Thursday, November 27, 2014

Reconceiving Us

I think my life is slowly shifting from the thought about what I would like to get out of life to what I would like to give my children with my life.

The quest to "get something out of life" is not evil. It is slightly egocentric, of course, no matter how religious you are. The things I have wanted to get out of life are stuff like a sense of purpose, I want knowledge - stuff like that. Not terrible stuff.

But you can say 'so what' to these things, can't you? I know lots of people who will never amass the kid of knowledge I have been able to amass, and still intend to amass, and they live perfectly worthy lives, good lives even.

We need to change things up, and not fear where this
might lead us.
What I want for my kids: for them to know they are not alone, first. Second, to do good. When people talk about wanting people to be happy, well, that's not such a bad thing, but happiness and goodness do not go hand in hand, often. I see lots of happy people that I don't want my kids to be like.

But really, in the end, it's not about me at all. It's about their relationship with God. I am just a by-stander when it comes to that. Makes you really think, doesn't it, when you presume to take another person's life in your hands, via education, via correction, via abortion. They aren't even my property, funny how I treat them as though they are.

How many of our decisions about ourselves have been prompted by the idea of getting the most out of life? What did that even look like to us? Probably being successful was a part of it, even if it wasn't the main part.

How many of our decisions about our children are similarly based upon the presumption that we own our kids, and also this false idea about getting the most out of life?

Isn't it interesting how a few basic principles can lead you into some pretty unexpected places. For instance, how attached are you to your country, to its politics, to its 'news,' 'issues,' etc?

Let me ask why?

Frankly I read the news because it's less boring than TV shows. News is at least based on reality.

I do not acknowledge, however, that what I encounter when I watch the news is my community. The medium is the message right? Well, the message is we are all part of this version of reality that confronts us in the news. We all speak the same language, acknowledge the same basic values, strive for the same basic ends. One communicates, typically, with one's family and friends, therefore, this person speaking to me parades as such. I receive him as such, I have to remind myself that he is not, that he is weaving a tale, not giving me the plain truth; he is not out for my good, but for his own, so too the corporation this newscaster represents.

I have a statement to make: to the degree that your moral outlook has been influenced by Hollywood, it is to that degree that you lack moral compass.

More specifically, and I can say this because it was once largely true for me: the degree to which you have been formed by The Pelican Brief, Amistad, Mississippi Burning, Erin Brockovitch, Dead Man Walking, The Rainmaker, A Time to Kill, Avatar, WALL-E, Kingdom of Heaven, that is to say, just about any movie with Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, etc., in it, anything recent by Disney, or Pixar, anything about black people in the US, or homosexuals, it is to this degree that you have been formed by unbalanced sentiment.
Isn't she fun!? She must have
some answer for my life.

I should know, I was once this way.

Do you like these movies? Are they important to you? Do you feel they accurately portray the world, history, the good?

Well, they are simplistic and imbalanced, and if they are important to you that means you see the world in a very simplistic manner: all black people and homosexuals and Muslims are good, all white men are and were always bad. The solution is always to give up your moral scruples, never preserve traditional values, because they are worthless and held on to un-reflectively, like taboos.

They are liked because they make people feel morally good about themselves. If I were in that situation, I would act nobly, they feel as they watch it. But the fact is, they wouldn't act that way: people who are formed by their environment are the very people who given the right situation would do what that environment requires. If you like liberal clap-trap, you are the type of person who would be racist in the Deep South, because you let the environment do your thinking for you. People changed their views on gay marriage very quickly about ten years ago because Hollywood said so. Just like that, they switched. What seemed good before, now seems bad. Just like that.
The passion of compassion. Wow.

There is a simple reason for this. You never thought about things in their rawest forms. People naturally identify their way of life with the good itself. So much is this so that they are actually unable to see their own biases and the fact that other perfectly reasonable people may disagree with them. No, I disagree with a lot of people whom I call friend, you might say. Yes, according to a certain limited threshold of toleration, coupled with the undeniably patronizing presupposition that they will eventually "come around to seeing things the right way."

Maximize freedom and sharing, liberals say, completely unaware of what the words they say mean. Many men have gotten very rich by promoting sharing. In the name of freedom many men have treated others with great cruelty. Just as in the name of fighting global warming, many, many trips on planes must be taken. I would literally have to live a hundred lives to equal the kind of wastage Al Gore and David Suzuki effect. I would literally have to live a hundred lives to make the kind of money Bill Clinton makes in the name of sharing.

Are these people insane or stupid? False dichotomy.

They are stupid in that having been formed into a world view where bad guys are flat, they believe that all problems can be solved by doing the opposite of TV's bad people. They are greedy and mean, so be generous and nice. They have rules, so break rules. They are exception-less, so making an exception for everything.

They are insane in the sense that insane means mentally unhealthy (sanum means health, soundness). They are morally unsound. People can't be morally healthy who are morally immature, just as a forty year old cannot be said to be physically healthy who is a wizened as an eighty year old. Only mental exercises can make the mind healthy. Nor do I mean turning the mind into a calculator, as is our dominant notion. Moral exercises aimed at the basic questions of life: what is the good, why was I made, what should I do? Not, what is the best material to stick on a rocket ship or what is the ultimate definition of pi?

I am talking about thinking outside of the box. Not, what is better, the pill or IUDs? Not, what is the ideal tax rate? Not, what kinds of food maximize health? And, what we should do to further the initiatives of the social engineers, everyone from bureaucrats and politicians to NGOs and, yes, even the Cancer Society?

I mean, what is real human life and what do we have to change about ourselves to get it? The kinds of questions Socrates asked. Actually, no more us, only me - what do I have to change about me to encounter truth? People who obsess about us do so to put the onus on society at large, not on me, the only one whose actions I can actually control.

News is a form of thought-control, exercised on lazy minds in search of meaning and entertainment. Who you define as us is all-important, though. TV says the us is all the people we see in the movies: all the generous white people and that one nice black family they know who, yes, all dress like Carlton Banks. And, now, that zany gay uncle who shows up at Thanksgiving, whom the children just love! He is the most compassionate and psychologically healthy person around - how can't you love all gay people, you wicked beast?!

My us does not include most elected representatives and very likely few in Hollywood.

We all know how St. Lawrence defined us:

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