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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

End The Bondage

Hey All - that time of the year again.

On Passover, Jews commemorate the Exodus from Egypt and the end of slavery.  In the Hagaddah, the ceremonial book that is read from on Passover in Jewish homes, the deplorable conditions of slavery are recounted, as well as the consequences that the Egyptians suffered.  Many thanks and praises are sung to the L-D, who removed one distinct nation from the domination of another.  An exhortation is made to Him to destroy and punish all of Israel's enemies.

So what can we take from this tradition as beta males?

(1).    We can refuse to be enslaved by the alphaganda.  That unbinding and unenacted piece of de-facto legislation cannot be held over our heads by anyone.  It does not govern our thoughts or our actions, it does not limit our movements, and it does nothing to limit or force our decision-making.  Although this blog rails against this system forcefully, freeing yourself from it surprisingly easy.  It doesn't even require you set forth the lengthy rants on display here.  All you need to do is decide that it does not own you, and you've just parted the Red Sea without even getting wet.

(2).  We can decide not to rage against our would-be taskmasters if it can't spur us into action.  Yes, the alpholes have ways of not being good to us and ways of avoiding consequences for their actions, but simply being angry at them doesn't free us.

On this blog, we minimize them, expose their weaknesses, and sometimes bash them, for one and only one reason:  to prevent us as beta males from enabling them further.  To stop us from buying into the alphaganda, which tells us to kowtow and abdicate to the alpholes as if they were our taskmasters.  To perform a global iconoclast, and make way for conquering heroes.

But we do NOT minimize them in order to make us all hate-filled and bitter.  If we must rage against them, and demand that they suffer for their misdeeds, we can only do that from a position of strength.  In the meantime, the rage should be re-directed and converted into passion, drive, ambition, and self-confidence.  One way of doing that is by reinforcing the fact that our adversaries are not the indestructible juggernauts they claim to be, and not by providing a "Two Minute Hate" from 1984.  Otherwise, anger for anger's sake does nothing but corrode and decay us.

One interesting moment from the Seder is when the door is opened for Elijah the Prophet, forerunner of the Messiah.  At that time, the following prayer is uttered:

"Pour out Thy wrath on the nations that know Thee not, upon the 
governments which do not call upon Thy name. For they have devoured Jacob 
and desolated his home. Pour out Thy wrath on them; may Thy 
blazing anger overtake them.  Pursue them from under the heavens 
of the L-D."

 For the scholars among us, these are several verses taken from Psalms and Lamentations, and it does demonstrate an example of the "Old Testament G-D" known for imposing severe consequences for improper actions.  For the rest of us, it is a reminder of where our boundaries lie.  Because we do not live in a comic book or a Stallone film, we are not obligated to seek revenge for every slight, insult, or offense against us.  There is someone far bigger than the rest of us, more powerful than us, and able to actually seek vengeance against the alpholes in ways we are powerless to perform.  He's a lot better than it than we are, and there is no chance He would screw it up.  Vengeance belongs to Divine Providence, karma, and natural consequences, and not to us beta males.  The Almighty is saying, in effect, "everybody chill out, OK?  I got this."

Remove the desire for revenge you seek, no matter how justified it really is, and kiss it up to Him.  If these alpholes truly deserve a crushing demise, they'll get it.

(3).  We can leave situations that drain us, harm us, or force us to be something that we're not.  Sometimes it means you'll say things that hurt others, but that cost pales in comparison to the benefit of achieving the freedom you need.  It is far better to be free and walk alone that it is to be constantly surrounded by taskmasters.

(4).  We can get rid of habits that don't make us better.  Watching TV is fun if the show you're watching makes you laugh, shocks you, or gives you and your friends something to discuss afterwards.  Otherwise, you're wasting precious time.  Drinking a fine glass of wine or a cold beer is a treat and a luxury.  But when ingested to an extreme, it weakens your internal organs and shortens your life span.  Engaging in any type of fantasy role-playing game (and I'm covering a lot of ground with this one) is fun, in and of itself, but if left unchecked, we stop playing the game known as reality, and our "avatars" stop looking like winners.

(5).  We can dispose of the self-doubt, guilt, and fear that block the path to self-actualization.  This means we can forgive ourselves for every mistake we make and learn from it, instead of engaging in pointless self-flagellation.  This means we can stop telling ourselves that it's not possible because it's difficult, and start telling ourselves that it's difficult and possible.  This means that we can meet challenges head on, risky or otherwise, even if it makes us uncomfortable.  Believe me, nothing is more enslaving than comfort, and nothing keeps us tied down more than complacency.  Break those chains and you'll be free for life.

(6).  We can control situations instead of letting situations control us.  We can say "no" or "later" to people who interrupt us from what we need to do.  We can arrange tasks and events by priority, and not by how annoying someone else is.  We can decide what gets our time, attention, affection, love, blood, sweat and tears, and what doesn't.

And so gentlemen, there are many paths to freedom.  Some of those chains may be tighter and heavier for some than others, but if you want to break them, you're halfway there.  Although you don't want to be slaves, there is still work involved in gaining freedom.  If you're willing to do your part to bust loose from all of the oppressions that I've described, then you'll make it.

For those who celebrate, I hope you have a Sweet Passover.  I hope you find a way to break free from whatever or whoever is enslaving you.  Better yet, I hope you can find a way to break free from the meanest, cruelest, most sadistic taskmaster you know . . . you.

The Exodus tells us about a nation that grew and changed from a conquered and enslaved tribe into a huge and powerful people.  It tells about a former nobleman who fled in exile, and reluctantly and humbly led that nation, and then became someone more wise and powerful than he ever dreamed.  I hope you can find some kind of parallel between that most momentous event and your own life.

Night All!  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sometimes It Hurts!

Sometimes It Hurts.

Hey All, Sunday night once again, and we all know what that means!

A little discussion about Mr. T's prediction for the rematch in Rocky III:  Pain.

As beta males, the key to our advancement is to make ourselves bulletproof.  When we're completely self-actualized, nothing that the alpholes of the world say or do to us can make us second-guess our self-worth, or intimidate us, or make us the subservient followers that they wish we were.

Being bulletproof means that we won't get killed if they fire at us.  But anyone who's ever worn a Kevlar vest will tell you that it still packs a wallop when you get shot anyway.  In other words, sometimes when people give you their best shot in a confrontation, even if you end up winning, it can still hurt.

Unfortunately, some people still adopt the alphaganda's approach to pain.  Shake it off, ignore it, pretend it's not even there.  As beta males, we can't afford to let pain stop us from being ourselves.  But if we act in denial and pretend that it doesn't hurt when it really does and we know it, we're only making it worse.

This is where your close friends and family come in to help.  Beta males are so used to being the shoulder that someone else cries on that we don't know what it's like to open to someone else about our hurt.  We've also been fed the false notion that nobody cares that you're in any kind of emotional pain, and if you tell them, they'll think you're weak.  I'm not saying you should go to everyone with your tales of woe and misfortune, but there are definitely a few close people in your circle who would be only too happy to hear you out.

First and foremost?  Dear old Mom.  I don't care how old you or your mother is, there is no shame in giving her a call and telling her if there's something that's made you sad or angry.  Don't overburden her, of course, keep it short and sweet, but there's no shame in telling her.  She didn't stop being your mother when you moved out of her house, and you didn't stop being her son when you became a grown man.  She should be only too happy to give you whatever advice she can, and to give you a few pearls of wisdom to help you get back on top.

And if you're among the most fortunate of us betas, you have a special someone in your life.  Maybe a girlfriend, or maybe a wife?  How could you even consider not telling them what's eating at you?  They expect you to be their rock and their foundation when their emotions overwhelm them, and they expect you be chivalrous and gentlemanly in all affairs.  Believe it or not, they would be more than happy to do likewise for you.  If they really are your one true honey, they should not expect you to be this comic book caricature who never feels pain, fear, doubt, or worry.  Rather, merely out of love, they should expect you to confide in them with these very feelings, and to trust them the way they would trust you.

Yes, we are still human.  We are on an ongoing quest to be better men -- more responsible, more brave, more confident, more respectable -- but nobody said we were going to be inhuman cyborgs!  We are flesh and blood, therefore we have feelings.  A beta male should never feel obligated to ignore, bypass, or deny his feelings if they exist.  There may be less appropriate times to convey them than others, but if you have close family or friends around you, do yourself a favor and confide in them.  This is why they're here, and they would expect the same from you.

Hopefully, none of you are feeling the kind of pain that I'm talking about.  But if you are, the best way to relieve it is to turn to your loved ones.  You have them for a reason, so don't be so quick to forget about them in your quest for self-actualization.  You may need them one day.

That's my jam tonight, all!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Let Me Explain

A Few Changes

Hey All -- about that time again!

You may have noticed a few changes. A different tone and a different attitude, perhaps.  Rather than the confrontational approach it originally took against damage to young men's and boys' self-esteem, it has evolved into an attempt to strengthen it.

One major shift has been to essentially substitute the word "bully" with my own invented term, "alphole." Since it is clearly synonymous with "bully," it obviously cannot describe those who are not bullies, and have no desire to disrespect beta males.  If anything, it describes those who dilute the mark of alpha males, and gives them a reputation that they do not necessarily deserve.  Accordingly, this change works.

The good thing about this word, besides it being my own concoction, is that it strips away the power that people like this claim to possess, and reveals that they do have imperfections.  A "bully" is a juggernaut, someone who is infinitely stronger than you, can screw with you anytime, and can't be stopped by anything you do.  An "alphole" is not.  An alphole can get on his high horse, and get knocked right out of the saddle.  He's just as vulnerable, just as fallible, and just as human as we are, but he makes the mistake of acting like he's not, and thinking that it's OK for him to use force against those perceived to be weaker or less intelligent.  For that reason, he might be destined for the downfall of a tragic Greek anti-hero, instead of us.

That being said, since the purpose here is to empower, and not to attack, it's not really the alpholes that are the sworn enemy of this blog and its readers.  Rather, that's my other pet phrase, the "alphaganda."  This is nothing more than a fancy word for "conformity."  It's this unwritten idea that there are things that every man must do, or must not do, otherwise they are simply not "real men."  Beta males find themselves outside this sphere of influence, and they sometimes suffer for it greatly.  Not only because of the hostility that comes their way merely by being different, but also because their self-esteem is sometimes damaged as a result.

Peeps, beta males are different.  You are not the ones who are expected to win bar fights, to be with more women than Gene Simmons, to buy and sell blue chip stocks, or to be close and personal friends with a cross-section of celebrities.  So don't be.  If there are other men who fulfill this role, then by all means, let them have it.  You've been chosen for other purposes, some of which might be even greater than the beer-commercial fantasy I've just recited.

No matter what it is that you've been chosen to do, there is no law, no directive, and no order requiring you to conform to the alphaganda.  In many ways, you can make yourself more of a man by shrugging off those age-old requirements.  If conforming to those ways does not feel genuine or natural to you, do yourself a favor and don't.  Be you.  Be true to who you are.  Exist.  Matter.  Belong.  Deserve.  And while doing all of those, be bulletproof!

DISCLAIMER:  I swore I wouldn't do this, but I will anyway. The term "alphole," as fully explained above, applies to bullies, and not to all men who are considered "alpha males."

And the alphaganda?  Nobody's trying to repeal it or invalidate it.  I'm trying to remind beta males that they should never feel that they are required to follow it if it doesn't fit them, as explained above.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy Purim -- or Pour 'Em!

Pour 'Em Out!

Hey All -- another Sunday come and gone, just like the temporary spring-like weather we had in NYC.

Today is a minor Jewish holiday known as Purim.  For the kids, it's a little like Halloween, because they're encouraged to wear goofy costumes for fun.  For the adults, it's a little like St. Paddy's Day, because we're encouraged to get so hammered that we get the characters in the Purim story confused.  And since it often happens around the same time as St. Paddy's it's cool to share some Buds or Guinesses with those already celebrating!  :)

Which brings me to the story of Purim -- taken from the Scroll of Esther.  It commemorates a time when the basic Jewish Holiday formula was again put into effect as follows:

(1) Someone tried to kill us;
(2) They failed most pathetically;
(3) We won;
(4) So let's eat already!

It takes place sometime after the First Temple was sacked, and the Jewish Nation was exiled to Persia.  Centuries before Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Israel, the Persian Empire was ruled by a King sometimes known as "Artaxerxes," and sometimes as "Ahasuerus," and who simply got manipulated by other forces in issuing his executive orders.

The King had his first wife executed for disobedience, and needed to search for someone new.  The winner of his royal beauty pageant was a young Jewish woman named Esther.  She was the niece of Mordechai, leader of the Jewish people in exile, who warned her to not let anyone know her background.  Mordechai, in the meantime, had a few issues happening because a high-ranking nobleman named Haman felt dissed when Mordechai wouldn't bow down to him in public.  So dissed felt Haman, a descendant of the Amalekites, that he convinced the king to issue a royal edict to massacre all Jews in the Persian Empire.

So Mordechai asked the new Queen to use her new influence to convince the king otherwise.  As background, Mordechai had already made a good name for himself by thwarting a royal assassination, but without Google or Bing, that information was not as readily available as it could have been.

So in order to get on the king's good side, Esther invited the King and Haman to a state dinner, with a promise that she had a "special request" for the King.  On the way home, Haman saw Mordechai and felt dissed again, so he built a gallows in his front yard, anticipating that he was going to convince the King to have Mordechai executed.

That night, the King couldn't sleep, so he asked his servants to "Google" from the records the names  of those who'd done the right thing, and there he was reminded how Mordechai saved his bacon.  So he calls up Haman, asking, what's a cool thing to do to honor someone who goes above and beyond?  Haman described for him exactly what he would want, and the King says, let's do all of that for Mordechai, he's the man!  Haman got dissed again!

So that night, there was another state dinner requested by the Queen, again with the King and Haman.  Now that the King knows that a Jew did the right thing for him, Esther reveals that she herself is Jewish, and that Haman seeks to destroy the whole Jewish nation, including her.  So the King orders that Haman be hung from the gallows he built for Mordechai, gives Mordechai Haman's vacant seat, and lets him draft legislation to rescind the royal edict to massacre all Jews in the Persian Empire.

Yeah, that story is a little convoluted, but I've summarized it just to get the point across.  Other than Esther herself, nobody in this book is a real hero -- the King flip-flopped worse than Bill Clinton and had the morals of Caligula.  Mordechai was a righteous man, but he was also an opportunist.  And Haman was so filled with hate towards those who didn't bow down to him, he tried to abuse his power and influence to have those who dissed him, and all those like him, suffer consequences.

As documented in my earlier anti-bullying posts, we've all had to deal with someone like Haman.  Someone who can only become powerful by seeking to plunder and destroy.  Someone who gains strength and power from stepping on people along the way.  And someone who seeks favor with those who could grant him that power by pointing fingers at others to make them look worse, and subject them to punishment.  And even worse, someone who seeks to silence all dissent through force.

In ancient biblical texts, those who do this are guaranteed to face consequences for their actions promptly.  In real life, they often get away scot-free.  And sometimes people give them even more accolades than Haman received.  Depending on their circumstances, sometimes real-life Hamans not only elude punishment for the misdeeds, they sometimes get rewarded for them quite handsomely.  Obscene, isn't it?

Well, the first step that we Betas have to take is to acknowledge that the Hamans we call alpholes are not being set up by the Almighty for an instant downfall, at least not the way we wish they were.  In real life, they get a lot of followers, a lot of sychophants, and a lot of hangers-on, and we usually don't.  This not only increases their strength, it also provides them with protection.  If anyone actually has the guts to call them out, the way Esther did, there will almost always be a loyal throng that will blindly follow their fearless leader no matter what horrors they've wrought.  In a way, this makes them even more powerful than the real Haman.

There is not much we can learn from the other characters in this story about how to take down real-life Hamans.  The rest of us don't get an audience with a King who outranks a Haman and can be so easily persuaded.  Instead, the key lies in how the story is told.

Normally, Jewish children are taught to behave properly in synagogue.  But when the Scroll of Esther is read on the evening of Purim, they're taught to get really loud at certain points.  Specifically, whenever the name of Haman is read, they are encouraged to make as much noise as possible to drown out his name.

Yes, this does sound a little bit foreign.  But the concept works.  Part of the reason why these real-life Hamans get so powerful is the above-referenced throng keeps talking about them.   They talk about them wayyyyyy too much.  They get too famous.  They get too popular.  They get around too much.  Too many people know their name.

I've often discussed how bullies and alpholes become who they are because they have enablers.  Let's counter that phenomenon by being disablers.  DON'T discuss them.  DON'T bring up their names.  DON'T waste time with stories of what they do or don't do.

Don't advertise them.  Delete them.
Don't make them famous.  Make them anonymous.
Don't be affected by them.  Be apathetic to them.
Don't gossip about them.  Talk about people better than them.
Don't listen to people talking about them.  Go off on a tangent and change the subject (my friends in the "we don't care" crowd are experts at this move)
Don't care about them.  They need you to, and they'll die out if you don't.

There is no law saying you have to bow down to these jabronies.  You can refuse to do so, and nobody will seek to hang you.  You can tune them out, you can seek better company, you can render them irrelevant.  Yes, you can also drown them out with noise, like the children in synagogue, but it's even harsher to them to drown them out with silence.

And remember, gentlemen.  As Betas, we are able to be alone for long periods of time.  For the Hamans of the world, solitude will suffocate them worse than any gallows can.

Good night everybody!