Now What?

Of late I find myself in a state of profound despair. Many attempts to post; all end up in the trashcan. It’s not having nothing to say, but finding no point any more to saying it. My faith in humanity was always a bit tenuous, and the last decade or so has really given it a beating.

Things on a personal front ain’t so great, either, but that just makes it all that much harder to take. The Kavanaugh (Kava No!) hearings, and all that went with them, made me sick to my stomach. Once again I see how far we have not come.

I find I’m losing my last illusions about people. Maybe that’s a good thing?

When we elected Barack Obama, I thought, “Hooray! Maybe we’re finally growing up about paint jobs.”

Except the pushback showed we weren’t. And any real look at the situation shows we never really did. The problem is deep and systemic, a fundamental part of the social fabric.

If POTUS #44 showed how far we have to go when it comes to paint jobs, #45 shows us how far we have to go when it comes to plumbing. This whole “men’s rights” movement makes me want to throw up.

It’s hard for me to even begin to understand how much some people hate other people because of their color or sex (or just preferences). How is it possible to hate other people who have nothing to do with you?

Boggles my mind and upsets my heart. This is inhuman.

I’d say it’s animal, but animals lack the minds to act in such corrupt manner.

It takes a mind to embrace evil.

And make no mistake, the Kavanaugh hearings were evil. The POTUS, and all he stands for, are evil.

They are evil because they attack and destroy the human spirit.

They are evil because they attack and destroy the human community.

They are evil because principles mean nothing to them.

They are evil because they lie constantly to further their own ends.

They are evil because their own ends are all that matter to them.

They are evil.

(And evil doesn’t question itself.)

§

But we’ve allowed it to come to this, and the real question is what are we going to do about it?

Are we going to show up to the polls in massive numbers, make our voice heard, and provide a mandate for change, for decency, for honesty?

We had better.

§

On some level, the racial thing ought to be easy to solve. It really is just a matter of different paint jobs. Genetically, we actually aren’t different “races” of people — we’re just people with minor variations in coloring and hair.

Genuinely trivial differences that shouldn’t matter, and, in any honest scenario, don’t. (A problem is lack of honest scenarios making the truth obvious.)

The gender thing seems more complicated to me because men and women do have crucial differences. If they didn’t have those differences, the human race would cease to exist.

So while fixing racism is a matter of recognizing the lack of any significant differences, fixing sexism is a matter of managing obvious differences that don’t matter in most contexts.

It doesn’t matter — at all — if your airline pilot or surgeon or CEO or pretty much any other profession is male or female.

The complicating factor is that (at least for most people) it does matter when it comes to who you love, who you marry or live with. There is, in fact, a strong undeniable difference on a social level.

The clothing differences show this deep social difference. It’s not about the right to wear, or the requirement to wear, but about that a difference exists at all.

Skirts of various lengths, bare arms, a lower neckline, these are commonly accepted business wear for women. Our society, even the professional circumstances, has women showing off their legs, bare arms, and chest.

It cracks me up to imagine the response if I wore such clothing at work. A sleeveless tunic with a deep-cut neck and a kilt. It would be absurd, and yet it causes no comment on a woman.

Our society, deeply rooted, has fundamental ideas about female beauty and objectification. It’s a multi-silo multi-billion-dollar industry, for one. And it crucially tilts the playing field for another.

But the differences are still real. Sexual tension is a truth we must manage.

A mature society doesn’t subsume itself to it (or any other emotional position).

§

Which brings us, once again, to the importance of thinking over feeling.

The problem is that, while compassion is a feeling, so is hatred, so is fear. We can act compassionately on a rational basis as a mature society. Operating on our feelings can lead to fear, anger, and hate.

We have to be able to think!

If we’re not able to think our way past problems involving mere paint jobs, how will we ever think our way past actual tensions over plumbing?

After so much time, after so much talk, we still have so far to go.

I despair that we’ll ever get it right.

We do have our bright shining gems, but they seem lost in the midden heap of humanity. People no longer look beyond the light of their cellphones. The mindless ack-ack of society grinds ever on, heedless.

So I despair.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

5 responses to “Now What?

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Plus, two long-time friends forgot or ignored my recent birthday, so I’m in a pretty deep-blue funk, all things considered.

  • sean samis

    Sometimes I share you “funk” but there’s no value in it. Nature and humans are imperfect; they are what they are. Hope remains, but it will get worse before it gets better, and only by working hard and getting pissed off can the problem be fixed. Withdrawing from the struggle is what they want.

    sean s.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      It’s nice that you’re optimistic, but I’ve come to believe it may be wishful thinking. (This, too, is a topic I’ve written about a lot, most recently quite explicitly: The Fermi Paradox.)

      I think our slide backwards, away from science and rational thinking (and honesty and decency as core values), may reflect a “sawtooth” future for humanity where we advance to a point and then backslide. I’m not sure we ever overcome our crab bucket mentality.

      Given the available evidence, it doesn’t look good to me.

  • rung2diotimasladder

    I don’t believe in political progress—that things will get better over time because society becomes increasingly more enlightened—because I just don’t see enough evidence of it. In some ways we improve, sure, but in other ways we don’t, or we get worse. Education is one of those things that’s getting worse. That’s major in my book. On the other hand, you can look at things with a long view and see that we live longer, etc.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightenment_Now

    Meh.

    I think politics is pretty much hopeless and that’s nothing new. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop voting and paying attention or anything like that, but I try to adjust my expectations so I don’t get too disappointed. Not always successful in that, but watching a lecture series on the rise and fall of the Roman empire helps me remember that things could be worse. (On the other hand, I shudder to think of what might happen without checks on Trump.)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “In some ways we improve, sure, but in other ways we don’t, or we get worse.”

      I know what you mean. It’s only on the long view that there seems significant growth. Humanity mostly no longer has a thriving legal slave trade, although various forms of servitude still exist. The general consensus about human rights (and animal rights) has improved since humanity’s early days. Our knowledge, understanding, and technology, lead to healthier, longer lives with more choices (at least in developed nations).

      But it sure does seem the progress is gradual. And — point of the blog post — we might be backsliding at the moment.

      “Education is one of those things that’s getting worse.”

      Recently, absolutely! OTOH, most people today can at least read and write.

      This is one place where I really think we’ve gone backwards. There was a time knowledge was revered; now it’s often disdained. That’s a shocking shift in cultural stance.

      “I think politics is pretty much hopeless and that’s nothing new.”

      People are ever and always people. What I think adds a new element is technology, in particular, the web. It allows for fringe groups to find each other and gather strength they never could. And it allows people to create information bubbles — “echo chambers” — that reinforce what they already believe.

      (FWIW, Sean and I got more into this in the I Hate Apple! post’s comment section. I went into detail about some of the same things we’re discussing, so you can check that out if you’re interested.)

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