Tag Archives: law

Limiting Beliefs as the Pillars of Human Civilization

Friends,

Recently, I had a conversation with my friend and colleague, Peter Mazzucco about the USMC’s “40% Rule.” The rule itself has interesting implications for will-power, but it also gave me pause to think back and reflect on something which had occurred to me months back then I was on the road shooting my upcoming adventure-documentary, Just Might Be Ok. I was somewhere in Mexico sitting on a rock taking a mid-day water break from walking. I had done 30 km already and was fairly impressed with myself. I reflected on how I had prepared for this undertaking: several full days every week spent in the late-summer heat walking the Hamilton region. My feet had toughened, my endurance had gone up, and the muscles in my legs, hips and lower back had developed to accommodate these new weight demands. But did these factors actually enable me to walk 30+ km every day encumbered with gear, or was I always able to perform this feat and I simply needed to convince myself that I could (with training and gains).

I found it to be an interesting question with wild implications. First and foremost, if a proverbial “97 lb. weakling” who never worked out walked into a gym with a deeply enough held belief that he could lift 400 lbs., could he?  On the other side of the spectrum, is the professional body-builder able to lift the 400 lb. weight because he has increased his muscle tissue and bone density through his workouts or have those physical changes simply had the desired effect of convincing him that he could lift the 400 lb. weight?

henry-ford-think-quote-mood

What we’re really talking about here is the relation of thought/belief to reality. At this moment, there is a Playstation controller on the table in front of me. In theory, if I have a deeply enough held belief that I can’t lift the controller or if I have some fear-based aversion to touching it, it’s not getting lifted, regardless of how much I have worked out. On the back end, isn’t that the same as not being able to lift it?

Ability has at least as much to do with mentality as it does with outward physical appearance and musculature. However, our mentality shapes us and so those with strong mentalities, disciplined mentalities, typically have bodies which reflect this. This too, could be seen as an indication of the relationship between thought and reality.

When discussing this idea further with my roommate, Kelton, he broadened the question by asking if the 97 lb. man could use levers and pulleys and other such machines to perform the lifting feat. I figured that that still counts as exerting one’s will upon reality and so I said sure. When you think about it, this is how society works: We can’t do something; “fly” for example, so we build machines like planes which allow us to do just that and see our will imposed upon the world around us. But this also made me think of another aspect and nuance of the question: We have laws and regulations governing aviation, what if we had laws and regulations prohibiting the use of levers and pulleys? Well, in absolute terms, the 97 lb. man could contravene the law and still lift the 400 lbs., but assuming he came up in the authoritarian public school system and our society more broadly, he would likely have a deep-seated fear-based aversion to using prohibited machinery. Again, on the back end, this is the exact same as not being able to lift the 400 lbs.

I would go further in fact to say that all laws and their corollary rights fundamentally serve as limiters of possibility. They limit what we believe we are capable of. I used to look rights and laws as opposite ends of a continuum, both flowing from a central point (the state/authority/power), the former protecting the individual and the latter protecting the collective, and always in a constant state of tension. There is truth to this view, but within the context of limiting beliefs I began to conceive of a new conceptual model for our relationship to rights and laws.  Imagine that same central point (the state), but it is above us and it projects beams downward and outward to envelope us in an upside down funnel shape. These beams are rights and laws, and while they are touted as guarantors of freedom, they actually act as bars caging us into the activities and potentials the state has dictated to be acceptable.

5-ways-to-overcome-limiting-beliefs

Every law and right is in fact a micro-aggression which limits our possibility. Even the most well-wrought, agreeable laws, against killing perhaps, even these still limit our conception of what is possible for us in this world.

It’s at this point where the unimaginative might derisively retort, “So are you saying that we should get rid of all laws, you anarchist?” -as if such a proposition is completely ludicrous. I think the abolition of laws and rights is a desirable state to get to but it is a state we can’t discuss without talking about other societal changes which are beyond the scope of this post.

For now, it is simply important to recognize that every new law, rule, right, guarantee, statute, and stipulation is coercive. Recognize that you have been conditioned to be afraid of force being used against you for contravention of the laws. Recognize that a law against stealing means that there are consequences for stealing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t steal.

You can do anything. Convince yourself of this. Believe it at an experiential level, and begin to undo a lifetime of limiting programming.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Twisted Pleasure

Friends,

I pulled an all-nighter last night on my sister’s couch and my nocturnal time was occupied by the usual wikipedia safaris, listening to comedy routines and reading articles on Cracked.com.  There was another thing that occupied an hour of my time though, and that was watching nature documentaries on youtube.

url
Last night I focused on lions on the serengeti.

I don’t know why but I felt an overpowering urge to watch a lion run down animals, the more helpless the better, and tear their shit apart. Luckily for me there is no shortage of such videos on the tubes (although sometimes they try and get cute and cut away right as the lion is pouncing only to cut back when the lions are already eating…what the point of this is, I don’t pretend to know).
All in all I saw a baby elephant, a baby girafffe and a newborn wildebeest (replete with amniotic fluid) get their shit wrecked.  Great Job!
Still, as I watched I c0uldn’t help but be vaguely aware of a sense of shame for enjoying watching such violence.  I began wondering what separated watching footage like this from watching say…a snuff movie?

8MM 2
Well, my reaction for one.

But seriously, I don’t go in for explanations like, “well animals aren’t people.”  Bitch, animals suffer and feel pain too.  They’re probably more similar to us than we would care to admit so where does the moral line draw when it comes to one animal preying on another versus one human being killing another?
You could make the case that if its for educational purposes it’s okay.  Like if you are watching videos or viewing photos of a horrible massacre to write a paper, or if a jury must watch grisly rape and murder videos to help them reach a verdict.  The only problem is that this has been seized upon by people busted with caches of child pornography, I was just doing research.
Similarly, claims of artistic merit have also been used to justify one’s predilection for looking at grisly or otherwise inappropriate images.

angels_1541195i
It’s not perverted, its art.

I think the problem and incredulity from the general public comes from the fact that we are really having the wrong conversation here: Instead of forcing the artist, the snuff film connoisseur or the casual nature documentary enthusiast to justify their interest (or throwing them in jail), we should instead be asking why  that interest is there and acknowledging that the only difference between the three parties is the legal status of their interests, because arguments regarding morality are so much wasted air.  We like to distance ourselves from those on the wrong side of the law, especially when their crime carries a taboo sexual or violent taint, but I think if you dig deep enough you will find that interests in viewing lions killing gazelles, a group of guys gang-banging a single girl, torture porn movies, snuff films, and other exploitative materials showing (broadly speaking) one party doing violence to another, all stem from a common causality which binds us together at an uncomfortable  level.
Thankfully, my perversion has been deemed not only legal, but educational, so I can to continue on being a twisted fuck with impunity.
“Not guilty, y’all got to feel me!”

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

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Demystifying Rape

Note: I have had this mostly written for a few weeks now but life happened and I never finished it.  There are a few women I have discussed this topic with who have expressed interest in reading my “male” perspective (lol) when I’d like to think of it more as a human perspective.  For the record I don’t bear any malice toward anyone trying to help a disenfranchised group, I just want to spread awareness that we are all a disenfranchised group.  And even if some of the things I write here piss my feminist friends off, please note that it was written with love and serious deliberation.  Special thanks to my relatively new friend, Lauren with whom I had my first serious conversation today.  Our exchange served as the impetus to finish this off.  Hopefully there will be many more mutually beneficial discussions in the future.  Who knows, maybe some longboarding too 🙂


“I despise rapists.  For me you’re somewhere between a cockroach and that white stuff that accumulates at the corner of your mouth when you’re really thirsty.”

-Cyrus Grissom, Con Air
 
“What’s worse than rape!?”
-WO Paul Brenner, The General’s Daughter

“There are no negro problems or Polish problems or Jewish problems or Greek problems or women’s problems.  There are HUMAN PROBLEMS.”
-Jacque Fresco, Larry King Interview, 1974
 

My Friends,
I would like to talk about rape.  I think it is an interesting topic because it incites a lot of violent invective and really lays bare our antiquated values regarding the commodity-status of female sexuality.  Mostly, I think it is misunderstood because like so many things in our society, it is reduced to a self-contained problem with people arguing various causes without an understanding of causality itself.
I guess the best place to start would be right in the thick of it, with the hotly contested issue of whether certain women invite rape by their demanour, clothing, etc…  My simple answer to this would be “no,” but I think it is more complex than that simple response.  To say that a woman stands a greater chance of getting raped because she is wearing a short skirt makes her the prime cause (which she isn’t) and also negates a few important factors such as where she is, time of day, how many people are around and very significantly, the disposition of nearby males.*  I’m sure there are more factors but these few are the ones that occur off the top of my head.  When we look at a single occurrence of rape, indeed any single occurrence of anything anywhere, we are faced with the reality that it is a product of many factors working together in unison, and each of those factors have a traceable causal origin as well.  This illuminates two things for us: first of all it is very difficult to rightly say that one factor is the cause of anything; and second, we too may be subject to factors beyond our control which may lead us to do things which we might not normally do.  This can be an uncomfortable thought for some people because noone wants to think they are capable of “evil.”**
Dr. Richard C. Lewontin makes a very clear distinction between causes and agents in his series of lectures called Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA.  I will borrow his example of asbestos, which he points out has been wrongly called the cause of certain cancers.  We find that when we leave the existing industrial mechanisms in place and simply ban a substance, industry is only too eager to greenlight a new, untested, potentially carcinogenic substance which has not yet been regulated.  If the workplace cancers persist from other carcinogens, can asbestos really be said to be the cause of workplace cancer? No, rather it is an agent or factor in the causal chain which can at most contribute to an outcome.  To call an inanimate object a cause is to fetishize it and endow it with a malice that simply isn’t there.
Similarly, to call sexy clothes on a woman the cause of rape does not take into account the larger causal mechanisms which lead to interpersonal violence, and again fetishizes the inanimate skirt,  If you want any more proof that neither asbestos or sexy clothes are causes in and of themselves, consider all the cases of cancer and all the cases of rape:

Have all the cases of cancer involved asbestos exposure?  Certainly not.

Have all the cases of rape involved sexy clothes?  I don’t know the stats, but again I feel confident saying “no.”

Simply removing a causal agent will not eradicate an outcome.
But here’s the rub: while we can’t say that asbestos is the cause of cancer, we can say that certain types of cancer will not occur without exposure to asbestos.  Similarly, we can say that certain rapes would not have happened absent provocative clothing.  Please note that this is not the same as naming sexy clothes the cause of rape, nor is it excusing the rapist.***  I hope this distinction is clear because very often we get confused about causes and causal agents/factors.  I know I have written about this distinction before but it bears repeating.  Funnily enough, you often see the rudiments of causal thinking expressed in the arguments of firearms advocates who say, “guns being banned would not reduce violence, only (maybe) school shootings.  This is correct in the same way that saying, “banning asbestos reduces asbestos-related cancer, but does not eradicate cancer,” is correct.  In all these cases, whether we are talking about banning guns, regulating asbestos, or dressing more modestly so as to avoid rape, we are not actually dealing with the causes, but the agents.

So, Regarding Rape, What Are the Causes?

   I don’t know.  But I have an idea.  This line of reasoning might sound familiar to anyone who has dabbled in my blog before so bear with me.  We must look at rape in the broader context of interpersonal violence.  It’s really tempting to look at it as somehow separate and removed from other forms of violence, but in reality, its not special.#  There are no “special” forms of violence: If I murder a black man it is violence.  However, if I murder him while wearing a white hood and screaming “Nigger!” it is still the same violence.  Certainly it is more salacious and might sell a few more papers but ultimately the violence has been done either way regardless if our different skin tones factored into the equation.  Now, notwithstanding the fact that men can also be raped, women are the primary victims of rape just like it is generally visible minorities who are the primary victims of hate crimes.  And while these added layers of selection and profiling again make the story more salacious, we should not lose sight of the fact that when you reduce these things down to their essential parts they are still violence, no more or less offensive than one white male being violent toward another white male.

Violence is violence.

I only hammer this point home because I think that when you correctly place rape in the broader context of violence in general you can actually understand how to deal with it a little better.  For rape to happen, indeed for any violence to happen, it has to be reinforced by our society.  Someone (the aggressor) has to be getting something out of it, because our society reinforces competition, segregation, differential advantage, and jockeying for power.  Sure, society teaches us love and fellowship and good citizenship, etc., but it reinforces the aforementioned competitive qualities.
Now my twelfth-grade religion teacher once told us that rape is a crime of power, not sex, and I think there is some truth to that.  Certainly it sheds some light on rape if you, like me, are inclined to view our society as a constant struggle for power and advantage,  I think most, if not all interactions in our society can be reduced to some kind of power struggle, and while that may sound overly cynical and Machiavellian## consider some of the common day-to-day relationships we have:

DOM                           VS.             SUB
Parent                                            Child
Teacher                                        Student
Boss                                               Employee
Client/Customer                     Firm/Business/Agency
Alpha Male                                 Betas
Coach                                            Player
The State                                    The Person

These relationships are just a few of the commonplace, accepted forms of power dynamics (struggles really).  I don’t even want to go into the aberrant romantic relationships where one partner is whipped or, in more extreme situations, scared of their partner.
Moving forward with this assumption of constant power struggles we can see that there are many ways in which to gain the “so-called” upper hand; be physically stronger, be more persuasive, be better looking, have more money, prove someone else wrong, embarrass another, make people laugh.  All of these actions will elevate your status relative to others, and in some cases directly put someone down relative to you.  But the acceptance and social acclaim we feel for these actions make them worthwhile even if someone else has to get punked for us to look good.
Conversely, if we are those individuals that have just gotten punked, or lost face/honour/etc…, there is a desire to want to restore that face or honour.  The feeling of shame is terrible and it is interesting to watch people in a social situation who have been put in this position try and qualify themselves to others and regain the favour of the group.  So powerful can this feeling of shame be that it can actually make people act violently in search of retribution.  (*If you think about it, this whole shaming/retribution cycle was really the driving force behind the Charlie Murphy True Hollywood Story about Rick James).

“He totally just wrote me off like I’m that nigga to steal on”
–Charlie Murphy, recalling the shame Rick James made him feel
 
   Now I’m not pulling all of this outta my ass and backing it up with pop culture references, at least not entirely.  Dr. James Gilligan, a former prison psychiatrist and current lecturer at NYU is renowned for his work during his time as Director of Mental Health for the Massachusetts prison system.  He brought the violence level down to almost zero when he was brought in due to high instances of suicide and interpersonal violence.
“I have spent the last 40 years of my life working the most violent people our society produces; murderers, rapists, and so on, in an attempt to understand what causes this violence.”
-James Gilligan, Zeitgeist: Moving Forward

“The prison inmates I work with have told me repeatedly when I ask them why they have assaulted someone that it was because “he disrespected me.”  The word disrespect is central in the vocabulary, moral values systems and psycho-dynamics of these chronically violent men.  I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed and humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed,  and did not represent an attempt to undo this loss of face no matter how severe the punishment.  For we misunderstand these men at our peril if we do not realize they mean it literally when they say they would rather kill or mutilate others [or] be killed, than live without pride, dignity and self-respect.” -James Gilligan, Social Pathology (Quoted by Peter Joseph)

   If I may be so bold as to suggest that the causes of prison violence may also underlie the violence outside of prison, and if furthermore you may be so bold as to accept that proposition, I think we might have a workable hypothesis for what causes all interpersonal violence in the world, not just rape.  And really why should we discriminate when it comes to different degrees of violence IF we can deal with it all in one fell swoop?  That’s a big “if”, but I maintain that it is possible if we stop looking at things in the current piecemeal fashion.  Corny as it may sound, we gotta start thinking holistically, or at the very least stop looking at things within the common frames of reference and applying the same tried and ineffective solutions.
   The problem of rape is not to be addressed by narrowing our focus to rape and rape alone; certainly it will not be solved by the passing of new laws or well-intentioned marketing campaigns 

Frankly, I don’t give a shit about girls because I am not one.  
I do care about my fellow human beings though.

which only serve to perpetuate duality (us vs. them).  No rather than a dualistic perspective (which if you think about it is the foundation of so many of our obsolete societal perspectives -i.e. venus vs. mars, good vs. evil, demo vs. repub, coke vs. pepsi) we need a unified one.  We need to critically examine our society and find the common thread which condemns us all.  We need to have a knowledge of history and historical precedent but also be careful not to let our past & present conceptions shape our future projections.
   Finally I would like to say that we’ve tried approaching rape and female equality from an isolated perspective for long enough.  Frankly, progress has not moved quick enough for my tastes where it has happened at all.  Female voting and the ability to work seemed like victories but were merely accommodations, much like the “victories” blacks got in the southern US during the 1960s and 70s.  In reality, women’s suffrage and women’s lib only served to afford women the same level of servitude afforded only to men up to that point.  I recognize these movements for their temporal importance and their necessity at the time.  But now we can do better – we must do better.

He doesn’t belong to any gender either.


Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

*I wasn’t not sure whether to use the word “male” here or “potential rapist.”  Certainly to think that all males are potential rapists is a shade cynical, but to assume that some males could never rape is naive.  Noone is innately good and noone is innately evil.  This is important to understand.

**I don’t think there is such thing as evil, just right and wrong.  But evil is a good word for to make a point with. (sic.)

***”Excusing” the rapist should be a moot concept if any of this causality jibber-jabber is sinking in.

#The intent here is not to marginalize any victim so lets set a benchmark.  Either no form of violence is special or all forms are special and all the victims are special cases.  I am inclined to think the latter.  Try telling a victim of a crime that their experience isn’t a special case.  Of course it is, even if its just a statistic to you.

##I’ve never used the word, Machiavelli or any of its derivatives in my writing before.  Feels good, man…

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The Three Kings


“I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who”
-Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant Child
My Friends,
   With all due respect to Mr. Kipling I have found that there are three (3) questions which rank as being of primary importance in the world we live in.  These questions are sadly not asked frequently enough, and if they were asked more, answered honestly, and then the answers acted upon, we would live in a very different world indeed.  So, without further ado, let’s begin.
Why?
Watch 1:00 to 1:30

   The most frequently asked of these infrequently-asked questions, why is actually a prime example of a question almost universally not being answered satisfactorily and honestly.  Many Some of you may recall that I am fond of this question and especially the formulation of what I call a “why ladder” (“Logical Disgreement/Beyond Good and Evil,” 26 June 2012), where you essentially keep asking “why?” until the person either a) communicates the answer (root cause) if they know it, b) gives an answer of “I don’t know” if they legitimately don’t know and are honest about it, or c) anger.  I mistakenly assumed when I wrote that post that these were the only three outcomes when constructing a why ladder, but there is actually a fourth: circular reasoning.

   For example, I have this one friend with whom I often discuss matters with and I have realized that trying to communicate ideas with him is an uphill battle.  For whatever reason he doesn’t like to hear new ideas from me even if they are relatively self-evident or backed by science.  I could go on and on about his dated assumptions regarding so-called human nature, his high-esteem for the merits of drudgery, his sophomoric attempts to pass off something he learned in a lecture as the missing link to all human understanding, and of course his insistence that there is a feminist plot to enslave mankind, but that would simply be vindictive and a result of my bitterness about his many successful attempts to stymie my pursuit of logic.  In an effort to overcome his stubborn refusal to admit that I might (from time to time) know what I am talking about, I decided on a different approach; I would ask him questions, mostly “whys,” in an effort to lead him toward finding knowledge on his own.  I unfortunately sorely underestimated his anti-intellectualism, and I realized that he (shrewd asshole that he is), understanding what I was asking him and sensing he knew (unconsciously or otherwise) where I was going with it, would refuse to answer my questions honestly and would respond to subsequent whys with previously given answers.
Example:
Me: Well, you seem to feel that A is a problem, but what caused it? (why?)
Him: Well its cause of B
Me: Okay I see, but why does B exist as such?
Him: Cause of C
Me: Well, what conditions are in place (why?) that give rise to C?
Him: I already told you, its because of B!
   You see what he did there? B is both the cause of and a result of C.  How is this possible?  Well its not, but sadly such circular, self-referential reasoning is far too commonplace.  And whether it is religion, the social system we have, or some other deeply-held belief or value-system which people strongly identify with, everyone has a box in which they can not argue outside of.  For if they did acknowledge that the answer might lie outside of their cognitive comfort-zone it would open them up to the possibility that they might be mistaken about other things as well (God Forbid).  
   This is why I emphasize that these questions must not only be asked, but answered honestly.  After all, do we really think that it is some political party, or union, or criminal, or music genre, or violent video game which is the root cause of all of our problems?  Of course not, yet these irrelevant issues are constantly attacked as if overcoming them will make life better somehow, when in fact they are actually so removed from the life sequence of value as to be less substantial than a popcorn fart.
…a Final Word on “Why”

   For a long time Jeopardy has been my favourite game show.  I find the formula of “questioning answers” instead of answering questions to be an interesting take on the typical trivia format.  And as this post makes clear, I, like Alex Trebek, am a fan of people asking the right questions.  However, I have noticed that the questions contestants respond with are always in the format of, “who is ____?” or “what is _____?, or infrequently, “where is _____?”  I have never to this day seen a contestant answer with “why is _____?”  
   Think about that for a second.
   Now think of what kind of clue could be given to necessitate a response beginning with “why?”
“Why is our socio-economic system such an abysmal failure, Alex?”

Something tells me that such a question wouldn’t serve the purposes of Alex Trebek’s overlords at Sony Corporation.  That actually brings me to my next question…
   For those who don’t read latin, this translates to, “To Whose Benefit?”  This is an oft-unasked question because the answers can frankly be scary.  After all, people don’t want to think that someone benefited from a tragedy or crisis, but it holds true that this is often the case.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the following:
You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” -Rahm Emanuel

“All we need is the right major crisis…” -David Rockefeller

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” -Warren Buffett

“Fortunes are made in recessions” -Anonymous

You see my point I hope.  Even outside of the financial and political realms this is true.  On an interpersonal level, I have been aware for some time that there is no such thing as bad news, just “news” and how you take it and use it is what matters.  For example, if you have a bit of a spat with someone or disappoint them it can rightly be seen as an opportunity to redeem yourself and find yourself in higher esteem than you would if you hadn’t gotten into a bad situation in the first place.
   When it gets scary is when you realize that some person or some organization of great means might actually effect a crisis in order to benefit from it.  This is colloquially called “conspiracy theory” but it is in reality the aforementioned law principle Cui Bono, handed down from the ancient-Roman legal tradition.  
Now its conspiracy … something that should not be even entertained for a minute: that powerful people might get together and have a plan.  Doesn’t happen.  Youre a kook, youre a conspiracy buff!!”
-George Carlin, relevant as always

   I think the truth in this question rests in the fact that regardless of your opinion on orchestrated tragedies, crises, etc., you have to concede that because we live in a competitive system, some person(s) must lose so others can win.  IN EVERY TRANSACTION!  After all, we can’t all be millionaires, right?
   Now go ahead and mull that point over for a sec because I want to make sure you are in agreement with that basic truism of our system before I go on, as my next point is predicated on it.
Seriously, think it over for a sec.  I’ll go watch porn for a few minutes.

   Are we all in agreement then?  Do you acknowledge that in a competitive system there has to be a loser for there to be a winner?  Good, because you must then also acknowledge the corollary, that there must be a winner to be a loser.  Think about that: every loss you have ever had has been a gain for someone else, usually a financial one.  Everything you dread, fear, or cower from is dollar signs for someone else.  Car breaks down?  Dollar dollar bills for the auto-service industry.  Loved one dies?  Pay-day for a mortician.  Terrorist attack? Foreign Belligerent? War?…
I’ll just leave this here…*

I really want to make clear that everything bad that happens, whether deliberately brought about or not, is profitable for someone.  When we start asking who benefits, we start to see the world in a much more honest, if sometimes cynical way.  But cynicism is the cult of the weak; a temple for those who feel indignant and impotent.  Much better to empower yourself…
What Would YOU Do?

   You have probably heard of this Jesus guy at some point.  People have in recent years pondered what he would do in any given situation.  We know they were pondering this because they wore cheap bracelets with W.W.J.D. inscribed on them:
I never had one but I think I’ll start bringing it back.

In any event, I don’t think most people would know what Jesus would do.  My respect for the man comes not from the bible but from an interpretation of his acts which I read in a non-violence class I took.  He was actually kind of a badass who seized upon the moral initiative, establishing himself as alpha-dog in social situations and pre-empting violent confrontation…
Well, MOST violent confrontation…

…with the strength of his presence, knowledge of self, and social clout.  But even if you possess my knowledge of the man (a knowledge which rivals that of any biblical scholar), and furthermore a knowledge of what he would do, that still begs the question: What would YOU do?
   Not such an easy answer, is it?  I think in our heads we mythologize Jesus and treat him as kind of a superhero; something unattainable.  In fact, that is missing the point; MY Jesus is the most accessible, down-to-Earth guy ever invented and he lived by a simple code.  Anyone can live up to the Jesus-code because it doesn’t ask more than anyone can give, but it does ask for all they can give.  
   Now I don’t want my admiration for and dick-riding of Jesus to get in the way of the point I am trying to make because nobody has to do what Jesus would do.  However, anyone who poses direct questions to themselves and finds honest answers finds themselves in the unique and lamentable position of no longer being ignorant.  And when you are no longer ignorant, a moral imperative arises, for you can no longer carry on the way you did in ignorance and keep a clean conscience.  When you know a behaviour is harmful or that you are contributing to a problem, it will gnaw at your conscience and peace of mind every time you engage in said behaviour.  We shouldn’t try to suppress this, for it is every fibre of our being telling us to do the right thing. 
   So what would you do?  Sometimes doing the right thing is passive, amounting to little more than abstaining from socially harmful behaviours.  Other times it is much harder, requiring difficult choices and actions.  But following the hard path, whether you want to call it the Jesus-path, the Gandhi-path, the MLK-path, the Zeitgeist-path or whatever, is much more satisfying, even if not rewarding in the superficial sense.  You know it from those times you did right by someone for no reward, or from those times when you intervened and prevented great tragedy from befalling someone.  And whether you call it altruism or enlightened self-interest, there is a feeling you get both from direct action and from making the right long-term choices which is the true meaning of life.  If this sounds preachy, its because it is: unqualified, uncompensated love for another human being is the greatest joy I have yet found. 
   
   ***
   
   I think if we ask honest questions of ourselves, both the first two questions  I posted and others, we come to certain truths rooted in natural law and universal human need.  And when we realize these truths, it is actually more difficult to resist the path of good than it is to follow it.  Let me say in closing that the hardest decisions I have ever arrived at were actually easy choices to make but difficult to follow through with.

Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
*Taken from the facebook group for the army regiment I belong to.


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