Wednesday, February 21, 2018

“Belief Systems and the Power Of Authority”

“Belief Systems and the Power Of Authority”
by Julian Wash

“Today I would like to return to your awareness an aspect of the Human condition that adheres to the abstract nature of belief. Beliefs come in many shapes and sizes and yet all share something in common - they’re elusive and intangible. 

Although we cannot “touch” a belief, it certainly has a way of touching us. Our belief modifies the way we think, how we act and feel. I take my tinfoil hat off to those who invented this system of social order so many moons ago. What a concept indeed. Imagine sitting around a stone-age conference table discussing this idea. I surely would have laughed it off. “You mean you can get people to accept something as truth even if it’s not real? C’mon man. I tell you what’s real - something called fire! Now that’s something you can believe in!” 

Oh my, how I would have missed the boat. Not only did the concept grow legs, it sprouted wings. Turns out everyone wants to believe in something. For one thing it’s kind of fun. What would Christmas be like without Santa Clause? For another it makes us feel special somehow. But how does one find truth in a belief? The answer is really quite simple. We pretend. 

In the following paragraphs I’ll take a somewhat playful (if not cynical) look at some of the hermetically-sealed belief systems that dominate in our lives. There’s a circuitous path one must navigate that divides our place of knowing from a world of make-believe. This trail can get a little precarious and downright slippery at times. So let’s saddle up our loyal mustangs and see where they take us. These majestic creatures are sure-footed, certain and most graceful in their stride. More than that, I sense they may know something we have forgotten.

Born to Run: This I can tell you about the mustang - they were born to run and we were born to ride. Where the trail ends, a new one begins and the sights and sounds are something to behold. The rider learns the way of the horse and the horse the way of the rider. It’s a relationship of balance and harmony. There’s a transfer of energy from one entity to another as our thoughts begin to roam free with wild abandon and the mustang gently restrains in courtesy of the saddle. On this journey, it’s not where you go - but where it takes you.

We are freedom-loving beings. You, me and the people we never meet or see because they live an ocean away. At the deepest level we are all free spirits. To this end we are not unlike the mustang. But I sense there’s a trifle few who would suggest we’re not deserving of this freedom. I believe they gain very much from the belief structures we submit to. And so we are encouraged to believe in those ideas and concepts that place cuffs on our hands and feet. We unlock our mind and hand another the key. Not because we’re foolish, but because we are trusting. 

One may believe it is warm outside or that the words of another are true. But belief takes a giant leap forward when invested in an outside ideology or institution. These beliefs must be taught and learned. Can you see how someone might be stirred remotely by the belief system they follow? It’s here where we find the chasm between the spiritual and the believers. The spiritual mind seeks truth and spends many, many lonely nights pondering and wondering. It’s not enough for a lesson to be taught and handed to them - it must be felt at the very core of their being. 

External influences are everywhere. We’ve all been conditioned into “believing” that we’re just a tiny speck in the macrocosm. Okay, to them I say - try removing that “speck” and see what happens. You’ll find it leaves a hole in this macrocosm, a tear in the ethereal fabric of all that is and will ever be. The tear would surely be the center of attention for all to notice. There is nothing insignificant about that. 

And we must “believe” freedom is not free, they say. That’s not what the mustang tells me. And we must “believe” in a fabricated religion or face consternation or eternal damnation. We must “believe” in our teachers and the concepts of higher education. Most of all, the belief-makers want us to believe in all things outside ourselves. That’s the true societal doctrine. We must believe that without our loyal adherence to those synthetic constructs that mold us, we are very small and insignificant. Indeed, join the Army and be part of something bigger than yourself - or so they will tell you. But I will tell you again and again - there is nothing “bigger” than the beautiful, singular you.   

The Concept of Religion: The late rock legend John Lennon perhaps said it best. In his song aptly titled, “God” he states “God is a concept by which we measure our pain.” Exactly what was meant by this verse is of course a matter of interpretation. But referring to God as a “concept” is what I find particularly intriguing. Lennon goes on to mention many ideologies and icons he doesn’t “believe” in. Even The Beatles made the list. Near the end of the track he writes, “I just believe in me... and that reality.” These are profoundly insightful words from someone who clearly understood the illusions that blind and bind us. When we believe in something outside ourselves we subordinate to the authority of that belief. Somebody is in control of that belief system and it’s not you. 

“So you see I have come to doubt all that I once held as true.” These are the powerful words of Paul Simon from “Kathy’s Song.” Simon goes on to say “I stand alone without beliefs - the only truth I know is you.” The songwriters of yesterday came to our poetic and philosophical rescue. Music was perhaps the last conduit for elevating the masses into a higher consciousness. We’ve since moved on to a different sound and a different message. It would seem the philosophy belongs to a bygone era of the children of World War II and the veterans of Vietnam. The music I hear today is often brooding and complex or unmercifully adolescent. It too provides a snapshot of where we are today, but offers little antidote or resolution. The new sound seems to concede to the idea that we’re already screwed. They might be right.

In the most fundamental sense, as long as we believe in an external authority then we knowingly or unknowingly yield to those who govern it. This gives power to an entity outside of you. As in the case of a religious structure, we find not only individual power but the collective power of millions. Why does this concern me? Do we trust the wisdom of those who command this power and influence? We know there is an ongoing concern about religious improprieties. Collusion with nefarious governments, horrendous inquisitions, child rape and murder and a whole host of other unspeakable atrocities should offer one some pause and reservation. Personally, I will have nothing to do with institutions that serve as agents for Divine intervention. If there is a devil - in such a house you would find him. My thoughts belong to me. I’ve not been assigned my way of thinking.

Education and Government: Institutionalized education teaches us how to be compliant. Do not think for a moment that there is any real purpose beyond this. I once had a grade school teacher candidly admit, “You’re all empty minds needing to be filled.” Yes there is rudimentary instruction that loosely qualifies as teaching. But the real goal is to indoctrinate and enforce submission and turn the populace into working bees. There are many gifted children who ultimately fall out of this system because they have issues with compliance. I have nothing but disdain for modern education. Those who ultimately earn an advanced degree will be well-seasoned and attuned to the conformity and compliance of this institution. These are the same people who are ultimately chosen to effect major policy changes in society. 

To what extent should we believe? Devices such as propaganda have long been used by government to influence the masses. People “believe” in what they're told because they have submitted to this external authority. This power is so persuasive it can encourage people to enlist in the armed services. They are told they’re the defenders of “freedom” and yet they must give up much of their own freedom in order to serve in this capacity.

Dynamics of Belief: What I believe may not be what you believe and I am okay with that. In fact, I’m grateful for it. We are entitled to believe in what we want, but we should understand that beliefs are not the same as truth. Beliefs are malleable and can change over time. Truth is universal and will withstand the ages. The problem seems to be that many hold belief in the same light as truth. How did this happen? 

Once surrendered to an external belief system, we’re honor-bound to serve it. In the simplest sense, that means if you call yourself a Mormon, then you must also say goodbye to coffee. That would surely spell my demise as I drink the stuff as if my life depended on it. So be it. My belief permits it. I abstain from meat - the Mormon does not. I would advise this ideology to not lecture me on matters of morality. If perhaps they are open to true enlightenment, I would suggest they close their book and open their mind. If they do, they will see how their structure is not unlike the others. Like all faiths, they preach peace and love as they march their children to war. There is such hypocrisy and deceit behind the velvet pulpits of shame.

Spirituality is also a belief system albeit a personal one. This means you’re the authority of it. You are not relinquishing your power to another. It does not suggest your belief is the right one or the only one. It does however suggest that you have found a belief that serves your needs - and that’s powerful indeed. You live with an inner-knowing and an inner-peace. You can separate yourself from the spectacle that surrounds you. From this vantage, all the rumblings of the world play out on stage. You may feel like one of the actors at times, but the spiritually aware are more attuned as observers. They may feel captivated and moved by the story, but they know it’s just a show.

Final Thought: My reality did not come pre-wrapped in a package with a pretty bow on it. I was not captured by a flowering sermon or summoned by a Bible-pumping preacher pimping fear. I fought long and hard for the truth and the philosophy I live by. I had to first unlearn what had been sewn into my young psyche at such an impressionable age. Not an easy task by any measure. I had to forgive and forget the Catholic teachings and extricate myself from the labyrinth that held me. I had feelings of guilt which were not unlike the pain of divorce. I learned to let go. 

I believe in you and I believe in me. Much beyond that is a real reach in my world. What we call belief is merely a presumption, opinion or an understanding. On the other hand, the word “truth” suggests a state of knowing, a resonance in harmony at the very core of who and what we are. And yet we use these words freely and interchangeably. 

Ah, alas, I see we’re back. There were a couple of slippery parts there - but your mustang held on and stayed true to course. When the rider bonds with their horse, there’s a synergy that benefits both. You really had nothing to fear as the path withered and narrowed into a new trail of your own making. 

The moon is high now, the sage silvery and sweet, but the shadow from a Saguaro conjures the image of a wounded man. And I think to myself, if only he could see the light on the other side. If only. “

Musical Interlude: Ludovico Einaudi, “Run”

Ludovico Einaudi, “Run”

Musical Interlude: Ludovico Einaudi, “Four Dimensions”

Ludovico Einaudi, “Four Dimensions”

"How It Really Is"

Greg Hunter, "Rising Rates Forecast Insolvency - Michael Pento"

"Rising Rates Forecast Insolvency - Michael Pento"
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 

"Money manager Michael Pento says recently rising interest rates are signaling big trouble for the economy. Pento contends, “There are so many things that can go wrong with rising interest rates. First of all, you have to understand that the permabulls that you hear on CNBC will tell you there is nothing wrong with rising interest rates. It is a symbol of growth. If you look at industrial production and retail sales for January, they were negative. So, rising rates are occurring, not because of growth, they are caused by insolvency concerns. That is the key metric here, and they are credit risks and insolvency concerns.”

Who is insolvent? Pento says, “Europe is insolvent. The United States is insolvent. We have $21 trillion in debt. That’s seven times our revenue. So, we are technically insolvent. You haven’t seen anything yet because as interest rates rise, debt service expenses rise. Certainly, beyond a shadow of doubt, the Bank of Japan is insolvent.”

Pento says 10-year Treasury rates could easily go to “7%,” which is a massive move from a little less than 3% today.This would not be some wild swing, but a “return to long term averages.” What are central bankers going to do then? Pento says, “I think the end game is central bankers are going to come back in and buy everything. They are going to buy every fixed income sovereign debt instrument that they can find because interest rates are going to spiral out of control. You are going to have a panic out of Treasuries, a panic out of high yield, a panic out of leveraged loans and a panic out of bond funds.”

Pento also predicts, “For the first time in 40 years, you are going to have bond prices and equity prices in free-fall. That happened in the 1970’s, but it’s going to be worse because in the 1970’s, you didn’t have an insolvency concern. The chaos coming to markets is here. It’s not going away, and it’s not going to be brushed under the rug. It’s not going to stay on the sidelines for another few years. The years from 2007 to 2017 were the years central banks were buying everything. There was no volatility, and stocks just went up. Those days have ended, and the volatility is only going to become much more profound.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with financial expert Michael Pento,
 founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies.”

"Yellowstone Alert: 200 Earthquakes In 10 Days As Ring Of Fire Awakens”

"Yellowstone Alert: 
200 Earthquakes In 10 Days As Ring Of Fire Awakens”
by Tyler Durden

"Just 10 days after warning of signs of "strain" at Yellowstone's magma chamber, SHTFplan.com's Mac Slavo reports that scientists in Yellowstone have detected over 200 earthquakes at the supervolcano. With reports coming in that the Ring of Fire could be awakening as well, many are preparing for the worst.

Although scientists are still telling the public there’s no need to be alarmed, reports of immense pressure in the magma chamber under Yellowstone, coupled with this new report claiming 200 earthquakes have been recorded in the last ten days are reigniting fears of a potential supervolcano eruption. According to The Daily Mail, this latest earthquake swarm began on February 8.
Experts with the US Geological Survey say that this latest swarm began in a region roughly eight miles northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana and, it’s increased dramatically in the days since. While the earthquakes are likely caused by a combination of processes beneath the surface, the current activity is said to be “relatively weak,” and the alert level at the supervolcano remains at “normal.” The USGS says the new swarm is occurring in about the same location as the Maple Creek swarm last summer, which brought roughly 2,400 earthquakes in a four-month span.

Experts also say there are likely many more earthquakes in the Yellowstone region that have gone undetected. “The present swarm started on February 8, with a few events occurring per day,” according to USGS. “On February 15, seismicity rates and magnitudes increased markedly. As of the night of February 18, the largest earthquake in the swarm is M2.9, and none of the events have been felt. All are occurring about 8 km (5 mi) beneath the surface.”

“Swarms reflect changes in stress along small faults beneath the surface, and generally are caused by two processes: large-scale tectonic forces, and pressure changes beneath the surface due to accumulation and/or withdrawal of fluids (magma, water, and/or gas),” USGS explains. “The area of the current swarm is subject to both processes.”

“While it may seem worrisome, the current seismicity is relatively weak and actually represents an opportunity to learn more about Yellowstone,” USGS says. “It is during periods of change when scientists can develop, test, and refine their models of how the Yellowstone volcanic system works.” However, the experts did lace a warning into their statement. “The earthquakes, too, serve as a reminder of an underappreciated hazard at Yellowstone – that of strong earthquakes, which are the most likely event to cause damage in the region on the timescales of human lives.”
Click image for larger size.
This USGS graphic shows how a 'super eruption' of the molten lava under Yellowstone National Park would spread ash across the United States."

Be informed, not frightened...

Free Download: Alan Watts, "The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are"

“You didn't come into this world. You came out of it, 
like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.”  
- Alan Watts

"What we see as death, empty space, or nothingness is only the trough between the crests of this endlessly waving ocean. It is all part of the illusion that there should seem to be something to be gained in the future, and that there is an urgent necessity to go on and on until we get it. Yet just as there is no time but the present, and no one except the all-and-everything, there is never anything to be gained- though the zest of the game is to pretend there is."
- Alan Watts,
"The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are"

Freely download "The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are",
by Alan Watts, here:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"And Forget Not..."

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your 
bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." 
 - Kahlil Gibran

Musical Interlude: Loreena McKennitt, "Dante's Prayer"

Loreena McKennitt, "Dante's Prayer"

"When the dark wood fell before me,
And all the paths were overgrown,
When the priests of pride say there is no other way,
I tilled the sorrows of stone.

I did not believe because I could not see,
Though you came to me in the night.
When the dawn seemed forever lost,
You showed me your love in the light of the stars...

Cast your eyes on the ocean,
Cast your soul to the sea,
When the dark night seems endless,
Please remember me...

Then the mountain rose before me,
By the deep well of desire.
From the fountain of forgiveness,
Beyond the ice and the fire...

Cast your eyes on the ocean,
Cast your soul to the sea.
When the dark night seems endless,
Please remember me...

Though we share this humble path, alone,
How fragile is the heart.
Oh, give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars.

Breathe life into this feeble heart,
Lift this mortal veil of fear.
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears,
We'll rise above these earthly cares...

Cast your eyes on the ocean,
Cast your soul to the sea.
When the dark night seems endless,
Please remember me..." 

"The Philosophy Of Being"

"The Philosophy Of Being"
By E D Detetcheverrie    

"Outrageous to some, clarifying for others, a strange conversation meant to provoke further thought. Now I know why they explain it in metaphors. The truth seems surreal. We are inadequate to describe it concisely. Ask not if you have strayed from the path; there is only one path, one way, and you are always on it...

Do they call it enlightenment because there is a light?
It is not mere photons, and light is only one part of it.
Who is in charge of it all?
Yes, we are. 
Do the wicked receive their just reward?
We shall all, ultimately, resume our place in the light.
Is the simplistic lifestyle really the true way?
All ways are the pathway to the light.
So, you can do as you please and still gain entry to that Better Place?
This is the place. Every experience is a learning experience.
What are the rules we should live by in order to achieve true happiness?
Merely be the best person you can possibly be.
How do we resolve all the ills of the world?
Merely be the best person you can possibly be.
Who should we pray to?
Adoration is not necessary. Rather, pray for the benefit of those who need it most.
So, prayer is the answer?
It is merely one means of achievement. Prayer is a tool.
Where should we assemble?
Anywhere like minds may work toward the same goals.
Need we assemble?
We are all assembled.
Is suicide evil?
All experiences are learning experiences.
What is good and what is evil?
All experiences are learning experiences.
How do we delineate between right and wrong?
It is in your nature to judge one another.
What happens when we die?
The body returns to its elements. The essence better joins with what is.
Do animals have souls?
The lifeforce and the creator are One.
Which religion is the true religion?
All experiences are learning experiences.
Is evolution just a theory?
All theories are theories.
Is evolution a fact?
All facts are subject to further scrutiny.
Who is superior?
None and all.
Why do bad things happen?
All experiences are learning experiences.
Why do the innocent suffer?
All experiences are learning experiences.
Are ghosts real?
Everything which can be imagined is real for some.
What is the name of this system of belief?
Names are but vague labels which trigger different responses in different 
individuals based upon their previous experiences with elements they
perceive to be a part of that which was named.
How do I learn more about what you're describing?
Exist.
What should we fear?
Fear is the product of ignorance. Ignorance is quelled through education.
What form of education should we seek?
Life.
What is the origin of man?
Life is defined by experience.
What is the origin of the universe?
Experience creates life.
How do we save the world?
Merely be the best person you can possibly be."

"Regret: The Weight of the Past"; "A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness"

"Regret: The Weight of the Past"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"Holding onto regret is like dragging the weight of the past with us everywhere we go. Holding onto regret is like dragging the weight of the past with us everywhere we go. It drains our energy, leaving less available for life in the present because we are constantly feeding an old issue. This attachment can cause illness the same way watering a dead plant creates decay. We know that something new and beautiful can grow in its place if we only prepare the soil and plant the right seeds. We also know that we create our lives from our thoughts, so dwelling on the past may actually recreate a situation in our lives where we are forced to make the choice again and again. We can choose to move on right now by applying what we have learned to the present and perhaps even sharing with others, transforming the energy into something that is constructive and creative for ourselves and others.

Forgiveness is the soothing balm that can heal regret. In meditation, we can imagine discussing the issue with the self of our past and offering our forgiveness for the choice. In return, we can ask for our selves’ forgiveness for keeping them locked in that space of judgment for so long. We may also want to ask forgiveness from anyone else who may have been affected and perhaps offer our forgiveness. By replaying the event in our minds, we can choose a new ending using all that we now know. Imagine that you have actually gone back into the past and made this change, and then say goodbye to it. Release your former self with a hug and bring the forgiveness and love back with you to the present. Since we are usually our harshest critics, it is amazing how powerfully healing it can be to offer ourselves love.

Keeping our minds and our energy fully in the present allows us to fuel our physical and emotional healing and well-being today. This action frees our energy to create the dreams we dream for the future. By taking responsibility and action in the present, we can release our hold on the past."
"A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness"

 "If I have harmed anyone in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions, I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions, I forgive them.

And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions,
I forgive myself."

Paulo Coelho, "One Question..."

X22 Report, “This Is Where The Next Economic Crisis Is Hiding “

X22 Report, “This Is Where The Next Economic Crisis Is Hiding “
Related followup report:
X22 Report, “Trapping The Deep State In Their Own Lies”

"We Are Star Stuff..."

"We are star-stuff. The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it but the way the atoms are put together. The cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff, we are a way for the cosmos to know itself." - Carl Sagan 

Click image for larger size.
"The hydrogen in your body, present in every molecule of water, came from the Big Bang. There are no other appreciable sources of hydrogen in the universe. The carbon in your body was made by nuclear fusion in the interior of stars, as was the oxygen. Much of the iron in your body was made during supernovas of stars that occurred long ago and far away. The gold in your jewelry was likely made from neutron stars during collisions that may have been visible as short-duration gamma-ray bursts. Elements like phosphorus and copper are present in our bodies in only small amounts but are essential to the functioning of all known life. The featured periodic table is color coded to indicate humanity's best guess as to the nuclear origin of all known elements. The sites of nuclear creation of some elements, such as copper, are not really well known and are continuing topics of observational and computational research."
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160125.html

From thus, We are... Children of the Universe, literally.
Liquid Mind, "My Orchid Spirit (Extragalactic)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK_2fgj_Vts

"A Look to the Heavens"

“These two spiral galaxies make a photogenic pair, found within the boundaries of the northern constellation Draco. Contrasting in color and orientation, NGC 5965 is nearly edge-on to our line of sight and dominated by yellow hues, while bluish NGC 5963 is closer to face-on. Of course, even in this well-framed cosmic snapshot the scene is invaded by other galaxies, including small elliptical NGC 5969 at the lower left. 
 Click image for larger size.
Brighter, spiky stars in our own Milky Way are scattered through the foreground. Though they seem to be close and of similar size, galaxies NGC 5965 and NGC 5963 are far apart and unrelated, by chance appearing close on the sky. NGC 5965 is about 150 million light-years distant and over 200,000 light-years across. Much smaller, NGC 5963 is a mere 40 million light-years away and so is not associated with the edge-on spiral. Difficult to follow, NGC 5963's extraordinarily faint blue spiral arms mark it as a low surface brightness galaxy.”

"The Art of Letting Others Be Right"

"The Art of Letting Others Be Right" 
by David Cain

"My brain, like all brains, houses an unbelievable quantity of remembered information, and a huge amount of that information is stuff I’ve watched on television. I always hated Star Trek, and frequently said so, but whenever I catch a clip of "The Next Generation", somehow I’ve seen that episode before. I was also never exactly a fan of The Oprah Winfrey Show, but I’ve surely seen several hundred hours of it. For years after it went off the air, I kept remembering a particular insight Oprah shared once. I forget the context, but Oprah was amazed to realize that she didn’t have to answer the phone just because it was ringing.

It was a significant insight to me too, not because answering the phone is a particularly difficult task, but because it meant there was an invisible freedom there, which I somehow didn’t realize I had. Even if I still answered every call, it felt like a choice. Before that, it had been a kind of a master-slave type relationship, in which some remote person could push some buttons and force my body up onto its feet (perhaps tearing me away from a Star Trek rerun).

I am slowly grasping another overlooked freedom, which is the freedom to let people be right (or at least feel right) even though I think they’re wrong. When someone tries to tell the world that Crash is a brilliant film, or that evolution is “just a theory”, I forget that I am free to let them continue to think so.

I gather I have a long history of arguing my views, even when I’m not sure why I’m doing it. One time I was respectfully disagreeing with a coworker about something, and after a particularly good point I made, his tone went from sporting to angry and he said, “Damn, you are one argumentative person!” I told him he was wrong, but later wondered for a few seconds if I was indeed argumentative. No, he was the argumentative one. Otherwise he would have realized I was right.

And this was before the internet was omnipresent in our lives, before it started joining us in the bathroom, back when “going online” was still just an activity you did for part of the day, rather than an additional mode of global perception we can activate at any moment. The typical person experienced far fewer moments in which it felt appropriate to argue a point beyond what politeness allows. 

Today, it’s alarmingly easy to find yourself antler-locked with some remote, faceless person who’s trying to tell you that universal healthcare is a communist plot, while you’re waiting for your potato to finish microwaving. This facelessness turns up our impulse to argue even more. You may have noticed it’s a lot less pleasant to argue with someone when you can see their eyes.

I suppose many of you have no idea what I’m talking about. You see a statement you don’t agree with, or you know to be factually wrong, and it creates no urge in you to correct, illuminate or scold, even in your head. You could hear someone praising Nancy Grace as a selfless defender of the vulnerable, or arguing that Godfather III was as good as the others, and yet feel no desire to try to get them to stop thinking that. You are wise enough to know that “fighting the good fight” in internet comment threads is almost always pure indulgence, and just gives ignorance a reason to sink anchors and get louder.

But many of us aren’t so wise. Those argumentative souls among us that do engage, (and there are zillions of us, based on the comment totals on Facebook and YouTube alone) often believe we are somehow actually changing minds, actually eradicating ignorance and thoughtlessness. We aren’t indulging in a destructive or at least useless pastime, we’re saving the world from wrongness, one faceless Reddit user at a time. It’s not just okay to engage in these little conflicts, it’s a moral imperative. We can’t just allow ignorance to go on unopposed. The internet (well the whole world really, but it’s easiest on the internet) must be patrolled for bad beliefs.

And of course, it seldom occurs to us that we’re wrong. Maybe all my sources are incorrect, and we do swallow eight spiders a year in our sleep. But in the heat of enthusiastic wrong-righting, it never occurs to you that you’re the problem, or at least part of it. Being wrong feels exactly like being right, which is the sole feeling experienced by all parties, in any argument, about anything.

For those of us inclined to argue every point, it’s easy to forget that we have the freedom to simply carry on with our lives and let “wrong” viewpoints stand. It’s amazing how often it can seem like an exchange needs your input, the way a screaming kettle needs to be taken off the element.

But it’s not the same. A different viewpoint, no matter how egregious it seems, is no emergency. Civilization survived for over 10,000 years before you and I got here with our snarky corrections and condescending rebuttals, and we didn’t exactly make a huge difference when we did arrive. It turns out we don’t have to try to stop people from thinking what we don’t want them to think, and that our energy is probably better spent elsewhere. In other words, it is possible, theoretically, to retire from Belief Patrol.

I know beliefs have consequences in the real world. Harmful actions come from bad beliefs. I’m not claiming that we should never oppose anyone, never call anyone out, never engage with people who disagree with us. I just don’t think that casually sparring with blowhards on social media, or even in real life, actually affects anyone’s beliefs in a helpful way.

I think Richard Carlson’s advice is probably an ideal motto for this: Let others be “right” most of the time. Asserting and defending our views takes an enormous amount of mental energy and accomplishes little. Sometimes it’s important (and actually useful) to take a stand in a conversation, but usually it’s just a kind of peace-destroying indulgence.

By “retiring from Belief Patrol”, I’m talking mostly about retiring from having non-face-to-face arguments in which there’s no mutual respect. The moment the motivation slips from goodwill to ill-will or annoyance, I’m done.

I hope. I hope I will notice the impulse before the words come out. It can be so automatic. Once you start to consider retirement, it’s unnerving how attractive it is to say something, to throw in your “Well ACTUALLY…” It’s like being the hard-boiled TV vice cop whose family convinced him to retire, but then without realizing it, ends up embroiled in some wild crime adventure, following clues and chasing crooks across rooftops. He ends up back in that world, fistfighting a drug dealer on top of a moving train, not because he consciously decided to go back to the grind, but because his detective instincts were sharper than his awareness of what he was doing.

So we’ll see how things go in retirement. Already I’m noticing how often the impulse comes up. I’ve deleted so many half-written Reddit replies that I wonder if I ever contributed anything other than contradiction and snark.

I invite you to join me, if you’re a long-time Belief Patrol veteran. Let’s leave the swashbuckling game for good and go play tennis. We can still express our views in a thousand other ways that aren’t so indulgent and harsh. You have this freedom, and I don’t blame you if you didn’t see it. Already I can tell you it’s way better to be retired. But I won’t argue the point.”