Created October 28, 2022
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Life today: it would be funny if we were watching it on Saturday Night Live.
We used to say life imitates art. Now we can say life parodies itself. These events today are a satire on who we really are, what we’re really worth.
Mass hysteria creeps up on you like boiling a frog. Who knew we are experiencing mass hysteria right now? It helps to acknowledge it rather than keep mum and look away. The NPR-IBM Watson poll finds that 84% of Americans are angrier today than a generation ago, and 42% are angrier this year than before. The Washington Post just put out an article entitled “On TikTok, Nothing Goes Viral Like Rage”. We the media are feeding the rage when it would be more sensible to calm audiences where feasible. All this scary and angering content coming through the media without solutions being offered is pretty irresponsible.
Irony is that we put fear into people and that leads to suicides, crime, and increased drug and alcohol use. Then the latter things make us, realistically, even more fearful. It’s a self-accelerating equation.
“Fear is the mind-killer.”
–Frank Herbert, Dune
Those of us who can control ourselves need to resolve to not put any more fear into the system. There’s already enough. Adding more is not heading toward solution.
We are acting as if there can never be any negative consequences from pandering to rage and anger. As if it can’t induce revolutions, civil war, pockets of militia takeovers, splits in the police and military, all kinds of negative consequences that will not benefit us.
Thinking merely of money, for those of us in the media business, why do you think advertisers are cutting back on ad spend? Did the rage condition reach a certain level causing forecasters to report upside and downside scenarios with no notion of which will happen? Could rage amplification have had anything to do with that?
What’s a person to do? Rage is fear taking arms. Neither fear nor rage solve whatever problem drove you crazy in the first place. Fear and rage are dangerous signs that the victim is inducing self-harm using time that would be needed to solve whatever the catalyst problem was.
This is similar to not taking a problem seriously enough to actually be forced to think about how the problem could be solved and then to create and execute a plan.
We shall not soon be rid of these troubled times. They will not disappear magically with so many people and so much money polarizing emotionally. Even if the media were to lend a calming hand, some degree of trouble will still lie ahead. We need to prepare ourselves. We need to sober up from the indulgent hysteria.
The same causes as WWII, the same ideologies fighting, inclusive collaboration (Democracy) versus hierarchical meritocracy (today’s rationalization of Authoritarianism). The hierarchical part is the most obvious part of Authoritarianism, the merit part is mostly a matter of who currently has the power, the force, the money. A misleading dichotomy as all dichotomies are. The real answer we will someday realize is to balance them both together, and to do it with respect for all, not just at the end of the game, but with respect to all, at every step along the way there.
If we can sane enough of us in time, we can maybe get away with a cold war with pockets of violence and minimum fallout of all kinds, and a slow process of getting everyone to get with a gung ho program for planet Earth and a let-up of egocentric selfishness. It’s time to take seriously what the body alarms have been trying to wake us up to. The same battle of Good and Evil all over again, except both sides esteem the Good and only subconscious forces keep us apart. If God forced us at gunpoint to have a Huis Clos conversation about it (i.e., locking us up with no other option), we would probably in a matter of time see that rational discourse once it comes on the scene enables win/win scenarios to be concocted. But God is trusting us to make it work, and to make HerHim proud.
So, this is a message for those of us who would be on the side of the adults in the room to take ourselves in hand. To make contingency plans with eyes wide open and courage in our hearts. Before we can approach that we need to purge ourselves of fear and anger. In order to do that we must allocate alone time to contemplate ourselves and meditate, and learn which voices in our heads and impulses truly represent who we are, and which ones are beneath us, dead snake skin to be shorn off. Then we will be ready to lead others during the times of stress. To keep others calm and reasoning toward solutions, rather than helplessly wallowing in problem statement tantrums.
In your self-contemplation you need to first determine all of the things you are afraid of, imagine the scenes that you most do not want to see happen in your real life. Be there, feel it as deeply as you can, as if it were happening to you right now. For each downside scenario, see yourself deal with it. See how you are equal to it. You know what is right and will stand up to the moment should it ever come. Then you can feel that you are prepared and can decide actions you can take to protect your life from that scene ever happening, and then you can take those actions. Those are the sane things to do to solve the problem, do only the sane things from now on.
When you’ve done enough work on your fears to feel the courage in you and be confident of it, also visualize the scenes you would most like to live through. Appreciate those outcomes but don’t be attached to them. Because it is sane to not become attached to outcomes. Being attached to outcomes reduces the probability of experiencing those outcomes. I can’t cite proof for that but my own life has taught it to me and I hope to be able to pass it on to save others pain.
In other words, be stoic. Resigned fatalistically to whatever will come, able to deal with it sanely and constructively, wasting as little time as possible. Why be that way? Because it is pragmatic, it works in the real world, it leads to success, sanity, happiness and joy. It reduces illness and increases immunity. It lets the love out and in.
Crossing a bridge too far for some, sane stoic behavior is in tune with God’s Plan, it helps move the plan forward, whistling while we work.
The processing of fear and anger into solutions and action. The Bible speaks of any given tyrant, “but he hardened his heart” and held on to the rage bringing with it its underlying fear and attachment, and this led to his downfall. The hardening of hearts is out of control nowadays. We are privileged to live in such “interesting” times. We’re living through and collectively inputting into a historic moment – we can act shamefully or the hero/ine in us can emerge. That’s the Big Choice – the meaning of our times. The next octave of WWII, in our laps to handle.
The fear and rage are the ocean we swim in right now. It helps to tune in to your senses and be wherever you are with your environment without admitting the existence of any world beyond your senses and the immediate environment you can see. If you don’t see anything scary or that makes you angry in that scene, credit that. Cut off the thoughts and images and bad feelings associated with stuff that is not there with you right now. Only let in what is there right now. Works even better in nature. This is like an emergency switch for when you start worrying about politics and family safety. If it isn’t Here Now, stop focusing on it except when you have to prepare yourself for something specific.
Take joy at every moment when conditions permit. Choose joy. Fill your minutes and days with Joy as much as you can. Hold darkness at bay. You will be a joy lantern to others, who will like catching it.
Love to all,