Friday, February 25, 2022

The Unreality Of Consequences

We have not experienced any kind of significant kinetic disturbance in greater Europe since the fall of Yugoslavia and the resulting civil wars that resulted (ultimately) in the US Involvement in Serbia in the late 90's.  This week, apparently, we find ourselves there again.

War in the modern world is an odd, disturbing thing.  It is now literally broadcast into our homes and consciousnesses in a real time basis:  I sit as I write this in my chair with the heat on and a cup of coffee by my side; the lights are on and Poppy the Brave is sitting in her chair to my left, watching out the window to see if anyone is walking on this cold morning.  With the flick of a mouse, I can watch ongoing military action:  explosions, vehicles moving, the sounds of shells and shots, aircraft screaming overhead.

In effect, it is like watching a television show or movie or game:  moving images, sounds, even perhaps graphic detail.  But all with the very real sense of unreality.

The reality, of course, will come later and in ways that are actually impactful:  pictures of dead bodies and burned buildings to match the actual dead bodies and burned buildings half a world away; the inevitable crash of markets and the bemoaning of lost retirements and investments and supply chains stretched even further; skyrocketing energy prices which impact the cost of everything; the inevitable yammering of all sides about whose fault this is and what should be done; and the lessons learned from every state about how this situation feeds into future situations.

We are not a serious people.

Violence is our entertainment, our escape.  Death and destruction to us has become unreal because it is simply a way that amuse ourselves.  We watch movies of violent content and we laugh.  The destruction we see on the screen - large or small - desensitizes us as we know, in the back of our brain, that somehow it is not real or lasting.  Thus fed on violence and destruction, the images we see - because in the modern world, the wars and destruction are only ever "over there", not here.

I have written that as a martial arts practitioner, one of the great things that one becomes aware of is the outcome of one's actions.  Even though we train with wooden weapons (bokuto) or unsharpened swords (iaito) and practice paired drills (kumitachi) with care and cadence, the reality that is always at the back of one's mind is what damage can be caused, even as an accident.  Blunted weapons are still weapons and although we rigorously train to avoid contact, it is always a possibility (although no-contact is something that is drilled into our heads from the first day we train).  As a practitioner, one is very aware of what the "possibility" looks like.  I am sure that for anyone that trains in any martial art or any shooting art, the consciousness is the same:  all actions have consequences, be they the cut of the sword or the pulling of the trigger, consequences that will long outlast the moment in which the occurred.

This is my great fear as we roll into a period of turmoil and strife:  we have trained generations in the concept that there are no more consequences to such things than the restarting of a game or the rewinding of the movie. We know - as entertainment - that the dead are never truly "dead" and there are never long term impacts on lives as a result.  We have spent years creating a fantasy land of violence as a passive form of entertainment and enjoyment with no equivalent training or reality based observations in the cause and effect of situations.

The gladiators of Old Rome cried out "Ave, Caesar.  Morituri te salutant" (Hail Caesar.  We who are about to die salute you), understanding what was about to happen.  We, in our blithe ignorance, merely move to click a button so we can watch more.


  1. Anonymous4:54 AM

    We have definitely had our feelings blunted from feeling consequences. Older persons remember younger days when a physical fight was practiced, then gotten over. A black eye, some bruised ribs, the fighters shrugged their shoulder, shook hands and went along with their lives.

    Nowadays - that has changed. People will escalate their feeling as if being slighted is the worst insult and must be taken to the next level to show nobody will push them around. Especially romantic relationships - if I can't have you, nobody will. And then lives are ruined.

    1. What an interesting thought, one that I had not considered. In point of fact I think there was a sense of "get it over with and get on with your lives".

      Beyond what you write - and I agree with you - I think the fact that at some level, we are all supposed to be perpetually enraged by our circumstances adds to it: we are supposed to be angry/offended because of the larger society. When one is on a hair trigger all the time, it becomes very easy to go to the next level.

      Perhaps asked another way: when did stop teaching people to emotional mature?

  2. Well said, TB. Francis Schaeffer comes to mind. He had some very interesting things to say about the growing apathy in society.

    My own ambivalence toward current events is because all the information we are given has a decidedly political slant. We're being given an interpretation of events disguised as "fact." And that always leaves me wondering what's really going on and why.

    Unfortunately, we aren't taught to think things through. We aren't taught to analyze options in terms of their potential outcomes. We're told to trust the experts. And if the ruling elite can get away with simply pointing the finger at someone else for their failures, why should the peasantry aspire to anything else?

    1. Leigh - Schaeffer remains one of my heroes; indeed, one of those "if I could live some way, I would be like him". His intellect was keen and his insight almost prophetic; he predicted (effectively) where the church and society finds itself today.

      The relativity of information has given me pause as well. I find I trust virtually no "media" outlet to provide me with actual unbiased fact. That strikes me as odd of course, living as we do in a technological and scientific society where data is consider the basis of decision making and - at least on the science side of things - demanded that one "shows one's work".

      But we are not taught to think. We are not taught to play out scenarios and risk mitigate and judge outcomes. We are indeed told to trust the experts - in fact, we told not to question them and that our opinions should never have weight in such circumstances (carefully ignoring any examples of where our opinions "matter").

      A civilization can survive many things, but it cannot survive apathy about its existence. And I do not wonder if we are not almost there.

    2. Leigh,

      We forsake the Trivium and Quadrivium.

      Without knowledge of language and mathematics, we are unarmed against our tormentors. We are taught feelings and emotions, so that we may be manipulated and played, like a vamp plays a rube.

      Chatter passes for debate, propaganda for science, feelings for facts.

      As the Joker famously proclaimed in the 2019 DC Comics Film
      - "You get what you f***ing deserve".

  3. We have cultivated a culture that not only denies that there IS a price to be paid for all of your words and/or actions, we actually Demand there be NO consequences what so ever...
    The Laws of motion be damned...
    Those things that can NOT continue...WON'T.
    One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Sowell:
    "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay NO price for being wrong."

    1. MSG - That is a thought which I suppose underlies this, although I never brought it to the surface (thanks for doing so). You are right: another reason we are this way is there are no consequences to our actions, especially our bad or foolish ones. We (the global we, that) then become surprised when there are consequences.

      One of my greatest complaints during the first months of The Plague was that the people grinding the economy to a halt - all professional politicians - were in no wise impacted by shutting down businesses. To them, it was merely a paper exercise and the economy would "spring back to life" when things reopened. Unfortunately, economics is not nearly so easy.

      Thank you for the quote and thanks for stopping by!

  4. How many generations of playing video games where all it takes is "reset" to live again in that game world. Not to mention the ease of causing death over the sights in a FPS game.

    1. Nylon12, the video game resets have been taken place since the early 1980's, so we have at least 40 years of this. And (personal opinion) anyone who thinks that a First Person Shooter game has zero impact on desensitization on the nature of causing death has not really thought it through. When anything through a sight is just a target to be hit, it matters not whether real or video. We are simply just training people to act. The art of dealing with consequences is something we simply pretend will work itself out.

  5. But that is the problem these days. There is no time to think. We just reach the point where we can get the Covid hysteria under control... and our leaders are trying to start civil wars or involve us in foreign conflicts we have no business in.

    I see the problem at 180 degrees from yours. Good men sit on their hands, hemming and hawwwwing and doing nothing while the nutters run amok. In the real world, sitting on your hands doing nothing, or sticking your head in the sand bears consequences too.

    In WW2 they could have dealt with Nazi Germany long before they did with far less blood spilled. But the allies sat around and yammered about peace while Hitler was gearing up for war.

    Maybe that is a bad analogy... but we have millions of good men standing around while a far smaller number of morons are running around lighting fires and pouring gasoline on them...

    1. The Good Men will be trampled by the State if they attempt to do good deeds. See Proud Boys v ANTIFA/BLM. Rittenhouse got off lucky because there was an honest judge. That is not likely to repeat. For instance, the Trucker Convoy headed to DC is headed directly to the Gulag. I'm not about to jump into the Gulag, are you? The state is failing, we can all agree with that, should we interrupt them, or let them fail?

      There are no good solutions. There will be pain.

    2. Glen, I might suggest another alternative: The millions of good men "sitting on their hands" are doing so because the alternative is so horrific that it is truly a last resort.

      The other possibility is that they in fact do care - but as Just So suggests, they are preparing in other and different ways for a different future.

    3. Just So - There are no good solutions. As Sun Tzu would say, If your enemy if making mistakes, allow them to.

      I might feel differently if somewhere I saw leadership that intending to actually win, or proposing a plan that looked more like "Trust Us to do better". I do not.

  6. We are not a serious people.

    Anyone watching a press conference with Mr. Biden or Ms. Harris that are not shocked and saddened at the current state of affairs is truly asleep. We no longer have the political ability to function as a going concern. Bankrupt economically, politically, and morally. Devoid of soul or purpose.

    John Kerry has asked that Putin put "Climate Concern" at the forefront of his invasion of the Ukraine. He implored Putin to consider the "emissions consequences".

    "The beatings will continue until moral improves" - Unknown

    1. Just So, we are not. I read some of the Vice Occupant's speech. We run our national and international affairs like we run our social media now. We are indeed bankrupt.

      I saw the comment about "climate concern". This is what we have come to. The end surely cannot be far away.

  7. I have had to remind myself a time or two of what is actually occurring as I saw and watched the images on the evening news. It is way too easy to just treat it as a CGI scene out of the latest action flick. Likewise, I watched the current occupant layout our reaction to these events and I had to almost laugh. It just felt like a made for movie moment that wasn't meant to be taken seriously by anyone.

    1. Ed, that is exactly it. The whole thing seems like a movie - and in some cases, one not as well done as a movie.

      This is the great issue, of course - that the we do not take that which is serious as serious.

  8. Men have fought since the dawn of time. It's in our DNA. You practice martial arts. That's fighting without the actual fight, but with the knowledge that it could be a fight if necessary. Games are nothing more than sanctioned war; two sides, a battle field, and one victor. Perhaps that's why people get up tight when their team loses. The video games. The movies. They're all relief valves for that innate need for danger and violence. Almost every person, whether they agree with fighting or not, will stop and watch two guys going at it in school or in the street. Like I said, it's in our DNA. I think our issue these days is that our country hasn't seen a threat to its sovereignty in so long. Aside from several "brushfire wars," the world has enjoyed its longest stint of peace in recorded history. Everyone knows this, and everyone knows it can't last forever. In fact, maybe it just ended, and we just don't know it yet...

    ...Stand by for heavy rolls as the ship comes about...

    1. Pete, one of the most interesting things I ever read in A Princess of Mars (so 1913), was the Barsoomian Dejah Thoris' assertion that War is the common state of man and that it was peace that was the exception. That being so, she said, why not make it a game?

      We have had an an exceptionally long period of peace. Perhaps indeed that time has passed. Time to find the storm gear...


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