Richard Rohr Meditation: Radical Politics

If you walk around with hatred and prejudice in your heart and mind all day, morally you’re just as much a killer as the one who pulls out the gun. That seems to be what Jesus is saying. The evil and genocide of World War II was the final result of decades of negative and paranoid thinking among good German Christians, Catholic and Lutheran. The tragic fascism of Nazi Germany was fomenting in people’s hearts long before a political leader came to catalyze their hate and resentment. Now it seems we are seeing the same in the United States.

Jesus tells us to not harbor hateful anger or call people names even in our hearts like “fool” or “worthless person” (Matthew 5:22). If we’re walking around all day thinking, “What an idiot he is,” we are already in the state of sin. Sin is more a state of separation and superiority than any concrete action—which is only the symptom. How we live in our hearts is our real truth.

.. Jesus insists that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). For Jesus, prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love, returning to love, trusting that love is the unceasing stream of reality. Prayer isn’t primarily words; it’s an attitude, a stance, a state that precedes “saying” any individual prayers. That’s why Paul could say, “Pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If we think of prayer as requiring words, it is surely impossible to pray always.

For Whom the Trump Trolls

Even with his casinos, Trump wasn’t a gambler, either, saying he’d rather own slot machines than play them.

And yet, in a strange twist, Trump has ended up an addict.

.. Lanier, who met Trump a couple of times back in the real estate developer’s New York heyday, thinks the president’s addiction to tweeting is rewiring his brain in a negative way. As Trump picks up speed on Twitter, the Oval Office is becoming a Skinner box. Like other “behavior modification empires,” as Lanier calls social media sites, Twitter offers positive reinforcement for negativity.

.. “Twitter addicts take on this kind of nervous, paranoid, cranky quality, sort of itching for a fight,” Lanier said in an interview. “Trump used to be in on his own joke, and he no longer is. He’s just striking out every morning, fishing for somebody to harass or seeing who’s harassing him.

“I do think it creates a terrifying situation because somebody who is addicted is easy to manipulate. It’s easier for the North Koreans to lie to him than if he wasn’t an addict.”

.. I saw a report on PBS about a mother on the border who was reunited with her 14-month-old child after 85 days. “The child continued to cry when we got home and would hold on to my leg and would not let me go,” the mother wrote. “When I took off his clothes, he was full of dirt and lice. It seemed like they had not bathed him the 85 days he was away from us.”

On the occasion of America’s 242nd birthday, we must ask who we are, if we can see accounts of infants snatched from their parents and returned covered in lice, and not worry about our country’s soul.

.. We have a president who is an addict running a country overflowing with opioid and social media addicts. (In an interview with The Times a few days ago, our tech reporter Nellie Bowles said she dealt with her smartphone addiction by graying out her screen, noting, “These phones are designed to look and work like slot machines — hit us with bright colors and little pings to activate and please,” and “we all have to figure out little hooks to pull back into the physical world.”).. hopes people will resume a sense of decorum when they realize “there’s very little long-term profit from a viral tweet.”

.. He figured out how to dominate Twitter, not with the cool-kid arch style of making fun of someone, but by being school-yard-bully mean.

His tweets propel the story on cable news and shape the narrative for reporters — who are addicted to the First Addict.

Integration Now, Integration Forever

Unfortunately, the mid-70s were, by some measures, a kind of a high-water mark. School integration peaked then, and American schools have been resegregating since.

.. there are two kinds of integration, objective and subjective. The former is about putting people of different races in the same classroom, office and neighborhood. The latter is about emotional bonds of connection, combining a positive sense of pride in group with an overall sense that we are a “we.”

.. Three-quarters of American whites have no close nonwhite friends.

..  if you looked at the average white person’s 100 closest friends, you would find that 91 would be white. If you looked at the average black person’s 100 closest friends, 83 of them would be black.

.. In retrospect, trying to integrate the country through the schools may have been a mistake.

.. But parents are super-paranoid about their children. It doesn’t matter how supposedly enlightened a white neighborhood is; if the government brings poor black kids into the school, many parents react with fury, or with moving vans.

.. If might have been better to lead with residential integration. If American parents are unwarrantedly fearful and race-minded about their kids’ environment, they seem to be less so about their own.

..  In 1967, 3 percent of Americans married outside their race or ethnicity. Now 17 percent do. Twenty-four percent of black men marry a woman outside their race, as do 12 percent of black women.

.. A renewed integration agenda would mean building public housing in low poverty areas, eliminating exclusionary zoning laws, and yes, accepting gentrification

.. (a recent U.C.L.A. study finds that gentrification is increasing diversity in District of Columbia public schools).

 

Psychological Disorders as Success Criteria in the Computing Industry

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”
       Ayn Rand. 1905-1982.

“Only the paranoid survive.”
       Andy Grove. 1936-2016.
“There was something very slightly odd about him, but it was hard to say what it was.”

       Douglas Adams. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
.. Over the past thirty five years, I’ve worked with thousands of smart and successful people in the computing industry. Now that I look back on it, I am amazed by what a large percentage of them exhsibited symptoms from one or other so-called psychological “disorders”, myself being the poster boy. When I talk about psychological disorders here, I’m referring to those listed in DSM 5: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the authoritative book on the topic according to the American Psychiatric Association. I’m intentionally using quotes for the word “disorder” because I plan to argue that these once abnormal tendencies are now commonplace, at least in certain professions, and should no longer be viewed as abnormal nor should they be stigmatized. The question is not whether many of us suffer from such traits but whether we are able to function as normal and successful members of society despite them.

One obvious example of such behavior is an addiction to and an obsession for extreme sports. I claim, based mostly on anecdotal data, that a statistically aberrant percentage of successful people in the computer industry obsess over sports of one kind or another. I don’t mean running a 5K or going for a weekend hike with the dog. I mean ultra-marathoners who routinely run a hundred miles or more, IronMan triathletes, bikers who do century rides every weekend, mountain climbers who train to climb Mt. Rainier, you name it. Several articles have recently been written on this topic, highlighting surges in kiteboarding, skydiving, sports car racing, mountaineering, and other similar extreme endeavours among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. These are all extremely busy people – most of them working sixty, eighty, a hundred hours a week. Yet, they also somehow find the time to spend 24 hours running non-stop up a mountain or to bike two hundred miles from Seattle to Portland “for fun” in a single day!
This is not normal. You cannot compete in an IronMan triathlon unless you obsess over your training. You cannot run a hundred miles in a single day unless you run the equivalent of a marathon (and more) every weekend. That takes time, it takes commitment, and it takes obsession
.. Studies have also shown that autism is linked to mathematical talent and that college students opting for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees have a higher than normal incidence of autism in their families. And one of the symptoms of autism is an “intense interest in a limited number of things” – in other words, obsessive behavior. The prevalence of mild autism (Asperger’s Syndrome) has been documented widely in the industry with well known examples such as Bill Gates. He is one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met, but, according to the book, he “suffers” from a psychological disorder.