Category Archives: Thoughts

Landmark Forum Recruitment – Creepy As Hell

A previous post contains a number of sources detailing what this organisation really does and how it hounds its seminar attendees to recruit others, including family members and friends.

It’s no secret “converted” business owners put pressure on employees to sign up; it has come out in the press repeatedly. The French documentary they managed to take off internet platforms also featured a doctor who had been pushing everyone around him to attend, as shown in the transcript, available here.

LAURENT RICHARD

Who did you enroll?

JACQUES

My whole family. My wife, my kids, my associate, my assistant.

NARRATOR

But this doctor doesn’t only enroll people close to him. With trust built through common experience, he reveals that he’s been recruiting well beyond his family circle.

LAURENT RICHARD

Your associate is a surgeon?

JACQUES

Yes.

LAURENT RICHARD

Is she signed up for The Forum?

JACQUES

Well, she hasn’t signed up yet, but she’s coming to the presentation.

LAURENT RICHARD

There are a lot of doctors here!

JACQUES

Lots! You saw them. Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists.

LAURENT RICHARD

Why are there so many doctors and nurses?

JACQUES

Because we’re all in the shit. When we’ve tried every possible treatment on a patient, and they’re useless, what do we do? We give up. We do nothing. We don’t care. And it bugs you.

NARRATOR

In a few seconds this doctor admits that he just sent his first patient to Landmark Education.

JACQUES

You share it with the patient. And I can tell you, these guys are great for enrollment.

LAURENT RICHARD

Just like that? A patient you see?

JACQUES

I did it. Just like that.

LAURENT RICHARD

Meaning?

JACQUES

I did it once. I said, I can’t let him miss out on it. It’s too obvious that he needs it. So I told him about it. But I kept him guessing. I told him, “What you need is relaxation, self-confidence.” “Oh yes,” said the patient. “Well, there is something that could interest you.” I don’t know if he did it, I didn’t ask about it. I didn’t take responsibility.

LAURENT RICHARD

Did you want him to do it?

JACQUES

Oh yes. The guy needs it. If he does it, he’ll be transformed.

What they do to people’s minds in such a short time is morbidly fascinating, and not a small phenomenon by any standards; according to Landmark, 2.2 million people have gone through the seminar (at least the first one). Its fierce defenders are outraged that anyone who hasn’t taken part feels the need to issue an opinion.

However, one only has to take a quick look at what comes out of there. The obsession, the missionary zeal, disregarding any inappropriateness.

“I just ran into one of these whackjobs on a blind date. I am not exaggerating when I say that ten minutes into the date she had invited me to come to a landmark seminar as a guest and that it would “change my life”. I was like…uh thanks anyways but I dont even know you, never heard of landmark, and I dont want my life changed. My life is my journey and no one steers my ship but me.” (YouTube comment).

In the online environment, it seems the only negative (or suspicious) appraisals they don’t flood with propaganda are on websites which don’t allow commenting. Anywhere else, they try to recruit, even when the author or OP is clearly not interested.

They are even targeting anonymously posed questions on Quora. Seriously. And not necessarily acidic ones. Take this innocently formulated conundrum of a fellow not knowing how to tell his enthusiastic “Landmarkian” brother he didn’t want to sign up (presumably after enough insistence on his brother’s part).

Post after post after post praising the forum and encouraging him to change his mind, even trying to guilt-trip him into going (it’s hundreds of dollars for a weekend of pseudo-psychology).

“So essentially you’re saying you don’t trust your brother and his good intentions.” 

“Maybe you realize that in the Landmark Forum you will confront yourself and live life with no excuses?  If that’s the case, you should be straight and tell him you are afraid of what you might learn about yourself and you aren’t willing to risk it.”

“He is asking you from his commitment of of making a difference in your life. You can tell him that I got your commitment towards my life and I respect your commitment. However my answer is NO at this point. However my suggestion is just go and do it. Perhaps, you may get from the Forum how to deal with people straight without hurting the relation.”

OMFG, these people are so creepy.

The guy was trying to get out of being pestered by a family member and their quick response was he actually needed Landmark, as if he were in need of fixing or something. They didn’t even know him, yet they seemed so sure of that.

In fact, that is exactly what they are taught – that every single participant is “inauthentic”, phoney, “without integrity” before completing the seminar (which translates as everyone outside of our group lacks integrity, a claim only made by cults).

“You are living lives of sham and illusion,” Condon assures us from his director’s chair. “Everything you do in life is meant to make you look good or to avoid looking bad. Everything. You are inauthentic. You have no integrity. Your word is worthless.”

It’s them on one side and the rest of the world on the other. They are the “saved ones”. No different than Jehovah’s Witnesses on that front. The attitude of forum leaders is gleefully regurgitated by minions, an example being this typical comment found on Quora:

“There is nothing dishonest about the Landmark Forum, anyone who says otherwise hasn’t taken the course. People who don’t take the course generally fall into the category of either knowing they can’t be helped, or knowing they don’t need the help (ironically the people in both those categories need the help the most). After taking the course I never paid a therapist again to waste my time and theirs. Hands down, taking the course was the best investment of my time and money… ever.”

In other words, everyone has a problem (literally everyone on this planet), especially those who don’t admit it, and the answer is Landmark.

Back to the article linked to above – a sinister technique is described, consisting of inducing despair followed by inducing euphoria, akin to Pentecostal churches where one is sobbing for their sins, then ecstatically praising God.

“Near the end of an endless day, Barry leads us in a visualization ercise about fear that goes something like this: We are told to close our eyes as he reads to us from what sounds like a bizarro relaxation script. “Imagine that are afraid of the person next to you,” he says. “Very afraid.”

He’s quiet a minute, lets the anxiety he’s inspired percolate. I start to hear uneasy, emotion-suppressing sighs.

“Now…imagine that you are afraid of everyone in the room. Imagine that you are afraid of every single person in the city of Oakland, hundreds of thousands of people.”

I’m sitting near the front of the room, and behind me, off to the left, I hear whimpering.

“Imagine you are afraid of every person in the United States.” The whimpering intensifies. “Imagine you are afraid of every single person, all 6 billion people in the world.” The whimpering becomes sobbing: further behind me someone might be hyperventilating.

“Don’t go unconscious!” he yells. “That’s just your way of checking out!”

The sobbing becomes wailing. And then, from right behind me, some lets rip a wild, primal, angst-ridden, high-decibel growl, like I once heard from my dog when she having a wild dream.

Then Barry says, “Just wait! There’s a surprise on the other side of this. Something absurd!” Sobbing, growling, and whimpering fill the air.

“Now, are you ready for the surprise? Imagine the person next to you is—guess what?—afraid of you.” Barry breaks into a giggle just this side of maniacal.

“Now imagine everyone in the room, in Oakland, in America, in the world, is afraid of you!”

The sobbing begins to turn to laughter. We open our eyes onto a world in which we are powerful because we don’t feel fear, we instill it. I guess. I’m not particularly moved by the ercise. But Barry’s performance has provoked in the group a hasty swing of the emotional pendulum that reveals an ever growing willingness to be led. I know everyone is tired, but their mutability disgusts me. I’d thought we were supposed to become more powerful here.

The all-knowing leader, mind you, is not a trained psychologist, but somehow he is able to induce a trance. Overtime there have been speculations regarding the use of hypnosis. Obviously, this mass hysteria would freak the hell out of anyone who was simply observing.

Another article on the subject is very interesting. Although it ultimately ends in a pitch, which I don’t quite get, the numerous comments, some posted as recently as this year, contain the experience of many with the forum.

“I was involved in Landmark Education for 11 years and I was a staff member before I left the organization. The most effective and confusing element of LEC is that within it’s philosophy is a lot of truth. Most of this truth is based in buddhist teaching. Landmark combines these insights with consumerism and lots and lots of shame. If you are unhappy, you’re in your “racket”. If you are hurt, you’re in your story. I once told someone that I was sad and he said, “Is that your racket or your winning formula?” Landmark discourages self trust and encourages you to judge yourself if you are anything less that joyous and “at cause.”

I literally just left an “Orientation” at a members house today, and I feel like I just escaped Jonestown.I was belittled for not coming up with a $200 deposit for the $650 forum. When I explained I had just lost my job and was struggling to survive, the member blamed me for my own misfortunes and continued to degrade me with a litany of personal insults. I’m like, “So, you want me to pay $650 to you NOW?!” (…)This practice seems to prey on vulnerable people. I was relentlessly recruited by a member after losing my job.”

“I’m a mother of a thirty year old son. It has come to my attention that since he’s been involved in the landmark forum for some time he has become very distant and lost still searching for a higher power even though he’s been baptized catholic. This forum has confirmed him and caused great concern over his well being and driven him into debt. The multi marketing companies that are built on hype led him into this scam convince him that he needs it to become successful in the business. I’ve been through enough to know that he’s become distant, hates ppl, lost all belief in himself even he’s become leader which by the way doesn’t pay a dime, and now he’s lost and more confused than ever! He paid money he couldn’t affford because he has integrity ( and they take advantage of that) for my niece to join a weekend seminar and when she attended in Manhattan became seriously ill with an appendix attack but the leaders didn’t give a damn about her and try to force her back into the room. This organization doesn’t give a damn about human life! They refused to give a refund until my sister threatened a lawsuit. I seriously wish this company would fall off the face of this earth! It’s a scam and I’m sick of wondering when or if I’ll ever hear from my son again!”

“Lord, one of their staff members pestered me continuously about signing up for the $700 (!!) weekend session, and when I told him I couldn’t afford it, he had the audacity to tell me I could borrow it from the bank or from someone in my life. When I continued to resist, he urged me to consider that something deeper, something unrelated to money was keeping me from signing up–and perhaps this was what was keeping me from achieving goals in life. First, how offensive to presume I haven’t been achieving goals in life, and second, yes it really is all about money. I have no urge to get into debt. How manipulative though, eh? Telling me that some unknowable force within me was causing me to resist signing up, and that force might be keeping me from happiness.”

“About a year or more ago I lost a great friend to Landmark She can’t afford to eat out but yet she can afford to pay them hundreds and hundreds of dollars to go to seminars to travel with others just like her to be enlightened and to tell me on a regular basis her truths which are nothing more than explanations of how she feels.”

“I have a friend who’s started the Landmark process, and two a few things she reported were hazard signs in my eyes: “I was wrong, i was so wrong…” Having been raised Catholic, i’m suspicious of any thought process that emphasises self-debasement.
She also has encouraged me to attend two ‘graduation ceremonies,’ and if I only started participating in Landmark, we’d have a ‘shared vocabulary.’ You can learn Buddhism for a lot less money, and you get bathroom breaks.”

“My girlfriend of almost two months who I think is a beautiful, smart and wonderful woman put me in a strange position! From first glance things are going good however since we first me has been urging me to join Landmark Education as it’s very important too her! She is 100% into In, she eats it, drinks it, recruits, volunteers and speaks of it religiously daily. (…)Now she demands I join Landmark Forum to reveal my bigger picture or loose her? Question is, what is Landmark Education doing to its paying participants? You see I’m very clear thinking person, so someone trying to hold my relationship hostage will not work on me. I’m stronger that and know when someone in trying to fool me into drinking the koolaid…”

“I have a friend who committed suicide after doing several Landmark courses – he discovered damages that needed far more care than Landmark was capable of supplying – they deconstructed his personality & he was unable to find his way back. It was appalling. And I know other people for whom the same thing has happened to their friends or family. It is irresponsible & dangerous to mess with people’s minds when you don’t know what you’re doing, & no one in Landmark ‘education’ has any qualifications in mental health, ‘Leader Program’ or not. As for putting children, whose minds are still just developing, under this strain – it beggars belief that anyone would do that.”

“I wish I could just vomit and feel better after attending half of Advanced Course for Landmark. I met nice people in the room. Accomplished, educated, interesting. My kind of people. The Forum Leader had the audacity to tell me that people only liked ME because of my accomplishments and did not love me. I told him he was wrong and he argued with me and told me I was ‘not coachable’ so I left. F*** him. F*** Landmark.”

“I have been hounded for three years to join this ‘sect’. I always politely declined because I smelled the shadiness of this ‘denomination’ from the beginning. I have dealt with at least 10 of these people. Each time, with no exception, the relationship with this group of ‘fanatics’, has ended poorly and each of them have had personal issues that requires professional help.” 

These are just a few of the comments, on that site alone. There are many others elsewhere. Another account described how the seminar leader was pushing a woman to call her ex-husband, whom she’d left after many years of alcoholism (and was happy with her decision) to apologise to him and possibly go back with him as well. Mind-blowing stuff (they were, perhaps, trying to recruit her husband after “saving” a destructive marriage).

The Cult Education Institute shares really disturbing accounts of unsuspecting people being substantially affected by their interaction with Landmark “converts”.

“I have been told to do this Landmark Forum for self-development by my supervisor in my last performance review. I had a brief encounter with it many years ago as some co-workers did it. One of whom left her fiancé and married a Forum leader in the short space of three weeks. I have found out that my manager, other management, staff and others within the company have all done this training. For months I’ve been hearing things like ‘honoring your integrity,’ ‘being authentic’ and ‘commitment.’ The pressure put on us all to go and do this Forum is immense. I feel that my job will be threatened if I don’t do it.”

“I’m convinced that Landmark contributed to the end of my marriage. Although it initially helped my ex get out of psychotherapy, it was basically just a form of self-therapy. He was addicted to analysis. When he felt he had problems with our marriage, he took them to his people at Landmark instead of talking to me. They helped him to decide he needed a divorce. The only person he would accept as a counselor was a Landmark ‘coach,’ who was not a licensed marriage counselor. I took Landmark courses myself largely for the sake of my marriage. The best thing about my divorce is not having to take any more! I gave them an earful every time one of those Landmark zombies called trying to get me back into the fold. So now I’m on their ‘don’t-call list.’ I call them ‘Landmark Nazis.’

“I want to thank you for a most informative website. I was hired by a company and unbeknownst to me, everyone but myself and one other person, were Landmark people. We later left, because we both are very strong people and refused to go to the Forum. I am just amazed at what took place and how this all happened within a successful company with very well-educated and socially astute people. Games were played and the people were hurt, which can suck the life out of a company.”

“A friend of mine has been in Landmark for over a year now and it is taking over her life. She only wants to date men in Landmark and quit her job. Now she has more time for Landmark and volunteering. She is usually broke, but somehow always seems to find money for more Landmark programs. She also found someone through Landmark that would take her in rent free. All her dialogue sounds like rehashed Landmark terminology. She talks about ‘creating new possibilities,’ ‘breakthroughs’ and living a ‘life of authentic etc.etc. Of course she is always trying to get others to try out the Forum. Everything she talks about or does is about Landmark. I personally have nothing against anything that will help people empower there lives and make them better, but my friend’s life is losing balance and she is becoming more and more dependent on Landmark in an unhealthy way.”

“My new employer hired an old friend deeply entrenched in Landmark. Two weeks later there was a general staff meeting and we were all ‘encouraged’ to attend the next Forum. My boss called me into his office and said, ‘Be there.” I knew he meant the Forum. I asked if it was mandatory and he simply stated, ‘No, but be there anyway!’ I didn’t attend and my life at work has been turned upside down. I share my office with two Landmark people. These Landmark people don’t seem to be any better at essential communication skills than they were before they started. They instead seem to be in a world all by themselves, where nothing but Landmark appears to have any significance. I foresee this business hitting the skids soon and that’s really the result of Landmark Education [sic].”

“I had a friend who was sucked into Landmark Forum. We intervened to get him out. It took some psychiatric help, but now he is back to normal. I was amazed to find out how big Landmark is, but yet somehow largely unnoticed. Their manipulation and control over people is frightening. After a single weekend, my friend who is a psychology major, was brainwashed. He was as far from reality as you can be and came so close to losing everything.”

Again, there is no need to experience this directly in order to see it for what it is. Anyone remotely normal would not aspire to end up selling “salvation” harder than MLM recruiters or speaking in jargon (I’m sure there are people in rural parts of China whose English is easier to understand).

 

 

Landmark: Scientology’s Little Cousin

Self improvement – isn’t it wonderful? If you’re feeling stuck, the market abounds in quick, wonderful books and courses claiming to give you the answer to every problem. Never mind that the claim is bombastic, that your feelings are temporary and that no one can ever know you better than you know yourself, hence the ancestral meme, “the answer lies within”.

Forget your twenty, thirty or fifty years of life experience on Planet Earth, constantly observing, analysing, trying to find the “right path” to happiness, if that even exists. Three days suffice; you will walk out of the Landmark Forum a new person.

Changed, re-engineered – reborn, almost. I don’t know how that sounds to others but it’s not exactly like the wonder pill that makes you lose ten pounds in ten days. This is someone’s mind we’re talking about.

The Landmark Forum, unlike other glorified cults, doesn’t seek to cleanse you of original sin or body thetans, but something easier to grasp – your identity.

“When you came in here Friday morning, you were so certain about who you were, weren’t you? You walked in certain, and tonight you’re walking out uncertain. It could take years to become certain about who you are again. That’s what the rest of the Landmark Curriculum for Living is for: to help you resolve that uncertainty.”

As you sit there for hours and hours daily, you are systematically torn to bits by being told what an arsehole you are, until your entire existence and all its meaning crumbles before you, so you can rebuild your identity from scratch. And all that for the pittance of a few hundred dollars (or whatever currency your country uses, as the recruitment mill operates in no less than 20).

Although satirical, this is a short reenactment of what happens initially. Participants are locked up in a room, unable to leave except for the one meal time (additionally they have a few short breaks during which they are assigned “homework”). They are not allowed bathroom breaks for hours on end, claiming it would be irresponsible to miss even five minutes of the seminar (although up to a third consists of promotion). More importantly, they are insulted to the bone marrow. They are outright told their lives (and therefore achievements) are meaningless facades; “stories”.

It can and does get downright sinister. Part of this deconstruction is to air one’s dissatisfaction with others, as well as painful memories of being harmed – to be told, in each and every case, that they are to blame, even for the actions of others. Applying that technique ends up being cruel and shameless, with no consideration for reality.

The other baffling treatment students endure, aside from being accused and bashed for their every misfortune (even rape), is to have their perception questioned whenever they disagree with organisers. From the article linked to above:

“Mmm, this refund, let’s talk about this. Why do you feel this way? What could you be resisting in your life? What if ‘I want my money back’ is just a story you are telling yourself?”

During the seminar, the leader dismisses doubts or criticism by saying to each dissenter:”This is only your interpretation.” It can be applied to facts from their past (which the leader has no idea of) and even real time thoughts and feelings. By this he means that the student has no ability to accurately discern what is real and what isn’t and must rediscover reality with the leader’s guidance.

Not surprisingly, according to a former Scientologist, the “tech” they use is heavily borrowed from L Ron Hubbard. In fact, Landmark evolved out of Est, which in turn evolved, partially, out of Scientology.

The French documentary detailing this, as well as showing footage filmed by an infiltrated journalist, has disappeared from the internet, aside from a short YouTube fragment. However, the transcript is available on the Wikileaks website (quite a read).

The catch, or hook, comes on the final day, when participants are encouraged to make amends with people they relate poorly to, after intense rehearsals, directed by the program leader, on what to say to them (as shown in the transcript).

Unlike Scientologists, who get a kick out of making members disassociate with loved ones, the founders of Landmark figured out growth was much easier when getting people to be kinder to their families and peers. In emotional prostration, participants invite those they wish to apologise to and publicly relieve their guilt. Meanwhile, “guests” are subjected to unavoidable pitches of the program, which they are invited to join (and sometimes do).

And so it grows.

Of course, this is only the beginning. Those who finish the first brainwashing session are immediately pitched another, twice as expensive, and then another, costing far more.

And if they’re still engrossed, they can always help recruit as many people as possible, as well as volunteer. In fact, the manual labour during these seminars is down to volunteers, at one point 25 per event (apparently now the term has been banned and they are merely “assisting”, as “volunteering” for a for-profit company is questionable). It’s free labour taken advantage of, to put it plainly. In the minds of those showing up to do it, they are helping humanity. Although it’s by no means comparable to what Sea Org members endure in Scientology, the concept is the same – giving one’s time towards someone else’s business, with the pretext of “transforming lives”.

“It’s wonderful; it completely changed my life”, claims the odd person on YouTube . “If more and more people went through this program the world would be a better place.” In fact, a few do add this “changing the world” shtick, with sheer enthusiasm, as if they really thought it was possible.

Where have you heard that before? Give us a few hundred dollars and help us recruit so we can help people and change the world.

It’s a pyramid scheme based on emotional fragility. Those going there are obviously not in a good place. There were reports of breakdowns and even suicides over the decades. Their goal is not to change the world, but to entrap people long enough to get them to recruit others and by that make more money.

As those of Scientology and most cults, Landmark teachings are replete with jargon. Paraphrasing a former student in the YouTube video linked to above, when asking two of his indoctrinated friends what it was about, it was impossible to discern, as their explanations were laden with terminology they had appropriated from the cult, such as “racket” and “winning formula”. “Just go and do it”, they said.

One of the key words to watch out for in discussions about Landmark is “authentic”. “Authenticity” is a state you reach through the program (through being depersonalised), apparently, as opposed to your natural one. Devotees often use this term when praising the group or each other.

More problems arise when, akin to any cult members, Landmark students begin to pester their family members and friends to join. In the video, one relative describes them as “speaking like drones, full of jargon, with cult-like glazes over their eyes”. And that’s not by far the only account I came across at a simple search.

They also engage in damage control when negative appraisals pop up. The French documentary featuring actual seminar footage and expert opinions was simply taken off a number of platforms, to the point that it has become impossible to find. When a series of critical videos  appeared on YouTube, the former student making them received a letter and refund, without having contacted them. So they browse the internet for any material likely to affect their business even slightly and then attempt to address it.

If you watch this video, posted by someone who had just finished the advanced course, the level of indoctrination is gob-smacking, akin to that which follows a dramatic religious conversion.

Immediately, you notice the following:

  • She censors her speech as directed by the group (she catches herself  expressing ideas naturally and adapts them to those of the group);
  • She describes the advanced course as a way for people to figure out how they can have an impact on the world (“change the world” mantra);
  • She talks a lot about how everyone should be and live (as opposed to personal improvements, a personal path etc), which proves that the seminar leads to uniformity;
  • Her speech is difficult to understand at times as it is laden with jargon;
  • She alludes to activism, “becoming uncomfortable” (approaching others with her ideas in order to “covert” them).
  • She talks about “going back to normal life outside the seminar” and the difficulties of that (seriously, it’s less than a week).
  • She traces her natural thoughts and feelings back to the seminar (“I’m going to try to not care what people think about me saying this because this is the foundation of the original Landmark Forum”).

From her description it’s easy to understand that the first seminar is about someone’s identity (deconstructing it) and the second about launching this new person into the world to “change it” (which obviously means drawing more people to Landmark). What does that sound like to you, in broad perspective?

In fact, this tendency of “speaking like drones” some attendees display has been noticed before.

Although the person uploading the video remained appreciative of the program, he had not arrived at the level seen above before giving it up. His observations are very interesting. First off, quasi-religious fervour and the belief that Landmark has the solution to the world’s problems. Then, word policing and always referring back to the program (as seen above).

Apparently, the seminar is not one of a kind. Similar ones, employing the same techniques, can be found across the world.

For more information, visit anti-landmark.blogspot.co.uk.

A small note would be that half of the comments in support of the program make heavy use of jargon, without any indication that those reading them can relate or properly understand the message. It’s fairly disturbing and justifies the observation that “they talk like robots”.

Muslim Apostates, Betrayed By All Sides

Western culture is generally keen on celebrating courage in the face of adversity; documentaries, films and books inspire audiences with narratives of the underdog overcoming seemingly unbeatable conditions.

Escaping controlling, demoralising environments is of great interest. Former Scientologists are, rightfully, given a large platform, as are former cult members in general. And it wouldn’t cross the mind of the average viewer to start defending Scientology or the FLDS after hearing stories of imprisonment, violence, threats and mind control.

Muslim apostates, however, aren’t shown that level of interest or kindness, at least by proponents of public policies on the left or right, who use them in conversation but ultimately ignore them when it comes to envisaging actual solutions to deal with radical Islam (or Islam in general, to the degree to which it contrasts with secular democracies).

Feminism and the unholy alliance 

As detailed at this engrossing conference, there is increasing frustration and disappointment with those identifying as feminists yet actively participating in the cover-up of female oppression in Muslim communities. Public speakers like Linda Sarsour, one of the organisers of the Women’s March, who decries the “slanderous talk” surrounding Islam and its restrictions, often unwanted, on women’s lives.

When taken out of that religious context, the treatment escapees describe is nothing short of disheartening. Chastisement and vilification for being alone with a man in a room, for allowing three inches of their forearms to show, for having any male friends at all. Threats of disowning, physical violence or even murder, at the sole mention of a potential transgression. Ostracism and threats from their entire community. One’s hymen treated as a precious family asset. That is unimaginable in societies which left that mentality behind hundreds of years ago.

Should a woman from a different background describe growing up in such ways, feminists would be outraged. In this case however, they turn a blind eye, referring to “their culture”, as if the word “they” did not include many forced participants.

Moreover, people like Linda Sarsour dare vilify public speakers who have overcome these difficulties to the extreme, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as traitors to the religion. “They’re not women; I wish I could take their vaginas away” (paraphrasing). Not only is it distasteful to refer in that way to a victim of FGM – it proves the utter disdain fundamentalists have towards apostates. One would think common sense would stop her from being so venomous, at least publicly, but that is not the case, since apostasy carries a death sentence in Islam.

The hypocritical right

Activists on right or far right often refer to the “barbaric rules and traditions” of Islam, especially to counter the non-issues spouted by western feminists nowadays. They get all descriptive and outraged about it, as if they truly cared outside of wanting to rid their countries of Muslims altogether, including those who are trapped into the religion.

“And they’re bringing that over here”, they cry next, not realising that apostates have a far better chance of breaking away in countries offering them minimal protection, at least, and the choice of being able to live as free individuals. De-conversion and apostasy are indeed much safer in the west.

“This is what they do to girls and women in the Middle East!” they indignantly shout. “Bomb them!” they shout next. You know,  including those abused women and innocent children they care so much about.

Many right-wingers, in the current climate, would give their approval to have all Muslims deported from western countries. Aside from the grotesque idea of uprooting innocent people based on the religion they were born into, which is not even feasible, they don’t spare a thought for those who have a real chance of getting out, a chance they wouldn’t have in a theocracy.

Although not used often enough, there are laws protecting women and apostates from religious violence; in recent years a law was passed against forced marriage, for instance, and the threat of honour killings is taken very seriously. Victims of rape are treated as such, as opposed to being blamed for their assault, which happens in some countries. Merely being in western countries when these traumatic events occur can and does save countless lives.

Also very popular with this camp are Trump’s famous immigration bans, regardless of some people having waited for years on end to emigrate  and having gone though all needed formalities. No thought is spared for the fact that among those wishing to leave will almost definitely be apostates seeking to escape the dangers of living in theocracies, which follow them day and night.

 “Islamophobia” – blasphemy laws again?

Imagine heaving a sigh of relief when finally arriving in a safe country, where you cannot be oppressed for your apostasy, as well as your criticism of your former religion, in this case Islam. Imagine how liberating that must feel.

And five or ten or twenty years later, that wonderful, liberal country starting to cave in to demands from your former persecutors, in efforts to suppress your right to criticise the authoritarian ideology that just might’ve got you killed.

If to the formerly neutral (people only exposed to Islam from a distance) it seems restrictive and uncanny for criticism to be criminalised, imagine how it feels to defectors of Islamic theocracies, to witness the ever-growing power of lobbyists, pushing for what can be construed as blasphemy laws.

Supporting or wanting to ban the veil 

Former Muslim women are very outspoken about that yet nobody in the public arena seems to hear them.

On the one hand, you have progressive leftists claiming women choose to wear it and that right should not be infringed upon by legislators. That, I actually agree with, should those women be absolutely free of constraint and choose to wear it of their own accord, as adults.

On the other hand, you have right-wingers saying any woman covering up (especially her face) is a threat to national security, and therefore simply banning it would solve the problem. Unfortunately it solves jack shit for the women who are forced to wear it – their relatives are so indoctrinated they will probably resort to banning them from going outside altogether.

A moderate approach would be to support those who truly want to wear it according to their own convictions. As adults.

But at the same time admit that there are many, many cases of girls and women being forced to cover up as a matter of family honour. And consider the problems they will face when any such legislation is passed.

Complicated; I know. As life often is.

 

Minds.com, Still The Better Option

I opened a Minds account when it was starting to gain popularity, about two years ago, something like that.

The platform is really decent in terms of interacting with others and uploading content, as well as chatting privately. And lacking censorship; you don’t have to worry about being reported for “offending”, whatever that means when simply exchanging opinions.

At some point it was overrun by the right and far right, as shown by trending themes. And that was a bit off-putting.

But however accommodating one might find Facebook, the reality is the platform monetises everything down to private messages, peered into for nefarious purposes.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal was of utmost importance. It explained so much regarding this so-called organic rise of the right, “coincidentally” around the time of major elections across the world.

And fair enough, there are many people duped or radicalised by such propaganda on these platforms designed for free speech.

But you as an individual can still communicate with your friends and acquaintances without having to worry about your every word being used against you or exploited for commercial purposes.

And that’s the main thing, I imagine.

The ability to express oneself without the worry of being monitored or reported for potentially offensive language, which is such a subjective notion, is also important. Even if you have to sift through really unpalatable stuff on a regular basis.

It really is paramount to feel safe from hysterical types likely to intimidate, censor or even report you as a result of taking offence.

The Microsoft privacy scandal added to the already existing Facebook controversy.

Perhaps these platforms based on free speech, coupled with open source software, are the actual way to go right now, without hesitation or delays.

Stripping In Taverns, More Dignified Than Being A Talent Show Contestant

As I don’t watch talent-finding competitions, the issue has never been of much interest to me. Much about them seemed contrived, overdone, following a worn-out script designed to attract gawkiness and through it heaps of money.

However, speculation around shows such as The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent only scratched the surface; there is a video detailing an actual contract one has to sign when auditioning for the latter.

Among the most disturbing aspects are the following.

Contestants sign over the rights to any intellectual property they have ever produced, to the company, to be used as the company sees fit.

Remember that old scene from Friends with the Smelly Cat song being sold to a company to be turned into a jingle? A small odd example, but that could literally happen to a contestant’s precious work of years or decades.

Imagine that, giving away your every composition, be it musical, written, filmed etc, to a pack of corporate sharks who put nothing towards it. Creating is a very intimate process and involves a lot of emotional attachment. Sometimes it evolves out of deep feelings a person has while going through a powerful life experience.

And technically, should it be found of some commercial value by the company, it could be used in any way. Technically, they could take a song you composed after the death of a loved one five years prior to auditioning and use it in an advert for kitty litter.

The same applies to content posted on social media, such as a channel on any given topic. They will now own years of putting hours and hours into an organic project of your own making. All that for the prospect of being controlled by them in the future.

Obviously, as the video details, anything you released that they find unpalatable, such as blogs or videos, is now at their discretion, to be left online or taken down. That could be years of time and effort invested, simply wiped away by your new owners.

If that is not selling your soul, I don’t know what is.

Contestants sign over their rights to their own image.

Anything ever released in public, containing your image, will belong to the company. That includes past, present and future material.

Which means you can no longer retrieve previously posted material should you choose to do so, and should the company decide to leave it online, it’s staying there.

When merely grasping at a chance to become famous, a person possibly doesn’t consider the carelessly posted images or footage hardly anyone has an interest in except for friends or family. Should they want to remove it later, they’ll have to go through their new owners.

Of course this applies to any footage, even personal (family holiday photos etc) for the duration of the contract. Hell, they’ll own your wedding photos I suppose, if they are publicly shared, and of course that cannot happen without their permission (details below).

Now consider this situation: someone hacks your computer or phone and retrieves some nudes, and then publishes them. Stupid as it is, people do take and keep such photos. Your nudes, if published, even against your will, will be owned by the company as agreed by contract. The company decides whether to pursue a course of action to have them removed or whether it would be more beneficial to leave them in place. As an individual you might be able to go to the police about the hacking, but you have no right to those images. So basically you are signing away the right to prospectively keep your toby or vagina off the internet, and any other humiliating material. Your toby or vagina is now a commercial asset.

Illegally obtained paparazzi footage? Another celebrity might be able to take them to court and have the images removed, if they were trespassing or using other such methods. But you won’t because the company now owns them all.

Contestants who get to the semifinals give up their right to express themselves in public, in any way, shape or form, unless authorised by the company by written consent.

In other words, before even replying to a comment on Facebook or Twitter, which hundreds of millions of people freely do on a daily basis on a coffee break, you must ask permission from the company. As the author of the video broods, it’s no wonder people who are on a contract with these fuckers are so silent.

That is infuriating and I can only imagine it feels like being in prison or in a witness protection program, while trying to live a normal life. It must be very isolating to have less options to express an opinion than a ten-year-old.

How does this fare with the Human Rights Convention? Is it legal to force a person to live like this if they change their mind?

The company can keep renewing the licence to your content in perpetuity.

That is to say, if you lose your market value to them, you might get the rights to your content back and be freed from the devil’s grasp.

But should they decide they can keep milking you, they are free to do so for as long as they like, even long after you have concluded that the deal was  shitty to begin with.

This is not collaboration or employment, it’s ownership of another person’s labour and basically falls short of ownership of that person as well.

Contestants who suffer as a result of the company’s actions cannot sue the company.

This is a major one, because half of those becoming involved in talent shows are lured there in order to be turned into laughing stocks, nationally and internationally, for monetary profit, which can have a major negative impact on their lives. By the time they realise this it’s too late.

Some of them are very young and naive, not very literate or even psychologically frail and prone to exploitation. Many do not fully read or understand what they are signing. The producers are not only aware of it but banking on it.

And as has been exposed before, some who are observably vulnerable are pursued by such shows in order to be ridiculed as much as possible. There was a Welsh lady, a few years ago, pestered by representatives of the X Factor to re-audition (three or four times); she was even offered free lodging and transport. Exploiting her in order to turn her into the subject of mockery was vomit-inducing.

People watching these shows are probably not aware that no one wanders in there off the street. Everyone enjoying the “privilege” of national and international ridicule, for years to come, goes through a series of auditions first and is deliberately misled into thinking they have a chance.

This is an obvious breach of trust, morally fraudulent at least; it can and does result in people ending up with depression and suicidal thoughts. They are systematically, cruelly lured into having their lives turned upside-down for the profit of these sharks.

It really should be illegal.

By signing that contract they obviously don’t understand (since they don’t even understand the practical perils of these shows), they are giving up the right to complain about being deceived and exploited.

Sliming which is one inch away from defamation is made legal by this contract.

Whereas defamation involves spreading lies in order to destroy someone’s reputation, the techniques employed by these shows don’t fall far behind, in terms of portraying people inaccurately by splicing and piecing together bits and bobs to make them look ridiculous.

They don’t have to make anything up; all they have to do is manipulate the content you provide them with in order to create a certain image.

One particularly cruel method the X Factor uses in the so-called “judges’ houses” (rented properties where said celebrities briefly show up) is depriving contestants of food and water for long periods of time, in scorching heat, to then film people who are physically sick and dehydrated, creating the impression they are agitated or even freaking out.

They can be portrayed as emotionally unstable or hysterical by inducing physical malaise, as arrogant for reacting negatively when prodded, or as less talented by deliberately giving them tasks which can’t be optimally accomplished (putting together groups which don’t sound well, mandating they sing songs which don’t suit their voices etc). All this is done for entertainment and in order to obtain as many flops as possible.

Sometimes they make them dress ridiculously on purpose.

Adding to that, they can, as stipulated by the contract, demand that contestants behave in certain ways in front of the camera and then release the footage as genuine, leading viewers to believe that is your actual behaviour and personality. Whilst it takes a dash of stupidity to actually do it, some people don’t realise the consequences the so-called silliness can have.

One contestant who couldn’t cry on cue for the camera to produce the staple sob story was let go of shortly after.

In conclusion, they are treated like monkeys in a circus, to be exploited in any way and for as long as possible, and nothing more. No one deserves that, especially when going there in all honesty.

ESP – Misconceptions And Frauds

Unfortunately, this subject is very polarising, some people opting for a completely materialistic view and others leaving themselves prey to claims which hold no water (so-called service providers robbing them blind).

The extremes are a matter of either refusing to consider it at all cost, despite being told perplexing stories by sane people with no interest in lying, or wanting to believe just anything, even against one’s better judgement.

Of course, there is the middle path of those who know ESP occurs indeed, yet are equally aware of the mass deception by shysters who trade in illusions.

Which is why I think the following observations are in order.

  1. It’s a series of limited personal experiences, not an ability, or better yet, a profession.

Most people, sceptics included, have had an eerily accurate premonition, the odd dream predicting a future event down to details, or telepathic connection with someone else. What these phenomena tend to have in common is a purpose at that point in time, in the person’s life. Often that purpose is to warn of an incoming danger or prepare them for an unavoidable shock (the unexpected death of a loved one for instance).

The other commonality is that they do not happen constantly (which would be distressing, I imagine).

They are small glimpses into what should be the unknown – the potential future, the life of someone who is estranged etc. They come in grain size, not by the bucket; they are like droplets in an ocean of uncertainty and unpredictability.

Hence, when you hear a flouncy describe her nightly conversations with her spirit guide named Zorg, who tells her everything from the weather to who will get divorced in the neighbourhood, the suspicion that it’s verbal diarrhoea seems correct.

2. It occurs spontaneously, not on demand.

Perhaps a reiteration of the point made above – ESP is not an ability, as this term describes something you can control and use at your discretion.

The limited information you receive arrives unexpectedly when necessary, not as a result of you looking for it (that’s why fortune telling is such BS), let alone demanding it.

There is no unlimited database of the past, present and future people with ESP can tap into at will, to reveal hidden facts about themselves and others. If that were true, nothing would remain a mystery to them. Those who claim to have an access card to such a place, and charge money for a quick peek, are charlatans.

I’m sure many people with good intuition make an honest effort to gauge others’ problems in this manner, yet have no proof of their assertions being anything but a guess.

And I’m sure many who failed at demonstrating their presumed gift in a controlled environment had some genuine phenomenon over the years, yet could not artificially reproduce a natural occurrence. Because it happened to them, as opposed to them making it happen.

3. It is often verified in hindsight.

When someone claims the infallible capacity to predict the future because they’ve done so once or twice, they are mistaken. The only way to verify a prediction is after the fact, which is why people should not become hysterical when someone puts forth apocalyptic views.

The estimated number of daily thoughts crossing someone’s mind ranges between 50 000 and 70 000. Many of them will be irrelevant. Of the many premonitions someone might have, only some stand the test of time, whilst the rest are forgotten. Some will be steeped in subjectivity; their own hopes and fears. Dreams, likewise, can be useful in terms of psychological analysis, yet rarely do they actually reveal crucial information to be used in real time.

Don’t get me wrong, when it does happen it’s something to marvel at – yet that doesn’t mean every dream should be given the same importance a priori.

There are no prophets whose every word should be regarded as likely accurate by default.

4. To my knowledge, there has never been a way to establish where the information comes from.

In other words, we should all beware of those who claim to be in communication with divine beings or aliens, or anything of the sort. Or those who claim their occasional accurate predictions are proof of the existence of some deity.

5. The direct line to Heaven is a scam.

I’ve yet to see a psychic asked to contact a client’s dead relative, to shrug and say “sorry, dear, he wasn’t available”, or alternatively, “sorry, he’s in Hell and they only allow visitors on Saturday morning”. Isn’t it amazing how the departed are always calm and happy, wanting to reminisce about some fishing trip twenty years prior?

A couple were claiming the room was full of the client’s dead relatives, and that they wanted to make contact. It’s funny how it’s only the living who initiate these conversations through a paid medium and the dead, although present in such close proximity, are hapless in terms of communication. If it’s an open line, why don’t the dead ever ask for messages to be passed, of their own initiative? Can’t they afford the fee? No one thinks to ask “honestly; if they’re here all the time anyway, what do I need you for?”

6. The “paranormal” and “supernatural”

These commonly used terms alone are doing the study of this field (parapsychology) an enormous disservice.

They push these phenomena, in terms of common perception, into a realm of oddity and fantasy, when they are in fact very frequent, even if some people only experience them once or twice (notably) over an entire lifetime. That in turn causes them to be rejected as even plausible.

They are not “paranormal” or “supernatural”, they are the normal and natural.

It seriously annoys me to hear anyone claiming to operate in this field throw these words around in order to attract attention or be sensational, as if wanting to feed those around them with cheap thrills.

Ghosts – Misconceptions And Frauds

Throughout time, regardless of location or culture, ghost sightings have been a common occurrence. Phenomena presumed to involve the spirits of deceased people (haunting, poltergeist activity etc) remain of interest, not only to those experiencing them but to the curious in general.

Accounts of these phenomena are extremely interesting, usually connected to places and involving no reason to suspect those giving them of fabrication. They are isolated stories told by people who are not into making careers out of it. If anything, they risk being ridiculed for describing what they’ve witnessed.

Others, however, are set on using this mysterious side of human nature for personal gain, an easy con for centuries. They prey on the thirst for thrills, as well as the grieving, the latter being inexcusable.

Ghost hunting is the practice of observing a location believed to be haunted, in attempts to spot or/and make contact with the spirits thought to be lingering there. Paraphernalia is often used (cameras, motion detectors, devices based on measuring temperature etc). The “instrument” most sought after, however, is a medium, also known as a psychic or channel, claiming to facilitate this communication.

Whilst those reporting a haunting can normally be trusted and those seeking to observe it directly can at least be given the benefit of the doubt, most mediums are full of it.

Moreover, paranormal investigations produced for television, in order to cater to viewers, can be remorselessly suspected of BS. Whilst capturing phenomena on camera does happen, it happens spontaneously, and rarely, if ever, in a scheduled manner; that is just too convenient. The proof found is usually limited to noises and sensations experienced in the area. The chances of it all being staged are very high, even when based on a true story.

Identifying the deceased person

For the sake of keeping it brief by not constantly repeating the words “ghost”, “deceased”, “dead person” etc, let’s just refer to a spirit observed by the living as Bob.

Whereas in some cases people are confident of knowing who Bob is, through some of the things he does (like moving or smashing certain possessions), in most cases, his presence is nebulous and he is connected with the place he manifests himself in, rather than those currently occupying it. He might appear partially, as a shadow, as a vapour, or be downright invisible. He might vociferate but never show any physical traits. Whilst he may inadvertently give clues about his reason to be there, identifying him is very difficult, and likely a result of meticulous research; even then things can’t be certain.

To think that someone can walk right in, off the street, and give an accurate portrayal is not plausible. Mediums are known to make up elaborate stories on the spot.

Making contact

This is presented as the medium calling Bob and expecting a sign; perhaps asking a question or two.

First of all, this is a person, not a house pet. You can’t just whistle and expect him to turn up.There are no guarantees he’s even there in real time, that he hears the medium or that he’s in any way inclined to respond.

Assumptions are made beforehand, due to popular culture:

  • He knows he is dead;
  • He spends all his time at that particular location;
  • He knows he shouldn’t be there and is aware he owes an explanation for his presence;
  • He is aware of the current year and of the people living there;
  • He wants to go elsewhere but can’t for some reason.

There are no guarantees any of these apply.

“Go to the light, Bob, go to the light!”

First of all, Heaven was a religious invention; there isn’t any way to know what lies beyond the material world and where people go after dying, if they go anywhere at all (they might just be here but difficult to perceive by the living). What the medium really means is “piss off”. Whilst many have seen ghosts, no one has ever seen Heaven. James Randi pointed out how funny it is that mediums never try to reach someone who is in hell, or, I assume, likely to go there if “passing on”.

Secondly, let’s assume there was such a place where spirits are supposed to go. Now, if Bob has refused to move on for, say, 300 years, he must’ve had his reasons all along. It’s unlikely that the medium saying “you must go home now”, with self-attributed authority, will suddenly change that.

If he is not aware he is dead (a hypothesis detailed below), saying that is pointless. And if he is aware of his circumstances and options, should there be any, he doesn’t need pointers from the medium; he is there because he wants to be.

Bob the public menace

When Bob interferes with the lives of the living, it is often assumed he is doing it on purpose; some people think ghosts are set on chasing the present occupants away. However, that needn’t be the case. Bob might be experiencing the living in the same manner they are experiencing him (fleeting, blurred interactions which are difficult to make sense of).

Some apparitions have indicated there just might be an overlap between the past and present. For instance, somewhere in the UK, the ghost of a monk was seen walking down a street. The observer only saw the monk’s upper half, and after researching the history of the area, realised the road used to be at a lower level, which would explain why the monk’s legs could not be seen (he was walking on the old road, the old and current scenery overlapping). That was one of the most interesting stories I’ve come across and indicates occasional glitches, as opposed to spirits deciding to haunt a place (which is not to say the latter doesn’t occur).

The same can be said for noises, voices etc inside a house; perhaps the living are simply getting a glimpse of past events, without any interaction per se. Of course, when it comes to poltergeist activity, there seems to be a clear intention, when objects are thrown around for instance. There are cases when people are physically attacked.

Yet lacking any indication of violent intentions, it’s unnecessarily distressing to make assumptions, simply based on Hollywood tropes.

Bring in the priest

When dealing with a haunting, perhaps due to culture or modern horror film narratives, someone might think that bringing in a priest to perform some ritual will make everything stop. If they have indications of – or simply imagine – Bob having suffered a violent death, to perhaps lie hidden in an unmarked grave, they think a service will bring him closure. Hollywood certainly portrays it that way – that merely reciting a few Bible verses can bring peace to the dead.

However, there are no guarantees Bob was ever religious, or that he, in fact, was not killed at the behest of a religious institution in the first place, as many have been throughout the centuries. Imagine doing that for victims of the Inquisition; it might just feel like a spit in the face (if they even become aware of it). I reckon that cross is the last thing they would want to see or be associated with.

And here’s a thought – what if some of the spirits out there, claimed by the religious to be demons for reacting negatively to religious practices, are actually just ghosts who hate the church?

This spontaneous thought calls for some research and a future post on anything I might find.

Mediums freaking out on camera

There are sensationalist programs showing mediums scared half to death in dark basements, squirming and squealing about being touched on the shoulder.

“I talk to the dead on demand; I even let them possess my body to speak through it, but if I think one is near me I scream and run away.” Makes sense, right?

There is one thing I know for sure about ESP – if you’re someone who experiences it regularly, you’re not afraid of it, regardless of how it manifests. You take it as a normal part of life.

Granted that if you reject the idea, you might be negatively impacted by such phenomena. But if you embrace it fully and call yourself a medium, it makes no sense to run for the hills, especially when you seek out such encounters. It’s all done for show.

Given the availability of such material, it would be a shame not to post a cringe-worthy example of poor acting, from those who pretend to contact the dead.

This is one notable instance, organised by BBC 3, of three “mediums” being taken to a chocolate factory to communicate with a spirit. The presumption was they had no information and were obtaining their findings through their so-called abilities. However, it turned out they’d researched the place and were regurgitating the fictitious narrative posted on a website a week prior.

One medium even pretended to go into a trance to obtain the false information. The cringe was at the highest possible level.

 

 

 

 

The Law Of Attraction – Not An Absolute

For many years now, this law has been predicated as the key to ultimate success – attracting positive elements into one’s life by visualising them or reaching certain levels of inner peace.

To an extent, it’s verifiable, as is the reverse – pessimism is likely to keep attracting the negative, perhaps because an individual is unwilling to take steps in the other direction. However, there are limits to this theory, as there are limits to the idea that one chooses which body to incarnate into, which I don’t find particularly plausible.

There are methods of improving one’s chances which apply to anyone anywhere, yet they’re mostly related to physical care or skill development.

Hope also seems to help people stay alive; however, it doesn’t guarantee survival when greater forces are at play, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee the accomplishment of a person’s highest aspirations. There’s a theorising of hope going on at the moment, with systems of rules being developed and paces one must presumably go through in order to successfully apply it. It’s a coping mechanism and raw human emotion, not  an up-the-ladder strategy which is subject to regulation.

  1. This “thriving theory” is aimed at people with a pre-existing level of comfort. A level of subsistence (at a minimum) is necessary.

Whenever I hear a seemingly uplifting video on how life can be turned around through sheer attitude, I can’t help but think of all those who are stuck in famine-stricken countries or otherwise desperate situations they cannot change. I doubt a copy of “The Secret” would make a difference in their lives when they are struggling to subsist. Wishing on it will not fix a draught or a corrupt political regime.

Hence I conclude the theory is addressed to those who are doing well enough in terms of survival, but not well enough compared to their aspirations.

I hear people in conferences, in well-ventilated venues, going on about how each individual should live in order to achieve their full potential. How most people “are doing it wrong”. And I can’t help but think of those in a mud hut or a tent in a refugee camp, unable to access the “life-saving” advice on “how not to do it wrong anymore”.

This cannot be a universal principle if it doesn’t apply to every single person. If “the universe wants you to thrive and it’s all up to you”, why are so many trapped in hopeless situations?

2.An individual is, sometimes, not able to subtract him/herself from the conditions of a community.

Connected to the point above – we often hear that “it’s up to the individual to improve their chances in life through their attitude”. This certainly doesn’t apply to those living under genuine oppression, extreme danger, in war zones etc. An individual can only do so much but cannot help the impact of their environment, not even to the point of guaranteeing personal safety, let alone thriving. It certainly cannot be said they attract negative things into their lives when those things are common occurrences around them.

3.Hazards are a real issue.

There are, according to some theories, children “choosing to incarnate” into bodies which die before birth, during birth for lack of medical attention, or shortly after, when bombs happen to strike their houses. The only spiritual explanation would be the one religion is trying to forge – “God’s will, God knows what he’s doing”.

Whilst the real explanation is that some fuckers gave the orders for the bombs to be dropped. Are those people a part of God’s plan? I don’t think so. They make their own decisions. They could always decide differently.  If “the supreme creator” gives everyone free will, those bastards upon whom hundreds or thousands of lives depend also have free will. It’s human, not divine action. It happens in real time, not as a part of a “divine plan” “every soul agreed to beforehand”.

The same goes for natural catastrophes – was there a plan “up there” for thousands to incarnate in a certain area just so they could all be struck by the same tsunami? Or was it a random event created by tectonic plates, because this is the kind of planet we happen to be living on?

If this happens at all, it must only happen to some (I can’t dismiss a possibility I can’t invalidate). There are case studies overwhelmingly in favour of reincarnation. But there is nothing to indicate, to my knowledge anyway, that it is voluntary down to details.

4. It implies blaming the victim (of hazard, other people’s actions etc), just as religion does.

Fundamentalist Christians, some of them anyway, are of the conviction that if someone has enough faith, they will be healed of just about anything, and will thrive financially. That is how the “prosperity gospel” operates, church upon church collecting pensioners’ last savings, promising a better future through faith.

In a similar fashion, there are alternative healing methods out there, based on “making peace with life and everyone around you”. There are testimonials from those who claim to have been healed from deadly diseases simply by forgiving everyone who had ever wronged them.

I’m not disputing the role of the psyche in healing the physical body; a positive attitude certainly seems to help.

However, let’s not slide into (and some Christians do) insulting theories about how people who weren’t healed “just didn’t have enough faith”, or alternatively, “were not at peace with life and those around them”. Not everything, and surely not every disease, can be solved in such manners.

In conclusion, this doesn’t seem to work universally, regardless of a person’s conditions. It works for some people sometimes and that’s about it.

 

Identitarian Religion – A Small Conundrum

Increasingly, there is talk of people abandoning mainstream religions, particularly in Europe, to return to ancestral traditions, namely Paganism. And whilst that sounds interesting (a return to communion with nature and spirituality without the constraint of dogmas), something does puzzle me.

It concerns the enmeshment between this revival and present day ethno-nationalism.

Namely, it is not uncommon for Pagans to believe in reincarnation. Which entails accepting the possibility of having been born multiple times in multiple locations, overtime. In fact, many people who describe their past life memories recall having lived in a different country than the one they were born in in their current lifetimes.

Obviously, that is at odds with claiming to have roots in a single ethnicity, culture and tradition. Not to mention claiming racial purity (which, when tested, often doesn’t prove biologically accurate anyway, not in one lifetime, let alone many).

It seems to me those who believe in reincarnation and spirituality based on natural archetypes (not a limited dogma) should logically be more inclined to consider themselves “citizens of the world” than those of other religions.

Just a thought.

Marriage – Both Feminists and MRAs Get It Wrong

In the war for righteous affirmation of the sexes, marriage so often comes up as a bone of contention, both parties trying to agree on who and why is more oppressed by this arrangement.

Feminists usually argue the following:

  • Women are oppressed by marriage and motherhood as a cultural prerequisite for becoming respectable;
  • Unmarried women are oppressed by the stigma sex out of wedlock puts upon them;
  • Some married women are expected to remain in the home and are therefore oppressed by not fulfilling their potential;
  • Married women who work are expected to fulfill both the traditional role of homemaker at the same time as working;
  • Women are regarded differently when they commit infidelities;
  • The physical and emotional abuse of married women is very prevalent and generally overlooked.

Meanwhile, MRAs have arguments of their own:

  • Women demand fidelity while growing farther apart from the traditional mandates of a wife (perpetual attractiveness maintained overtime, efficient homemaking, motherhood, behaviour);
  • Women’s demands have increased substantially overtime, culminating in their current attempt to dominate men;
  • Women use their sexual appeal to ensnare men in the disadvantageous legal arrangement called marriage;
  • Marriage limits men by stigmatising their natural poly-amorous nature;
  • Women are culturally brought up to expect too much out of men;
  • Women are ravenous when it comes to divorce and are favoured in terms of child custody.
  • Women often make false claims of abuse in court.

Arguably, one cannot reach an informed conclusion without considering all the available data, from the origins of marriage to present day. When diving into history, it appears that marriage was, primordially, a form of ownership (the physically dominant sex, namely the male one, owning the physically weaker one, namely female). Later on, through religion, this was consecrated as a divine bond, for the same purposes of control through the control of sexuality (which has been one of the main focuses of Abrahamic religions). It is fair to say that in past times, marriage has been a form of ownership and enslavement; in certain societies it continues to this day (Islamic theocracies, for instance).

Today, in civilised countries, marriage is voluntary (excluding cults, which make their own constrictive rules, as well as religious minorities, which preserve their foreign traditions).

However, both men and women enter it with preconceived ideas regarding the ideal spouse and the perfect life they envisage. Both men and women, therefore, enter this arrangement with a set of illusions, which do not match the reality of their ancestors, nor the one of their peers and therefore, their own.

Women’s typical marital illusions are as follows:

  • A man will not fall out of love when initially in love, unless they do something major to cause it;
  • A man will not lose interest (sexually or altogether) when her body modifies, through pregnancy, age or otherwise;
  • A man will reject thoughts of infidelity as well as resulting actions, out of love;
  • A man who has pledged his role as the head of a family will always comply with it out of duty, where his children are concerned;
  • A man who has not been violent has no potential to become so;
  • Kindness, attentiveness and fidelity on her part ensure that a marriage will not fall down the drain, at least not without attempts of it being rescued.

Men’s illusions, as far as my modest observations go, tend to be these:

  • A woman will do her best to remain as attractive and sexually interesting as initially for the whole duration of their marriage (for life), expecting competition and being fully aware of it at all times;
  • A woman biologically yearns to please men and will do her best in that sense;
  • A woman is less likely to cheat and more likely to forgive if she is being cheated on;
  • A woman is primarily emotional, not practical, and that aspect can be used, in terms of making her happy regardless of reality (his thoughts, intentions and actions);
  • A woman should be protected from the truth and in doing so a man is succeeding in creating a harmonious environment.

Marriage is changing because the roles of the sexes are changing, as well as the general perception on fidelity. These alterations are proving dramatic compared to a few decades ago; some for the better, and others, perhaps, for the worst.

With the constraints of religion no longer applying, morally or socially, this union is therefore being put through the fine test of reality. Free will at its best. It is free will to remain devoted to someone even if they treat you badly, and free will to cheat or become disengaged.

In a way, both men and women cling to a glorified mirage of what the opposite sex thinks and behaves like, partly based on tradition, partly on fictitious narratives, and partly on religious ideas, where that applies.

Culture fails young women

When a girl swaps her taste for fairy tales for syrupy novels, poetry or soap operas, the narrative remains the same. That she will find “the one” who she can “dedicate herself to”, which will result in reciprocity in turn.

Whereas, in reality, men are simply biologically programmed to not remain monogamous.

That doesn’t involve a fault or vice on their part; it is simply their nature, restrained, if barely, so far, by religions (some of them, anyway) and social norms, which are now almost gone.

Monogamy is a conscious choice and an effort for men (and I say this after observing generations I’ve lived among). And infidelity is not some far distant threat but a high probability, always lurking in the shadows. Try as you might, you will never change someone’s nature and neither can society, through laws and ideologies, gods and threats of hell.

The men whose instincts are overcome by devotion, for one reason or another, are few and far between. And typically, they are not the ones women tend to go for (the alpha males), but rather the introverts, the artists, the ones who reach beyond the material realm.

Women are not equipped to deal with this sort of thing; to accept it and move on. They tend to hold on to an illusion, a complete reciprocity that never was, or existed fleetingly, in many cases. Sadly, all the drama around men cheating is needless heartache on the woman’s part.

The answer to this is not the SJW hysteria that all men are potential rapists and sketchy sexed-up animals, which is a sad cheapening of human nature, but the simple realisation and acceptance that this side of them is much stronger and regardless of a man’s intellect or personality, it is likely to someday kick in.

Culture fails young men as well

By not telling them their wives will not necessarily be like their mothers or grandmothers, in the way they organise and conduct themselves. Times have changed and women have changed; that much is true. When men decry that, they decry the traditional feminine ideal, which is under ripples of transformation. And although I do not agree with feminists, in their radical aspiration to elevate women above men, I do agree that the tendencies young women embrace nowadays are not their fault, as they are culturally-induced. These trends may change their attire or superficial behaviour but do not change their biological instincts. Men are taught to separate “good, obedient women” from “whores”, neither one being a realistic label for someone’s actual nature.

The objectifying, self-gratifying side of life advertised to boys and men is also hardly realistic and plays on their instincts (or preys on them, better yet). And therefore, they expect their wives to be the fulfillment of their intimate fantasies, to the letter, and remain as such throughout the years, which, when pregnancy appears, tends to swiftly modify. This is turned back not on questioning the unrealistic expectations they have of one individual, but on the individual in question, should she fail to meet them.

And nowadays, it fails them by telling them their nature is somehow defective and they should embrace a feminine perspective, which is contrary to their biological inclinations. Which is not the answer to anything and only results in a poisonous backlash of anger, sometimes manifesting as variations of the Alt Right.

The truth is no side, male or female, can dominate and change or subdue the other if equality really is sought. And the truth hurts. You cannot mould someone into an ideal partner. You either take them as they are, with the good, bad and ugly, or move on. No social or political movement will ever manage to change human nature to the advantage of one sex.

Those who have genuine intentions, aware of the effort they will be engaging in, and manage to find each other will thrive in it; those who do not, will fail at it. It’s as simple as that. Mutual love and respect can be achieved, enabling people to work through their differences with no authority hanging over their heads but these two concepts. Marriage isn’t even necessary for that to take place; it simply grants legal advantages.