Archives for category: skin in the game

What if our self awareness, otherwise known as conscience, has evolved in order to understand, accept and mitigate randomness?

There’s no evolution – hence no life, without randomness.
Yet life, anyway you look at it, is about maintaining a certain degree of order.

Whenever there’s so much randomness that life can no longer adapt to it… evolution stops.
Whenever structures become so big/rigid that they find it harder and harder to evolve, they eventually succumb to an otherwise survivable amount of randomness. Dinosaurs and too big to fail corporations versus mice and flexible operators.

In a nutshell, self-awareness is about not being ‘fooled by randomness‘.

And to avoid the deepest pitfall we’ll encounter during this never ending journey – randomness will always be wider than our individual ability to encompass it, we must keep remembering that conscience is selfish. Untrained, it is more about protecting itself than about helping the entire ‘individual’ to survive.

‘What?!?’

Yes, it’s hard to believe!
But what other explanation is there for so many of us continuing to smoke after finding out, the hard way, that this habit might actually kill us?
I use this example simply because I still remember the cigarette I smoked when I last visited the grave where rests a woman I loved dearly. And who is no longer with us because of lung cancer.

Too often our conscience will prefer to rationalize away new information than accept that past choices could have been better.

I’m certain all of you are already too familiar with ‘confirmation bias‘.

Until thirty one years ago, the Eastern half of Europe was self isolated behind the Iron Curtain. Which had suddenly disappeared in a matter of months.

Nowadays, when SARS-CoV-2 has forced each of us to shelter in place and our nations to self isolate behind the borders, we have not only the opportunity but also the obligation to re-evaluate our take on many of the things we took for granted.

The most important one being our Weltanshauung. The way we see the world.
The fact that we have convinced ourselves – simply because our lives have been good enough, that we’ve been doing things the right way.

Marx’s communists had been convinced that dialectic materialism – supposedly backed up by science and a generous political doctrine, was the way in which humankind was going to built its future.
Not the best way, the only way!
For which reason, no transgression from the official line was allowed.
Solutions were to be found only where the official doctrine mandated that answers might have existed.

Communism had fallen. Mostly from within.
Which has prompted those on the other side of the fence to consider that their vision had been better. Which was obviously true.
Slowly, people on both sides of the previous fence have started to convince themselves that their vision was the only correct one. The only alternative had proven itself to be a failure, didn’t it?
Which seems also true. I know of no better alternative. For us. I know of no alternative which would be more helpful for us. Only the fact that I’m not aware of an alternative doesn’t mean much. The alternative might as well exist. Or not….

And here’s the problem.
Marxism had failed for no other reason than those who followed it behaved as if they were convinced that Marxism was perfect. They were implementing the Marxist doctrine by the letter. Not that its spirit was any good… long discussion. My point being that arrogance was built in the Marxist spirit. Marx had actually given carte blanche to his adepts to impose communism, by force, to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, the last 30 years had convinced me that many individuals belonging to the dominant culture, to any dominant culture, have a hard time keeping their cool.
Too many of them reach the conclusion that ‘theirs’ is the best way. That all the rest are wrong.
Which conviction has a malignant consequence. It makes them deaf. They no longer consider any other option but theirs.
They no longer hear anything but their inner voice.

For all it may be worth, here’s what I learned about liberty during the last 30 years.

Liberty as breadth.
Liberty is the breadth of the opportunity field where we might search solutions for our problems. But no matter how large that breadth might become, we’re never ‘out of the woods’.
Liberty is but an opportunity, never a guarantee.
We are the ones still responsible for the solutions we pick. For the simple reason that we’re going to bear the brunt of the consequences.

It is easier to search for solutions in a freer environment. Hence better solutions might become available sooner. But it’s still our job to look for them. To experiment. To widen our scope.

Liberty as a form of social interaction.
We can relate to freedom in at least two manners.
As an individual goal – ‘I want to be free’/’I want freedom for my people’, or as a ‘manner of doing business’.
We are free, together, because we respect, and trust, each-other. We are free, together, because generations and generations of us have build a social arrangement based on mutual respect. A social arrangement which includes certain mechanisms which attempt to bring things back on track whenever disturbances appear.
Some of which mechanisms have been put into formal law, while others have remained in the ‘public domain’.

When we put these two visions together, the ‘binocular’ image starts to develop ‘depths’.

A social group may enjoy freedom – a wider opportunity field, only as long as its individual members – all of them, enjoy their individual freedoms. For only as long as all individual members are free to roam the entire opportunity field discovered/maintained by the community.
And as soon as some individual members start to corner portions of the opportunity field for themselves… the whole social mechanism will grind to a halt.

Sooner rather than later.
The more intense the desire of the individual members to increase their ‘own’ individual liberty, the narrower the aggregated opportunity field becomes.
Each of the individuals guarding their plot means each of them staring at their feet. Individuals become more interested in guarding their fences rather than in raising their eyes to the horizon.

People obsessively defending their past will never be ready for the future.
Meanwhile individuals charging ahead with no consideration for the rest of the team will soon find themselves stranded on thin ice. With no one around to help.

Messages which are knowingly incomplete, false or both at the same time.

Why?

Because they have no alternative, want to achieve something or need to survive.

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness – read consciousness, they realize that no ‘communication event’ will ever be complete. That nobody will ever be able to communicate everything they know, about the most insignificant subject, to anybody else.

Then what? Stop talking?
Or assume personal responsibility for everything that leaves your lips?

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness, they realize there’s more in life than mere survival.
As soon as their consciences bloom – in concert with the accrued influence exercised by the ‘environment’, individuals set goals for themselves. Which goals become integral part of the ‘ongoing project’. Of the self-actualizing conscience. Achieving, or failing, each of those goals leaves an indelible mark on the conscience itself. On the manner in which each individual relates to their environment.
Since achieving is far more ‘satisfying’ than failing, conscience is naturally biased towards ‘achieving’. If the ‘environment’ ‘allows’ it, the bias becomes more and more ‘slanted’.
The messages used by the individuals – by their conscience, to be more precise, will increasingly serve the purpose of achieving goals rather than the purpose of ‘honest communication’.

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness, that conscience wants to survive.
Mind you, not the person but the conscience.

‘?!?
Conscience cannot exist without the mind/body which supports it….’

OK, tell that to people who believe their souls are going places after their mortal bodies expire. Then try to demonstrate to yourself, honestly, that those people are wrong. That there’s no chance for their belief to be ‘true’.

But metaphysics are hard.
Let me give you a far lighter example.
Smoking. Or drinking. Driving fast. Eating that extra piece of chocolate…
Don’t tell me you never did anything ‘foolish’. That you never lied to yourself: ‘This cannot happen to me. Chances are so small that … Only this time….’

‘But otherwise nobody would ever be able to ‘leave their houses’. We’d be all completely paralyzed with fear…’

Yeap! That’s exactly what I mean. Conscience needs to lie to herself in order to remain functional. Otherwise she would not allow the physical body who sustains her to assume any risk.
They would both suffocate.

Regulations don’t really work unless they reflect the mindset of the majority…

And here’s how it works.

The rule about driving on the ‘right’ side of the road is observed without much need for enforcement.
Because the consequences are clear. And consistent, unless you drive a tank.

People had the same problem with condoms.
Until HIV came along…
Nowadays very few people engage in casual sex without one.

Give us time and … if SARS-CoV 2 will be around for long enough…

Everything which has a temporal dimension – movement, transformation or both, incurs costs and produces consequences.

From a rock sliding down a slope to me writing this.

The difference between these two being the simple fact that no rock has ever had any goal.

You see, the rock looses some energy and mass while sliding down. It accelerates at first but since no rock has ever slidden for ever.
Only rocks never do anything on their own. Something has to happen to them first.
They do bear the costs – they wear down, break, etc., yet they don’t mind. For they are not, at all, aware of what’s going on. And, anyway, completely unable to do anything about it. Hence not at all ‘responsible’ about any of the consequences produced by whatever they had been involved in. Happened to them, actually.

Fast forward to me. I’m not only alive – hence reactive to whatever happens to me, but also aware. Aware of my own awareness even.
I notice the costs I have to pay. Hence I try to minimize them.

And here’s the gist of the matter.
My awareness drives me to minimize the costs I incur during my life AND to be very careful about the consequences of my endeavors.

Theoretically, at least…

Nothing will ever happen unless:

– There’s enough, and suitable, space.
– There are enough, and suitable resources. In that place, of course.
– Something starts it.

Trivial?

Good!
What you’ve just read being trivial for you only means you’ve already figured this out.
That you cannot master anything
– which happens outside your consciousness,
– you don’t really understand,
– you haven’t set your mind on.

There are a lot of people who prod us to ‘think out of the box’.
And a few who dare to warn us about the perils of pushing it too far…

I’m gonna invite you to the next level.
Instead of sending your imagination to think outside the box – while the rest of you remains comfortably inside, let’s step outside ‘in person’.

Classic thinking outside the box does nothing but enlarges the box. Brings inside a portion of the outside. Moves the walls.
Bringing in a lot of additional clutter in the process.

By stepping outside, physically, you have the opportunity to actually see the problem as an ‘independent’ box. Separated from you and separated from the environment.

How about this for a change in perspective?

This way it will be easier for you to notice, and carefully examine, the links which exist between you and the problem. Between ‘the’ problem and the rest of the problems. Between the problems and the environment. The place where you have to cope with the problems.

The place where you live.

And that, my friend, is your biggest problem.
How to step out of your own life.
In order to make it better.

There are facts which need to be checked.
And facts which are ‘somewhat’ obvious.

USAToday felt the need to fact check whether Bill Gates sponsoring a ‘pandemic simulation’ didn’t predict COVID-19…

What next?
Fact checking whether a fire crew exercising fire fighting didn’t predict the next … fire?!?

Given my experience of living under communist rule, I can tell you that too much consistency is bad. Having to toe the line is dangerous. For individuals and for societies, as a whole. Communism did fall, you know.

On the other hand… some consistency is needed.

Let me give you an example.

The whole world is asking China to do ‘the right thing’ about its wet markets. In Bill Maher’s terms “eating bats is bat-shit crazy“.

Why?!?

Because of what science tells us. That bats are full of corona-viruses, which are bad for us.

That’s what we say, anyway. Those of us who side with ‘science’… And who ask the Chinese to give up their traditions.

Let’s examine the problem from the other side.

‘We’ve been eating bats for ages. And nothing happened to us. Now you say that this flu like disease is produced by viruses who live in bats. Why would we believe you – and give up eating bats, if you don’t believe your own scientists? And balk when they tell you to quit smoking. To stop piling plastic into landfills. To stop heating up the planet.

To vaccinate your children, for God’s sake…’

“Yes you can! No people to feel/live/see it, no spring.”

Remember Protagoras? “Man is the measure of all things”?

Without man, there’s no meaning?

Yes, our world becomes meaningless.
The moment we no longer care enough about it.
The moment we stop paying attention.

The other day I had a riveting conversation with my son.
With my 21 years old son.

I asked him to comment on my previous post.
The one about too many people allowing sentiment to cloud their judgement.
The one about even reputable news agencies using click-bait titles to entice readers. Hence reinforcing the habit of sentiment being allowed to cloud reason.

‘Life was never better for so many of us’, explained my son. ‘Since WWII most of us had enjoyed peace. Since the Spanish Flu, we hadn’t experienced a pandemic. Since Salk, we’ve led ourselves to believe we were safe from disease. Since the fall of communism, even the ideological divides have paled down. And now we have enough technology to feed the entire planet, comfortably. The point being that we have no idea how to deal in this situation. What to do. How to behave.
Simply because we have no relevant prior experience.
Until recently, historically speaking, we have successfully dealt with wars, famines and pestilence.
But it’s the first time that we experience such abundance.
We need to adapt to the new reality.
To transform it into an opportunity. Into an opportunity to go forward.
We have to avoid, at all costs, the pitfall of allowing this abundance to bog us down.’

Heartening, isn’t it?
That a person so young can find such deep meaning.
If I may say such things about my own son…

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