Being that I live in a sewer and am known for my lack of hygiene, I don’t often get out to the movies and they won’t install cable for me. However, I have subscribed to Netflix, so I can see movies and television shows, although they’re what you used to call “reruns”.
As I watch the political goings on, I am struck by the mob mentality. Mob might be a bit strong, but I believe someone once called it group-think. The phenomenon is that members of a group tend to surrender their individuality in order to fit in. Instead of using critical thinking and logic, they go with the prevailing opinion of the group.
The reason I mentioned Netflix is because I can’t say it better than how it was explained in Men in Black:
J: People are smart.
K: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.
If you ever read about me you know that history claims that I lived in either a sewer or a large pot. Trust me, it was a sewer. If you live in a large pot, before too long, it becomes a sewer.
However, that was my choice. After all, I was a legitimate and, in fact, esteemed philosopher. I am credited with being a major force in developing the philosophical discipline known as cynicism. Me, being a cynic, suspect that you don’t believe that.
Observing events in your time, I must admit it adds great credence to the importance of the cynical philosophy. In fact, while every age needs a certain amount of healthy cynicism, your age will never be cynical enough.
But I digress.
I was thinking, after seeing political, social, and religious interactions over the past decade, how I am perfectly adapted to live in this time. If I had lived in your here and now, I would have readily eschewed my desire to find an honest man. It was a fool’s errand in my time, and today, um, well . . . .
Today, it is often not the person with a powerful title who has power; the power is frequently wielded by those who whisper in the leader’s ear–those once called the powers behind the throne.And, indeed, a throne it is.
If I lived in this day and age I could . . . .
No. Never mind.
I miss my sewer.
There are people who perceive facts and act accordingly and there are people who do not accept facts. Instead, they ignore facts and believe(?) that by repeating a falsehood over and over, it becomes real.
They do nothing material to change reality. They don’t invent, they don’t discover, they just pretend a blatant fallacy is factual.
Gravity is a fact. No matter how much I want to fly without mechanical assistance and no matter how many times I say “There is no gravity,” it does not change the effect of gravity by a single Planck–the smallest measurement of energy.
Society has learned how to orbit the earth, it has invented computers that can do millions of calculations per second AND fits in your pocket, and it has cured many formerly fatal diseases and injuries. All of these successes were built on facts.
Nevertheless, some people are happier with their preconceived notions, even when the facts are clear.
I’ve heard philosophers and theologians, among others, debate whether humans are inherently good or evil. Some claim that we are inherently evil and it requires some outside influence, such as religion or cultural expectations, to do good. Others claim that within each of us, without external action, there is the desire to do good.
I think that the phrasing of the question is the problem. We should instead ask, “Are humans naturally self-centered or communal?” Do we value the good of others more than purely personal benefit?
I don’t believe that we’re born one way or the other, but the priority of self vs. others is learned. Some learn a sense of community from the community itself, whether that is family, a religious organization, or another inclusive group. The key is whether a person can see something as more important than him or herself.
One of the most highly trusted groups today is the US military. On one hand, this may seem surprising because the purpose of the military is to kill people and break things. On the other, the members of the military are willing to die for a purpose they perceive as greater than themselves. While each service member defines their own values, their service starts with an oath to the US Constitution.
On the other hand, there are people who view life in terms of “What’s in it for me?” They, too, learned this. Some learned from family, business, or others who valued self first. Others may have learned it from a society that rejected them and they feel no obligation to such a society.
What have you learned? What are you teaching others?
Good day, sir or madam. My name is Diogenes and I am so pleased to meet you.
Over a few millennia, things change and even I must adjust. In my experience, it is by acting outrageous that I attract attention to my philosophy. I lived in a sewer, for crying out loud, and carried a torch in the daylight to be noticed, but now, to be outrageous, one needs to be . . . . . .. .
Okay, I get it. Please tell me what truly interests you. I promise to listen intently.
Now, admit it–don’t you feel like a rebel? A libertine? A threat to society? All by sharing a thought in a polite manner?
Weird, isn’t it?
In the Blues Brothers, once they’re both out of jail, they attempt to Get The Band Back Together and they find one of their musicians who is a maître de at a restaurant. They set out to embarrass him until he rejoins the band.
At one point, John Belushi looks at the people at a nearby table and in a foreign accent says, “How much for the women? The girl? How much for the girl?”
The maître de knows he’s trapped and agrees to rejoin the band; the Blues Brothers then leave the restaurant.
I have to admit that this scene flashed through my mind, recently, when your president asked, “How much for Greenland? The Island? How much for the island?”
I liked Belushi better.
Thirty-three days until the autumnal solstice when I either fish or cut bait, depending on how many reader.
I’ve spoken. I’ve written. I’ve done what you would call “performance art.” All this has taken centuries.
Let me put that in perspective. Your father’s birth to your death might be around a century. Now multiply that by 20 or 30. Got it? Good.
I resorted to walking around in daylight carrying a lighted lamp claiming to be looking for an honest man. THAT is how desperate I was and am for exposing the truth. However, sooner or later, when one is not successful, it is wise to give up and seek another course.
I’ve been writing here (wherever here is) for over a year. Being dead, I do not have Twitter, Facebook, or whatever, nor do I want them. I have always fallen victim to the belief that people would seek the truth; if I were a video game, that might be true.
Bottom Line: If you want me to keep writing, do what you can to get others to follow this blog. If there aren’t sufficient people interested in what I have to say by the Autumn Equinox, I will cease writing and take my efforts elsewhere.
If few respond, then I must believe that people prefer the sensational and inconsequential to the truth.
The ball–as you say–is in your court. I’ll be napping in my sewer (look it up if you don’t believe me).