I vacillate, like so many others, about whether to believe (even halfheartedly) in the possibility of hope for the ultimate future (or fate) of humanity. I wish I knew the answer, with any degree of certainty, no matter what the truth may hold. I suppose I’m not alone with this…a lot of us wish we knew the answer to that whole nagging quandary. I suspect that some of us wish we knew the outcome because KNOWING would almost certainly alter (or maybe confirm) the choices we make now.
If the situation is hopeless, then why not wish for a speedy trip, straightaway, to that most nasty and gruesome outcome (which I have imagined more than once). Seriously. If we had the power required for task completion, wouldn’t it be tempting to conclude…Why drag it out?
Who among us, here, hasn’t toyed with that scenario: OMG, YES!, if what we imagine might be in store, then it would seem perfectly rational to conclude: LET’S PUT A QUICK AND MERCIFUL END TO THIS HORRIFYING DEBACLE BEFORE MORE PEOPLE MUST SUFFER.
It’s probably for the best that the average individual doesn’t have that kind of power (to expedite mass destruction). Currently, maybe, only a handful of potentially maniacal sociopaths have THAT kind of power.
To me, the question about possible hope seems especially tricky.
Here’s why I’m still undecided.
(You’ll have to skip way down to the section following the middle “game” stuff to actually locate my reasoning on this issue. Seems only fair to warn you.)
Historically, so many forces of domination in our culture have repeatedly demonstrated their powers to pressure the masses (bunches of people) into attempting, desperately, to embrace two conflicting beliefs (or opposing versions of reality) simultaneously. This holding of mental opposites inevitably leads to cognitive dissonance, which creates an intense experience of emotional distress. Sometimes it reaches a perilous level: traumatic stress. If the traumatic stress is intense enough, the next result can be mentally catastrophic—such as long term cognitive impairment, complex PTSD, or psychosis (either transitory or chronic, and potentially including persistent delusions of paranoia or persecution, for example.)
A lot of what avid or compulsive media “consumers” are compelled to adopt as the norm in our culture right now represents (based on my own limited and quite fallible perspective) an ever present an ongoing onslaught of cognitive dissonance contributors–not merely one or two sources of cognitive dissonance, mind you, or a piddly few different manifestations of cognitive dissonance. Nope, I’ve observed a quantity and variety that staggers even my heavily-exposed-to psycho instigated mental mind bending (up is down, black is white, the predator is the victim and the victim is the monster, etc.)
Don’t take my word for it.
Instead, I invite you to take a detour if you are in the mood. You can actually DO the following in its entirety or you can just read along while imagining doing parts of it, or you are of course welcome to skip over this next part completely—and, of course, any choice you make is totally okay by me.
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If you haven’t played the following game before now, I recommend it, if only to pass the time when there’s nothing on TV that looks very entertaining (and if that scenario NEVER happens to you, I suspect that most of what your’re reading in this post makes little sense to you, or you have already stopped reading.)
Anyway. Flip through the up-to-the-minute-news outlets for starters, paying VERY close attention to any sudden discomfort in your stomach (a mild queasiness, maybe, or hunger pangs after you’ve already eaten a substantial meal), remain alert for feelings of irritability or nagging annoyance that arises for no reason that’s obviously discernible. Also, please keep in mind that all of the following instructions, including the important-sounding “DO NOT”s, are merely suggestions. Nothing more. So. Again. Try parts or all or none of these suggestions. I’m not going to know the outcome and not going to be concerned with your choice.
If you begin to sense that you are not able to clearly follow the supposedly-obvious meaning of whatever is being shown or reported, even though ALL the news readers and ALL the commentators—even those on different channels and from different news outlets—uniformly present an appearance that reveals no HINT of confusion about the meaning, reveals no momentary difficulty grasping the exact meaning (although they may offer different OPINIONS, say, about the significance of what’s being presented), DO NOT—repeat after me—DO NOT automatically assume that YOU must be the dense or impaired participant in this charade.
DO NOT leap to the conclusion that YOU must be missing some crucial idea or bit of info that, if included, would allow you to make perfect sense of it all. DO NOT assume the news readers and commentators already have this mysterious bit of knowledge, which explains why ALL of them understand the meaning with no problem.
When you have this experience, temporarily suspend your assumptions about your own comprehension and reasoning skills, AND also set aside your assumptions about the unlikelihood that EVERY LAST ONE of those “professionals” has access to info or knowledge that you are missing, AND let go of your assumptions about trusting APPEARANCES to accurately reflect reality even when those appearances are universally consistent and universally devoid of any observably duplicitous mannerisms, and, in addition, even when those universally-consistent appearances are being presented by media professionals rather than actors paid to play fictional roles.
Plus, depending on your personal beliefs, you may need to suspend another BIG and commonly accepted assumption: that the creation of a credible FALSE REALITY (a constructed image of reality that appears TRUTHFUL while it completely hides or distorts the truth) inevitably requires the existence of a conspiracy and/or requires at least one participant who has awareness of the FALSE REALITY or requires an instigator with a motive for setting into motion a FALSE REALITY.
After you have suspended the above assumptions, and you continue to feel icky or confused—take pause, casually, to notice if you feel or detect any distinctive or eerily familiar sensation of a particularly unique kind of internal tension, tension which seems to have no rational source.
Next, very deliberately, breath normally while calling upon all the awareness at your disposal (and, if you like, you can playfully imagine your powers of awareness as your own real-life version of that mysterious something which the comic book character, Spider Man, calls his “spidey senses”); include in your awareness both your internal and external sense perceptions; include in your awareness any emotions you feel, even if you can’t identify them by any accurate name; include in your awareness any traces of memory or mental images that seem almost like physical sensations and are inseparable from the whole of your awareness.
Become aware of any changes in your breathing, without attempting to control or alter your breathing pattern, simply notice any patterns, notice any changes in your heart rate, or any perceptions of change in relation to your body temperature or the temperature in the room.
Now, take a moment while you allow the entirety of this experience to sink in, observing and feeling and sensing without settling on any rational interpretation of the experience, without coming to a conclusion about what is happening in the moment based on any thoughts you may notice.
Take another moment while you become aware of any resistance to continuing with the game, any feelings or sensations of threat, no matter how slight—become aware of any sense of urgency or compelling need to decide that you CAN or must know with some certainty THE RATIONAL or CLEAR meaning of what is happening; become aware if you are holding a strong belief in your ability to figure out and then to know what this experience means, by using your most precise reasoning abilities and logic.
Become aware of any resistance to letting go of this belief about the powers of your THINKING abilities—letting go even for a brief moment—become aware of any conviction that your thinking abilities are a NECESSARY means or are the very best means to find meaning in this experience; become aware of any distinct or unwavering belief that seems so CERTAIN and almost impossible to doubt—regarding THINKING as your most trustworthy and reliable means to understand or to KNOW anything which has REAL value or REAL significance.
Be aware if you feel a strong NEED to believe that YOUR THOUGHTS—your own powers of reasoning—are indispensable for knowing or understanding—as opposed to “MERELY” perceiving or sensing—notice if you feel certain that your thinking is necessary to know anything that represents the TRUTH, to know anything that REALLY matters, or to know anything that is REAL.
Next, and last, pause and take another moment to be aware of your awareness of the experience—whoa, more simply, perhaps, notice if the experience as a whole, including any alterations in your awareness—or alterations in your awareness of being aware—leaves you now (or finds you now?), in THIS very moment, with a sense of meaning or a calm acceptance which carries some distinct significance and value for you—personally and intimately—and which informs you about trust or about knowing…
Especially be aware if these things cannot be adequately explained with words, or understood rationally by connecting them to known ideas; be aware if these…”mysterious knowables”…cannot be made to seem any more significant or more real for you by attempting to contain them with language—indeed, notice if they seem diminished or false or illusory or unimportant when you try to describe them with words.
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And now. Back to my regular blogging.
Anyway. Some significant infliction of cognitive dissonance, it seems to me, almost certainly arises in relation to conflicting and powerful interpretations and strong views about humanity’s destiny (discussed fairly often in mass media and perhaps somewhat regularly in everyday life.)
The following thoughts represent my own observations about ways in which these conflicting beliefs are commonly presented, often expressed with a sense of authority and certainty.
1) Hey, basically everything’s gonna be okay for humanity because history has always had its dark times, plus, just look at all the progress we’ve made, no more slavery, no more witch hunts and witch burning, no more horrible lynchin… blah blah blah (respectful blah blah blah, okay?)
2) We are fucking doomed as doomed can be, obviously, because look at the BIG PICTURE, manufactured, fake images of reality (all prettied up) everywhere you look, a steady and unrelenting disappearance of empathy (replaced by ILLUSIONS of empathy), widespread apathy and exhaustion and quiet despair of those masses who no longer trust anything, the absence (at the “public” level”) of almost all rational, critical analysis about anything that matters—the frightened hoards who are eager to trust the first psychopathic leader who tells them that their delusional spin on reality represents the ONE TRUE VIEW OF REALITY AND IT HOLDS THE KEY TO SOLVING everything—and, also, notice the increasing populations of prisoners, homeless people, destitute families—NOT TO MENTION the global environmental decimation and the almost-certainly irreversible damage to specific ecosystems on which the ENTIRE global ecological system as a WHOLE depends completely for the sustainability of life on earth…blah blah blah (again, okay, respectful blah blah blahs)
A lot of us feel convinced that humanity is damned and hopeless, at this point in history, no matter what humans try to do differently—more effectively—from now on.
Moreover, NOT coincidentally, the main ideas about humanity’s fate share an uncanny resemblance to the kind of mindset and typical beliefs instilled in victims by virtually all highly skilled psychopathic-sadistic-narcissist predators.
So. Namely, the following are representations of typical beliefs that victims hold after coming into contact with a predators psycho-babbling rhetoric of confusion, covert threats, seductive bullshit, and mind altering forms of cognitive dissonance.
(Naturally, variability of outcome depends on many factors, such as length of exposure to predator, prior exposure to other predators, closeness of the encounters, whatever message the predator wants the particular victim in question to end up believing…which depends on whatever suits the predator’s whims, fancy, mood, current level of rage, and of course all depends on the predator’s particular brand of delusional paranoia, and so forth.)
If it helps you to identify more easily, you can imagine that the predator represents, say, capitalism—with it’s intense focus on efficiency as the highest value, with its absence of any capacity for empathy given that the moral bottom line is completely devoid of morality and totally dependent on predictable fiscal outcomes, plus the C-system values prediction and control above any other kind of approach to creating meaning, it rewards efforts to circumvent impediments like emotions or empathy or honesty whenever those kinds of human wishywashyness interfere with the goal of increased efficiency and profitability, it uses domination and language to create appearances that are distortions or even complete opposites of reality, it contributes to cognitive dissonance on a massive and global scale thus creating stress, trauma and cognitive impairment…
I could continue, but what would be the point?
Recall, the following 3 scenarios represent the MOST TYPICAL reactions to encounters with a psycho predator and exposure to a predator’s crazy-making, insanity provoking, mesmerizing, seductive or terrifying strategies for mind control and sadistic domination.
a) the belief that there are no actual psycho predators to worry about and nothing much out of the ordinary is going on anyway—and therefore there’s nothing of any consequence to get riled up over…
b) the unwavering belief that this super-awesome DUDE—who has been wrongfully and unfairly maligned and mis-characterized as a so-called psycho-predator by MEAN, INSANE DELUSIONAL PEOPLE—yeah, well, anyway, this amazing guy is absolutely RIGHT ON! and he has all the right answers to all our problems and he can end all our suffering…and HE CAN AND WILL show all of us exactly who we should be BLAMING, punishing, and eliminating…
c) the belief that the fucking DUDE (dude? really? oh, come on, people, talk about DENIAL), without any doubt, IS ONE HELL OF a horrifying fucking psychopathic monster and, tragically, his power is unstoppable: so, therefore, resistance is futile. Hence, humanity’s future is hopeless.
Now, in my understanding,
a) seems delusional based on complete denial…
b) seems delusional having bought into the predators whole scam…
c) might be in a state of intensely traumatized HORROR and HOPELESSNESS related to NON-DELUSIONAL awareness of the monster’s very real evil; and the trauma is made even worse because the victim has an unusually high capacity for feeling and showing empathy (for humankind), and YET these are also the 2 factors (extreme trauma and extreme empathy) which could cause this unfortunate victim (c) to arrive at a distorted conclusion about the OUTCOME (since c’s perspective is perhaps or even most-likely biased due to both the severity of trauma and the high capacity for empathy.)
So. There you have it. That summarizes what I see as an extremely typical, predator-manipulated scenario, which means everyone’s perspectives are skewed by exposure to the source of evil. Perhaps, this admittedly highly personal perspective of mine can suggest why I’m still undecided about humanity’s fate (on most days.)
I feel all too painfully aware of the frequency and ease with which forces of domination are able to construct huge BLIND SPOTS and to instill HOPELESSNESS and to inflict long-term, overwhelming perception of absolute HELPLESSNESS when HELPLESSNESS in truth still maintains the potential to overpower domination (when, for instance, SHARED helplessness between people becomes transformed into shared hope and strength.)
Sometimes, admittedly rarely, believe it or not, I suspect there might be such a thing as having too great a capacity for unlimited empathy (or, rather, perhaps it’s not a matter of too much, but more about being able to recognize the most helpful ways to show empathy (avoiding over-helping kinds of actions, for instance, which could create dependency)….plus finding ways to avoid inflicting self harm when the empathy-abundant person isn’t able to detach emotionally (to detach in a way that is still compassionate and loving and healthy…for instance, when those who are suffering may be so far gone that they are irrevocably beyond any point at which empathy could still make the slightest difference in their lives. Thus, a very tragic and sad situation. Very painful for all involved.
Many of us, I believe, have greater strength than we recognize. However, here, I better not try to speak for others. I can only say, based on my own experience, there are different kinds of strength, and often I have had major BLIND SPOTS, which prevented me from being able to connect with some sources of personal and shared strength.
One kind of strength that I have long overlooked and have only recently become intimately familiar with involves the strength that can only come alive when accompanied and aided by emotions which are fully experienced, fully felt with all their intensity—such as helplessness and extreme neediness. These painful feelings are completely REAL, not simply products of my “stinkin’ thinkin’” (although some feelings do needlessly result, maybe, from thought patterns that include distortions and deceptions.
Under certain conditions, even overwhelmingly intense emotions, such as helplessness, can lose their domination-oriented power—to wreck repeated havoc and chaos on my life by overwhelming me and damaging my body’s ability to self regulate basic needs such as sleep.)
What conditions can possibly transform my most intense and painful emotions (such as helplessness)? That is, what conditions can actually change them from being my enemies that cause destruction and chaos—into my beneficial allies that help me, for example, to become healthier and stronger?
This incredible transformation occurs WHENEVER I AM ABLE (sometimes, of course, not always) to stop using these emotions as weapons against myself, to stop making them into torture devices that dominate and control me and force me into submission. But how, exactly, does this transformation become a real possibility?
First, I must accept that the potential for transformation remains impossible as long as I keep struggling to maintain control—over my authentic needs, for instance—or keep fighting to lock down my feelings (denying, repressing, minimizing or chemically anesthetizing them), or continue investing my focus and energy on trying to control my thoughts (try to turn them into “happy” or positive thoughts, or try to change them from scary or discouraging or “negative” thoughts.)
As I’ve written about often, on this blog, very early in my life (as an infant) I had no choice but to adopt distorted and dissociated ways of feeling, acting, thinking and perceiving.
All of my natural, normal, authentic, and human expressions or demonstrations of emotion or need triggered automatic and instantaneous reactions in both of my parents (the “monsters”). The slightest signs of any authentic feeling on my part, or the smallest demonstration of any actual basic need that my parents believed was not a correct or valid need—that is, any feeling or behavior of mine that triggered their own denied feelings of powerlessness or neediness or grief or loss—instantly resulted in their acts of domination over me, violent physical and sexual abuse, terrifying forms of coercion, sadistic and covert infliction of physical and emotional pain, physical and emotional neglect, and, in addition to various other horrors, threats of my imminent annihilation (both verbal threats and physical gestures indicating very clearly their desire, ability and intent to murder me at any moment…if I did anything or failed to do anything (and, also, if they only IMAGINED that I did something), which they perceived to be sufficiently “provocative”, then my perceived “offensive response” activated (within their horribly wounded and terrified psyches—unconscious minds—and their thoroughly damaged nervous systems) a seemingly uncontrollable and overpowering primitive rage in them, which I believe they had no defense against and which originated no doubt as a result of their own early years of terrible trauma, abuse and neglect. (Completely denied by them, for both claimed to have had wonderful and loving childhoods.)
After my infancy phase, the bizarre and ongoing distortion of my reality continued as always with chronic physical and emotional abuse, but as I began to acquire language, the distortion of reality also began to rely greatly on the use of language as a weapon (or form of domination) against my mind and thus against my cognitive processes, resulting in some forms of cognitive impairment that have proven to be permanent and irreversible.
My parents and other family members systematically used language to invert the MEANINGS of my own experiences (my feelings and my perceptions and my observations), in other words, to change the REAL meaning of things I experienced into their OPPOSITES—to use my own mind against me, to turn my real feelings, perceptions, memories, experiences, etc, into UNREAL or IMAGINED ones.
Thus they consistently insisted (directly to my face—and with no outward appearance of any conscious attempt at deception by them—day in and day out, year after year) that my own, actual lived experiences of reality simply DID NOT HAPPEN, that they were my own “FALSE” interpretations, my FAKE feelings, my FALSE memories, my sinful self deceptions, my lies, my delusions, my exaggerations, figments of my over active imagination, shameful attempts by me to get attention, etc.
In other words, unless I was fully prepared to admit to myself and to them that I was clearly CRAZY, delusional, and psychotic, eventually I realized that I had better NOT trust what I thought I saw or trust what I thought I heard or trust what I thought I remembered—except in those cases when my experiences, feelings, interpretations, memories, etc, could be corroborated and approved of as ACCURATE AND REAL by the people who held all the power over my life.
Language was, therefore, a powerful force of domination and mind control used to bring my own honest reality into “proper” alignment with their distorted and delusional and deceptive reality. All these chronic, long-term practices of INVERTING the meanings of my own lived experiences, perceptions and feelings kept me exhausted, confused, feeling crazy and always prepared to doubt the validity of whatever I saw, heard, recalled and KNEW about reality, including my OWN INTERNAL reality—my feelings and my needs.
What child could possibly resist the coercive power of such systematic thought/mind control?
The never-ending substitution of meanings that represented the exact OPPOSITE of my authentic experiences (while simultaneously denying and discounting meanings that authentically and accurately represented my real experiences and my valid understanding of reality) kept me frightened and confused about what things might be REAL and what things might only be imaginary, the deceptive result of my untrustworthy mind or the result of some devious supernatural forces (such as the devil) that I could only live in constant fear of ever encountering face to face.
It was inevitable that I came to believe that the very parts of my humanity and my self which could have allowed me to develop more autonomy (and to acquire more immunity to being subjugated by various forms of domination)—my own feelings and needs and perceptions and thoughts and my capacity for empathy—were the “monsters” I needed to be terrified and ashamed of if I had any hope of defending myself in the world. I had to accept that my normal human emotions—such as my feelings of helplessness, sadness, loss, uncertainty, loneliness, fear, and so forth—were the monsters inside me that caused all my suffering. I was coerced into thinking that my normal, human emotions were ABNORMAL, invalid, imaginary, freakishly offensive to normal people, and to believe that my authentic feelings and my normal human needs were the sources of virtually all of my pain and suffering.
My real feelings and my normal human needs, it seemed so obvious to me, could never be trusted, could only cause me shame and suffering, and thus they ABSOLUTELY HAD TO BE KEPT under control, had to be dominated by me at all times, had to be kept hidden or eliminated completely, if possible—or else (I was certain) I would have no chance of surviving, I would become insane, I would become dangerous and out of control, I would have to be locked up, I would be worthless in the eyes of all normal people. In my mind, I was some deviant, creepy, disgusting, crazy, dishonest and evil person who had to make sure that no one ever saw even a glimpse of the “real” me.
No wonder I felt, from early on, that I was not actually human, that I could not have possibly originated from this earthly human realm. No wonder I was so sure that my feelings of intense vulnerability and my feelings of neediness were the REAL monsters in my life, the real monsters who needed to be forever dominated and controlled by me. Some of these conclusions were conscious and others were partially unconscious or completely outside my awareness. Sometimes my awareness of these beliefs shifted, surfacing for a time—or for only a split second—then disappearing again, sometimes just below the surface of my awareness and other times deep into my unconscious mind. Sometimes I was aware of the crucial need to control all my feelings and needs, or to control the impressions that others might form about me—but more often I was not aware of the energy and effort I invested in controlling my feelings and needs, and in controlling the way I appeared on the surface to myself and to others
For long stretches of time, I remained only distantly aware or mostly unaware of the prime directive operating in my life: to maintain absolute control over the appearance I meticulously created—for myself and for others—an appearance of myself as a normal girl who never felt sad, never felt hurt, never felt lonely, never felt helpless, never felt uncertain, never felt frightened, never felt weak, never felt worthless, never felt needy…
Yet much of the time I sensed a nagging feeling that I wasn’t altogether real, wasn’t altogether living in a real world. Nor could I escape the feeling that the people all around me were not at all what they seemed to be on the surface. I felt aware, more and more often, and with greater clarity, especially during my adolescence and as I grew into a young adult, that there was a different reality happening just barely out of sight. All around me, there was a kind of strange performance taking place, some vague form of deception, which involved almost everyone, with the exception of many young children.
By the time I was 14 (nearing 15), I sought out books from the school library that discussed and analyzed self deception and human consciousness, some from psychological perspectives and some from philosophical viewpoints. I found ways to steal or otherwise liberate (ahem) those that seemed especially revealing or insightful—the small, red, leather-bound volume by Herbert Fingarette, which was filled with paradoxes and unresolved mental riddles; a white and blue paperback by Herman Hesse, “Siddhartha”, which described a world of illusions and hidden powers; Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave”, which validated some of my uneasy speculations and left me with a discomforting mixture of reactions: an intellectual reassurance that proved inadequate beside my wary desire to somehow un-know that which was becoming, at least in my mind, increasingly less speculative.
I felt numb, fragmented, suspicious of virtually every person I knew, and finally grief stricken by the time I finished reading “Studies on Hysteria” (long familiar to me as an accusation by my mother, yes, this—in spite of all my obsessive practices in self control!), and “The Interpretation of Dreams” (a gift to me from my father—intended no doubt to dispel any slim hope I might have stumbled upon regarding the trustworthiness of my own perceptions, memories, and interpretations of reality.
That summer, after my self assigned reading marathon ended, I spent all of my waking hours huddled in the darkness in the back of my closet, emerging only to pee when absolutely necessary and, in the same trip, to retrieve another bottle of mineral water. The reality of my life had intrusively opened up to my naked awareness, as if I had turned a key in a locked door, pushed against it, and confronted at once a landscape that was treacherous and unforgiving. I was not emotionally ready for what I saw.
In the beginning, it had felt hypnotically alluring and tantalizing powerful to secretly investigate the world at large while peering through a scholarly lens which corrected for most distortions.
Little by little, the process became unsavory and distastefully voyeuristic, then, soon after, pathetically compelling as if I was goaded by a tyrannical toddler with only a plastic sword to nudge me forward, feeble and conflicted—-sickened by my need to look and look and look yet intoxicated and thirsty for still more when I saw right through and beyond the thin veneer that people seemed so unconsciously naive and arrogantly confident about relying upon to preserve their proud auras of undignified privacy and fictitious respectability.
Finally, the process became thoroughly and nauseatingly repellent for, of course, the day arrived when the same lens inadvertently exposed a Self who was a stranger. The lens magnified also—from dust speck dimensions to larger-than-life proportions—the empty gap where, by all rights, an exit sign should have hung.
It revealed a future, too, a faceless image whose simplicity cloaked an impenetrable hardness and resilience reminiscent of a massive grey boulder that will never crumble or splinter to bits, and thus will function as a perpetual impediment, lifeless yet lifelong, an enduring and voiceless companion, a steadfast reminder of unspeakable times and things witnessed through dead eyes, with no escape in sight, only more of the same, the familiar shocks that never get old, never offer a cushioning moment to prepare, never grow less horrifying, never spare a chance to live and relive the worst, right up to the final plea before the shroud descends.