Now comes the hardest part: Letting go and moving on

Photo by Matthew DeVries on

The election is for the most part over. I don’t want to get political here, and I wont, but aside from the legal challenges of current president, the political battle for the United State’s highest office is all but decided.

But now comes the hardest part. We need to take a good hard look at ourselves and our opponents and understand them.

To quote an ancient proverb ” When you go seeking revenge, dig two graves.” I know many in the president elect’s camp seek to other, and destroy those in the current president’s camp and vice versa, but that logic is flawed.

First off, it labors under the idea of a Zero sum game, or the idea that someone must lose in order for someone else to win. This makes sense. For most of human history our psychology and biology developed in a zero sum environment. Sometimes in order for the tribe our ancestors were in to survive they had to commit atrocities to other people. However, in today’s world of nearly unlimited resources, we no longer have to destroy someone else to win. The inner-connectivity of the world might pose many problems, but it allows us in the western world to enjoy the bounties of almost always having too much.

Second, the mindset of destroying my “enemies” is largely what got us into the highly partisan and separated mindset that we are in today. Because each time we punish a group, they remember, and they pass that remembrance onto their children who then bring that grudge to bear when they are in power. And so on and so on.

The way forward is instead one of vulnerability. We must all lay our sins to bear at the table, and once it is done say, OK, we’ve all done bad things to people, but let’s bury the hatchet.

This isn’t about making it even, or balancing one bad thing against another, but instead a period of forgiveness to forge unity. Without a common coalition the current divisiveness in the US will do nothing but worsen.

Jesus, whether you believe him to be the son of God or a wise Philosopher, had it right if someone slaps you, you offer them the other cheek. Not because you are so much better than them, but because you recognize that you yourself have done things wrong, and people deserve forgiveness, and so do you.

Schedules Are Important

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

In the Covid World, many peoples are feeling lost, and their lives are kind of going off the wall.

I’ve worked most consistently since I was 16 and so having a good 6 months off has sent me a drift.

I realized lately that having some semblance of a schedule will help me.

So now, I’ve been trying to consistently get up at the same time even if I don’t go to bed at the same time. I’m trying to have a basic few routines that I am doing every day in order to add some normalcy.

This can be tough, especially if you struggle with self motivation.

Best bet in that case is to simply start small, and be gentle. This is a strange time, do what you can to make it work for you.

Ideology: The Memetic Virus

The Shepherds of Ideology

I live in a small conservative town. The people are kind for the most part. We have our fair share of entitled people, but for the most part most people just want to get along.

I have a habit of engaging in dialog with almost anyone. It’s something I’ve done for a long while, and it often leads me to philosophical paths. I do not intend for things to go there, but I like big ideas, and to hold ideas in my head that I don’t particularly agree with.

However, in my town the two pervading forces are church, and right wing politics. Interestingly enough, I am not anti-religion, nor am I hyper liberal, but to many of those possessed by these ideologies any amount of fervor other than the maximum is not pure enough.

Many a kind conversation has turned sour when certain topics like mortality come up. I see the speaker’s eyes glaze, their jaw slacken, the words ” what do you think happens when you die?” dribble out of their mouth, and flop with a wet thud onto the floor.

In my younger days, I used to argue. I used to bring up philosophical questions, I used to care. But now, I kindly refocus the conversation, or attempt to. I’ve taken to directly addressing the wet mess on the floor. To some this is a wake up call enough but to most they begin to push their ideology.

This is not an exclusively Right-wing or religious idea. Man is a religious creature, and having killed god has sought for some time a replacement. Some have turned to post modernism, others harder to the established religious and some have turned to the state.

I understand. The need for certainty is a powerful driver, as someone who suffers from mild to moderate OCD, I have lived nearly each day in the shadow of doubt. But it is that doubt that has made me understand the importance of not knowing.

Ideologies are set in stone. There is no wiggle room. No doubt. One must conform to the tenets of the ideology, even as they are poorly defined.

There is no easy answer on how to avoid becoming possessed by an ideology, but there is a feeling. Supreme certainty of ones actions is a dangerous feeling, and one that should always be tempered with doubt.

Social Media Is Mental Junkfood

As I’ve referenced before, algorithms keep us unhappy. I am guilty of this as much as anyone.

The never ending cascade of worm filled toffee apple of reddit is my go to. It’s a carefully calibrated algorithm that enrages me with news of the tragedies of the world, mixed with the most beautiful scenery, food, women and inventions.

It is a beautiful lie.

All social media is at it’s best an incomplete picture of the world, and reddit is no different.

As such, it begins to erode our view of our own life if we let it. I find myself viewing people, food and situations through the lens of comparison, which is not fair to anyone, especially not myself.

Reality is dirty, dusty and uncurated, and more and more I am trying to live in that world.

What happens when no one can buy what you make?

Henry Ford 1919

Make the Best Quality of Goods Possible at the Lowest Cost Possible, Paying the Highest Wages Possible”

Henry Ford

Henry Ford is not someone that I would aspire to often. Ford did some things right, and like many historical figures he was a complex man.

That being said, he understood a core concept of Capitalism, one that many, I’d argue most companies have forgotten.

If you cannot pay your workers enough to afford you products, you will eventually murder your own bottom line.

Searching for jobs of late, I’ve found many that are hiring, despite the pandemic. However, the wages being offered are shall we say misaligned with the geographical location.

I did a quick cost estimation, and it would take most people to live in a studio apartment in Los Angeles alone 22 dollars an hour, if they were to pay for all of their expenses. ( health insurance, rent, car repair savings, savings for retirement ect. )

However, the number of full time 40 hour a week positions paying under that, jobs that require years of experience, and a college degree is staggering, and unfortunately short sighted.

The long term health of the world has long been put aside in the shadow of the nuclear bomb. The decision of business leaders to not pay their worker’s enough, while lining their own pockets, has had a profound impact of the psychy of the american worker.

First off, it has led to a decline of so many non-essential and non-competitive businesses. Millennial Killing X industry is little more than a dog whistle to those businesses that refuse to adapt, and shows how symbiotic “journalism” has become. (a topic for another day).

The younger population has no excess income, and so have begun to shy away from those dalliances that their parents afforded. One of these is the overwhelming number of people who are in my life deciding not to have children.

This is a direct result of not being able to afford them. This is of course a long term problem, a problem that Japan is facing right now, and one that is threatening to hurt their economy and national security.

I could go on, but I will end with a simple query. When the party is over, and all the capital is sucked up into the bank accounts of just a few, where do you get your food cooked, and your shelves stocked? who grows it?

When the last employee is bankrupt who will make your economy run?

Understanding the 1%

John D. Rockefeller 1885- One of the Richest Men Ever

I think much of the criticism of the 1% of wealthy people is valid and justifiable. However, I am reject the dehumanization of these people in order to push an ideology.

Capitalism with all of its failures is in my eyes the most efficient way to distribute goods and services. That being said, there is little reason for certain things to be monetized, and it is the role of the State in these places to act as the governing body. Private healthcare, private prisons, and private schools all have perilous moral quandaries attached to them.

(how can a doctor do no harm when he works in a system that perpetuates that harm?)

However, Capitalism’s biggest failures are of course those who’ve generated the most “success” (in the 1950’s version of the word, meaning money).

Imagine becoming exorbitantly wealthy. You no longer have to work or to struggle. Your wildest fantasies become real. You can use your money to overcome nearly every single problem in your life. You eat lobster and prime rib for every dinner, and fly to Japan for the weekend. It is perfect.

The rub begins a few years in. The brain is a pesky habituation machine. It is the core of human nature to always hunger for more. But what happens when there is no more? When your wearing a 200,000 dollar watch there is no finer watch. Sure you might collect art or real estate after that, but it all leaves you hollow.

Life is meaningless without struggle.

For some, they turn to philanthropy, to problems that their money cannot solve to focus on. Bill Gate’s attempts to combat disease, or Elon Musk’s adventures to Mars and to AI Human fusion are interesting examples of this, (not that either of them is perfect, they are by all accounts human and horribly flawed).

The other choice is to do the thing that once brought them satisfaction, accumulate greater wealth.

One might even see them as the modern day dragon, dragons themselves being commentary on the behavioral sink that wealth hording is.

Not only does this lack of meaning lead to a skewed view of reality, the social interactions of the Megawealthy are by and large skewed to their own fellows.

Fame and money attract people who are scammers, and beggars. Each interaction becomes a calculation for the uber-rich, what does this person want from me? Even if say you become friends with a lower income individual who desires nothing from you and asks for nothing, there will always be someone in that person’s life who will attempt to use you through them.

The lack of needing anyone else as a consequence of being wealthy is also incredibly isolating.

When you take all of these factors together you begin to piece together the lie of wealth.

The wealthy begin to see anyone not as wealthy as beggars and thieves, they no longer see themselves as part of a community or country, and very little brings them the same rush that being wealthy once brought them. Thus the modern day dragon is born.

Does this make their behavior right? I cannot say, all I can say is while I do not excuse them, I understand them.

Algorithmic Dystopia: Part 2

By © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Choose a website. Any website. Chances are you are not being shown the true chronological and wholesale content of that website.

Instead you are seeing what the complex math of an Algorithm decides is worthy.

Reddit, Facebook, or Twitter are the biggest offenders of this but they are by far not the only ones.

While this might be argued to give a better user experience, I’d argue that it’s more about the nature of causing conflict, which extends user time, which by and large is an attempt to extract advertising revenue.

This makes sense. We were offered connection, at the price of privacy, but these things were not spelled out to the public. We were blissfully unaware that our information was harvested, and sold to the highest bidder, the advertisements were the icing on the cake, the extra money.

The real dystopic algorithm is the one that shows us the content that prompts interaction, and then proceeds to take note of that interaction.

Slowly, but surely these algorithms attempt to understand and exploit the cognitive weaknesses inherent in all human beings.

All of this of course comes down to the idea of money. Or should I say the idea of a Zero Sum game idea of money. But that is a topic for another day.

The Least Sexy Political Topic: Publicly Funded Elections

The nature of structural change is difficult and slow moving, even without the influence of the capitalistic actors such as the news, and social media.

With them, the United States citizens have become simply burnt out.

Each day a new horror is unleashed before us, and we are exposed to them at an increasing rate.

Algorithms spew either echos of our own thoughts or those things that rile us.

But most of us are just burnt, because despite all the roaring against the machine many of us feel our wishes are being ignored. Largely because they are.

The current nature of the US Political system isn’t evil. It’s ultimately self serving. Corporations give unlimited campaign donations to Congresspeople and Senators who ultimately become lobbyist themselves upon retirement.

Each of them rationalizes their taking of this money. “oh well if not me, then someone worse than me will come along, so yes, I might have to do some terrible thing to the American people, but others would do worse.” They say.

But that is not, as many people want it to be, a moral failing, but a systemic failure.

The solution is not a moral crusade, but instead the slow injection of policies that change the structure of how the system works.

I say slow, not out of some urge of caution, but instead as a flavor agent of sorts to make such a change more palatable to people in power. Very few people in power would vote for something that so dramatically threatens their self interest and so this system of implementing reforms would have to take place over a decade or so.

While this all might sound cynical, I am at my heart a man who thinks that a practical long term solution is much better than a flashy short term one.

Shame Feels Good but Fails to Fix Things

The court of public opinion is a powerful entity, but the current need to shame individuals is troublesome and puritanical.

Shame does not work to enact long term change. It is a short term solution that makes the one throwing it feel better.

Which makes sense. Nearly all creatures avoid discomfort, and seek comfort. It is the natural human response to want to remove the uncomfortable, and troublesome elements in the shortest time possible.

Unfortunately, in both individual and societal growth, quick fixes are the antithesis of sustained long term change.

The main problem with shame, and by reflection the whole of cancel culture, is that we have a method for vengeance, but no mechanism for forgiveness.

I am not saying that we should forget, or even allow certain individuals back into the collective tribe, but the current method of punishment is indefinite banishment. This seems a bit harsh, and does not encourage people to come forward and seek redemption.

If there is no method for redemption in our culture, no standard to be met collectively, what reason is there for the individual to change authentically? Moreover, seeing the destruction of their fellows will this not drive those who have similar beliefs further underground?

Here, in the quiet warmth will their views not continue to fester and rot, while they wear a mask?

Are we to summon the inquisition, and torture innocents to find these few hiding elements?

Would it not be better to simply have a true path to redemption?

Some may say providing a path would lead to immodest and untruthful seekers of forgiveness, but are we to toss the rest of those that actually want to be part of society out with the heathens?

I have no answers, only questions.

We Earn our Leaders

It is no secret that the United States, my preferred nomenclature for the country so often regarded as America, is in limbo of sorts.

Love him or hate him, the president of the USA ‘s actions are ineffectual for the most part. At the beginning of the pandemic he denied how serious it was.

This is not a political statement, though I am sure people will make it one. I can understand from a historical and personal perspective why many of his supporters chose him.

The current US President is precisely why Plato hated democracy.

However, I do not think, as ineffectual he can be he’s the problem.

We’ve not changed in 20,000 years always demanding leadership and sacrifice but not demanding it of ourselves.

We’ve lied to one another. We’ve acted against our best interests. We’ve earned our leaders.

We allowed our merchant class to export our jobs, because we feared what unions might inspire. We allowed our politicians to take money from special interests because we’ve swallowed the lie that the government is too corrupt to distribute funds to campaigns.

Each freedom stripped away did so in the face of great fear, and like all fears each time we did nothing to challenge it, each time we ran from it, it grew stronger and demanded more.

In the years of the Obama Administration we grew complacent. We did not demand accountability for things he’d done, we assumed racism was fading, we assumed people were simply going to do the right thing, that the historical forces were now one their way to permanent utopian levels.

We gave up the good, slow, habitual work that led to the first black president, and in that void others, powered by fear, hate and poverty elected a man unfit to lead.

The current state of the united states is on all of our heads. We all have work to do. We will always have work to do. That is the nature of the universe.