We are made for these times.

Human Nature and the Coming Crisis, Part 2

Posted on: May 10, 2009

We don’t need no stinkin’ badges,
or: Keeping yourself upright.

1. Eyes on the prize: Hot soup and a world fit for humans.

One of the things my grandma taught me was to carry a soup bowl from the kitchen up to the dining room without spilling the hot soup, or dropping the heavy bowl. It is simple, and it has nothing to do with physical strength. It is all about awareness: Do not watch the filled bowl, watch where you go. Don’t look down on the stairs. Don’t look at the bowl. Don’t imagine the possible disaster. Look ahead to the dining room and the table, balance your attention between only the important things.

Eyes on the prize: Hot soup and a world fit for humans

Eyes on the prize: Hot soup and a world fit for humans

2. Now, let me introduce you to Badge Guy from Stanford, California.

He is not a bad person (most likely). He is working two jobs. For his airport job, he is wearing a cheap polyester uniform that pinches and scratches and gets statically charged. The introduction course to this job took 15 minutes, and it covered standard operation procedures — not humanistic psychology. He is overworked and underpaid, and he has a badge and a taser and a walkie talkie and that nasty polyester uniform — instead of psychological training. His boss gave him clay feet, not real authority. Real authority comes from moral mastery, not from badges — the Badge Guy is vaguely aware of this, and he doesn’t feel comfortable with it. Badge Guy doesn’t have the time to think about this. . . because he doesn’t take the time.

The Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Experiment demonstrated how easy it is to manipulate people into dehumanizing first themselves, and then others, by declaring one group to be “guards”, and giving them clay feet: Mirror sunglasses, a baton, a uniform, the power to press a button that causes pain. People in the other group are declared victims.

There is a way to not be in either of these groups.

3. Become a Sullenberger Honor Student!

Experiments that show how we can stay human in difficult situations are less spectacular and receive a lot less media attention — even though it is much more important to study how to be the best we can. Likewise, Professional Fearmongerer AJ from TX (PF-AJ-TX) is making a lot of money scaring people all over the planet shitless with dystopian visions, but never telling you how to subvert the danger, stay sane, and keep our world human.

What PF-AJ-TX is not telling you is that as long as the baton and the taser are not used, their power is merely psychological. For most of the time, the physical violence is nothing but a ghost. You can easily keep this ghost in check — by controlling what gifts you bring to the party.

The most important thing that you bring is what’s inside your head — your purpose in life. Your visions of the future.

The Badge Guy’s clay feet consist of every minute you have spent watching people taser other people on Youtube. If you ever exposed yourself to an PF-AJ-TX film, I recommend you watch at least five times that much children’s movies to decontaminate yourself. Do not allow PF-AJ-TX to plant any visions in your mind. Go watch The Golden Compass and heal yourself. Read about cops and fireworkers who saved kittens and ducks and grannies. Watch The Powerpuff Girls. The images you allow into your mind will determine your attitude when you meet the Badge Guy.

I am serious about that. We are not using our full human potential if a part of our minds is poisoned by fear. Some books about raising children recommend five positive and encouraging messages for every negative message that you give to a child. Your inner child needs the same care — five minutes of encouragement for every minute of real or fictional horror that you watch. Watch a documentary about Sullenberger.

Just keep in mind that we usually create a better world not in spectacular catastrophic situations like plane crashes, but in rather simple circumstances. You create a better world by being friendly to people who are being complicated in the supermarket. By staying firm with an unruly child. By standing up to bullies. By occasionally swalling your pride and reaching out to somebody who has hurt you.

4. What I learnt from the wheelchair man incident:
There is no minding your own business in public.

Do not think you are giving up all your rights when you enter an airport. The stakes are much higher than that. What you are challenged to do when you leave your house is to be a public person.

At the airport, you are supposed to attend your luggage. But is it really luggage that is dangerous, or is it rather people who are sleepwalking through life like our Badge Guy?

It is unrealistic to expect security staff to keep us safe. Even those who are motivated are not in a position to provide security in a climate that promotes artifical coloured codes for terrorist threat levels — which never reach the green field. We will never feel — let alone be — safe just because there are more uniforms walking around. It is cheap it is to rent a uniform and get a toy badge, surveillance camera imitations are cheaper than real cameras, and anyway, the person supposed to be monitoring these cameras might just be taking a coffee break. All these imitations of safety do is create a state of constant intimidation and alarm. Forget about them.

5. Learn to ignore the uniform. Learn to see human being.

So watch over other passengers. Watch over the guards, too. Not as potential enemies, but as human beings who might need your help. I am not being cynical here. I mean it — make eye contact, say hello, ask a simple question. Crack a joke, introduce yourself. If you enter a room, and there are other people, do not ignore them, but get them on your side. Make it a habit to enter each venue as if it is yours, carry your head up high, and treat people as your potential team. I don’t want to scare you — I want to show you what you can do. You are not supporting some abstract “Powers that be” by doing so. You are creating a better world for everybody. The only security you can expect is the security that you help create. Expect safety from yourself, from me, from everybody who understands how an “us” is formed. Make friends before you need them.

Learn to regard yourself a public person whenever you are in public. Have some fun here — think of yourself as a potential leader or teacher in your own small village. Or a pop star if you like that better. You can afford to reach out and greet others. One of the friendly people you greet as you walk into the airport might turn out to be your bodyguard incase you meet the sleepwalking Badge Guy — if you let them feel you are ready and willing to be their guardian angel. And maybe if you succeed to create the right atmosphere, Badge Guy will relax and start to enjoy his work and learn to respect other people.

This is not about being nosy, but about being awake. It is about helping other people become and stay human. Keep your eyes on the prize — a more human world, and live in that world — now. That is the only way we can create this world.

Don’t be private in public, or else you are wasting your chance to make friends. There will be plenty of time to mind your own business once you are in the privacy of your own home.

6. Feel the fear, and enjoy it.

There is a place and a time that is safe to be scared in. The place is your own bed, and the time is when you are watching The Hound of the Baskervilles. I know I sound flippant, but I am serious about that, too. As long as you don’t forget to watch The Golden Compass afterwards, do by all means expose yourself to your fears, and overcome them in a controlled environment such as your lover’s arms.
7. You say you feel alone. You are not. Because I exist.

I read Dave Hingsburger’s blog entry An Elephant Disappears — and I had a look at how many people expressed their support. One single lousy sleepwalking Badge Guy, and dozens of people who are awake, every single one of them quietly working to make our world better. Not a single negative comment. So, who is alone here? I tell you — sleepwalking Badge Guy is the one who is alone.

8. We can help our Badge Guy become human again.
By helping him stay in control — without the clay feet.

Sleepwalking Badge Guy suffers from lack of training. So, when you are dealing with him, remember that you are his teacher. Make him human, and encourage him to become a Sullenberger.

Ask him his name, and address him by his name. If he shoves a badge into your face — read his name out loud. Be a bit naive. Ask him to how pronounce it correcty. Formally introduce yourself. If you have a sense of humor, give your calling card.

Don’t allow him to hide behind a function — by demonstrating that it is not necessary. Put as much lightheartedness and humor into your voice as you possibly can. Say something compassionate like, “You’re having a tough day, too? (sigh here). I wish it was weekend already, too!”

Show him that you are honestly interested in settling the affair. Don’t make him feel stupid — stay respectful, cheery, naive and even a bit submissive if you must. Thank him. Seriously — even if he is being a complete asshole, show gratitude. Fake it if you have to. Remember that you are his teacher today.

The safest way to master this is by practicing it with a friend: Practice being successful.

9. The Worst Case

No matter how well prepared you think you are — sometimes you have no choice but to let it happen. Always keep in mind that you will go and tell the media later. You can’t save the entire world tonight — sometimes all you can do is to collect evidence and use it later. And maybe you are lucky and the surveillance state works both ways and badly behaved Badge Guy will be on the evening news — lots of people who abused their power got into serious trouble after a video turned up on Youtube. There are many people out there who are using their mobile phones to make videos. . . and one of these surveillance cameras might actually be working!

So, next time your life feels like you need to land your plane on the Hudson River and then balance a bowl of hot soup on the wing of a plane surrounded by cold water. . . be aware of your options.

Which is easier if you made a list of your options beforehand:

  • * play naive.
    * play a bit dumb.
    * play cheery girly.
    * get potential witnesses involved.
    * stay in control — always think of yourself as the leader or the teacher in this situation.
    * relax in the knowledge that you will go to the media once the nightmare is over.
    * do anything that helps keep the soup in the bowl and everybody safe.
    * not for a second let your voice give away that you are scared.
  • 10. Once you are back home. . .

    As mentioned before, this is the right time to be enraged or scared. Write a rant and publish it on the web. Call a friend and let them tell you how brave you are.

    I tell you that because I once stood up to a man who attacked an immigrant infront of the supermarket. All I wanted was some coffee and painkillers for a bad injury I had suffered a few days earlier — and then I ended up in an ugly situation. Everybody got out fine — except me. I felt miserable — on top of the extremely painful slipped disks. For the next two weeks, I hid under the covers, and I was unable to call one of these support lines for victims of violence. Even if you think you are fine, get a friend and tell them to tell you how brave you were and that you did everything right.

    11. And now, the really good news.
    You are a leader.

    You are aware of your tendency to get overwhelmed by anger, and you asked people to help you overcome that. Just because you asked a question like that, you showed that you are ready and able to learn and to take responsibility for the world you live in.

    You are planning ahead and seeking advice — you most likely have great potential to learn and grow.

    If you decide to grow into these shoes, you can walk in them.

    We are made for these times.
    In this very moment, countless people are working quietly to create a better world.

    Übersetzung folgt… sobald ich Zeit dazu finde 🙂


    1 Response to "Human Nature and the Coming Crisis, Part 2"

    Dogs too they masticulate when you feel the sun is rosy.
    Police dogs, seeing eye dogs and wheel chairs, these are the thoughts we have in our past that we can take with us to learn from. Before any of our members grows too weak from professional persecution, we can always turn to bigotry, to say I will not ever apologize, I will not and must not be tricked into doing. So to clack the heels of the slippers, this Cinderfella Cop tisks his two front teeth, since it is worth it to say I was once like you, but I have never thought the world would hold me this far down in the dumps for keeps.

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    Ich träum in letzter Zeit immer öfter davon, …

    ... den Mut zu haben, mich auf einen belebten Platz zu stellen und John F. Kennedys Rede zu laut zitieren: "The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society!"


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