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.

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.

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.

Hubris and other drugs

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”

Robert Browning

The heat death of the universe is appealing to the mind that is predisposed to Nihilism.

In a world where ultimately everything will die and end, what is the point?

Not to be unkind, but there are of course several problems with all of this.

The biggest of which is the hubris of man to assume he’s cracked the code of the universe. The second is a problem of context.

It is an easy trap to become enthralled with the scale of things. The mind damned in it’s ability to conceptional on some level huge things, but not to actually understand them, to say nothing of manipulating them.

It is a special skill, and it is a skill, that each man must cultivate to admit his own smallness in the face of the universe.

The first time I conceptualized how small I was, and I did not realize this until much a time after, came on the fourth date with a girl I loved. We stood on the Santa Monica pier at night, and looked out across the ocean. Behind us humans bustled and played, but before us stood the ocean.

She was talking about moving out of California, but I found myself distracted listening to the crash of the waves, and I in the dark of that sea knew what it was to stand before an unthinking god. I knew what my ancestors worshiped.

Man is such a small fragile creature, yet we can think of huge impossible things, and consequently become overwhelmed and consumed by them.

My first rebellion against Nihilism began with the admittance of how small I am in the face of the universe, and how thought I can reach for the concepts of infinity, I could never manipulate them.

We can conceptualization the death of the universe but none will be around to see it. To us, thought quite finite, our lives are our own practical infinity. They are all we will ever know, to the best of our knowledge, and they go on forever, until they don’t.

Conspirarcism: A belief system for the ill informed

Niche is famous for saying ” god is dead…” unfortunately people miss the rest of the quote.

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

That last line is important to understand conspiracy theories.

Doubt endless doubt filled up the remains of the dead gods. So simple the world once seemed to those under the umbrella of god. God was all good, the devil all bad. The believer needed no nuance, no understanding of the grey, no comprehension of chaos theory.

But in a world where the central authorities are fractured, man is lost adrift.

The conditions of life are when seen from an objective as possible sense absurd. It is discomforting to look upon something as supernatural as say the Corona Virus, with all it’s power and hunger, all the while being invisible.

How to explain it? how to explain away the thing we cannot comprehend, or will not comprehend or know not to even being comprehending?

Enter, the conspiracy.

Come now, toss away your hard truths, complex interplay, and grey morals. Let us shut our eyes and plunge once again into Plato’s cave. Let us return back to the corpse of God, and with eyes wide shut embrace the simplicity of the dualism.

There are those who are the doer’s of bad, and then there is us, the defenders of truth.

Simplicity is the main defining factor of the conspiratorial minded. Not in the hoops they jump through, nor their methods of proof, no, these are quite obfuscated. But instead at the core of conspiracy theories lie a single thread, that life is simple, and all of it’s problems stem from an other.

That other can be anyone, but unfortunately it tends to favor the ideas that led to the Holocaust, and that is not hyperbole.

This is of course, even more complex. Because occasionally, rooting around in the muck, the conspiratorially minded finds a kernel of undigested corn. A truth, a real conspiracy by powerful people in attempt to cover things up.

Unfortunately, these well meaning muck-dwellers miss the forest for the trees, not seeing that the true conspiracies need not be hidden, but are played out right in front of our eyes. The 2008 financial crisis for example.

Rich people stole poor people’s money. Most of it, especially from minorities, and then…the government gave them more money.

The real crimes, the ones that matter happen at such a high level that whole kingdoms are traded in swaths, and we the common-folk are simply along for the ride.

What is Mankind to do?

Embed from Getty Images

I am not here to disparage or discount the suffering of those people oppressed by systems put into practice long before I walked this noble earth.

I come only to ask a simple question? What is the way forward?

I see now the justifiable pain of millions swelling before us like a tide that threatens to destroy all in its path, but beyond it, I see the counter.

History is a pendulum of bloodshed perpetuated upon one another for the slights of the past.

It only stops when the debts of the past are forgiven.

Now people misunderstand that word. To forgive is not to forget. When you forgive a debt it is not struck from the ledger, and anyone who wanted to could look back and see that the debt existed and to whom it was owed.

However, to forgive the debt means that it shan’t be collected upon. That those to whom it is owed decided to let it slide, not out of compulsion, but out of a desire to stop a cycle of violence, and oppression.

I am not so naive to think people will want to forgive, and I am not so naive to think that everyone on the side of control will even be able to see that they owe a debt to those they’ve oppressed, but I hope that this generation can learn.

We’ve tried hyper capitalism, we’ve tried communism, and hate, and war. We’ve done it all. The ideologies of the past have failed and yet I do not see many who are volunteering new ones?

The way forward I think is to look at the past, and forgive it. To realize that to be Err is human and then with a heavy sigh begin the difficult work of a holistic and nuanced ideology based not on a single utopian idea, but perhaps under a realistic embrace of the idea that we are never done.

There is no stopping point for the human race, because to be complicated is to be subject to entropy. Everything falls apart, everything changes, no static system can stop that, mainly because those systems were built by ever changing humans.

So what is a mankind to do? Mankind must use our great big beautiful brains to think ourselves out of the problems of the past. Or at least die trying.

We don’t sweep a floor once and think, “there, I’ll never have to sweep it ever again.” so why would we assume something as complicated as politics would be that way?

How are you doing?: We need to start opening up a little

The common greeting, how are you doing, is a rhetorical question. “I’m good, ok, fine!” is the refrain, however, this needs to change.

The time has come to change that.

Mental health is at the core of many of the problems we struggle with today.

It’s my sneaking suspicion that most humans who struggle with different aliments of life if they be addiction or overeating, are at their core dealing with a mental health issue.

Somewhere along the way, we lost empathy for one another. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I think the constant erosion of community that has dominated culture since it’s inception, but especially now in the digital age.

Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit feel like connection but like junk-food only ever seem to satisfy.

Young men especially wander aimlessly in a desert that feels hopeless. Thus often their anger wells up, and they are prone to acts both big and small of violence and resentment.

Somewhere in the corporate marketing haze we lost sight that humans are not sterile emotionless creatures, but social beings that need connection and care.

Shame doesn’t work to correct the long term behavior of a human, it just forces those people who relate to the shamed further down the rabbit hole.

Disenfranchisement is deeply rooted in the USA

The Founding Father’s did not intend for you to vote.

If we are being completely honest, most of the founding fathers held what we might call troublesome beliefs about nearly everyone.

If you were not a White Anglo-Saxon Male with property, the founding father’s did not think you should vote, or really have rights.

We have to remember these were not ignorant men. Jefferson literally wrote about how slavery was a “hideous blot” all the while owning slaves.

The electoral college’s initial position was to prevent someone the ruling class didn’t like from getting into office.

So the current idea that somehow we are enlightened, and we’ve come from perfect stock is ridiculous.

The United States is a nation where Feminists, Abolitionists, Progressives, and Minorities pulled their right to vote kicking and screaming from an entrenched political establishment.

It’s been this way since day one. The problem is one of the most human problems. The problem of self interest.

We should have term limits on everything. Supreme Court Lifetime appointments made sense when people lived until they were 70, but now an appointee at 60 can judge on the bench for 30 years.

The same Congresspeople and Senators can keep their positions not out of merit but complacency for 30 years.

The trouble comes that how do you convince people to work against their own self interest? Especially in a world without Legacy?

I wish I knew.