Maintaining control

I’m having a really hard time today keeping my anger in check.  My girlfriend’s son broke my macro tube that I use to get close-up pictures of things, and though I did manage to avoid screaming at him, I’m having a really hard time not flying off the handle now at every other little thing that bothers me in the slightest.  (To be clear, I never scream at him.)  All I can do is stay away from people until this passes.  I don’t like this.  I wish I could stop getting angry like this, but I don’t know if it’s a consequence of the way my brain formed during my childhood or if it’s something that I can overcome with time.  All I can do is hide until Mr. Hyde leaves and Dr. Jeckyll comes back.

lightbringers

Book review: The Lightbringers by H. C. H. Ritz

As a photographer, it’s easy to get people to look at my work. As a writer, very few people have actually taken the time to sit down and read my books. That’s why when my friend said she had written and published a book and that it was science fiction, I had to check it out. The short review of this book is that it’s awesome and you should buy it and read it for yourself. You can get it here.  If you want more, keep reading.

Synopsis:

It’s the future, around 2079 I think, and the United States has closed its borders and became New America, where everything is perfect and everyone thinks positively in order to bring good things into their lives.  That’s what the government tells them they have to do anyway.  Gaylen Andrews is having trouble with the usual prescription for all of life’s ills when his wife leaves him and takes their daughter with her.  Then he discovers the underground, where everything the law forbids is done, and he becomes entangled in a world of violence, death, and terrorism.  He is forced to leave his old life behind and begin a new one where he faces his inner darkness rather than denying it for the first time.

Opinion and stuff:

The author tells the story from the perspectives of not only the most important protagonists, but also a few of the antagonists, which I found very interesting.  It’s nice to see things the way a villain does and to watch even him grow throughout the story.  Gaylen, who I didn’t realize was black until halfway through the book (not that it matters really), starts off as a “sleeper”, which reminded me a little of the people in The Matrix who are unaware that their world is a lie.  Then, almost involuntarily, he becomes so much more.  It was a lot of fun to grow along with him and witness his struggles.  The book has a great message, that it takes more than just positive thinking to make the world a better place.  Well, that’s part of it anyway.  There’s a lot to it, and you really should read it for yourself.

Scenes are described but not overdescribed, and there are many moments when I was actually excited about what was going on.  I often thought I was watching a movie, especially toward the end.  The only criticism I would give is that there were some minor formatting errors and maybe a spelling mistake or two.  Most people probably wouldn’t notice.  Now you might since I mentioned them, so forget I said anything.  Just read it.

What, you need another link?  Fiiiiiiine!  Here. Click here. Or here. This whole thing is a big link. You can’t miss it.

Here is a link for those of you who don’t like Amazon.

Back from the deep end

Let me tell you about the most obnoxious person I’ve ever met.  He liked to argue, and he always had to be right.  He could combine words so well, even clear-thinking people with perfectly sound minds would become unsure of their position.  He was a troll and a bit of a bully, and he was headed down a path that could only end in loneliness.  That person, as you may have already guessed, was me.

I’ve been paying close attention to the Elliot Rodger incident that happened last weekend.  I’ve seen all of his videos, including the chilling final one where he discussed his “day of retribution”.  As I listen to what he has to say, I can’t help but recognize a little of myself.  I wasn’t as crazy as he was, but who knows what could have happened if I had kept going on the way that I was?

To clarify things a bit to certain people who might be reading this, I no longer label myself an anarchist.  My anti-government ravings were not well thought out and the product of a lot of very misplaced anger.  I wasn’t wrong about everything, but anything I was right about, I was right about for the wrong reasons.  I don’t think totally throwing out the government is a good idea at all.  People need to come together, not split apart.  Peace can only be achieved by people listening to each other.

It’s so easy to go through life without considering yourself from other people’s points of view, and it seems like most people do that.  They react to things without thinking, they misunderstand, they get angry, and they seek satisfaction rather than resolution.  I don’t want to be like that.  I’ve managed to take a look at myself from the outside a few times in my life, and about a year ago, I did it for the first time in quite a while and realized that something was seriously wrong.  I had forgotten to value my relationships.  I saw valuing the opinions and feelings of others as a weakness.  Then Michelle reminded me that only from the outside can you get an accurate overview of what most people see when they look at you.  I silenced my ego, I opened my eyes, and my world changed for the better.

It does you no good to go around hurting people and cutting yourself off from caring about the suffering you cause, because as humans, we need each other’s help to have a happy life.  Societies thrive on harmony.  Productive members of society are the ones who facilitate harmony through peaceful interactions.  That’s what I want to do.

Cultural context does not excuse the condoning of rape

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 states:

28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;

29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

Biblical apologists defend this passage by saying that back in those days, if a woman was not a virgin and not married, nobody can marry her according to Leviticus 21:13-15.

13 “‘The woman he marries must be a virgin. 14 He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people, 15 so that he will not defile his offspring among his people. I am the Lord, who makes him holy.’”

Furthermore, Deuteronomy 22:13-21 says that if a man marries a woman who claims to be a virgin and decides to accuse her of not being one, her parents have to get proof of their daughter’s virginity in the form of bloody sheets from the wedding night.

13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,

14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:

15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:

16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;

17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.

18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;

19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:

21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

So in ancient Jewish society, it was pretty darn important for girls to be virgins until they were married and to only ever have sex with their husbands.  The apologist position on forcing women to marry their rapists is that it ensures that the women will be taken care of and not abandoned by society, a society that created the corner that nonvirgin women were backed into in the first place.

So rapists were forced to marry their victims.  Let’s say the rapist decided he was tired of his wife, so he went out and raped someone else.  He was caught, and he was stoned to death.  (I’m assuming that if the man is already married, he gets murdered, unless the marry-your-rapist clause kicks in again and he ends up with a second wife.)  Now his first rape victim/wife is all alone, and nobody else can marry her because of Leviticus 21:13-15 despite the fact that she did absolutely nothing wrong.

13 “‘The woman he marries must be a virgin. 14 He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people, 15 so that he will not defile his offspring among his people. I am the Lord, who makes him holy.’”

Also note that nowhere is it stated that the crime that the man is punished for is rape.  The crime is causing a girl to no longer be a virgin or defiling another man’s wife.  Deuteronomy 22:22 says that in the case of a man raping a girl who is already married, then they both are to die.

22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

If a woman is merely engaged to be married and is still a virgin, then Deuteronomy 22:23-27 kicks in.

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;

24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.

26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:

27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

It doesn’t say this directly, but according to Leviticus 21:13-15, the woman, who was oh so mercifully not murdered along with her rapist, is now unmarryable.  So any apologist that says that forcing a woman to marry her rapist is somehow a favor done for women in ancient Jewish society is completely off the mark and should read the bible at least once in his or her lifetime.

Michelle

I’ve been struggling for the past several months with a tendency that I have to be extremely insensitive and turn my anger at myself outward when I am feeling hurt.  I’m not sure I can control it, but I’m trying.  I don’t want to hurt the people closest to me any more, especially Michelle, who has refused to give up on me even though doing so would have probably been good for her.

I’ve been uncovering old writings of mine that, when I read them, seem to point a finger at me and convict me of crimes that I knew better than to commit at the time that I wrote them.  How did I forget how to treat people well?  How did I become such a hypocrite?  Apparently, behaving myself is something that will take some real effort on my part, and I am committed to that effort because I want to commit myself to Michelle.  I can only be happy with her, and I have a chance to rebuild what we had.  One day I hope to deserve it.

In order to remind myself of what’s really important, I want to write down just what Michelle means to me and how I feel about her so that in the future I have another arrow pointing me in the right direction if I get turned around again.

The happiest time in my life is when I referred to her as my Michelle, stealing from a Guns ‘N Roses song.  I loved hearing her call me her Josh.  She once told me that I was her world.  I want that back again.  I want to be the person she loved so much because that’s how much I love her.  I’m willing to give up my fruitless crusade against the government for the sake of living more harmoniously with her and with myself.  She is everything I’ve ever wanted out of life.  We all seek to do something with our lives that we’ll be remembered for, but I think a much greater aspiration is to find happiness and peace within one’s own mind and life.  Michelle is the key to that for me.  Making her happy is the best thing I can achieve in my life, and that is what I want to do for myself.  It’s the only way I can be happy.

I can do many things.  I can navigate the internet like it’s my own backyard.  I can create an image of the sky that takes even my breath away.  I can write books, one of which has been described as addictive, and create entire universes within them.  But none of that does any more than occupy my time and amuse me.  It’s all empty without Michelle in my life.  She does for me what the power of a god cannot.  She makes me happy, and the best thing I could ever do is make her happy in return.

Anger, Insults, and Hurt Feelings

I wrote this quite a while ago.  I think I should listen to myself.  I’ve strayed far from where I was back then.

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I often hear atheists and Christians insulting each other, either as a substitute for arguments or as a supplement. They find it satisfying to try and hurt their target’s feelings, and many members of their audience find vicariously satisfying. In their minds, the target of the insults deserves emotional pain because of something he or she did or said. They think it is just, but what they are really doing when they lash out in this way is revealing something about themselves.

I don’t mean that they are just immature.  That is certainly part of it, but there is more to it. We seek justice when we are hurt. When a person tries to hurt the feelings of another, it reveals that the one on the attack was hurt and is acting out of emotional pain.

Being hurt causes anger, as does seeing the innocent in pain. Anger is satisfied by causing more pain, so by its very nature, anger is hypocritical. It works in combination with pain to propagate itself like a virus. When someone insults you, it is an admission to having hurt feelings. Understanding this, the best response is patience. Unless you are the reason the attacker feels hurt, there is no reason to take anything negative they say personally. They don’t mean it.

To pass harsh judgment on a childlike mind that is incapable of channeling emotional desires is unfair. After all, a penguin can’t be faulted for being unable to fly. It doesn’t matter to them that their whole world isn’t the source of their pain. They only think about themselves. Emotionally, they are no different from young children, and the only thing that will satisfy them is to cause much suffering to others as they can.

Not everyone who casually insults others with little or no provocation is indiscriminate in this practice. In fact, I’d say few are. Only a sociopath would be. Typically, some kind of trigger is required for an individual to become the target of childish taunts by an emotionally damaged person. A difference of opinion on even a trivial issue can be enough. So can a personality traits; a racial, ethnic, or religious identity; a physical feature; or a lifestyle choice. It’s not the same thing as bigotry, but it’s not too different. Of course, the biggest trigger is an insult, whether it was intentional or unintentional. You have to be careful when dealing with emotionally damaged people. If you’ve inadvertently triggered one or more of them, it is very easy to feel the need to retaliate and cause them to feel justified in what they are doing.

To continue radiating unpleasantness, they will sometimes fiercely defend their ignorance by offering excuses like “I’m just a nasty person” or reiterating the trigger and declaring it to be justification for the mistreatment. It feels so good to spread emotional pain, it can be very hard to let go of even the pain. It is psychologically addictive, feeling relief from pain. In fact, relief feels even better than just feeling good.

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I never finished writing it for some reason, but it kinda resonates with what I’ve been going through lately.

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