Sunday, June 24, 2018

You're Pavlov's dog and you don't even know it.

If you’re a natural born US citizen I’m about to tell you how you’ve been manipulated and conditioned since birth. I’m talking about something that is so endemic to our lives, it lands somewhere along “Does a fish recognize water?” (Another version is “Does a fish know it’s wet?”) In other words, you’re conditioned to react to it, not think about it, not recognize how you’re being manipulated or that you even are being manipulated. 
It’s called Monroe’s Motivational Sequence. Once it’s pointed out to you, it’s really, really obvious. 
 If I was being snarky, I’d say it’s how to get people to shut down their brains. Which while that is the common result, that’s not the intent– well not entirely. The sad thing is the people who are most vulnerable to being manipulated this way are the ones who think they’re too smart and are making informed decisions and hold knowledgeable opinions. Monroe’s sequence is everywhere. It’s foundational to advertising, marketing, politics, social movements, etc., etc. In fact, it’s so interwoven into our lives that many times, to manipulate people with it, folks don’t even have to run through the whole process anymore. All they have to do is ring the bell and folks are drooling and prancing around. Woof woof. 
About the ‘since birth’ comment. Back in the 1930s a guy named Alan Monroe came up with a five stage process that pretty much ALL advertising follows. (Do the math, if you were born after the 1930s...) Even for people born before, that’s not just ‘adult,’ that’s almost all of their lives. Do I have your attention about how endemic this problem is? 
Good because that’s the first two steps.
1 - Get their attention "
2- State the problem
3 - Provide the solution
4- Imagine (with a variation)
5 - Call to action 
I’m going to use advertising because we’re all familiar with it. 
Step one- Attention. Ever notice that commercials are louder than the show you’re watching? That the colors are brighter? Yep. Get the people’s attention. Oh and that black screen pause? “Wait, what happened to the picture?” Yep. When you’re constantly bombarded with images and noise, a second of silence and black is another attention-getter. 
Step two - State the problem. OH MY GAWDS! My children’s clothes are not as bright and shiny as the neighbors! What shall I do? Where shall I go? What ever shall become of me ? < / end Southern Belle panic voice >
Step three - Provide the Solution. TIDE! Flickering montage of the problem being corrected (with significant product placement). 
Step four - Imagine. Your happy, shiny children out-shining the neighbor’s kids.
Step five- Call to action. Overt message: Another picture of the product. Subtle message (or not): GO BUY OUR PRODUCT! Seriously, how many times have you seen commercials ending with ‘act now?’ Depending on who they’re pitching, they’ll be overt or subtle about the call to action. 
Like I said, once this sequence is pointed out to you you know it well. 
That’s why I’m not really going to spend much more time on the details about it (besides you can look into it). What I am going to spend time on is how it affects us and how it’s used. Starting with this sequence taps deeply into how we are wired as humans. (If you know the term, our Monkey Brain.) We as humans are social primates. We are wired to operate in groups AND to be very concerned about our status in a group. Most of human existence was us operating in small groups and limited numbers. THOSE are the people we’re wired to be concerned about our status with. Advertising exploits this wiring and social conditioning makes us think in terms of large ‘imaginary’ groups. 
How large? Much, much larger than our wiring is for. For example your bright, shiny kids and their sparkly clothing isn’t just to display to your neighbors, but to ANYONE who sees your children. Now instead of impressing a small select group, you’re supposed to worry about getting the hairy eyeball from thousands because (gasp!) you don’t use the right detergent. 
Yes, I’m overstating it, but that’s to get the idea across. The general idea is our very wiring makes us susceptible to manipulation via this sequence. The specific example is our concern over maintaining our social status. When that’s the case, we move into heuristics, biases and – well not to put too fine of a point on it, but– shutting our brains off. (Which, if you’re human, that’s what we default to, until we take conscious control of it.)
The next thing I want to point out is how mixed and muddled steps two and three have become -- and how they effect our thinking.
I’ll start this part by pointing out how uncomfortable people become if you only lay out a problem, but don’t propose a solution. It’s almost like when you don’t 
ARRRRRGH! Finish the sentence! What’s wrong with you MacYoung? Finish the sentence! 
 Again it comes down to conditioning, but in this case take the next step. You’ve been conditioned to expect them to come bundled. What good is knowing a problem if you don’t have a solution? Stop and think about that for a second. Specifically ask, what little alarms does it set off? And why? It doesn’t take but a few seconds to find a simple sounding ‘why.’ Yet it really isn’t that simple. In fact, it gets real deep real quick. Part of the complexity is speed, part of what’s setting off alarm bells is tailoring the problem. 
When it comes to someone manipulating you, these two are seriously intertwined. The speed part is how fast we accept –or reject – solutions. (“Yes Tide.” “Screw Tide, I use Oxyclean.”) That’s not a snap decision, that’s a ‘my mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with other information.’ While that’s an important topic, it’s a rabbit hole we won’t go down. But I will re-stress it’s well worth looking into – because of what happens when we don’t take the time to stop and actually think.
Tailoring the problem is the other part. How relevant is which car parts store you shop at to your children’s shiny clothes? Wait. What? What the hell do car parts have to do with my children not being laughed at for dirty clothes? Welcome to tailoring the problem. And yes, once again, I went to overstatement so you see the general idea. But this time so you can see the far more subtle and manipulative part. 
That is the people who want to sell you something will tailor the problem in such a way that the solution they provide is the only right answer. This even if they have to throw out huge amounts of evidence, complicating factors and – oh yeah – reality itself. They’re going to tell you theirs is the answer to a problem– even if they have to make the problem up! (“Ring around the collar.” The heartbreak of psoriasis.” “GMOs”) 
That’s a big part of rushing you from the problem to their solution. It’s really not in a salesman’s best interest to have you doing your own research – that’s why they so often provide it for you. I’m dating myself but “4 out of 5 doctors smoke Camels” and “4 out of five dentists prefer Trident.” 
Now, stop and think. How many studies, experts on the subject and statistics have you heard to frame a problem and as the basis of their solution? You can also throw in those ‘unquestionable facts’ being used as proof of why their solution must be implemented now. Scurry, scurry, hurry, hurry... no time to think.
The next stage is imagine. That’s also where I said there’s a variation. The imagine part isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Fuzzies are positive advertising. There’s very much an opposite imagine approach; an approach of “It’s the end of the world as we know it” and other dire consequences (especially if we don’t act now). Still another variations is why any other possible solution– by those other rat bastard over there– is wrong. That’s the sophisticated and intellectual version of ‘you have to think this way to be on the right side of history.’ Way too often – knowing that the sale has been blown– it’s time to attack. In fact, the rejection of your cherished solution and/or your version of the problem is the green light to attack those evil, wrong, hateful and oppressive rat bastards – or those whackjobs perverts who are undermining society, corrupting our youth and threatening America, mom, apple pie and God. (Yeah, newsflash folks, this is very human behavior and the more sanctimonious you feel, the further down this rabbit hole you’ve gone.) 
By now, Call to Action should be pretty obvious. 
 But what about perpetuation? That can replace not only call to action, but also allow us to short cut having to do the whole process over again. Ever looked at a billboard and only seen a smiling face with the product? If you’ve bought into that narrative, that’s all they need to do. With the bare minimum effort they remind you you’ve bought into their... errrr... they remind you of the rational and informed decision you’ve made about the subject. So remember, when the subject comes up again, you’ll know how to behave. (Ring, ring, woof, woof.) 
In closing, two things about this article. One: I’ve put this in terms of advertising with only hints about how far it goes into other fields. That’s to bring to your attention how you’re being manipulated. Manipulated not only by professionals, but also to point out how many amateurs who try to use this for their own agendas. It’s not only out there, it’s everywhere.
Two: In writing this, I deliberately used the first two stages of Monroe’s sequence.
1- By using terms like manipulated, Pavlov, don’t know it -- I got your attention.
2- Houston, we have a problem. 
Then I broke the pattern. First by telling you this isn’t the whole of the problem. And then I’m not giving you a ‘fixed solution’ because simply stated, there isn’t one. It’s more important to know and understand the subject exists (including how it’s being used on you) so you can come up with something that works for you. You working on shaking off it’s control over you isn’t something I can tell you quick and easy steps. I just introduced you to the idea, it’s a whole lot bigger and deeper than you realize. The implications –especially when it comes to people trying to make you emotional – are going to take some looking into.
So don’t get cranky because

Friday, April 6, 2018

Dealing With Different Positions

First, try listening to understand. (Not listen to respond.) 

Second, ask for clarification/expansion of ideas that don't make sense. 

Third, step back and consider
a - conditions that might make what the person is saying true
b - soft factors (where they're coming from).
c - if it is a workable premise within it's own parameters* (This is different than the fifth step)
d - is it consistent with the ideals of a group**


Fourth, the Machiavelli Factor
a - what they aren't telling you
b - possible whys they are telling you (what profit, positioning and motive)
c - the nature of how they are telling (insulting, conversationally, etc)
d - what they want you to do about the information (including nothing, but also deliberately not stopping them for future behaviors).

Fifth, then you start looking at if the idea is plausible given external factors.
a - are there other factors influencing the subject? (For example: Standard business practices are _______. )
b - are these factors a more plausible explanation? How do they influence? (For example how do crime, a higher number of uninsured drivers, more stoned drivers influence insurance rates?)
c - do these different positions have a degree of interconnectiveness (Can it be a combo of A and B?)
e - is the person dismissing other factors? (Basically claiming "NO! It's all about A!")
f - seek to find actual reasons why such an interpretation doesn't stand up, it's a whole lot more than an emotional "You're wrong."*** 


 Sixth, ask if this person is aware of these other factors or bring them up in a non-confrontational manner. ("Are you factoring in _____") 

Seventh, if you must refute the position: Make it about the position, NOT about the person. (Know this courtesy will often not be returned.) 

Eight, know that certain canned doctrines are both very predictable in how they are presented AND the holes are consistent. When you derail those who are parroting, expect hostility. The faster they resort to that, the more you know you've got a Kool-Aid drinker. (No matter how much they pretend to be educated, informed and 'reasonable' about the subject.) 

Nine, if someone comes up with some solid points that refute your position, consider them. It might just change your mind. 

Running the early steps will get you thinking rather than just reacting emotionally and from pre-existing biases. It also helps to keep you from going tribal and protecting the ideology of 'us' against the evils of 'them.' (But at the same time, you'll be able to spot when someone is coming at you from a position of 'you're one of them!') 



*Basically, without including external factors, does it make sense? (As opposed to "_______ exists because it's part of the Gray Lizard Men's conspiracy.") 

** Does the idea stand up to the bigger ideas espoused by an ideology, or is this a perversion of those? (e.g., Christianity vs. the Inquisition) 

*** At best, ‘you're wrong’ turns it into a debate (you're trying to win) vs. a dialectic (discussing different viewpoints to gain understanding). Far more common it just devolves into an argument, attitude and insults.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

You Can't Defend Yourself Any More

So have I become a Right-Wing Gun Nut? Have I become ‘political?’ No. Not really. Kinda and “Houston, we have a problem.”

How’s that for being as clear as mud? Let me put it to you this way. I have some really bad news. I’m not being political because I want to. I’m doing it because politics have come to violence. But far worse, your ‘right’ to defend yourself is damned near gone.

Gone not like a Great White Shark that eats half of you in a single bite, but gone like a piranha feeding frenzy. Death comes from countless little bites from many sources. This time though the bites have been taken out over the years. Some of them are political, some are legal, some are ideological and a thunderin’ herd of them are bureaucratic (ass covering and careerism). Now if that isn’t bad enough, there’s a rise in behaviors that lead to violence. Putting it bluntly you’re losing your right to defend yourself at the same time there’s a growing need for it.

That is going to take some explaining, so I ask that you bear with me. As this is a long post you might want to go get some coffee.

I am now and always have been about helping people be able to defend themselves from violence. Furthermore, I have spent my entire life dealing with and studying violence. Not only the act itself and the circumstances under which violence happens, but what leads up to it and the aftermath. eight points about that.

 # 1 - When you know the processes and behaviors that lead to violence, you can see when trains are heading for a collision.

The same goes for attitudes, beliefs, rhetoric and justifications that typically end up with blood on the floor. What you’ll also recognize is the emotional and self-righteous look in the eyes of most people doing them – just before the floor gets wet.

I’ll give you an analogy, back in the day when someone put “Dirty Water” by the Shandells on the jukebox, you knew the rougher elements were past working their way up to a rumble and things were about to kick off. Well, with certain groups, we’re past the opening riff and someone wants to tell us a story... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5apEctKwiD8

Put a push pin in this... we’ll come back to it.

#2 - Over the years, , I’ve looked into the heart of darkness...uh ... I mean our legal system.

Which, in case you don’t know, has a lot to do with what is– and isn’t– allowed as self-defense. With the rise of intolerance towards violence, I’ve seen a correlating free fall of being able to effectively claim self-defense. While still legally allowed, it’s almost impossible to meet the ‘standards’ they’ll demand of you. Basically, if you can’t afford a top of the line defense attorney, then you have to be an expert in violence and explain how you knew you were in danger. If you can’t do either, don’t claim self-defense and accept the plea deal they’ll offer.

#3 - Somebody has to go to jail.

Let me tell you about life back in the pterodactyl days. A great deal of violence was resolved with the cop giving fighters a choice, go home or you’ll both get arrested. Kids ‘fighting’ both got detention, the cops were seldom called. A low level domestic was handled by telling the guy to find another place to spend the night. If he returned and the cops were called again he’d not only be arrested, but get his ass kicked on the way to jail. Now this isn’t pining for the good ol’ days, it’s to point out that cops were allowed a lot more discretion about arresting back in the day. Now, it’s not just ‘mandatory arrest’ laws, but CYA– including the police departments covering theirs. See here’s something you might not know, while the police can’t be successfully sued for not protecting an individual, they can be sued if they had grounds to arrest, let someone go and later that person comes back and does something based on that arrest that didn’t happen. (For example, letting a drunk driver go and he/she later kills someone in an ‘accident.’) Now what do you think that’s going to do to what the Brass tells patrol officers? I’ll give you a hint, there’s a lot less slack being cut out there. In fact, I tell people – and it’s a clumsy sentence so read it slowly – “It’s harder for an officer to not arrest someone and explain that decision to his superiors later, than it is to make a weak arrest.”

You also need to know that once the arrest is made, you’re in the jaws of the system. A system that makes pitbulls look like wimps when it comes to letting go. But, and this is important, you are no longer that cops problem. You’ve been passed along and are now –officially and rubber stamped– someone else’s problem. That same sentiment applies to school districts and zero tolerance. Instead of handling things in house and risking liability, call the cops and get your kid arrested.

Oh and add in the local government using police as a form of unofficial taxation. The raw truth is a big part of the reason Ferguson Missouri went up in flames is that sixty percent of the city’s funding came from the police tickets and fines. Busting you for carrying a weapon ‘illegally’ is a good way to make money and keep you disarmed.

#4 - ‘Violence never solved anything.’

Never mind how stupid this attitude is, have you ever considered that it’s an extremist position? I’m serious, that sweet sounding cliche is absolutist propaganda. The problem is we’ve been beaten over the head with it so much that we don’t realize it anymore. ‘Never’ is an awfully big word. One that not only covers every living person on the planet, but through out all of human history and everyone who has ever lived. Yes. It’s that big. Also given that it is presented as an absolute, using the associated ‘classical logic,’ if there’s one exception, then it’s false. So starting with me, I can say “Yes, yes, violence has solved a number of problems for me,” which makes that absolute statement false.

The problem is people have been indoctrinated into believing it’s true – of even if they don’t, they’re afraid to stand up to it and call ‘bullshit.’ (Yeah, I kind of missed that memo.) It’s a short step from believing that to believing that all violence is wrong. Unfortunately, many people haven’t just taken that step, but did a running leap. Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how our society glorifies violence, most people are really uncomfortable about the subject. To the point, they don’t believe in self-defense, but view all violence as bad and only ‘bad people’ do it. This is especially true, if they’ve drank the Kool-Aid that all violence is abuse (excepting their own, of course.)

Sound hyperbolic? Let me ask you, what do you think your chances are for going to prison for defending yourself are if the jury consists of people who believe “Violence never solved anything?”

#5- And now finally we get to ‘gun control.’ Which is flat out, no holds barred, political.

But more than that, it is very much an attack on your right to defend yourself. Never mind all the bullshit about resisting tyranny or saving the children that the gun control is normally framed in. Gun control disarms the people who needs them the most.

#6 - And if it doesn’t disarm them, it makes them criminals...

You know the kind of people who get arrested for breaking the law. (Brace yourself -- this is a big one.) To truly understand how screwed up this is, we have to go back to the framers of the Constitution. Oddly enough, it does relate to tyranny. See back in Merry Old England you had the nobles and the powerful. Now things had changed a bit and they weren’t in absolute power anymore, but they had this work around. It was called having someone on the police force and in the legal system ‘on their side.’ Basically, if you pissed them off, they’d have the cops and courts screw you. One of their favorite tricks was to throw out a bill of attainder that declared you an outlaw. Not in the romantic sense that evokes in our media baked minds, but outside the protection of the law. Without a trial you were officially labeled a criminal, your lands and properties were seized, your family given the boot, and well not to put too fine of a point on it but, anybody could kill you on sight and not face charges. You were ‘outside the law,’ and straight up, there was nothing you could do about it. All it took was a pissed off noble and you were criminal and, while we’re at it, screw you.

This is why Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 of the Constitution reads: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed." That is an incredibly important protection of citizen’s rights and part of our legal system. (Where you can only be charged, tried and punished [if convicted] for a specific crime.) Citizens cannot be stripped of their rights, thrown into prison, or executed without due process and on specific crimes. There’s just one little problem...

We actually do have a professional criminal class– and they are armed and violent. This is a really mixed bag of good news, bad news and just plain old ugly news. Good news, there’s nobody more likely to get shot and killed by a violent criminal than another violent criminal. Bad news, while a nearly 100% of people who are killed every years have recent criminal records and involvement in criminal lifestyle, there’s enough slop over that innocent people also get killed. Ugly news is even though we know what they are and what they’re doing, we can’t just throw a bill of attainder on them and execute/imprison them ‘just because.’ That means there’s all kinds of ugly out there roaming the streets. It has to be allowed to roam free because of the abuses that happen when the government can just rule someone an outlaw and/or deserves it. More ugly news, you know all those ‘children killed by guns?’ Well, look at gangs. Most of those dead ‘children’ were gang members. Oh and for those who say “What about all the five year olds who die by guns, were THEY in a gang?” Go look into those deaths with an eye towards relationship and/or proximity with a gangmember. I recommend buying a bottle of brown liquor before you do. You’re going to find these evil bastards will open fire on their gangsta target even if he’s holding a baby. (Whether that baby is his own or a sibling.)

Another fun filled dash of bad news is the very people who need guns the most are innocent folks who live in high crime areas. If you understand how crime happens you’ll understand were owning – and even carrying– a gun isn’t just a good idea, it is, literally, a survival strategy. This without being a criminal yourself.

That is until laws are passed saying you can’t or that the government either
a) makes it impossible for you to comply to their standards
b) sets restrictions and then stonewalls anybody who tries to meet them. (This is actually more common than the first – especially in ‘may issue’ states).

Those ideas set the stage for the biggest bad news of all. It has to do with that blind eye America has.

While the government cannot officially declare someone guilty of being a criminal just because who they are, lock them away the key, we –and the government– know these suckers exist. The blind eye comes in to main flavors:

A - We’ve turned it towards all the laws that have been passed to nail them and keep them in line.
The government can’t do a bill of attainder, but it can pass so many laws that you can be arrested for breathing too hard and looking cross-eyed. The idea being that it gives them reason to arrest, harass and keep the ‘criminals’ in check even if they can’t get the criminal on what they’re doing. Think Al Capone getting nailed for income tax evasion instead of murders, bootlegging, and other crimes. The natural problem with that is those same laws are being used on different sections of the population. Sections, who, if you remember point number one, are flat out furious about how they’ve been treated.

 B - Is how we’ve let the legal system ‘take out the trash for us’ – at the expense of your right to defend yourself.

Let me ask you a question. Can a criminal act in self-defense? It turns out no matter how you answer it comes back to the idea of a professional criminal class and no bill of attainders. (It’s why we spent so much time on them). See legally, it’s not that cut and dried as you might think. While you cannot claim self-defense if you are in commission of a felony, at the same time, the law can’t say you’re a 24/7 criminal (hence you have no right to self-defense). To throw another level of complexity on it, this includes the consequences of an alleged, other crime.

The example I use is let’s say you’re a drug dealer. I – and maybe a few friends– decide to rob you. Criminals ripping off other criminals is arguably more common than other kinds of robbery. (Arguably because surprise, surprise, these aren’t reported to police.) Wearing a mask you don’t recognize me, the robbery goes down and I get away. Later, while trying to impress a woman into sleeping with me by bragging, someone else over hears me, comes to you and says I’m the guy who ripped you off. You’re so infuriated, you grab a gun, come looking for me, and when you see me, you try to shoot me. Unfortunately, luck is not with you and I’m quicker on the draw. Was that self-defense? Legally speaking (not the legal system, but how the laws are written) that would be yes. At the time you tried to shoot me, I was not committing a felony. I was trying to get laid. As to the previous robbery, that is an alleged crime that has not been proven. So looking at that incident independent of anything else, you came in and tried to kill me. I shot first and killed you. Viola! Self-defense I’m going to walk out of that court room a free man and go back to me evil and violent ways.

Yeah, except people and the legal system don’t work that way. Evil people must be punished. This isn’t just the Prosecutor, this is the jury too. So if there is any way the Prosecutor can get the evidence introduced that it was two ‘ebbel drug dealers’ guess who isn’t going to walk? Now you got one dead drug dealer and one drug douchebag in prison for murder. Problem solved for society, right? Umm sorta. See after SODDI (Some Other Dude Did It) ‘self-defense’ is the most common claim for illegal violence. Yeah, right sure... you stabbed the dude 27 time, 11 in the back and you’re claiming self-defense?

So between denying that self-defense exists for criminals and actual ‘what you did wasn’t self-defense’ our legal system is a slaughterhouse if you actually did act in self-defense. How bad is this? I actually had a public defender in the second largest city in the state tell me, “There’s no such thing as self-defense in _____.”

That brings us to...

#7 - You can trust us. You, on the other hand, can’t be trusted.

I have personally witnessed a woman state, in the presence of nine officers with holstered pistols openly carried, “I wouldn’t be comfortable around guns.” Wait, what? Nine guns in plain view. (And those were only the ones visible. There were at least ten cops in plain clothes, the Mayor himself* and– since this was about repealing a gun ordinance– maybe 50 permit holder, legally carrying in the room.)

Ummm Sweetheart. I think your less concerned about guns than who has them. Or maybe your statement should be, “I’m only comfortable around people with guns when I think I think they’re my servants.” Because I’m pretty sure all those pistols hanging from the cops’ hips didn’t magically become invisible. Now I’m not going to go into all the problem with farming your self-defense and personal safety out to third parties. But I will point out that if women get pissed off when a guy patronizes them with, “Well now little Missy, don’t you worry your purdy lil’ head about that” then that same attitude is just as infuriating (to both men and women) when you’re told your safety will be taken care of.

Infuriating that is unless you’ve bought into it. Up to and including the point where people get pissed at the idea that they are responsible for their own safety. Which if you think about it, the folks who want to take away your ‘right’ to defend yourself are usually the ones who not only have drank that Kool-Aid, but like the taste.

What can I say, I just have a hard time when someone tells me I don’t have the need to defend myself so I should have the means to do so– because I can’t be trusted with it.

#8 - You aren’t allowed to defend yourself if we have the moral high ground.

 Remember that pushpin? The one about ‘knowing what it looks like when violence is coming down the tracks?’ Also how certain attitudes tell you that violence is nigh? Folks, I gotta tell you, I’m seeing that a lot more than I’ve ever seen before. Not just in the sense of individual cases, but entire groups giving the world the hairy eyeball – but especially members of groups they’ve ‘othered.’ One of the things I’ve learned after a lifetime of dealing with violence is there needs to be five components
1- Othering of another
2- A way of thinking that allows for a violent response
3- Justification/Casus belli
4- Opportunity
5- Belief that it will work to get what you want (not just get away with it)

There’s a certain light in the eyes of folks who are collecting these or have them already. Or as I once heard it put “The enemies of reason have a certain look to them. ____ has that look.” There’s a lot of noise over big political ideas, history and wrongs. Take those five components I just told you about and hold those ‘big political ideas’ up that light. Yes there is cause for concern. Big picture wise you might want to keep an eye on that. Because when it comes to big issues, I’m not talking about someone who is pissed over a specific thing, I’m talking about folks who have stewed in and carefully nursed those five components. Sometimes to the point of building their entire identity around them. This typically results in a kind of moral fervor. Whether you call it a crusade or jihad, you have holy warriors –even if it isn’t a religious cause (as you understand the term). And it’s even worse when it’s a mob of like minded people.

Oh and when you have large groups protesting guns? And violent groups that hate other group (for the other’s hate and violence)? Yeah, think about that for a second. I’m not going to go too much into this except to say there’s a ‘switch’ in people’s heads that once it is flipped people not only participate but approve of mob violence. Mobs are flat out dangerous – especially if they’ve targeted you. While due process tends to keep mobs to a minimum, when you have them coming at you, you need a gun and even then that may not be enough. Oh and for the record, before you tell me I’m wrong about mobs, I’m going to suggest you try going through a riot or two. (You’ll still be behind my number, but just one or two so you can speak from experience instead of another orifice.)

Despite all this talk about group ideology and mob mentality, it’s actually a lot more individual and self-defense related. Despite all the rhetoric and denial, there are a great many violent people who justify their violence through their ideology. Big ideology gives them an excuse to go out and attack individuals. This isn’t big, social change. No, this is the kind of fanaticism that comes at you in the parking lot and away from security cameras. Because to that person, you aren’t human. You’re the label he’s hung on you. Basically it’s a monster who thinks he’s right with God because he’s got the right to lash out.

So knowing all these, does that mean I’ve ‘become political?’ Well it kind of depends. How secure do you think your right to self-defense is?

Where I’m sitting I’ve seen it dwindle from a lake to a pond and onto a puddle. Why do you think I’ve shifted my focus from the physical to helping keep you out of prison for defending yourself?
M

* The Mayor would later give me one of the biggest insults of my life saying. “You’re good. You should go into politics.”

Sunday, March 11, 2018

"I'm a good person." "No you're not."

The self-qualification of 'I'm good' (non-quotes intentional) usually has real mental sloppiness attached.
 
First let's set a baseline. Being good is a combination of both what you do and what you won't do. Notice won't vs. don't it's important.
 
Many people self-certify themselves as 'good' because they don't do certain things. Fact of the matter is this -- at best -- qualifies them as neutral. Because most of their 'don't do' list isn't from moral fiber, but lack of opportunity. Given a chance to get away with it...it turns out that they have no hesitation (Example, "I don't steal" -- and then when the checkout clerk misses something expensive.")That's why it's important to tweak it "won't do."
 
Being good is more than just not doing. At best, it's a bare minimum standard. A lot of people don't even meet that. But many deem themselves as 'good' for their half-assed attempts to meet that standard.
 
That brings us to doing. What do you do that is scaled towards good? What choices do you make? What actions do you take? What effort do you -- every day -- put into being a good person? What higher standards do you meet to be good?
 
And that brings us to consistency. Gloria Steinem once said, "From pacifist to terrorist, each person condemns violence - and then adds one cherished case in which it may be justified." What are your cherished exceptions that you give yourself permission to act in ways that you condemn -- in others? But it's okay when you do it because...
 
How many times a day do you do that?
 
(The mental gymnastics we have to do when we think in both extremes and in simplistic soundbites about complex issues is a fascinating study.)
 
Another common failing is to self-certify yourself as a good person, and then, by extension, everything you do is good. You don't even have to think, you're good so, by fault your actions are good* That's real common among people whose behavior is one giant string of exceptions of why it's okay when they do it -- it saves all kind stress and the brain drain of rationalizing.
 
Still another excuse for bad behavior (doing) is a good and noble reason The other side of that coin is your behavior is in in response to great wrong done to you. Whether that narrative is personal or cultural, it's a green light to harm 'targeted' people.
 
This explanation really takes it out from the realm of thoughts and words and plants it in deeds. Being a good person is about deeds, not words.
 
M
 
* A more viable approach is "I try to be a good person" this makes it more a process and striving to reach that goal.