Monday, October 6, 2014

Horse-Less Carriage?

why do people behave like they are not animals on a planet?

Being a rant about the misuse of machinery.

motorized locomotion.

I only understand the situation in the United States, so i will write about that country. The possession and frequent use of certain machines bring the American to real full citizenship. Those machines are the firearm, the motorized vehicle, and the cell phone. It is interesting that 2 of these machines operate by burning an extremely toxic material into the atmosphere. Even though the flammable material is purchased by the 'citizen', neither the citizen or her culture will acknowledge the material once it is burned. This denial is a smaller cause of the disconnected behavior, but this is a behavioral rant rather than an ecological one.

I am not excusing myself from this suite of behavioral problems. In fact, I would say that my life and well being are ruled by them. I have been an avid gun owner, but had to give them up to get the super - imposed targets off of every person or creature that appeared in my visual field. You did not read incorrectly. I am stating that while I carried a gun, every living thing had a target painted on him or her or it. I would suggest that that is how weapons work. If you are able to completely forget that you bear the arm, then you do not really have it with you. Good dogs see targets on peoples faces where they will lick. Bad dogs see the location on each neck where their teeth will rend. After the teeth fall out, even the bad dog feels differently.

When I got my first firearm, I was amazed that from that moment on, I had the ability to quickly kill about 30 deer or people or tin cans. That feeling wore off, and for the next decades I felt a vague sense of security, and a certain pride that I could be trusted with this instrument. At around the age of 52, I realized that the firearms were preventing me from making an important step in my life. I reluctantly began to sell these flingers of lead. Sure enough, the targets began to disappear, and my ability to empathise with people and animals increased dramatically. Some readers are smirking now, and thinking 'what a fool to pull his own "teeth" out'! Others are happy that another individual had joined the ranks of actual humans.

This is also not a gun rant. It is about the mental changes that a human feels when they make frequent use of a device. I am glad that I went through this 'military' stage, and would not change my history to that of a life-long pacifist. I live in a culture that is violent, and extremely stratified. I know that i am here to learn and grow, rather than to ignore my surroundings, stare at my own navel, and be super happy no matter what is happening around me. For example, 12 years ago i obtained a job with Haliburton. If i had to pay taxes that would be used to maim people who had never harmed me personally, i felt more comfortable being on the maiming end of the stick. I would explore for oil in Iraq, and help my culture to steal the resources of another land. Iraq's surviving inhabitants would shell my living and work areas, and try to capture me and remove my head in front of a camera. I chickened out 2 blocks from the Hallibuton shop where i would begin training. I am not sure where I would be now had i continued on that strange and forceful path.

Now, we are moving on to the horseless carriage, or the motorized vehicle. Our paths are nearly all paved in the United States. We sit in long lines of idling cars, often on the same 'ground' where our for-bearers struggled slowly along on muddy and rutted wagon tracks. We cross rivers effortlessly on massive bridges near where those stalwart persons swam across with their teams. And, we have substituted diesel and gasoline exhaust fumes for horse farts. It seems that we are way, way better off; right?

That is an interesting question, and, since i switch back and forth from motorized to human powered transportation methods, i can begin to see the changes in my own mind. When i am pedaling around, the vehicles seem noisy and smelly and faintly evil. The people inside of the shiny metal shells seem obese and forceful and faintly evil. When I drive, the other cars are my tribe, and i compete with them in a friendly way to get safely where I 'need' to go. The bicycles are a pretty bad annoyance, and I resent them for getting in my way. I compete with them in an unfair and unfriendly way, and will scare them to assert my 'rights'. They are the crappy poor people that can not be troubled to invest in a great car, and a lake full of fossil fuel. I am 'getting things done', while they are just getting in the way. I resent the smirky smile of pleasure that they display simply because they are operating a fuel-less form of horseless carriage.

The modern car is quite inside, and can easily be heated or cooled to a comfortable temperature. Even in city traffic, it insulates the driver from their surroundings. It can convert the Homo sapien into something slightly different. Do you feel it when you get into your wonderful space ship? It is safe to behave very impolitely, and do things that would not seem that great outside of the ship. Similar to ones internet personality, ones driving personality is thought to be a separate entity, subject to different rules of behavior. Outside of a bullet or an collision, there is no way that other motorists can provide useful feedback on vehicular behavior. the abysmal behavior is free to bleed over into the other portions of ones life.

Many vehicles are used in large cities. Even though city dwellers often imagine that their form of life is low stress, and far more fruitful and fulfilling than rural life, this does not seem to [in fact] be the case. At least from the rural perspective, these city dwellers seem to sacrificing their quality of life [and their safety] for cash. As in the climate change disaster, city dwellers will fight tooth and nail to deny this. They are living in the best possible place, with it's mix of great jobs and advanced schools and important events. So what if traffic sounds and sirens have to replace silence. No big deal if the cops that they see have their hand on the butt of a gun rather than the brim of their cap. Likewise with crimes. Sure, their car is vandalized sometimes, and their home is sometimes broken into. Some city folk even seem proud of the amount of crime and stress that they have experienced while remaining a totally awesome person.

My point is: That they are being affected by the stress. Each person has a way to bleed it off. Some have attack dogs and guns. Some misbehave in their car or on the internet. Some try to do it by hating gay people or democrats or women who have abortions. Some transfer the stress directly to family members or friends. All of these stress reduction methods have one thing in common: Personal stress is transferred to society at large.  It is clearly an endless cycle. Just like love, meanness does not really go away once it is shared. It is a bit like the folks that you see blowing the same leaves or dust back and forth between their yards. The leaves do not really go away permanently, but there is a feeling of 'gettin her done'.

What can a person do to avoid becoming this frankenstein monster, who constantly causes harm and pain to others with their cell phone and car and gun? I will make some suggestions, even though every one of them will make some people angry. I suggest that people try being alone in very quite surroundings. I am thinking wilderness trail rather than sensory deprivation tank. Birds and trees will help more than barking dogs and people chatting into cell phones. Once in a while, get onto a bike if you able to balance and pedal. Experiment with solar energy, and make some changes to reduce the amount of harm that you do to the planet. Make some attempt to see the godlike qualities that are contained in people that are quite different than you. It is not possible to hate random people without harming yourself and your loved ones. You do not have to bear your throat to a desperate person, or give someone in need the contents of your wallet. Things might just start to mushroom in a good direction if you just changed a few middle fingers to waves, or let a few cars by rather than cutting in impolitely.

I am suggesting real behavior changes because the mechanism that i often see is the signing of petitions, and the donation of guilt money to 'non profit' companies. One can retake the US government from the corporations by clicking things on the internet. Nor can one advance by pressuring ones facebook friends to buy some 'green' product. Each person can change a tiny bit themselves, wasting no effort on these fruitless methods of assuaging guilt. Personally, I take a bicycle when i need a go a litte ways, and a train when the trip is long. I have divested of any fossil fuel connections that i am aware of. I no longer stock explosive cartridges intended to drive lead into living flesh. Much as I once loved guns and fast cars and huge, scary dogs, i have given up on them. If you are a normal person, you are now thinking up reasons why none of this baloney applies to you. Perhaps, you have kids, and will do anything, no matter how harmful to you or others, to advantage them. More blowing leaves back and forth. I do not have kids, but it seems that we can not make the world awesome by locking up a certain percentage of the drug addicts, or beating up enough gay persons, or depriving people of reproductive or other rights based on some pecking order that you perceive.

On the other hand, people are accustomed to terrible behavior nowadays, and they will be amazed when you smile at them, or give them a quick hand with something. If you have kids, they will see this, and start to think that this generous and awesome behavior is normal. There may be some mental tricks that will come in handy. Religion and family ties and love of country are intended to block out the normal love that we would feel for others, and to deprive them of full human status that normally prevents one from causing them harm. It might be possible to extend your 'family' so that more people become full humans. If you can include enough people, there will be less pain to pass around. Less pain will come back. Let us do away with this ritualized abuse that we heap upon each other, and deal only with the real problems of aging, disease, nutrition, education, etc.

Please comment on this if you have a mind to. I will delete a comment that is all abuse and curses, but will leave any intelligent comment that is not hurtful or abusive to me personally. It can be the opposite viewpoint, so long as you phrase it as if i were a member of your family who has gone astray.

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About Me

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I am a fine art photographer and filmmaker. Lately, I have been doing panoramic images of the Canyonlands area, and printing them using archival materials. These large images are placed in work cubicles and homes, and can sometimes briefly transport the viewer to a contemplative location.