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Category Archives: Fear

Freedom of Speech

Palette with speech balloonsWith all the buzz lately about freedom of speech it has inspired me to tackle this complicated subject. It’s very dear to me, mostly because I am not just a writer, I am an artist. I am also an art historian.

Artists and their cousins, writers, create from within their cultures, their backgrounds and circumstances. Their expression comes, necessarily, from what they live, what they think and what they feel. They are the barometer of a society’s health. Artists are frequently free thinkers, rebels even. It takes a lot of courage to take what you feel and put it in the public eye. It takes a lot of self-honesty to get those feelings out on canvas, paper, sculpture in a way that works… an artist must always be aware of self-censorship, because that stifles creativity. Being self-aware also makes one more sensitive to the environment one lives in… is it any mystery that artists are usually the first ones to see and express that which is anathema to them?

Art is often understood as a comment upon, or a reflection upon our society. As observers, artists are capable of showing us a mirror of our own actions, beliefs, or political systems. Directly engaged with aesthetics, they are also capable of influencing the way we see our surroundings, or challenging the beliefs of their predecessors. link

Paris, 26 September 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA).

Censorship is the first weapon of tyrants. It is the first weapon of the fearful and close-minded, and the control freaks. Art can convey uncomfortable truths, unspoken truths. It’s not always the intention of an artist to bring to the forefront of society those things that need addressing, but sometimes that’s exactly what the intention is. My inner conviction is that this is a necessary role in our society. Awareness is a process that doesn’t just happen individually, but collectively as well. We need each other, and we need each others talents whether that is; fixing a dishwasher, repairing a road, handling finances, raising children or expressing beauty, truth, conflict and ugliness through art. We need each other, as a social species, as human beings… and the gifts we bring should never be stifled, outlawed or censored. We are all diminished when we allow this to happen.

I am not normally a rude person, nor do I try to offend others intentionally, but sometimes to truly be authentic – to speak my truth or paint my truth, rudeness or offence happens. I can’t do anything about how another takes my work, and I can’t censor myself to try to please everyone, or I might as well just stop speaking, writing and painting altogether.

I am all for personal kindness, understanding and tolerance, but never at the expense of truth, or freedom of expression.

What do you think?


 

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Fear, History, Passion, Responsibility

 

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The News is Killing You

I had a reply on a forum I belong to today. The poster stated that she believed that most people are, “self-aggrandizing, greedy pompous twits”. Sometimes I agree with that… and it frustrates me to no end how stupid people can be sometimes, and yes, selfish and greedy. But that too is a matter of perspective. There are very many people who are not like that. There are a lot of people who are doing a ton of good in the world… there are bright and giving and innovative people… lots of them.

I didn’t know that for the longest time, and I despaired.

I can only relate my own experience but a few years back I read something on positive thinking (ya ya I know.. a lot of it is woo – but stick with me) because of depression… and it suggested something interesting. It suggested that one stop consuming ‘news’, especially television but also newspapers, and engaging in gossip (commiseration in particular). It said that people need reasons to bond and one of the easiest ways is to bond in shared misery, as well bonding in joint criticism. It stated that these were the basis of most media news these days but that it was a false way to bond, and build community in the long run. I thought about it, a lot.

It was a challenge to stop watching TV altogether. (And radio news and newspapers as well)

I did… for over a year.

Then it suggested seeking out the good reports, finding the news that is about the good people do, people to look up to – role models if you will. So I did (the internet makes it much easier than before) and what I found startled me. No, not Mother Teresa… but hundreds of stories of regular people doing awesome shit. Teenagers, kids, stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs, seniors… sometimes little things like grass-roots fund-raising to build a community center in the arctic, or teenagers starting a gay/straight alliance club at their high school, or people cleaning up a neighborhood, or visiting seniors and the handicapped, or cat rescue. Sometimes bigger things like KIVA -small loans made to small business owners all over the world, or political lobbying, or stopping some big corporation from ruining another wetland, or creating a community garden, creating a co-operative, or taking family volunteer vacations to help dig a well in Africa… or even writing blogs that inform us normal average folks about issues and stirring up activism. The creativity and philanthropy I actually found was staggering – much more than any large organization does. I think many more people would contribute this way if the truth were known. It is not uncommon and people have tons of power to make changes, and there are people doing it. There are lots of them.

I came to the conclusion that most of the news we get is woefully unbalanced and biased. It’s NOT THE TRUTH, about people or events, at all. It’s easy to see the world as cold and selfish and greedy when 99% of the reports we get are about the bad guys, and the disasters, and ‘doom and gloom’ forecasts, and the greedy and the fear-mongers propaganda. It disenfranchises people and makes us all feel helpless and powerless – it creates a dependent victim mentality, it separates and divides, and it is BULLSHIT.

It’s all bullshit, on every level; local, national and global.

But like anything worthwhile – finding the good stuff takes effort. Choosing to pick up the damn spoon and feed ourselves, instead of passively accepting what is given us takes effort.

I still avoid the news… to a point. I still watch very little TV, and I never listen to radio news. And guess what? I’m no longer depressed… and I have much more hope for the world than I did before (and way less anxiety and contempt for mankind) and to this day I actively seek out the good stuff – because it’s real and it’s big, and that’s the world I want to be a part of.

These are some good things I follow:

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/

http://www.globalgoodnews.com/  (I don’t follow the Maharishi – but the links to good stories in inspiring)

http://positivenews.org.uk/

http://www.good.is/people-are-awesome

http://www.kiva.org/

http://listverse.com/2011/01/27/10-great-philanthropists-who-are-kids/

What do you do to find out what people are really doing? How do you stay positive in the avalanche of negativity that is our modern media?

Do you believe people are intrinsically good?

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in awesome, Fear, giving, good news, Happiness, positive, stupid

 

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Random Awesomeness

The law is a wierd thing and I usually get depressed when I hear about the sentences handed out these days.

Every once in a while though, this kind of awesome justice happens.

 

and I smile…

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in awesome, Happiness, humour, Ignorance

 

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Friday Link Love

  • November 1st, 1952 — The First Thermonuclear Bomb Test — Marshall Islands
    Britannica.com has some intense history for us to contemplate. Science is a marvelous thing, and I love it. I don’t always love the way it’s applied and I hope we find the moral intelligence to temper our technological advances. This was a sad day in history for earth, let us not forget that responsibility is the price of progress.
  • Pamela over at Angry Black Bitch has interesting and perceptive things to say about race-baiting and friendship.
  • Chris is one of my favorite people. Here he talks about what freedom means to him. I’ve learned a lot from Chris.
  • Kittehs!!
 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Fear, History, Nuclear, Responsibility, Science

 

I Hate Stupid People

No, not people who have a lower than average IQ—who are unable to grasp certain ideas—for them I have nothing but compassion. It’s willful ignorance I hate. It’s lazy thinking and unexamined beliefs and swallowing misinformation and emotional reactions without investigation and careful consideration.

There’s no excuse for it, not in this day of public education and access to information via libraries and the internet. Not here in the West.

Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil.
Plato (427 BC – 347 BC)

I am shocked daily by the level of ignorance I see and read. I am angered by the drivel that passes for news. I am confused that the same people who use cell phones and computers don’t have even a rudimentary understanding of science. I am bewildered by supposedly intelligent people believing in things that are absurd. I am disheartened by the lack of logic and reasoning power in a large proportion of the population. I am taken aback by attitudes based on superstition and magical thinking. I am disgusted by the lack of historical knowledge or even basic skepticism in people. I am enraged that people abuse ‘political correctness’ to shut down legitimate criticism of their stupid ideas.

I am freaked out by the lack of functional literacy. I am terrified of people voting and otherwise making important social choices when it’s obvious they haven’t got a clue what they’re doing… and they don’t seem to have the desire to investigate the facts for themselves, but rely on others (usually loud charismatics who have an agenda) to think for them.

I am pissed that people prefer lies, misinformation, myths, propaganda and urban legends, or even unverified (and sometimes ridiculous and hateful) positions because it’s easier than thinking for themselves.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968), Strength to Love, 1963

Self-imposed ignorance is dangerous and irresponsible, and there is no excuse for it.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Fear, Ignorance, stupid

 

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Personal Agendas

It’s important to stay positive. I think that is one of the key ingredients to creating a great life. It is also important to stay true to yourself and be clear about your inner motivations and intentions.

Agenda’s are those underlying concepts and desires that structure how we operate in the world. They are our special interests – those things we feel passionate about and want to promote. They are the things that are at the bottom of our personal goals.

Most of us who are dedicated to personal growth have some sense of our place in the world, of being part of a community, whether that is global, our countries, our towns, our neighborhood or even our own small circle. We are part of a system, many systems in fact, and although we are ultimately only responsible for ourselves it would be foolish not to see that we have an impact and that we influence our communities too.

Whether we do this positively, or negatively depends on our ability to be clear about our own personal agendas. Agendas are born, nurtured and sustained by our beliefs about our world and our place in it. Agendas are directly related to our self-esteem and what we want to accomplish.

We all have agendas.

Agendas can be positive, negative… and in rare cases, neutral. Agendas can come from ambitions, and from a sense of service and connection. Agendas can help us focus on our direction and stay on track with our values. Agendas from a place of love and service influence others in positive ways, especially if we are flexible and willing to adjust our agendas to work with others.

Agendas can also come from ego. When they come from ego it’s directly related to fear… usually a fear of losing something, whether that is fear of losing what you need to survive, losing love, losing status, or losing control of something. Agendas from fear are filled with deception, manipulation and only serve the self. These kind of agendas don’t consider the impact they have on others and can bulldoze others in their need to dominate.

Personal development, at its core, is about awareness. It’s about aligning with our highest selves. It’s about assessing who we are and then discarding what we don’t like and acquiring or uncovering what we do like. Our intentions and our passions are the road markers on this path. With awareness our world gets larger and we can see a little further than before. We can see that we affect the people around us, we affect our communities and the world too.

Do we want this impact to be positive, or negative?

Being clear about what motivates us is the key to this process. Knowing what our agendas are makes it possible for us to consciously develop them so that they serve us, and others in positive ways. It prevents us from acting from a position of fear. Being honest about our own personal agendas is the way to bring them in conscious awareness and ensure they align with our values and ethics.

Personal agendas are a fact of life. Like any of our personality traits—quick to anger/slow to start, need to lead/prefer to follow—they have both positive and negative qualities. The key is to acknowledge them openly and work with them. Only then can we move in a shared direction, applying our ideas and passions for the greater good of all.

Everyone has an agenda. Are you aware of yours?

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Fear, Goals, Passion, Personal Growth

 

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How Fear Controls Us

Fear

It permeates our culture, media, entertainment, and politics. It seeps insidiously into our thoughts and affects our choices and actions. Fear is used by those in power to control the reactions of the masses. Fear is used by the media to sell advertising (which for those who don’t know is the main purpose of mainstream media). Fear is used by companies to sell products too.

I believe that unfounded fear is at the root of a lot of social, political and individual issues.

During the Cold War, when I was a young adult living in a large city, I had a severe panic attack when I heard a sonic boom that shook my apartment from what I found out later was a jet plane. I actually believed, for a moment, that someone had dropped the bomb.

Yup, for a split second I thought that some insane power-hungry jackass had pushed the BIG RED BUTTON and that was it, it was all over, it was the end of the world. At that time the threat of nuclear annihilation was a very real possibility or at least we were led to believe that.

I’ll qualify that experience with the assurance that nuclear war was not something I thought about consciously at that time in my life. I was in my early twenties and had much more important stuff on my mind. Things like where were my friends and I going to go clubbing, or what was I going to wear that day, whether I thought Madonna had any talent or was just a really good self-promoter, or the relationship drama and woes I was going through. You know, IMPORTANT things.

But the subtle and pervasive idea that nuclear war was a very real and imminent threat was everywhere. It was in the media, it was on the lips of our politicians, it colored everything, including the music I listened to and somehow I had absorbed this, without any critical thinking on my part, to the point where it had seeped into my subconscious beliefs about my safety on this planet.

It had become my reality. So much so that I had a VISCERAL automatic response to it, an underlying anxiety that affected my behavior and choices in ways I’ll probably never be completely aware of.

The reality is that the imminent threat of nuclear war during those times is questionable. I’m not saying it was entirely false but that propaganda played a part in that message. However, it is the perception of threat that is the point in this article, not the politics.

Fear is a very powerful emotion, it’s a very basic emotion, probably one of the first to evolve. It affects us physiologically below the level of the conscious mind. It is not rational in most cases, unless one is being chased by a saber tooth tiger or lives in a war zone. It’s instinct.

It is frequently harbored in us without any real evidence, and it passes like a virus from person to person. Being social animals we learn from one another and if the person next to us is fearful we immediately become alert, whether we see the threat ourselves, or not – scanning the horizon for the threat just like a herd of gazelle do when a cheetah is seen by one and gives a call of warning. (We can’t get beyond our evolutionary instincts yet, they DO affect us, no matter how smart we think we are) We may not be aware of this consciously but it’s there.

An animal needs fear, it is a necessary survival mechanism that allows it to react quickly to a perceived imminent threat. It is meant to save its life and the biological reaction to fear is swift and powerful and automatic. It’s the ‘flight or fight’ response we have all heard about, it’s the reason for things like a granny being able to hold a car off her grandson until the paramedics arrive. It has great value in situations that are life threatening, but in daily life it can be crippling and it can affect our behavior in ways that remove choice because it’s not rational, it’s instinctual.

In modern society our perceived horizon is very big, global in fact, because we are capable of imagining our environment from a much larger perspective than other animals can (as far as we know). An animal’s world is immediate, in the moment, what they can sense, not what they can imagine in space or time.

Humans, on the other hand, spend most of their time imagining their environment in abstract terms, visualizing the possibilities around them and projecting into the future. Very few of us live in the here and now. This truth has very real psychological and physical consequences because we believe that our imagining is the reality and when our subconscious accepts our view of our world, our bodies and emotions follow along obediently. Our ability to reason and imagine is one of our greatest strengths, but it has a down side too, and it can be affected by false, biased or less than accurate information.

I wonder how many people have anxiety from the thought of the possibility of an extinction event from a meteor strike? That’s a pretty big horizon… universal, in fact.

How many of us fear things that are, in essence, just possibilities? How many of us believe and fear things that are unexamined such as messages from media sensationalizing some threat to our security whether that is physical, financial, social or ideological? How do these messages of fear affect our beliefs, choices and behaviors?

How much of that fear controls us?

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Fear

 

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