Exorcising the Animal: Why Hate Crimes, Racism, and Tribalism might actually be signs of progress

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OK, stay with me, people: hate crimes, racsim, and tribalism are all some of the most disappointing and deplorable aspects of human nature. I think most people would agree with that. Because our human nature encompasses the entire spectrum of beautiful expressions of art, the power of compassion, and a tremendous intellectual capacity, it shouldn’t be hard to see that running people over with cars or marching around, yelling hateful things with swazticas and tiki torches in no way represents the pinnacle of human achievement (to say the least). Most of us are watching this all unfold with great consternation, indignation, and anger, and humanity deserves a little credit for this indignant reaction; it means that a significant portion of our species have made a conscious effort to resist our most base and primal behaviors. A significant portion of humanity actually chooses love over hate—in order to understand exactly how big a deal that is, we need some perspective on what humanity has been.
For FIVE MILLION YEARS, “humans” were just learning how not to be monkeys. That is approximately when the earliest hominid species appeared. And before that, it was only 50-55 MILLION YEARS ago that monkeys finally got their shit together and became monkeys… that is, only after a few BILLION years of, you know, being nascent primordial life and other scary things. We’re talking single-cell organisms. Fuckin’ amoebas. Fuckin’ fish and lizard things. HOW can any of us actually conceive of a million years, no less, a BILLION?! We can’t. Modern humans emerged about 200,000 years ago, but most modern civilizations have only been keeping count for a little over 2,000 years; that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. For MILLIONS of years, humanity couldn’t really even conceive of its own existence. We were busy eating shit off the ground and spearing mammoths or whatever—living only to survive.  I was watching a flock of pidgeons downtown the other day, and I watched them all peck aimlessly at the pebbles and cigarette butts, only narrowly avoiding getting hit by a bus. In their aimless pecking, I saw what must have been the human condition for millenia (minus buses and cigarettes, but same idea). We roamed the earth with no other awareness than the emptiness in our bellies and the fire in our loins.
And NOW, in the year two-thousand and seventeen anno domini, we expect everybody to be civil, compassionate, high-minded lizard-monkey-people. We expect that ONE war or ONE president or ONE political movement will exorcise us of the inherent animal nature within us all. The human species has made amazing progress, and they’ve done it really, really fast. We’ve found ourselves at the nexus of animalism and greater consciousness—and we’ve been here for thousands of years, and it might take hundred, or thousands of years to exorcise that viscious, fearful animal nature in all of us. The fact that we, too, are animals is a repressed trauma that we all push out of our minds… but it is still a fact. Hate crimes, racism, and tribalism come from our animal selves, and the fact that it’s even an issue how we treat one another in society is sign of progress. After studying ancient Greek history and Roman history, I’ve realized there’s really nothing new under the sun. We wonder why history seems to repeat itself ad nauseum, and that is because evolution takes a long fucking time. Let us continue to strive for more Love and compassion in this world, while also coming to terms with the reality of our animal nature. It’s the hand we’ve been dealt as a species, but that’s why humans are so amazing… we have been striving to overcome what we are. That’s kind of insane, if you think about it. The struggle of being human ultimately comes down to rejecting what we are, and what we have been, which means we’ve all felt—at some point—that there is something fundamentally wrong in our very nature. Humans are the species rebelling against nature. It’s hard. And it feels strange and uncomfortable, but we are making progress. And we will continue making progress for as long as we reach after something better than our animal nature; not everyone is going to be on board all at once, but collectively the rising tide lifts all boats. The horrible, tragic things that we’ve been seeing are part of the struggle for progress… and it could take a while to become the species we want to be.

Relentless Lent

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I ended up in the desert for more than forty days
and I did face Satan and his servants–
My own inner-demons
who spin sad fantasies
Satan tempts me with guilt
and fear.
I was to be the bride of Satan,
I was going to commit my life to the worship of my neuroses and insecurities:
“I must be miserable as pennance for my sins”
“I have sinned”
“I don’t deserve to be totally happy”
“I’m getting older”
“I’m not attractive”
“I must be made ‘right’ by someone”
“I am deficient and lacking”
“I must be schooled in order to feel challenged. To feel alive. And I need someone who can teach me every single day.”
“To be schooled, I must be overcome, and be dominated”
“Suffering is the greatest teacher”
Leciferic inversions and almost-truths
I was seduced by the illusion that all suffering is virtuous,
That I would fulfill my existence by sacrificing joy—
Satan disguised my misery as joyous things,
attractive, desirable things—
and nothing was what it seemed to be.
Satan offered me all of these things if I got married to my misery
He impregnated me with these fundamental doubts and delusions I have about myself,
that I am deficient,
When in Truth, I am always whole

that I owe my progress to misery,
When in Truth, I make progress by the miraculous

These ideas began to grow inside me,
I felt my light dwindle.
I saw my life shutting.
My energy draining.

I gave it all up—
I gave it all away—
Everything I had
Everything I had clung onto
And depended on

To realize that I must refuse the temptation of misery
I must turn my sights upward
And resist the temptation of fantasies that require my misery,
That these wild fantasies must not overwrite my Self-narrative.

I am refusing.

My Easter has come.

Written on the day of the Women’s March

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Our democracy is a perpetual dystopia
we are the land of progress, never terminal:
a more perfect union.
We strive for more,
and every moment of our progression is inherently perfect,
but
it could always be more.

Sweet land of liberty,
full of the people who
risk their wellbeing and their livelihoods for the
opportunity to make ill-informed decisions for eachother
Willing to gamble their
healthcare
citizenship
reproductive rights
lives
trusting the blind to lead the blind
The people who will risk it again and again
to see decades of
two steps forward, one step back

My Identity Was Forged on the Internet: a millennial trying to make sense of her world

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It was sometime around the age of 12, I think, when I really started forming a sense of self-identity. I have proof of it– its adolescence– in the form of an old e-mail account I made at that time:
My_enticing_tragedy@yahoo.com

My identity was forged on the Internet. I’ve just realized this.

I guess that firmly situates me among the millennial generation. But as a pioneer of the Internet, I carry with it the weight of centuries; I use the Internet the way that I imagine a nineteenth-century, time-traveling artist would. It is a miraculous, unfathomable collection of information. Precious, precious information. I can look at a painting that is thousands of miles away, that I would never see in my lifetime… In a second. On a whim. In my pocket. Wherever I go. I’ll never be able to forget a beautiful poem because it is stored in this tremendous cloud of consciousness. It is a vast depository for all of humanity’s greatest accomplishments. Sure, it has become full of a lot of other things… Mostly other things (mostly porn)… But it has all of those positive things too. The Internet gives you what you put into it. And the options are infinite.

I still see its sheen of glory: the great democratizing, ubiquitous force that the baby-boomers brought into fruition. A technological gesture that said “Let everyone in the world learn from eachother and connect with eachother.”

I can meet– and have met– people from everywhere across the world on the Internet. I have made deep and lasting connections with people from every continent*.  By doing nothing more than sitting down at a keyboard somewhere in the comfort of my home. A conglomeration of ideas from all over the world. THE WORLD. The Internet has made me feel like a  global citizen. Someone who sees herself– and humanity– in people from everywhere. I wonder if this has anything to do with the progressive social values of millennialis.

We don’t understand the world’s divisions as they’ve existed. Because on the Internet, we’ve all been hanging out together, wasting time and doing pointless shit together. We’ve been playing video games together and talking about the same funny videos together, sharing music with each other. Us millennialis have just been chillaxin’ with each other for most of our lives. I feel like my global peers are my buddies. Text on a screen has no race, no religion, no political affiliation . I just met people’s ideas: this was that pioneering era of chat rooms and forums. You only saw their picture after you had actually talked to them; you had to ask for it, and it could be easily refused. We weren’t all advertising ourselves the way we do now, not until MySpace (and yes, it was once a thing).

This is the Internet I know: the wonderous playground of ideas, a space of unlimited potential, that anyone can participate in… Given the freedom. It is on the Internet that I feel my freedom most deeply. Yeah, the NSA might be tracking everything we do or whatever, but this doesn’t worry me because I doubt if they’re terribly interested in which volume of The Keats-Shelley journal I’m reading, or the documentary on transsexual couples in Britain that I watched last night, or the ABBA songs I’m streaming. The Internet is my playground, where I feel like anything is possible, where I have access to whatever I can imagine, and where I feel connected to humans everywhere.

 

*With the exception of Antarctica