Monthly Archives: August 2015

Procrastination When Writing is Essentially Laziness Only More Complicated

I procrastinate when I write. I have several projects I am currently working on (or should be working on) but at times I find it really difficult to sit down to actually write. Often it is far easier to find something else to do or simply just put it off.

Part of me thinks my propensity to procrastinate is laziness. That is, my procrastination is a moral failing. This is shame talking of course and feels like a very shallow interpretation of what is really going on.

Part of me thinks my propensity to procrastinate is fear based. That is, I have a subconscious fear of accomplishment or success and this fear undermines my will to actually sit down and do the work.

Then again, perhaps the fear and the shame work hand in hand. My shame makes me think I do not deserve success. As such, I fear the punishment I will receive upon achieving success. Therefore I sabotage my efforts to work so that I do not have to face this eventuality. The problem with this line of thinking is that I will feel ashamed for not writing as well. So by not achieving for fear of experiencing shame upon achieving I end up feeling shame for not working. Why is one shame based fear more scary than the other?

Perhaps then it comes back to laziness. It is easier to experience the shame of non achievement than it is to experience the shame of achieving simply because achieving requires work and not achieving does not.

Part of me does not believe these reasons (laziness, fear or the combination of the two) is the correct answer. Perhaps the answer is that I simply do not want to sit down and write. I do not enjoy the experience and so therefore I avoid doing it. But at the same time there is definitely a part of me that wants to write or at least feels like I should be writing. This might be shame talking. That is, shame convinces me that I should be performing tasks I do not want to perform and then makes me feel ashamed for not performing these tasks. The counter argument is that I have had wonderful experiences writing in the past. When I am in the “flow state” and the ideas come easily it feels physically good. I also enjoy the satisfaction of creating a finished product and receiving positive feedback. Actually any feedback is enjoyable but positive feedback is especially enjoyable.

Of course the enjoyment of feedback is ego driven. This is another shame based drive but not necessarily related to procrastination. It is really the flip side of the shame driven side of procrastination.

Perhaps I like the flow states but realize they do not happen that often. As such I figure the effort of writing is more likely to not be enjoyable so I tend to avoid it. Maybe this is the same thing a laziness only a little more complicated than it seems at first glance.

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Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

I used to think the phrase “Judge not lest ye be judged” means “Don’t judge other people because you then open the door to be judged yourself.”

Now I think it means “Don’t judge other people because then you will judge yourself.”

The “judgment” referred to in this phrase does not mean legal judgment exercised by a judge or a jury in a courtroom. Legal judgment is conscious and (in theory) exercised for the best interest of society.

Nor does the judgment in this phrase refer to good judgment exercised by a person facing a moral dilemma. This type of judgment is also exercised consciously and for a moral purpose.

The phrase “Judge not lest ye be judged” refers to the ego driven and shame based judgment. This judgment takes the form of criticism, gossip and complaining. This type of judgment is exercised unconsciously and does not serve a moral purpose. Its true purpose (although typically clothed in the trappings of morality) is to make the judge feel better by putting another person down.

The source of this judgment is “constant criticizer.” This is the internal voice that replays prior embarrassments in your mind, tells you that you are not allowed to do certain things or that what you are doing you are doing wrong. This constant criticism does not feel good physically and mentally. The only way to feel better is to criticize someone else.

This form of judgment generates negative emotions such as vanity, shame, defensiveness, anger and depression. These feelings are generated both in the judge and the person being judged. This negative energy feeds on itself, growing and spreading to other people creating a negative feedback loop.

I used to work with a very negative woman. She constantly criticized the company we worked for and our supervisors. She complained about the work we performed. She talked about our co-workers behind their backs. One day she came into the office with the most depressed expression on her face. I asked her what was wrong and she told me she hated herself. I realized at that point that she judged herself with the equal intensity that she judged everyone else. When I saw this in her I recognized it in myself. The constant criticizer performs both functions. In other words there is no difference between self judgment and judgment of others. It comes from the same place.

The constant criticizer is like a foreign entity that takes possession of your thought process. Because it is unconscious, if you do not make the conscious decision to not be judgmental the constant criticizer will think for you. The more you allow yourself to judge the stronger it becomes. Awareness and conscious decision-making is the key to starving the beast that is the constant criticizer.

This is what “judge not lest ye be judged” truly means. If you allow yourself to be ruled by the constant criticizer and cede control of your thought process to it you will end up judging yourself. The more you judge the stronger it becomes. Only by making the conscious decision to not be judgmental will reverse this process.

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Shame is Self-Annihilation

Shame is the hatred of the self or at least the belief that the self deserves punishment. Not all shame is bad or inappropriate. In fact, shame can be healthy when one commits a bad act and seeks to atone for that act. In this circumstance shame informs the self that the self has committed a bad act. Shame becomes a problem when it expands beyond this role and dominates a person’s life and infiltrates every moment of existence. When shame expands beyond its useful role it becomes difficult to live a moral life according to Christian morality as defined by Jesus. Specifically, when asked in the Gospel of Matthew which is the greatest commandment Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (MT 22:36-40).

A person I recently interacted with who is a self-avowed white supremacist and Christian whom I believe to be shame driven expressed that because he does not love himself he is not required to love his (presumably non-white) neighbor. I found this to be a clever loop-hole but it ultimately fails for two major reasons.

First, to love God (the first and most important commandment which even my white supremacist acquaintance would acknowledge) he must also love God’s creation which is an extension and reflection of God. God’s creation includes one’s self and his neighbors. Certainly this love is not unconditional. In order to love something whole heartedly (as the greatest commandment requires) the love cannot come from a place of obligation. The heart must have the free will to choose to love or to not love. To love out of obligation is merely going through the motions, is not whole-hearted and lacks real value.

Second, in the absence of self-love, shame will expand beyond its useful role because in this environment shame does not serve to bring the self back from error but rather to annihilate and perpetually punish the self. With this type of shame naturally comes comparison to others, resentment of others and jealousy of others. In this environment it is impossible to love one’s neighbor or one’s self. I believe if one cannot love himself he cannot truly love God. Life becomes joyless and hateful to the self and the others with whom he interacts. Under these circumstances there is no room for the Holy Spirit to enter the heart. This is self-annihilation. According to Saint Paul the fruit of the Holy Spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. (Gal 5:22-23). None of these fruits can ripen in an environment of shame and hatred for the self and one’s neighbor.

Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the Book of Genesis specifically states “they were both naked … and were not ashamed.” (Gen 2:25). But when they ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they became aware of their nakedness, became ashamed, covered themselves and hid from God. (Gen 3:7-10). It was shame that separated man from God since the very beginning. It is also shame that separates man from himself and his neighbor (extensions of God). This is why shame (the absence of self-love) is ultimately self-annihilating.

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Debating the Morality of Hiroshima

Debating the Morality of Hiroshima.

By George Friedman

Republished with permission of Stratfor

Each year at this time — the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima — the world pauses. The pause is less to mourn the dead than to debate a moral question: whether the bombing was justified and, by extension, whether the United States unnecessarily slaughtered tens of thousands of people on Aug. 6, 1945. The debate rarely focuses on a careful analysis of war and morality and is more frequently framed by existing views of the United States. The debate is rarely about Hiroshima or about World War II. It is a debate about the moral character of the United States. This is not an illegitimate subject, and Hiroshima might be a useful point with which to begin the debate. But that isn’t possible until after we consider the origins of Hiroshima, which can be found in the evolution of modern warfare.

Innovations in Industrial Warfare

Warfare became industrial for a simple reason. The introduction of firearms brought to the battlefield a weapon with tremendous strength and an overwhelming weakness. The strength was the ability to kill or disable an enemy at distances far beyond the range of previous weapons. The weakness was that without extraordinary training and talent on the part of the soldier, firearms are quite inaccurate. For a soldier under the pressure of combat, loading and effectively aiming his weapon — particularly with muzzle-loaded firearms — was not an easy task.

To compensate for the inaccuracy of firearms, larger forces could all fire at the same time. Simultaneous firing increased the probability of inflicting casualties on the enemy, and simultaneity, choreographed as it was in multiple lines of troops — with some firing, some waiting and some reloading — maintained near-continuous fire. The solution on the other side was more soldiers pouring more fire on their enemy. Thus, the inaccuracy of a deadly weapon required ever-larger armies.

It also required increasing innovations in weaponry. Firearms evolved from muzzleloaders to breechloaders, then those able to hold clips of multiple rounds and finally the machine gun, which compensated for its own inaccuracy per shot by saturating the horizon with bullets. It was said that in World War I it required 10,000 bullets to kill one soldier. I have no idea where this calculation came from, but it was true in essence. Given the inaccuracy of most riflemen, masses of them were needed. The machine gun made riflemen far more effective.

The approach to warfare that made it less efficient is at the heart of the real issue leading to Hiroshima. Armies surged in size and had to be equipped. Rifles and machine guns were not the work of master smiths but had to be mass-produced in factories, as did a wide range of products needed to support multimillion-man armies. These factories were the key enablers of war. Killing one solder eliminated one rifle, but destroying a factory eliminated the combat power of large numbers of soldiers. Therefore, destroying factories mass-producing the means of war was the most efficient counter to the massed armies made necessary by inaccurate weapons. These factories typically were in cities. In order to function, they had to have efficient transportation links with other factories manufacturing precursor parts, and thus tended to be located near other factories, transportation hubs, and their workers and the systems that employees needed to live and work — houses, grocery stores, schools and so on.

Master military strategist Carl von Clausewitz argued that the key to war was to attack the center of gravity of the enemy’s capacity to wage war. By World War I, the center of gravity was no longer the army but the factories and the workers who produced the engines of war. The distinction between soldier and civilian, critical to all modern notions of military morality, dissolved. The ability to wage war disappeared when the factories did. But given the location of factories, by necessity in cities, any attack on these factories would kill not only workers but also their children, and the milkman’s children. This was, by definition, total war — the only war that could be waged in the industrial age.

At the outset of World War I, there was no way to destroy war-critical factories or populations from a distance. But as with most things, a problem found a solution close at hand. Aircraft made their appearance on the European battlefield during World War I — first as observation planes, then as fighters tasked with shooting down observation planes, and then as bombers tasked with destroying targets identified by reconnaissance aircraft.

Targeting the Industrial Plant

Geopolitically, it was clear that World War I had not solved the fundamental problem of Europe and that another war was inevitable. Among those who believed this were the theorists of air power. Chief among these was Giulio Douhet, an Italian who thought through the reality of war at the time and concluded that the chief solution would be the destruction of the enemy’s war-making capacity. Douhet believed this would best be achieved by aircraft attacking cities en masse and destroying them. Joined in this view by the American Gen. Billy Mitchell and Britain’s Hugh Trenchard, Douhet argued that the key to warfare was to use large numbers of massed bombers to annihilate cities. This would achieve two things: It would destroy the enemy’s industrial plant and trigger a revolt by the public against the government. Because both sides would have massed bombers, the key to war was to launch attacks greater than the enemy’s potential response by both having a larger air force and destroying the enemy’s ability to produce more aircraft.

The inter-war air strategists were in part shaped by the carnage they saw in protracted trench warfare. Douhet believed that the role of air power was almost purely offensive, requiring rapid and destructive attacks against first the opposing forces’ aircraft and then against civilian industrial and commercial centers. Trenchard, like Douhet, saw air power as a strategic and valuable force. Where Trenchard differed from his Italian contemporary was in considering ground forces still important and suggesting joint ground and air operations against enemy airfields. Early American air theorists, including Mitchell and the Army Air Corps Tactical School, viewed the role of strategic bombing as targeted against the war-making capacity of the enemy, rather than against the enemy morale, as Douhet and some European counterparts considered. Mitchell saw attacks on industry, communications and transportation as the real objectives of strategic air power and saw the armies in the field as false objectives.

Douhet implicitly recognized the weakness of aircraft, which was the same as the weakness of rifles: They were extremely imprecise. In 1940, when the British began launching attacks on Germany, the imprecision of the bomber was so great that German intelligence could not figure out what they were trying to bomb. Only massing bombers and destroying cities would work.

The Germans used this dual strategy in the Battle of Britain. They failed both because of lack of sufficient weapons and an air force not designed for strategic bombardment (which is what attacks on cities were called) but for tactical support for ground warfare. The British adopted nighttime area bombardment, making no secret that their goal was the destruction of cities to suppress production and generate political opposition.

The United States took a different approach: precision daylight bombardment. The Army Air Corps Tactical School sought to make bombing more efficient by finding and identifying bottlenecks in the opponent’s supply chain. Targeting the bottleneck would reduce the total number of bombers, men and bombs needed to achieve the same ultimate goal as large city bombing. The Americans felt that they could solve the problem of inaccuracy and total attacks on cities through technology. They developed the Norden bombsight, which was supposed to enable the dropping of iron bombs with precision. The bombsights were delivered to the planes by armed guard, and the bombardier was ordered to destroy the bombsight at all costs if shot down. Regardless of this technology, U.S. bombing was not much more accurate than the deliberate randomness of the British.

By the time the air war focused on Japan, there were no illusions that there was precision in bombing. Curtis LeMay, who commanded U.S. air forces in the Pacific, adopted the British strategy of nighttime attacks with incendiary bombs. On the night of March 9, 1945, 279 B-29s conducted an incendiary bombing attack on Tokyo that destroyed more than 40 square kilometers (15 square miles) of the city and killed an estimated 100,000 people.

The Tokyo bombing followed Douhet’s logic. So did the creation of the atomic bomb. Douhet’s point that destroying cities was the key to winning wars drove Allied strategy against Germany and in Japan. The atomic bomb was a radically new weapon technologically, but in terms of military doctrine it was simply a logical step forward in the destruction of cities. The effects of radiation were poorly understood at the time, but even with acute radiation deaths included the death toll was less than 166,000 in Hiroshima. The development of the atomic bomb was one of the greatest scientific undertakings of all time, but it was not needed to destroy cities. That was already being done. The atomic bomb simply was a way to accomplish the goal using only one plane and several billion dollars.

Hiroshima’s Aftermath

The Japanese themselves were not certain what happened in Hiroshima. Many of Japan’s leaders dismissed U.S. claims of a new type of bomb, thinking that this was simply a continuation of the conventional destructions of cities. It was one of the reasons that no decision on surrender was made. The Japanese were prepared to live with extraordinary casualties. The firebombing of Tokyo did not lead to talk of surrender. And the argument was that since Hiroshima was not a special case, it did not warrant surrender. Recent research into archives shows that the Japanese were not planning on surrender. True, Japan had put out diplomatic feelers, but it is often forgotten that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in the midst of negotiations. It is in this context that feelers have to be considered.

There are those who are confident that the Japanese would have surrendered without the bombing of Hiroshima. But they did not surrender because of the Tokyo bombing. Submarine warfare — not just bombing — had crippled Japan’s industry, but this had been the case for many months. And the example of Okinawa, with its kamikaze attacks and civilian resistance to the death, was sobering. You and I may know what was coming, but President Harry S. Truman did not have the luxury.

There are two defenses from a military perspective, then, of the American bombing. One is that no one at the time could be certain of what the Japanese were going to do because a reading of the record shows that even after Hiroshima, even the Japanese didn’t know what they were going to do. Second, a doctrine and reality of war was unfolding — a process that began hundreds of years earlier. But those who would challenge these defenses are compelled to explain how they would have dealt with monstrous regimes like Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

The focus on Hiroshima is morally justifiable only in the context of condemning several centuries of military development. It can be condemned, but I don’t know what difference it makes. The logic of the musket played itself out ineluctably to Hiroshima. But the core reality that played out was this: Over time, the distinction between military and civilian became untenable. War fighting began in the factory and ended with the soldier at the front. The soldier was a capillary. The arteries of war were in the city.

There is a tendency in our time to demand that someone do something about evil. There is a willful denial of the truth that anything that is done requires actions that are evil. The moral lesson of Hiroshima is twofold. The first is that military doctrine, like other things, is ruthlessly logical. The second is that in confronting Germany and Japan, moral purity was impossible, save for the end being pursued, which was destroying the prior evil. President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood the logic of strategy and the logic of morality, in my opinion. For him, choices were shaped by military doctrine and the nature of the evil he faced. Truman had even less choice.

Hiroshima was an act that flowed logically from history, and we cannot in retrospect claim to know what the Japanese would or would not have done. However, I think that had I been there, knowing what was known then — or even what is known now — I would have been trapped in a logic that ultimately justified itself: Japan surrendered, and Asia was saved from a great evil.

Debating the Morality of Hiroshima is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

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Hierarchy and Blame Attract Shame Driven People

Shame driven people are attracted to hierarchical organizations that espouse “us against them” mentalities. The reason is simple. The only way for the shame driven person to feel good about himself is to shame others and thereby place himself higher on the hierarchy existing in his mind.

Two good examples of shame driven organizations are the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Both organizations arose out of environments of defeat giving rise to low self-esteem (i.e., shame). The Nazis rose to power after Germany’s defeat in World War I. The Ku Klux Klan arose after the Confederate States’ defeat in the American Civil War. It is easy to see how the environment in both situations gave rise to resentment and shame and thus the need for the inhabitants of these environments to feel good about themselves again. Both organizations became attractive to shame driven people because they offered an opportunity to rewrite the directionless narrative of defeat into something more organized and aspirational.

These organizations accomplished this in part by creating scapegoats to blame for their problems. The Nazi’s blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat and societal problems in the time between World War I and II. The Ku Klux Klan blamed and continues to blame the non white races for what they perceive to be the decay of American civil and moral society.

Consistent with this theme is shame’s love of uniforms and rank. The uniforms identify the shame driven individual as part of a larger group and cloaks them with power and prestige than they would not otherwise possess on their own. The rank insignia clearly designates their place on the hierarchy within the group. But more than this, the uniform masks their identity allowing their true self to hide from the pain of shame.

Shame itself is completely ego driven. It is highly judgmental. It constantly compares itself to other things. It constantly compares other things to each other. For example it is common for the shame driven person to say, “things were better in the past than they are now.” A shame driven person will point to other groups and say, “I am right, they are wrong.” Once this judgment is made, it then becomes easy to hate the other group and attempt to impose their will upon them through shame and bullying. On the international scale you might see one country invade another because they believe themselves to occupy a higher rung on the hierarchy of nations.

Of course shame driven people will never admit their real motivation is to deaden the pain of shame. This would only bring about more shame and pain (in the short run). It is far easier (although ultimately less effective) to hide in groups and uniforms blaming others for their problems while claiming to act in the name of morality. From this perspective they can feel better (relatively) about themselves. Ultimately, however, shame never leads to victory. In most cases it subconsciously self-sabotages and leads to self-annihilation.

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Morality of Pro-Life

A Celebration of Reading

Sister Joan ChittisterI do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is. — Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

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