Internment Camps, Ansel Adams Snaps and Fleeting Liberties

“Rights for me, not for thee.”

The government habitually strips citizens of their rights whenever it suits them to do so. Currently, the Obama administration and the NSA have deemed that Americans are fair game when it comes to domestic surveillance, as we are certainly no longer

secure in [our] persons, houses, papers, and effects.

Related Article: Gossip Through the PRISM: the NSA’s Shenanigans

This is obviously not a new phenomenon. I find that people often forget, for example, that the Jim Crow laws in the South were indeed laws, not just social conventions. State and local governments codified the practice of segregation and indeed would punish businesses and organizations for daring to integrate—systematically disenfranchising blacks through legislative power.

The state will protect and respect individual rights as long as it suits their own interests. They have proven repeatedly that, when convenient, they will forget that the Bill of Rights even exists.

Related Article: The TSA’s Totalitarian Reign

In a famous and extremely disturbing example, the United States considered Japanese-Americans to be a threat to national security after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On February 19, 1942 FDR signed Executive Order 9066 which allowed the military to designate areas from which “any and all persons could be excluded.” As a result, over a hundred thousand American citizens with names like Richard Kobayashi and Catharine Yamaguchi were locked away in concentration camps. Without trial or cause, these people were forcefully removed from their homes and interned solely because of their ancestry.

In 1943 famed American photographer Ansel Adams, renowned for his stunning shots of the American west, visited the Manzanar camp in California. Disturbed by the ramifications of FDR’s “relocation” policy, he took some poignant and beautiful snaps of life in Manzanar that are distressing reminders of how fragile our rights and liberties really are.

Related Article: Another Casualty of the Paramilitary State

Here are farmers toiling in front of snowcapped mountains:

How much more American can you get than playing football, fixing tractors, and holding town hall meetings?

Town Hall

Even enlisted soldiers weren’t exempt from the camps.

US SOldier

Infants unknowingly took their first breaths there.

The NSA’s extralegal invasions into our privacy should rightfully enrage every American. However, it should not be surprising to anyone with a pulse. The truth is simple and blunt: This is what governments do. Mendaciously, the state—dripping with patriotism and draped in red, white & blue—claims to protect the rights of Americans while simultaneously showing absolute disregard for their sanctity, and at best deigning to acknowledge their very existence. To politicians, civil liberties are mere talking points rather than the inalienable rights that this nation was founded upon.

Related Article: Team Red = Team Blue, The Syria Episode

Sadly, there really are no rights in this world. Most would agree that everyone has a right to food and shelter. How, then, are so many people starving and homeless? The Declaration of Independence champions the rights of life and liberty, however, both are so easily taken away. Our rights are better understood as glorious ideals, Vitruvian Men that we all need to aspire to achieve and maintain.

The problem now isn’t so much that governments are invading our privacy, as concerning and Orwellian as their encroachment is. That known entity is to be understood and expected. The most troublesome factor is the absolute apathetic ambivalence and—indeed!—endorsement of these policies from the American populace.

Related Article: War on Drugs Farce Continues Unabated

I am reminded of the famous poem attributed to Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the  communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

The American citizenry is a frog being boiled slowly, and the rising heat gradually erodes their rights. When are they going to realize that when they’re the only ones left, no one will be there to speak for them?

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws

constitution.findlaw.com/amendment4/amendment.html

http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=74&page=transcript

http://www.businessinsider.com/ansel-adams-internment-camp-photos-2013-8?op=1

http://leonardodavinci.stanford.edu/submissions/clabaugh/history/leonardo.html

Afraid to Wake Up? Conquering Fear and Life

Do not fear! Daydream believers everywhere, Listen up. The time is now to wake up and live the life that we’ve been dreaming about living. So lets strap on those reality boots, focus on what we want to accomplish, and continue on the journey of our lives.

Easier said than done, I know. There are tons of factors that prevent us from achieving our goals. Bills, jobs, social obligations, family, bills, and the money in our wallets all get in the way of our dreams. The only way to get past these obstacles is to fight, tooth and nail, to rid ourselves of them. Well, sort of. We need to set ourselves up to be happy, not monetarily rich. If we do not, all of the hurdles to jump and mountains to climb will seem like impossible barriers. It is best to take each challenge one thought at a time.

Keep working hard and perhaps we will realise* the dreams are entirely in our control.

What is it that We’re afraid of?

Old Dude once said:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

While true, that sounds utterly terrifying. What the hell is fear even? Well despite the various hells being the source of all mythical fear, it turns out that it has a very real and practical existence. Fear is an excellent teacher. Karl Albrecht, Ph.D from psychology today defines fear as

An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.

And Alexander Berzin, an assumed level 87 Bodhisattva, believes this about fear.

Fear is a physical and emotional uneasiness felt about something known or unknown, over which we feel we have no ability to control, handle, or bring to the result that we wish. We want to be rid of what we fear, and thus there is a strong repulsion. Even if the fear is a general anxiety, without a specific object that we fear, still there is a strong wish to be rid of an undefined “something.”

Some imagined event. Something that has not yet happened causes us to activate fight or flight responses. Anxiety is the Sauron to fear’s Morgoth. Anxiety is what traps the brain in fear. Anxiety is the labyrinth that fortifies compulsive thoughts of terror until the brain can no longer handle it. Anxiety, Anxiety, Anxiety.

Our hearts race. Our blood pumps. We rage respond according to the traditions of the body. Karl Albrecht, mentioned above, categorizes the five root fears as the fear of extinction, mutilation, loss of autonomy, separation, and ego-death. But how do we battle these Balrogs? They aren’t allowed here, that is definitely for sure. We must muster up all of our being to defeat their musty, mustard-like, fires of mustachio’d hell.

Alex Berzin, also mentioned above, goes on to explain ways of dealing with fear, before it happens.

  • Counting the cycles of breathing with eyes closed, taking as the cycle the in and out-breaths, and focusing on the sensation of the breath coming in, going down, the lower abdomen rising, then falling, and the breath going out.
  • Counting the cycles of breathing with eyes half-opened, loosely focused, looking down at the floor, taking as the cycle the out-breath, a pause, and the in-breath, with the same focus as above, and after a while, adding awareness of the sensation of our bottoms touching the chair or floor.
  • Reaffirming the motivation or goal of what we wish to achieve (becoming more calm) and why.
  • Imagining that the mind and energy come into focus like the lens of a camera.
  • Without counting the breath, focusing on the lower abdomen rising and falling while breathing and feeling that all the energies of the body are flowing harmoniously.

 

Obviously, while staring down the barrel of a gun it will be hard to practice these techniques. If we do practice these breathing exercises perhaps when we are faced with a gun point decision, we’ll be able to duck down, disarm our various demons, and continue on. We’ll be stronger because of it.

So now that we have a somewhat better understanding of how to overcome fear, lets think about what it is exactly that is keeping us from waking up. Hint: We are almost always asleep.

Dreams

There are two types of dreams. There are those that happen during the deepest sleep of the night and those that happen during the deepest sleep of the day. Sometimes the former slips into the latter, sometimes the latter slips into the former, and sometimes the ladder slips altogether and we’re stuck on the roof until Great Aunt Matilda hears our whimpering three days later.

We can use both types of dreams to achieve our goals and conquer fear.  An apparently nameless author, explains a process called treasure mapping in order to visualize our goals:

It’s a very simple but effective idea: Treasure Mapping involves creating a physical representation or collage of what you want to achieve. It acts as a constant reminder and representation of your goals. And so it intensifies the effects of visualization, which acts on your subconscious mind to motivate and encourage you towards achieving those goals.

We have all probably seen or heard of this type of thing before. Basically one imagines whatever s/he wishes to accomplish (ie. get signed to a record label, build a home, or boat across the atlantic) and then a collage is created of these ideas. The collage is then placed in a prominent space in order to remind the creator of its original intention. As time passes the collage is added to and reflected upon.

Rachael Rettner, from Livescience.com, proposes that dreams are likely to have a specific influence on the way that the brain processes information. Quoting Deirdre Barrett, a havard psychologist,

My opinion is that, evolution just isn’t wasteful, that when things evolve for one purpose, that generally they don’t continue throughout time to have only that purpose, but anything else that may be useful about them gets refined,

Evolution? HA! We all know that the earth was only created 24 years ago.**

In one experiment, Barrett had college students pick a homework problem to try to solve in a dream. The problems weren’t rocket science; they were fairly easy questions that the student simply hadn’t gotten around to solving yet. Students focused on the problem each night before they went to bed. At the end of a week, about half the students had dreamed about the problem and about a quarter had a dream that contained the answer, Barrett said.

Dreams can be used to solve problems that your brain considers important! This includes the problem of overcoming what we fear most. If every night we all go to sleep thinking “how can I make my life a better more full life” or “what is it that I wish to achieve” perhaps we’ll all happen upon some collective answer.

Waking Up 

How we balance our dreams, fears, and the reality of our position is entirely up to us. The decisions we make are seeds for the future. Just because an answer is found to be correct in terms of the original context of the problem does not mean that the question/answer is a valid one. Life is a practice that goes on and on guided by the dreams of those living it. Every night we should all hope to dream of a world in which we’ve all woken up.

We’ve all heard the story of how some great somebody or other was faced with a difficult decision, equation, and pre-paradigm shifting philosophy until, after months, and years the solution came to them in a dream. If you put enough effort into problem solving, you’re brain will do the work for you.

Notes:

*I prefer this spelling. The letter Z and I had a falling out a few years past. Long story, it wasn’t entirely my fault. This article basically says it doesn’t matter.
**Unfortunately there is no source for this information but it is most likely the only truth. I’ve been trying to find any other source so as to validate the claim that the beginning of all things began upon the instant of my birth. As far as I know, conveniently 24 years back, I can’t see there being any possibility of an earth existing before me. After I die, though, it is difficult to speculate.

 

Sources:

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/26/our-special-time-in-the-universe/?fb_source=pubv1

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level3_lojong_material/general/hand_fear.html

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_94.htm

http://www.livescience.com/8373-dream-real-reasons-revealed.html

http://grammarist.com/spelling/realise-realize/