Ho No

“So Matt, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
“Nothing.”
“Matt, you’re a ten-year-old boy, you have to want something!”
“It’s a Christian holiday and I’m an atheist.”
“What?! Well then what are you going to open on Christmas morning?”
“I’ll be live-streaming all day.”

That’s an excerpt from an actual conversation my mother had with one of her grandsons. When I was but a boy, I didn’t relate to the Christian aspects of X-Mas either — but Santa and presents sure made a whole lotta sense.

Frankly, I blame the lack of television for this kind of staunch anti-X-Mas stance. When I was young, we were forced to choose from a total of THREE television channels every night. Come holiday time, at least one of those channels was showing a Christmas-themed special in which it wasn’t too late to find out the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas Miracles were around every corner. Nowadays kids don’t even watch TV. Instead of the picture-tube, they’re glued to the YouTube.

And have you even tried shopping for kids today? When I was young, there were large toy-stores in every mall — EVERY aisle was filled with goodies. They’re gone. You have a few aisles in Target or Walmart now. What can a child reasonably put on his Christmas List this year? What? A bike? Scooter? Legos? Classic board games? Action-figures? Remote-control-vehicle? Xbox? TV? iPad/iPhone? Toy robot? Gift-cards? Movie-streaming/gaming-subscription service? Hmm never-mind.

But it’s like they don’t even care. They’re not inundated with commercial after commercial for hours everyday after school like I was when I was a kid. Frankly, most of the shows I watched were 22-minute long ads anyway (Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-Man). I knew all the latest toys and NEEDED every single one of them because all those ads convinced me. The same with cereal. I wanted every sugar-laden box they sold in the cereal-aisle and I made sure my mom knew it! But kids today? Psh, not even a peep, they don’t even want to go down and check out all the cool characters on the boxes — I always went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

I don’t know what to say, I guess it’s a rudderless generation — simply lost without the guiding hand of television. Every day and night I knelt before its glow and received without question the words it spoke. And I turned out fine. Well, I mean there was the anxiety, depression, sugar-addiction… whatever! It wasn’t TV’s fault, heck they had those World Wars before TV ever became popular. In conclusion, it’s never too late to learn the true meaning of Christmas: rampant unapologetic commercialism ushered in by a jolly old elf. Kids today need to get their act together and get their butts in front of the TV.

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A Reasonable Response

Elder One: Who is this man that speaks as if he has divine authority?
Elder Two: He is a popular teacher it seems. But what he teaches corrupts the people, it diminishes the law and our authority over them.
Elder Three: A trouble-maker it seems. Let us send him to the civil authority to be executed. He is guilty of heresy by our laws and of treason by theirs.
Elder Four: Do you think it wise brothers, to condemn a man to death for merely interpreting our creator in a manner that’s proving popular with the people?
Elder Two: It is a corrupted teaching that violates the letter of the law!
Elder Four: But he’s committed no measurable offense.
Elder Two: A slippery slope! He must be dealt with lest we all fall!
Elder Four: Surely this is an overreaction. If he continues and the people follow, their fervor will dissipate over time. Whereas if we rob them of him, they will cling to his message even more.
Elder Three: A quick cut and the infested branch will be gone! There will be no spread of his message once the source is severed.
Elder Four: We are talking about killing a man just because he draws a few crowds? And if the creator placed this man on earth, as he placed us all, who are we to intervene?
Elder One: Enough of this! Let us concern ourselves with more important matters. It’s almost lunch!
Elder Two: Now you’re talking!
Elder Three: Oh thank goodness, I’m starved!
Elder Four: Finally, a reasonable response!

The story of a dystopian world where Christmas never happened.

Scary School

When I was a kid in school, we were told to be afraid of drugs and drug dealers. It seems like every generation is provided with something specific to be scared of — some boogeyman that will steal your life away. I remember seeing the old “Duck and Cover” films of the 1950s that were about nuclear attacks for instance. And before that I believe there was polio and other childhood diseases. I think my mother was most afraid of abductions by strangers. Then there were political and philosophical ideologies out to get you. Heck, you could even get drafted by your own government and sent off to die in war.

But what’s the point? If there’s a constant reoccurring narrative, it’s an obvious sign of an artificial reality. How can EVERY generation get some unique form of fear? That’s ridiculous — it’s a conspicuous pattern. And what’s even more ridiculous, is the helplessness that surrounds the source of fear. Surely SOMETHING could be done?! “Nah, it’s just the way things are….” Or at least when I was in school, you could try saying “No!” to drugs, but they didn’t always listen.

So we all grow up with a boogyman that can’t be stopped — and the details change in order to mask the repetition. Oops! Spoiler Alert! My bad.

But you know what? It’s probably not Life’s fault. Life is not a torture-chamber designed to scare little children — it’s a fun-factory that makes dreams come true. So the society-wide boogymen we experience, are likely due to mass-hysteria brought about by all the pessimists among us. (Being a former pessimist, I would like to apologize for my contribution to any mass-hysteria I was a part of.)

And the reason nothing can ever be done to stop the source of fear, is because the boogyman isn’t real. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his inaugural address: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.” It is literally FEAR that must be stopped — that’s the only way to end the cycle.

Having been a child when Freddy Krueger came to prominence, and subsequently scared shitless by those movies, I don’t find the concept of battling the demons-of-our-dreams too absurd. And like in Freddy’s world, our nightmares can kill us.

In summation: to end the nightmare, stop being afraid.

Guilt-free Consumerism

If Life is a simulation, a game-like environment developed for the amusement of a consciousness residing on the outside — and this is an artificially manifested world comprised of flickering pixels, a virtual-reality — then there truly is no consumption or waste-production going on here. Pollution isn’t real, it’s pixels — flora and fauna aren’t real, they’re pixels — people aren’t even real, they’re pixels.

Whew! That’s a load off my mind! What’s the alternative interpretation? That this is an actual physical world and everything I do imparts a net-negative impact on the planet? Under that perspective, if I truly loved the planet I’d bury myself alive to transform into compost as fast as I could — it’s a pretty anti-human outlook.

Side note: be careful of logic because it can lead to some really dark places. Just because something is logical, doesn’t make it right, it just makes it logical. Logical simply means there’s a clear path to a conclusion. In other words: just because a conclusion can be reached through reason, that doesn’t make it a good one.

But where was I? Ah yes, consumerism. In video-games for instance, I’m oftentimes a consumer. There’s no deeper spiritual meaning involved, that’d be weird, it’s just straight-up consuming — and ya know what, I’m entertained by it. Many games deal with an endless upgrade cycle. Gotta get that new sword, the new armor, the new manufacturing process — whatever it is, I have to keep upgrading. And what’s wrong with that? It’s just pixels anyway.

So what’s wrong with that in our own world? The obvious question is this: if constant-consuming and consumerism is bad, why does it exist and why does it occupy such a prominent place in society? Should I not participate in this process? Wouldn’t it be rude to deny such an obvious way to engage with this world? You’re telling me that I was born into a consumer-focused world in order to completely reject it? Why set it up like that then? Why have shops around every corner?

I think it’s pretty clear that the theme of this particular instance of Life is “consumerism”. Stores are our churches, the places we all regularly attend. Those that achieve-at-selling are society’s heroes — those are the names we all know. Henry Ford? Steve Jobs? Bill Gates? Jeff Bezos? Just to name a few. Those are who we reward with our highest praise as well as our dollars.

My point is this: we shouldn’t feel guilty over consumerism, it’s who we are as a civilization. But that’s not to say we should do it without grace or refinement — oh no. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. We shouldn’t sloppily clear-cut forests just to sell some lumber. We shouldn’t pour pollutants down drains and into waterways just to get rid of it. We shouldn’t be using the messiest fuel sources we can find. No, we should be seeking to refine and improve the way in which things are produced — always. We are consumers dammit, not savages! We need a constant upgrade cycle — and that means making things better — always.

Political Quagmire

Boy am I tired of this narrative: “Hey young-people, get out and vote, it’s your most powerful form of expression!” Then the next day: “Oh well, you’ll get ’em next time! You just have to wait patiently until the next election.” But as evidenced by the current sitting president, a person’s most powerful form of expression is social media.

I’m also tired of the 50/50 vote splits that are simply handed-over uncontested. With all the talk of dodgy practices in relation to voting-machines and voter-suppression, a few thousand votes could go here-or-there based on fraudulent tactics — yet the election is called before any investigation takes place.

While I’m at it, I’m also tired of the same people getting elected. Even when term-limits preclude them from running for the same office, they simply switch to a new position. It’s the same cast of characters all the time. And no offense, but most of these people seem awfully shady and tend to make a lot of money while in office (and after).

I’ve been on-and-off watching this political stuff for a few decades now. I’m really trying to give it up completely. People often rail against social-media and its worthlessness, but politics is a pure shit-show and always has been (even a cursory glance at history reveals this). Young people are told to get informed and vote — but it’s the same story over and over.

My advice to young people: become a social-media influencer and you too can become president.

Religion of Politics

For some, government is God. You’ve got your high-priests and adherents divided into many branches and sects. You even have your proselytizers attempting to rally others to join them. “Register, and all your sins are forgiven!” Pick a side and vote the party line and you too can put your faith in politics. Things didn’t go your way this time? Well don’t worry, just trust in the power of elections and prosperity will come to you in the next round!

There is a fundamental question that we all must answer for ourself, and that is: How do things get done in the world? Politics is one answer — but it’s not the only answer. For some, it’s God or a form of spirituality. For some it’s science, for others it’s magic. By our nature, we select an answer whether we want to or not.

Everything happens for some underlying reason — and this foundational belief is your religion. You might not call it that, but it is what it is. “But doesn’t government get things done?” Well that’s certainly what its followers would like you to believe. Is it true? For some perhaps — but for others it’s their prayers, wishes, and vision-boards that get things done. And to others, the principles of science get things done.

Isn’t government and the political process simply an added layer placed atop our foundational belief? No, it is without a doubt its own religion. And engaging with multiple primary beliefs necessarily dilutes and confounds one’s system of belief. People often speak of having or lacking “faith in government” — it’s a religion through and through.

But like any religion, it has its good and bad qualities. We can’t judge political-believers based on the extremists that want everyone to consume their particular brand of religion. My point is this: Politics is not the answer for everyone. As Jesus once said: Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

In other words, if you’re a spiritually-minded person, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you’re trying to achieve your aims via political means. A tempestuous external world is a direct result of inner turbulence. For the spiritually-minded, God is found within — and His company is best appreciated by keeping our own house in order. What’s the point of slapping a fresh coat of paint on a house that’s crumbling from within? The external relies on the internal, not the other way around.

The spiritually-minded person must answer this question: is matter your master or your manifestation? Are you only to wait and hope and vote for the material world to get itself together before you find satisfaction? Your time is right-now, in this moment. NOTHING need be fulfilled in order for you to enjoy life. The door is always open — and by the appreciation of life in this very moment, you enter.

Future Wishlist 2018

Things I’m looking forward to in the future.

Robotic self-driving vehicles. I want to enter a vehicle and get carelessly whisked away to my destination while I play on my portable computing device.

Mechanized birdlike wings. These aren’t for travel per se, but mainly for flights of fancy, soaring through the sky. In a sense, these are bionic wings you strap-on, powered by motors with batteries that’re attached-to and activated-by your arms.

Long-distance travel surprise. Something new and awesome or even something old and quaint — either a more efficient way to travel or more entertaining (or both! having different options is fine).

Full-immersion viewing experience. Imagine someone calls you, and with these glasses on, it feels like you’re right there with them. They could be walking around a store and you’re virtually there, browsing along. Or, you’re playing a video game and it feels like you’re inside of it. Or, you’re watching TV feeling like you’re in the audience of a stage-play.

Maintenance-free surfaces. From counter-tops, to shower-stalls, to walls and floors — these surfaces will be maintenance free. No scrubbing or vacuuming or whatever else you usually do to keep them clean.

Instant shower. Step in, the washing process begins and ends automatically, step out.

Instant toothbrush. Stick it in your mouth: bing, bang, boom – teeth are cleaned automagically.

Smart-sleep systems. Temperature, pressure on parts of the body, ambient light and noise, even smells are all regulated by the sleep-system of tomorrow.

Unified on-demand library of all media. Movies, books, music, shows – whatever it is, is all available immediately on-demand via your portable computing device.

Utopian Government. Oh, might as well tack on a Star Trek-style united-world government. And with a colonized Mars, there could even be a United Federation of Planets.