6 Destructive Ideas Perpetuated in Western Culture

Since the day you emerged into this bizarre, sparkling universe, you’ve been conditioned to think in certain ways.

And that’s damn wonderful a lot of the time. It’s arguably a blessing that our minds learn to auto-dismiss certain notions—like, say, walking off of that cliff or stabbing Uncle Melvin with a butter knife—and auto-accept others.

But it’s also problematic. Because, well, our minds are gullible—sufficiently gullible, at least, to spend the first decade or seven of our lives unconsciously internalizing the dominant ways of thinking of our culture.

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“Dominator” vs. “Partnership” Cultures: A Profound Re-Telling of Human History

“In sum, the struggle for our future is . . . the struggle between those who cling to patterns of domination and those working for a more equitable partnership world.”

— Riane Eisler

Recently, I’ve written a couple of essays about the present global situation. One of those essays focused on the sociocultural dysfunctions of America and the other elaborated how the 500-year history of Western colonialism and imperialism that birthed our modern world has rendered the “problems of America” inextricable from the problems of the human race.

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Do Something: A Short Diatribe

“Be quiet, play by the rules, stand in line,” the system implicitly tells us.

To hell with that. Break the rules. Open your eyes. Make some noise. Our institutions and sociocultural structures are failing us, and now is the time to take notice. Economic inequality has never been greater. Billions of people are living in poverty, starving, and/or dying of preventable diseases. Hate and misunderstanding abound. Education is broken. Wars rage on. Our air is unclean. Our food is full of chemicals. Environmental crises loom. The list is endless.

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The Intersection of Activism, Art, & Acceptance: An Open Letter to Critics

“Self-censorship is insulting to the self. Timidity is a hopeless way forward.”

― Ai Weiwei

In the wake of publishing my recent piece on the sociocultural dysfunctions of the United States, a few people have criticized me. More specifically, a few Internet-folks have suggested that my emphasis on the need for change in our present global situation is problematic for various reasons.

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A Brief History of the Modern World (Or, How the West Took Over)

The ridiculous story of the bloody and violent process of “globalization” and the empires that birthed our modern world.

Last week, I published an essay called ‘How it Feels to be a Young American in 2014.’ It ended up being the most controversial and heavily discussed piece that has ever appeared on this website. In it, I attempted to articulate the complex and various ways in which the sociocultural structures of the United States tend to do physical (death, disease, imprisonment, etc.) and psychological (cyclic feelings of inadequacy, guilt, anxiety, etc.) violence to the general public.

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How it Feels to be a Young American in 2014 (Or, How America Fails Us)

When “first world problems” are actually symptoms of a deeply dysfunctional culture and society.

Today a person informed me that a good friend of mine is feeling suicidal. The same person told me that said suicidal friend should “grow up and quit feeling sorry for herself.”

Textbook American answer, eh? “Be an adult.” “Grow the hell up.” “Make something of yourself.” “You need to work harder.”

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Internet-People, Meet Zen: 40 Zen Sayings & Proverbs

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes and grass grows by itself.”

Zenrin Kushû

It is notoriously difficult to define Zen Buddhism. For one, Zen has been co-opted and disfigured by countless ‘new age’, ‘spirit science’ types, transformed into quasi-religious tripe. Furthermore, Zen “masters” themselves have disagreed for centuries as to the importance and validity of various Zen concepts: zazen, karma, etc. Thus there have been innumerable variations and schools of “Zen”.

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Power, Noise, & Meaning in the Internet Multiverse

“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.”

Jean Baudrillard

I think an interesting and fruitful metaphor for the Internet is this: a man-made multiverse of information, intellect, and imagination. I say “multiverse” for no reason apart from it being more fun and mysterious and futuristic-sounding; “universe” could be inserted just the same.

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Arthur Schopenhauer on “Natural” Versus “Artificial” Education

“Instead of developing the child’s own faculties of discernment, and teaching it to judge and think for itself, the teacher uses all his energies to stuff its head full of the ready-made thoughts of other people.”

Arthur Schopenhauer, if you’re unfamiliar, was a 19th-century German philosopher and a rather cantankerous pessimist. He basically hated Hegel, his contemporary, whom he called a “clumsy charlatan”, and he thought that our reality was the “worst of all possible worlds”. He didn’t despise everyone, though, drawing much inspiration from Eastern philosophy and the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant.

Schopenhauer had a whole slew of fascinating ideas, the most famous of which was probably his notion that the metaphysical foundation of being is something called “Will”—an aimless, irrational, impersonal urge. His philosophy would ultimately influence intellectual giants ranging from this blog’s symbolic figurehead (Friedrich Nietzsche) to Albert Einstein.

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