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Clyde Lewis | September 14, 2020


It has been said that paranoia, not the clinical kind, but the cultural kind, may well be our national religion, as old as the Republic itself. It’s always simmering, but paranoia boils over more frequently in times of social change and stress and with many secular politicians and scientists saying that we are edging closer to doomsday you can’t blame a culture for being a little on edge.

There are a few people out there that see themselves as rather sophisticated and will act as though they are above any and all hysteria but many of those who feel the chill of paranoia are educated, who will tell you that they are not paranoid, but even if they are that doesn’t mean somebody isn’t out to get them or even deceive them.

For many months, I have been telling my audience about all types of things that are apocalyptic in nature. Looking around one has to wonder if the predicted apocalypse is happening right now.

To say that these are strange times is a great understatement.

To say that 2020 has been a difficult year would be an understatement. We are in a global pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, have a financial crisis and high unemployment levels, toxic tribalism, dogs and cats sleeping together you know really apocalyptic stuff going on.

There is no denying that society is facing some serious problems, as we doom scroll through our news feeds, it might feel as if it is the end of the world as we know it. Are we still feeling fine?

I don’t know if it is important to tell an off color joke — nut here goes — there were two golfers making a bet on their match. One says, “I’ll bet you, but you’ve got to give me two gotchas.” His partner doesn’t know what a gotcha is, but he agrees. Then, when he was just about to tee off, his opponent grabs him hard in the crotch and says loudly, “Gotcha!” His post-round excuse for losing the bet was, “Did you ever play 18 holes waiting for the second gotcha?”

This is planet earth today — now — waiting for that gotcha; waiting for another space on the apocalyptic Bingo card to be filled.

So, what’s it going to be? We’ve used up heat waves, high winds, wild fires and 24-hour nights. What else could happen?

Let’s see we’ve been virtually housebound since mid-March. Being indoors in any other environment than your own is taboo. When we do go out, we must wrap ourselves in enough protective masking to both keep this insidious virus from preying on us while also allowing ourselves barely enough airflow to keep from keeling over.

Fires are raging in the West — smoke has filled the air making air quality unbreathable, murder hornets are now being replaced by mosquitoes that are literally attacking animals in swarms and killing them.

I can’t even create these scenarios in some of my nightmares — the apocalypse we seem to be in at this moment. Right now, the sky outside my window is a shade of Orange — the other night a large roiling cloud of smoke highlighted by the sun looked like the approach of the mother ship in Independence Day, which of course made me wonder if the next thing coming is an alien invasion… that would be something wouldn’t it?

I noticed the color of the sky reminded me of a Sherwin-Williams palate color chart but the color would be rejected out of hand for any project short of Halloween decorations. Then, there’s the haze that makes it all look as though the monsters from the Movie the mist would soon be knocking on your door asking if it could borrow a cup of your blood and maybe use your eyeballs as jawbreakers.

The air quality indicators tell me that the conditions are “unacceptable.” I’ve always thought of that as a description that leaves little room for compromise– now after making a stink about wearing a mask — it is all I have got to keep the particulate out of my lungs.. With the sun blacked out everything feels like a fridge– it is not terribly cold — but just cold enough to make you feel like you are in the midst of nuclear winter.

Of course, the ash falling from the sky does not help — the scenery looks like something out of Stranger Things. It is as if I am in the upside down feeling the compulsion to go look for Barb.

However, what is most frustrating is that the other day the triple threat that is our west coast governors, Newsom, Brown and Inslee has stated that these fires are “Climate Change fires.”

This immediately makes the wildfires a political issue.

Joe Biden commented during a campaign speech that these ‘hellish’ wildfires will become more frequent if Trump wins second term. Oh but that is not all — Al Gore stated in a DNC speech that if Trump is re-elected the earth has two years left.

What is most disconcerting is that while fires such as these happen every year – that pattern of these fires indicate that many of them have been intentionally set. If these are Climate Change fires – they seem to have remained south of the Canadian Border and seem to plaguing the same areas that have been the target of the color revolution.

Now, mind you to even insinuate that the fires may have been intentionally set gets you banned from Facebook –even if it is from a credible news source and there is a police record that shows that there are suspected arsonists in custody.

At least 35 have died from the spate of West Coast fires which many thousands of firefighters are still busy battling. And there are still dozens of missing persons who were in the vicinity of the blazes.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media is busy issuing headlines about Climate fires instead of actually trying to get to the bottom of what’s behind the seeming simultaneous explosion of fires: NPR states that “Oregon Officials Warn False Antifa Rumors Waste Precious Resources For Fires.”

Local Portland media is reporting that a 45-year old man has been arrested for starting at least seven brush fires near a major highway: “A man arrested Sunday afternoon for allegedly starting a small brush fire along Interstate 205 was arrested again hours after he was released from jail after he allegedly started six more small fires,” according to a Portland Police statement.

The suspect, identified as Domingo Lopez Jr., reportedly had a molotov with him upon the second arrest according to a statement:

“After officers and firefighters put out a small brush fire along I-205 around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, a witness flagged down officers about an hour later and said the man who started the fires was in a nearby tent. Police spoke to Lopez Jr., who told officer he lit the fire, police said. He was arrested and a plastic bottle with a wick was seized as evidence.”

Portland Police Bureau showed the Molotov cocktail to reporters.

So a single individual responsible for no less than seven brush fires – six of which he reportedly started after already being arrested and released… but somehow the media is demanding that the public consider it inconceivable that Antifa or some other person or group could be engaged in a campaign of arson in many of these fires.

This is what is called Gaslighting.

The term Gaslighting originates in the systematic psychological manipulation of a victim by her husband in Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play Gas Light. There were films that were also made in 1940 and 1944. In the story, the husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she’s insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting she’s remembering things incorrectly or delusional when she points out the changes.

The play’s title alludes to how the abusive husband slowly dims the gas lights in their home but pretends nothing has changed, in an effort to make his wife doubt her own perceptions. The wife repeatedly asks her husband to confirm her perceptions about the dimmed lights, but in defiance of reality, he keeps insisting the lights are the same and that she is going insane.

These days, we’re living in a perpetual state of gaslighting. ‘Reality’ that the media reports is at complete odds with what we see with our own eyes. When we question the false reality they present, or claim what WE see is actual reality, we are vilified, banned on Facebook — or we are told that we deny the science.

No one is denying science – they are merely suggesting or pointing out that there are inconsistencies in the narrative, especially when it comes to political bias.

New York State has twice as many deaths from COVID-19 than any other state, and New York has accounted for 1/5 of all COVID-19 deaths, yet we’re told that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo handled the pandemic better than any other governor. But if we support policies of Governors whose states had only a fraction of the cases and deaths as New York, we’re called anti-science and ‘want people to die’.

So, are we crazy? No, we’re being gaslighted.

We see mobs of people looting stores, smashing windows, setting cars on fire and burning down buildings, but we’re told these demonstrations are peaceful protests. And when we call this destruction of our cities riots, we are called racists.

Are we crazy? No, we’re being gaslighted.

We see the problems destroying many inner-cities: murder, gang violence, drug-dealing, drive-by shootings, armed robbery, etc. But we are told that police are the problem in the inner-cities. We’re told we must defund the police and remove law enforcement from crime-riddled cities to make them safer. If we advocate for more policing in cities overrun by crime, we are accused of being white supremacists and racists.

Are we crazy? No, we’re being gaslighted.

Gaslighting has become one of the most pervasive and destructive tactics in politics. It’s the exact opposite of what our system was meant to be. It deals in lies and psychological coercion, not the truth and intellectual discourse. If you ever ask yourself if you’re crazy, you aren’t.

Crazy people aren’t sane enough to ask themselves if they’re crazy. That’s why politicians never question themselves. 

That is science but it is not the science the politicians pushing Climate Change want to hear – it is not what those who wish to threaten us with more fires, and more crisis want to hear – they want to drive us crazy and coerce us in making knee jerk decisions based on bating us with apocalyptic threats and that they will save us from our impending doom.

Do people really believe that is Joe Biden becomes President that all of the smoke will clear and that the Climate will improve? I am told that people can’t control the weather and yet Donald Trump is responsible for these fires. Donald Trump caused COVID-19 and that the magical masks will protect us up until the election, then if we just vote for Joe, we can miraculously remove the mask and live normally again.

We are told that with great leadership will come progress… this sure sounds convenient. It is like if they can miraculously change it – then perhaps they are responsible for it.

I guess that those who are gaslighting us wish to control our perceptions of how things really are.

It sure feels like things are spiraling downward. Our incessant stream of doom and gloom headlines makes it seem like the Apocalypse is upon us.

But what’s the truth here?

Well, there are two truths that co-exist. Despite our gut reaction that it has to be one or the other, these truths are not mutually exclusive. The world, in general, is far better than it used to be by most major metrics. Yet, we have some real societal problems and we have some deep rooted fears.

Curiously, we tend to be socially pessimistic about the current and future states of our world, but optimistic when it comes to our own futures. While we believe that it’s the end of the world as we know it, most of us feel fine. The truth is not so rosy.

With rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide, especially among young people, over the past decade, we are feeling less fine than we used to feel. This pandemic is making this downward trend even worse. Looking out the window seeing what looks like nuclear winter doesn’t help either.

Most of us are dealing with negativity bias– we are fatigued and we are on the verge of just living our lives and telling those that wish to keep us in this state of flux to back off and let us feel fine. We want to understand our world, to see the truth more accurately so that we can make more skillful decisions as we navigate our way along this journey of life.

Yet truth is elusive. We don’t see the world as it truly is. “Truth” serves the master of “survival.” This is rooted in our evolutionary heritage. Our ancestors needed to be more alert to the negatives of their world than the positives or else they might suffer fatal consequences. For instance, if our ancestors weren’t fearful that a pride of lions occasionally visited a water hole, they could end up as their dinner. But if those same ancestors missed out on a tree bearing fruit nearby, they would likely still live to see another day.

The legacy of our ancestral negativity bias still lives on within us today. Across just about every domain of human experience, the power of bad outweighs the power of good.

It may be that our ancestors have seen the world end before and inside of all of us deep in our cells is that trauma that gives us that sinking feeling that it’s the end of the world.

Our negativity bias also explains why we are drawn to negative over positive news. The difference is that our access to this negative news, with the rise of cable TV and the 24-hour news cycle, the internet, and social media, has increased exponentially in recent decades. We can’t totally blame the media for exposing us to a constant stream of negative news—we have an appetite for it!

Due to what’s known as the availability bias or availability heuristic, if we can readily think of examples of events like school shootings, shootings, police brutality and pandemic death totals, we think they are more commonplace. The proliferation of negative news makes it all too easy for us to recall instances of, murder, social injustice, human trafficking, racism, and so on.

I get the feeling sometimes that if I don’t talk about these things – people will say that I am being frivolous… I have heard it before “Why do you talk about UFO’s and Bigfoot when there is real news out there.

What they are really saying is: I am terrified of the new world and what I don’t see – I don’t want to talk about but in an area of uncertainty you may even see the very demons you once thought were myths.

The long haul of scary stories and mayhem in the world causes us to be pessimistic about the state of the world and our future.

Strangely enough, because of our negativity and similar biases, every generation tends to feel as if it is the end of the world. 

I know you might be thinking, “No, Clyde this time it really is worse than ever!” and It just might be. There are legitimate reasons to be concerned… and hopeful at the same time.

It is also wise to trust yourself. Believe what’s in your heart. Trust your eyes over what you’re told. Never listen to the people who tell you you’re crazy, because you aren’t.

You are being gaslighted.

Written by Clyde Lewis

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