I’m really not worried about the status of current conditions in America or the world, and think things are heading in the right direction. Amid the negativity, a few reasons why:
- Most people who think we’re going to hell assume they are smarter than most other people. They are looking down on people who disagree with them, or the current crop of kids. Those kids are as smart as we are, or our grandparents were. People who are smart enough to see problems but not wise enough to solve them often assume their limitations are universal.
- People who see the world negatively often assume the basic nature of Man is evil. That’s fine, but hardly happy-making. They see those who view Man’s basic nature as “good” as Polyannish. That’s fine too. I just think that, as with amoebas and armadillos, human beings move away from pain and toward pleasure. We want to survive. Short term it works better to cheat, lie, and steal. Long term, it is best to treat people fairly. That’s just game theory. In other words over time, those who act in the way we consider “moral” just get more out of life. I trust greed and fear to produce the behaviors we call “good”. I’ve rarely been disappointed.
- People who are confused about where the world is right now generally assume people who do “bad” things do them for innate reasons, rather than environmental ones. That’s fine. But I notice people who maintain that belief seem to function more from fear than love. I notice the meal your recipe cooks, folks. If you aren’t happy and healthy being the way you are, that’s not terribly attractive.
- People who do the “things are worse than ever” generally strike me as having been oblivious to how bad things were. This is especially true of those who forget that as things improve, those who have been silenced or paralyzed with fear finally have the freedom to speak up and tell the truth. This is uncomfortable if you’ve been deaf and blind to it, so yep, YOU are in more pain and fear, that is true. But the net amount of pain and fear in the entire system has decreased, or they never would have spoken up. Deal with it. When people can’t, my general reaction is that they’d better be glad they weren’t a member of the group now demanding rights, because their sense of entitlement and conceptual rigidity would have killed them dead from stress.
- Some consider it an over-simplification, and I can understand that, but I really do believe that fear and love are the most primary emotions. Anger is a different circuit, and people who experience fear as paralysis and shame will switch to the other track, which offers action and macho self-image. But when there is nothing to fear (either directly or through empathy) the anger vanishes in the majority of cases (there is such a thing as simple predation. Rare. Dangerous) so as a fast-action rubric, I find the “love and fear” dichotomy of amazing practical use. It suggests, INSTANTLY, an approach to calming anyone who is angry, simply by addressing the underlying rather than the “presenting” emotion. Man, this works well! But to use it, you have to look at everything you are angry about in your own life, and seek the underlying fear. If you can’t do it with yourself, you can’t do it with others.
- The nature of reality seems to be to move toward greater levels of complexity. Beginning with the Big Bang, the universe seems to be getting more complex–from stars to planets to living things to thinking things, to families to tribes to states to nations, and now an interconnected world. I’ll bet that at every level of change there is chaos and violence. And among human beings, those committed to the old way of seeing things will fight like crazy, and that’s fine–most mutations make cancer, not Wolverine.
- The human race is, overall, becoming more peaceful. It doesn’t seem that way because of our 24 hour news cycle. If a thousand homes are peaceful, and one is on fire, THAT’S the one that will be on the news. We’re wired that way.
- Individual humans die. That’s just the way it is. You can’t save everyone. Never could. But you can secure your grandchildren’s future. That’s MY fight. So the deaths of a few individuals, while tragic, has nothing to do with the overall game. It never has.
- The human race is very good at surviving. The biggest problems we have today, in fact, are due to the fact that we no longer have to fear nature in the way our ancestors did. We love watching the largest predators, creatures that haunted our nightmares in the past, balancing on balls at the circus or jumping for fish at Seaworld. We won. We’ll really “get” that in time. We used to be able to piss and shit in the streams, because there was no one down-river. That ain’t true any more. It will take time to really understand that. “Be fruitful and multiply” used to be core survival, for most of the 300k years or so of our existence. That’s not been true for the last few generations. Just like physical objects, the cultural values have enormous inertia. We’ll get past it.
- I have no fear for the whole Male-Female thing, because I actually believe men and women are equal. In other words, while they have different strengths and weaknesses, they are complimentary. Neither side is weaker. Neither more “good” or “evil.” And in my opinion, neither side has really been in control. What HAS been? Our biological imperatives: make the maximum number of grandchildren. That lead to the selective breeding, agricultural and city lifestyles, rules about who gets killed and who has which freedoms curtailed. All in the service of those pesky grandkids. We have a different game now, for the very first time in human history: over population, effective birth control, industrialization and Mr. Colt’s useful invention has opened a whole new door of options for men and women. I find it uncomfortably amusing to watch the jockying for “New Rules”. But it will all work out, because while I am terribly sorry for women who never experienced nurturing protective male energy, or men who never experienced nurturing protective female energy, at the core of us, men and women love each other more than their own skins, and it drives us a little crazy.
We’ll get through it. All of it. We’re good at that.