Passages and Peculiarities
As I age I think more about ultimate meanings of whatever I have encountered in life. Some things, like our potential to become physically immortal, are most definitely meaningful, at least for those who will in our future experience that reality. Most other things are, by comparison, of very little if any lasting importance, least of all each of us as individuals. It is from that starting point I want to take a look at some less than ultimate meanings. I want to debunk some of what we are taught that strongly influences our short lives and how we live them. I also want to provide some examples of our apparently timeless stupidity, both in the general population and in what we call our leaders.
For the record, note that I am not inclined to produce a depressive document, for that yields nothing of value to inspire anyone to seek an exceptional future for humanity or a large measure of personal joy during our rather short lives. I find that it is our misunderstandings and poor perceptions that have caused virtually all of us to waste a great deal of time trying to meet some standards or definitions of okay beliefs and behaviors ... many of which are illogical, like throwing our lives away in a meaningless war, and some downright silly, like trying to impress each other regarding our social status.
So, if it pleases you, consider this article to be a bit cynical. So it is ... but with a positive purpose. I'd like to see our species grow up and advance and accomplish that in part by throwing off the shackles of lies and deceptions passed down from generation to generation and country to country regarding our views of obligations and responsibilities, not to mention fundamental values and beliefs, and of course, our concepts of individual rights.
In short, starting as children, we learn a model of life. In whatever culture or period of history we live there is some prevailing set of social mores, subject, periodically, to radical change from without (war) or sometimes gradually from within. We only appear to be stable even in our best times. It is always only a temporary phenomenon in which the seeds of destruction germinate to undermine whatever good or wealth has been created. Basically it is a matter of jealousy and greed, neighbor to neighbor and all the way up to country to country.
I am living in "Interesting Times" in the USA starting from a world in my childhood that bears little if any resemblance to the country in which I live today, and I'm talking about values and laws, not new forms of entertainment. I will discuss some comparative detail later in this article. In any event, the model we are taught as children and young adults serves the purposes of those who have achieved power and wish to retain it regardless of the cost to those who are the followers. That is a global truth. It is also virtually timeless.
On the bright side, we have changes wrought by scientific advancement. We also have, at least up to this point in history, numerous cultures in various states of advancement or decline ... or sometimes stasis, which is the sign of pending death for any culture, as proven by the fate of people like our own Native Americans! I blanch when I think how terrible it would be if we had global consistency in all of our beliefs and behaviors, for the odds of that happening in any rational, honest, forward looking way are miniscule.
Well, so much for that. Now let me have some fun debunking some silly stuff ... stuff that our leaders do not want us to understand as silly.
About twenty years ago my wife and I were visiting Mallory Square in San Francisco. One of the things we did that day was visit the police museum that was on the top floor of one of the buildings and open to anyone, unsupervised. I didn't expect to see anything of much interest. I was wrong. Someone had decided to display ledgers of court proceedings from the 19th century, perhaps to show the importance of having a police force and a court system to uphold the law. Whatever they intended, I avidly read pages of proceedings and results of trials and sentencing of hundreds of people across ten or more years. Then something quite unexpected happened. It hit me that no one alive today knew any of the people alive when those ledger entries were made. The immediate thought that followed was to be expected ... nobody cares! All of that formality, for better or for worse, means absolutely nothing to anyone today. In short, there is no permanent score sheet of difference for anyone ... we all die and it is over, period. There is no lasting significance whatever, whether one is a king or the lowliest servant, or vilest criminal.
Thus, I asked my wife to take a look at one of the ledgers. She did, then she looked at me and asked, "What's your point?" I replied with the thoughts you just read above. I added a few more thoughts, like the reality that what we saw there was extensible to all of history in every place. Well, okay, a tiny number of intelligent people do care to learn lessons about life from history. I added further that our media headlines and big exposes are of so little importance that most of us forget all the names and places and acts discussed or printed in just a few short months, or at least no longer than a year or two. The net effect was to cause me to question why I should care at all about any hype? Obviously, that was for me an epiphany. Yes, you can beneficially ignore the media, which is anything but objective and of such superficial character as to be a total waste of time to endure. Of course, I understood that basic truth at the advanced age of 21. As for now? We are inundated with continuous stories of killing and chaos ... none of which is relevant to the lives of 90% of us, unless we unwisely wander into a ghetto!
So then I was forced to rethink about what does matter, if anything? It didn't take but a moment to recapture the essentials of life. We must get along with each other, ergo the Golden Rule, for there to be any real societal progress. Second, we are rightly concerned with our personal happiness in the few short years we have to live. Third, the only fundamental changes we experience through time are those wrought by scientific discoveries ... and the potential positive impact those discoveries might have on our lives and the lives of our descendants. That's it, folks! The rest is drivel.
Now, by example, when you consider the hype surrounding the idiotic presidential election of 2016, I want you to think clearly about the uselessness of the whole process. It is an embarrassment to live in an excuse of a culture that promotes, let alone allows, the childishness of our current experiences with Clinton and Trump. Well, why not step back from all of it for a moment and put yourself in the place of an advanced alien race capable of joining us or destroying us. What would you do? Why?
In past writings, starting with my book, Destiny, I debunked religion as simply another societal control tool ... a means to fool and then manage the ignorant, through fear of the unknown and false promises. It becomes the same with any government that becomes powerful, only everyone becomes a vassal if they are not part of the power structure, just like the church. So it is then that any official communication in any form serves only the purposes of the powerful, even if that purpose is only to confuse and thus disarm the ignorant. The labor and lives of the ignorant are farmed, period. Or at least they were prior to our present day idiotic version of socialism in the USA, which is destroying us financially. No. I am wrong. We are already destroyed. The pain from that stupidity is about to happen across the vast majority of the USA population.
Looking at the so called ultimate considerations of life ... life itself, security and happiness, and most of all a feeling of deep interest in participating in the development of the future of humanity ... well, do you start to understand my angst with where we are globally at this time, 6000 years after the start of the recording of human history? What, pray tell, have we learned as a species in those 6000 years? Obviously, not much outside of science and technology. It is time to step back and reconsider what is and what is not important to you as an individual ... and then go get it! Do not be dissuaded or redirected by fools, regardless of their apparent political or financial power. You own you. But you are also responsible for you and in particular your wellbeing, as is everyone else, despite the crimes of socialism that steal from the smaller population of producers and give to the larger population of the lazy/useless ... for votes!
Thus, the necessity for the debunking of our power structure practices and our assigned guilt is obvious. We are not servants or slaves to anyone or to any organization by choice or by birth ... only by deception and in a lot of very sad cases, extremely limited intelligence.
Now it is time to relate another story to illustrate one earlier point about negative societal change. When I was a young man in my late teens living in a small town, it was not uncommon for mill workers and others to drink beer in local bars after work, get fairly soused, and then drive home. Think about Frank Sinatra and the song, "One More for the Road." If a police officer noticed a driver weaving or driving very slowly the officer would typically pull the driver over, check for drunkenness, and if the driver was not too inebriated or belligerent the officer would direct that person to go home and follow the car until it was certain the drunken driver was home safely. Now that was what I call real public service! Excessive drunkenness or belligerence resulted in arrest and in spending the night in jail, followed by a fine and release in the morning. And that was the end of the story at that time in history in my town.
This first part of the story was typical of small town environments where people tended to know their neighbors and where the percentage of inebriated youthful or young adult drivers was very small. Severe accidents that did happen were mostly one vehicle accidents resulting in the deaths of young drivers and occupants due to the combination of high speed daredevil driving and drunkenness, and the sheer stubbornness of trees that somehow didn't soften when struck by an automobile. You might call it natural selection. That was certainly my take on it when I was young. Stupidity was self limiting.
A few years later as an adult in a larger metropolitan area I saw carnage the likes of which was horrible ... numerous multi-vehicle collisions, many deaths, and almost always there was a drunken young or middle age adult driver involved, not teenagers, though the incidence of teenage automotive deaths was also high. That era saw the introduction of seat belts and the beginning of safety designs in cars that would reduce death and injury, culminating in such products as air bags. But automobile insurance rates climbed for everyone anyway. One reason for the carnage was the availability of powerful vehicles that could be purchased by nearly anyone with a job. In short, capacity for carnage was made available to the stupid people. And guess what? Carnage resulted.
So where is this story going? I am about to relate my experiences and beliefs about how sick our society has become in addressing the issue of driving while inebriated. Think about "one size fits all" legislation as a knee jerk reaction to a political football. Think about Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Yes, the infamous DUI, and all the consequences that follow a DUI, none of which can possibly cure stupid. But let the legislatures apply a broad and illogical rule across the population and suddenly one learns to fear having even one drink socially outside of the home environment. When my wife and I lived in California we attended parties where considerable alcohol was consumed, and where the hosts provided sleeping accommodations for all guests, followed by morning coffee and pastries and safe and pleasant parting. It was in response to the overkill re. DUI's in California. Their blood alcohol limits were absurdly low and we simply didn't want to give the Highway Patrol the opportunity to damage us. Thus, we feared the police far more than the existence of possible drunken drivers.
Well, our response was intelligent. We didn't drive when we partied. Most of all, we wanted to avoid any interaction with "the law!" Legislatures and courts became and still are so punitive that they destroy lives when no accident has occurred. Lose your driver's license, lose your job, maybe lose your home, pay severe penalties in fines and future automobile insurance rates. But, unfortunately, none of the legal stuff cured stupid. And none of it made any allowance for the damage done to the innocent families of the "offenders." The combination of safer cars and patrolling for drunken drivers did reduce the rate of carnage, but by only a nominal amount, around 20%. Hence, once again, we find that you cannot cure stupid, even with highly punitive legislation. And if increased education of young drivers and limits about when they can drive do not further change our experience with automobile fatalities, especially as they become adults, then what are you to conclude? Driverless cars? Okay, that is one response now being tested, one that likely will reduce deaths by automobile. But at what price? Yes, that of freedom.
Here is where we went wrong. Under the erroneous assumption that civil liberties and civil rights guaranteed the "privilege" to drive to all people who could somehow pass a driving test and acquire an automobile, our government continues to create the very problems it should be dedicated to solve. Alas, people are not equal. Besides basic stupidity there is the reality that how individuals handle drinking and driving has little to do with the DUI limits set by the legislatures. For the more intelligent, driving ability and decision making after a few drinks may be somewhat impaired, but the probability of causing an accident is, alas, not changed much at all. Yet the law makes no allowance for driving ability combined with conservative driving when a basically intelligent person has had a few drinks.
So that was one example of what is wrong with "one size fits all" legislation and failure to address at any level civil rights and civil liberties based on the demonstrated ability of the individual. Instead, we have absurdity and punitive governments, and we haven't cured stupid. What we have created follows Winston Churchill's comparison of capitalism to socialism, in which, under socialism, ALL get to share in the misery!
I do not need to belabor my points with additional examples of socialistic stupidity. Nor do I need to relate further stories about the stacked deck of poor behaviors by leaders relative to those led (by their noses). The best example I have of our cultural decline is the evidence of character assassination that accompanies, indeed is the campaigning of our 2016 presidential election, now a mere five days away. If even half of the accusations are true then both candidates should be in prison, not running for the highest office in the USA.
Now it is time for two conclusions. First, if you think the carnage I discussed earlier is a matter of civil rights then I ask you to consider what would happen to you if you flew in a commercial jet piloted by an imbecile, or had brain surgery at the hands of a meat cutter? Do you get the point? No privilege to do anything that might result in the death or maiming of another person belongs to anyone other than those who can prove they are sufficiently intelligent and trained to do the job right, reliably. Add to that only those people in possession of values that lead to peace, not chaos. Read on for the second conclusion.
What, if anything, should command your respect? Answer: Not much. And do remember that fear and respect should not be confused, one for the other. Fear we understand. How many of us grasp the reality that respect is "earned admiration for a job well done?" The need for broad and high level education and demonstrated positive societal values combined with career success in life should be absolute requirements for anyone seeking political office. And we have what?
Will there be peace and prosperity? I doubt it.