Transcending Limiting Beliefs

It’s a very scary thing when someone openly disproves your limiting beliefs. If you have empowering beliefs, being disproven is a triumph rather than an attack, because you’ve been given the easy opportunity to fine-tune your belief system, which can only lead to improving your self and your model of the world. But if your mind is holding you back, you’re highly afraid of breaking the chains. The three major reasons for this are:

1. If you’re disproven now, whose to say that you won’t be disproven again? If you switch from Catholicism to Protestantism, couldn’t what you really want be Unitarianism? If you disconnect yourself from your heart and intuition, you have no reason to ever change or grow. Depending on where you are in life, that could be much more comfortable than change.

2. Changing your beliefs invalidates your past. If you spend all your life buying groceries at the normal price, and then a spendthrift tips you off that you could easily pay half the price with judicious acquisition and use of coupons, what does that say about all the groceries you’ve already bought? If you accept your new couponing beliefs fully, you’re acknowledging that your previous shopping beliefs cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars. It could be much more comforting to simply block coupons from your reality.

3. Changing beliefs may conflict with your actions. If you don’t want to do what you’re doing, then you must either stop doing it, develop the want, or be a coward by doing what you don’t want. If you’re a lawyer now, and you find you can’t win a case without dishonesty, but you want to be honest, then you have to be a hypocrite, an unsuccessful lawyer, or an unemployed person. But if you continue believing dishonesty is okay, you don’t have to change at all. Only a change in your beliefs requires a change in your actions.

Defending a limiting belief

You can always pick out a person who has caged himself with limiting beliefs, because he reacts defensively when your actions or successes contradict his model of reality. If you’re an astronaut, and you tell a member of the Flat Earth Society that our planet is round, what can he do?

1. Ignore you. Pretend you don’t exist.
2. Call you a liar. You saw that the Earth is flat, but you just like to deceive others.
3. React defensively. The “are you calling me a liar?” response. Or maybe “this is none of your business; I don’t have to tell you anything!” Anyone who says this is subconsciously limiting himself. Accepting that hurts.
4. Accept your belief, but attribute it to confusion, misunderstanding or confirmation bias. You want to believe the Earth is ball-shaped. Subconsciously, you bend the truth to fit this desire.
5. Call you a lunatic. This is a more extreme version of the above. The Earth is flat, but you had a hallucination and saw it as round. Maybe you were on drugs?
6. Become a hypocrite. Acknowledge the photos of the round Earth, but continue to attend Flat Earth Society meetings and give out booklets. Believe in both a flat Earth and a round Earth, but flip between the two as convenient.
7. Extend the system to accommodate the new belief while supporting the old belief, even though they are inherently incompatible. “Backward compatibility,” if you will. The old belief is true in every instance except ____. Same as: the laws of physics apply to everyone except the Apollo crew.

Obviously, all of these are sub-optimal solutions. Fortunately, they give a clear indication of limiting beliefs. You can use this model to identify weak points in yourself and others.

For example, no one can tell me I’m not serious about photography or personal development, or that I don’t enjoy either of them. If someone says “you don’t look like you want to do this,” I’d have a good laugh about it, because it doesn’t shake my belief system at all. But if I really wasn’t enjoying photography, yet I was stuck in a college education + career of it, I might do something different. Instead of coming to terms with not being where I want, I’d deny it. If I did this, I’d probably respond with the “this is none of your business” tirade.

Really, there’s no reason to say “this is none of your business.” There’s no reason to prove the other person wrong either. Unlike a cinder block, words can only hurt you if you let them hurt you. Once you believe your emotions are the domain of others, you give up sovereignty over your life. You become a drone and a slave all at once.

Another example: “bad stuff is happening, so I should be upset” is quite a limiting belief. You’re only upset because you want to be upset. No matter what happens to you, you could remain happy if you consciously chose to, rather than being ruled by your subordinate subconscious.

Once you decouple your emotions from your circumstances, your mind becomes much clearer. While your environment continues to toss you about like the waves of the sea, you’re now floating smoothly above the water, like Jesus. Rather than changing your focus every day as friends and advertisers recommend, you may stay focused on the same project for weeks or months. You won’t multitask at all, and you’ll work much more efficiently because of it. I did this when I was coding the software for my public library, and although my focus has shifted to writing more articles like this rather than opening a public library, it’s only because I’ve identified this as more important. Nobody else can or should do that for me.

Once you separate your mind from your environment, you’ll gain determination like no other. Your friends will be envious. To help you, they’ll try to get you back on the track of limiting beliefs. They’ll tell you that you’re “obsessed.” Perhaps you even have ADD or ADHD. You should just be “normal.” It isn’t normal to start your own business, or to spend hours writing / composing / photography, or to not want a normal job, or to not see the value of college. Perhaps some Ritalin will help you?

I’d prefer determination any day.

Identifying limiting beliefs

“Trying is the first step towards failing.”

Homer Simpson

If “limiting belief” isn’t solid enough for you, reword it as “policy of defeatism.” The dictionary tells me that defeatism is the “acceptance of defeat without struggle.” That’s exactly what a limiting belief is. It makes you give up before you start.

Theoretically, this would be beneficial. If you try something and fail completely, wouldn’t it have been better to not have tried at all?

The problems with this are twofold: you can’t know if you’ll fail until you try, and you gain lots of experience from failure. Failure is good. I failed dozens of times in successfully labeling my photographic prints en masse, before I came up with the current laser printing method. I failed three times in naming this site while encountering logistical difficulties in fulfilling my dream. It was richardxthripp.com, then richardxthripp.richardxthripp.com, then richardxthripp.com/richardxthripp, and now richardxthripp.thripp.com, and rxthripp.com in print. When I started out, Thripp.com wasn’t even available because someone else had taken it. For a long time I thought I’d be at richardxthripp.richardxthripp.com forever, so after developing my laser printing method for labeling my 4×6 prints, I etched that address on the back of thousands of photos. I still haven’t finished giving them all out.

It took me years to conquer library science by coming up with a solid, consistent, effort-free way to assign file names to my photos. The way I do it is inconsistent with everything else I’ve read, because it completely defies logic to name your computer files arbitrarily, rather than with the subjects or people in them. So instead of flowers-and-sunshine-09-20-2008-0022.jpg, I have 20080920-132509rxt.jpg. It works better because I automate it, saving me lots of time. The only way to learn this was from repeated failures with logical taxonomy. What I really needed was illogical taxonomy, but I couldn’t have known that sans failure. I gave up time zones and Western date formatting in the process, two beliefs which seem very rational at first, but are in fact insanely limiting.

What is a limiting belief? Anything that includes “can’t” or “never” is suspect. Absolutes are always to be suspected. If you say that climbing a wall is absolutely impossible, that just means you’ve given up on climbing over it. You can still tunnel under it, walk around it, or buy an airplane and fly over it.

Before you can successfully identify limiting beliefs, you have to do two things: stop envisioning beliefs as fixed points, and stop believing that your beliefs define you. When you disconnect your ego from your beliefs, you can stop defining your persona in worldly terms, and start defining it in universal terms, such as service to humanity, justice, truth, love, etc.

I hear this one a lot: “I can’t do ____ because I don’t have the time.” I used to use it myself. The thing is, you have plenty of time. You have so much time you don’t know what to do with it all. I found plenty of time to write this article, even though I ‘should’ be studying or doing something ‘real.’ If you don’t have the time to do something, that means that thing isn’t important to you. We all have a list of priorities in our head built around a 60-hour day, and the stuff that gets done is (hopefully) at the top of the list. Only the stuff that can all fit in 24 hours. If you start at the bottom of the list, you’ll never get to the important stuff. Do the important stuff first, and you’ll find you have plenty of time—but no time for frivolous action. If you’ve fully optimized your time to the limit, you can move mountains in minutes. I’m nowhere near that, but the optimization process is more fun than the goal.

Limiting vs. empowering beliefs

This is a huge limiting belief millions of investors have:

“If you’re losing money in the stock market, don’t pull out. Your stocks will eventually go back up. If you pull out now, you’ll take a loss, but if you stick with it, you haven’t actually lost anything.”

Isn’t this absurd? It’s a hugely limiting belief. A loss is a loss; there are not two ways about it. If you’re personally developed, your losses become opportunities because you learn (and thus gain) from them, but that doesn’t change the fact that loss was the seed. Don’t gamblers have the same belief?

“I’ve lost my car and $8000 at the casino, but that’s alright. This means my luck is about to turn around and I’ll soon gain everything back.”

Of course, it doesn’t happen. If it does, the gambler thinks he’s on a “winning streak.” He continues gambling, soon losing it all again and far more. Once he starts on his chain of losses, he refuses to believe that he’s lost anything, until he has nothing left to gamble. He’s left with a rude awakening, thousands of lost dollars, and possibly a mountain of debt.

On the surface, “my luck is about to turn around” seems like an empowering belief, not a limiting one. Any belief rooted in success seems empowering, but in fact it has to be real, too. Saying “Tomorrow, I will succeed in writing fifty articles as in-depth and helpful as this one” could motivate me, but it would be short-lived because it’s impossible at my current skill level. It might not even be humanly possible (but be careful with that one). Believing I’ll write one good piece tomorrow is much more enabling.

The downfall of gamblers and investors stems from a shared limiting belief: “what goes down must come up.” Anything or anyone can go down and stay down. When you drop a brick from a tall building, it goes down, but it will never come back up on it’s own accord. When you burn down a man’s house and steal his car, he can return to material prosperity, but that doesn’t mean he “must.” A more true belief is “what goes up must come down.” That’s not a limiting belief, because it does nothing to limit you. The problem is that it is easily interpreted as the false, limiting belief, “any success will eventually be met with equal loss or failure.” You could justify this limiting belief as in “we all die,” but just because you die doesn’t mean you failed at life. If you believe that, change it to the belief that you’ve succeeded and that everyone else who dies has succeeded with you. As long as they loved living, it’s true, even if they didn’t aspire to benefit all humanity.

The profit police and the zero-sum game

Five years ago I had an aversion to advertising and profit in general. Money is evil, making money is tacky, look how annoying advertising is, etc. We get annoying telemarketing calls all the time. Wouldn’t it be better if the government banned all forms of advertising and self-promotion? Then the world would be fair.

I was stuck in the zero-sum mindset, which means that every gain must result in an equal and opposite loss. When you gain possessions, other people lose possessions. When you eat dinner, you’re making other people starve. Talk about a hugely limiting belief!

Teenagers and twenty-somethings are moochers in general. They love Karl Marx and communism, because they haven’t contributed anything to the world, they don’t own property, and they’d like to keep mooching. Communism represents the best system to them, because it gives them wealth where they deserve nothing. Doesn’t something for nothing sound nice?

The problem is that these young folks justify averting personal success. They say that if they succeed, others fail. That’s bogus. When you make money, you’re contributing more to the world than you could even contribute by not making money. Non-profit is B.S., and the motives of any “non-profit” corporation should be questioned. It’s hard for me to even trust a website that doesn’t have advertising or a donations page. How is the owner supporting himself? Is he a thief? He subsidizes his website with thievery, right? How could I spend the time to do all this work to help others, but not expect to make lots of money from it? The only way to help others is to make money.

When any person or organization claims to be “non-profit” and has no visible means of life support, be suspicious. Be very suspicious. The owners are probably laundering drug money.

The profit police are against your success. If you hold disdain for the success of others, in any form, consciously or unconsciously, you’re part of the scoundrels known as the profit police. Kill this limiting belief today. The success of others represents the success of you, because it is the success of humanity in general.

Communism now hides under the guise of environmentalism. We’re killing mother Earth by living here. We don’t deserve this planet. The world would be better off if were were all dead.

Have you noticed that nature is more fertile and magnificent than ever? The air, water, and land is cleaner than it has ever been in history. My Grandma grew up around the steel mills in Pittsburgh. She’d have a layer of soot on her face just from walking to school. Not so anymore. Steel mills have been greatly refined. They put out much less smoke. All the “problems” we’re causing are actually non-problems, because they don’t exist. But even if they were problems, we could use technology and our human ingenuity to solve them.

Global warming is also a myth, designed to take away your cars and freedom. There’s so much oil on this planet, we could go 10,000 more years without exhausting it. We have tonnes of it in Alaska and the mid-west, which our government refuses to use. I remember the Florida summers all the way back to 1995. They were just as hot as 2008. Our carbon emissions are 2% of what Earth’s volcanoes put out. Are we really pompous enough to believe that we can kill the environment? How dare we disrespect nature by openly denying her resilience?

Economic and philosophic capitalism, unbridled by any more than a base-level concern for the environment or the welfare of others, is the most perfect and empowering belief system in the world. If just the United States alone would return to capitalism, we would experience prosperity greater than the rest of the world combined. Can you imagine a country with no empire, no government schools, libraries, hospitals, welfare, no illegal drugs, no income (slave) taxes? We’d still have (privately contracted) public roads and police to keep the peace, but taxes would only need to be 1%. Large businesses could not trample their employees, because small businesses would flourish with the removal of crippling regulation. Private charities could provide social welfare to every person in the world if they so chose. Money would be backed by gold, controlled by Congress and Congress alone. In court, a free-minded jury of 12 of your neighbors and peers would unanimously decide not your guilt, but whether you deserve punishment. They would also unanimously decide your punishment. If they could not reach a unanimous decision, then obviously removing you from the streets is not a priority for them, so you would go free.

Before you can start the revolution in our government, you have to start the revolution in your life. Let go of these limiting beliefs about mankind, the environment, and success in general. Stop profit policing. Embrace the success and profits of others as your own, and encourage them in all their worthy self-promotion. Read my article from 2008 March, The Profit Police and How They Kill Everyone, for further analysis.

The major belief systems

I’m going to categorize every mind in the world into four categories:

1. Rational positivity.
These people make sense. Think John Locke. They believe in the natural goodness of man and the world. When bad things happen, they know they’ll be able to turn things around, and when they’re enjoying unbounded health, they know they’ll get sick eventually. It doesn’t matter that bad things may happen in the future, because the future isn’t now.

2. Rational negativity.
This people still make sense, but they are pessimists. Think Thomas Hobbes. They believe in the natural badness of man and the world. If a rational negativist left his wallet at the post office, he wouldn’t even go back to look for it because he’d assume the first person who found it would take it for himself. Then, he’d attribute the loss of his wallet to the greed inherent in mankind.

3. Irrational positivity.
These people are on crack. They’re overly happy for no apparent reason. This is good occasionally, but not all the time. You can’t spend all your time in state 3; you have to go back to 2 and 1, and possibly even 4 occasionally.

4. Irrational negativity.
These people were on crack. Now they quit and their brains are messed up. The constantly suicidal fit in this group. People who have really been holding themselves back with limiting beliefs fit in this group. The amount of negativity is equal to the magnitude of the limiting beliefs multiplied by the amount of time they’ve been subjecting themselves to them.

People don’t fit neatly into one of these four categories, but most people are not equally split between them either. You can change your category from day to day or minute to minute. But when you do this, your life feels muddled and unfocused. It’s best to stick with one, regardless of choice. Thieves might stick with #2 and then rationalize it with stuff like “it’s alright, because the people I steal from are free to steal from others too.” I prefer rational positivity, because it’s the most human.

The greatest limiting belief of all

The biggest limiting belief ever, alongside profit policing, is:

“Comfort requires permanence.”

We’ve been told by others to not like change. Don’t bother with relationships that won’t last, find a job that you can never be fired from. A lot of religious folks take this to the highest extreme, by completely squandering this life in the name of the eternal afterlife. They don’t actually do anything good for anyone here, because they’re too busy living in the future.

“How can you enjoy living on Earth when everything is going to die and fade away,” Christians ask. The truth is, that’s the only reason to enjoy living here. There would be no opportunity for personal growth if everything is permanent, just as there will be no opportunity for personal growth in heaven if it is as described in the Bible. The Bible explains heaven and the hierarchy of angels / Jesus / God in too human terms. If it’s going to work, it’s going to be totally different from what we know, and there will be no need for a pecking order.

In life, the only thing you can be sure of is change. Instead of suppressing your dislike of change, actively replace it with a love for uncertainty. You don’t have to be “best friends forever” to enjoy a friendship. In fact, 90% of the people I know now, I won’t have any connection with in ten years. My current friends and contacts will move away or change careers, and it will be time for us to form and recognize new relationships. When I graduate from Daytona State College next spring, I’m going to be around college students a lot less because I won’t be in college. I’ll still be taking courses online at Florida State University. Rather than mourning the end of the first phase of college, I’m happily anticipating starting on my Bachelor’s degree with math and computer-related courses. My Dad won’t have to drive me to school every day. Perhaps I’ll even be able to afford a vehicle of my own by then.

When I was fired from my job at the local library, I lost a lot of friends. I haven’t been in touch with my cohorts in a couple months, and I’ve been bumping into friends and patrons less often. It’s no loss for me, because they’re still all my friends. There exists an underlying connectedness between us that transcends the boundaries of spacetime. In fact, meeting up with these people several years down the road will be far more interesting, because we’ll have a ton of growth and new experiences to share all at once. You can never really get a birds-eye view of someone if you’re around him all the time.

Change is good. Uncertainty is good, because it pushes you to progress efficiently. You don’t know how much ground you must cover, so you do as much as you can rather than the minimum required. If you could know that you’ll live forever, you probably wouldn’t make progress in personal growth, because you’d put it off indefinitely.

Reframing limitless beliefs

“I can always be happy” sounds enabling, but it’s actually limiting. All limitless beliefs in the physical realm are limiting, because the physical world is always bounded by limits. It’s inescapable.

Your mind can go anywhere, but your body cannot. But do not despair. The difference between your potential and your present state is so great that you could spend your whole life working yet never reach the limits of your potential. I’ve never fully exhausted my mind, strength, or even my bank account. And if I did, I could always take a break and recover for a while.

Most limitless beliefs are rooted in permanence, which doesn’t exist. Don’t believe that you’ll be dedicated to any particular trade, cause, or lover forever. Don’t believe that you can live without experiencing pain, or sadness, or suffering. If you’re not suffering now, then you’re not suffering, period. Don’t live in the future.

Replacing limiting beliefs

Replacing a limiting belief normally requires a substantial change in action, in addition to a new mindset. Whenever you change your actions, family and friends will discourage you. Family members often discourage you more, because they’re quite attached to your current behavior. They don’t want to see you change, even if it’s for the better. Your improvements remind them that they can be improving, and if they’ve forsaken personal growth, then that is a scary realization.

While you can evaluate beliefs without trying them, it doesn’t work effectively. You can only effectively evaluate a belief by fully committing to it, for a time. In the same manner, you can’t be sure you’ve picked the right career until you are past the point of no return. Then you’ll find that the “point of no return” doesn’t actually exist. You can always return. It just costs you a lot of time and effort. That’s better than sticking with the wrong choice for life, just as it is better to change beliefs rather than to limit yourself forever, even if the initial change is very costly.

I used to believe that writing and photography were unrealistic careers. The best thing for me would be to find a ‘stable’ job I enjoyed moderately, while doing what I really love on the side, after 5 P.M. My passions would become “hobbies.” That’s why I was planning a career in librarianship. It seemed like something that wasn’t going away, and other people would think I was normal.

I started to feel out of sync with this belief around the fall of last year, but I didn’t let it bother me at first. I started researching the history of libraries and library software, and I found there was a lot of interesting concepts from computer science that cross over into library science (taxonomy, schemas, sorting, search algorithms, tries, etc.). That should be enough to keep me interested in the subject, I thought. Of course it wasn’t, because if it was I wouldn’t have to rationalize my choice anyway. I’d know it intuitively.

I didn’t actually change until my environment changed; I was fired. The problem with librarianship isn’t the details of the field, so much as the concept of working for others. Soulless non-innovators can get by fine, because everyone in the chain of command is a non-innovator, by choice or by force. Soulful innovators like myself don’t do well, because we reject the confines of mediocrity, which is frightening. You can’t have people like me bringing high awareness to my coworkers. We might revolt.

By letting go of limiting beliefs about work and purpose in general, I’ve gone much further in three months than I did in three years before. Writing stuff like this is a lot more important than doing stuff like that. Even if this remained an entry in my private journal, it would still be worth it because I’ve learned so much just from writing it.

My family and friends were shocked when I gave up librarianship, especially because at the time, I’d formulated no alternatives. People were also shocked when I started my own website, and when I transitioned away from piano and music toward photography in 2005-2007. When I started exploring personal development three months ago, many people wanted me to just stick with photography, because that’s what they were comfortable with. I could take all these social cues literally by not changing, but in reality, when people are against you changing, you should plow ahead. Any social resistance is a cue to push forward. You may think you’re pleasing others by doing what they say, but they don’t want you to do what they say anyway, because if they did, you wouldn’t be interesting or human.

No one can tell you what you can’t do. Only you can.

Fear is Evil

Sorry for the lack of updates this week. It’s been busy for me… mainly because I have school and work (20 hours per week for the summer). And that’s right in the middle of the week (Monday-Thursday), where it keeps me busy.

Anyway, I’m trying now to switch jobs… to move back to the Ormond Beach library from Holly Hill (I’ve written of the two on my about page). My boss isn’t being nice to me. I told her that maybe she shouldn’t go into library service, because she doesn’t seem to enjoy the work. That hit close too home apparently, so now she’s threatening to fire me for being disrespectful. I didn’t know it was so easy to fire a public servant.

I can definitely see her reaction is rooted in fear rather than reason. Now, I have little bias for emotion or reason… half the time emotion is intuition, and that is a great skill to have. For the other half, the emotion is fear. Fear-based decisions are never good. They distract your focus and weaken your resolve. You get stuck in a repetitive loop of non-achievement.

What I told her, is pretty much the same thing I’ve been feeling myself. Librarianship is a public good and a necessary field, but I haven’t been seeing it as my best way to contribute to the world. Why should I limit myself to the narrow medium of reference requests, when I can be helping people everywhere, on a much broader level? I think my photography does that. I give out print copies often, and hear how people find it beautiful and inspiring. Actually, I’ve never heard those exact words… but a lot of stuff like it. Photography hasn’t been profitable, but that’s in part because I haven’t tried hard enough. I’ve said for a while (two years) that I shouldn’t play photography as a career. Because it’s like acting; 1 in 100 make it big, while the other 99 scrape by lifting food from dumpsters and praying for death (okay, it isn’t quite that bad). And of course, a civil service job is more “stable” and “dependable” than anything I could possibly do in photography or on my own.

But when you have someone threatening to fire you for no reason, it sure doesn’t seem stable. No, it seems highly unstable. Like, the dumbest decision I could ever make.

Dad’s going to take me down to the other branch in about five hours, so I can pitch a transfer (4 A.M. here now). I have a lot of old friends at Ormond.

In truth, my whole bias against photography has been rooted in fear. It’s a shame, really. I don’t enjoy going out and trying to sell people print copies, or begging for assignments, or cutting my rates of eighty dollars hourly. But I’m liking publishing my work on my own website with contextual advertising (Google AdSense). And it’s been making money consistently… twenty cents per day so far this month. That’s not much, but I see a lot of potential there.

I can’t believe it’s just six months ago that I started my own website, or two months since I left deviantART. I used to post all my photos there, and only there. Then for four months, here and there. And for the past two, just here. Very nice, having everything under my control, and not being subject to their rules. There’s no future in contributing your work to another website, just like there’s no future in contributing your work to any employer but yourself. Ironic, since just three weeks ago I created thripp.com, a social network where people do just that. Oh well.

By the way, I have my own ads on my members’ pages. So the 20 cents per day may be coming from here or there; I haven’t been tracking it. I get as many visitors here as on all the other thripp.com pages, so it’s probably an even split.

The whole idea of having a job, where you have a “boss,” and are “trained” in certain tasks, and you have “policies” to follow, and you can be “disciplined” for having improper “behavior.” This is for training a dog, right? Pets of some sort, surely. No? And using this, as a “boss,” to expect false complimentary treatment, is the ultimate in weakness.

I’m going to find trouble, no matter what job I go to, eventually, no matter how good it seems at first. Because I don’t hold the keys, and I’ve given up my time for a much less valuable resource, money. I do refuse to give up my individuality, and that is a most upsetting thing to any employer.

I like policies like this. “Performance Management.” Every bit of the terminology is meant to dehumanize. I’m glad Volusia County is still using “personnel.” “Human resources” is the new buzzword, and it surely serves to further devalue the sanctity of human life. As if people are a “resource,” to be “used,” to be leveraged, like you would lumber or a reserve of oil.

First you devalue everyone with this sort of terminology. Then you attack the young (abortion), and then the old (euthanasia), and then the sick (euthanasia again), and then the poor, and then the weak. Then you attack a good, mostly wholesome religion (Christianity) by demanding its removal from public view. And finally, you put a wall between the parent and the child through a “public” school system, where you indoctrinate in the dogma of the state. But call it “teaching.” Always call it teaching.

And what do you teach? Stuff like global warming, “over” population, how wonderful the American Indian savages were, and what terrible people we are for having displaced them (it wasn’t us, it was a dozen generations back), how animals have human rights, how we’re killing the Earth and the planet would be better off with us all dead, and how cancer is killing us because we’re producing evil carcinogens. You teach “affirmative” action and reparations as blessings, to reinforce that we are not born free and equal, but that debts can carry over across generations. I refuse to take blame for the evil doings of my slave-owning ancestors. We already know the cure and prevention for cancer (vitamin B17), but it has to be covered up, hidden like a dagger would be hidden from a child. You make us read stories like The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (college for me), to polarize us on the one versus the many. And then you tell us that trumping the rights of the one is in fact good, because he wouldn’t appreciate freedom anyway.

Pragmatism, that’s the name of the game. It takes good people to do bad things, and the ideal of pragmatism is unmistakably good. To do the greater good for the greater number of people. It’s applying the principles of triage to every aspect of life. So if we can kill fifty people to save five-hundred, then that’s the only way to go. Maybe it isn’t kill. It’s just maim. Or injure. Or to exercise eminent domain. Not even bodily injury. Just theft of property. Surely that must be alright?

But it isn’t right, because orthodoxies never work out. An invisible hand is always pushing them further, breaking through a glass wall at the edge of a cliff. Further, further, in the name of courage, of growth, of safety, of freedom. Orthodoxies are always suicidal. We have a government that was founded with a true attempt of upholding the principles of liberty and freedom. We have a Constitution and a Declaration that try so hard to maintain our God-given rights, even in the face of a vocal, unbelieving majority who wants to slay us for the good of the whole. But there is no whole. The whole is an illusion. We are not the Borg. All we are is many individuals. “The greater good for the greater number” is not one versus one, it’s a whole bunch of individuals that are all going to be hurt because other individuals think that causing pain for those few is best for people other than them. It’s never out of direct selfishness. Selfishness does not work as a motivator. The most-evil people really think they’re looking out for the good of others. For their friends. Perhaps they aspire to lofty ideals like standing up for the rights of humanity. But they’re always misguided. Suicidal, if I may repeat myself. Because they’re a part of a suicidal system of hatred and distrust, without even knowing it themselves. You’re contributing to this system, on a small scale, if you work in a “normal” job. I am too.

On 2008 June 5, the Volusia County council passed an ordinance mandating the sterilizations of all dogs and cats. I love this description from a website called News for Florida Animal Advocates.

One breeder, Kathy Lucas of Seminole County, complained to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “We don’t need to lose another one of our rights. Our animals are our property.” Fortunately, this opinion– that animals are not individuals, but objects to be used for profit– was not shared by a majority of the council.

Animals are property. Their our slaves; we can do with them what we please. A dog does not experience spiritual growth. A dog does not aspire to be better than he is. A dog does not invent. A dog is a poor substitute for a child. A dog does not have a soul. You know this; we all know this, yet it is too soon forgotten on the crusade for animal rights.

The kicker, is that Volusia County’s new law is actually a step down for animal rights, if we’re comparing them to the rights of humans. Because we do not forcibly sterilize people. Yet. That’s the path we’re on, sadly. And when you talk like the above quote; that animals as “individuals” have the inherent “right” to be sterilized, then you’re cheapening us too. First your comparing animals (sub-human) to humans, and then you’re saying that we should neuter them; an action base and contempt if they’re human. But it’s for the greater good. It always is.

For people, we have abortion already, which is as contemptible as any crime. In fact, if I do apply pragmatic ethics to the murder of a human baby (infanticide), I find it’s even more evil than the murder of an adult. If you must kill, kill someone who has a fighting chance. Not someone weak and defenseless, who is innocent and perfect. But even with better (more Christian) ethics, it’s still a murder, just as killing a ninety-year-old lady is murder. No jury says “Ah, she’s old. Let him go.” Because human life is inherently, consistently, and continually sacred. It does not change with the times. If there is one absolute ideal, this is it.

Continuing on our path, we will be neutering people. Not you or me. Never us. First it’s the insane, the sick, the genetically deformed. They did it in Nazi Germany, we can do it here. Then the invisible hand of good people doing evil will push it further. The United States already did it this time last century. I’m saddened by it all.

Every bit of this is rooted in fear. Fear of loss: of the status quo, of our current, wonderful lives, of “wasted” time (in the workplace), or otherwise. I can’t think of all the reasons for fear at the moment, but there are plenty, and the feeling is the cause of so many inadvertent, yet evil and destructive actions.

Our government needs to stick to what it’s good for—keeping the peace and protecting human life. Not protecting animals, not indoctrinating our children, not even establishing public libraries. But the government isn’t even fulfilling its core mission at the moment.

Courage always comes from within. Courage, growth, safety, freedom, all these are traits that only you can manifest within yourself. No government, no code of ethics, no church, no workplace bureaucracy can instill them within you, nor can you instill them within the collective on anything more than an individual’s level. And you don’t develop these strengths by working in a normal job, or by two decades of public schooling. You don’t even become human.

I’m posting this in a new section called personal development. My first article, retro-actively, is The Irrationality of Apportionment. Hopefully writing like this will help me to develop as a person. Now, I have some photography to get back to.