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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

A Sign of the Times

Madison was in turmoil this past week about someone wearing an Obama-in-a-noose costume at last weekend's University of Wisconsin football game. The so-far unidentified Halloween reveler seems to have been largely ignored by the crowd, but the offending costume didn't escape the notice of local and national news media.

The incident has resulted in outcry from various members of the community, and criticism of university leadership, which is reviewing its policy on freedom of speech. Athletic director Barry Alvarez announced that stadium policies will change before the next home game, but he hasn't specified what those changes might be.

It's a sign of the times. Who would have guessed that a president with African heritage would cause so much hatred and animosity? I have written before about the illusion of skin color, and it bears repeating. No one is "black" or "white," and no one has black or white skin. Those of us with entirely European genetic background have variations of off-white, peach, ecru or ivory. Here's a list of variations.

Since I don't believe there is such a thing as race, I don't jump at the opportunity to call people racists. To believe in "racism," as it is understood, is to believe that people operate on the basis of intellectual positions, and that some of them have an ideological, or system of intellectual concepts that affirm the belief that one nonexistent "race" is superior to another, presumed inferior, though equally nonexistent "race."

What I see in the picture of the guy in the Obama-in-a-noose costume is someone with a psychological pathology. It can safely be assumed that he is a bigot, believing in racial superiority, but bigotry is a psychological condition, intellectual only as cover for mental disease. We have been hearing a lot in recent months about the narcissism of Donald Trump, but he is only the latest and most blatant example of pathological self-obsession. It could be that the "American" form of mass industrial fragmentation and marginalization produces narcissists as a survival response.

We have seen in recent years entire television and radio networks dedicated to what is known as Sophistry - the deliberate use of fallacious reasoning, intellectual charlatanism and moral unscrupulousness. Heavy on ego, bluster, fakery and scapegoating, these networks promote the paranoid rantings of "right-wing" demagogues. It should be no surprise that there are wanna-be self-promoters among the masses.

The reptilian brain, home of “right-wingers”Again, as I have written before, these propagandists aim for the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. For those among us who are tribally-oriented, aggressive, territorial and prone to ritual masculinity, the amygdala is easily aroused. It has been concluded by neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean that they haven't evolved past the reptilian brain. MacLean referred to species-specific instinctual behaviors such as aggression and tribalism as rooted in the basal ganglia at the root of the forebrain, what he called the R-complex or reptilian brain.

Rather than have an "ideological" divide in this country, we have a psychological divide. Another way of describing this divide is, as I also have mentioned previously, is through the hierarchy of needs that was authored by developmental psychologist Abraham Maslow. The lower, or deficiency needs of power, money, sex and safety are where supposed "right-wingers" are self-confined. The reptilian brain-dominated "right-wing" contingent is one not so much of belief as psychopathology.

If this is our predicament, what do we do about it? How do we get out of it? Is it the inevitable result of mass industrial capitalism? Would socialism do any better?

Only time will tell. We haven't experienced the full effects of climate change yet. Our infinite-growth economic system hasn't reached its limit to growth yet. It will, and likely within the next ten years - or less. When these twin inevitabilities take place, all bets are off. The ego-aggrandizement of right-wingness won't mean much when your house floats away in a storm or burns up in a massive wildfire, and there are no jobs.

The end of growth will be disaster enough, but in concert with rampant effects of climate change there won't be much point in being a narcissistic,  paranoid, amygdalian, reptilian bigot and xenophobe. Nothing lasts forever, including our current absurd and stupid predicament.
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R.I.P. Tom Hayden.

 Here's a song for Trump. Here's another. And this. This too. One more.

Update, November 8: The University of Wisconsin revoked the season football tickets of the fans who were involved in the Obama-in-a-noose costume.

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