Friday, 4 December 2015

The binary nature of life -Decisions

Over and over again I see or hear or read of far to many instances where mankind is unhappy with choice. Don't take man's choice away, ooh no, but no we don't like choice. Man ALWAYS wants to have things his way, even if he chooses badly. We want to have our cake and eat it so to speak. Unfortunately for us, life does not work that way. But many persist in arguing it should....

A popular song by the band Dire Straits has lyrics "one day you're a diamond and then you're a stone....", "sometimes we are a Louisville slugger, sometimes we are the ball...sometimes it all comes together, sometimes we gonna lose it all". Some interesting things about the human condition can be gleaned from those lyrics.

First, I'd say it's safe to say that we as mankind hate to lose. It sort of feeds some level of anxiety or OCD in each one of us and we just can't have any peace about that. I covered this innate type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in my last blog post so I won't rehash that line of reasoning. Secondly I will suggest to you that with every choice we make we only want one outcome, a favorable one. We don't want consequences to our actions. Again, here we have more of that OCD.

What really is laughable about human nature when you think about it, is that we sometimes want an ordered predictable response. Other times we specifically expect an illogical chaotic response. But one such response is inextricably and diametrically opposed to the other response. It's as ludicrous as jumping off a 25 story building naked and expecting to walk away from the jump, at the base of the building, in perfect health and perfectly dressed as well. We all know such an action has very little chance of survival, and yet we would like to think we are somehow entitled to being temporarily excluded from the rules of physics in such a situation. In reality the hard truth is, you're going to end up mangled and most likely dead.

And here is, I believe, a core aspect to life. I am convinced mankind does not like absolute unwavering truth. We don't like truth because we can't bend it to suit us. And here is the bit that really gets us. We live in an ordered creation with many absolutes, many of which are fixed, unchangeable inherently binary truths. Some would argue there are no absolutes, but in saying so they create an absolute and that argument, in itself is self defeating. I would also add, that an attempt to reason away absolutes with such a statement just screams that we, like a spoilt naughty child want everything our way irrespective of whether we've misbehaved or not.

 So what examples of absolutes would I suggest you ask? Well, gravity for one. It's either on or off. You don't get "half gravity". You either get attraction to a gravitational field, however strong it is or you float about totally unaffected. Another example is pregnancy. A woman either is pregnant or she isn't. Done. It's that simple. And in the midst of all this exceedingly clear simplicity we still argue.

"Okay wonderful, why should I care?" you say. You should care I say, because if one way is right and everything else is wrong, you are in very grave danger. Now you're probably rolling your eyes at me thinking "oh please nothing is ever so dire, I'll muddle through, it'll be fine". No. I'm sad to say that's not consistent with the nature of a binary world. Think about it.

Consider this, lets say we have an ordered world created with absolute rules, like gravity for example. It's the perogative of the Creator to decide on the consequence of breaking those rules. So if you are foolish enough to jump off that 25 story building naked, its only consistent with the rules of that world, created with it, that you become a colourful splat at the base of the building. It's just the rules, its nothing personal.

But no we, mankind, feel we are above the rules and making us a colourful splat as a consequence of jumping off the top of that building is unfair we say. So the Creator creates the creation with gravity and gives us free will(choice) but he says "dont jump off the 25 storey building, you're not meant to fly naked. If you do this you'll surely die". But we reckon we know better and we disobey and subsequently bring death apon ourselves". Surprised we died? We shouldn't be.
The world was created with an inalienable rule, gravity. We broke the rule. We were warned. Its simply just binary, an action and a consequence/reaction.

So what am I on about? You probably think I'm about to get all preachy. Not really. I am urging you to consider the binary nature of life with choice. Lets face it here, if you're reading this you're probably an adult. If you're not, lets not be naieve, when able to understand basic concepts, we all know the difference between right and wrong. I'm saying exercise your ability to choose freely, but if you find out that your choice has negative undesireable consequences, especially in the afterlife, take it like an adult.

"But I don't believe in an afterlife or a God" you might say. Well my answer remains the same, exercise your ability to choose freely, but you may find out when you die, that your choices have angered a just and fair God, who created an ordered creation with binary rules, that you defiantly chose to break. And in an ordered binary creation breaking the rules MUST have a consequence to be consistent. So take the consequence like an adult.

Me personally, I'll err on the side of caution, and the binary life type rules, because I believe there are reasonable, logical arguments in favor of doing so. I take full responsibility for my choices and in doing so I'll be happy to find out I am wrong and there is no afterlife and no God, because I believe there is. So that covers the eternal I believe, as for the now, i'd urge you to choose wisely and not become a colourful splat.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

When they cannot see the forest for the trees - Disagreements

I have noted, in life, many folks just want to cruise through. But then again I watch people a lot, and I have noticed many things.

Judging by the "hierachy of needs" developed by Maslow, I'd say its fair, in general, for the purposes of this writing, at this point, to say that people most people often follow the path of least resistance, whatever the situation.

The push for excellence and drive, that some individuals have it would seem, is not consistently found through all population groups and demographics, and, there are a variety of differing socio-economic factors to every persons situation. Therefore most often we would have to evaluate each individual on their individual situation, circumstance and merit, but for now let us generalise.

So I have often observed, that when two people have differing points of view, one or both of them, cannot handle that the other has a difference of opinion to them. Most notably we find this occurence in the opinions or convictions of conservatives versus liberals, or humanists, or vice versa.

The interesting thing I have noted from all my observations of human interactions and also human nature so far, is that man is an obsessive, flawed creation. Man is by his very nature, selfish, and NOT inherently good, as some believe.

Now you say, but hang on a minute, as a Christian you are biased.

Lets leave my position of faith out of that last point for a moment and re-evaluate my statement about man NOT being inherently good, in a completely neutral light just based on legal systems.

Go ahead and tell me that a man who rapes a three month old baby is inherently good? Oh no, but he's deviant and and this and that, or he is the victim of little or no education and has believed an ethnic superstition that raping a baby will cure some ailment. Stop. No excuses now. I strongly doubt baby rape is an acceptable thing in any civilised society on the planet. I suppose you may next want to argue that a paedophile has a "different" sexuality and he needs defending and catering for as well? Not likely that any society on earth will cater to that. Currently both inclinations are punishable offences in any civilised society on earth as are other socially rejected behaviours.

You can NOT tell me that a serial killer, with lets say 30 plus killings, whom they perhaps sodomised, prior to prolonging the victim's violent and painful death, whilst they derived orgasmic pleasure from the victim's suffering, that such a killer is inherently good. Don't forget also, that many of these types of individuals are severely dysfunctional (by societal standards), habitual, obsessive types that keep trophies, or return repeatedly to enjoy necrophyliac pleasures with their victim's corpses or body parts.

Okay, so thats a pretty severe picture I have painted to get my point across and yes, not all humans are THAT disturbed or dysfunctional, call it what you will, but to a greater or lesser degree, all men (and women) are NOT inherently good I'm sorry to say. But I'm a good person you say, I'm nothing like that and never will be. Well, nobody alive is perfect, so lets agree then, we all to various degrees are NOT inherently good, and we are all fallible, and yes I include myself there too. We are all human.

We are also obsessive to a greater or lesser degree. Whether you like the detective in the television series "Monk", are a neat freak misophobe (fear of dirt or germs), or a perfectionist, or you as an individual exist in one or another autistic spectrum, or perhaps have a syndrome with obsessive hallmarks that provides you the security you need to function and live, the fact remains we all have an obsessive side in some measure.

So I have noted, man is NOT inherently good, is obsessive to some greater or lesser degree, and most often in regular life is the subject of society's competitive brainwashing, which is essentially driven by our obsessive natures.
Competitive brainwashing you say?? I would suggest its subtle enough that many people don't even notice it. All the media programs or tells every person, that they have not succeeded, and are constantly in danger of being a "loser", or inferior, because they do not have a particular product or image that makes them part of the depicted "accepted" norm. We get fed discontentment every day from so many sources ,and this breeds often unhealthy aggression, and conflict over the most ridiculous things.

Now I believe from these three core things, we have the root cause of most of man's conflicts. Lets start with the competitive/discontent angle. When you examine the anatomy of a disagreement the most basic level, I believe that most often, one or both parties in the disagreement, have been subconsciously programmed through society to constantly "need to win". They NEED to win, or else the programming tells them they are a "loser" and inferior. What people don't realise is, the programming we have so subtly been given, feeds on our runaway obsessive natures and therefore, so many have great difficulty just leaving a situation be, and agreeing to disagree. And from this vicious "need to win" the disagreement can quickly spiral out of control if left unchecked.

In the realms of what psychology calls "emotional intelligence", this would almost, be an element in what is known as an "emotional hijacking", however an emotional hijacking, actually predominantly has a chemical culprit to blame in one's brain, and that, is responsible for the loss of logical reasoning. There is a strong suggestion that some are more predisposed, to being emotionally intelligent, and others can learn it, and also, that some will never be emotionally intelligent. This "emotional hijacking" is also however, not above being conquered on a focussed, learned and practised, cognitive level I believe.

Dr Daniel Goleman explains the anatomy of an "emotional hijacking" in his book "Emotional Intelligence", briefly through a story beginning in chapter 4. I shall relate the story to you loosely.

A samurai warrior once challenged a zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. The zen master burst out laughing and enquired of the samurai, "you expect me, to explain to you, an idiot sword wielding lout, who only knows dealing death, the higher concepts of heaven and hell?!?!" Now at this point the samurai felt his honour had been grievously insulted, and he drew his sword to decapitate the zen master, at which point, the zen master then quickly raised his hand. The samurai paused, as he paused the zen master then said "that is hell". Upon a moments quiet introspection the samurai realised that he had been completely swept away by his anger and he almost shed innocent blood in an uncontrolled rage. The samurai then sheathed his sword and bowed in thanks to the zen master, to which the zen master replied "and that, is heaven".

So in a disagreement, emotional intelligence, learned or inherent, essentially gives one the capacity to for a split second, introspectively ignore the need to win, driven by obsession, and potentially aggravated by a bad nature. It so to speak, cuts off the trouble "at the pass", and that person can "let it go" and agree to disagree or let the other have a differing viewpoint.

So, to return to the first section of my post, we have the now, NOT generalised approach, but individual merit of a party or parties involved in a disagreement. One or both parties in the disagreement could be solely or collectively to blame for the blowup and lack of resolution. As I noted earlier, different people have different needs and drives and some are sadly either just too lazy, or unwilling to work on themselves enough to learn to avoid an emotional hijacking, or just don't have the capacity to realise when they are spiralling out of control during an emotional hijacking.

Which ever way you look at it, by choice or incapacity, "they can't see the forest for the trees". I think specifically choosing to not be emotionally intelligent and peaceful is actually very selfish, tragic and is truly sad. But let me end on a positive note and say for all these negatives there is a positive side I believe, and here I turn to the written words my faith.

In the New American Standard Version of The Bible (which is in more contemporary english) in Romans chapter 12 verse 2 we read:

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

Elsewhere in scripture we read in Galations 5 verse 22 and 23:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.…"

And finally in Proverbs 15 verse 1 and 2 we read:

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.…"

My interpretation of these combined verses leads me to believe we are called to be self controlled (Galations 5: 22 and 23) and so be peacemakers and tolerant, and this by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

I would say to you, that to renew one's mind, we must aspire to be ever increasingly emotionally intelligent. This doesn't mean you have to be a pushover, or capitulate every time. On the contrary, maintain and firmly stick to what you believe, but like an old country music song says, "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em and know when to walk away".

Monday, 16 November 2015

Basic Policy

These are the opinions and observations of myself, Campbell Rae. I am a white South African male and a resident of Cape Town. I am a Christian and will perhaps therefore be considered conservative by some, and therefore also narrow minded and bigoted, perhaps even racist by other.

I will however, state that I believe all men(and women) are created equal by God and whilst I may differ on lifestyle choices and put forward the Christian point of view and perspective often, I bear no malice toward any person, and so state at the outset that I stand on my right to claim free, unsuppressed, expression of my opinion and even the right to differ on topics.

Whilst I respect the right of others to differ in opinion to me, this blog is a collection of MY thoughts and opinions, and not a mudslinging ground for anybody to litter the comment section. Please be (1) cerebral about your comments and (2) respectful, as I afford you the same decency.

Thanks very much.