The Enemy of my Enemy: from Ukraine to Uvalde

Recently I read a blog post written by a person on the far right (traditionalist) end of the political spectrum regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In the post he says the following:

Like many traditionalists, I had hoped for a swift Russian victory, because nothing matters more than the defeat of the Satanic American regime. As the last major-power white Christian country, Russia is the last outpost of Western Civilization and so has a better claim on our loyalty than our own wicked countries that make no disguise of their hatred for us. In the long run, Ukraine stands a better chance of having its people and culture endure if it is conquered by Russia than if it is assimilated into the EU.

There are questionable assumptions the author makes in this statement. Is Russia really fighting as a Christian power or as a representative of Western Civilization? Is the population of Russia any more devoutly Christian than the population of the USA? But what is striking is the author’s support for Russian victory over Ukraine as a victory against the United States. I assume the author is a citizen of the United States but that could be a questionable assumption on my part. However, the sentiment seems to be, the enemy (i.e., Russia) of my enemy (i.e., the “Satanic American regime”) is my friend.

More recently, in the same blog, a different author (whom, based on previous posts appears to be in general agreement with the above quoted author) wrote a post about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. In his post he wrote about the perpetrator:

A “bully” was once a low-status thug who beat up wimps in the hope of winning the approval of high-status thugs.  It is now a normal person who disapproves of an eccentric weirdo.  The Uvalde shooter appears to have been an eccentric weirdo, and he appears to have suffered some of this second sort of “bullying;” but it is not at all clear that it is wrong to “bully” an eccentric weirdo like the Uvalde shooter.  The Uvalde shooter should not have been mocked for his alleged stuttering, but he (and 21 other people) might have been saved by strong social pressure (a.k.a. “bullying”) to cut out that whole scary, creepy, eccentric weirdo shit.

I suspect both authors would accuse the “Satanic American regime” (and liberalism in general) for creating the alienating conditions which gave rise to the eccentric weirdo of Uvalde. But I also suspect the eccentric weirdo was motivated in some way to strike a blow at the very same “Satanic American regime” that made him feel alienated in the first place. And if so, should he not also be considered an enemy of the enemy of these authors?

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Render Unto Caesar

Man in the jungle or hunting stage had to be greedy – to seek food eagerly and gorge himself zealously – because, when food came, he could not be sure when it would come again. He had to be sexually sensitive, often promiscuous, because a high death rate compelled a high birth rate; every woman had to be made a mother whenever possible, and the function of the male was to be always in heat. He had to be pugnacious, ever ready to fight for food or mate. Vices were once virtues, indispensable for survival.

But when man found that the best means of survival, for individual as well as for species, was social organization, he expanded the hunting pack into a system of social order in which the instincts once so useful in the hunting stage had to be checked at every turn to make society possible. Ethically every civilization is a balance and tension between the jungle instincts of men and the inhibitions of a moral code. The instincts without the inhibitions would end civilization; the inhibitions without the instincts would end life. The problem of morality is to adjust inhibitions to protect civilization without enfeebling life.

William Durant, The Age of Faith (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950), p. 819.

... Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

KJV Matt. 22:21

There are rules in this world that are enforced because they maintain civilization (as described in the quote by William Durant above). There are rules enforced because they save the souls of men. The rules that save the souls of men enjoy supernatural law enforcement. God is all seeing and all knowing, therefore these laws cannot be broken without either being atoned for or ultimately punished. Some rules aimed to maintain civilization are presented as rules that save the souls of men because they are difficult to enforce (e.g., sexual morality). But really, these rules belong to Caesar rather than God.

The rules belonging to Caesar are important, just not ultimately important. They should be enforced if maintaining civilization is a priority. But as Jesus articulates in Matthew 22:21, the things that belong to Caesar should not be confused for the things that belong to God.

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The Second Great Commandment

Jesus said … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

KJV Matt. 22:37-40.

When a man is aligned with himself and his intent is pure (i.e., without internal conflict) he is at his most powerful. He is most able to resist the false teachings and influences of other people and institutions which seek to corrupt his intent and lead him astray. When he has internal conflict, he is not at his most powerful and becomes more susceptible to corruption. Perhaps the internal conflict is a sign of this corruption, that a foreign idea or intention in conflict with his own has been inserted and internalized by that man. Jesus expresses a similar idea when he says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. KJV Matt. 6:24. When a man is aligned with himself, he holds an intention with all his heart, soul and mind.

The message of Christ in Matthew 22:37-40 is to love God with this purity of intent. It is the “first and great” commandment. The second, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” is “like unto it”, which I take to mean of similar importance and of similar meaning.

I have witnessed some debate on the Orthosphere as to the meaning of “neighbor” in this context. Does neighbor mean “those living in close proximity with oneself”? Does it mean “one’s kinfolk”? In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), Jesus defines neighbor as one who shows mercy on another. This seems to discount the “kinsfolk” definition as it was a Samaritan who showed mercy upon a Jew in the parable. However, it could be argued that kinsfolk are typically the ones showing mercy upon each other and are therefore neighbors to each other. Among the Orthosperean debates I have witnessed, I have read sentiments such as, “I don’t care about people living on the other side of the world whom I will never meet” (which raises the question as to why that same person would be so concerned about abortion practiced among people he has never met involving babies he also will never meet). Similarly, I have also read Orthospherean comments to the effect that “love and mercy should be naturally shown to one’s own”. This raises an interesting point.

When Jesus says “love thy neighbor as thyself” there is an implicit indication that one would naturally love himself. * I believe it is true that one should naturally love himself because when a person does not love himself, he is not in alignment with himself. I do not believe anyone can not love himself with all his, heart, soul and mind. There will always be some small part within him, his divine spark, that does love himself. But if that person has also been convinced by other people or institutions that he is unworthy, unlovable, disgusting etc. and he has internalized this position, he will naturally become unaligned and in conflict with himself. Moreover, when a person does not love himself with all his heart, soul and mind, he will become bitter and resentful and act accordingly. He will seek the approval of others in a needy and imposing way. By contrast when he does love himself, he will not need these external forms of validation and will then be able to extend love to others authentically and unconditionally.

I agree with that Orthospherean commenter I remember reading who said a person’s love naturally belongs with one’s own. But I wonder if he took this idea to its next logical step. If a person’s love naturally belongs with one’s own, then it must ultimately reside with oneself. This is no violation of the Great Commandment to say this because the second commandment is like unto the first and implicit within that second commandment is that one would naturally love himself. Therefore, it can be said that the love of oneself is the love of God or at least like unto it.

When a person truly loves himself he will exhibit certain qualities:

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Gal. 5:22.

[T]he fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. Eph. 5:9.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-7.

All these are qualities of a person who is in alignment with themselves and without the corruption of internalized false teachings from other people or institutions. Notice the absence of grumpiness, judgmentalism and shame. All the qualities described by Saint Paul are of a person who loves himself with all his heart, soul and mind. This is also the love of God. And it is this love that allows him to love his neighbor as the Lord commands. On this hangs all the law and the prophets.

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*I once had an exchange with Thordaddy on this topic. He cleverly argued that because he did not love himself, he was under no obligation to love his neighbor per the plain meaning of the text. Although this I found this response interesting, I did not believe it to accord with the spirit of the text.

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Of Belief and Reason

The life of the mind is a composition of two forces: the necessity to believe in order to live, and the necessity to reason in order to advance. In ages of poverty and chaos the will to believe is paramount, for courage is the one thing needful; in ages of wealth the intellectual powers come to the fore as offering preferment and progress; consequently a civilization passing from poverty to wealth tends to develop a struggle between reason and faith, a “warfare of science with theology.” In this conflict philosophy, dedicated to seeing life whole, usually seeks a reconciliation of opposites, a mediating peace, with the result that it is scorned by science and suspected by theology. In an age of faith, where hardship makes life unbearable without hope, philosophy inclines to religion, uses reason to defend faith, and becomes a disguised theology.

William Durant, The Age of Faith (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950), p. 405.

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I AM a Thought Hub Therefore I AM

It is not the thinking of thoughts (i.e., the mental experience of information) that proves being but rather the experience of the thoughts. I do not know the next thought that will appear in my consciousness, so how can I take credit for creating these thoughts? And how can I therefore prove “my” existence because these thoughts exist? And yet, it feels as if I have creative ownership of these thoughts somehow. Perhaps, this feeling of ownership is an erroneous assumption that gained legitimacy with the passage of time. I suppose it is also possible that I do in some fashion create my thoughts on a subconscious level. Even so, it is a subconscious creation and therefore my conscious mind cannot claim ownership. In any respect I must conclude that I experience thoughts and not necessarily create them or put another way, I experience thoughts, therefore I am.

Perhaps my thoughts come from multiple external and internal sources and I am a hub in which these thoughts can be experienced. In my experience of thought, I can express a preference as to my thoughts. Some thoughts are pleasurable whereas other thoughts are distressful (for example). I can more readily lay claim to this exercise of preference because I experience it immediately. As with most things I experience, I can tell right away whether I prefer it or not. Somethings require deliberation (and perhaps I can lay claim to the deliberative process as well). This is what I refer to when I say “I” or “me”. That is, I am a hub or intersection point that has the ability to experience thoughts and express a preferences related to said thoughts. But I am not the creator of the thought nor am I the thought as might be tempting to suppose.

If I am merely the experiencer of thought and not necessarily the creator of the thought, then I need not feel ashamed for the mere experience of any thought that crosses my mind. Of course morality comes into play in (perhaps) the preference and the (more certainly) choosing to act on a preference, but not the experience of the thought itself. And some thoughts are tempting to pursue in the short term but give rise to greater problems in the long term. Experience teaches us (if we have the capacity to learn… which I can also lay claim to as “I” because it is an intrinsic quality) how to differentiate between these things.

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What do Julian the Apostate and Toothpaste have in common?

You cannot put toothpaste back in the tube very easily once it has been squeezed out. So much so, that it has become an analogy for all things that are difficult to undo once done. So much so, it suggests the universe was designed in such a way that once toothpaste is squeezed from the tube, it goes against the design to force it back in. So much so, one might say it is God’s will that once toothpaste has been squeezed from a tube, it is not worth the effort to force the toothpaste back into the tube.

Other things are not like that. On a societal level, some changes, once made are resisted and eventually return to their original state. The attempts to convert the United States to the metric system comes to mind. Whereas others (like the toothpaste analogy) once made are extremely difficult to unmake and therefore the suggestion is that it is not worth the effort to unmake them or perhaps they should not be unmade.

The Roman Empire’s adoption of Christianity is an interesting example. In 313 the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan whereby the Roman Empire would treat Christianity benevolently as a matter of policy. This cleared the way for Christianity to replace the old religion of paganism. Fifty years later the Emperor Julian who ruled from 361 to 363 attempted to bring the Roman Empire back from Christianity to paganism. It did not work. The new religion of Christianity had in a mere fifty years had taken hold. Julian’s successor easily reversed this short lived policy and the Roman Empire remained Christian until it fell. Christianity went on to become the driving force of European civilization. Once Christianity had been squeezed from the tube it was very difficult to put it back in.

Why are some things more difficult to put back into the tube once squeezed out? One can postulate that Truth is the reason. That is, what has been squeezed from the tube provides a more clear picture of the world than what existed before the squeezing. The Romans and Europeans who inherited the remains of the empire saw that there was a greater truth to Christianity than paganism had to offer.

Of course Christianity survives to this day but there is a sense that it has (at least in its current form) passed its peak. Something else has been squeezed from the tube. That has provided a more clear picture of the world (at least in some respects). Whatever has been squeezed from the tube, it seems unlikely and perhaps impossible that it can be forced back into the tube as some would want. The question is, does the degree of difficulty mean that it is God’s will that it be so?

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False Arguments in Favor of Shame

It has been argued by those who espouse shame as a virtue that (1) shame is used to correct wrong behavior and (2) that to live without shame gives a person license to do as they please. I believe these are false arguments for the following reasons.

Shame Is Used To Correct Wrong Behavior

Although there may be situations where a person engages in wrong behavior or errs, the correct response for the observer is to offer a correction. There is an assumption made by the person attempting to shame another person into “behaving correctly” that they (the observer) are right and the person “behaving incorrectly” is wrong. This may be the case but it might not be. As such, the person offering the correction must be absolutely sure he is in the right before offering a correction. Regardless, the correction need not be offered with the intent to shame the other person. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps the most important reason is that a person should learn from their mistakes and errors. When one person intends to shame another person it often creates a situation that makes it difficult to learn from mistakes. This is because the shamed person often will avoid the situations resulting in shame to avoid being shamed again and thus eliminate the possibility of learning from their mistake (i.e., approach the situation differently the next time). Further, shame creates resentment which often results in more “wrong behavior” only this time the behavior is passive-aggressive which often cannot be “corrected” because it allows for plausible deniability. Finally, when someone is shamed this will often create the desire to shame others as a means of alleviating the feeling of shame rather than correct their behavior to alleviate the feeling of shame. As such if you feel the need to shame another person to correct their wrong behavior it is important to make sure you are not shaming them because someone else shamed you in a similar way on a previous occasion.

Living Without Shame is License To Do As One Pleases

Although there may be situations where a person living without shame may please to do wrong behavior (as in sociopathology) this is not always the case. There is an arrogant assumption here that, left to their own devices, most people will choose wrongly (except of course those people who espouse shame as a virtue) and therefore cannot be trusted to behave correctly. Obviously, this is not always the case. Certainly, the person espousing shame as a virtue trusts himself to behave rightly some of the time. There is a second assumption here that people do not already “do as they please.” But this is not true. One can only do as they please, whether it be following the dictates of scripture or not every person must (on some level) choose what to believe, think, say or do. It is possible for a person to choose to behave rightly without the need for another person to be at the ready to shame them. For in the final analysis, it is better for a person to act rightly because they want to act rightly of their own volition rather than to be coerced to act rightly under the threat of a possible shaming.

Both examples assume one person is shaming another but this also can apply to self shaming. This is true because it is the purpose of shame to turn the person against himself and thus turn himself into two parties (i.e., the self that shames and the self that receives the shame).

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Ad Hominem Attack – a Shame Based Tactic

The ad hominem attack is a common tactic amongst those who espouse shame as a virtue. It is tempting to say this is because their logical arguments are not up to par but this is not always the case. Rather, shame-based people attack people personally because this is how shame is transferred from one person to another. The attacker criticizes its intended victim personally in a way that is intend to cause the victim to feel shame by bringing to light something that is likely to be perceived as a character defect. If successful the victim will feel shame and will either back off or lash out inappropriately, both of which cause the victim to feel an additional level of shame.

It is important to note that these attacks are typically inflicted in a passive-aggressive manner. Because shame is cowardly, it often hides itself behind deniability. When called out on this it will often become triggered or enraged attacking the person who called out its passive aggressive behavior with more ad hominem attacks.

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The Two Headed Hideous Monster

The far left and the far right are the two heads of a hideous monster of shame. One tells you if you don’t think how it thinks, then you are a racist (among other things). The other tells you if you don’t think how it thinks, you are going to hell. They both tell you that you are doing it (whatever it is that you happen to be doing) wrong and there will be consequences. Both heads accuse each other of spreading falsehoods, and yet spread falsehoods themselves, whilst at the same time claiming to speak for the truth. Both heads are in the habit of making everything political. Both heads are part of the same monster that invites you to worship in the cult of shame, guilt and judgementalism.

If we are to believe that God embodies (for lack of a better word) the Good, the True and the Beautiful then this monster must stand in opposition to God because it is neither Good, True nor Beautiful. Nor does it embody the Fruit of the Spirit, for that matter.

It is not Good, although each head claims to be good to the exclusion of all other points of view. But conforming to a point of view out of shame is not good. It is a turning of the self against the self. It is a house divided and a house divided cannot stand. As such it cannot be good or Good.

It is not True. Nothing done motivated by shame is good. It is merely a suppressing of one’s true thoughts or desires in favor of another person’s thoughts or desires in order to no longer feel shame. But this only creates a situation of hiding and in effect a falsification of the self. This in turn breeds resentment, lashing out angrily at inopportune moments, and passive-aggressive behavior.

It is not Beautiful. In fact it is quite ugly. Shame turns people into ugly, corrupted forms of themselves. Accordingly, any belief system based in shame cannot be Beautiful.

The Fruit of the Spirit (according to St. Paul) are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance.” (KJV Gal. 5:22-23). Shame is not mentioned here as a fruit of the spirit even though many people aligned with one of the Hideous Monster’s heads would claim experiencing shame is a kind of virtue.

The truth is that shame is simply a means of control. Shame turns a person against himself so that he cannot fully believe what he believes to be true. Now you might say that what he believes to be true is not the same as objective Truth and we cannot all be deciding what is and is not true for ourselves. But the truth is, we already do that. Every individual must give his consent to believe anything. Even the truth of scripture must be agreed to by the individual before he believes it. Of course, much of the time, this agreement is perfunctory or unconscious. And even if one does believe in the truth of scripture, he is free to interpret that scripture so that it conforms to his beliefs.

Now, I have heard it said from people taking sides with one or the other head of the Hideous Beast that they do not spend any time thinking about shame. But I have at the same time noticed that even though they may not spend time (consciously) thinking about shame they seem to be very motivated to defend shame when it is called into question. This suggests to me that it is very much operating in the background.

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Passing Judgement on Judgementalism is not itself Judgementalism

Judgementalism and shame walk hand in hand. For it is through casting judgement at another person that he hopes to make that other person feel shame and then correct his wrong behavior. Fair enough, but when the majority of the content that a person casts is judgmental, it seems to me that person may be possessed by the spirit of judgementalism and its companion, shame. And something ought to be done about it. The first thing that ought to be done is to make the person aware of their current state.

When passing judgement on a person possessed by the spirit of judgementalism (i.e., pointing out that another person is being overly judgmental) one has to be weary of a specific and all too common counter argument. The counter argument is that judgement of judgementalism is also judgement (perhaps from a higher level) and is therefore invalid. But a simple examination of this counter argument will display its weakness.

First, passing judgment on judgementalism is not itself judgementalism because judgementalism is the act of being overly judgmental on a consistent basis over time. One act of judgement clearly does not fit this definition.

Second, even if passing judgement on judgementalism is itself judgement, that does not negate the negative nature of judgementalism. We can all agree that one who sits and broods in a constant state of negativity, periodically lashing out at the world (impotently) with critical, judgmental blog posts (for example) is not in a positive state of being. Now, if another fellow comes along and observes this first person and in a kindly and compassionate gesture of goodwill suggests that there is a better, more positive way of existing, surely we would not tell him that he is being judgmental just like the person he is trying to help and therefore his gesture of goodwill is invalid.

Finally, the tactic employed by the counter argument above betrays the twisted nature of shame and its allies. Shame hides in the bushes from God (Gen. 3:8) and never admits to fault if it can avoid it. One way of avoiding fault is accusing the accuser of the very crime itself. Considering the fact that the crime in this situation is a form of accusation one can see how twisted this can get. But let us not get caught in that trap of obfuscation and leave it be.

I would close by quoting the Lord Himself:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:1-5

In this famous passage Jesus warns about getting into the business of constantly judging others. The warning is this. If you judge others, you open yourself up to being judged yourself and then looking like a hypocrite. I would also argue that a person who is constantly judgmental (i.e., possessed by the spirit of judgementalism) is also very likely to hyper judgmental of themselves. Which puts them in a constant state of shame and as we have talked about quite a bit on this blog, one unhealthy way of dealing with shame is to try to shame others. Perhaps this might be what the Lord is really getting at in the passage above.

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