Originally published March 22 2013
Neo-cynicism: Farting at the dinner table
by Greg Glaser
(NaturalNews) I just excavated some gear oil waste I found buried in the soil on my little organic farm. To do so, I used equipment that relies on the same oil that was buried in my soil. I reap what I sow, and I feel like our modern society is stuck in this flammable, smelly spiral I've just introduced.
This article/commentary about "neo-cynicism" may be impossible to write without sounding like a hypocrite, especially because I am a hypocrite, so I will ask for forgiveness upfront from readers. Incidentally, the term 'neo-cynicism' was coined by the Ukrainian poet Lina Kostenko, a vocal resister of Soviet communism. I'm thankful for the term, and wish to pay tribute to how she used it (as she wrote, "Neo-Cynicism cometh. I do not exist in it.")
In America, neo-cynicism is packaged as an individual mindset - it is the phenomenon where virtually every citizen is a confidently vocal critic of something, whether it's bureaucratic government, polluting corporations, big banks, welfare junkies, etcetera, so each man proclaims himself a 'critical thinker' or 'cynical activist' in his own regard. So far so good, right?
The problem with neo-cynicism is that it works like a fart at the dinner table unless the citizen uses (a) morality, (b) functional intelligence and productivity, (c) evidence to support his world view, (d) skills to communicate with others effectively, and (e) the consistent desire to adhere to fair civil processes (healthy civics).
I'll venture there has never been a time in American history where the majority of citizens possess all five attributes. Realistically, we might only find beautifully interesting pockets of space and time where that occurs to drive change. So, too often we see and participate in an uncivil and unintelligent process, an imperfect journey sabotaged (even rendered futile) by war mongers and pollution profiteers and insatiably destructive consumers. Again, etcetera.
But why is our world so extreme like this, where our farts are the social commentary that threatens to burn our candlelight dinner table to the ground?
Everything we experience can be handled positively or wielded destructively, by which I mean everything reveals polarity to us.
Take water for example: you can use it to grow organic food or to torture someone. Consider energy: you can use it to power an eco-community or to bomb one. Consider the gift of youth: some people work tirelessly to nurture and protect innocent minds, and others to scheme incessantly to exploit youth. Consider the idea of strong government: you can use it to build naturally peaceful homesteads and clean the earth and forgive debt and do justice, or you can use it to juggle the industrial balancing act between warring nations and their financiers. Polarization resides in all systems.
Whether our world's problems are steeped in conspiracies or not, I feel our brightest environmental scientists have already proven that mega-industrial systems are unsustainable for daily affairs, and yet we are dependent on them for even the most basic waste disposal and environmental remediation tasks. Even Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter invited Americans to slow down their military and industrial consumption in the 1950s and 1970s.
You know it and I know it - society can be likened to a diseased body, capable but unwilling to heal itself with natural remedies. Like a person with a disease, we are afraid of pain, even discomfort in many ways. And we're addicted to some very expensive materials too, such as "oil" as another President said. One game changer today, theoretically, could have been the internet. Is it working? Well let's first ask what kind of world we live in conceptually.
The poles of the earth are small, and no one actually lives on them (very few live even remotely near them). But at one extreme (let's call it the south pole), assume we could find a hypothetically extreme neo-cynicist who is completely saturated with an unflinching belief in conspiracy theories (I mean a worldview centered upon conspiracy that has in fact led to a vocal desire for outright anarchy against authorities he perceives to be destructive). Because it will not fit his worldview paradigm, this hypothetical person actively dismisses historical evidence where one man (such as Vasili Arkhipov) can make a difference on matters as serious as nuclear war.
At the other extreme (north pole) of neo-cynicism, let's assume there is another hypothetical citizen who accepts an unflinching belief in even the most blatant propaganda championed by some authoritative control-grid (such as the military-industrial complex). Again, I've just described no one you know. I might as well be even more obvious by saying these are just characters in a zombie-movie - silly extreme examples to help demonstrate that the real issues facing our world are not entirely polar, just polarizing. Similarly, our issues are not entirely political, just politically charged.
Personally, I'm constantly probing for evidence of 'new world order' conspiracies and biblical phenomena in the world. So in that regard I'm probably in the southern hemisphere on military and commercial issues. Yet I also strive to respect the rule of law and to steer my ship away from anarchy, making me a northerner in that regard. You might say we all generate a kind of magnetic field in this way. But I rationalize that no matter where our research takes us as thinkers, we cannot let our presumed "facts" stand in the way of being civil with one another and promoting law-and-order in daily affairs (by which I mean discouraging anarchy, but encouraging research and where appropriate peaceful protest and petition).
I need to emphasize this again because it is perhaps my most important social commentary - our desire for healthy and respectful civics may be the most important thing about our social world views at this critical juncture of history. You see, in the event that any given "fact" or "theory" or world view turns out to be wrong or misdirected or unproductive, we want to leave a legacy of having acted smartly and peacefully regardless.
In many ways, the essence of my point here is about how to love your neighbor as if your very survival depended on your neighbor (hippy or industrialist, pacifist or militarist) experiencing a meaningful journey in his own life. And your neighbor's meaningful journey sometimes means his cyclical process of falling down and getting back up again. We know this is an essential aspect of humanity because, for example, we are often emotionally and intellectually swayed by films that portray the saga of some person (our proverbial neighbor) who is very destructive and really not like us at all. Even the saga of an oil-baron or unrepentant soldier could be quite touching and informative if portrayed well.
Why should my neighbor's well-being categorically determine my own well-being - isn't that communism or some kind of unsustainable 'ism'? No, I'm saying something different; to illustrate let's consider a tangible example from an organization like the HeartMath Institute: "The results of these experiments have led us to infer that the nervous system acts as an "antenna," which is tuned to and responds to the electromagnetic fields produced by the hearts of other individuals. We believe this capacity for exchange of energetic information is an innate ability that heightens awareness and mediates important aspects of true empathy and sensitivity to others. Furthermore, we have observed that this energetic communication ability can be intentionally enhanced, producing a much deeper level of nonverbal communication, understanding, and connection between people. There is also intriguing evidence that heart field interactions can occur between people and animals. In short, energetic communication via the heart field facilitates development of an expanded consciousness in relation to our social world." The Heart Has Its Own "Brain" and Consciousness, by Waking Times.
Keep reading and you'll see this article on Natural News today is not meant to be entirely cynical, it's meant to show polarity. When we look at our human history, we do tend to be upwardly productive toward the things we like: delicious foods, enjoyable music, justice, and on and on. We're a pretty interesting species. Even the way we destroy things can be curiously interesting at times.
I figure I too am a kind of neo-cynicist - sometimes I fart at the dinner tables of people who I think are under-informed about conspiracy theories. So much of the information I share is just hearsay and speculation, with my primary problem being the Catch-22 that 'I don't even know what I don't know'. I just tend to gravitate toward researchers who focus in their areas of specialty, especially where they logically challenge what I perceive as destructive control-grid systems (i.e., false flag attacks) and major world problems (pollution, lack of access to clean water and land).
Let's take an example: The organization Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth comes to mind as something I tend to gravitate toward because it examines evidence of conspiracy scientifically. And I also gravitate toward elements of the official story: police and firefighter heroes on 9-11, rushing into burning buildings to save their neighbors whom they don't even know, as if their very survival depended on their neighbor experiencing a meaningful journey. Both of these polarizing views are important to me in the process of seeking a holistic worldview I can stand upon for balance, or fall upon for learning.
My world view is that there are compelling and obviously factual items in the official account of 9-11 that need not be thrown out with the bathwater. At best, you might say I wish our nation acted more often like those firefighters, willing to take a risk in our journey to help our neighbors find meaning in their own lives, to help them stand up again. Ultimately, we need to treat one another as we would like to be treated.
I think extreme neo-cynicism thrives in our cultures because of the abundance of information online, and because of the human desire to 'keyboard criticize' what we see as "destructive" while giving flattery toward like-minded thinkers."I love you Alex Jones. I hate you Piers Morgan." Neo-cynicism is very polarizing in this way - it leads to 'us versus them thinking.' This may be ironic, because we all demonstrate two poles within us - right, wrong? In many physical systems (brain, electromagnetism), poles are inevitable. If, for example, our world only had a south pole, the result would be unreal.
So on to practical pursuits -- to my fellow neo-cynicists, I argue that 'organic resource sharing' and 'debt forgiveness' would work well for national and international policy. And I think these ideas are becoming more palatable today as we can compare the effects of the industrial-balancing act that has been championed for the last 200+ years. Do you think a new paradigm could work theoretically if the population was willing to give it a try? Here's my vote: www.CivilActionNetwork.org/referenda.html. And here are some other places to promote change through the power of petition: www.NationBuilder.com; www.Change.org; www.Causes.com; www.ThePetitionSite.com; www.SignOn.org...
I would like to see Mike Adams and other independent news leaders somehow get together to discuss a central recommendation, to help the peaceful protest community focus political energy...
Personally, my ideal concept of change would involve the base of the world's population (even upwards of 50%) choosing voluntarily to pursue homesteading in diverse eco-communities where people produce an abundance of eco-friendly products, technologies, art, and so forth. The movie "Thrive" showed this ideal pretty well! I may have a different view on the alien question or the taxes question, for example, but I would certainly prefer to debate those issues while striving toward the utopia presented at the end of the Thrive film, rather than in the current world landscape.
Why are there so many homesteads in my ideal American landscape? Well, hard work builds personal responsibility, and homesteading promotes respect for nature. It worked for our ancestors. I think where communities in our Republic are built around respecting individual rights and also sharing interesting and diverse conversations and research, I think the nation would grow stronger. But much of the romanticism of modern American homesteading is also hypocritical - simply compare the organic production output with the waste generated by the mechanical equipment.
All the same, the homestead is a wonderful ideal that is really part of a larger ideal. I like to see people talk about the need to nurture one another, and build on one another's strengths as if our very survival depended on the survival of our fellow man. An organic homesteading base would be a strong place for the core of any peaceful country because it encourages personal responsibility and natural productivity. In my ideal, the other part (half?) of the world's population would involve a lot of people working in companies, universities and government. Probably even a tenth of the population at this point should be devoted solely to environmental cleanup and preservation, right?
Now, every saga has its components of productive and destructive. Modern America can be characterized as a great experiment, a constant state of social interaction where the people are given both the freedom to destroy and the freedom to create. In the ideal sense we are free to create our own reality - a friend told me that's what American freedom was supposed to be all about. The result: in our desire for community, 'we the people' gravitate toward our favorite resources and stories. So, we show respect to our favorite books, markets, universities, newspapers, websites, movies, people - we find community in these favorites. And we tend to show (or quietly harbor) disrespect to those things we find offensive or destructive.
Now here's the root problem --we are all destructive and unforgiving and hypocritical in various measures. Ouch, right? Did I just fart at your dinner table? Well, what I mean to say, is that to the extent we are ignorant in our decision making (we are, inherently and relatively), we can see our 'favoritism activity' and our 'disrespect activity' often unnecessarily failing to factor in our own ignorance. How does ignorance ignore itself? By our very nature - we don't even know what we don't know. I think the world is about to experience some major changes that will highlight this concept well. And the greater point is that we often can't even explain how much we need one another's skills. And how much more do we love one another?!
This mindset provides a foundation for analyzing the modern American conspiracy theorist. In many ways it feels like we conspiracy theorists are the new 'large minority group' [sic] in America. Unfortunately, because the grass-roots movement has been pretty overtly infiltrated by disgruntled thugs desiring forums to display anger and self-righteousness, even an expressly designated "peaceful protest" today can be infiltrated by 'agent provocateurs' doing things like torching cars and wearing black masks.
So the independent news community and the protest community is now dangerous territory for any educated and civil person who simply wishes to present evidence of unsustainable systems (often including conspiracy theories). The mainstream media has lumped our credentialed researchers into a larger group called "dissidents" (for lack of a better word). And this larger group looks like it is ready to become the very aggressor group it is trying to unseat, full of partial-truths and false promises.Meanwhile, war and widespread pollution continue.
Right or wrong on their politics, a disgruntled person who does something like wear a black mask (remember-remember, the pointy white hoods of southern America) or who spits rhetoric like 'government is tyranny' (remember-remember, the injustice of tribal members) is not likely directed at any of these five virtues that history shows are instrumental in the betterment of society (I will repeat them): (a) morality, (b) functional intelligence and productivity, (c) evidence to support your world view, (d) skills to communicate with others effectively, and (e) the consistent desire to adhere to civil processes (good civics).
What's worse, we see a lot of disgruntled zealots in our country are not content anymore to simply fart at the dinner table; they want to light their farts on fire in the public square.
How can we fix this problem?Personally, I'm waiting for divine intervention. But hypothetically, to achieve the five virtues above, I think we need to invite government to help us build communities that promote extremely natural and civil lifestyles. A hard-core conspiracy theorist might jump the gun here and say I am trying to promote what is called 'Agenda 21' (a potentially extremist environmental program) or '1984' (an Orwellian control lock-down). And of course that's okay, even constructive, to ask those questions. I would just respond by saying that an 'Agenda 21' kind of program, if implemented through industrial mechanisms, sounds frightening indeed; but if we slap labels like 'Agenda 21' on everything discussing sustainability and real naturalism, then we categorically prevent progress toward sustainable communities; and this would only perpetuate the status quo of industrial pollution and exploitation.Same analysis for slapping labels like '1984' on confident law enforcement and respect for the police power.
My ongoing and highly imperfect pursuit of knowledge about earth and my fellow man has been filled with hard lessons to realize psychologically, but in every moment, one of the most logical statements I can admit in self-reflection is that 'I don't even know what I don't know'. All the while, crime and pollution abound. So what is a man to do? Wallow in self-loathing or charge forward? Well, I think the answer is to be humble and to promote more natural lifestyles in some logical way -- the online petition process seems logical, and I'll venture billions of people would agree with me on some level if I could just enjoy that many cups of coffee. Now let's look at more examples about humility...
I'm not even sure whose shoes I should be walking in today. I can find preachers that claim to know the real "Jesus" better than me. And I can find physicists that claim to describe mass-energy equivalence better, and on the balance, many would be right. So putting aside the question of who indeed knows more on the left or describes better on the right, the underlying theme in all of our conclusions is the assumption that our balanced conclusions are part of a defensible perspective in our individual minds. Think about that word for a moment - defensible.
I tend to think that the only perspective on earth that is really defensible is a state of being 'peacefully natural'. Or, did I forget to add something? We have to be interesting too, right? Anything else? Of course, funny, good looking and healthy... You see, a key point I'd like to make here is that ignorance is circular (or reflective), and the very purpose of this article is to accomplish a (hypocritical) confession of relative ignorance and an appeal to the logic of good civics among my fellow conspiracy theorists. I think it serves this post well to be circular and somewhat self-effacing. Here is why...
My opinion on what is defensible (being peacefully natural) will categorically be at odds with other opinions that other well-meaning people consider defensible. That's polarity in action. For example, if being peacefully natural is 'so great' then what should I do about all that hazardous waste I need to recycle to create my little utopia on 15 acres, or how should I create a system of governance to deal with, for example, psychos and pirates and scheming occultists? I say, detain criminals and rehab them proportionally in a caring and natural compound, perhaps for the remainder of their days if the crime fits.But what do you say? What does the man say who has worked for 40 years trying to rehabilitate murderous psychopaths? Does the extreme example prove a point here, or distract from relevance? Circularity. Polarity.
Or what about naturalism? If being natural is 'so great' then why does virtually every successful organic farm today rely on synthetic materials and technologies provided by big industry, and how do we provide eco-friendly necessities of life (food, clothing, housing, etc) to everyone on the globe tomorrow? How do we recycle all the industrial and nuclear waste? These are real problems in the short-term! They emphasize the need for tolerance with large systems, and civics with one another! We are destroying this planet together. We're killing each other with our fears.
At the end of the day, perhaps the only thing we find is that we are all hypocrites and we all practice some form of relativism. Is this why the biblical messiah, Yahshua (learn about him), is quoted in the bible saying 'conflict is inevitable but woe to him by whom it comes'? I think it's an offspring of our world's saga, the result of a society that does not always show goodwill toward one another. A prevailing condition I see in our world is a lack of trust that justice will be done, and (dare I say) even justice outside earth where necessary. In everything on earth, we can find an option to choose radical peace. According to my research and thinking, that is a gift from our Creator, but it doesn't always look like a gift. And in my opinion, any choice other than 'turn-our-whole-world-upside-down radical peace' runs the risk of not living up to our potential to change the world. Let's consider a radical example...
I'm of the opinion that if another sane man (or nation) attacks you physically (let's say by throwing discarded engine oil on your feet), and you attack him back, then the world will stay the same - the exact same. But if you offer your attacker organic flowers instead, you can change the world in your attacker's eyes. Now assume your attacker attacks you again (by shooting you in the foot with an arrow), even after you've given him the flowers. You then respond by offering him organic bread - you are a man with a strong psychological compassion, and it is calculated to create compassion in the mind of everyone who hears your odd story. Perhaps your attacker will even repent and change his ways. That is the logic of history.
Let's keep going with the example - if your attacker aims higher next time and kills you, and then your children offer him organic flowers and organic bread they grew and baked themselves, the legacy of your family could resonate throughout the globe. Eventually bread and flowers will win your cause of radical peace, because throughout human history, these always win - the examples are just very hard to find because this lesson of radical peace in the face of radical violence is still not really appreciated or practiced in any substantial manner in our world. This doesn't surprise me. Does it surprise you?
I'm not saying everyone needs to be a pacificist for the world to be in harmony; I just think the world is often more friendly and harmonious where pacificism occurs because we are so very out of balance in the direction of aggression. Look at nature - would the earth be in balance if every living thing on earth was a daisy flower? Of course not; the earth relies on a rich diversity among flora and fauna, minerals, gases, and so on. We must admit that sometimes nature needs a volcano or a carnivore to get the job done; so if America needs to recycle some nuclear waste, should we be relying on a bunch of daisies camping out in Yosemite to do the job?
We can see in the military-industrial complex both comforts and sufferings, and we are diverse in our skills and desires ...There are prosecutors who are skilled and motivated to do justice, but even a hypothetically ideal prosecutor today is hampered by a large criminal justice system that is often too bureaucratic, and a prison system that is not forgiving enough (as torment-based prisons fail to nurture with compassion).
There are educators who are skilled and motivated to discuss alternative histories and sciences, but even a hypothetically ideal educator and a hypothetically ideal student is hampered by a larger educational system that tends to promote learning systems for exploiting people and planet.
There are scientists who are skilled and motivated to clean the earth, but even the hypothetically ideal scientist is hampered by large bureaucracies (and even apparent conspiracies) that elevate money and ego and 'personal power' above natural resources and natural people.
There are writers who are skilled and motivated to communicate with others regarding proposals for change (and to direct people to petitions TODAY, please), but even the hypothetically ideal writer is hampered by the greater human propensity to oppose that which takes his vices away.
So we need to acknowledge that something smells at our American dinner table, and we need to acknowledge our common desire for justice, liberty, and sustainable living. By this I mean that I personally would like to vote for debt relief and personal forgiveness for our imperfections (liberty), and I would like to support people and mechanisms to completely reboot the system in order to create voluntary eco-communities (sustainable living), and I would like to see our detectives and prosecutors and juries weigh evidence of crimes in modern history (justice).
In short, I think our society needs a miracle. But you and I perhaps only need to turn-our-whole-world-upside down with radical peace, love, forgiveness, and sharing. If we give these, I want to trust that we will receive them. I want to trust that these words from the gospel of Matthew 7:1-2 are as real as the organic apples growing in my orchard, "Judge not, that you may not be judged, for in what judgment you judge, you shall be judged, and in what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you."
Greg Glaser is a California attorney and the founder of Civil Action Network, a wiki-style forum for peaceful activism and referenda.
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