True or False?

If you are smart, you won’t need to tell me. I’ll notice. 

If you are empathic, you don’t need to tell me. I will feel it.

If you are talented, no need to mention it. I’ll see it. 

If you are cool, don’t bother pointing it out. I’ll detect it. 

If you are creative, you won’t need to show me. I’ll see it. 

If you are moral, no need to say so. I’ll notice. 

If you are inspiring, no need to tell me. I’ll be inspired. 

If you are a leader, you don’t have to tell me. I’ll know it. 

If you are generous, no need to mention it. I’ll experience it. 

If you are enlightened, no need to say it. I won’t miss it. 

If you are influential, you won’t need to announce it. I’ll know it.

If you are kind-hearted, you won’t need to tell me. I’ll know.

If you are gorgeous, you don’t need to tell me. I’ll see it. 

If you are powerful, no need to say so. I’ll feel it. 

If you are entrepreneurial, you won’t need to tell me. I’ll notice.

If you are original, you won’t need to announce it. I’ll recognize it. 

If you are important, no need to tell me. I’ll notice. 

If you are capable, you won’t need to say it. I’ll see it. 


Those who are, are. Those who aren’t, say they are. 

True or False? 

 It is difficult to imagine what my life would have been like without books in it. They, more so than anything or anyone else, have been a running theme throughout my life, probably from the time I was a toddler. My role models, heroines and villains came from books and each real-life equivalent can be likened to at least one of those early models, heroes or villains. Without realizing it, books play a role in every important event and period of my life. They mark time, they mark location, they mark friends, they mark changes. I remember what book I read while laying in a hammock in Jamaica, what book I was listening to while my mother underwent bypass surgery, what book(s) I read after losing someone I loved. How impactful books have been on my life, my thinking, my feeling! Although I provide the direction of my reading choices, the books provide direction in life. Where would I be without the ability to decipher those little squiggles placed side-by-side on a blank page?

 It is difficult to imagine what my life would have been like without books in it. They, more so than anything or anyone else, have been a running theme throughout my life, probably from the time I was a toddler. My role models, heroines and villains came from books and each real-life equivalent can be likened to at least one of those early models, heroes or villains. Without realizing it, books play a role in every important event and period of my life. They mark time, they mark location, they mark friends, they mark changes. I remember what book I read while laying in a hammock in Jamaica, what book I was listening to while my mother underwent bypass surgery, what book(s) I read after losing someone I loved. How impactful books have been on my life, my thinking, my feeling! Although I provide the direction of my reading choices, the books provide direction in life. Where would I be without the ability to decipher those little squiggles placed side-by-side on a blank page?

Lola and Zoie. Two peas in a pod; two cats in my way. 

Lola and Zoie. Two peas in a pod; two cats in my way. 

Sometimes, I wonder if WE are too lazy or too stupid to take actions like these on our own behalf —- but I don’t think it can be blamed just on laziness or stupidity. Our culture gently shapes our mindsets, from the day of our birth, onward, and we are groomed to tolerate and accept maltreatment, by those who harm and exploit us, as a cost of our freedom and our chosen form of government. It is important to note: Icelanders are free and yet don’t have any need to accept the financial violence rendered upon them by their bankers. When we talk about waking up, this is a big part of it. We’ve been given a cultural form of valium, leaving us as impaired as any other addict.
~ The Thoughtful Cynic

Sometimes, I wonder if WE are too lazy or too stupid to take actions like these on our own behalf —- but I don’t think it can be blamed just on laziness or stupidity. Our culture gently shapes our mindsets, from the day of our birth, onward, and we are groomed to tolerate and accept maltreatment, by those who harm and exploit us, as a cost of our freedom and our chosen form of government. It is important to note: Icelanders are free and yet don’t have any need to accept the financial violence rendered upon them by their bankers. When we talk about waking up, this is a big part of it. We’ve been given a cultural form of valium, leaving us as impaired as any other addict.

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

Silence, as a response, is not golden

 I have learned the hard way that being silent implies not only acceptance, but agreement. Now, I think silence, as a passive response, is highly overrated—especially by women. We want to get along. We don’t want to rock the boat. We want to be liked. We don’t want to be seen as the bitchy one. We are taught “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This little aphorism is an impediment to self-possession, to our growth as an individual, and to human progress as a whole. It teaches people to shut-up when they should be speaking up. It is especially useful to shut women up, because women are often more concerned with being nice, kind and compassionate. You don’t often hear little boys repeating this aphorism to one another, yet little girls will do so from the instant they are taught it.

Silence, in fact, is not golden in so many situations. Silence may be a kind response if you don’t like my new hair-do, but our culture has taught us to choose silence instead of confrontation, far too often. For example, if someone makes a hateful remark, whether from sheer ignorance or with calculated deliberation (e.g. a racist, sexist or homophobic comment) and no one speaks up to challenge them, the speaker goes away believing everyone thinks the way they think; everyone feels as they feel. In these cases, silence is not an option unless we, deep down, really do agree with them. We must immediately challenge hate and ignorance quickly and firmly, each time we encounter it. And, we must support each other in this endeavor. This is even more important when there are others around who may be influenced via the sheeple effect (“everyone else thinks so, so it must be right”). Too, people who make erroneous statements about important issues (evolution, stem cells, violence), whether out of ignorance or malice, should fully expect to be met with facts, rather than rumor or propaganda. Silence is useful at strategic moments, and also for those simple kindnesses to one another, but in cases where it could be construed as “acceptance”, there is no place for silence.

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

That Moment of Trauma…

…when I have just finished an incredible book that has whisked me away to places unknown, where people I didn’t know just a few days ago have taken me into their most personal lives and embraced me as their confidante, their friend, their foe—and at that moment, I look around me, having been profoundly changed forever by my experience with this book, and I see everyone else carrying on their lives as normal, as if the world didn’t just shift momentously, never to be the same again. It really can be traumatic.

We all live our lives in our own heads…

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

A Song for Women and Girls

I wish there were a song that could become mainstream, sung by someone wildly hip and popular like Adele, that was about women standing together, and for each other, as sisters around the world. I am serious. Music transcends culture in many cases and we really need young women on board.

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

Pointers to tell if someone is lying

"Trust me…", "Honestly…", "Actually…", "To tell you the truth…", "Truthfully…", "With all sincerity…"

These are all red flags and make me play much closer attention to what the person is saying. More often than not, they preface an exaggeration or lie. 

Pay attention. It pays big dividends.

~The Thoughtful Cynic

Nothing like the First Time

The movies and books I love are great to re-watch. I glean something new if I take the time to do it, but there is also a sad longing I experience when I realize I will never be able to read a book for the first time again, or watch an especially moving film for the first time again. There is a certain beauty in that unfolding process that can never be recaptured. Whenever I read more about our understanding of deliberately erasing memory, I always think this would be a great use of the technique — to allow us to re-experience the deep and meaningful experiences, for the first time, again.

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

I feel discussions about rape-frequency in any given environment tend to include two disparate mindsets. It seems like all other variations can, eventually, be boiled down to these two. Beginning with such different assumptions, or world views, it makes it nearly impossible to stop the culture of rape. You may disagree with me about that statement. 

Writing them out briefly this morning, I am sure I am leaving out many points for each of these, but this is the general idea.

Mindset 1: is working under the assumption that [some? many? all?] men will rape women as a matter of course if left unchecked. It is part of man’s nature to do so. It is natural and we should expect it and prepare ourselves for it. Women should make choices designed to eliminate this possiblility. Women should take responsibility to protect herself from men who cannot be expected to control themselves. 

(translation: women should limit their lives because men are, by nature, natural rapists. Women should accept this and try to not get raped). 

Mindset 2: is working under the assumption men will not rape women in environments in which rape is not tolerated. Men can, and most men do, exercise the appropriate self-control to allow for the safety of both the women and men whom they encounter. 

(translation: men are responsible for their own behaviors. Frequent rape occurs only in environments where it is tolerated and expected. Change the environment, stop the rape. It is like any other crime: It occurs with more frequency where tolerance exists.) 

Those with Mindset 1 focus on the women. For example: 

* Women should not be in the miliatary unless they anticipate being raped.

* Women shouldn’t wear sexy clothing. 

* She teases men. 

* She is promiscuous. 

* She flirted a lot. 

* She kept going back there (to the bar, the club, her friend’s house, the breakroom at work) knowing he wanted her. 

* Men, unlike women, cannot be expected to control themselves — if they could, they would, but they don’t, so that proves it.

Those with Mindset 2 focus on the men and the environment. For example:

* Men are intelligent, capable human beings. 

* Men can control themselves and their urges, whether it is hunger, sex or anger. 

* Zero tolerance for any harmful conduct requires quick, decisive action. 

* Women and men are equals and are treated with equality as a matter of course. 

* It is unacceptable to behave in ways, or to say things, which focus on women as objects used for sex. 

* Making sexual objectification unacceptable creates an environment where women are not objects to be used for sex, but instead, are equal human beings who may/may not choose to have sex with any given man or woman.

What happens in these discussions is that each person continually restates variations of their own Mindset. Each person cannot understand why the other person is so dense and cannot understand their points. Rarely is someone able to move from one mindset to the other without some kind of personal cathartic experience. The change typically is from the majority (Mindset 1) to the minority (Mindset 2). Mindset 1 is the majority because of the type of society and culture in which we are immersed. Many of those who believe themselves to be of Mindset 2 will, under questioning, find they are actually in Mindset 1 and only feel hopeful about Mindset 2. Again, I think the woman in your video may be just trying to drum up publicity for herself to get more talking-head work, but the reality of the different Mindsets exist, regardless.

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

My Secret Pleasure

I believe there is a balancing mechanism operating within everything, from the micro to the macro. It is a bit akin to the karmic principle, but I am not talking about things going up/down or “he’ll get his” revenge kind of thing. I mean that everything is constantly striving toward balance. Exact opposites offset everything. Whenever something is out of balance, there is something equally out of balance to offset it. This applies to physical systems, belief systems, political structures, dark matter…everything. I believe it transcends the physical and natural world and carries over to the realm of thought and beliefs. 

I suspect this is, in part, my own way of trying to make sense and logic of the world. I can see echoes from some areas of deep interest that have come at different times in my life:

* Spending an inordinate amount in nature
* For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction
* The Buddha’s middle path 
* Some of the earlier traditions of seeking a place of neutrality
* Jung’s opposites

I haven’t written all of it out, but have pieces of it here and there. Hopefully I will have a chance to lay it all out before I dismiss it for something else. It is a pleasurable belief in the meantime. :)

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

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I am adding something here. A gentleman in one of  my philosophy groups asked me something concerning this belief and I want to preserve my answer to him, here. Maybe I will be able to gather more of my thoughts in one place if I cut/paste stuff together. 

He asked:

‎”more humans are born than die. Where’s the “exact opposite” to human births that is equal in quantity?”

 

I responded:

I have a feeling you may have already answered your own question but I will toss this in, anyway. Born/Die is an excellent example of the balancing principle. To us, 80 or 100 years seems like a significant time span, but in the whole scheme of things, it doesn’t even make a blip on the line of Time. So, it depends on the time span over which you view humans being born and dying. Born/die doesn’t balance out in an hour, or a day, or a week or a year. Actually, very few things ever actually reach a point of balance. If they do, they are soon out of balance again, but the friction we experience is the striving toward that place of balance. Born/die balancing is occurring right now and has always been occurring; with every breath you take you are one breath closer to balance in the born/die equation. 

The balance to which I refer is a balancing principle wherein all things are striving towards balance constantly. It is the cosmic primoridial drive or some weird phrase like that. I feel it is likely humans will one day become extinct, which would, in the end, balance it all out permanently. And even then, the existence of humans would not be a blip, or would be a very small incidental blip, on the line of Time. Until the extinction point, eventually all humans who are born, will die. If humans were born but never died, the balancing principle would soon be out of whack, which may happen if we become able to develop significant life extension technologies.


I am so much. And so little. 
I am so full. And so empty.
I am driven to act. Yet remain still. 
It is my inner life which gives, and holds, all meaning. 
There is nothing for me out there, unless I have found it
in here. 
I am the key to my life.
~ The Thoughtful Cynic

I am so much. And so little. 

I am so full. And so empty.

I am driven to act. Yet remain still. 

It is my inner life which gives, and holds, all meaning. 

There is nothing for me out there, unless I have found it

in here. 

I am the key to my life.

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

(via megacosms)

In the Name of Freedom

There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by sword, the other is by debt.     — John Adams

I think the steady availability of excessive debt we have in this country gives rise to excessive obligation. Obligation with specific  consequence gives rise to contractual indebtedness. Excessive contractual indebtedness gives rise to a modern form of servitude. 

The opposite of enslavement is freedom. We don’t like to talk about enslavement because we enjoy seeing ourselves as strong, independent, free agents. But, between these two words, there are others nestled in: servitude, contractual indebtedness, obligation. Our egos have a difficult time wrapping themselves around the possibility that we may be only a few steps removed from a form of servitude via contractual indebtedness. Instead, we are fed, and readily grab onto, the word freedom and we shout it out at our parades while we wave our national flags. We toss the word freedom around as if there is still one universal definition and yet, it is rare for any two people to ever give the same personal definition right off the top of their heads. It is defined anew, through soundbytes, fear-mongering and subtle verbal deceptions, in the public sphere each time a new administration or regime takes over. 

The word freedom carries more meaning when an individual is able to look at their own situation and then, to consider what the word “freedom” really means to them, as an individual. Then, to consider whether their own situation fits clearly within that definition. Truly. Many people are surprised that their own situation does not conform to the meaning of true freedom, as they understand it. 

Being enslaved entails dedicating your efforts and energy in the service of, and to the greater benefit of, some entity other than yourself, without another viable choice. It entails not having a viable choice in whether to expend your effort and energy for the greater benefit of some other entity. A nation of people who must continue to increase their already voracious appetite of consumption for consumption’s sake, in order to keep the machine humming along, is not a free nation of people. The steps between freedom and enslavement are much fewer than most of us realize. 

~ The Thoughtful Cynic

"If you are asking the wrong question, the answer doesn’t matter."

— ~ The Thoughtful Cynic

Now that I know this isn’t even my galaxy (we have never been outside our own galaxy to view it properly. This is Andromeda M31), it still doesn’t stop me from spending minutes every day staring at that tiny little dot that looks like nothing more than a speck of dust floating through the air at twilight, floating amid all those other tiny little motes of dust, and realizing, with clarity, just how little the entire human species knows, or matters, in the whole scheme of things. To some people this probably feels like shit, but to me it feels wonderfully freeing and enlightening. It means I should take more chances in my life. It forces me to consider all the other living creatures around me with more of a sense of deep empathy — because we all are in the same boat, really. We are these minute collections of mass, being held together by principles we are only guessing at most of the time, trying to tell ourselves we really matter in the whole big scheme of things we do not understand. We should take the time to have deep and heartfelt laughs at ourselves more often.We are made of the same thing everything else is made of — we are stardust. And, in the end, millions or billions or trillions of years from now, this tiny bit of stardust mass that is right now “me” will be stardust in some other sector of this vast cosmos that is part of some other vast cosmos, maybe experiencing being some incomprehensible collection of mass, wishing in some incomprehensible way that my current mass-collection matters in the whole scheme of things. I love thinking and feeling this. The time that a mass-collection known as a human being exists is, truly, nothing when viewed from the perspective of cosmic time. Live. Love. Laugh. Let the stardust that is me have the fullest and richest experience of life on this microscopic levitating orb I call my home.
~ The Thoughtful Cynic

Now that I know this isn’t even my galaxy (we have never been outside our own galaxy to view it properly. This is Andromeda M31), it still doesn’t stop me from spending minutes every day staring at that tiny little dot that looks like nothing more than a speck of dust floating through the air at twilight, floating amid all those other tiny little motes of dust, and realizing, with clarity, just how little the entire human species knows, or matters, in the whole scheme of things. 

To some people this probably feels like shit, but to me it feels wonderfully freeing and enlightening. It means I should take more chances in my life. It forces me to consider all the other living creatures around me with more of a sense of deep empathy — because we all are in the same boat, really. We are these minute collections of mass, being held together by principles we are only guessing at most of the time, trying to tell ourselves we really matter in the whole big scheme of things we do not understand. We should take the time to have deep and heartfelt laughs at ourselves more often.

We are made of the same thing everything else is made of — we are stardust. And, in the end, millions or billions or trillions of years from now, this tiny bit of stardust mass that is right now “me” will be stardust in some other sector of this vast cosmos that is part of some other vast cosmos, maybe experiencing being some incomprehensible collection of mass, wishing in some incomprehensible way that my current mass-collection matters in the whole scheme of things. I love thinking and feeling this. The time that a mass-collection known as a human being exists is, truly, nothing when viewed from the perspective of cosmic time. Live. Love. Laugh. Let the stardust that is me have the fullest and richest experience of life on this microscopic levitating orb I call my home.

~ The Thoughtful Cynic