This is a question I have been asking myself for a long time – probably even before I was born. It was clear to me, as a fetus, that my mother did not like me – two fetuses before me had been smart, and bailed out. Much to the shock of my mother who wanted babies very badly.
Perhaps my mother assured me she would be a good mother – a promise she promptly violated. Or maybe I decided I would put up with a bad situation, and do the best I could – under the circumstances.
In any case, I was born – into what would be known as a dysfunctional family. A bland description that covered up the horrors of the situation. And from then on, a situation that everyone (or almost everyone) refused to acknowledge – a huge problem that no one could see, and didn’t want to see.
This family situation was enlarged into the work situation – that was also bad for people – but this was considered normal – and this thoroughly bad behavior was allowed to continue, and even encouraged – in what became known as The Office.
To summarize – people lost control of their world – and gave control to other forces they were only dimly aware of – but were certain they were there. They were there, all right – and promptly took control.
This takeover was no doubt part of our religious heritage. People wanted to be part of something bigger – and now they were! They did not stop to analyze, what this new arrangement was. As with all religious establishments – this questioning was not permitted.
I am fortunate to live in a situation – where I can question this situation – in this blog. And I have plenty of company – perhaps ten percent of the population. But the remaining ninety percent have political control – which they are exercising vigorously.
And using it to wreck their world.
In fact, what people see, depends very much on what they the are supposed to see. Instead of saying “Seeing is believing.” We should say “We see what we believe.” And this results in huge errors in perception and judgement.
The world people believe in, is often far different from the way it really is. And they strongly resist changing themselves, and what they believe. They would rather die, than change – and many times, do go to their graves, firmly believing they are in possession of the truth.
More frequently, however, they manage to live with more subtle alterations of the way things are (or Reality). This is not good for their health (especially their mental health) but this damage is something they can live with – and may enjoy very much. And may attract other people to them.
People can enjoy some kinds of craziness. And even find it entertaining.
I am led to this abstract reasoning, not because I love thinking that much, but by considering the activities I now indulge in.
In all cases, it is not hard to tell what goodness is. And, equally easily – what badness is.
No one is much interested in Science anymore – but I am, especially the Science of Mind – or Psychology. What on earth makes people tick? William James is telling me, in the most general terms. Anything more particular, he says, is not so useful.
My understanding of people is also helped by an excellent novel I am reading – where the writer shows how well she understands people. She makes me overlook the weaknesses in the plot (and there are many of them) by making me concentrate on the conflicts between her characters. And her character development.
Likewise, the writer who is explaining a new programming language to me – is also showing how good it is. And I have to agree with him.
The world is full of good and bad.
Including us – of course.
Craziness is part of the human condition – we have to live with it. But we have to constantly ask ourselves – what kind of craziness is going on, and how dangerous is it?
To do this, we have to be aware of what is going on. Without that, we are in big trouble indeed. But, as I have said before – this seems to be the situation for most of us. Not all of us, but most of us.
I will proceed, assuming you are aware of what is going on. And attempt to answer the first question – what kinds of craziness are going on? And rank them, in the order of their importance.
The most important problem is easy to identify, but impossible to describe – because it is so big. I will simply call it The Big Problem, and not try to describe it.
This approach is a big improvement over the usual practice of not noticing it at all. We have named it, and called attention to its existence.
And also taken notice of everyone else, who says (with a touch of panic in their voice) “It is not there!” With the impulse to punish those who can see it.
This gives us an easy way to classify the people around us – those who can see it, and those who cannot.
We have to understand those who cannot. Their whole way of life is threatened. They are wrong about this, but that does not matter – this is what they believe, and this gives great urgency to their response.
They have gone into a panic mode – and cannot listen to reason. All we can do is keep out of their way, so we don’t get trampled on.
I have observed that many people are not interested in this – in understanding much of anything.
This is probably not new – people have always had some things they were strongly encouraged to not think about.
But it does seem to me, that the number of these things has greatly increased. And people feel threatened more than before. And that some of these threats are real enough.
And some of them, on the other hand – are substitutes for real threats they are aware of subconsciously, but not consciously.
This discovery of the unconscious was one of the breakthroughs in modern psychology – but there are now many psychologists who deny it.
This is symptomatic, for me, of a much wider malaise – that has been described by some as the Crisis of Man. That is so huge, we cannot begin to fathom it.
All we can do – is say it is there – because we can feel it. And we can do other people a huge favor, by saying this.
How many times have I said this? Times without number. How many times have people listened to me? As far as I know – none at all.
I have to say, by contrast – that some things are working very well. I have new issue of National Geographic in my inbox – that is loaded with good stuff, I’m sure. That it wants to tell people about – whether they want to know about it, or not.
Most people do not want to know. They are in too much pain already – and they don’t want more.
I found a new video that explains F#, using Visual Studio – that I have and want to learn more about. I wrote my first program (following the instructions, very carefully) that worked, but was very slow. VS was busy in the background, when I ran it this morning – trying to find out why.
Microsoft is an amazing mix of good and bad – but they seem to be doing this right.
I find that being around places where things are being done right – helps me to do right in my own life, also. The opposite is also true – being in bad places, makes you do bad also.
And there are a whole lot of these.
It is not just another machine – it is part of me. And it is connected to the rest of the world – that is also part of me. An intimate part of me.
Living this way – exposed to the rest of the world is not easy, but it is not so hard either. The only alternative is not being at all – committing social suicide. A decision most people have made, without knowing it at all.
When I was back in Silicon Valley, in the Nineties – people were obsessed with Intimacy – something they wanted very much – but were also afraid of, very much.
The reason for this was obvious – their world was not a safe place to be in.
And no one was willing to admit this.
For two hundred years, during the 19th and 20 Centuries – people became more technical, but less human. And in fact became antihuman – thinking they had become superhuman, instead.
One of the serious deficiencies of the human mind – is to consider opposites to be equal. Our language makes this easy – both good and bad are treated much the same way – as modifiers. They do the same thing in a sentence – so they must be the same thing.
Let me clarify this logic, which states that – what something does, is what it is.
This is a subtle point – with huge consequences. And should not be ignored – as it usually is.