science is not god, sorry

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…but science now appears to be the new religion in some secular communities, complete with self-righteous fanatics who’ve decided that what they’ve chosen to believe science is, is thereby the TRUTH. No one has the lock on truth—not even the Rant-ress.

Facts aren’t ‘true’ either; they’re information. They can lead to truths but scientists are the first to say that one set of facts will be disproved by another.

Monotheistic religions believe there’s one god but many other religions don’t. There’s not one science either. As Dan Gaylinn put it: “Anyone who tells you that something is “settled science” is, by definition, anti-science, since the scientific method is implicitly about unsettling the consensus of what is currently believed to be true. That’s how knowledge advances.”

Thereby:

  1. Science is not god
  2. There’s more than one science (just ask scientists)
  3. Sanctimony is particularly unappealing

I ‘believe’ in science as much as I do in religion, but I belong to no church. They each have something to offer humans who seem to need to create ideology to have faith in. However, zealotry about anything scares me. It’s not an either/or world.

It’s true that religion has fueled most wars since the inception of the patriarchal paradigm. Has religion also formed a structure many people can use to do good in the world, help others and find solace for Self within? Yup.

Science has furnished us with wonderful knowledge of our biological world. Do some find comfort and security with that information? I do! Yet has science created bombs, drones, GMOs, herbicides/pesticides that are killing our flora and fauna? Absolutely.

Until recently, science insisted that bacterial colonies were bad, bad, bad! Anti-bacterial soaps and gels were essential to health! Turns out that science was “wrong.” Microorganisms outnumber human cells 10-1. Yet the gels are still everywhere. Antibiotics were once deemed the savior drug and now it’s patently evident that they’re seriously compromising our immune systems leaving us wide open to all sorts of disease and permanently disrupting our human microbiome, creating resistant superbugs.

In both war and medicine the only thing that needs to be eradicated is this mindset: the avenue to safety is to kill…whatever/whoever. Instead, let’s discover how to live with everything on this planet instead of annihilating what we fear.

The pro-vaxxers are brandishing the extremism of the newly converted. They don’t seem to disagree with the anti-vaxxers as much as dismiss and despise them. There’s no room for open intelligent dialog. Highly educated people reside on both sides of this issue (there are pinheads, too, but let’s not generalize). The cartoon above is needlessly vilifying. When has smugness ever been effective?

If you’ve vaccinated your kids you must ‘believe’ the vaccine works, right? What follows? Your kid is protected. Secondly, this is a country where we’re free to choose the form of medicine that works for us and our kids even if you don’t agree. There’s no unanimity, scientific or otherwise.

Your truth is yours. Leave it there. Be certain and inspired, not self-righteous and jingoistic. Priggishness is unattractive even if absolute ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ could exist. Which they don’t. Nature, and this planet, just aren’t that simplistic.

There’s a few things that always get the Rant-ress’ goat: unkindness, cruelty and defining/dissing another because you see the world differently. Take a deep breath. Find your intelligent heart, then open your mouth.

jon stewart should be canned and you should leave your spouse…not

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The cultural zeitgeist (particularly the USA) is now commonly about leaving. You enjoy something, love someone, are comfortable where you live, have a satisfying job, then it’s about time to abandon it and pioneer! Should you decide to remain in that city, that relationship or don that favored, shabby sweater, well, then you’re just not hip, cool, styling or groovy. Novelty has been elevated to the celestial.

A twisted view of this phenom was written by Lauren Martin here. She believes that if you don’t live in five different places in your life then you’re “settling.” For what? Unclear. Appears Martin has the attention span of an ADHA toddler except she also feels that favorite foods lose their edge!?!? No toddler would ever agree. Tell my Tuscan family—or any ethic group—who commonly ingest their exquisite cookery that it’s “stale.” Just because the USA doesn’t have a genuine cuisine that stands the winds of trendiness, doesn’t mean others should ditch their delicious dishes.

I shouldn’t be surprised—but I am—as most United States-ians live “all or nothing” lives. Whenever science proclaims a new health diet, food, exercise, disease or disorder “it” becomes Trendy. See wheat, wheat eat your wheat: foods, fads, allergies for my (March 2013) take on our modern faux-food-fad: wicked gluten. The New Yorker recently wrote a piece interpreting this mania.

Authentic living resides in the middle, not the extremes, cliché or not. Excessive change creates chaos; trivial challenge equals boredom. You don’t have to “spice up” your sex life, swap cities, eschew favorite foods or jilt your beloved to find inspiration. Exciting “puzzles” don’t have to emerge from the outside, nor should they. I’ve experienced chills of fear, hits of bliss both reading and writing. I can be high for days while “solving” something I’m working on, and I often excessively think about my art “dilemma,” similarly to being captivated by a new love.

Being a writer and an artist, I can tell you that when I’m “in the zone,” that’s the bona fide challenge I need and desire. I’m traversing the unknown, experiencing adventure, discovering! It’s flirty & fun, inspiration & bliss, terror & toil. No need to scale mountains, extreme trek or seduce a new paramour to unearth that endorphin hit. I divine it within, at home. Shocking, I know!

This doesn’t mean I haven’t lived in (more than) five places, odyssey-ed (a lot) or made other external changes. I have, but they weren’t forced from the head. Another writer once described his marriage as a “safe harbor” that afforded him the security to journey.

Jon Stewart has been heading The Daily Show since 1999. Recently Terry Gross asked him how he’d feel about undertaking something else, as Stephen Colbert is doing. The anguished ambiguity of Stewart’s answer revealed (to me) how much pressure the “collective unconscious” our culture is dispensing. Johnny Carson never had to deal with this crap in his three decades on The Tonight Show. The Daily Show is absolutely necessary to our country’s sanity, still poignant, and winning awards; why should it stop?? Because it’s not NEW??

If something/someone no longer has fine, inspiring energy, you’ll know it. You never have to decide it. Trust your guts, not your head. Breathe deep, encircle yourself with honest emotions, not random “media wisdom” and just live.

p.s. Encourage Jon Stewart to continue as USA’s court jester. He seems indispensable to revealing the “truth.”

there is no there there, and i’m not talking about oakland—or, how not to be delusional

AlexeyBednij1

DELUSION: “An idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality…”

Many believe the religious are delusional. That’s understandable given that the nature of religion is to traverse the sphere of the imperceptible. But most of us do experience love, beauty, truth, spirit: ‘things’ without form. We know they exist even though they can’t be dissected or factually proven.

Yet science can be delusional, too. First, by trying to dismiss the ineffable because it cannot be ‘proven,’ but also by subconsciously projecting subjective beliefs on ‘impartial’ hypotheses. If something doesn’t present like a human, then what’s objectively looked for doesn’t exist. Example: deciding that animals—and until 1987, babies!!!—don’t experience pain, mainly because animals’ faces aren’t expressive like us humans and many animals/insects don’t vocalize pain when suffering or, more likely, not on wave lengths that we hear.

My point is delusional subjectivity is found in every area of life, not confined to the realms of religion or science, the seen or the unseen. It’s not an either/or world.

Delusional Disorder is one thing, but “benign” delusion’s a social irritant that just keeps growing.

I realize that wishing for change, yet continuing doing the learned is common. There’s a name for an aspect of that: cognitive dissonance. Think of the many people who desire to jettison extra weight, quit a soul-sucking  job, get in shape, learn a language or instrument but just somehow…don’t.

Wishing is a start that used to translate into genuine want, which would transform into actual action and then and only then did the possibility of arriving at the aspiration begin. Catch that? That’s the START, not the conclusion.

It’s not enough to retrieve a wish from the ‘land of possibilities’—where one may desire many conflicting things simultaneously but never truly choose anything—and convert it into a genuine want. But to actually arrive at reality, effort must be taken.* You have to pick up the instrument, literally look for a different job, work out… Reasonable, right?

This last, often unrealized, step is the place of fantasy that I’m seeing more often. In young children, make-believe is developmentally appropriate, but adults? Uh…no. Yet many Generation X-ers—30s to mid 40s—(Doug Coupland said they have no allegiances to anyone or anything, and get no allegiances in return) carry the irrational belief that to just want something is magically sufficient enough work to obtain it. Business owner friends say that half of their employees see work as a noun, not a verb.

The land of possibilities reveals no inner core, no chosen life rudder, no morés. Having everything ‘open’ means there’s no sound footing. True freedom comes from responsibility, not lack. Responsibility—ability to respond—occurs from an integrated, discerning Self. Reaction, impulsiveness, compulsion happen when there’s no “there there,” as Gertrude Stein wrote. Stimulation is not inspiration.

Heart & logic, ethereal & empirical are simultaneously essential components to a fully realized choice, to deeper evolution. The polarization of “all or none” must alchemize into “and & both” if we want to inhabit an authentic, non-delusional life.

*See: “do you believe what you’re sayin’? yeah right now, but not that often.”

chin-up my ass

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I live in a country (U.S.A.) of mostly muted emotions. Or the opposite: Jerry Springer. We’re a bi-polar nation addicted to the cerebral flip-flop between indulge/restrict, wanton/celibate, carnal/piety, sloth/extreme actions…  Not much middle ground, not much consistency, not much reality. It’s head living.

We’re often expected to be positive, smiling (especially if female) and eschew “politics or religion” in talk. In other words, stash any potential discussion that could evoke turbulent emotions. See pollyanna is passive aggressive.

Worse, keep “negative” feelings private or be done with them pronto. Lose your dog-familiar of 10 years? Get a new puppy! Break from an unhappy relationship? Hop back in that saddle! Your book of stories is rejected for the 17th time? Recirculate it! Make it happen! Serious inner work? Use affirmations! You have breast cancer and go through medical torture? Keep your chin up!

I loathe chin-upping!

As do kids, animals, plants, trees, stars, stones, rivers…  Okay, I don’t know for sure that all those things feel as I do but I do know that we ridicule and control children, teenagers and dogs when they display “brawny” passions, especially ones that make us feel something we’ve spent our lifetime stuffing down. They poke ours by innocently remaining with theirs and we hate on them for waking our sleeping giant.

The chin-up is a disguised critical voice and no matter how serene and sweet it sounds it still doesn’t permit “unfavorable” emotions to exist. Chin-upping is always in a hurry with its “sensitivity.” The sole way to dispel sad, angry, hateful, anxious feelings is to be with them in deliberate compassion…However. Long. It. Takes. Chin-upping doesn’t allow for that. People who insist you smile and make nice, people who label whatever emotion that scares them as “negative” don’t allow for that either.

Let’s take anger, a most despised emotion. Not rage—which is born when anger is unresolved—but anger which is a rational response to injustice; something’s wrong. It’s a motivating force. The issue isn’t anger itself, it’s finding relevant ways to rectify it. I suspect that only by appropriately expressing it can we truly let it go.

Maybe the “story” your anger attached to has inaccuracies but the emotion is unconditionally valid. Don’t throw out the feeling with that flawed narrative. It’s your job to use nuts & bolts thinking to view the anger with sincere interest—like a kindhearted parent—and hear why it exists instead of wishing it away. If you’re trying to extinguish it, you’re not listening.

Be with, without trying to fix. Encourage Self by accepting all emotions without good or bad labels. Embrace them instead of evicting them. Enable them to choose to get up and go organically instead of “chin-upping” them, which never works long-term.

Augusten Burroughs accurately observed that even with eager determination and a handful of maps you won’t get to California unless you know where you’re starting from. Ground yourself in your emotions, in your body. Your “truth” lives there.

 

i’m not upset that you lied to me, i’m upset that from now on i can’t believe you ~ friedrich nietzsche

A half truth is a whole lie ~ Yiddish Proverb

Honest people are a rare refuge in a culture where we have to swim the sea of lies euphemistically called “social skills”: white lies, lies of omission, manipulations, passive aggression, denial, deliberate cons, ass-covering deceptions… [see: neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering ~ carl jung]

To lie is to intentionally mislead others—while they presume we’re giving them candor—so that they’ll form beliefs that are untrue. To some, the thrill of deception and manipulation is sexy; it’s also a pitiable way to shroud.

This constantly happens in politics, with sales people, military recruiters,  some journalists, lawyers, contractors. That’s precarious enough for us all but it’s downright lethal within relationships. [see: now we’re cooking with gas(lighting)] Especially with children. They look to us to reflect the world authentically so they can form realistic patterns of behavior. [For a “minor” version, see: the reason for the season is jesus and other lies]

Manipulators tend to be self-serving and tamper with the truth usually to get their immediate gratification “needs” met but they commonly confuse control with power as well. [See: more power!!!*] Conversely, in their repressed insecurity, liars care way too much what other people think of them, worrying neurotically about what impression they’re making. They often have more vanity and practice how to “be” in front of a mirror. Aaaand…we’re moving into the realm of sociopathic behavior.

Once you commit to speaking the truth, you begin to notice how rare it is to meet someone who shares this resolution, except for kids. And animals. No wonder many people in the States—our American philosophy being based on passive aggression or its flip side, machismo/individualism—opt for pets in lieu of forming long lasting human relationships. A simple breath of spring air in our polluted world of associations.

Honesty is an offering we can extend to others and a wellspring of power. It provides an opportunity for ease of interaction, not the complex muck of duplicity no matter how “benign.”

Studies have shown that responsible people are less likely to tell lies, especially the self-serving type, the ones we spin to make ourselves look better or to avoid unfavorable responses like blame, shame or discomfort. Lots of denial happens here. The more “altruistic” lies are told to make others feel better: “Nice haircut!” “You look great in those pants.” It’s been shown that men tend to do the former and women, the latter.

Am I lying as I write this? Maybe. It’s the written word; apparently words in print are given more credence, as are statements conveyed by a person in medical or other authoritative attire. I’m wearing a sweatshirt so I’d be suspect.

The bottom line is if you lie, you disturb the trust of another and those ramifications spread suspicion and wariness like undesirable pollen that contaminate our society’s underpinnings. Think hard before you glibly lob any sort of fabrication—unless you’re writing fiction. And even then, be wary, as all decent fiction should uncloak deeper truths.


neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering ~ carl jung

As a counselor, I usually have compassion for the variety of coping mechanisms people use. But with Cognitive Dissonance—that’s trickier. In short, it’s believing one thing yet doing the reverse; it’s the reality between who we are and who we think we are. I find it a fancier name for denial, for lying, for hypocrisy, for delusion. Translation: the client doesn’t want to do the necessary work.

When most of us confront opposing wants, we have two choices: change our conduct for inner alignment to achieve integrity, or alter our attitudes and rationalize our behavior. Unfortunately, many are more prone to do the latter.

It’s “uncomfortable” to bring fantasy and reality together because suddenly it’s obvious what needs to be done and these depressing realizations mean we have a lot of work to do. Worse, we might have to face the fact that our “designs” are unfeasible. We might have to make an integris choice! We might feel pain! Yes, we will. Growth only happens in the land of reality.

Some examples: to be anti-birth control and yet pronounce abortion a sin, to believe in the sanctity of a glob of cells within a women’s body and yet adamantly endorse the death penalty, to be a vegetarian but eat chicken—poof! sleight of mind—conflict resolved. You no longer see it.

Unfortunately, I can, and so do most others. Cognitive Dissonance does reconcile our mind’s discomfort with incompatible thoughts and actions, but in a magical thinking kind of way. We hate to have our inconsistencies pointed out and will attempt all kinds of mental contortions to avoid them. Still, there’s a perverted leap over the truth. And a lot of secrecy, too.

This often occurs in marital affairs, where those involved are adrift in their created fantasies and fabricate a chimera rather than deal with the reality of their lives, their choices. Feels pretty immature and, honestly, spineless.

Because whatever you’re not dealing with, you’re passing on to someone else. Whether you intend to or not. See: now we’re cooking with gas(lighting). One of the major principles I taught my kids: If you throw a rock, don’t hide your hand. This meant they had to line their actions up with their thoughts and articulately stand by them. It taught them critical thinking skills which make it harder to inhabit the land of delusion. I respected my kids and their choices even if I sometimes disagreed with their “rock throwing.” Why? Because, at whatever age or stage of development, their intention was aligned with their whole Self.

I understand the need for resolution, I do. But I believe in conscience, too. Since when do people who compartmentalize not know what they’re doing? They do, and then they lie. To themselves, and to us.

hell is still other people

You know how sometimes life feels unwieldy & “obese” because other people exist? Nyuck, Nyuck.

No, seriously.

Maybe I’m getting old, but this way that others have of deciding things about “you” or deciding what you meant and then hugging those hurts to their chest like a favored stuffed animal is turning me into an even deeper misanthrope than Sartre was said to be. But then, who said that? Did they just surmise it to be true? Writing down his observations of the human condition and philosophizing them didn’t necessarily make him a hater.

We all have our stories—and so what? The trouble comes when you don’t run the story by the people you’ve made up those narratives about, you believe they’re true, and then life becomes toilsome for the protagonist in your invented fiction. This bulls@#t creates a lot of gratuitous drama.

I’m of Italian descent; drama is my middle name. I love opera and plays, emotions and songs, poetry and art, and stories. But I don’t like unnecessary childish drama unless someone is an actual child/teenager. They get to have that; they’re children.

I’m not immune from the story-making machine. I recently put together pieces concerning a curmudgeonly and not very technologically interactive friend. I spent three weeks revising it, yet wondered if my inner tale had any actuality. So I sent him an email elucidating the specifics of my story using muscular verbs and shiny details. To my relief, it wasn’t true, and I quote, “Well, aren’t we a bit sensitive.”

Key difference here? I ran it by him before it imprinted itself to my skull as TRUTH. And—because I’m not attached to my story merely because I created it—I let it go. Maybe it’s easier for me to release it because of all the practice I get being a writer, I don’t know. I tell my students (Hello y’all!) to let their writing flow through them to the page, but be ready to cut, slash and kill “their babies” since they should be in service to their work, not applaud themselves as “writer.”

Whatever you invent, you’re responsible for the larger veracity, how it fits into the whole community not only your brain. Just because you think donuts are food doesn’t mean I do; both are “true.” Obama is not a socialist or secret Muslim no matter how many times a tea-partier says it. The conclusions you manufacture about my intentions doesn’t make them accurate in real life. It does mean there’s a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up but that won’t happen in the solitary vacuum of your head.

Stop being afraid of external conflict and say what you think, ask clarifying questions. That’s the respectful, adult thing to do. The only realm where differences will be figured out is in the open air giving both individuals a chance to discuss it and find a whole, round, full “truth” that works for more than just one.