My first novel

Well, I took the plunge and self-published my first piece of fiction. It’s up live on Amazon Kindle today. I have a lot of mixed feelings … it’s scary. Trying not to be excited.

I wrote it in January, and the first draft went very quickly. Aspects of this story were in my head for many years, so it all poured out very fast. Then I went back a couple of times and polished it up. I am happy with it.

The tone of the book is unusual. There’s a feeling of innocence, but yet, some of the themes are things that many adults face in their lives. Addiction. Loneliness. Fear. But there is also joy, love, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

I wanted to write something that anybody could read, so I kept it simple. But it does deal with metaphysics and logic, hopefully explained in a way that makes the ideas accessible to everybody who wants to read it.

I guess this blog post is me engaging in marketing or advertising, but I also wanted to chronicle what it feels like to put yourself out there. I’ve never tried to get paid for anything I’ve written before. This is a first. I’m not asking you to buy it. I’m just saying that I wrote it. And I think that I need somewhere to journal the whole experience, so that’s what this blog will be for, from now on.

I also wrote another novel, which is a “prequel” to this one. The second book is all about the cousin of this book’s main character. I don’t like that book as much as this one though. I wasn’t as happy with it. It deals with some things that are very personal to me, so it was more uncomfortable for me to write. And I’m not sure about the trajectory of that story either. But since I’m going to keep the price low, maybe people will give it a try anyway. We shall see. I will put that one up for sale in a month or two.

So I am torn about whether or not to also offer a paperback version. You see, this book is kind of about trees and the woods. There is a real woodland aspect to it. How can I write about trees, and then sell it in a paperback? Isn’t that being a hypocrite or inconsistent? I love trees. To me, they are real creatures with personalities. But … I would need to use paper. So I don’t know what to do. For now, I’ll just leave it as an ebook.

I love REAL books though. I love book stores. I need to figure out the formatting for the paperback version, i.e. page numbering, Table of Contents, and get a proper hard book cover done. Luckily I found a great artist who helped me with the ebook cover – Cherie Street. So, all things considered, I’m going to do it – offer a paperback option. Eventually.

I hope this isn’t too boring. It’s all about “me” and my experience as a self-published author. But maybe writing about it could help somebody else out there, who also wants to publish a book. It wasn’t hard to do, after the writing part was done.

So here’s the link to the book.  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B073V6BKCJ

You get eggroll

I saw a 1968 Hollywood movie last night – and musing it over, it’s about metaphysics.  But it seems to be about something else – a blended family.  It’s called “With Six, You Get Eggroll”.  WARNING:  do not read the rest of this blog posting, if you haven’t seen it yet and want to be surprised.  Because I have to get into the entire plot, including the pinnacle of the film, in order to show you how it’s about metaphysics.

A widow with three sons, one of whom is teenage, dates a widower with a teenage daughter.  Predictably the kids are angry and hostile to have their deceased parent replaced by a stranger.  The parents try to work around it as best they can, then they get fed up and just get married, announcing their nuptials to the kids only after it’s done.  Chaos ensues.  They try to alternate households, to be fair to everyone, while putting their too-small homes up for sale.  The title of the film comes from an amusing moment when the youngest child says, while they are at a Chinese restaurant, “I’m so happy that we’re all together!  Because with six, you get eggrolls!”

Long story short:  the parents have an argument; the Dad falls out of a camper being driven by his wife, in his underwear; he ends up wearing a dirty restaurant uniform, wandering the streets; two road accidents happen involving a chicken coop; the chicken coop driver tries to beat up the teenage son; more chaos ensues; the entire family goes before a judge, with an entourage of hippies at their side.  Silly, right?  And finally, because of the argument, the two auto collisions, and the attempted assault, the whole group pulls together as a real family!  How do we know?  Because the daughter refers to the teenage son as “my brother”, and the son in turn refers to the male parent as “my father”, while arguing before the judge.  The parents hug and the movie ends abruptly.

What a wonderful illustration of metaphysics, alternate timelines, conjecture, false causative conclusions, and actualized potential!

There are two ways to understand this chain of events.  Both are mere conjecture, only “what ifs” based on what happened, what didn’t happen, what could have happened, and what couldn’t have happened.  Are you with me?  This is a very valuable exercise.  I didn’t know that there were real philosophers hidden in Hollywood.  I’m glad to know it.

The central figure in this movie is not the Mom.  It’s not the Dad.  It’s not any of the kids, nor the well-meaning, meddling sister in law.  No.  The central figure is the jerk driving the chicken coop, who tries to assault a teenager.  Because if it wasn’t for him, this group would not have pulled together as a family.

This last statement is the error that’s commonly made.  “Something bad needs to happen, for anything good to happen.”  That’s just wrong.  Now I’ll explain how this erroneous thought involves metaphysics, conjecture, and alternative timelines.  Stay with me now.

What did happen was that this jerk driving a chicken coop, who got into this family’s way on the road twice, causing two collisions (thereby raising the aggression level), and then raising his fist to a teenage boy’s face in front of his step-father and step-sister, was involved in a chain of causation which ended up with a very happy, well-bonded family group.  But the most important fact to take away from all of this is that this is not the only way that the family group could have bonded.  Yes, we are into alternative timelines at this point.  Because in order to assert that “this is the only way that could have happened”, you have to imagine that it didn’t happen.  “If this hadn’t happened, then they wouldn’t be a bonded family.”  That is imagination.  You’re into the realm of alternative realities at this point – the alternative reality where there were not two road accidents and an attempted assault, followed by a heated courtroom scene – with hippies.

Now, if we are going to get into non-events, such as “what if this didn’t happen?” then let’s do it.  I have a different take on it and I would argue that my understanding is more correct.  It’s based on potentials, and actuality, as well as imagination.  If those who espouse “bad things need to happen for good things to happen, and this movie plot is an example” can draw upon their imaginations to make their incorrect point, then so can I.

Here’s the correct take on it.  This group pulled together as as family, because that’s who they are.  They have this potential within them, it just needed to be actualized.  The actualization of their potential as a family could happen in infinite numbers of ways.  It was bound to happen because of who they are, and what they do, and what they are likely to do.  And the triggering cause for this actualization to occur does not need to be a bad thing.  It could easily also be a good thing.  One can imagine many positive alternative scenarios, causing chains of causation to arise, which result in family bonding.  And these chains of causation need not involve any bad actors.

In fact, even if the argument hadn’t happened, and the Dad didn’t wander around the streets in his underwear, and the two motor vehicle accidents hadn’t occurred, this family group was SO headed towards emotional bonding that it may have even happened that same day, with the same speed.  One could say that this was a family waiting to happen.  A clue to that is in a scene just before the chaotic pinnacle of the film.  The mother finds a way to bond with the daughter, having her do a list of chores to show her what’s involved in running a household – and then sends her off to go and have fun and relax, demonstrating that she will teach her without using her.  The daughter kisses her step-Mom on the cheek, showing that her hostility has vanished.  That’s the REAL pinnacle of the film, because it demonstrates the potential for loving family being actualized, out of something positive – the willing performance of chores.  Another clue comes from the fact that it’s the daughter who first shouts “He was going to hit my brother!”, starting a cascade of pronouncements from the rest of the children showing that they have now bonded.

So, the REAL cause of the bonding emanates from the mother-daughter moment, which happens BEFORE the jerk with the chicken coop comes along.  In fact, when you see the chain of causation in this way, with the daughter at the centre, the chicken coop driver reduces from “central figure” to “mere bit player”, playing a role of catalyst which could just as easily have been filled by anybody else.  He isn’t important, after all.

So, rather than saying “This films proves that bad, chaotic stuff needs to happen in order for people to bond together”, which is incorrect on the above analysis, one could say “This film proves that people carry within them the potential for a certain positive outcome, and one way or another, this outcome is bound to occur – call it ‘fate’.”  The outcome of “well-bonded family group” emanates from these facts:  these two are good parents, they love eachother, they love their kids, and these are all good kids, who are eventually bound to appreciate one another via any number of infinite potential chains of causation, only one of which occurs during the film, and in this case, happens to involve a bad actor doing bad things.

Finally – the title is interesting.  The small child says, “With six you get eggrolls!” but the plural “s” is missing from the film’s title.  So we are left with eggroll.  Families are based on a woman’s eggs.  The “egg”, which symbolizes life’s “potential”, is actualized in the film.  Her egg is born, with a new loving family.  That’s why they call it “eggroll” in the title, rather than “eggrolls”.

Say, maybe I should try a career as a film critic?

The girl who wouldn’t do math, part 2

MWs (math wizards):  Well!  It’s about time!  Do you have the answer yet?

G (girl):  Hold on there.  This is just an exercise, right?  You haven’t really put me in charge of this life-and-death decision, have you?  And by the way – yesterday I spoke to one of you.  But today there are five of you.  Why is that?

MWs:  We have decided to gather the council of elders in order to deal with you.  We use the number five, so that there will be a majority when we render judgment.

G:  Judgment?  I didn’t realize that I am being judged.  Would have been nice if you’d told me.  Am I on trial?

MWs:  We realize that we have made an error.  We never should have put somebody like you on this mission to take down the “beast”.  This is not a job for somebody who does not understand math.

G:  I understand math, you silly old men.  I love music – music is based on math.

MWs:  (muttering all at once)  Not all of it.  Not all music is based on math.

G:  Don’t tell me I’m dealing with complete idiots here?  Did we not agree yesterday not to allow our discussion to become bogged down with abberations or exceptions?  Well?

MWs:  We did.

G:  Then …. how is it that one small sub-set of music, modern jazz – which seems to be independent of math – renders my point about music and math null and void?  How would one small subset of music be AT ALL relevant to my point?  Are you going to do that every time I say anything, or can we actually have a lucid intelligent discussion?

MWs:  All right.  Point taken.  Music depends on math for its rhythm.

G:  And that’s not all.  I am good at mathematical problems.  I’ve been tested at quite a high level, and I passed with flying colours.  And that’s almost 40 years since I studied math in school.  So don’t tell me that I don’t understand math.  This seems to be a deliberate misunderstanding of me.  Why would you do that?  Never mind.

MWs:  Fine then.  What is the answer to our question about the “beast”?

G:  I will answer that, once I’m done with my trial here.  Or will you judge me without even letting me know the charges against me?  Do you really need to cheat like that – is your procedure really so flawed that you can’t even let me know that I am under scrutiny?  That seems so very weak.  So, then, you are indeed as weak as you look. (surveys the panel of white-haired, pale, overweight or skinny men)

MWs:  There is no need for insult.

G:  Not when you’re the target of it anyway, right?  But you feel quite entitled to level insult at me though – is that right?  Well – fire away.  Allow me to defend myself at least.  Now it’s out in the open.  What exactly is your complaint?

MWs:  You have demonstrated within your personal life that you do not follow a logical budget.  You set a poor example for other people, with the unsound decisions you make.  And your personal appearance makes it obvious that you do not take life very seriously at all.

G:  Just how did you come upon factual details of my personal life?  Have you been breaching my privacy?  What entitles you to do that?

MWs:  Well, it’s important that we know exactly whom we are dealing with.

G:  Will you allow me the same advantage?  What about YOUR personal life – and yours?  And yours?  What are the details?  Do you follow a budget?  Prove it!

MWs:  (silent)

G:  Now, let’s not bother ourselves with private lives, shall we?  Hmmmm, well all right – I will give you one thing.  Have you ever heard of Gone With The Wind?

MWs:  Some of us are slightly familiar with it.

G:  Are you aware of the “drapes” scene?  Scarlett O’Hara needs money, because her entire way of life has been destroyed in the civil war.  She was born and raised as a landowner and this is her skill set.  But she has had to let her “employees” go, and now she fills their tasks as well, working in the fields.  She has had to learn their jobs.  This results in a very different physical appearance than she is used to.  She tries to preserve her former appearance, and lifestyle, by sewing some clothing out of drapes.  And she goes to meet with her old flame to ask him for a loan.  He tells her – “You are a sight for sore eyes!” and he is almost fooled by her drape-dress.  But not quite.  He sees that her hands bely her, and that she has had to do work with which she isn’t accustomed.  He realizes that she is even worse off than she claims.

MWs:  Is there a point to any of this?  Get on with it!

G:  I am wearing drapes.  They are green.  I am doing what I can to reach the best outcome possible, for myself and my family, while insisting on a physical appearance which suits my personality – to preserve my sense of self.  Yes, this is not easy – but I am up to it.  The decisions I make, are the best decisions for my future.  So how dare you judge me?  And how dare you pry into my personal life?  You certainly are despicable.  But since we are here, I will answer your question from before.

MWs:  Finally.  If you are done acting like a hysterical woman, let’s examine the issue.

G:  Hold on – when I object to YOU, I am hysterical.  But when you object to me, you are being rational.  I need you to see all the different ways that you are a bunch of hypocrites – and there are so many.  Shall I list them all?

MWs:  No, just get to the point – we have things to do.  You have said that you refuse to be backed into any corners, and that you reject “binary” “either/or” thinking.  Well, which is it?  Do you reject binary thinking, or do you embrace it?  You must choose one.

G:  (laughing)  Oh, that’s a good one!  You’ve given me a binary choice, involving binary thinking.  You’re wrong.  I can choose when and where to employ binary thinking.  Sometimes it’s suitable – sometimes it’s not.  This depends on the arena we are working in.  This is a public discussion, being disseminated using binary data – do you think I don’t know that?  Please.  I use binary every single day of my life, of course.  It’s quite useful.  But when you seek to understand me using binary code, then you will surely make serious errors.  Because I am of course a living being, with a living brain – changeable, shifting, constantly growing and sometimes reducing.  You will never pin me down, nor any other living being.  Whenever you do, you make mistakes.  And you’ve made a whopping few.

MWs:  Fine – whatever.  You pick and choose when binary code suits you.  Now, what about the answer to our question?

G:  You already know my answer.  I’ve given it to you – several times already.  The answer is, change the “beast” or wait for it to change.  Because change, it will – as long as you allow that and facilitate it.

MWs:  That has been tried, and failed.

G:  Did you try to use threats, insults, judgment, assumptions, and binary while attempting to change it?

MWs:  (silence)

G:  I thought so.  Has it ever occurred to you that this so-called “beast” is a living being, with a conscience?  Did you ever consider that maybe it’s gotten wound up in this web without meaning to?  And perhaps it’s looking for a way out – a dignified way out, with honour?

MWs:  That thing has no honour.

G:  How do you know?  Are you just assuming that it has no honour?  You are the kings of assumption, after all.  In fact – the entire problem that you posed yesterday was absolutely filled with assumptions.  You assume that people can’t extricate themselves from this web.  You think too little of them.  You assume that the “beast” will always remain the same – but that’s because you expect it to stay unchanged.  You assume that the only way to help the situation, is with violence.  And finally, you assume that your choices are A – take down the “beast” with its web, or B – leave it to devour everything.  I reject those choices.  I say, we choose C – allow the “beast” to redeem itself.  Redemption is very powerful.  People almost always choose it, when given the chance.  Have you even tried facilitating redemption for those involved in this situation?  No – I thought not.

MWs:  We will consider your words, thank you.  But we are unlikely to change our minds.

G:  I know.  And that’s why I dislike you so much.  You are static beings – are you even human anymore?  You’ve been here far too long.  You’ve become jaded and dried out.  You’ve fogotten all about your hearts.  I tell you what – I’ll give you a lesson in “heart math”.  You really need it.

MWs:  What is “heart math”?

G:  It’s basically “un-math”.  It’s a calculation, which doesn’t calculate anything.  It’s an equation which isn’t equal.  It’s a procedure which has no process.  It’s alive.  And it can only be created “heart to heart” between living creatures.

MWs:  (glancing at eachother in confusion)

G:  I’m going to have to use numbers to illustrate this point, even though it really has nothing to do with numbers.  Let’s take two groups of people.  One group, group A, has “detached” from other beings and from one another, as their “guru” has instructed.  They instead embrace a nebulous concept called “universal love”, of which their “guru” is the recipient of course.  They carefully guard themselves from “attachments” or true affection, caring, for other people.  They relate to one another at arm’s length, even though sometimes they do bizarre rituals which involve physical contact.  Are you with me?

MWs:  (nodding, looking guilty)

G:  Now, let’s talk about group B – this is a family unit, with parents and children, consisting of healthy people who deeply care for one another.  We can say that they relate through their hearts.  They connect with their hearts.  They embrace being attached to one another, without fear.  Every day, they do things to support one another and express their love.  They don’t know “universal love”, which really has no definition – but they do know love.  And they love eachother.  I don’t suppose any of you are familiar with that.

MWs:  (shaking their heads, looking sad)

G:  Here’s the un-math.  First, group B.  Let’s say that your personal efforts, your actions, your acts of service, by which you care for the others in your immediate group – and others – carry a sum.  We’ll call it 25.  So, we have a small group B consisting of only 2 people.  One, the parent, brings 45 today.  The offspring brings 25.  Is the total 70?  No.  The total is something more like 7,000.  Because the energy that is created by loving service, kindness, respect, and attachment, is like a living being which multiples by itself, showering the group members with as much energy as they require – shielding them from damage, healing them when they are damaged, and giving them hope.  Now let’s look at group A – the sad group which only relate to eachother on a superficial (and sometimes bizarrely physical) level.  Let’s say it’s a group of 3.  If each of them brings 25, they should have a pool of 75 from which to draw energy, correct?

MWs:  (nodding)

G:  Wrong.  There won’t be 75.  There will be less.  Because the energy that’s created by such a group, becomes a consuming creature which feeds on them – rather than nourishing them, as in group A.  They will find that what they create together is hungry, rather like a cranky orphan.  It won’t be very much use to them at all.  As a result, they will all become defensive, and they will guard what they have from one another, rather than sharing.  That’s un-math.  Do you see?

MWs:  Well thanks for coming out today.  Obviously you have nothing to offer us.  We have a meeting in five minutes – gotta go.  (scurrying out the door)

And so ends the girl’s trial, quite abruptly.

 

The girl who wouldn’t do math

Once upon a time, there was a girl who refused to use math in order to understand life.  The math wizards tried all kinds of ways to force her to think in a mathematical way.  But she insisted on defying them.  They had many conversations together – here are a few:

MW (“math wizard”):  We have created a dilemma for you, which will force you to choose either Option A, or Option B.  Sorry to back you into the corner, girl, but you are an enduring mystery to us.  In order to figure you out, we have devised a series of corners to back you into.  Here is one.  Now, there you go.  See?  Your back is to the wall.  We stand in front of you, blocking your way forward.  We have a series of choices for you.  First choice:  do you want to remain in the corner, or come out of it?

G (“girl”):  (silent)

MW:  Aha, see?  You have chosen to remain there.  Life is a series of choices.  It’s always this, or that.  It’s like math.  Add up 5 plus 5 and you get an answer that is either right, or wrong.  10 is the correct answer.  Either you got it right, or you got it wrong.  See that, girl?  Life is binary in nature.

G:  (still silent – and then she vanishes)

MW:  HEY – whoops!  Where did you go?

G:  I’m up here.  I just floated.  You gave me a choice of either staying in the corner, or walking forward to get out.  I decided to screw your binary choice.  See that, clever wizard?

MW:  Well, then, we can fix that.  They back her into another corner, and this time, they place an inescapable ceiling over her.  Now, are you going to stay, or come out?  And IF you choose to come out, are you going to choose going left, or right?  It’s a two-pronged choice.  Let’s see what you do.

G:  (vanishes again)  Hey, you smart ones – I’m back here.  I decided to just melt backwards through the wall behind me.  Once again, I chose Option C – the one that you did not provide me.  I refuse to bow to your precious binary way of thinking.

This goes on for quite a while – in each case, the “clever” math wizards foreclose her escape route, and back her up once again into the corner.  Each time, the girl comes up with a new way to defy their binary choice.

G:  Have you had enough yet?  This can go on forever.  Because my mind is not binary, and I won’t play your game.  Take your math, and shove it.  Get it, old men?

Here is another conversation between the math wizards, and the defiant girl who would not do math.

MW:  All right, we are done backing you into various corners now – you’ve made your point.  Now look at that group of people, protesting – either they are right or they are wrong.  Which is it?

G:  That’s just a different kind of binary thinking.  I refuse to make a choice, without further information.

MW:  Aha, this means that you think they are wrong.  Because if you aren’t with them, you’re against them.  If you don’t speak up on their behalf, then you automatically have joined the ranks of their enemies.

G:  No, that is not true.  I have elected to with-hold my opinion until further notice.  I am neither with them, nor against them.

MW:  Sorry, little girl.  Those people do not agree.  They have decided to sort all people into either Group A (supportive), or Group B (non-supportive and therefore, enemy).  This is their choice.  And if you do not speak up and audibly support them, you will have identified yourself as the source of blame.  You will have helped to cause their problems, if you don’t speak now.

G:  I disagree with your definitions and your way of understanding this situation.  Guess what, old men?  Being blamed for something, is not the same thing as causing it.  If I am said to have “caused” their problems, by refusing to speak up until I have more facts, then the sun in the sky has also caused their problems.  Their mothers, in giving birth to them, have caused their problems.  Their teachers, in leading them to this moment, have caused their problems.  Because if you want to widen the circle of causation to include me – a non-actor in this scenario – then your circle of causation is going to catch a whole host of things, not just me.  Either you broaden the circle of causation, or you don’t.  You can’t have it both ways.  Also – the way that this group defines me, does not define me.  I still have my own free will.  They can’t force me to do anything.  I am not their enemy.  In time, they will come to learn this.

And now, another conversation between these old foes – the old math wizards who insist on reducing LIFE to binary calculations, and the girl who continuously defies them:

MW:  And now we come to a moment of reckoning, girl.  Yes – you have caught some attention, this much we admit.  Your defiance is interesting.  However, there is a great beast at the centre of a vast web – a web which has caught up many innocent families.  Look here – there are children involved.  This beast is slowly strangulating everything around it.  Those caught in its web are like hostages, innocent parties.  This beast will eventually devour them too.  What will you do?  We have decided to put you in charge of the take-down operation.

G:  Me?  Why me?

MW:  Because you have an imagination – but we want to teach you that not everything has a creative solution.  Sometimes, it REALLY IS a choice between A, or B.  Sometimes the situation IS binary in nature.  This is one of those times.  Math is here.  Math wins.  You can’t deny it.  Because either you do nothing, and allow this beast to continue devouring, jeopardizing everybody on the entire planet, OR you take it down.  Unfortunately, all of those innocent families, including children, who’ve gotten caught up in its web, will have to come down with it.

G:  Why?  Why do they have to die?

MW:  Because they are there.  Look at what this beast has done – it is so intricately wound up in this web, that there is no way to extract it without destroying the web itself.  Look here – these people are also inextricably caught up.  The beast has ensured this situation, to preserve itself.  It knows that die-hard, bleeding hearts like you will stop its destruction – simply to save these innocent folks.  These hostages grew up in this web.  It is a part of them.  You can’t extract them, either.  It’s either take the whole thing down, or else, leave it up.  If you leave it up, everything will die.  If you take it down, yes – those innocent families will have to die.  But they are “sacrifices”.  This has to happen.  It’s very unfortunate, yes.  They have to die, to save everybody else.  Their lives are worth the same as everybody else’s lives.  Do the math, girl!  It’s binary.  See?  Either/or situation here.  The ultimate corner – no way out.  Either choose Option A, and minimize the loss of life, or else choose Option B, and do nothing, eventually causing the loss of ALL life.  What will it be, girl?

(The drama of this moment, this situation, is so vivid, that the answer will not be posted just yet.  It will be posted tomorrow.  In the meantime, if anybody has any ideas as to how to handle this situation, they are more than welcome to weigh in here.  To be continued ….  Think, people.  Think.)

A Frank Discussion (in ancient Greece)

A:  I’m the man.  I’ve been hired by your rulers, to convince all of you why you should be ruled.  They give me room and board, good food, and all the boys I want.  It’s great.  Now, listen up.

W:  Wait a minute – if they’re paying you, isn’t it obvious that you’re obliged to come up with reasons for why they are “better” than we are?  Why else would they be paying you?  You aren’t doing any hard work and come to think of it, neither are they.

(Crowd begins booing and hissing at W, who is a woman, shouting things like “Go back to your kitchen!  You aren’t allowed here!  Where is your veil?  See how ugly she is!  Shameful!  I heard that she has relations with horses – it’s true!  She’s crazy!”)

A: (with a generous sweep of his hand) No wait – let her speak!  She has no husband to defend her or feed her.  So the least we can do is hear her out.  And keep your hands off of her.

W:  Thank you, sir.  I have been listening to you.  It’s true that I have no husband, however I work hard to support myself, doing the best I can.  I am beholden to nobody.  I sew clothes for a living, working from sunrise to sunset. (She holds up bloody, scarred, bruised hands.)

The crowd goes silent, except for a few younger men who are shushed up by the others.

A:  You were saying, woman?  What is your name?

W:  I am Naomi.  I have been listening to you through my window over there (she gestures to a nearby hovel).  I have heard your words and your wisdom.  I have a few things to add – may I?

A:  (smiling)  Of course you may.  I am nothing if not generous when it comes to matters of the mind.  The more I hear, the more I think.  And “I think” is my personal motto.  I am paid to think by the King.  He thinks that I think real well.  Now go ahead, sewer.  (this is pronounced “sow-er” rather than “sue-er”, denoting that she sews clothing)

W:  You have said that all humans are inherently selfish, and that if the aristocrats and their progeny did not rule over us, then we would all destroy one another through fighting.  But I have seen quite the opposite.  With my own eyes and ears, I have seen that this is not true.

(A begins to frown, crossing his arms … a few men begin shouting again, but he gestures them abruptly to be quiet.)  A:  I said to let her speak.  It is not often that we hear a woman speaking – I find it fascinating to hear.  True, all women are inherently stupid, childish, and emotional, which is why we have them locked away in our homes and out of public view, and which is also why we do not allow them to vote.  However, this one seems to be an exception.  Maybe she is a man in disguise.  (At this, men begin chattering excitedly to one another.)  I said be quiet!  Maybe she is an oracle.  I have heard of such things – a blind, stupid woman can sometimes access the dream world, and bring back wisdom.  If she is such an oracle, and we refuse to listen to her, this might be at our own peril.

(A does not look happy – he has painted himself into a corner, without realizing it … this woman must be a sorceress!  And now he has no choice but to let her speak.  He does not like where this is headed, but there’s nothing he can do.)

W:  I see many people, both men and women, throughout my days as a seamstress.  They all have several things in common:  they all, without exception, take pride in their work and their contribution.  They all strive towards co-operation, and most of them abhor conflict.  They all care deeply for their families, except for those with mental problems – and those people have been traumatized, explaining their aberrance.  We should not occupy ourselves with aberrant people, but instead focus on the majority, when formulating theories about the nature of humans.  Will you allow this point?

A:  Of course.  We should not focus ourselves on aberrations, when discussing the nature of humans.  On this I agree.

W:  Well then – the only people I ever encounter who seem to be selfish by nature, are the aristocrats themselves.  It seems that the more they have, the more selfish they become.  They tend to cause conflict wherever they go, unlike the common folk.  And they tend not to look after their own families, instead enlisting other people to do this for them.  In fact – all of the good qualities that I have seen in each and every common person with whom I have dealt, are completely absent in the aristocrats.

A:  What is your point, woman?  We have things to do here.  (Many of the surrounding men begin to walk away.  The crowd thins out.  People have stopped listening.  They have been made uncomfortable by her truths, and they worry about being caught listening to her.  They worry that they will be punished for listening.  So, they disperse.)

W:  My point is that you, in asserting that people are inherently selfish by nature, are simply doing what you’ve been hired to do – rationalize the aristocracy.  In fact, it is not possible to prove that all people are inherently selfish.  That is an unproveable fact, which you have however stated as fact.  Then you rationalize your arguments, coming to the conclusion that since all people are selfish, therefore the aristocrats are necessary to keep order and prevent people from fighting.  Your argument simply goes around in a big circle, and really goes nowhere.  And the entire rationalization is based on one single, unproven, unproveable fact:  that humans have a bad nature, and therefore must be told what to do.  I find your arguments are not only unpersuasive, they are in fact ridiculous.

A:  GUARDS!  Take her away!  Put her in that tower, lock her up, and throw away the key.  She has no husband anyway, so there’s nobody to miss her.  (He backhands her across the face, hard, breaking her nose and causing her to lose two teeth.)  Nobody will ever hear from you again.  You’ll be lucky in you don’t die of starvation.  You have now officially disappeared.

And so ends the discussion.

Attitude is everything, Part 2

Everybody seems to want to disrupt something.  Certain individuals, who set out to ruin an existing industry by offering something better AND refusing to play by the rules, have provided a terrible example of how to make progressive change.  The problem is in the attitude, whereby you seek out something or somebody to “disrupt” or destroy or minimize, so that you can scoop up the leftovers for yourself.

This is a very subtle point, so try to pay attention if you can to the nuances:  there is a massive difference between targeted disruption, and incidental disruption.  The difference is in the attitude, and the results will be tellingly different as well.  If you want something to really last, outliving political and social change, making a real difference in peoples’ lives and guaranteeing yourself a place in business, then forget about disruption altogether.  Yes, if you build or make something that is good and useful, there would likely be a disruption of something else down the road.  This is “incidental disruption”.  It happens gradually, or even sometimes quite suddenly – but it involves the choice of the people who are being disrupted.  If they choose to let go what they’ve been doing, and embrace what you propose instead, this means that you ended up disrupting their old ways, that’s true.  But to build something lasting means to eschew violence altogether.  Natural attrition, evolution, shifting – these are all ways that things change on their own.  That isn’t violent.

Compare this, now, to a targeted disruption.  This is a planned “ending” for something else, wherein what you are building encompasses tearing down an existing business or industry, in order for you to have customers.  The violent aspect of that is obvious – you are seeking to destroy.  If you build something that seeks to destroy, rather than to simply cause a shift or transition incidentally through natural processes, then you have built in the seeds of your own failure.  This plays out in infinite ways, depending on your exact circumstances.  You will build resentments, and conflict, into your new structure.  You will acquire enemies, i.e. those whom you have deliberately targeted with your destructive plan.

Is it obvious that building something while tearing down something else, thereby acquiring enemies, is a relatively weak way to create something?  I should hope that this point is obvious.  If it isn’t obvious to you that creating enemies is a poor way to make something, then you should examine yourself for evidence of brainwashing.  I have written about “disrupting” brainwashing on many occasions.  Try this blog, or my other blog “ramadanforhealth” here on WordPress, if you want to try opening up your mind and moving past your neural/mental programming.  I am trying to help you.

Anyway, for those who do intuitively understand that creating enemies and resentments is not the best way to create something new, you can see how “disruption” can occur in two different ways – 1) directly, as part of the build, or 2) incidentally, as a natural outcome when things evolve and progress for the better.  #1 involves violence – #2 does not.

So if you want to help people while making yourself a living, try to avoid violence in all of its forms.  If you are focused on “disruption” as part of your plan, specifically targeting certain players or existing industry, then you are doing something inherently destructive – and you will pay for that in the end.  But if you instead focus yourself on being of service, filling a REAL need (rather than an artificially manufactured one), helping to solve problems, and forget about who you might destroy, then you could build something lasting, sustainable, and progressive – without carrying the seeds of its own destruction within it.

Surely anybody reading this can see that I am making a lot of sense.  If you think that this is nonsense, maybe you’ve had your brain co-opted by the energy of conflict and destruction.  If so, you might want to see about getting your brain back some day.

(I admit it – this smacks of arrogance.  My tone is somewhat disrespectful.  This is a direct result of my present circumstances, which have created some degree of resentment within me.  But nothing that I have said above constitutes violence in any form – and that’s the whole point.  The hope is to build people with fully functioning brains, who can think for themselves, who are discerning and creative, and who realize that wrecking peoples’ lives is just not a good plan.  That’s a creative build – not a targeted disruption.  Learn the difference.)

Attitude is everything

I read something the other day which I found very disturbing – a “TED Talk” about how to have the wrong attitude about other people.  It was a “how to” of “making people do what you want, in the civic arena”.

One of the most pervasive problems that we have, collectively, is this sort of attitude towards other people.  “Making them do what you want” shows that you have made yourself too “large” and by the same token, have minimized the free will of other actors.

The terminology smacks of manipulation of others.  This is precisely the wrong attitude to have, in any arena.  I’ll try to describe the main reasons why this is so.

In any situation there are multiple actors at play.  Each brings to bear their own experience, their personal knowledge, their style, their “take” on what’s best to do.  Collaboration always yields the best, most lasting results, because when a solution is the product of collaboration, nobody involved will be tempted to undo it.  If everybody had a say in coming up with the solution to a problem they mutually face, then they would be much more likely to feel satisfied with the outcome.  So the first point to make about the wrongness of this attitude of “making” others “do what you want”, is that in holding this attitude, you are automatically minimizing what others want, while aggrandizing or enlarging what you want at their expense.

The second point to make is that viewing yourself as the player, in a complex scenario, who has the most to contribute is a form of psychosis.  Think of a 3 year old in a “play” situation with other 3 year olds.  You will see them playing side by side, or alongside one another, without directly interacting very much.  This is a relatively young stage of human development.  Each 3 year old is completely absorbed in what they are doing, although they will permit others to be physically close to them.  They might casually glance over at the other children, but they will persist in their own activities.  As children develop cognitively, they become more able to include others in their play behaviours.  As they grow up, playing WITH others, as opposed to playing ALONGSIDE others, becomes the preferred norm because the other children bring more richness to the play situation.

Deciding, therefore, that you want to devote yourself to “making others do what you want” denotes that you have regressed to toddlerhood, doing what you will despite the free will of other people, and leaping straight over their potential contributions.  It’s insular in nature, which is the last thing that anybody should be doing in complex situations that affect many people.

Certainly the civic arena is an obvious sector where anything that happens can affect the lives of many citizens.  So this is the last place where anybody should be going off on their own, and coming up with methods of manipulating other people into doing what THEY have individually decided should be done.

Finally, this instruction of how to manipulate people and situations in the civic arena reminds me of the so-called “law of attraction”, which teaches us (erroneously) that we are the centre of our own universe, and that we need to order our thoughts to “make” goods and resources come our way.  The “law of attraction” is also psychotic in nature, and just like this business of “making” others do things that you “want”, it automatically, by definition, minimizes other people in your view.  Because when you “attract” something, it had to come from somewhere else.  When you gain, somebody else had to lose.  Rather than trying to use some magical formula to “make” things come your way, it’s better to focus on the mundane reality of hard work.  The problem I’ve always had with “magic” is that it seems to be simply an attempt to avoid work.  That’s unbalanced in nature, and it shows that you feel that you are so important, compared to other people, that you think it’s fine to indiscriminately “make” things happen your way, no matter who else will lose out in that scenario.  The “law of attraction” is psychotic in nature because it’s a form of “magic”, or “getting things” without working for them, and without collaborating on the mundane level with others.  All of that is hugely problematic, and it’s the source of a lot of problems in our world.

When you collaborate, you can offer a solution to others, to broaden their options and increase their potential choices.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  By offering a contribution without trying to “make” anything happen via manipulation, you are honouring their free will and their right to choose, making your contribution but then standing back to allow others to do the same.  This shows that you value other people equally, as yourself.  Collaboration demonstrates that you consider yourself on the same playing field as the other people in a complex scenario – no longer operating at a toddler’s level, but being a real grown-up.

I am alarmed that this “TED Talk” is being put out there as a viable attitude to bring to the civic arena, and hopefully people will recognize sheer manipulation as the primitive, anti-community, anti-progressive action that it really is.