An Eye for an Eye

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind ——Mahatma Gandhi

The next time someone does something perceived as wrong to you, instead of flying off the handle and thinking of ways to get even—which seems so popular an attitude these days, why not be different and try a positive response, instead? Talk to the person. Find out why they replied so negatively to you. Was it something you said that irritated the person? Is the person just having a bad day? In short, try to understand!

Humanity is comfortable in a no-change environment. Change causes uncomfortableness, and uncomfortableness causes irritation and short-temperateness in people.

The earth, and even our entire solar system, is going through a rapid transformation: an evolutionary ‘upgrade’[i] [ii] that is causing problems in our psych. It is in our nature to be more comfortable with the same-old, same-old, rather than experiencing change.[iii]

Fortunately—or unfortunately for some who elect to stay behind, this rapid change is necessary for evolution’s sake, both for us, for our planet, and our solar system as we prepare for this transformation. If we let our guard down during these changing times, it can become habitual to shut down reason, unharness the motions, attach these undisciplined emotions to our tongue and let fly, come what may!

A good example of letting our emotions rule over reason is evident in the recent “Defund the Police” marches. Yes, there are problems with police butality, especially in Black communities. But, can you imagine our society without police to protect us from the criminal minded? Practical reason is the answer to this social problem, not unbridled emotion!

Historically, protests have brought about much-needed changes in the way citizens are abused by those in power. The problem is, hidden within the grained victories of the protesters, are buried the injured innocents that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time while these protests took place. And correcting the wrongs suffered by the innocently injured can take generations to heal, especially if they are brushed aside or insufficiently dealt with.

Looted and damaged storefronts are one example of how an innocent person or business can suffer unfairly during a demonstration. Insurance, plus other costs and inconvenience caused by rioters, are only a minor example of what is wrong with this method of gaining justice by demonstrating against our perceived wrongs.

Lives are lost during riots. Between 1954 to 1968, 41 people were killed during the civil rights movement in the United States.[vi] And that’s just one small sample of human costs caused by riots, revolts, or disagreements.

Is there a more civilized, peaceful way of protesting for the oppressed to be heard? Yes, there is!

Non-violent protests are a far superior way to gain civil rights. This has been demonstrated through proven actions by famous leaders of peaceful protests like Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Te Whiti o Rangamati, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and the list goes on.[vii] So, we see, peaceful resolutions to our social issue happen, and are possible! Best of all, they don’t cause injury or damage to the innocent.

If we are serious about going along with humanity maturing, we have to abandon violent solutions to our problems.

Rather than rioting to solve our injustices, we need to take greater advantage of our court system. Just like the rioting slogan, “Defund the Police” is concerned only with one aspect of the problem: police violence, court trials can present to an unbiased jury or judge both sides of the argument, resulting in a more satisfactory solution to a problem.

The sign of an intelligent nation is reason through controlled emotions by the application of reason – Mayra Mannes

We also have to think about our future and the future of our children. Will we give in to the rioters and hot-heads and let them stain the good name of humanity by allowing them to solve their issues through rioting and violence? Or will we leave our children a legacy of superior, more just, and binding laws that will leave a legacy of comfort to them that reason, not violence, is the better road to a happier life?

[i] Cosmic Evolution: an Interdisciplinary approach: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~ejchaisson/cosmic_evolution/docs/fr_1/fr_1_site_summary.html

[ii] Cosmic Evolution by Eric J. Chaisson: https://www.physicscentral.com/explore/writers/chaisson.cfm

Lena M. ForsellJan A. Åström

[iv] Lemmings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming

[vi] Civil Rights Movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Memorial#:~:text=The%20Civil%20Rights%20Memorial%20is,the%20Southern%20Poverty%20Law%20Center.

[vii] Leaders of non-violent protests: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_resistance

If You Know You Are Right …

If you know you’re right, it really doesn’t matter what others think? Note, I’ve emphasized the word, ‘know.’ I’ll give you a simple example of the difference between knowing something to be right and believing something to be right.

You came home from the office a short while ago, a bit tired, but you remembered your routine before you can call it a. day: taking out the garbage. You fulfill that task in your usual, efficient way, then return to the comfort of your living, anticipating a quiet, restful evening. As you settle into your easy chair, your wife calls out to you from the kitchen, “honey, don’t forget, it’s your job to take out the garbage!”

You explode. “I’ve already taken out the damn garbage! Now leave me alone!”

What made you lose your composure?

It relates back to your insecurity.

According to an article in Psychology Today, “The 3 Most Common Causes of Insecurity and How to Beat Them,” insecurity appears to be at the heart of our auto-instinct to flare up and defend yourself, often at the slightest provocation.

            The first, and possibly the main cause of insecurity is a feeling of failure or rejection. Did you loose last night at the poker game, and now you’ll be a bit short on your monthly grocery allowance, and you’re afraid your wife will find out?

            You self-punish: how stupid of me gamble away our grocery money! Why don’t I have more self-control? I’m just a failure! … and so on.

            A second reason for an angry flareup can be social rejection. Did your boss give that envied contract to another employee and that has put you into a rejective social slump?

            That damn Bill, he’s always suck-holing up to the boss! My idea was far better than Bills! Even Dolly, our secretary, said that I was more qualified!

            The third cause of insecurity mentioned in the article is, are you a perfectionist? In that burst of anger, you feel that your partner should know you take out the garbage at exactly eight o’clock right after you get home from work! Why is she questioning your efficiency?

            Our security/insecurity is something few of us try to analyse. Yet, if we took the time to do so, we could save ourselves a lot of grief. In this present era of our evolution, everything is in rapid change. Look at the violence and distrust that’s present everywhere, and to think that a lot—no! I’d say most of that is generated through people’s lack of faith in themselves, and lack of, or unwillingness to understand of what is actually happening in the world.

            But that doesn’t mean you have no choice but be trapped in this nightmarish world and have to accept whatever is thrown at you.

            You’ve heard the expression, “solid as a rock,” or the familiar hymn, “Rock of Ages.” A rock is a symbol of stability: solidness; surety. Does it care about what the environment thinks about it?

            Another example is the weather and the weatherman. Does the weather really care what the weatherman thinks about its—the weather’s everchanging nature?

            If we wish to survive in all this insanity, we have to become ‘as solid as a rock,’ yet as versatile to change as the weather.

            A rock is! That’s a fact. The weather is! And that’s a fact. You are! That’s another fact! Practice mindfulness. Be present in all that you do. Do your due-diligent research and be informed, not opinionated.

            Like the Universal Consciousness itself—God, if you will, be as solid as a rock, and as flexible to change as the weather: secure in your knowing, and it won’t matter what anyone else thinks or believes of you!

A Sunday Chat with Myself—”I feel Deeply Offended!”

“People get addicted to feeling offended all the time because it gives them a high; being self-righteous and morally superior feels good.” —Mark Manson

This morning, my mind is on the recent kerfuffle over the removal of the statue of John A. Macdonald from several locations throughout the country. John A. was one of our Founding Fathers, and Canada’s first Prime Minister, spanning a political career from 1867 to 1873, and again from 1878 to 1891.

Macdonald was a leading figure in the discussions that lead up to the creation of the British North American Act, resulting in Canada becoming a nation on 1 July, 1867.

To say that our first Prime Minister was A Character, would be to oversimplify his nature! According to the National Post, when Macdonald dispatched troops, in 1869, to put down the Louis Riel Red River Rebellion, his son, Hugh John, “deliberately defied his father’s wishes to stick to his law studies and instead joined the militias heading west.”

To say that our First Prime Minister loved to occasionally imbibe would also be describing his drinking habits mildly. John A. was a lush! His Kingston address that once housed his law office, is now a “traditional Scottish Pub,” and his Glasgow birthplace is also now a bar! When he was supposed to be protecting Canada from marauding Irish armies, he couldn’t be reached because he “was on a bender.”

Macdonald was an enigma! While he presided over mass die-offs of Plains First Nations, he also proposed giving indigenous people the right to vote, and he really, really wanted to see Louis Riel dead!

In 1880, Macdonald proposed extending the right for women to vote, while at the same time, he “fervently warned” against Chinese immigrants upsetting the Canada’s “Aryan” character, and for years, along with several other Prime Ministers, extorted a head tax on Chinese immigrants.

It’s easy to fill up several pages cataloguing Macdonald’s escapades while he was in government, because he really was one of Canada’s most unique and colorful characters—but then, so were many other political persons during his time. For example, according to the National Post, “It’s ridiculous to judge figures from the past by beliefs of the present. Thomas Jefferson, who declared that “all men were created equal” owned hundreds of slaves and repeatedly impregnated his favourite one. Winston Churchill held a dim view of [East] Indians in general, and Mahatma Gandhi in particular, other than as handy fodder when needed for warfare. Blacks needed the civil rights movement in the 1960s because, 100 years after the Civil war, it was considered perfectly acceptable to practice discrimination in the U.S., and to a lesser extent in Canada.”

And this brings me to my main point of argument. Should we whitewash our history and blatantly discard any part of it that we find offensive? What would our history look like if we just erased all offensive aspects of our history?

It is true, history books are written by the victors in all situations, but it’s also true that we are becoming a more compassionate and empathic nation than our forefathers were, and we are paying greater attention to the way we mistreated the minority of Canadians in our past.

“Tough times don’t define you, they refine you. ‪” —Carlos A. Rodriguez

I grew up in a rural area in Saskatchewan, quite near the Cree Indian File Hills reserve. One of my first, and best friends in my youth was Elmer Ross. In those days, it was quite normal for white people—and even many Indians—to refer to Elmer as an illegitimate Half Breed—a Metis, born of an Indian mother and a French-Canadian father. However, his birth status didn’t matter much to either of us because, I, again, was Canadian born to German immigrants. It was the war years: World War II was in full swing and our family was considered outcasts—Bloody Germans—Hitler supporters— who were responsible for all the war and hatred in the world.

Because we were so discriminated against, Elmer and I had much in common, and it was that, which we shared in common, that made us the best of friends.

When I see how “politically correct” our politicians are perverting Canadian history, I often have to wonder: how should I write my own life’s journal, to be politically correct?

Should I write, “I was born on a farm in Central Saskatchewan?” But, I could take that as offensive. To say that I have been born on a farm denotes I was not afforded the rights of having experienced the amenities that a large city offers. Should I be deeply offended that I wasn’t born in a city?

On the other hand, if I simply say that I was born in Saskatchewan, I might also have a legitimate complaint that I was denied the privilege of having experienced life in other provinces: I was robbed of having experienced life in the mountains, or life in more densely populated areas, or to have experienced what it was like to live near a large lake, like Lake Ontario.

So, to be politically correct, the best that I can do is say, “I was born!” That should be quite a neutral statement!

Next, I would write in my life’s journal, “I went to school.” Well, I can’t see anything politically incorrect here, so we can leave that sentence stand, other than I must investigate any possible chance that I might have attended one of John A. Macdonald’s Indian Schools, which could give me great cause for concern … except, truth be told, I went to a legitimate, all-white, Christian school—as did my good friend, Elmer Ross— so I can’t be “deeply offended” there! I went to school: a politically correct statement!

I could go on and on about factors in my life that I could list as offending me, including times in my youth when the community branded our family as hated “Nazis” because of my parent’s birth origin, but really, all of those rich life’s moments—the good, the bad, the ugly—offered me a chance to grow and develop my character. I am quite happy with the way my life turned out …

… except for the fact that I am deeply offended that Canadian society, in our weak-kneed drive to be fair to all, should allow our “politically correct” politicians to so screw up our history to the point where we no longer know what, or who, we are as a country!

That deeply offends me!

A Sunday Chat with Myself

“The sad thing about Artificial Intelligence is that it lacks Artifice and therefore Intelligence.” — Jean Baudillard

In a C|Net article titled, “As AI and robots rise up, do humans need an upgrade too?” the author continues, “Forget hacking a computer. Some researchers want to hack the brain (italics added) to create human superintelligence to compete with AI.” In this article, the author makes some convincing arguments in favor of a better brain, and in its  prescribed aspect, I agree with her. Many of us could drastically reduce the calamities that befall us if we’d “upgrade” our thinking capacity, like upgrading our skills, education, and my favorite, playing professional Brain Games like Lumosity and Brain HQ. but aren’t we putting the cart before the horse?

We talk about AI (Artificial Intelligence) taking over, but forget that AI is a human–a mind/brain creation–something that we’ve usefully invented through the use of our brain, and then, instead of taking pride in our accomplishment, we limit ourselves to think that the brain did it all, that we’re just a brain. No more!

“Before we do something about Artificial Intelligence, why don’t we do something about Natural Stupidity?” — Steve Polyak

We are much more than a brain. We’re a Soul! In other words, we’re a thinking, reasoning, eternal, feeling being that has somehow–still largely unknown to us just how we did it– created a brain–an indispensable tool–to help us create even greater things. As such we should celebrate our infinity, rather than degrade ourselves into believing that we’re only a brain that has somehow developed a mind, and that’s all we are.

Like a carpenter with his hammer, what does it prosper me to upgrade my hammer, as this article suggests,  but remain clumsy and continue to keep hitting my thumb with it every time I try hammering a nail into a board? Doesn’t it make more sense to upgrade my spirit–my soul, and therein eliminate  from clumsiness?

In this same article, Bryan Johnson is quoted as saying, “Looking at superintelligence for me is like when you’re on the motorway looking so far out ahead that you crash into the car in front of you,” and I believe this is exactly what we are doing by accepting brain improvement over Soul improvement.

Improve our spirituality and our brain will automatically work better for us to our interests, because it is only a tool–a beautiful, wonderful, powerful tool–of something in us that’s much, much bigger!

“Artificial Intelligence has the same relationship to intelligence as Artificial Flowers have to flowers.” — David Prnas

Arguing …

“The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” — George Bernard Shaw

I love to argue! Some of my colleagues refer to this, my passion, as a barbaric sport. If I must argue, then, instead of arguing, why not debate like civilized people do? Debating, they say, is more civilized and, since Man is the only creature that we’re aware of  that can reason, why not help him reach for higher stratums by reason of ‘civilized’ debate, rather than ‘barbaric’ arguing?Argument

Hogwash!

Troubled by the restrictions and shortcomings common in formal debating, many years ago two friends of mine and I organized our own “Arguing Club” in order to satisfy our penchant to exercise our minds.  But, instead of adopting the many rules found in a formal debate, we had only one rule that mattered: the person who got angry first, lost the argument! We did, however, add an addendum to this rule–an “Escape Clause” that we knew  at some time we’d need, should one or all three of us become disinterested in the subject being argued and wish to just drop it, and call it “a draw.” Also, unlike a formal debate where opposite teams are given time to research their point of view, our topic for argument was mutually decided upon at the moment, allowing for no time for either parties to do research. Ours was a spur of the moment thing, and we had a reason for doing so, which I’ll get to later.

So, before I go any farther into proving the superiority of arguing over formal debate, let me state that, to stubbornly argue about anything— little things– and insist that you’re right gains you nothing. Many friendships–indeed, many marriages have suffered simply because one or both members just refuse to give in, afraid that their ‘error’ might expose a weakness in them. To the contrary. Be assured, to admit error is not a sign of weakness. In fact, to stubbornly insist on being right against all odds can show you up as being ‘brilliantly’ clueless! Instead, if you find yourself cornered where you face superior reason, take advantage of the moment and listen: open your mind to learning something new from your ‘opponent’ that you didn’t know before. In the end, that little bit of humility will thank you for it: you’re now truly on the road to getting smarter!

So, back to my ‘argument’ that arguing is superior to formal debating. Spur of the moment arguing, like my friends and I had set up, can be compared to driving peacefully along a straight stretch of road when suddenly you hit an icy patch. You can’t stop Father Time so that you can dig out the driver’s manual from your glove compartment and quickly brush up on what to do in such a slippery emergency. All that you have at your disposal now is a very heightened awareness. You’re suddenly more awake–desperate– than you’ve been during your trip up to now. Good driving habits–instructions– long forgotten, stored deep within your psych, pop up front and center as you wrestle with the emergency.

The same mental awareness happens when you properly prepare yourself for an argument. Like a crack platoon of  battle-hardened troops, all your heightened senses now are front and center, ready to defend your views! Bits of information–maybe something from years back that you had glimpsed on a billboard, or heard a high school teacher say, crashes through your brain’s cobwebbed time barrier and rolls off your tongue as if it’s always been there, fresh and handy. You’re a sudden genius!

No, I don’t promise that, overnight, you’ll become a famous battle-hardened arguer, feared by all opposition. Oh, if it only were that simple!  First, it’s not that simple and, like all worthwhile skills, it can take a while before you become a real challenger in the argument arena, and like the skills of any Learned Grand Master of any trade or profession, it takes a lifetime to make your opponents fear and/or respect you. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

  • Arguing and formal debating can be compared to a speaker and a listener. As in all meetings that we attend, the one giving the talk can be compared to the arguer, because he has to be more aware than the listener. The listener, for all that it matters, can fall asleep. Awareness plays an important role in turning on all your senses. Because of this heightened awareness, the speaker will always end up knowing more about the topic than the listener, no matter how much the listener concentrates on the topic.
  • A true Arguer is a person who desires to learn more than the average person, and to learn it fast.
  • Although we “Three Musketeers” had one rule: he who got angry first lost the argument, not once do I remember any one of us getting angry during our many sessions. That rule was just sort of a decoration that we added to help keep our arguments fun and in line.
  • Did I mention that our argument sessions were designed to be fun? A lot of studies have shown that the brain learns better, and retains more of the information, when it is fun to learn.
  • Back to the topic of speaker and listener, have you noticed that a good speaker, one that the public flocks to, enjoys speaking and, over the years, that makes him ever more proficient in his speaking skill, and develops a broader span of knowledge? The key here is, have fun and it will all come to you!
  • Don’t be shy about taking the opposite or disliked view when a topic is presented. It’s usually easy to win the argument if you take the ‘popular’ side of the view and one that you’re familiar with, but just spewing out a bunch of known information does little in sharpening your quick-thinking skills, nor will it help broaden your knowledge-horizons. Taking the opposite view in discussions, especially unpopular ones, is a common practice among lawyers when learning their trade. That’s why the good ones seldom loose a case! Besides, it’s taking the opposite view that brings out your platoon of crack self-awareness troops.
  • Be selective in choosing whom you wish to engage in an argument. There are far more people out there who are more interested in picking a fight with you rather than engaging you in mental competition! Not heeding this advice can even put you in physical harms’ way. If your opponent shows any sign of anger, quit the discussion! Believe me, an angry or frustrated person cannot be swayed to accept even the most simple truth. That is why politicians rarely go out and meet with a demonstrating crowd. An angry crowd is a closed-minded crowd!