Category Archives: Important Ideas

Walking In Someone Else’s Moccasins Is Rarely Accomplished

Created September 23, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

It’s so easy to say things but so hard to ever do them actually.

That bit of advice associated with Native Americans but probably evolved within every culture in the world is most profound: put yourself in their shoes. What would you be thinking, feeling, and doing?

It requires a willing imagination to do something like that. Most of time people are just saying those things not even attempting to actually do them – because they think they already got the point, but didn’t.

Hearing any old proverb, one tends to assume they are now obeying it having been reminded of it. As if it is easy to do. Just hear it, remember agreeing with it, set it aside and express agreement, then move on, coming from exactly the same place you were in before hearing the mantra.

It is easy to actually test out the proverb, but it does require concentration, time, patience, openness, imaginal powers (many of us have let that muscle atrophy), and a genuine desire to understand the adversary of the moment.

In the Acceleritis Culture, one does not have time for such fripperies.

We might think a person is strange who actually took a minute to mentally/emotionally put himself in another person, sense what that would feel like, enduring the discomfort of the long pause in the conversation. Because it’s not just a proverb, it’s an exercise, something you make time to do, because it’s one of your responsibilities as a human being.

Some ancients in every culture came up with this same exercise and the proverb is merely the mnemonic to remind us to do the exercise, pointed at each person with whom you have any discomfort.

There was a time when the human race automatically understood stuff like this, and knew it was a level above the importance of choosing the right style or watching the right influential. Perhaps from an ethical point of view the Neanderthals were the Golden Age.

I jest to make a point. Our obligation being the stewards of right now, is to make this the Golden Age.

Admittedly that seems laughable given the darkness of the latest half decade, but we have to remember that we are the same brave people we were before the present darkness set in. That gaiety will return. It can Be Here Now.

We are all affected, we therefore are each responsible for sauve qui peut. (Save as many as you can.)

We seem to have lost respect for the dignity of the human race. Realizing this can lead us to become more courageous, serious and open-minded.

If God is watching, let’s make Her proud. (We should rotate God’s pronouns every 2000 years.)

We can’t endlessly shrink from debate with people who seek to debate with us, or seek otherwise to possibly to do us harm. “We” must speak together with “them” (the us/them tendency is built into our language) only after agreeing to keep it nice, and then keeping it nice.

Fortunately we have that age old adage exercise, Moccasin Imagination Mode (MIM). Before thinking of talking about it, see if you can begin to feel the way they do about it even just a little bit. You’ll gain an understanding of larger issues you never thought about before.

Here’s a report of my recent MIM exercise. It had been brought about by the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and then the articles about colonial brutality. In my MIM, I imagined many scenes out of many times, and felt strongly one way then another. In one vision I saw and heard the Queen saying, with a tear in one eye, “We thought we were sharing civilization.”

The tendency to demonize one another is demonic.

Share warmth.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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What Unites Us and What Divides Us

Created September 16, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Please allow me, courtesy of Wikipedia, to begin with all of the stanzas of Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner, including the fifth stanza added by Oliver Wendell Holmes Senior in 1861. For I believe that these lines most truly express what unites US:

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

When our land is illumined with Liberty’s smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained, who our birthright have gained,
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

Would you be surprised if any American would object to anything said in the Star Spangled Banner? The song has conveyed our bravery, our love for liberty, and that we acknowledge our protection by God. Well, yes, that last part about God, at least three out of ten Americans today would say “Whoa!” to that one. In fact each of the two political parties in the US are led by people who claim that God is on their side, and they’re nowadays likely to claim that the opposition is not aligned with the Almighty. So far, then, we are divided by our disagreement as to whether God is on the side of Republicans or Democrats.

How silly. Any Being worthy of being called God would not choose sides among Her children. And if my Theory of the Conscious Universe happens to be right, we are made out of Her, and represent Her, with what we think of as our self actually being The One Self, combining all opposites, all deviations, all avatars, all of us.

But from the standpoint of this article, so far, we have identified one factor (God) which has been used divisively lately. Let’s continue the analysis.

Freedom, Liberty, Individual Agency without unnatural restrictions. We all want that, right? I don’t hear any objections. Freedom is something we all want.

Willingness to fight and die for what we believe in. Troublemaking as it is, yes, it is in the core of our being, here on the continent that revolted from the old ways. We have always been fighters. Balancing that with also being better diplomats – in the class with Franklin and Jefferson – might be a good thing.

In the era of Locke and Montesquieu imagining what the optimal organization of government might be, Jefferson and other Founding Fathers became impressed by the way the Native Americans governed themselves via a “stacked-government” model, giving tribes autonomy yet coming together as a federation of tribes for accomplishing larger missions, such as increasing sediment yields to the Delaware River basin. This idea became known as federalism. We still practice it today. We fought a Civil War over it and that system’s inability to agree on a slavery policy. States’ Rights are a second factor dividing us. Or is it?

There is no question as to the power of the States today. It is an established fact. So long as there is true unrigged unobstructed unweighted voting by all, if someone does not like what the voters decided, they can move to another State. Although there is talk of changing the Constitution, States’ Rights are in no visible danger, so far as I can see. If it’s a factor that seems to be dividing us, we ought to agree publicly that we are not actually divided on that one point. What we may actually be disagreeing about are the ways in which free voting needs to be protected for the benefit of all citizens.

And we might also benefit from similarly scrutinizing what else appears to be dividing us, because in many cases we shall emerge from the process with a more specific set of disagreements, smaller and more controllable than the general animosity would suggest. If we can speak civilly to one another about such matters again I predict we will find that there is much less disagreement on specifics, and once we do that, our minds can creatively collaborate to find a synthesis in those areas of true dispute. We owe it to ourselves to attempt this and to doggedly pursue the process, point by point, until at least the hypnotized part of the divisiveness goes away.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior, son of the poet and physician of the same name who added the final stanza to the National Anthem, the son being the most famous of the Supreme Court Justices, and an intellectual thought leader who, a Republican, influenced progressives such as FDR. His 1881 Common Law is the history and logic of how the law evolved. According to History.com, “He emphasized both that the ‘life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience’ and that the law develops according to the ‘felt necessities of the time’ rather than according to any set of deductive premises.”

Thus doth the Law rest upon “the felt necessities of the time”.

That would be worrisome if our necessities are always changing. But they are always the same, or they wouldn’t be necessities in the first place. We shall always want our freedom, and most of us would want our equality. But there that equality thing – that’s a third divisive item (after God and States’ Rights). Or is it?

It’s possible to think “I myself must be treated like an equal by everyone” and at the same time say “but I work hard for my money, and I don’t want one of my equals to be a person who gets a handout out of the money I pay for taxes”.

Transfer payments are definitely a divisive factor. I first wrote about that in my 20s, suggesting that we invest in developing people with our transfer payments, with an eye toward gradually reducing the need for transfer payments.

If not the best answer, at least it suggests that we might get creative.

Those divisiveness factors we’re reviewing – God, liberty, equality, free speech (the latter item covered below) – are not meant to be an exhaustive list, so please think further and identify other causes of division.

Please do use this method of speaking civilly and peeling the onion to find where true disagreement lies (if it is there at all) and to try for solution directions to take together.

So far the list has been pretty rational and cognitive. How about that larger part of ourselves? The subconscious, emotional, non-rational part that makes 95% of our decisions according to Harvard don Gerald Zaltman?

The possibly biggest divisiveness factor is not a rational thing. It’s more of an animal-instinctive feeling: “These people are not for me at all.” Right now that’s how we are sorting ourselves into these two groups (Red and Blue), while the rest of us are trying to bring us all back to the table as citizens of the USA.

Metacognition, which humans apparently do better than the other species although the jury’s still out, is the art and science of watching what is going on in your own mind and inner theatre of feelings, and understanding the why of it. Here’s how metacognition applies to this situation.

We can actually turn the tide on this divisiveness thing by catching and neutering that automatic response of being repelled by a perceived “Other” group. Hold that automatic response with your will and your mind, like a dangerous squirming toad, and inspect it. What did it feel like? Who did it remind you of? When in life did you start to feel that way?

Don’t accept the feeling of being repelled by a person. It’s more of an alarm signal about you than about that other person. Meditate on what it is in you. In less than a week you shall definitely have a deep intuition about it.

Who said “I do not like that man. I must get to know him better.”

It was Abraham Lincoln.

We are all in this together and are collectively losing the game. This shocks game theorists. Why would there be just losers? How could that even be?

The weaponry stacked around is certainly enough to make this a dead planet.

Wasn’t WWII bad enough?

We have to accept each other.

We need to be able to cooperate or none of us may survive.

Give up the “bad guy” idea. (Don’t stop incarcerating criminals convicted by due process of law, whether seditionists, murderers, rapists or whatever. No one should be exempted from such accountability to justice. It’s more useful to think of them as being psychologically diseased/unbalanced than as “bad guys”. The “bad guys” construct triggers autonomic emotional reactions that are pragmatically obstructive to solution finding. We can think more effectively and creatively without that construct.)

Then we can easily talk the rest of this out so that each tribe can be satisfied. But not if we can’t talk to each other without negative emotion flaring up. Master your selves. Talk civilly and respectfully to all.

Free Speech, the Right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, became a divisive factor when the enormous megaphone called the Internet happened.

We felt that we were given license to say anything we pleased, true or false, whether it would hurt someone else’s feelings or not. Not all of us activated that. But many tens of millions got into it as if they had been holding it in since kindergarten. And they are now a bit stuck in it. If they try to back out of it too gracelessly they will be attacked from all sides.

The people still walking around in rage. Stop avoiding them. They need help. Have infinite patience. They will be blessed by it. You will be blessed by it. Use this post as a study guide to prepare for such meetings with your own ideas about what are the divisive factors and how can we peel each one away like an onion so that we can see reality together, agree on what we see at that moment, or do further research on any areas in which we cannot agree. But always civilly in recognition of the seriousness of the situation in which we had all better be on one side, the side of the human race, or we are quite literally doomed.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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The Fallacy of Political Binarism

Created August 26, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Aristotle was among the earlier philosophers to warn us away from binarism in general. Even 25 centuries ago the wisest among us knew that we all apparently have a built-in mental flaw. We tend to see choices where there is the unnoticed opportunity for having both. To Aristotle the key word was balance. Instead of choosing conservativism and giving up on progressivism, one could balance the two.

It was a new thought at the time.

And precocious by at least 25 centuries, as we seem to also still have the built-in ability to dodge good advice.

And from Aristotle’s point of view, the choosing example might not have been between conservatism and progressivism, that was me, he might have winked and asked “apple pie OR ice cream?” channeling Socrates.

The point is that there is a convenient mental mechanism we can all benefit from. We can all catch ourselves when we find ourselves assuming there are two opposing sides to something. When a better handle on it is that there are multiple “Goods” to be integrated. The creative fun challenge of the game is to come up with the optimal balancing act.

When two political parties get down to acting like they would welcome a civil war, it’s time to break the hypnotic control of the binarism fallacy.

Please visualize with me: we all look around, and see the party labels and stuff sloughing off each other, and we are all just people again, with no expectations. Then we can all enjoy making friends all over again.

My guess is that we got this binarism virus as a result of too much of a very Good thing. The very Good thing is intellectual freedom. For all the barbarism of the world, intellectual freedom has been too strong to be suppressed, it is perhaps the core of our being, the uniqueness of the human race.

We love IDEAS. We have so many of them. It is so good to have them and to share them with others with whom we then BELONG. Having so many IDEAS and getting so entranced by them – and the belonging they bring – the whole phenomenon tends to become too powerful. It hypnotizes us by its ubiquity and pervasiveness in every detail of our day. The imagined fences our minds have created which separate us are mere bad dreams but we have enshrined them in reality. Big mistake.

Simple sign: when people argue a lot, fix something.

The Quality of Mercy is Not Strained

Coming back to the subject of balancing ideas together, “mercy” is a very relevant word to this discussion of binarism.

The Jews were a tough lot. They got into a lot of fighting. Slavery for those that survive does toughen people up. Fighting over who owns the land was the way of the world going much further back. When the Kabbalah developed within Judaism it presented a circuit diagram for the Universal Self in which balancing mercy with severity was one of three balancing acts required to operate at a higher state of consciousness. Mercy is a really palpable thing when involved in warfare, it is safer to just kill everybody. The Kabbalah teaches that there needs to be a rebalancing away from what was self-protective, to take the right action instead. (My interpretations entirely.)

As a race, we do seem to have a bias in favor of severity over mercy. This bias may have been obvious to William Shakespeare’s awesome insight when he wrote these lines for Portia in The Merchant of Venice:

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God Himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.

We can have the ice cream on top of the apple pie. The benefits of two seemingly warring good ideas, for example, Justice and Mercy, can be both had together. The lesson is: don’t give up one good thing to get another good thing, find a way to balance them and thus get them both.

The creative integration of all of our good ideas, worked out together in good spirits, is what the USA is all about.

What began as a great friendliness should not be allowed to dissolve in great bitterness. Let’s go back to the good old howdy and handshake.

No one entity has all the answers. We all need each other to optimize the collective opportunity.

We have to stop the runaway train wreck and switch timelines to the alternate universe that awaits us.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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Imagination is a Powerful Tool: Five Exercises

Created July 29, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

For every function of mind, it’s there because it can be used a certain way conducive to Flow state and happiness. It’s ours to discover what that way is, and isn’t.

Take the Ego for example. The best way to use it is sparingly, when the time requires it (e.g., if you don’t use it, you will be used by a low-minded other). That’s its survival relevancy and why it’s in us. The best motto of the Ego is Stand Up For Yourself.

However, in this our hisandherstory, we have devolved here into this channel, this instance of the metaverse in which all of the inappropriate uses of the Ego have gone rampant, and caused us to build a culture around misuses of the Ego. A culture built upon bad behavior.

The religionists got that one right. They speak truth on that score. Science with a conscience says the same thing. That is all the alarm clock doing its job. Now science with a conscience and the truly spiritual in each of us can look each other in the eye, shake hands, and tackle the challenge of restoring enlightened self-interest pragmatically.

The need to compete did not come in the DNA. The DNA gave us the power to compete when it was necessary. It did not hardwire us to want to continually provoke and aggravate competition. The trait of a tendency toward aggressive self-defense has been conditioned into us by the present culture of the past 6000 years. It’s been an age of power games and it’s not over.

We have to be able to look at such things. To see why we are the way we “instinctively” are. Why we have what appears to be a natural inclination to be repelled by certain things, and attracted to others. It’s not so much hardwired instinct, it’s also our life experiences, which tend to cause a defensive stance that the person is not aware of taking.

We have to be able to adjust our decisions based on knowing these things about ourselves. Adjust for our own biases. We have no survival interest in having any biases, our thriving depends on making decisions that cause things to work out the way we wanted, or better. Ethical Effectiveness must be the only thing we optimize our decisions and our lives around.

The rational mind is not in itself capable of changing behavior. Unless all parts of oneself are united in making a decision, you will be losing effectiveness.

The culture has tended to push us in the direction of the rational mind, with less attention being paid to perception, feelings, intuitions, and especially the imagination.

Using the imagination during daily alone spaces can be a way of progressing faster in self-mastery. This can be much more important to your future life than physical exercise, and the two can sometimes be combined, given patience and concentration.

There are two ways of using the imagination, and they both work. One is to choose what to focus on, and the other is to let the imagination do what it likes.

The misuse of the imagination is to picture or fear upcoming negative events for more than a moment in which the alarm function is thanked, and the mind focuses on solutions for the feared eventuality. Dwelling on the alarm ringing without turning it off does not make you effective in the real world. Switching from learning that the body has picked up a blip on the radar that looks unfriendly, to thanking that part of yourself and immediately fearlessly focusing on how to unwind the situation.

If fears do not distract you that day, one imagination exercise I call LOVE. In the exercise, you vividly imagine all the people and things you love, and revel in how much you love them, one at a time, taking your time with each one.

When all parts of oneself get into LOVE the rewards are salient. Afterwards you may be in bliss and act lovingly towards the people you love. Maybe even perfect strangers.

Another exercise, which works best if engaged in right after LOVE, I call FORGIVENESS. In your imagination you forgive each person you continue to bear malice towards. Starting with yourself. You want to imagine yourself at very young ages to recall things you hated yourself for, and to finally forgive yourself for them, one at a time, as they come up in memory. Then each other person or thing you specifically don’t love. Forgive them all. Don’t carry the past it’s too heavy. Don’t make the same mistakes again but don’t blame. Blame wastes internal decision making energy and time and doesn’t lead to greater effectiveness.

A third imagination exercise I call SANKALPA, which is Sanskrit for INTENTION or VOW. This is where you dream the movie of your life with a happy Hollywood ending, the way you want it to come out. This is the most important imagination exercise.

A fourth imagination exercise I call PREDREAM. This is best performed after one is comfortable in bed. One imagines the next day the way one wishes it to come out. This leads to some interesting screw-ups being imagined, and contingency plans or prevention plans are laid to take care of such exigencies. This is both preparation and rehearsal, and evokes creativity in deciding against saying one thing and instead saying another, in upcoming conversations being imagined. A further benefit is enjoyed if one falls asleep or nearly does, because this hypnagogic state creates opportunity for the subconscious mind to help write the script of your imaginings. This is a doorway for revelations so always have a pen, pad, and tiny flashlight close by.

The fifth imagination exercise I call WAKEUP. As you wake up you focus on not forgetting your dreams. Then you see if there is any relationship between your dreams and what happened yesterday or recently. Not so much in the events, but are they connected in some way by the way they feel? Take notes before getting out of bed. Anything you can now see a better way of doing, something you did yesterday perhaps, write down notes before getting out of bed.

Obviously, these are not one-and-done exercises. All of them can be used over and over again, picking the one to fit your mood or need.

These exercises are all fun, because the imagination is fun to use, if you don’t misuse it to falling into a black hole which is 100% masochism. Dark moments are valuable clues to the unmade internal decisions that are still waiting to be confronted and decisively made. Write those down. Work on them patiently in terms of strategic development, and let the subconscious help you. Don’t ignore any signal in your mind, be especially open to any hunches or ideas that might come out of nowhere, and be cautious not to become infatuated with any which have negative overtones toward someone or toward anything.

If you’d like to think more about the imagination, here is some recommended reading out of Wikipedia from some of my teachers.

Love,

Bill

As developed by Carl Jung between 1913 and 1916, active imagination is a meditation technique wherein the contents of one’s unconscious are translated into images, narratives, or personified as separate entities. It can serve as a bridge between the conscious “ego” and the unconscious.

Active imagination – Wikipedia

For James, imagination is intentional in the sense that it points towards an object that it poses as real. It has therefore a cognitive content, however minimum.

The Role of Imagination in James’s and Dewey’s …

“The realm of imagination was seen to be a “reservation” made during the painful transition from the pleasure principle to the reality principle in order to provide a substitute for instinctual satisfactions which had to be given up in real life.

Freud on The realm of imagination – freud quotes

 

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