This interview was originally published November 2011, on Interviews with Zac:
PIERCED — NEW YORK, NY — “PEACE ARTIST”
Over the course of my life, no individual has affected me more than PierceD.
His voice is influential to many of his friends, and his ideas are never shot down. I do believe that of everyone who I have ever met, Pierce will affect the most change on the planet. Though his voice may be loud with a close group of people, he will eventually have a roar that will impossible to miss.
One thing that has always interested Pierce are people. We spoke on the phone about relationships and how they affect the world.
Who am I here with today?
What made you decide to pick your title as “Peace Artist”?
The way that other artists may use paint, or film, I work with relationships. My goal with any relationship is to mold peace, instead of clay for a sculpture, I’m helping to seek peace.
Why are you so interested in relationships?
I’m not sure what sparked my interest, or how I first got interested. However, I got interested at some point in my life and just started studying them more and more. I became immensely fascinated with them.
One of the driving forces behind it is the idea of perspective. People can be looking at the same thing, but based on their past experiences and their state of mood, and thoughts, they can look at it a different way. Not only will they be seeing something different, even though they are looking at the same thing, but it will also affect how they relate to whatever it is they are looking at. They will behave differently based upon those variables. That was always extremely fascinating to me.
I found that the idea of being able to respond in different ways to the same stimulus a very powerful thing. From that point, I tried to study as many different perspectives as I could. This was so that if anything ever came up, I would get to choose consciously on how I would respond. This was different than only responding in one way each time.
Do you think that being able to respond to different situations in different ways purposely is related to a slight multiple personality disorder?
It’s more of a combination of discovering and fostering your identity. In the sense that you try something this way, and then you say, “This was cool, I really liked this aspect of this identity, but I also didn’t like other aspects of that identity”.
Then you try another thing, or another approach, or another way to look at the world, and then you say, “That was a little bit up my alley, but there were definitely aspects from before that I liked”. Then you put all of the things together and you end up creating one integrated personality that is a combination of the best aspects.
It’s more like trying on different pieces of clothing to come out with an entire outfit, rather than different personalities.
Why do you think some people typically end up in positive relationships, while other people typically end up in negative relationships?
There are all kinds of factors. I can talk about a whole bunch of factors; however, ultimately there is always a level of randomness with it.
It’s like a poker game for instance. There is lots of chance, but anyone who says it is a game of chance, is the person that doesn’t know how to play poker. There’s lots of skill going on in poker. There is just always going to be a level of chance that you don’t know.
Any kind of pattern that forms, generally a pattern is going to indicate something. That’s how we draw meaning from the world and from things in general is by finding patterns. As you look at the relationships that you are in, or the history of the relationships that you have been in, you can find out things about yourself that you didn’t know.
Some people have fears of commitment, and that will create one type of relationship, some people have the Jonah complex, which will create another type of relationship. Some people have a need for love and support right away in a relationship, and that will do all types of things to their relationships. Relationships can also work out in different ways because of the people that they know. There is an infinite supply of different types of relationships.
Once you are aware of those patterns, it empowers you to do more with them. This is the same way as if an artist is working with clay. Instead of just mushing it around, and hoping for something interesting to happen, the artist learns about different techniques, or at least they watch other artists in order to get inspired.
The most empowering question to me is not if something is good or bad, but rather, what does this relationship do to the people who are directly affected by it?
Instead of asking if a relationship is good or bad, I try to ask what does this do in order to affect me and the other person[s].
How do you think human relationships have changed over time?
Certainly, female empowerment has changed relationships over time. The LGBT community is changing the way that people look at relationships.
There have definitely been some equality issues that are going into the relationship world, and I think that that encourages, a certain awareness or consciousness of other feelings. People can be in more types of relationships now than they could in the past.
If you are speaking in a purely romantic sense, I believe that the biggest change right now is the idea of the date. The date is already outdated, but lots of people don’t know or realize it yet.
I’m speaking in a general sense right now, but the date used to be what everyone did, but now if you are going on a date, you are setting yourself up for failure.
What do you mean by that?
When I say the word date, I mean the traditional date of the guy picking up the girl at a specific time, then takes her out to dinner, and drops her home after.
The whole courtship process of the 50’s, or even before is not based on a system of equality. Now that we are in a time where we are being pushed more and more into a society that is based on equality, it means that anything that isn’t based on equality will not work.
The original idea of the date doesn’t work in today’s more equal world. The date sets up a type of courtship where both people have superiority over the other in one sense, and both people have inferiority under the other in another sense.
What do you think the relationship between language and relationships are?
They certainly influence each other.
There was a person who popularized an idea a while back. This person stated that if a culture didn’t have a word for something, then that culture had not conceived of the concept. This idea became really popular very quickly, and scientific models were built from it.
At some point, the logic caught up with the instinct, and they realized that it was a totally ridiculous way to look at the relationship between languages and relationships.
Now, instead of looking at it as seeing how language can prevent us from thinking, the current model now is what a language requires us to think about. In lots of languages there is the feminine and masculine division of nouns or the masculinizing or feminizing adjectives. This obliges the speaker to constantly be thinking about that specific dichotomy. That only increases that specific thought pattern.
You keep talking about how we are becoming a more and more equal society, how do you think society will change as we become more equal?
One of the things that is holding us back as a society is discrimination. There is discrimination right now based on sex, gender, race, religion etc. We need to be more compassionate as a society, and realize that we are all living things. An non-human animal is a living thing, why discriminate against a non-human animal? A child is a living thing, why discriminate against a child?
It’s strange to me to hear myself talk about the different kinds of discrimination. I think about coffee, for instance, and how we are moving toward organic, and also fair trade, and now shade-grown, or rainforest alliance coffee, and it is like, how many things can we come up with? But really, it is all one concept: consideration for our influence on the world. The same is true of the different types of discrimination. They may have differences, but they could all be whisked away if you just drop in bursts of compassion. Discrimination and compassion are kind of coming from the same roots, and going opposite ways.
I believe one of things that we may be less aware of is age discrimination. This is something I see lots of while working with kids. The idea of an older figure dismissing a child’s thoughts, like, “Oh, you think that because you are young. you will see when you are older,” or demanding something from a child while not necessarily considering the child’s thoughts or feelings of that something, on one hand, that itself is a kind of discrimination, on the other hand, it perpetuates discrimination in general.
It teaches the child at an early age what discrimination is. It also teaches that specific child that the thoughts and feelings that he or she is having are not to be considered.
I remember hearing the story of the person who trained me in compassion and communication, where he said that when he was a little boy, he didn’t want to go to school one day, and was upset about it. The bus driver picked him up, and put him on the bus, and he was crying, not liking it, and still the bus driver drove.
On one hand, that got him to school. But on the other hand, that was a very concrete lesson in the idea that your feelings don’t matter. You’re going to school, and we don’t care how you feel. Where, if someone had sat with him and listened to him, and said something like “I know you’re upset about this, but unfortunately my hands are tied right now, would you be willing to make a compromise with me?”
This action wouldn’t take very long, but would positively influence the child.
I think that there is a certain type of general attitude of empathy where everyone thinks that empathy takes so much time. People think that time is precious, and it’s not worth it to be empathetic.
A little bit of empathy doesn’t take that long. The more aware you are of one person’s feelings, the more aware you are of every other living thing’s feelings.