The Tragic Case of the Wanna-be Cop

The Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman case is a tragedy that never should have happened.  Two people and their families have been forever affected by this.  The fact remains that Trayvon was guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  George Zimmerman made a BIG mistake.  He racially profiled Trayvon because he was a young black male in a hoodie.  Trayvon had not committed a crime that day and unless George Zimmerman had witnessed Trayvon involved in a crime he had no other reason to stop him OTHER than he fit the “profile” of a criminal in that neighborhood.  Trayvon was a teenager who walked to the store and was attempting to head home that day.  There is no doubt that both Trayvon and George Zimmerman acted in fear that day, but one had a gun and one had a can of soda.

“Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself” – Samuel Butler

Zimmerman’s only way out of this was to “claim” self defense.  The details of what happened are only known to Zimmerman and Trayvon.  The undeniable factor here is that racial profiling occurred by George Zimmerman and someone lost their life because of that.  If Trayvon was beating Zimmerman it was probably was because he feared for his own life.  Zimmerman should never have pursued the teen with a gun in his possession.  This type of vigilante justice is extremely dangerous for our society.  Call the police and give a description and allow the police to handle questioning.  Under questioning Trayvon would have been found to have every right to be in that neighborhood that day and two people lives would have returned to normal.  George Zimmerman was more of a danger to himself than Trayvon was.  If you want to carry a gun at least have the capacity to deescalate a situation without resorting to violence or the threat of violence.  You can’t solve violence with more violence just like you can’t solve stupidity with more stupidity.  It is far past time to evolve our thinking to a higher level of consciousness because, “Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already.” SQUAREROOTOFZERO

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Quantum Physics of the Soul (Life) for Dummies

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

I created a miniature e-book about Life for Dummies (Square Root of Zero Version).

Cliff notes and important terms:

Cartesian Dualism:  In philosophy of mind, dualism is the assumption that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are not identical. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and is contrasted with other positions, such as physicalism, in the mind–body problem. Source:Wikipedia

According to material realists, consciousness is an anomalous (deviating from what is standard, normal, or expected) epiphenomenon (a secondary phenomenon accompanying another and caused by it; specifically : a secondary mental phenomenon that is caused by and accompanies a physical phenomenon but has no causal influence itself.)

Monistic Idealism is a system of philosophical idealism emphasizing the primacy of the One (as the Absolute or Nature) rather than of the many.  The contrasting view is that of Material Realism.

“The principles of Material Realism…

Strong Objectivity, Causal Determinism, Locality, Physical or Material Monism, and Epiphenomenalism…

are metaphysical (of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses) postulates, or assumptions about the nature of being, not conclusions arrived at by experiment.” -Goswami

Epiphenomenalism is a mind–body philosophy marked by the belief that basic physical events (sense organs, neural impulses, and muscle contractions) are causal with respect to mental events (thought, consciousness, and cognition). Mental events are viewed as completely dependent on physical functions and, as such, have no independent existence or causal efficacy; it is a mere appearance. Fear seems to make the heart beat faster; though, according to epiphenomenalism, the state of the nervous system causes the heart to beat faster.[1] Because mental events are a kind of overflow that cannot cause anything physical, yet have non-physical properties, epiphenomenalism is viewed as a form of property dualism. Source: Wikipedia

The last picture is a graphic representation of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato’s Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners. Source: Wikipedia

Consciousness, not matter, is fundamental.  This is one of the most important concepts to understand.

8 Spiritual Laws of Emerson

1) Take time to reflect and see the beauty that exists.  “When the act of reflection takes place in the mind, when we look at ourselves in the light of thought, we discover that our life is embosomed in beauty. Behind us, as we go, all things assume pleasing forms, as clouds do far off.”
2) Do not create difficulties for yourself.  “The intellectual life may be kept clean and healthful, if man will live the life of nature, and not import into his mind difficulties which are none of his. No man need be perplexed in his speculations.”
3) Do not seek evil.  “Our young people are diseased with the theological problems of original sin, origin of evil, predestination, and the like. These never presented a practical difficulty to any man, — never darkened across any man’s road, who did not go out of his way to seek them.”
4) Do not interfere with nature and create your own evil out of ignorance, life can be easy if you let it be.  “The lesson is forcibly taught by these observations, that our life might be much easier and simpler than we make it; that the world might be a happier place than it is; that there is no need of struggles, convulsions, and despairs, of the wringing of the hands and the gnashing of the teeth; that we miscreate our own evils. We interfere with the optimism of nature; for, whenever we get this vantage-ground of the past, or of a wiser mind in the present, we are able to discern that we are begirt with laws which execute themselves.”
5) Nature, like love, is unconditional.  “The face of external nature teaches the same lesson. Nature will not have us fret and fume. She does not like our benevolence or our learning much better than she likes our frauds and wars.”
6) There is no need to have faith in expediency or machines just because we can not learn to sit still or look for a higher purpose.  “If we look wider, things are all alike; laws, and letters, and creeds, and modes of living, seem a travestie of truth. Our society is encumbered by ponderous machinery, which resembles the endless aqueducts which the Romans built over hill and dale, and which are superseded by the discovery of the law that water rises to the level of its source. It is a Chinese wall which any nimble Tartar can leap over. It is a standing army, not so good as a peace.”
7) Cultivate awareness and you will prosper.  “A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us, that a higher law than that of our will regulates events; that our painful labors are unnecessary, and fruitless; that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong, and by contenting ourselves with obedience we become divine. Belief and love, — a believing love will relieve us of a vast load of care. O my brothers, God exists. There is a soul at the centre of nature, and over the will of every man, so that none of us can wrong the universe. It has so infused its strong enchantment into nature, that we prosper when we accept its advice, and when we struggle to wound its creatures, our hands are glued to our sides, or they beat our own breasts. The whole course of things goes to teach us faith. We need only obey.”
8) Respect simplicity.  “As much virtue as there is, so much appears; as much goodness as there is, so much reverence it commands. All the devils respect virtue. The high, the generous, the self-devoted sect will always instruct and command mankind. Never was a sincere word utterly lost. Never a magnanimity fell to the ground, but there is some heart to greet and accept it unexpectedly. A man passes for that he is worth.”

Out of Thin Air

Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Isn’t Right.

The Politics of right and wrong becomes so ambiguous.   Each party wants you to see them as the “good guys” and the other party as the “bad guys.”  Which is which?  Republicans have been infighting with “liberal” Republicans since Theodore Roosevelt right up to Rockefeller Republicans and RiNO’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. Democrats have also had their own internal party struggles.  In the Southern United States, today, we find a large stronghold of Republicans.  The South was largely made up of Democrats up until Alabama Governor, George Wallace began to fade from the spotlight and racial divides seemingly morphed into Foreign Policy, Energy, and Economic problems similar to the ones we see today.

Line in the dust.

George Wallace set in motion a conservative movement that would divide the Nation, “at age 14, George Wallace had vowed to someday become Governor. In 1958, at age 39, he made his move. But he now faced a new political force, one that would pit his compassion for the poor against his hunger for power.”  During his run for the Democratic Gubernatorial primary election against his KKK endorsed opponent, John Patterson, Wallace said, “I want to tell the good people of this state as a judge of the 3rd Judicial Circuit, if I didn’t have what it took to treat a man fair regardless of his color, then I don’t have what it takes to be the Governor of your great state.”  Unfortunately, for Wallace, the idea of running on fairness didn’t work out so well.  When the results came in, “the final runoff wasn’t even close. Patterson was swept to victory, Wallace was devastated, his lifelong dream shattered.”  The things that mattered to the average Alabamian were, “the arrest three years earlier of Rosa Parks in Montgomery for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, (that) had grown into a Negro boycott of the city’s segregated buses, and had given rise to a mass movement for civil rights, led by a young minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. The protest left white Alabamians feeling under siege. In his campaign, Wallace tried to find some middle ground. Though he supported segregation, his moderate position gained the endorsement of the civil rights organization, the N.A.A.C.P.”  Wallace took the defeat extremely hard and, “with his keen political antenna, understood immediately why he had lost. And I think he decided at that point that he would exploit race to the extent it took necessary that we — that he considered necessary to win.”

Four years later, Wallace did win.

Wallace’s 1963 inauguration speech included something that would follow him forever, “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.”  Perhaps the turning tide was attributed to the fact that, “in that time, those days, people didn’t want negroes to be upgraded.  And that’s why he hollered.  Because he knew, you know, the white people (were) against negroes and he wanted to be against negroes so he could be elected.”  Wallace also declared his intention to run against John F. Kennedy for the Democratic nomination for President just a few days before Kennedy’s assassination.  Lyndon B. Johnson would succeed JFK as the President of the United States.  Then, “in early 1965, Selma, Alabama, became the site of a civil rights campaign to enable black voters to register. On Sunday, March 7th, 600 people set out for the state capital in Montgomery, 50 miles away, hoping to gain national attention. Wallace had issued an order to prevent the march. His state troopers were waiting at the Edmund Pettus Bridge at the edge of town.” Civil Rights Leader, John Lewis, would recall, “in the beginning, I thought we’d be arrested and just taken to jail. Uh, but when I saw the troopers putting on their gas masks and raising their sticks and the bull whips. Those moments when the troopers came toward us, I knew then we would be beaten.”

Things would change.

“The violence in Selma had immediate impact. Days later, President Lyndon Johnson asked Congress for the most comprehensive voting rights bill in the nation’s history. Then, a federal court in Alabama ruled in favor of the protesters.”  After that, a lot of things happened that almost seem too strange to be true.  Wallace’s wife became Governor of Alabama.  Wallace ran for President several times and lost.   He was shot, but not killed.   Wallace said at one point, “We’ll use the power and prestige of the Governor’s office to try to awaken the American people to the trends that are rampant in our country. A trend that says we must fight the Communists in Vietnam while at the same time the Communist-controlled beatnik mobs in the streets influence national affairs in Washington, D.C.”  Peggy Wallace Kennedy, his Daughter, would go on to say, “Well, we were at dinner one night and, um, we were just talking about politics and, uh, things that were important in life. And he said, ‘There, there’re two things that are most important in life,’ and he said, ‘that’s money and power and I don’t care for money.’ He loved the power.”

Mr. Conservative.

Barry Goldwater, a Republican, became associated with anti-communism and labor-union reform.  Goldwater became a magnet for Conservatives.  He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It was proposed in secretive meetings, by George Wallace and his associates, that Wallace switch parties to become Goldwater’s running mate.  Goldwater eventually declined.  Goldwater’s conservative campaign was based on States Rights, and possible repeal of the Civil Rights Act.  Goldwater was the first Republican since reconstruction to carry South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.  However, Goldwater lost in a landslide everywhere else, most likely, on his vote against the Civil Rights Act to the incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson and would help, for better or for worse, to solidify the New Frontier of domestic programs.  The South found a new champion and Conservative Republicans found a new home just as more “moderate” Republicans were moving, or being pushed, towards the Democratic Party.

Chickens come home to roost.

One of Wallace’s supporters who was horrified about him turning to the Race issue, said, “George, why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?’ And Wallace, sadly he thought, said, ‘You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened.  And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.”  Today we have “makers and takers” to inflame the same sort of tensions.  I am not sure if it is working.  Yet.  We are more than political parties, we are individuals whose lives should transcend these invisible barriers.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but it just seems senseless to me to keep pointing fingers and creating our own truth out of thin air.  SQUAREROOTOFZERO

To Be Continued…

Here is your chance to create “change”

Dear friends,

I wanted to let you know about a new petition on We the People, a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and ask for your support. Will you add your name to mine? If this petition gets 25,000 signatures by December 14, 2012, the White House will review it and respond!

We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

You can view and sign the petition here:

http://wh.gov/XTx9

Here’s some more information about this petition:

Build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast. “Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth.”

“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.” -Viktor Frankl, Auschwitz Survivor. Build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast to supplement the Statue of Liberty. Not a tribute to Frankl but, only to bring to life his idea of a more unified America with Liberty and Responsibility going hand in hand.

Dipped in Fear, Fried in Anger

Change?  The election is over.  Obama won and Romney lost.  Where is that “change” we were promised?  Which version of America are we going to get?  First of all, for the average person change does not come from the Government.  The Government does not create “change.”  That change has to come from within.  It is not an external force acting upon you.  Both Republicans and Democrats have dangerously thrown that idea out of their political psyche.

Red, White, and Blue. What went wrong for Romney? The answer probably lies within the Republican party itself and less with Mitt Romney.  The Republicans were unable to win an election by leveraging emotional, not rational, anger about the economy and rouse enough people to vote “against” Obama.  Romney was obligated to indulge in politics Dipped in Fear, Fried in Anger, and served up like chicken and sweet tea on Red, White, and Blue party plates because that is what it takes to get a GOP nomination, but obviously not the Presidency.

Chameleon.  People were asking which Mitt Romney they would get get if he was elected.  Romney became a contortionist to try and please everyone in his Party.  Psychology would suggest that people would pick the Mitt Romney that suited them best by taking the things he said that they liked as the truth and dismissing what they didn’t.  Simply, they will accentuate what they want to believe and ignore what they don’t.  That strategy seems to work for people in Politics in both parties.  However, it seems that Romney had to twist and bend far too much for the average voter.

Race.  Was this about race?  Yes and No.  By and large people that identify with African or Latin heritage have been largely ostracized by the Republican party.  Again, this is based in fear of a America different from the one they know – or want.  Republicans have not been successful in suppressing or distancing themselves from racial attitudes within the Party.  Usually, this dissolves into a Freedom of Speech argument.  I have the freedom to say that women are less intelligent or capable than men, but it won’t get me a lot of dates.  Compassion and understanding goes a long way regardless of religion or situation.  Reaching out to people who are different than you does not mean weakness.

Here is an excerpt of a story written by Calvin Malone called Razor-Wire Dharma that highlights this:

Bulldog was not only loud and obnoxious, he was big and strong as well.  Few people dared to mess with him and he knew it.  I made sure to stay way from him as well.  Christmas season came (as it does each year), and most inmates were not looking forward to the holiday period.  In most prisons, there is almost nothing special done during this challenging time.  In our case, there is a holiday meal: a regular meal made “festive” by the addition of cranberry sauce and stuffing.  The next Christmas, I went to several friends and asked them to help me put on a Christmas party.  Our (Christmas) party was the talk of the prison for a year.  On several occasions Bulldog mentioned that he had heard about our parties, but I never entertained the idea of inviting him.  When I passed Bulldog’s cell something made me stop. I went back and straight out, invited him to the party.  His response was suspicious. “Why you invite me?” he grunted from his doorway.  When they had heard what I had done, two people decided that they would not attend. Others had serious reservations.  I went ahead with the plans and hoped for the best.

It was interesting that all those who attended were dressed in their best “civilian” clothes and made an extra effort to make this a special time for all.  Throughout the party, Bulldog was quiet and nice to everyone.  He got the most animated when we called out the numbers for the gifts. When he received his, he was like a child at Christmas!  Later he told me he thoroughly enjoyed himself.  Bulldog was moved to another prison after that Christmas party.  Three years later I saw him again.  When he saw me he rushed up and gave me a huge hug and flashed an uncharacteristic smile.  Yelling loudly enough for everyone in the next county to hear, he let me know how much that Christmas meant to him and that in all his years in prison that was his best memory.

Common Ground.  Practice what you preach.

The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion. – Mitt Romney

 

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America. – Barack Obama

 

They are BOTH right.  It is time that we stop laying blame on one Party or the other, work together as individuals, and not highlight differences, but find common ground no matter how far away it seems.  You will not only find the change you seek, but a life that is better than you imagined.  SQUAREROOTOFZERO

Circles

This is a variation on an old joke, but I thought it needed updating.

The world was embroiled in war, political turmoil, there was famine, and there were water shortages.  Every day the people prayed to God. “God, save us from these things.”  But God was silent.  People died from violence, famine, and thirst.  Again, they prayed, “Please, please God save us, help us.”  Things only appeared to get worse.  Still, they prayed “God, please send us a political leader protected by your Grace and a Government more worthy of you.” Again, nothing was found to be acceptable.  As each person passed and they reached the heavens many of them asked, “God, why didn’t you save us? You did nothing.”  God said,  “I gave you fields and forests so you may grow more food, but you chopped them down to make room for your buildings.  You paved over the fields with your roads and put up fences.  You needed your Government only to protect what you thought of as yours.  You only had respect for things that which you created, not the rocks and trees.  I gave you rain so that you could replenish the water that you drank, but you laughingly poured it into the oceans.  I gave you metal so that you could build tools, but you built weapons to, also, protect what you thought of as yours.”  The people looked perplexed, and said, “But you gave us those things to overcome and conquer our harsh environment and to vanquish evil, how could that be?”  God continued,  “I am the earth and I am not the earth.  I am the sun and I am not the sun.  I am your eyes and I am not your eyes.  I am the tiny little spaces that holds all of nature together.  When I tried to hold it together, you tried to pull it apart.  You looked everywhere for Me and could not see Me, but I was there all the time.  I am like a circle, My center is everywhere and My circumference is nowhere.  My circle is your eye and My circle is not your eye because the eye can only be aware, but not see itself.  I gave you everything you needed.  I showed you in the reflection of a pool of water, all those tiny little circles, that was also My eye.  What you didn’t realize was that you only saw a reflection of reality.  You built the jar to hold the water, but you easily forgot about the space inside the jar.  All the seemingly empty spaces that hold nature together is reality.  The closer to reality you were, the closer to Me you were.”   Some people respectfully protested, “We read the Bible and went to church almost every week.”  God said, “Knowledge is not the same as a book nor is a book the same as your brain.  A book only contains a thimble full of knowledge in an ocean full of thought, but it is you who must go beyond what you can see and accept that there is much that you do not know.  If you wanted to compare Me to a sentence then I can be as complex as a trillion words or I can be as simple as One single word.”

Purple People Eaters

Good vs. Evil.  The last Presidential debate is over.  What have we learned?  Both candidates are willing to suspend reality in favor of techno-narcissistic-hyper-corporate-self-esteem building fairy tales in order to take the reins of the Ineffectual, um I mean, Executive branch of Government.  Our system of finance is so completely rigged that one good look under the rug will show more dry-rot than a one-hundred year old farm house in a ghost town.  Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would prescribe cigarettes to a cancer patient instead of face the difficult task of coming to grips with the root of the problems.  Their “cures” are worse than the disease.   Any coming energy crisis will have nothing to do with “domestic oil production,” “energy independence,” or who will be, or not be, “Mr. Oil.”  These are mere distractions for the masses of hypochondriac Americans who are hungry for another quick fix.  I could probably see more thoughtfulness to the gravity of our situation out of a pack of wild dogs.  They have good hearts, but they will bite you the first chance they get.  Even “good” people are showing their claws and teeth when it comes time to blaming the “other party.”  I strongly believe that the coming crises will be a result of failure in the entire system and not because of one political party or the other.  This will be a result of the fact that BOTH parties want to increase their own power and diminish their own responsibility – it has become the American way.  It has become a quest for power for the sake of power and a fight of “Good vs. Evil.”  If one considers themselves “good” then one must find or create “evil” to justify their own goodness.  Justification is like a straight jacket when you are trying to swim.  Justification means you have a need to limit your own faults and increase the blame on others, which is SURE sign of failing leadership and distorted thinking because you only see what you want to see.  When you are wearing your justification jacket you not only need people to cause problems, you NEED problems.

As much virtue there is, so much appears; as much goodness as there is, so much reverence it commands.  All the devils respect virtue. The high, the generous, the self-devoted sect will always instruct and command mankind. Never was a sincere word utterly lost.  Never a magnanimity fell to the ground, but there is some heart to greet and accept it unexpectedly.  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Change.  The solution to these problems is not to just use your “vote” to command justice, but to hold each individual personally accountable.  AS A PERSON.  Not as a political party and create fictitious “evil” monsters like Purple People Eaters.  Then and only then will we see real change.  The choice is yours because, “Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth.”  SQUAREROOTOFZERO

The Great Deception (pt. III of III)

…cont.

Oh, that is a piece of bad luck. -Caesar Flickerman, in the Hunger Games

Morality, some people would argue, is the one part of our lives in which how we fare is dependent on our own choices and not by unpredictable forces outside of our control, sometimes called “luck.”  Is it possible that, like President Snow, some people are so lost in their own vice that they can not even see how horrific some of their actions really are?  It is very difficult to ignore the parallels between the Ancient Greeks, the Gladiator Games, and the Hunger Games.  Katniss, Peeta and all of the other tributes are slaves, even if they do not realize it.  They must please the Capitol.  The Capitol uses fear of death to infect them with its corrupt ideals in the name of “Law and Order.”  The “Bread and Circuses” for the Capitol are provided BY the enslaved districts.  When people refuse to play their role as slaves, whether they “think” they are slaves or not, only then will they have the ability to fight for their freedom.  One of the most Machiavellian instruments of tyranny from the Capitol forced upon Panem is the promotion of vice within the citizenry:   servitude within the districts, and excess and luxury in the Capitol.  Both of which, involves clinging subserviently to preferables as if they had some real value.

Thus, the State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to have this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live? -Thoreau

The Great Deception.  The Capitol is great at hiding its real intentions.  The subtle trick is not to control others, but to get them to control themselves.  By walking a fine line between vice and virtue you can get people to fall into certain habits in an effort to perpetuate the current social order.  Education, or mis-education is a very powerful, but hidden, force of social control.

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go; perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out.  Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.  -Thoreau

So what do we do?  The prescriptions are easy, however, the medicine is much more difficult.  There is a difference between knowing how to do something – or even talking about it – and actually doing it.  Politics and society today are all about showmanship over reality, vanity over self-preservation, preferables over good, and talk over action.

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. -Buddha

Katniss and Peeta also recognize that “a wise man will only be useful as a man, and will not submit to be ‘clay’,” and that “a wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.”  Peeta himself ponders how to do this when he says, “Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol that they don’t own me.  That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.”  Katniss and Peeta use this to gain their control back and ultimately shows the readers that the most important thing in life is not “the hand we are dealt, but how we choose to play it.”

The end.

A Fool’s Bargain (pt.II)

…cont…

Vanity and love of oneself, two passions very different in their nature and their effects, must not be confused.  Love of oneself is a natural sentiment which inclines every animal to watch over its own preservation, and which, directed in man by reason and modified by pity, produces humanity and virtue.  Vanity is only a relative sentiment, artificial and born in society, which inclines each individual to have a greater esteem for himself than for anyone else, inspires in men all the harm they do to one another, and is the true source of honor.  This being well understood, I say that in our primitive state, in the true state of nature, vanity does not exist. -Rousseau

According to Rousseau, the ultimate source of inequality is the competition for status released by vanity.  What Rousseau seems to be saying is that society encourages people to derive their sense of self-worth from how others view them and incubates an obsession with showmanship that gives the reins to vanity and thus creates vice and artificiality.  This is what the people in the Capitol thrive on and is epitomized in the character of Caesar Flickerman in the Hunger Games series.  Not only do the people of the Capitol revel in the misery of others, they value showmanship over true compassion.  I think Rousseau would agree that society would bestow its greatest honors on those that are adept at appearing good while nature rewards those who actually are good.

Although I want to form the man of nature, the object is not, for all that, to make him a savage and relegate him to the depths of the woods. It suffices that, enclosed in a social whirlpool, he not let himself get carried away by either the passions and opinions of men, that he see with his eyes, that he feel with his heart, that no authority govern him beyond that of his own reason. – Rousseau, Emile

Katniss pays a high price to be authentic in an very inauthentic world.  Is it “all big show” and is it “all about how you’re perceived”?  And what price do we pay to be ourselves?
“Panem et circenses” translates to bread and circuses.  Since the Hunger Games is similar to the “circuses” the Roman Emperors put on to “appease” the people let’s take a look at what Seneca thought about some of the problems back then.  Seneca distinguished between Good, Preferable, and Bad.  Good: Virtues like Justice, Wisdom, or Courage, ect.  Preferable: Money, Fame, or Power.  Bad: Foolishness, Injustice, or Malice, ect. When Peeta says “I don’t want them to change me in there…Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.” I think Seneca would tell Peeta that his virtue is something the Capitol can never take away, because it depends on the exercise of his free will.  Seneca might also say that if we begin lusting after things that are only preferable, as if they were the source of happiness, then we would become more like President Snow and trade our virtue in the pursuit of wealth and power.  It is a fool’s bargain.  Seneca warned against overindulgence and he also paid a huge price to be himself when he was ultimately ordered by Emperor Nero to commit suicide.
to be continued…