Monday, January 31, 2011

When In Rome...

"If our subconscious were attractive, we wouldn't have to bury it deep down within our selves"

The Ancient Roman civilisation dates back to approximately 1000 BC.  During the reign of power wielded by Rome - over an ever increasing territory including most of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean - they gained a reputation for being a highly organised military and political empire, not well known for acts of kindness and mercy.

The Romans had a strict social hierarchy. The patricians or nobles were born into affluence, status, and influence, it has even been proven that the Romans committed incest in order to maintain pure aristocratic bloodlines.  Marriage was hereby a calculated act, influenced by politics and material wealth.  Roman society was dictated by the machinations of personal gain and power or influence over the masses.  They grew their empire by conquest, by enslaving and absorbing the adjacent or opposing peoples as they expanded.

The Roman military was comprised mostly of citizens who served to recompense a "debt" to society for the use of land.  While they were usually paid a stipend, citizens had little choice over participation, had to supply their own weapons and horses, and desertion would usually result in the death penalty.

Children had little or no value within Roman culture and were shown minimal affection.  Unwanted children were often sold into slavery, or children were treated as household slaves until they were old enough to be married off.  Even then, a son could not legally own property or hold influence while his father still survived.

For Romans violence and cruelty was simply an accepted part of life.  The fact that they were a highly successful empire begs the question of whether this lack of empathy is a required part of human success.  The Roman empire did fall eventually, but up until then they made huge leaps forward in technology, science and philosophy.  Is it the human emotions and resulting empathy that hold us back?

The arena, the mainstay of Roman entertainment and society, was institutionalised and extreme violence for pleasure.  The noxii (criminal class, or disgraced slaves), and those condemned to die had to fight publicly for the right to live or die, often heavily disadvantaged and outnumbered.  In one day of gladiatorial events 8-10 blood matches would be held, the resulting arena being splattered with the blood of those who's crimes ranged from petty theft to heresy.  The crowd drunk on violence, would cheer for the life or death of the condemned, the descision often being made on a whim by the highest ranking official present.  The eventual and protracted execution was celebrated with cheers and laughter.   This practice (public execution) has been carried on throughout history, still bloodthirsty, but thankfully less drawn out than watching men be ripped apart by wild beasts (damnati ad bestias).

Roman orgies were often serviced by women, young men and children who had no choice in participation, violence and rape seen as the obligations of servitude.  Roman politics were often dominated by assassinations and cold hearted maneuvering.  Obligations to familial ties and loyalty were seen as a sign of weakness and sentimentality would often bring about ones downfall.  A sociopathic society in all its glory.

Throughout history violent and yet successful regime's and empires have all shared bloodthirsty origins.  Is this how we have succeeded and become the most prolific species on earth?  We exist in duality, we have propensity for great acts of humanity, but are also capable of indescribable acts of cruelty en masse - as individuals and as a group.

Are we in denial about our true nature?  Can we really abolish war and suffering without denying some important part of our innate being?  Is it our ability to ignore this "dark" side of ourselves that makes these acts possible?  If we cannot express this "darkness" through our prescribed culture and society, do we then express it in private? Is it the desire to repress our true nature that has led to the rise in crimes of extreme violence against each other that benefit no one but the self?

"A tear dries quickly when it is shed for the troubles of others." - Cicero

Friday, January 28, 2011

Everyday Pathogens

Yin and Yang: another perspective
Sooooo, is there good and bad? Right and wrong? Black and white?

No.....There isn't.  It's not real.

We "are" what we believe, and our beliefs about that dictate our perception of the world.  Very few people will admit to bad or wrong behaviour, so I can only assume that most people want to do good and right, or that quite a few people are very good liars.  This "good vs evil" thing has plagued us from the very beginning of time.  How many people actually say "I set out to do evil!"?  Some people make the unfortunate connection that sociopaths are evil and conniving, best you not turn your back on them, or more woe for you.  That is not entirely true.

Imagine life as a piece of string.....One end being right/good/happiness, the other being wrong/bad/sadness.....Who would exist at that bad end of the string?  No one by choice...  The fact is, life is not a piece of string.  We all exist in grey areas, defined by parameters that are not decided by us.  According to the law, I can't park my car on a certain piece of ground unless I am granted permission?  So I park my car on this certain piece of ground without permission.  Am I evil?  No I am not evil...  By the same token, if a man steals to serve his hungry family, is he evil?  I don't believe so. 

As a species, we have become confused.  The unnecessary has made us behave strangely.  If all we had to worry about was our basic survival, this other rubbish would cease to matter, and then we may begin to understand the importance of being - less the importance of a punitive existence.

I can name a few who I suspect were truly evil, without regard, Marque Du Sade, Hitler, Stalin, Joseph Mengele, and Caesar - they became famous for their atrocities.  Serial killers, cold blooded sadists.   All of them most likely sociopaths/psychopaths.  However not all cursed (or blessed) with this personality type end up this way.  I call it a personality type, because this is how I see it.  It's not just another word for being "mean", it's like introversion, extroversion, dyslexia, mild autism, tourettes, left brained, right brained....  Its about wiring.

What creates a monster, a truly evil person, a "bad seed".  Science, X + Y = Z.  Genes + upbringing = the person.  I have to laugh at the sociopaths who wax lyrical about the joys of being "mean".  They attempt to bridge a huge gap between "good" and "bad" with a mere personality type.  Cruelty can be a side affect of sociopathy, the nurture aspect plays a major role in this equation.  It is not a given, in fact a sociopath with a brilliant upbringing would be no more likely to be cruel than any other person.  Of course the odds are stacked against them (us...I cant decide).

Good and bad...Who defined this anyway, was it God?  Religion plays its part in all of this, religion tells us that we can have a better future (or afterlife), if we make a sacrifice, of the present, that we may never be in the present, to comit a sin, or be "evil"...ever....  Then it also begs of us to say, that we can commit ourselves tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that.  We cannot predict, nor can we count on the future, the future is just in the mind, it is a dream, it is not a part of reality until it becomes tomorrow - isn't that a hell of a lot to give up?  The religious myth is one of self punishment - paying penance before the crime we will repent later - that we may banish all evil from our lives, at a mere cost, more self punishment.  Is this not masochistic?  Sadism, directed inwards?  So how is evil directed inward, any less "evil" than evil directed outward?  Even without religion, we are capable of terrible crimes against the self, if we talked to our progeny the way we talked to ourselves, we would all have a string of homicidal psychopaths in our wake.  Are we nasty by nature? And if we cant find a way to express this openly, do we take it out on ourselves?  All the while protesting that we are intrinsically good?  This seems like very odd behaviour - I wonder what comment Freud would make, or Darwin, or Nietzsche.

Good or bad...I'm sitting on the fence, I hope I don't get pushed off....on to the wrong side.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Killing Roosters - the Real Test

My breathing is steady but my heart is still racing, I feel strangely calm.  Looking down at my hands, I see there are still some feathers attached.   Something is wrong not.....kill.....

But I did.

So, you stupid MF rooster, you got the better of me, a few too many early mornings for my liking, lack of sleep will do that to you.  Now another pea brained feathered freak has taken your place, so is it CSI for the chicken coup tomorrow morning also?  I think its my neighbour who needs to be dealt with first, the one who's rooster thinks he lives at my house, subsequently impregnating all my eggs, leaving me inundated with baby chickens (most of which turned out to be fecking fricking roosters).  So if I can throttle a rooster, punching a full grown man in the face shouldn't be a problem...... right?

Should I feel bad? Cos I don't.  The biggest thing I've killed other than a blowfly was a bird, on my windscreen.  I felt bad because birds are pretty and un-annoying.  This was different, that rooster needed to go.

I can still feel the warmth of him on my fingers.  It was too easy, he never understood that I was the reaper, until it was too late.  I grabbed him by the tail, I hesitated, not sure....but then thought fuck it, I'm over your crowing, you miserable little testosterone filled sleep destroyer.  His neck was too easy to break, grab, pull twist.  Someone must have told me that once.....

And his protege still crows, can I do it again?

who are we really: mach II

ore Fictional Stories:

Most "normal" people fall into the category of saying that they simply want to be happy.  If they end up not being happy, they will create a fictional story about that, conveniently excluding any information that does not reflect their belief that they ARE "happy".  For example, these people can exist in a totally dysfunctional life, terrible relationship, or unsatisfying job and convince themselves that they are just trying to be "happy".  These people will tend to talk about all the shortcomings in their lives as if it has nothing to do with them.  They fail to do anything about it because underneath it all, they are fine and it is the rest of the world who is to blame for the shortcomings in their existence.  Instead of changing the story, they doggedly hold on to the fictional one.  Underneath it all they are totally miserable, but would never admit that.  So their story becomes fiction, their story is one of denial.

Then there are other people cast themselves as perpetual victims in life, its hard to tell what motivates them and if you asked them, they possibly wouldn't know themselves.  Wandering through life like an empty shell, waiting to be filled by some external source.  Never knowing who they are, and simply assimilating with those around them to feel like some part of it all.  They are almost transparent in life.  These people attract abusive partners, bosses, friends, almost everyone around them reinforces their self image of victim-hood.  This is also a fictional story, victims almost never realise they can stop at any time, it's a self fulfilling prophecy, you will always attract the story you are telling.

There are also the ones I like to call the surrealists, they simply block out all of the information that opposes their view of the world.  The "lalala" set.  You point out to them that they have no money, they live in their sisters garage with all the odd shoes and lost tools, and they simply say...... "lalala"....this is not to be confused with denial, this is surrealism.  They honestly believe that if they do not think it, it cannot be true.  I don't feel these kinds of delusions can be at all healthy.  Being grounded in reality is an important survival tool.  There is no use standing in your house while it is being bombed to hell saying "but I didn't think this negative thought?"

Now I can sit here on my comfortable little throne of judgement, and smugly assess the world around me, but at some point I have to allow myself to be judged, it only seems fair.  So how does one go about assessing themselves with the same piercing insight we project on to others?  This is the one question that baffles and frustrates me.  I don't want to be perceived as " being superior", even if I do feel that way most of the time - I am totally laughing at myself right now - I want to be real, but how can I possibly know?  It would be really nice to have someone just tell me....from the outside...and for me to hear it without having a massive ego embolism.  It's not like I haven't tried, sneaking into my flatmate's bedroom to read her diary - only to find vacuous ramblings about boys and her "awesome" new jeans, how frustrating that was.  Part of the problem is that we think we want to know the truth, but can we actually handle the truth?  In most cases probably not, but when the burning desire to know something outweighs the other possible outcomes, what then?  We sneak into our flatmate's bedroom and read her diary.

It is a total fact that we are all curious about ourselves, there are whole industries borne out of our desire to know ourselves better, to be sure of who we are.  Astrology, psychotherapy, personality testing, even those stupid multi-choice quizzes in women's magazines.  The one constant in all off this is; "Who am I and where am I going?".  Are we all making the dire mistake of seeking out when we should be seeking in?  We are so busy asking the world what they think - we forget to ask ourselves.  Maybe we don't trust ourselves to know, or to be honest enough.  

"Know thyself, that the unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates

Empathy: is the capacity to recognise and, to some extent share, feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sentient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion.

Apathy:  lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

Love: a strong positive emotion of regard and affection.

Hate: dislike intensely; feel antipathy or aversion towards.

Insane: craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity.

Happiness: a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.

Cruelty: a deliberate infliction of pain and suffering.

Delusion:  an act or instance of deluding, the state of being deluded, a false belief or opinion, a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.

Fortitude: mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.

Sociopath: a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Is it possible that we are all living fictional stories?  Our interaction with others mere interludes, and yet opportunities to break through the falsehood.  Who are we?  Unless we are reflected through the eyes of our neighbours, what value do we have as unique individuals?  I am what I say I am....  Who has the balls to tell me any different?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Equilibrium: Reality Check

The pretense for the movie was, that we that we are better off not to feel, we can inoculate ourselves from feelings, apathy is the cure.  A world where emotion would be a crime, all things that evoke emotion be banned....  Supposedly a peaceful society....  A society with no colour....A society with no passion....A society with no fervour.....A society with no drive, other than to survive as a race. 

My question.....How do we survive if we cannot feel?  The human infant is helpless, to survive and to thrive, a degree of empathy is required.  I am still confused about the term sociopathy and how it relates to a lack of empathy, and how it then translates to acts of criminal intent and sadism.

I have another the self acclaimed sociopaths among us, aren't most of you living a lie?  Unless you will admit to much deeper psychopathic leanings.  You say that you suffer from simple apathy, so how can you gain pleasure from anything, let alone tormenting others - your words not mine?   You all write interesting blogs about sociopathism, however, according to yourselves, you "seem" to experience pleasure from your deviant activities.....  Isn't this a juxtaposition from what you call yourselves?  If you cant experience "feelings" about a kitten, how can you experience "feelings" about sadism (pleasurable or otherwise).  You make an unfortunate connection regarding sociopathy and nastiness.  This is your biggest faux-pas.  Being a sociopath isn't a fashion accessory, nor is it an excuse to be an asshole. Dexter is cool, but none of you truly appreciate the fiction here.  Sociopathy is merely a differential in society, much like left handedness, or dyslexia.  It is not sadism by default.

If you want to be an asshole, front up and admit it, don't just call yourself a sociopath because some prime time TV show made it cool.  If you are a sociopath, that is one thing.  If you are a sociopath with issues, get help, like the rest of us would....For those of us who were never nurtured, I am deeply sorry - but don't make the world pay.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prisoner 31614

"All my associates, all of my surroundings, the atmosphere of deceit, treachery, brutality, degeneracy, hypocrisy, and everything that is bad and nothing that is good. Why am I what I am? I'll tell you why. I did not make myself what I am. Others had the making of me." - Carl Panzram 

I love this guy - seriously.  My fascination with Carl Panzram began a few years ago when I was doing my usual trawl on the net for morbid stories about serial killers.  Hes not the most famous by far, but his story is one of the most interesting.  His quotes are memorable, and surprisingly insightful considering the life that he led.  He believed that he was a product of his miserable life and the degradations and violence he experienced at the hands of others, I agree with him.

His story is documented through a series of letters he wrote to Henry Lisser, his gaoler while he was held over in Washington D.C. awaiting sentencing for burglary.  While in custody he confessed to murders he had committed nationwide and under a number of pseudonyms.  He was sentenced to 25 years in Leavenworth penitentiary for his crimes.  While still in Washington D.C. he formed a close relationship with Henry Lisser - probably the only close bond he formed with another in his whole life - and continued to write to him once he was in Leavenworth.  One year after being incarcerated for the last time, he bludgeoned to death a prison foreman and was sentenced to death.  On September 5th, 1930 Carl Panzram was hanged.  His final comment was "Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill ten men while you're fooling around!"

Using Carl's letters, Henry Lisser penned an autobiography for him after his death, it took over 40 years to get it published.  Killer: A Journal of Murder was also recently made into a documentary.  Carl's letters spoke of his appalling life, from childhood through borstal and prison.  Henry Lisser went on to advocate for prisoners rights and petitioned to improve prison conditions in the US.

Not satisfied with the information I have found on the Internet, I am currently trying to obtain the "Panzram Papers" which Henry Lisser kindly donated to the San Diego Library in 1980.  Failing that I plan to purchase the book "Killer: A Journal of Murder" and also watch the documentary.  I want to gain more insight into exactly what went wrong with Carl Panzram  He was definitely a psychopath, but was was he a product of nurture, nature or an extreme combination of both.  I will definitely be revisiting this subject.

"In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arson's and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry." - Carl Panzram

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LSD - The Empathy Drug?

In the 1960s, LSD and related hallucinogens captured the attention of college professors in psychology, religion, and other disciplines because of the drugs' potential to "expand" the mind, thereby helping to improve mental health, encourage empathy, change unhealthy behavior patterns (such as criminal behavior), improve outlook, and produce profoundly religious or spiritual experiences. Many artists, particularly musicians, also used LSD to stimulate the creative process. LSD was central to the hippie movement of the 1960s that focused on peace, love, and individual freedom.

"I looked up at the sky, and the moon was beaming down on me. There were two large wisps of cloud/haze that framed the moon in a perfect fractal/double-helix. I felt a surge of energy, as though I was being pulled from my body. The cold night air felt as though it was reaching right down through my head to my toes and drawing me out of my skin. I felt slightly terrified, as I though maybe I was about to die, and that is why my path had been laid out. I regained my grounding and a "voice" inside and outside me that was me and was something much greater than me spoke. As I processed the message, I felt as though I was one with the grass that was blowing on the field, the soil beneath my feet, and the roots, trunks and branches of the swaying oaks. "You are a part of us. We are a part of you. You ARE everything.  It was the profound feeling of unity that people seek through psychedelics. I was one with the universe. I felt a part of the planet, Gaia, and at the same time my field of view broadened to encompass our solar system, galaxy, and larger spaces vaster than my comprehension." - LSD testimonial

Throughout history and across cultures different hallucinogens have been used for shamanic purposes, the common theme is the connectedness to universe and communication with the higher self, or spirit/god.  Hallucinogenic use in religion and rituals pre-dates Christ.  In the middle ages use of psychedelic substances were used among witches, in some cases this was accidental poisoning by ergot, but there is much evidence that they did intentionally use other plants with psychedelic properties, such as belladonna and magic mushrooms, for ritualistic purposes.

In modern times the use of hallucinogenic drugs is still common, and although many of these are still used for shamanic and ritualistic purposes,  psychedelic drugs are now a huge part of the recreational drug industry.  Users commonly describe a feeling of connectedness, of feeling at one with the universe, having huge and life changing realisations about themselves and the universe.

"I had left my body & ego, my memories, morals and fears, and I had entered Nirvana. I was home. Flying through a multidimensional place of pure vision and thought, I saw endless arches of golden salamanders, flowing through the very fabric of space & time, their colors changing and rotating like countless kaleidoscopes, smiling and looking at me. My form and vision were shifting all the time, and I saw countless non-defined being, animals, flowers, trees, jewels and crystals, while the salamanders were telling and showing me the secret of life. Heavenly music, harp-strings and choirs ad infinitum were caressing my mental g-spot. There were no questions anymore, all was answered., and there was eternal unity. I was omnipotent. I was the universe. And the universe laughed and laughed, about itself and the joke of life it pulled on it! The most beautiful place in the universe, and I had found it! It's soooo sweat, soooo beautiful and loving, it's magic." - DMT testimonial 

It has been claimed that LSD can be used to treat headaches, alcoholism, and has potential benefits in psychiatric medicine.  So can LSD improve empathy?  In most cases users report increased feelings of empathy and love at a profound level during the trip itself, but do these feelings continue on after the drug has worn off?  Could a prescribed course improve empathy long term?  Maybe even more profound feelings of empathy, compassion and understanding could be gained from using psychedelics in their natural form, such as mushrooms, DMT, cactus (mescaline or peyote).

"I felt as if I had died, found definition in the universe and been reborn again into the life that I was already living for 20 years. My emotions had gone the full spectrum, from absolute petrified fear, to elation, to infinite understanding which provided me with overwhelming relief and happiness. I recognized feelings that I had long forgotten (the sense of security, admiration, love and dependency that I had for my parents when I was a little kid). The shroom trip gave me perspective on everything and made me understand the level to which a person changes, although everything remains a part of myself. I could not help but feel that I had been in this (tripping out) state/place before, the feeling of protection, something watching over me ensured me, c'mon dig deeper look harder, understand, it's not that scary. I was able to push through the overwhelming fear of understanding something beyond myself and was rewarded with feeling of absolute relief, joy and appreciation the likes of which I cannot express with mere words. It was as if I had reached another level." - Magic Mushroom Testimonial

From 1961-1963 a series of experiments were carried out in a maximum security facility for young offenders.  The study involved the administration of psilocybin to assist group therapy to 32 prisoners in an effort to reduce recidivism rates.  Prison records suggested that historically 64 per cent of the 32 subjects would return to prison within six months after parole. However, six months after the psilocybin tests were carried out, only 25 per cent of those on parole had returned, six for technical parole violations and two for new offenses. These results are all the more dramatic when the correctional literature is surveyed; few short-term projects with prisoners have been effective to even a minor degree. In addition, the personality test scores indicated a measurable positive change when pre-psilocybin and post-psilocybin results were compared. 

However, the results of this experiment have been largely contested by a follow-up study, citing several problems including differences in the length of time after release that the study group versus the control group were compared, and other methodology factors including the difference between subjects re-incarcerated for parole violations versus imprisoned for new crimes. This study concluded that only a statistically slight improvement could be shown. It was theorised that the key to a long-term reduction in overall recidivism rates might be the combination of the pre-release administration of psilocybin-assisted group psychotherapy with a comprehensive post-release follow-up program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous groups to offer support to the released prisoners. The study concluded that whether a new program of psilocybin-assisted group psychotherapy and post-release programs would significantly reduce recidivism rates is an empirical question that deserves to be addressed within the context of a new experiment.

So could hallucinogens be the empathy drug? Could they be effectively used in the treatment of antisocial behavior, and other personality disorders such as MPDNPD, psycopathy, sociopathy, and maybe even in some cases of autism?  The biggest question I have is do these people want to be treated, and is it necessary if they pose no harm to others?

Monday, January 17, 2011

who are we really?

It takes unflinching insight to examine your own personality rationally.  Our perception of ourselves is often a fictional story that we write based on our own experiences and our resulting feelings about them.  We rarely diverge from this story our whole lives.  The key to finding out your true nature is to recognise what motivates you, and how you implement that in life.  Sociopathic or empathetic tendencies would heavily influence these motivations.

I think we are all guilty of secretly wondering what others think of us, and how this view may differ from our own self image.  How often have you wished you could be a fly on the wall while others discussed you.  Logic dictates that we should know ourselves better than anyone else - but then again it is our interaction with others and the outside world that defines us, also we can hardly be impartial.  So how accurate are our presumptions about ourselves?  Do we question ourselves enough? Do we regularly take stock of our actions?  Or are we conditioned not to delve to deeply into our own psyche for our own safety.

When I put myself under that microscope with brutal honesty I see a lot of things that I like and others I don't.  While I do have a moral code - and I am strict with myself about this - the side effect of this is that I tend to believe I am better than those around me who I consider to have no code and no integrity, which is most people (in my opinion).  I totally accept that this is arrogant and grandiose, but that doesn't change how I feel about it.  Maybe I'm wrong - or at least by other peoples standards.  About that I don't seem to care.  On the other hand, because of this "moral code," I judge myself harshly when I don't live up to it myself.  Does that change the arrogance or grandiosity? I don't think so, my attitude of superiority lacks any humility at all.  And aren't we all supposed to be imitating the humility of Jesus Christ?  Well that is just martyrdom in my opinion - which is really just a great big guilt trip "hey look at me, I'm going to get nailed to a cross and die because you have all been very very naughty".  So no, I don't feel humility serves us any purpose at all, unless it is in a biblical sense.

Philippians 2:3-8
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

So, should we try and emulate the late JC?  Not if it literally means getting nailed to a cross.  But what about the metaphorical cross, how many times have you stood up for your convictions even if it went against the status quo, is this selfless martyrdom? Or another form of arrogance and self righteousness? While Jesus travelled the countryside doing selfless acts for others, he also made himself a leader, with followers.  Does one not contradict the other?  This is my point, what we think about ourselves on the one hand can be entirely contradicted from another point of view.

Here is another example, I hate dishonesty in any form.  So I pride myself on total honesty, and while I feel this is a good thing (one of my better traits), some of my friends would disagree.  "Do I look fat in this dress?"......."Yes, I'm afraid to say you do."  What would be the point in saying any different?  Letting your friend go out looking like an over-stuffed sausage would be far worse, wouldn't it?  I have been called cruel, callous, tactless, mean, selfish - but in my opinion I am doing the world a favour.  So is my self analysis accurate? Or am I just kidding myself.  This is how easily we can create a fictional character in our heads that we think we are, but is nothing like the person we really are.

So, who are we really?  Should we stop worrying about what we are like and just be?  Or are we obligated to keep self assessing and improving.  Is it necessary to know if we are sociopaths, empaths, passive aggressive, oppositional defiant, etc etc.  Do those labels totally define us?  Does being aware of those labels change us?  Or can we be masters of our fate, to decide for ourselves what we are really like.

Gollum: We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!
Smeagol: No. Not master!
Gollum: Yes, precious, false! They will cheat you, hurt you, LIE.
Smeagol: Master is our friend!
Gollum: You don't have any friends; nobody likes you!
Smeagol: I'm not listening... I'm not listening...
Gollum: You're a liar and a thief.
Smeagol: No!
Gollum: *Murderer*.
Smeagol: Go away!
Gollum: "Go away?"
Smeagol: I hate you, I hate you.
Gollum: Where would you be without me, gollum, gollum? I saved us! It was me! We survived because of me!
Smeagol: Not anymore.
Gollum: What did you say?
Smeagol: Master looks after us now. We don't need you anymore.
Gollum: What?
Smeagol: Leave now, and never come back!
Gollum: No!
Smeagol: Leave now, and never come back!
Gollum: *SHRIEK*
Gollum: ........... 
Smeagol: We told him to go away... and away he goes, Precious! Gone, gone, gone! Smeagol is free!

The Empathic Civilization

"…what is needed is a more transparent public debate around views of freedom, equality and democracy…a moratorium on the hyperbolic political rhetoric and incivility and begin a civil conversation around our differing views on human nature. This would offer us a moment in time to listen to each other, share our feelings, thoughts, concerns and aspirations, with the goal of trying to better understand each others' perspectives, and hopefully find some emotional and cognitive common ground." - Jeremy Rifkin on his book "Empathic Civilization, The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis" 

Human nature, what is it? How are we really designed to operate, why do we experience such extremes within human nature?  To love or to hate, create or destroy, we do all of these, it is within our nature to kill with one hand and nurture with the other.  Its hard to decide what is right and wrong - can we even fairly judge.  The spectrum of human behaviour is so huge and we are all part of it. 

Jeremy Rifkins book is a detailed explanation of how we came to be a culture of incivility, and how he sees that empathy is the way forward for us as a civilization.  He makes a connection between "cognition" and consciousness" and claims that we can program ourselves to be more empathetic.  However love and empathy should not exclude the intellectual aspects of our being.  We need to honour all aspects of our nature, not slice and dice, removing the bits we dont "like".  We should be seeking balance in all things and not the separation of being.

Empathy is the ability and willingness to relate - not just cognitively or emotionally, but spiritually - to what another is feeling and thinking. By being empathic, we choose to "walk in another's shoes," without egoistically needing to "fix," teach, tell, one-up, advise, sympathize, interrogate, explain or "set them straight."  This could also be described as unconditional love for another.

Lack of empathy is characterized by a callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.  Self motivated behaviour that overrides the needs of others, and a lack of remorse for the effects of that behaviour.  Intellectualizing rather than "feeling", producing coldness and sense of removal/distance from ones own behaviour.  A lack of willingness to observe ones own weaknesses, a feeling of superiority over others - narcissism.

There are four levels of consciousness:
1. Unconscious - instinctual, biological
2. Subconscious - habitual, without ones awareness, reactive
3. Conscious - aware, intelligent, conceptual
4. Higher Consciousness - intuitive, guiding, truthful, universal

On which of these levels does the empathy or lack of it manifest, or is it a product of all four.  How much of this is learned behaviour or genetic.  Do we have the ability to change from one to the other, would we change if we had the choice?  Perhaps we need to integrate all the aspects of our nature so that light and dark may exisit in symmetry.

"The story we are told about human nature is that man is inherently self-interested, pleasure-seeking, sinning and utilitarian – doing the minimum to get the maximum benefits for oneself, and that this nature is driven by a life that is nasty, brutish and short. Indeed, all we have to do is take a cursory glance over history, and we’ll see the world stricken with crime, wars, genocide, power games, and greedy, greedy people taking advantage for themselves, to the detriment of everyone else" - Jade Keller - on the nature of being human

It would seem that since the beginning of our civilization the prevalent human behaviour has been antisocial and lacking in empathy - sociopathic.  In every case the barbarians won.  Will we change?  Should we change?  Is empathy merely a painful waste of time?  While Avatar carried a nice Utopian fable that resonated with humanity, is it just another fantasy?  Are we destined to rape, pillage and dominate the weak till the end of time? You decide...

RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilization

The Corporation - Documentary "What Kind of Person is it"