Beware of Culture


Can we know for certain the distant impact of our current innovations?

Remember that we are always learning; our cultural medium always evolving. The norm is always changing, and what dictates it?

Safeguard critical faculties. They are essential to discover balance and sense of truth in a culture generally motivated by other interests.

Revolution and Neuroplasticity

Long ago, an image came to my mind which I found very intriguing. It is well known now that the brain’s physical makeup is changed in the act of learning or making new associations. The neural networks actually re-wire themselves to form new synaptic connections.

neuroThese old links, or neural pathways, can be attributed to creature patterns and habitual behaviour. An adage in neuroscience is “neurons that fire together, wire together.” It’s also an explanation for the reason why stopping an old behaviour, like emotional eating, is particularly difficult. Theres a deep rut down which energy wants to travel.

“There was a young man who said ‘Damn,
For it certainly seems that I am,
A creature that moves in determinate grooves.
I’m not even a bus, I’m a tram.'”

In developing and changing oneself, training and repetition are required to persevere and form new neural pathways. It takes six weeks to fully reconstitute old links, or, rather, form a new habit, and still only three to make some serious progress. By repeating behaviours or thoughts over and over again they become a new standard.

I see this same image applying at a collective level. Take for a moment the idea that, at another level of magnitude, each person is a cell in a higher organism, connected by the developing etheric nervous system that is the internet. At a municipal and even global level, there are common beliefs, behaviours and thoughts that people exhibit. With repetition of new ideas/beliefs, as I touched on in my last post, the old associations and habits of the collective mind are reconstituted to form new ones, represented by a change in belief or behaviour – recycling, diet, same sex marriage, racial/gender equality, scientific discoveries, social norms, etc.

Picture each new thought or voice shouted into the organism as a potential neural pathway. For example, people started advocating for labelling on products containing genetically modified ingredients, began a movement and achieved some results. It’s what petitions are based on – generating enough energy behind an idea or initiative to make a change.

The more of us that speak and act on desired change, both intellectually and societally, the greater number of times these new neural pathways fire in the collective brain, and the greater chance for change to manifest.

Continuing on the theme of fighting cultural “ruts”, being bold, doing your thing and connecting with others who have like views. That is all!

Martyrs, Paradigms and Personal Revolution

A post of spontaneous inspiration. Earlier today, I came across the story of Giordano Bruno; an Italian priest, philosopher, poet, astronomer, mathematician – a true renaissance man. He was martyred on this day, 1600 CE, in Rome. Tortured for eight years before being burnt at the stake. Burned a-fucking-live. All because he was a proponent of the emerging heliocentric model of the solar system, and the notion that intelligent life may exist in the myriad others just like ours.

Stories of martyrdom may be grim, but I find most of them incredibly inspirational. The people in question so resolutely believed in something which opposed the prevailing world view that they would not relinquish their position in face of extensive, agonizing oppression. That boldness, strength and courage of mind is astounding. Without such people as Bruno, Copernicus, MLK, etc, paradigms would not change, and humanity would not evolve. These figures pressed against both the elites and paradigm in power, and even staked their own life on the validity of their truth.

The identity of individuals and organizations (religions and governments included) rely on any given current zeitgeist for their identity. If that is strongly established and accepted, they then stand to profit either financially or socially, and therefore they have great interest in protecting that paradigm to see that it does not change, so they can continue sprinkling gold and cocaine on their corn flakes.

Most people don’t even like change in general. It disturbs their patterns, the status quo, their identity. Things are changing therefore so must I, and I don’t want to change because change = the unknown and that means I might be fucked.

The oil and automotive industry is arguably the largest on the planet. The notion of changing how we source our energy, or shifting public opinions on fossil fuels, creates instability and potential irrelevance, which they cannot afford. Hence the game of whack-a-mole with free energy initiatives and bullshit pro-pipeline/fracking propaganda.

If people powerfully took a collective look at the GMO issue, Monsanto would no longer be able to rape and pillage the agricultural industry in broad daylight. They’ve created a treadmill from which modern farmers cannot escape: selling them crap seed, which requires their proprietary chemical concoctions for propagation and pest control, which brings them various diseases and cancers, destroys their soil, but it yields a cheap grocery bill for the public! Oh, and more cancer..

There was a time in history where speaking of something so integrated in our current paradigm – such as the fact that Earth orbits around the sun – was declared heresy, and, like Bruno, you would literally be tortured and killed for it. It reminds me that, because the human scope of perception is so incomplete, our beliefs and understanding of the Universe will forever be in flux. There are always alternative views. All of them always incomplete. And there will always be a need for boldness and opposition. Without that challenge we would never progress. Because these people spoke up, new ideas and eventually a revolution could gain traction.

In the microcosm: How do I compromise my truth in the face of others and society at large? How and why am I not my authentic self in the presence of others? What are the costs? If I don’t act and express boldly from a place of authenticity, how could I ever achieve my goals, become the person I want to be, align with the right people, or make the impact I want to make?

Each day we run the risk of living a life of compromise; of quiet desperation. A life determined by culture and circumstance, not purpose. Quite simply, if you have sovereignly selected a destination, you must follow your own course. In our environment there are squalls, currents and sometimes hurricanes that will alter trajectory. These can take shape in a person, a self-limiting belief, or an act of nature. People don’t want you to change. YOU don’t even want you to change. Remember your destination and cultivate the resolve, flexibility, boldness and courage that trails are blazed with.

It doesn’t have to be overthrowing a government. It could simply be changing an eating habit or going for a short run every day. You are going to resist your own change. But with persistence and repetition, in time, you will find yourself standing in the middle of a different life.

Just felt like fleshing out a simple reminder to myself to speak and act from what I feel to be true, instead of keeping my speech and actions quiet in the face of those that see the world differently. Things won’t change if I don’t. Thanks for reading!

J. Krishnamurti…

J. Krishnamurti on the mind —

“What is true can only be found from moment to moment, it is not a continuity, but the mind which wants to discover it, being itself the product of time, can only function in the field of time; therefore it is incapable of finding what is true.

To know the mind, the mind must know itself, for there is no ‘I’ apart from the mind … When you know the whole process of it, how it reasons, its desires, motives, ambitions, pursuits, its envy, greed and fear; then the mind can go beyond itself, and when it does there is the discovery of something totally new. That quality of newness gives an extraordinary passion, a tremendous enthusiasm which brings about a deep inward revolution: and it is this inward revolution which alone can transform the world, not any political or economic system.”