What is reality?
The universe is reality.
Weather is reality.
Sickness, health, procreation and life is reality.
The sewing of seeds, growth and harvest is reality.
Most of the rest is a complex blending of human nature and fantasy.
Let’s create an allegory, with reality the equilibrium position of a pendulum swing; calling it the pendulum of life. A pendulum, is a mass-less rod attached to a frictionless pivot on one end with a “bob” on the other, that can swing freely back and forth from the pivot. (Wikipedia)
Let’s call the frictionless pivot, to which this pendulum is attached, God, that unknowable pivot that controls all through attachment to the rod.
But let’s expand the bob, and picture it as a container that has within it numerous other tiny pendulum rods, pivoted at the top of the bob, and thus to the God rod; to which at their other ends are attached various sized tiny bobs, that swing freely from the pivot on their rods. For convenience let’s view the bob as our world, and the tiny bobs at the end of their smaller pendulums as all the entities that make up our world, however defined: nations perhaps, empires, tribes, regions, whatever makes up the human population of our world, or perhaps even its animal population, of which man is but one, albeit the dominant one. Now let’s complicate it a bit and view the tiny bobs as being variously polarized, such that they can continually attract or repel one other, so as to cause regular motion, each with respect to the others, in chaotic fashion, including banging against and bouncing off each other.
The next consideration is the two forms of energy associated with the tiny bobs as they swing at the end of their tethers. One is the polarization of each, that will be discussed presently; the other is an accumulation of energy that results from the continual changing of motion from the swinging of those tiny bobs, from which a net force is accumulated at the main tether that causes the world bob to move at the end of its tether, causing the world blob to also begin to swing, or osculate, since the accumulated force moving the bob is constantly changing.
That is the allegory which I want to create. But let’s add one more minor change; instead of the God pivot being fixed, Let’s let is move a along a frictionless slide, so that the aggregate force sent up through the single major tether and therefore to the sliding pivot, moves the sliding pivot along the slide: to the left is negative progress and to the right is positive progress.
For more clarity, let’s also define the directions of the swings of the pendulums, since they represent pendulum-position restoring forces due to gravity: that is, equilibrium position is constantly sought when pendulums swing, due to gravity. I shall name the swing directions that result from gravity’s restoring forces as human nature and fantasy Thus the gravity of reality counteracts the forces of human nature and fantasy. Clear picture, right? Yeah, right; but think about it.
Let’s go from the bottom up. The energy that causes the tiny pendulum motions are polar attraction and repelling – look at it as magnets reacting to each other, creating forces that either repel or attract. The force that projects the single pendulum along the slide is the cumulative force that is exerted on the mass-less rod that joins the world bob to the God pivot. So how is the energy for the repelling/attraction polarization collected? Too complex for me to discuss, even if I could. Gathered by God? Unlikely; let’s just say it is collected somehow, but it is a collection of forces induced by motion. Rather than attempt to describe how the energy from the motion of the tiny pendulums is accumulated to transmit back through the tether to the God pivot, lets just leave that to our imagination. Even if it could be explained it would be too complicated to discuss here; so we’ll leave it at that.
We can, however, translate those forces into something we might refer to as yin/yang, fate, karma, whatever; certainly one of its major ingredients is ignorance. But then also consider such as greed, avarice, kindness, love, affection, and all those other nasty – and good – traits that dominate our being, and are the forces that drive us. That does not identify where that force comes from, however; which we must be left as unknowable. The translation is that the forces of inter-reaction among the various elements of the world become the emotions that dominate our lives. Tricky, wot?
So where does all this take us? as an allegory, that is? Without a question, the cumulative force transmitted through the pendulum that is driving the God pivot slide has been progressive, suggesting that the swings of positive fantasy have been overcoming those of human nature, sliding the God pivot to the right. But in the meantime much has been going on at the lower level, with each tiny pendulum osculation, driven by polar attraction and repelling, and the resulting pull of gravity, ending up in the equilibrium that is reality. How can that be? Since what is what is happening at the other end of the tether is moving the slide. Reality must also be changing; that is, the entire system is sliding to the right – progress – in the long run. In the short run? of that we are quite aware – through life’s observations. Short run tiny pendulum swings and long term slide moves are observed in different time frames; the reality of human awareness on the one end and the reality of God at the other being quite different. We are painfully aware of how the pendulums swing.
As the tiny pendulums swing crazily back and forth the pendulum of life moves but slowly and jerkily, and the slide of life does as well. The fact that the slide has been inexorably positive, over time, does not mean that there has not been wide disparity in the short time of individual human awareness
Clearly, it must be recognized, the equilibrium restoring forces of human nature and fantasy are constantly at work; and, it must be pointed out, neither of those forces is all good or all bad; but either one, taken to an extreme swing of a pendulum can have dramatic effect; we have seen the results of them, in their turns; that is what the cumulative jerkiness of movement shows us. Can we assume, by overemphasizing fantasy and discounting human nature that reality will continue to develop positively? Not likely.
Which is why I have dwelt much on the interplay between fantasy and human nature; the pendulums will continue to swing, and their cumulative periods of swing will be telling, over time. There is much to think about.
Individual initiative, rights, free enterprise dragged us out of antiquity; but it was harsh and demanding. Power of elite interests dragged us back for a time. A combination of the two has threatened the world since. What now? All the forces that have been with us from the beginning of time are still there. Reading Looking For Trouble by Ralph Peters, The Savage Wars of Peace by Max Boot and many books by Robert D. Kaplan have been reminding me of that continually, as I have been reading them. But so have articles about Cartels in Mexico, terrorism in the Middle East, data base hacking, cronyism, risky investment, unconscionable debt accumulation, lying, cheating, crime – and continuing seduction of ignorance, mainly through selfish and lazy indifference – have shown that we have a long way to go. Human nature is alive and well; but so is fantasy, as we prefer to believe what we want to believe, rather than what is. It might even appear that our progress of reality has entered another of step in its movement, due to continual pendulum swings.
Did I take a long and circuitous route to get here? Oh, yes; and it was quite a challenge, believe me. Are you dissatisfied that I arrived back at where I have been so often? No matter; I do what I have to do.
But is it useful? That is for any reader that might have put up with me to decide. As I have said, I do it to challenge my ability to think through it, in many ways. But having done so I would like to attempt to share it, so as to encourage thinking about it, should anyone choose to do so. Whether it is useful or not must be secondary, and outside of my control. I do what I have to do.
Why do we do what we do?
For self? For other(s)? On a whim? Just for the hell of it? Lots of reasons; but somewhere deep down there has to be motivation. But more. What about resources? Resources do feed motivation, or at least enable them. Not that all things done – or attempted – require resources, but they help. difficult to do without something to do it with. But when it comes to charitable motivation, resources have a special place: unlimited resources do not unlimited giving inspire, but surely they make it easier. Most of us are limited by resources in everything we do; those with unlimited resources, or what to many of us appear to be almost unlimited, have less to worry about; especially when the unlimited is other people’s resources, but that’s another subject entirely. Note, however, that resources need not be restricted to economic; time? emotion? There are many kinds of resources, but most also have limitations.
But let’s just look at gifts; what if a gift given sincerely, is rejected, or ignored? Not appreciated or just taken for granted. There is another ingredient to motivation and that it what feeds it on the receiving end, if there is a receiving end, that is if there is a human element to the receiving end. But the the human element often plays a role in many motivations; one doesn’t punch or insult just for the fun of it. How often is the motivation based on an input from other?
But back to gifts, personal or charitable? What if the motivation was expected appreciation and there is none? Was the expected appreciation the object of the motivation? Or did lack of appreciation just deflate the motivation? And motivation changes continually depending on both source and target, and for myriad reasons, often influencing the entire dynamic of motivation. We all know how lack of energy, health or even interest, can influence personal motivation, let’s call that self-motivation; but it can influence other as well; most non-self motivation does not occur in isolation.
Much of motivation is, in fact, influenced by relationships of one kind or another; there must be an objective for; what if the objective changes? But again back to giving and receiving, there can be multiple levels: casual, intense, perfunctory, coerced, spite, envy – they are almost endless. Which is what begs the question: why do we do it? Motivation can be very complex, even boundlessly complex. We might even look at it as a process; a source-object-response process extending over time with peripheral input and impact. Very complex – and interesting.
The purpose of this diatribe is not to explain it, but to throw it out to think about – again.
So much is involved. What generates a motivation? Sometimes that is perhaps why we attribute it to God, as it is unknowable; often that’s easier than thinking about it. So why do I do it? it hurts my head to think about it – sometimes; if I think about it. God makes me do it? Oh my. Do we give for satisfaction of self, or other, or just on a lark – or a combination? Do we always even know? On the other hand, how deeply do we think about the object of motivation? And back to my old saw about the possibility of giving discouraging the object of it from incentive to do for self?
Why do I even think about it? Why, why? Because I do; but maybe I do because I see greater meaning in motivation than most, and greater influence of it in matters far removed from the obvious. Sometimes motivation is obscure; sometimes it is several times removed from the obvious.
Another observation has to do with the aging process, the maturing process. Maybe motivation changes with that process – at least for some – as they give more thought to it. Maybe that’s due to having more time, more available resources; even a greater level of emotion, passion. Does that have influence? How about guilt; how does that play? All of the above?
“Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look he thinks too much; such men are dangerous.” You might try it, if you’ve labored this far; it’s kind of fun. Yes, but…………………….
I am on a roll, as rolling downhill in a barrel. Wheeeeeee..thump, ahhhhhh! This is weblog essay number 670, beginning in April 2010; dedication? stubbornness? lack of anything better to do? sheer orneriness? irascibility? or just old age settling in? No matter, don’t tell me, it doesn’t matter; I have been enjoying it even as it drives me to stay interested; and stay interested I do. How could I not? And you know what? it motivates me!!
Another stream of consciousness – not theory, practical stuff.
We begin, as I have said elsewhere, focusing on self, since that’s all we really know, when we begin. Maturing is learning to balance that focus with focus on others, and relationships with them. Family nurturing entails helping that along; planting the seeds of basic principles that grow into the plants of successful relationships. Of course it’s much more, but that focus is important – not only for the benefit of getting along, but in personal satisfaction in getting along. At least such is my experience.
Of course humans start out self protecting – surviving – as they must, from thence taking whatever path that might take, depending on circumstances. But as life progresses, self protection takes on greater complexity as relationships grow; the well-known pitfalls – sins, if you like – are well documented throughout philosophical offerings, both religious and secular: greed, avarice, selfishness, lust, conceit, self-absorption, and many variations; they are part of the maturing process – probably inevitable, if we are to develop healthily.
What drives man? What drives woman? Much of it is anthropological: woman the incubator of life; man the protector, inseminator, predator; such is how we have been created, the roles we have been preordained to occupy. Of course it it not that simple either and influences interfere, but those basics sustain, whether we like it or not. Those influences tend to be primarily, but not exclusively, based on the differences between men and women, and the roles they assume. Why is that? That is the unknowable; we attribute it to God for lack of anything more definitive – to creation; God is the name we apply to the unknowable and creation is the process of how we came to be; let’s leave it at that.
After that comes the relationships and more influences, beginning with family nurturing, which must occur if we are to survive, but occurs in many different ways, shaping the evolution of the individual. The purpose of my stream of consciousness is to suggest how that might be best pursued for successful outcome. Success? a highly variable goal to be sure, meaning different things to different people, surely. So I am presenting my interpretation, gained through a long life of variable experiences. Take it or leave it; but give it thought.
Surely influences are important, and we cannot always control them; in fact attempting to control them, through parenthood, can be counter productive, if taken to extreme. So I am suggesting what I call focus of life: what is important? There are many levels of importance: friendships, ambitions, goals, expectations; most exterior to self. But what about within self? What can provide the inner satisfaction that leads to a successful life? So I know? ha – arrogance! Maybe, maybe not, you can decide for yourself; but I have developed what has become meaningful to me, and that is what I wish to share.
First there is self, our and other. We must first know ourselves: who we are, of what are we capable, what do we want, what we have to contribute, and how able are we to apply it? Next comes knowing others; same basic questions, although answering them for other is considerably more difficult than answering for self, if we are truthful with self. Probably most important in doing that is understanding that we are all flawed, self and other, both in the beginning and continuing; we must not only understand and appreciate those flaws, but learn how to deal with them.
Learning to deal with the flaws is most challenging. We don’t even see many of them as flaws. For example, being different we have different interests, different tolerances, different understandings; and what is important to one might not be important to another. With relationships, how do we deal with that? with understanding, patience and motivation to deal with it for the good of the relationship. Sound easy? it’s not; we are easily irritated and frequently intolerant of the flaws of others; be they reflected in interest, understanding, patience or intolerance. I know I have my interests, pursue them and develop them through effort on my part; some are passionate. But what if they are boring or even repugnant to others? Realizing that is the first step, doing something about it comes next. Sometimes backing off from a passionately held interest or opinion is more difficult than it might seem; that is often where polite discussion turns to lecture or argument.
That’s where the next step comes in: doing something about it; changing the subject is simplest, but sometimes just backing off on the passion is enough, or reaching out and encouraging greater involvement of others, if that is an option – and it might not be. That, quite simply, comes from thinking of others – empathy is part of it, but understanding is as important; we should not push our views on others if they are not welcome; that requires projecting outward and opening the mind, often not easy to do, especially when dominated by passionate interest.
Let’s take that from another perspective: knowing what is important to other, and trying to concentrate on that instead of what is important to self: different focus. Back to men and women; interests are likely to be different. Little can be more irritating than trying to delve deeply into a subject that is of no interest to another. But similar is to address a common area of interest from different perspectives; in which case much effort must be given to discuss, keeping an open mind for the views of other, while keeping own passion in check; again, not always easy. That is part of why today the art of true open minded, give and take, sharing discussion is in decline. It takes a great deal of effort, patience and understanding. Too often one with great depth of information in a subject overwhelms other with details that are either not understood or poorly understood, or even of no interest.
That brings up something that might sound out of right field; different concepts beauty or attractiveness. Initially, between man and woman, chemistry reigns, but so does other concept of pleasure, concept that might not be shared – or even in contention; and “beauty” is another subject that may not be seen the same way; often men can be obsessed with physical beauty where women take a deeper view. Compromise is necessary, but before compromise must come awareness and understanding.
And here we get to the meat of what has to be done to accomplish that, and it goes back to the process of maturing, and developing satisfaction from moving away from dwelling on self to thinking of others – beginning with appreciation of others, and caring. I contend that the entire process of civilization has to do with moving from self-indulgence to consideration for others; not indiscriminately, but selectively and for good reason; wanting to do it for the sake of positive relationship; thinking of others, conversing with them, thinking of what makes them feel good – it is the same ting that makes us feel good; we have to turn it around. Which brings up another concept I have hammered upon: the motive is important; the objective, if you will. One needs to be pursuing that, not to make ones self feel better about self, but to help other feel better about him or herself; but I’ll not belabor that again here, as I have already beaten it to death in a prior post (“Pure” Motivation).
Almost all philosophy, both religious and secular, focuses on this aspect of living; appreciating the goodness in each other. From there comes mining it, while trying to ignore irritations: it is a process of discovery, only possible with an open mind and the right motivation; is is a desire to share. How much better, more satisfying, more fulfilling can life be with that little change in focus: not so much just to give, but to want to help others give in return: sharing. In a word it can be contagious. It is in all of us, if we can just dig down deep enough to get past what is less important, and get to what is more important. But we have to want to.
When all that comes together, and we learn to share, really share, because we care, that is when the focus on life becomes meaning of life – and results in true satisfaction; deep satisfaction.
Conservative versus Liberal: both are extreme positions. Conservative favors no change, even taking things back to a fantasy past; Liberal wants – expects – things to be as they want them to be, fantasy future, regardless of reality.
Fiscally conservative is wise, at least individually: income must balance outflow – within some reasonable – and restricted time period, based on reality. At government and business levels some financing – borrowing – is inevitable; but must be realistic. Excessive debt, unsupportable debt, will inevitably lead to disaster. And just because we think we must, doesn’t change that dynamic.
Religion is personal; so conservative or liberal in approach should not matter. Believe what you wish; discuss it with me if you like; but do not attempt to convert me or dominate me into seeing things your way. Even morality is personal, as long as your lack of doesn’t impact me – or your exuberance, for that matter, doesn’t threaten me.
Sexual preferences; how one dresses; how one sees life, including how people choose to live it; are their own business, as long as they do not attempt to interfere with how I live mine, or attempt to harm me or the community in the process.
Why can’t people live their own lives and leave others alone? Because they can’t; it’s that simple. People must push themselves on others. It is not enough to believe what they want to believe; they feel need to make others believe, accept, what they believe.
We live within rule of law, and laws must be negotiated and managed to be fair, and can be within our system; we can argue the details, but must accept the outcome if it doesn’t come out our way; then we can work within that system to change it. What’s so difficult about that?
Live and let live, as long as everyone else does the same; respect each other and individual opinions, as they respect ours.
In between left and right there is center; center is much broader and varied than the fringes; plenty of room for differences of opinion and life style. Plenty of opportunity for discussion.
Leave it alone. Ha, fat chance of that – unfortunately. Such is life; but we don’t have to like it. In the meantime, leave me alone!
We began with tribes, and progressed from there; but tribalism still exists, and those of us who have progressed beyond it no longer understand it, particularly as it continues to exist – or why. We persist at our peril.
I have been attracted to works of Max Boot, Ralph Peters and Robert Kaplan that address what I see as our continuing plague of tribalism, from from different viewpoints. All three men have been there and experienced first hand, and gained understanding from it; few of us any more do the same. Ralph Peters, former Army intelligence officer and subsequently a writer, wote a book in 2008 entitled Looking For Trouble in which he discusses his personal travels, and exposure to tribalism. Max Boot, also a writer with strong military bent, wrote one called The Savage Wars of Peace, in 2005. Robert Kaplan, now with Stratfor (a commercial geopolitical intelligence company), was a foreign correspondent who pursued a non-traditional approach to getting to the bottom of international reality. All three are self-trained in classical literature and thinking, and often are philosophical in their observations, though they might not admit it. Read together they present a different kind of picture of the world today – a world of reality.
As tribalism was supplanted by Middle Age despotism, it did not disappear; as progress built, ignorance did not go away. We live today with a continued existence of both, an existence we do not understand. I like to see progress in several different lights: first is the continual development of knowledge and understanding; second is the pendulum swing that leads to constant improvement but then over-swings to overdoing what seems so good, but has negative undercurrents, that will, usually lead to correction. I think we are approaching a major point of correction due to the different impetus of continual progress on the one hand and the counter drag of tribalism and ignorance on the other, as they exert forces in opposite directions, complexly.
Little need be said about progress, although we must continually realize that what seems good always goes too far, usually ending up in correcting itself. Brutal tribalism, while grudgingly enjoying the fruits of progress, resent its application, inconsistently sharing in its bounties while at the same time trying to destroy it; modernity, at the same time tries to glorify past primitive simplicity – tribalism – by trivializing it – fantasizing it. Ignorance dominates on both sides.
That is not to say that tribalism and progressivism are polar opposites; they are not; but they are extremes, each having positives and negatives. The positives of tribalism? family and community come readily to mind; the negatives of progressivism? they need not be elaborated. But the same is true in discussion of democracy and dictatorship; both extremes have some of each; few dictatorships totally lack democratic forces; but few democracies are free of dictatorial tendencies. What we encounter is the constant pull of counter forces to drive a balance: order and individual rights are two; despotism and efficiency are two more. We prefer these days to believe that there is one and only right way and all else is wrong; we would benefit from being a little more open minded – and realistic.
Before going further I’ll try some selected quotations from the authors I mentioned. All three include ample military references; war is part of reality. But both Kaplan and Peters traveled extensively in the Balkans and Central Asia, areas that have always been dominated by tribalism. And Boot’s concentration was on the Barbary Coast, Caribbean dictatorships and insurrections as well as Bosnia and China.
From Boot: “(Marine) Smedley (Butler) declared that he liked the 99 percent of Haitians that didn’t wear shoes; they were ‘the most kindly , generous, hospitable, pleasure-loving people.’ It was the other one percent in their ‘vici kid shoes with with long pointed toes and celluloid collars,’ who drove him to distraction.” “In the 1980s capitalism would experience a resurgence (in China), building on almost forgotten foundations of the distant past…It goes without saying, that Western businessmen did not provide these benefits in a spirit of altruism.” And from the Roman writer Vegitius “Let him who desires peace, prepare for war.”
From Peters: “Those foothills (Balkans), meandering valleys, and high passes, sheltered an explosive mix of peoples: Chechens, Ossetians, Tcherkess, Balkars, Kabardiness, Ingush, Daghestanis, and dozens more. Virtually all had fought with with everyone else. The intermittent peace of exhaustion allowed time for clan vendettas, which might rage for generations, Kidnapping, and murder were mountain sports. Many of the inhabitants were Muslim, some were Orthodox Christians. Across the mountains , the Georgian and Armenian churches followed their own suffering-infected heritages. And Pagan habits lingered, insinuating themselves into the religions of Paul or the Prophet. The Muslims of the high Caucasus prided themselves on the purity of their faith, but many of the less rigorous clans and tribes clung to practices whose roots stretched below the reach of history’s spade.” ” Russian men are hopeless, Arab in their assumptions of male privilege, medieval in their appetites, Celtic in their weakness for daydreams and Persian in their disdain for honest work.” And “intelligence officers worry about dead facts and too little about their antagonist’s delusions. What men believe about themselves is often more important than their reality.”
What drew me initially to Kaplan was his trip to cover the Eritrean-Ethiopian war. Most correspondents checked into five star hotels in Mogadishu, called in their stringers, wrote their reports and flew back out the next day. Kaplan, disgusted with what he saw there, turned around, went to Sudan, hitchhiked into Eritrea and found out what the war was really like, reporting reality that had not been seen.
Enough? Not hardly, but it goes on like that. So much we don’t know, don’t appreciate – have no way of understanding from our myopic progressive point of view. We have become so comfortable in our ignorance, smothered in fantasy, which protects us from reality, how could it be otherwise? We, who have harnessed brilliance and innovation, while struggling with common sense have vast problem in dealing with the interface – which is reality. I know; I talk of reality and experience, and get strong resistance, not disagreement, most just don’t want to deal with it, even if they have an inkling of what I am talking about; eyes glaze over. We believe what we want to believe, resisting other, content to waltz through various levels of fantasy: thinking requires tolerance of reality, understanding of what it is; we are more comfortable with the fantasy of ignorance.
So they – those still sunk in tribalism – are ignorant, but so are we. Their ignorance is bred of centuries of what they have lived; ours is more due to complacency and indifference – even arrogance. But as communications and transportation continue to develop – and proliferate – and become more accessible to all, along with all the other goodies of affluence, the interface between our two ignorances gets closer and closer; precipitating an increasing number of clashes. That is more than Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, but that’s a good place to start.
The future is now, and it will take much greater attention to detail, and reality, than we are offering it. Tribalism is alive and well in Africa, Central Asia and to a perhaps lesser extent in much of the rest of the world, and modern civilization, which has become complacent and over-extended, is being challenged, and will continue to be. We cannot expect their ignorance to evaporate over night, it doesn’t work like that; so it is up to us. But effort is not evident; understanding of the challenge, even at the highest, self-indulgent level, is not there; nor, it seems, is the motivation to deal with it at the level it must be dealt with.
We have been becoming aware of a problem, seeing the rampaging hordes meting out raged tribal violence; becoming aware as well of narrow religious disagreement and racial tension, but prefer to view each without understanding of the vague interface, which is beyond our ken – as well as outside our span of interest, which is more focused on comforting fantasy and pleasurable affluence. Others, however, lust to have a piece of our action, and don’t see why they cannot, not understanding what it took to achieve it; so they resort to violence, which is all they know – or just try to sneak in to the land of cornucopia. And such resorting is certainly not foreign to our history: violence, ignorance, aggression, envy and selfishness are much a heritage of humanity, a heritage that we of civilization thought we had left behind: the interface between past and current ignorances is upon us, knocking at the door. I have discussed immigration elsewhere.
It is time to revisit reality.
It is almost a cliche, but the United States is a Nation of Immigrants. Yes, but, that was then. No, we are still being fueled by immigrants; the challenge today may be to light a fire under the native born to keep them from being left behind, or to keep them from losing sight. But only they can face the challenge; for us to do it for them is counter productive; in fact it is suicide. They need to accept that.
On the other hand, those who lust for equality and equal treatment of everyone seem to suggest that to not let everyone come in is unfair. That, of course is nonsense. It’s like allowing the shipwrecked to climb on a life boat until they sink it; I guess that opinion would be, if any sink we all have to sink together. Nothing else need be said about that. Supply and demand, i.e. free enterprise, call it self-interest, would suggest that if there is excess supply of those who wish to come here, availability should be determined by qualifications: he/she most qualified should be selected first, but only until demand is satisfied. Unfair? Too bad; that’s life. But that is what it will take to be able to continue the progress we have been able to make.
But it’s more complex than that for several reasons; one is proximity: it is easier to slip across long borders undetected than to try to enter illegally through patrolled ports of entry, and many have done that, had children and made a life for themselves. And control of long borders is expensive. But there is more; living along a border makes it possible to come and go more easily, and people can come and go and come, almost at will. Then determining demand is not that simple either; what is demanded, when and for how long?
All of this should begin with a comprehensive examination of our immigration policies; they are not particularly realistic. My grandfather from Scotland wanted to immigrate but the wait time was unrealistic; I have a friend from Austria who encountered the same; having lost his parents at the end of WWII, and wanting to come here, he found he could not wait 15 years to fight the bureacracy. Both came instead to Canada, and my grandfather slipped across the border; the friend discovered he had a skill that was in demand and used that skill to gain entrance. Both proved to be dedicated and useful citizens, but it might not have been evident during an application process. That needs to be investigated; it will never be perfect, but it can be improved.
Motivation should also be assessed, and again this is not necessarily simple. Why do people want to come here? Opportunity is the obvious reason, but opportunity should include not only intent to gain opportunity, but intent to contribute as a citizen – or to help offer opportunity for others. Again, easy to say, but not so easy to ensure. However, such things as ability to gain employment through qualification within a reasonable period, and learning to speak the language and learn our cultural requirements over a reasonable period are reasonable goals, requiring, of course, monitoring, which can also be demanding. So be it. And, let’s face it, a certain level of education in our country is a prerequisite to success – if steady improvement is to be expected. Unfair? that’s life. These, and an attempt to keep influence to a minimum, should be accepted requirements to support positive immigration, and it is evident, if they are, they are not administered very well. Illegal immigration should not be allowed; it can not be allowed, else the boat will sink. That entails some hard decisions – and some treatment that can be construed by some to be rather drastic; such is life.
Dealing with those who are already here is another matter, but that is the case because we have been lenient in addressing it, and controlling it. An approach could be to require those already here illegally to prove they have earned the right to stay; also challenging, but doable, if established and managed.
Bottom line is that The United States has built a culture and an economy and being able to contribute to both should be the important criteria. Yes, there will have to be exceptions; even some natural born citizens do not qualify, and cannot be just thrown out; but they should be subject to pressure to comply unless they are not able, which offers the need for another necessary exception, but carefully applied. Are such being considered? If so, it is not evident.
In fact it might be said that Americans don’t even understand their own culture – maybe they don’t really understand culture. Too much is rich/poor, race, ethnic, or whatever other hangup we might be pushing at any moment; we are confused. We really don’t understand the differences among people or why they exist. The American culture is, for all intents and purpose, a middle-class, individual, work-oriented, Christian principled culture, centered on reliability and work ethic. I know; we don’t want to hear that because it sounds exclusive – not fair. So instead of excepting it we prefer to slide into a fantasy that is indefensible. We in our nation have less a racial problem than a cultural problem. We have less an ethnic problem that a cultural problem. To fit well into our culture it is necessary to be of that culture, integrated into that culture. Those that have problems are those that resist the culture – or eschew it.
A major difference in the United States and so many other countries is that the United States does not have ancient tribal conditions to deal with; we have created a potentially monolithic culture, to which all can belong, if they meet the criteria. But instead of accepting that, and making it clear what those criteria are, we prefer to hide behind the fantasy of equality and victim hood: Anyone who doesn’t integrate into that criteria oriented culture is being discriminated against – unfairly, of course. If all the fringes to our culture would be encouraged to understand that culture, and it’s demands, everyone would be better off. But of course that would take understanding, and effort, and giving up the fantasy – and victim hood.
Too bad. We have achieved so much in developing, maintaining, that culture, encouraging it, trying to bring everyone into it even as it is continuing to develop positively – that is, in a way to best utilize its positive strengths – that we have lost sight of what it is. Actually we are losing sight of it through an unrealistic fantasy of ignorance: pretending we can create a utopia that is neither possible nor tenable. Must we go the way of Communism to prove that is so, and end up where Communism has ended up, in the dust bin of history? If so, we will likely go back to the most basic: power and tribe, that has been so common throughout our history. Are we willing to give it all up and go back to survival of the fittest (most powerful) and anarchy of the rest, due to triumph of naive, ignorant fantasy?
Some apparently would; those who realize the sacrifice that is required to keep that from happening, will not; many will remember, and others will realize the error of their ways and the fantasy of their ignorance as they begin to understand what is happening. Instead of pushing ignorant fantasy they will begin to realize that they would be better served to assist those who have not learned the need to do what is necessary to become of the culture, to help themselves to do so.
If this is difficult to internalize, and I suspect for many it is, I shall attempt a different approach shortly – rather than looking at an evolving process I’ll try it from the other end: the subject will be tribalism.
A little deep today.
The foundation to true life satisfaction is concern for other, but it’s not nearly as simple as some might preach, because humans and human relationships are complex and continually variable.
The approach is valid: love thy neighbor, think of others, better to give than to receive; but also to each according to need, from each according to ability. But applying it is fraught with difficulties, a path littered with pitfalls and barriers. “Pure” motivation has to be continual process, understanding that is understanding reality.
To be effective, and this is where “pure” comes in; the relationships – personally – among giving, receiving and motivation must be thought through and coordinated, a very challenging task, because of the inevitable disconnects due to selfishness, greed, avarice, power and arrogance, among plenty of others – as well as the pain that is being percieved.
I like to bring it back to that old Chinese proverb: “give a man a fish and he can feed himself for a day; teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime.” Helping is a chained process: help others…..to help themselves…..to help others to help themselves, and so on. It fails when the chain is broken; when he who is helped fails to pass it on.
When that happens there is a tendency, very rational, to say screw it! And then the chain will always stay broken: human nature. So perfection, steady state continual automatic process ain’t gonna happen. So, screw it?
As with everything in human systems, we cannot build for perfection, but must concentrate of progress, hopefully steady, but more likely with disruption and corrections, continually. How can that be achieved? With patience, but attended by great difficulty and much frustration.
There will always be haves and have-nots, due to differences of basic equipment, motivation, fortune and circumstances; there will also always be situations that elicit sympathy. It makes obvious sense to share, to spread the wealth; but NOT indiscriminately; and that is where the chain, driven by “pure” motivation needs to be focused. What is meant by “pure?” That goes back to the fish proverb: helping by giving a man a fish is not helping him to help himself, which breaks the chain. Why do people want to extend help in the first place? Many reasons: compassion, sympathy, altruism, guilt, self-interest; it can get quite complex. But when the motivation to help other is rooted in other than sincere desire to see positive, and preferably universal, progress that is how the chain almost inevitably gets broken. Of course, why one in need often wants to be helped, and is willing to let self be helped, is obvious.
Did we give to make selves feel better, or were we motivated by sincere desire to help those in need? A difficult question. Many THINK they are helping just by giving, and in the very short term they may be; but such giving must be continually repeated by more giving, unless it is of the process I am suggesting, of helping them to help themselves – and continuing. Is that a difficult concept to understand? In concept perhaps not, but in practice it is. How does one help one help one’s self? Or more appropriately, how can one, motivated by a process of individual self help, instill that motivation to the object of charity? That’s where it really gets tough, because it requires understanding of humanity – in the abstract, but also personally, after first knowing self – and motivation.
First it takes understanding – understanding of the process, but understanding of everything: human nature; motivation; frustration; success and success-thwarting for all the reasons that occurs, and dealing with it, or not dealing with it. Where does that happen? right from the beginning, which means family; but continuing. Family is the beginning, community follows, discipline then culmination – all tied together by the motivation of wanting it to be, based on principles learned through moral upbringing, nurturing and solid education and experience. Wow, talk about a tough, uphill, path. Those are the roles of mothers and fathers, but also extended family; the roles of friends, acquaintances and associates; in fact the roles of all who care and for whom we care; all wrapped up in change, contention and temptation – both positive and negative – reinforcing or tearing apart. The process for each of us progresses often in strange ways, because motivation can wax and wane with varying influences.
It is difficult to maintain, even to develop “pure” motivation, due to failure, lack of appreciation, existence of attack and excessive rendering of glorification: failure damages; power corrupts, but so does adoration. Giving up can be easy; giving in can be easier, to enticement, to temptation, to weakness. But then the will to deal with it has to be created from the start; the desire to want to pursue that needs to be there and nurtured, even if deeply buried in the beginning. Why would anyone want to be selfless? Wrong question; no one is ever selfless, and respecting self is a prerequisite for respecting others. How can one respect all others? We cannot, as respect must be earned. But that must be part of a process of “pure” motivation; respect: it is the epoxy that binds it together, and the lubricant that supports its progression.
I told you it would be deep. If there is anyone left, let’s try and pull it together.
All this has much to do with truth and honesty, and we all are aware of what a slippery slope that can be. I contend that motivation is the foundation of almost everything, and of course motivation is as variable as the results, for often, motivation leads to those results: why do we do what we do? All are aware of what that means on the negative side, when motivation is devious self-gain or malicious destruction of others, and rightfully abhor it. But what of positive motivation? I am suggesting it can be inconsistent, since self-delusion concerning motivation can be as destructive as negative motivation, since self deluded motivation often leads to unintended consequences – as is so evident in our modern culture. Doing good for selfish purposes, when it doesn’t lead to positive ends can lead to destructive ends. Ego building when undeserved; is that not ultimately destructive? Diversity just for the sake of some kind of statistical satisfaction? is that not destructive? And how about giving in such a way that it saps initiative? taking away the reason one would want to do for self, and have the pride and satisfaction of doing for self.
This is my argument: that, too often, altruistic actions, selfishly motivated – to make the actor feel good about self, without regard to unintended consequences, can be, and often is, as destructive as actions taken with malicious intent. That doesn’t suggest that such actors HAVE malicious intent, but that similar destruction can ensue from their actions, either for individual recipients of the largesse, or the community as a whole. I contend that it is happening, and that’s why I take the action to try to present my case. Again, this particular problem is not being negatively motivated, but unrealistically motivated through inability to see beyond self and to what should be obvious realism.
How many even know their “true” motivation, or delude themselves by seeing what they want to see – and don’t think beyond that? As I have often contended, I think too many of us delude ourselves so, for essentially selfish reasons: convincing ourselves that we are helping others, when our underlying motive is to make ourselves feel good; and in the short run it does make us feel good.
“Pure” motivation should be MORE than helping our fellow man; although helping our fellow man might be necessary in dire circumstances, and there are many; and that MORE needs to be helping our fellow man to help himself. So easy to lose sight of that ultimate necessity, and to delude self in the process. It is so difficult to take the more difficult path, when it results in pain, however temporary; but it often takes such temporary pain to provide the motivation for one to take the initiative to help self – to continue the process. The differences in motivation are profound, and we seem to have lost understanding of it.
I call it “pure” motivation; pursuing it is what leads to true satisfaction, in the end, for all it touches.
Education is very important to our ability to progress, personally and together. But education is another of those many nuanced words. To gain education it is necessary to learn, but also to assimilate that learning to develop understanding that enables one to keep learning on his or her own. Too much?
To me that requires a good deal of motivation; motivation first to want to learn, then to assimilate, then to try and understand, then to continue learning. But there are other motivations as well, often leading to false conclusions – even blind alleys. That is due, I suggest, to a poor understanding of what education is. Too many today seem to think education is more like a collection of information; what kind of information? It doesn’t seem to matter, just “education” for education sake: stuff. That is supposed to lead to success, but often leads to disappointment. If that is what education is, it is not learning. Learning entails not only assimilation of information but gaining experience from it and dealing with it; experience is an important part of learning. It is a part that too often these days is overlooked, particularly in that it is too common these days to place too much importance on just absorbing information, with too little on processing it; but it also too often discounts the different levels of importance of various kinds of information, and the value of the experience – particularly that which is gained from other than formal education, specifically: doing. That – doing – is even more important than just stuffing information into the brain.
Progress is not made without learning, however. Perhaps one of the reasons our progress seems to have plateaued is that too few were interested in learning, even while many were interested in “education” for what they thought they could get from it. That would be over simplistic, however, as many have been learning, making the result mixed. One of the problems with an open society is that people tend to do what they want to do and are motivated by perceived self-interest, even when that does not lead to as clear a path as they thought it might. It is clear that we have blurred the meanings of education and learning/experience, favoring the easy trappings as opposed to the more difficult preparations – and in discounting manual experience we have damped the result still further. What is our problem?
We learn only slowly and forget quickly – at least at the general level of attention. And most don’t even attempt to concern themselves with it, save at the personal/now level; and then without a great deal of understanding, and more than a little emotion. We want what we want, and assume everything else will fall into place. It seldom works that way. But that is part of Enlightenment thinking: things will get better because we want them to. Of course, wanting and being willing to work toward it happening are often widely separated: motivation, expectation, experience and human nature; it is difficult to get far from reality.
And there it is again: reality. In a recent essay entitled Reality Creed, Robert Kaplan explained reality; one of the first comments to the article was, “that is the last time I read Stratfor”; and there you have reality in a nutshell. We don’t like reality, and prefer what I choose to refer to as fantasy, of our own making – we believe what we want to believe. What has that got to do with learning? He was talking about our unrealistic involvement in the events of the world; today students pursue unrealistic majors. We don’t like reality, even if we have an inkling of what it is. Machiavelli was a realist; and no one today likes Machiavelli, because he was a realist, and pointed out things that were, rather than what people wanted them to be.
But speaking of Machiavelli – and learning – leads us on. Machiavelli was a philosopher; what is that? Some would say, one who sits around and stares at his navel; actually it is one who sits around and thinks, continually adding experience and the production of others, to come to new conclusions: that is learning. Philosophy is an educational capstone, necessarily, as it brings together learning over a long period of time; that is, of the scholar himself, but also of the accumulated knowledge of his contemporaries and those that preceded them. In the past being a philosopher was a luxury of time not available to most, necessitating adequate wealth to support engaging in it. That is no longer the case. Many philosophers (PHDs), college professors, are provided such time and it is expected they use it to increase the body of knowledge, and they do. But many others support themselves by writing, and turn philosophical in the process as they accumulate knowledge and experience that they then share; thus many writers today, whether they admit it or not, have become philosophers; most are older, as the need for experience would suggest; but younger ones are beginning to surface and it is important that they do. Kaplan is one of those older writers; and so is Anton Myrer, whose philosophy I have often quoted; and yet another is Thomas Sowell. Kevin Williamson and Mark Steyn are examples of the new breed, who tell it the way it is – reality.
I am convinced it is the blending of learning and experience – and reality – that truly constitute education, and it takes a while to get there. Thus, today’s “getting an education” tends to be a rather superfluous generalization; one doesn’t just GET education, one accumulates it over time, with motivated effort, through learning and experience; much of which comes through encountering reality on the way.
I was about to say that that it is not for all of us, but it is, although at different levels. We would benefit from understanding that, and utilizing the process better than we do. There is all kinds of knowledge, some of it purely experience-based; but also that which is gained from just having to deal with reality. We need a thoughtful blend, a motivated effort to create that thoughtful blend, and an ability to bring it together from history as well as science, but also the trades – and philosophy, across all levels, as each is able to contribute. We need to use the past, both knowledge and experience; factored by reality, and flavored by the here and now to lead us into the future. Looking at our mistakes, we don’t do that well; perhaps because we don’t try hard enough.
Why do I insist on grouping my titles in three (or more)? Because everything is so related – so tied together – that it seems to make more sense; almost nothing stands alone. So it is with family, nurturing and culture.
First family, and this is not the first time I have addressed it, nor will it be the last: family is the bedrock of society, of culture. Nurturing is what happens in families – or doesn’t. Culture is the result.
We are seeing cultural changes that are affecting families, and nurturing thereof; but that in turn is further changing culture. I believe it begins with affluence; and what, pray tell, is affluence? Stuff, but more. In days of yore they might have defined it as luxury, and we still use that word; but what is luxury, any more, in an economic environment that has everything? Everything, you scoff; we are not rich. Ha! Rich is relative; so is luxury. We have so much – comparatively – but want so much more. Why? Because it is there and others have it. We are influenced.
We are constantly influenced; that’s nothing really new, but the massive volume of influence, is: written material, advertising, media including social media and entertainment, billboards – even mailings; and a whole lot more it than there ever used to be. It is all about influence, and what others have and to which we, therefore, feel entitled, for whatever reason that might be advanced. Before going further let’s realize that demand begets supply, supply begets creation of stuff, and creation of stuff begets jobs – which equates to supporting ourselves, individually. All that is the basis of free enterprise and progress on the one hand, but of individual and collective survival on the other; after that it can become excessive.
Envy, of course, is a key concept that underlies much of this, and envy is associated with greed; nothing new there. But envy derives from becoming aware of the existence of something we would like to have, want, and more recently feel ourselves entitled to. That, basically, is the recent change in our culture whether we like it or not; and until it experiences problems, most enjoy, favor, appreciate and support it, enthusiastically. Why sould we not? Because, I would submit, it all has to be kept in perspective; to wit: what is really important?
Another sticky wicket; what is important? Let’s begin with priorities: basic subsistence, food, shelter, physical comfort, health care – security? After that it becomes a matter of preference – want, more than need – and envy. How does one put that in perspective? It has to be learned; taught, actually, since children are not born with perspective beyond having basic needs to be taken care of. And where is that taught? Oh, almost everywhere: advertising takes a shot at it, albeit based on self-serving motivation; community also weighs in, with various and competing inputs; the education system also makes an attempt, also varied depending on input – and pressure. Nonetheless it begins with family; and then that’s where community often comes in, to supplement or even replace family nurturing and the “right” priorities, when seen to be necessary – or, in some cases, merely desirable.
So what has been influencing, changing our culture? Families are changing, because culture is changing; it is all inter-related. But let’s concentrate on family, though seeing culture as influence on family. Seeking more affluence, families feel “forced” to seek greater income to finance it; that has led to the “need” for two (or more) incomes per family, which has led to challenges for family, particularly in nurturing. Who takes care of (nurtures) the children when mama is working? Why mama? it is biological, let’s leave it at that. There are alternatives; I know personally of several: a husband whose wife had greater (and enough) earning capability who chose to stay home with the children; a couple that effectively divides responsibilities so as to provide joint nurturing; and a couple both of whom work long hours and who have virtually turned the responsibility over to commercial child care. Of course hired nannies are another alternative, but require yet another level of income to support. The first two examples work; the third is highly suspect; and the fourth depends on a lot of things.
But let’s review a situation more based on culture from the beginning: what of cultures that have never had strong families? That is a tricky one since one has to define what strong family is. Let’s suffice it to say that strong family is family that nurtures in such as way as to yield strong, that is self-sufficient and responsible, children that in turn yield strong families. I would contend that one can view separate cultures and discern differences, almost from the beginning. This is simplistic, but I would argue that strong families yield effective culture, provided, of course, that appropriate progress has been made to expand strong family to become strong community.
Many thoughts come to mind, and most of it has to do with motivation. Some families, dominated by self-centered parents, are never oriented to responsible nurturing – and don’t make it a priority. Others, also with a measure of parent self-centeredness, such as being more concerned with themselves and their images and less with their children, can convince themselves that by controlling their children as opposed to teaching them principles of life, they can ensure greater success, success being relative. All motivation: what is it that is being sought? That also is relative – highly relative. And some parents just don’t give a damn. And one has to understand that when a culture has gone though two, three, even four generations of it, it takes hold and is propagated, almost by default.
So what is not tricky is that to have “successful” families requires effort; and “success” is not only financial, but that which relates to such as responsibility, reliability and such; and to have successful cultures requires successful families.
Can there be any question as to why there are differences among families, cultures, and even nations – in addition to the basic differences among people – who were influenced, I might add, through the nurturing process?
I could elaborate, but why bother? If you have read this far, and think about it, you can reason to your own conclusions, and cite your own examples; they are all around us: good, bad and everything in between.
The fact is the solution is in our hands, but that also is not simple, as we do not control our environment. Control of environment is a collective thing, and influences are ubiquitous – and growing, particularly with electronic communication, in all of its manifestations. That is why culture is constantly changing and none of us can individually control that; influence it, yes, but only incrementally, some more than others. That, of course, is not reason not to try; and if enough do, the results will be better, and that’s all we can hope for. It goes without saying, however, that influences upon us to have more: bigger cars, more cars, bigger homes, vacation homes, fancier trips and vacations, and more things; is powerful, and also growing; influencing, influencing, influencing – with motive being open to question, and envy apparently ascendant.
Life challenges, continuously. To deal with it effectively takes much thought, a lot of selective motivation and more than a little effort. It also helps when the effort is collective, influencing motivation and thought to be consistent.
Big challenge; help protect our culture.
I have been reading a book by Max Boot entitled The Savage Wars of Peace; it was nominated the best book of 2002. It details American interventions all over the world beginning way prior to 2000 – guerrilla wars in Spanish, small wars. The interesting thing about the book and what it tells us is that it is still going on – and we should keep that perspective in mind; not a great deal has changed.
That led me to thinking about liberal versus conservative and how we view each other, and ourselves. The British, and later the Americans, had a liberal view of humanity, that it was perfectible; and they – we – felt it was our God-given mission to perfect. The term barbarian comes to mind; barbarian is a rough term for the uninitiated, and we were initiated; QED it was our mission to un-barbarize the barbarians. As we have found, it is easier said than done. But one must recall that as we were striving to un-barbarize the Mexicans (Pancho Villa and his ilk) they were calling us the barbarians of the north. That is worth thinking about: perspective. What we, whoever is we, might think doesn’t make it so. And that is the nature of man.
The yin/yang is how that plays out in reality. The savage wars of peace pitted the basic nature of ignorant man against the enlightened nature of those who (some, mostly) had been enlightened through knowledge and experience. And that brings us to liberal versus conservative. We have to be careful of words; they are slippery slopes and can often have varying hues of meaning, even though we think – we know – OUR meaning, that which we are using, is the right one. Conservative means (sort of, sometimes) resistance to change; liberal embraces change, thus progressivism. Both have their values and both have their pitfalls. In the extreme, conservatives can overdo by resisting much, including gaining knowledge and understanding; liberals can overdo, and do, by thinking that progressive change can accomplish anything, and it’s all good. But more; both convince themselves that their way is the right way, the only way – and tend to reject compromise, seeing it as compromising principles.
There is much good about conservatism, but rejecting progress is not one of them. There is much good about liberalism, but ability to convince themselves that they (and only they) are right and enlightened, and therefore must set all right in the world, can have negative consequences, particularly when the outlook is not realistic. That points to yin and yang and the nature of man. Man is neither good nor bad; he is what he is, and has measures of both, in different measures under different circumstances. To pretend that helping someone indiscriminately, and convincing self that that is unmitigated good, to make one’s self feel noble, is unproductive; but to say that’s too bad (about bad fortune) can also be counterproductive. We – humans – have a tendency to see things either one way or the other, and resist finding a balancing middle ground. Some people make their own bad luck, and deserve to have to live with it; others, for many reasons, need help – and there is a compassion blur in between. But to indiscriminately damn or reach out to insist on helping, regardless, are both not useful. Ah, but to distinguish between true deserved need and making one’s own beds takes wisdom; yes. And wisdom is in short supply, mainly because we don’t try very hard to assimilate it: call it lack of motivation. Compromise is also tough for the same reason: motivation. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had open minds, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and could effectively discuss, and come to compromise to achieve optimum results?
Yes, it would be nice; but that is not reality, nor will it ever be. Better? hopefully; perfect: never. Not that we shouldn’t try, but try with understanding of reality: the yin/yang nature of man.
So, as to the savage wars of peace; they are back. Why? the yin/yang nature of man. But our wars today have expanded – progress? ISSI is very much like Pancho Villa, the Barbary Pirates and the Boxers in China. But what of hackers, burglars and the street gangs that have become so ubiquitous? Ignorance? yes. Greed? yes. But what of lust for power? Thirst for prestige, respect and feeling good? The reality of man’s imperfection – yin/yang. And that reality needs to extend to approach taken and reaction as well: complacency and indulgence – over compensating for imagined wrongs perhaps – can encourage; careful application of discipline and force can discourage. Has the violence of discipline and force been overdone? Probably; but so has complacency and indulgence. So what is needed? A blended approach, carrot and stick, call it compromise; but with clear motivation. That is the reality that is needed – both domestically and internationally – administered with as much wisdom as we can muster (and elect).
That is what is needed with everything: confronting violence and crime, bringing up children, addressing debt – conducting our institutions of education, where too much political correctness and diversity for diversity sake seem to have taken priority. Reality, motivation and some middle ground – compromise – thinking need to come into play. Falling back upon returning to things as we once imagined them to be is not the answer, but neither is pretending everything is all right as long as we take care of everyone equally, regardless of effort, is not either. There is a place for both, carefully administered, if the necessary degree of force and discipline (self and imposed) is encouraged – even in an imperfect world.
Can we improve it? Yes we can. Can we perfect it? No, we cannot. So what do we do? Work together to achieve the best possible within the realm of reality, whatever we may discover that to be – and as it changes – as we learn more, and make improvements as we go.
As always, much to think about; but we have to WANT to think about it – and then do something.