Labeling as reason

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There was a post by George, about assholes. I never expected that from George. I thought he was a better person than that.

 

My dad was named George and he never called a person a name in his life, by George. He believed that how we conduct ourselves is more important than making a point. I guess what he was saying is that how we conduct ourselves is the point, by George. I fail at this constantly because I am a firecracker ready to go off at a moments notice. Sorry Dad. Sorry Katherine Otto. Sorry everybody. I will attempt to do better, be better.

 

See, I have an asshole for a brother, the worst kind of asshole. He presents himself as this nice, caring person, but behind all the nice gestures is the finger to his little brother. It's always been that way, sibling rivalry, I guess, but I idolized the guy, his ability to make friends and be social. I'm just not wired that way. I'm the star guy. The skills guy. The scary guy. I put my brother to shame. We were on the same hockey team and he was a bench warmer, and I was on the power play. He never mastered skating. He never mastered the spin serve. He never mastered the trill. He never mastered anything, except like Donald Trump he knows how to spread a rumor. He knows how to get people to gang up on someone you don't like. He knows it starts with a label that you stick on them.

 

I don't care about being liked. I did when I was younger and realized something. If you insist on telling the truth as you know it to be, a lot of people aren't going to like you. I go around telling people that they have to give up their automobiles right now if we're going to have a chance of creating a better world, but people love their automobiles more than they love the truth. They have money in automobile stocks, and it's jobs we're talking about. And automobiles are just starting to become the thang (a reference to Get Out, I'm black sometimes which makes me the worst kind of asshole, appropriating an identity, and I do that with women, and children and animals because I feel I have that right as a writer, that writing is about imagining, not pooping out political correct crap) in China, in India, in Africa. It really does make life easier to have a car. Haven't you noticed, or have you been in your car for so long that you've lost any point of reference?

 

I tell people that they should be picking up trash. I tell people that they should be inviting homeless people to live in their Mc Mansions. I tell people that we should have free clinics in every post office where anybody can come and get treated for simple health problems. I tell everybody that they should try to write poetry and until it sounds like a poem and not a journal entry they should keep it to themselves. I criticize people at open mics. I'm not into giving you self-esteem, that's your problem. I'm into giving you criticism. I think accurate criticism will serve you better than false praise. I think we've created an entire generation of mambi pambis, people who don't know how to be tough, people who think going to the gym makes you tough.

 

Sorry, picking up trash in west Philly will make you tough. Riding your bike in 20 degree weather for twenty miles, that will make you tough. Being homeless for six months, that will make you tough. Being called names behind your back, being stolen from, being poisoned, being stabbed in the back by people who say they love you, that will make you tough. Loving God with all your heart and all your soul and all your faith, knowing that there is a plan to have this turn out okay, that will make you tough. I am one tough asshole, if that's how you'd like to see me.

 

But I see myself as an amazing talent who's been done dirty, but still holds his head high and is willing to offer a helping hand to anybody who has been tossed aside by a society that rewards a false standard of respectability over common decency. Trump is respectable. His wealth makes him respectable. His stint on television made him a household name and got him into the white house. A lot of people are just like him, saying liberal things, and feminist things, saying the right things out of the left side of their mouth, but out of the right all I hear is, self-righteous jerk willing to sell us down the river for a few pieces of silver. That was for my dad, by George.      

Comments

mark henry smith Added Dec 27, 2017 - 1:20pm
And I've been angry for so long, my entire life and it just left me, leaving me exhausted. I'm so tired and so happy to be so tired. So happy that no one will hire me because there's been a criminal record attached to my name that I never knew about until Michka brought it up. Now I have an accurate reason for why I've been so dissed. That and the other stuff, all the other labels.
 
So much is happening right now. So many people are in trouble for how they've treated me and my work. It doesn't make me happy, not in the least, because I'm not an asshole who has a need for schadenfreude. I drive no pleasure from any suffering. I wish all of my enemies to find love in their hearts and to share it with those people and creatures over which they have influence. I am amazingly fortunate to have no influence at all. To be nothing and to be able to look at this world and all the creatures in it with fresh eyes. To have a smart phone that allows me to perform my work from the comfort of my crib. The open mic is gone. Lots of things are gone. More things will be gone. Don't blame me. All I did was work hard and be honest. I let the Donald Trumps of this world do the rest.   
Dino Manalis Added Dec 27, 2017 - 1:37pm
Assholes are plentiful, we need to coexist and get along!
George N Romey Added Dec 27, 2017 - 2:05pm
Sorry Marko in 58 years of life I’ve met people that wanted to put down and make others miserable, or in my book an asshole.
 
I don’t know what makes these people tick or how they get that way. I just don’t like being around them.
A. Jones Added Dec 27, 2017 - 9:13pm
I just don’t like being around them.
 
Which, of course, explains why you spend so much time on WriterBeat, where you can be around even more "put down" people.
 
Makes sense.
George N Romey Added Dec 28, 2017 - 7:44am
When I think of assholes I think of people that never have their own original ideas but are very good at hurling insults. On WB there are some gifted people with amazing intellect and well thought out points of view. I might not always 100% agree with their position and refrain from attacking them.
 
Then there are those that have never penned one article but love to troll others. If the shoe fits..,...,,
Stone-Eater Added Dec 28, 2017 - 8:28am
Marko
 
Be careful. I called myself George when I worked in the US and Canada LOL
Stone-Eater Added Dec 28, 2017 - 8:31am
Dino
 
Do you have an opinion of yourself or just like to type something ?? Your comments are "should" and "would" and stuff. What about you as a person ?
Stone-Eater Added Dec 28, 2017 - 8:32am
George
 
I'm getting 60 next year. Wait for that shock LOL
mark henry smith Added Dec 28, 2017 - 12:17pm
Age means nothing, Stone. In the past people just worked until they couldn't and it became obvious to everybody that some people appeared twenty at sixty and some people appeared sixty at twenty. It has to do with genetics, and life style, nutrition, luck, a myriad of variables. This idea of retirement at a set age was only created as an offshoot of the modern economy where it became necessary to create openings in the economic landscape for the next generation as people lived longer with more of their faculties intact.
 
It also meant that the owners of the means of production wouldn't have to keep senior people in place, paying them seniority pay when they could hire new people at a lower pay scale. There are all kinds of economic reasons for how the system has been developed, but logic is not one of them and logic has never been a requirement for being an economist or a politician.
 
Someone on FB said that we get treated in this world the way we treat others and I just wanted to slap her upside the head for saying something so stupid, but now I fear being accused of sexual harassment, so I virtually restrained myself. I heard a story of a Itziti? baby that ISIS used as a decoy to lure soldiers to save it and three of them were shot before a tank was brought in to save the baby, but not after a dog had dragged it away by the right arm sand ripped it off. That baby is now in an orphanage in Iraq and is named happy because of how it smiles whenever anybody holds it. And you're gonna tell me that they baby deserved what it got?
 
What about Martin Luther King? What about? Let's not call people assholes, that does a disservice to the orifice that allows us to push out the
unnecessary products that accumulate in our digestive tracts. Without assholes we would fill up with shit and die a horrible death. Let's call these people what they are, morons, or worse, liars, because I really can't believe people are that stupid to blame victims for the dreadful acts perpetrated against them.
 
It's like the human caused climate deniers who want to blame water vapor. Water vapor must be shaking its head and saying, Oy vey. It's an agenda to get the simple and ignorant to gang up on anybody who presents a thoughtful argument. And yes, the US is the greatest nation since sliced bread. But China is the greatest nation since wantons. And Putin is the greatest leader since Pol Pot. And Trump is the greatest president since Bush declared victory in Iraq in 2004 or 6 or 8.
 
Read my poem, Happy. I'm so happy it's disgusting. I had a talk with my mom this morning and she asked me to help her with her finances. Can you imagine that? My mom is asking the economist in the family to help her with her finances and not the family thief. Will wonders never cease. Love and peace to all on this brutally cold day where bike riding is not safe, below twenty, so I'm walking. Walking's cool, but dangerous since no one thought about building sidewalks for pedestrians when they built this suburban, automobile empire.       
   
Benjamin Goldstein Added Dec 28, 2017 - 12:47pm
Loving God with all your heart and all your soul and all your faith, knowing that there is a plan to have this turn out okay, that will make you tough.
Since yesterday, when you left your comment on my Islam thread I felt strongly that you are about to be touched by g-d. Before I read this very sentence, I thought I should tell you that you probably don't know it yet, but that g-d will touch you. I was wrong. You know already. You are connected with your manhood and the lord connected with you.
 
Particularly the New Testament talks about what relationship we should have with our difficult brothers. It is a bit cloudy for superficial readers because Jesus resented his own family (e.g. Mark 3:33) at some point declaring that his brothers in faith are his real brothers.
 
For brothers in the conventional sense, Jesus advices to always keep a door open when you resent them and to forgive everything they have done (e.g. their betrayal) when they repent. I think there is a special obligation to be as loving and kind to your natural brothers as possible. The turn the other cheek stuff also applies, of course.
 
This is not the full story.
 
For Jesus overcoming the restraints of our brotherly love is the ultimate proof of faith. Brother rivalry is a beautiful way to test our metal. (e.g. Luke 14, Luke 18, Matthew 19). In the final battle, for which Christians should be prepared at all times, family members are even expected to kill one another (Mark 13, Luke 12, Matthew 10) . The not cannonised gospel of Thomas also speaks of Jesus willingness to see family members kill each other: "fire, sword, war" (it's verse 16).  Note that in the Luke quote Jesus confesses that he can hardly wait to see it happen. So there is more substance to verify this ambition than many of the more often publicly mentioned quotes.
 
Note that Jesus asks to 'hate' family a couple of times. This is likely to be an error of the scribes. Hate for your brother is worth eternal hell.
 
The gist of it is:
- love your brother and always support him
- always forgive your brother
- don't follow feelings of hate towards him
- be prepared to fight against him
 
I think the masterclass is to not hate, actually to love, your brother in times of peace and to follow Jesus internally in his wish to meet in battle and kill him, as a proof of your metal. Accepting the demise of your brother's soul, in war as in peace, is even more challenging for a man of g-d than to see his physical demise. Nice to see him repent, but ultimately a stray brother is a privilege. Deep down you should wish your internal struggle to be hard: fire, sword, war.  “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Jesus)
 
mark henry smith Added Dec 28, 2017 - 1:31pm
Benjamin, that is so beautiful that tears well in my eyes.
 
I so love my brother, but I cannot allow him to separate me from this path I have found, and it is his greatest wish to do so, in my humble estimation.
 
Christ said to cast off you parents, or something similar, maybe even more vitriolic. His family disavowed him when he was preaching in the temples, not wanting to be associated with this madman who had returned from who knows where. All I ever wanted from my brother was an apology for the way he'd treated me, but he defended himself by saying that's the way all older brothers treat younger brothers. He sees a legal problem in admission of guilt. He's very into doing what's legal after doing what's illegal.
 
In the Bahgita? Vita? always get that wrong, there is an epic battle where one brother has to fight another and the better brother is afraid to go into battle and harm his kin (I'm paraphrasing and making up aspects because somebody stole both my Noss religion books and I haven't read this in a while but the gist is correct) and the avatar of Shiva or Krishna comes to him and tells him he is not to worry about such things. That the reality of existence is conflict and death and that in the end all the good person can do is their duty and your duty is not to those who oppose you, even if they are your family, but to those who live under your influence and respect your authority.
 
He wins the battle and kills his brother, not feeling joy at the loss, but feeling resigned to the inevitable.
 
Thank you so much Benjamin. Namaste,
   
Benjamin Goldstein Added Dec 28, 2017 - 2:20pm
m h smith: It's beautiful to read that you really, really love your brother. You are a true man. Throw away your pagan books. I have set the links to the online bible biblegateway so you can explore the issue for yourself (others won't put the pieces of the puzzle together for you like this again - it is taboo). I have written all this because I think your brother's soul is in more trouble than your personal conflict with him. You will see this when you read more in the bible. So don't wish that he apologizes. Embrace the tough challenge of accepting his failure. Maybe even hope for him to turn against you while you try all to be kind to him. It is the ultimate challenge, but you are a warrior.
I could also quote the Jewish bible that has the same ancient wisdom about killing even your kin as the Indian stuff. There are many roads to g-d. I think you should run along the lines of your culture. The eternal truths are the same.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Dec 28, 2017 - 6:00pm
(Matthew):
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[b] 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[c] only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors[d] do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Loving your neighbour is good enough for tax collectors and wussies. Jesus asked to love the enemies. That does not make enemies friends (that would make no sense). So he asks to accept a challenge: Can you find love for those who fight you? Can you fight them while you love them? Can you pray for their souls along the way? Can you accept as enemies those who you love? The tax collectors can love the neighbours and hate the enemies. It is not a challenge.

Apostle Paul even opined that effeminate men (malakos) won't make it to heaven. I disagree (Jews can disagree with the bible - sensible Christians too). But I get that a hard man pleases g-d more.
mark henry smith Added Dec 29, 2017 - 12:15pm
Benjamin, as Ten Bears says to Josie Wales, your words speak truth. The most effeminate men are men like Donald Trump, in my estimation, men who dress up like dudes to impress empty vessels and surround themselves with scoundrels and cheats who care nothing about the spirit, just power in this world. How little character we see from these little men. It's the queers in macho drag who tell us men don't cry. Men cry when tears are called for. Men know the value of tears and the value of a lethal blow. Things come into existence for real men for their efficacy, not for their dramatic effect.
 
And what I think Jesus was getting at with loving your enemies wasn't about turning them into something they cannot be, but in letting them teach you lessons that only they can, for your enemies will see the weakness in you in a way that friends will not, they will be much more discerning in this area, and much more wicked in their appropriation of it. If you want to learn to be tough, let your enemies teach you. If you want to learn to be kind, hold your enemy when he is at the bottom of the pit and offer him a prayer of kindness and thanks and ask God to accept his soul into the kingdom of heaven so eternal thanks can be his gift to you.
 
For us Christians, and I am a Christian, Buddhist, Shrengi Kempo, Ni To Ichi master, we forgive because we understand that in anger our learning is limited to the ways of vengeance and power. We forgive so we can receive love, so we can trust, so we can walk in the light that God shines equally on all, but some refuse. I heard Willy Nelson say today that let tomorrow go, it's gone and I wanted to slap him upside the head, but feared being accused of elder abuse, so I virtually restrained myself.
 
Yesterday is not gone if you left pollutants in the ground. Go back and clean up your mess. Clean up your litter. Clean up those relationships where you did wrong, or try to make amends. If you've left children without means, go back and offer what you can. The past is waiting to be rectified and the future is waiting to be opened to a new way. All exists in this moment right now. Don't put on blinders and think that either can be ignored.
 
Thank you Benjamin, you inspire me. 
 
  
Benjamin Goldstein Added Dec 29, 2017 - 12:24pm
Eid, the holiest Islamic holyday, celebrates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his own son. The story is lifted for its brevity and display of loyal commitment for g-d.
 
In Christianity the cruzification of Christ is labelled as a father sacrificing his son to highlight the same moral. While love and support is commanded for your family, the readiness to shed blood of your kin is the ultimate sacrifice.
 
In both cases, it was up to g-d to rather grant life than to actually take it.
 
These are utterly mystical, unpractical examples. If somebody hears voices about sacrificing his son, he better sees a doctor and ignores them.
 
King David fought war both against his father in law Saul and his son Absalom. He acted shamefully when his soldiers succeeded. The soldier who assisted the already successfully injured Saul in his suicide was instantly murdered by David. A similar drama occured when army chief Joab spiked Absalom to death, as he was helplessly dangling from a branch of a tree. David cried for days until Joab boldly walked up to him and said that he better cries for his own fallen soldiers. David understood and learnt the moral.
 
The Lord granted the ultimate challenge to the wise King Salomon. He closed the heart of his elder brother Adonijah, who then staged an unsuccessful coup d'etat. Ultimately Adonijah fled to the tabernacle and started praying. When Salomon's soldiers saw that Adonijah's soul turned to g-d again, they asked Salomon to spare him. And he did. Now, knowing that his beloved brother was a follower of g-d, Salomon was approached a little later by his mother Bathsheba. Adonijah knew hom much Salomon loved Bathsheba and asked her to arrange a marriage for him with a very influential woman.  Salomon realized that Adonijah is doing this to consolidate power and influence to challenge his leadership again. So g-d found a way to make Salomon kill his brother, knowing well that Adonijah's soul was with g-d.
 
For most of us this is about an internal bearing. We can and should indulge the love of our families. An internal wish does not lead to a realization. No matter how popular magical thinking voodoo is nowadays. But can you show all your love for your brother, make the efforts to deescalate every conflict as much as possible, forgive him everything and still see your brotherly rivalry as a privilege? Abraham, Salomon, David, and others had even more privilege as the Lord challenged them to actual fights with their kin.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Dec 30, 2017 - 8:58am
I didn't see your great response before I posted my last comment. Thank you for all the flattery (I'm vain).
 
Men cry when tears are called for. Men know the value of tears and the value of a lethal blow.
Exactly. And nobody in the antiquity ever questioned that. Of course, things have their time. Tears are not always called for ;-).
 
If you want to learn to be tough, let your enemies teach you.
That's a smart interpretation, too. I also think that love your enemies separates the emotions. You can concentrate on loving your kin and let them do all the escalation. It also brings families together as you don't want to avoid them, but rather embrace the possibility of neccessitated self-defence. The internal willingness to strife establishes the peace.
 
If you want to learn to be kind, hold your enemy when he is at the bottom of the pit and offer him a prayer of kindness and thanks and ask God to accept his soul into the kingdom of heaven so eternal thanks can be his gift to you.
Cool
 
I wanted to slap him upside the head, but feared being accused of elder abuse, so I virtually restrained myself.
I love that you can connect to your aggressive emotions. You literally restrained yourself. You have noted in your text above that you sometimes are 'firecracker ready to get off'. You have already understood that the restrain part, the deliberate moral setting, is the muscle to build.
 
he defended himself by saying that's the way all older brothers treat younger brothers.
Your brother acts out what is a perfectly normal manly condition. He fails in harnessing it with morals. I don't know how self-aware your brother is, but he does want to kill you. As sick as it sounds in our modern ears, this is healthy and normal. Brain scans show that the thing that makes grossly violent offenders is a deficiency in the areas that serve impulse control (frontal cortex) and fear of punishment (amygdala). The areas that illicit when we fight, that make us aggressive and so on are completely identical with normal people. So it is moral and control (Freud's ego) that we have to strengthen while we can accept, embrace, and indulge our violent nature (Freud's 'it' or 'es') [caveat: never control others, only control yourself]. Accepting one's nature one should avoid alcohol and drugs.
 
I see that you try to distill wisdom from a variety of ancient sources. I agree with Jordan Peterson that legends condense old ideas. The plenty accounts on family violence speak about our innate nature. Some killings are example of utter immoral (e.g. Cain and Abel, Abimelech ...) others are presented in a positive or neutral light. Esau was beheaded by the grandson of his twin brother Jacob. Judah's king Jehoram had to kill all his brothers, some princes of the twin tribe Israel, and as much as we know was a decent king.
 
This can also be found in various pagan legends like your Hindu story (Romulus vs Remus, Jupiter vs Saturn, Oedipus ...). There is a deep mythical longing for it. The Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conquerer ruled that all his successors should be selected as follows: Upon the death of the Sultan his sons are requested to put to death all competing brothers before the survivor may climb the throne. This tradition was practiced for centuries. As the sons are in the bloodline of Prophet Mohammet it was considered their privilege and moral duty to call war on each other. Note that this is no legend, but history!
 
My issue with pagan sources, and you are welcome to correct me, is that they don't understand self-determination. The moral is often submission to fate, apathy, acceptance of the bad. Time runs in circles.
 
There are not only eternal truths, but also eternal falsehoods. The wisdom of the ancient is so precious because it builds on observations by many, many people over a long, long time. Most are true and people who dismiss religion cut off most of the world's wisdom. Some of these observatios are false.
 
Time does not run in circles. Next winter is not like past winter, tomorrow no like yesterday. Pagan religions all run like this Bill Murray groundhog day movie. It is fate-driven. This is true for the ancient Romans, Greek, Hindu, Buddhists and literally every pagan religion I have ever heard of.
 
The idea that human beings can self-determine the future, build up something for the next generation is what sets Judaism and its descendents apart. We don't submit, we build, we get punished, we are blessed for our good deeds, and we fight. We can embrace, rejoice and indulge. Life is not suffering as Buddha Siddharta said. Apathy is no virtue. Life is a struggle for the betterment of the future and we love to struggle.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Dec 31, 2017 - 9:21am
Just a correction. I'm not so into the details of paganism:
 
I had the wrong Jupiter father in mind: Saturn. Sometimes Saturn was seen as Jupiter;s father, but that was a rare interpretation. So I fucked up. Saturn killed his father Cronus. Cronus himself is another example for an active part of the family killing trope that transcents all cultures because it is such a strong part of our psyche. We see a lot of honor killings exactly because some cultures fail to recognise this longing and fail to put strong moral boundaries on the actions of family members. Families are moral blackboxes in theses culture and we are quite rightly appalled when we see people who love each other act out unfiltered hate and this tabooed familicidal drive.
 
The story of the War of Titans is actually quite interesting because it is very un-pagan-like.
 
The original g-d of heaven was Uranus; he represented the night. Aparently a theological shift happened and he was no longer worshipped. Yet the memory of him was not yet gone completely. So instead of having the cyclic time idea, a legend was created to mark a progression. The sky was later always the same sky, carried on the shoulders of Atlas.
 
So Uranus came and went as the night over the earth, represented by the goddess Gaia. The children were aborted, locked in the realm of death, the Hades, in the belly of Gaia.
 
Gaia freed Cronus to castrate Uranus and he did. He threw the genitals into the sea and disposed his father's body. Cronus himself was not the ideal father either and ate his own children. Saturn, however, could hide and fight his father. He would eventually kill him and the old gods, the titans, to establish a new league of gods. This mythical war is probably the result of a real war. The winners simply demanded that their gods being prayed to. Unusual is that they did not forget the old gods, the titans, and found a legend to remember them and to mark a progress.
 
I wish you and your brother already a happy new year!
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 1, 2018 - 10:22am
Sorry correction of the correction. Saturn had nothing to do with it. I don't know how he keeps sneaking in. Autocorrect while reading the second last paragraph of my last comment, please. Jupiter killed his father Cronus who killed his father Uranus.
 
I realize that I'm the only one commenting on this thread but I find the topic complex brother rivalry, faith and toughness very appealing.
 
The most effeminate men are men like Donald Trump
Trump this, Trump that. We have different political views. Still I find it easy to respect you because I know that you would crush a brick into my face. According to psychology professor Jordan Peterson, a man can only respect another man that would fight with him. I believe this to be true. We can morally condition ourselves to show respect for everybody, but we can only have deeply felt respect and affection for men who pose a threat. And I mean respect and not simply fear.
This has evolutionary reasons, obviously. We want to be kept in check to uphold the moral values of our society/tribe and we want others to be submitted to the same threat.
The Jewish law commands that a father with a gluttonous and drunken son, shall bring them to the elders and get him killed. The law does not ask the community to kill a drunken and over-eating son. The father is asked to take action. You must know that the Jewish law was assembled in the Babylonian captivity and never executed. The time was about mining the own identity, finding and writing down the Jewish history and the presumed morals of the past. This specific rule serves the same purpose as the Romulus and Remus legend. It asks the community to uphold a moral, even if it affects your own family in a negative way. Thus it established the idea of a rule of law that knows no nepotism.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 1, 2018 - 10:55am
The Roman equality before law moral instituted by the Romulus and Remus founding legend was so strong that Titus Manlius Torquatus ordered the execution of his own son. The son disobeyed the military orders because he was too zealous as a warrior. He was executed on order of his father because he won battles that he was not asked to fight.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 1, 2018 - 4:51pm
Still today civil wars sadly pit brothers against each other. And despite the simplified worldview our media provides it is sometimes hard to determined if both, only one, or really none are fighting for the right thing.
 
The Huffington Post had a story about the civil war in Syria. "Before the war, 35-year-old Mahmoud worked as a plumber, 32-year-old Kamel worked at a car-rental shop and 23-year-old Hadi had just graduated from business school...Mahmoud and Hadi joined the ranks of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighting the Syrian government."
 
The opposition against the government split.
Hadi continued to fight alongside the rebels, and Mahmoud joined a faction affiliated with ISIS.
Both groups were intensely fighting each other. Hadi was killed, yet not directly through the hands of Mahmoud, who says that he didn't fight that day - to his mother.
 
In January 2015, [Kamel] was arrested at a government checkpoint, and detained for seven months at the notorious air-force intelligence security branch.
Originall, Kamel was with the opposition, but at this point it was clear that they were hardly morally superior to Assad's men. He joined the military reserve service. HuffPo writes that he was 'forced' to join - as reported by the mother.
 
Hadi attempted to contact his faction’s operations room over the radio. On the other end, he heard “a voice that I knew so well. It was my brother’s,” Hadi said. “It felt like he wanted to talk to me in particular.”
 
... "He ordered me to surrender … When he threatened to kill me, I got really angry and I threatened to kill him, too, if we met each other face to face."
 
I seriously could have been any of these three and understand their motivations. I can't blame anyone, not the one who joined the Islamists for better weapons, not the one who joined the regular forces and not the one who can't let go off his fight against Assad because he was already too much involved. I love all three of them! G-d bless their hearts and save their souls (and as far as still possible their bodily well-being)!
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 1, 2018 - 4:55pm
Hadi was killed, yet not directly through the hands of Mahmoud.
 
sorry again. Mahmoud was killed by the troops Hadi had joined.
 
The other way around of course.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 2, 2018 - 6:11am
I don't actually know if the ISIS affiliates had better weapons. We do know that at some point most opposition group enforced sharia strongly. There was not one moral advantage over the other. Hadi's group was likely to receive weapons from the CIA and other Western affiliates. ISIS believed they could fight Assad without Western aid. ISIS made a lot of advances back than, had momentum, and was successful in organizing weapons.
 
A part of the motivation why one brother joined one group and the other stayed in the old faction, could indeed be a wish to face off in battle without becoming immoral like the princes of the Ottoman Empire. The family is sunni and recognises the Ottoman Empire as a holy Caliphate, as exemplary.
mark henry smith Added Jan 2, 2018 - 12:14pm
Benjamin, why isn't this a post, all that you have said?
 
I know I have been called an anti-Semite because I criticize behavior that I see, on all sides, and some Jews refuse to accept any criticism, just as some blacks do, and Catholics, and etc... but I accept criticism. I hanker for constructive criticism and I respect the Jewish people as the great disseminators of knowledge and discovery that they have been. Judaism is religion of learning, a religion that demands learning to be able to hold your end of the bargain with G-d. You're supposed to be able to speak and argue with G-d as holders of the covenant that G-d gave you. Which means you should be able to speak and argue with anybody. Christ was one of the best articulators of truth that has ever lived. It is any wonder that he was put to death in the worst way imaginable? Except being eaten by ants must be pretty nasty.
 
And you are right about me being willing to take up arms to defend what I believe in. I've never had to kill anybody, (truth not assured, but legal requirements make me take this stance) thank G-d, but I have been pushed close and have reconciled myself to the act. It was one of the most terrible decisions I ever had to make, because what if I'm wrong? There's no going back and putting that life back together. And just because I was almost killed, (maybe) believing that I was on the verge of death, if I had acted on my impulse, I wouldn't be here now in the form I am. Oh what a blessing G-d gives to his honored beings who get to live without guilt. Who lay down our heads at night with the innocent sight of newborn babes.
 
Now, I'm not saying that sociopaths are honored to live without guilt, because they never have to wrestle with it, and it is in the wrestling with this idea of the potentially unforgiveable act that character is built. It is in the internal discussion that we have with our consciences that we come to our greatest wisdoms, being empty, innocent, nothing enough to see ourselves from all sides and still have an unassailable identity.
 
The Jewish people will win in The Middle East. They will build an empire. They will be hated for their successes as they have been throughout history. But they have formed a modern nation in the model of all modern nations. They have built an international community that is unrivaled in human history for its ability to influence public argument and control economies. I salute the Jewish people for their success, but I would ask them to consider one thing, remember history. How we consolidate our successes is more important the future of our enterprise than how we achieve success. And if the Israelis really want to annex the West Bank, Gaza, all of the ancient lands to the Jordan River, then they'd better find a place to put the displaced people that is acceptable to those people and pay them.
 
This is not the age of the American Indians where governments could just take from the inhabitants with little regard for what is considered fair play. If that is how this scenario plays out, the repercussions will be haunting the Jewish people again and I do not want to see that happen because I love the Jewish people enough to be critical of them.
 
And I am overjoyed to have them do the same for me. Love and peace to you Benjamin, my friend.         
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 2, 2018 - 1:54pm
Maybe, you or I will rework some of this into an article. At the moment I hope not to clutter the page with my stuff so people look into the Islam thing.
 
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but [a]Israel: for thou hast [b]striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
 
So you prevailed, Mark. Or shall I call you Israel?
mark henry smith Added Jan 3, 2018 - 12:11pm
As I said yesterday, Benjamin, I will not feel that I have prevailed until I have the first ten million in the bank.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 3, 2018 - 12:58pm
The trajectory of your soul looks about right.
 
If I may offer a constructive criticism:
Think about the following commandment!
Don't bear false witness against thy neighbour!

 
In your article you describe how your brother breaks that rule regularly. I say that you don't notice how often this rule is broken - not often enough.
 
Think of the three Syrian brothers! Two of them were fooled to believe that they would fight off Assad's oppression only to end up as tools of those who crave to be even worse oppressors. George Orwell described this very well in his fable animal farm (I strongly recommend to read this and 1984, and, like with the bible, get other people's interpretations out of your head).
 
Think of what morals you need to follow to not get fooled!
- Whenever you hear an accusation against somebody, check if you can find original sources/evidence for the claim.
- Seek to hear from the accused himself. Walk in his boots.
- Openly state your ideas to others so the faults of your own logic meet your eye. Demand that others vet your logic when they only throw insults (read Jesus, the gospels). Thank goodness, you have the balls to do it!
- Think of some own guidelines. I have penned this article to give some hints.
 
Maybe the Syrian brothers are no good examples. I think with proper moral settings, most can avoid to make horrible mistakes, but these three had no fault - or at least I would not conclusively judge that they had. I really understand and like each of them. So never feel sorry if you made mistakes and never contempt others for their mistakes.
mark henry smith Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:15pm
Benjamin, I like to believe that I never bear false witness, but I am sure I make mistakes. I have tried to source some of these accusations against me and it the classic rumor mill, no one appears to know where they spring from, but I know my brother and the comments he's made to me. It is not a crime to spread a rumor about somebody, is it? If my brother tells people I'm gay or have some incurable disease, which are not true, is that a crime?
 
I'm not sure. I think it gets to intent. My comments about the lawyer have to do with the way he threatened me to get me to back off and the harm that caused to other families. He obviously didn't care about those other families and I did. Is that a crime?
 
Is calling someone an ex-con when they've never been arrested or charged with a crime, or been a defendant in a criminal case, a crime?
 
It all comes down to intent. A woman accused me of being a child molester based on an incident that had nothing to do with molestation and she wasn't even there. Is that a crime?
 
The worst part of becoming a target of unscrupulous people is that they will attack your basic decency. I am a decent person. I am not perfect, but I always protect the innocent, never take advantage of the downtrodden, live by a strict moral code. I only want to do good work with my writing and get rewarded for it. That's just fair and if it requires going back and punishing people for theft, I think that's right and good.   
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 5, 2018 - 1:38pm
Of course, I don't know your brother. Is he a lawyer? I just wonder why he thinks he cannot admit a mistake. So I guess he did or said something, like maybe telling people that you were a criminal, and suddenly realises that he could be charged with, for example, slander or false accusation of a crime.
 
So I would think that he doesn't trust you. At some point he withdrew from you and as far as I can read between the lines he made rather snider remarks about some rumors instead of asking you straight if something is true or not.
 
Here, I slip in what I meant with my prior post. I don't think that you slander or that it matters who slanders against you. I think that you share with your brother a weakness: you believe the slander against others.
 
I did not understand the backoff-lawyer passage. I personally view the false witness command as the most important one. We can cause other people to commit any sin, without keeping control, when we slander or propagate other people's slander while sourcing claims is a justifiable effort. The second most important commandment is not to speak in g-d's name in vain. I would think that a reason why g-d blesses us for our struggles with him is that so many speak in his name to fool others.
 
So from the outside I would say that your brother was driven into sin, growing cold to his brother, you, by people speaking false witness. Personally, if I could add a sin to the ten commandments, it would be cowardice. The withdrawal creates a problem.
 
I would still call him, say that you just want to address some snarky comments of his, clarify that you did not molest, break laws, have diseases or homoerotic feelings. Just to correct the record. You would openly admit all of this, not even be ashamed of some of this. Fight through the choking, tears, they will come! You would make a fool of yourself, but a fool who will clear the air. Wrestle with his excuses, grapple with his contradictions, and, though both of you may feel uncomfortable, fight for his blessings. Take the advice or leave it! In the end, everybody can only do his own.
mark henry smith Added Jan 6, 2018 - 11:36am
I have been so blessed, and oddly, two days ago I did exactly what you recommend. I reached out and told my brother if he needed to talk, I would be there for him, text only though, the sound of his voice makes me, the underlying sneer, so proud of himself for the way he thinks he's hurt me, makes me nearly crazy.
 
I want to tell him, there can be no hurt when you have no brain, right? And most people's brains are consumed with ego. Ask a person what the superego is and see if they can answer.
 
Yes, my brother is consumed with sin, has been since childhood, draws people into sin, from my humble estimation, and revels in the rewards of sin. I revel in the rewards of faith. How I ended up where I am right now is a testament to faith. Absolute, blind faith. What will happen now is a testament to God's omnipotence and God's faith in his/her creation.
 
Never has my life been better, more secure, more at peace. Never have I been stronger, more sure, more gifted in my work. Never have I had anyone to help me. Today is a day of great rejoicing. Hallelujah, though it's damn cold out and I had to walk a mile to get here to write the first chapter of the novel, which I have been asked to do. The first novel will be completed by the end of the month.   
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 6, 2018 - 11:57am
Good to hear that you feel well. There is no money in books these days, but I wish you luck.
 
I can't know your situation. I hope he comes back on your text message. Voice is much more effective than text, but on the other hand it can lead to escalation and, if he is a wuss, that means more withdrawal.
 
He is self-conscious enough to know that he wanted to hurt you? Or is the sneering sheer arrogance unconnecte with how successful his behavior was in damaging you. How would he react if you - casually and chippy - challenged him to a fight (boxing, grappling, whatever)? Would he just think that you were crazy or would he be likely to engage? Would he be angry?
 
Anyway, you probably have little time for him now as you work on your book.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 6, 2018 - 1:11pm
I should add that the challenge suggestion is a thought experiment at this point. A phone call, a visit, can settle it all, and it would go straight to the issues. I have done this myself, but I don't like to give specifics about my personal life over the internet.
 
Only if that has really been done, and don't fool yourself, when you have tried to go through the most painful stuff with him, and he still withdraws, a next step could be to bait him with something that he wants, consciously or unconsciously. And you have to find a way to ask him without putting him off.
 
Before taking that step, you would first have to consider how he would fight and accept the result: will he cheat? does he accept a hug after the fight? Will he bitch around upon losing? will he grovel over losing for long? will he react with more cold-blooded arrogance upon winning? Will he hug you upon winning? In most cases a martial arts fights result in more empathy and respect from both sides.
 
This is just to settle the emotions so the issues can be talked through as next thing. The talk through thing is inevitable, at least with the most charged issues.
mark henry smith Added Jan 8, 2018 - 12:35pm
He's a wuss and I'm not allowed to fight. I'm only allowed to defend myself and others. Yes, his intention is always to hurt me and he got what he wanted from me, my ex-wife. At least breaking us up, but I found out recently that they still have contact. I know that if it came to a fight, I'd hit him one time and he'd be done, he has a weak spot. No one fights me Benjamin. Even crazy people back off for reasons I prefer not the explain.
 
And why not divulge everything on the internet? It's all out there anyway. The only way to protect yourself is to hit them with the truth early and often and have no secrets. I know that's a terrible way to do business, as I'm proof of, but once you've been hacked to death there is no other option.
 
And the book is not dead, as Fire and Fury shows, it's just that there's so much crap out there, as Fire and Fury shows. I have a plan that will make me the next big deal in this game, but I'm prone to over-promising and under-delivering when the smart approach is the opposite.
 
My favorite pick-up line is now, I'm so bad in bed that you won't even know I'm there. Next time I get to a bar, we'll see how that works. I think a lot of tired women might like that idea. Massage any babes?    
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 1:49pm
Did you speak to him? Never defend yourself! If you keep your defence up and only divulge what you find appropriate, he'll only hit the gloves. In conversations the strategy is always to attack and choose what to explain. Change topics if he tries to corner you like you were dancing in the ring. No dirty moves, but it the vulnerable parts - they are usually the stuff that both of you DON'T like to address. The emotionally charged subjects. You don't want to anger him for the sake of it. Make a list of the things that you have not told him before and what you want to know from him. Get him to speak to you. Find a time for it! Attack, attack, and attack!
 
P.S. You didn't really ask him back if he was gay? Many straights are just as wussy as the gays and some gays are tough cookies. To quote Peter Thiel on his poster to advertise his conservative 'homocon' event, 'Our gays are more macho than their straights'! ;-)
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 9, 2018 - 9:02am
1) Do you have children?
2) Does your brother have children?
3) Does your ex-wife have children?
 
Have you read the Book of Job already? You will love it!
mark henry smith Added Jan 9, 2018 - 1:59pm
Love the book of Job, it's like a training manual for my life. And yes I did ask him if he was queer, if that's what his hostility was based on, his embarrassment over being queer. I talked with a guy who spent time on a nuclear sub in the navy, and he said they'd never make fun of the guys they knew were gay, they figured those guys had enough problems already, but the guys who were too good, who made the rest of them look bad. Those were the guys they wanted to take down a notch.
 
I have seven children I don't know about. 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 9, 2018 - 2:04pm
Artificial insemination? Broken relationships?
 
I am curious because I wonder if your brother tells the gay and child molestation lies about you and destroys your marriage as a means to maybe castrate you in a way. None of your children are really 'your' children if you are not in touch with them.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 9, 2018 - 3:31pm
Your brother is not gay. He tries to kill your 'house', your offspring. He inherits the 'house'/ the name of your father. Again, this is a normal evolutionary drive. We once had an author here at WB with a Youtube channel with videos of people hit in the balls. It's an evolutionary strategy. Not everybody has that drive. I feel rather uneasy, think of my own gear. But many, and I think your brother, have that drive.
 
The bible speaks of a case where brothers are killed because one, already in possession of the house, does not grant them their own.
 
Judges, 9
 




Then Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother’s brothers, and spoke with them and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying, “Please speak in the hearing of all the men of Shechem: ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal reign over you, or that one reign over you?’ Remember that I am your own flesh and bone.”
 
And his mother’s brothers spoke all these words concerning him in the hearing of all the men of Shechem; and their heart was inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.”
 
So they gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men; and they followed him. 
 
Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself. 
 
And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem.



mark henry smith Added Jan 10, 2018 - 2:12pm
God will decide what the answer will be as God is arbiter of all disputes. If I am good, as I believe myself to be, than my brother must be evil for the way he's treated me. He has hurt many people and stolen from many. Whether that is his fault or the fault of those who enabled him, only God knows. All will be judged not by the quality of their arguments, but by the quality of their actions.
 
God does not argue with us about truth of falsehood. God knows. It is we who argue amongst ourselves like little children, when we know. We are at war. It is clear what we have to do to win. We must change how we live, how we use the resources of this planet, how we treat one another.
 
We are at war to protect the future for our children from the evil that has taken hold of reason. It is not these devices that are the disseminators of evil, but the users. Nothing we create is evil in itself. It becomes a mechanism for evil in how it evolves. Religion, technology, sexuality, substances, none are inherently evil. Look at Frankenstein's monster, from the book, not the movie. The movie made the monster and the mad scientist both appear to be evil incarnate. There is no such thing and that is not my brother either. The forces that made him behave the way he has, can redeem him, if that's what he decides.
 
But it might just be better from him to die, since I don't think he could withstand the suffering that I have been subjected to. He's just not that tough. Are you Benjamin? Is Israel? Yes, is what I say. I believe Israel and the Jewish people have suffered in a way that makes them too tough for their own good sometimes, as am I.     
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 10, 2018 - 3:38pm
No person in the bible has a clean record. My greatest contention with Christianity and Islam was always that the followers idealized their prophets, made them a projection screen for their own petty wishes and don't struggle with them. You idealized your brother and how hard is the disappointment.
 
Yisrael, your brother is Esau. Have you betrayed him off his 'house'? Your brother is a philanderer and so are you. There is nothing wrong with it, but does your brother have a 'house'? You wrote that he still 'has contact' with your ex-wife. Does that sound like children laughing? You gave life to seven children. I bet that all of them were wanted by the mothers. Either was it artificial insemination or the not unusual habit of women to forget the pill on purpose. You gave others their 'house'. Forget all your troubled circumstances, you won in lottery for a moment, do you want a 'house'?
 
From stud to stud, you need a better pick-up line. Never indicate that you are bad in bed! Never! You are not. Humor during mating shows the woman:
1) that you are aggressive
2) that you face things others don't dare to speak (honesty)
3) that you control your nervousness
 
Research has shown that stand-up comedians are more successful if their jokes are mostly on others, and show mild, not strong, aggression to the butt of the joke. Men are in for harder humor because it signals more aggression - shame the butt of the joke when you are among men. Too much aggression turns women off. Your 'bad sex' joke shames yourself aggressively, is mistaken for honesty, and reflects despair.
 
Learn funny faces that still make sense in the context of the situation (don't look stupid, but child-like)! That's enough self-deprecation for a date. Figure out whom she doesn't like and make mildly aggressive jokes in this direction. She decides who gets it and be as close to the person she dislikes as possible. Make jokes about people that you like if she doesn't like them! She decides! Don't joke about people you don't like, but she likes! She decides! She looks for a fighter who protects her: Her enemy is your enemy! That changes after the mating period. This is very important. Once you are in a relationship you better try to talk her out of her enemies (without upsetting her).
 
When your mating strategies improve, you can move away from bars. Don't get me wrong, try to get women trunk and laid! Waste no time! But I think you should start to look in different places. For a stable relationship women don't marry down too much. So you may look for an immigrant. You could do voluntary, social work or something in an animal shelter. Don't pick up girls in the bar, bring nice ladies to the bar, get them drunk, and get it on!
 
Maybe the Lord will rather make you, not your brother, a great, prosperous 'house'; it takes one child only (if you struggle with money, let it be only one). And maybe it will kill your brother upon seeing it at old, lonely age, lying in the pit, receiving your prayers. There may be redemption for his soul after all.
 
Toughness is like your penis in the act. The ladies like it big and hard, and so does the Lord.