Nothing too heavy… just war, disaster, politics, religion, life, death, the answer to everything, that kind of stuff. Oh, I know it wont be easy, but I thought about them enough to do this post, and I am not that good at thinking… Put some vodka in your coffee and let’s get to it!
Have you ever really thought about all the things we have no control over in our lives? No, you haven’t, because if you had, your head would have exploded or you would have jumped off the Golden Gate bridge by now. Or you would have started a blog… ha! Oh sure, you can think about them individually for short periods of time, but not all at once and not for long.
Since we first started walking upright and became self-aware, we began to realize that being alive is dangerous. As someone more clever than me once said: “Life, nobody gets out of it alive.” (I think that was either Socrates of Groucho Marx)…
We were surrounded by dangers… saber tooth tigers, volcanoes, earthquakes, disease, famine, and other people… who might just want to kill us to steal our pointy spear-stick. Now I am not going to turn this into a post where I explain once again my theory that because death is a scary, unknown mystery… which humans hate… and life is full of things like lightning and stars and darkness and stuff we didn’t understand that this led us to invent mighty deities that we could use to explain the things going on around us and how they came to be created and what would happen to us after we die. Oh no, I’m not going to do that.
This is just a simple post about how we all deal with the fact that we have so little control over our fate… our destiny. There seems to be two main ways to deal with inconvenient truths: Denial and stupidity.
Denial is when you know about something bad and just pretend it isn’t as bad as it really is.
Stupidity is when you just don’t bother to learn about bad stuff.
They both work pretty well… if you can manage to stick with it.
Deniers are a funny bunch. There are a few inconvenient truths that are so universally accepted as fact that when people deny their existence, the rest of us lump them together as a group. Then we label the group. Now we have groups called things like ‘climate change deniers’ and holocaust deniers’. This might be where stupidity and denial sort of overlap a little. Because, dear deniers, I will let you all in on a little secret. When the rest of us use the word ‘denier’ to lump you in a group, we don’t really mean ‘denier’ when we say ‘denier’. We mean ‘stupid’. We think you are stupid. Or crazy. Or maybe a little bit of both. When you manage to convince yourself that something didn’t happen… like the holocaust… or that something isn’t going to happen… like climate change… despite overwhelming evidence, we just shake our heads and try to figure out what is wrong with yours.
I don’t want to get back on the topic of religion, but I do have to say that for some strange reason, overly religious people make excellent deniers. There is also the strange phenomenon where people use religion as a basis for not worrying about something like climate change and pollution. They tell themselves that if the planet is warming up, then it must be part of their god’s plan, so it must be a good thing. I think this falls firmly into the stupidity side of the equation, but there is a good bit of denial mixed in.
So, once again, I have no answers, no insight. I just want to start us talking and thinking about this stuff. I think humans have one weird tendency that causes us a lot of trouble. We seem to accept that however things are where and when we are born is the way things are just supposed to be. We get used to stuff. We think it makes sense. And this leads to conflict, because when you think something makes sense, you tend to assume that it is also right. And when you think something is right, you take it too seriously.
Once again, religion comes into play. People are just so touchy about the god they either chose, or more often, the one that was handed to them by their parents. So it is all too easy for a Catholic to say that the red spot placed on the forehead by Hindus… the Tilaka… is silly, but then for that same Catholic to turn around and get really upset when someone else points out that the Pope wears funny hats. Where in any religion does it say you can’t have a sense of humor, people???
Okay, I got off track… I do that… Back to stupidity and denial. I sort of sometimes wish I could achieve on or the other. Life would be so simple if I was stupid and could just ignore or deny facts when I don’t like them. Billions of other people have managed to work their way into one of these mindsets. Lucky bastards.
So to sum up, we like to think that just because something happens over and over, and we have seen it happening since we were little, that they must happen for a reason and make perfect sense. I will fill you all in on another little secret: We make all this stuff up. Everything you see around you, everything people do… well, except for sleeping and eating and pooping and sex and few other things, are all stuff we just decided to start doing. Think about that for a moment. Let it soak in. We make stuff up.
Take anything as an example. How about weddings? We see weddings as normal events. We get into huge arguments over who can and can’t marry who… ‘no, it is only a man and a woman, gay people can’t get married, that makes no sense at all’… (Oh crap, how did religion sneak in here again?) Hey, marriage makes no sense. You only think it does because they have been doing it for a few thousand years. But break it down. Every aspect of marriage is a human construct. The ring, the cake, the white dress, the ceremony, the words, the honeymoon. You think this all came to us as a divinely wrapped package? No, we made it up. It all came from different mating rituals slowly evolved over thousands of years by many different cultures.
And the sad part is that it really doesn’t make sense. Marriage was mostly invented to keep women subservient to men, or to combine households for mutual support. Marriage for love is a relatively new idea. So is marriage between a man and ONE woman.
Also, the whole idea of young people spending that much money on a one time event when they are getting ready to start a new life makes no sense by any standard. Invest that money. When you buy a dress for thousands of dollars you are supporting the fashion industry. Save that money… or use it to go to Europe in five years once you start getting on each other’s nerves.
Okay, have we established the fact that life is mostly just a bunch of rituals and circumstances and constructs that our ancestors slowly conceived of over time and that eventually took on a shape and form that we recognize today? Good.
I leave you with one last example of things we humans do that we pretend makes sense but obviously doesn’t:
We do it all the time. We have been doing it since we first starting banding together in groups. We never seem to get tired of it. There has been a war going on somewhere on the planet almost every single day since civilizations started to rise.
So we, us silly humans, have somehow come to the conclusion that there must be a reason for war. You can get a job as a soldier. Think about that. You are like a fireman, sort of… you put on special clothes and get paid to sit around waiting for the next fire… only it is a war, not a fire. We train people to kill other people… as a job.
I am not saying I don’t ever see the need for war, and I am definitely not saying anything against soldiers. I respect them. I was in the Navy when I was 17. But it is a weird concept.
Take World War Two as an example. Yes, Hitler needed to be stopped. That was a just and reasonable war… but just consider it for a moment. For a period of six or more years… more if you add the conflicts that led up to it… a large percentage of the humans on this planet were involved in killing one another. Not just the guys who picked up a rifle or flew a plane or manned a ship. Not just the people in uniform in support roles. Oh no. The people at home worked in factories making the weapons, or grew the food to feed the war effort, or worked in labs designing new ways to kill other people.
So that’s all I’m saying, I guess. Don’t assume that just because you are used to something that it automatically makes sense. Think about things.
You can always deny them later.
Or pray for stupidity.