A New Condition

The world is in crisis.

We have been lied to.

Each of us deceived by those who we thought would protect us. Conditioning has placed us where we are. Conditioning is what will free us once more. There is much about the world around us that we cannot understand for what it is; interconnected parts working for each other against the best interests of humanity. Like lambs to the slaughter, we were shown our roles. We did not fight for what we believed, nor did we conform to what they wished.

We succumbed to the will of perceived inevitability.

I think that we are avoiding the most obvious point of it all. It is not whether it is happening because we started it. The thing that we must remember is that we can do something about it. What we know and believe is little more than what we were told to believe; the wealth of our knowledge is little more than what has been told to us. The nations of this world are divided by walls and barriers that are not physical, but instead ideological and financial. We are not creatures of evil or apathy, but instead we are taught and engrained throughout our lives to behave this way, adhering and following the antediluvian archetypes of centuries and empires past.

What can be offered is not a panacea.

What can be offered is to help find the value in living and the love in what is all around you. These times that face us are powerful and sorrowful, for each day defines the next. A change does not appear before our eyes, but is instead the earnest incremental struggle of ideals and beliefs that will change the world.

It has been said that one human being cannot change the world. This creates a false dichotomy insofar that we have been made to believe that either our actions can change the world, or they cannot. This is not the way of things. We may change, for good or bad, when we lift up (and are lifted up by) our brothers and sisters.

The world is sick.

Humanity is ailing.

We have hunger, famine, disease, and widespread violence the world over. Consuming the resources of this one planet, we do so at such a rate that we will collapse beneath the weight of our own refuse before our time. If we are to survive, then we must fight to stay. We must believe that this world is worth having, and prove that we deserve to occupy this planet.

Some have deferred responsibility, saying that the world will do what it must and technology will catch up. But how can technology match our consumption and destruction pace for pace, if all of our monetary resources are being funneled into that consumption and destruction? All of us are responsible for what we do, how we behave, and the lives we live.

We as a species face such a need for survival. No longer can we look at the plights of the world through rose-colored glasses, or from atop our distant steeples. We must accept responsibility for the actions of the nations in which we live. Though we did not deprive a village of their resources, our constant demand for new things has driven industry to knock on the doors of nations the world over for resources.

It is time to stand up and say no more.

Caring about other people needs to be trendy.

Not because being eco-friendly and caring about your fello human is popular amongst the rich and the famous, but because it can and will save the world. None of us are perfect. Nothing is expected of us in this life except what we are willing to give. But, we must not be afraid to give.

We are a community whether we wish to believe it or otherwise. Even if you strand yourself in the farthest reaches of the world, your existence is dependent upon the creation and distribution of consumer goods that you will need in order to survive. We are an interconnected world. We have this one world and we have to prove that we belong here. I have heard (from loved ones and mentors alike) that we cannot be responsible for what is happening to his world; that we are too insignificant to make an impact.

But this feels like an excuse.

As is such with much of life, we want to be responsible when it is in our best interest. When what we have done appears as a black mark upon who we are, then we decide we can  no longer influence events. People wish to judge others actions, but not be judged on what they do. They wish to say whatever comes to their minds, critiquing and attacking others, but not to be held responsible for the insufferable, illogical discourse that marks their opinions and doubts.

It would appear that empathy is a forgotten emotion.

Creating a system in which the blame falls on the individual despite the nature of the system has become the standard. We think that every person is capable of overcoming circumstances; that advantages are not awarded by birth and affluence. Pop culture has ingrained in us that if we think positively about something, if we dare to dream, then we can influence our future.

But this strikes me as logically incongruent.

And it should sound problematic to the world.

This type of belief blames those who do not rise above their circumstances. There is a passive nature to this time of admonition, hidden behind a beautiful possibility. I ask: is this truly the nature of the world? If you believe something, then doors will open for you? I think the outliers and exceptions have become the norm. We expect that if we try hard, then we will be rewarded.

What of those afflicted with famine and victims of genocide forced into refugee camps the world over? What of rape victims? What of children abused? What of people killed because of the color of their skin? Did these people not wish hard enough? Did they not direct their thoughts in the proper direction to find hope? Certainly I have outlined only the horrors of the world, but we cannot turn a blind eye upon these sores on the back of humanity.

We have to stand up for those who have no voice.

Have we become a nation that hears, but does not listen? Have we become a nation that speaks, but says nothing? Some of my peers, as well as those a generation older, fear assisting those less fortunate; that by giving to them, the will to achieve will be broken. That somehow helping those that cannot help themselves will erode the fabric of who we are.

Is this true?

I am not suggesting that we bankrupt ourselves to help others, but as Peter Singer has suggested, we should give enough so that the least well-off can rise to a level that could be considered basic. When there are children starving in countries where what we pay for a gallon of gas could feed them for a day, I have to question whether sacrificing some of the comfort and affluence so others may simply live should not be mandatory.

We have been tricked into believing something that is not true.

They told us that there is a right way and a wrong way. They said there are Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, pro-war or against war. All around us the constructs of our society dictate endless false dichotomies that force us to choose one over the other without examining the rationality, or possibility, of something that we cannot perceive.

I sometimes try to think of a world that is so unlike this one. The mantra that there is no better place to live, or that we are number one, simply makes me sad. Who wants to be number one in a world where there is so much suffering and sadness? In America, there is immunity to the horrors and travesties of the world. We are insulated from the world that surrounds us.

We rally behind demagogues, partisan rhetoricians who care more about the game of being elected than demanding excellence and change of policy. They have become so assimilated into the culture of domination and conditioning that their campaigning rhetoric is little more than a clever game of chess with words. They dance and shuffle with issues that should matter, but know that the hot button issues (the ones we have been conditioned to care about) should have well-articulated and formulated opinions.

The world does not change because power is assumed. One person can direct the world in a positive direction, but the capacity for change is within each of us. The ability to radically alter our circumstances is in the belief that we are equal, that we can help each other. Leaving those deemed as unworthy to fend in a world that rewards selfishness and shuns those less fortunate prepares us for failure.

I fear that when the times do not regulate themselves quickly enough, that change does not happen with the turn of a phrase or the passing of a single day, that some will be quick to demonize. One person can lead. One person can inspire. But it takes a nation to change. It takes a world to see.

There are times in history we look back upon when reading, or taught in a classroom, that we shudder at the humanitarian violations of a government and the apathy of the people at its base. We wonder to ourselves how a nation loses its moral compass.

Apathy.

Compliance.

Comfort and Conformity.

Ponder the world as it is. Take it in and really think about it. Talk about it amongst your friends and family and encourage intellectual discourse. Find your own answers. Seek out information. Do not be satisfied with the status quo or the regurgitated material that you see on every news channel. Fight against the propaganda and lip service of news that is created for you. Remember that you have the power to change your mind.

People may tell you what to think, but you decide whether or not you will believe what is being feed to you is truth, or if you will search for something that might be difficult. Some may try to convince you that questioning the good life is wrong, or that what you have read is wrong.

There is nothing wrong with disbelief, it encourages discovery.

Do not be afraid to be proven wrong, or to prove something wrong. These are the issues I grapple with every day. These are issues that I think autonomous beings of the free world must talk about. It would be intellectually dishonest of us as thinking beings to not analyze the impact of who we are on the world. We need to demand change, to stand with others instead of standing apart.

A new condition must prevail.

Is impatience the real enemy of reaching your goals?

If you are like most writers, the excitement of writing a book can very nearly be everything you need to finish and publish, to reach your goal. In many ways, this is true of all goal-setting behavior. I was lamenting the other day that I really wanted to be done with Sixth Prime (seriously, click and give it a read) because I think it will resonate with readers. Even though there is still another draft to go before several rounds of edits, and then design, I wanted it now.

Why is that I wonder?

The impatience paradox. I talk a lot about starting goals and setting goals, but very little about completing a goal when you have stalled in the middle. I like to call this the impatience paradox. This is the overwhelming feeling that creeps in mid-goal, which is usually accompanied by fatigue with the process and a burning, irrational desire that people should already be supportive of the finished product (or goal). For writers, this is often the moment when you think this book could be “the one,” and you really just want everyone to be sharing and reading and writing and freaking out over it. As normal as that sounds (impatience happens to everyone in pursuit of a goal, especially if that goal is within reach), it can be a productivity and discipline killer. It can make you switch your focus or collapse beneath the weight of wanting it to be done. So what can you do?

Overcoming impatience. Don’t let impatience keep you from reaching your goals. In order to get past impatience, you need to recognize it for what it is: fear. More than likely, you are having anxiety about the outcome of your goal, or how achieving your goal will affect you. Once you publish that book, people will react to it. What if they hate it? What if they love it? What if it doesn’t sell? What if people want more? Regardless of how it makes you feel, you need to remember that you started down this path for a very good reason. You had a goal; don’t give up now.

Reaching your goals. So, how do you get back on track? Simple: remember why you started down this path in the first place. Return to both the long-term goal you set in the beginning and the smaller goals in support of it. Rebuild those behavior-reward dyads once more and trend toward discipline; make the goal more important than the smaller roadblocks you put in your way. Use the simple formula of pairing the behavior that needs to be completed (writing every day) in order to reach your goal (finishing your novel) with a reward you only get when you perform that behavior (writing every day, just in case you forgot).

Being able to embrace that you are impatient, and can still reach your goals, sets you up for success in the future. The real enemy is giving up.

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