Why do some humans* choose to so powerfully and so venomously put so much energy, trust, and faith in often archaically derived, intentionally tribal, and often toxically divisive, money and power-focused, temporally temporary political systems and/or countless, fearful, intentionally exclusive, endlessly ephemeral, dusty old ancient beliefs systems and religions**…
…yet they willfully choose to ignore the amazingly beautiful, daily, and deep-time realities of nature*** happening all around them and of which they are not only fully reliant for all their biological needs – but also physically, cellularly, atomically, and cosmically connected?
Yes, obviously, to each his own – but when each own’s freely chosen political system, religion, “thing” or “tribe” to follow was designed and/or has been recently re-designed, re-worded, by those in control of the chosen system and/or misinterpreted by the user to be exclusive, divisive, xenophobic, separatist, and toxically tribal toward those on the “outside” of the group, club, party, or flock…when these things serve only to prop up the “insiders” as somehow “special,” or “chosen,” or “above” the “others” and then label those “others” as “lost,” “damned,” “wicked,” “outsiders,” “infidels,” or “the enemy” therefore serving only to further divide friends, family members, loved ones, those with outward or inward genetic and/or chosen “differences,” those from “other” places, and even the very air, water, wildlife and natural systems that support our very lives, etc…
…then all we are doing is intentionally harming ourselves, our natural life-support system, and any possibility of a healthy and prosperous future for our species.
The founding fathers, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Amun, Ra, The Great Spirit, Zeus, Thor, Brahma, God, Allah, The Flying Spaghetti Monster and all the others are fuming with madness (or laughing deeply and heartily – depending upon your point of view) from wherever they are at the moment. (I will not speculate on their location or even their existence – that is not my place until I have more empirical evidence.)
We are one.
*Not all, just some. There are many truly beautiful, deep thinking, genuine people in the world of politics and religion that are doing so many great and wonderful things to support, help, heal, and give hope to others in need and to the natural world that supports all of us and everything moving forward. It is not these people I am concerned about.
The ones I am concerned about are those who are deeply entrenched in or drifting toward the lunatic fringe and those on the fringe few who use politics and religion as tools to acquire temporary wealth, power and prestige. They then use their power and influence to and control those who are seeking…something, someone, answers, guidance, a father figure…whatever each individuals case may be. Sadly, many of these power-mad charismatic individuals have the ability to amass great flocks of followers who, for whatever the reason or need, choose to blindly follow their chosen leader without question. They fail to see that those whom they follow or worship are only twisted charlatans and snake oil salesmen using their power and influence over others as a way to prop up their own egos, further their own agendas and/or the agendas of their party or prophet, often with the only end goal being to fill their coffers with the endless shower of profit, offerings, and accolades endlessly tossed at them by their gullible constituents/followers.
**It is the authors opinion that people are free to believe whatever they choose to believe unless that belief system in some way harms or oppresses other people, nature, wildlife, or the environment that supports all of us. In that case it is my opinion that any destructive, hurtful, harmful, exclusive, divisive, xenophobic, separatist, and toxically tribal toward those on the “outside” of the group, club, party, or flock, belief, religion, or political system – should be abolished and made forever extinct.
It is also the authors opinion that many of these ancient beliefs are simply metaphors – maybe some of them are based on actual happenings, others simply myths and legends of ancient “superheroes” created by their authors either undertaking their own heroes journeys , maybe documenting someone else’s journey/story, or the author just made it all up (fiction) in order to teach the readers a valuable lesson – or a little of all of these things. Their story was then presented to the readers in a way to help them make sense of life, the universe, and everything. Sadly, the meaning of these centuries-old lessons are often totally missed by the reader who often takes them literally, out of context, out of time, and then severely misinterprets them and attempts to apply them to the situations of their modern lives that could not have even been imagined in the simple agrarian world that existed when the words were first written down. These ancient, metaphorical guidelines for life are often so distorted and misconstrued by their transcribers and followers into the erroneous misunderstanding that they are somehow superior and separate from nature – that they have dominion over the earth and all of its inhabitants and resources and therefore they can do whatever they wish to with it. Sadly, some of those on the lunatic fringe of these belief systems are even more disturbing when they use the “word” of their chosen deity to cash in on the fears of the deity’s followers and/or announce that they believe that the world will be ending soon and therefore nature, their daily choices and actions, everything real and existing just does not matter at all because it is all “impure” and will all soon be destroyed by a vengeful omnipotentdeity – then, as they often say – “you will all be sorry you did not bow down and pay homage to (insert deity here).”
That kind of apathetic attitude is so incredibly dangerous and selfish.
(Note: I have personally heard all of the above statements from real people, good people, even family members and people I deeply care about, and I am just so saddened that there are people who still think and believe these things. I am so embarrassed and saddened at the actions of my own countrymen and fellow Human beings when they say and act like they do not care about anything but themselves. Where, when, and why did we go so wrong…?)
Just because you believe a thing does not make it true unless it is supported by measurable, observable, testable, peer-reviewed, evidence.
***as explored by personal observation, experience, and reflection and/or deeply and openly questioned, investigated, explained, and revealed by the careful and thoughtful exploration, observation, experimentation, and consideration, by countless experts over centuries of exploration, discovery, and invention – guided not by money or mythology but only by the evidence at hand.
Like Bishop Spong, I do not believe in the traditional Christian version of a hell.
However, a hell on earth – now that is quickly becoming a measurable, visible, living, breathing, reality that we humans are quickly making for ourselves and all living things on terra firma…
Overconsumption of the planet’s resources.
The illegal wildlife trade for bushmeat, traditional “medicine, “pets,” and stock for wildlife parks.
Fossil fuel emissions creating a warming planet.
Nuclear weapons poised to launch.
Garbage/plastic and toxic chemical/biological/radioactive/pharmaceutical wastes/residues poisoning the soil, the waters, the air we breathe, and the foods we eat.
Wildlife species going extinct at a greatly accelerated rate.
An exponentially growing human and livestock population methodically eating the planet’s resources faster than they can recover.
Diseases jumping from wildlife to humans.
Then we have the lunatic-fringe humans. Those misguided, conspiracy “theory” driven, doubt, fear, and hate-spouting religious/political/hate-focused cult-like groups creating all kinds of crazy and supporting crooked mega-rich con-artist politicians/religious leaders/influencers out only for personal power, wealth, and control – all while building walls between each other and reality. Some of these radicalized extremists are even going so far as to recruit innocent others from obscure echo-chamber internet “social media” sites (such as the late Parler) with the apparent goal being to build armies of fearful, untrusting, often hateful, violent, and racist, followers and – if the events of January 6th, 2020 were any indication of their intent – are working to try and break down the foundations of our own democratic government and society in the misguided attempt to bring about their idea of a perfect world…and even in some extremely bizarre cases their bizarre idea of the “end times” – whatever that is. (It is really strange how fascinated and motivated many of these people are with death, and endings while at the same time their ancient belief systems keep them tied to the past, keeping them from accepting facts, evidence, reality, and therefore, keeping them from moving forward and truly living.)
It seems obvious to me that we humans are working very hard to create a living version of a hell – and there is no evidence of a god or devil pulling any strings to make any of this happen…it is only us. We are the hateful, selfish, and evil, demons, and devils and we are building a toxic hell in which to spend the rest of our days.
As Giordano Bruno stated before he was burned at the stake for believing other suns and other worlds existed and for thinking and sharing his knowledge with others –
“Your god is too small.”
IMHO as a lone human observer on the outside who once was on the inside – I feel that many religions are so very limiting of their god…whatever a god is. Is god a living (as we understand what it means to be alive) being…or is it living on a totally different level…so incredibly different and/or more advanced in its evolution than us that we are unable to recognize, communicate, or understand it with our limited intelligence and biology? Maybe it is a “force,” a Lucas-esque energy field existing outside our frame of reference…mabye it is a deeply intricate interwoven web of interconnections of mycelium-like structures sharing energy and knowledge between all living things – on a level we do not yet and may never begin to understand…or is it something to do with quantum entanglement, or dark/matter energy…mabye it exists on/in another dimension…or as an understanding/consciousness/awareness – something as far above/beyond our understanding/consciousness/awareness as we exist far above/beyond the understanding/consciousness/awareness possessed by the Chimpanzee, ants, or bacteria…I am open to the possibility that it may somehow, somewhere exist…and whatever “it” is, if it does in fact exist – and in all probability, it may not – but if it does, it may exist, resonate, as something we have not been or may never be able to “see”, measure, experience, or even postulate about….
…it is very possible that we, in all our superiority and hubris, are as the bacterium living upon the inner wall of the intestine of a random human being living upon a pale blue dot of a planet floating in the unfathomably vast ocean of space – a mere mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Like that single-celled creature living its entire short life on the gut lining of you, or me – that creature cannot imagine or even dream about the thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, and desires – or even the very existence of the human being that it lives inside, the earth that human lives upon, the vast cosmos that blue marble floats within…but without all of these things working together that bacteria would not be able to exist. Therefore, we cannot and we should not try to describe “god” or “gods” without any concrete evidence to guide us in our attempt to describe and understand such things so far outside of our realm of understanding.
To think that we – a species so young in the history of the planet and the cosmos – with so much deep time behind us – to think that we puny, naked, multi-colored, bipedal, thinking apes can actually believe we have the intellectual ability to explain it all out by making up a few thousand evidence-lacking stories and creator beings and then calling those beings and stories the one and only ultimate truth and that, if you do not follow those stories exactly to the letter and constantly pay your homage, your time, and your hard-earned money to your chosen deity – that, if you do not do these things exactly as dictated in the ancient texts – that your “soul” will burn forever in agony in an imaginary lake of molten lava/fire/brimstone overseen by a grinning red warlock with a forked tongue, pointed tail, dragon-like wings, and a really bad attitude…all that, all of it is the ultimate form of hubris. It is also a complete and total cover-up, a camouflage, for the perfect business model designed long ago with the prime goal being to control gullible frightened people who were ignorant of the facts of how nature works in order to keep them in line and under control – and then take their money for the emperor/lord/king/headman/politician/pontiff gets richer and everyone else gets poorer. It was and still is; a business run by charlatans, hucksters, and snake oil salesmen out to get rich off the fears and doubts of the common people.
Sadly, so many good people are intentionally kept entirely ignorant of the amazing wonders of nature by the very design of the narrow-minded religions (and political institutions) they blindly and unquestionably follow – religions and institutions that suppress and censor real facts and knowledge as if it is somehow an unpardonable sin to know how nature really works. They then substitute their own manufactured fear, uncertainty, and doubt – their own version of the “facts,” – feeding them to their ignorant, bleating, chanting, followers…and the money keeps flowing into the hidden coffers of the rich elites running the show at the top.
However, once a person learns, understands, and accepts facts, evidence, and knowledge – that knowledge is powerful and it soon conquers their old fears and they wake up from their stupor, cast off their past, and are no longer a “sheeple” blindly following along in lockstep with the “flock.” They have become an enlightened, critically-thinking, awake, concerned for others, nature, and the future, person who can think with an open mind and open heart, and explore the amazing wonders of nature, life, the universe, and everything without the controlling, fearful, constricting, stifling, filter of a knowledge-limiting religion or political system making their decisions for them. They have become a truly free human being. A great example of this is what happened to the woman in the following video.
If you find yourself stuck in a dangerous cultish “religion” or toxic political following…
– please –
get out and get help.
But then, all my commentary is just my humble opinion based upon my ongoing observations of the world and the other humans around me and their actions toward one another and nature. There are 7.5 billion other “me’s” on planet earth – and they all have their own observations and opinions so it is not my place to try to force them to change their opinions or beliefs. I will, however, share my observations and my story and hope it gets some of my readers thinking about what this thing called life is, what it may be all about, and where we are all going.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring”
Shifting gears a bit, some of you may think of volcanoes as hellish, destructive landscapes but it is most interesting to note that – after a fire, smoke, and lava-spewing hell-on-earth volcano erupts in the ocean it creates new land we humans call islands. This new land is later colonized by plants, animals, and people. This is nothing but a good thing – a gift from the god(s) if you will.
If a volcano erupts on land it may, for a time, lay waste to the surrounding countryside and the life therein – but soon – the countryside recovers and then, due to the nutrients brought fourth from deep within mother earth, it soon becomes one of the most fertile, life-producing places known.
So, “hellish” volcanoes bring future life and prosperity through the destruction of the past and the creation of the future and, if you are smart enough to get out of their way when you observe and understand their warning signs, then you. your species, and your society will benefit from the aftermath of their “hellish” nature.
Mother nature always knows best.
Maybe the “hell” we are going through on planet earth right now is only the death throes of a dying animal – the ending of an old, outdated, toxic way of thinking, governing, believing and living. Maybe, hopefully, after all the strife, craziness, and sickness has passed – a new type of human condition will, like the mythical phoenix, arise from the ashes of the fires of the ending of its hellish past and usher in a new era of enlightenment and freedom guided only by reality, evidence, logic, understanding, acceptance, and love.
You have a lust for adventure (whether internally, externally, or both)
You’re willing to go beyond your comfort zone
You accept instability and a lack of security as a way of life
You can be volatile and capricious
You don’t tolerate needy, clingy, judgemental or controlling people
You tend to be an unconventional thinker
You have a unique personal style
You’re a “rule breaker”
You thirst for truth
You’re an innovative dreamer
And yes, despite a few differences, the descriptions on that list mostly sum up who I am. I am a unique kind of person who marches to the beat of a different drum.
I have also been called names – from geek, nerd, wimp, and loser, to bastard and all the other childish “knuckle-dragging” “lowbrow” profanities, and more recently snowflake, greenie, leftie, leftist, activist, and even “hippie hair” as I choose to wear my hair longer than other males of my species within the culture in which I live. Obviously, many of these insults were sent in my direction by my peers when I was younger and in school, however, the latter more divisive and politically oriented verbal attacks were far more recently.
So, my big question to all those who have called me different, those who have called me profanities and other names, those who have labeled or called me a “free spirit” (which, by the way, I am proud to be called), and those that have targeted and bullied me with fear, venom, and hatred is this; why would you, and why would anyone choose to target and attack others with hate and fear without first: 1. Getting to know the person you are targeting before you choose to attack them. 2. Investigating those ideals and hatreds you have chosen to support for the justification of their actions. Why would anyone willfully, blindly, and without evidence, logic, and without considerate calculation consciously choose to target others they do not know with hateful, hurtful, and harmful, words and actions?
Maybe one of the answers is connected to what E.O. Wilson said: “…we are a dysfunctional species. and why? because, we have paleolithic emotions, we have medieval institutions, and on top of all that, we’ve developed god-like technology and that’s a dangerous mix.”
I do not have the answers. Nor do I know if anyone truly knows the answers to these complex questions.
What I do know is as my mother said: “If you can not say anything nice, then just do not say anything at all.”
This I also know – I will always support anyone labeled “different” “other” or “free spirit” by society.
In fact, I most often prefer the individuals that carry these labels as these are the people who most often have the most interesting and beautiful hearts, minds, and souls.
Why? Because I am one of them and I am proud of my uniqueness.
To begin with: Yes. I am a nerd.
I am a wild nature, wildlife, technology, and science loving nerd.
I would rather spend time in the woods than in the shopping mall.
I would rather read a book* than go to a party.
*Just in case you are wondering my favorites include but are not limited to: encyclopedias and reference books, nature field guides, science journals, technical manuals, DIY and other informational books, science fiction, and graphic novels (aka comic books) etc.
I would rather sit around a campfire with a few good friends than hang out at a loud crowded bar or nightclub (especially in today’s world).
I would rather go fishing, hiking, or biking alone or with a close friend, than attend a sporting event or a concert. (especially in today’s world).
I would rather work with my car/computer/cameras/audio-visual/technology and energy projects rather than socialize with others.
I would rather watch Star Trek than any kind of sports.
Team sports do absolutely nothing for me.
Religion is not my thing.
Conspiracy “theories” are a maddeningly huge waste of time.
Politics is insane.
My heroes are probably not your heroes. For example, from the superhero/movie/TV/movie/fantasy world I most identify with Peter Parker aka: Spiderman, Doc Brown from Back to the Future, Han Solo from Star Wars, Jackie Chan, Radagast the Brown – a wizard in Tolkien’s epic story, and MacGyver. I wholeheartedly agree with and understand where Mr. Spock is coming from on so many levels and feel a kinship with Geordie LaForge from Star Trek the Next Generation.
From the real world my heroes/inspirations and mentors include: Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Nikola Tesla, Elon Musk, Clare Patterson, Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Jacques Cousteau, David Attenborough, Hayao Miyazaki, the Dalai Lama, Chris Hadfield, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Colllins, Mike Massimino, Les Stroud, Greta Thunburg, both my adoptive and biological mothers and fathers, Ernie Kadel, Joe Woodard, Jim Hardy, and Bob Harris.
I believe it is crystal clear – I am what many would call a square, a dweeb, a nerd, or a geek and I am good with that.
I am a person who trusts, supports, and respects the logic and reason of the scientific method.
I am a person that trusts, applies, does, and communicates science.
I am a person that gets his vaccinations to help himself and others around him.
I am a person who knows the earth is round and exists within the solar system – the small collection of rocky/wet/dry and gaseous planets/moons and random chunks of ancient rock, ice, dust, and other cosmic flotsam and jetsam orbiting a rather insignificant yellow star in a somewhat remote corner of the milky way galaxy which is just one galaxy in billions that all had their start with a big bang some 13.8 billion years ago.
I am a living being who is a product of evolution. As this being who understands and supports the evidence and the facts supporting the theory of evolution by natural selection, I therefore understand that all living things on this watery space rock we call earth are related – closely and distantly – to each other through their DNA.
I am a person who understands and supports the evidence and the facts supporting that we humans are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels for the energy we need to heat and cool our habitats, produce our food and materials, and move our vehicles around the planet – with the natural consequences of these fuel choices adversely altering our planet’s climate and living ecosystems by burning up too many of these ancient dead things at too fast a rate for nature to be able to mitigate effectively.
I am a person who supports caring for nature – our only environmental life support system – above all other self-centered short term concerns.
I am a person who helps injured wildlife and picks up live serpents, (for rescue, rehabilitation, conservation, and education purposes only – and not in any way for any of the macho, toxically masculine, and/or bizarre, dangerous, and cruel, rattlesnake roundups or pseudo-religious snake-handling traditions.
As this nerdy, free spirited person of nature, science, logic, and reason I believe that is is safe to say that had I been born in the middle ages I would most certainly have been labeled a heretic, a witch, possibly even possessed by “demons” and therefore deemed a threat to society by the narrow-minded fear-driven people of the day. More than likely I would have been held captive in a filthy rodent infested and rot infected hole or dank dungeon, repeatedly tortured, tried by a totalitarian judge, then finally – publicly burned alive as one of my heroes was. Giordano Bruno was tortured and later publicly burned at the stake for being a free spirit – he was horribly killed because he believed in the possibility of other planets orbiting other worlds and the possibility of life existing upon those worlds.
I’m sure had I lived in those narrow minded days I would have surely met the same fate. Like Bruno’s it would have been a gruesome fear-driven political-religious-control-focused jeering bully filled spectacle designed to use those individuals labeled as “different” as examples to keep the rest of the people living in fear, marching in line, and locked in blind servitude to the master-blaster-bully in charge – be they a power mad control seeking king/queen/bishop and/or ancient misinterpreted metaphorical words in a dusty old – and highly edited to fit their politics and profit margin – “religious” book(s).
So, with all that being said, I believe I can understand and relate in many ways how today’s nerds, geeks, dweebs, squares, free spirits, deep thinkers, people of color, people with physical and mental challenges, those on the autism spectrum, and those in the LGBTQ+ community, …and anyone else society labels as “different” than the “norm” whatever the frack the “norm” is… must feel when they interact with the all crazy-mean finger pointing hate-filled, xenophobic, anti-science, myth and superstition following, bully promoting world we have created for ourselves today.
This is why I will always support and stand with anyone labeled “different” or “free spirit” by society.
The good thing for us “different” folk is that in today’s world, those in power do not usually burn alive, hang by the neck until dead, feed to lions or other hungry beasts, leave us in the wilderness to die, or toss us into dungeons to rot – but sometimes, these things do still happen.
Sadly, however, the bullies of today, those individuals who – for some strange reason – feel somehow threatened by our differences such as our looks, our skin color, our genetics/heritage, our place of birth, our dialect, our actions, our choices, our knowledge, or or by any verifiable facts and scientific evidence we may offer up freely to everyone – these insecure knowledge-lacking (and sometimes knowledge-doubting) bullies still feel the need to attack those of us they have chosen to label us as “different” and/or to distrust and deny anything we science and nature nerds discover and/or reveal that has the potential to threaten the ancient and/or modern real and/or /imaginary thrones of power, control, and influence they wish to continue to sit upon.
Strangely, even with mountains of evidence to the contrary staring them in the face, these bullies will often choose to attack with hate and fear-filled, words, fists, and feet…and sometimes, in today’s bizarre world – stones, knives, ropes, fire, bullets, bombs, armies, and even the misguided movements of massive mountains of money and/or gigabytes of data full of manufactured hate, fear, doubt, distrust, and distaste.
These kinds of fear and emotion driven attacks are just so childish, so tribal, so illogical, so…primitive.
“When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper; They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.” – Chris Colfer
The hard part is coming up with a way to educate those who do not want to be educated. How do we teach the bullies and haters that the answers they are seeking are not to be found in their fists and venom-spitting fear of anything different than what they think they know? How do we enlighten them that there is a better road than the terrible dead end road they have been on for so long? How?
Sometimes it does come down to fighting back – but a true warrior fights back not with fists and fury, but with with calculated knowledge, evidence, compassion, and love.
If you are ever forced to attack an enemy bully in self defense, the best defense from that enemy is knowledge. Know your enemy. Know the bully. If you know your enemy, then your attack will be swift, accurate, educational, and will hopefully, it will never need to be executed again and the bully will have grown to become a better person.
Today I am totally comfortable and happy with being who I am…but many years ago I was not. I so desperately wanted to be included and be part of the “in” crowd. The pain of it all was often just too much to bear. There were times when I thought about ending it all but when this would happen I would play with my dog, just go for a walk in the forest, or go fishing. Nature was my healer. It always put me at peace. The trees, the wildlife, the flowing waters, the sun and wind on my face – all these things were my escape from the toxic little red-faced bullies in school.
I am also so very grateful for all the gentle and wise elders who – then and now – have taught me and are still teaching me how to see, how to hear, how to care for others, for nature, and for myself – I am grateful for them because they taught me the true meaning of life.
Clayton and Catherine were my adoptive father and mother who brought me into their home and raised me as their own child. They gave me a deep curiosity for why things are the way they are, in how things work, and they gave me compassion for others. The most important thing my adoptive parents imparted to me was this: be your own person, make your own decisions, find your own path, find your passion. Be whatever you want to be in life as long as it does good for you, for others, and for the future, it will be a good choice. I have carried this with me throughout my life and have made it my motto:
Do good things. Do good things for yourself. Do good things for others. Do good things for nature. Do good things for the future.
If it is not a good thing, if it harms you, others, nature, or the future – delete it. Extinct it.
Do only good things.
There was my friend and mentor, Ernie Kadel, an older German immigrant who fled his home country when the notorious bully Adolph Hitler came to power. Ernie lived his retirement years in the neighboring house to the south of my home. He was a wonderful person who taught me so much about how things work. He took me sailing in his Folbot folding kayak/sailboat. We played billiards in his basement. We worked on projects in his shop. We ate traditional German confections his wife Heidi made. Ernie taught me to care about people because no matter where they are from they all have a story and lesson to share.
Then there was May and Joe Woodard. They were Cherokee. They were wonderful people whose Native American ancestors had been greatly harmed by the choices of my European ancestors. They did not hold a grudge. They just shared their lives, their stories and music from their elders. They shared the value and importance of keeping nature close and working with nature instead of against it. I listened and have kept their lessons close to my heart to this day.
Then there were the neighbors to the north of me. I do not remember their names but I do remember their fights, their arguments, the bitter hatred of the red-haired wife and the meek quietness of the skinny husband. All they ever seemed to do is yell and fight with the wife doing most of the yelling and fighting – the bullying. One day I noticed the man limping in his driveway – he had a arm and leg in a cast. Their cars were undamaged so I could not help but wonder if she, in a fit of flaming fiery rage, had pushed him down the stairs. What I learned from them was that I never wanted to be like them. I was so glad when they moved away but I sometimes worry about that quiet little broken man and if he is OK.
There were the two American dads and their wives. These two men and their wives were the fathers of two of my childhood friends. Both of these dads worked in the same factory, had two kids, had nice wives and tried to give their families the best lives they could. I admired them for working so hard to give their families so much. What I did not admire was that one of them drank openly in his home, even building a bar and having get-to-gethers with friends while his young children looked on and learned that free-flowing alcohol is OK. Some may not see a problem here but I do because my adoptive father was an alcoholic and his vise led to his death at an early age. For one of my friends dads, his open acceptance of drinking led to the abuse of alcohol by one of his sons who was my best friend for most of my childhood. From these two families I learned some great lessons what was a good work ethic, how good parents treat their children, and probably more importantly, good lessons on what not to do.
In high school there was my my home room and shop teacher “Sarge.” Sarge was a wonderful country gentleman who taught his students with calm strength and calculated educational words of wisdom and guidance that, if you were really listening, would reveal loads of meaning. Sarge taught me how to listen.
My parents and my childhood mentors really helped me sort out the conflicting feelings I had been having in trying to deal with the bullies. They helped me see that the problems I was facing were not in me, they were in the bullies. While I did understood this, it did not help me take the rapid-fire bullying I was assaulted with on a daily basis.
A true story.
Way back in the early 1980’s when I was in junior high school I found myself sitting in history class when the teacher had to leave the room for a few moments. While he was out of the room I, and the other students, witnessed an overly muscled testosterone-soaked toxically violent bully beat a non-threatening autistic boy bloody in his classroom seat just because the autistic boy was “different” and would not speak to the bully. The autistic child did not move or fight back. He never fought back when the bullies attacked. He felt that fighting would put him on the sub-human, fear, and animal instinct-driven level of the bully. He was right.
He just unwaveringly took the blows of the fearful little bully’s clenched fists and the hateful words hurling from his venom spitting mouth and he later walked away, bloody and bruised – but on the right side of history.
The bully was expelled on this occasion and on many more for similar infractions.
The bully continued on through the next few years of junior and high school and then the next couple of decades verbally and physically attacking people (including me) for trivial reasons. He finally met an early end on the other end of a knife from someone he pushed just a bit too far.
The autistic boy the bully attacked – he grew into a man and is a “different” but productive member of society.
“People who love themselves, don’t hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer.” ― Dan Pearce
Moving on through the rest of middle and high school I continued to be the target of many profanity spouting, hair-pulling, ear-flicking, red-faced little schoolyard, locker room, and back of the bus sitting bullies and no, at no time did my increased intake of spinach ever help me overcome their foul mouths and fat little clenched fists.
Why, because I was small in stature, “geeky,” “nerdy,” or “square” acting and looking, I sat in the front row in class because I was in school to learn – and the bullies always seemed to sat in the back row as far from the teacher – as far from the knowledge – as possible. I hung out with the nerdy/geeky/square/smart kids, I liked nature, wildlife, and science and engineering and working on bikes. lawn mower engines, and cars far more than sports and partying. I was also extremely introverted and not at all popular and then and now I did not and do not care about popularity nor do I want to be popular – I have far better things to do than to worry or care about what others think about me – that is their problem, not mine.
“I think the sooner that all of us in society stop accepting any type of bullying or harassment from other people – in spite of people’s social standing or net worth or whatever it is – the sooner it will stop.” – Jason Priestley
In school, and in life, I have always tried my best to fly low and maintain a low profile to avoid the bullies – but this tactic did not work for long because in my experience bullies always seemed to seek out the quiet ones, they targeted the those who fly under the radar – or perhaps I just did not fly low enough. Either I just wasn’t savvy enough to avoid them, or I was just unlucky because the bullies would always find me, and then do all they could do to attack and humiliate me for any superficial trumped-up “reason” they could find and then use to get a laugh from their friends (and sometimes even from those bully teachers and school administrators who are probably just grown-up bullies), and to somehow prop them up and make them feel stronger, popular, or somehow important (more like impotent) among their peers. At the time, when I was being bullied, all I wanted to do was to trounce them vigorously and viciously (like that kid in that old Christmas movie did) – but I never acted upon that urge because I am not a violent person and I also knew the bullies were very insecure, probably had horrible home lives, and many other problems. I knew the bullies were most likely hurting inside far more than I was hurting outside so I did my best to ignore them, I would stay quiet, not respond to their verbal attacks, and walk away when possible – I did not want to feed their attacks – feeding the fires of a bully only makes it grow into an inferno of rage.
“I would rather be a little nobody, then to be a evil somebody.” ― Abraham Lincoln
On two separate occasions I did confront my bullies, this is how those instances played out.
One day in middle school my peers and I were queued up and filing into the kitchen to get our lunch. I knew one of my bullies was right behind me but I just ignored him. I could feel his eyes on the back of my head. I could hear his snickering with his other little bully friend. I heard them talking shit about me trying to get me to respond. I used my Jedi powers to ignore them.
We then entered the kitchen where there was a buffet type set up where, as the students filed through, they would tell the “lunchroom ladies” which food items they wanted which would then be deposited upon our plates. As I moved along the line and my food items were placed upon my plate the bully to my right leaned over and said in a whisper “your father is an alcoholic and you will be too.”
This was it. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I stopped. Frozen in my tracks. The bully stopped. The entire line stopped. I was like a stone. My fists clenched my lunch tray. I thought about smashing the bully over the head with it but I do not like disruption or confrontation so I placed logic over emotion and I regained my composure. I slowly turned to face the red-faced bully – who was now grinning from ear to ear reveling in his toxic comment. I looked him in the eyes and said calmly “My father died last week. If you ever again disrespect his name and if you ever speak to me again – I will destroy you.” The blood drained from the drooling little bully’s face. His greedy grin dropped to a fearful frown. He froze. Then he broke eye contact with me and looked down. I did not give him any time to comment and I turned and moved on down the line.
It worked because the little rat-fink never spoke to me again.
“A bully hides his fears with fake bravado. That is the opposite of self-assertiveness.” ― Nathaniel Branden
In the second instance it was a female bully I had to deal with.
I was in high school and had been instructed by the band director to load several folding chairs onto my truck and take them to a band concert and a nearby school. I and some friends were working to load my pick up truck and a hot headed bully girl came over and started yelling at me calling me names and saying the band director had told her that she could take the chairs. Yes, really – she was bullying me over the right to tote chairs. I stood there in the back of my truck getting screamed at for offering to help the band move chairs. Very strange indeed. I stood there and took it for about a minute and when it looked like the foul mouthed insults from the girl were never going to end I just said – “You want to tote the chairs, sure, you can tote the chairs -” and I picked up about 6 folded lightweight plastic chairs and tossed them on top of the girl and her friends. They all fell down in a pile of chairs, flailing arms and legs, yelling and crying and then got up and ran away yelling insults and saying they were going to tell the principle. Whatever. Later I was called to the office along with the band director. He backed me up and supported my story and the principle dismissed the incident saying they had often had trouble out of the bully girl and that she would be dealt with. She must have been because she never spoke to me again.
After graduation, my schoolyard bullying problems mostly ended and I never saw most of the bullies again and for that, I was grateful.
“Getting bullied in school taught me how to be strong, getting judged taught me to be better, failure taught me to be resilient and being made fun of taught me humility.” ― Mehak Bhalla
In many ways, today’s childhood bullying tactics are far more damaging than the face to face bullying of yesteryear. Today’s bullies often use the before mentioned tactics and then add in social media, email, and other online platforms to horribly and repeatedly attack their chosen targets any time they wish with deep cutting insults, humiliating lies, and harsh and hurtful sarcasm and even threats to life and limb.
“If you’re insulting people on the internet, you must be ugly on the inside.” ― Phil Lester
Sadly, childhood bullying is often ignored by school officials and some parents saying things like “kids will be kids” or that old “sticks and stones” thing that is true only in the physical sense – words can and do cut deeply and words cannot be unsaid.
Please be very careful and calculated with your words.
“Cyberbullying is Bullying. Hiding behind a pretty screen, doesn’t make it less hateful, written words have power.” – Anon
Bullying, verbal or physical, is a form of assault – it is a direct and harmful attack on another person. Sticks and stones may, in fact, break bones but words and actions have the potential to cut deep, lasting, emotional scars in sensitive people as they have done to me.
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” – Harvey S. Firestone
Harmful childhood bullying needs to be stopped. Do not stand by and let a bully get their way. If you do this you are telling them it is ok to be a bully. If you witness an injustice happen and do nothing, you then become part of the problem. Intervene.
Damaged children need professional help. If childhood bullies do not have help sorting out and processing their insecurities, pain and problems when young, they may very well grow into emotionally unstable adults who verbally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically (secretly and publically) attack anyone who threatens their position – whatever they believe their position to be.
When childhood bullies grow up to be professional bullies that resort to toxic tactics in the attempt to win or gain some perceived high ground, it shows how deeply damaged and insecure they really are. This happens more often than we know, from the workplace to the homeplace and even in churches and most definitely in the toxic world of professional bullying: business and politics.
If a young bully does not get help early on, it is very possible they may at “best” grow up to become members of the upper echelons of the workforce where they may fit in best as controlling, micromanaging bosses who continue to harm and bully others daily with their toxic tactics – all while calling it “business” – as if that somehow justifies their horrible treatment of others – it does not. It is possible these boss bullies may reach a “tipping point” where they will be unable to be helped and may then become a detriment to society…what then…maybe they become a member of the ever-growing prison population or, in rare cases, maybe even fearful, venomous, hateful, racist, xenophobic, nationalistic, self-absorbed, power-seeking politicians putting control and profit over people and planet…or in rare cases they may even become terribly destructive fear-driven, power-mad dictators such as Adolf Hitler…
“Bullying happens because weak people need to prop up their ego by beating up or humiliating others.” ― Bruce Dickinson
In many of my part-time, seasonal, and professional jobs over the years, I have been verbally attacked and insulted by workplace bullies – usually for the same infantile reasons why I was attacked as a child and young adult. These so-called “adult” people who bullied me were most often white males in positions of authority and occasional females as well. For me the adult bullying was more subtle, it didn’t come in a physical form but manifested itself in stabbing veral personal attacks and/or painful targeted harsh sarcasm.
“Freedom of Speech doesn’t justify online bullying. Words have power, be careful how you use them.” ― Germany Kent
In one instance a “boss bully” manager of mine would not give me a raise when the time came because I worked my job “by the book” – as he instructed me to do during the two-week training class I attended at the beginning of my position with the company. At a staff meeting where this regional manager was rewarding workers with raises for “a job well done,” he informed me that I was not receiving a raise because I was “slow, and needed to work harder and to cut corners in my work to increase my speed and therefore: increase company profits.” When I calmly said “respectfully sir, people’s lives are at stake so I will work as YOU and your company trained me – “by the book” – and therefore, I will not cut corners that would in turn, jeopardize people’s safety and lives just to increase the companies, your, or even my profits.” – he then jumped all over me yelling, making a scene, and slinging insults and cuss words at me telling me I was “fu***** slow, couldn’t keep up with “the rest of the guys”, would never get a raise, and had no place in the company and if I could not perform and that I should just stay home and play with my turtles.” All his other hand-picked brown nosing butt kissing corner cutting toady employees laughed at me with him and mocked me from then on. Shortly after this incident, I left the company. The bully was later fired for his bullying tactics. Karma, maybe…or perhaps it was a certain well-written report outlining all the on the job infractions this boss-bully had committed that was sent to his superiors – we may never know.
“The meanest people are the weakest people, for they do not even have the strength to believe in goodness. Do not let this be your life’s curse.” ― Sean Patrick Brennan
Over the years I have experienced many other instances of workplace bullying on the professional level and my response would usually be to remove myself from the situation and leave the company…leaving a full and detailed report of what led up to my resignation. It was revenge of the nerds pure and simple.
“If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.” ― Taylor Swift
For others, it is not that easy. Many adults suffer daily bullying and harassment in their workplaces and it is not just us skinny nerds, science geeks, and goofy squares who are attacked – it is also women, people of color and other ethnicities, religious groups, those in mixed marriages, LGBQT+, “country” folk, “city” folk, physically and mentally challenged people, and people who are on the Autism spectrum. It often seems that anyone who is labeled as “different” by society are quick and easy targets for the small-minded, toxically masculine, overly macho, knuckle-dragging, status quo seeking type bully.
”Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Then there is familial bullying – bullying among siblings, spouses and other family members. Often familial bullying is verbal and in the form of inflamed tempers, raised voices, personal insults, and/or harmful harsh sarcasm. This type of bullying may be fueled by money/job insecurities, alcohol, and substance abuse, and domestic disputes with one family member taking out their frustrations on another – oddly enough, with the aggressor often saying things like “I only do it because I love you” – riiiiight. This kind of verbal and emotional abuse may even lead to physical and sexual abuse.
You may not think this familial bullying is a big issue but you would be very wrong. Many people suffer familial bullying and abuse and never do anything about it, they just take it, day in day out – hoping the situation will get better or go away. Some of these people get wise and get out of the toxic situation by leaving the family, divorcing the bully, or calling the authorities, or even defending themself with force – but some do not and sadly, some, who cannot see a way out resort to committing suicide.
Yes, bullying can be that bad.
“People try to say suicide is the most cowardly act a man could ever commit. I don’t think that’s true at all. What’s cowardly is treating a man so badly that he wants to commit suicide.” ― Tommy Tran
If you find yourself in a similar situation – ask yourself, am I being bullied or am I being the bully? If you answer yes to either of these questions – seek professional help now.
“Bullying is killing our kids. Being different is killing our kids and the kids who are bullying are dying inside. We have to save our kids whether they are bullied or they are bullying. They are all in pain.” – Cat Cora
Sadly, and bizarrely, it also seems that in some places, those of us who work to support a better future for humanity and choose to unite behind the findings of science with the adoption of clean, renewable energy, ethical foods, coexisting among all “races,” respect of others choices of who they choose to love, and alternative transportation technology choices as well as supporting policies and regulations that protect air, water, nature, and wildlife – in other words, protectors of nature and life – we and our works are often horribly and endlessly verbally bullied online and even in public by those individuals that do not want, or are afraid to change – or that have large sums of money tied up in dirty, highly consumptive, often addictive, outdated toxic technologies such as fossil fuels or tobacco. There are even highly paid “think tanks” and other organizations designed to manufacture and cast about FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) on the facts and the science and to bully and harass the scientists who choose to share their findings and evidence with the world – findings, and evidence that, by their very nature, challenge the status quo. These scientists only want the best for the future of our species and yet they are attacked, ridiculed, harassed and bullied – just because they want to help society. Examples include: Clare Patterson (lead in gasoline), James Hansen (climate change), Rachael Carson (DDT), Robert Mark Bilott (PFAS) – and there are many more.
Hundreds of nature and wildlife protectors are attacked and die each year at the hands of hired thugs (grown-up bullies who are paid to be professional bullies) working to help huge corporations gain access to natural resources such as protected and endangered wildlife, forests, fossil fuel and mineral mining, land rights for expansion of humanity, and factory farms, etc. This is corporate greed sanctioned bullying and it often hits the indigenous and the poor the hardest – but it impacts us all.
“What if the kid you bullied at school, grew up, and turned out to be the only surgeon who could save your life?” ― Lynette Mather
I hope you see my point.
Do not be a bully. Do not support a bully. Do not vote for a bully.
Bullies are never working for you, they are only working for themselves.
If you are a bully, apologize to those you have harmed and seek professional help.
If you have a young bully in your classroom or home, or if you know an adult or a professional bully – please, help them get professional help for their sake and for the sake of all the other people they will wrongly attack throughout their lives if their bullying is allowed to continue.
Believe in good. Do good things. Be the change.
“No one heals himself by wounding another.” ― St. Ambrose
Being “different” in a world full of control freak bullies is a huge challenge, but it is who you are.
Do not be a bully, but be yourself and do your own thing even if it ruffles the feathers of those who would rather stay a sheep, conform, and fit in.
Who out there with an ounce of grey matter would actually decide to change who they vote for/support because they saw a name/slogan on a sign on the side of the road, on a bumper sticker, on a flag or banner, watched a mudslinging TV spot/interview attempting to harm a challenger, believed someone else’s gossip or manufactured drama, or put on an article of clothing with their insignia/motto stamped upon it?
Who with an ounce of grey matter would actually give their own money to these people so they can litter the planet with even more of their propaganda? The majority of these people have far more money than any of us will ever be able to even imagine and yet, somehow, they have conned good people to give them even more money. The insanity of it all boggles the brain.
I see all this me me madness as a pathetic and wasteful attempt to prop up all these insecure humans in perceived high places who seem to have a great need for attention, for competition – it is a truly weak attempt to satisfy a pathological need, an unhealthy all-consuming lust to win – at any cost.
What is this bizarre preoccupation some humans have to win, to be in control, to feel powerful, to be important, to be worshipped? I believe it is an evolutionary hold over from our – eat or be eaten us vs. them tribal days.
It is an illusion.
It is not working for us any longer.
It is time to stop the madness.
It is time to evolve out of the vestigial evolutionary tools of the past that have become dangerous delusions of the present that now work to control our minds.
It is time to grow up out of our tribal us vs. them childish evolutionary mindset.
If all these flag, banner and sign waving politicians and pontiffs would just stop trying to prop themselves and their followers up with hollow promises and just stop and think for a moment and use the brain they often boast that they have – maybe they would then realize how much time, energy, and money they have spent on all the ridiculous boasts, lies, signs, flags, banners, ads, commercials, and other single-use litter that serves no real purpose.
What if they actually decided to stop the endless competition, put their heads, hearts, knowledge, maths, and monies together, and started to work together to solve the big problems we have as a species?
What kind of amazing things could be accomplished if we could only stop competing with each other and start working together?
Sadly it seems that many of us are stuck fast in a deep rut. We are taught from an early age that we must compete with “the other” to get anywhere in life. We are taught that our side is “good” and the other side is “bad” and we are fed this illusion from all “sides” – at home with controlling parents, at school with grades, bullies, and competitive sports, at work with bosses and subordinates and climbing ladders, in religion with fathers, kings, gods and devils, good and evil, in politics and the military with the us vs. them mentality – until we are programed and conditioned to believe it is all true. We then blindly distrust those from the other “side” or the “middle” who show us any evidence to the contrary, we blindly ignore their facts, we choose to ignore common sense, we quickly toss out the science, we stop trusting and loving friends and family who do not fit into or follow our limited world view, we put our politics and religion above observable facts, love, and humanity – this is when we have become nothing more than mindless automatons controlled by the matrix that we ourselves created.
It is time to destroy the matrix.
It is time to wake up out of the bizarre mindset that politics and religion are the only way to exist as human animals.
There is more to life than this madness.
John Lennon famously asked us to Imagine.
Now is the time to Imagine what we could become if we could only step out of this destructive toxic box we have locked ourselves within.