Friday, February 22, 2013


One day while grocery shopping, I pushed my cart full of food all the way to my car before I realized I'd left my keys in the store. Rather than push the thing all they way back inside and then again out to my car, I left the cart next to my vehicle and ran inside to fetch my keys. I was gone less than 45 seconds. As I ran back to my car, a woman saw me approach and, in a seemingly jokey tone, said, "Aw, I thought I had me some free groceries."

She had a christian fish on her car.

She didn't think about the real owner of those groceries. She didn't think about the affect her theft would have had on that owner. She didn't think about the groceries' destination, whom the food was to feed, etc. She only thought of herself in diametric opposition to her professed religious beliefs.

This is selfishness, pure and simple. And it is this attitude that is at the heart of every fundamental problem in our society. I would even say it applies to the entire fucking planet.

When it boils down, there is a single motivator in all of life, in all its forms: gene propagation. Our genes want to live on within us, generation after generation. This is what evolution does: it enables us as carriers of genetic information to pass those genes on to subsequent generations by adapting us for better survival. This genetic motivation has two aspects: survival of the self and survival of the group. If the self dies, the genes die; if the group dies, the genes fail to propagate. Both self and group are necessary. Yet, we emphasize the self to the exclusion of the group.

We are all interconnected. We all have an affect on each other: we affect others, and they affect us. There's no denying. Well, there is, but that doesn't make it legitimate. Yet, time and time again, we choose to ignore that interconnection. It certainly makes life a lot easier when you're the only one in it.

Selfishness in and of itself is actually not detrimental. There are plenty of situations in which being selfish is, in fact, the best course of action. Regardless, what makes the particular selfishness I'm describing so fundamentally destructive is its disregard of the group. It is the emphasis on the self to the exclusion of the group.

Have you ever been cut off in traffic? When it happened, did you yell some profanities from the safety of your car, calling into question the offending driver's lineage, mental capacity, or even humanity? Chances are, even if you didn't give voice to such thoughts, you still had them. You saw the other driver as the "bad guy" because he cut you off. Did you ever pause a moment to consider that that driver has just as many stresses on his mind as you? That his day may not have been going well at all? That he may, in fact, be a very conscientious driver in all other situations? That this may have been a mere oversight, the kind of simple human error that (without exception) everyone on the planet is capable of? Probably not. You probably got annoyed/pissed off/enraged at the offending driver and blamed him for being an asshole.

(Male pronouns are used exclusively on purpose. 'Cuz that's how I troll.)

No matter what the nature of your interaction with other people, they always enter the situation with as rich, varied, robust, and personal a history as you. Everything in their lives has led them to this point, exactly the same as you. They had childhoods, educations, families, etc. Just as all the events of your life have shaped you into the person you are now, so have all the events of their lives done the same to them. It's yet another example of our fundamental interconnectedness.

Yet, how do we respond to conflict? "Asshole cut me off." "Asshole got my order wrong." "Asshole didn't pay attention." Etc. Etc. Etc.  We dehumanize the other person. It's much easier to disrespect and disregard something if you reduce them to a mere orifice. (Which, when you think about it, is actually reducing them to nothing: a hole is actually a space, not a tangible thing. Has anyone ever called you an anus or a sphincter?)

Our culture and society work tirelessly to maintain this selfish way of thinking, too. All the Tea Party politicians spout the rhetoric of "personal responsibility," which is a glossed-over re-branding of Randian social darwinism. "D.I.Y." "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps." As if each of us exists in a vacuum. "I'm not paying for someone else's health care!" Because, you know, there was never anyone who said we should love our neighbors as ourselves, right?

Religion is the worst of these reinforcers, because it speaks to our fundamental, biological need to stay alive. Religion (at least in the Abrahamic, Western Culture sense) tells the individual he will be rewarded for following the rules. Religion devalues this world and everyone in it. Religion keeps us obsessed with our own mortality, emphasizing death over life ("whoever believes in me shall not perish"). Religion tells the individual he is better than others. ("Kill the infidel! Burn the witch!")

An example that, to me, illustrates this point better than anything: There used to be a TV show on cable about a Mormon family whose business was constructing custom-made high-security SUVs for diplomats and international CEOs (I'm not kidding). The family's religion was a major part of the show. In one episode, the father stated flat out: "I know this world is meaningless. I know the real world is in the kingdom of heaven." Which made me wonder why he was even working in the first place, but whatever. This is what religion tells its believers, that the world (and, by implication, everyone in it) is worthless, that only after death does life truly begin.

But the worst part of all is that we're stuck in a reflexive cycle, spiralling ever downward. The more internalized we are, the less we progress. Just look at popular culture today: there is no longer any innovation, just a re-mixing of everything that's come before. This hasn't been true at any other point in history. We got to a point in our cultural evolution where, instead of striving ever forward and breaking new ground, we spun 180 degrees and began re-working everything that had already been done. A century ago, the Abstract movement was introduced to the world, and it shook things up like crazy. Today, an artist is described in terms of his "influences," i.e. which previous styles he incorporates into his work and how. There is no new "movement" coming.

The ridiculous concentration of wealth in the hands of the top 1% of the population that has occurred in the U.S. over the last 30 years is another prime example, one that has devastating consequences for our future. Do you think any CEO who decided to be paid in stock options thought about how it would fundamentally change his business from one designed to provide goods or services to one designed solely to turn a profit? Or how that change would ultimately harm our economy and millions of people's lives? Or do you think the CEO thought, "Payday!"?

People have been brainwashed into thinking self vs. group is a binary proposition, an either-or question. Pick one, only one, can't have both. Except, you CAN have both. I know because this is exactly where MY mind is. I do for myself in many ways; I fully embrace my selfish nature. But I never lose sight of the affect I have on others or the affect they have on me. A typical example would be me and some friends sitting at a table at a bar. Some of the people are strangers to me (friends of friends). I hear a comment that brings to mind a snarky, probably offensive response. Instead of just blurting it out and making myself laugh, I hold my tongue because I don't know how these unknown people would react, and I don't want to have a negative affect on them. If the people were all my friends whose boundaries are well-known to me, there would be no such qualm. With strangers, there is. Just because they're strangers and I don't know them. It's not about my being a "good" person or "better than others." It's not even something I do with conscious thought. It's fundamentally uncomfortable for me to do that; it feels like exposing my genitals in public.

If I can do it, anyone else can. I'm not special.

And that statement ultimately brings me to the final point: why I hate the humans. Every one of us, without exception, has the potential to behave as I've described above, to act upon our own desires while maintaining conscious awareness of the effects we have on others. It is our choice to remain selfish. We choose it because it's easy. It requires no self-reflection, no effort to see another's viewpoint, nothing. The laziness feeds the selfishness, and the selfishness feeds the laziness. All by choice. It doesn't have to be this way; we make it this way, then blame everyone but ourselves for the outcome. We are stuck in this self-reflexive downward spiral, and I don't believe we are capable of breaking out of it without some outside force acting on us, like aliens landing on the White House lawn. Something that proves, irrefutably, that there is more to existence than our own petty self-interests. Think that's ever gonna happen?

The path we are on has an end that was described by Frank Zappa in his song, "Dumb All Over":

You can't run a race without no feet 
And pretty soon there won't be no street
For dummies to jog on or doggies to dog on 
Religious fanatics can make it be all gone 
I mean it won't blow up and disappear, 
It'll just look ugly for a thousand years

Full disclosure: the days in which I question the value of maintaining my own existence outnumber the days in which I don't. And the margin is growing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Humans Are Worthless

Honestly, I believe in the sanctity of life. By that, I mean I value life and existence highly. We exist in this cosmos despite astronomical odds against us. It's almost like winning the lottery: yes, there's always a winning number, but it's never yours. Well, our little planet hit the evolutionary jackpot, and here we are. It makes our lives priceless.

Which is why humans are worthless. We've squandered this miraculous gift the universe has bestowed upon us. We've developed amazing powers of reason and deduction, allowing us to solve some of the fundamental issues of life (food, clothing, shelter) and elevate us to an advanced, civilized existence. We create art to examine our own presence in the universe. We're the only species capable of such self-reflection. Our ability to use reason and logic to deduce answers about our world has enabled us to cure disease, fly through the air, travel across oceans, and even leave the very planet that birthed us.

So, what are we doing with this awesome potential we have? Watching "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo" and refusing to just help each other out with some basic issues. We've become selfish, self-involved, and self-absorbed. We deny the irrefutable connection we all have with each other for the sake of some immediate gratification, disregarding and denying consequence all the while.

Take universal health care. What could possibly be wrong with providing everyone in the country access to proper medical treatment? It's the selfish attitude of those who oppose it: "I'm not going to pay for someone else's medicine!" Not only is this totally callous, it's not entirely accurate. You see, if universal health care is implemented, everybody pays, everybody benefits. It's a shared burden providing shared benefits. Yes, some of your money pays for other people's care, but the reverse is also true. And, it turns out that if everyone shares the burden, everyone's individual piece of that burden is much smaller than what would have been shouldered alone. In other words, "paying for someone else's medicine" actually benefits the payer. But, thanks to our selfish attitudes, we've decided it's a bad thing

People have this idea that they should be completely independent. "No one helped me get where I am; I did it all myself!" is a typical attitude. Except that statement is utterly false. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, you owe pretty much everything in your life to other people.

Look at your shirt. (I assume you're wearing one.) Did you plant the cotton, tend to the field, harvest it, de-seed it, spin it into threads, weave those threads into cloth, dye the cloth or print a pattern on it, cut out the individual pieces, sew them together, pack it, and ship it to yourself? Then you owe that shirt to all the people who performed those various tasks. Plus the people at the store who put it on the shelf and rang it up for you. "But, I'm the one who bought it and I earned the money myself." True, but there would have been no shirt to buy in the first place were it not for all those others.

Absolutely everything in your life that you did not create from complete scratch is owed to other people. Broaden that concept from personal objects and apply it to your surroundings. Roads, sidewalks, traffic lights, bridges, tunnels, phone lines, water lines, sewer lines, gas lines, power lines -- all these things were created and implemented by other people.

We are all undeniably connected in tangible ways to each other. We live our lives enjoying countless benefits of living in such an interconnected society. It is that very interconnection that allows us the time to watch TV and movies, read books, go on vacation, and write blogs about shit that pisses us off.

We could be devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to, say, curing cancer. But there's no profit in that. Instead, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars creating pretty images in movies and refusing universal health care. Our government is motivated by personal greed over all else. We have the resources to completely eliminate poverty, hunger, and homelessness. We'd rather watch worthless white trash on TV.

We blew our chance. We no longer deserve this existence. We had the choice to turn our gaze outward, toward each other; we chose to gaze inward for the sake of a buck. It's time to scrape the planet clean and let the roaches take over. At least they won't poison the air so they can drive massive SUVs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Am A Misogynist

Someone defined "misogyny" to me as "hatred or mistrust of women."

That word "mistrust" got to me. Because I don't trust women. Well, I don't trust anybody when I first meet them; time must pass for me to relax my defenses and build trust. However, it's much easier for me to develop trust with a man than with a woman. Which makes me more mistrustful of women than men. Which makes me a misogynist.

Frankly, I'll wear the badge with pride. Because it's true. And I have good goddamn reasons for not trusting women.

My mother was emotionally abusive, withholding affection, and overly controlling. I was born with infinite trust in her affection for me, and I was told flat-out, to my face, that I was her "obligation."

My ex-wife was emotionally, physically, and psychologically abusive for the span of our 16-year relationship. I busted my ass to make her happy, to do everything she wanted me to do, and I ended up getting my ass beat for not being good enough. She ended up getting everything in the divorce, including my daughter, whom the ex is preventing me from seeing, even though I have rights. And I'm financially supporting her with alimony.

A female tattoo artist was doing work on my arms. We would talk during breaks, and I began to like her. I drove two hours away so she could work on me at home. There was definitely a mutual attraction between us. After one session, I kissed her (not on the cheek). She kissed me back and squeezed me tight. Two weeks later, she sent me a text that basically said she'd been spending time with this other guy for a while and was going to start dating him.

An old girlfriend once told me that, were her ex-boyfriend ever to say he wanted to get back together, she would dump me in a heartbeat.

Another old girlfriend was a recovering catholic who found out one of her high school classmates got pregnant (this was freshman year of college). It freaked her out so much, she refused to have sex with me anymore, and we broke up.

A third old girlfriend (I've had four total in my life; one is my ex) surreptitiously quit taking her birth control pills and got pregnant. I ended up paying for an abortion.

In almost 45 years, no woman has failed to betray my trust. They always proved themselves to be as selfish, self-serving, and self-interested as every other shaven ape crawling across the face of the earth.

I always went into relationships with my heart wide open. Some called me naïve. I called myself romantic. I was only going by what I was taught by all the Romantic Poets and Shakespeare that I'd read throughout school. In later years I was a bit more cautious about opening my heart, but it really didn't take that much to do it. I was much less guarded.

And the common response I get is along the lines of, "Not all women are like that. You've just had bad experiences." I never said all women are like that. I said that I don't trust them; I must spend time and effort to get to know them very, very well before I will trust them. It's a caution borne of experience and unbelievable suffering.

Fuck yeah, I'm a misogynist. Women are pretty much guilty until proven innocent to me. Which is not to say that I won't or can't trust women. I just don't dole it out automatically anymore; you gotta earn it. That's right, it's not a privilege, not an entitlement, not something you deserve just because you have a pussy.

And saying that means that I'm probably never going to be in a relationship again. At this point in my life, the women who would deserve and could earn my trust are already in relationships. No single woman these days is going to exert effort to be with me; they'd rather get the douchebag in the Tapout shirt to buy them drinks and give them stuff.

If being alone until I die is the price I must pay to prevent another occurrence of the searing emotional pain that has already scarred and gnarled me beyond recognition, so be it. It's the lesser evil that I choose. I don't like it, but the alternative is unbearable.