Dissolving The Straw (Wo)Man

Dissolving The Straw (Wo)Man
There was an aphorism in the novel Atlas Shrugged that struck me as profound: “When a man declares “Who am I to know?” he is saying “Who am I to live?”
What sort of authority do I have to inquire, question, investigate? Who am I to challenge the prevailing opinions of our day? Who am I to doubt the sincerity of my would-be-rulers? How did I even get to the point of referring to servants of the “public good” as rulers? How did I lessen myself to such an extent that I find that the authority without is more comforting than the authority within? Who am I to be a moving, living, breathing, sentience being with the full capacity of thought and imagination? Who am I to rely on my ingenuity, strength, courage to go about creating that kind of world I imagine? Who I am to make mistakes and to fall into the well if the results are not favorable to the authority apparatus? Who am I to go outside of the decrees of the Uniformity League Of The World to find a code not recognized by the current operating system?
And so it is that many have accepted the comfort of subservience over the unfathomable riches that come with free inquiry. It is safe to live within the official paradigm where everything they want us to know is preconfigured, but nothing that we need to know is included. All that is of import is outside of the paradigm, and truth be told, there is no such thing as a paradigm. The paradigm is only a concept too. The authority apparatus is an illusion as much as the millions of codes, statutes and regulations to protect its interests are but inkblots on a paper. It can never be figured out because it is not meant to be figured out. It is the sun that blinds you when you glance at it. It is a winding, byzantine road map. It is a Rorshach test and anyone that tries to understand the incomprehensible and reduce it to something simple will find themselves reduced in the process. That is exactly where the forces of the Uniformity League want us. Chasing figments. Propositioning chimeras. Opening Alice’s crawlspace to follow the white rabbit until we are twisting one billions ways til Sunday.
It doesn’t just affect those who follow the path of inquiry but it affects those who go against the paradigm also. It was written once that “what you fight you become.” It follows the Hegelian dialectic of problem-reaction-solution. Or thesis-antithesis-synthesis. A problem is presented. The causes of the problem are sensationalized and so we must find a remedy. The scam of the Hegelian dialectic is that the solution or the synthesis doesn’t eradicate the problem. Instead, it balloons it. Both the problem and the reaction twist upward like the DNA spiral staircase into further hybridization. A pathetic example is Rockefeller’s draconian drug laws in the 70s; an attempt to crack down on drug pushers and abusers. Instead of the “war on drugs” establishing peaceful homogeneity in American communities, it has fostered familial and societal disintegration. The resulting anomie is not witnessed with repulsion by the majority of us but has become a staple of American values. Today, the bulk of men and women rotting away in prison are there for nonviolent drug crimes and the “freedom-loving” USA hosts the largest prison population of any country in the world.
But it would not be this way if we knew who we were. It would not be if we realized that our identity was not a placard of society but sovereign and beyond society. If all men and women are born equal, and this is absent of government or hierarchy, who are you to dicate to me what I can or can’t do with my mind and body? Moreso, how did someone become my unequal if all are born equal? Who set up this playpen of domination and submission? This is the contradiction that has so transfixed us on what is happening outside ourselves and neglecting the true ruler within ourselves. This is the real terrority that we are to possess, not our neighbors or another country. Because we have forsaken our own inner kingship for an outer one we are caught in the faux reality that there is truly an authority outside of ourselves. But this is false. There is no authority apart from ourselves. Yes, there are governments, societies, laws and ideologies but these are all illusions. No man can make you accept a government you did not create, to contract into a society that you did not voluntarily join, to follow laws that are only favorable to the vipers who create them and to accept an ideology that is incoherent with your own inner truth.
We have accepted that this is so and we are fighting with one another to the point of killing and maiming each other to prove our worldview absolute. It does not have to be a physical killing. The energy of brutality that we send out into the world is enough. I speak from my own experience. We are fighting over trivial illusions that can never be remedied; we can only call truces, treaties and recesses that mean very little to those at the bottom of the pyramid of power forever fighting over more trivial illusions. Those at the pyramid’s top are the only ones benefitted by the mini-dictatators we attempt to be. The all-seeing eye encourages our tomfoolery. It is animated in the Left-Right divide, the Capitalist-Socialist face-off, Christianity vs. Islam, and thousands of other schisms and yet the fight is wasteful. We concede nothing and conclude nothing because illusions cannot be remedied. Yet, we continue to fight over whose illusions will be the dominant force to regulate society even at the price of dehumanizing those whose illusions we don’t agree with. There is a cost to pay for that fighting. It is heavy and ineffably heart-wrenching. So many of us caught in the antagonism of “us against them” do a worse violence to ourselves than the one that we wish to eradicate from humanity.
It is only in a society in which rulers think that they can scientifically manage the people that these hostilities grow more severe. And we are seeing it played out right before our very eyes; we do destruction to each other because we are first doing destruction to ourselves. It can only be a fragmented individual that could ever think that killing the enemy would lead to the stoppage of abortion in the world. It can only be a fragmented country that could ever conceive that bountiful killings of perceived threats could every lead to peace and harmony in our world. But because we have become imbalanced by venerating ideologies, and through the burden of significance have sought prestige, the cancer that is first released in ourselves can only live there so long before it needs a larger host. The grander host is the society outside of ourselves. Because there is a sense of inward insecurity, everything becomes a contention, every person we meet we are in competition with, trying to determine their worth based on their social position, their dress, their wealth or their ideology. Does it coincide with ours? If not, that person for the most part becomes a leper, and as a petty difference has made them a leper, through petty but vaunted policy we go about finding ways to annihilate the leper colony. Violence is given license if we think it will sustain our security.
This search for security has been the prime mover of insecurity in our world. But somehow we have been trained not to go into ourselves but to go outside of ourselves to gratiate it. Looking away from the center, we see the unstable phenemona on the edge and that frightens us. But yet, we still won’t return to the center. By then, the way has been blocked by societal impositions. Not just me, but the next guy over has the path back to himself blocked by societal impositions, what Alan Watts called “the taboo of knowing who you are.” And so neither he nor I wants to be the pioneer to break the taboo afraid that we will be broken off from connection, reduced to nothingness. It’s so amazing but that nothingness that we despise is what we are really after because it is in that realization that we become, that we see the inseparable bond that we have with the rest of humanity, unseen by the one-dimension man or woman caught in the tangle of putting up fences and curtaining windows. It is in our nothingness that we see the true harmony of everything, and that we are not separate or above it, but a part of it. There are centurions along the path interrogating us with strong words and contemptuous behavior, “What do you want to go there for?” “Who are you to think you don’t have to accept the code the rest of us have?” “You can’t go it alone!” “You are worthless! You’ll never get any acceptance if you choose that path!”
If we accept this, there is only artificiality to guide us. The “straw man” becomes the power of attorney for all of our dealings in life. The straw man is a fiction who only exists by the power we give it. The straw man is given energy by our refusal to question, to examine and to understand on our own terms, not on anyone else’s. The term “understand” itself is a subjugation tactic. In the legal world when an official ask “Do you understand?” they are testing you to see if you will “stand-under”, if you will abscond your own throne for their inferior, fictitious jurisdiction. So when we believe without questioning, and consent without challenge we are deciding to stand under, to be a foot stool for an authority that is only empowered through forsaking our own power.
The “straw man” is real, but only in the notional sense that a character is produced on the big screen. Anything that seeks to characterize you from outside of yourself is your straw man. He can be found on written documents, birth certificates, social security cards, bills, records, but it is not you. You may use these things to operate in the world of commerce but they are only scraps of paper. You are not a written document, you are not a plaything for the powers-to-be to reduce you to a caricature of yourself. You are not a reputation, an opinion or a soundbite proferred by those who seek to abuse and belittle you. You are much more than that and more powerful beyond your wildest imagination. It takes you simply saying “No!” to those who wish you to consent to debasement, and ignoring those who have been appointed to guard the way back to the center of yourself, the place where all the hiccups, contradictions and malfeasance of the world are harmonized and our oneness with all others is realized.
Recently I was in the presence of one of the Uniformity League’s token bureaucrats. He possessed the typical sheen of superiority and the certainty that anything proceeding from his mouth had the unadulterated sanctity of truth. There was another gentlemen, albeit not wearing the noble title of public servant, but still equipped with enough reason to question some of the statutes of the State. After presenting his greivance, which was well-reasoned and carried all the attributes of genuineness, he stood down with alacrity. But his expectation that the token bureaucrat would consider his complaint as anything other than farting in the face of authority was met with a harsh redactment: “You should be careful about your thinking of how things ought to be” at the complete dismissal of the historical fact that most of what is considered social progress was brought about by men and women who thought there were different ways in which to see the world and set about bringing those visions to fruition. You only have to consult a volume of the Encyclopedia Brittanica to the see the stupidity in such a rebuke.
I was flabbergasted at this display of authoritarian putdown. This is the type of contempt that can be expected when an individual questions a prized tenet of the State, especially if it has served well as a technique for social cohesion, in spite of its truthfulness. Once someone has begun to entertain the reality that their mind was not meant as a canvas for the world to scribble its bile upon, nor as a depository for the world’s excrement, but rather that it is there for their own creativeness and discernment they can expect to be put down by those who have forsaken their own reasoning and questioning and demand that everyone else do the same.
Those who govern by rules, and not principle will always be bound by the letter of the law, and never open up to the spirit inherit in the infinite spectrum of our being. But we can open up to it, in spite of the Uniformity League’s admonitions and threats that seek to have us functioning at a fraction of our capacity. Those of us that have gone and are going there are here to shine a light but we do not wish to be anyone’s security or safety blanket and neither do we expect others to be ours. I hope only that those who have been deceived by the same false fear that I have and the same illusions of our division are open to rejecting the senseless violence of debate, demagoguery and destruction and seeing that we are both composed of the same light. If we can even get the possibility in our minds and no longer let the straw man create controversy between you and I, we may see our world better served. I have seen the small adjustments in changing the angle of reflection. The straw man only exists in the attention that we give it; when it is given no attention, its artificiality dissolves and the real “me” and “you” is all that remains. Substance not shadow. Cooperation not contempt. Love not war.

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