
  • The media determines what not to report.
  • The media determines how to interpret the facts.
  • The media adds any embellishments they want.

In these ways, the media has “complete control” over the news, how it appears, and even the reaction it may cause in people.  It creates an attitude of “distant observance” in people.  The media creates a condition where no one is in charge nor can anyone do anything.  Everything is seen as if at a distance.  A person is only reacting in a “mindless” and helpless state. In this way, the media situation actually relies on people to be “mindless”.  In fact, it depends on it.  I truly believe that if people were not so “mindless”, and thought about what the news and media reported, then it would be looked at with great skepticism.

The “mass mind” and its effects

The nature of the media causes what can be described as a “mass mind”.  This tends to undermine and even destroy what can be called the “individual mind” of the person.  The “mass mind” tends to make people ant-like, “mindless”, and believe everything, which is good for the media.

The media situation tends to cause the “mass mind” in a number of ways:

  • The catering to media tends to cause a loss of a sense of self as we are hearing its dictates and its telling us how to think.
  • Since the media reports things that are happening in the population it tends to cause a person to see themselves as part of a mass of people.
  • The reactionary condition makes people do whatever it says.

These cause a loss of the “individual mind” of the person and a growth in the “mass mind”.  In some ways, the effect of the media is not unlike the mentality seen in a mob or a riot.  But since people are usually at home, or with minimal people, it never turns into a mob or riot.  Despite this, the mentality is the same, in actuality.  Some situations, though, can bring this mob-like quality out later on.  It can even promote mobs or riots too, if the situation is right.

One effect of the “mass mind”, and the loss of the “individual mind”, is that things are not done on a human and personal level.  As a result, we are unable to deal with our problems.  In other words, the “mass mind” makes it difficult to resolve dilemma’s and conflicts.  A person as if becomes stuck in conditions that they cannot resolve.  In other words, the “mass mind” tends to cause a situation where dilemma’s and conflicts go on and on.  This effect can appear a number of ways:

  • As a personal issue.  It may cause something like a “perpetual neuroses” in the general population.  Personally, I think a lot of the issues and problems of liberalism is a form of this “perpetual neuroses”.
  • Socially.  Here, the society cannot resolve issues, as a whole, and so certain “social problems” never seem to end.  This, it seems to me, is a particular problem with the “media-influenced lifestyle” and may, in a way, be one of its main traits.  The U.S., I feel, reflects this trait.

In these ways, we see that the “mass mind” affects the person and society.  This makes the “mass mind” very influential and that its effects can be quite extensive.  In general, its effects tend to undermine the individual person.

The illusion of “thinking for ourselves” – the “media puppet”

As I said above, the media typically thinks for people.  It can do this to the point of even coming up with the “explanation”.  But the nature of media situation is that it often tends to give the illusion that people are thinking for themselves and are the ones who have come up with the “explanation”.  In some sense, the media “does their thinking for them” but they don’t know this.  When this happens I speak of “media puppets”.  These are people who are really only catering to what the media is saying but think they are the originators of it.  I’m often amazed out how prevalent this is.

This, it seems to me, tends to have the effect of an undermining of the person and individual.  It makes the person an “appendage” to the media and makes people live an illusionary life as it makes people think they are in control when they are not.  In this way, a “media puppet” is really something like a slave.

The “mass mind” and the problem of authority

The “mass mind”, which often creates a sense of “great social presence”, tends to create a quality of great authority.  This is particularly so in a society that has democracy as its  value, as democracy gives “power to the people”.  As a result, the “mass mind” is equated with the people . . . whatever the “mass mind” says assumed to be the”will of the people” and, therefore, correct.  It becomes authority, often almost “god-like” in quality, and many people treat it that way too.

The problem is that the “mass mind” is not authority.  The “mass mind” creates a blind and mindless mob-like mentality in people.  The effect of this is that it tends to undermine the person, in a similar way as the “media puppet”, and it tends to undermine authority in general.  In addition, it undermines the authority of common sense and wisdom for, with the “mass mind”, people follow whatever the mob wants.  The mob, though, is mindless, haphazard, reactive, hysterical.  In other words, it lacks qualities of common sense and wisdom . . . the mob is basically “stupid”.  Therefore, by following the “mass mind” one is really following an authority that is “stupid”.  In my opinion, this is a quality of American society . . . people following an authority without common sense and wisdom.

The contagious and infectious quality of the media

The media has a contagious quality to it.  Some things that spread easily include:

  • Specific points of view and opinions
  • Emotionalism
  • Fear and panic

Once these start they can spread like wildfire.  In addition, when something does spread it is hard to stop it.  In fact, even if it is wrong, or proven wrong, it still often runs rampant.  In some cases, its almost difficult to undo the damage done by this effect, even though it can be proven wrong.  Sometimes, it can get so out of control that it turns into a hysteria.

I should point out that the media has no way to control it, stop it, or even a way to remedy the problem.  In other words, the media often cannot even control what it starts.  This is why I often say:  “there are times when the media is nothing but playing with wildfire”.  With all the media-through-technology nowadays, this is far more prevalent, I think, than it may at first appear.

The media catering to fear, panic, and tragedy

The media tends to prey on fear and panic as it is a very effective “hook”.  With any tragedy, the media wants to “get in on it” as it gets peoples attention.  This is why, when there is a tragedy, I often say:  ” . . . this is a big money-making venture for the media” or “there’s a lot of money to be made in tragedy”.  But fear and panic is a very volatile and reactive situation.  Once fear and panic starts it tends to spread easily and can easily get out of control.  In this way, the media often tends to promote fear and panic by catering to it.  In some cases, it actually causes hysteria in the population falsely and needlessly.  Personally, I actually consider that a lot of social fear, panic, and hysteria is because of the media.

Sadly, the media tends to prey on peoples fear and panic like it is some sort of a plaything but it has no way to control or solve its effect.  In this way, the media is as if “playing with fire” by playing with these volatile and explosive emotions.  What’s worse, they are playing with something they have no way of controlling it if it happens to get out of control.  For much of the media, any hysteria it causes is just more to report.  As a result, they tend to be oblivious to the effect they have in it all and their influence in the cause.  Its always “someone else’s fault” which they, of course, report.

The creation of social frenzy

Since the media has such an exposure to people and plays with explosive feelings its not uncommon that this combination can create a social frenzy.  In this situation people are as if are “worked up” to a frenzy of emotion and passion which can often get out of control.

This frenzy can appear in a number of ways:

  • Good effects.  This could be something like Beatlemania or even charity in a tragedy, such as after a hurricane.
  • Bad effects.  This could be some scandal, controversy, etc., such as the Vietnam War or the Civil Rights Movement.

So we can see that social frenzy can go both ways.  Regardless of which way it goes, it can reach the point of hysteria, where people become “mindless” and act in ways they normally wouldn’t and doing things without thought.  What this means, more or less, is that there can be hysteria with good effects and hysteria with bad effects.

The creation of “false realities” by the media – the “media world”

Media often creates realities that don’t exist.  In many cases, they create news and happenings that aren’t happening.  They also create explanations that have no substantiation.

Media creates false realities for a number of ways such as:

  • They report only what satisfies their specific intentionsFor example, its anything that makes money.  In other words, they “report news that sells”.
  • They leave details out.
  • They focus on specific things.
  • The twist things to fit the interpretation they want.
  • They don’t give alternate viewpoints.
  • They cater to any quality that creates a “hook”.  This includes things like fear, panic, outrage, etc.
  • They exaggerate problems and issues.  This is often done to such an extent that it often exaggerates these problems to unbelievable proportions. Sometimes, they add more problems and issues as part of the “hook”.

In this way, the media creates a condition where it “calls the shots”.  As a result, it tends to fabricate the world it wants and leads everyone in that direction.  The world it creates tends to serve the media and its purpose, perhaps we could call this the “media world”?

But we must remember that this is an illusionary and false world.  It is a world that has been fabricated to suit specific ends.  The effect of this include:

  • It misguides people.  It makes people think black is white or that something is happening that isn’t, for example.
  • They offer conditions that aren’t real and can’t be solved.  In this way, its like saying “the aliens are going to attack . . . so now what?”

Sadly, many people accept the “media world” as real and go about living in a false world image as a result.  I think the media is responsible for a lot of weird and unrealistic world views.

How media makes the worlds problems everyone’s problem

The media, now, reports news from everywhere all over the world.  This gives the illusion that problems a thousand miles away are our problems when they really aren’t.  In this way, the media has made the worlds problems our problems.  This makes the world, and life, appear worse than it really is.  I tend to believe that if people only concerned themselves with what was going on in their area people would be more happy.  I don’t really believe that most people need to know what’s going on in Pakistan or Laos.  In other words, most news we don’t need to know.  In general, we don’t need to be concerned about what’s going on in other countries or other areas.  At any one time there is a tragedy or bad event going on in the world in some way or form:  people are being killed in a hurricane, people are dying of starvation, people are being murdered, the government is exploiting people, a horrible accident has happened, someone died tragically, etc., etc., etc.  I know people who cry over every tragedy in the world (liberals are the worst).  If you are going to do that then you are going to by crying for the rest of your life.  One thing the media has taught me is to try to focus on your area and what affects you . . . that’s all that matters.  

The problem of repetition

With big issues the media tends to repeat the issues over and over, often to the point of nausea.  They keep a continuous repetition of the same mentality, same issues, same problems, same solutions.  This repetition tends to make it appear bigger and bigger, often becoming bigger than it really is.  One effect of this is that it keeps the issues “in memory” and as a result, it makes the issues go on and on.  In this way, repetition makes issues never-ending and “alive”.  About the only way for some issues to be resolved is for them to be “forgotten” or cease in the memory of the people.  In many cases, the media continually reminding the people will make many “big” issues literally disappear over night.

The fact that the news is a business and acts as a business

The media is a business and much of what it does is motivated with the business perspective in mind.  In short, the media tends to report what makes money for them.  As a result, things like “big news”, disasters, scandals, etc. tend to be favored over mundane everyday news . . . they get the biggest attraction from the people and have the biggest “hook”.

The business of media is particularly associated with the “hook”.  This is because, by emphasizing the best “hook”, the news attracts the most people and makes money.  As a result, the “hook” often determines the path the media takes.  I would even venture to say that the “hook” determines the news.  It determines what’s reported and how its reported.

 The media’s influence in the view of the world

My feeling is that the media generally tends to cause a poor view of the world in the many peoples mind.  There are a number of reasons for this:

  • It primarily reports problems.
  • It tends to exaggerate these problems.
  • As a result, it keeps these problems in the peoples mind.
  • In addition, it gives the illusion that these problems are everywhere.
  • It makes people feel powerless against them.
  • It often gets wrapped up in trivialities that seem bigger than they are.

As a result of these, I consider the media as greatly responsible for making people feel ways such as:

  • That the world is “going to pots”
  • It makes people feel frightened
  • It causes anxiety
  • It causes contempt
  • It causes depression
  • It causes confusion

Because of these I tend to feel that the media actually causes a poor view of the world, in some people, and can even cause mental problems in other people.  

The media’s effect on people

The media has a great effect on people.  One interesting effect that I see is that it is more likely to take things “out of the individual persons reality” and, in so doing, it takes conditions out of the scope of the individuals control.  Many of the examples above reflect this quality.  In short, then, the media actually removes control from people . . . it doesn’t give control.  Its probably no surprise, then, that people who cater to media strongly often have these tendencies:

  • A tendency of hysteria
  • A tendency of being disgusted with things
  • A tendency of overreaction
  • A tendency to despair
  • A tendency to be very opinionated
  • A tendency of overvaluing their control and importance
  • A tendency to blindly believe things

In fact, I can often tell a person who caters to media by how strongly they show these tendencies.  It seems to create several character types of people:

  1. A person who “thinks they are in control but really aren’t”.
  2. A nervous over reactive person.
  3. A mindless person.

Keep in mind that these characters are found in people that are really “into” the media or are “affected” by it strongly.  Just because someone is involved with the media, from time to time, does not mean they are one of these characters.  They reflect a person who is, in a sense, “controlled” by the media and have no control.  In this way, they are “media-dependent” people.

AFTERTHOUGHT

What we see, then, is that the technology-based, mass-directed form of media isn’t the great “conveyor of truth and happenings” as it may seem and is often supposed.  In actuality, it is more likely to prey on deeper and more base aspects of human psychology.  In fact, one could say that the issue of media is primarily an issue of mass psychology and its effects.  It is not a question of “informing” or “conveying truth”.  In this way, the media is more a matter of psychology than news or information.  To put it another way, the ways, techniques, methods, and manners of media are dictated by psychology more than “informing” and “truth”. 

Media affects human psychology on many levels.  One one level it caters to a sincere and honest human psychology.  On another level it goes into other aspects of psychology, of manipulation, deception, and lying.  It can bounce from one to the other in a flash.  It makes it difficult to determine if media is good or not.

Overall, it seems to me, that media causes so many variables, illusions, and plays so much on psychology that it actually has an overall impairing quality in people.  In addition, it seems to cause a more negative view of the world.

My personal feelings it that we would be better off without technology-based, mass-directed forms of media.  I think this for a number of reasons:

  • We don’t need to know the majority of news.
  • It caters to mass psychology and depends on it.
  • It uses underhanded techniques and manipulations.
  • The negative aspects outweigh the good.

The only news that interests me, and which I actively seek, is practical information (weather, traffic, etc.) that is limited to the area I live in.  Most of the other forms of news I see I just “happen” to see (I hear about it, I see it on the a newspaper on a newsstand, etc.).  I don’t look for it.  I think that, for most people, that’s the best path.

That’s what it seems to me anyways.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Mass communication: media, social media, and the news, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Society, The U.S. and American society | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on social control during the time of Moses and the Exodus as well as its effects on Judaism

Here’s a thought I had:

I have always loved the story of Moses.  As I was brought up the attitude toward Moses and the Exodus has always been that its a story of the “power of God” and you should look at it no other way.  But I, being sort of a historian, kept seeing another side to it, a more human side.  This made me look at it differently.  I began to see the Exodus as a human issue or, to be more precise, a problem of controlling a population of a people.  In some respects, this is a major issue in the story of Moses and the Exodus.  As I looked at it closer this seemed to play a far bigger role than I thought.  In fact, it seems that it was a determining factor in the creation of Judaism.  You must keep in mind that I am looking at all this from the “human” perspective . . . I am not looking at it as representative of the “power of God” which is the perspective the story of Moses is usually looked a viewed from.

I should point out that I am no great scholar of Judaism or the Bible nor do I claim to be.  To me, it seems that the story of Moses, and the Bible in general, has been picked apart by scholars and people for centuries.  I’m sure that whatever I say can be picked apart and probably be disproven.  Regardless of this, here are some of my thoughts . . .

40 YEARS OF WANDERING AND REBELLIOUSNESS

It is said that Moses made the people wander 40 years to get rid of the original generation that left Egypt.  This, I think, is a hint of the rebellious nature of the people that Moses had to deal with.  It also shows that he saw this rebelliousness as reflecting a number of qualities:

  • That the rebelliousness is an inherent part of that generation.
  • That the rebelliousness was not going to leave themIn other words, they weren’t going to change.
  • That the laws, sacrifices, rules, etc. that Moses created was not as powerful as we think Because of its failure he had to wait for a generation to appear that was taught the new religion and would obey.  This fact must be remembered.

The wanderings are a hint of the difficulty he had to deal with.

THE RELIGION OF THE JEWS???

We will never know what the original Jewish religion was or what it consisted of.   But it no doubt changed to the different conditions they found themselves in.  In fact, we could probably say that there was three era’s of religion for the Jewish people:

  1. The original religion before the enslavement by the Egyptians.
  2. The religion during the enslavement by the Egyptians.
  3. The religion Moses created during the Exodus . . . what has become Judaism.

My guess, though, is that the original religion displayed these qualities:

  • It was tribal in orientation.
  • It entailed the worship of smaller nature deities as a prominent feature.
  • There was probably a lot of magic, spells, superstitious beliefs, sacrifice, and such associated with it.

Many of these traits seem to be displayed in early Jewish history.

As to whether the original Jewish religion contained a “supreme God” is difficult to say.  I’m inclined to say it didn’t and, if it did, it took a minor role.  Most of life probably revolved around the smaller deities.  One of the reasons why I tend to believe this is that the earlier Jewish people appear to of been a tribal people and, oftentimes, tribal people do not pay much emphasis on a “supreme God”.  This seems to become more prevalent with more established and larger societies, such as the Egyptians.

I should point out that I tend to believe that the pre-Exodus accounts in the Torah must be looked at with great caution as they written in the post-Exodus era and reflect a post-Exodus point of view.  Who knows how much of it actually relates with pre-Exodus Jewish tradition.  My guess is that some is and some isn’t . . . we’ll never know for sure.

THE “MOB” OF THE EXODUS

More than likely, the number of Jewish people (supposedly about 600,000) meant that it was not a unified homogenous mass, probably more like one big “mob”.  As a result, many people no doubt went in different directions.  There were probably something like “sects” or “groups” that held to different points of view.  Some examples of these could include:

  • A group that held to the original Jewish religion.
  • A group that abandoned the original Jewish religion and replaced it with Egyptian religions.
  • A group the mixed the original Jewish religion with the Egyptian religion.
  • A group, or groups, that created their own “religion” or point of view.
  • A group that followed whatever everyone else was doing.
  • A group that did not believe in anything.

These many groups, with their different points of view, would of caused great problems during the Exodus . . . each probably trying to enforce their point of view or having disputes or conflicts with each other.  I would think that these would of figured strongly in the difficulty Moses had in keeping people under control during the Exodus.

THE INFLUENCE OF SLAVERY

The condition of a slave would of dramatically altered the original Jewish society and belief system.  It could of done things like:

  • It could of undermined the society.
  • It could of undermined the social structure.
  • It could of destroyed the authority in the society.
  • It could of fragmented or even destroyed belief.
  • It could of undermined peoples sense of identity and unity.

My guess is that things, such as these, would of affected much of the population in varying degree’s and ways.  The net result of all this is really a broken down people with no unity or authority to look up to.  This fact would of figured prominently in the difficulty Moses had in keeping people under control during the Exodus.

More than likely there may of been a segment of the population in which slavery may of actually intensified their religion and sense of a people.  In fact, its possible that this could of been done to an exaggerated and, possibly, fanatical extent.  Its possible that it is these people who “organized” and “commanded” the Exodus.

If there was a group that held to the original Jewish religion very strongly, and which “commanded” the Exodus, it would not be all that surprising if it clashed with other groups.  This could of even been done to the point of violence.  This same scenario has been played out before in history.  Something similar may of taken place during the Exodus.

PROBLEMS IN THE WANDERINGS

And so we can see that Moses would of had a great difficulty dealing with this great “mob” of former slaves wandering in the desert.  Keeping an order was probably an achievement in itself.  It is one that, as far as I know, has never been acknowledged.

Some of the things we might of seen with this “mob” include:

  • A lack of unity.
  • A tendency to not believe in any authority, such as Moses’ or Gods.
  • People wanting to go their own way and live the way they want.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a small proportion of the people left the group and went elsewhere.
  • Different groups fighting with each other.
  • Different groups trying to be in charge and controlling things.
  • People becoming disillusioned and lost.

Moses would of had to deal with all these conditions.  In other words, Moses wasn’t dealing with one situation but many and on many different levels.  In fact, my guess is that there was more to the control of the people than what is written in the Torah.  They may of had something like, say, a police force, for example.

THE BASIC PROBLEMS

Overall, the basic problems Moses had to deal with include:

  • He had to keep the population under control.
  • He had to impose a new belief system onto them.

We must remember that the belief system Moses developed was new and untried.  It had to be created, implanted, and used on a probably unwilling population.  He had to impose it upon the people and make them believe and follow it.  More than likely, many of these people would of probably resisted or been reluctant.

No doubt, when Moses started the Exodus he had at least some “idea” of the religion he was to implement.  This would had to of been modified to fit the situation.  In other words, much of the laws of Moses was created out of necessity.  Without the need for control its possible that they would of never of been created at all.  In addition, had there not of been so much rebellion the whole Exodus, laws of Moses, and Judaism would of been greatly different than it is now.  This shows, in my opinion, that the rebelliousness of the people during the Exodus was a major influence in what has become Judaism.

KEEPING CONTROL

Practically all of the means of keeping control of the population is religious in orientation.  Real world reality tends to suggest that there is usually other means required to keep a social control . . . it can’t all be religious.  The exclusively religious orientation may be for a number of reasons:

  • The people who “organized” the Exodus reflected the group of people who were most religious and who are the ones who recorded and had put things in writing.
  • That the non-religious aspects of control, such as a police force, were not recorded.

If this is the case, then it means that a large part of the Exodus is unknown to us.  There is no doubt a lot of drama and events that took place that have been lost.  If we had these accounts we would probably be surprised who the people of the Exodus actually were.  Who knows, a large part of the population could of been thieving, manipulative, and murderous people???

Wrath of God . . . fear

As we know, religion was used extensively to keep control.  It was used a number of ways:

  • The wrath of God, or fear, was used rather prominently as a motive in the control of the population.
  • The idea that we are all sinners and deserving of God’s wrath.
  • The need for sacrifice.
  • The need to follow the law.

Sacrifice seems to of been a major element in the association with God.  But, during the Exodus, most people couldn’t of had many animals to sacrifice, particularly later on.  This could of meant that a sacrifice was something that entailed a great loss giving it great power and influence and, subsequently, a means of great social control.

Reasons for unity

There were also many ways he helped to create unity, such as:

  • The law as a unifying element of the people.
  • The idea of redemption or forgiveness of sins.
  • The idea of a “promised land”.
  • The idea of Moses as the savior.  This would appear, in a later version, as the Messiah . . . a new Moses.
  • The idea of a “chosen people”.

With these the people would feel a unified whole, unified in a single cause and purpose.

The power of religion

Moses then seemed to of used both fear and unity, based in religion, to establish a social control in the population.  Religion gave the authority, the justification, and the power of social control that he implemented.  Without it, he may of had a difficult time keeping any sort of a control.  We must remember that Moses had no tribal authority, no social authority, and did not fit into any social structure.  His main reason for power was based in being chosen by God.  Because of this, religion played a major role in the story of Moses and he definitely had to play the “religious card” to get anything done.

I am not the only one to notice that much of the religion Moses seemed to use was somewhat similar to the Egyptians.  Even the Temple was similar to some of the Egyptian Temples.  This shows, it would seem, that there was a breakdown in the Jewish religion during the enslavement period and that they probably adopted many beliefs and customs from the Egyptian religion.  In fact, the issue of a “one god versus many gods” may of reflected a conflict going on in the Egyptian religion.  Perhaps Moses took sides in an Egyptian religious dispute of the time???

SOCIAL CONTROL AS A FOUNDATION OF JUDAISM . . . UNITY AND ITS EFFECTS

In these ways, Moses established a social control on the population and, in a small way, turned them into a somewhat of a unified mass as they wandered about.  This means, more or less, that the laws and traditions of Moses – what would become Judaism – is based in the need of social control.

This social control would be very influential and affect Judaism.  The technique of Moses, developed during the Exodus, would eventually do as he had planned.  It did cause a great unity in the Jewish people.  In fact, it would make them so unified that they became a very particular, unique, strict people who became removed from everyone else.  This unity would be so powerful that it would affect the Jewish people in incredibly good and bad ways:

  • They would be envied and their belief system would be used as a model.  In the Middle East the Jews were about the only people who were able to maintain themselves through the many conflicts going on.  The power of their unity became something people wanted to emulate.  This would be instrumental in the creation of Christianity and Islam which based them on the traditions established by Moses.  In this way, the unity created by Moses during the Exodus would have great impact on the world and history.
  • They would be condemned.  Their unity would make them removed from other people and separate.  This would cause great resentment and hatred through the years.  This would be so strong that it would even get a name . . . anti-Semitism.  Some particularly bad examples include the Inquisition and the Holocaust.

So we see that the unity created by Moses, though it appeared that it did not work well with the original population of the Exodus, ended up working very well later on.  It kept the Jewish people unified, whole, and distinct to the extent that they were able to uphold themselves when other people fell.  This made them the envy of other people.  It also made them the model which helped create two religions which would subsequently have great impact on the world.

I should also add that, if the above is true, it means that basic nature of Judaism is based on:

  • The rebelliousness of the people during the Exodus.
  • The laws, customs, and religion Moses created to deal with that rebelliousness.

And we must remember that what was created during the Exodus has not changed that much over the years.  Because of this, we could say that Judaism is:

  • “Stuck” in the Exodus.
  • Assumes rebelliousness in the people.

In this way, Judaism is forever reenacting the Exodus and is assuming people are of the same nature of the Exodus generation.  One of the effects of this is that it tends to make Judaism somewhat “alienated” or “removed” from everyone else.  This, it seems, to me, has caused great problems for the Jewish people.

In addition, it has left much of this mentality on the philosophies who took Judaism as its model, primarily Christianity and Islam.  These include:

  • The idea of a “supreme God”.
  • The idea of the “wrath of God”.
  • The idea of a “savior”.
  • The idea of the “evil of humanity”.
  • The idea of sin and punishment.
  • The idea of a “perpetual repetition” of many of these ideas.

As a result, the Exodus and Moses has left much of its mentality even beyond Judaism.  This means that as an event, Moses and the Exodus is a very significant in history, as the mentality of that event continues on even though the conditions that caused it no longer exist.  No other event, as far as I know, can claim such distinction.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Historical stuff, Judaism, Moses, and the Exodus, Religion and religious stuff | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on one of the effects of Judaism and Christianity: the endless reenactment of the Exodus – the “Exodus-based world view”

Here’s a thought I had:

As we all know, western society was Christian.  We also know that Christianity comes from Judaism.  In this way, Christianity had many attitudes coming from Judaism.  And, because of this, western society developed many attitudes of Judaism which was passed onto many of its philosophies and points of view.  One of these attitudes I call the “endless reenactment of the Exodus”.

Judaism is really the religion established by Moses during the Exodus.  Its for this reason that I often jokingly refer to Judaism as “Mosesism”.  Much of Judaism is nothing but a continuous reenactment of the Exodus, in festivals, memories, reciting’s, and study of the laws of Moses and Talmud.  In fact, the basic stance of many Jews is basically that they still perceive themselves as “wandering through the desert” waiting for the “promised land” and “messiah”.  In this way, the endless reenactment of the Exodus defines much of the Judaism and its points of view.

Some of the themes the Exodus created include:

1- That they are freeing themselves from an oppression or enslavement.

2- Of the need of having to keep everyone under control.  I tend to think that Moses had a hard time keeping all the Jewish people under control in the desert.  Think of it . . . all those slaves (supposedly there was about 600,000), who have no unity, no authority structure, etc. all of a sudden thrown out into the desert together!  That would of been quite a feat to control that population.  Looking at Moses and the Exodus it suggests that it was.  Because of this, Moses had to create means to keep the population under control.  I always felt that the social control side of the Exodus, and how Moses did it, has been largely neglected.  This means that, in a way, Judaism is really rooted in the means Moses had to do in order to keep the people under control during the Exodus .  Some of these means include:

  • Of the use of sin as a “power leverage” to make people obey.  By making them sinners of God they had to submit to the laws of God.
  • Of the use of law and sacrifice as a form of retribution and forgiveness.  These kept a control and submission in the people.
  • Of a reestablishment of previous conditions – the “promised land”.  This gave people something to look forward to.
  • Of a belief in being looked after by a God.  This gave people hope and a desire to submit.
  • Of a sense of a special people – the “chosen people”.  This gave them a unity and a motive for submitting.

In some respects, Judaism is a “religiously justified means of controlling a population”.  That is to say, Judaism is really based in a social control problem that used religion as a means.  In this way, should we call Judaism a social system or a religion?  In my opinion, its both.  Judaism (or “Mosesism”) as a social system has been neglected as everyone has only focused on its religious aspects.

Some of the effects of these themes that appeared in later years include:

  • It made the Jews very unified.  In fact, in the Middle East the growing population growth caused a dissolution of people, religions, beliefs, and such which caused many problems.  The Jews tended to be immune to this as they had a stable unified people as a result of the Laws of Moses.  This was looked at highly and admired by other people.  This Jewish integrity and unity set the foundations for Christianity and Islam.  This would more or less mean that Christianity and Islam are actually founded on the dissolution of people, religion, and belief and the confusion it created.  Using the Jewish model gave a “solidity” in times when there was nothing solid.
  • It made the Jews not want to be subject to anyone which, accordingly, made them “split apart” from everyone else and different.  Unfortunately, this caused resentment and hatred by many people.  It is greatly involved with many “anti-Semitic” points of view and acts.  The most dramatic, of course, are the Nazi’s.

So we see that these themes both helped and hindered the Jewish people.

Many of these attitudes would be carried over into Christianity and into Western Europe and its later colonies.  It would, of course, have different qualities than was seen in the Jewish people but many of the original traits are still seen.  Some of the reenactment of Exodus themes coming from Judaism, and seen in western society, include:

  • The idea of escaping from an oppression, enslavement, or some evil created by some other person.
  • The idea of being free.
  • Of the importance of law or that there is a “right way” of doing things.
  • The idea that that we are all sinners and that humanity is inherently evil.
  • The hope in something new (the “promised land”).

Christianty restated many of these themes in a new way.  In addition, the times were looked at in a similar way.  For example, Pharaoh was replaced by the Romans, the new “law of love” replaced the laws of Moses, and Jesus replaced Moses as the savior.  In ways, such as these, Christianity brought on some new themes:

  • The idea of love.
  • Peace.
  • The idea that we will be “saved” by something. 
  • Authority issues, which tended to be variations of the oppression theme.  This has more to do with the problems caused by the Protestant Rebellion than by Christian belief itself.

The Crusades also brought on some new themes:

  • The idea of individual achievement.  This primarily comes from the knights and acts of war.
  • The idea of a “great cause”.
  • The idea of a world crusade and changing the world.

The Enlightment (about 1600-1900’s) instilled many of these themes into science and politics.  Some examples include:

  • The idea that science will save us . . . bring on a “promised land”.
  • The idea that since there is no one in charge in a democracy – a government by the people – we will be free.  This is a reference to the fact that because there is no authority there is no “Pharaoh” to enslave us.

In England many of these attitudes were instilled in the government particularly early.  This is primarily as a result of the Norman Conquest which took place in 1066.  This was looked on as a “new Exodus” by the Christian Anglo-Saxons and they used Christian (that is, Jewish) example to interpret and deal with the situation.  As a result, England has had many of these attitudes in its government for 1000 years.  For example, have you ever noticed how everything political in England seems to revolve around oppression and freedom (which are themes from the Exodus)?  This shows the Christian influence and, through it, the effects of Judaism and the Exodus are seen.

So we can see that in England the political viewpoint is one of an endless reenactment of the Exodus that never ends.  This same tendency in politics would carry over into one of England’s colonies, the U.S.  In fact, the whole political theory of the U.S., with its Constitution, Declaration of Independence, etc., is nothing but a “new Exodus” founded on Christian viewpoints and, subsequently, reflecting the themes of the Exodus.  For example, the British became the new Pharaoh and the Declaration of Independence instigates the new Exodus.  What this means is that the political theory in England and the U.S. is based in principles coming from the continual reenactment of the Exodus.  One could even go so far as to say that a lot of politics in these two countries is nothing but a continual reenactment of the Exodus.

So we see that the endless reenactment of the Exodus has continued on down to today and is as strong as ever.  Because of this, at least in western society, the themes of the Exodus has become the basis and model of a whole world view.  Perhaps we could call it the “Exodus-based world view”?   It has become the basis of things like:

  • How to interpret events and situations.
  • How to define a problem.
  • Of what the solution is.
  • Of the proper way to live.

These viewpoints typically have little to do with religion but they generally have a lot to do with social situations.  Interestingly, the original themes of the Exodus and laws of Moses are primarily based in social control, as I’ve explained above, and not religion.  Its almost as if the “Exodus-based world view” has returned to its original viewpoint, perhaps revealing its true nature???

The “Exodus-based world view” has, in my opinion, created a distorted view of history, society, social relations, and authority.  This is primarily because it is a “one view” perspective, interpreting things from a single point of view.  And we must keep in mind that this “one view” perspective has existed for thousands of years.  As a result, it has been applied to many different situations.  The problem is that very few of these situations fit the model created by the “Exodus-based world view”.  In this way, many interpretations were “forced” to fit the model.  What this has done is basically to create distorted viewpoints.  How many distorted views have been created by the “Exodus-based world view”?  My feelings is that there is a lot of distorted viewpoints, particularly in England and the U.S., which has used this point of view quite extensively.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Government and politics, Historical stuff, Judaism, Moses, and the Exodus, Religion and religious stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on some origins of many ridiculous attitudes of the American mentality – the ongoing effects of WWII, Cold War, and the Vietnam War era, fear, and on how the U.S. is living in the past

Here’s a thought I had:

Over the years, the American mentality has become increasingly ridiculous to me (some of these attitudes are listed at the end of this article) .  To be frank, its actually embarrassing.  More than once have I said, “America has become a pathetic joke”.  What’s even more sad is that other people have basically said the same thing.  This got me to thinking about this nonsense and I began to speak about certain things that, I felt, were great truths about the American mentality that, I think, needs to be said and so I will vent them here.  I know that I have already stated similar ideas in other articles but I’ll restate them here as they are on my mind.  Not only that, I have some things to add.

I should point out that these ridiculous attitudes are not seen in everyone.  I would say that these are attitudes seen in what I’d call the “mainstream American”, people who cater to popular American ideals rather strongly.  Interestingly, I’ve talked about these attitudes with many people and most of them have had similar feelings that I have.  In other words, there are many people who notice these ridiculous attitudes and, like myself, have become sickened by them.  In fact, I think this is a growing number of the population that has largely not been noticed at this time.  It seems that this growing group of the population is becoming disillusioned by America, its ideals, and its principles and, accordingly, is losing faith in America because of these attitudes.  Its because of this that I tend to think that the persistence of these attitudes are destructive to America.

I cannot say how much of the population is sickened by these attitudes or can be called a “mainstream American”.  I think it varies with where you’re at in the country.  I’m getting the impression that the “mainstream American” is more prevalent in larger cities, in the north east, and on the western coast.  I actually think the people who reflect this attitude are a minority but, because of their complaining and claims, they appear to be a large part of the population (as the saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”).

Many of these attitudes seem to based in the fact that, overall, many Americans seem to be insecure, paranoid, frightened, deluded, and unhappy people deep down.  This insecure nature can be so bad that, sometimes, I feel like I have to walk on tip-toes around some of them (God help us all, you might offend someone!).  More than once have I compared some particularly bad Americans as “paranoid schizophrenics”.  Because of stuff like this, I would not say that Americans, as a whole, are a “great people” as many profess.  Instead, they strike me as a people with many unresolved issues and problems which they are struggling with.  Many of these problems are hidden behind “high cause” and “high ideals”, making it appear, at least to them, that there are no problems.  This makes it so that many Americans seem to think that the country has no problems.  In this way, the American sense of “security” is actually based in a self-deception.  This is one of the reasons for my saying, “Americans like to think they are”, which means they like to think they are without problems or think they’re happy, and so on, but they really aren’t.

Much of this ridiculousness, it seems to me, originates from its past and the effects past events have had on the U.S. . . .

THE VIETNAM WAR ERA CONNECTION

Many of the ridiculous attitudes I associate with the Vietnam War era protests, and hippi movement, of about 1970.  To me, the attitudes primarily seem to come from that era.  This is not surprising as, in my opinion, the Vietnam War era hysteria is the most significant event in U.S. history since WWII.  We truly live in a post Vietnam War era and its effects hang over us like a dark cloud.  Much of our attitudes, points of views, and such actually have origin there.  In this way, the hysteria surrounding the Vietnam War era has not ended and is still continuing on.

The Vietnam War era was so instrumental in U.S. history for a number of reasons:

  • A “release”.  The hysteria surrounding the Vietnam War had a quality of a “release”.   What it released were the tensions caused by WWII and social problems caused by the change in society after WWII.  In short, it was a “release” from WWII and its effects (see below).
  • A “unification”.  Various forms of media, such as music, movies, and the news, caused a prevalence of opinions and feelings that “appeared” to create a unifying effect in the U.S.  But what it created was actually an “apparent unification” of the country. What I mean by this is that it only “united” everyone in a specific media-based point of view and condition, which was primarily hysterical and sensational in context.  The country was not united under an authority, culture, or belief system.  In this way, the U.S. was “unified” by the fact that they watch the same TV programs, listen to the same music, and so on and are ongoing the same sort of problems.  This “apparent unification” of the country seemed to unify the country but it really didn’t.  This is one of the illusions of this era.
  • A “rallying call”.  The Vietnam War hysteria brought up a “rallying call” of worry, concern, panic, or anxiety.  This primarily seems to be a result of the fear caused by the threat of nuclear annihilation during the cold war.  In this way, the fear and panic as if “woke everyone up” to a worry which gave an illusion of a “cause”.  Really, people just become more aware of a condition.

As a result of these the Vietnam War era created something like a “boiling pot” for all the problems, tensions, and feelings that the U.S. had after WWII. Because of this, it as if “harnessed” the whole country into one mass with a unified awareness of itself and its problems.

But the issues brought up during the Vietnam War era are still largely unresolved.  In my opinion, the Vietnam War era did not solve anything but, rather, only brought out problems and issues that are still outstanding.  In a way, all it did is unify the country in an awareness of a condition of issues and problems.  This unification and awareness did nothing to solve anything, as many people seem to think.

It seems, to me, that some of the reasons for these problems being unresolved include:

  • The absence of authority.  Without an authority there’s nothing to solve anything.  There’s no authority as the ideals of the U.S. tend to undermine authority and prevent any from developing . . . its a democracy remember!
  • The “apparent unity”.  The absence of a “real unity” prevents any sort of a unity in a solution or resolution.  As a result, the U.S. is plagued with too many points of views.
  • Too broad of ideals.  American ideals are so broad (that is, it thinks it has the solution to the worlds problems and all the problems between people) that it is unable to focus enough on something in order to solve it.  For example, according to the American ideology everyone must be treated the same and so any solution must be a solution for everyone.  Since this cannot happen nothing gets solved.

Most of the supposed solutions to the issues brought out by the Vietnam War era tend to be based in these things:

  1. Nationalistic ideals – freedom and democracy
  2. Christian-based beliefs and principles peace and love

None of these worked.  One reason why is that, in both cases, they are principle-based. That is to say, they are based in abstract and idealistic thought and not real world reality. Though the abstract idealistic thought sounds good to the masses, it does not work well in actual real world functioning, particularly in a non-unified mass of people with no authority.  It tends to develop a marked gap between “idea” and “what actually happens” which causes a problem in trying to solve things.

The Vietnam War and liberalism

Much of the attitudes of the Vietnam War era have carried over into liberalism.  It seems to me that it is primarily through liberalism, and its attitudes, that the issues of the Vietnam War era have been kept alive and kicking.  In fact, the ridiculous attitudes of America are primarily a result of liberalism.  In this way, this article is really speaking about liberalism and its ongoing effects.

Because modern liberalism has taken so much from the Vietnam War era it has, in a way, kept us in that era . . . it has kept us in the 1970’s as if we are stuck in that time with the same issues, themes, and solutions.  The problem is that it is now almost a half a century later.  The Vietnam War era, and the liberalism it effected, are now out of date.  Its prevalence keeps us stuck in the 1970’s and keeps us out of date.  In this way, the U.S. is hampered, in my opinion, and having difficulty growing and “moving on” because of it.  I view this as impairing to this country.

Some of the themes that liberalism uses to keep us stuck in the 1970’s include:

  • Various social and political issues.  These are issues coming from that era, or descending from it, such as race, government power, freedom, environmental damage, animal rights, etc.
  • An unrealistic and often unjustified or unrealized fear.  This fear often promotes paranoia, conspiracy theories, assumption of hatred, and such that do not exist.
  • The supposed “solution” to the problem.  This is, as I said above, usually nationalistic or Christian-based, and which don’t work.
  • A self-righteous cause.  Liberalism tends to think it is the answer to the countries, and often the worlds, problems.  My observation is that the liberals tend to think that they are the representative of America, freedom, democracy, and peace.  Anyone who opposes them is against these principals.  In this way, they tend to be “pig headed”, “high and mighty”, and unwilling to change . . . they are “right”.  As a result, they press their point, good or bad, but its always good in their eyes.  In so doing, they persist these attitudes and keep them going.  In many ways, its the self-righteous attitudes of modern liberalism that is the problem.  In addition, it appears to me that the nonsense surrounding the 2016 Presidential election is primarily a result of this self-righteous liberal attitude.  In this way, this past election has embodied much of these ridiculous attitudes and brought many of them out.  Not only that, it has shown how out-of-date these attitudes are.  And we must remember that these attitudes originate from within the people, and not Trump, which is what they claim.  This point needs to be understood . . . Trump is just the “scapegoat” for a greater social problem (see my article “Thoughts on a media-induced mass hysteria . . . the “Trump panic””). 

Its no surprise that many of these themes can be seen, or are associated with, the the ridiculous American attitudes.

THE WWII CONNECTION

I tend to see the Vietnam War era mentality as the result of WWII and its effects.  In other words, the Vietnam War era attitudes actually originate from WWII, the horrors it created, its victory, and its subsequent effects on the U.S. There are many things that WWII has created that have contributed to this effect.  These include:

  • The knowledge of Hitler, the Nazi’s, the Holocaust, and the Jews.  This brought on the theme of race and hatred that figures so prominently in the Vietnam War era and which still persist in the U.S.  These themes were particularly seen in the “great cause” of the Civil Rights Movement.   In a way, the U.S. turned the Civil Rights Movement into a small “American Holocaust” in imitation of the Nazi’s. 
  • The horrifying weapons of war.  This includes tanks, airplanes, bombers, etc. but most especially the nuclear bomb.  This brought on the theme of fear.
  • The Cold War panic and fear of a nuclear war.  This refers primarily to the threat of nuclear annihilation in a WWIII and war with the Soviet Union.  Because we were fighting a political/economic theory opposed to ours it caused the theme of self-righteous cause.   Being related with destruction it also contributed to the theme of fear.
  • The growing prevalence and growth of the media with its tendency to mass hysteria.  This brought on the theme of being quick to panic and quick to judgement as well as a tendency to being gullible.
  • The post WWII economic boom which upset the whole social structure.  After WWII the U.S. went into something of an economic and innovation boom.  This ended up causing great stresses and conflicts in American society, many of which are still existing and unresolved.  Things that were upset include social structure, the traditional ways of doing things, belief, and so on.  This caused the theme of doubt about society and doubt about authority.  These eventually figured prominently in the Vietnam War hysteria and are still issues today.

In many ways, the effects of these implanted something like a virus in the U.S. that is as if eating away the inside of the U.S.  Its because of this that I have always stated, and still maintain, that “the greatest threat to the U.S is from the inside”.  In other words, the attitudes and mentalities, that the U.S. has within it, are its greatest threat.   It seems, to me, that many of these attitudes and mentalities originate from WWII.    In some respects, this means that the U.S. only appears to of won WWII . . . its actually still fighting its effects!  

THE ISSUE OF FEAR

If one looks closely one can see that one theme that is prevalent, as a result of WWII, is a fear and its a fear in many forms.  This fear was not an overt fear but a deep lying fear.  You don’t see people running around screaming, for example.  It is an unconscious quiet fear that many people are not even aware of.  One could, perhaps, call it the “quiet fear” as a result.  Despite it being “quiet” it had great effect and motivated many things, even though people may not of been conscious of it.  Much of the effect of this “quiet fear” would lead to the issues and hysteria surrounding the Vietnam War.

It seems, to me, that Americans had a many predispositions to fear that existed before WWII and which have contributed to why the U.S. is struggling with its effects.  Some of the causes seem to be:

  • Christianity.  This taught us that we are all sinners and, accordingly, are “bad”, as well as the fact that there is an “evil” streak in humanity.  It also tended to create a naive and innocent nature in people making them prone to being easily frightened.
  • The absence of authority.  This is because, in a democracy, the power is in the “people”.  This absence of authority tends to cause a sense of instability and insecurity which predisposes one to fear.
  • The emphasis on individualism.  This tends to put enormous pressure on the individual causing a tendency to stress and despair which causes a tendency to being easily frightened.
  • The reliance on machines and technology.  This tends to make people less a part of things and, in a way, made us more distant from the world.  Because of this, it makes us us feel removed from the world and causes a sense of having no control.  The effect of this is ,that there is a predisposition to fear.
  • The mass hysteria nature of the media.  The growing media, and its effects, would have great impact on the culture and people of the U.S.  Its prevalence made it so that people easily believe what comes out of the media and easily succumb to any fear that it may state.  In short, then, the media created a gullible people that are easily frightened.

In addition to being frightened, the post WWII years also entailed attempts at defending themselves against the fear.  Some examples of the ways they defended themselves include:

  • Christian-based principles.  This includes things like love, peace, understanding, the condemning of hatred and war, and the moaning of the evil of humanity.  It also tended to create a self-righteous attitude and an idea of a “high cause”, which figures so prominently with liberalism. It also created a the creation of Christian-based communes and societies such as the Diggers, the Beats (beatnicks), and the Hippi’s which would figure so prominently during the Vietnam War.
  • The American Constitution and political/legal theory.  These were literally thrown at any problems that appeared almost as if it was a cure all.  As a result of this, everything was turned into a political and rights issue.
  • NationalismSince much of the fear became associated with the Cold War and Soviet Union there became a glorification of American political and economic theory and ideals.  In this way, America became the “answer”.

The Vietnam War era, in particular, created a generalized attitude of fear, as well as its defense, that became something like a culture that still exists.  Perhaps we could call it the “Vietnam War era culture of fear”.   This became a way of life for some people, particularly as a result of the hippi movement who, in a way, are the inventors of the culture.  This seems to be a result of the fact that the hippi movement is based in living a certain way of life.  Its general attitude would be transferred to many of the people, particularly the younger people, in the late 1960’s.  Over time, this “culture of fear” then spread to liberalism, politics, and even the general social opinion.  In these ways, the “culture of fear” maintains, and keeps alive, a fear caused by a war that’s already over.  Because of this, the attitudes above reveal that many Americans are still frightened, and defending themselves, against a fear caused by a war that ended decades ago!  

Talk about living in the past!!!

THE FEMALE INFLUENCE

My observation seems to show that female is instrumental in a lot of these ridiculous attitudes.  In fact, it seems that they are greatly involved in keeping them going.  They tend to maintain the attitudes of liberalism which figure so strongly in its continuing.  This, of course, does not mean that all American females are this way but a great many are, at least to some extent.  I can’t say how much of the population but my impression is its something like 2/3 of the female population.

They seem to particularly emphasize a number of things, such as:

  • Being too easily frightened, offended, or upset.
  • A prevalence of the “victim mentality”.
  • Conspiracy theories and paranoia.
  • The abuse of political/legal theory and the Constitution.
  • A tendency to hysteria and blowing things out of proportion.

After being around many females it doesn’t take a genius to see that the world image that many Americans females have created is one with the qualities described above, a world that can be described as one based in “blind fear, a preoccupation with being victimized, conspiracy theories, hysteria, and the use of political theory and self-righteous cause as a defense”.  That, from my experience, is the general stance of many American females.  To me, it gives many American females a “pathetic” quality.

My observation suggests that if the females would cease expressing these things then most of the panic, hysteria, and fear, that we see in this society, would probably fade away.  I’m under the impression, though, that the female is just going to continue these attitudes.  I see no evidence that they are going to change their attitude or point of view.  In this way, the female is actually contributing in keeping the U.S. in a frightened paranoid state, stuck in the past, and unable to progress.

Females seem particularly prone to these points of view, it seems to me, as a result of a basic problem of the female identity that is going on in the U.S.  Its for this reason that I often speak of mainstream American female as the ‘failed sex’ meaning that the female identity has failed (see my article “Thoughts on the ‘failed sex’ – how many female traits have failed – a hidden crisis of the American female“).  Much of the behavior of American females are attempts at trying to solve this problem, none of which seems to work.  At this time, I see three common attempts at dealing with their identity problems:

  1. They see themselves as victims and develop a victim mentality.
  2. They try to be like men and avoid female things.  They often have poor views of what a female is as well as female qualities.  In some cases, they portray female things almost as if it is something “horrible”.  This often leads to the assumption that being a man will solve their own bad feelings about being female.
  3. They become mindless slavish puppets to social trend, fad, and ideals.  Some females become almost like “robots” to social trend and as if lose themselves in society.

All these hide an identity problem based in the failure of the female identity.  Accordingly, they tend to hide the associated insecurity that this identity problem has created.  This insecurity often leads to the qualities described above.

That’s how it looks to me anyways.

THE U.S. AS OUT-OF-DATE

With all the above it makes it appear that the U.S. is truly living in the past and is acting as if its in conditions that no longer exist.  This is why I often speak of the U.S. as being “out of date”.  More and more I keep saying things like “uh, the 70’s are over” or “we’re not in the Vietnam War era anymore”, and such, as I continually see mentalities originating from that era.

Some of the things that keep the U.S. out-of-date include:

  • The conflicts, issues, and problems after WWII which are unresolved.
  • How many mentalities, such as liberalism, keeps the U.S. stuck in the past. 
  • The “apparent unity” that was created after WWII.  This gives an illusion of a unified people and country but is actually an absence of unity.
  • “Cold war glory”.  The fact is that WWII, and the Cold War, was a period of time of great pride for the U.S.  Because of this, many Americans are not all that willing to let that sense go.  In this way, they keep the U.S. stuck in the past and out-of-date by national pride.
  • The lack of authority Without authority there is no leadership to move the country out of the past.

EXAMPLES OF RIDICULOUS ATTITUDES

Here are some of the ridiculous attitudes of the American mentality that are caused by the issues above:

  • The prevalence of conspiracy theories.  The “mainstream American” is becoming a person of conspiracy theories who seems to think that everyone is conspiring against everyone else.  They see conspiracies in every problem or issue out there.  For example, if something does not go the way they want, or they don’t like something, they assume conspiracy, that someone else is deliberately going against them.  In many cases, the government, any form of authority, and the male (especially the white male) is often viewed as the originator of the conspiracy.  As a white male I have been utterly appalled at all the supposed conspiracies we have been supposed to of done.  Apparently, we are all against females and/or minorities and have created all these institutions to degrade and enslave them in some way.  From what I’ve heard, we must be pretty bad people. But I will say that I have never, in all my life, seen any evidence of any conspiracy against another group of people nor do I see any plotting.
  • A paranoid attitude.  Many Americans have a paranoid viewpoint of things.  It can reach the point of being delusional in some people.  I’ve even heard Americans say that the whole world is plotting against them.  In many cases, if there is some problem, such as they didn’t get a job, they assume its because people are “against them”.  This attitude is often hidden behind claims of “oppression” or “rights violation” and similar political/legal themes which makes it appear to be legitimate (and which fools most people).  In fact, my observation is that when political/legal themes are brought up its usually hides paranoid delusions.
  • They have a “victim mentality”.  Many see victimizing coming out of the woodwork.  Some people have even developed a “victim worldview” where their whole view of the world is in the context of them being a victim.  This viewpoint is particularly bad with females, some of who has made a life out of it.  This worldview also figures prominently in liberalism who have made a whole cause out of this imagined “victimizing”.
  • Fabricated threats.  Because of the conspiracy theories and paranoid attitudes, many American create threats that don’t exist. As I always say, “They see threats where there are no threats.  They see enemies where there are no enemies.  They see hatred where there is no hatred.  They see plots where there are no plots.”  This seems particularly prevalent with females and black people.
  • The assumption that everyone hates everyone else.  Every time I turn around Americans are assuming that people are doing things out of hatred.  I’ve seen cases where an everyday event, like a traffic accident or being pushed to the side in a crowd, is interpreted as being caused by hatred.  And if someone does something that is hate-related they blow it out of proportion, almost like the world is going to come to an end. My observation is that many Americans are too quick to jump in assuming hatred in things and quick to blow it out of proportion.  In this way, many things are made out worse than they really are and a simple minor thing can be turned into a horrible event.  This mentality also gives the illusion of conflict between people that, in actuality, does not exist.  In this way, the supposed condemning of hatred actually ends up promoting hatred.  In other words, the people who state they are against hatred are actually the cause of it.  This tends to exaggerate problems and keeps them going.
  • They are too easily offended.  Many Americans get too easily offended.  In fact, they get so easily offended that you have to be careful what you do, what you say, how you behave, and even what you think around some of them.  Once offended, they tend to blow it out of proportion, often using conspiracy theories, paranoia, and such to explain it off.  They are usually easily offended because they assume “sinister” motives behind it . . . a reflection of paranoia.    
  • They blame and villainize innocent people.  All these conspiracy theories, paranoia, and assumption of hatreds, make many Americans blame and villainize innocent people.  I’ve often said that “Americans have become a people of blame and accusation”.   They are quick to find someone to blame.  They also tend to put words in peoples mouths and intentions in their actions.  I’ve been utterly appalled by this behavior.  Its like watching people twist things around so that people appear “bad” when they’re not.
  • They look at things in the worst possible light.  For some people, no matter what happens, its assumed to be the worst.  Not only does this involve problems but it even goes down to simple things such as what you eat (causes cancer or make you fat), a stomach ache (obviously cancer), and even getting mad (obviously hatred).  
  • They use political/legal theory, the Constitution, rights, etc. as a cheap justification and defense against everything.  A common saying I hear people say is “everything’s a rights violation”.  If it isn’t then they can make it so.  They quote the Constitution, and such, like its the Bible and ultimate authority.  Some people use it like a weapon.  Sadly, this is often done to get their own way.  This is because people seem to think that if you quote the Constitution it automatically makes them right. What this has done, for many of us, is undermine and destroy the believability of the American Constitution, law, political theory, and such.  In my opinion, the excessive use of the Constitution and America’s political ideals has become an abuse and has damaged the principles and ideals of the U.S.  I would almost venture to say that it has damaged it beyond repair.
  • They are self-righteous and always assume that America is the answer.  They tend to over value themselves and view themselves too highly.  I’ve heard many Americans talk as if the world “wants to be American” and that the U.S. has a monopoly of all that is good in the world.
  • They are moaning and groaning about everything.  Everything seems to bother and offend them . . . you name it, they moan and groan about it.  Its always amazed me how the people who are claiming they are the wealthiest and most advanced country in the world complain so much about everything.  In actuality, Americans are an unhappy people.  I’ve learned that you don’t come to America to be happy.
  • They seem to believe whatever they are told.  As a result of this, they believe things like the news media, social media, gossip, and such dishes out.  I know people who accept these as a “source of whats true in the world”.   This type of attitude makes it so that many Americans have a quality like “the blind leading the blind”.  In addition, it makes them prone to a hysteria and a tendency to blow things out of proportion.  This is further complicated by the fact that most Americans have no “authority” to look up to as a source of “truth”, such as a religion.  This makes them impulsive to believe whatever is “convenient” and “popular”.  In fact, I would even say that, for many Americans, “truth” is primarily based on “popular opinion”.
  • The lack of appreciation of peoples roles and social hierarchy.  I have been stunned how little respect many Americans have for any form of a “role”, such as a mother, father, etc.  May act like any role is an “oppression” or something and sometimes treat it with contempt.  With so little respect for human institutions I often wonder how the American society continues to exist.  To me, this attitude is like spitting on human nature and human society.  It also is like a denial of nature and the way things are.

AFTERTHOUGHT

What all this really reveals is the incredible impact WWII had on the U.S.  It had such an impact that the U.S. is still gripping with the effects of WWII over 70 years later.  In this way, the U.S. is as if “stuck” in the post WWII world, especially the Vietnam War era.  Because of this, the U.S. doesn’t seem to of progressed along all that much since then and remains out-of-date and stuck in the past.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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