The Most Frightening Thing In The World

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You know what’s the most frightening thing in the world?

I’ll tell you.

It’s the troubling fact that evil is brought into the world by ordinary people who think they are doing good. That’s terrifying because you can’t fix it. Or learn from it. Historically speaking, it’s our attempt to rid the world of a perceived evil that is in fact how evil is brought into the world.

For instance, take the Holocaust. It wasn’t homicidal maniacs with overwhelming hate in their hearts who murdered the Jews in concentration camps. No, no. Rather, it was the church-going, middle-aged, working-class family men. It was ordinary people like you and me who killed tens of thousands of Jews.

These people weren’t evil on an individual basis. They obeyed laws, prayed, loved & provided for their families. It was out of duty to their Fatherland and this misguided notion of obedience to authority figures that caused them to participate in one of mankind’s most atrocious slaughters.

How frightening is that?

Under the Communist experiment in the Soviet Union during the early part of the 20th century, the ordinary bureaucrats, under the false belief of the “common good”, went farm to farm confiscating properties. Families were driven from their homes and forced into the wilderness in below freezing temperatures with absolutely nothing to their name. Millions of people lost their lives in the process. Millions. The officials, working under the notion of the “common good”, truly believed in the virtue of their actions.

In our time, a good example is the “war on terror.” The United States’ unending mission to rid the world of terrorism is also the root cause of the growth of terrorism. This is why since 9/11 terrorism has grown exponentially in spite of the trillions of dollars and many lives spent to destroy it.

How can this be?

Most of the bombs dropped by the US in the Middle East kill innocent civilians.  In their eyes, they endure a 9/11 type catastrophe every single day.  So as we in the US believe we are right in dropping bombs in the Middle East, terrorists believe, on the other hand, that they are right by killing innocent people in the Western world in the name of retribution.

It’s an unwinnable situation on both sides and senseless deaths on both sides will inevitably continue for years to come.

These examples– and there are much more– showcase the extreme dangers of ideologies and the collectivist mayhem that usually spawns from them.

History has undoubtedly shed light on the perils of dividing ourselves into groups to give expression to our ideals. The danger lies in the fact that when we throw ourselves into group identities or hide behind a flag or a cause, it allows us to shed personal responsibility for our actions. “I was just doing my job” and “it’s the policy” becomes our self-justifying chant we use to defend our reprehensible actions.  And we believe it, truly.

Christopher Browning, in his incredible book on “how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews”, writes:

“I fear that we live in a world in which war and racism are ubiquitous, in which the powers of government mobilization and legitimization are powerful and increasing, in which a sense of personal responsibility is increasingly attenuated by specialization and bureaucratization, and in which the peer group exerts tremendous pressures on behavior and sets moral norms. In such a world, I fear, modern governments that wish to commit mass murder will seldom fail in their efforts for being unable to induce ‘ordinary men’ to become their ‘willing executioners.'”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a historian, and brilliant writer was thrown into a Russian Gulag prison camp in the mid 40’s for criticizing Stalin in personal letters that he’d written. Fortunately, he lived to write about the wickedness under the Soviet Communist experience and all the vile and debauched things he witnessed in the gulag camps. In his most intense and important book called, The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn writes:

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an un-uprooted small corner of evil.

Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”

So what is the answer to eliminating the amount of evil in the world?

There might not be one. But I think one of the main things we can do to start tilting in that direction is to strengthen the individual and stay away from the poisonous concept of group identity.  Self-development and a sense of self-ownership are, I believe, the first steps in overcoming the collectivist madness we see today.

We must learn to live well, live our own truth, take responsibility for our own actions or lack of actions, and quit cowering away from our own greatness.

Or as today’s unrivaled thinker and teacher, Dr. Jordan Peterson concludes – it’s the integrity of the individual. That’s the answer to the violent animosity that infects humanity. The integrity of the individual. He writes:

“We need to wake up, individual man and woman alike, and we need to do it now. Each of us must take the world on our shoulders, insofar as we are capable of that, and adopt individual responsibility for the horrors and suffering its existence entails. In that we will find the Meaning without which Life is merely the suffering that breeds, first, resentment and then the desire for vengeance and destruction. We need to take responsibility, instead of incessantly insisting on our rights. We need to become adults, instead of aged children. We need to tell the truth. We need justice and compassion, conjoined; not judgment and pity, which crush and devour.”

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Stay Far Away from the Crowd

Can you imagine how beautiful the world could possibly be if people actually were wise enough to think for themselves as unique human beings, rather than kowtowing to the fuckin’ group they identify with?

This goes for politics, nationalism, race, religion, and yes, even a silly flag-waving protest. And counter-protest.

The crowd, my friends, is the gathering place of the weakest. There’s no truth there, no honesty, no integrity. You’ll only find such things in the individual; if, of course, they haven’t sold their soul to the multitudes of like-minded nincompoops.

Between the Voids

 

_DSC3294“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Just imagine an endless void,
infinitely dark and bound by no space
and time. A perpetual midnight
with no stars or moons. An
eternal blackness.
Then a flash.
A light, a breath, a life.
Milliseconds later another flash.
The last gasp, darkness, death.

Back into it.

This is our life and our death.
A mere flicker in the spectrum of time.
An instance in eternity.
What do we do in between
the mysterious voids?
What do we do
with the fleeting miracle
of the light?

After the first spark,
we soon realize that the second
spark is swiftly approaching
and we fall to our knees
in angst and fear
of the looming darkness
rather than celebrating
the impossible odds
of the first spark.

In the face of the dying
of the light, we’ve
allowed ourselves to be consumed
by the masses
succumbing to a maddening
9-5 routine lifestyle
of work, TV, bed, repeat.
With weekends filled
with other predictable normalcies.

No creation,
no exploration,
no diving into the depths
of the great works of
wisdom and art.
No effort to taste
the world beyond
the recognizable margins
of our own lot.

It just seems like an evil hoax,
a bad dream,
a soulless way to spend
the fleeting days
of a brief
accidental
life.

Most live it, or are conditioned to live it,
or at least endure it
because we have bills to pay,
cars to drive, and mouths to feed.

It’s an honorable feat.

But deep down we know
it’s a killer. As Thoreau once observed,
“the mass of men lead lives
of quiet desperation.”

We’re running around mad
in our own little mad world, always doing
something that brings no joy,
darting here and there
with no time to think or reflect,
no time to just sit under a sycamore
and ponder on the mere chance
of our existence.

The late great mythologist
Joseph Campbell recognized that
“We’re so engaged in doing things
to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget
the inner value,
the rapture that is associated
with being alive.”

Maybe this explains the lunacy and self-ignorance
we see around our bankrupt country.
Seems we’ve politicized our minds
and neglected our souls
to the point of hysteria
while hiding behind worn-out ideologies,
mindlessly swallowing the nonsense
we hear from empty suits
in positions of power.

We cling to the buoy
of politics
and religion
and cheap entertainment
to stay
afloat in the whirling
sea of anguish.

We know nothing
but our mouths
reason otherwise

It’s like we’re trapped in a theater
playing constant reruns of a bad melodrama
with no exit.

It’s a hell of a predicament we find ourselves in.
Sartre just might’ve been right when he said that
“Everything has been figured out
except how to live.”

Or as Oscar Wilde once said, “To live
is the rarest thing in the world.
Most people exist, that is all.”

Maybe we’ve lost what it means to be alive.

We’re not our jobs or the labels society pins
to us, we’re not the daily routine,
the lunch breaks, the clock-out time,
the bitterness, the lifelessness.

We’re so much more.

Life is a rapture, my friends.
It’s creativity,
the yearning to create something
of value or beauty,
like an average poem
or a photograph that captures
a moment in time, or a stunning piece
of furniture. It’s being
intoxicated on books and dreams,
staying infatuated with the mystery of it all.
It’s seeing things and going places, journeying
alone under burnt-out skies,
finding out what you’re all about,
and what its all about.
There’s just too much to know & experience
to settle down
in a little pocket of the planet
doing mediocre things,
thinking ordinary thoughts,
and speaking in common ways.

As Carl Sagan reminded us,
“Somewhere,
something incredible
is waiting to be known.

untrodden

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there are no paths
that lead to truth.
that’s the splendor
and beauty of it. truth has
no set path. no absolute.
truth is alive, living,
breathing, meandering
through our cells, penetrating
our dreams. it doesn’t rest under
the roofs of mosques,
or temples
or churches.
it doesn’t die
in bitter hearts
or suffocate
in closed minds.
the truth is alive,
chaotically so,
and will continue to
thrive, whether we
want it to or not.
let it fill you with
vigor and passion
let it lead you
to say yes to it all.

you hate my love

u
mistake
my love. u
can’t even grasp
the depth of it. you
don’t know what it does
to me. you will never know.
you will never understand my
craving, my needs or my ways. or
what I must attain with this love. you
hate that i love. you hate the magnitude of
my love. you hate how my love challenges you.
you hate that you can’t love like i love. you hate how
it sends me into a dreamy state away from where you are.
you hate that it throws me into a raging melancholy, lost in it,
unable to function in your world, for days. you think it’s weird. lazy.
stupid. and just like the average person who gets told an uncomfortable
truth, you’ll attempt to destroy this loves purveyor. and you will be
mad with venom in doing this. you despise the books I read. u
loath my art. the things I write and the words I say. they’re
painful to you. you don’t know where I come up with
this stuff. you’ve never gazed in at your own soul,
let alone the eyes of one who is fixed with this
furious love. your love is scared of the dark,
my love rejoices in it. my love is rapture.
my love is daring. my love doesn’t
yield to security. my love is
free. your love is ruled. my
love feeds the world.
your love dies
with you.and
you hate
it

Chimera

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“As far as we can discern,
the sole purpose of human existence
is to kindle a light of meaning
in the darkness of mere being.” 

― C.G. Jung

Have you ever just sat back and tried to wrap your mind around the vastness of the universe? Just imagine, for a minute, looking outside of the world you’ve accepted. Imagine gazing down on earth from beyond the stars and pondering all the pandemonium on our tiny planet. Earth, billions of years old, floating in the infinite universe at the perfect distance away from the sun to support life. And with all its calamities, wars, brutality, natural catastrophes, we’re still alive and well, while, unthinkably, 99% of all species that was once a part of us has died off.

That’s mind-blowing.

Since our earliest days of breathing, we’ve been astounded by the mystery of it all; the sheer enigma of creation and that fierce curiosity of what lies beyond. All of us, to make up for our inability to grasp the unknowable, construct our own little world of illusions to comfort our ignorance. This is human nature. Myths help us identify the mysteries and energies in us and around us.

Myths are what make us vital and give us that hope we need to overcome fear of the unknown.

But there is a dark side to our illusions, like everything else. We keep our personal beliefs so close to our hearts, that sometimes, those who don’t share them with us, we hate or turn away. We tend to claim a monopoly on truth based on the limited knowledge we’ve accumulated in our short lives.

And through the ages, people have erected huge institutions to showcase and push these beliefs on their fellow-man. These institutions have evolved into powerful voices used to restrain the individual and ridicule those who do not conform. This is what has led to the great divorce among humanity and is the root cause of the conflict-ridden world we live in today. We as individuals tend to generate so much resentment towards those who challenge our illusions that we either deem them enemies or live consumed with fear, bitterness and dread. Sometimes both. The great divide weighs heavily on humankind.

But there is so much more to life than what we think, or where we live or who we worship. There is another world beyond our perceptions, but we rarely see that.

It’s time to wake up.
Open up our third eye.
Rethink what we’ve been taught.
Kick fear in the ass.
Turn off the TV.
Never say no.
Go all the way.
Live freely.

Our world is so much more significant than the institutions we’re obedient to, or the religions we create, or the nations we’re born into. These factors limit our view of the world and cause so much hatred and strife among us. It’s time to change that.

People who’ve been conditioned since their youth to think a certain way seem reluctant, as an adult, to explore new ideas or reassess what they’ve been taught. Why is this? Why not a little cerebral check-up every now and then. Read something that goes against your beliefs. Watch a debate on issues you think are absolutes. Do something you couldn’t ever possibly seeing yourself doing. Go to another country and…

see what they see…

feel how they feel…

think like they think.

Refuse to go with the general census. Challenge popular opinion. Never regurgitate what you’ve been told. Read, read and read.

Maturity is rarely achieved by those who refuse to think for themselves. It seems that our fear of truth is as much a part of us as is our ability to love.

To summarize the point of this short post, I’ll use the words of the late great Joseph Campbell:

You become mature
when you become the
authority for your own life.

The old skin has to be shed
before the knew one can come.