Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Existentialism...living with passion and authenticity

While I have spent a bit of my writing these past 5 years criticizing fundamentalism in religion and blind faith that controls so much of our global gyrations...there are a number of philosophies I believe in. So, for a different tack, let me try to focus on some positive, constructive beliefs that I have developed over my life in order to balance some of that which I have destroyed with reason.

One of my most fundamental beliefs is in "Existentialism".
"Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher, though he did not use the term existentialism. He proposed that each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely ("authentically")."
While I was first drawn to this philosophy while studying it during my college Philosophy course, it later became more vivid to me as the rational way to live upon reading the works of Ayn Rand ("Atlas Shrugged" and "Fountainhead" being her most well known works).  Rand terms her philosophy as "objectivism" which she based on "existentialism", with her own extreme left turn on the "virtues of selfishness" thrown in. As I have reflected on this over the past couple decades, I have come to think that hers was a much more "reactionary" philosophy to the Russian background she came from versus a pure objective philosophical approach represented by Kierkegaard. I have come to think that living passionately, sincerely and authentically does not demand pure selfishness, nor does it oppose rational altruism.  At our core, I believe the human spirit is born with a sense of belonging and care for its own species. We are born with a balance between intrinsic, "healthy" selfishness which helps sustain and value our lives...and a healthy curiosity and concern for others around us. If we are allowed to grow in a healthy family and society, I think we can excel as individuals while yet finding value and meaning in relationship to others. Unfortunately this tends to be the exception more than the rule...and most people develop into irrational models of thinking where humanity is somehow "depraved", evil, and fundamentally flawed in the view of most fundamental religions.

The longer we live and observe objectively, the more we can realize the motivation of such teachings and "programming".  It is much easier to control the otherwise strong and independent character in humans if we can shame them into compliance to a social order. So, from a very young age, most of us experience extreme training to "behave and conform" to behaviors acceptable to the "majority".  Peer and social pressure ultimately determines who and what we become in our lives more than real education, experiment or pure "living" on our parts.  In my personal experience it took almost 30 years to deprogram the first 12 years of my existence.  This is not to "blame" or criticize my parents or upbringing, because all of us are "victims" of the times and pressures we grew up in, but somehow I found myself always trying to break out of this "box" of conformity. While it was an adventurous journey of the mind and personal experience, it was often painful and isolating to go through.  Many people who have known me the longest have the least knowledge about what I have been through and who I have become.  Not to pat myself on the back...but very few people take that "road less traveled".  It is much easier to conform and comply...I KNOW!

It is more important to take this beyond myself and analyze this basis of living objectively. Many of the most successful people I have known have in one way or another lived existentially...that meaning they live or lived passionately and authentically based on their own chosen path of existence.  They don't allow others to quash their dreams or ambitions. They take obstacles in their lives as a challenge, not defeat. They live based on their own reason and self approval versus the approval or acceptance of others. They don't escape into "self medicating" or self pity when things go wrong. They find a way to overcome the obstacles in their way...even if that obstacle is something within themselves. Most of these people are LEADERS.  They are not leaders living for power or accolades of others...but they provide direction and opportunity for many people beyond themselves.  To do this they are not necessarily altruistic OR selfish. It is simply a part of their being to first take responsibility for themselves and THEN to share what they have learned to help others.

Perhaps there is positive selfishness at play in helping others. It makes much more sense to teach someone to fish versus always supplying them with fish YOU have produced.  By helping others, we help protect ourselves also.  To some extent, the "golden rule" as proposed by many religions still applies here.  "Treat others as you would be treated". For me this is a form of my bottom line belief in "cause and effect".  If you want to be treated kindly, be kind to others.  So, you could say that being kind is "selfish"...because you want to be treated kindly. If you want to be loved, you need to love.  Again, cause and effect. You reap what you sow. What goes around comes around.  These things should be "self evident", but from watching most of our behaviors...I don't think most of us "get this" yet. Build weapons...you will use them.  Build plowshares...you will use them.

The most positive aspect of this belief system is that we can achieve ANY rational goal or objective if we believe in "cause and effect".  It is very difficult to control others...no matter how close to us they are.  Yet, we all have the capacity to control ourselves...what/how we think, what we do, who we spend our time with.Who we become over time is directly affected by these three things...how we think, do and who we spend our time with. The older I get, the more picky I become on all these fronts. If someone or circumstance is getting in the way of my objective(s), I need to quickly eliminate that person or barrier by action. Just wishing or hoping does no good.  And it can be painful and disappointing when people or circumstances don't work out...yet I have normally found that pain and disappointment usually leads to another, even better, situation or opportunity.  If we hold on to things or disappointments of the past, we can never move on to the possibilities and opportunities ahead of us.  If our heads are stuck in the sands of our emotional reactions to our past disappointments, we will never see nor be able to grasp the opportunities ahead of us.

For me, existentialism is about living in the present and future...while taking positive notes about the past and cataloging them away from affecting our current emotional state of being.  It is a difficult task because we humans are very emotional, feeling creatures. Feeling pain is a good thing. Nature has given us these mechanisms for our own good...to teach us to keep our hands out of the fire...or keep certain types of people out of our lives. Insanity is repeating the same actions over and over while expecting different results. The choices we make based on what we existentially know and experience makes all the difference on whether we succeed or fail in our short lives. There are many paths in this life to choose from. Some will be better than others.  It is for each of us to make the best choices and live each day with passion and authenticity.  If you are not doing so, it usually means you have let others or circumstances quash your vision or capacity of self. Only YOU can correct that.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Conditional Democracy

We live in an era of public outcries against the majority rule of the people. We have the recent overthrow of the Egyptian President less than a year after his election by the majority of voters in that country...albeit a slim majority. We have a lot of negative pressure on the USA President in his first year of office after re-election. He can't seem to please anyone with his lack of consistency and leadership on the major issues of the day...from Syria to Egypt to domestic taxation and healthcare.

The globe is increasingly caught up in the turmoil of national versus individual sovereignty. Strong and free individuals want small government that works for THEM.  Unfortunately, the weaker masses fall prey to big government programs and promises where they are lead to believe their "nation" will take care of them if they work for/support the national government.  At the same time the world has few examples of objective governments who truly serve all the people. It doesn't take much education to realize that in the last 60 years...basically one lifetime, mine...governments worldwide consume more and more of their constituents GDP than ever before in the history of Western Civilization.

In order to stave off the truth and reality of big government mismanagement of the wealth they do not produce...governments like the USA develop various organizations and middle layers full of additional false hopes and promises that grow for decades until the ugly reality of their ineffectiveness hits the world (and markets) like a hardball to the groin. It is easy to see this in organizations like the "(non) United Nations", the SEC, the Federal Reserve...and many others who manipulate and cover-up the realities of our global problems. Using political, monetary and military force, most big governments of today are about controlling and consolidating power over its constituents/citizens. When you start connecting the dots of the money flow between and inside these "governmental agencies", you start smelling the stench of decades of governmental corruption, filth and the buried corpses of truth and righteousness. The costs of our "false democracy" are directly related to both the USA national debt and the average personal indebtedness of every American. We have built a democracy based on consumerism and false images.  We allow the major media companies to fill our minds with mundane or hyped jingoisms about what to think or believe instead of providing us true analysis and in-depth coverage of the real issues. Most of the people we listen to in our media are lying as fast as their lips can flap in the breeze. Some of these people, national and media leaders alike, are so delusional that they now sincerely believe their own false hype.

Of course, "we the people" are the ones primarily to blame. Those of us who live in "free" countries have continued voting in the people who sustain and continue the deceit. Most Americans now have no clue what their national constitution or "Declaration of Independence" says or means. We want the false medicine our government sends our way.  We want free money without earning it.  We want no risk but all the reward.  We don't want to face our own failures or irresponsible behaviors.  We believe our governments owe us a bailout...just like they gave their big money buddies on Wall Street and the failing industrial complexes. We believe the government should take care of us when we are old and decrepit. We have lost our soul and core values of taking care of our own within our families and communities and replaced it with "institutional-ism".  We have voted in support of the upside-down pyramid that will eventually crush our lives with the weight of the global turmoil and violence this false thinking has caused.

I'm sorry, this blog has turned very negative and painful...but thus is the status of our nation and world we live in. We have had so many decades of bad, misdirected leadership that I question there is any leader or group of leaders who can pull us back from the cliffs of self destruction. Who can bring reason and lead us to real CHANGE?  We don't need change of "beliefs"...we need change in ACTIONS.  The forces that be are pushing the masses with the momentum of contemporary thought and tradition that hasn't worked for decades and isn't about to start working now.  Our supposed constitutional rights are being stripped daily by courts and congresses who have obviously drank the big government "Koolaid" of absolute power and corruption. Who can stand up against this tide of majority thinking?

Unfortunately, I believe we are approaching the time when the only way to be truly free will be having the wherewithal to escape the countries and homelands we have loved that have been taken over by these evil systems of government. Just as has happened historically in places like Cuba, Russia, India, much of Arabia and more recently in Venezuela and Syria...many of the rich and educated tend to escape first before the doors of opportunity or freedom are closed, locking them in forever.  Unfortunately, it appears to me that America is on the same path as these other countries though on a bigger scale, and a majority of Americans are just too ingrown and placated to see it coming.

America's day of reckoning is coming...perhaps sooner than anyone realizes. The prisons are already being built. The domestic armaments are already being put in place.  The laws forbidding you to expatriate your money outside of the USA are already being put in place.  You will soon be a prisoner in your own country. When the dollar falls, you will not be able to afford to live elsewhere anyways...and you never have been very interested in what is going on outside your country and culture...so you just don't care. And maybe you will like your new program of "socialistic democracy". If the bubble of your existence allows you to eat and watch all the television, sports and "reality shows" you can during your waking hours without having to work or invest or worry about the future...hey, most of you will be very happy with this new life and form of democracy. As long as you don't rock the boat, you will be permitted to vote.  Of course you may not have too many options as far as candidates or parties are concerned...but no big deal.  You never liked the stress of trying to figure all that out anyways.

Democracy with conditions...its all coming your way.  Don't worry, be happy.