Psychology


Government and Politics and Psychology and Social Issues23 Sep 2017 03:27 pm

The constant assault by the corporate media on Donald Trump is both obvious and potentially dangerous in so many ways.The negative focus on Trump partially paralyzes the functioning of our government, diverts attention from other important issues, has us fantasize that he is the root of all our problems, and helps foment a social landscape full of fear, hatred and endless divisiveness.

The public treatment of Donald Trump as means of trying to purge from society all that is bad and evil finds its roots in psychology, comparative religions and social anthropology. The use of an individual to exorcise the demons in a family, community and society has occurred throughout history. In most cases all that is accomplished through these devices is a form of emotional release without any real substantive change occurring.

Here are the definitions of two common strategies used which while serving functional, psychological and emotional purposes due little to engender meaning change or progress:

Identified patient, or “IP”, is a term used in a clinical setting to describe the person in a dysfunctional family who has been unconsciously selected to act out the family’s inner conflicts as a diversion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scapegoat

Trump is being vilified for making vulgar, insensitive and hateful statements regarding women and various racial and ethnic groups. Yet, many of those criticizing him are just as vulgar and insensitive in their vitriolic attacks on Trump and his family. Any of his archaic or potentially insulting remarks regarding women are more than matched by the attacks on his character being hurled by many feminists and liberals labeling him as a misogynist. The slurring and vicious attacks are also lodged towards any man or women who doesn’t engage in name calling or show of hatred at Trump. Any sign of tolerance is viewed as a sign of being a closet misogynist or homophobe.

His fitness of office is questioned because of his impulsive nature and how dangerous it could be regarding international affairs. He is accused of being a racist and an Islamaphobe for his protectionists stances regarding immigration. Yet, if this were truly the issue, and he was not just being used as scapegoat and identified patient, than why weren’t the deportations policies of Bush and Obama equally horrific. While the data can be interpreted in many ways it clearly shows that Trump’s actions pale in comparison to Obama.

https://www.blackagendareport.com/obama_beats_trump_deportations

The concerns regarding his impulsive, belligerent and possibly unstable personality endangering our safety is well worth our attention and concern. Yet, publicly calling a person crazy and unstable does not seem to be a wise thing to do. A mentally unstable person is the last person you would want to publicly and consistently call crazy and threaten with impeachment. This leads one to believe that those in the media and government with the most exposure to Trump do not fully believe the “he’s bat shit crazy” narrative.

Yet, if weren’t the identified patient and scapegoat he probably wouldn’t be singled out for his war like disposition and instead either be grouped with his predecessors or given a free pass like they generally have received. The previous president, and noble peace prize recipient, was the first two term president to spend his entire time in the White House engaged in war. The US was engaged in war with no less than seven nations, and many of his international policies such as the drone program and various sanctions were in violation of international law.

While Secretary of State Hilarly Clinton’s propensity towards military aggression and fomenting war attracted relatively little attention regarding her fitness for office. In a previous post  http://guidoworld.com/blog/the-snubbing-of-barak-obama/    I explored the inappropriateness of her showing such unabated and unrepentant glee at the brutal execution of Gaddafi who while being controversial, had an impressive record of improving the quality of life for many Libyans and African’s in general. Likewise Clinton’s and Obama’s stated desire to create a no fly zone did not alarm the press, despite its enforcement being a de facto act of war against Russia.

Trump’s being viewed and used as the identified patient and scapegoal helps explain many of the conflicts, ironies and discrepancies between how his actions and proposed policies are being reacted to so much more harshly than similar ones of his predecessors.

While Trumps impulsive nature is given as reason for his impeachment, do date, each of Trump’s more aggressive and impulsive acts of war, or threats and ultimatums to nations such as N. Korea or Russia have been met with positive press and praise from members of the Senate and the House. The only path apparently left open to Trump to lessen his being treated as scapegoat and identified patient is to continue our immoral and reckless policy of assassination and overthrow of specific sovereign leaders and governments who we frequently claim, but rarely prove, “kill or gas their own people”. Calls for his impeachment seemingly subside when he supports huge arms deals to other nations such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey who have documented histories of engaging in actual genocidal acts.

We are being conditioned to fear, despise and loathe every single action of Trump and “his supporters” as “deplorable” racists, misogynists, Islamophobes, etc. Anyone not eager to ridicule his every word and gesture becomes a modern version of a “pinko communist” of the McCarthy and Archie Bunker eras.

The spiritual left has now joined the ranks of the fanatical religious right in their righteous assertion that all those not sharing their beliefs as being evil, immoral and a danger to society. All including, if not especially liberals are being conditioned to being close minded, mean and intolerant to any person who is hesitant to hate Trump, the Russians, or leader of any nation which we have/had designs on such Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Iraq and Libya.

It has become the national past time to foment hatred and division. The use of Trump of as scapegoat and identified patient seems to be more of a catalyst for an increase in social tension and chaos than a release. The identified patient and scapegoat provide temporary relief and deflection, but they more often then not do not bring about healthy change.

I, too, find much of Donald Trump’s policies and stances unsavory and reckless. Yet, while his presentation is often childish and rude the substance and content of what he says and the policies he espouses is in line with our nation’s basic policies for decades. He is not a rogue president, just one with poor filters. If all we do is demand that our presidents be more sophisticated in articulating and implementing heinous and destructive policies all we do is insure that our executive branch becomes a breeding ground for sociopaths and smooth speakers who feel that morals and international law don’t apply to this “exceptional and essential” nation.

Identified patients are a product of the dysfunctional families in need of therapy and services. Families which try to pawn off all their problems on the identified patient are only missing an opportunity for healthy growth and change. We are a nation in need of reflecting on how we can become more life affirming and an agent of peace and harmony.

Blaming Trump for all our ills, or preventing him from establishing better relations with nation’s who we currently do not trust and who have lost trust in us is counterproductive. I remember seeing a quote by a Congressman in which he said he could never trust the Russians, and therefore, he would never engage in diplomatic relations with them. Well, the whole purpose of diplomacy is to work with those that you don’t trust.

Without diplomacy there is only domination and annihilation. Peace isn’t dependent on complete agreement, only in learning how to adapt to and accommodate our differences and preferences.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Social Issues09 Sep 2017 04:53 pm

The original seeds of Political Correctness stemmed from a desire to avoid making blanket prejudicial statements, in which people were over identified with an aspect, feature or attitude that they possessed. The goal of this sensitivity was to highlight how complex and unique individuals are and to avoid pigeonholing people into powerful and often negative stereotypes.

Instead of identifying a someone solely as a handicapped person, they became a person with a handicap. Likewise a person could be one who tells lies as opposed to a liar, or a person who struggles with addiction or has stolen things rather than being labeled an addict, thief or criminal. The politically correct appellations were more descriptions than absolute labels. They allowed the person being described to have other attributes, and also allowed for them to make changes and improvements such as rehabilitation or recovery. A person with autism, addictions, or has depression is quite different then labeling someone as autistic, an addict or depressed.

Much was gained in the descriptions for both speaker and the person being spoken about. The speaker was able to identify qualities of a person without sounding or being prejudiced or biased. The descriptions and politically correct language allowed us to appreciate and celebrate differences as well as name and identify undesirable characteristics without being overly harsh or close minded.

The person being spoken about was able to see themselves as more than a label. In this manner their dignity and worth were restored, and in many cases they were able to use the attribute as a way of becoming a part of a community often with a sense of pride. The autism spectrum, addictions and many factions of the mental health community have become opportunities for not only acceptance and understanding from those outside of the community, but often a source of connection with those who share their experience and way of being in the world.

In an effort to reduce and remove all forms of hatred from society a movement inside the desire to be sensitive and politically correct began to try to purge and replace any language which promoted or was saturated with prejudice and intolerance. Ethnic and racial hatred was found to be housed in many cultural and racial slurs. My being Italian I was familiar with the derogatory slang terms such as “dago”, “wop” or the modern day “Guido” which so happens to be my actual last name. While ethnic slurs and slangs were able to be replaced with more formal terms such as Italian, Jew, or Mexican other terms were harder to find non-offensive alternatives.

Yet, soon the desire to avoid stigmatized and hate ridden language became obsessive and extreme. Descriptors were often discarded and replaced with euphemisms or vague if not misleading terminology. The stigma of the “n word”, or “retard” was not and cannot be removed by language alone. The attitude infuses the word with meaning, and while a word may be contaminated over time with how it is used, any new word will suffer the same fate if the underlying hatred is not addressed.

My friends “of color” never had trouble, and usually preferred my use of the term blacks as opposed to African Americans. First of all the term African American is both inaccurate and a form of prejudice in that I am assuming the black person I am meeting is both of African descent and is American. Yet, what about those who identify more as a member of an island culture or happen to be born in another of the 100 or so lands in which blacks happen to be born. Calling someone “a person of color” is also extremely vague and racially biased because we are generally referring to specific shades of color. We are  indirectly insulting many people by insinuating that they aren’t people of color. Everyone has color whether that be beige, white, pink, red, yellow, brown or black, and to say someone is a person of color is either a euphemism or code word for a particular color or shade range.

I think it is absurd to think that using the term black is inherently racist, or derogatory. It is descriptive and far more accurate. Likewise I always found it strange to replace the term oriental with Asian. The Orient and Asia are both geographical terms. Yet, when one speaks of someone looking Asian they are usually referring to someone whose heritage is found in the Orient. If I told a sketch artist that the person I saw was Asian, they would most certainly draw someone with characteristics from the Orient, and not a person from India or Pakistan which are from Asia and number in the billions of people.

Likewise I do not believe that referring to the mentally challenged as “special” removes the stigma, those who are mean and insulting to the mentally handicapped do not change their prejudice because he word has changed. While calling someone “retarded” is a slur like calling me a “wop”, saying that someone has mental retardation is more descriptively accurate than designating them as “special”.

Saying someone suffers from depression is a description of a way a certain population reacts to and responds to their experiences. Likewise mental retardation stripped of its stigma just refers to the fact that the neurology of a person with this condition processes information at a slower rate and that their cognitive abilities fall below the average. I have been a tutor of a number of people with neurological and processing conditions including Autism Spectrum and Downs Syndrome, and have not felt that any limitations they had make them inferior to those who are “higher functioning”. I have no need to use euphemisms or to be less accurately descriptive because I have found their neurological tendencies and skills have little and in most cased no bearing on their ability to find joy and be good people.

Accurate descriptions of people assist us in appreciating, celebrating, understanding and feeling compassion for the experiences and hurdles of others. While the seeds of Political Correctness started with this noble goal it has in many realms become a purveyor of fantasy, misinformation and even its own form of stigma and prejudice.

Many of the those who used political correctness as a tool to reduce prejudice and increase the level of human understanding and tolerance have become some of the most biased and prejudiced individuals in our culture. The heritage of political correctness was to defend those who were being attacked for being different or the minority. They advocated for the underdog or those ignored or hunted down by the power structures which favor certain groups. They supported those that were attacked, devalued, marginalized, stigmatized and predatorized by others simply due to their race, cultural heritage, disability, gender, religious affiliation or ideology.

In Identity politics we now are insulting and condemning people for what they say, believe or in a growing number of cases what they are perceived to think. Instead of celebrating diversity of opinion we are demanding every one to have the same value system, express themselves with the same terminology, and see the world through the same eyes

Instead of saying someone has made a remark which could be considered racist, or sexist or insensitive to a particular group many of the previously politically correct crowd are labeling people as sexists, racists and bigots. Righteously and aggressively hating the haters has become vogue. People are pigeonholed, judged harshly, harassed and even physically attacked for expressing an opinion which is thought to be biased or holding to an antiquated view of a particular minority group. If a man makes a remark which could be construed as insulting or demeaning to a female he is a sexist, not a person who made a remark which could be perceived as insensitive or insulting.

If a person expresses a desire that their child marry a person of their race, ethnic group or religious affiliation they are often irreversibly labeled a racist or a hater of other groups. The consideration of such viewpoints being a love and pride in one’s heritage is not possible, not even that they are a segregationist, but only that they are racists and haters.

People are being denied preferences, a desire to maintain cultural heritage, free speech and even the right to harbor negative feelings towards any identified group. Those who hate the haters often claim the ability to read minds when those who make both pro and anti statements towards a group state with certainty that the positive statements are lies and the negative sentiments are truth and in fact are a thin veil for their underlying hatred.

In identify politics it is fine to call someone a racist, sexist, Islamaphobe, Nazi, or any other slur if they do not adhere to a very specific political and ideological agenda. Anyone who voted against Obama is a racist, and anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary is a sexist. The Identity Politics narrative often labels any protectionist action or one aimed at preventing Islamic Extremism as racists and Islamaphobic.

Even when laws are passed out of fear and paranoia it might be a bit of stretch to say all proponents are haters and white supremacists. Yet much of the identity politics crowd is engaged in a level of McCarthyism regarding the Russians which matches if not supersedes that of supporters of building a wall and not allowing Arabs into the US.

It is perplexing and disappointing how much of the Identity Politics and Feminists crowd are engaging in prejudice, hatred and intolerance. Tolerance, acceptance and understanding are useless if they are only reserved for certain groups and entities. The original point of political correctness was to promote tolerance and acceptance as a universal which would in and of itself create social harmony.

On a daily basis I hear friends who are consumers of the Identity Politics and popular Feminist narratives call people who are conservative or traditionalists as being “stupid”, “backward” and “ignorant”. All of these terms are expressed with a palpable level of disgust and superiority. This attitude is at the core of exceptionalism. It expresses the idea that people of higher intelligence are inherently better than those who are not, the irony that many of these same people have been vociferous advocates for the mentally handicapped is totally missed. I want to state once again, that I do not feel better than or inferior to others due to their IQ or any other recognized measure of human intelligence.

The self-proclaimed exceptionalism lying at the core of identity politics is the total opposite of tolerance, understanding and the celebration of diversity. Exceptionalism is a form of cultural or ideological eugenics. If one is exceptional all others are inferior, which is actually the very definition and essence of prejudice and bigotry. It shouldn’t be a matter who hates first, or feels the most justified in their anger and righteousness, but rather who has the courage to be devoted to peace, love and understanding. Good people have good intentions, and engage in life affirming behavior, but that doesn’t make them inherently better than their contemporaries.

United in Compassion,

Jim Guido

Music and Philosophy and Poetry and Politics and Psychology and Social Issues13 Aug 2017 07:38 pm

For those of you new to the site, or who haven’t visited in awhile I invite you to fully explore GuidoWorld and all it has to offer. If you click on to the Words tab at the far top right you will currently see four of my novels along with two of my nonfiction books.

I have recently updated the page so that the entire books are posted rather than just some selected chapters. Within the next year I plan on posting two or three more of my books, so by the time you finish reading the current menu of my works more should be available.

A couple tabs to the left of Words you will find the Music tab. There you will find the growing library of my albums. The music contained on the albums spans from the early 80’s all the way up to the present. Similar to the book menu, the posted music library will continue to grow and be of a higher quality throughout the year. Of the 19 albums currently listed 14 of them have been remixed and remastered and will show themselves as part of Bandcamp.

The remaining five plus an additional five more albums are in the process of being updated and remixed. My son, who is a far better recording technician than myself will be in charge of the new revised mixes. Since I have a huge backlog of songs and I still write and record between 8 and 12 songs a year, new albums will be appearing in the foreseeable future.

The podcast button is new and is rather sparse at this point. Within the next year or so I plan on beginning to record a number of podcasts that discuss my books and music, as well as all discuss and expand upon all of the social, political and psychological topics that you have covered in my posts over the last decade.

Those who have been faithful readers to this site know how much I am enthralled with life, and how much I relish the opportunity to share and to grow. Thanks for taking the time to read, listen to and ponder all that I have produced and posted over the years.
Enjoy!

United in Compassion,

Jim

Ecology and Government and Philosophy and Politics and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues13 Jun 2017 06:43 pm

The KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) is said to have been originated in the early sixties by the navy and referred to the importance and benefit of simple design. Albert Einstein was a big proponent of the idea and felt that any good theory must be simple and elegant, and that complicated formulas and solutions are both inefficient and unusable.

Here is a Wikipedia’s article on the KISS principle:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle

I have stated on numerous occasions that people generally make life far more complicated that it has to be. Experiences such as joy, happiness, peace and harmony are not that complicated, let alone idealistic. The majority of people conduct the vast majority of their social interactions in a peaceful and harmonious manner. In a world of indoor plumbing, potable water, electricity, etc. we are now in a position for most societies, if not the entire globe, to live increasingly comfortable and rewarding lives.

Yet, the greedy and power hungry minority spawn fear and hatred as a means of making the good life the possession of the few by complicating life and convincing the masses that life’s simple pleasures are idealistic and unattainable. Destroying the elegance and simplicity of cooperation by presenting the easiest conflict as unresolvable and flatly stating that all realistic options and acts of diplomacy have been exhausted when nary a one has been explored.

When breaking down a rewarding life into its simplest terms I come up with a few observations. First I yearn for intimacy. I don’t just mean having an intimate relationship with other people, but an intimate relationship with myself, nature and life in general. Intimacy is just the natural process of becoming closer and more familiar with something. One can be intimate with almost any object, idea or activity. I explored this in depth in my book Exploring Intimacy which can be read here:

http://guidoworld.com/words/exploring-intimacy

The second major category is to better enjoy the integration of all aspects of our/my experience. This would mean that I enjoy the sensorial, emotional and mental aspects of my life. In other words I learn how to maximize my experience by enjoying and savoring my being a thinking and feeling sentient person which exists in a body and lives in a world. The third element is my feeling connected to the world and act in a way which improves and maintains not only my quality of life but that of all of organic life.

Applying these ideas to our shared social world we come up with the following. We can keep things simple if we focus on the following. First we should not only tolerate but encourage all to find and cultivate intimacy in their lives. Second we can protect the quality of people’s lives and experiences by not destroying the environment and endangering people’s health through dumping toxins and poisons into our air, land and water.

The third guiding principle is that the major goal and concern of all personal and social behavior is to be life affirming. Being life affirming not only has us move away from poisoning our land, water and air, but also dictates that we make peace and harmony the goal and focus of all our decisions. In a life affirming society any action which harms others or the environment would be attended to and not be allowed to become entrenched or a habit of government. No action which caused harm or impaired the quality of life would be considered an act of progress or even tolerated. Only actions which enhanced or maintained the quality of life of the majority would be considered progress.

Einstein pointed out that one needs to be as simple as one can be without becoming too simple. While intimacy and integrated experience are relatively straight forward, the concept of being life affirming will always be a work in progress. In many situations it will be easy to determine what is life affirming, yet in many areas assessing what is the most life affirming option both near and far term will be challenging.

The fact that social utopias do not exist should not be alarming nor discouraging. The fact that life is an endless process of improvement and development only adds to its preciousness, and is inherent in the concept of intimacy. Yet, do let the greedy and power hungry convince you that life’s lack of perfection means everything is too complicated and joy, peace and harmony are idealistic fictions. Joy, intimacy and harmony are real experiences and not ideals. Real experience is never perfect, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be simple or elegant.

One does not have to deny the reality of pain and suffering to appreciate the reality of joy, love, intimacy and harmony.

Jim Guido

 

 

 

Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues12 Mar 2017 01:14 pm

Skin-on-skin contact is not only essential in infancy, but plays a privileged role in our physical and mental health throughout our lives. A lack of physical contact can lead to increased depression and anxiety as well as being linked to heart disease and many forms of cancer.

While nothing duplicates the biochemical benefits of a rewarding sex life, affection, exercise and social bonding all have measurable physical and psychological rewards. Moments of physical and social comfort and connection reduce one’s stress level and improve one’s view of self and the world at large.

A good deal of live in person human contact and communication has been replaced by indirect and distant forms of interaction via technologies such as the computer and phone. While the amount and frequency of human contact has stagnated or declined the amount and frequency of affection people receive from their pets has increased sharply. It would be safe to say that a great percentage of people now give and receive more affection from cats, dogs and other animals than they do from other humans.

While incredibly rewarding, human affection and interaction, is often very complicated and conflictual. Affection with animals comes easy and has very little strings attached to it. Animals rarely rebuff our attention and affections and are generally available to us at our beckoning.


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Philosophy and Psychology10 Oct 2016 04:05 pm

Let’s begin by breaking down an experience into its simplest parts. All events are not experiences. The difference between an event and an experience is that an event needs to be accompanied by at least a modicum of awareness for it to become an experience. Therefore:

Event + Awareness = Experience

There are many levels and means of being aware. As humans we are not only aware of our environment but also possess a self-awareness. While there is emerging data that supports the fact we are not the only sentient beings with a nascent sense of themselves, it is generally accepted that our level of self-awareness is unparalleled in the animal kingdom. Our complex and highly articulate use of language is the medium through which our heightened form of self-consciousness seems to most reside. Therefore, we could use this observation to modify our above formula of experience to:

Sensorial perception + Self-consciousness = Experience or

Sentience + Thought = Experience

Yet, even this expanded formula for experience leaves out an important element of human experience. While the definition of sentience involves both feeling and perceiving, the feeling aspect of sentience is usually more literal in that we sensorial feel things rather than emotionally feel things. Yet, for humans the emotional aspect of feeling is an important if not essential element of our experience. So, our expanded formula for human experience should be:

Sentience + Thought + Emotion/Feeling = Experience

You may wonder why I included feelings along with emotions, that is because I make a distinction between feelings and emotions. Feelings are often more a part of our sentient self falling below the level of awareness of the self-conscious ego. Feeling can be viewed as a general attitudinal background for our experiences. We may feel safe, calm, relaxed, agitated, irritated, or anxious without necessarily being consciously aware of this underlying state.

Emotions, on the other hand, are generally more conscious reactions to these underlying feelings or a reactive response to others or events in our environment. As an example someone who is feeling uncomfortable may be more susceptible to becoming angry or harsh with others. While feelings are what we viscerally feel, emotions are literally what we emote.
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Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships17 Feb 2016 09:06 am

The following is the introduction from my book Exploring Intimacy which can be accessed by clicking on the words tab. The entire book is available for your perusal and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

INTRODUCTION

Throughout most of my life there has been an attitudinal thread running through me. All my thoughts, actions and feelings have come together to form one unified view of life. This unified view forms the basis of my theory of intimacy.

This theory tends to all the major questions of life including, what is love, where do I find meaning, how can I be happy, and how can I derive the most from my moment to moment experiences?

The basic views outlined in this book were initially formed as early as high school but began to take shape and become organized in my early twenties. Since then I have been pleasantly surprised to see how my earliest intuitions have been validated through all I have read and experienced throughout the years.

While other people I knew created their ideal world around religious beliefs, love, faith, or psychological/philosophical schools of thought, I instead found myself drawn to a very practical way of looking at and appreciating my experiences. This attitude soon found a name, that being intimacy.
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Philosophy and Psychology20 May 2015 10:55 am

The better people can predict and understand their surroundings the more likely their continued survival. This fact underlies our age old desire to answer the question why and propels our interest in science, religion and philosophy or any other inquiry increasing our knowledge of ourselves, others and nature. Our desire to survive and have a good life underpins our inclination to make sense of things and create societies providing justice, freedom and protection.

Humankind has spent a great deal of time and energy searching for ways to mentally and emotionally cope with and understand death, suffering, disease and physical harm. People have theorized many reasons why people die or endure great suffering and misfortune. In myth, religion and mysticism we find many roots of misfortune. Sometimes it was a form of punishment due to the breaking of a law, taboo or divine interdiction. At other times misfortune came to one due to a curse placed on oneself or one’s ancestors, or as a result of magic. At other times it was attributed to a stain or contamination that has occurred, often without one’s direct knowledge. Vestiges of such ancient explanations remain in modern times in theories and beliefs regarding of sin, karma and the existence of evil.

While death is hard to accept under any circumstance it was and is particularly difficult to deal with when it pertains to the young and innocent. Humankind has always struggled to explain and justify the death or disability of a young child or infant. Death may be inevitable, but suffering and misfortune do not happen to everyone, and man has often had a hard time justifying why bad things happen to good people.

The great majority of misfortune and suffering was observed to be beyond the powers of human control and intervention. Therefore, it was common to hand over the reasons and causes of death and calamity to beings with powers which greatly superseded the capabilities of humans.

People all over the globe formed belief systems on how best to protect oneself from the ill will of higher powers. Aligning oneself with, winning the favor of, appeasing, placating, or even sometimes fooling the powers or gods became the general means of insuring oneself a favorable fate and averting suffering and misfortune. Some cultures focused on making sacrifices to the gods, others on learning the ways of power and controlling them through magic and sorcery, others focused on the benefits of revering and begging the mercy of the powerful spirits.

While humankind as a whole was not able to completely overcome the capriciousness of ill fortune, individuals and sometimes entire tribes could engage in activities and rituals which brought them good fortune or averted suffering or “unnecessary” harm. Religion and spirituality are full of legends, stories, allegories and myths which describe events and strategies of heroes, gods and common people who have found the means of averting danger and soliciting good fortune.

The gods of greek and roman mythology shared many of the same traits and emotions as the humans that worshipped them. The apparent capriciousness and irrationality of fate was made understandable when controlled by beings that lusted, had pride, were vain and had a need to be revered and adored. The human quality of the gods, while making them less reliable and consistent, made it possible for the faithful to find ways to win their favor or have them intervene on their behalf. So, the myths of roman and greek gods both explained why fate was often so cruel and filled with suffering, and at the same time offered a means by which people could improve their lot in life through worship, heroes, and rites and rituals.

In monotheistic religions or those that focused on a sole creator the supreme power seldom retained any weaknesses, fallibilities or human personality traits. The creator God was all powerful, perfect and good. Many of the creation gods were also promised eternal life and salvation for all of the faithful that lived a good life. In this way the injustices of fate were often made tolerable by the fact that eternal life awaited those who remained devoted and faithful to God and his wishes. While prayer could occasionally result in divine intervention, even ill fortune and injustice suffered in this life would be rectified in the here after.

While an all good and perfect God may be both worthy of worship and the title of divinity, there are numerous drawbacks for the faithful. If God is perfect and all good, than anything wrong in the world in due to our fallible and sinful nature. A perfect god is incapable of capricious, petty or malicious behavior. Any perception on our part of injustice is either born of our ignorance or as just recompense for some offense we have committed.

If god is perfect, then so is his creation, and since we are the only creature bestowed with a free will, than all sin and fault is ours and ours alone. When God and his creation are perfect and good then the irony of having a free will is that the only way we can express our individuality is through doing something un-godlike and imperfect (sinful). If we put everything that we did, think and feel that differed from a perfect god into a bag, its contents would only consist of error, sin, stupidity, vanity and all other forms of imperfection and non-goodness. So, while we are told that we are made in God’s image, our entire individuality is expressed in the negative, in sin and in evil.

Belief systems involving a perfect God usually include a story of the fall of man in which evil entered the world and the idyllic relationship between God and man was severed. Often this severed relationship is when evil entered the world, and permanently stained all generations of man with this original sin.

I’m not saying that the above is explicitly stated by all religions and belief systems involving a perfect God. Yet, the conclusions reached are the logical ramifications and implications inherent in a perfect God of which I am not the first to recognize or state. In fact, the belief that man’s nature is basically sinful and base has often been expressed by prophets, sages, saints and holy men throughout the world as reason and need for us to obey and praise God as well explaining why we should never question him/her.

When accepting the existence if a perfect god there are only two answers to the question, “why do babies die?” One answer is that it is a mystery that far surpasses our feeble and imperfect understanding. The second answer is that it is our fault that babies die due to our natures and that all suffering and evil entered into the world through our thoughts, actions and feelings.

Our belief in a perfect god comes with a price to our own sense of worth and value. A child who is told by their parent that they are sinful and evil and that they have nothing to offer but obedience seldom ends up being a healthy, loving and productive adult. So how does our sinful view of ourselves induced by our revering a perfect god impact the way we live and feel about ourselves and our ability to solve social problems and live in harmony with others?

If we have a free will it should be viewed and exercised in a way in which we can be happy with ourselves and harmonious with our contemporaries and with nature. Our choice shouldn’t be between arrogant pride and self-degradation, or between conceit and subservience. Admitting that we are limited and fallible does not mean that we are incompetent or toxic, but only that we are vulnerable and are capable of making things worse as well as making things better.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Social Issues15 May 2015 06:35 pm

When putting together a list of the greatest inventions of humankind, the wheel is always near the top. The wheel is considered to be one the most versatile and important tools used in a host of settings. Along with the lever, the wheel is best known for its ability to assist us in getting work done. A fraction of the amount of work and effort is involved by wheeling things around as opposed to lifting and carrying. Almost every form of human transport whether it be used for work, commerce or battle involves machines utilizing the wheel. The wheel has deserved the title of being the most essential and basic tool in human labor and in our ability to do work, efficiently, safely and quickly.

While the wheel is the quintessential symbol of work, the ball is the most familiar and ubiquitous tool of play. We humans never tire of kicking, throwing, batting, dribbling, striking, hitting, paddling, spinning and rolling balls. Many games and sports involve contacting the ball directly while others hit the ball with an utensil specifically designed for the game or activity. While balls and spheres can be used for work as well as play, they are generally associated with play.

One could make a case for the ball being just as useful as the wheel, and just as prevalent in the lives of every person. Yet, the fact that the ball is equated with play as in “having a ball” or “take me out to the ball game”, and the wheel with work as in “have your shoulder to the wheel” makes the wheel seem more important. Our society has a tendency to glorify and value work while belittling play as being trite and superficial.

Yet, when one looks at the fight for survival in the animal kingdom play is just as important as work. Each predator and prey spends the bulk of their childhood learning their basic survival skill set through play. Human children too spend the bulk of their developmental years learning the basic skills of being human through play. Play dominates learning, growing and development in humans and animals. Play also is at the center of bonding and relationship building in all societies be they human or animal.

The typical ball is a sphere, a complete three-dimensional globe measuring 360 degrees. If you were to strip away a good portion of a ball leaving a narrow tread you would be left with a ball. In essence a wheel is just a mutilated ball with a relatively narrow tread. While a ball is able to go in any direction with complete ease, the wheel can only go backward and forward and needs specific steering mechanism to alter its course.

A wheel is linear and predictable and, therefore, ideal for work and repetitive tasks. A ball is omnidirectional and spontaneous and perfect for play and inventiveness. Our culture’s bias favoring work while viewing play as trivial or something one outgrows is what prevents the ball from being viewed as an important invention or human accomplishment. I for one think that work is overrated and that play is truly an essential ingredient in the quality of life and human fulfillment.

So stop being a fifth wheel, and start having a ball.

Economics and Government and Psychology and Social Issues and Stock Market28 Feb 2014 01:45 pm

While most of our attention is focused on our “losing jobs” to China, India and many emerging or third world nations, we may be missing the more important ways in which our basic economic structure is changing. In many ways it appears that our Industrial Free Market Economy is being transformed into a economic system based on Financial Instruments.

Over the last number of decades we have been referred to as a consumer based economy in which the health of the economy was dependent on the increased velocity of money being fueled by strong and generally increasing expenditure and consumption. Recessions or down turns in the economic health of the nation was accompanied by drops in consumption and expenditures. The economy “contracted” at these time periods with businesses laying off workers in response to a drop in revenues and profits as consumption stagnated or decreased.

In a society in which its economic system is dependent on the consumption of goods and services there was always a need for people to be employed and for wages to increase to support their being able to continue to consume, invest and make major purchases to stimulate the economy.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution modern societies have found an increasing need for the vast majority of citizens to fulfill three roles, that being consumer, worker/producer and soldier. The woman’s movement almost doubled the pool of possible workers and with two pay checks per household as compared to one, allowed for a sharp increase in both production and consumption.

The rising populations throughout the industrialized societies impelled its economic and political leaders to support their consumer cultures by trying to monopolize the natural resources of the globe. A surplus of oil, foodstuffs, natural gas, minerals, potable water, etc. were all needed materials and essentials to keep the consumer based economies humming and expanding.

Many so called underdeveloped nations were somewhat opposed to their surrendering these resources or not having them be the main benefactors or their economic value. The wealthier industrialized nations felt they were the proper stewards of these precious and valuable commodities and felt other nations should trust in their proper management and global dissemination.

According to the industrial nations those envious of the industrialized nations must be subdued and forcibly assisted in becoming better and more moral nations. In this manner constant protection and advancement depended on forming the most formidable of military forces which then required the role of soldier to become paramount, rivaling both the roles of consumer and produces in their importance for the continued success and functioning of the consumer culture.

The industrialized world was led by “free democratic” societies who felt their way of life threatened by the existence of totalitarian, communist and even egalitarian socialistic societies. Such political and economic diversity was not tolerable for a social economic structure that was dependent on both the increased access to and dominance of food, energy, and industrial materials and technologies by the elite industrial nations. The equating of freedom and free trade made military might and superiority not only palatable but a moral imperative. Freedom and fighting for freedom became synonymous, and the possibility of freedom without war became a somewhat mocked and unrealistic ideal.

Protecting our freedom and way of life, from the morally bankrupt and evil despots led many to “proudly serve” in the military and to support our governments policies and political agendas. These people viewed themselves and their nation as the true bastions of freedom, justice and moral righteousness.
One of the true ironies of our sense of progress and the ideal of an ever expanding worker/producer consumer culture, is the role of technology and its impact on our lives. While it is true that every advance in technology creates jobs, it is also true that most advances in technology replace more jobs and human labor than they create. Machines and inventions have almost always increased production and made businesses less dependent on human labor, or at least reduced the number of man hours necessary to produce the same number of goods.

Increases in production via technological advances has been astounding often in a geometric progression. Likewise, the areas in which technology dramatically increased production is finding itself in not only almost every area of manual labor but also in the service economy.  While the possibility of our being able to create a fully automated society freed of human labor is still up for debate, the fact that each passing day the need for a smaller and smaller percentage and number of people working is a unavoidable reality. The old truism that automation only replaces unskilled labor and jobs unfit for human beings is no longer  accurate in any sense. In fact you could say that the last decade saw more highly skilled jobs, such as surgeons and systems analysts, being replaced by robots and computers that can deal with huge reams of information, microscopic precision and nanotechnology.

Modern technology, robotics and artificial technology are overcoming human error, limitations and vulnerabilities. In many industries we can produce in a matter of hours what we most likely will consume in months or even years. As technology becomes more gifted (as workers and producers) our role as workers and producers becomes more and more unnecessary and obsolete. While this is rather easy to fathom, it is harder for most people to recognize that our role as a consumer is likewise becoming increasingly unnecessary since the last recession.

Despite rather anemic growth in consumption accompanied by rising unemployment and falling wages the stock market and corporate profits are positively booming. Those working in the sweat factories abroad are now making maybe $200 a year rather than the $100 a year they used to make. These people are replacing jobs in the industrial nations that made anywhere from $18,000 to over $40,000 a year. So while the decreased wages are cutting down on overhead, they are also greatly reducing the pool of disposable income available to buy products that should be necessary for corporate profits and stock performance.

How are corporations able to make record profits if the consumers of their products and services are unemployed, making less money, and have less disposable income available? Add to this conundrum the fact that banks have drastically cut back the number of loans given out during this entire meteoric rise in corporate profits and the stock market. Well if people have no money to spend, and they can’t borrow it, where are these record profits and stock prices coming from?

During the time which we now refer to as the Great Recession we were told that our entire financial system was in crisis and the threat of total collapse was imminent. The stock market and financial systems survival was accomplished through a massive injection of money into the marketplace via bailouts, loans and ample money printing.

While the economy continued to struggle and unemployment rose, the financial and stock markets began to show signs of not only stabilizing, but regaining the majority of losses. While the financial press continued to debate the existence of “green shoots” and whether we’d have another recession, the stock market had already doubled since its low and the housing prices were beginning to inch back up. The “jobless recovery” has never really ended while the stock and financial markets are at new all time highs. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, these new highs and corporate profits have been accomplished despite and maybe even because of a struggling economy.

In an industrial consumer economy there is a ceiling of how high profits can go in a high unemployment and low wage environment. Without jobs and expanding disposable income (higher wages) consumer spending is bound to slow down if not contract. Yet, one of the biggest and longest stock market runs in occurring in a stagnant or low growth economy where over 95% of financial gain has been acquired by the top 1% of the populace.
These facts seem to point to the fact that we no longer live in a consumer based economy and instead are experiencing the birth of a new economic model. Let’s look at some of the reasons this new model could be referred to as a financial instrument model.

The financial crisis was averted and the stock market rebounded when the Federal Reserve and other Central Banks began printing money and thereby “injecting liquidity into the marketplace”. The stock market was buoyed by relatively free money being used to buy stocks which had come down sharply in price. Troubled banks, financial institutions, and corporations were bailed out or give huge near zero percent loans to help them pay off their debts and stabilize their businesses.

While these extreme measures were implemented to avoid a catastrophe, the money printing, loans and bailouts have continued. In essence the financial behemoths which were declared too big to fail, have been receiving free freshly created money to use in any manner which they find beneficial.

Since many of these businesses are banks and other financial institutions which make no tangible merchandise or products, they have used this money to purchase financial instruments which are making a solid yield, repurchasing their own stock, and investing it in the financial world of stocks and bonds.

Many of the troubled financial institutions were saddled with bad loans and mortgages that were “under water” and had no hope of ever being paid off. The Federal Reserve took it upon themselves to purchase billions of dollars of this unserviceable through financial instruments such as mortgage backed securities to take these burdensome debts off of the books.

The transfer process was/is quite simple. The Fed would electronically create “print” money and use it to buy bad debt such as unserviceable bank loans. The debt purchased by the Fed would be transferred from the banks to the tax payer by being added to the
national debt.

The businesses and non financial corporations receiving newly created money via low interest loans and bailouts mainly chose to follow the path resulting in maximizing their short term financial gain. So, rather than lower their profit margins by increasing their overhead through building factories, hiring workers, increasing worker pay and expanding their businesses they mainly did the same as the banks and make most of their profits through stock buy backs, investing in financial instruments, and actually reducing overhead by closing factories, cutting wages and benefits, and when possible passing on expenses to the government (taxpayers).

Measures which were taken to avert an economic meltdown have now become business as usual. Money printing and financial instruments have become the way money is made by the top fraction of one percent of the populace. As long as money is being electronically created and injected into the marketplace via the coffers of the 1% there is little need for a consumer to spend his dwindling pennies on products and services. Every dollar printed just adds to the pool of money available and if that money is placed directly into the hands of the wealthiest their relative worth skyrockets as the relative wealth of everyone else plummets.

Is a Post Industrial Financial Instrument Economy sustainable? Are the financial elite going to eventually meet resistance or truly need the consumer, worker and soldier?

With each passing day advances in automation, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, surveillance, and military technology are making the roles of worker, consumer and soldier increasingly unnecessary for the acquisition and securing of wealth. Through debt, taxes, suspension of entitlements, destruction of worker rights and protections, the loss of privacy, and the legal erosion of our basic inalienable rights and freedoms we are losing any recourse we may have had to defend our role and purpose in this new global economy as well as any way to insure our economic self-determination.

The stock market is currently enjoying its longest stretch, some 60 months, without a correction of 20% or more. The longer this goes on the more it supports the possibility that we have truly entered a new economic paradigm in which automation, perceptual management and financial instruments have replaced the old rules and dynamics of an industrial based economy. While I personally think this economic paradigm coup is premature and ill fated, and the coming stock market crash will be historic in nature, I am unwilling to totally discount this new financial instrument based economy succeeding now or in the near future.

In such a world where the common man becomes superfluous at best and a burden at worst we may look back at Brave New World and 1984 as comparatively rosy views of the future.

Jim Guido

 

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