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Memes

It’s sad when political meme making ruins perfectly good words, like “discrimination.”  Sad for nostalgic linguaphiles.  “Discrimination” used to be a positive trait, and still is.  It’s a shame when politically motivated media forces people, or encourages them, not to think, not to “discriminate.”

Of course, the meaning of words can never be destroyed, only buried in a palimpsest of entendres.  Without “discrimination,” there is no language, no phenomena, no this and that.  And it is interesting, by way of segue, that the word “crime” seems embedded in the word discrimination.  No clue if that’s really the etymology, but let’s roll with it.

I think many people that are labeled as “racist” don’t see themselves that way at all.  What they are against is crime.  To be against Mexican gang members who commit violent crimes is not the same thing as being “racist,” or against Mexicans.  Fear of violent jihadists is not “Islamophobia.”

The fact that violent Mexican drug gangs and Jihadists reflect badly on their “races” (Islam, of course, is not a race, nor is “Mexican”) is unfortunate.  And also unfortunate is that those who lack “discrimination” lump together Mexicans and Muslims with the bad eggs of their groups.

Still more unfortunate is the fact that professional meme makers (or hobbyists with an agenda) seize on those indiscriminate idiots, and label them “discriminating.”  Then, undiscriminating people are dissuaded from thinking.  And then the militant among them parrot memes like “racism,” applying them indiscriminately, and causing the appearance of a widespread phenomenon, that wasn’t there in the first place…but now, increasingly, is.

If you are in law enforcement, or government, or are simply a human being that would like to be intelligent enough to avoid dangerous people, as much as possible, you have no choice but to look for various characteristics that are associated with violent criminals.

If you do not do this, you are stupid.  Your brain function has nearly ceased, if you have been so cowed by memes of “racism,” that you are not afraid of someone walking at you with a gun, with killer tattooed across his forehead…if you think, hey, this guy is maybe just like my buddy Jose…they’re both Mexicans, right?

I grew up, white, in the 1960s in California thinking racism was a thing of the past.  History.  My parents were not hippies.  But my father was an athlete.  And some of his best friends were black.  It just wasn’t a thing.  I know now, in retrospect, that seeing people as individuals, was a newfangled idea in some areas.

But as I continued to grow up, the newfangled concept seemed to have mostly caught on.  I traveled through Mexico, Central America, Thailand, Japan, India, Nepal.  Racism was the furthest thing from my mind.  I continued to not think about racism up until around 2009, when it seemed to reignite.

On some level, I admit, this may have been like lancing a boil….or leeching…or some other metaphor of bringing something to the surface that may have been festering in an unhealthy way in places, and people.

But I think it is at least equally true that “racism” was regenerated, grown from places it was only a seed that needn’t have sprouted, or in naïve minds that had no such seeds, but were fertile ground where they could be sown.

And meanwhile, those minds on the threshold of objective, independent thought, of “discrimination,” were in some cases stunted, by socio-economic incentives to eschew objective speech, in favor of racist meme talk, which caused the very phenomena it ostensibly opposed.

How does this happen?  Cognitive dissonance is a term frequently used, and frequently used wrong, or at best, without full awareness of it’s various meanings, and it’s primary meaning.

Cognitive Dissonance

The primary meaning of cognitive dissonance, it’s most frequent type of occurrence, is when people express an opinion, for whatever reason, and then they continue to defend that opinion, no matter what evidence may arise.

It is difficult for people to shift their position.  Because it requires a phase in which one simultaneously entertains one’s own opinion, and potentially conflicting evidence.  That is “cognitive dissonance.”  And many people, apparently find it unpleasant.

I would suggest that it’s similar to exercise or brushing your teeth (or flossing).  Once you get used to it, you find it is not really unpleasant at all.  In fact, it’s healthy, conducive to growing intelligence, and greater compassion.

But the term “cognitive dissonance” refers to the phenomena in which people avoid entertaining various perspectives.  It refers to the moment in which the mind is confronted with evidence or an idea that is not harmonious with their pre-existing opinion, when their knee jerk reaction is to reject the new evidence.

If their original opinion is small minded, or even misguided, perhaps simply parroting some jargon of a profession meme maker, or one of their derivatives, then the new derivative mind may go on for an indefinite period espousing the opinion they got stuck with for whatever reason.

And like exercise and flossing, the longer it’s avoided, the harder it is to allow the phase of “cognitive dissonance” that could change an opinion, or ad nuance to it at least.  Instead, often people build a case for thdescriminationeir opinion, seek out others with the same opinion, share rhetoric, and get increasingly hostile towards other opinions.

Why do people do this?  People identify with their opinions, to various degrees.  They believe they are those opinions, or those opinions are a vital part of their “self.”  Their polemic opinions, ironically, “discriminate” them.  Depending on how strong this identification is, to change opinion could be seen almost like death.

I believe I am mostly free of that chrysalis of “self,” of the attachment of polemics to any definition of “me.”   I did years of psychological exercises.  Things like purposely holding various perspectives.  Considering issues without ever holding an opinion about them.

I can recommend these kind of exercises in the same way that I can recommend exercise and a good diet.  Try writing a story with various characters.  Even a bad writer has to try to at least imagine what various characters would say.

A bad writer, however, will still hold a single perspective.  And all characters who oppose that perspective will be one-dimensional straw men.

The trick is to take a God’s eye point of view.  Assuming you think, like I do, that “God” is every perspective, omniscient, but at the same time seeing through every individual’s eyes, seeing as every self, from its own perspective, including our limitations, and the cause and effect that led us each to be as we are.

So, that’s my prescription for mental calisthenics.  Exercises to help free ourselves from memes about “racisim.”  And as a side benefit, building up mental muscles that will make us more resilient in the meme storm that we call media.

And, that meme storm has always been there, as long as there has been any form of communication.  There are always those who grasp the principles of memes, and use them to manipulate others.  And even hallowed truths are memes, and may or may not be true, or the whole truth.

The meme storm is part of communication, and is indispensable for mental crops.  Weather is neither good nor bad.  Well, I guess, I’ll change my opinion on that.  Weather is good.  Because the absence of weather is?

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