"The great trouble with religion – any religion – is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason – but one cannot have both." ~ Robert Heinlein
Black and White (Are You Experienced?) - Part I
Column by Mark Davis.
Exclusive to STR
If you can just get your mind together
Then come on across to me
We'll hold hands and then we'll watch the sunrise
From the bottom of the sea
But first, are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have
I know, I know you probably scream and cry
That your little world won't let you go
But who in your measly little world
Are you trying to prove that
You're made out of gold and, eh, can't be sold
So, are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have
Let me prove it to you...
~ Jimi Hendrix
Part I – The Big Picture
The recent Treyvon Martin shooting death by the hand of George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida hits close to home. A tragedy that has become national news complete with celebrities, the usual race hucksters, cult followers, armchair jurists and topped off with the Supreme Political Leader fueling the fire. Self-righteous indignation by media predators prowling for tragedies to cover as they prop up demagogues while spreading hate and discontent. Most often it is best to tune it out when this type of disgusting hype is promulgated by said forces; but these are my neighbors hurting and I feel compelled to weigh in. Hopefully discussing the matter publicly can help avoid similar tragedies in the future. Praying that it will work itself out and go away is not an option. The mob mentality must be called out by people who believe in individual responsibility and maintaining social peace.
As an individualist, I don’t really think about the collectivist “race issue” very often. I didn’t consider this event a “race issue” until certain attention-crazed racists made it one. Now that they have, it appears that the chicks of this mob mentality have come home to roost (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). These events got my attention. In order to put them in context, I will first look at the big picture and then address what I consider to be the primary areas of contention in this case that need to be discussed in order to promote social harmony.
Humans are social animals. This trait does not preclude the individual sovereignty of each human being. The collective social structures that individual humans develop are part and parcel of our nature. Dogs have packs, cats have prides, birds have flocks and grazers have herds. Humans have organizations that, like other animals, are based first on family and then on geographical proximity. Friends and neighbors learn how to get along through shared experience driven by the desire for fellowship and mutual benefits beyond the immediate and extended family (tribe or clan). Like most animals, humans also appear to innately develop a hierarchical structure, a top down authoritarian system, to formalize the developing collective consciousness (organizing society). But humans have the capacity to rise above this barbaric base social structure using reason. The tribal/clan connections only become a true civilization when society can exhibit and recognize transcendent morals. Humans can know that there are principles and morals fundamental to human civilization, where packs, prides and herds seem to react only on instinct. Instinct is certainly useful for survival, but we must each listen to reason if we are to transcend the tradition of crude individual submission to institutionalized violence.
Violence is inherent in authoritarian vertical social hierarchies. The “leader of the pack,” determined by a physical struggle or a clever consensus builder, will seek to exploit a position of power over others. Whether a wolf is bigger, tougher and meaner than the other wolves or is able to garner popular support from a majority of the pack, when chosen and instilled as Number One, the violence inherent in this type of system must instill fear as its cohesive agent. Eventually, if a wise and benevolent wolf comes to be leader, the level of overt violence needed to keep the pack together diminishes. If these conditions last long enough, the fear-based social cohesion begins to morph into a perverted hybrid of respect. Some even glorify this perversion by stating, “I’d rather be feared than respected!” as if this passes for some sort of enlightenment. While this may appear to be progress in the evolution of social structures, it does not change the violence inherent in the system. Bloody peasants!
No matter how sophisticated humans become at determining how the leader of the pack is chosen, how the edicts of the leader are formulated, executed and enforced, or even if some sort of power-sharing/restricting mechanism is instilled into the ruling machine, it still has at its core the essence of violence and the fear it spawns. Using a fear of violence to compel obedience is thus transitioned into a fear of upsetting the status quo compelling obedience; a subtle shift in the paradigm of social organization promoted by the elite as glorious enlightenment. The pack has grown prosperous and secured a fine territory with abundant resources (food, water, shelter and mating prospects) under this leadership. This material success further masks the underlying violence reinforcing the belief that reliance on the pack is required for survival. Any threat to the pack, from outside and within, is used to justify the trust in violence and fear as benevolent weapons. This is how barbaric acts such as torture, unprovoked attacks and murdering innocents become sanitized through linguistic sophistry into enhanced interrogation, preemptive strikes and collateral damage. Yet our leaders are stunned when their disciples urinate on the bodies offered in human sacrifice to them. Just a “few bad apples,” don’t you know.
Luckily for humans, we have the natural ability to reason at higher levels than wolves, rabbits, birds and sheep. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when we all have such an emotional vested interest in whatever it is we choose to identify as “us.” The collectives we are connected to through random biological fortune, geographical fate, psychological conditioning and/or shared experiences instill reinforcing mechanisms that thwart our ability to reason clearly. So, first and foremost, if we are to throw off these violent chains forged in our emotions and maintained by the authority of elite-generated training, then we must think for ourselves as individuals. We must each use reason to rise above our internal animal instincts and the external artificial agencies of authority.
At this point most people say, “Sounds great, but how?” The short answer is to stop letting others rule us, to rely on individual conscience and compassion instead of collective authority and rulers. The promises of justice, security and prosperity made by the leaders of the pack are empty at best, but most often outright lies. The elite lever pullers know better than most how what they sell as civilization to those on the lower rungs of the ladder is nothing more than a shadow play reflecting fear and violence as a light dancing methodically on the cave wall while they look down smiling with condescension. Shining a light on the elite along with their ongoing wars, bank fraud, media manipulations and other soulless perversions is certainly useful in exposing the insanity of that paradigm, but looking at how we common folks interact is probably more important. I hope that analyzing how we should treat each other on the street will have a more profound impact in my attempt to crack open a few minds encased in the trappings of collective mysticism. Now, let’s take a look at one of the many ways in which the elite divide and rule us such that we clamor to the authorities to please save us from ourselves: by promoting racial tensions. But first, are you experienced?
Rodney King famously asked 20 years ago, “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” Sure we can, but likely won’t if we cling to the status quo hierarchical institutions. Moral behavior can transcend violent behavior, but some, even many, will continue to cling to primal dispositions by fighting over a pecking order. So “how do we get along” is the proper question, at least for people that do want to get along. Instituting effective human operating systems is accomplished through custom and tradition. This process, as described above, often results in evolving social order over many generations that culminates in some sort of bureaucratic machine that takes on a life of its own. The bloated machine finally breaks down, crushing the society that it was designed to protect and serve. Humans need to see this artificial matrix enforced by authoritarian violence is what has divided individuals in order to control us; it has failed miserably. It’s time to move on by getting back to the basics of how we get along person to person.
Collectivists judge people by the group(s) they may be identified with. This is the root of the problem to be exposed. Individualists judge people based on personal experience from the past. If there is no previous contact between persons, then individual reputations can be gathered from others who do know them. What is being done together is important when determining the status of a relationship. Picking a mate, business partner or poker buddy requires significantly more background information and shared experiences to build the trust needed for such relationships. Getting in line at the supermarket, driving on crowded roadways and walking by each other on a sidewalk only requires a short time period of cooperation, but that type of interaction is often with strangers.
Brief, random relationships in which people may be physically vulnerable to predation require customs to develop in order to minimize fear and violence and allow people to go about their lives peacefully. This is easy to do when people know each other, but random encounters lead to a wide range of reactions due to the equally wide range of perceptions individuals may have. That is, we have diverse experiences to reconcile while also, perhaps, being in an alarmed emotional state. So, how should people deal with strangers in a society dedicated to reason when they meet?
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were recently in town stirring up a mob by claiming that Trayvon Martin “was hunted down and shot like a dog.” I’ve heard the stories from black people feeling that they have been unfairly followed by whites thinking they may be trying to steal something in a store; being pulled over by a cop for “driving while black” and other instances of “racial profiling.” I deeply empathize with blacks who have experienced this kind of ugly collectivism by whites. Where I have a problem with this line of reasoning is when a black person turns around and throws all white people into a homogeneous group. That demagogues can get up in 2012 and shout that it’s always and everywhere 1955 Mississippi and white people are shooting poor young black men for no reason on the streets is absurd. How many stop to think why the media would stoke that fire so long and hard in spite of the obvious advances made by countless individuals of both races who interact, live, marry, work and play together?
How often do you think that white people shoot, lynch or otherwise kill black people, with good reason (self-defense) or not? There are loads of stats and studies on it, check it out. I believe you will discover, assuming that you want to divide people into racial categories and determine statistically which group should fear the other more, white people do. I don’t want to get too far into the specifics of the Martin-Zimmerman tragedy, because I don’t know what really happened. However, I do want to address three areas concerning human interactions that occur with regularity in our society in an effort to contribute to an open dialogue on cultural differences that appear to run along racial divides in this case. These three areas are fundamental to maintaining a peaceful society: observing suspicious behavior, not initiating violence and avoiding the escalation violence.