Cause & Effect

Hatred, malice, walls, no door

Cities, countries, all at war

Fighting just to stay alive

Families struggling to survive

A world of waste we’ve made, it seems

Turned to gray our once blue streams

Pillaged, they have done to Earth

All just to increase their net worth

Sickening, it is to me

That they thought these things were free

That all this came without a cost

And yet, on them, these words are lost

As no one seems to think things through

For if your cause would effect you

The actions that you choose today

Would be quite different, I would say

Your children’s lives, you all neglect

Yet sadly, that’s what I expect

From a kind who’s quick to take

And never thinks of what’s at stake

My Hands

Never idle, on the move, ink pours on the page

The force that drives, a needed guide, is with me on this stage

I try to be an optimist, but sometimes I’m consumed by rage

Thinking of how things are done and how they could so quickly change

Yes all the world’s a stage you know, it’s something that you shan’t forget

The sun and stars would get along if only they’d shake hands and met

Humanity could follow suit, we’ve got the tech but somehow, yet

We manage to exacerbate the very things we should forget

Fossil fuels and everything, you know that it’s all temporary

But tell me more of how it works, and how mining isn’t mercenary

If you truly want to change the world into a gilded sanctuary

Then play the long game not the short, and hire you an actuary

Maybe they can run the numbers, project a truth that you won’t like

Their findings likely point to truth like human beings should take a hike

Sure, we all know that we need to build that interstate or that turnpike

Yet as we do this trees are cut, it’s like the land of the Third Reich

Yes it’s so, the world’s a stage, it’s just a game of checkers, chess

We put our pieces on the board, where we think they’ll help us best

And when we find a new chance to establish ourselves, let me guess

You want to build a military presence just to clean the mess

Sure my man, come on down, bring your gadgets and your tech

Cause I don’t really care what happens as long as I get that big check

You see this is why the world is wasted, all it’s countries are a wreck

We let the people be in charge that only care for their own neck

Maybe one day you’ll wake up, realize that this dream of yours

Doesn’t have to happen this way and you won’t be on all fours

Rising up and taking charge, you’ll fight and finely take these lands

Until then I’ll try my best, just writing with my moving hands

What If They Died

What if they died?

What if that artist

Who painted their works

So great, yet shunned

For personality quirks

What if that singer

Who hit impossible notes

Wasn’t caught up in drama

Or the brunt of your jokes

What if you focused

On content they write

Instead of the bullshit

The cheap and contrite

Why is it, so often

An artist, who yearned

Must die to achieve

The recognition they’ve earned

It isn’t the painter

Whose genius, they leave

It’s ego that chains us

A jealous reprieve

For when you are dead

You’re no threat to us

So sure, we can like you

Just stay off of my bus

Some day, I do hope

The people will see

That passion is living

And envy is greed

The Tiki Torches: 3

“Alright, everyone. This evening we have an excellent opportunity to show these people just what we mean. We’ve tolerated centuries of oppression, decades of condescension, and countless years of bigotry! I say unto you all, stand up for your rights! Stand up for your freedoms! Stand up for the God Given, inherent capabilities of existing as a human being!”

Hurrah!!

Standing tall in front of a melting pot of human beings, the mayor of the city of Perth gives an emboldened speech at the municipalitie’s town hall meeting. As a champion of all races and creeds, he has garnered the support of pretty much the entire town. Except, of course, a small minority of closed minded bigots who refuse to adapt to change.

“We will stand strong with our brothers and sisters, no matter the cost!” The mayor shouts from his podium inside the town halll. “This is but a small town, but we are a united town!” He adds, a finger shaking in the air to reiterate his point.

“We will not allow a small contingent of oppressors to light up the evening! We will stamp out the flames of injustice!” Hurrah! “We shall stop them in their tracks!” Hurrah! “We shall meet them on the battlefield of intellectual opposition, and let none leave without exposure to our light!” HURRAH!!!!

As the mayor lets the crowd’s energy die down, he holds out his arms.

“My friends.” He says. “Let us begin preparations. It’s been reported that there has been a spike in Tiki Torch sales at the Wal-Smart across town. Let’s show them that these torches shall not have been bought in vain! We shall show them the error of their ways.”

Hurrahhhh!!!!!!

Slowly walking off his town hall stage, the mayor finally takes a moment to catch his breath.

“Great speech, sir!” One of his constituents says.

“Yeah. It was. But it was just that. A speech.” The mayor snaps back, obviously caught up in thinking about something else.

“But sir, you moved the entire town! That surely must count for something.” The constitutant says.

“Yes. They’re motivated. And for that I am grateful. But there is so much else left to do.” The mayor says.

“Come, we must prepare for the Torches.” He adds with a sly wink, clearly indicating that he has something in store for the folks riding his way.

The Other Side

Oh my freakin’ God, guys

Here we go again

Just throw the leather ball, dude

My team – it needs a win

You really aren’t oppressed, guys

And my moneys on the line 

So if you don’t deliver, then

I’m trading you next time

Leave politics to them, bro

‘Cause no one really cares

Just score and make my team win

Leave out the thoughts upstairs
—————————————————
Now hang on one damn second, man

You haven’t heard my side

I’ve put up with all this bullshit

For my whole entire life

I’m sick of all the judgment 

When I walk into the store

And how so many hate us

Except for when we score

I’m more than that, my brother

I’m a human, after all 

And treating me as you are 

It drives us up the wall

So please, my man, just stop it

We want all to get along

You’ll win your league, I promise

When you know that we belong

The Tiki Torches: 2

“YEEEEEHAW!”

Driving crazily through the backwoods of a Tennessee highway, Joe and Carl are having the time of their lives in their ’91 Chevy S-10.

“Built Ford tuff motha fuckas!!” Joe shouts out of the passenger window, can of Natty Ice in hand.

“Joe, this here’s a damn Chev Ro Lay!” Carl asserts, punching his sidekick in the thigh.

“Aw hell Carl, what’s tha dang difference? They’re both good enough for catchin’ them naggers! Yeeeeeehaw!” Joe shouts again, leaning his head out the window. “Boy oh boy oh boy I can’t wait to show the rest of the fellas these here torches we got stowed away! We’re gonna light up the en-tire place!”

“Say, Joe, that reminds me.” Carl says, scratching his head with his right hand, pulling it off the clutch. “Whereabouts is this rally anyhow?”

“Dammit Carl!” Joe responds, sipping his crisp, delicious Natural Ice. “We’re going to tha damn mayor’s mansion! Can’t believe this stupid ass town voted one of them naggers in.”

“That’s right.” Carl says, cracking open his own brew, raising it out of the window as if he we’re toasting the Nazi Gods of yesteryear.

SCREEEEEEETCH

“Well she-it! Lookie there. We made it!” Carl shouts.

In front of the rickety ass S-10 that the duo is driving, there is a circle of about 15 or 20 white cloth laden, horse-backed Klan members.

“Quick!” Carl says to Joe, seeing the Klan members who are obviously waiting on them. “Put ur damn hood on!”

In a fury of flailing arms and gritting teeth, the pair don their meticulously carved white KKK hoods, perfectly complimenting their long, white robes.

Bursting out of the passenger’s side door, Klansman Joe approaches the back of the nasty truck to grab his newly acquired tiki torch. Fidgeting for a moment as he tried to light his steel lighter, he finally ignites the tip, which casts a light strong enough to….mimic a firefly.

“WOOOOHOOOO MOTHA FUCKAS!!!! LETS GO GIT US SOME NAGGERS!!!!!!” Joe screams, waving his tiki torch in a fit of frenzy. “Betchall ain’t got torches like THIS!” He shouts, circling about the group of Klansmen on his own horse that he’s just saddled.

As the entire group looks at Joe in curiosity, one slams his torch down.

“Well SHE-IT!” He yells. “Joe, git your ass over here!”

Wondering why Brad would request such, Joe gallops his horse over.

“Lemme see that there damn torch.” Brad says, squinting his eyes behind his white hood.

“Well slap me silly and tickle me Elmo! I’ll be gat damned!!” Brad shouts after seeing the tiny Wal-Smart price tag on the torch. “These boys got them some tiki torches too!”

“YEEEHAW!!!” The entire group shouts together.

As the group begins to realize that they all had the same brilliant idea of buying their torches at the local Wal-Smart, their morale reaches new heights.

“AYEAYEAYEAYEAYEYAYEAYE!!!” They all shout and chant, horses galloping in a chaotic mess of bigoted hilarity.

“Let’s do this boy-os!!” Brad shouts, pausing for a moment to adjust the hood that his wife had just cut that afternoon. “To the mayor’s!!!!”

For Better or Worse (Ch 7) 

“Ho hum ho hum deedeedee!”

Joyfully skipping around her bedroom, the little girl is singing and humming to herself as her furry pigtails bounce around behind her. 

“Now, what are my teenie-weenies up to today?” She asks, skipping over to the terrarium.

As she peers inside, she sees that her little creatures have erected an enormous statue of her. Chiseled to perfection, the monolith displays her every feature, dimpled smile and all. 

“Wow! Well look at that!” She squeals in delight. “How did you guys do that without me noticing?!”

Leaning back to admire the sculpture, she beams at the tiny inhabitants inside, who appear to be bowing before her.

“You guys are just so adorable. Thank you for my statue!” She says to them.

Entering her room, the girl’s father approaches the tank as he puts his hand on her head. 

“Time for bed, sweetie.”

Noticing the statue, he chuckles.

“And what have we here?” He asks.

“My teenie-weenies built me a monument, Daddy! Look!” The little girl says, pointing to the newly erected obelisk.

“Very impressive!” Her father laughs. “You are clearly a generous God. Now come, let’s get you tucked in.”

“Okay Daddy.” The girl says as her father lifts her up, placing her under the sheets. Kissing her on the forehead, smiles at her before walking out the door.

“I love you, kiddo.” He says. 

“Love you too Daddy.” The girl replies, yawning as she softly falls asleep.

For Better or Worse (Ch 3)

“Aw, yay!”

The day after disposing the dead creature, the little girl is pleasantly surprised to see that two of her pets have had a baby. Standing over the dome with a wide grin on her face, she looks down at the two tiny creatures nurturing their teenie, fragile newborn.

“Good job, you two! I hope the others take after the example you’ve set.” The girl coos, giggling as she watches the little family huddled together in the corner of the glass enclosure. 

“Oh! But wait!” She says, remembering the chapter in her booklet that teaches how to properly take care of the creatures. 

Sliding the lid open, the girl reaches down and grabs the newborn pet, pulling it up out of the dome. As she does so, the parents become visibly distraught, running to the edge of the glass as they watch the little girl carry the baby across the room. 

“It’s okay!” She shouts back at them with a smile, seeing their distress. “I’m just making sure she’ll grow up nice and strong!” She adds, placing the small newborn in a separate, much smaller container. 

Obviously not comprehending the reassurances of the girl, the baby creature’s parents remain at the edge of the glass for the remainder of the day, helplessly peering across the room at their new offspring, wishing they could be together. 

For Better or Worse (Ch 2)

“Rise and shine, everyone!”

Quickly pulling away the large veil covering the girl’s terrarium, she excitedly greets the occupants inside.  

 “I bet you guys are hungry, aren’t you?” She asks matter-of-factly. Walking to the small closet in the corner of her room, she grabs a packet of food and a pale of water.

“And it looks like your lake is almost all dried up! You guys must be thirsty!” The girl exclaims, ripping open the food packet as she pulls back the small square door at the top the glass dome. 

Holding the packet over the center of the little community of creatures, the girl shakes it until all the tiny morsels of food have fallen out. Watching her pets scramble toward the newly dropped food, she smiles as she pours water into the side of the dome where a pond-like crevice has been dug.

“Drink up, teenie weenies!” She cheerfully says, closing the lid.

As she places the water pale back in the closet, she notices that one of the tiny creatures is laying underneath a group of mini tree-like plants, not moving. 

“Oh no!” She cries. “Not again!”

Placing her hands on the glass to lean over the dome, she looks down at the recently deceased pet.

“I told you all to stop fighting!” She tersely shouts. “Why can’t you just get along?”

Returning to the closet, the girl reaches in and grabs a long, skinny pole with a tong on the end. Re-opening the glass lid, she nabs the dead creature and chucks it outside her open window onto the lawn below. 

“If I find out which one of you keeps doing this, you’re gonna be in big trouble!” She asserts, holding the tong up. “Now ya’ll behave while I’m gone!” 

Closing the lid once more, she puts the tong back in the closet, exiting the room to spend the day outside. 

For Better or Worse (Ch 1)

“They’re so cute!”

Looking into a giant glass terrarium at her small colony of pets within, a little girl tugs on her father’s sleeve to get his attention.

“I know, dear. They’re very cute. Now get tucked in, it’s getting past your bedtime,” the father says.

“But Daddy!” The little girl begs, peering back at the many small creatures inside. “Can’t I watch them play just a little bit longer? Look! Aw, look Daddy! Those two are loving each other!”

“Come on now, little girl. You’ve stayed up late enough. Time for bed.” He says, lifting his daughter up as he hoists her into her sleeping space. 

“Okay, okay.” The girl sighs, watching her father place the wide veil over the terrarium to cover it. “See you guys tomorrow!” She shouts gleefully at her tiny creatures. 

Kissing her on the snout, the father tucks the little girl in and turns off the light.

“Good night, little munchkin. I love you.” He says, closing the door until it’s just slightly cracked.

“I love you too Daddy.” The girl replies. Waiting until her father is gone, she lifts her head and peers at the glass dome.

“I love you guys too,” she whispers, closing her eyes before slowly drifting asleep. 

The Fly 

The Fly

Confusion consumes me

I know not what to do 

I just watched this small creature

To my trap it just flew 

This fly, it has fluttered 

And flittered about

So to end all the buzzing

I set flypaper out

Yet, now, as I watch it

My conscience, it sees

And begs that I wonder

What if….that was me?

It forces my gander

To truly observe

The wiggling and writhing 

Was it really deserved?

Was the noise all that bad?

Did it really distract? 

Are we just creatures ourselves?

Respect for life, do we lack?

Episode 4: An Open Take on Terrorism

For Episode 4, Chad Grindstaff and Michael Burkitt join Matt and Will as they chat about the historical and modern impact of terrorism in our world.

The Real Revolution: the War We Don’t Know We’re Fighting

Its no secret that humanity is going through one of its tensest periods in our short history on this planet. Class warfare, social control, and behind the scenes manipulation has dominated the population for as long as we can look back. The individuals who had the ability to think openly, see the world as a blank canvas, and paint their own picture have consistently taken advantage of the masses who have sadly followed their directions, unable to realize the power they’ve actually held.

This historical clash seems to be coming to a head in what I can only attribute to the advent of the internet. Many of my posts have referenced this, primarily because I want people to truly realize its significance. Now, more than ever, humanity has the opportunity to openly communicate and coordinate, finally giving the silent majority a chance to come together and craft a just, accountable society.

Its vital that we understand this. It is absolutely imperative that we see how today’s hostile environment has been created by design. Racism, terrorism, radicalization – all of these things are manifested out of highly elaborate, impeccably implemented psychological maneuvers. We must realize how intelligent the powers that be truly are – as awareness is the first step in our efforts to combat them.

This unspoken war for our sovereignty has been going on for a very, very long time. Historically, those who saw the world for it is and fought against it were silenced. Consider the many who have represented the masses that were stopped before reaching their full potential: JFK, MLK, Lincoln, the list goes on. Those in control know that the most powerful instrument against them is a simple ideal. A school of thought, created by brilliant, open minds, that could change the course of history if only they could unite the masses. When those that seek to control identify these threats, they take action. Its happened over, and over, and over, and over again.

This is the fight that we have to win. Its not an election. Its not one party over the other. Its not blacks, its not whites, its not an argument over kneeling or saluting. Its the war for our humanity.

The only way we can win, is together. We can’t fight oppression if we’re too busy fighting ourselves.

Please, for the love of us all, understand this.

Human Beings are Not One Dimensional

I feel compelled to write this after zipping through my news feeds and reading the persistently biased headlines of our lovely mainstream media. 

Human beings are just that – they are human beings. 

Regardless of your opinion (which, ironically, is usually formulated based upon third party reporting without any first hand interaction whatsoever), people generally do not embody one thing or the other 100%. Good, bad, racist, not racist, democrat, republican, what have you – human beings are by nature dynamic, complex organisms with a slew of differing thoughts and values.

I think it needs to be said that we should make ourselves more aware of this. The amount of polarization we are seeing is getting entirely too out of hand. We need to stop looking at things (and people) as totally for or against us. Believe it or not, a middle ground does exist in the vast majority of cases.

This applies to everyone, on all sides. Each person in your life, in the news, and anywhere else for that matter is a multi-dimensional person that likely has many differing viewpoints. And even though they might say one thing, that doesn’t mean they don’t question or wonder about it themselves.

Please try to keep this in mind. We are all human.

Labels: How They Cloud Our Judgment

President. Police officer. CEO. Pastor. Janitor. Actor. Friend. Dishonest. Generous. Lobbyists. Girl Scouts. Dog lovers. Black. White. 

All of the words you just read are used to describe individuals – or entire groups of people. Behind each of these labels lie actual people. Human beings, no different than you or I. 

I’d like for us to take just a moment and consider something. Consider how, when presented with information tied to these labels, we often formulate our opinion of the matter before we even know the full extent of the information. Here’s an excersize that should help illustrate my point. 

Think of the tone, as well as your immediate reaction, to the following sentences: 

“So I left the bar around 11:30. It was dark, and I was walking down the alley to my car when I saw this black guy start walking towards me…”

“So I left the bar around 11:30. It was dark, and I was walking down the alley to my car when I saw this pretty girl start walking towards me…”

Now I could follow up either of those statements with any scenario under the sun, but that’s not the point. My point is the harsh truth that I would guess the majority of us have a negative predisposition to statement #1, while we likely have a neutral, or even positive, predisposition to #2.

An extreme example? Possibly. But the point remains – labels are destroying the dialogue. Our tendency to label people and groups causes a massive disservice to the individuals that represent the labels. This one-sided method of thinking has created a culture where we already have our opinions made before we even give people the opportunity to prove us wrong. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not innocent of this myself. I think it’s human nature, as we all seem to have biases of one sort or another.

So frequently do we have expectations of people when we prescribe a label to them. We often forget that, as aforementioned, behind these labels lie real, flesh and blood average human beings.

The goal, in my eyes, should be awareness. If we want to change the status quo of today’s environment, we need to be aware of our biases and work to transcend them. If we can’t do this successfully, we’ll never be able to reasonably expect change, racial or otherwise.

Just a thought.

Roots of Racism: Applying What I’ve Learned

Yesterday I posted the results of my little project to figure out why some people have negative perceptions of black culture.

That’s all well and good – but now what? What can we do now that we’re armed with this knowledge?

Being able to apply these answers to fight racism was my intention from the beginning. General common sense dictates that in order to solve any problem, we must first understand why it exists. In the context of deep-rooted racism, I now understand why it exists. Well, at least in many cases. I think we all know that there will always be those certain, stubborn people who will never change their minds. Let’s agree to forget these people. They’ll catch up later, once they realize the progress we will eventually make. And if they don’t – screw them.

So now that I know why some people foster negative views, I can make a justified argument that certain things must be addressed if we reasonably expect people to change their minds. Because at the end of the day, the most important thing we ALL need to remember is this: racism is not an exclusively one-sided issue. It would be a fundamentally flawed argument to blame 100% of the problem on other people. After all, there has to be SOME reason this problem exists – it didn’t just randomly pop up out of nowhere. There are tangible reasons that some people think this stuff, and it would be unfair to simply dismiss their reasons without consideration. We must make a concerted effort to address the things that are under our control. If we can do this successfully, those that use actual logic and reason to formulate their opinions will see the progress being made, and thus eventually experience a change of heart. Or, to put it simply: if people see that the black community is actively acknowledging the things under their control that are causing negative perceptions, people will eventually change their minds.

I’m going to use a similar format as my previous post, emboldening the general action we must take, and then elaborating below. So without further adieu, here are the steps we can start taking to change the negative public perception of black culture.

———————————

Address the rap culture thing 

I mentioned in my last post that I had a hard time arguing that girl’s point. I think this one is pretty straight-forward, and any reasonable person would probably agree that you can’t sing about banging chicks, having side bitches and sipping promethazine without expecting at least some sort of ramification.

Sure, it might be intended as fun and games, but this is a serious point that we can’t just laugh away. Kids listen to this stuff. They form their views of the world through the lenses of the people they look up to. Its pretty clear that this is a conversation that needs to get started on a wider basis if we ever expect to make racism go away.

Have, or at least create, a plan

One thing I can’t help but notice after observing all of the attempts at generating attention toward social injustice is this: what’s the plan? I think we all understand that people think its an issue. The problem, in my opinion, is that no one seems to know what to do about it. Every time I ask people what their point is (for example, the flag protest), their answer is “to create awareness”. Okay? That’s all well and good, we’ve created awareness. But now what? What’s the end game?

This is a common problem we learn about in business. Many times, we reach a point where progress isn’t being made and we’re doing work simply for the sake of doing work. In other words, we’re doing stuff, but were not actually doing stuff (if that makes sense). Creating awareness of an issue is good, but if you don’t have a plan to follow up with, your efforts are effectively stagnant. To provide an example, this very post is my version of what I’m talking about. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting down and thinking about what I can do to help sway people’s opinion. So I hit the drawing board, came up with this project, and here I am writing about it. That was my “plan”. Blindly posting and sharing things on social media with no real direction or intention isn’t doing much outside of further strengthening the already-existing opinions of people. Its not changing minds, which should be the goal. And speaking of goals…

Always keep the goal in mind

Something that I see far too often in this “battle” for social equality is how easily so many people let their egos completely ruin what could otherwise be a productive exchange of ideas. Ultimately, the goal of this entire movement should be simple: depress the existence of systemic racism. That’s what we want, right?

So when you go out in the real world and try to accomplish this goal, you have to be able to do it with a level head.You have to be constantly aware of the fact that by angering other people, you aren’t actually accomplishing anything. This is one of the general laws of interpersonal communication. You catch more flies with honey – we might not want to hear that, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

The flag protest is a perfect example. If you are one of those people kneeling, and you want to objectively consider whether or you’re making progress toward your goal of fighting racism, simply ask yourself one question: is my action helping? The reality, despite what so many people want to ignore, is that many people are being even more put off by black people when they see this. That is not the reaction we are going for. We want people to change their minds, remember? Disrespecting the flag is pissing people off, intended or not. It really is that simple. So if we actually take that into consideration, a smart person would understand this and augment their method to actually create progress toward the primary goal of changing hearts and minds. Because at this point, the flag thing has evolved into a battle of ego, and has totally deflected attention from the main goal. Its become more of a “I’m right and you’re wrong” debate rather than an actual attempt at fixing things.

————————–

These are just some of the things that are under our control. Racism, closed-mindedness, and bigotry will unfortunately always be things we have to deal with from time to time. But if we can actively acknowledge the things that we have direct control of, we can cater our actions to maximize the effect we have toward forward progress. And that’s what we should all want.

Progress.

 

 

 

The Evolution of Intellect – Transcending our Animal Instincts

I spend a lot of time thinking about things. Some are meaningful, some are mostly irrelevant, and some I think about simply to entertain myself (generally about things most people think are stupid).

One such thing (the importance of which I am admittedly unable to decide), is how fascinating it is to consider how much human beings have evolved over the short window of time we’ve existed on this planet. Among any other species that we know of, whether existing or extinct, Homo sapiens boast the most complex evolutionary timeline. I’m not referring to solely physical evolution, either. I mean intellectual, cultural, and other forms of evolution.

Here’s something I have a difficult time wrapping my head around. At ONE point in time, at the very earliest stages of our development, human beings were quite literally, animals. We had no concept of trade, commerce, or moral standards. We simply operated on the age-old animalistic rule of survival of the fittest. The weak were taken advantage of, the strongest/smartest rose to tribal dominance, and there was an overall lack of what we would now call “decency”. It was the commonly accepted status-quo that the strongest prevailed.

As time progressed and humans developed “culture”, we began creating the “rules” and “standards” of commonly accepted ways to act. We became the first species to transcend our carnal, animal instincts. We collectively began a societal quest to persecute the oppression of others. We created governments and criminal justice systems to set consistent, uniform punishments for certain types of behavior – many behaviors of which happened to correlate with our human instinct. We started to suppress our instincts in favor of the greater good.

I like to consider this when I see and hear about “immoral” behavior. I try my best to ask myself why a given person is displaying these types of behaviors. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not justifying criminality or immorality, but this thought process has been a tremendous help in my efforts of trying to understand others’ perspectives. Why does a person steal? Why do they cheat? What makes the people at the top of society oppress others?

The answer, at least to the majority of these questions, is that those behaviors are simply their instincts as a biological organism. As I mentioned earlier – at our core, we human beings are animals. That statement might not make us feel very good, but it’s a harsh reality nonetheless.

Perhaps one of the most perplexing questions, at least for me, is this: what exactly are our basic, carnal instincts? In my attempts to answer this, I can’t think of much more than to draw parallels to other species in the animal kingdom, something of which we ourselves are members. Overall, I think some general conclusions are as follows, which I try and apply to real-world situations when I try to explain our behavior.

men are pigs.png

  • Males, in general, desire dominance and are strongly motivated by ego.

At its very foundation, I think this is a vastly governing characteristic. Many behaviors can be explained using this very simple concept. Why, for example, are men statistically more violent than women? Why do they occupy the VAST majority of powerful positions professionally, socially, and otherwise (policy-making, etc.)? It’s quite simple: our egos make us view obedience and subservience as weakness, something of which we men hate feeling. This first observation, at least seemingly, can be applied to an enormous degree of reasoning as to why the world exists in its current state.

Obviously (as it is with all of these observations) there are going to be exceptions, so please don’t be offended – as they are merely one person’s perspective. All in all, though, I think (at least hope) the majority of what I’m saying is grounded in unbiased logic and reason.

white fence.png

  • Historically, women have settled for an obedient role (likely due to the unreasonable responses men would give if challenged). Instinctually, as it is across other species, this seems to be a basic instinct (albeit a complex one). Fortunately for women today, this is trending in the opposite direction, which I think is a good thing.

In my opinion, women have played their hands well – much better than men like to think. Some would say they are master manipulators. I would argue they are simply smarter than men want to give them credit for. Women, as it seems, have a thorough grasp on observation #1 above, and have used that knowledge to engineer their actions to satisfy men’s egos in order to obtain their own goals. In other words, women know how egotistical and unreasonable men can be – so rather than fight what they know is a worthless fight (since men will refuse to give in even when logic proves them wrong…another result of ego), they instead leverage their knowledge to obtain what they want. For example, let’s say a woman in the 1950s wanted the American Dream. You know what I mean – the whole white picket fence and a solid family unit thing. Well, women then were well aware of how men wanted to control their family as if it were their property (sounds bad, but you know how we are). This is illustrated by simple language: how many times have you heard a man say “my” woman and/or “my” house, etc. (rather than “our”). So, armed with their comprehension of the male psyche, they were willing to fill the role of housewife, supporting the man and his career while raising the kids.

Today, this second observation of human instinct is beginning to change. Women are becoming more empowered than ever. The battle, while certainly not over, is definitely progressing in the right direction. After all (even though personally, I think she kind of sucks), we finally have our first female Presidential candidate. While perhaps not the best selection for such a monumental moment, she is, in fact a symbol for progress. This is a good illustration of how humanity has the cognitive ability to transcend our animal instincts.

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  • As a general rule, humans tend to do what satisfies their own desires and are not inherently altruistic.

Many people will probably struggle with this one. I can understand that, since I admit this is probably a very controversial statement – as we all want to think the best of people. The harsh reality, however, is that this observation can logically apply to an enormous proportion of “immoral” behavior.

Example: ask yourself what percentage of the population has practiced infidelity. And don’t just assume that the cases you hear about are the only ones. Understand the real number: the one that includes alllllll the instances in which the assailant actually got away with it without incident or discovery. I believe you would find the statistics absolutely, mind-numbingly depressing.

So, why is this the case? Why do SO many people cheat on their partner/spouse? The answer, in my humble opinion, is simple: people are selfish. This sort of ties back in with observation #1; at least in regard to the male ego. Among most animals, the dominant male has many female partners, as this asserts his position as the alpha. In other words, he takes what he wants and any who dare get in his way are dealt with harshly. Having the ability to be with many women is a stroke to a man’s self-image of his desirability, thus, he cheats. It’s not a very complicated thing when you really sit down and think about it.

Now in regards to infidelity, the issue runs much deeper than simply ego. Obviously human beings have inherent sexual desires, thrill-seeking behaviors, etc., which all contribute to our heinous acts. In general, though, it can be explained quite easily.

The broader statement of people being inherently selfish can somewhat be illustrated by the moral standards we have had to set. If we all naturally behaved in an unselfish manner, we would have no need for these cultural “rules” to begin with. The fact that these laws, regulations, and rules exist in and of themselves back up the statement that we have to consciously try to transcend our instincts.

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I could go all day with these kinds of observations. Overall, however, my point is that this is the kind of stuff I spend a lot of time thinking about. Some people probably view this as pointless. On the contrary, the tangible result of these thoughts is this: these types of introspections have vastly improved my relationships and communication skills. Over time, this thought process has helped tremendously my ability to understand the perspective of other people, which has in turn helped me respond to said perspectives. This used to not be the case, but I can now honestly say that before engaging in a debate or disagreement with someone I make a point to first ask myself: why are they doing or thinking this? It’s helped me in many respects. I’ve been able to successfully change people’s minds, as well as change my own mind (after listening to their reasoning).

Ultimately, the hard truth is that we live in a world where there are literally billions of different points of view. Our instincts can unfortunately cause us to have a lack of consideration of these differing views. At the end of the day, we have to consciously transcend our tendency to see things solely from our perspective. We have to maintain the intellectual capacity to know when we are being hard-headed, sometimes swallowing our pride to say “you’re right”.

Being wrong or misguided is not a bad thing. Rather, having the intelligence to know when we are wrong or misguided is precisely what defines us as thoughtful, well-rounded, considerate individuals. One’s inability to do this only renders them unjustly biased and stubborn – two traits of an unintellectual.

I hope one day these things become universal knowledge – because I sure think it would help us iron out the unending differences we keep seeing in the world.

Character vs Reputation: Why Your Opinion of You is the Only One That Matters

I’ve always been a fan of quotes. When I had a desk job, I posted a print-out of all my favorites and hung them in from top me on the wall as a constant reminder of who I want to be. There is one, however, that I read recently which particularly resonated with me.

Legendary basketball player and UCLA coach John Wooden said the following:

“Your reputation is who people think you are – your character is who you really are.”

Take a moment to consider that. Really, really think about it.

In a society where price tags, house size, car brands, and general materialism is so prevalent, these words are especially powerful. We spend so much time and energy trying to project a certain image of ourselves that oftentimes our actual selves paint a completely opposing picture.

I want to keep this short so the majority of your time spent reading this is focused on those words. Always be the real you. Never concern yourself with the opinions of those who wish to bring you down. Ever. Focus on your own, genuine self-image and strive to do the right thing in all situations.

If you’re living right, you’ll never have a reason to worry about your reputation. It’ll take care of itself. And if anyone ever tries to tell you otherwise, you have the luxury of knowing better. Haters are going to hate – rise above them.

 

 

The Inconvenient Truth: Racism, Sexism & Inequality

Sometimes reality is harsh.

I think we all know this. Every day we read about things going on in the world that can make one’s blood boil. Yet, despite how much we all care about fixing these things, they continue to happen.

Recently, we’ve seen the lens of our media focus on racism. Whether it’s a BLM rally, another death, or quote from the ole Reverend, racism is plastered all over our headlines.

Before reading on, I ask that you bear one thing in mind: this is reality I’m writing about here. Unfiltered, objective truth. So if you find yourself getting offended, try to consider the validity of what I’m trying to say and don’t take it personally. Because the last thing I want to do is offend. That’s never my intention.

This morning I read an article that spoke about the two hot topics I referenced in this post’s title. It mentioned Jennifer Lawrence’s passionate accusations of Hollywood that they unfairly pay men more than women. Then it mentioned that despite all the focus on race lately, Hollywood is still dominated by white males. They haven’t really budged to accommodate the complaints of the masses, resulting in a popular hash tag: #oscarsowhite. The article ended saying basically that Hollywood was a bunch of hypocrites.

Let’s take a moment and really, truly think about this. Personally, I like solving problems. One of the first things I generally do when solving a problem is to find out why it exists to begin with.

So, why does Hollywood favor white males when it comes to pay, casting, and general dealings? Well, in my humble opinion, the answer can be discerned using basic common sense: because its controlled by white males.

Now, let’s take this analogy and apply it to the bigger picture. Why do so many businesses, our government, and pretty much any massive institution favor white males?

Because they started them. Yes. White dudes created them. It really is that simple.

Let me call a quick time out to say that I hope you aren’t taking this the wrong way. I’m not saying it’s okay for these people to discriminate. What I am saying, however, is that this type of favoritism is wired into our genes. Whether we want to admit it or not, it’s a harsh truth that we favor people that resemble us. Whether that’s race, opinion, socio-economic status, it matters not. We tend to gravitate toward people who are similar to us. This isn’t exclusive to white people, mind you. After all, there’s literally a TV station dedicated to black entertainment, so I probably don’t even need to point that out.

Now that I’ve added that disclaimer, halftime is over. Game back on.

Back to my earlier point: most of our institutions are controlled by white men. So how do we overcome this prejudice and cronyism where they favor other white men?

Well, so far the only answer the media has shown us is people complaining, blocking traffic, and doing other completely counter-productive things (but that’s a whole other topic). If you ask me, the real solution is simple. We should create our own institutions. Yep. That’s right.

You see, I doubt that we, as a species, will ever truly transcend this petty characteristic of favoritism that seems to be written into our genome. So rather than spend our energy trying to change the existing status quo, we should instead use our creativity to generate a new status quo. If people are complaining because currently white males have all the power, the answer should be easy: take that power back.

That’s really the only productive way to combat institutional racism, sexism, and the like. At least in my opinion. We need to stop whining and instead get up and create, create, create. Start businesses, write books, create movie studios, do something meaningful where you have control of who gets casted or who gets to do what. Because as mad as this might make some people, the current solutions are doing nothing but creating even more racism. They might turn a head here or there, but overall it’s just not working. And that’s not good.

Its going to take a LOT of work, yes. And it won’t happen overnight. But we need to start creating our own reality.

Racism/sexism sucks. I think we pretty much all agree on that. But we really do need to take a step back and figure out the root of the problem before charging in and pointing fingers.

One last thing. If we ever DO succeed in doing this – creating a culture where white males aren’t the sole controlling demographic; I hope we put our money where our mouths are and stamp out the discrimination. Because if we don’t, that would just make us a bunch of hypocrites.

Just sayin.