I used to write code for a living. Now I write novels and random thoughts about mostly Life, the Universe, and Everything. I tend to wander the thin line between fiction and reality, much like we are all doing today.
A key cornerstone of my musings is that we are not rational animals, but animals that can rationalize. We all form opinions and, over time, come to believe that our opinions are correct (myself included). We surround ourselves with others that have similar opinions and tune out others who don't. While much has been written about "confirmation bias," most of us are blithely unaware that we are being manipulated by subtle algorithms. After fifty years of making up my own algorithms, I have a sixth sense about them. It's like a disturbance in the Force and I can see its effect throughout the online world to which we have so readily become addicted.
TRIGGER WARNING: I seek the truth. Some of it is not what you might want it to be. Our American society has become so polarized, that one has to tread carefully among the thousands of land-mines sprinkled by the billions on social media. Everyone is so trigger-happy, that the least little thing can set someone off into a tirade against a total stranger. Many of these are caused by sharing our own beliefs and so, before I continue, I want to be upfront about where I stand. I am neither black nor white, but many shades of gray. Like yourself, I am a human being and I didn't ask to be here in the first place. And, like it or not, we are all in this together. What follows is simply my opinion. Your mileage will certainly vary 😉
PHILOSOPHY: I don't believe in anything 100 percent. There is always room for doubt since we can't actually be sure that we see reality for what it really is. For all I can tell, I might be lying in a coma somewhere after one of my near-death experiences that I had in high school. Or maybe we're all living in the Matrix or a dreamworld like in Inception. How would we know? On a practical side, I choose to believe that what I perceive as our reality has a 99.9999 percent probability of being true. To choose otherwise leads to madness, of course. On the other end of the scale, I find a number of things that are likely impossible, but the reality is that the odds of them happening are not zero.
POLITICS: Here is my entire on-line voting registration with no redactions (while I could have voluntarily provided more information, it wasn't required to apply for a mail-in ballot - just my voter ID and DOB was enough):
Sometimes I sound like a Republican; sometimes I sound like a Democrat; other times like a Libertarian, Independent, or Green Party member. But I am none of these. I am an American. I believe in a society that obeys the laws and is educated enough to understand why we have them. That if we don't like a law, we can change it. If we don't like the rules (i.e., the U.S. Constitution), then we can change them as well. Just like the NBA added the three-pointer in 1979 to liven up the game. The idea, of course, is to follow the rules, whatever they are. My favorite political quote is from John F. Kennedy:
"And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
Today, we have this completely backwards (in my opinion).
RELIGION: The next hot-button issue is religion. At its most basic level is whether there is a God (or gods) or not. As I explained above, I don't have the faith to believe in any supreme being(s) and I lack the faith to believe that there isn't one (or more), much less care whether they are sexed or sexless. Nothing is zero or 100 percent. As a result, I lead my life as if there may be a god (or gods) and mostly adhere to the mythical Golden Rule as my guide in life. To believe, or to not believe, I respect your rights to your own opinions, no matter what they might be (even if I don't agree with your religion at all). I view religion as the application of a philosophy to our personal lives, although the experts will tell you that this is not the case. Since we are not rational animals, we rationalize our behavior with justifications drawn from a mix of religious and philosophical teachings. This, in my mind, is called "situational morality," and it helps us to live with ourselves. My favorite religious quote is:
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
It doesn't matter who may or may not have said it, it sounds like Common Sense to me for a healthy society.
SEX: I am a heterosexual male that is married to a heterosexual female. We are very happy together. If you have found some other arrangement that makes you happy, then I share in your happiness as well. Among consenting adults, I don't care what you do. However, I draw the line with minors, in most cases, and with children, in all cases. I support LGBTQ2+, although I think that we should concentrate more on character and less on the labels. Labeling people is what got us divided in the first place. We are all humans, after all, and none of us asked to be here in the first place.
RACE: I am considered to be a Caucasian. I had no more control over that than you did in choosing your own race. I don't care what color you are or where you came from, we all deserve the respect that should be afforded to all humans (with a few exceptions). My favorite quote about race is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Today, we seemed to have forgotten his words. Labels and acronyms abound to describe some narrow slice of identity politics. No longer does your character matter, just what "tribe" you're from. Whether you like this country or hate it, we are each an American (read the EULA). All that we have to do, is to act like one.
SOCIETY: I admire the United States Constitution for its ability to change over time. Unlike any other social contract between a government and its people, it was created for the sole purpose of preventing any central form of tyranny from ever developing. It was primarily based on John Locke's philosophy of "Life, Liberty and Property" (LLP) which was highly regarded by Thomas Jefferson:
"Bacon, Locke and Newton… I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences."
Since its inception, we have amended our Constitution twenty-seven times. If we don't like it, we can continue modifying it as much as we want, even to the point of where it is no longer recognizable. As Benjamin Franklin was rumored to have said:
"A Republic, if you can keep it."
Libertarianism developed around the inherent principles of LLP. Ayn Rand created Objectivism as a direct rebuttal to their strict interpretive policies. Both of these socio-political philosophies missed the mark, in my opinion. Allen Brookstone, the imaginary CEO of the fictional Brookstone Heuristics Corporation (BHC), explains it best by example:
"I always felt that strict adherence to the concept of Life, Liberty, and Property was all that was needed. However, I was always bothered by the inevitable rise of monopolies and the working-class poor that would result as a natural outcome. Thus, I postulated the Magical Ingredient."
"I still don't know what that is," reminded Minerva.
"Suppose you're walking past a well-known pool of quicksand. There are many signs that say Keep Out and Warning and some even have symbols depicting the danger. In the middle of the pool is a man who has sunken up to his armpits and yelling for help. Nearby is a rope coiled up and tied to a tree. All that's needed is to toss the rope to the man and his life will be saved."
"I don't understand the problem," said Minerva. "You just toss him the rope, right?"
"Well, I would, and I know that you would, but there are many who wouldn't. Some because they know the man and never liked him or some who simply hate idiots and figure that he should have watched where he was going. Under strict LLP, you have the choice of saving his life or not, but there is nothing making you do it."
"But aren't there Good Samaritan laws that make sure that people help others?"
"Yes, but that's the problem, don't you see? There shouldn't have to be a law. People should just naturally want to do the right thing."
As I mentioned above, I am not a member of any political party or faction, but a strict Constitutionalist that believes in LLP + the Magical Ingredient. For most of my adult life, I've searched high and low for this elusive MI, but so far, I haven't found it.
HUMANITY: We are doomed unless we can figure out how to get along. For a fuller explanation, read my Chaos Trilogy.
I am Me and you are You. We are America 😊