What are You Capable Of?

I had this dream last night about being back in high school. This time around I had a special vision where I could see inside other student's souls. It was a dark, uneasy nightmare where I could look at other kids and get these visions of what they were capable of doing in the future. Not the good things, the bad things.

I could look at someone and see if they were someone who was capable of torturing other people. I saw visions of humans with my high school classmate heads affixed doing the most disgusting things to other humans. I saw them waterboarding people, hanging them upside down by their feet, and laughing about and taking pictures of their actions with their colleagues.

A couple classmates gave me visions of children being taken from their parents. These classmates, in my visions, would literally rip children out of their parent's arms and separate them from each other because they were desperately trying to find somewhere decent to live. I saw visions of some of my classmates putting these crying children into metal cages like dogs.

I saw visions of classmates guiding drone bombs into buildings occupied by women and children; visions of classmates putting the finishing touches on a nuclear bomb, a weapon of mass destruction; visions of classmates in police uniforms pulling their guns and killing black men who wouldn't strictly obey them; visions of classmates rigging stock market numbers to facilitate increased wealth going to billionaires and mega-millionaires; visions of classmates fixing/raising the prices of pharmaceuticals meant to save lives of children with cancer; visions of classmates putting chokeholds on defenseless citizens and tasing them for possessing illegal cigarettes and marijuana; and visions of classmates evicting families from their homes because they couldn't keep up with rent on poverty level wages, throwing all of their belongings into the street. I saw a vision of a classmate ordering the destruction of an entire village filled with innocent civilians. When I looked at one classmate I had a vision of someone whose job it was to kill half a million children as a way to achieve her employer's mission. I didn't seem to remember her and wondered where the hell she came from. Half a million children?

I remember tossing and turning while briefly glimpsing a vision of myself in a room. That's when I woke, I didn't see what was next. But I didn't have the same dark, uneasy feeling about briefly seeing myself in that dream with some of my high school classmates. Maybe that means something, I don't know.

Some say all humans are capable of murder under the right circumstances. Maybe so, I would do about anything to protect my children and grand children. Some say humans are inherently violent, even evil. I don't know about that, I don't think so.

But some people seem to be able to do things to other humans that others can't or won't do because of their moral "compass". Some evidently don't have a moral compass and can justify what they do as "worth it".

Life is funny, bees make honey. What are you capable of?

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Comments

janis b's picture

I don’t see how one can look at a new born baby and ever imagine that any of us are inherently evil. A little love shows itself in dreams of better times, and it’s rewarding to feel trust in oneself.

Just because it’s fun …

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Deja's picture

@janis b
Hadn't thought about that one in a long while. Thank you Smile

Keeping the trend going with a call for revolution:

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"The gatekeepers must change."
Prince

@Deja

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detroitmechworks's picture

@Deja Because I am in a good mood and fell like being silly.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

Deja's picture

@detroitmechworks
Gotta say I'd never seen that one before. Silly, indeed.

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"The gatekeepers must change."
Prince

Pricknick's picture

They're so infrequent to me anymore.
Knowing that for the majority of the human race there will be no less than servitude, subjugation, slavery and bondage lessons my frightful experiences while I slumber.
I've accepted the evil in this world. It is after all, life as homo sapien.
I feel for all of the newest generation while I question their parents why they would bring forth life to a dying and doomed species. Aren't there already of us already? If you wish to raise a child, pick one that is already unwanted.
Stop polluting and populating.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Pricknick

I feel for all of the newest generation while I question their parents why they would bring forth life to a dying and doomed species.

We may not be "a dying and doomed species"; but our journey back from the brink promises to be very unpleasant for members of that generation and the next few after them.

And so my question becomes: "Why would you want to inflict these things on your child?"

It doesn't make me really popular among current parents......

Sad

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

janis b's picture

@Pricknick

I have often, over the years, thought about the question you raise. It is a valid one - give a child who has no one to provide for them a loving home.

I married someone who appreciated my perspective, but whose wishes were different. We all make compromises in our significant relationships, and although I still believe in that ‘ideal’, I don’t regret at all my decision to have a child because I am also a witness to the value that this younger generation possess to create something better.

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mimi's picture

@janis b
I must say that I have experienced the outright objection to a child and the unconditional acceptance of a child, and I remember vividly how thankful and respectful I was of those who were able to accept a child without conditions.

A very simple approach: a child is a gift of God. And as that it should be welcomed and nurtured. It is in the hands of women how much and how many of a child they can handle or can't.

Just saying...

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thanatokephaloides's picture

@janis b

I don’t regret at all my decision to have a child because I am also a witness to the value that this younger generation possess to create something better.

As the ancient saying goes, "from your keys to the Almighty's Eyes!"

My main concern with having children is not being able to equip them "to create something better", as you yourself put it.

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

mimi's picture

I don't have those. And reading about your dream, I refuse to think about the question you ask in there. History has shown what we are capable of. We don't have to make extrapolations from there to prove we are all genetically evil. We can just look at other stories that would negate the conclusions you draw from your dream.

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snoopydawg's picture

that those who committed those heinous acts be brought to justice for them? I know that we here are horrified that people can do those things to others, but there are way too many who are not.

Look at how the world yawns at what is happening in Yemen right now. Millions of people are starving to death or dying from cholera and instead of us not demanding that our involvement in it stop, few people are doing just that. But both the UN and the Red Cross are having to pull their members out of the area because it's going to be getting much worse.

"Never Again" my ass!

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America is a psyop wearing a cowboy hat

janis b's picture

@snoopydawg

As you know, most Americans are no more (maybe even less) aware of the suffering of others in foreign countries, than they were during WWII. Hell, they don’t even recognise the suffering right next door to them. Due to the media they are conveniently distracted by home-spun drama, which just serves to inflame a false sense of injustice.

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mimi's picture

@janis b
aware or feel empathy of the suffering of people in other countries is because they themselves have never suffered under foreigners being more powerful than they are and causing them to suffer on their own soil.

I think the two times where the Americans felt pain caused by foreigners on their own soil was 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. All other attacks on Americans were always overseas and then exclusively on their military's soldiers.

And you know, as long as it doesn't hurt their own loved ones or own bodies on US soil, one doesn't care so much. And the US soldiers, who bear all the suffering while deployed overseas and engaging in all sorts of war, oh well, too bad. We make them heroes and all is ok.

Most countries know what it is to live under foreign occupation or influence at least. I don't see where and when average Americans have lived under foreign occupation or influence so far. That's why they have no clue how it feels.

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janis b's picture

@mimi

I think the main reason why the Americans are not aware or feel empathy of the suffering of people in other countries is because they themselves have never suffered under foreigners being more powerful than they are and causing them to suffer on their own soil.

I'm sure, because of that many Germans are far more understanding and empathetic. But Germans now also live with a government that is more benevolent than the American government. Possibly, because of that it is harder for Americans to experience the rewards of empathy and return it in kind.

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mimi's picture

@janis b @janis b
or more empathetic, at least not any more. May be a little more against wars. And even that seems not to be the case anymore. I feel that a big chunk of the population is just very well off and are used to the social services the government offers and they want to keep it that way. The other chunk (probably almost all former East German folks, has been very disadvantaged and still is not on equal footing economically and socially with the former Westerners. On top of that the many immigrants to the country in the latest years aggravate the situation of the non-equal former East Germans and makes them feel even worse, because the immigrants seem to get the same services as they do without having 'deserved or earned' it, as they are not citizens of this country. So, there is a lot of tensions, which are just hold together by the relative prosperity of the German econommy as a whole. Those times might be over one day and I just wonder what happens then.

But I think other Germans or German-based folks should comment on that. They know the country better than me. I am out of the loop.

I do though think that the elderly generation is more open to refugees, because they remember their own families or ancestors having been refugees and migrating. I am not sure, but I think it might be so.

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Deja's picture

@mimi
And it makes me horribly sad that so many Americans lack empathy. I hear you!

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"The gatekeepers must change."
Prince

Wink's picture

our wars. The MIC
@snoopydawg
learned from Vietnam that you don't send Walter Cronkites and Dan Rathers to the war zone. They just might report the truth. So, nobody sees it on tv anymore, and you won't find the war in the local newspaper neither. Libya? Yemen? Aren't they in Africa somewhere?
It's funny (or not) that this stuff - these wars - affect millenials way more than they affect us Boomers, yet millenials seem more passive about it. Maybe it's becuz they don't have a draft number, or any fear of being drafted, sent to the war zone. What, me worry? I'm going to college, then getting me one of them $75,000 jobs for starters... war? what war? People starving in Yemen? Where's Yemen? Besides... so not my problem. I'm going to college...

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

Lookout's picture

I visited this museum yesterday https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/museum before participating in the PPC rally. It was powerful and disturbing. Making fellow human beings into others...less than you ... is inherent in our species I fear.

We have the ability to overcome, but as wink said above the message isn't broadcast so the people remain sadly ill informed and unaware. My choice is to keep on awalkin', keep on atalkin', walking on the freedom land. Makes me feel better anyway. Thanks for the essay and all the best!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout Very powerfully constructed. Given the purpose of the place, those hanging "slates" take on a horrific dimension.

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Wink's picture

do something, becuz
@Lookout
doing nothing is not an option.
And while "voting doesn't matter becuz it's rigged" might be true, I still do that and encourage others to do the same, rigged or not, becuz there are no other options. And if for no other reason than to show Deep State and TPTB that we aren't going away, won't lie down.
The Poor Peoples Campaign is the best manifestation of all that. Won't lie down, not going away, F.U. I'm hoping in a few weeks, once the Launch is over that it finds its way closer to me so I can more directly participate. I believe it's in local participation where this gets going, able to connect with a local face. I intend to be one of those local faces.

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

detroitmechworks's picture

Which is why I do what I do. I medicate, I write, and I do my best to keep a level and sane head. It doesn't always work, but it's far better than the alternative.

I think it's why I'm so anti-war, honestly. When you confront the evil in the human soul head on, you know exactly how easy it is to fall prey to it. Hell, I wrote an entire essay on my reflections on this issue a few months back.

As of right now, I think the only thing that would bring me back to that point of not caring about others would be a direct threat to my children or my friends or family. Other than that, I could care less about fighting for causes. And no, random nuclear annihilation is not a cause worth fighting for. Death in that cause does nothing to end the threat.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

Big Al's picture

reading about Senator Merkley saying he saw migrant children that had been separated from their parents held in cages like dogs. I wondered what type of person would be able to do that job, caging children up like dogs. And of course that can expand to all sorts of things humans do to other humans.
I suppose none of us are completely innocent. What about voting for politicians of a political party that wages war across the planet killing innocent people? Because in reality, the democratic and republican parties are responsible for all wars and imperialism. They are the parties that make the decisions in Congress and via the presidency.

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CS in AZ's picture

@Big Al

You always give me things to think about, and this essay certainly did. Considering my own limits on what I’m capable of, and also what roles I might be playing, without realizing it, in enabling evil or harmful forces. It’s a good question to ask.

Gotta say though, I don’t really agree that the democratic and republican parties are responsible for all wars and imperialism. Although they are certainly the agents of the ultimate warmongers in our present reality in this place. But war and imperialism have existed long before the United States even existed, and I think even if we somehow erased the two-headed snake of today’s corporate party, war and imperialism would still exist and reincarnate in a new form.

I do think it is human nature. But, I don’t really think it’s “evil” either, and that’s because I am an evolutist and a believer in the radical theory that human beings are animals. We are “higher apes” or as Douglas Adams said, semi-domesticated primates. Tribalism and social hierarchies and fighting for resources and territories for our groups is natural behavior for primates.

Studying our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, is instructive. Chimps are very territorial and they arrange war parties and kill young males from rival groups, sometimes.

Bonobos are know to be significantly more peaceful. (Though not entirely without violence.) They are an extremely sexual species, all bisexual and non-monogamous. Not as patriarchal as chimps. Maybe they have it right! Smile

Anyway the point is, humans are not uniquely evil, any more than meerkats. Watch the fascinating show Meerkat Manor, it is shocking how violent they are to those in rival groups. They raid dens to kill each other’s babies. And yet they love their families, and fiercely loyal, and are extremely empathetic and caring to the ones they love.

And to be honest, I don’t even understand how people can treat *dogs* like that. Animal cruelty is one of those things that makes my blood boil on extreme high. And I then feel how capable of violence I might be... ooof

Humans do have the capacity, to a degree, to reflect on our actions and their consequences. And to chose, again to a certain degree, how to act in the world. But I think we have to also face and accept our animal nature. No one is all good or all bad, and I believe we all are capable of things we imagine we’d never do. Circumstances, social pressures, brainwashing... no one is totally immune to these and may do very dark things with not nearly as much resistance as they believe they would. Studies have shown this, Stanford prison experiment for example. I think that’s what it was called. Gotta run now, late for work, no time to look it up.

Thanks for thought provoking essay.

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@CS in AZ about the "evil" thing. I too have trouble with calling humans that as, to me, it somehow seems to imply that "we" aren't responsible somehow, plus the whole biblical connotation of evil being somehow outside of humanity, which it obviously is not.

That said, from what I see currently, I am a firm believer that only psychopaths are capable of "making it" in our world as it is now, or at least capable of enjoying the world as it is and thinking it can keep going the way it is. Sane people need not apply. And really, sane people do not want to apply.

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@lizzyh7 @lizzyh7

Where ruthlessness is rewarded, it will claw its way into power and further 'normalize' ruthlessness; humanity has to stand up and say 'enough is enough' to The Psychopaths That Be.

There will always be a certain percentage of people born with various mental/brain damage/dysfunction, for various reasons; of them all, only the psychopath poses an often unseen hazard to all around them because it's the human portion of their brain that's nonfunctional.

It's not a fault issue, they are simply incapable of humanity, even if they learn to mimic the 'norms' well, and can literally see nothing wrong with harming others to achieve their goals, or even for personal amusement, because of that complete lack of interconnected species survival essentials such as ethics and empathy. We have to keep them out of positions where, as with corporate and governmental management/heads, they can get away with anything, even up to murder.

Edit: whereas some (or one, lol) of the rest of us may, in example, produce an obligatory letter-typo in virtually every post without noticing until pressing 'save'... sigh...

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Big Al's picture

@CS in AZ being responsible for all war and imperialism. I didn't expand on that like I should have but it's my "new" point. Smile
What I mean is relative to the U.S. government, all war making, wars, imperialism, etc. can be traced directly to those two political parties. Every single action has been approved, funded and administered by people from either of those two parties.
I still need to expand on that but just to explain. Of course it's bigger than that but when people vote for politicians from each of those two parties they are in effect supporting war and imperialism.

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CS in AZ's picture

@Big Al

and your “new” point is important to come to grips with, absolutely. Smile

Sorry if my tangent was too far off the track from your point. When you start talking about the nature of good and evil, I tend to go deep I guess. Or I probably should say, far and wide... not necessarily “deep” haha.

But you did get me thinking, and a good discussion going here. Lots of interesting responses to this essay. Thanks!

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mimi's picture

@Big Al
dream... Smile It felt 'constructed'. Caging people, seems to be a world-wide phenomena and 'a la mode' these days. Slaves too.

ok. I don't have to tell you that. You know it.

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Eagles92's picture

When I was in grade school, I participated in one particularly cruel incident in which some of us girls stuffed soap, shampoo and other hygiene products into a new classmate's bookbag. Clearly, she and her single mother struggled financially, but we chose to ignore that in favor of taunting her and making her feel "less than."

While it seemed funny at the time, I felt sick to my stomach immediately afterwards (I still do, thinking about it), and actually 'fessed up to the teacher. One of my best friends did as well. The others remained silent and we didn't rat them out. I don't know if they even remember doing it, or how they feel about it if they do.

Myself, I like to think I learned something important from that incident. As a human being, I often fail, but this graphic I came across today sort of incapsulates it:

(Dammit, the image browser isn't working. So I'll quote it instead).

Whether you believe in God or not does not matter so much. Whether you believe in Buddha or not does not matter so much. As a Buddhist, whether you believe in reincarnation or not does not matter so much. You must live a good life. And a good life does not mean just good food, good clothes, good shelter. These are not sufficient. A good motivation is what is needed: compassion, without dogmatism, without complicated philosophy; just understanding that others are human brothers and sisters and respecting their rights and human dignity.

The graphic I saw attributes this to the Dalai Lama, which rings true, but I did not verify.

This weekend, I put a chair on our little concrete front stoop. There really isn't room for the chair, but I did it anyway. I sat on it Sunday evening. And I'm going to sit on it every evening I can, waving at people until they give up their New England stoicism and start talking to me. We live in a neighborhood with perfectly nice people, but no one talks to each other. WTF? I don't think I'm personally capable of effecting major change in this mess of a world we've created; but maybe together, we can all work to prevent these psychopaths you conjure, Big Al, one conversation at a time, and one compassionate interaction at a time.

I don't know. I need some reason to hope.

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CS in AZ's picture

@Eagles92

I just this morning read a news article about a young boy who just decided he wanted to do something good to help people here in our local community. And he did.

Tucson Boy Scout creates solar ovens for the homeless

He made ovens that are powered entirely by the sun, and he is putting them to good use.

Bryson Chamberlain wanted to create something that would help others.

He and his family have created ovens out of cheap materials that do not require electricity.

They are powered by the sun, something there is a lot of in Tucson.

"I think what makes these really special and exceptional is that they're really not expensive at all," said Chamberlain. "You really just need a couple of dollars just to make the whole thing."

He has brought eight of them to a homeless camp in town for them to use and they say they have been a huge hit.

"It's huge! We use them to heat up food," said Addie Mendonca, a homeless advocate. "Sometimes we have people that bring us already prepared food, so we can heat it up. We don't have a lot of wood right now, so these are very helpful cause we don't have to use the wood that we have. We don't have propane either, so this is great."

Bryson plans to bring them to different homeless camps around town.

And his family members have already provided them to people in Africa who are without power.

They are still working out a few details, but he hopes to be able to mass produce them someday.

"Once the rocks get hot, it actually heats things up really really quick," said Mendonca. "It takes a bit longer to actually cook it, but if we're just trying to heat up something really quick, it's actually pretty fast."

He says he is excited to be making a difference.

"It makes us feel really good to see that they're used and also that they're beneficial in some way and that they're helping people," said Chamberlain.

People are also capable of such beautiful compassion and desire to do good.

You know, it’s so easy to complain that the politicians aren’t fixing homelessness, how nobody should be living like that, psychopaths are taking it all while letting people go hungry and homeless, and this is deeply infuriating. But we can’t fix it... so we rage at the machine... and/or get hopeless and depressed.

But I loved this little story. I don’t like the Boy Scouts, they are an organization I think is a negative influence overall, and by the way this kids action appears to have nothing to do with Boy Scouts so the headline annoys me for being misleading, but the kid is an inspiration. I think.

Reminded me of that old starfish parable... “there are so many stranded starfish, you can’t make any difference.” The starfish rescuer then gently throws one starfish back to the safety of the water... and says, I made a difference for that one.

Sometimes that’s all we can do. Your project of reaching out to your neighbors is wonderful Eagles. You are making a difference.

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Eagles92's picture

@CS in AZ I appreciate your response.

IMHO, at the same time, I do think we need to maintain our rage against the machine, if we can prevent the hopelessness that so often results. Because that machine should be taking care of us, and isn't.

It's necessary for us to be good and kind to each other. But also, why are we paying taxes? The machine has failed, and needs to be replaced.

Diablo

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CS in AZ's picture

@Eagles92

I do my fair share of raging at the machine. It’s important for sure.

My problem is not getting so caught up in that, or so burned out, that life begins to feel hopeless and like there’s no use in trying anything if you can’t solve the bigger problems.

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zoebear's picture

@CS in AZ

Making a difference. Maybe we all can pick up a few starfishes or two?

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"World is a multi-dimensional reality. At lower levels, it is full with unconsciousness and competitiveness. At higher level, it is full of beauty, bliss and divinity. Focus on higher dimensions"
~Amit Ray

zoebear's picture

@Eagles92

About setting a chair on your front porch and waving at people in your neighborhood. Along with the idea of starting conversations. One at a time.

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"World is a multi-dimensional reality. At lower levels, it is full with unconsciousness and competitiveness. At higher level, it is full of beauty, bliss and divinity. Focus on higher dimensions"
~Amit Ray

Eagles92's picture

@zoebear Such a perfect exposition of the message.

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for me about your dream was that you described it as being about your classmates, and I was moved to think, these people went to a very BAD school! I think you have raised the subject of education in our American culture, for one thing.

Another thing that came to mind is something I also have been tossing and turning with, that humankind has always been struggling over shortages, but whether living in cooperation and sharing is more successful than brutal greed. So here we are in 2018, not suddenly facing our two approaches, but still struggling between the two approaches, as we were 2000 years ago, as we were 20,000 years ago.

Your clip of Madeline Albright stating her position epitomizes the brutal greed approach. She is the icon for death. Knowing the Democratic candidate for president cited Madeline Albright and Henry Kissinger as mentors was all I needed to know in deciding I would never vote for that candidate. So the merchants of death have made their point clearly.

I used to think the pill would cause such an evolutionary change in human progress that only people who wanted children would now have them. Therefore only children who were wanted would carry the species forward. And I thought those children probably would be of the sharing and cooperative mindset, since someone would have cared for them. But 50 years since the pill arrived, we're still not there. And, most horrifically, before the pill, we had armed the merchants of death with nuclear weapons.

I think what the Mad Albrights are telling us now is that, in order to keep their multi-trillion dollar nuclear weapons black hole of funding going, they are going to need to provide limited nuclear war to demonstrate that this weaponry is "usable," as they describe it. Therefore most people are going to be eliminated. And as before, I think it's clear Mad Albright and her colleagues at the Atlantic Council believe it is "worth it."

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zoebear's picture

I was thinking of what we are capable of as human beings in an entirely different way.

Recently, I've been immersed in some research I'm doing for a project on the effects meditation and chanting have on your brainwaves. This idea then led me to the question of multi-dimensional consciousness:

"A human being is part of the whole that we call the Universe. It experiences itself, it's thoughts and feelings, as something separate from everything else -- a sort of optical illusion of its consciousness."
~ Albert Einstein

"World is a multi-dimensional reality. At lower levels, it is full with unconsciousness and competitiveness. At higher level, it is full of beauty, bliss and divinity. Focus on higher dimensions"
~Amit Ray

So, I guess when I saw your question of what are we capable of, I asked myself what I was prepared and committed to do to bring value in this world?

Good question. Working on the answer. Smile

Thanks for lending your voice here Al. Your heart, your passion, and your humanity to right this world of wrong is as big as your name and fiercely appreciated!

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"World is a multi-dimensional reality. At lower levels, it is full with unconsciousness and competitiveness. At higher level, it is full of beauty, bliss and divinity. Focus on higher dimensions"
~Amit Ray