Anyone who identifies the self as an optimist,
a pessimist, a cynic, a realist, or as a strictly
rational person is deluded through over simplification.
To be lucid we must be all these things at the
appropriate time for each. General, reciprocal, mutual
compassion is the key.

   A crowd gathered in the park as Victor was speaking to John Demosecon. Vic had worked the conversation into a somewhat cynical and pessimistic tone. His audience was prone to agree or at least be indulgent. Victor was talking about the near hopelessness of ever inspiring autonomous, lucid thought among the people bound by the patterns instilled by the Social Thought Templates.
   "After a minimum of two thousand years of social conditioning and de-facto selective breeding to enforce the economic class structure and almost a hundred years of electronic media perfection and reinforcement of beliefs, we humans no longer know what IS our true nature." Victor, noticing John seemed receptive, continued less forcefully. Aside from the desire that people see the truth for themselves, he didn't want John to grow defensive. Most people are prone to bringing up conditioned, psuedo-intellectual responses to shade any small illumination to which they have been subjected. Many call forth old ideas to which they have been drilled in order to fend off notions they haven't thought of first. Acutely conscious of the irony, Victor softened his voice but kept the content hard. He didn't want to be guilty of hypnotizing or enthralling anyone as much as he had no desire to bludgeon them with the truth. He wanted liberate minds not bind them in his own self interest.
   "We've been taught that we are hostile, aggressive and selfish. That teaching has fulfilled its own prophecy. It is constantly reinforced in schools, news, sitcoms, dramas and public statements of all sorts. The regular references to competition and our competitive spirit is just a single example. The mention of the word competition probably called forth an automatic response, from your mind, in support of the "truth" we have been taught. So what is the reality of thought control? Are there unthinkable thoughts in any day or age? But those are the tools of policy not the human nature I speak of today.
   "Even a superficial examination of the culture we have invented shows that all of our accomplishments are group works. Without cooperation few of our material comforts and aids to survival would exist. Ideas may come from individuals but their realization depends on the assistance and cooperation of others. Think of all the steps that went into making the shirt you're wearing. A farmer grew the cotton, with the aid of a baknker, chemical companies, tractor and tool manufacturers, energy suppliers etc. ad infinitum. A gin crew seperated the seeds. The bales were shipped to a textile manufacturer where the cotton was spun and woven into cloth, which was shipped to a sweat shop where slaves made the shirt. Then it was transported to a wholesaler and a retailer and finally sold to you by a clerk. Thousands of people needed to cooperate so you could wear that shirt today."
   Victor had deliberatly belabored the shirt example. In part he had wanted to prove beyond doubt that human accomplishments require enormous cooperation. He also wanted to paint over the inadvertant reinforcement of our negative characteristics which had occured by his mention of our supposed aggressive etc. nature. It is a tribute to John's intelligence not to Victor's semi-articulate speal that John wasn't retaken by the template. Victor's unfortunate phrasing caused John to ask, conscious of the effect it would have on the growing crowd (that Victor, too absorbed in his own rhetoric, hadn't noticed yet), "What difference does it make that our original nature is not selfish? When I interract with someone who is, I must respond or be consumed. But I do see that joining in the aggressive spirit perpetuates the social and economic ills of the culture. How can we deal with this."
   Victor was nearly at a loss. This was the issue that troubles most people and he was no exception. He was saved by remembering something he had read that was attributed to the Dalai Lama. Victor paraphrased, "we can't always avoid responding negatively to negative input. We can try to set the tone of the interaction at the outset. We can be warm, friendly and non-aggressive. Most people, in my experience, respond positively to positive input. The Lama, in the excerpt I read, stresses compassion. He didn't exclude angry emotions but said they had no great hold on himself. They wer transient and superficial. I don't want to exaggerate or misinterpret his thought. I'll speak for myself and say that a sharp remark, founded in shallow anger or pique, may be just the thing to pull some asshole out of the mental morass of a Social Thought Template.
   "I wouldn't want to get drawn into competing with some fool without hope of a profitable interaction, for both of us. But I'm not above giving him instruction concerning his own self interest. Competition simply assures that we remain devided; united only in perpetually losing to the economic elite. I won't argue with a fool. If he doesn't respond to friendliness and common interest and can't be shaken out of stupidity", Victor finished with mild sarcasm, "I'll ignore him or avoid him until I can think of a better way to reach his 'compassionate nature'."
   A few of the homeless close by had pricked up their ears as soon as Victor had mentioned Two thousand years of social conditioning. As he had continued a few more had trickled in along with some curious bangers. One crack dealer had even suspended sales to listen. To him it was mildly revolutionary dialogue. To his customers it was an onerous and intolerable delay. An under cover cop drifted over with the drug server. The narc was dressed in homelessly worn but much too clean clothes. His cared for and well tended teeth were another givaway. The small gathering attracted two uniformed bicycle patrolmen who stood hiding their anxiety behind and air of amused knowledgeability.
   John's smile was a little knowing but more impish as he asked teasingly and appropriately, "how much of your avoidance of competition is due to a lack of abilty to compete."
   Victor laughed and said, "Well, it's true that I never developed that skill with grim determination. It probably remains somewhat of an unrealized potential. I think I sensed, when quite young, certainly long before I could articulate the idea, that competition among members of servile classes is futile. Taken as a whole, those subgroupings include ninety-five percent of the population. Even top paid CEOs and politicians are wannabes compared to the five percent who own ninety-five percent of all the land, stocks, bonds and everything else. When the rest of us compete among ourselves for their leavings, the really wealthy are put at ease in their occupation of preying on us. While at each others throats we are distracted from the observation of their predatory and parasitic selves. So whether or not I'm competant I won't compete with my fellow humans. (That is a group in which I will not include the elite, by the way.) It is not in my 'enlightened self interest' to do so. That is not to say that I won't respond, possibly very negatively, to the hostile aggressiveness and selfishness of others: especially if it is meaningfully directed at me."
   "What do you mean by 'meaningfully'?"
   "Much of the aggresiveness and hostility that people exhibit is gratuitous. It has no real purpose. The aggressor has nothing to gain because the victim has nothing material to surrender. It is done to boost the ego of the predator at the expense of the psychological suffering, the humiliation of the prey. We consider such behavior normal. We are desensitized to it and it rarely draws comment. Oh, we acknowledge its existence in employment situations; between boss and worker. But when the workers, most of us and including white collar, do it among ourselves we seperate it in our minds from what we believe a good, sensitive person should do. Very few aside from myself see this as evidence of mass psychosis.
   It is not so much that the nature of such interaction is intrinsically psychotic but because it not in our long term self interest and is therefore irrational behaviour that I see it as demented. It keeps us at odds and unlikely to do anything about our real problems. We only cooperate and work together, and that mostly unconsciously, to server the rich.
   "That's the way it's been for thousands of years, since the founding of this economic culture. Our free and original nature has been replaced by a thralldom which encourages the 'normal' behaviors mentioned. Most of us believe that our natural state is the contemporary mind set. We have been convinced that this society is the only viable society. This way of life is the only way to live even though it results in more suffering than happiness for most of us. We have been de facto slaves for so many generations we are no longer aware of our servitude. We are a deluded pack of fools!"
   I had to intrude on Victors thoughts. "Watch it Vic, you have probably crossed the line of 'respectability. You are treading on your audience's self esteem and may have gone too far already. If you more clearly expose your views on religion or nationalism you'll lose what little respect they still have for you."
   Victor thought back. "That's one of your rare, good observations! I need to step back a little. Maybe then I can recoup by restating in a low key. I'd hate to lose all the little headway I'd made,"
   But he suspected it would still be an uphill struggle. Some of the listeners were alreadygrimacing and looking away to reflect on their unhappiness with Victor or even glaring at him with open hostility. One of the latter insisted in an antagonistic tone, "I'm an American! I'm free and you better shut your commie mouth if you wantta live!" The cops had gaurded smiles.
   Victor thought he saw a way to turn the remark. "That's just the point! If we want to survive we have to play their game. We can't even speak openly about what is really going on. What kind of freedom is that?"...
   And it worked ... sort of?? The heckler and most of the crowd nodded in assent. Victor was so pleased he didn't notice the alert and wary look that infiltrated the features of the three well trained police officers. He was unaware that one had consulted his radio. Even the secret slueth was willing to blow his cover in response to what all cops are taught to recognize as an emerging riot. If Vic had noticed he would have wondered anew at the ability of the "powers that be" to turn the majority, which all cops are part of, against their own, each other, in the employ of the elite. But luck seemed to be with him as he blythly continued.
   ..."But I'm just trying to get people to think about how life might be better. I'm not trying to make anyone angry even though these things sometimes make me very angry. He had been speaking to the entire crowd, not just John, for some time now. THE transition had gone unnoticed by most. But John and the cops were alert. Victor was vaguely aware but he was very focused on what he was saying. He caught John's eye just then. John glanced at the patrolmen and Victor immediately appreciated the danger. He continued even more pacifically.
   "There is not really much we can do right now. Not enough people are aware of what is going on. Most people know in their hearts but hardly admit to themselves what a raw deal we are getting. We need to gently remind them of the truth that is always around us. The homeless sisters and brothers are close to that truth every day of our lives. We have our faces shoved in it. But we have no power to bring about positive change. YET!
   "Many others still need to be convinced. We can't win them over to the truth by force. We must talk to them. We must bide our time and build our power until we can sweep away the suffering that besets us all. I hope and believe we can do this peacefully."
   Sensing that the situation had eased and the official observers were assuaged, Victor decided to wind up with a little push to maintain a moderate momentum. "I was once asked that if I thought everything was so bad why didn't I commit suicide? Bullshit! I'll sooner starve in the desert with a curse for the system in my mouth...but a free human being!"
   He turned his back on the excitement he had just aroused and walked off with John alongside. THe cops, after a moments indecisiveness, stayed with the crowd, just in case.

   Victor's attitude is grown of a lifetime of challenging authority. Compassion with the common problems of people has displaced adolescent self assertion as his primary motivation. He believes in lucidity. Anyone who identifies as an optimist, a pessimist, a realist or a strictly rational person is deluded by over simplification. To be lucid we must be all these things at the apropriate time. General, reciprocal compassion is the key. Compassion implies sincerity. John and Vic are skeptical concerning the good will and even the competance of most leaders. John asks playfully, "do you think your rousing rhetoric inpired the rabble with the courage to rebel or was it just a creative suicide attempt?"
   Victor thought for a second then replied, "It's true this humble spirit dwelling has focused on opposition to authority of all kinds. No doubt I'm still enmeshed in Oediple rebellion, though my father has been dead for twenty-five years. Now don't suspect me of stooping to sarcasm."
   "OK, Vic, I'll lay off the psychology, I think most of the practitioners have their heads up their asses too. But it is the year two thousand and they have a lot of power. They must be reckoned with! What do you plan to do about them?"
   "Victor had given this some thought and answered immediately, "supplant their bullshit with the truth! Not that it will be as easy as it is to say. A lot of their knowledge is empirical. It is based on observable behaviors and thought patterns. THey use it (and often distort it) in the employ of propaganda for the status quo in controlling the majority of the population. The elite have always feared the mob. The delusions the create are often subtle dissemblings designed to distract or misdirect. It wouldn't serve the purpose of installing Social Thought Templates to be cought in an aoutright falsehood.
   "For example: you just suggested, since I would rather die than submit to authority, that I am suicidal. The assumption implicit in our quip carries the lie. Authority is presumed to be benign. It's legitimacy is based on the consent of those ruled. But the consent is based on the presumption that the system is good and in our best interest. In fact, it is in the service of of a greedy minority. The implicit lie is reinforced by the psychologist's interpretation of my motivation, which is designed to discredit me. (I'm speaking of a general pattern here. I'm not so paranoid as to believe I have been singled out for attention.) I am thereby nuetralized. I am no longer a threat to the elite and their power and money is preserved.
   "The truth about the nature of our system, our economy, our culture and the interests they really serve can inspire the majority to act in our own behalf. But, though I don't fear death, I can do little good if I'm killed or even nuetralized by a notion of pop-psychology. No, I'm not suicidal. I need to live in order to spread the truth. I know there will be oppostion and I'll have to face it. I hope I can do my part. I think it's possible to succeed. Be that as it may I'm not deluded by thinking I can do it all myself. This is a tak taken for the common good. It needs to be a common undertaking. I hope it's not just a funeral."
   John rolled his eyes at Victor's morbid pun but decide not to exploit the weakness it exposed. Instead he chose to be supportive of Vic's sedition. "I think your analysis of the function of competition in our society is astute and maybe profound. You are right! Our aggressive, hostile, selfish attitudes don't serve us. They serve the rich very well! Individually we have no power to compete with our rulers. Only collectively does the potential to really win exist." You said a lot when you said there would be opposition. How will you oppose what most people have come to believe is basic human nature?"
   Vic answered slowly and carefully but without hesitation. "I've thought a lot about that. I believe most people develop two sides to their personalities. A good side and a bad side is how many would describe it but I don't think those words serve the truth very well. Altruism versus selfishness has weaknesses too. Social instinct blended with individual self preservation may be the best I can do at the moment. But that is obvious and provides little guidance for action. What needs to be done is to call forth the combined force those instincts. Then we can really...".

   Victor's view of world of humanity was born of his refusal to accept ordinary rationalizations for our economy and society. He won't believe this is the best culture we can devise. I need him to clarify. "Victor, I agree that an aggressive, selfish and hostile nature no longer serves the best interests of the majority. How do you deal with the belief that such negative traits are part of human nature? That we all try to assert ourselves at the expense of our neighbor? That this is the natural order?"
   "That smacks of Social Darwinism, which was debuncked in the nineteenth century. Though it enjoyed a resurgance in the twentieth , mostly near the end and as a reaction to egalitarian movements such as socialism, it is still psuedo-science. Books like "The Territorial Imperative" in the 1960's reverse anthropomorphised in an attempt to reduce us to trainable, controllable animals. I don't think you need to be an anthropoligist or a zooligist to see the fallacy in such comparisons. But for the sake of considering an alternative hypothesis of our nature imagine a secure group of food gathering apes.
   "The economy of a band of gorillas is simple. Perhaps each larger ape will push each smaller away from what is perceived to be the sweeter fruit. But the largest won't hoard all the food and deprive the majority. He won't gather the food then redistribute a small portion of it only to his supporters. He won't force non-supporters into starvation name them disloyal and blame their suffering on their own weakness. Even a dumb gorilla would woould know it is who is disloyal to the group in such a situation. Of course it is doubtful a dumb ape would be so stupid as to hoard food at the expense of the group in the first place.
   "It takes a prverted intellect to create such evil as systematic exploitation. No matter how subtle or well hidden behind masks of delusion, slavery is a product of diseased minds. Such abominations of the ability to think can not help but be traced to greed, lust or other failure to self regulate some desire. If you challenge that assertion, I won't argue with you. I won't waste time in a discussion with a fool!
   "Complex systematic exploitation is slavery, whether de-juro or de-facto. Where the freedom of choice is the choice betwwen servitude and death, there is no liberty. Outright slavery is one extreme. The simple, vaguely existant adnd maximally mobile kierrchy of a family of apes is the other. Most human systems fall somewhere between. Ours is dangerously close and growing closer to the extreme of slavery."

   What brought Victor to this view of life? A couple of years ago he faced life without even the gaurded optimism he has today. It is, no doubt, not apparent to you that the perception of one hundred generations of oppression and a willingness to die opposing it is the basis for a positive outlook. But he did say he thinks there is some chance for success. I think we need some more background on Victor Panover, before we will be able to understand him...

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