***12/2019 – I’m updating my 2017 post on being rebellious without fear. I re-read it recently and felt it needed more commentary to reflect what is going on today, especially as we approach the New Year. Namaste, and thank you for reading. All the best to you for a productive and healthy 2020.
As society marches obediently into its Orwellian, authoritarian future, I find myself troubled by the rising herd mentality and the general lack of tolerance for rebelliousness.
What is rebelliousness? In its less evolved expression it is needlessly destructive, like burning and looting local businesses as a protest of corporate labor standards. It’s the rogue chaos agent, ski mask clad, infiltrating an otherwise peaceful protest. Rebels without a clue. Yet at its most constructive, rebelliousness is a vital part of the creative process; of connecting to our passions; of learning and being alive. It is the courage to stand up for what one believes in, or speak truth to power. The whistleblower is a perfect example of constructive rebelliousness.
Currently under-appreciated due to political correctness and social outrage culture, the rebel is having a time out. The rebel with integrity has no scapegoat, thus relegating those without the mettle to merge with the masses and disappear.
So-called “correctness” is literally mutilating language. Reductionist politics have herded American voters into camps of “Right and “Left” absolutism and instead of employing our critical thinking skills, we’ve opted for group-think. Personally, I do not enjoy being trapped on this merry-go-round, but I see that many do, for having an “other” to blame is mighty handy when problems arise.
News anchors speak to their viewers at a sixth-grade level, dumbing down everything, omitting inconvenient facts – sometimes outright lying to the audience. They stoke fears and provide a reliable, revolving cast of boogeymen.
Americans are engaged in infantile (and completely mutual) psychological projection with seemingly little self-awareness. What-aboutism, for lack of a more succinct term, is the rule of today. Why bother to pause and reflect on the issue at hand when you can just deflect and drown out your opponent?
Google, Facebook and YouTube are de-platforming, shifting algorithms, and outright yanking content that it deems “suspicious”, a deliberately vague term that gives them ample power to stifle the flow of information.
McCarthyism is back in vogue, and if you dare to venture outside of the prescribed Left/Right lane of your chosen people you will be viciously cast out and dragged into the Twitter town square. Innuendo, baseless accusations, and outright censorship has been normalized. A quick look at one of the many “fact-checking” websites is all one needs to reaffirm their particular bias. Researching something for oneself is considered ludicrous and the domain of those wearing tinfoil hats. Discourse is dead, curiosity killed the cat, cancel my subscription, and DON’T date a Trump voter. Le sigh…
Last month, Greyzone journalist Max Blumenthal had a swat team show up at his D.C. home to arrest him. Apparently, some food was thrown during a protest at the Venezuelan embassy in D.C. earlier this year…? I’m unclear as to whether Blumenthal himself was armed with produce or simply having a snack, however the U.S. government takes assault with a deadly banana very seriously and promptly arrests offenders… 6-9 months later. I’m sure it had nothing to do with his reporting on U.S. hegemonic shenanigans abroad – if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, fruit ought to be classified as a deadly weapon
Yes, that is sarcasm, yet another nuance of conversation that is not fully appreciated in our humorless, perennially offended culture. The very irony of our looting, murderous government taking umbrage to fruit tossing as a punishable act is hilariously hypocritical. But that’s how the cookie crumbles I guess: when you report on CIA sabotage and such, you’re bound to make powerful enemies. Blumenthal’s arrest comes conveniently on the heels of his recently published book The Management of Savagery, an unflinching and fascinating investigative tome on American hegemony abroad. After two days of being locked up without a phone call or a lawyer, he was released.
Charges have since been dropped but the unspoken threat to journalists is clear. The sun is setting on the internet Information Age and Julian Assange is the government poster boy for what happens when you expose corruption.
The government targeting an American journalist on a Saturday morning for a surprise arrest should have had all the news networks on fire. Mainstream press was indifferent or perhaps unaware, but either way it’s hard to keep calling the news news when reporting on 3am presidential tweets trumps unconstitutional treatment of one of their journalistic peers.
The silence of MSM on many nuanced issues of national interest has been deafening. The idea that “America” was founded on tax evasion and revolt against an over-reaching British hegemony seems at odds with what we’ve become. The press was a vital part of that revolt: producing pamphlets and disseminating information helped form the binding ethos of the American Revolution. Yet today, in the age of the internet, the public seems unable to muster much outrage over the grift at the Pentagon, another topic not getting anything more than fleeting mention on any news outlet I’ve seen.
This is mind-boggling to me! What company missing over $21 trillion would get 100% budget increases year over year? It’s logistically insane. And yet, that’s what the Pentagon does with our money. Rather than put a freeze on spending until they can make sense of the first damn audit they’ve undergone in 20 years, quickly and quietly rules were put in place that will make their future audits even less transparent. Where in the actual fuck can anyone get a job with zero accountability and unlimited cash flow? If you stole money from the bank or mismanaged the books at your office you’d be fired or in JAIL. Yet the Ferguson, MO police shot teenager Michael Brown – a child! – over a stolen $5 CIGAR. Right??
The rules apply to you and I but not to the people with any real authority or actual responsibility for stuff that matters. Our leaders are hanging out with pedophiles and sex offenders, grabbing the world by the pussy and living very well off our money and hard work. Meanwhile, they’ve thrown so many boomerangs and distraction bombs into the news, they’ve got us policing ourselves! We the Sheeple, strangling every opportunity for true debate because we’re too busy attacking each other over petty grievances, shaming counter-culture and ridiculing critical questions as conspiracy.
Everyone is home watching Netflix, smartphones in hand, grumbling about tweets instead of protesting in the streets. In fact, the very act of protesting and demonstrating is now looked down upon. Ask yourself, why is that? When did that happen?
It’s time to get angry at root causes, not gender pronouns or tweets. I honestly believe the spectacle is by design, not by accident.
It’s not a bug: it’s a feature, these distractions. There is rumbling around the world about alternatives to the U.S. dollar as a world currency. If the U.S. loses it’s status as the global benchmark for currency we are in for another looting of taxpayer money on a very serious level.
The financial “crash” of 2008 was just such a looting. The word “crash” is pure propaganda, considering a crash implies an accident and the financial institutions actually caused that crisis quite purposely by betting against their own shady derivatives and predatory mortgage instruments.
They double dipped: make money on the sale of repackaged “AAA rated” (ha) financial instruments to investors, then place market bets to undermine them because they’re actually at high risk for default. Grift on the way in, grift on the way out. Oh, and the bailouts? They reinvested that money overseas, ba-bye now.
Austerity for the American people, griftopia for the elite few. Free market my ass.
Many news outlets made fun of the Occupy movement, or treated them as an annoyance. I have to admit, I didn’t fully understand the movement at the time because I hadn’t been educating myself: I blithely accepted whatever CNN told me, even when I was in my gut uncomfortable with the pat explanations. I looked no further, as many do, busy with the day to day of my life.
My original post follows below. May you be inspired to rebel in 2020. I bid you peace.
It strikes me oddly that society-at-large is respecting rules set by those who don’t follow them whatsoever. When you think about it, most people are pretty structured. And decent.
Still, I’ve got a problem with the hypocrisy of today and I don’t see any good reason to follow most of the rules I follow, so why do I? Fear of my government. Fear of prison. Fear of having everything I’ve ever owned or worked for taken away from me. Those are the big ones, anyway.
Most of my life, I’ve set my own rules. Sometimes this has frustrated the people in my life, but I’ve kept them entertained. It’s mostly frustrated me, really. One can’t be too principled, at last in my eyes, but my principles have often thwarted my efforts at achieving much of anything.
I write this today because in the midst of planetary tension and transition that I think we are all feeling, there is another type of tension occurring. Because for all our religious institutions and rules, many of us are in a spiritual crisis.
My values are not the values of my parents. I’m a child of the 70’s and grew up with lots of freedom; some might say too much. It didn’t matter. What wasn’t given to me I took without a second thought about who I hurt or what danger lie in my choices. I was fearless, I suppose. But it was the type of fearlessness that accompanies naivete and curiosity.
Today, as a parent myself, I often shudder when remembering particular moments in my life. Like the time I got stuck on a slender shelf no wider than my 9 year-old feet on the face of a mountain in the woods for hours. Or at 19, when I accidentally almost blew my own head off with a gun.
The very fact that I remain in my human vessel is suprising to me. Some might even call me “lucky”, a word I despise because it fails to recognize my will, or give me any credit at all for the choices I have made. “Lucky” gives all the credit to an invisible God, who may or may not exist, never mind have any preference about particular outcomes.
Given the kind of person I was, the kind of people I had for parents were ill-equipped to deal with the particulars of bringing me up to deal with the sort of mind I had. I was brought up to follow the rules, strictly. To repress anger. To become something decent in this world – what was expected of me, not only by my parents but what they felt was expected of their child by the familial bonds of authority they adhered to all their lives without question.
I began questioning my given religion in the third grade, and these questions were always unwelcomed and shut down by both the church and my family. So, I found my own avenues of Earthly knowledge and hid much of who I was, and who I was becoming, from my family.
This is not an indictment of my parents. They were doing as they were told by their own parents. They were following rules they never criticized or questioned. Their path to happiness was not varied: it was clearly defined by those who raised them as the path of least conflict, least resistance, most obedient, and least individualized.
Part of this happened, I believe, as a result of their parents having lived through WWII. My grandfathers both served: my father’s father in the Greek Army, and my mother’s in the U.S. Navy. Things were very difficult for people in Greece in the 40’s and Dad’s parents desired for my father to come to the U.S. rather than be an Air Force pilot and risk life and limb. He obeyed and came here in 1969, and he and my mother obeyed years later when the Catholic church threatened Mom with excommunication if my parents baptized me as a Greek Orthodox as they’d been planning.
I think the one rule my parents ever broke was their marriage itself, which was frowned upon by both sides of my family. Alas, my mother was already pregnant with me, and cardinal rule no matter what your ethnic background in 1974 was to keep things respectable. Abandoning the pregnancy and the responsibility of duty to be a married, two-parent household would have meant an emotional hardship and ostracization from their communities that would have been deeply difficult to bear.
For as long as it has been around, shame as a tool has never stopped anyone from doing anything shameful. It simply goes dark, the disobedience. And I mean dark in the sense of secretive or even illegal actions, and also those which are psychologically rested within the subconscious. The subconscious is where the repressed turns deviant and acts as an Executive Director to the Ego, manifesting in all sorts of quirky behavior that people are blind to in themselves.
When we shame someone into following the rules, we attempt to control them through fear. It’s not a fair fight, in my opinion. But we also live in a world where the God-figure of every religion is a deity of preference and judgement, both very human characteristics, ironically. We humans accept all sorts of unfairness in our lives, without question.
I’ve broken all the rules, and eventually I learned that to be a true rebel sometimes you need to follow the rules – or at least enough of them to get near the marrow of the rules you really want to break. Breaking the right rules is much more effective than I could have ever dreamed. I live by my values, and those values were not handed down. They were closely examined and set by me, who, as co-creator with the Divine, am the ultimate master of my soul.
A life without examination is not worth living; feed your soul! Test your boundaries. Give your head a chance to expand and explode and then put it all back together again. It’s completely spiritual work and will bring you closer to the God of your choosing than you ever could have dreamed. Heck, you might even witness a miracle. I know I have. And believe me, I am not special.
Just don’t ever tell me, “just because” or “that’s the way it’s done” because I will overthrow any chains that bind me very quickly and unapologetically. I remain respectful to myself and those around me, of course.
In the workplace, I don’t refuse my boss’ request for me to do something a certain way, for example. But I do point out that there might be a better way and sometimes argue my point before doing exactly as I am told. If asked to do something which diverges from my core values, then I simply refuse. And yes, I have quit before when in toxic work situations. Explosively so, in one case, but that’s a story for another day.
We can apply this attitude to politics, our churches of choosing, our communities and our families. The effects ripple right out. People are more flexible than we imagine them to be, and often the outcomes we fear are not even close to what occurs when we honor our personal truths.
Now, I know it’s not simple to switch into this rule-breaking mindset. I’ve probably read a hundred spiritual texts to aid in the development of my particular mindset. One has to question their intentions unremittingly and be willing to call themselves out at the slightest whiff of bullshit. This takes a little practice because our egos are in the driver’s seat and the ego wants to win, always.
Spiritually I suppose I’ve got a Buddhist-Pagan vibe going on. I blend detachment with potential outcome to arrive at my decisions. I’m not Wiccan but part of the Wiccan rede seems a fitting summation for today’s thoughts: “Do what ye will and harm none.” It asks us to evaluate the morality of a decision, before taking any action.
3 thoughts on “Rules Without Question”
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Well expressed. I concur.
Thank you for reading, Sean!