Category Archives: Culture

The Mask of Freedom

Moreso now than any other time in recent memory, we are being asked to weigh the risks and benefits of every action we take. Of course, life is always like this, but the pandemic has certainly brought this daily challenge to the forefront of our minds.

And like any modern challenge, many have retreated to their comfortable fortresses of ideology. If you favor reopening, you are a monster who wants to kill everyone. If you favor continuation of self-isolation, you are a fear-mongering Karen intent on reporting everyone having fun or trying to make a living during these dark times.

The masses will convince you there is no inbetween. You can’t possibly consider the virus a serious threat and value your personal freedom.

They are wrong.

Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been fairly consistent. This is a serious virus that needs serious attention by everyone. Those at higher risk should be even more vigilant. But I have not called for any government action, no police raids on kids’ basketball game, and no laws dictating what people can and cannot do.

And yet, if you show just the slightest bit of deference in the position of one of these two impenetrable castles, you are immediately scolded by the opposite side.

I shouldn’t be surprised. This kind of binary thinking and political brinkmanship was in place long before the virus.

At my core, I believe in freedom. Positions favoring the individual should be the default, but we do require others to live in our modern society. We cannot forget that.

Freedom is a double-edged sword. It gives us tremendous liberty at the cost of tremendous responsibility. Some of this responsibility is to be good protectors and stewards of our land, our friends and loved ones, and our greater community. We show the love of our neighbor not through draconian laws but through compassion and empathy.

Wearing a mask and staying six feet apart from others is not just to protect yourself. It’s to protect others. If you don’t feel the need to protect yourself, you still shouldn’t bring harm to others.

I get it. Masks are uncomfortable. But what is the alternative? Wilfully harming your friends and neighbors?

You see, freedom is a tricky thing. Freedom doesn’t mean you will be free from sacrifice. It doesn’t mean you will always be right. It doesn’t mean you should do something just because you can.

It means you take responsibility for being better, for growing as a person, and striving to minimize the inevitable harm you do to others as you live.

Freedom is a powerful tool to respect and use with wisdom. If you hold it as a bauble to justify your actions, even if they potentially harm others, you aren’t ready for it.

Shifting Perception

Would you still be as conservative, liberal, “woke”, “red-pilled”, or some crazy combination of those if you had been born ten, twenty, fifty, or perhaps one-hundred years ago?

What if you had been born in another state? Another country?

This is an interesting and worthwhile thought experiment because it demonstrates the malleability of our cultural perceptions.

We are undoubtedly unique individuals with perception filters crafted over our lifetime of experience. But with rare few exceptions, we don’t invent an entirely new lens. Our friends, family, hardships, successes, and the very culture we live in shape this lens.

We call it ours, and rightfully so. We earned it. But adjust just a few settings in our lives and our views may dramatically change.

By demonstrating just how flexible our perception filters are, we see how it is silly to hate someone with a slightly different lens. They may be wrong, and we certainly may think they’re ignorant, but ignoring their path–the very path that helped shape their mindset–is a dangerous fault that leads to prejudice, zealotry, partisanship, and our own mental stagnation.

So, try the experiment for yourself. Play “what-if” with your cultural attunement control panel and see what could have been. The results could be interesting.

The Little House of Cultural Expansion

I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie named Injun Kid last night and was struck by a pivotal moment of cultural expansion. It was subtle, but well played, and analyzing it yields a fascinating look into human psychology and spirituality.

In the episode, a half-Native American boy and his mother arrive in Walnut Grove. His grandfather is embarrassed by his presence and insists that his daughter say she adopted him. When the boy refuses to stand for prayer at church, his grandfather yells at him and informs him he must comply or be punished. The child runs away to a nearby stream and prays for peace between with his grandfather.

Laura inadvertently interrupts his prayer. He explains that he was praying.

souix_prayer

Instead of reacting in fear or hatred because he had a different religion, she reached for common ground.

You mean you were saying a Sioux prayer?”

In that moment, Laura’s entire cultural perspective is changed. She had known nothing but Christianity all her life. In an instant, her mind expanded to see the layer above her faith – the fact that others have belief systems radically different from her own. The moment was well played by Melissa Gilbert. She caught the nuance of the exchange quite well.

Totally absorbing yourself in your culture and religion is an incredible experience – one that benefits the universe by allowing it to gain another unique perspective on the zeitgeist of your cultural paradigm. But when you step back and see other cultures, compare their similarities and differences, your mind expands.

Simply knowing other belief systems exist will invariably change yours, which is why many religions fight to keep outside influence from “corrupting” adherents. It’s a shame, because some of the deepest faith and spiritual wellness one can have is by practicing spirituality in full knowledge that yours is not the only valid approach.

We all bring a unique piece to the universal jigsaw puzzle. We are singularly qualified to offer our unique channeling of spirit to others and the world. When we do this in full knowledge of what others offer, our own experience is enhanced. Our mind is expanded, and we stand on the precipice of evolving to a higher plane of existence.

Star Trek: The Next Generation sums this idea up nicely in the next to last scene of All Good Things…

The World is Ending Saturday

I don’t usually see messages of Armageddon in our local media, but this one caught my eye: World Will End Saturday, According to the Internet. If my local media is carrying the story, why it must be serious business.

Rather than immediately laugh at this, I thought I’d actually watch the video. I gave it a whole 4 minutes and 21 seconds of my life.

Goofy special effects and acting aside, there are somewhat accurate astrological references in David Meade’s work, but that’s about it. He claims this somehow has to do with Niburu, the on-again-off-again destroyer of worlds that seems to never make a visual appearance.

The constellation Virgo always chases Leo because Leo comes before Virgo. And yes, Leo is a lion, associated with the Sun (or son, depending upon your interpretation), and Virgo is a symbol of virginity and womanhood. I suppose this is the tie-in with Meade’s prediction (the virgin Mary giving birth to a child), but it’s just weak astrological association at best combined with some sketchy religious reasoning.

Of course, like every end of the world prediction, when this one doesn’t come to pass it will be forgotten, and a new date will be trust upon the world for it’s demise. The prognosticators are never called to apologize or atone for their repeated mistakes.

We can glean a positive message from this: living in the now, as though you are on borrowed time, is good.

Cat Stroller 2: Return of the Manliness

In a very artful poke at the trolls, Nomadic Fanatic lets the women of Las Vegas tell us how manly and attractive a man is carrying a cat (and dog) in a stroller. Eric takes his feline companion in a stroller down the strip and catches more female attention than his trolls could ever accumulate in a year. When asked in an informal poll, they all said that it was not a sign of weakness, and in fact, many saw it as a sign of strength and security.

In case you missed the last post on this topic, trolls gave Eric a very difficult time about carrying his cat in a stroller. Of course this is just jealousy, but he handled it like a pro. Since Eric takes a considerable beating in the pond scum of YouTube comments, this vindication must feel incredibly sweet.

Artificial Culture

I saw an interesting quote on Facebook today about the state of pop music. It was attributed to David Grohl, but I cannot 100% verify that he said it. Either way, I found it incredibly accurate.

16665212_1436130973110710_8209107490979029911_oWhile I would disagree that most of it is fun to listen to, he makes a very valid point – it is devoid of meaning.

I understand that every generation thinks that the younger generation’s music is crap. That is to be expected. But we have not had a case in recent history where the emotion and meaning has been so horribly stripped out of the musical scene.

We are now left with a musical landscape that is devoid of most deeper content and has been reduced to repeating I’m a stupid hoe over and over until its driven deep into the psyche of young, impressionable minds.

Artificial culture is created in a lab, much like processed food. It may have actual elements of culture (i.e. “music”, art, etc.), but it is all created in specific quantities for specific purposes. If there isn’t a particular agenda behind it, then it simply caters to the largest audience possible in order to have the most financial success. From a business point of view there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is generally devoid of meaning outside of monetary gain.

Authentic human culture is created organically and spontaneously. It can be commercial, even have wide appeal or consumption, but it generally has its roots in everyday human life. From jam sessions in garages, to impromptu bar and coffee shop performances, to music artfully written with the goal of being more than the sum of its components, real music, and thus real culture, is grown like a seed in the ground, not from a test tube in a think tank laboratory.

 

 

Offensive Cat Strollers

I enjoy watching Nomadic Fanatic, a YouTube channel by Eric Jacobs that journals his nomadic lifestyle in an RV. He travels from place to place, taking in the scenery and taking us along for the ride. He is both entertaining and informative. I highly recommended it to all my friends and family.

Until, of course, he pressed the nuclear button and offended each and every single one of the cat stroller haters out there. I had no idea their numbers were so many, but he clearly stepped in some deep RV dump station mess when he showed people a cat stroller.

Cat strollers are apparently a rare commodity, and men who are strong enough in their sexuality to be seen using one, even for a minute, not only in public but on YouTube in front of nearly a hundred thousand subscribers are almost unheard of. Since this group of brave individuals is so small, those who are jealous of this ability lashed out with comment after comment of apparent envy.

Eric has enough trouble from trolls, so I hope he takes this in stride and keeps on making awesome videos.