Friday, April 24, 2009

How To Get Attention

Well, now I know first hand how to get the attention of my government. All you have to do is post an article on a blog using the word “guns.”

After I posted my article: High Noon At the OK Corral, in which I voiced my opinion about the gun mentality in this country (incidentally, supported by numerous news commentaries) I began to immediately see hits on my blog from government surveillance agencies, U.S. Military Communications Tech sites, hacker security companies and even a telephone company in the Midwest. That telephone company monitored my blog for over 21 hours straight. You remember the phone company cooperation with the Bush White House spying on private citizens don’t you?

My blog has mostly maintained a low profile, not controversial enough to warrant much attention. However, I do have an increasing number of hits from countries around the world. After the OK Corral article I picked up several readers from China, Malaysia and Singapore. I guess if you put guns and Asia together it warrants a “look see!” It’s a good thing I am not paranoid or I might trip over myself looking over my shoulder to see who is following me.

I always knew there were “crawlers” out there searching the Internet for key word activity, after all, that’s what Google is all about. I just find it so interesting that as I sit here typing by my study window my mind wonders if some spy satellite is watching. Gosh, I’ve seen my own pickup truck in the parking lot using Google Earth, so who knows?

Monday, April 20, 2009

High Noon At the OK Corral

Okay, I’ve had it with the ultra conservative gun enthusiasts in this country!

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Columbine School shootings and the Virginia Campus killing fields, and the current mass killings, I find it unbelievable that we are still arguing about an individual’s right to arm him/herself to the teeth just because the Constitution is vague enough to allow unending interpretation.

Over the years I have had two significant arguments (shall we say politely, discussions?) with other persons about the foolishness of thinking you “protect” yourself and your family by owning a gun. In both cases my discussion partner certainly had above average intelligence and in every other way seemed a “normal” and easy going individual. The first discussion came at the time of our last economic downturn in the 80’s. At that time the “smart” folks were buying gold and silver so that they would have a universally accepted medium of exchange when civil unrest destroyed the social and economic structure of the country. You may not remember the Hunt brothers’ efforts to corner the silver market, which sent the price sky high. The effort, which ultimately failed, left many people facing the rapid decline in the value of the silver they bought. For the record, I also bought some silver at the time. Last year, as prices began to increase toward the price I originally paid for it, I sold it along with some other silver coins and bought a computer.

The other discussion came a couple of years ago in the context of discussing hypothetically the possibility of food riots that might come about through scenarios such as climate change and global warming when whole segments of the world’s agricultural geography turned to deserts.

In both of these discussions my position was and still is, that under such conditions there would be no ultimate positive outcome because you owned a gun. Truly, living by the sword (gun) leads to dying by the sword (gun). Anarchy, rioting, mutual self-destruction would be the only possible outcome. There will always be someone with a bigger gun or more “friends” in his/her gang to outshoot you and take over your supplies.

What is my proposal for dealing with this stupid gun issue? I propose arming every man, woman and child with an AK-47. Maybe two or three for each of them. Then let’s all gather at our own OK Corral in Death Valley in multiple circles and shoot each other DEAD! The winner in each circle forms with other “winners” in yet more circles so they can all shoot each other. This continues until there is no one left. No, there won’t be any survivors! With that much gunfire everyone sooner or later will be wounded mortally. Hooray! Now the earth can return to its pristine beauty and peace (after a time of regeneration) without the interference from the species supposedly at the top of the food chain, the most intelligent and superior being—the human.

Maybe there is another way. I believe there is, of course. Unfortunately, I am losing my faith in humanity’s ability to follow the course of action necessary to prevent the chaos and destruction that would ultimately come from the over-arming of society. I even ask, “What society?” A society that depends upon gun ownership for survival has already failed to survive. Don’t even bother to put up the issue of hunting. It is a diversion from facing the utter lack of credibility that most gun owners display with that argument.

It is at this point my argument turns to the metaphysical arena. I believe in the eternality of life. For me there is no possible escape from living. There may be many times of change such as we witness in so-called death. I believe there has always been life. It didn’t start with some Creation Myth. Those stories serve only as our human attempt to explain how everything got started. For some reason it seems impossible for us to simply keep moving forward without having to explain how we got started. I believe we are engaged in an eternal learning experience and that we have multiple life opportunities in the process of becoming the ultimate expression the highest and best that is possible.

I believe we have consciousness capable of accomplishing anything, and doing so with love, acceptance of differences, support of sustainable living practices and with the ability to sing and dance together. My heart aches that I have not danced enough! My feet still stumble at the prospect of actually dancing, but I promise to seek to always dance in my mind and heart with anyone willing to share the experience with me.

It is incumbent upon each of us to find positive ways of thinking and living. We must begin to live trustworthy lives, express the highest integrity in our dealings with others, and stop the futile What’s in it for me? attitude that disengages us from cooperative efforts and separates us from others. It would be nice if simply thinking about being a better person would make it so, but it doesn’t work that way.

Stone by stone a wall is made,
And each stone must lie square.
Petal by petal a rose unfolds,
And each petal must be fair.

Little by little a faith is built,
And day by day it grows;
Stronger at last than the wall of stone
And lovelier than the rose.
-- Author Unknown

Perhaps, if we honestly make the effort, we can find the strength to live by faith instead of the gun.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Article Hit A Nerve? -- Make A Comment

I had several interesting comments on the “Anger Frequency” article. I really appreciate whenever anyone takes the time to make a comment. Mostly folks I know just email me directly with their comments, so they do not show up on the blog. A few “seasoned” bloggers know how to use the “comment” icon directly on the blog.

I invite you to use the "comment" icon, at the bottom of each article. It is next to the envelope icon. You can blog using your identity or you can select the button to comment anonymously.

Making a comment opens the ideas in the article to discussion from which we may all gain further insights to the subject that has been posted. If you plan to write a lengthy comment—a page, for instance—you probably will not have enough space in the typical comment space. Send those directly to me. I want to know what you think.

FYI, all comments come directly to me for acceptance or rejection before they get posted. That IS NOT so I can reject anybody who does not agree with me. It is so inappropriate or objectionable entries are not posted.

Let’s open up some dialogue, folks!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Anger Frequency

The following article was written by a long-time friend in response to my posting, Dealing With Anger. Our friendship dates back to the late 1970’s to the Whole Life Learning Center days in Denver, Colorado. (See Lloyd’s bio at the end of the article.) As I mentioned in prefacing my article, people who search Google for various references to “anger” have been directed to my blog and represent about 25% of the new readers, so obviously, there is a need to consider the subject. While this article is longer than my normal postings, please set aside some time to take it in.

By Lloyd Agte

Thanks, Dan, for posting a link to one of your old posts about anger, which I had planned to blog on last year, BUT I WAS TOO ANGRY (only joking). What I wanted to write, and now can, since house-building deadlines are mostly over (read: "ignored"), was that I think we have a "Frequency Of Anger" that the mind sometimes locks onto, just like we have a "Frequency Of Depression" and a "Frequency Of Happiness." Think of the frequencies as on a radio dial. When something makes us angry, we "tune in" to the frequency of anger and thus many of the past angers and frustrations connected with anger emerge, and we are then faced with a litany of anger-making events, which seem to stoke each other and temporarily dominate the landscape of our thoughts.

There is nothing wrong with anger. Sometimes it is good. It is our assertion of a boundary, a way of telling others that they have crossed our line of moral, decent, agreed-upon, expected, etc. behavior. This is how children and students learn boundaries. Parents/teachers set boundaries and are angry when they are violated. Children/students learn to respect the boundaries set by authority and all is relatively harmonious. But if those boundaries are unreasonable, or tyrannically enforced, there will probably be established an anger that may be life-long and most likely hidden or displaced. A control-addict's anger is an overly rigid boundary that probably IS ego driven, and it does great damage to those around him/her. It is a form of emotional abuse like verbal abuse. But, yes, Dan, you are correct in saying that we are taught not to have anger. So that when we do have anger we feel guilty and suppress it. Frequently children are denied their right to anger, often by an angry/controlling parent. We are talking control addiction on the part of an adult here, a compulsive disorder that can and has ruined thousands of lives. So the victim of a control addict's anger probably needs serious help, and of course so does the control addict, but he/she never sees it as a problem. Their ego insecurity is covered over with many layers of compulsive disorder, which they do not see as a problem until (if ever) they crash against the consequences of one or more of their addictions.

And while it is important to come to terms with past unresolved childhood anger, it sometimes is impossible, particularly when the person with whom we are angry is no longer living. Christian forgiveness is one way. But it is also important to dial ourselves off the "Frequency of Anger" so that it is not a closed loop of anger feedback.

Often there is something in our immediate life that is making us angry. It could be another person, or our own behavior, anger with ourselves because we are not doing more, accomplishing a task we have set out for ourselves, or anger at the government or some institution. There are obviously an infinite number of possibilities to cause anger, but the three somewhat arbitrarily listed above seem as good a place as any to start.

In the first case, anger at another person needs to be resolved on a joint (ideally) basis or internally resolved. This, basically, is what Dan writes about so admirably in his blog, so I won't go into it here. But what Dan seems to be saying is that what was assumed to be a resolved issue of anger, emotionally, sometimes crops up as a full heat of unresolved anger. This suggests that there is something behind the incident that may or may not be the fault of the other person. We are blindsided with the surprise attack of anger. Do we need to exercise Christian forgiveness, seek revenge, beat on a pillow, or nurse our anger so that we don't fall into the same trap with someone else in a similar circumstance in the future? But we do need to do something to keep the anger from debilitating our daily functioning and from starting the anger feedback loop. So writing down the reason for the anger would be a good start, then dial in another frequency and forget about it. And if it won't go away, set aside a certain time of the day, say from 12:00 to 12:10 every day and just be mad as hell about it and work up all that anger and imagine revenge, and whatever, but then at 12:11, shut it off and go on about your daily life until 12:00 the next day. I call this "programmed anger frequency."

In the second case, anger at ourselves, we should probably first stop what we are doing and do something else for a time. There is a thin line between frustration and anger. The can opener won't work right. The sink is plugged. The weather is terrible. As in most cases, anger is not a solution, only an expression of our belief that the world should maintain itself to our liking at all times. This is where we need to take a breath and "tune out" the frequency of anger. Anger can be a learned habit, just like turning on a radio set to a certain frequency every day. We hear that small spectrum of information on that particular station and nothing else. It sounds stupid, I know, but singing the song "Whistle while you work" (or whistling it) can give some humorous perspective to our conditioned-anger response. Also time for meditation, relaxation, physical workout, walk, whatever. The world will not stop if the house is not spotless for the party, the dog will probably wreck another screen door and the kids will not behave in the future, either. And most likely we have started objectifying the world around us: it's the crap "out there" that is the source of the problem. I call this "dial another frequency."

Anger at ourselves for not living up to our own self-imposed goals is something only we can resolve. But doing something else for a time, taking a vacation, practicing meditation, socializing, and so on is needed to break the bonds of burnout. In my own case, I have been building a house for over three years, and when I find that I have what I call "a very short fuse," and start yanking cords, kicking stuff out of the way, I know that it is time to stop for a while, at least clean up the work areas, and perhaps change tasks for a time. In all of these three examples, at the height of frustration and anger, many (it seems like ALL sometimes) the past frustrations and angers connected with building, with teaching, with being a student, all of which have high personal expectations we set for ourselves come to the fore. And even personal relationships, (the clumsy, awkward, or failed ones of course) in the past keep trying to spring to mind, and I realize that I am on the Frequency Of Anger and that I must break it before I destroy something, either through inattention or deliberately through anger. I say to myself, "Let that go for now." And I will be the first to admit that it is easier said than done. Robert Persig's novel "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is valuable in showing how one needs to become one with what one is working on to produce quality. When we become angry it is often at something "out there" and as we are all directly connected with everything in the universe, it is "in here" simultaneously. I call this "tune in to the frequency of self."

Anger at the government, employer, any institution is probably best resolved through direct political action. We are still, at least in theory, a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a lot of work to change any large institution, but working with others to change it produces less destructive anger than the slow burn of feeling hopelessly victimized by it day after day. Unfortunately there is at present a fairly substantial body of people occupying the right wing of our political system that seem to be daily consumed with anger to the point of vitriolic hatred. They are angry at the political system, angry at the President, at immigrants, at various if not all races, at welfare, at "liberals," at young people. Were they to become engaged in some aspect of the political process, they would have to tune out the anger frequency long enough to turn their position into constructive legislation (at least from their perspective) and in the process the issues angering them could be debated in a give-and-take exchange. This would be democracy in action rather than hatred in emails and bumper stickers. This would be much more beneficial to them personally and to society than passing on hate-filled emails, which feeds anger in its feedback loop but does little else. I call this "create a new frequency."

The "Frequency" theory also works with depression. Waking up in the night depressed, lying in bed thinking about a depressing situation often brings up the ghost of depressions past and the feedback loop starts again. This could have a physiological cause, such as low blood sugar, which releases adrenaline and gives us fight-or-flight (and both sometimes) nightmares, which can be temporarily relieved through raiding the refrigerator at midnight and eating slow release sugars such as in carrots (my technique), and waiting for the blood sugar to come up in 20 minutes or so. But in any case those depression causing events of the past won't get resolved during a sleepless night, so best to jot down the depressing "events" on paper or in a journal and work on them after a good night's sleep. Probably the next morning when the depression or anger frequency is tuned out, some will seem silly to be concerned about. Same with anger. Lying awake with anger or sleeping with anger is a debilitating stress on the system, which is rarely productive. Throwing open the window, as in the '80s movie "Broadcast News," and shouting "I'm sick and tired and I'm not going to take it any more" is healthy because the true self has found honest expression, but it probably won't do as much good as sitting down and writing down a list of "Why I am so damned mad" and then doing something about some of the key items on the list. With the anger objectified on a list, solutions can start and the cognitive brain can take over from the frequency of the emotional brain (not scientific, I know, but then I never claimed to be a scientist).

We cannot totally stop the mind from thinking what it wants to think, which is probably the best thing and worst thing about the mind. Our unconscious boils up in our sleep and tries to reconcile tensions in our dreams. Many drugs, especially recreational drugs, including alcohol, and all sleep-inducing prescriptions and over-the-counter sleep drugs, depress Delta sleep, the few minutes of time when we actively dream, every 90 minutes or so throughout the night. (I recently saw this disputed on TV, saying that "maybe" we dream all the time and only remember when we wake up after Delta sleep, but as the brain waves are so radically different during Delta sleep, I hold to my original statement, with deference to an exploration to new studies I need to look at.) In short, to fight anger and depression we need to lead drug-free lives to let out unconscious do its job for us when we have "down time" rather than competing with our waking frustrations during the day.

Anger is part of the human condition. Wrath, one of the Seven Deadly Sins listed by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century, is something each of us has to learn to manage. Limited forms of the Deadly Sins of Pride, Avarice, and Envy are actually ENCOURAGED by our society as engines of a vibrant Capitalist economic system. But an excess of them results in our current economic collapse and depression. So too is limited anger a healthy reaction to social buffeting dealt out to us in every day life. (If enough of us get angry at the rude driver, he may change his ways--and then he may shoot us, too). But in excess, anger is destructive to ourselves and others, and we need to learn to recognize it as a problem to be solved or a frequency we need to manage, dial away from, or find a substitute for in order for us to get on with our creative life.

--Lloyd Agte
After graduating high school in Plummer Idaho, birthplace, worked at Boeing in Seattle for three years as a Final Assembly Inspector before attending University of Idaho, graduating with a B.A. English, 1964, � Received an M.A. at Sul Ross University, Texas in 1966, then taught as an Instructor at the University of Wyoming until 1968, married during this time. �Attended Kent State University, Ohio as Graduate Student and Teaching Fellow until 1972. �Worked as a carpenter in Lewiston Idaho, summer and fall of 1972, toured Mexico spring of 1973 and began teaching at Casper College in fall of 1973. �Awarded Ph.D in English 1980, continued teaching English, Film Studies, Video Production, and Multi-Media Production at Casper College and University of Wyoming Extension at Casper College until retirement in 2004. �Divorced in 1990 and remarried in 1996. �Currently living with wife Barbara Joe in a home that we have been building since 2005.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Once More With Feeling!

I thought I might be back at posting to LifeCentering before now.

As I first began my “sabbatical” just over one month ago, I had an early quickening creatively as I began reading, Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, Ph.D., a senior Jungian analyst. This is a book about the myths and stories of the Wild Woman archetype. I found the stories amazingly relevant to my feminine nature. So much of what I have experienced as I developed the expression of my personal attributes that typically are associated with the feminine side of our human nature were illustrated by these stories, and for the first time in my life, I began to understand and accept that mystical part of my being.

Recognizing my feminine side has mostly been easy for me, but understanding how to truly open myself to it seemed just beyond where I was. I have always been intuitive, perhaps more so than most men. I easily empathized with the feelings of others. I enjoyed much of the “right brain” sensitivities, such as artistic and spatial skills; insight; imagination; music awareness. Interestingly, and to me, frustrating, was the fact that while I enjoyed all types of art, music and theater, I seemed to have little skill in producing any of those abilities! (Unless you consider that being a minister/actor fulfilled the role. Many people think that ministers are frustrated actors!)

Another part of the personal frustration I often experienced came from having a keen logical ability. I knew how to figure things out. Ideas came easily (right brain) and I usually knew how to develop them (left brain). I have had a “large picture” view without losing the small details that composed that picture. Again, however, taking the next step in actual production in physical form usually was best accomplished in partnership with another person whose skills complimented my own.

As I developed various projects (careers) in my life I usually moved forward quickly using the skills I knew I had. The unfortunate part of my story is that I usually bailed out in one way or another before the project reached its peak. I think that is partly responsible for why I felt the need of a partner. I have come to realize that was my fear of failure/fear of success roadblock. That ragged edge to my personality has surfaced so often that I came to accept it, explain it, justify it and live with it! That ain’t no fun, my friends!

I have made efforts at resolving that part of my nature and in some areas I fare much better than before. I still have much work to do in overcoming that roadblock to fulfillment. It was my recognition of this fact that brought me to the decision to take some time off from writing. My life style since retiring has been such that it has become more difficult for me to get out of myself to regain connections with people, places, and activities. Most of all the lack of activity reinforces the false notion of not being able to break free.

So, back to the beginning of this more lengthy than planned effort to share where I have been and why. I have made extensive notes as I read Women Who Run With Wolves. The notes themselves would almost make a book on their own. What I have found out in reviewing the Wild Woman archetype stories is mostly very personal. I think I see the application to my own life, but I am not yet sure how, if at all, I can write about it in a way that is generally helpful without revealing my own misadventures. It is not that I am afraid to share my foibles and pratfalls. It is more that they would be identifiable to others who, perhaps innocently, chose to walk with me for a time. I do know that I will come to the place where I can share my stories and when I do, I hope others will find some point of meaning for their own lives. We are not so different from each other, you know, and we join in the experience of others for wonderful reasons that may not yet be clear. So I am going to do this Once More With Feeling!