belief thread, continued


Richard Moore

Bcc: contributors & interested parties


From: “Jerold Hubbard” 
Date: 28 August 2009 15:49:18 IST
To: “Richard Moore” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: the belief thread continues

      What you are saying is VERY true!!!!!  The greater degree of diversity that can be BRIDGED, will lead to a more adaptable, survivable life form!   In the past, diversity was managed by conversion, to those who hold the big guns!   This can no longer be  the way that diversity is managed!
  I have to go for now, but I will get back with you later today.
But, you are right!

Hi Jerold,
What you say about diversity is very true. In Dynamic Facilitation, they find that the greater the diversity, the more powerful the breakthroughs. The principle is actually very simple: once people decide to take all their concerns into account, in seeking a solution, then each of the different viewpoints brings in useful insights.
Because of the way our over-competitive society works, people start off from fear – fear that their own concerns won’t be taken into account. So they begin by emphasizing their own concerns over all the others. In DF, the facilitator makes sure everyone is fully heard, and when people feel they are being heard they are able to move past their fear. Once fear is left behind, you can feel the shift in the group. They can then begin working openly and creatively together. The breakthroughs come from the released creative energy – what I like to call the latent energy of democracy.
Partisan politics is based on a fear of diversity. Each party wants to prevail over the others. From an elite perspective, this is motivated by wanting to consolidate power. But from the people’s perspective, it is motivated by wanting their views to prevail over others. Supporting your party is an act of coercion, whether ye be right or wrong regarding your policy ideas. 
From: “erik andersen” 
Date: 28 August 2009 16:05:03 IST
To: “Richard Moore” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: the belief thread continues
     Hear, hear Richard. If there is an absence of difference, or in the minds of some, disagreement, then there is by definition no reason for any discussion.
Regards from Erik

Hi Erik,
It sounds like you may have trouble with small talk 🙂  I know I have that problem. I’m always looking for “interesting conversations” while most people are just chatting away. I guess that’s why I like the Irish pubs. After a pint or two, small talk becomes easier.
As regards the current thread, once agreement occurs, the discussion can move on to solving shared problems.
From: “Madeline Bruce” 
Date: 28 August 2009 16:14:23 IST
Subject: Re: the belief thread continues

One of the curative factors of group therapy is altruism. This tends to happen in maturing, working therapy groups.  It is a feature of the Native Indian healing circles. When people can face each other and converse, they can accomplish community, and from there great things.  This was apparent in more primitive cultures, as when the pioneers got together and erected a barn for a neighbor. We see this too in Alcoholics Anonymous, a worldwide phenomenon wherein  the power of the  the group has helped untold millions of people who suffer from the disease of alcoholism, when doctors, psychiatrists, and their own will power and best efforts have been unable to do so.  This community interaction and dialogue is sadly missing from our society.  Even at political rallies the agenda is tightly controlled, seemingly to avert just this very thing.  Yet the power of this type of discourse is immense and transformative. – Madeline Bruce, Nanaimo, B. C.     

Hi Madeline,
I like the way you put it: “When people can face each other and converse, they can accomplish community, and from there great things.” D’accord.
I’m not sure the word altruism is quite what you mean. Altruism implies something that’s disadvantageous to yourself, but advantageous to someone else – basically a sacrifice for others. Embracing community is beneficial to everyone concerned. I don’t think we disagree here on the actual content of what you’re saying. As someone said, words, words, words.
From: “laurence” 
Date: 28 August 2009 16:33:50 IST
To: “Richard Moore” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: e: on the meaning of the word “awakening”

Hi Richard,
I do not think you got my point. I was stating that “reality” is shaped by non conscious drives which lie deep in our subconscious structures.

Those who rule have drives and sets of (non conscious) values, it is quite clear that most of those “rulers” have a psychopath structure, and thus their (non conscious) drives will reflect those flawed structures. Unfortunately a large percentage of our present world’s population is in a deep transe and are hostages of similar flawed values, they do secretly or not worship money and power, they’re mostly driven by highly neurotic values (social status/seeking acknowledgement and fear/seeking false relief). What I call “awakening” is becoming aware of those flawed drives and neurotic programing and how those who pull the strings know damned well how to manipulate for it resonates with their own world view. We need to step out of this and networks and systems fueled by different values, healthier values reflecting our true nature (deeper inner structure). That’s what I tried to express…
Nothing will work unless enough folks wake-up!
I have not forgotten your article, enneagram is such a touchy subject that I do not wish to rush into hasty answers.  

Hi Laurence
I think I get your point. You’re saying that we – both the people and the rulers – are in a trance, driven by our neurotic tendencies rather than our true inner selves. I’ll go along with that much.
You characterize rulers as psychopathic. Some may be, but I’d say the more appropriate characterization would be sociopathic. Take Kissinger for example. He’s a technocrat, not a ruler, but he’s of their ilk. A very sane, rational guy. He just happens to think 80% of the world’s people are “useless feeders” and should be eliminated.
You also say that we need to awaken to our inner nature, and that only when enough people do this can anything work, ie, substantial changes be achieved in society. I get this point, but I don’t agree with it. You haven’t explained why it is necessary, nor even why it would help. 
Also, I don’t really think neurosis is such an important issue from a political perspective. I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that I don’t see it that way. In places like Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia, when people-oriented governments came into power, people were able to switch very quickly to a different way of seeing things. 
I think our conditioning is actually rather shallow. Given the right circumstances, our better nature can come bursting through. Perhaps I’m exaggerating the contrary assumption, but I think shifting our consciousness can be as easy as the perceptual shift that occurs when we look at the image below, as it shifts between being a young woman and an old woman. It’s all a matter of set.
From: Earl
Date: 28 August 2009 16:44:50 IST
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: the belief thread continues

Hello Richard,
     I’ve been quietly in the background, but have been here all along.  I’m especially enjoy your analyses, and now the thread on beliefs just as much.  Your insights are fresh, unafraid and your own, not something re-hashed from others.  I’m also a fan of Bill Blum, among others.
     Of course, I do not always agree with you, nor would you always agree with me.  That is how it should be, if both are being honest about their own thoughts.  I cannot encourage you enough to keep on with what you’ve been doing.  And I agree that what differences do appear should be made open, and then go on.  
     Keep on, Richard!
Earl Duthler

Hi Earl,
Thanks for your encouragement. I’ll have to catch Ryannair one of these days and pay you a visit. I bet we’d have a lot to talk about.
I’m glad this thread has aroused so much energy. Instead of debating beliefs, we’re looking at the meta level – why we hold certain beliefs, and how over-attachment to those beliefs can limit the scope of our effectiveness in the world. Again, I think the key point is fear: seeing other beliefs as threats. And that fear comes from “us vs. them” thinking.
Here’s something we all need to keep in mind: if we achieve a harmonious world, there will still be people who are Republican-minded and Democrat-minded. There will still be fundamentalists and atheists, gays and homophobes, feminists and male chauvinists. Everyone’s not going to change their stripes, nor do they need to, for all of us to work together to solve our real-world problems. We can talk about our differences in the pub, rather than letting them divide us politically.
From: herb
Date: 28 August 2009 17:15:33 IST
Subject: Re: the belief thread continues

rkm> It seems that many people are very uncomfortable with disagreement.
     That is because they don’t disagree with themselves on any kind of regular basis.  They don’t understand that we should not believe everything we think.  Thinking is, after all, not for everyone.

Fundamental differences, those barriers nearly impossible to surmount, seem to me to relate to the various concepts of what we are as humans – who are we and what is human nature.  At any given time the vast majority of the population is not exercising critical judgement, this is just natural.  Thinkers are just one part of the ecology of human diversity.  In a state of nature we humans display an extreme variety of talents and imbalances.  This was our very successful evolutionary strategy. A group member for every purpose we might encounter. Few species, and I can only think of apples just now, display this strategy.  Civilization demands a progressive pruning away of the rich diversity of thought, perception and imagination that made it possible for our species to even get to the stage of destroying ourselves with our disconnected and alienated minds – a condition determined by social grouping aggrandizement and resulting impoverishment of our behavioral repertoire.  It is not the disagreement that annoys people.  It is the anxiety that is stimulated by our relation to authority that demands discipline and conformity.  The intellectual class of civilizations exist not to create and imagine, though they do do some of that as a byproduct, but to control thought and limit imagination lest it threaten the institutions of control imposed by civilization.  I can imagine civilizations that are not self destructive, but, with rare exceptions, I know of no examples that have not  been destroyed by conquest, absorption or genocide by the dominant forms of coercive civilizations.

But, as you say for yourself, I may be wrong.  I am always the most eager person to see myself proven wrong as the conclusions I reach are pretty dark.  But that is just my socially disconnected mind using logic to go wrong with confidence.  At the feeling level, or rather a level of integration of thought and feeling that I sometimes achieve, I actually have great confidence in our species.  I just finished an book that might interest you.
Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life by Dacher Keltner explores the implications of recent neurological and evolutionary work and comes to the conclusion that the Golden Rule is the secret of our species success (and, parenthetically, its abandonment is the source of our destruction).

The thing that I always find objectionable with all of these books, however, is that they take the individual as the point of investigation.  It is as if they never heard that man is not an island.  From my perspective the individual is meaningless.  What matters is the support group that the individual draws from and how that group thinks.  Evolutionary psychology (careful a lot of BS be there) assumes that we evolved as members of relatively small groups, certainly less than 200 and more usually 30-50.  Groupings of more than this are not organic and they become very dysfunctional and self destructive.  Modern civilization resembles a zoo built by the animals themselves.

Another level of perception is to equate civilization with the process of domestication.  Under this view, which influences me greatly, the “civilized” human is merely an animal domesticated by a powerful subset of other humans who ironically function more organically as parts of very cohesive small groups that monopolize violence as a means of control over the mass of members of the species.

So, enjoy being a boat rocker and an equal opportunity annoyer.  You are just being true to your evolutionary roots.

Many of the so called “sick roles” played by people in modern society are simply styles of perception and behavior that were very useful to our evolutionary ancestors.  Depressed people, for instance, occupy physically the peripheries of the group where they can serve as an early warning system for a group being stalked by predators. They also consume fewer calories in times of food stress. Similarly, there is a well subscribed view that ADHD merely represents the genetic endowment of the group in that these people served the interests of the group by being more impulsive than the majority and thereby were able to experiment with new environments and strange flora and fauna.  Human prehistory is largely about our dispersal across the globe into every conceivable habitat.  To do so required a lot of trial and error and the ADHD people were there to do it.  “Look, Grog ate that strange plant and didn’t die!”  Their perceptual proclivities, as explored by Thom Hartmann in his book about ADD, also protected the group from predators.  Grog, “Look at that lion over there.”  The rest of the group, “What lion?”

Keep having fun.  We may be saved by unexpected events.  That is usually how it works.


Hi Herb,
Thanks, you give us quite an impressive essay. I find we agree on many things and in considerable depth. I find that encouraging, not just because we agree, but because we reach the same conclusions by different routes. There’s a certain level of validation in that, when the same pattern is recognizable from different perspectives.
I like what you say about diversity of talents. It is true that some people are better at abstract reasoning than others, but I think you carry that point too far. The severe lack of clear thinking in our current society is not in my opinion a species thing. I think it arises from our absurd “educational” system, a system designed to kill creativity, critical thinking, and any interest in learning. 
     Here’s a data point in that regard. When Tom Paine’s Common Sense came out in 1776, it was considered a marvel of clarity. It was read on street corners to the illiterate crowds, and people had no trouble understanding it. And yet, when I finally read the actual text, I found it very academic, with long sentences, multiple clauses, and extensive vocabulary. Not easy reading at all. Back in those days they didn’t have public “education” to frustrate our natural desire to learn and grow in our understanding. And illiteracy was not a barrier. Conversation with those around us was enough for us to learn very sophisticated things.
     And here’s another data point. I know of two girls who were raised in a hippy commune in Oregon. They had a tiny bit of home schooling, but their main occupation was tending the goats. They entered school for the first time at the high school level, and within 6 months they had caught up with the rest of their class in their various subjects. Primary schools is basically a waste of time, as regards learning. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were 6 hours of recess, and 1 hour of teaching. 
According to Riane Eisler, there have been non-destructive civilizations, based on what she calls partnership cultures. Evidently there were cities that went on for 5,000 years with no warfare, without the walls being destroyed and rebuilt, as happened periodically to cities in Sumeria, Babylonia, Egypt, etc., which are unfortunately the source of our own thread of civilization. 
     Eisler’s observations are important because they show that a complex society does not necessarily need to be dominator based. I agree we need to start with smaller groupings as our focus, what I refer to as the community. But we can have larger systems of organization as well without becoming dysfunctional. The solution, I suggest, can be seen in terms of fractals. If we have a process within a community that can achieve harmonization among its inhabitants, then that same process can be used to achieve harmonization among communities in a region, among regions in a land mass, etc, up to the global level. 

Jacques Ellul’s discussion of individualism and the mass culture are relevant here. When we see ourselves as part of a community, rather than isolated individuals, we find ourselves within a natural support group, empowered by the principle, many hands make light work. By abandoning individualism, we can become empowered as individuals: our voice can be heard and make a difference in a community, whereas it is only a drop in the ocean in a mass society. 

I agree very much that domestication is a synonym for civilization. One civilizes the natives, just as one might domesticate horses. 
I can’t really go along with what you say about ADHD. In the case of schools, I see ADHD as a natural, healthy response to the absurdity of the rows-and-columns classroom. I could never sit still or keep quiet in class until high school, when finally there was something interesting to learn, and my attention span had matured a bit. They would have called it ADHD if the diagnosis existed then; I called it boredom. Kids aren’t supposed to be sitting and listening all day; it’s unnatural. They should be running around with their fellows, and learning from the adults around them. I doubt if there was much ADHD in more natural societies. I think ritalin for kids is a crime against humanity. To the extent it’s genuinely beneficial, that is probably attributable to the effect of toxic additives in our unhealthy food chain.
I’m very much in agreement about the centrality of the golden rule in social evolution. That seems to be the key difference between primate bands and early human bands. The humans found a way to leave the alpha male principle behind, and the golden rule would seem to be the key ingredient in that breakthrough. Once that principle was embraced by the group, individual power-seekers were less likely to emerge and could find no handholds to dominance when they did emerge. They became simply pushy people. 
Unfortunately, the alpha-male tendency remained below the surface and was reactivated when civilization came along. That’s the wrong turn we need to remedy.
From: Kristin Jensen
Date: 28 August 2009 17:17:11 IST
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: the belief thread continues

Richard: I have been interested in many conspiracy theories throughout my life, and believe that 1) the rich do rule the world and that 2) most people don’t care who rules the world as long as they have a reasonable amount of the things they want and need. As a young hippie, I learned the basics of living well from the underbelly of the “Beast,” that vast system that convinces most people that they do not have what they need to be happy, and so from cradle to grave, you must sell your time so you can consume so that others can have much, much more than they could ever enjoy. Most people fall for this hook, line and sinker, never questioning that their time is not their own.

As an artist, I had to try to find a way to work, make money, and still have enough time left over for the things that made me happy: raising my family as a late life single mother; preserving five acres of the Pacific Northwest wilderness; having time to think, write, create. The forty hour week is just too costly for me, so I have created an alternative which I call being Independently Poor.

You and Mary are discussing the question of whether the world can be changed because one person becomes enlightened (or if one monkey becomes enlightened (?)), and I say absolutely. Ghandi became enlightened and the world changed. The fact that I diagnosed my life, decided what things made me happy and what things didn’t, read and learned and created a way to have as many of the things that made ME happy in my life IN THE PRESENT  is an enlightenment, and shows that an individual life can transform the lives of many, for example my sons.

If many people become dissatisfied with the System, with having to delay happiness until “retirement” in their least productive or interesting years, maybe the System would change. A Revolution from Within is what the hippies preached. Do we need all these things to be happy? How will we live if we don’t need all these things? What would our economy, and the economy of the world look like if many people decided to downsize drastically? Or, if because we refuse to look at our own lives individually the worst case scenario happens and the whole world downsizes anyway.

I got tired of thinking about what I didn’t like about the world and my own life when I was 27, and have been trying to carve a happy medium between the necessity for money and the equally important necessity of having time ever since. Thank you for your dialogue and I hope that this contributes to the conversation. 

Hi Kristin,
Yes you are contributing, and thank you for that. What you talk about the need to escape from the 40-hour work week, that reminds me of the book I mentioned earlier, Waking Up – freeing ourselves from work, by Pamela Satterwhite. I have a feeling you’d respond to what she has to say. 
And of course I resonate with your thinking as well. I left my career at 52, with not nearly enough money in my retirement plan to live on for the rest of my life. But I just couldn’t stand it any more, I had to escape and do what I needed to be doing. As you found, and Pamela writes about, it is impossible to really get into any creative work when 8 hours of energy (plus commute!) have been drained out of you. It was the best move I ever made, even though I’ve had to live through some rough times economically, with probably more to come.
I don’t think it’s really true that people don’t care who runs the world. Consider all the passion that went into supporting Obama’s campaign. That was a genuine case of people caring a lot. (I happen to think they were being deceived, but that’s an entirely different subject.) I think what appears to be not caring, or apathy, is really resignation. We all really know, inside, that nothing we do is likely to change the system. So we resign ourselves to doing the best we can in some job, or if we’re spunky enough, we find a creative path for ourselves as you have done. I’ll never give up on trying to change the system however, no matter how hopeless the quest may seem to be. From my perspective, there’s nothing else really worth doing. When you’re a prisoner-of-(class)-war, your duty is to try to organize an escape.
This issue of the importance of enlightenment seems to be a thorny one, with many different ways of looking at it. Let me be clear on one thing. When I talk about enlightenment not being all that helpful, I say that only in the context of transforming society. It is very helpful for many other things, including personal fulfillment, and as a contribution to people’s well being in the vicinity of those who are ‘enlightened’, to whatever degree. 
When we look at someone like Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, we see cases where one enlightened and inspired individual can have a considerable impact on a whole society. In history, we can also find cases of monarchs who were enlightened, and their reigns are remembered as golden days. But when such people pass on, the old ways return. And in the modern world, their passing on is typically accelerated by assassination. We need to remember that Ghandi didn’t live long enough to achieve his real goal, which was to create a harmonious Indian society, where Hindus and Muslims lived together in peace, and certainly not divided into three nations. He was inspired by his community of birth, where evidently there was considerable harmony among the factions.
In the periphery of empire, individuals like Castro and Chavez have been able to facilitate social transformation. However the decapitators are waiting in the wings, in the form of new US bases in Columbia. US intervention is only a matter of time, sad to say. (So much for change you can believe in.) 
In the West, in the heart of empire, such people would never be allowed to get so far. We need a different approach, an approach not based on leaders and centralized organizations. I agree that we need a sufficient number of people to be “awake” in order for things to change, but I think the awakening needs to be about our collective empowerment, not a spiritual awakening. 
From: “Revin Floyd” 
Date: 28 August 2009 18:58:23 IST
Subject: RE: the belief thread continues

I like that you don’t agree with everyone. Because everyone is not right about everything. Otherwise we would live in a perfect world full of peace and harmony and all good happiness stuff. Right? As I’ve found some of your posts misguided, I’ve found myself writing some quite hostile emails to you. I’ve tried reserving them for at least a day before sending… Now I have a full 15 or so in a special Richard Moore folder in Outlook. Perhaps I should rename the folder to Hate Mail to Richard Moore, since hate has become the new codeword for disagreement.

Hi Revin,
Don’t be shy, let’s see some of that hate mail, if it still resonates with your thinking. It would be OK to take out any uncivil language, but otherwise I’m quite interested.
One thing we need to realize is that there’s no need for any of us to be right about everything. Most ‘subjects’ have little real effect on our lives. My favorite aphorism is, you don’t need to agree on religion to build a barn together.
From: “Brian Hill”
Date: 28 August 2009 19:37:01 IST
To: “‘Richard Moore'” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: RE: the belief thread continues

if people read Marshall McLuhan about ‘universal literacy’ (Google has plenty on it) they may move toward consensus.

Hi Brian,
Here’s a URL from that Google search, a Playboy interview with McLuhan, where he talks about universal literacy:
But as I mentioned above, when talking about people’s reaction to Common Sense, I think the value of literacy, in the context of our society, needs to be questioned. The price we pay for that literacy is subjection to at least 12 years of conditioning and propaganda. We have essentially 100% literacy in the Western world, and we are a long ways from consensus. And in our earlier postings, about Ellul, he makes the case rather strongly that literacy is a prerequisite to being vulnerable to propaganda.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn to read, and we certainly don’t need school for that. All you need is exposure to books, time to look at them, and a bit of help at the beginning from anyone who can already read. And forget phonetics, that slows you down immeasurably.
But then you didn’t say universal literacy was a good thing, you said reading McLuhan was a good thing. Perhaps you can say more about why.