No one else has it figured out either.
So don’t get mad at yourself.
Laugh at yourself. And move on.
The first thing to do each day?
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
We’ll all be dead sooner or later.
No one else has it figured out either.
So don’t get mad at yourself.
Laugh at yourself. And move on.
The first thing to do each day?
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
We’ll all be dead sooner or later.
We’ve all been in the discussion that gets…serious. Meaning, you need to know what you’re talking about…or do you?
In debate, there are various techniques which can be applied, whether you are informed or not. One such maneuver is gaslighting.
Gaslighting is when you make your opponent think their view on the facts is so wrong, that they don’t understand reality. Gaslighting is one of the best ways to diminish not only the opponent’s argument, but to diminish the person themselves into a mushy pile of self-doubt.
You could go the way of Trump, who is one of the most shameless and obvious gaslighters, by simply answering, “I never said that.” when everyone knows you did.
But, there are more subtle ways…
So, without further ado, here are the top three ways to gaslight:
Yes, the tried and true, good old sarcasm. Used best during the years of teenage angst, when you knew so much about the world that you could be self-assured to say the opposite and everyone could tell what was obviously true. (You see what I did there? That was sarcasm).
Sarcasm is great in belittling an opponent and make them question themselves: “Wait, am I off on this?” It’s also good because it makes you feel better, reassuring your world view.
It’s important to remember that sarcasm is best served like revenge: Cold. This dispassionate delivery makes it clear you’re unemotional and clearheaded about what you believe, even if you’re not.
A close cousin to sarcasm, character judgments are a good way of changing the subject without appearing like you’re changing the subject. You can slightly shift the discussion to make the other person defend their values, which distracts from the issue and makes it personal.
This is very easy to do, because most people what to defend themselves, and when they do, it becomes a battle of the ego! And if you’ve got the bigger ego, congratulations: You’ve already won. Because when you demolish an ego, you take a person’s self-confidence. Gaslighting!
This one is an oldie but goodie, and is also related to personal attacks, in that it shifts the focus off of the issue. Whataboutism is perhaps more powerful than character assassination because while it also distracts, it distracts to a similar situation. Thus being related, it seems like you’re still on topic, when you’re just circling it.
Whataboutism is great because it’s limited only by how many related examples you can come up with. The discussion can be derailed into endless territories, where comparisons are superficial. And if you have enough stamina, you can exhaust your opponent into a stupor of self doubt: “Uhh, what were we talking about?”
The trifecta of gaslighting: Sarcasm, Character assassination, and Whataboutism
With these tools in your kit, you can win any argument, with minimal knowledge and research of the issues. And in the process, you can send your opposition into a tailspin of crippling self-doubt.
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal.
They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way.
Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for
instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in
that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.
It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very
hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.
George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel’s
cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about.
On the television screen were ballerinas.
A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.
“That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did,” said Hazel.
“Huh” said George.
“That dance-it was nice,” said Hazel.
“Yup, ” said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They
weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway.
They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.
George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.
Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself, she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.
“Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer, ” said George .
“I’d think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds,”
said Hazel a little envious. “All the things they think up.”
“Urn, ” said George.
“Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?” said Hazel.
Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers.
“If I was Diana Moon Glampers,” said Hazel, “I’d have chimes on Sunday- just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion . ”
“I could think, if it was just chimes,” said George.
“Well-maybe make ’em real loud,” said Hazel. “I think I’d make a good
“Good as anybody else,” said George.
“Who knows better then I do what normal is?” said Hazel.
“Right,” said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.
“Boy!” said Hazel, “that was a doozy, wasn’t it?”
It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.
“All of a sudden you look so tired,” said Hazel. “Why don’t you stretch out on the sofa, so’s you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch.”
She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag,
which was padlocked around George’s neck. “Go on and rest the bag for a little while,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a
George weighed the bag with his hands. “I don’t mind it,” he said. “I don’t
notice it any more. It’s just a part of me.”
“You been so tired lately-kind of wore out,” said Hazel. “If there was just
some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few.”
“Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took
out,” said George. “I don’t call that a bargain.”
“If you could just take a few out when you came home from work,” said Hazel. “I mean-you don’t compete with anybody around here. You just set around.”
“If I tried to get away with it,” said George, “then other people’d get away with it-and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?”
“I’d hate it,” said Hazel.
“There you are,” said George. “The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?”
If Hazel hadn’t been able to come up with an answer to this question, George couldn’t have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.
“Reckon it’d fall all apart,” said Hazel.
“What would?” said George blankly.
“Society,” said Hazel uncertainly. “Wasn’t that what you just said?
“Who knows?” said George.
The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It
wasn’t clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, “Ladies and Gentlemen.”
He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.
“That’s all right-” Hazel said of the announcer, “he tried. That’s the big
thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred pound men.
And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. “Excuse me-” she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive .
“Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen,” she said in a grackle squawk, “has just
escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.”
A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen-upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.
The rest of Harrison’s appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.
Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds .
And to offset his good looks, the H-G men required that he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random.
“If you see this boy, ” said the ballerina, “do not – I repeat, do not – try
to reason with him.”
There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.
Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake.
George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have – for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune. “My God-” said George, “that must be Harrison!”
The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an
automobile collision in his head.
When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.
Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood – in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.
“I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!” He stamped his foot and the studio shook.
“Even as I stand here” he bellowed, “crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a
greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!”
Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.
Harrison’s scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.
Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.
He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.
“I shall now select my Empress!” he said, looking down on the cowering people. “Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!”
A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.
Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask.
She was blindingly beautiful.
“Now-” said Harrison, taking her hand, “shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance? Music!” he commanded.
The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too. “Play your best,” he told them, “and I’ll make you barons and dukes and earls.”
The music began. It was normal at first-cheap, silly, false. But Harrison
snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.
The music began again and was much improved.
Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while-listened gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.
They shifted their weights to their toes.
Harrison placed his big hands on the girls tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers.
And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!
Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well.
They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.
They leaped like deer on the moon.
The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it.
It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling. They kissed it.
And then, neutralizing gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time .
It was then that Diana Moon Clampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.
Diana Moon Clampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.
It was then that the Bergerons’ television tube burned out.
Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George. But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of beer.
George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. “You been crying” he said to Hazel.
“Yup, ” she said.
“What about?” he said.
“I forget,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”
“What was it?” he said.
“It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.
“Forget sad things,” said George.
“I always do,” said Hazel.
“That’s my girl,” said George. He winced. There was the sound of a rivetting gun in his head.
“Gee – I could tell that one was a doozy, ” said Hazel.
“You can say that again,” said George.
“Gee-” said Hazel, “I could tell that one was a doozy.”
Your point of view is just that: Your point of view.
Remember that when you apply your world view to the real world, or when you consider your life’s problems.
You may be better off than you think.
Or you might be doing poorly and lying to yourself.
Either way, leave your cave, ask opinions, and
Sort yourself out.
They say love is stronger than fear.
But that’s not true.
Look at media and you can tell right away what is stronger:
Messages that tell you that you are in need, and all the ways things are not good enough, rather than messages of acceptance and gratitude. They feed us a diet of danger and conflict, rather than love and unity. The reason is apparent: Because we are constantly needy and sensitive to fear.
That is why we should always be wary of letting fear take us over.
We can control fear.
IF we are vigilant against it.
IF we gain the confidence to love.
Love is risky. You might get hurt when you practice the openness of love. You might get hurt when you take that path through the rose bushes.
Yes, love is the underdog. But if you decide to play the game, if you decide to face down your fears,
love will prevail.
Buckley : Freedom breeds inequality. Unless you have freedom to be unequal, you have no such thing as freedom.
Vidal : You’re going to have a revolution if you don’t give the people the things they want…They’re going to come and take it away from you.
Both men are right.
Government’s role is not only to protect the basic and necessary freedoms for individuals so they can create, collect, and trade, but to also maintain stability, ensuring disparity does not grow to a level where class warfare puts the whole system at risk.
Ensuring stability is a tricky business, as any parent knows. How much do you protect your children before you’ve made them dependent on you, living under your roof because they’ve never been allowed to taste the failures and tribulations which allow them to grow into stable adults?
What else is there but time?
The most valuable commodity. Priceless, because you cannot get more.
Whatever time you’ve been granted, you choose to spend working, chasing, hating, gaming, fucking, drinking, smoking, sharing withothers, loving, being thankful.
And how can you be thankful without spending the time being thankful?
I swear that the next time I buy nail clippers, I am going to chain it to a log, something so big that I would never lose the damned thing again.
I must own three of them, and yet every time I’m left searching around trying to find them.
And then it appeared. It was laying there, right in front of me. I had been looking around so much, thinking about where they could be, that I hadn’t been paying attention to what was actually there in front of me.
There’s a lot of thinking to be done today. Because there’s a lot of information making impressions. There’s also a lot of heartfelt loyalty to camps, parties, race, and gender, and this makes paying attention hard to do, because I’ve limited my attention to thinking about the information that I care about: the information that supports my cause.
I lift up my head from the trough of media feed that’s engineered for my consumption, a tempting and tantalizing mixture of fear and drama.
Then I take a look around. And I notice Reality.
Reality doesn’t have a camp. Reality stretches out far and wide. It requires paying attention, and processing new information.
And this is more enlightening than sitting in a camp, trapped by my thoughts. Go explore and learn new things: no need to protect the camp. There’s a whole world out there to pay attention to.
Do you lean more towards empowering individuals?
Or more towards empowering the institutions?
More simply, do often find yourself in the group that wants to be left alone to build your home and community?
Or do you find yourself in the group that won’t leave others alone, and wants the institution to build your community for you?
Church authorities or government authorities: Forced communion is not as meaningful as independent communion.
Legislation is good.
Participation in your community is better.
I was envious of his car, a BMW, a beautifully made vehicle. And his big house, with all the life options it offered. And his career, working a lot, but earning a lot. He had no real troubles. He took his kids to football and dance practice. I could see he was happy. But how could I know?
Success on the outside doesn’t mean success on the inside. I had no idea what was going on inside his head. Then I found out he suffered from depression. And insecurity. Impossible, right? But, it was happening. And then I heard he got a divorce. A devastating thing to go through, splitting from your partner.
We’ve all got it pretty good. At least, in the First World, but even in Africa. For the average person, it’s the best it’s ever been in the history of humankind. Worried about being robbed by bandits? Not so much anymore. Losing half your children in childbirth? Not really.
Lifespan, up; General health: up. Incidence of assault and robbery: down. Females CEOs: going up every year in the US. Black and brown minorities fill our judge seats, academic faculties, and medical professions. We even elected a black person as president after a history of slavery.
But that doesn’t mean injustice and wrongs don’t happen. We are human after all, with immorality and prejudging seeded in each of us. After appreciating the good life, we can still make our community a better place by helping each other, by taking responsibility for being a good neighbor.
Gratitude and love are still the most critical parts of human life. That has not changed. What has changed is your environment. It is a much safer place, and more fruitful than it has ever been.
Yes, the kings and moneyed class still control more than you. But they’re not more happy than you.
Choose your own game.
Because we don’t need the kings anymore.
Photo credit: Aubrey Marcus podcast