The Power of Personal Responsibility

March 15, 2017

“With great power comes great responsibility.” –Unknown

“With great responsibility comes great power.” –Ven

What’s the difference between a victim of circumstances and an overcomer of them?

Responsibility. Personal responsibility. The victim avoids owning up to his or her contribution to an experience, but the overcomer does not. An overcomer not only “owns up to,” but also owns his or her experiences, rather than attempting to avoid responsibility for them.

It may well be that the person in question had little or nothing to do with the actions that led immediately to the painful event. It may be that the person was an “innocent bystander.”

No matter what the circumstances were–however little you think you had to do with the event–you will never be able to get over it and move on until you realize and accept your own responsibility to deal with the reality of it: its results, the broken pieces, the outcome.

A man standing on a curb who gets wiped out by a speeding car might not have caused the accident (although he was, after all, standing by the road), but he now has to deal with the results of the accident: the injury. No one’s body can heal but his own. No person can feel the agony but himself. He might try to avoid the pain and ignore the injury–maybe by overusing addictive drugs–but in the end, if he wants to heal as well and completely as possible, he will have to take responsibility for his own recovery.

Responsibility brings power. Avoiding responsibility brings victimhood (lack of power).

Why is “power” important, in the sense that I’m using it here?

Power is the difference between a victim of life and an overcomer of life. Power, in this sense, doesn’t mean the Naricssistic ability to harm or control others. It doesn’t mean the stoic ability to not let life affect you in negative ways. POWER means the ability to roll with the punches of life without getting stuck or bogged down in its frequent difficult situations.

Like Mark Twain said,

“Life is just one damn thing after another.”

What shall the “damn things” of life do to you? Shall they make you or shall they break you? Will you rise and accept and learn and grow from (even unwanted) experiences, or will you cower and succumb to their undying onslaught?

Aside from those situations when we seem to be innocent victims of circumstance, as adults we are perhaps far more often participants in the creation of situations that cause us to suffer. It’s very common among us (and even acceptable!) to shift blame (to deny or avoid responsibility).

“What, you’re 40 and you can’t read? Can’t swim? Can’t play music? Aw, fie on those foul fiends who have done you harm for no reason! You can never be better! You can never learn! You can never grow! You have to suffer NOW because of something somebody else did to you long ago. You are doomed to bear it for all your days; you must wait for someone else to free you from your pain; you cannot unburden yourself because you didn’t put the load there.”

Bullshit. We all have the power to unload pain from past experiences. We might not have placed the load there, but we certainly have the ability to remove it from our own shoulders. More often than not, we did help to create the circumstances that put the load there–but even when we didn’t, if we want to heal we have to act as though we DID.

We can pretend not to have responsibility for our own lives, but that doesn’t relieve us of having to live the consequences of our experiences anyway.

We are the ones living our lives. We are powerful, whether we know it or not. But our power is hidden, blunted, sabotaged. We are blind to what we are missing. We cannot see that we have to own our experiences if we wish to move on and live better. This gives us back our power–or, rather, it lets us see the power we already have but have been denying to ourselves.

We have to accept responsibility for our part in creating our experiences, and for the consequences of events that befall us–ALL of them. This is the only way not to be a victim of life, in life, for life.


On the Fake Lines Dividing Our Society Against Itself

February 6, 2017

We The People of the USA are infamously “divided”–in our minds. This division (though beginning in the mind) is expressed in our social relationships. Importantly, this mental division is largely implanted into our minds through our consumption of the mass media.

This American media-driven mental-social division is expressed in the following ways, among others:

  1. rich vs. poor
  2. African-American vs. European-American
  3. liberal vs. conservative
  4. pro-life vs. pro-choice
  5. gay vs. straight
  6. traditional vs. progressive
  7. men vs. women
  8. gun rights vs. gun control
  9. religious vs. secular
  10. urban vs. rural

Amazingly, this division is so defined at present that if someone’s position on only one issue is known, then that person’s position on virtually all other issues can be correctly assumed! This is not natural, normal, or healthy–but neither is the division itself.

The division is a consequence of many factors, including these:

  1. Mass-media promotion of endless ways to divide our society against itself
  2. The inability of people to distinguish their own experiences from propaganda
  3. The (natural and healthy) existence of multiple viewpoints on any matter
  4. The incorrect judgment that there are always only TWO viewpoints on an issue
  5. The incorrect judgment that one’s own viewpoint MUST be right
  6. The incorrect judgment that the (only) other viewpoint MUST be wrong
  7. The unwillingness of individuals to consider their own viewpoint fully and rationally
  8. The unwillingness of individuals to consider other viewpoints fully and rationally
  9. The tendency of “the masses” to abandon reason and “think” emotionally instead
  10. The extreme avoidance of admitting one’s own error
  11. Constant consumption of mass-media programming by people in our society
  12. The (often incorrect) perception of social and peer pressure for a certain view
  13. The belief (and insistence) that others must or should share one’s own viewpoint
  14. The validation and acceptance of the division itself
  15. The media-creation of certain viewpoints that are not real

The solutions to these problems lie in the mind of each person, but history shows that the great majority of people are simply unable and/or unwilling to correct these errors within themselves. I can’t fix them, but I can help to dispel these myths in and among people close to me (if they care to).

This is my purpose here. With that, let’s address the problem directly, as I see it.

The mass (corporate news and entertainment) media include (basically in order of importance/influence) TV programming, newspapers, Hollywood movies, magazines, books (both fiction and non-fiction), and radio programming. Despite theories about public “demand,” producers of these “information sources” decide for themselves what you and I will consume, within certain parameters.

Many of our viewpoints are the viewpoints that mass-media producers want us to have, not the ones we would have without their influence.

The mass media instigate division by reporting on it (as news), or by portraying it in a fictional setting (as entertainment). Then they fan the flames of division by defining a “line” between two (and only two) opposing viewpoints. We The People, not suspecting this sort of control, simply 1) accept the division, 2) choose one of the two opposing camps, and 3) join in the media-created division.

Folks, have we not figured out yet that the mass media are not our friends? Why do we as a society recognize the media as a problem and then continue to believe what they say?

To quote Terence McKenna,

“This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking.”

In my observation, neither side of a fake mental-social division is completely right–and neither is completely wrong, either. Both sides of each issue are partly right and partly wrong. Both sides are wrong for the black-and-white (lack of) thinking that solidifies the division.

Most importantly, neither side of the media-created division has the answer(s) on which it claims to have the monopoly.

This situation has brought great harm to the social fabric of our country, and it threatens to cause further confusion, chaos, and destruction between and among us if we don’t figure out what’s happening and how to stop it in our own lives.

I offer a very simple solution:

If people would stop consuming (and believing) the divisive propaganda that the mass media endlessly promote, and if they would instead rely on their own study and experience to guide them, then they could learn for themselves what’s “right” with regard to any “issue”–and to get along with people who disagree with their own viewpoints.

That one bold-faced paragraph, if understood and put into action, could by itself solve the majority of social problems in the United States.

Of course, nothing guarantees that another person will also be willing to “get along.” We simply can’t control other people…but trying to control other people is a symptom of what’s wrong in the first place. We can only control ourselves.

Unfortunately, the Powers That Be (of which the media are only a part) have anticipated this solution, and have injected our society with a powerful antidote to it:

We believe that truth is relative, everything is up for debate, and no real answers can ever be found anyway, so we might as well just not judge (that is, not use our brains), follow the media hype, be nice to everybody, and treat every person and idea as “equal” like they tell us to.

What the media don’t tell us is that this is a road to destruction, but they don’t seem to care about that anyway. In fact, they seem to promote it at every turn.

Written on February 17, 2014, and freshly edited on February 5, 2017.


Ego and Mind

January 24, 2017

In our quest for “the truth,” let us not confuse ego with self. It seems easy to distinguish them on the surface. “Who knows better than I do what’s me and what’s not me?!”

Looking within, it ALL appears to be “me.” When someone or some life situation pushes one of my buttons, the reaction certainly seems to be ME. It comes from me; I feel the anger, fear, embarrassment, defensiveness, or other negative emotion; I think the thought in my head that accompanies the act and precedes the feeling.

“Of COURSE that’s me reacting!”

Nature of the Ego

We think that the things lurking in the dark nooks and crannies of the mind are–or at least are FROM–the self. This is because we don’t know any better. As part of the process of creating the ego-mind, the mind was programmed to believe that its deeper nature is unknowable. This is because to know the mind is to destroy the ego-mind; the power of the ego-mind lies exactly in the belief that it cannot be known, cannot be discovered, and is forever (safely, for itself) in darkness.

Darkness is merely the absence of light, the absence of awareness. The darkness is where demons lie, and from which they emerge to wreak havoc on ourselves and others—yes, even those we know and love.

“Why did I do that? I didn’t mean to hurt so-and-so. Am I terrible?”

It wasn’t YOU who did or said the thing that hurt someone you love. It was the ego-mind, the darkness, the unplumbed depths of yourself, which if left alone only remains to cause more trouble, pain, misunderstanding, and suffering–THROUGH you.

The ego has many names, many lenses through which to operate through you, many justifications and excuses for its behavior, many rules by which to predetermine future thoughts and actions. The ego-mind BELIEVES it has everything to defend, but it sacrifices everything for fog, for vapor–like a robot programmed by a crazy person to secure nothingness at all costs, and to destroy all that appears to threaten its own existence.

The ego-mind fears even a shingle being blown off its roof by the wind, and it’s the wind of self-honesty, courage, and experience that blows the structure of darkness away, bit by bit–in my experience.

Can the ego-mind be brought into the service of the light, though allowed to remain? Hosed off, dried gently, and hugged, then sent to play? In that case, what the hose washes away is ego; what is left to play is a part of self that the ego had “taken captive” and cut off from the rest of self.

Contents of the Ego

The ego-mind is a confusing mixture of gold and lead: the gold being parts of the self that are hidden in egoic darkness, and the lead being the “substance” of the ego that mixes with captive parts of self and produces a counterfeit self that we mistake for the True Self!

Ego is pure ignorance, darkness, and evil, with no redeeming value, in my experience. What ego releases from its grasp when we hose it off, or when the wind blows–when we shine awareness on it–is part of the self. But that part of the self was NOT itself part of ego. It was a piece of you or me that the ego had held and used for its own purposes for a long time.

Spirituality is not so much about fighting against the ego, but expanding our light so that we integrate the contents of the ego into our awareness. There are parts of us that are suspended in the egoic jelly-muck and we don’t function well without those parts of ourselves.

Indeed, when held by the ego-mind those parts, and their power, are used against us—and others.

When we free those long-lost aspects of ourselves, we can welcome them “back into the fold,” where their power and energy now is at our service instead of parasitically sucking our energy. We become more powerfully ourselves!

False Spirituality

Instead of removing mental images that comprise the ego-mind, some New Age teachers say that we can replace one thought with another, but this is equivalent to replacing a “worse” ego with a “better” one! It means replacing something that’s false and harmful with something that’s false and enjoyable!

This is the evil of New-Agey fluffiness: spirituality isn’t about getting what you WANT! It’s about removing what blocks you (on the inside) from understanding who you ARE! No mental “reprogramming” is needed, no matter what the “feel-good people” might say, or how good their intentions are!

Feeling good feels better than feeling like shit, but if one’s goal is truth, wisdom, and understanding—GROWTH—then one must welcome BOTH feeling good AND feeling like shit as teachers. In this way, one can use all of life as means to remove what is false from oneself. Then we feel better for REAL.

What is false? Anything that was put there by another person, or by oneself because of another person.

The ego-mind, emptied, is just the mind. The ego-mind is just the mind, full of crap that others put into it, probably long ago.


Do Narcissists Suck at Tickling?

January 23, 2017

Tickling requires empathy. It’s a psychological game (in a positive sense). One can’t tickle oneself; tickling requires a partner and, like most human interactions, when done the “right” way it’s a give-and-take.

Tickling is fun! It’s enjoyable. And some people suck at it–or refuse to do it (or do it right) at all. Like many enjoyable experiences, the main point of tickling is to induce laughter–and to have fun while giving or receiving the tickling.

Tickling doesn’t take much effort, and it can build trust and intimacy between people. It tends to be an interaction between children, or between adults and children. Adults who tickle each other tend to be friends, romantic partners, or potential romantic partners.

“Flintstone! Get in here on the double and tickle me!”
“Yes, Mr. Slate!”
(Um, no.)

Tickling can be a healthy or unhealthy interaction, depending partly on the psychological condition of the person doing the tickling. It can be done the right way or the wrong way. People can mess it up or even accidentally hurt whomever they’re tickling. It can even be used to abuse another person.

Tickling, then, can be a sort of barometer for a person’s psychological health.

“Tickler Types”

I’ve experienced several kinds of tickling or ticklers. Interestingly, only one of them is what I consider to be psychologically healthy.

1. The excellent tickler. This person enjoys tickling and being tickled. He or she knows how to tickle–where to focus one’s efforts; how to find the best “tickle spots”; which techniques to use; and when to stop. This tickler was tickled as a child in a healthy manner…or wasn’t, but has recovered the natural childlike ability and desire to engage in tickling. The excellent tickler understands the psychological dimension of tickling, including the fact that physical contact isn’t always necessary to induce laughter while tickling.

2. The doofus. This person wants to be a good tickler, and even tries his or her hand at it (quite literally)…but sucks at it. The “doofus tickler” botches it somehow, messes it up, or accidentally causes pain while “tickling”. The doofus doesn’t understand the psychology behind tickling, but still is willing to give it a shot…but his or her tickling isn’t really fun for the other person.

3. The faker. This person also doesn’t understand the psychology of tickling, but also doesn’t really want to do it. Tickling isn’t enjoyable to the faker, but, for the sake of the relationship, he or she pretends that it is. Fake tickling isn’t really fun or enjoyable, though.

4. The sexual tickler. With sexual or romantic partners, tickling can lead to sex or be an early part of foreplay. It can help one or both partners “get in the mood”–precisely because healthy tickling fosters trust and intimacy between people. For the sexual tickler, though, tickling is intended to lead to sexual interaction. Whether the other person knows it or not, tickling for this person is a calculated way to create physical closeness and induce trust and intimacy (falsely, as it were) in the other person so that the tickler can use it to make a sexual advance.

5. The torturer. This is a sadistic tickler. Rather than tickling to have fun, laugh, and strengthen trust and intimacy, the torturer uses it to dominate and inflict pain on the other person. The torturer enjoys not the tickling itself, but the suffering that sadistic tickling causes. With this person, tickling might appear to begin quite “normally” (to the unfortunate target), but it quickly descends into sadism: holding the target down, tickling “too hard” and digging into soft areas; ignoring the target’s pleas to stop; and even “tickling” until the victim cries or soils his or her pants. (The latter seems to be a goal of some sadistic ticklers.) The torturer was likely “torture-tickled” as a child and now “tickles” sadistically in the same way that other abused people become abusers. Sadistic tickling is abusive.  It is a violation of another person–indeed, it is torture.

6. The non-tickler. This person doesn’t enjoy or like tickling or being tickled–and may even say that he or she “hates” being tickled. The non-tickler was likely tickled by a sadistic tickler as a child, probably more than once. Having lost much (or all) of the joy in the laughter and bonding that tickling fosters, the non-tickler associates “fun” with pain…and probably enjoys other pleasant activities less, too. This person was a target of abuse–torture, no less–in the name of “fun” and as a result has experienced emotional trauma from tickling.

Psychology of Tickling

Many children and adults love to be tickled, but only to a certain point. Beyond that certain point, tickling stops being enjoyable and becomes (psychologically, if not physically) painful. Why is this?

The physical-and-psychological “game” of tickling involves consenting to a certain degree of vulnerability to another person. One (theoretically) willingly allows the intrusion of someone else’s body into sensitive and soft parts of one’s own: mainly the belly, sides, armpits, and neck. Indeed, the armpit is the quintessential “tickling area” in our culture.

These areas are not “public-access” body parts, like the hands, forearms, upper back, or shoulder areas are for some people. “Tickling areas” are semi-private parts of the body, normally reserved for close associates and trusted intimate partners. One does not publicly touch a stranger’s belly, sides, armpits, or neck (or, for that matter, touch these parts of anyone but the closest intimates without permission).

Moreover, these areas are vulnerable to harm. The soft tissues of the “tickling regions” are among the easiest body parts to damage through assault. They are the parts (along with the face and genitals) that we protect when we assume the fetal position or roll up into a ball to avoid physical trauma.

These are also semi-sexual areas. A spouse or romantic partner might affectionately touch his or her mate on the neck, side, or belly. Touching these parts of a child’s body is normally, “properly” reserved for close family members, same-age playmates, and medical professionals. It can be alarming to a parent when a stranger touches one’s child in these areas–even (or perhaps especially) to tickle the child.

[IMPORTANT NOTE:  Tickling a child without the prerequisite relationship might be a way for a pedophile (in this case, a pathological variety of the “sexual tickler”) to get close and gain access to a child. The excuse to a suspicious parent of “Aw, I’m only tickling her! See? She likes it!” can be the doorway that grants a pedophile access (if the excuse is accepted) or denies it (if rejected).]

When we consent to being tickled, we are handing over a degree of power to another person–for a specific purpose (mutual enjoyment) and period of time (until either one of us says we’re done). If that power is abused, particularly if we are helpless to avoid or overcome that abuse, we suffer emotional trauma. “Too much tickling” can be a personal violation.

On the other hand, observing the “rules” of tickling teaches us some valuable lessons.  The main “rules” of tickling might be as follows:

1) Don’t tickle too hard.
2) Stop when the tickled person says to.
3) Don’t tickle inappropriate areas of the body.
4) Be nice.

Following these “rules” teaches us about trust, vulnerability, respect, personal boundaries, consent, and cooperation. Tickling is itself practice in these domains of personal interaction.

Healthy and Unhealthy Tickling

A psychologically healthy person is likely to be an excellent tickler. He or she can tickle (with respect) and be tickled (with vulnerability). In my opinion, it is developmentally important that a child NOT be abused by tickling. Such abuse can affect the child’s ability to trust others, be vulnerable, and even to enforce his or her own personal boundaries against violation.

By the same token, someone who abuses the “tickling game” is showing a lack of respect, disregard for consent, and willingness to take advantage of someone else’s vulnerability.

Observing how someone tickles can reveal much about that tickler’s psychological health. So can observing how willing they are to be tickled. If the person tickles like a “doofus” or fakes it, he or she has likely been “torture-tickled” before. If someone effectively uses tickling to abuse others, that person likely has other issues that cause harm.

Of the six “tickler types” listed above, a Narcissist is likely to fall in types #2-6. Unable to understand the psychology of tickling, he or she will tend to either suck at it, fake it, use it as a sexual advance, use it to dominate others,, or avoid it altogether.

Non-Narcissists might also fall into these categories, but a Narcissist will not be an excellent tickler–because the “game” of tickling requires empathy in order to do it well. Empathy is one psychological game that the Narcissist is not able to play.


True and False “Urges”: The Essence of Human Life

December 26, 2016

This is the essence of human life:

Urges rise up from within us, and these urges are of three types:

–NEEDS: impulses of the outer being (the body) to survive, reproduce, and perpetuate the body (breathing, eating, sex, sleep, etc.)

–DESIRES: expressions of the inner being (the True Self) to bring forth one’s true, deepest nature or character (which is always “positive”)

–GREEDS: destructive inflations by the ego (the false self) of either legitimate NEEDS or genuine DESIRES

——–

NEEDS and DESIRES are natural, normal, and necessary urges that guide correct and proper function in human life.

GREEDS are natural urges inflated by the false self–like cancers. In time, this egoic inflation itself becomes GREED’s urge.

This is the realm of cravings, addictions, attachments, obsessions, and Narcissism…and the dysfunctional human behavior that results from them.

——–

The True Self has these two aspects:

–HEAD, or Reasoning-sense: thoughts, ideas, images, concepts, etc.

–HEART, or Feeling-sense: feelings, impressions, hunches, etc.

HEAD is connected to the deeper SPIRIT, and HEART is connected to the deeper SOUL.

The True Self is like an axle with two wheels, HEAD and HEART, which properly function in balance together. The human Male-Female relationship dynamic reflects these inner “wheels”.

——–

The ego/false self is composed of these two corruptions of the True Self:

–false or incorrect BELIEFS about life, reality, self, and others

–unexpressed negative EMOTIONAL PAIN “left over” from past harmful experiences

BELIEFS are corruptions of the HEAD. EMOTIONAL PAIN is corruption of the HEART.

The ego/false self is like a collection of ropes–each one made with strands of BELIEFS that are cemented together by EMOTIONAL PAIN.  (These “ropes” are all attached to FEAR.)

BELIEFS hold error in place and error holds EMOTIONAL PAIN in place.

The presence of the ego/false self blocks inner guidance from the True Self…and produces ERROR and NEGATIVITY in outer relationships.

——–

The goal and purpose of human life is to realize (become!) one’s True Self. This is done by reducing one’s own error and negativity.

To reduce ERROR, incorrect BELIEFS must be removed.

To reduce NEGATIVITY, unexpressed EMOTIONAL PAIN must be released.

This process reduces the size and power of the ego/false self, which is the source of inner GREEDS–and, therefore, also reduces the outer dysfunctions of ERROR and NEGATIVITY, which perpetuate the ego/false self in others.

Everything in human life is part of the process of reaching the goal.

(Written on August 21, 2012 and freshly edited on December 26, 2016)

 


Gnosis and the Entanglement of Soul in the Flesh

December 24, 2016

Entanglement. That’s a good way to describe the human soul’s brief yet seemingly long stay on this warm, wet rock we call “Earth.”

Entanglement by choice, I would say, though I have no proof of this to offer. Just my own experience.

Without a body, the soul is light and free, attached to nothing–at least not in the way that we in the flesh become “attached” during our stay in this physical world. How do I know this? Because I experience it when I dream: living without a (physical) body.

The soul may well be a “body,” but not physical in its substance. The flesh we occupy here on Earth may be an imitation of that wispy form that leaves when we die, or when we dream at night, and which sometimes haunts dark corners and empty houses in the wee hours.

The soul is the cookie cutter and the body is the cookie.

It’s hard to put chains on something that isn’t physical, like the soul. That’s why Thoreau said that even though he was jailed for not paying his poll tax, he was nevertheless free. He identified with his soul more than his body.

This means, by the way, that Thoreau had the “gnosis” for which many have suffered and died at the hands of religious authorities. Luckily for him, he lived in the USA, product of the Enlightenment, under laws that came from that enlightened viewpoint.

Enlightenment and gnosis are the same thing: realization that one is not one’s body, and that life is therefore much grander and at the same time less stressful and serious than one previously thought. It is the realization of the soul.

That soul is you, and me, and the religious authorities, and the dog that gave my cats fleas, and my cats, and the fleas, and the grass in which they live now. It is each one, and every one, depending on how you look at it.

That soul, here on Earth, is wrapped up–entangled–in energy that we can detect as waves and particles, atoms and molecules, cells and fluid. And bone.

By choice? Some say so. I think so, but I have no proof. That’s okay, because in things of the soul proof is moot. You know, or you don’t know. Knowing is gnosis. Not knowing is agnosis, no matter what the agnostic person chooses to think or say about the matter.

Agnosis can appear to be atheism, or secularism, or religious fundamentalism. Agnosis is “not knowing,” which is the state of most of us here in this tangled world of flesh. Agnosis is being tangled and not knowing it. Gnosis is knowing one’s entanglement, and (maybe) becoming untangled.

This is why monks came about. Untanglement.

Monkishness, though, is an attempt to escape from the world, if it’s pursued beyond its initial intention of separating oneself from the entanglement of others (who are also without gnosis) in order to gain gnosis. If pursued in itself, monkishness becomes a cocoon, like playing video games or snorting meth or reading fiction–a way to try to forget one’s own entanglement here.

Trying to forget one’s entanglement is the opposite of gnosis. Gnosis is awareness, not forgetting.

The point, then, is not to be untangled, but to know one’s entanglement, to see it clearly. This is not pleasant. But it means becoming aware of both of our natures: the body and the soul. The eidolon and the daemon, as some early Christians called them, respectively.

What one chooses to do with that gnosis is up to that person, which means that it’s up to the soul, the “Higher Self,” the Real You. One sign of gnosis is obedience to that inner Self, whose directions are not always pleasant.

After all, gnosis or agnosis, we’re all still entangled here in the flesh.

(Written on August 16, 2011 and freshly edited on December 24, 2016)


On the Importance of Consideration

December 17, 2016

There is a dividing line between two quite different ways of thinking and living, and everyone seems to rest on one side or the other.

Two Sides of a Fence

Children exemplify both sides more equally than adults, who have lived experiences that have shaped their thoughts behavior in one direction or the other. Adults seem to be more on one side or the other than children are.

The dividing line is: those who consider the viewpoints of others and those who do not consider the viewpoints of others.

It’s not my intention here to divide people, but to point out an existing division and examine it. By observing humans (most importantly myself), I’ve determined that some are basically considerate of others and some are basically not. It’s not a black-and-white thing, but rather a continuum of blacker or whiter grayness.

Consideration of others can also be called empathy. Inconsideration of others can also be called narcissism.

Some people seem to force consideration in ourselves at crucial moments, or to be compelled by some inner voice to “do the right thing” when we have the opportunity to show consideration…or not. Some of us deliberate, mulling over moral duties or imagining what God or Grandma would think of our choice in that moment. After such decision-making, many of us then act in consideration rather than blatant or obvious inconsideration.

Indeed, this deliberation, compulsion, and even forcing are themselves “consideration” for others–at least to the degree that they aren’t merely calculated or fearful acts of self-preservation. The outward, visible consequence (such as saying, “Thank you”) comes after the “consideration” itself.

A Window to Inner Values

Most inconsideration appears in mundane daily interactions like driving, shopping, or talking to our kids. (One’s parenting, and its results in the character of one’s grown children, can tell others a lot about one’s side of the narcissistic/empathetic “consideration line” that I’m describing here. Where do you suppose kids learn to be considerate–or not–and whose behavior gave them a daily example?)

I drive a lot, so I have lots of opportunities to show either consideration or inconsideration, and I also see a lot of both attitudes in others when they drive in my vicinity. I often feel that I have a glimpse into another person’s psyche when these encounters happen, either between myself and another, or as an observer when other people interact in traffic.

I see driving as a microcosm of human behavior because I believe that the values one shows through driving reflect the values they have at all times. This belief has merit so far in my own experience–although anyone can have a bad day and speed or cut someone off in traffic.

The same can be true of one’s shopping habits, parenting practices, and in many other ways: talking to telemarketers on the phone; returning an item at the store; working in sales or customer service; selling one’s used car; and sharing or not sharing what one has with others in need.

Although a lot of ways that we can show either our narcissism or our empathy might seem trivial, one’s “small” actions show clearly one’s overall attitude. If a person is inconsiderate to the checkout lady, why would he or she act differently toward other people, in other situations?

A duck will quack, either loud or soft. But it will not bock like a chicken–especially in a crisis.

On the inconsiderate side of the fence, people seem most interested in causing their own will to negate or override the will of others, rather than sharing with others or seeking consensual mutual agreement. It seems that, in their fear–and all fears are ultimately fears of death, pain, or not existing–they are blind to the equally valid needs of others.

There’s a word for this blind and fearful inconsiderate negation of the will of other people by an adult human being: Narcissism, with a capital “N”.

“Do Unto Others”…How?

In a Christian society, there would be no destitute, homeless people (except by their own preference) and no extremely wealthy people, either (except perhaps by mutual social agreement). Consideration does not allow others to suffer when one has the ability to alleviate it.

In our own supposedly Christian society, even those of us who don’t accept the teachings of the Church in all its versions generally regard Jesus as a teacher and wise man. It’s from Jesus (and, yes, others) that we learn to be considerate:

“In all things, to unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

If people in our society are following this “Golden” Rule, then it seems from their behavior that many folks would have others be inconsiderate to them. Perhaps they expect others to treat them that way, and so they treat others inconsiderately in kind, in advance, out of habit or programming.

This idea–that inconsiderateness is a pre-emptive defense mechanism–suggests that it is a product of the “ego” that I identify as the immediate source of mental and emotional suffering in self and others. Out of fear, the ego seeks only to preserve itself, in the belief that not doing so (such as being considerate of others) is suicide.

This, again, is Narcissism.

Ego and Spirit

So, then, inconsideration (or narcissism) is a fear-based egoic thought pattern–as opposed to consideration (or empathy), which in my personal scheme of things is a trust-based spiritual thought pattern. We are always under the influence of one or the other, being led in our thoughts and actions by one or the other.

Consideration is certainly a spiritual quality or “value”–that is, it comes from the Spirit, from the deepest inner being, the truest Self which is one’s most genuine expression, without the contamination of the wrong ideas of the ego.

That same Spirit exists in others as their deepest inner being, and those who perceive Spirit in themselves also recognize Spirit in others.

This recognition of Self-in-others is the essence of consideration (empathy). It is the essence of spirituality and the Golden Rule. It is also the essence of a healthy and functional society, particularly a society whose members claim to follow the teachings of Jesus.

Written on January 29, 2011, and freshly edited on December 17, 2016.


%d bloggers like this: