The opening part of the above title is likely as well known in the United States (and perhaps most of western or Christian-leaning culture) as any other maxim. Taken from the new testament text of Matthew the passage loosely states to ‘judge not, that you not be judged…for with what judgement you use, you shall be judged and with what measure you use it shall be measured to you again’. How lovely and idealistic a recommendation…actually more like how misguided and baseless a concept. Judgment is the very foundation on which the decision-making process was built. It involves on some level the use of our otherwise expansive brains to see the necessary potential for action and to move accordingly based on various information (or even the lack there of).
Judgement exists in two forms: judgement before an action and judgement based on the interpretation of (ideally) relevant facts. The first part of this involves the use of prejudice. Prejudice as it’s viewed in today’s world is a very loaded and dangerous word. In the modern liberal wing of political thought, it is an enemy of the people that needs to be snuffed out from existence in order to bring balance to the world. But, let’s think about it for a second, what is prejudice at its core other than a preconceived opinion not based on reason or actual experience; essentially it is a thought lacking perspective. Developing perspective on a matter is an act that requires involving oneself in something an individual may otherwise, and most likely doesn’t, have experience in. The problem is that we are hard wired to judge, especially in situations of duress…which are from an evolutionary standpoint brought on by uncertainty…things we don’t have experience with (particularly as it relates to our well-being – this is called the ‘fight or flight’ response).
Unwarranted prejudice, something very much alive and well, makes no sense and can even be categorized as reprehensible if for no other reason than the individual has made zero attempt at trying to understand that with which they are casting judgement. This doesn’t mean that the act in and of itself should be abandoned. It’s because of the blanket manner in which judging is itself judged that we as a species (which is far, far more important than the characteristics of race and certainly ethnicity) find ourselves still in a rut. It goes back in large part to the earlier piece in which I spoke about the dangers of being nice – by forgoing this natural, built-in mechanism, we find a large number of us taken advantage of by life’s inequalities (the majority of which are unfortunately predicated on race, gender and socio-economic status).
What we need, perhaps now more than ever, is to judge; judge whether or not a particular company is a good fit for us before we pack up our bags to discover it otherwise isn’t (my case), judge whether college is a good fit as the debt we are likely to be straddled with will take decades to pay off, judge to what degree an elected official is full of shit (as they all are to varying degrees)…the list goes on and on for the unforeseeable future. When we judge it has to be understood that the system of weights and measures is so out of whack it’s like comparing the American standard of measurements to the Metric System. There’s ‘rich justice’ and ‘poor justice’. There’s the judgement of the rights of victims versus the rights of the accused. There’s even the judgement of majority versus minority opinion. No where does it state that life is fair, at best it’s a sliding scale and to see and act as though everything is peaches when most things are broccoli is like cutting a brake line before driving downhill – not a good idea.
I wanted to follow up on the piece I wrote yesterday to speak in greater depth about a particular sub-topic that emerged from it. Weaved within the idea or concept of commitment is a fixed constant that depending on a person’s scientific or spiritual affiliation is as inescapable as paying taxes…time. As a greater fan of the sciences than the supernatural the doors that have been opened recently in the paradoxes of this idea have been amazing. From absolute time (Newtonian) to quantum time to relativistic, an individual could spend their entire life in pursuit of studying these fields and only make microscopic progress. The expansion of these theories appears boundless but one thing that is certainly not is the human lifespan. It is from this point I will move forward.
In the article prior to this one I spoke about commitment and what I felt was a better way to view the process, particularly as it relates to emotionally underdeveloped individuals like myself (see neurotic twats). I still stand by the importance of viewing life in terms of a series of decisions rather than unwaveringly blind devotion but it’s the second part I feel necessary to clarify. True a decision can be made in favor of something, made against something or not be made at all. There’s one small caveat to the last choice though and that’s where time comes in. As time passes and events unfold and become the past a tiny phenomenon occurs that effects the foundation under which indecision stands.
This anomaly moves the resulting outcome of indecision toward a either a positive end result or a negative one. Based on my own experience I have found it trends more toward the negative. I can’t speak to why this is; whether it’s bad luck or part of a greater course of interconnected things I’m unable to see and have no data to directly correlate. Regardless the prevailing logic the only thing I feel that matters is the present or immediately foreseeable result. I have found that there is a small pattern between the time lag and the type of decision being avoided. It is this pattern that could potentially help patch the messy roadwork between staying indecisive and choosing a course of action.
A pair of examples that come to mind because of their diametrically opposite timeframes are post high school career life decisions and the unhealthy romantic relationship. With the first a person could put off making a ‘decision’ in theory for the rest of their life. While the ground on which this commitment stands is not made of sand it’s not necessarily concrete either. Along the way chance or circumstance will expose a person to a unique variety of opportunities. There’s a very strong potential for one of these being an excellent future life pursuit, but if a person remains in the neutral zone the prospect for a more meaningful existence will be lost. On the other hand, in the case of the unhealthy relationship the longer one waits to address the issue, to make the necessary decision(s), they will discover the quick sand they have built this part of their life on sinking at a frantic rate.
At the end of the day it’s your life; only you can live it. To do or not do, that’s all on the person. The final call belongs solely to the individual party. Solace in having the freedom to pursue, avoid, or act in direct opposition to a present or future decision/commitment is liberating. But keep in mind that as time robs our bodies of the mobility of our youth it also acts to make decisions potentially harder and less easy to avoid. So, in summary, use your head – as the saying goes there’s a time and place for everything…just keep in mind time is not necessarily your friend, or on your side
Get your laptop or tablet out and launch your internet browser. Now I want to search “stand out quotes”. What came up? My guess is a healthy variety of links to websites with numerous sayings from a variety of people. “Only someone wishing to disappear would ever strive to fit in (Shaun Hick).” “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different (Coco Chanel).” And another gem “if you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be (Maya Angelou).” Touching right? Touching my ass, more like out of touch. This new obsession with every one having value makes NO sense and I’m no exception.
As I write this there’s a much greater chance this will gain zero traction than take off into a wild success. And guess what? I’m completely happy, a state of being beyond content, with that. Notice there’s no ads on the site and that’s not just because I’m too cheap to buy business plan service on WordPress. In the end I’m only doing this for…wait for it…myself. That’s right for me, the solid six I see in the mirror every day. Would it be nice to reach people on a much grander scale, sure – anyone that endeavors to do anything artistic (and yes writing is an art…maybe not as how I do it but as Joyce and Hemingway did you bet your ass sweet it is).
The problem today as I see it is this every person is something special thing that’s going on. From participation awards to recognizing things that even just a few decades ago were of no consequence we’ve ushered in an era of self-aggrandizement the likes of which humanity has never before seen. Snap chat, Instagram, Facebook and countless other social platforms have unleashed a new frontier of sharing. One in which there is no delineating between what is worth our time and what is a waste of it.
Without the ability to separate value we are left with a deflating human currency. Despite all the positive advancement made in areas of racial and gender inequality we continue to slow our progress by over planting the communication matrix with fruitless trees of knowledge. The story of us has become every single one of us and while that may seem utopic keep in mind the definition of this word given to us by the Greeks means ‘nowhere’. Which is exactly where we are headed if we don’t learn to return to lifting up those who truly contributing to society as a whole; regardless their race…regardless their gender. Some of us our special, many of us our not. We must learn to live within what chance and circumstance has given us, of course always staying true to the interests of one’s heart but remember in the end there is only what we give and what we take away. A prize for everyone takes away almost every ounce of meaning.
Abraham Lincoln famously stated in 1858 after accepting the Republican nomination for the Illinois senate that “a house divided against itself can not stand”. As powerful and gripping a statement as that is it actually makes little sense – unless of course that house is a single room log cabin…which is, in fact, what Lincoln grew up in during his youth in Kentucky. In reality most ‘homes’ are divided and done so for a variety of reasons. The reason that stands out most boldly to me is to create the feeling of privacy. Not in the paranoid sense of the word per se but rather in a fashion that fosters respect and independence.
Lincoln as brilliant and courageous as he was (passing judgement on a person of this caliber is very unsettling by the way) might have missed the mark a bit in his assessment. All the world exists in division and contradiction. We have light and darkness…there’s hot and cold. It makes no more sense to fight against these things than it does to try to stick it to gravity. The key I believe is working within to find a way to manage. This is done in nature every moment of every day – they’re called atoms.
Think about – the configuration of an atom has a positively charged component (protons) situated next to neutrons (neutral particles) surrounded by cloud(s) of negatively charged particles (electrons). Sure, compounds are formed by the donating or sharing of particles – but in the end they still remain in this contradictory nature. As in science so in life things are in constant opposition. Even today I personally struggle with understanding and accepting this. The main reason this exists is because of the idealized version of the world I (and many others) have created in our mind.
Having strong ideals is a noble undertaking and sadly has cost the very lives of those believers having them – Lincoln, Dr. King, Ganhdi, Robert Kennedy and numerous other civil rights activists. To see gross inequalities based on things such as race and gender is abhorrent. Being ‘human’ while not actually being ‘humane’ is the ultimate contradiction. Yet it still exists and will continue to do so. Is there an answer on how to cope with this phenomenon? Perhaps there is but it’s likely not something people want to hear, acceptance.
Don’t confuse acceptance with complacence though. We are NOT saying it’s (whatever the grievance) okay. We’re only acknowledging that contradictions do exist, the next step is the work around. The key to be better skilled at navigating thru these is like anything else…starting early. Bring our young heads down from the clouds and (gently) place our feet on the ground. It is there we can start moving and it will be through our actions that any type of change will occur. The process will be slow but will be worth it to create a new balance and order to the world we live in.
Whether you want to believe it or not you’re in a cult. Apologies for being the bearer of bad news but it’s true. Rather than dwell on the fact let’s move forward with an exercise. I want you to look up the definition of a cult. Since you’re already online it shouldn’t require much effort. Done googling it yet? What did you find? Now I want you to remove the word ‘religion’ from the focus; all religions are cults so I’m not going spend any time on that (for now). Again, what do we see? Pretty interesting right? I’d like you to take particular note of the synonyms. Now that you see them continue just a bit further to absorb the full context of the word.
How do you feel? Unchanged, okay…well you could probably stop reading this now. Curious as to where I’m going? Wonderful, time for a deeper examination of semantics. According to the online version of Merriam Webster (I’d like to think a solid, reliable source) the second definition of the word cult reads – “a great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.” Hmm, interesting. Now if we go back to the first definition Merriam gives and as I suggested earlier remove “religion” from it’s wording what we are left with is (I’m paraphrasing) – a [formalized belief] regarded as orthodox or spurious…[and] also its body of adherents.
So, there you have it in a nut shell. All a cult really is, is a group of people with a formalized set of beliefs. From the continued practice of these communally accepted ideas or principles we have what is known as culture. In fact, the word cult and culture share the same Latin root word, ‘colere’ which means ‘to tend or cultivate’. As I stated previously I’m not on a mission to get into religion with this post or even discuss cults as they are most popularly highlighted in American society, i.e. Manson, David Koresh, Jim Jones, etc. What I would like to discuss are some of the cults we belong to that effect the whole of our existence just as much as any religious belief yet for some reason aren’t properly understood as cults.
- This is a no-brainer. The larger the number of employees the closer it becomes to a pure, unaltered cult. Think about it. You have 40, 50, 60,000+ people ‘greatly devoted to…work’ (albeit to various degrees). The object is a paycheck, the idea is to provide security of some sort and the movement is away from concepts such as individuality and freedom of a person towards being little more than an automaton. (**Author’s note – I presently belong to this cult so don’t fret if you do too)
- Political Parties
- Unlike the prior cult I NO longer belong to this one. In a world where there’s 40+ flavors of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream but only two major political parties (United States) I’m not sure how a person doesn’t see this as some cultic shit. While it’s most often centered around something like the Presidential Election the phrase ‘lesser of two evils’ is something if thought about at greater length sounds both spurious as well as unorthodox. We (of which I include myself) willfully suspend a great amount of personal belief in order to gravitate around the ideology of holding up one person in reverence. Game. Set. Cult.
- [Blind] Patriot (Patriotism)
- In America we know who these people are and while it’s commendable to have appreciation and even a sense of pride for where one is from an alarm has to sound when it’s carried on to a level of complete and totally blind devotion to one’s native land. What makes this group of folks particularly fascinating is that they manage to fit all the criteria of a cult by only the mere substitution of a ‘god’ by the ‘state’. Think about it for a moment. If you had to come up with one sentence to describe this group to the letter, what would it be? For me, I would say ‘a person with a great devotion to a leader or leaders, the idea of freedom (whatever the fuck that is) with the object being the spread of (in the case of the US) democracy everywhere, to allow the movement of capital markets to work where they have not prior been. I think that sounds about right?
There you have it, three things you’ve probably had thoughts of but not necessarily in the perspective of what they really are. Of course, there’s a ton more and I’m sure at some point if I keep this site going we’ll touch on quite a few additional ones. This post though was about re-framing perspective. I don’t know much but one thing I am certain about (and will touch on in greater length later) is that there is no such thing as reality. Yes, there’s definable realities and boundaries established by the wonderful fields of physics and mathematics but in the realm of human existence the only true thing is how someone perceives the world. So, huge congratulations go out to you – and I as well. We are all the proud members of some kind of cult and while its not Costco (which could also be argued is a cult….really, who the hell needs 20 tubes of toothpaste) we have all done our primary humanly duty and made sure we belong to something. After all we are just primates.