The Joys of Drugs

And by drugs, I mean antidepressants. It’s been a while since I last wrote; time enough for my antidepressants to kick in. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for things to start working after a long time without taking them. But, I can say that they’ve made a difference.

527920_499926106703100_362275096_nI am less despondent and less critical. I do not have those horrible cyclical mood swings associated with menopausal women. I can now speak to my husband without crying, which for the last year I could not do. I also think that it has allowed me to feel normal in my newfound take on the marriage. The jealousy that had plagued me is gone. Now that I know that nothing I say or do changes anything in this marriage, I have given up trying to change things. This also means that I have given up investing in it as well.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement, but I can say that the advantages for me outweigh the negatives. I’ve always run my course of action in life through a list of pros and cons. If they seem balanced, I listen to my gut; my intuition. It has never steered me wrong. I’ve gone against my gut feelings and have lived with the consequences; one of them being this marriage. So I know them to be true. How I wish I listened to myself more. However, if I did that, life would be boring and I wouldn’t learn new things about myself and other people.

I’ve learned SO much in the last five years.  I’ve learned that perhaps I should not have been married. I bought into romance and not into real life. I was ill prepared for life as a wife and partner. Who is prepared really? We either set incredibly unrealistic expectations for married couples or we dispense with all the rules. No wonder people are confused. I also learned that perhaps I’m not suited to having a male partner. I’m not saying I’m suited for any sex or gender at all. All I’m saying is that I plunged headlong into a life that was expected of me and never once thought any of it through seriously.  I gave men what I thought they wanted to get along. I had no real desire for them. I’ve lived my life on automatic pilot; feeling nothing and now, when I actually took a chance on the feelings that I was swept up in, it turned out not to be for the best.

Tough lessons. But they are lessons earned and learned. They are mine and I am no longer going to do what anyone else wants me to do. Anything I do now is because it’s good for me and because I want to. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about others, but caring for others will be because I really care and not because I’m supposed to care.


“By Their Fruits” and the Public Political Debate

A female Quaker preaches at a meeting...

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Hereby begins a long rambling post by someone with too much time on her hands. Having no standing in the political or religious arena, I feel free to think aloud about what’s running through my head lately.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve settled down to married life without a spouse in the household, which makes it more difficult than I anticipated. My husband of two weeks had to return to the UK and get to work and before we could spend Christmas together. But the future bodes well with my moving there early next spring and transporting most of my worldly goods as well. In the meantime, I need to keep busy at work and keep my mind off missing him.

As I said before, the wedding ceremony was beautiful. We chose a scripture text because a) we were married in a church and b) it seemed a very practical passage. We used Matthew’s passage about salt and light. Salt should keep its flavor and light should not be hid. It probably seems a strange pick for a wedding scripture but it fit with both of our convictions that actions speak louder than words. For both of us, action is more important than all the talk in the world. Action proves one’s intent more than a thousand declarations. My husband is a newly minted Quaker and The Religious Society of Friends values action more than speech. Even the quiet waiting of the Lord in meeting is an action of surrender, far more powerful than a liturgy or mumbling of words in a ritual. Willingness, reception, humility… far more important than stubbornly proclaiming and correcting. I, on the other hand, take the bible with a huge grain of salt (pun intended). 😀

I was reading many blog posts on the internet this morning. It’s Christmas after all and I was looking for inspiration of some kind. Any kind really. I always tell myself I will go to church or do this or that. And I never do it. I think my IDEA of Christianity is a fond nostalgic moment in my mind, but one which never lives up to that nostalgia in practice. My idea of Christianity is just that; ideal. From my readings I sensed a theme though. Some Christians like to use particular passages to prove  what they consider to be wrong in God’s eyes. This provides the basis for most evangelical sermons heard round the world on most Sundays.  I kept coming to articles quoting another section from Matthew; one that some use as a moral compass:

15″Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.  16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  18 A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit.  19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit. (Mt. 7:15-20)

It’s a great passage because it describes the predicament of men very well.  It’s a wonderful metaphor for a principle that probably precedes any biblical inclusion. Let’s assume for a moment that the bible contains an absolute set of ethics which is prescriptive of our behavior.  How is this passage prescriptive? Well in the churches in which I was a member, I heard from the pulpit that you could pretty easily recognize the wrongness of a thing by what it produced. Romans 1:24-32 was often used as a companion text to illustrate this point. Never mind the fact that sometimes “fruit” is not instant. Sometimes we cannot see the good or evil of an action until many years down the road.

But some Christians would like us to believe that this can be a test of some kind, right now.  They tell us that certain acts will automatically produce a certain consequence.  It is true that one can generally tell the worth of a thing by the fruits produced. The problem comes when Christians use this passage as a prescription to tell others what is “good” or “bad” in particular, according to their interpretation of the scriptures. They also get to decide which consequences are good or evil.  For them sexuality is the chief illustration of a tree and its fruits. AIDS is a consequence of homosexuality therefore it is bad. Abortion is a consequence of  preventable choices therefore it is bad. Depression is a consequence of abortions therefore it is preventable and bad. Failed third marriages are the consequence of divorce therefore divorce is bad. Laziness and freeloading is a consequence of welfare therefore welfare is bad.  Communism is a consequence of basic health care for all therefore not only is communism bad, basic health care for free is bad. For these kinds of folk, B is always a result of A, no matter what.

But, let’s continue the metaphor and take it further. But what if a tree produces good fruit one year and bad fruit the next? What if part of it’s fruit is bad but the rest is good? What happens if the fruit looks really good and healthy but tastes bitter? What if the fruit that ripens and “rots” the most is the juiciest and the best? Isn’t this parable more a generalization rather than a sure fire way of telling what’s good and bad? You’ll know an action is generally unworthy if it generally and consistently produces bad things. Conversely, and more importantly, you’ll know an action is generally worthy if it generally and consistently produces good things.  Generally then, we can look at the bible as another set of ethics that needs to be scrutinized alongside all systems of ethics, using the same criteria: Does it work? Unfortunately some Christians do not ask that question often enough mainly because they don’t care if it works. God said it, that settles it.

This brings me to philosophy as it relates to the public debate about politics and whose politics are “better,” (as most of what I read always does). Setting aside biblical philosophy, I am always interested in John Stuart Mill and his theory of utilitarianism, which seems important right now in the public debate over whose politics are true, especially in this country. Utilitarianism posits that the “moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome.”  This seems to be exactly what Matthew is saying.  You cannot really judge anything as an idea. Ideas have no worth in and of themselves. An idea of a perfect society has no worth if its not enacted in the culture and proven in the public arena. Politics is merely one group arguing for their idea of a society over another group’s idea. Each tries to prevent the other from enacting the principles behind their idea.

Political utilitarianism in general terms is the idea that the most good to the most number of people is helpful to society as a whole. To work for the good of society is a morally worthy goal. The problem is when groups of individuals disagree about what’s good for society.  But that jumps the gun. Mill wrote that

To do the right thing…we do not need to be constantly motivated by concern for the general happiness. The large majority of actions intend the good of individuals (including ourselves) rather than the good of the world. Yet the world’s good is made up of the good of the individuals that constitute it and unless we are in the position of, say, a legislator, we act properly by looking to private rather than to public good. Our attention to the public well-being usually needs to extend only so far as is required to know that we aren’t violating the rights of others.

How this dovetails with scripture depends on how one views scripture. For me, having once taken it so literally, I can say that the bible exists for me now only as a record of other peoples’ experiences of their ideas about God. There is nothing systematic about it. There is no consistent ethic. It provides no absolute foundation for anything. It is literature of the past that contains myth. Like most myth, it it meant to explain after the fact rather than be a presentation of fact. Myth is written by men for other men to try and explain how the world works for them (see my Master’s thesis introduction). The fact that no woman wrote scripture, or if she did, no woman was allowed a presence in its collection, convinces me that the bible is not meant for a woman’s consumption and indeed probably has nothing of any value to say to modern women. There are some worthy statements in the bible, just as there are in another philosphers’ writings, but to stand the test of time a philosophy has to be workable and representative of most people; women included! If it does not stand that test, then it can be discarded as an idea; a pretty idea perhaps, but not workable in any real sense.

All this is a long treatise on the simple idea of mine that we will never get anywhere in political debate until we are allowed to test the theories posited. This is what makes the United States unique in that there are individual states making legislation amid the larger idea of a cohesive Federal government. The states are little microcosms whereby the people can enact what they believe are good ideas and see if they work. If they do work then legislators and the public should try to convince other states and eventually the Federal government to enact them. But progress is extremely slow and we have to realize that. We cannot assume that something doesn’t work even after many years. But we can assume that something works if it’s proven to have worked. Who will say that Brown vs. the Board of Education didn’t accomplish much? Yet it was vociferously protested at the time. We’ve already seen how theocracy works in part by looking at history (the Crusades, Salem Witch trials, etc.) and by looking at how individual churches run themselves. We know that we trample on individual rights when we keep out all the undesirable people these churches cannot stand. No one wants a government that exhibits such exclusivity and punishment espoused by such doctrines. A society based on such exclusivity does not work. We have seen that slavery doesn’t work by watching our Southern states and realizing the devastating path that racism takes. Our western states have shown us in the past that women’s rights were successful long before the Eastern part of the country got wind of it or realized that women were intelligent beings.

I guess all of this is my way of realizing that action and the consequences of it is the only proof of a good idea. People and mere existence comes first, not institutions or foundations. We aren’t born into rules. Rules are born from us and the good of society as a whole is a direct result of the happiness and freedom of individuals IN COOPERATION with the happiness and freedom of our neighbor. There are some “trees” that deserve to be cut down. Al Qaida is a bad tree. Theocracy is a bad tree. Slavery is a bad tree. The subjugation of women is a bad tree. Unregulated capitalism is a bad tree. War that is not just is a bad tree. People dying because they cannot afford health care is a bad tree. Sexual stereotyping is a bad tree. What else is a bad tree? You get the picture.

Quote of the Day

Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity...

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God, I have said, is the fulfiller, or the reality, of the human desires for happiness, perfection, and immortality. From this it may be inferred that to deprive man of God is to tear the heart out of his breast. But I contest the premises from which religion and theology deduce the necessity and existence of God, or of immortality, which is the same thing. I maintain that desires which are fulfilled only in the imagination, or from which the existence of an imaginary being is deduced, are imaginary desires, and not the real desires of the human heart; I maintain that the limitations which the religious imagination annuls in the idea of God or immortality, are necessary determinations of the human essence, which cannot be dissociated from it, and therefore no limitations at all, except precisely in man’s imagination….

Man has many wishes that he does not really wish to fulfil, and it would be a misunderstanding to suppose the contrary. He wants them to remain wishes, they have value only in his imagination; their fulfilment would be a bitter disappointment to him. Such a desire is the desire for eternal life. If it were fulfilled, man would become thoroughly sick of living eternally, and yearn for death. In reality man wishes merely to avoid a premature, violent or gruesome death. Everything has its measure, says a pagan philosopher; in the end we weary of everything, even of life; a time comes when man desires death.

Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion

Between Spock and McCoy

The crew of the original Enterprise, except Hi...

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As a Star Trek lover (all incarnations) this article resonated with me as a good explanation of the balancing act required between reason and emotion. Massimo Pigliucci writes about the Platonic and Humean theories:

Modern neurobiology tells us that both the Platonic and the Humean programs are doomed to failure. As Antonio Damasio put it in a series of three highly philosophically informed books on the science of consciousness (check this one, for instance), a healthy human mind is one that constantly negotiates between the excesses of reason and those of passion. Too much leaning on one side, and one becomes incapable of empathy, possibly embarking on the destructive route to psychopathology. Too much on the other side, and we join the long history of destructive irrationality against which the Enlightenment was a valiant, if flawed, reaction.

While it’s nice to have modern science validating with facts the idea that a sensible human being ought to try to steer a middle course between the Scylla of too much reason and the Charybdis of too much emotion, it was yet another philosopher who had arrived at that conclusion 24 centuries ago: Aristotle. His virtue ethics is based on the insight that we improve our happiness (in the holistic sense of the ancient Greek eudaimonia) by a combination of reflecting about what we do and why, and practicing virtue so that it becomes second nature. Not reason against emotion struggling for primacy inside us, then, but rather a continuous flow aiming at a dynamic balance between the two. (Before anybody even thinks of making the analogy, let me assure you that I do not have any eastern mysticism or new agey crap in mind.)

I think my own struggles are always between, to be colloquial, the head and the heart. Too much head knowledge and I turn into a raging misanthropist. Too much heart reaction and I turn into a blithering empathetic idiot waxing on about “noble savage-ism” and the wonderful-ness of human beings. Bleck. I dislike both. I’m a big fan of the Aristotelian “mean.”Of course, this philosophy assumes a particular form of binary opposition that I don’t necessarily subscribe to, but if we are dealing in simplistic terms, it’ll do.

I think that what bothers me most about those on the extreme edges of either is an inability to admit there can be a balance. Religious fundamentalism says “Do not listen to your intuition. Listen only to our interpretation of scripture.” They dismiss all forms of inner knowledge and experience (except their own) and their measuring stick is an ancient text. Scientific fundamentalism says, “Do not listen to your heart. Listen only to those facts that can be proved” and their measuring stick is a laboratory. If it hasn’t been verified by two or more people it cannot be real or true. For me the path of true wisdom, or Truth, lies somewhere in between. Intuition, heart, metaphysics, the supernatural …. these  are all terms for those things that cannot be quantified or measured or experimented upon.  A healthy dose of head and heart makes a healthy human being. They don’t have to be in opposition.

Liberal vs. Conservative Values and Why It Matters

Greta Christina hit the nail right on the head for me with this article about politics. When we are young, we usually have not thought out to any degree what we think about the world and what approach we will take to living in it. We seem to soak up everyone’s values who live around us and if we had parents who took us to church, we believed what they believed. If we came to religion late, we went to church and there we accepted what we were told because hundreds of people believing the same thing had to be right… right? Not so fast.  When we actually begin questioning our values and belief systems (and sadly not everyone does this), we start analyzing not just those things we believe to be true, but the very assumptions behind them. Perhaps I soaked up this method in philosophy 101 but I learned that you should always begin with the premise of an idea not just the idea when discussing any topic. You had to establish the basis from which everyone was working before discussion could begin.

I think that the problem with religious folk and those who never question their belief systems is that they never question the premises on which their beliefs rest. Fundamentalists believe a god premise, or a holy book premise, or creation by a deity premise. Conservatives believe in, as Christina points out, a premise of authority, loyalty, and purity. She writes:

The conservative value of authority has, at its very core, the idea that certain special people — i.e., authority figures — ought to be respected and obeyed more than others, and ought to have the right to tell other people what to do, and ought to have the power to enforce those dictums. The conservative value of loyalty has, at its very core, the idea that certain special people — i.e., people inside the in-group, the family or country or faith or what have you — ought to be valued more than others. And the conservative value of purity… well, purity is a weird one, since it applies more to how people treat their own bodies, and less to how people treat one another. (Making it a pretty baffling ethical principle, in my opinion.) But when it does apply to how people treat other people (the notion of “untouchables,” for instance), it has, at its very core, the idea that certain special people — i.e., people who are considered pure — ought to be treated as fully human… and that people who are considered impure need not be.Conservative values — authority, loyalty, and purity — can’t be universalized. They actively resist universalization.

Liberals on the other hand believe in the principles of fairness and not doing harm. In other words, whatever mangles these two ideas is not liberal. She goes on to explain herself in detail and I suggest you read all of it, but Christina’s premise of making an ethical principle universalized is similar to Kant’s Categorical Imperative which states, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Both Christina and Kant agree in that we should examine our principles in such a way that we would wish all of society be this way. Of course we know that both liberals and conservatives believe they are practicing that which best furthers society. But my eyes were opened to the fact that I pretty much agree with Christina that liberal values are better for society. Liberal values open society to the dignity of all persons whereas conservative values still compartmentalized people into elites vs. untouchables, those not worthy of help vs. those who deserve it due to money, status, power, etc. Their sexual politics is worlds apart, so the purity principle is paramount in conservative values.

It was indeed an eye-opening article and I’ve grateful for finding it. As someone who has spent her life questioning the why of things, I realized that I had never broken down my political beliefs and convictions into the basics enough to see that what enhances a few people in society enhances all of us. Rather than chastise some of us for not “creating wealth” as this man does we should look for ways from which everyone can benefit, including those who will never have enough capital to “create wealth” on their own and by implication will never be good enough to participate in society.  I will end with Christina’s words as they sum up my own:

I’m saying that any moral progress humanity has made over the centuries and millennia has been made, not in the direction of greater adherence to authority or purity or tribal/group loyalty, but in the direction of expanding our understanding and application of fairness and the avoidance of harm. I’m saying that, in every example I can think of where our morality is a clear improvement over the morality of the past — democracy, banning slavery, religious freedom, women’s suffrage, etc. etc. etc. — the core values being strengthened have been the values of fairness and the avoidance of harm: the liberal values, the ones that can be applied to everyone.

The Art of Making People Nervous

I’ve not blogged for a long time about my spiritual beliefs. I used to write quite a bit about them but I haven’t done so specifically for almost a year now, because, frankly, my beliefs have been all over the place lately. I did have a Quaker post, I’ll admit and very enjoyable it was too. However, even though being hard to pin down to a religious viewpoint makes some people nervous, I find that it doesn’t bother me all that much. Not being able to write down a journey that seems to coincide with some kind of road map of faith that others have drawn up bothers me not at all. It tells me that I’m on the right track, because more than anything, I hate following paths that are so well worn nobody steps off them any longer. I was on a path like that once, and I felt like a lemming heading toward the proverbial cliff!

The reason I started blogging was to explore my beliefs and process my university experience, along with just jotting down life’s quirks and foibles. It certainly has been a circuitous journey and I didn’t even realize I’d been writing it for so long until I looked back in the archive. Wow. I sure can bloviate! I’ve been sad, gotten mad, lost and found faith, moved in and moved out of places, and just meandered on and off the blog for a little over two years. But my main goal has always been to just lay all my thoughts out there in the hopes that others could relate to what I was saying, to kind of demystify that which others claim is so mysterious and unknowable to the average person, because that’s all I am, an average person who makes mistakes, who does good deeds occasionally for no other reason but because it’s needed, who occasionally treats other people like shit when angry, and who lives each day as best she can despite being such a moron most of the time. That’s it. Sometimes you get slammed to the ground and sometimes life seems incredibly beautiful. It’s all a spiraling journey that repeats and repeats until we can get it right. Or is it? Either way, it’s a mixed bag and the one thing keeping me on an even keel is connecting to something larger than myself, or as some call it, spirituality.

Notice I didn’t say “religion.” I’ve gone through religions believe me. I’ve been a fundamentalist non-denominational Christian, a scrupulous Roman Catholic (some would say I still am), Greek Orthodox, a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran, American Baptist, and have been an eclectic spiritual dilettante in the Goddess religions and all of it suits me just fine. I’ve dispensed with the hateful God of fundamentalism which fuels so much hatred and replaced him with a more loving version; one (or many) who most resembles my idea of a loving merciful parent, if that’s the metaphor that fits at the moment. She/He/It contains all aspects of Supreme Love and Mercy to me and without my meanderings into those fertile religious areas, I would have given up on religion/spirituality completely. But I am convinced that some people need religion and/or spirituality. We are just wired that way, just as some people aren’t wired that way. I also feel that our upbringing, our “nurture” along with our “nature” contribute to this wiring and that some things are too ingrained to give up completely. I’ve made no bones about the fact that since I was a small child others have tried to pin me down and have made my life infinitely harder than a child’s should be. They’ve exerted psychological and physical force in order to make me conform to their ways, but something, something always kept me from giving in. Call it a scrappy spirit or downright stubbornness. If physically coerced, I would merely bide my time until such time as I could free myself again to follow my own way. That was pretty much my life during that period.

As I got older, I collected experiences that would form me and mold me into the person I am now. Some were good, some were not so good. But we all go through them and we learn. Hopefully, we learn. At a crucial point in my life I had a spiritual experience that I can’t deny. I don’t know whether I caused it myself or it came from outside me. It doesn’t matter. I know only that I needed it and it was there. It changed my life forever, and if I erase everything in my life that formed me for good or for ill, this experience I cannot forget. I’ve been processing it ever paulconversionsince. I’ve kept this experience with me pretty much inviolate, but looking back, going to church to sort it out was probably a bad move. I should have processed it on my own and in my own time before listening to what others told me it should mean. But, that’s all water under the bridge now. I went to church anyway and absorbed a lot of nonsense about my experience. But I also learned much more. I read the bible quite thoroughly, learned the art of setting aside time for meditation and reading, and garnered some good habits about thinking before speaking (yes, believe it or not, I did learn this in church!) I also wouldn’t trade my times at church simply because it’s made me better at being who I want to be .  I’ve met some wonderful people there, probably more wonderful than screwy. However, it has also shown me what I do not want to tolerate in my life.

So, to end where I began, I can’t honestly say what my beliefs are because I fully embrace all of them and fully embrace none of them. I find good things in all spiritualities. And, I find bad things in them. No one religion defines me. God worship doesn’t totally define me. Goddess worship doesn’t either. However, I find much good in both spiritual streams. Faith in one’s ability to lack faith certainly doesn’t define me and has it’s own peculiar fundamentalist traits. I’m one of those who is hardwired for faith I think and I’m really tired of resisting it. I think, over the years, I’ve found that my only wish is that Grace defines me. Divine Love defines me. The whole world is a Sacrament when you see it this way.  Love itself is a sacrament. Nothing is inherently this or abjectly that. We can all have good moments and bad moments and we can all help as well as hurt. Not a one of us is exempt. I have faith in that. I have faith in my Jesus experience as true for me, as a channel of grace for me. I have faith that others’ experiences are true for them as well. I have faith that those who hate, maim, kill, or do anything, even if it’s in the name of some God, will eventually be “rewarded” fully for it. It may not be the reward they are looking for or even the reward I’m looking for, but I have faith that things will even out in the end. Whatever the metaphor, I am open to the possibilities. It may make other people nervous, but it suits me just fine.

Sartrean Ethics and Testing Moral Values

We all come into the world the same way. There is a woman and a man and they mate. The woman gets pregnant and Voila! A baby is born. This baby is born with no previous knowledge except those genetic markers that make us uniquely part of a family. Some of these DNA markers can go horribly wrong. In another, a genius is born. Life is a crap shoot.

Yet, societies are born and some grow to believe in their own wisdom above that of others. They believe they see patterns that we do not. They also claim to see spirits that we do not. Such people then set themselves up as arbiters, judges, counselors, or wise men or women. Those who “know.” The rest of us, as this society grows, learns to become dependent upon such people, even if our accrued experience and wisdom teach us otherwise. This is the beginning of self doubt. We don’t have any when we are born. We take our food and take what we need to get along in the world, we learn by trial and error what constitutes bad behavior in the society we are born into, and we try to conform. We are told the stories of our people and those who have gone before us. Some even tell us stories about other people and cultures and try to convince us that those others have a better way. We try to model our behavior and some succeed while others fail. Whose fault is it? The arbiters and boundary makers or the individual?

How do we know that our own lived experience isn’t as wise as others’ lived experiences? A group of people in one culture feels one thing is taboo. Another group in another culture practice that taboo as a way of life. There is heavy guilt in one and no guilt in the other. Sheer accident determined whether you will feel the guilt or not. The one thing I admired about Jean Paul Sartre was his revolutionary idea that we all come into this world with no a priori knowledge of the world. It must all be learned. There are no concepts of Gods inherent in our makeup (despite the assertions of some recent books to the contrary). We are not wired to do this or do that. We must feel our way and learn it through concepts. We form attachments by accident or we divorce ourselves from those same attachments due to horrible bonding interruptions. We did not choose it. In this respect all of our life is lived a posteriori, after the fact and we form our ideas after the experience. Sartre goes further and says that if this is so, then we have a huge responsibility to form ourselves as if all mankind were forming itself. I’m not sure I completely buy his argument, but let’s go with this. This is precisely where others get the idea that by forming ideas and norms they can form it for others. Kant was big on asking us to make one thing a universal and then see if it was wise. Someone has to do it, right? Or wouldn’t we then become a lawless society where everyone did as they pleased?

Isn’t this a slippery slope argument? That without those boundaries and rules society would degenerate into mass orgies of killing, rape, and mayhem? Yet again, some would have us believe that their experience is superior to our own. they have superior moral fortitude, whatever that is, and know what constitutes a stable society. Some then begin to tell us what is healthy or what they believe is detrimental to our physical or psychological health. They point fingers and write books and dampen the sheer joy of living life as it comes. They have little faith in humanity to choose life, love, and happiness over death, misery, and unhappiness. I know because I’ve been one of them. I have always had a miserable view of humanity because it has been my experience that happiness is short-lived and most of the times good things go to shit. But what if we looked at the opposite view? What of the relentlessly positive and hopeful attitude? What if what some see as “immorality” is really a quest for societal evolution? (And I’m not talking about murder or rape or abuse or anything that destroys or damages the inner psyche of another human being for arbitrary reasons). What if one person’s idea of morality was a life-crushing, psyche killing idea that worked to stifle whole groups of people because of accidents of DNA? This stifling is what religions, politics, and ideologies are made of.

I throw these ideas out there in an attempt to mess up the status quo of ideas that claim to be rightful ones. Sartre wrote of the conundrum of a single man acting for all men and what we can do to make our own decisions:

If values are vague, and if they are always too broad for the concrete and specific case that we are considering, the only thing left for us is to trust our instincts. ..But how is the value of a feeling determined?… The only way to determine the value of this affection is, precisely, to perform an act which confirms and defines it.. We shall confine ourselves to reckoning only with what depends upon our will, or on the ensemble of probabilities which make our action possible. When we want something we always have to reckon with probabilities….[therefore] There is no reality except in action.. (“Existentialism” The Philosophical Library).

In other words, the rightness or wrongness of an action cannot be determined beforehand. It must be lived and evaluated by the consequences of all involved. Thereby begins another sticky wicket, but that is for another day…