#Idea – Hold Lightly to Your Ideas / 31.03.19

It seems that some people
Were never taught the difference
Between ‘feelings’ and ‘evidence’. 
 
Put another way
How right a thing feels
Is not the same
As how right a thing is.
 
It seems obvious
But it must not be
Just look around you
And see what people do in the name of ‘righteousness’.
 
Also
There’s a horrible inverse correlation:
The people who are so certain of being right
(i.e. the most ‘righteous’ amongst us)
Are often the ones who aren’t.
 
The answer, perhaps
Is to be less certain of things
And to look at this idea of ‘righteousness’
With a certain amount of distance and wariness.

A strong opinion is no substitute for the truth.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman

Photo by anokarina

#Idea – Compassion Grows Slowly But Hopefully / 05.04.19

Humanity advances as far as you and I learn
To see another’s suffering as our own
Another’s happiness as our own
And to always think of others in what we do. 

All without the necessity
To think of some as part of ‘our group’
And others as outside of ‘our group’.

And perhaps we can, eventually,
Expand our circle of ‘personal’ compassion
From the small few we count as friends and family
To encompass everyone,
And perhaps
All living beings.
Eventually.

This, however, seems like a tall order
When we consider how evolution has shaped our minds:
Those old survival traits
Mistrust, tribalism, mob psychology
Those may take a long time to be expunged,
If they ever are.

black and white angry war photo Photo by alisdare1

Put another way,
It appears that
‘Unconditional compassion’
Is at odds with a good part of our nature
Our ‘evolutionary programming’.

But the scientists tell us
That we’re not done evolving yet
Genetically or memetically.

So, perhaps if we just hold on,
Don’t kill ourselves,
Don’t kill our planet,
We’ll get there someday.

Photo by JUrban (Pixabay)

#Idea – A Short, Incomplete Argument for Bringing Back the ‘Memento Mori’ / 04.04.19

Without regular reminders
On the shortness of life
And, as a result
The imminence of death 
You’re liable to undervalue life
Your life, the lives of those you love, and living beings in general.

Never was the phrase ‘taken for granted’ apter than here.

Of course,
When seen through the wider lens
Of sheer cosmic improbability
Life, death, our entire planet.
It’s all of almost no importance
And yet, it is all we have.

It would seem useful
To make a point of remembering this every day,
If you can.

“Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise. It should be part of the full expectancy of life. Without an ever-present sense of death, life is insipid.” – Muriel Spark

#Idea – When Someone Angers You / 04.04.19

Perhaps consider;
Did you ever do the thing that’s angering you, right now?

If not – ask what use your anger is to you, right now.
It may be useful, or it may not.

“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

#ThoughtExperiment – The Long Sleep / 30.03.19

One day you awoke from a sleep
That you did not know you’d been in.

Since then
You awoke every morning
And
You slept every evening
And you went on
Like this was perfectly normal.

You probably did not stop to consider
How long you had been asleep before
And how long you will sleep, later.

And
You probably did not give much heed
To how short the number of these days
In which you get to wake up are
Before, of course,
You go back to sleep for good.

Photo by rmathews100 (Pixabay)

#Idea – On the ‘Need’ to Impress / 31.03.19

The desire to impress others
Is a major impediment to an authentic life.

Put another way;
You can’t really live authentically
That is to say, for something beyond yourself
If some (or much) of your energy is consumed
With the need to impress other people.

Unless of course
Impressing others
Is really what you want to do with your life.

Photo by Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com)

#Idea – Some Holes in the Idea of ‘Free Will’ / 02.02.19

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
(…perhaps)
But do you
(…yes, you)
Do you have ‘100% free will’?
No.
You make your choices
With a brain you didn’t choose
And you were shaped
By environmental circumstances
That were not of your own making

Consider:
The way you recoil automatically from a hot stove
Or ice cold water
Before your conscious mind has the chance to get involved.

article about free will - black and white architecture
Photo by Free-Photos (Pixabay)

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.
Hell
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
And
The device is doing a great job
Of making you think that you’re in control.

Cover Photo by MichaelGaida (Pixabay)

#Idea – More Problems with ‘White’ Identity / 24.03.19

Referring to all ‘non-white people’ as ‘ethnic minorities’
And all ‘non-white culture’ as ‘ethnic’
Reinforces the idea that ‘white’
Is the ‘default’ for everything
And that
All white cultures and people are all the same,
Simply ‘white’.

This ‘normalisation’ of whiteness
(…at the possible expense of everyone else)
It all seems a bit reductionist
This is
Some sort of
White ethnocentric world view
That simultaneously homogenises Caucasian culture
While putting everybody else into a ‘non-white’ box
This is,
(…dare I say)
A little racist for everyone involved.

And on another, somewhat related note
If we look at the world as a whole
White people are technically a minority
As the Han Chinese are the largest social group on the planet.

Does this count for anything?
I don’t know.

Photo by afrazeirfan04 (Pixabay)