Just because you’re proud of who you are,
Doesn’t mean you hate other people.
(…though many people do).
Just because you’re proud of who you are,
Seek to be understood by others
But do not seek to understand others.
Assume that you are understood by others
Whilst not seeking to understand them.
There’s that old saying:
“Money can’t buy happiness”
The phrase is incorrect.
Though it perhaps serves a purpose:
Helping those of us who don’t have enough money
To feel better about things.
Here are some examples where money can buy happiness:
There is the first, obvious, example:
Money has the ability to alleviate your material needs
(…emphasis here on your ‘material needs‘, not your ‘material wants‘)
These include a roof over your head
And food in your belly.
This, by default,
Will increase your happiness,
By curtailing the things that make you unhappy.
Things like being hungry and exposed to the elements.
Photo by Christopher Combe Photography
Disregarding the obvious and logical question
Around exactly how much you really need…
(…answers on a postcard, please)
This alone is a pretty good argument
For redistributing some wealth
From those who have ‘more than they know what to do with’
(…people who are long past the point where additional money creates any improvement)
To those who need only a little more to be noticeably happier.
I take the oft-cited example
Of the über-wealthy person
Who spends millions on luxury goods
That he’ll soon tire of.
Put another way
Why buy another shitty piece of modernist art
When you could feed an entire village,
Somewhere in the developing world
For a long time?
I don’t know.
That’s the subject for another day, and I’ll leave it here.
Money can buy happiness another way too.
One that is tied closely to the first.
This, of course, is
(…with a few caveats.)
Studies seem to show that
Charity can make the giver very happy
The money is given voluntarily
In ways that the giver can see
Tangibly benefit the recipient(s).
In this way
Having more money (than you actually need) can make you happy.
You have to give lots of it away
And see the good that it’s doing in the world
Seems like a pretty good argument for giving more, don’t you think?
Cover photo by Hipnos
We celebrate diverse* perspectives
But with limits.
We can’t celebrate diversity around
Our core values
Such as ‘not killing people who disagree with you’.
As such, diversity can’t really be considered an absolute
That we either ‘have’, or ‘don’t have’.
It’s more a matter of degree – about how many perspectives that we are ‘willing’ to allow.
Or how many perspectives are ‘practical’ within
Where we draw the line between ‘acceptable’ and ‘not’
Helps to draw a distinction between cultures.
If ‘our’ line and ‘their’ line
The cultures will probably have trouble ‘getting along’.
Photo by vwcampin
With thanks to Sam Harris for the idea
*Please note, I refer to diversity of perspectives, not ‘intersectional’ diversity.
Cover Photo by La caverne aux trésors
Here’s a thought:
When was the last time someone said something
That actually made you change your mind?
If you don’t remember, that’s OK.
It seems normal,
Based on the very small, very informal research that I’ve done.
Making a note next time it happens
You’ll probably notice that it doesn’t happen very often.
If ever at all.
And why is that, anyway?
There is a tendency
To think of people
More as ‘consumers’ than ‘citizens’
Though it wasn’t always this way.
As a result, you’re expected to consume (i.e. ‘take’)
Not to contribute (i.e. ‘give’)*
Or, dare I say,
You’re expected to contribute through consuming.
The result of this
This could be seen as
A zero-sum game:
Economy vs environment.
If you don’t buy, the economy suffers
If you do buy, the planet suffers
(…though this largely depends on how/what you consume, I suppose).
And it creates another issue.
An ‘all take, no give’ approach to existence
Which is existentially bankrupt.
It’s tied to a crisis of meaning
That I think has something do with
Why the people who have so much
Are often so unhappy.
We have a class of hard-working people
Who feel that their work has no meaning
Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
Like many of us
These people want to contribute
They want to give
They want to be part of something meaningful
But feel that they can’t
Is towards consumption.
And the fact that they’re all so fucking busy
All of the fucking time.
Keeping it all going.
Sure, there are transcendent moments
And exceptions to the routine:
Raising a child
Perhaps volunteering in one’s limited free time
Things like that.
But these are mere brief interludes
In the perennial workday.
And much of this, I think,
Comes down to this idea that everyone’s a ‘consumer’
Not a ‘contributor’, or a ‘citizen’.
You give so much of your time and energy
And you want something back for it in return.
But when you sell off
Too much of your time and your energy
You come to realise that
There’s not enough money in the world to justify what you’ve done.
And you can’t get it back.
And maybe by this point
You don’t have anything left to give anyway.
This is what ‘being’ a consumer has done to you.
*with the exception, perhaps, of making your tax contributions
Cover photo by
Getting a great deal
On something that you don’t need
Is just a cheaper way
To buy something that you don’t need.
Photo by lorinleecary
Did you ever do the thing that’s angering you, right now?
“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” – Aristotle
Photo by Furfante
We could think of ‘free will’, or ‘personal agency’ not as a binary state
Of, say, ‘complete free will’ or ‘mindless automaton’
We could instead think of it as a ‘continuum’
Or a scale (from 0% to 100%)
Perhaps humans are highest on the scale
But do you
Do you have ‘100% free will’?
You make your choices
And you were shaped
By environmental circumstances
The way you recoil automatically from a hot stove
Or ice cold water
Before your conscious mind has the chance to get involved.
Multiple studies of the brain
Have shown that
We make decisions
Before our conscious mind is aware of them
And that the conscious mind
Works a little more like ‘the PR team’
And a less like ‘the president’
Insofar as the conscious mind
Finds ways to justify what was done,
After the decision was made.
Another related point
There seems to be some agreement
Amongst people who are a lot smarter than me
That a certain amount of quantum mechanical randomness
Is ‘built into’ the electrochemical processes of the brain.
It’s built into everything
But the point still stands
Put another way
It seems that
You’re behind the control panel
And you think you’re pulling the levers
But the device is operating under its own power
The device is doing a great job
Of making you think that you’re in control.