I’m so philosophical its not even funny. Maybe its idealism more than philosophical, but whichever it is, I think I should have grey hairs, grow a goatee complete with sideburns and a moustache, and change my name to Augustine the sixth or something like that. Any name which invokes a vague sense of the aristotelian or with metaphysical connotations, like Zato, Grucrates, Zilalei Zilaleo, Michel von Norowitz, Karl Sachs or Yosef Rant would do.
And here’s how I know this idealism is getting a little out of hand:
1. At some point the last five to ten years, I stopped looking at things in black and white. Grey took over, and from then since, every action has always had more than 3 or 4 dimensions to it. Even eating. Apparently, when you do not look at your food when chewing, you don’t get full quickly.
2. A few years ago, someone told me in a transaction I was involved in that we needed to pay a middle man money “to get things moving”. Instinctively, and as if a switch had been pressed, I objected. If this had occured two or three years earlier, I don’t think I would have had much of a problem with it. But during this particular incident, I wasn’t comfortable with it. Subsequently, on two other occasions my stance has been similar, prefering to go through a “rough” or “tough” patch than knowingly compromise my “values”.Those who know me say “I always choose the bumpy road”.
These values, whether ideals or philosophical, deserve a bit more mention.
If someone was to ask you what are your values, what would you say?
Interestingly, I find myself appreciating a number of principles, possibly ‘life-codes’ or basic standards by which I believe I must operate. Its not a complete list, and probably more transient than I’d be willing to admit it, but some of them include:
(a) A strong belief that all are born equal and deserving of happiness, dignity and respect, irrespective of the social status or financial standing of their parents. That we must all do our part in safeguarding this basic freedom, at all costs.
(d) Belief in a greater power, or a root of human existence is better than none. Whatsoever anybody else thinks. By taking such an approach, it is likely that you won’t do any lasting and intentional damage to your body, such beliefs are unlikely to get you in much trouble, and they could help you live a little bit longer, and healthier.
(e) Importance of honesty, seeking peace and minimising confrontation, even when it may be deemed to be necessary in the circumstances. That sometimes “backing off” is the best offensive, and it may be 10 – 15 years for you to realise that you did infact do the best thing. After all, people will not always understand, so quit trying to get them to understand.
(f) To take Pride in working hard to earn a living. No such thing as a free lunch. If humans are born with a fear of heights and noises, I most definitely was born with a ‘work ethic’ gene activated. A certain energy, which although appreciated remains mysterious to me.
(g) To never ever allow anyone to define you in condenscending / belittling terms. Refuse to deal with those who do so, or try to do so, whomsoever they may be. And denouce them publicly whenever the opportunity presents.
(h) To oppose and fight the above, or any such repressive types to the death. An eye for an eye.
(i) That the proof is in the pudding. Always ask for evidence. Don’t make hasty decisions without considering the evidence in detail.
(j) History is unkind to those who rush it so don’t be in too much of a hurry. Once a week, procrastinate, just for the sake of it. And when faced with difficult circumstances, wait for things to complete, for the dust to settle. People have been spared death just because they waited an additional 10 – 20 minutes.
(k) A belief in luck. Even when reality appears to show otherwise.
(l) Sometimes take calculated risks, sometimes gamble. Calculatedly.
(m) Be unpredictable. Towards as many people as you can be. And don’t let your unpredictability become predictable. And it shouldn’t have to always be complicated stuff, it can be as simple as offering to undertake a task on behalf of someone who you know doesn’t like you.
(n) Help others, especially those most in need. Beware when you do this against those not in need, who just want to use you.
(o) Unity is strength. Triumph Unity. Speak for Unity, be an ambassador for Unity. Humanity would be much more powerful, much more effective if it were united. Not as a world government, but in cause / mission and approach to global challenges and issues. Strive to help others unite and succeed.
(p) Learn to say no. Even when you are starving. Not everything that glitters is gold, and sometimes your enemies will make you bad offers when you are most vulnerable.
(q) Forgive others, and yourself, but never forget. Keep your forgiven as prisoners somewhere in your subconscious. Don’t dwell on it. Just guard your mind because the line between forgetting and making the same mistake again is too fine.
(r) Make ‘the right’ enemies. You will need them to strengthen you.
(s) Sing and be sang to. Music is everything. Apparently it can even be used for therapy.
3. I suddenly developed an interest in investigating inequality and divisions. Why were certain things the way they were, the question exploded? And found that a lot of inequality (and divisions) in the world today were engineered and had questionable bases. As artificial as plasticine. They could be eradicated within no time, if only there was a unified and concerted effort. I discovered that although I identify more with capitalist ideology (as opposed to communist/ socialist, or anarchist ideologies respectively), capitalism was more imperfect than its adherents were willing to public admit. Which was bad because it led to abuse of the whole thing. Enter “responsible capitalism” which to me essentially embodies some of the things I already value.
4. I began to regularly audit my friendships. I would walk away from the questionable ones (especially when their actions illuminated a one way street) and stick to those who were by my side in my ‘darkest days’. Also, I realised that there are certain people who come sweet talking, “giving advice” as if with good intentions, when all they want is to manipulate you for their own selfish benefit, and destroy your friendships.
5. An erroneous belief that if you educate people, and give them a job, if you keep them happy, clothed, fed, they will turn out well. Not always – it depends. Sometimes people will behave in unexpected ways despite everything.
6 I learned to doubt the infallibility of the court systems. I realised justice is a fluid concept. It doesn’t really exist. What exists is pseudo-justice. Look around you, how many genuine grievances are buried under a mountain of bureaucracy, or because of debt / lack of resoruces and therefore inability to seek legal redress, are excluded from justice? Otherwise its down to money, egos, who you know and politics.
7. Religion is a double-edged sword. If you believe in something, watch out what you believe in. And read up on its history so you can learn from its past mistakes.
8. It’s impossible to make everybody happy, but you can work to make fewer people unhappy. The trick is in striking a balance, which to me means always going half-way to meet demands beyond your full commitment, and expecting the same.
9. Some people, for all sorts of reasons, remain negative, conniving, scheming, plain bad. They’ll probably never change. Keep this in mind and don’t waste your time trying to make them appreciate your worldview. You can’t convert a goat into a sheep.
More worrying though is the glaring realisation that i don’t really remember the roots of this idealist / philosophical thinking. I haven’t read Philosophy in any great detail and I’m not a “dissenter” (for example I have never participated in a mass protest, not even when I was a student in University).
Perhaps its been slow developing, perhaps I have picked bits along the way, but whichever way, its kind of surprising.Its as if i woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and realised a lot had changed.
- Philosphy Is Dead (?) (pauladkin.wordpress.com)
- Europes dogmatic ruling class remains wedded to its folly (telegraph.co.uk)
- Philosophy’s shameful love for the swastika (telegraph.co.uk)
- Hidden powers (3ammagazine.com)
- Beware the Easily Defined Philosophical Term (samirchopra.com)
- On Autonomy (andrewbrobyn.wordpress.com)
- Does the Irrationality of Religion Even Matter? (patheos.com)
- Demystifying Conventional Wisdom: Introduction (bryceslabyrinth.wordpress.com)
- Me and my therapist see the world differently. What to do? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Keeping Sartre, and other passions (3ammagazine.com)