The seasons are the links in the chain of being. The chain loops for eternity, and we rendezvous with life and death completely alone. The seasons are change, the same change responsible for the burial of our youth and the breathy whisper between the dying autumn leaves. Can you hear it? The voice whispers, “Drift along the plains and the rolling hills but for your final ride, you ride alone.” As the sun sets in the West, we’re reminded of our own mortality. What did we learn? What did we accomplish? How many times do we have to camp at the very same spot and not figure this out? Our journey doesn’t begin with the old Western saloons. The journey doesn’t begin with the gun battles nor with the nameless towns populated with forgetful faces. The journey starts somewhere in the wilderness, somewhere unknown between these towns. It starts when we ride alone in silence. When we camp and sit before the restless flames, worn out from years of traveling, zigzagging from place to place, can we gaze up at the moon and finally understand? The palpitating bustle that gave life to our cities raised our standard of living but in the end, it’s each of us cold and alone, wondering when the seasons extinguish our campfire one last time.
Biases are the debris in reality’s whirlwind. What we feel is true scatters about helpless in the air. It’s not real. It never was real. The real world never conformed to our feelings. We often feel absolutely certain that we are right. We feel justified. We faithfully commit to our own conclusions but then again, child rapists and serial killers also hold steadfast to their beliefs. Everyone usually justifies their actions. Any irrational person could twist the truth and warp the facts to suit a personal agenda. We could begin with a flimsy premise like, "Donald Trump is a sexist bigot," or "Ayn Rand was an evil fascist," and perceive reality with a lens that supports those assertions. When asked for objective evidence and solid reasoning to support our self-proclaimed facts, what do we really rely on? We offer more emotionally charged accusations. We may even scorn those who remain unconvinced of our anger induced biases. The fact remains that very few people are able to make bold or provocative claims and rationally defend them. We’re convinced that we behave and think rationally. We’re convinced that we can detect the obvious. We are wrong. We believe to be aware of the inner workings of our own minds and yet, we don’t see what is directly in front of us.
In an emergency, reason can’t save us. It fails us. Reason becomes useless when there’s a demand for an immediate response. It can waste the precious seconds that determine our fate, and it just might become the catalyst to our own destruction. Sometimes it’s in our best interest to become unreasonable. Sometimes brute force delivers the righteous. Certain conditions call for different courses of action, and the times of crisis require swift, deliberate action. Law enforcement knows this principle well. Our police force lacks sufficient time to weigh the options. They can’t calculate alternative courses of action, because to hesitate means to gamble. They would be gambling with their lives. They would be gambling with the lives of all within their vicinity. They can’t offer therapy or lend a sympathetic ear to a suspicious citizen who disobeys orders. Their commands are intended to diffuse a hostile situation, not to stroke the face of a miscreant. The state itself confronts similar situations. If the state forcefully suspends all activity in our cities, it does so out of an urgent need. After declaration of Marshal law, the state should not convince the public to stay in their homes but force them into their homes. There is no time for reason, no time for debate. Any stragglers will not only obstruct the nation in securing her cities but put more lives in danger. This is why war itself will never be obsolete. As a criminal threatens deadly force, will we engage in war or will we be foolish and attempt to reason with the irrational criminal?
We can’t ignore our incompetency any longer. We can’t compete with our own technology. The machine simply possesses more skill. With its databases, it dwarfs the body of knowledge contained within our heads. It can produce more in a year than the individual human could in an entire lifetime. The effect of this is that society has grown immensely complicated. We struggle to package it all, struggle to aggregate all the confusion into an understandable form but in the midst of all this confusion, one feature of modern society is clear. The individual takes the beating. The machine, including the institutions as part of its apparatus, gets the bailouts, and the imperfect, laboring individual gets very little. We might improve ourselves to stay relevant in this economy, but the machine already surpassed us in aptitude. We don’t possess the brain power to process as much data, and we can’t obtain first hand experience in all facets of life. We’re no more omnicompetent and omnipresent than animals.
We really have underestimated animals. We’ve vastly overestimated ourselves. The animal is thought to lack reason and intelligence, but many times it is us who can’t see what is plain and obvious. We can’t eat money. We can’t use objects as surrogate companions. Knowing this, we chase money and collect meaningless objects anyway. When is humanity perfectly reasonable? Do we not find ourselves in a dark place surrounded by liars, con artists, thieves, murderers, and rapists? If we really are superior to animals, we certainly don’t show it. In order to rise above our primal instincts, we must understand our limitations. To progress as a species, we must admit to building unmanageable superstructures. We’ve created parasitical corporations. We’ve created governments and other complex, oppressive bodies that disenfranchise and demoralize the individual. We’re rightfully concerned with these institutions, for they seldom bolster humanity and many times end up corrupting it.
The arc is the missing link that connects us to God. It’s the valuable key. It unites the positive and the negative and bridges the ultimate gap. It enables the opposing forces to coalesce just as the yin and the yang brilliantly illustrates. Isn’t it magnificent that one symbol can tell the whole story? The arc closes the circuit of life. Once we close the circuit, only then will we have our power. Or expressed in a different way, we re-establish our connection to God. We would finally hook ourselves into the real. We would restore our impeccable vision. There’d be no need to concoct scams to make slews of money and no desire to pathologically chase orgasm after orgasm. Though this doesn’t describe us now, does it? It certainly doesn’t describe the place in which we find ourselves. Humanity may not literally eat each other. Although spiritually and emotionally, humans are as cannibalistic as they come. What happened to this arc? What happened to the cornerstone, the missing piece that brings life together, raises it, and sets it back to harmony? Did someone steal it? Did we give it away? Maybe, deep down we know what transpired that day the arc went missing. We’d like to forget, but we were the culprits. We were the guilty who were caught in the act. We scorched paradise. Humanity detonated the arc and gawked at its spectacular explosion. The bright lights fell from the sky, streaked back to Earth as we stood there paralyzed and dumbfounded. The past is not past. We destroyed the star. We severed the umbilical cord and killed Jesus. After all, aren’t we all so strong and independent? We believed we alone could take care of ourselves. We thought we didn’t need a connection to God.
To all who suffer from delusions of grandeur, none of us have the answer. We don’t have a perfect conception of reality. Our capability and breadth of knowledge are far too limited and for this reason, there exist layers of perception. Sometimes there is no right answer. At other times, the answer exists, but we purposely blind ourselves to it. We sabotage our ability to see it. It is, however, within our power to change this. We can chip away at the stereotypes and fixed associations that dominate our minds. We can understand that stereotypes can contain an element of truth, and we can also recognize them as oversimplified representations of reality. We can do all of this. We can do this despite the world heading in the opposite direction. Arrogance is on the rise. Intelligence is in decline. The average human beings are living but in many ways are dead. They behave is if they’re collections of fixed thought patterns, believing their perspectives represent the whole of the law. They cast those who violate their law as villains who deserve to be silenced. They preach tolerance but bully those with whom they disagree. They promote awareness but react aggressively at any form of criticism. Who does this remind us of? Who is the emperor of all hypocrites, the king of all liars? That being is the beast, and this beast aims to corrupt humankind. It wants to pervert sexuality, reason, and good will; it wants to dispatch these perversions as weapons to destroy humanity.
There are invisible rulers who control the destines of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes. Nor, what is still more important, the extent to which our thoughts and habits are modified by authorities. In some departments of our daily life, in which we imagine ourselves free agents, we are ruled by dictators exercising great power.
Edward Bernays, Propaganda
People love their fiction. They’re absorbed in their stories. They emulate the characters they admire and believe it’s all harmless fun. Though that’s not really the case, is it? Is it ever only entertainment? Have we ever wondered why the plots and dialogue are fashioned the way they are? Tough questions like these might just be too much for people. Once lured too deep into the fiction, they lose their bearings. They have trouble finding their way back. That might not even matter as they enjoy deceiving themselves. Like the famous actors we recognize on screen, they have their own starring roles, and they love it. They love playing characters. Although, the characters don’t really exist, do they? They exist as two dimensional images captured on a roll of film. They’re encoded into ones and zeros on a hard drive. Reality as they know it is one tremendous, elaborate lie. At first glance, the lie might seem comforting, but it really isn’t. It’s definitely more torturous. They forfeit their true identities and once that occurs, there’s a chance they might be lost forever. Unfortunately, people have been functioning in the pseudo-reality for some time. Playing the character has become second nature. This transition makes them more malleable than they previously were. They presume to know what they like, but the writers told them what to like. They presume to know what to say, but the writers instructed them on what to say. People are characters. They are lifeless, carved wooden figurines; they’re works of imagination found in fables and fairy tales.
Pain is inevitable and so is suffering. Many believe otherwise, but suffering is not optional. Those who disagree inevitability deny the nature of existence and as long as there are hearts and consciences, there will be suffering. We can bury our humanity. We can cremate our care, but what we can’t do is deny our humanity or at least what’s left of it. In this world, can we realistically and consciously choose not to suffer? When bureaucracies bleed dry the heart of humanity, can we really not suffer as a result? I don’t think so. As in the Japanese movie, Ikiru, the cowardly bureaucrats ignore the plight of the people. They take no risks. They sit down, shut up, and obey their orders. This is the pitiful nature of the bureaucrat. They prioritize keeping their jobs, not challenging the status quo over improving their own community. It is a sorrowful situation, but doesn’t this sound familiar? After all, bureaucrats today are so terrified of endangering their means of a regular income that they end up valuing self-interest over compassion. Staying employed is the chief priority. Being a good person is at best secondary. Despite these moral failings, their fear over losing status is actually valid. A civilization centered around money has little to no remorse. Without a respectable livelihood, our society, which is only civil on the surface, swiftly casts you out. You will be stigmatized and quarantined. It will be as if you were infected with a deadly contagion. Is this what it means to be human? We forsake and despise each other for such insignificant conditions of life. This is what happens when we permit suffering to fester and destroy ourselves. We can do better. We can do better by channeling our collective suffering into bettering the world.