Coming back from Necronomicon today. Had a great time with lovely people, and actually got a load of work done at the same time. Life is good. There were a LOT of writers here (including Jeff Carroll, a FB friend, who took me to dinner with his lovely family) and many others including my co-GOH, Steve Brust.
Met a lady named Jaclyn Telfair, a forensic pathologist with whom I discussed a new book I’m working on, and one of the subjects that arose was the way I see the world. She liked the fact that I could discuss some pretty ugly aspects of human nature, and American history, without the slightest pessimism about our future, and loving human beings with all my heart. In fact, the subject “what are we?” came up repeatedly. This of course connects with “who am I?” and since I love myself, and see myself in others, I love them as well.
At one point we were discussing time travel in relationship to paradox. My comment was that you can’t really write a time travel story that makes perfect sense and answers all questions, because our brains didn’t evolve in a world that has such things. It runs totally contrary to the way we experience reality. We’d need to HAVE a time machine and see what happened before the CONSEQUENCES of them would start really making sense, probably requiring an expansion of consciousness.
At one panel with Steven Brust, the subject of evaporating jobs arose. What will happen when automation removes the bottom 40% of jobs? As you know, my thought is that the rules that say “everyone must work” evolved in a world in which we NEEDED everyone to work, and where it was POSSIBLE for everyone to work. In that world, it makes sense to shame and offer pain to those who will not participate in society.
But in a world in which there really aren’t enough jobs? But there IS enough wealth? How precisely is it moral, right, or to the benefit of society to deny people a safety net? My suspicion is that the people who evolved in a structure when we needed everyone to work will have a difficult time imagining a world in which that is no longer true.
In other words, as with time travel, it may be difficult even to think of such a world. How many people work their entire lives at jobs they hate, just because they consider it what an adult does? They’ve made their peace with it. Asking them to consider their lives had they not had to do this can be mind-blowing. Painful. Frightening. Trigger resentment and anger and a sense of the entire universe being out of alignment.
I think the same thing has been true with other things: race relations. Gender relations. Sexual orientation and relationship choices. If you grew up in a system that was tribal, reproduction-oriented and so forth, it is very possible that you cannot imagine, cannot really open your mind to the possibility of a different world. The idea triggers fear, pain, regret, resentment, anger.
But the world is changing, no matter what you want. That stress can be damaging to your sense of self and aliveness, drain the joy from your life, fill you with doubt for the future.
Me, I just don’t buy that human beings have struggled through 250 thousand years of social evolution and that by bizarre coincidence I just happen to be here when it all falls apart. And know damned well that people have, at every step, sworn that armageddon was here. My conclusion is that our individual egos and fears twist us into thinking we’re important enough that if we haven’t experienced massive change in our lifetimes, there is no change. Or if anything that tweaks us changes, the entire world is falling apart. Or if we are afraid of death, it is somehow sickly comforting to think the entire world will die with us.
Nope. Ultimately, you cannot know what is going to happen in the future, whether you are an optimist or pessimist. Either view is an article of faith. My faith is that the general patterns of development that seem to govern human beings, life, and the universe itself will continue. That everything is gonna be fine, in other words. And that, therefore, while there are problems we must address, and predators we must deal with, any view of the world that sees no answers, or ends in death and destruction is simply telling me the limits of that person’s faith and the size of their ego: they cannot imagine that there are answers that they personally cannot devise or understand.
That’s lack of faith. Faith can stem from love. Loving yourself enough to look at your life, see all the times you failed and fell…but achieved anyway. All the times you doubted, felt despair, and got back up. That you walk, and talk, and ride bicycles, and read, and drive, and thousands of other things because you went past failure to success. That’s the pattern. Try, fail, feel discouragement, keep going until you succeed.
Can I KNOW that this pattern will continue in the future, for mankind? Nope, but I look at the lives of people who believe otherwise, and don’t like the results they get. I like the results achieved by people who have faith in themselves, and mankind.
They are my tribe. And unless and until someone can amass more evidence for the contrary point of view, my perspective is that most people are pretty much like me, and I’m a pretty lovable guy.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
(This Saturday is FIREDANCE TAI CHI workshop in Van Nuys. Join us! www.firedancetaichi.com)