The Call Is Coming from inside the House

I’m done with my graceless heart so tonight I’m going to cut it out and then restart.

— Florence and the Machine, Shake It Out

I brought all this
So you can survive when law is lawless
Feelings, sensations that you thought was dead
No squealing, remember that it’s all in your head,

— Gorillaz, Clint Eastwood

A typical American suburbia circa the 1970s and a typical situation. Parents ask a local teen to babysit so they can have an evening out by themselves. The normal rundown of instructions is given, there’s food in the fridge, help yourself, no sweets for the kids after 8, make sure they’re in bed by 9, and with that the parental units leave for the night ceding power to the babysitter. All is well until the phone rings. A foreboding voice on the other end asks a series of odd questions, unsettling questions. The babysitter assumes a friend is playing a prank so she laughs it off and hangs up the phone.

A half hour later the phone rings again. The same strange voice is on the other end, only this time more sinister, more menacing. Sweat erupts from her brow, her voice quivers, and she tells the stranger “Leave me alone or else I’m calling the police. This isn’t funny anymore!” She hangs up and looks at the phone with a worrisome glance, praying it doesn’t ring again, still hoping it’s a bad joke. She attempts to normalize the situation and watches some TV, washes the dishes, and puts the kids to bed for the evening.

An hour passes and all is fine, then it happens – Ring ring goes the phone, thud thud goes her heart. She answers without pleasantries this time “I don’t have time for this, and I’m contacting the authorities.” There’s no sound on the other end for a moment, and then the strange gravelly voice speaks “You should have plenty of time now that you put the kids to bed.” Panic. She’s being watched. She slams the phone down and picks it back up and calls the police. The police give her the standard routine and tells her to stay calm, they are going to trace the call, and will send an officer to check out the scene. She waits on the phone with the operator counting the seconds until the police arrive, and after a minute has passed the operator in frenzied voice exclaims: “We traced the call, it’s coming from a second line inside the house! Get out now!

And a horror trope is born, but there’s something deeper here, a metaphor which is equally as unsettling. Our minds are a house full of voices making calls to our conscious mind. Within each of us there is a benevolent babysitter that looks out for the fragile innocence within us and there’s also a psychopath with a malevolent spirit.

You see, the problem was coming from within all along. And it’s us, all of us. Our individual and collective suffering is due to ourselves. These social problems we face are created by us humans and the internal psychopathy we continue to foster. Each one of us, and I’m certainly no exception, has been a hypocrite, a gossip, an asshole, arrogant, rude, ungrateful, unneighborly, and fallen into the traps of being divisive.

If everyone awoke tomorrow and decided they were not going to pick up a weapon and harm someone there would be no more war. If everyone decided they would listen and try and understand one another before judging and condemning then most conflict and social predation would stop. If they chose forgiveness over vengeance then suffering would diminish exponentially. This sounds impossible, yet it isn’t. It’s a very possible thing to do, in fact, in this physical realm, really it’s easier and far less painful than deciding to commit acts of violence and aggression.

It only is unfeasible because of the perception of inertia in the moment. However, our perceptions can be and often are misinterpreted. The spell cast by momentum and the cultural indoctrination within our minds has set a path in motion which we ostensibly feel is inexorable. The lecherous desires for power continue to compel us to do things that work against all our best interests.

Personal and social change starts from within each of us, from an understanding of the multidimensional nature of our own hearts. When we consider the dynamics of change it takes an investment of introspection considering our own emotional connections and dissecting why we think what we think, and questioning the foundations of our held beliefs, and the core motivations why we retain these beliefs. We cannot heal a society if we are confused and broken ourselves. The end results of attempted change from a society with misplaced values will be a reflection of those values and will fail to transmute the existing societal framework sufficiently to quell the inner psychopath before the horror show ends horribly.

The decisions we make are often out of convenience, decisions made with a shadow intent where a deed may do some good for others in the short term which provides a rationalization for a darker motivation. When, in fact, the said deed primarily served ourselves and may have been detrimental to others in the long term. These are the types of rationalizations going on in the minds of most of the people sitting in public office now and just about every person chasing after money.

Too often we are seduced by desire and end up chasing those desires while justifying every terrible action along the way while in blind pursuit. A desire for lust, vengeance, money, power, validation, status – as many an ancient book of wisdom has taught, passion and desires are flaws, they are blinding and will lead one astray every time. You are complete as you stand, our time here is to learn, to be, to grow. Stop chasing and start learning.

We have been misled by the psychopathic egotist calling from the second line upstairs. Allowing our own past traumas to justify future wrong doings. Along the way we have all ignored the golden rule. We have all acted on occasion out of spite instead of love, and have been judgmental and horrible in our worst moments. These are our issues to resolve no matter how awful the external world around us is and it does not make it any less true that schadenfreude, bitterness, and resentment are wrong. It’s a suffering to ourselves and others just to think of harming another, let alone to speak or act on it.

The darkness always approaches with subtlety, it takes consistent awareness of our own internal thoughts to become responsible stewards of our own minds. We must monitor all that we absorb externally as well because no matter how well constructed our intent it can be corroded if we allow ourselves to be consistently exposed to the wrong things. It’s not enough to resist temptation but when we feel it to question it and ask where does it resonate from. Further, let’s not mistake outer politeness and dog whistles of hatred to mislead us, as the devil is well tailored, rehearsed in formal etiquette, and has a sophisticated tongue.

Thus it is paramount to our very survival to know we are one.

Remember it. Live by it. Those that have fallen off the path will throw many complex traps of blame to foster resentment instead of focusing on fixing the fucking structural issues before us. And we have all fallen off that path, a time or many.

What’s done is done. Let it go. How to make something better now is the only question before us and this is not an easy question. It takes courage, reason, good argumentation, and honesty within ourselves and to those who dissent against us.

We have to question the very nature of our words, what do they mean to us internally without relying on any appeals to authority. What is this word love? What does that really mean? How does it apply to how we govern ourselves in our day to day lives and what are the externalities of our held beliefs. What is it we are actually standing for?

One may think, “I’m not part of the problem.” However, this simply isn’t so, While an individual will always be able to find a worse case than themselves that doesn’t mean they don’t embody at least some of the cultural rot that has led humanity to this precipice where our planetary ecology has now put us on the clock. We either figure out how to deal with that psycho rattling around upstairs very soon or we perish.

Jason Holland is a writer and a proponent of peaceful revolution. Visit his blog Reasonbowl.com. He can be reached at jason.holland@reasonbowl.com or follow him on twitter @ReasonBowl. Youtube content at Reason Bowl Radio. Read other articles by Jason, or visit Jason's website.