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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bitchslap Yourself, Biatch!

Bitchslap those motherfuckers
Face up to your negative thinking

You ever seen one of those movies where a girl or boy is so scared they are like losing it, and a friend has to bitchslap them to their senses?

Well, sometimes we need to bitchslap ourselves. Not physically, of course. I am mean metaphorically.

When we stagnate, when we are afraid of change, when we are stuck in a negative loop, or locked in our old, unhelpful ways, then we need to bitchslap ourselves out if it.

We need to be authentic to ourselves, listen to our intuition, and live according to our values, but we need to constantly evaluate these, and allow them to be flexible to change. There is a lot we "think" we know, but what we know can be incorrect, or can have changed over time.

In a world that is changing faster than ever, new science is always overtaking the old, and unless you keep up, you'll be left behind. You'll feel cut off from the world. Your senses dull, and you start to feel afraid.

I am always evaluating myself, and my fears. I question them, and then I face them. Afraid of flying? Taking flying lessons, that's my motto.

Do you find your mind is cluttered with chaotic thoughts? Then you can bitchslap them into silence, by taking some time-out to just focus on your breathing for a minute or two, to identify with your emotions.

You see, although bitchslap is a "violent" term, the bitchslap we give ourselves doesn't have to be violent, but it can be just as satisfying. There are peaceful ways to give ourselves the necessary "wake-up" call to get up, get out, and get on with our lives.

Living and learning new things, especially that go against the grain of conventional thinking, is always a "slap" in some ways. But it helps you learn and grow. I find ways to make that happen, and I constantly challenge my beliefs. I am lucky because I enjoy learning new things. It gives me a buzz. I am a geek, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

I'll give an example. Conventional thinking has given us a mental picture of humankind as an inherently warlike, carnivorous hunter gatherer, and this is how we see ourselves. Even those of us that frequently talk of choosing peace and non-violence, secretly think it's a bunch of hooey - we feel we just can't escape our human nature.

Well, what if I told you that the science out there says it simply isn't true?

What if I told you that humans were not carnivores at first? Our species used to be herbivores. This is why we have so much intestine inside our bodies, because when you only eat plants you have to take a really long time digesting to get everything out of them. As we are carnivores now, it's believed that this is why sometimes we have digestive problems in terms of diary and stuff.

We're only one of three known species that has changed over from one to the other, the panda bear and a species of squirrel being the other two. Giant pandas used to be carnivores, that's why they have so many problems with their diet. They have a very short intestine, without all the folds we have (which when stretched out could cover a tennis court). Pandas only eat bamboo now, which goes straight through them. This means they have to eat it all day long.

Survival is for the fittest, but often to survive we can take the wrong step that conversely hurries us to our evolutionary extermination. We don't often imagine humans starting off as herbivores or cute pandas as being meat-eaters. But as a result of evolution, our circumstances and environs have made us take up or give up meat. The inside of our bodies tell us that we were not born to kill our food to eat, we evolved to it.

Eating meat is nutritionally beneficial, there is no denying bodies use the sustenance it provides, and going vegan can be difficult. However, it has locked us into a cycle of slaughter. We have become accustomed to the taste of blood and meat, and mistakenly think it's part of our nature.

By sharing this scientific bitchslap to an outmoded way of thinking about ourselves, I've purposefully not given links - as I usually do - so that interested parties can go on Google and search out the information themselves. Of course, search engines, however sophisticated, are not fonts of undisputed knowledge, so go to a library and hit the books if you can, too. Collaborate your sources. Or go ask a teacher, scientist, expert in their field. It's the process of doing it yourself that is important. Don't just take my word for it.

Okay, let's get back to our own violent self image.

What if I told you that scientists now believe primitive society was not driven by war? In a science story published by BBC News, researchers from Abo Academy University in Finland have said their findings suggest that war is not an innate part of human nature, but rather a behaviour that we have adopted more recently.

Wars are usually fought over land, resources or religion. Only when we settled down and built farming communities did we feel the need to war. But why? Is it because the idea of sharing is not inherent in us, and we are naturally violent as we have been led to believe?

Well, what if I told you that not only are there scientific studies out there to tell us kindness is inherent in us, but it's the special way we are wired to work, share and learn together which has pushed up so high on the evolutionary ladder, to where we are now responsible for the survival of the entire planet?

Stick with me: this is a fascinating story. Let's get back to kindness for a moment and what experts and scientists have discovered about the value of basic kindness. Here are some BBC News articles, and their titles are self-explanatory. If you're of a mind to, read them when you have the time.

  1. Puppet experiment suggests humans are born to be fair.
  2. Love letters and kindness may improve mental health.
  3. Can kindness movements make a difference?
  4. Can we teach kindness?
  5. Kinder children are more popular.
  6. Kindness can help businesses grow.
  7. How extraordinary acts of kindness can inspire.

The search for kindness has been the business of great thinkers for centuries, but it has to be the right kind of kindness - that is to say it must be of a kind that even if not reciprocated, is appreciated, and fostered in an environment of mutual respect and sharing - because that is the way we are internally hardwired to succeed.

The ground-breaking scientific studies in this area just amaze the geek in me, and I highly recommend watching BBC Two's Horizon documentary "What Makes Us Human?". In it, Professor Alice Roberts revealed studies with children that showed when they worked and generated rewards together, they tended to divide the "spoils" out equally - even if they were initially allocated unfairly.

We don't have an image of children being naturally willing to share, but in the correct environment of cooperation it seems that an inherent ability to share kicks in. In Roberts' documentary, the studies show that we need each other to develop our inherent potential of intelligence, kindness and sharing - triggered by a culture of cooperation.

This is how innovation in science, medicine and technology is increasingly rapidly, today. With so many specialised areas in science, people need to start working together under an atmosphere of kindness, respect and togetherness to get anything done at all. The rate of innovation now demands it; the more we cooperate, the more our technology will advance.

Moreover, research shows that what made our intelligence involve to this state of awareness was our ability to put our heads together. If I had been raised on a solitary island with no human contact, my intelligence would be limited in terms to what I needed to learn to survive (if I survived at all). My natural human intelligence just wouldn't develop without other human beings.

Being born without human contact is like a fish being born out of water. A fish inherently expects to be born in water, humans are born expecting this culture of sharing, and we are hardwired to give it. Somehow, inside, most of us instinctively know to be protective of human babies, don't we?

We are all important to one another, and it's because of the inherent way we come together that we seem to be so high up the evolutionary ladder. Especially in comparison to other members of our genetically close-knit primate family, such as one of our closest cousins, the chimpanzee.

However, when we look at how we have treated our fellow creatures in times past, it seems hard to believe the evidence that humans are not really natural born killers. "Project Nim", a documentary released in 2011, tells the story of a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child, and then used as an experiment, in the 1970s. Given our close-knit genetic kinship, the inhumane way Nim is treated (sometimes even with the best of intentions pretensions) stayed with me for a long time.

It made me wonder what type of violent culture America must have been stuck in for educated people, liberals and scientists to be so unthinking towards Nim. I am glad science is getting a soul, but the Nim documentary, to me, shows how we have been caught in a net of violence completely contradictory to our original nature, and we have been struggling for decades to get free of it.

When we watch the horrific story of Nim as the human players are interviewed, you can see how some of them are trying to hide their shame over their involvement with Nim - the ones that have changed with the times of course. I am sure modern thinking people will watch open-mouthed at how enlightened people of those times treated Nim. I, myself, would have felt ashamed of my own humanity if I didn't know better.

We do know better. The point is, the fault isn't with our humanity, we have created societies and cultures - our of necessity or by chance - that seem to foster the worst in us.

Consequently, because we are stuck in a violent loop, we feel the need to resort to violent means to get out of it. Violent blog-post titles attract us, for example. They make us stop and read, don't they? We can even feel let down when we discover the subject matter is as non-violent as you can get - and when we bitchslap ourselves, and we see it works, it seems to affirm the usefulness of violence.

But bitchslap is just a term, we can make it a metaphor; we can turn it on its head, and give it a whole new meaning. We can give ourselves, and what we think of ourselves, a whole new meaning, too. Violence need no longer be a metaphor for our humanity.

Now, I'm not saying we need to go vegan, grab a rucksack, and go become a hermit on some misty mountain in the Kingdom of Bhutan. We have to be part of the society we have, and it's not going to change overnight.

We also need to accept we are products of these societies. I am just as competitive as the next guy; I enjoy playing war games, I enjoy Quentin Tarantino movies, but the point here is perspective.

We have to shift the perspective of our society. Competition should be the impetus to make you better, not tear other people down. The soul of competitive games like the Olympics has developed to be one of fair play, to cheer on those that overcome obstacles.

Playing a war game is fun to de-stress, but not if you take it seriously. I mean, who has ever won at Space Invaders, right? The fact is those lives are going to run out. With modern games, too, even when you "win", you need to be clued up to the fact that it is just a game.

A connected mind doesn't lose sight that it is just a game, or cinematic drama, which - though it might inform - isn't applicable to life. They are heightened forms of reality, dramatic representations made for the greatest effect.

The problem is we are letting these forms of media inform our values, as our ancestors did with the first fairy tales. Some of their original versions are as brutal as any Tarantino film. Sure they were warnings to keep us safe but they warp our view, unless we are already well-informed - then they become harmless and enjoyable entertainment.

We need modern fairy tales, new stories to inform us. We have failed the main peaceful message of many major religions. Even Buddhism, famed for its central core of peaceful ideologies, has not stopped Buddhists monks going on hate campaigns against Muslims in sync with the times. It suggests that our moral, and spiritual base - which we all need if we are to survive - must come from a new world view.

Science tells us it must be one of cooperation. If we continue to view ourselves as some extra special species, with the planet and all life as dominion for us to conquer - just because we have evolved the power to do so - then we are going to get bitchslapped by nature, and it won't be pretty. Nature's responses are always karmic; you do, indeed, reap what you sow.

Then why would an inherently peaceful creature be born into a violent cosmos, or world? Why else, but to bring peace to it, of course. We have the power of dominion, but we need to use it to bring out our true nature. It will be our selfless cooperation that will one day give us the technology that will make us reach the stars, rather than continue to fight over dirt.

We have been locked in the narrative of war for so long, some of us might think it is too late for change, but we have to understand that our greatest strength can also be our Achilles heel. We often believe what others tell us without finding out for ourselves. We have this plasticity in mind and action to adapt to the most violent culture, and believe it when people tell us that to be this way is human nature.

And you too could own this look of
Thus, because we have learnt to be so good at violence, for centuries we have been fooled into believing it was inherent in us. Natural self-defence reflexes do not mean we are inherently violent, but reflexes are just that, actions cut off from the mind. The trick is to keep the mind aware and in the loop at all times.

Likewise, when we are constantly critical of ourselves, we can look at the destructive criticism of others for what they really are - cries for help. You can pity them, rise above them, and ignore them, because kicking people when they are already down is not fun. Kicking people is not fun EVER.

Good only comes from good, and it's our thinking that makes it so. People who like to kick people will get their own violent comeuppance - if you're on the receiving end you don't have to do anything.

Violent people are their own worst enemy, a car wreck waiting to happen. Bitchslapping them is of no use whatsoever; we need to focus on ourselves, and constantly move forward towards betterment, rather than messing with attempts to pull people down.

If bitchslapping others is the way you live your values, then you're always going to be stuck in the gutter. I would rather be looking up to the stars.

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