War = Evolutionary Flaw?

War proves that evolution is hodge-podge. We create master works of art, architecture, technology, and exploration, and then we destroy them along with each other.

The glitch in survival of the fittest is that mean greedy strong people – think Huns, think small pox in trading post blankets, think any dictator – lack empathy and seem to have little appreciation for the arts, education, or other people. Well, some monsters appreciate the fine arts so long as they get to own them.

Since before the sacking of Constantinople, the multiple fires of the Library of Alexandria, and the Crusades, the dynamic has been the same. People strive together to learn, create knowledge and beauty, reveal the mysteries of existence, and build new cultures. Then some ruffians come over the hill with weapons. Destroy, rebuild, destroy, rebuild. Certainly humans have resilience and persistence. We keep striving to the light.

These days, the “destroy” part of “destroy and rebuild” is on the move, literally. Displays of strength everywhere. Russian troops along the Ukraine border, Israeli fighter pilots flying low over Gaza as a reminder, Egypt judges condemning hundreds of Islamists to mass executions, as hundreds of thousands of Syrians seek refuge from violent madness.

It’s been awhile since it’s looked this bad. The world is fracturing more than usual along the usual lines of fear, greed, suspicion, denial, self-righteousness, and beliefs of having a monopoly on the One True God – and which One True God is on our side, and we, being created in One True God’s image, should rightly rule over others. “Dominion over the earth” and all that.

Well, I don’t know if Putin has One True God beyond himself. He might take up his entire world.

Ever feel like a small fuzzy mammal trying to avoid being trounced by very large reptiles? Very large reptiles that never look down? Who think only they and the other large reptiles exist?

If my evolutionary metaphor is getting out of hand, it’s the panic speaking. Remember the dodos? They never got upset, and they were wiped out. On the other hand, lemmings jump off cliffs and wild horses stampede and it’s no benefit to any of them. What to do? What to do? “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date (with peace).”

Last night I had dinner with a fellow peace worker . . .  Yes, dear readers, that is my background that until now I have avoided bringing into my emerging blogger career. So, last night I had dinner with a fellow peace worker, a veteran with decades of training. I told him I was worried.

I told him that, since stepping back from the peace business, I’ve started to lose control of my professionally-imposed balance regarding cruel people and idiots. Yes, I said that. I said “cruel people” and “idiots.” I also said “blind people,” and “people who think they are liberal but aren’t.”

I told him that I had started wanting the last word, that my nonviolence was becoming tinged with the impulse to squash everyone I felt interfered with love and song and flowers and truth, and that I was on the last dregs of patience.

I also said that I felt there just might be something wrong with these impulses. He leaned back and said, “It’s part of getting older.” He told me we have earned the right to be cranky.

I said, “I can’t see a single reason why people fight each other. Not one. I just want to shake people and say ‘stop it, just stop’.”

He said, “Yes, they should just stop. Maybe in a year, maybe ten, maybe a hundred.”

And that is the flaw in evolution: not all humans can tell what is good for them. I hope the rest of us can live with that.

Creationism has it worse. Any God that nudged the pieces this way and that is a pretty sorry god.

So we’ve got evolution – and free will within the limits of what’s possible in the constraints conflict places on us.

My free will chooses to support those who create master works of beauty and exploration and answers and solutions. My free will supports the peace makers. My free will sides with those who see that it’s a miracle that we exist and who tend that miracle with grace, forgiveness, and generosity.

My free will still believes in the One True God of “love your neighbor.”

Feeling the Love

My father’s youngest sister, Phyllis, tatted lace. As a child, I was fascinated by the contrast between her, a stolid woman of few words wearing loose cotton dresses, and the white delicacies that seemed to escape from her fingertips.

My mother knit and my daughter crochets. She used to make bobbin lace. This inclination towards small arts that require nimble fingers skipped over me.

500px-Pine_Pattern_Collar_in_Tatting_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_15147

Wikipedia: Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a particularly durable lace constructed by a series of knots and loops, used for lace edgings as well as doilies, collars, and other decorative pieces. (Like the laces in Rembrandt paintings in my blog “Laces of Rembrandt.”)

What Wikipedia doesn’t say is that tatting looks very delicate. In French, the root word is frivolite, also the root word for “frivolous.” In Italian, it’s chaicchierino, meaning “chatty.” I’m heading into a metaphor here:

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Click to see video.

Tatting is intertwined strings that look delicate, but are durable – and are usually beautiful. As of a couple days ago, this is my image of love through generations.
You see, I had a private tea party with my 4-year-old granddaughter with teacups from my mother’s estate. The cups have been with me under two weeks and were featured in my blog “Falling with Teacups.”

My mother started collecting the cups more than 50 years ago, according to notes she pasted on the bottoms of them. I never saw them used, though decades ago she was in a women’s club that met every month. I think they drank coffee. The teacups are probably virginal.

I’m avoiding the subject, which is: knowing you are loved is different than feeling you are loved.

Secondary clause: not feeling that you are loved doesn’t mean you aren’t.

photo 5When I asked my granddaughter how much she likes tea, she said, “I love tea as much as you love me.” She knows she is loved, and has all the rights and privileges of that to be willful, difficult, loving, impossible, and adorable.

As an adult, I live in a zone of knowing intellectually that I am loved but not feeling it viscerally every moment. The sense of being loved is not in my cells as a natural state, and – oh, folderol and ta ta ta – I could tell you the circumstances that created this gap, but my childhood isn’t the point.

. . . and then the one person I viscerally felt loved by was leading a double life with another woman and apartments on two continents. Clearly I’m not good at this.

I am, however, good at loving others – strangers, friends, family. I love people hugely, immensely, consistently, bursting out of my chest-ly. This loving of others is a bath I live in most of the time.

But when it comes to feeling loved myself by others, it’s more of an intermittent shower. Truth is, I need a daily fix to feel loved.

Even as I write this, there are people who extend their love for me, express it in such measure that it is as though the universe is in my face saying “Get it.” So far I have gotten that I will never be like my granddaughter. There is no magic wand that will make me feel 24/7 that I am loved.

But if I cannot retain the visceral feeling of being loved, I understand, nonetheless, that I am surrounded by people who love me, and that is a blessing, and it is enough.

I write because I know I am not alone with a disconnect between being loved and feeling the love – and to give the reminder that we might be wrong when we don’t viscerally feel loved.

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As I watched my granddaughter sip camomile tea with mountains of honey in it from my mother’s beautiful teacup, I literally saw between us a web of white tatted lace connecting my mother to my granddaughter through four generations.

I saw its fragility, was awed by its durability, and knew that when my mother put little tags on the bottom of the cups with my name on them she was giving me her love as she knew best. I felt it viscerally.

Those of us who didn’t feel love when we were young can make sure that those we love are held, precious as porcelain, unquestioning of their gifts and limitations. This is the gift we can give with a little tag on it marked for them.

We who know the gap often know best how to love others for love is our way out. Camomile with honey, anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A GUIDE TO LIARS: how a liar’s mind works

Part 1 (previously posted): you’re surrounded
Part 2 (below): how a liar’s mind works
Part 3 (coming soon): living well is the best . . .

Part 2 of “A Guide to Liars” 

The mind of a pathological liar has a sub-terrain with shifting plates of distorted perceptions and assumed privilege that split the worlds of the rest of us, our sense of what is real and what is the order of things. Their fault lines turn our lives upside-down. Whether that is through a Ponzi scheme, infidelity, false claims of expertise, embezzlement, or other frauds the patterns are the same, both of us and for them. In part 2 of this guide, we will look at them.

Reality #3: liars lie because they want to

In most societies we no longer need to lie to save our lives or remain healthy. Chronic liars choose to lie because they feel it serves them better and faster than honesty.

Yes, there may be differences in the brain structure of some pathological liars from that of the rest of us, specifically a lack of development in the area that differentiates truth from fiction that usually matures around age six; and pathological liars have been shown to have more white “wiring” matter and less grey matter in the prefrontal cortex of their brain than other people.

Nonetheless, the primary differences between chronic deceivers and the rest of us  is not our ability to tell reality from fiction but between our levels of greed, capacity for empathy, sense of privilege, and concern for “right” and “wrong.”

The interior fault lines of frauds have them experiencing inferiority and superiority at the same time. Their sense of superiority tells them they are above the normal rules while their sense of inferiority urges them to disguise their inferiority by acting above the rules.

Reality #4: liars and narcissists experience themselves as the center of the world

A subset of the colluding delusions of superiority and inferiority is “power corrupts,” where wealthy or other powerful people feel exempt from the rules (honesty, fidelity, paying taxes, for example) and they feel that what they want should be theirs because they are a “cut above.” Ethics and morals are revised to support an isolated life of privilege. Erasing the poor and deprived from your mind and actions is, by the way, moral deception.

Wealth is a test of character. I’ve lived around rich people. Most are deeply caring, welcoming, and generous. But I’ve heard others actually say they deserve whatever they want because they’ve worked so hard. Never heard a single mom working two jobs say that.

But not all frauds are wealthy and not all work hard. Most want fast and easy rewards and deception is the tool of choice – identity thief, scamming the elderly, faking resumes, embezzling, having affairs.

It’s easiest to do this when you experience yourself as the center of your world so completely that you feel yourself to be the center of THE world. Self-delusion, deception of others, and narcissism are the holy trinity of liars.

Narcissists have diminished empathy. They do not have a mature compassionate interior self. They lack the “ping” of relationship. They do not viscerally feel others as completely real. This makes deception of others easy.

As a character disorder, narcissism is notoriously difficult to treat because 1) narcissistic liars are not motivated by caring overly much about anyone else, 2) they get their way often enough that they have little incentive to change, 3) they are not troubled by their consciences as much as the rest of us, and 4) they feel superior to therapists. One study I read boiled down to “If you’re involved with a narcissist, turn around and run. Now.”

Reality #5: liars have skewed guilt meters

Most liar’s ability to cipher out what they should or should not feel guilty about is non-functional and nonsensical. One can have sympathy when this condition came from horrendous early experiences, but be careful. That was then, this is now.

Liars may or may not express remorse, some even beg forgiveness, some make promises, but there is an agenda behind it that is not about taking care of you or changing. (Did I mention the other ex-husband, the one who was physically violent? That’s how I learned that begging for forgiveness, even on your knees, and making promises can also be calculated lying.)

Reality #6: some liars lie as a way of life, or just to do harm

While most liars want to gain something – status, money, sex, admiration – others lie out of habit and/or the desire simply to harm others. One woman in the San Francisco Bay area is infamous as a broadband liar with a specialty in gratuitous character assassination. She convinced many of us that one ex-husband was so crazy and violent that for years I and others assumed he was in and out of institutions. In fact, he is a mild-mannered expert in the Far East, retired professor, world traveler, and author of many successful books.

She tried to destroy another man’s reputation by starting rumors he was a pedophile, and fabricated a case against another ex-husband as a compulsive spender buying wine at $1000 a bottle and suits at tens of thousands. Swearing to this under oath, in order to get special financial consideration in their divorce, didn’t faze her.

Often people who lie specifically to do harm also use “suck up” techniques on people they perceive as powerful or “above them.” It is two sides of the same coin used to climb an imagined ladder. Bring some people down, get other people to lift you up.

Reality #7: liars are usually very angry and almost always fight dirty

When most of us “try on” the feeling of lying – whether overt, covert, or by omission – we become uncomfortable because to deceive others is to alienate ourselves from our integrity. It separates us from our core being. We betray ourselves the instant we betray someone else. We lose our mooring when we lose our morals.

That is, bastardizing your integrity to deceive or do harm exacts a heavy price. When you are not honest with yourself, self-delusion, dissonance, and confusion move in. Your internal mirror is broken, so instead of seeing your shadow side, you project it onto others. What you unconsciously or only semi-consciously don’t like inside yourself you see as the qualities of other people, i.e. Pogo: we have met the enemy and he is us.

This projection makes deceivers formidable enemies because in their minds it gives them license to fight dirty. They see you as trying to cheat them, feeling entitled, and not giving a f**k about them. Their projection is seamless and may feel like the most real thing in their world. They can smolder in righteous indignation and rage to take you down. (Did I tell you about the former employee who cyber-stalked me and whenever someone wrote an article about me, she contacted them to tell them the “truth”? She had fabricated vital points of her resume, read and sometimes kept my private mail, and . . . so it goes.)

As projectionists, liars blame. As narcissists, they do not make mistakes. Failures in business, life, marriage, and family are caused by someone else, by the people who were supposed to do their work for them.

Mix together projected demons and narcissistic privilege. Stir in that even honest people who substitute short-term rewards for long-terms gains are usually disappointed.

And that is how chronic liars become so nasty.  I hope you never need to review this material.

Reality #8: liars’ abilities to perceive and grow are compromised

The dynamic is: once you’ve compromised your integrity, your capacity for self-examination is compromised. Your interior mirror is foggy if not outright splintered. You have no true way of seeing yourself, even the good parts, which everyone has somewhere.

In any case, most deceivers are so heavily invested in fooling themselves there’s no incentive to look deeply. The mirror, splintered or not, is not looked into or missed.

Now, everyone wants a sense of self. This desire is so strong that in order to grow – that is, to change ourselves – we feel we must have something to hold onto during the transition. For most of us that “something” is a baseline belief that we can trust our integrity. We feel our core essence will stay true even as we change. We believe we will find our way to larger truths and nuances and complexities and relationships, even if a tad wobbly. This allows us to mature and develop, have sophisticated beliefs, and nurture multi-level evolving relationships.

Liars, not sure their centers will hold through uncertainty, tend to freeze in place, clutching the same perspectives, worldviews, sense of privilege, and belief, usually that they are more clever than the next guy.

IMPORTANT: I can think of few things more courageous than a chronic betrayer or deceiver owning up to himself or herself to do the work to rebuild authenticity, to peal back the layers, to distrust his or her personal story. It would take such courage of self-examination, deconstruction, and reconstruction! The initial work is so important that the secondary work of personality reconstruction and of any recompense or apology to others is … well, secondary. Necessary, but secondary.

Part 3: living well is the best . . . will be posted soon. Learn the principles of recovery and why honesty is the best policy.

 

On a Saturday that feels like Sunday

On this Saturday that feels like Sunday,
somewhat cooler than I’d wish
as I practice not having obligations,
as least not immediately,

when spring rises in the coolness
and the tree blossoms turn green
with traces still of pink,

on this Saturday that feels like Sunday
I wonder what Sunday will bring.

Will I wake from liquid into an incandescent thing
with wings, wet, vulnerable, poised for flight?

On this Saturday that feels like Sunday
the pregnancy is nearly obscene,
the tumescence liquid crystal.

Only missing is the sound of spirit
whishing from body. It won’t happen.

I will be here tomorrow on a Sunday like others –
grounded with what we have of mystery,
love and explosion.