Parallels...

An Ozark E-Zine

According to Merriam-Webster, the term "parallel" describes the relationship among a group of two or more things which "extend in the same direction, being everywhere equidistant" and not meeting, joining or connecting at any place.

However, parallels are also defined as being "similar, analogous, or interdependent," usually having identical elements in corresponding positions. That is, things which parallel each other may be thought of as "companions" to each other and their tendency is to develop much alike.

Thus we could imagine a group of parallels to look like a handful of infinitely long drinking straws, all lined up neatly side-by-side and all running in exactly the same direction, from here to eternity, so to speak.

Now consider, if you will, that each of us is like one straw in such a bundle. Within the confines of our unique straw, we are free to do whatever we choose. Travel forward or back. Bounce from side to side, spring-boarding somewhat at will from any given point inside this dynamic continuum to any other. Thus we have a good deal of flexibility in the realm of exercising free will, however the range and overall direction of that flexibility is channeled (with or without conscious consent) toward a predictable destination on the horizon of possible events.

That is, while we have a completely free range of motion within the confines of our own unique straw-like dimension of reality, our overall efforts (creative endeavors, affections, sensory pleasures, ideologies, etc.) are constrained, controlled, guided and focused by the parallel parameters of the group of straws that each individual straw is bundled together with.

Now think of this bundle of straws as a representation of what we call "society."

Of course society is no more and no less than a collection of individuals, variously bundled together as families, communities, religious affiliations, political ideologies, work-place environments, etc. Thus each of our unique straws is an intricate part of many bundles.

And all these bundles twine together like cords in a rope-strand of DNA... yet they are still all running parallel to each other. They all start at the same place (ie: The Big Bang) and conclude with an identical ending (ie: Armageddon).

Take a minute to think about this.

Think about the indisputable fact that if you are living your life in perfect accord of the "givens and norms" that society has (in essence) "dictated" to you and immersed you in since birth, if you have never questioned these norms and givens by contrasting them alongside what you "say" your life is "all about," then you are adding to the momentum of where society as a whole is headed at any given moment in time.

Now I challenge you to answer a question: Look around at "society as a whole," encompassing everything that is happening everywhere right now all across the face of the Earth today, and tell me if you are "happy and pleased" with all that you see, or if you believe that there is quantum room for improvement.  

If you choose improvement, as I do, and if your desire is sincere to make this change a tangible reality, then I challenge you to look clearly and deeply inside yourself, and ask yourself "What do I think?"

What do you think it is "all about"? What is the "meaning" of life? Why are you here? Where are you going? And if you were given a magic wand, what destiny would you wish?

And I'm not talking here about turning pumpkins into carriages or bestowing upon everyone the lifestyle of a billionaire. I'm talking about those much more fundamental substances that are the  essential components of having a life worthwhile to be lived.

To me, for example, it is all about living in honesty, proving myself (to myself) to be a reputable, dependable and trustworthy person, exercising my strengths, eradicating my weaknesses, growing my talents, augmenting my skills and matching my actions to my words.

Being "who I say I am" in accord of this overriding objective gives me a great sense of personal pleasure, surpassed only by the magnificently wondrous experience of doing all this same stuff, together with friends, as a team.

Doing “something.” Making it “meaningful.” Being “beneficial, genuine, productive and real.”

Yet articulating these platitudes (ie: simply saying that "I am a good person" because my goal is to be an honest, trustworthy and reputable person who thrives when immersed in teamwork) does not actualize my envisioned achievement. Talk is cheap. Words are only as good as the ideological resonance they promote.

In other words it does me no good to forswear my commitment to honesty when in the course of my common behavior I routinely tell "little white lies." Or, even more damning, I choose to withhold my honest opinion because (a) I might hurt someone's feelings, or (b) I might lose my job.

I mean really, crap like this stinks. It adds energy to maintaining the status quo, keeping the overriding limitations of the bundle locked firmly in place. 

Behaving dishonestly --- even if it's "just a teaspoon of dogshit in the cookie dough" --- while foreswearing one's devotion to integrity (and at the same time complaining about the LACK of ACCOUNTABILITY that seemingly runs rampant in the world today) constitutes devastating social abuse which culminates as injustice.

Permeating society like an insidious plague, the virus of this malevolent fear-based (fight-or-flight) "majority rules" predisposition, hides in the platitudes we laud as reverent but accept as unattainable, aka: "You know... That's just the way things are."

Yet the fact is that this does NOT "have to be" the way it is. The fact is that "we" -- acting independently, within the confines of our unique little straws -- have the power and potential to "change" the overall direction that society is headed once we recognize that the "collective we" has the power and potential to rotate our parallel universes to align with any destination we choose. 

Thing is, when we are actively engaged in the process of DOING this, our little straw starts shifting its position, wiggling around inside the bundle that's held in the hand of society. And when we are actually “doing this” we are, quite generally and by the mainstream, being perceived as a "divergent tangent" and possibly even being thought of as a disruptive force.

However, as more and more "new" tangents come to life, taking on a direction that is concordant of the ideals (about truth, liberty, dignity and justice) that each of us holds most dear in our heart, similarities attract like-mindedness and new parallels autonomically begin to emerge.

The gravitational flux of society is shifted. Collective destiny is realigned, concordantly with and exponentially augmented by the amplified "change and improvement" in the behavior of each uniquely individual straw.

"Be the change we deserve in the world."

I wonder, are we up to it?

PS: Thanks Don...

Sometimes I feel like The Little Red Hen...
Do you remember the storybook tale about "The Little Red Hen"? It's one of those childhood fables intended to indelibly impress upon immature minds the essence of a major (moral) life-lesson.

And if we were to follow the parenthetical innuendo (above), we could easily run off on a tangent about the morality of "seeking to impress" a preconceived "ideology about morality" on the un-seeking minds of anyone and get into a whole conversation about where this (self-serving) "need" originates in us and why we have accepted as fact the ill-begotten belief that human beings come into this world as "immoral" creatures which those of us who have identified ourselves as "morally superior" have the all-consuming responsibility to subjugate into "our way of seeing things."

But I don't wanna go there today. I just wanna take the Little Red Hen story at face value to illustrate a completely different point:

It seems to me that for more than several generations we -- as a society -- have been failing to fully communicate the "Little Red Hen" principle to our offspring because we do not apply the moral principle inherent to the tale as a matter of practice in our daily life. 

And I won't bore you with my long list of "proofs" to support this assertion. But I will challenge you to look around the width, breadth and depth of our social structure today -- from the dignitaries at the top to the scoundrels at the bottom, including all the great masses of us filling the niches in between.

And I challenge you to look closely, with a magnifying glass or better still with a microscope. Track actions back to causes. Get an "up front and personal" view of the (emotional/intellectual) "provocateurs" that motivate the doing of any deed, then tell me honest and truly what you glimpse.

Probably, if you are sincerely intrigued to enthusiastically invest some introspective energy in this endeavor, you will see patterns and trendencies that are, once recognized, clearly visible to the naked eye... and you will also become aware that some of these behaviors are NOT pleasant to look at. But consider, there's a reason for this and that's what I want to discuss.

That is, according to lots of "experts" today (and yes, "experts" and "morality" are in much the same league to me, however I'm sticking to my "face value" promise this time), many if not all of the "unquestioned practices" that we (aka: all of us) “take for granted” today are now being recognized as "cultural habits" attributable to what’s being called “the dominator paradigm.”

According to the scientific-type people who have invested years and years worth of time, effort and energy in studying things of this nature, this pervasive cultural mind-set has grown from a (rotten?) core of fear-based beliefs that have been handed down, generation to generation, for centuries.

Stemming from “fight or flight” (reactions) and "survival of the fittest" (habits) first implemented by our long-ago ancestors, this (cultural) "predisposition" (invisibly) influences every decision that any among us make... whether we want it to or are consciously aware of this happening -- or NOT.

Yet we do, ultimately, have control over this debilitating, harmful and self-inflicted behavior. As with any habit, we have the power and capacity to discard it. But in order to do this, two things must equally be at work:

#1 -- We must be willing to recognize that this "habit" exists and that each of us is either an "enabler" or an "eradicator" of the practices which perpetuate it, being accountable to the fact that about this there is no "middle ground." 

#2 -- We must acknowledge that a habit -- any habit, in and of itself -- is neither good nor bad. Some habits (ie: touch typing) are very useful. Other habits (ie: the dominator paradigm) can and do bring us harm.

Given this tad of enlightenment, consider the "habits" of a society immersed in a dominator paradigm:

  • Every person is (without benefit of informed consent) seemingly "born into" in a race of some sort, pitted precariously against nature, an adversary to all others, perpetually endangered by  unending competition right up until the moment of death.

  • Life as a whole is no more and no less than a win/lose battle. "If it's not worth fighting for, it's not worth having," especially when it comes to justice and liberty, both of which must be  conquered, controlled, "snatched from the jaws of defeat," and subjugated no matter the cost in order to "win" this race.

  • Materialism, finances, economics and “measuring a person's worth” in terms of “ownership” are the unspoken "truths" redundantly (yet subliminally) taught by every mainstream methodology, educational curriculum, and routine way of doing things.

  • Social structures (ie: health care) inforce the (errant) ideology that the more stuff a person owns and the more people someone has control over, the "more important" that person is.

The fact is that this fear-based dominator mythology has become interwoven with the moral tenets of every dominant mainstream culture today because, as a society, we have permitted and enabled "exclusionary self-interest" (ie: dog-eat-dog) to be employed as a “socially acceptable” prime motivator over and over again. Thus, after so many generations of cultural conditioning, this adversarial and often antagonistic behavior is now (happily!) endorsed, at a subliminal level, as the (rationalized) standardized norm.

Yet when we step outside this dominator paradigm to contrast its aggressive tenets alongside those of most every ideal (aka: The Little Red Hen) that mainstream society claims to hold dear, it becomes self-evident that a number of these “socially acceptable” practices could be rightly considered abominable and that this invisible backbone of socio-culture MUST, to ensure our continued well-being, be realigned.

In the words of Bill Ellis, General Coordinator of A Coalition for Self-Learning, “The customs, tenets and mores of this culture are accepted as truisms for our values and lifestyles. From our birth and throughout our most formative years in our schooling, competition, materialism, ownership, money, individualism, and other tenets of the dominator paradigm are drilled into us by example as cultural norms not to be questioned.”

Yet this fear-based ideology is unnatural and counterproductive. That is, it is not
an element of our genetic makeup but is a conditioned (Pavlovian) reflex -- otherwise known as a "habit." And the truth of the matter here is that civilization has NOT always been nor does it need to function this way.

In fact, a number of scientific studies have revealed that many of our ancestral clans were tremendously more unilaterally prosperous because the social systems they employed were based on ideologies about “reciprocity” and “gifting.” That is, in such cultures each action was homed to enable the well-being of all, thus amplifying and empowering individual and collective behaviors to be driven not by fear, but by admiration, appreciation and trust.

“Mutual aid and cooperation are the natural laws that make human existence possible,” Ellis asserts. “We belong to and are inseparable from one another.”

Thus the question: How do we eradicate the dominator paradigm?

Well...

To swiftly, easily and comfortably (aka: proactively) eradicate any "bad habit," another scientific principle must be employed. Having to do with the gravity of a vortex and the tendency of a vacuum to "suck in" anything it can latch its electro-magnetic tentacles onto, its plain to see that the only way to permanently "get rid" of anything is by filling the space it (previously) occupied with something else!!!

Doing this, however, requires a landmark act of self-accountability  which brings us back where I started, with me sometimes feeling a kinship with The Little Red Hen.

Why? Well... that's what I've been poking around, doing my best to share with you. Finding the words that will gift you with a glimpse of a different paradigm that could -- just maybe, if we all choose to use it -- make life much better for us all. Because factually, at baseline, it all boils down to "thinking about" the (far reaching) consequences and ramifications of each one of us doing, over and over, a whole bunch of simple things.

Commonplace actions. The doing of routines. Stuff that we do every day without giving the underlying (and overriding) consequences of the actions (inherent to the actions) a moment's real thought.

Take for example the simple act of you reading these words and factor that in with the knowledge that -- seeing as how you're this far down on the page -- it could be surmised that you've found something of interest or possibly even of value here.

In a very real sense, you've enjoyed a "snack" that was (somewhat laboriously) prepared for and gifted to you by The Little Red Hen.

No cost. No obligation. No problem. No sweat.

The Little Red Hen LIKES sharing!!! If you read the story closely, you'll note that the first thing she did when SHE "found" the grain of wheat was make an "offer to share." She wanted to share EVERYTHING... from the ground, up. And probably for no other reason than because the act of sharing made her feel good!

Thus in the act of sharing it could rightly be said that she'd already gotten her "reward." And in essence, that's what life in the non-dominator paradigm is all about. Giving freely, with no expectancy of getting anything back from any of the folks you're giving to. However...

Unless the folks who are freely receiving the gifts wholeheartedly jump into full-fledged participation with this "reciprocal gifting paradigm," at some point in time The Little Red Hen's pantry will be empty. Her chicks will be starving and she will be sucked back into the pitfalls of life as they exist in the "dog-eat-dog" dominator world.

Get the picture?

I surely hope so because if you do you will immediately get in touch with what I'm about to communicate. And, if you don't, well... only you can fill in that blank.

In the interest of enabling the folks (aka: me and my family) who "do the work" that produces Gozarks to comfortably continue our participation with (and continual empowerment of) the "gifter paradigm" (which is definitely a much better "habit" to instill in ourselves in the interest of actualizing a magnificently benevolent life), I have set up a PayPal account which makes it easily possible for you -- if you so choose -- to immerse yourself in the unique experience of "giving something back."

NOT because you "have to." NOT because you feel "obligated to." Just simply because you genuinely "want to" share the wealth.

If this idea pleases you, simply click the button below and you will be enabled to gift Gozarks with any amount that pleases you: 

On the other hand, if this idea is offensive to you, well...

We can say nothing beyond reaffirming that "reality" (besides being whatever you choose to make of it) is "better" when lived congruently as a voluntarily cooperating participant in the gifter paradigm... but the only way you'll ever taste the tantalizing flavor of this perpetual abundance is to cross over -- Just like Red Rover! -- and experience the blessings this cultural habit (or is that habitat?) provides.

Wishing all of us a life worth living, filled with all those things we prefer, desire, wholeheartedly celebrate and richly deserve to enjoy.

Christine Weiss
editor@gozarks.com

Hey! Come visit us at SassafrasWilds!!!

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