"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Inferno, Part II of II
Column by tzo.
Exclusive to STR
Part II of II
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, (Midway upon the journey of our life,)
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, (I found myself within a forest dark,)
Che la diritta via era smarrita. (For the straightforward pathway had been lost.)
Without realizing it, the citizen has gotten off the path that he intended to take. He looks around at his shadowy surroundings, which seem rather ominous, and he wonders just how he got there. It is said that the most direct path to Inferno is the well-intentioned one, but this can only mean that good intentions plus a poor model of reality can lead to the most undesirable of destinations.
Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends. ~Isabella Paterson
So then here is the undeniably bad news that absolutely nobody wants to hear: If you are a citizen, you are participating in coercion, theft, and murder. Yes, the distance is great between you and the dead bodies, and the chain of people and events that connects you to this grotesque pile of corpses is very long and convoluted. It is very easy to imagine that the connection does not even exist, or that somehow the responsibility for the slaughtering is diffused and distributed so that everyone must bear the burden of a guilty pang or two every once in a while in order to compensate the victims and restore harmony and balance to the universe. But no: That account has insufficient funds.
Hello? Anyone still here? Just you? Ah, well—let’s press on.
You’ve obviously lost your way. What you see all around you is Inferno. I am not judging you by saying you will find yourself in Inferno if you continue to do what you do—I am saying that you are already there. Inferno is not some supernatural afterlife phenomenon, it resides right here on Earth—specifically, right between your own two ears.
Quit the club! Don’t participate! It is your prerogative! Your psyche, your Being, your Self, is at stake. If you believe in the soul, then that too, is on the line. There may be intellectual rationalizations for murder, but none that will not eventually eat you alive. Don’t do it!
Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote of this very passionately and eloquently when he pled for the reader to do nothing more than to stop participating in the lie. Forget all the arguments for or against this or that. Look at all that you consider to be good and true. That is the line. It is yours. Truth on one side, untruth on the other. After that: Don’t lie! Don’t participate in the lie! Don’t support the lie!
Are we human beings naturally good or bad? We are good! You are good! Yes, there are exceptions, and no, we are not perfect, but don’t get sidetracked. I am not trying to persuade sociopaths, I am trying to persuade you, and if you are truly a sociopath then you will have stopped reading this long ago.
It all comes back to that infernal, irrational spinning thing that has taken up residence in your subconscious. It has hardened into a sclerotic gear that has become an integral cog in your emotional machinery. And many of these emotional mechanisms are connected to your rational, conscious machinery. This is why you have strong, emotional reactions to factual data that conflict with any irrational beliefs you may hold. The subconscious has integrated the irrationality into the very fabric of your Self, and this subconscious program kicks in first, reflexively overriding any measured, rational contemplation of deeply ingrained and accepted irrationality.
The automatic triggering of reflexive emotions: Anger. Ridicule. Frustration. Disdain. This reveals the short-circuit on the logic board. That is why many who began reading this are no longer reading this.
I am asking you to yank that faulty, irrational gear right out of the delicate machinery as if it were a rotten tooth. Yes, it’s gonna hurt and it’s gonna cause some mental, metaphysical, and spiritual pain. But after this tribulation, true healing can begin—the machinery can be rebuilt so that you won’t ever have to worry again about outliving its effectiveness.
How to do it? Let’s begin with this One True Factoid: You are in charge of you. You get to decide to which associations you belong. It does not matter that the government considers you a citizen due to the paperwork it has on file in some office. It cannot force you to be a member if you do not wish to be a member. If the government, or anyone else, were to insist that you were a weevil, that would not make it so, official paperwork notwithstanding. So stop attributing such supernatural powers to ordinary human beings. They are not in charge of you. They cannot define who you are.
So you just quit. Tell yourself you are no longer a member. You’re done, no paperwork required. You need no one else’s permission. What practical good will you see as a result? Perhaps none. The world will carry on as before. The government may continue to collect taxes from you, but they will now be taken under threat of force and not voluntarily paid. Drones will continue, at least in the short term, to rain death down on innocent people.
But now the situation is very different. I am not asking you to put an end to injustice in the world. That job is too great for anyone to take on and accomplish quickly. The deaths, sadly, will continue for now. But to say that “they” are killing instead of “we” are killing is of the utmost importance to your mental health. Yes, it is unbearably tragic how people are killing each other on this planet, but the solution is to not participate in the killing. Disconnect yourself. Heal yourself. You can’t save others until you first save yourself.
By seeing and acknowledging the world as it actually is—by accepting a model that is better grounded in reality and by rejecting irrationality—you do the world a great service: You cease to carry forward the abuse. You begin to heal the world. It is frustratingly slow, and many will die before anything can be done, but you did not create the situation and you should not be under the illusion that you can fix it quickly. You just can’t. It is an unbelievably large problem that has been going on for a very long time. There is no quick fix. Quick fixes correspond to the irrational short-cut methods typically enacted through the violent offices of government, enabled by well-meaning, good people that cause the problems to expand, not contract.
So you just quit. Heal yourself. Then try to help others close to you. People have common sense, but it must be bound to a worldview that is rational, not irrational, or else all that common sense and all those good intentions can easily be used against them. Ethics are inverted when the short-circuit in the logic board is exploited.
We are, indeed, well-meaning but imperfect human beings, and we can have our good intentions used against us by shrewd manipulators. You’ve been had, is all, as was I. No need to feel ashamed—you are not particularly gullible. Even though this con has been around for a long time, the methods have become ingeniously refined. Take a look around you—just about everyone you know has been taken in.
We have all become susceptible to the con because of what has happened to us—because of the abuse we have been subject to. This abuse is so widespread that it has become almost invisible because of its pervasiveness. Abuse has become the norm, as has a population of damaged people, and the con depends upon this damage being wrought in order to succeed.
I’m holding your case file right here with the evidence of the abuse that you’ve suffered. The government “schooling” that taught you that taxes are not theft and war is not murder. Year after year of repeating the same lies, corrupting the delicate machinery of being human. This is child abuse of the worst kind!
All this was inflicted upon you before you had the faculty to defend yourself. They opened up a breach and sent in a virus, but this infection can be cured. Now you know how. Now you can heal yourself. The past is forever unchangeable, but its lessons can be applied to what you do from this moment forward.
And above all, just between you and me, right here, right now, I just want to say that it’s not your fault.
We don't live in a world full of idiots, we live in a world full of unprocessed child abuse, neglect and rejection. Only the traumatized cling to ideology, as ideology is the avoidance of what really happened. It is the navigation around the damaged areas of the brain, because ... acknowledging them, much less the tough work of healing, is too painful for most people to deal with. ~Nathan McKaskle
We have all been led astray. They said, “right this way,” and we trustingly followed the designated path with the noblest of intentions. But we were led through a dark wood to an even worse place, passing through a gateway unnoticed, past a sign unread:
“Per me si va ne la citta` dolente, ("Through me, the way to the city of woe,)
per me si va ne l'etterno dolore, (Through me, the way to eternal pain,)
per me si va tra la perduta gente. (Through me, the way amongst the lost people.)
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore: (Justice moved my lofty maker;)
fecemi la divina podestate, (Created me, the divine power,)
la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore. (That supreme wisdom and primal love.)
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create (Before me there were no created things)
se non etterne, e io etterno duro. (But the eternal, and I eternal endure.)
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.” (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.")
And we just strolled right on in, oblivious, but now at least you know where you stand. And if you find yourself in the middle of Inferno, the best advice is "Don't stop—keep moving!".
And do not despair for the warning at the gate. Once inside, hope is indeed to be abandoned, because hope has nothing to do with you getting out. Hope is not action. Your human will to action is what will save you. You don't need hope to leave, you just have to pick yourself up and walk back out the way you came. You have the free will to choose—you in or you out?
It can be done. I was there, and now I’m out. You can do the same. Retrace the irrational path. Find the true path once again, abandon irrationality, and keep moving until you return to the source. Recapture what was yours at the beginning—it’s still there, waiting.
Go back home and reclaim it.
Put a fish on land and he will remember the ocean until he dies. Put a bird in a cage, yet he will not forget the sky. Each remains homesick for his true home, the place where his nature has decreed that he should be.
Man is born in the state of innocence. His original nature is love and grace and purity. Yet he emigrates so casually without even a thought of his old home. Is this not sadder than the fishes and the birds? ~The 11th maxim of Master Han Shan
So now I’m done, and am glad to have gotten these words out. I realize that the vast majority of readers will succumb to the short circuit and discard the obvious absurdity of this misguided effort. But as the cliché goes, if I can reach even one person, then it will have been worth it.
However uncomfortable it might be, those of us who see through the lie must do whatever we can to keep the next generation from falling for it. … If, by stepping out of your comfort zone, you might have a chance to keep the next young man from needlessly dying, scared and alone, bleeding in the dirt in some foreign country, how could that not be worth it? And if some people condemn you for your lack of blind loyalty and "patriotism," or get angry at you for exposing the lethal lie that they have always believed and repeated, is that really too big a price to pay to save a life—or a million? ~Larken Rose