There’s an old joke that goes like this: An old Jewish guy goes into a restaurant and orders a bowl of soup. The waiter brings the soup, puts it down in front of him and he immediately exclaims “Waiter, what’s that fly doing in my soup?” The waiter looks down, sees the fly, and says to his customer “I think it’s the backstroke, sir…”
I sometimes think that our species is doing the backstroke. We’re not really going forward as we alway assume that we are, but we’re actually going backward.
We should be more precise. What does “going backward” actually mean? And further, how to define “we”? I’m going to define going backward as the opposite of our biologically, and I believe, culturally and psycho-emotionally, that is, the spiritually programmed impulse to evolve, grow and expand into our glorious human potential. That unknown but alluring ideal of which I believe we have imprinted, sometimes emblazoned as an archetype in our psyche, which in the ancient Greek is to say “soul.”
When we look at our awesomely-designed, inspiring eco-system of which we are part, Gaia, we are brought to our knees by its exquisitely-wrought detail in supporting sentient life and its endless beauty. We could spend years, and many do, just looking at insect life, others at animal life, life in the ocean, forests, microbes, or the outer Universe.
I’ll put it this way, our technology to extend our senses has become extraordinary. Human sensing may have developed sufficiently intellectually to invent and craft the technology but possibly not sufficient to use it prudently and wisely. In short, as a species, we’ve advanced technologically but I suggest, we have regressed psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The body grows and, at a certain point, begins to age. Our emotional lives are overall not tutored, not educated sufficiently to match our intellects. Our emotional intelligence as a species, it seems, lags far behind our intellectual accomplishments causing untold danger and grief. In short, the vast material wealth that few members of the species have amassed is inversely proportionate to the lack of psychological and emotional intelligence and maturity. In short, one could infer or at least wonder if those with the lesser maturity aggregate the most wealth. If that’s not true, perhaps the accumulation of such wealth numbs their hearts and diminishes their compassion while sharpening their sense of self-importance and ego.
Too many people in adult bodies remain children and yet are playing with dangerous things.
The most glaring example of this is the development of the nuclear bomb. A group of scientists had the mental agility to fathom some secrets of nature on an atomic level to develop a bomb that can kill people en masse. But the politicians and titans of business prioritize money and power over peace and well-being. We live in a Nuclear Age, in which any crazed President with access to these weapons can blow up the world. Where’s the maturity in this? Can we disassemble these all and bury in safe containers?
Do we have a group of scientists and politicians that have the mental and emotional agility to lead us to a more peaceful, holistically intelligent, and mature society?
This is why I suggest that if we are not progressing and evolving a whole system, that is holistic, mind-body-spirit, we are still doing the backstroke.
There are dangerous weapons in the hands of children in grown-up bodies.
There is a small handful of people who have aggregated such massive amounts of material wealth that feel they can and should control everyone else and ‘call the shots for an entire species!
Most wars in which the U.S. has engaged over the past 100 years have been in the name of promoting democracy. What’s democratic about a small group of billionaires, amassed in the World Economic Forum for instance seeking to control us all through microchips and cell phones, and claim that “No one will own anything [except them!] and everyone will be happy.”
The idea of all of this is completely unattractive and preposterous. One would of course conclude that this is a conspiracy theory “bizarre beyond most”. Except it is on the WEF website, just hunt and find.
The idea behind it is that technology is sufficiently advanced now that, with a few manipulations of people using fear and carefully-crafted propaganda to speak to the weaker parts of the human psyche, this small, unelected group is seeking to seduce, bribe, and then control the whole world populous!
This brings us back to the joke—how we are like the fly doing the backstroke—and adds to this a much worse joke, of this ‘band of gypsies’ with profoundly deep pockets, seeking to manipulate and control everything, everywhere through gadgets like mobile phones and micro-chips. This small coterie is seeking to convert hard-fought-for Democracies around the world into a State-controlled nation as we see in China, their longed-for and always foiled “New World Order”. Typically this is called Communism but today the WEF is polishing up the disgraced ideology and putting a smiley face on it, rather akin to putting lipstick on a pig.
This is one of the strongest wishes or fantasies I’ve personally borne witness to. Among the many variables, it hasn’t accounted for is the vast cultural, technological, and educational variations among people on the planet. 99% have probably never heard of the World Economic Forum and don’t have any interest. Perhaps 80% are in regions far from urban centers and are living their lives in “peace on the prairie”. They may have a cell phone or maybe not. 1.2 billion don’t have electricity. Probably 1-2 billion speak only their native and local language and dialect with little to no interest in others.
In short, the thought that one microscopic sector of primarily wealthy, white men could or would want to control many billions of human beings is not just as bizarre and sick as it gets but is practically absurd. If they didn’t control as much as they already do, I wouldn’t even be writing about it! But sunlight is the best disinfectant, so better to bring this to light than lurk in the shadows.
The Chinese Communist Party has been held in disdain and disrepute for 100 years since Mao began his Cultural Revolution and it is estimated that 40-80 million died during his cruel rule. China’s intense control it exerts over its population is the scorn of every Democracy. But the World Economic Forum and Klaus Schwab are smiling and embracing this system, in effect, as the ‘wave of the future. The pathology at root is seen by any freedom-affirming person is beyond recognition.
The more highly-evolved human loves democracy, freedom, and liberty, loves the free and creative exercise of his will as he sees fit. This is an expression of evolution, expansion, emotional intelligence, and growth. A small group of individuals seeking control of the masses is causing a massive contraction. A devolution whereby the joy of expansive growth is thwarted by stress, anxiety, and fear. Social debits are controlled by a state that has the ability to publicly shame and humiliate the populous instead of nurturing its growth. As is the case with China. That self-respecting Chinese detest, may be coming to your neighborhood soon! Unless you’re smart and ambitious enough to strongly resist it and stand up to it, encouraging your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same. Then they don’t stand a chance but are a puff of smoke as they have been in the past when seeking to orchestrate such pathological moves.
The anthropology of play & the joy of beauty
When I was 18, I listened to my anthropology teacher present a paper on the Anthropology of Play. He showed how animals in the wild after they slept, ate, procreated, and assured themselves of their habitat, spend the rest of their day at play. They played! They chased each other, they pawed each other, and in various ways, if you don’t mind my saying “humped” each other.
Some animals use sticks or stones and invent games to play. In short, playing and laughing, and being adventurous are inherent parts of mammalian life. Animals, children, and adults are either being playful or delight in being in playful states of mind. It leads to bonding, it leads to love, and it leads to the release and cultivation of oxytocin, the “love, and bonding” hormone.
By and large, human beings want to do just as animals do. We want to gather food, water, and shelter for safe rest, we want to procreate and we want to adventure and play. We want to laugh, smile, love, enjoy sex, express kindness, enjoy pleasure, challenge ourselves, and grow.
The more we do these activities, the healthier we get. We are biologically programmed to release neuro-chemicals like endorphins, like dopamine, when we engage in social, loving, adventurous, challenging, playful activities, when we laugh, dance, sing, joke, and touch. When we are serving each other, helping each other, which is completely natural, organic, and baked into the DNA, we are at our happiest and most fulfilled.
We expand and get ever-healthier, enriched with joy, purpose, and meaning. These activities also make us more youthful.
In James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, he focuses on a most important idea, which he referred to as “aesthetic arrest”. It is the experience of being spellbound by beauty, an object of beauty whatever it may be, an idea, a woman, a painting, a piece of music, a sunset. This is an experience, like the experience of love and joy, that moves our soul, uplifts our immune system, and spreads goodwill and cheer throughout our bodies and communities. It is part of our “organic inclination” toward well-being.
Alas, when we are the customer in the restaurant’s soup and decide instead of doing the backstroke, to do the butterfly, we grow our wings and fly! We have all the characteristics of the beautiful butterfly emerging from its chrysalis and prior life as a caterpillar.
Conversely, we do not get healthy when we seek to control or intimidate each other. By influencing others to contract, to feel anxiety and fear, we too contract and are experiencing these unpleasant, distasteful emotions and sensations ourselves. This emotional stress makes us sick.
We can come to at least a provisional position that when we play, laugh, socialize, enjoy, and engage in challenge and adventure as we find in sport, nature, in the arts, and in science, we are expanding ourselves. When any member of the species does the opposite, they are creating contraction, sickness, stress, and disease, be it mental, emotional, or physical.
Our original brain, the reptilian brain, is associated with fight, flight, or freeze. Its associated emotion is fear and suspicion, sometimes paranoia that its life is being threatened and has to act to protect itself. On that level, it’s highly intelligent.
Evolution and adaptation have given us a few other brains which allow us the gift of self-conscious reflection and thought in the cerebral and pre-frontal cortex. We don’t have to be run by fear but instead can nurture and live by compassion, kindness, and love. It’s amazing and true, even though it may not often appear that way.
I assert that we have examples of all of these all the time in our day-to-day living—one just has to be tuned in and recognize what’s coming their way.
Holding a door for someone, picking up litter from the ground, helping someone up who fell, standing aside so someone can get in line in front of you, driving courteously and letting someone go in front of you, smiling at someone you know or at someone you don’t, these (and more) are all fantastic and daily expressions of kindness, compassion, and love across our society. It is in fact, our natural, organic inclination to live this way every day.
It’s so good. The inner pharmacy is being stoked, the up-regulation of genes to support healthy well-being is in motion, we are fertilizing our human nature, and we’re experiencing heaven on earth.
Kindness is an expression of love. Courtesy and respect are expressions of love. In reality, if you look for it, it’s almost everywhere.
What then is its opposite? Contraction, indifference, detachment, apathy, being asocial. Someone who doesn’t care about holding the door or helping someone out is Scrooge-like. I’m suggesting that this position is inhumane, regressive, and controlling through anger, intimidation, fear, manipulation, and smallness instead of largesse.
I’m suggesting that we have gotten ourselves into a human pickle because this kind of negative, contracted, nasty behavior has, for many, become normalized and even more, dominates the perceptions of our society. A quick glance at the movies in our theaters, TV shows, and video games, most everywhere one looks is violence, aggression, war films, cop shows, and violence on all-sized screens. We have collectively normalized violence in society and associated it often with one of the most beautiful expressions of love when approached well—sex—distorting everything in the minds of the viewer.
Violence has been normalized in society even though it’s horribly abnormal. Adults, seeking evermore amounts of money and power, have normalized a pathology and now we’re being bitten by it.
I observe that most of the political leaders and titans of industry are pathological purveyors of these negative, contracting emotions and are doing everything they can to control others everywhere, using these emotions, hiding behind them, and doing the world and people an enormous disservice.
Thankfully, there are some who are those true servants in politics and business seeking to serve the people. It is up to us to define these behaviors as negative, detrimental, dangerous, and pathological. Indeed, they are jeopardizing our collective future. Our natural world is collapsing daily, species by the thousands are dying off, and weather systems that have been altered through anthropogenic activity are causing floods and droughts. The ecosystem is in utter turmoil. Our habitat and ability to securely, stably live have been wholly threatened.
How did this come about? I posit that through an emotional deficit, early trauma, a horrible feeling of a lack of self-worth, from the womb through early stages in life and not balancing one’s own inner elements.
As a result, excessive anger, aggression, violence on many levels, scorn, criticism, humiliation, and denigrating others have become a damaging but normalized part of our culture. And I assert again, is being used by politicians and captains of industry to control and in effect, enslave everyone else but with a smiley face patched onto it.
When this is recognized as the sickness that it is, that these uber-wealthy individuals are no longer considered heroes but rather closer to villains seeking to steal all the cookies in the cookie jar, we have a huge chance to come out from under their propaganda and regain our empowered, loving, fun-filled and freely self-directed lives again.
Society is built upon layers and layers of trust. We inherently trust that we are safe and that people are good. We trust that people have our well-being in mind as we have theirs. If you look at how society operates from the micro to the macro-scales, you see that the best in our society is based on this trust.
Where society goes off-base is when this trust is threatened. It’s threatened by unconscious people perpetuating harm, cyber-attacks, hacking, stealing, aggression, violence, the misuse of technology not respecting kindness and acts of generosity, not respecting the feminine side of our nature, and the list of neglect, hate, and disrespect goes on.
We have been led over time, to distrust, which I suggest is not our nature and leads to hell while Heaven is just around the corner all along to be found in a loving, trusting space that we can each and can create and recreate.
When people remember this, that trust forms the basis for an evolved society, emotional intelligence will flourish and surge across the species. We will have a pandemic of love instead of one of fear.
Wisdom will prevail over greed and the pursuit of power. Fun, dance, laughter, creativity, and enjoyment will win over control, suppression, and domination.
If we want peace, as my prior article stated, we must make peace. If we want a trusting society, we have to trust. If we want a loving society, we must love.
We have to school and educate those who seek to break these golden rules, not punish, but educate, ameliorate and rehabilitate. It appears that we may need to start with those who hold the highest offices across the planet that wield altogether too much power, and those captains of industry who think they also own the planet and everything on it including us. This is a sickness, and our collective efforts as above and as offered by Jimi Hendrix is the remedy:
When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
When the backstroke becomes the butterfly, then we can really fly.