“Happiness” – A short film by Steve Cutts

The animated short film “Happiness” is a truly spot on depiction of today’s society. It’s the story of a rodent’s (meant to represent a human’s) unrelenting search for happiness and fulfillment in all the wrong places.

The moral of the story?: Instead of mindlessly contributing to the rat race ask yourself what you can do to contribute something to the greater good.

How to Turn the Tables on Authority Like a Genius

“In the act of provoking people to think differently, philosophers make it clear that we are not fated to live within the often-stifling systems of thought that we inherit. We can change the subject.” ~Raymond Geuss

Are you sick and tired of television talking-heads babbling their way through political propaganda and scapegoating each other through underhanded claptrap that does nothing more than keep outdated bipartisan “authority” entrenched in the minds of the people?

If not, have you ever asked yourself why you just go along with it? Have you ever questioned the nature of authority itself?

Ask yourself: what makes a person an authority? The answer seems simple: a bunch of other people “believe” that person to be an authority. Usually arbitrarily, without questioning the legitimacy of the authority and believing it only because the majority believes it. Or blindly believing in some outdated “social contract” reasoning that strong-arms everyone into obeying.

Have you ever asked yourself how much of your belief in authority is merely culturally conditioned, societally brainwashed or merely indoctrinated? How much of the authority surrounding you is made up of prestigious and courageous individuals who have actually earned it through the merit of their own blood, sweat and tears; and how much of it is made up of individuals who were merely pigeonholed into positions of power by an outdated system of indoctrination void of courage and prestige?

Tough questions, for sure. But only you can answer them. Because the secret to overcoming authority like a fucking genius is realizing that you are the authority. The only person you can control is you. So it’s on you to become the most badass authority (author of self) that you can become.

Your authority is paramount, because only your authority can decide the authority others have over you. Your authority alone must decide if another person’s authority is legit or not. Nobody else can decide for you. It’s your responsibility alone to either become your own authority or to allow the authority of others to control you.

Others claiming to be an authority can choose to violate the golden rule, or the non-aggression principle, or attempt to block your freedom, but that’s on them. That’s their bad conscience to wrestle with. You can’t control them. You can only control how you act as an author of self in the face of their violation.

It’s a psychosocial quagmire, for sure. This is because we are foremost social creatures. More so, we are imperfect social creatures who are prone to mistakes. So. The secret to overcoming authority is to become a badass authority: an author of self.

But, here’s the thing, becoming a badass author of self will require a shitload of self-improvement and self-overcoming. Beginning with embracing the inherent fallibility of the human condition…

Understand that we are all fallible:

“Mastery is an asymptote. You can approach it. You can home in on it. You can get really, really close to it. But you can never reach it. Mastery is impossible to realize fully.” ~Daniel H. Pink

Here’s another secret: Nobody knows what the fuck is going on. Nobody has it figured out. We’re all confused. We’re all a member of a fallible, prone to mistakes, clumsy, fumbling species going through the motions of living a short life within an unfathomably ancient universe.

Any authority claiming to have it figured out and using that claim to attempt to control you is not a legitimate authority but a tyrant.

It’s your responsibility as a free human being to maintain your own freedom. That means having the ability to question authority while also improving upon your own authority: author of self.

Understanding that we are all fallible is vital towards overcoming authority precisely because it helps keep in perspective just how arbitrary authority is. As George Carlin ingeniously quipped, “I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”

Anybody can claim to be an authority, but only earned authority should be respected. And even earned authority should be questioned. Especially since, as Lord Acton observed, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I could claim that I’m an authority on unicorns, but I better come correct with my knowledge. And it would also help if unicorns existed. But the point is this: If enough people “believe” that I’m an authority on unicorns, and they “believe” that I have dissected a unicorn and revealed the magical quality of its insides that causes it to shit rainbows, then I’ll not only have violated truth, I’ll have violated the minds of others and taken advantage of their ignorance.

But, and here’s the rub, it’s their fault for not questioning my authority. As Albert Einstein said (himself an authority in the field of physics), “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” So if we’re correct to question Einstein’s revolutionary theories, then we’re exponentially correct to question my theory on unicorns.

Respecting a prestigious authority or taking into consideration important knowledge gleaned by someone who claims authority in a particular domain of knowledge is fine. It’s even okay that sometimes we allow people to violate our minds. We allow artists to do it all the time. Problems arise when we “believe” in authority, when we blindly follow a perceived authority. That’s when things go wrong.

Blind belief in authority is dangerous because people are fallible. And it’s doubly dangerous when the majority of people are under its spell. Which is precisely why we should take that sixth grader’s advice: “Question authority, including the authority that told you to question authority.”

Learn self-discipline and act with confidence:

“It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal––carries the cross of the redeemer––not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.” ~ Joseph Campbell

If only immoral people indoctrinated by a profoundly sick society are controlling the social narrative, then the kind of authority you’re going to get is an immoral dictation that sustains the profoundly sick society.

Which is why you should work on becoming a badass author of self. By confidently becoming your own authority, you can make a bold attempt at changing the narrative. A person who has the ability to question authority and themselves will be better able to rise out of the sick society with vital medicine.

The trick is being bold enough to claim you have medicine. People will continue to believe the authority that keeps the sick society propped up until you convince them that you have a healthier alternative. So it’s on you to become an author of self, have the discipline to question authority and to refine your own authority by becoming a leader.

Decide you are a leader. Own it. Take control of the narrative by creating the narrative and then have the confidence to declare to any and all so-called authorities that you own yourself.

Real leaders don’t follow power; they learn how to turn the tables on power, even their own, so that power does not corrupt. Real leaders don’t kowtow to tyranny or authoritarian rule; they question it, despite the “rank and order” and outdated narrative that props it up.

The social narrative is a bucking bronco. It takes discipline to get it under control. It takes audacity to admit that there’s no trademark on the voice of authority. There’s no patent on influence. It’s all up for grabs. And it’s up to you to grab it. Grab the social narrative by the reins by declaring confidently and assertively what needs to happen.

Be confident. Learn self-discipline and self-overcoming. Question the lot. Then have the courage to wrestle the narrative into submission and give it your own healthy voice. Just be responsible with your power and only use it to transform the “profoundly sick society” into a healthier one. Easier said than done, certainly. But, as Spinoza said, “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”

Source: themindunleashed.com

Overcoming The Myth of Authority

This is a truly excellent article that I first linked to on the offline page and I have now also added it to the permanent content of the website.

 

“For thousands hacking at the branches there is one striking the root.” ~Henry David Thoreau

If, as Albert Einstein said, “unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth,” then it stands to reason that we should think critically toward, rather than blindly believe in, authority. No matter who or what that authority might be.

Whether it’s an eccentric physicist with wild hair or an authoritarian president demanding respect without giving it. Whether it’s a flat-earther challenging the very foundations of physics, or an overreaching cop high on false power. Belief in authority is a huge psychological hang-up for our species. It’s an evolutionary impediment of monumental proportions.

Even as we daily self-overcome, so too should we daily overcome the myth of authority. It’s a myth because it’s foremost a story. It’s a story we’ve all fallen for –hook, line, and sinker. It’s a story that most of us were culturally conditioned to believe in. It’s a story that most of us take as a given, but certainly should not. For, ultimately, “it’s just the way things are” is a cowardly copout.

Rather than cowardice, rather than willful ignorance, complacency, and intellectual laziness, we should challenge the myth of authority –across the board. We should be ruthless with our skepticism, like a scientist regarding his own hypothesis, like peer-reviewed interrogators keeping the science of others honest.

Because the art of life, especially an examined life that’s well-lived, isscientific, logical, and reasonable. It strikes at the heart of the orthodoxy, whatever that may be. It undermines the Powers That Be, whoever they may be. And that’s likely to upset more than a few blind worshippers, myopic rule-followers, and willfully ignorant law-abiding citizens. So be it. Upset their precious apple-cart anyway. Especially if that apple-cart is outdated, violent, and based upon parochial reasoning and fear. As Oscar Wilde stated, “Disobedience was man’s original virtue.”

Overcoming authoritarianism:

“As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.” ~Wendell Berry

The problem with belief in authority is that it leads to the idea that we need to give a group of people permission to control us. And, as Lord Byron taught us, power given to an authority tends to become corrupt.

The problem with power is not the intent behind it. The problem with power is that it tends to corrupt the one wielding it regardless of their intent. So, since we all know that power tends to corrupt whether one has good or bad intentions, and since we know that we will all seek power anyway, it behooves us to be mercilessly circumspect both with our own power and against the power of others.

It stands to reason that we should not ignorantly give power to an authority by blindly believing it. We should instead challenge authority first, and trust it second, if at all. The best way to use our power is to use it against authority by ruthlessly questioning it. It’s a social leveling mechanism par excellence. As a wise, young sixth grader once said, “Question authority, including the authority that told you to question authority.”

Otherwise, people will fight and murder and commit genocide and ecocide for the so-called authority that they “believe” in. But they might not have fought so violently and thoughtlessly had they simply taken the power dynamic into deep consideration, nonviolently challenged that perceived dynamic, and then moved on smartly with their lives.

The best way to maintain a healthy skepticism, and not devolve into an ignorant, sycophantic, violent mess, is to take things into consideration and question them rather than blindly believe in them.

Overcoming tribalism:

“To be modern is to let imagination and invention do a lot of the work once done by tradition and ritual.” ~Adam Gopnik

By becoming worldly patriots instead of patriotic nationalists, we turn the tables on xenophobia, apathy, and blind nationalism, and we become more compassionate and empathetic towards other cultures. When we celebrate diversity instead of trying to cram the square peg of cultural affiliation into the round hole of colonialism, we turn the tables on the monkey-mind’s one-dimensional moral tribalism and we usher in Joshua Greene’s multi-dimensional concept of metamorality.

By reinforcing global citizenry rather than nationalism, we turn the tables on both our lizard brains and the Powers That Be. Like Joshua Greene says in Moral Tribes, “We need a kind of thinking that enables groups with conflicting moralities to live together and prosper. In other words, we need a metamorality. We need a moral system that resolves disagreements among groups with different moral ideals, just as ordinary first-order morality resolves disagreements among individuals with different selfish interests.”

Going Meta with morality launches us into a big-picture perspective. We’re shot out of the box of outdated tribal thinking and into a realm of higher consciousness, where our inherent tribalism gets countered by an updated logic and reasoning. We gain the holistic vision of “over eyes” (like the astronaut Overview Effect), where societal delusions and cultural abstractions dissolve into interconnectedness and interdependence.

Overcoming magical thinking:

“Every fact of science was once damned. Every invention was considered impossible. Every discovery was a nervous shock to some orthodoxy. Every artistic innovation was denounced as fraud and folly. The entire web of culture and ‘progress,’ everything on earth that is man-made and not given to us by nature, is the concrete manifestation of some man’s refusal to bow to Authority. We would own no more, know no more, and be no more than the first apelike hominids if it were not for the rebellious, the recalcitrant, and the intransigent.” ~Robert Anton Wilson

Overcoming magical thinking is vital for the healthy and progressive evolution of our species. Healthy progress depends upon courageous individuals capable of challenging authority. Especially authorities that are based in magical thinking.

If we don’t have the courage to challenge an authority that preaches magical thinking, then we are doomed to become a victim to their magical thinking. It’s for this reason, above all, that authority should be challenged.

Refusing to bow to an authority is not without its consequences. But upsetting an authority should not be avoided at the expense of progress. Progress should be embraced at the risk of upsetting an authority.

Otherwise, there would be no progress. We would remain stuck in parochial, magical thinking. We would become a stagnant –or worse, devolving– species. To avoid unhealthy stagnation and entropic devolution, we need courageous individuals who refuse to bow to authority and instead choose to ruthlessly question and nonviolently challenge that authority.

Without those who are willing to disobey, we are lost. Without them, we are left with cowardly conformists, xenophobic nationalists, complacent pacifists, dogmatic believers relying upon blind faith, and tyrannical powermongers using their power to control others. In short: we are left with magical thinking over logic and reasoning.

So, I implore you, if you would be courageous, reasonable, healthy, progressive human beings: challenge Authority. Strategically disobey. Nonviolently revolt. Lovingly crush out. Tenderly recondition the cultural conditioning of others lest they collapse in upon their own cognitive dissonance. Dare to pull the blindfold from your brother’s eyes lest they unwittingly force the blindfold back upon you.

Above all, practice self-overcoming. Otherwise, power –either yours or someone else’s– will overcome you. Be just as circumspect with your own power as you are toward the power of others.

Authorities will come and go. As they should. Your own authority will wax and wane. As it should. The balance of power within the human condition is vital for the healthy and progressive evolution of our species. And nothing balances out power better than the courage to challenge authority. The biblical courage of David pales in comparison to the individual who bravely challenges the modern-day Goliath of entrenched authority.

Source: themindunleashed.com

 

The Essence of The Freedom Of Speech