As I was born, I am easily deceived. I can be easily taken advantage of, and am easily fooled into doing things for others which have little to no benefit for myself. This is ironic, considering that at the same time, person to person, I am one of the most difficult people to "fool" or lie to.
Now at last I understand that the "fooling" or deception is not on the individual level, so much as on the level of society as a whole.
I know we are changing. I feel it deep in my bones. Each day, I sense more and more change and growth.
What I think is happening is, as a new friend, a visionary physician from Toronto, put it last week: we are experiencing a new Renaissance.
Just as in the early Renaissance, there were those who did not understand the new revolution in thought and learning, today there are those who do not understand the evolution we are undergoing in human interaction.
Part of this is certainly due to the internet. People are able to find each other more easily, communicate with each other more easily, and are exposed to new ideas and thought much more quickly.
Part of this is certainly due to genetics -- i.e. physical evolution. The change is in our minds, I believe. More and more people are being born every day with differences in their basic, underlying nature and understanding of the world.
We are familiar now with the different thought processes and abilities of those with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome, thanks to the lives, writing and work of brave people like Temple Grandin. The Autism Spectrum has been much-studied, with differences in cognition and neurological functioning documented. We are even to the point where people are coming to understand that these changes from many others are differences, not disabilities.
Just as the Renaissance was about a rebirth of learning, knowledge, art and music, and the Humanist era was about the discovery of the individual and ethics, so I believe, today, we are moving toward a new Humanism. A Humanism that recognizes the human in all diverse incarnations.
The new words for people, such as transgender and cisgender, are part of this, I believe; however, to focus exclusively on external, physical differences is a step, not an end goal.
It's not as though this is "new thought." But it is something for everyone to think about in terms of renewed commitment.
When I look at all the systems and structures in which I participate, so much of what goes on, or has gone on, is about maintaining various individuals' personal "power."
And this type of power is not only not power, it is a chain or anchor to those who seek it so strongly, and invest so much of their time and effort in obtaining it.
Freedom is power. Joy is power. Love is power.
For example, let's look at the publishing industry. For years, I believed the advice in countless publishing articles, and that given by various professionals -- this was exclusively oriented toward "selling one's work." Well, that was basically not possible in the 19th Century. Writers like Emily Dickinson were paid nothing for their work; she ordered her sister to burn many of her poems before her death. Jane Austen was paid £10 for her work, much of which was published after her death. In the mid-20th Century, William Faulkner's work was out of print for a decade before he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Today, the great majority of writer's blogs that I see are devoted to pursuing a false form of fame. I know from exhaustive study of the publishing industry that it operates little- to nothing-like other manufacturing businesses. And it appears unable to understand that these difference exist, or the effect they have both on creative work, and on the company's bottom line.
And all of the lacks or barriers or gaps in the publishing industry point to a single source: the human ego. For all the industry's protestations that it's all about money, it is failing to incorporate many different techniques that have proven effective in other industries that make things and sell them to customers via retail channels.
For example, the individuals who acquire product for sale (acquiring editors) have little to no contact with the end customer, and often, with the retailer. Sales staff face a near-impossible job, in the absence of product development and market research. They are selling to retailers, anyway -- and some retail systems have established robust come-one, come-all consignment based systems (Amazon, other e-book sellers).
All of these problems originate from this single source: the human ego. In the words of the only editor to achieve genuine name recognition, Hemingway's editor Maxwell Perkins, he was drawn to work in
"one of those professions whose practitioners deal in the most powerful of all commodities — words."
Perkins formed writers. Some believe he even wrote portions of his most famous authors' books.
Which makes them Perkins' books, and which should make his drive and motivation clear. And certainly, he did form much of American literature of the early 20th Century. The concept that everyone wants to "write a book," and that publishing a book is greatly special and confers special status upon the author, can be traced to Perkins and others of his generation.
The underlying concept that there must be an editor who selects material based on subjective quality concerns unrelated to market factors is very Perkins-like, and is embedded in our society. "Getting published" is a mark of quality in people's minds. Of course, self-publishing being made possible by emerging technology has blasted this idea completely out of the water. The replacement meme is "If it rises from the crowd, then it's good."
The reality is that work that meets both, or either, of these criteria as I've described will be the expected. It's "good" in the sense that a parent may say "good boy" or "good girl." It's "quality" in the sense that might distinguish a young woman or man from a wealthier family from one of uncertain parentage who grew up in a foster home.
I am far from saying that there is no such thing as "good" books (i.e. books that completely satisfy readers), nor that there is no such concept as "quality" literature (i.e. literature that has cultural in addition to commercial merit). I'm just saying that the system as has previously existed is devoted to an ever-devolving "norm." It supports derivative works by its very nature. It ensures that genuinely ground-breaking work will have extreme difficulties in reaching the public. But moreso, it fools good writers into a lifetime of mediocrity. Because they are being good workers. They are responding to the pressure to write for editors, or write to a trend, or simply, to write in the forms and genres and lengths that they "know" have been successful in the past.
And the truth is, no matter what the industry, a good worker is one who is self-directed, and who works for his or her own satisfaction. This worker has his or her own standards for excellence.
And the smart industry is one that makes it possible for that worker to be that way. In terms of publishing, there is only one person who can create product: the writer. And in few industries, is the engine of manufacture so neglected, so abused, so mis-used, so disrespected, and so extraordinarily poorly-paid. There's no retirement plan for authors. They are fortunate to have health insurance. They are independent contractors. Currently, publishers are writing non-compete clauses for authors despite the fact that in all under industries, these are known to be incompatible with independent contractor (1099) status. Even if authors successfully establish themselves as brands, they may face extraordinary challenges in earning a living.
In other industries, decades ago, such practices were determined to be inhumane. Today, the law is not required to compel companies in the west that are seeking genuine sustainability and success to provide the necessities of life for those without whom there is no company: employees. This concept goes beyond "basic market forces" of salaries and the law of supply and demand to a deeper level of understanding. And it does exist, and it is growing.
Publishing operates in many ways on a 19th century basis, where certainty was the commodity of the day. Without question, the industry maintains its operational habits and patterns because of Maxwell Perkins' belief that words were "among the most powerful of commodities."
Yet if they can be called "commodities," the most powerful are not in fact words. They are love, freedom, tolerance, faith, hope and charity.
In love and tolerance can be found the knowledge that all humans were created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of the elusive happiness.
The simplest foundation for renewed Humanism can be found in the "Golden Rule" - treat others as you would yourself, like to be treated. Do not rationalize mistreatment of others. And recognize that your investment in good treatment of others is one which will be economically and personally rewarding. By exploiting, nothing of lasting value is gained, and in fact, debts are assigned to your life ledger -- spiritual debts, time debts, and ever-expanding responsibilities and burdens.
Beyond this, give up the 20th century and all earlier centuries concept that some people are "better" than others. More useful, more desirable, with "better" anything than anyone else. In individual areas, of course some people are more capable than others. But for each great chef, there is a great mother. For each great teacher, there is a great musician. For each great man, a great woman. For every wonderful physician, a marvelous nurse. And so on and so on ... until the end of time.
And for every person with Autism or Aspergers, with special gifts of perception and insight, there is an empath who senses others acutely. As the Autistic child often spins or self-stimulates for comfort with too much sensory input, so does the empath child withdraw, or even harm himself or herself, for comfort from too much emotional input.
This is what I, the empath, have to say on my 52nd birthday, March 10, 2014.
And I have also to say, rest in Peace and God's love Alan Paul Rodgers, August 11, 1959 to March 8, 2014. Farewell sweet prince.