---- Faini, Vincent D. Faini, Christianity, Conversations with Neo, Adventures in Marine Biology, Most People Talk Bullshit: One Primates Search For Intelligent Life, Phoenix Michaels, Touch of the Beast: Brent Fletcher, Requiem for a Midlife Crisis---- --

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I Just Have to Find Out For Myself!

 

Our Social Experiment

 

Preface

     As I often sit in coffee shops, restaurants and juke joints, indulging in a tasty meal and a cup of java, I seem to overhear the same themes buzzing about in conversations among the patrons of every establishment.

The common theme is: They are dissatisfied with our government.

 

The most common complaints are:

What is wrong with our government and why don't they care about our needs?

"Why isn't our government doing anything to protect us?" "Our government is not to be trusted, it is corrupt!"

"Where is our true leadership?" "How and why is our government dropping the ball on terrorism, the victims of Katrina and our troops in Iraq? The list of their complaints is seemingly endless.

 

     The general consensus is this;  wouldn't it be great if all of our leaders were true, pure and noble, and would work together towards a greater cause. It is the belief of most people that their only avenue of democracy is their vote; most of whom feel that even this avenue leads to nowhere and disappointment. Most Americans are so disenchanted with this singular avenue that they don't even bother.

 

     The masses are left feeling abandoned as they perennially wring their collective hands and bemoan their sorry lot in life, praying for some magical savior or a modern day Alexander the Great to make things right. It is their consensus that until this happens, they are totally powerless to have any influence over our government and our leaders and ultimately even their very lives!

 

     I DISAGREE WITH THE MAJORITY OF THIS APATHETIC PHILOSOPHY!.

 

 

Why I Disagree and How I Plan to Demonstrate My Philosophy

 

  • I will demonstrate with this experiment that the common theme or complaint about the government is to an extent valid, but that they need to understand that they are just as much at fault.

  • I will demonstrate to people that the MAJORITY of this fault occurs at the BOTTOM and the CENTER of our socio-economic and political pyramid in both the private and public sector; and it is the responsibility of the lowest workers in both sectors to act appropriately.

  • I will address the issue that problems which are inherent in society are much more of a problem in the public sector than in the private sector.

  • I will point out that it is for this reason that often money is wasted and the lives of both the people working in the public sector and the private citizens they serve are too frequently and unnecessarily hurt.

  • I will to back up my assertions that people in both the public and private sector could do much more to prevent or to redress abuses or misuses of power by  people situated in jobs that have been created to serve the private citizen.

  • When people throughout the socio-economic and political pyramid list the various obstacles that agencies and government officials of such agencies often placed before both the people who work for those agencies and the citizens that are invariably affected, as reasons that things can't be fixed, or that people cannot protect themselves; I will share my experience about the both the agency for which I had worked and my dysfunctional coworkers to give examples as to why most of their excuses are in fact fallacious.

  • I will point out that my coworkers and private citizens as well...consistenly talked themselves into a mind set of willful impotence and organized despair. In addition to this problem is their powerful sense of entitlement and feelings of superiority over the majority of the private sector. These feelings and views allowed them to dehumanize and exclude everyone in their group thereby making it easier to ignore policies and protocols of the public agency for which they worked - thereby setting up an environment ripe for the neglect and disservice that all too commonly occurs to our private citizens.

  • To aid my argument that we do have more methods and avenues at our disposal in both the lower ends of the pyramid in both the private and the public sector I will share my story point by point both the dysfunction and the solutions.

  • To aid my argument further that I disagree with my ex-coworkers in the government sector assertions, that as pathetic as they are with regards to not standing up for themselves; their belief of possessing  more character, integrity and strength of will, than the majority of people in the private sector is unjustified. To prove my premises, I have enlisted the advice from a handful of ex-federal employees of which I still enjoy a trusted and valued friendship; it is with them that I discussed the pros and cons of my experiences, observations and beliefs and how best to put it to the test with the cheapest and most expedient method possible (hopefully a method that will have the most beneficial impact to the people I desire to help).

This is why and how we devised our social experiment to test both their premise and mine.

 

What Are We All Waiting For?

 

      So here we sit, the majority of citizens waiting impatiently for the second coming of Christ or another benevolent modern day Alexander the Great; imbued with qualities of strength of mind, body and spirit; stellar character and oodles of integrity and courage. Someone uncorruptable, impervious to the taint of our run-of-the mill, status quo political structure. If only we could have someone who was above all of the intrigue, political infighting and duplicity that runs rampant within and surrounding special interest groups, unions, the media and the common work-a-day citizen: yet our savior of mythical proportions also possessing a deep well of compassion and love for the people he has been destined to protect and serve -- and with all of these qualities a leader with the common touch.

 

     Many of us are left pondering where are the warrior-poet-leaders of a bygone age; where are the leaders that fight alongside us, bleed with us -- suffer and strive with us? Why do we no longer have such leaders that lead from the front instead of the glut of bureaucrats that mismanage from the rear.

 

In our souls we ache for such a leader to take us collectively into his loving embrace, telling us everything will be all right...now that we are under his watch. We can sleep easy.

 

     Will a leader of such magnitude be selected from the next U.S. Presidential election? As intriguing as some of the qualities that a handful of these hopefuls possess, I think the chances that a political messiah blossoming from this rank and file is as likely as a politician refusing campaign contributions.

 

    The truth is, our prospects look bleak and as Phoenix... one of my friends and advisors is so fond of saying: "The ugly truth stands out like a turd on a wedding cake." With him, I would agree.

 

     To all of the people that cry out their yearning and need for such a leader: quickly pointing out that this would fix everything -- I will say this:

 

      I do agree that it would be nice if this were the case....and under the right constellation of circumstances it would be optimal to have true top-notch leaders deploying stellar protocols of governing from the top down. Nevertheless, what I am asserting is that the best leaders and bureaucrats, with of best intentions, are more often than not hamstrung from the bottom up in their efforts to create a better world. It is my contention that our current and sorry state of affairs is equally the fault of the majority of people who find themselves on the bottom of the socio-economic and political pyramid. Jesus and Alexander the great would be sucked down and hamstrung by the same machinations. Just look what happened to them the first time around.

 

     I will also point out that the most powerfully dysfunctional part of any socio-economic and political pyramid is the center third....particularly the pyramids within our various government structures - each and every public agency.

 

     Yes, it is at the bottom and the tumultuous center of these pyramids that is truly the womb of corruption, abuse and  bureaucratic inefficiency... and in the end this manifests the outright neglect and disservice to our country. It is there where the actions or the lack of appropriate actions sets in motion the circumstance where untold billions of dollars can be wasted....money that is not being channeled to special interest groups or key people at the top, but simply wasted. It is these wasteful protocols within both the private and public sector, which creates an economic vacuum...into which many of our citizens invariably fall. Simply witness the paltry and ineffective Hurricane Katrina victims fund, our U.S. soldiers in harms way without body armor, or simply our elderly not able to afford adequate health care or basic prescriptions. 

 

     In the final analysis it this section of the power structure that encourages and even trains many key people on top of the various socio-economic and political pyramids to feel contemptuous for the masses of people below them whose plight they generally ignore. Lastly, I would assert that the very survival of the power elite demands that they continue their dysfunctional and Machiavellian behavior to more effectively insulate and protect themselves from the people under their sovereign rule.

 

     You don't believe me? Perhaps you think I am being too harsh of the common man? Do you think this is an essay with the intent of making excuses for the power elite?

 

     It is not my intention to make excuses for anyone, nor am I being harsh or misguided as to where the blame belongs. The blame resides within the pyramid from the top down and from the bottom up. What I am presenting to each of you is not just a dissertation on the problems of our society, or about who is to blame. I am simply proffering solutions that can create a society - a world of reason and prosperity - which would likely contain more opportunity for these dreams for practically all people. I am not suggesting Utopia is possible, but I am saying that with the right mindful organized and concerted effort, we can increase and improve the efficiency of our government and personal lives by several thousand percent.

 

     Perhaps you might ask; why I have strong opinions on this subject; or what experiences do I have that makes me a self-described expert on this matter?

 

 

A Lifetime of Federal Experience To Make My Point

     If you have read my mission statement and biography, you would know that I have worked for the federal government for almost thirty years. Those thirty years have not been continuous, as I have had three breaks in government service...averaging two years in length, during which I worked also in the private sector. Before I joined the Marines I had worked at various jobs from the time I was ten years old.

 

     In the past thirty-some years, I have met many people that have worked at various government agencies. I have read the news rags and bulletins of these various agencies, as well as those from many federal representative organizations...sometimes called unions. The years of exposure to both the written and spoken word of this group of federal employees has led me to this conclusion; that many people working in the federal sector are negative, dysfunctional, whining, self-loathing, arrogant people.

 

     Ironically, despite all of this, they seem to possess powerful feelings of entitlement and a disdain for the majority of people in the private sector, which of whom they feel superior to. This group of people are negative about a system that they feel cannot be changed.

 

     Now regardless of the numerous examples of people and groups that have changed situations that needed changing, this group of people continue to keep making excuses for their failures and helplessness....practicing the high art of willful impotence. For the record, I have to say that not all workers in the federal government are weak. A handful of my coworkers would not allow mangers to run roughshod over them; however with the exception of these few, most would not think to stand up for their coworkers or themselves...because they simply felt powerless.

 

      As a matter of fact, many of them had female relatives working for the agency also whom they allowed to be sexually harassed...despite the mechanisms already in place that would have allowed them to redress these issues.

An atavistic part of me felt that these people should be eliminated from the gene pool. What mechanisms could lead to such lack of character? What could lead a person to such capitulation and helplessness? To read more of this go here>

 

     I will also go on record and say that more than a handful of my ex-coworkers where not prone to whining, nor did they claim to be superior to most people in the private sector. Also, generally, they were nice people and pleasant to work with. They were what I called the silent minority; they were members of the rank and file that kept their head down, did their jobs well, but actively sought zero change. They also felt powerless, and that most of their coworkers would never stand up for them anyway. I do believe it entirely possible that this group of people would have been challenged to action, had they witnessed a single circumstance which would have led them to believe that a sustained group effort for change could be initiated.

 

       It was my misfortune to work with people that were vocally aggressive with their whining negativity, completely setting the tone where I worked. They routinely used many forms of duplicitous behaviors, were willing to use their verbal skills to undermine other people.

 

     Anxious to demonstrate their feelings of superiority, these government employees felt strongly that people in the private sector were even more helpless than them.

 

    Their premise; as pathetic as they themselves were, they asserted that people in the private sector were worse.

 

    The consequences of these perspectives has the following bitter circumstances....creating an environment within which many administrators can inflict these injustices with impunity, without consequence or accountability. This environment attracts the people into administrative positions who coldly enjoy, with malice and intent abusing their attain position of authority.

 

     What have I seen that compels me to take this position?

 

I Am Compelled to Act Because:

     I have witnessed coworkers targeted by administrators. These administrators purposely broke laws to put other federal employees in harms way. In my opinion a few of them died unnecessarily because of this unaccountability.

It is also my contention that the American people are also put unnecessary at risk....considering for example the alarmingly ineffective manner in which the anthrax contamination was mishandled in yet another federal agency; the U.S. Postal Service. Many coworkers afflicted with cancer, M.S. and other disabilities have also been unfairly targeted by administrators...persecuted for no good reason other than the simple fact that the opportunity was there. These circumstances also allow these administrators to sexually harass employees without fear of reprisal.

 

     Were these pathetic people's perceptions about the majority of the human race, those who work in the private sector correct? Could anyone possibly be more pathetic than the people I worked with and many of the other people that I have chatted with who worked for the other agencies?

 

     I am often compelled to ponder, "My God", how could any group of people be more repulsive? If my former coworkers are correct in their appraisal of people in the private sector, then sadly, I believe that the human race really is doomed as a species. My mind reels against this possibility! Why? Because I have seen people in the private sector complain less, and they seem to have more virility...more balls if you will. I have said as much to my coworkers in the government sector. Their response is that the few people that I have seen acting thusly was an anomaly... a few people in a few isolated circumstances to be sure. It is their contention that I needed to provide more proof.

 

 

Seeking Advice and Help From Federal Employees Who are Several Cuts Above the Norm

     Since I had retired, I managed to maintain friendships with a few federal workers whom I considered a several cuts above the others.  Mike the Knife and The Other Guy may have thought it impossible to change the system, but at least I could maintain my respect for them. They had proved worthy of respect because, unlike the majority of my coworkers, they never let any of the administrators walk over them.

 

     However, unlike the other federal employees, they believed that most people are pathetic; in both sectors; no more, no less than the people we worked with. Below is a sample of a few conversations with the people I considered more self empowered than the majority of which I had spent at least twenty years working alongside.

 

    Each one of my friends possessed higher I.Q's compared to both the people in the general public and even the very bright people at the agency where I previously worked. One of my closest friends and a bit of a mentor, Mike the Knife has an I.Q. of 166. He is unique in the fact that such high intelligence runs in his family.  His brother has an I.Q. that is a bit higher and in fact is a rocket scientist and engineer for a prominent company that makes weapons and satellites for the government. Mike the Knife is not just intelligent in a "Rain Man" sort of way that I consider many of my coworkers to be...he also possesses high social and emotional intelligence.

 

     My other friends are more or less like Mike the Knife. Thorn has an I.Q. of 139, The Other Guy, 150, Bernie an I.Q. of 137. (Many people ask me what my "Intelligence Quotient" is...well let's just say modesty prevents me from disclosing such personal information... or is it embarrassment? I'm not sure... it's just so hard to think clearly these days).

 

    Anyway, this group of ex-coworkers unlike many of the other people I worked with, had personalities that did not allow people to walk over them. In my opinion they often demonstrated strength of character and their many examples of this has been an inspiration for me.

 

       To these friends, I laid out my desires and intentions about helping other people to protect themselves from the agencies they worked for and from the incompetence and neglect of their representatives -- both work reps and legislators. I also told them of my desire to raise money for charities and to give some of the proceeds from my home to the soldiers in Iraq. I told them of my dream of seeing all Americans galvanized towards greater unity.

 

     Mike the Knife: "It can't be fixed Vinny. Most people will do nothing to save themselves.

     "You only believe this because of your exposure to mostly government workers for the past twenty years.

     Mike the Knife "No, I believe this because from my experience with people in both the private and public sector have never demonstrated that they will act in their own best interest."

     The Other Guy: "I think Mike the Knife is right...people are people...no one will do anything unless they have to."

     "That's my point, I said, I think people will support me and help me to raise money for their causes. I think people will be galvanize to action to insure that their own children are better protected. Their own children for God sake!"

     Bernie: Give just one example where people sacrifice to help others, or an example where people will rally together to help themselves."

      "I can give more than one...Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., the teamsters...."

     Bernie cuts me off before I could recite my long laundry list of social heroes, "That was years ago. Nobody does that anymore; because the system, the government and corporations will crush you. We are not allowed to protect ourselves."

     "Well, Mike the Knife and The Other Guy seem to be able to protect themselves quite well."

     "I also managed to protect my rights and go against an agency that is large and powerful. How do you explain that?"

     Mike the Knife That's not the same thing Vinny. There you go again using your stock 'N' trade Franco Columbu argument. We are different than other people, that's why they don't mess with us."

     I sighed, "What makes us different has nothing to do with Franco Columbu; we are only different because we understand how we have to respond with teeth. If everyone in both the private and government sector understood this, then they would use methods that have teeth and work in their own self interest."

     Thorn: "The only reason why you forced our agency to capitulate was because "The powers that be" felt you were too much trouble to deal with... you were making too many waves, so they let you back. But only because they let you.

     Exasperated I yelled, "But that is my point, if one person...ME, ALONE, can do this, then what about people in large numbers?"

     Mike the Knife: That's just you. You are rare. Let me tell you how sad the bulk of the Human race is; the majority of people that you want to help will not let you"

     "I am not rare! I am just an average guy and what in the hell do you mean not let me, I queried?

     The Other Guy: "Vinny, just remember, even though you were standing up for your coworkers they fought you at every step ."

     Mike the Knife: Yes, The Other Guy is right. And the people you want to help... the families of the troops, will not give you a ticker-tape parade, in fact they will likely try to gut your for your efforts.

     I said, "I can't believe that. You're telling me that as I approach the people I want to help...to let them know I support them and the safety of their children in Iraq; you're telling me that they would will not help and may even try to undermine me? I don't believe it. When I was willing to stand up and confront the federal agency we worked for, that worked...that was what got things done.

     Thorn snorted: Yes! That's because you approached people in high positions of the Federal government with techniques of transparency. Those government people have to keep a certain front up. People in the private sector don't have fronts to keep up. They are all stupid cattle, and no matter what you try to do, they will look at you with either suspicion or resentment.

     Bernie: Or both. Look at the people you use to work with; even after you demonstrated to them practically full proof methods to be effective, not only did they refuse to follow what you have learned, but they hated you for confronting them with the fact that they would have to actually do something, and that they are too weak and petty to do it.

     Well they are the product of a soft life before and after college and also because once they got hire for the government, despite their claims of hating their jobs, they do get paid good money for easy work. That is their opium. I believe that the people in the private sector complain less, even though they have more relevant reasons to complain, and I believe that the combination of not having a pampered government life, they also have relevant concern for their sons, daughters, and husbands very lives. They will be embolden by someone that has fought in the trenches of injustice and having experience with dealing with powerful federal agency and making them capitulate. They will see that not only is it in their best interest to help me to help their loved ones; they will see that it won't cost them any money and not much effort on their part.

     Mike the Knife: Now Vinny, you're just bullshitting yourself. Look at the issue with the troops, only a handful of the parents of these troops outside of their circle jerk of friends, gave even a minor outcry over the lack of body armor and lack of support our government is giving them. If they really cared about their kids, they would have kept up the ruckus to their legislators, but no...I agree with Thorn, people are just cattle...even worse than the coworkers you detest. It can't be fixed! Just accept it."

     "Okay, I will prove you all wrong. Let us do an experiment. Let's set things up to see if the people you despise will fall short or step up. Then you'll see! But, how do I do it without alerting the people of my intentions. If I alert the public of our intentions to experiment, then that may skew the experiment. As Thorn mentioned the people in the federal agency started to step up when they knew they were being observed and every action documented."

     "I don't want to embarrass people into doing the right thing, and the point is that I don't think I have to. I mean, if they do the right thing I'm betting it is because they are smart enough to see the advantage, but if I do as you suggest, then you'll say that they did it only because of public attention."

     Bernie: Yeah, that's right, rats that know they are being observed will act different than rats that think they are acting unobserved. Just like the what had happened when you made the federal administrators cave in to your goals. That would be a problem.

     "Shit, if I keep completely mum about my goals then they won't know my intentions, then they would logically be suspicious and resistant of my help. I have to go public at least a little bit for the sake of communicating with them and maintaining transparency"

      Mike the Knife: You know what Vinny? I am going to help make things easier for you and to ease your thoughts. So listen up, only people in positions of power care about what people think of them. Not because they give a rats ass about the people that voted them in, but because legislators and federal administrators want to manipulate peoples perception of them so they can keep whoring in their jobs. They know that as unlikely as it is, they could lose their jobs. Regular people in the private sector, on the other hand, don't have jobs to lose if they maintain their herd like mentality. They will give you platitudes, do nothing and just keep being themselves, part of the herd.

      "Aw shit Mike, how does all of what you just said help me one iota?

     Mike the Knife: Listen, closely. The point is, I believe people are not just sheep, but shameless about being sheep. They will use all sorts of excuses as to why they can't be effective and really help their kids. If you don't believe it's that bad... then put that to the test. As you are so fond of saying, let's see who's talking bullshit, or to quote your other favorite, 'performance is the coin of the realm'. Let us see who performs and who does not. "Just simply tell the people in the private sector what Federal workers think of them, tell them what we think of them. Hell you can even tell them that what you are doing is an experiment in which you will be observing them and documenting their behavior.

     "Shit, what if they resent the experiment and don't act to save their kids out of spite?

      Thorn: looked at me with a mixture of contempt and compassion: Put yourself in their situation. If you had kids in Iraq, wouldn't you move heaven and earth to do whatever it took to insure that your kid came back in one piece?

     "Well of course I would. I did that for people that I was not even close to. Of course my kids."

     Thorn: (Using a high falsetto lisping voice). If some yahoo came out of nowhere shouting, "Look at me, look at me, I want to help your kids and by the way, my friends and I are doing an experiment to see if you will act dynamically to help me, and if not you'll prove to be cattle.  Would you stomp your feet and sulk and say the hell with the yahoo, now I'm pissed. I ain't lifting a finger for my kids?"

     The image that Thorn had painted in our mind's eye made all of us laugh.

     Of course I wouldn't give a shit what the person thought or said.

     Mike the Knife Why not?

     Because I don't need reminding to do the right thing, nor will allow anger or pride to senselessly ignore the plight of my kids.

     Mike the Knife That's our point. If the people that I am claiming are sheep weren't; they would already be performing in the manner you want them to perform. When you approach them privately, we are all betting that you'll get a song and a dance and all sorts of rationalizations. When you publicly tell them about the experiment and what almost everyone in the government thinks of them they will do just the opposite of what we all know what you would do, and what we would do in the same situation.

     Bernie: What we are trying to tell you is that the people that you have so much faith in will fail you for either one or two reasons.

     I'm not sure I understand

     Thorn sighed with seeming impatience, Just what Mike the Knife was trying to explain. People are so shameless that they won't make an effort to budge. They will simply shake their heads. Some of them may agree with you as they continue to do nothing.

     Mike the Knife: And we have agreed that the people that say "Screw you for putting us on the spot now we won't lift a finger for our kids... ", well we know that is bullshit and they are to be despised even more.

    I sat back, quiet, disappointed and sad over the whole discussion.

    They all just looked at me and waited for a response. Finally, Mike the Knife cleared his throat and spoke.

    Mike the Knife: "You know were right Vinny...there is no escaping it. If they don't act for any reason... even after you give your money and time, then they are what we claim.

     I sigh sadly, Yes, if that was the case. but I just don't believe that to be so."

     Mike the Knife: That's why logically, the most effective thing to do is to expediently cut to the quick and find out. Show your entire hand. This way you will find out in short order, instead of pinning away for years fooling yourself. This way the cards will fall where they may and whether you are proved right, or we are proved right....you will be able to get on with your life.

   They all murmured their agreement with Mike the Knife.

    Begrudgingly, I saw their point.

 

   

My Palaver with Neo Concerning The Experiment

   Later I discussed this conversation with a friend that I have nicknamed Neo back in 1982. I gave him this nickname because I thought that his new fangled ideas on politics was refreshing. Because of the newness of his politics I thought the name I chose was appropriate. Neo is of mixed descent but primarily of Australian aboriginal linage. According to him, he holds dual citizenship with the United States and Australia. He claims that he earned his citizenship because of his time in the U.S. military. (The Navy Seals).

 

   Aside from Mike the Knife and a few other people, Neo is one of the smartest people that I have ever encountered. I suspect from years of observing and conversing with him that he is a super genius, although he refuses to speak of his I.Q. and claims to be only little brighter than average, I still suspect he is a sandbagger and very modest about his intellectual prowess.

 

      I have looked towards him as a mentor, a friend and perhaps a little bit of a surrogate father or older brother.

Neo had actually saved my life during the last years of my stint as a Federal Employee. I had done some very horrible things and I was about to do more before an incident had left me close to death. He saved me and hopefully he has help me at having a chance at saving my soul. A lot of what I am doing is not entirely for altruistic reasons. I am after all working toward redemption for the sins I have committed.

 

       Neo: "Your upset about what your friends told you?"

       "Yes, I am dismayed about their negativity towards the majority of people in general."

      Neo: "What upsets you the most?"

      "Too or three things really. For instances they just assume that they are superior to most other people. They think even outside of the federal sector people are too lazy to do anything meaningful for anyone, even their families."

      Neo: "And you don't think that they are?"

      "No. Well...okay, the people we use to work with, sure. Unlike most of the other's they do perform at a much higher level, but only because they put into action what other people only talk about. The other people I worked with are almost as smart, but their only stumbling block is that unlike Mike the Knife and my other friends they simply will not walk their talk.

     Neo: "Yes, and because of this they don't accomplish anything."

     "Exactly!"

     Neo: "As you know, my brother is even more rabid about his contempt for the mass of humanity than your friends."

      That's a bit of a mystery to me. You don't share your brother's views even though you and your brother's are identical triplets. Your brother that passed away...did he view people the same as you or more like your other brother?"

     Neo: (Laughing), "Just because we come from the same egg does not mean we are the same people. My brother has his views based on his experiences and observations, I have mine, based on my experiences and observations, and sadly, both of my brothers use to be more like you.

     What do you mean?

     Neo: "In their youth, my brothers were the most compassionate and loving people I know, aside from some of the modern day avatars you and I have in the past occasionally talked about. They both were a lot more compassionate and loving than me.

     "No way! You're one of the most compassionate and loving people I know. You've inspired the hell out of me. A lot of what I want to accomplish is because of this inspiration."

     Neo: "Na, compared to my brothers, I was a selfish bullheaded dag. It took years for me to be more empathetic about people. Both of my brothers were the love bunnies of my family"

    The image of Neo's hard as nails no nonsense brother as being a love bunny pushed me into a laughing jag. I practically choked from uncontrolled laughter. "What changed your brothers?"

     Neo: "My brother that you met, got tired of people. He began to think of people the same way your coworkers think of them. He got tired of being disappointed. It is his belief that most people deserve to be exploited from the minority of high-functioning people like him. He actually believes that at some level, they crave this type of exploitation from people that are alpha." That is one reason why my brother is very wealthy, many times wealthier than me."*

      "My coworkers feel much like your brother and that thinking hasn't help them one iota to achieve wealth." Mike the Knife favorite saying is "Most people will let you down...even most of your friends." He is also fond of saying, "You just try to love them anyway, at least your friends and stay away from the rest."

     Neo laughed: I understand that line of thinking. Anyway, you were saying that your coworkers have been unable to achieve any real success even though they share my brother's philosophy. I suspect that's because unlike my brother....just as you have pointed out, they fail to act in any meaningful way, thereby making it impossible to perform at any appreciable level at any endeavor. Instead they are contented to talk endlessly about their imagined superiority over the masses. It is this category of people that my brother feels the most contempt for and he'll gleefully tell you that because of these peoples illusion's they are the easiest to exploit. He believes that at least ninety to ninety-nine percent of humanity fall into this category...in both the private and the public sector as well"

     "What about your brother who died?" "Did he drink himself to death because he became hardened like your other brother?"

      Neo: "My dead brother never lost his compassion and love of people. The problem was, he did not know how to protect himself from people he felt compassion for. He constantly was giving the shirt off his back to every person who came to him with a sob story. He didn't know how to keep people at a healthy distance and along with his experiences and his inability to curb his impulses is what ultimately destroyed him. Actually, he was much like the way you were when I first met you running yer gym twenty years ago.

     He laughed, "Remember, you and my brother were notorious root ratters!"

     Neo's statement that I was most like his dead brother filled me with unease. "So you're saying I should not feel compassion for people, just like your other brother?"

     Neo: "I'm not saying that. I am simply saying that you got to be careful which path yer heart takes."

     "You seem to have compassion. And, even though you don't interact with many people, I have seen you give large sums of money to good causes. Also, in many ways, I think you are, as you call it -- higher functioning than your brother and you managed to have acquired great wealth without exploiting people." How come your not like either of your brothers?"

     Neo: " Because I have made different choices. I have acted to take a different path. My choices and the path I have taken saved me from the falling into my dead brother's plight; but on the other hand, I am not nearly as wealthy as my other brother. There are trade-offs. ****

     Speaking with Neo was triggering ambivalent feelings that were warring inside me. Feelings of the promise of success and hope mixed with feelings of impending doom and hopelessness. On one hand I felt the answer of what I needed to do was just within my grasp and on the other hand I felt the answer was eluding me even further. I was confused and felt adrift.

    Aching for stability, a tumble of questions for Neo erupted forth.  "So how do I become a more effective person and how can I share with other people that they have more power than they think? How can I convince people that they can protect themselves? Or can I? Who is right? Your brother, my coworkers, my friends such as Mike the Knife, The Other Guy, Thorn and Bernie? What do you think? Do you also think that it is hopeless to even try?

     Neo opened his mouth to respond, but not finished with my emotional outburst, I cut him off with more questions and assertions. "Damn it to hell Neo! It just can't be hopeless! I mean, the thing that keeps on haunting me, is the fact that I was able to make the government agency capitulate without the representatives, without the lawyer, without my coworkers, without anyone but me."

     Neo was ready to respond again but sensing I was not finished he kept still.

     I was indulging in my rant. "You know what?" If only all the people that said they cared, the people that were affected by all the bullshit that went down stepped up to the plate for their own best interest: we could have made the government capitulate within the first month instead of ten years later. And I proved it! If only my all of those weak and whining coworkers and our reps came forward, Ropeman, Dennis and Tom would probably still be alive. Harry, Larry, Wissman and I would not have been forced out of our jobs. The high percentage of my ex-coworkers with permanent health problems would not have them. The American people at risk from the agency's dangerous protocols would be safer if people stepped up. More of our soldiers in Iraq would make it home alive and less of them would be likely to suffer disabilities!  

You know I'm right! I proved it by using the methods that everyone said would not work. When I used them I was given my rights back in an instant." I snapped my fingers for emphasis.

     I was almost spent. Neo and I looked at each other quietly.

     Then the last rush of emotion spewed forth. What bugs me is that you and Mike the Knife and my other friends are some of the highest functioning people I know. Yet you all content yourselves to operating in the shadows of life; especially you and Mike the Knife. Neither of you outside of a small circle of friends interact with people that much . That's why I think you guys are not compelled to help people that aren't your close friends or family. Your lack of interaction perplexes me. It perplexes me because I know... I have seen evidence that you and Mike the Knife have deep compassion and love for people. I have seen you both help those in your circle many times. I have even seen both of you reach out to help strangers. Both of you have keen insights as to the problems in the world and answers to many  problems. Yet, I don't see either of you putting yourself out there the way Ralph Nader does, or the way Martin Luther King did, or any number of social activists have done or continue to do. You both have so much to offer humanity. That's what pisses me off!"

     There! Accusations had been thrown at Neo. Now I was spent...I was empty of accusations and ideas.

      Neo was silent for a long moment.

      Neo: "Yer friend Mike the Knife and I do love people. However, there is one thing that he and I share in common with each other that we do not share with you, or the bulk of humanity for that matter. We do not have the optimism for all of humanity that you have. Our insights and experiences see much of the harsh realities that your optimism blinds you from seeing.

     These insights that yer friend Mike the Knife and I share about people keeps us from being the social butterfly that by nature you are. Or interact with the herd mentality that the majority of the human race do. People that are not high functioning or at least do not make the vigorous efforts that you make...are an incredible drain. They are what you call yer ex-coworkers, emotional strip-miners. Unlike my brother, I don't feel the contempt for people that he does, but most people are superficial and they take and keep taking and I find most of them to a leach a person's spiritual power. They will also, if you let them, devour all of your valuable time and financial resources. Even the nice, educated, seemingly intelligent and seemingly loving people will violate yer time money and spiritual power. Actually, this category of people will prove to be the most dangerous of committing these violations. Admit it, you have learned this sad fact from yer former coworkers and the people whose job it was to protect you and all of yer former work mates.

     "But that was my coworkers. They are made weak because their lives have been too soft."

     Neo: "Yes, most of them are weak, and they have had life too soft compared to most people. But, the sad fact is, the majority of people, yes even those in yer beloved private sector are weak, and compared to the living standards in other counties they also have it soft.

     "But that is only because they are not aware of all that they can do to get things done."

     Neo: Let's look at the facts, if a country such as the United States and it's people with all the comfort, resources and technology, will not or are unable to step forward, what makes you think that they will when things get tough for them? The sad fact is, most people will not act unless things become unbearable or they fail to act at all, such as what is happening in some countries where entire populations are being exterminated.

     If a country and a people with all the advantages fail to act on the small logical easier to deal with issues that you fought single handedly to change; what makes you think they would have the courage or intelligence or moral character to take on tougher issues. Even corrupt leaders know that the very people who resent authority need and want to be told what to do. Or like yer former coworkers, they will bitch and whine, but allow people in positions over them to run over them.

     So you agree with Mike the Knife that nothing can be fixed? You agree with him even though I and other people have demonstrated that things can get done?

     Neo: I didn't say that I agree entirely with Mike the Knife. I said we share certain insights. I acknowledge that yer ideas and methods of what can be effective is correct. If you remember we had practically this same long conversation in your gym over twenty years ago. In the strictest sense the fault is not with yer methods, the fault is with people.

      So you don't agree with Mike the Knife?"

     Neo: Yes and no. From what you've told me, Mike the Knife is endowed with what he likes to call his intellects seeing all potentialities and probabilities machine. He may not be omniscient, but I must say, he is sharp and I think that since he sees that ultimately the problem is that people will refuse to do what would work and therefore things won't get fixed, is why he says, it can't be fixed.

     This is why he and I like to keep most people at arms length. You have mentioned that he does this to keep people from draining him and to avoid feeling contempt for the majority of people around him.

     "Yes, Mike the Knife has said that he hates feeling contempt for anyone, because it does not foster anything positive towards people and he believes that those feelings of contempt is unhealthy for him to indulge in."

     Neo: "Indeed yer mate Mike the Knife is right. My brother is a living example of how hate and feelings of contempt corrupts the soul, it extinguishes the ability to love or feel love. I would not want to be my brother. Although I have ta tell ya, my brother is hoping, as he likes to say it, that you will come to yer senses. He hopes that you will move into his circle of beliefs"

      Hearing this made me think of the many times that Mike the Knife beckoned me to sit with him by his cold campfire.

     "So you think I am wasting my time to try to help people, even the soldiers and their families? You think people are a waste of time and that I should be just like you and Mike the Knife and be loving and compassionate from the shadows.

     Neo: I'm not saying that, and from what I gather, yer friend Mike the Knife or yer other friends are not saying that either. We know that you have to do what yer compelled to do. You have to get it out of yer system. We just want you to find out fer yerself and then get on with yer life in the way that best suits you. In a manner that you will be happy and actualized."

     I sighed, "So there it is, I thought, my friends realize that I have to put things to the test to find out the truth." "Neo, what do you think will happen? How do you think people will react when I show them that without a doubt I really want to help them, to share with them the knowledge that I have learned?" Will they act the way your brother and Mike the Knife and my former coworkers predict they will.

     Neo: (sighing and looking at me with deep compassion): Yer going to have to find out those answers fer yerself Vinny, and if you pursue yer course...you will...believe me, you will."

 

****

     Something that I did not find out until almost twenty years after I met him is: Neo had become quite rich. He doesn't like to talk about it, and prefers to live low key.

     Neo is what some people like to call a "Green" Investor, meaning that he only invests in companies that are the most environmentally conscious. He tends to invest in companies that tend to promote fair working conditions for the employees. He has made much money from his investments, although you would not know it from looking at him or his vehicle. He dresses in clean blue collar clothing and is fond of thermal sweats shirts, Carharts, and so forth. Although he does not like to talk about his net worth, from years of observing many things and picking up bits and pieces of his conversations he has made much money in real estate, buying stock early on from such companies as Microsoft, Oracle and Apple. In fact over twenty years ago, at the gym I owned he suggested to all of us that we invest in these new and promising companies. (How I wished I had listened to him). He has invested in many hi-tech companies, wireless communications and so forth, and has done quite well. His wealth has not spoiled him, he still goes out of his way to learn new skills and work at some of the toughest low paying jobs because he believes it is essentially needed for spiritual growth. (His beliefs are too eccentric and detailed to get into).

 

     According to Neo, his brother is many times wealthier because he has wisely invested in all of the same "Green" investments as Neo, but in addition to these investments, Neo's brother has no compunctions about investing in over seas companies that are virtual sweatshops and slave factories with the lowest wages and worse working conditions on the planet.

 

His brother is quite possibly the hardest man I have ever met that I believe is quite possibly not evil. He simply believes that people deserve to be treated the way they allow others to treat them. Since his early life has been hard scrabble and primitive in the extreme he does not tolerate excuses.

 

     For reasons I won't go into, I think in ways that are not measured in monetary wealth Neo is more enriched than his brother. Although his brother is an extremely powerful person in every respect and possesses great charisma and force of will, I believe he pays a terrible price for his view of the world and the wealth that this viewpoint has enabled him to amass.

 

     I must say however, I certainly never hear Neo's  brother whining about his lot in life and Neo will say that his brother his content with the price he has paid.

 

     Now I move forward with our experiment!

     All because I just have to find out things for myself.

     How do you think things will turn out?

 

If you're interested in what has happened since I began the experiment, CLICK HERE>

 

     Some of the authors and books that come to mind which gives greater detail and understanding of the mechanisms inside the psyche of individuals and into the collective psyche influencing various group cultures I highly recommend three authors: Dr. M. Scott Peck in his various books, the most notable being "The Road Less Traveled", Dr. Philip Zimbardo with his latest and greatest work to date, The Lucifer Effect

and finally, Phoenix Michaels in his ground-breaking book "Who Am I?"

 

What's wrong with our government agencies?

 

The Lucifer Effect

 

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