Archives for category: life

Shouting into the shadows at the dark pessimist…

A recent Twitter encounter with a dark pessimist inspired this post.  Not to try to debate him, nor to prove him “wrong,” but to expand the conversation a little.

Let’s continue…

The idea of Yin and yang is a powerful one.  Light must exist inseparably with darkness, AND are complementary, interconnected, and interdependent.

This idea is horrible for some people to contemplate.  Why?

The incurable optimist must acknowledge the reality that evil and horror exist.  If they do not, they are denying part of reality.

Even a nihilist must acknowledge that humans can choose to add meaning to their lives, even in the face of meaninglessness.

And while this act might seem to lack all meaning to the nihilist … in reality each of us can keep metaphorically pushing our rock up the hill of life, and find meaning in that activity.

For the nihilist, even if they don’t acknowledge this choice as meaningful … it is for some people.  That is the sum total of human reality.

The nihilist effectively chooses (or perhaps their life circumstances choose for them) meaninglessness over meaning.  So they forever remain trapped in an eternal loop of meaning and meaninglessness that always returns to absolute zero (for them).

(To me, our ability to examine reality IS the meaning of human life.  Those two ideas forever co-mingle in a cosmic dance that makes our lives play out.  But that idea is better suited for another post).

The dark pessimist can have an entirely (or mostly) pessimistic view of the world, and even back it up by showing points of the most horrible reality.

But the Universe is a tricky place, and optimism co-exists inseparably with pessimism.

The darkest parts of the Universe would not exist if there were not points of starlight (however small on a cosmic scale) shining through the dark.

How could you know what “darkness” is unless light existed?

Based on this analogy, the madness of human nature that was explicated in a thoughtful rant also co-exists with sanity, calmness, insight, etc. because you would not be able to know “madness” without the opposite.

So the absolute horror and darkness in Yin and yang co-exists with beauty, light, and delight within the sum total of reality.

A dark pessimist may not choose to see that.  They might be blinded to the reality by the most horrible parts of human nature from our history on this planet (which I don’t deny exist, either).  But that said…

Reality is the absolute total, and not just the parts of it that we choose to see.

And as I commented on your post, I fear you might be right, with time as the ultimate arbiter…

But I will always hold hope for the brightest and most beautiful parts of human nature to shine through the darkness long enough to slow or stop the madness you thoughtfully alluded to.

I can see those small points of metaphorical human light, and in fact, I will choose to look for them during my short existence on this planet.  But I’m also not blind to the worst of our nature, nor our violent and our disgusting history.

With misery, comes loving company … after all.

And I can also understand how that might appear to be “ultra-optimistic” from your perspective. 😉

As a principle that I stand behind, a shallow person tries to “win” an argument or debate.  A reasonable person tries to deepen their knowledge of the world.

I thank my dark and pessimistic interlocutor for deepening mine.

We need to throw out “What side are you on?” and labels like “anti-this” and “pro-that.”

Those bifurcations are exactly what propagandists (like Governments) use to keep people away from the human part of whatever you’re examining. We are human beings with short lives that occupy dirt on a planet which is a speck of dust on the cosmic scale.

The “battles” being fought are generally a giant spectacle so that the battles can continue to be fought without interruption. The people who instigate these battles are sick in the head (on both “sides” of any battle).

In the end, our imagined self-importance (as Carl Sagan once put it) doesn’t prove anything. I just want to be human, and connect with a few people who will genuinely connect with me.

We have ~ 75 trips or so around the Sun … I’m just trying to make the most of them.  You should too.

So, in terms of any two-party system, the “parties” and the “two sides” are both illusions that only have real consequences on our lives because they are being used maliciously for that purpose.

Live your life, get out of the “battle” and the violent, bile-filled cesspool that is our media … and pay more attention to the good stuff.  The rest is mostly out of your control (for some of the same reasons I’ve outlined here).

It’s important to note that NO offense is intended towards any set of beliefs here (religious or otherwise), or the people that believe them etc… and that I personally respect all opinions on this subject (not the same as condoning actions).

Let’s get to it…

Slow religion means that no matter what you believe, or don’t believe… no matter where your faith lies, what book you’ve read etc…

Slow down.  Our differences do not need to lie in religious (or non-religious) beliefs. In fact, it seems to me that “religion” is the wrong venue to “be different” on.

We need to slow down and think critically before attacking another person based on their beliefs or religious disposition.

It seems like those that choose to fight (wars) based on religious beliefs (or non-religious beliefs) are just … wrong.

I understand that might sound discriminatory, but I’m pointing to the fighting itself, and the decision to fight against each other (in some extreme cases, killing each other) over what we believe or don’t believe religiously.

For example, if you like to sit on the couch, because you believe the next episode of The Tomorrow People is important, but your neighbor wants to go out and run every day … do we start wars or fight each other over that?

Nope. I understand that is overly simplified, but…

Haven’t we evolved beyond this need to (en)force our beliefs (or non-beliefs) onto others, as human beings part of the same race? Nope. Unfortunately we haven’t.

And we need to “slow down” as it pertains to religion. We’re different enough as humans, and we don’t know everything about creation, the universe, each other etc… and we need to start acting like we don’t know it.

Believe what you want to believe. But don’t force others to change their mind about what they believe.  (Discuss it?  Of course).

Instead, let’s devote more focus to the things that matter in our current form, which is skin and bones.

The rest will happen according to whatever you believe, but even if it doesn’t, whatever really happens will happen anyway.  That will be reality.

For now, we are all going to die at some point, that much is guaranteed (although we might extend our lifespans in the future).

What happens after death, will either happen according to what we believe or it won’t. Right now we have no way of telling exactly what that is.

But that ISN’T something we need to kill each other for.  It isn’t something we need to discriminate against each other for.  It certainly isn’t something we should be wasting our time arguing about, quite frankly.

There are much bigger fish to fry… like learning how to be humans.

In my opinion, we’re still “rookies” when you consider the big picture about humans, and its cosmic timescale.  Believe in some form of God if you want to believe, don’t believe if you don’t want to.

But don’t hate or discriminate against another person for what they believe. That’s just wrong.

We are only a small drop in this huge cosmos called the Universe, no matter who (or what process) created that Universe (or even how it was created).

We. Don’t. Matter. In. The. Big. BIG. Picture.

The Universe is going to hum along LONG after all humans are gone, regardless of our beliefs or whatever set of beliefs happen to be “right.”

And just because we might believe we have an idea of how such cosmic and universal events (and the people part of those events) have transpired… in the end, in the big picture, we just don’t know.

No matter what any books that have been written on religion, or otherwise, might say.

Even our science community itself will never answer all questions to a satisfactory degree, or even a small portion of those questions.  There are just WAY too many questions to be asked.

So, let’s slow down religion (and politics, and, and and…) and just enjoy each other’s company in this short ride we call life (whether it ends up being eternal or not).

We only need one “label” for existing on this planet peacefully… that of Human (and all of the imperfections, good and bad, that come along with being human).

**An excerpt from my PDF book The Slow Manifesto, available here.