Thinking, as I’m sipping my coffee at Dunkin, a Saturday habit, we build civilization as part of the urge to reduce variables and the effort of living. The thought started during my pre-waking slumber: We work, build shelters and store resources, create complex networks, to try to decrease unpredictability and the end result is that I don’t need to worry about my source of caffeine.
This orderly environment we create is ideal for raising children. It is a nest. Or at least at some levels. Where we, like birds, weave a structure out of chaos in order to keep our offspring safe from predators and ourselves protected a world that can be unkind to the unprepared. Squirrels scurry around, in the fall, gathering up things to keep for food over the hard winter months. Our own species, likewise, is as instinctively forward thinking and creates systems to ease the strain.
The human endeavor, towards these ends of producing stability and abundance, has been so successful that many can go their entire lives not appreciating it.
We’re so well-off, in the developed world, that our impoverished are obese rather than hungry and many now think that healthcare (a service provided by others) is a right. we live in such unprecedented luxury and ease, even the poor can afford a lifestyle that many ancient kings would envy and yet feel so entitled to everything that we will shoot up the McDonald’s drive thru if we can’t get our bacon:
Anyhow, other than entitlement and lack of appreciation, another product of civilization is boredom and fat. In the absence of wars we created sport and without hard work, to keep from physical deterioration, we go to the gym. It is truly bizarre, when you think about it, that we go out and seek the very anxieties that our ancestors built civilization to escape. We are adrenaline junkies, doing intentionally dangerous things for the fix, we want to have unpredictable outcomes.
All of this really does make everything about our existence a weird paradox. As soon we achieve a little bit of stability and peace we become restless. That’s what convinces me that we are as much nature, made for the world we are in, as we are not. That feeling that we somehow do not belong in this place with death and sorrow is what has motivated our progress. It is less about our own being otherworldly and more what has enabled us to survive this universe that would kill us the moment we grew complacent.
This, incidentally, is the one thing that many people do not grasp about entropy, we tend to see decay and deterioration as being only a bad thing. I mean, we fight it. If someone walks into the house with muddy boots it is upsetting and spurs action. But, without this tendency to disorder, without this repeated need to clean up on aisle five, would we even have a reason to live? As much as we hate disorder, it is this continual struggle against it that gives us meaning and purpose.
I’ll have to concede, I was wrong about face masks. Early in the pandemic, in January of 2020 while the corporate media ‘experts’ were saying that we should be more concerned about the seasonal flu. I was worried about this mystery virus in Wuhan and decided to get a box of N95 masks in case my fears were confirmed. I was ridiculed, at the time, for my warnings and telling people to be prepared.
Months later, as the “no human-to-human transmission” claim of WHO became too obviously false to ignore and the glib urgings of politicians for their constituents to visit China were replaced with terror, that confirmed my warnings. But now, with mask mandates and recommendations rolling out, many friends began to resist the idea. They weren’t going to wear a “face diaper” and ridiculed the idea that a bit of cloth would be effective against a virus.
Of course, they were a little right, cloth masks aren’t at all effective against stopping the spread of the virus and now the corporate media is finally conceding this. But still, based on laboratory experiments and filtration level, I believed my N95 masks were effective. However, laboratory conditions are not the real world and, eventually, even that became a question mark for me. Many countries also require facemasks with the masks because the masks are not adequate.
A few weeks ago, I may have overstated, I said that masks were completely ineffective at stopping the spread. Technically correct since the virus spread as much (or even more) in states with strict requirements and yet I’ve also ran into some convincing data that suggests the good masks, the N95’s with a decent seal, may make an 10% difference overall. So on this basis I’ll admit there could be marginal benefit.
The Wishy-washy Way To Truth
Many people, once they’ve made up their minds, never reconsider their stance. If they believe masks are stupid then they will use every excuse in the book not to wear one. I’ve heard them all. The fear about being dehumanized. That breathing carbon dioxide is dangerous. But then they’ll contradict by calling people who disagree “sheeple” and claiming that something that can stop carbon dioxide from leaving can’t stop a virus from entering, hmm?
This is called confirmation bias. People are emotionally invested in their ideas. It is not easy to admit being wrong after making strong statements one way or another. So, rather than be on an unbending quest for the truth, most people (including your’s truly) will seek out the information that ‘confirms’ an established position and ignore what does not. It takes much more effort to take an honest (and critical) look at the evidence and go wherever it leads. Few actually do.
Confirmation (or my side) bias is powerful because it is hidden under layers of fact and explanation that sounds rational. The position being guarded seems completely reasonable to the holder of the opinion, in their eyes they own the moral high ground, and those who disagree are simply ignorant, selfish or otherwise deficiencient. It is often this moral stake in the ground that makes it so hard to back off from an established opinion, we would rather continue in the righteous delusion than deal with the possibility the other side was right.
As the saying goes, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Even a mountain of evidence cannot uproot an established position. It is the same as a fortification on a hill that can hold off waves of an assault with few defenders. That hill being our ego, the banner flying our identity, and we cling to this ground because to lose it would cause us to question ourselves, ask the hard questions of if we are truly virtuous and good, if we are actually intelligent or fooled by our own desire to be right?
It is far easier to remain in the comfort of our own righteous delusion than to consider that the very foundation of our citadel of reason could be sand. We fear changing our perspective will mean we’re wishy-washy or, worse, might require us to examine the underpinnings of other long held beliefs and leave us with no bedrock to build on. Most of all, we fear the ridicule and abuse of our ideological enemies, we can’t let them win!
Powerful Propaganda to Innoculate the Masses
The point of propaganda is to build confirmation bias. The propagandist tries to encourage an emotional bond to an idea, often through appeals to popular prejudice, and yet not overtly or in a way that the targets know they’re being used. Almost every war is fought for the financial benefit of a few and yet sold as some righteous common cause.
For example, both sides of the American Civil War felt they were fighting for civil rights. Both sides used labor that was either property outright or treated like a rented mule. The Northern elites, for all their moralizing abolitionist hubris, depended on an industrial machine that exploited poor European immigrants, taking them right off the boat to send into dark mines, dangerous factory conditions or conscript them into the meat grinder of Lincoln’s war. The South, obviously, was fighting for the privilege of the slaveholding elites and yet convinced they were depending themselves from Northern tyranny and aggression.
Propaganda is about framing an issue in terms favorable to a particular side without ever appearing to be biased to the target audience. It is subversive by design, aims to overwhelm the true complexity of debatable mathers with simple sloganeering, refrains meant to be picked up by the midwits in media and then spread by the unsuspecting masses. The point is to convince the enforcers of the order, the common folk, that they are doing God’s work, being patriots, on the side of irrefutable science or what have you, when in reality they’re serving some undisclosed agenda.
Hitler did not rise to power by being the caricature of evil that we see him as on the other side of the conflict. No, rather, he had convinced enough of the German people that he was on the side of progress, that he would remove the causes of disease and suffering, then build their country back better than ever. The Nazis dressed up in a magnificent authoritarian style, it might look bad in retrospect, knowing where it was leading, yet was hope for a nation emerging from years of crisis.
The Safe and Effective Deception
As part of the propaganda campaign, to convince people to inject the controversial new vaccines, news articles repeated the “safe and effective” mantra over and over again. Both of those words are, of course, subjective. However, they are assuring and have a sort of sophisticated ring. Surely this sort of confident declaration is the result of rigorous science and more or less an unquestionable truth, right?
But the thing most egregious propaganda is not the downplaying and dismissal of the documented deaths or reasonable concerns of those who have studied history enough to know how quickly narratives change. They are simultaneously attacking treatment options, like Ivermectin, that are truly effective, cheap and present less of a risk than Tylenol. It is actually this that makes me distrust them as far as the vaccines. Why are they so adamantly against things that are actually safer than the vaccines and with a proven record?
Even as the new vaccines have proven to be ineffective as far as stopping the spread and preventing infection, despite the natural immunity of those who had the disease being up to thirteen times stronger than the vaccines, the current propaganda narrative continues that it is the unvaccinated are the real cause of the suffering. Nevermind that Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson all have financial ties to big media and make a windfall off of this new product.
Supposedly they’re completely trustworthy this time around?
Anyhow, each day I hear stories, that man a friend knew who faithfully wore a mask, had two shots, and then died after becoming sick from the Covid virus. We have the trickle of stories about vaccine related health complications, contaminated injections resulting in deaths and recalls of millions of doses, warnings from the very inventors of the mRNA technology, and yet told that we’re a conspiracy theorist to question. Those blinded by confirmation bias will never see.
On March 30th, 2015, I published a blog, “Sailing Beyond Safe Waters,” to express my determination to go beyond the safe harbor religious tradition and cultural obligation to truly live in faith.
That was when my blog was only viewed by my family and close friends. In the time since my audience grew exponentially and my life took some completely unexpected turns. Perhaps needless to say, I did leave that safe harbor (where some continue their cross harbor pleasure cruises make believing that they’ve entered the ocean of faith) and have charted territories completely new to me.
In the past couple years I’ve experienced the high seas of fear and doubt. There have been those moments of terror and panic too, when the winds howled, threatening to overwhelm the very timbers of my being, and the waves of a hopeless reality crashed hard. But I continued on, determined to break through, clinging to hope, and facing down the impossible.
Then there was that night when the main mast of my determination snapped, my ship of faith had been capsized by a rouge wave, and all seemed lost. The the debris of my dreams lay scattered across a swath of water a mile long and wide. It was the very thing those harbor pilots (who fancy themselves as seafarers for having seen the mouth of the harbor once or twice) had warned me against when had set out. If they cared, their faithless answers were vindicated with my failure.
However, my distress calls did not go unanswered. I was not alone on this ocean and there were those, who had also left their own safe harbors by necessity or choice, as determined to not let my journey end. It was their help that some of the more important items strewn about (things like meaning and purpose) were recovered from the wreakage.
Those on the ocean either know their need of others or they perish in the first big storm that they encounter. It is only in trials and tribulations that you know who your true friends are in a world of imposters. I’ve learned, by sailing beyond safe waters, that it is only the opinions of those who are there for in times of crisis that truly matter.
Finding the wind for your sails…
The time since then has been one of trying to rebuild identity around something more stayed and keeping doing those things that I’ve done right. I’ve been able to do some personal inventory and think of those things that really matter most to me.
My life, all things considered, hasn’t been bad. I have rental property, a great job, freedom to travel, ideas for the future and a precious bhest. That said, despite being enthralled by the beauty of Orthodoxy, it has been difficult to recover that basic faith—the faith that took me out of the safe harbor into the expanse of the deep—and I’m not sure if it is something that can be recovered.
I’ve been towed along by the obligations of life and a commitment to love with the impossible love in particular. I’ve taken the freedom of not having to try to navigate the waters of romance (having basically settled that question) to take on some other challenges. I’ve found that it is much easier for me to take risks now, leading to some small investments and exploring some others.
Still, the bigger pieces of my new life (post-storm) have yet to fall into place. The sails are unfurled on this vessel of faith, a vessel now shared with someone else, but we wait in the doldrums of the present, scrubbing the decks repeatedly (or, rather, doing the dishes and chores for a household of one) while hoping for that favorable wind that will carry us from this purgatory, of a life neither completely here nor fully there, and finally carry us to the paradise over the horizon.
It is important to be ready for when the wind returns, to have the capacity to take full advantage of that moment. The hard part is having the right mentality about the present reality to get to that moment and be ready to be underway—sailing again.