Friday, October 19, 2012

Why bother?

One of the reasons I can't believe in heaven is that sounds excruciatingly boring. Peace, love, and happiness forever sounds like a good idea; but no problems... ever? Forever? For ever-ever? What could possibly be the point of existing at all?

Why get out of bed on any given morning if not to continue the march toward that unreachable horizon in the distance? How can we do anything good, unless something bad will happen if we don't act? How can there be heroes when all the villains have been vanquished?

The concept of an ultimate "good" that must overcome "evil" is a construct of Western theology, particularly Christianity and Islam. Most other theologies view the natural and supernatural worlds as inhabited by forces of creation and destruction, where the ideal state is one where these forces balance one another, rather than one needing to overcome the other. Creation and destruction are two sides of the same coin, so to speak, and one cannot exist without the other.

The point is that whether one is religious or not, Western ideas about good and evil pervade our expectations about how the world should work. These ideas can become counterproductive when the odds of changing society for the better seem insurmountable because the belief that good must vanquish evil sets the ground for an "all or nothing" attitude that is not only unrealistic, but distorts the reality of the world in which we live.

In particular, I am addressing the good-natured and relatively well-informed people who say things like, "everything is so messed up that it's pointless to try to do anything about it." These educated but exasperated do-nothings are far worse than those low-information, anti-intellectual rubes who consistently vote against their own best interests, because at least the rubes are trying.

So please accept that no matter how hard you work, the world will never be perfect. For every good thing you do, someone else will do something bad. But as long as you do something, we will all move forward, imperfectly, together. And no matter how bad the world seems, it is better than it has ever been. Information travels faster than it ever has, more people are educated, more women and children have protected legal rights, more gay people are accepted for who they are, the list goes on and on.

There will always be more work to be done in our endeavor to repair the world.

Now stop whining and let's get busy!


nunya said...

Umm, I did not say I was not voting, hon. I said I was too tired to spend the energy being outraged. :) A mind not clouded by anger is better, yeah? I'm reading through my local/CA cheat sheets now. I tried for years to figure out what my vote would really mean by attempting to decipher the crap that comes in the mail (not ads, the book thingy) and finally decided to compare the progressive cheat sheets with the newsprinted pile of legalese that comes in the mail before the ballot comes. See, absentee voting gives me no excuse NOT to vote, it's there on my desk accusing me of being a lazy irresponsible voter now, lol

Heather said...

I was never under the impression that you of all people would not be voting.

The inspiration for this post was not your post, but one of the comments on your post. The comment I replied to with this link.

The comment that said, "that's why I pay little in depth attention as it serves no no purpose other than to understand even more that the pile of shit we're standing in is a bigger pile of shit."

No, I share the sentiment of your post entirely... with the exception that I'm a little more optimistic.

I mean, we're smart apes and we've come a long way. We'll either get our shit together or we won't: If we do, it will be because a lot of good people worked really hard; If we don't, then there will be no one around to care and it won't matter anyway.

Heather said...

As for the voting, I think we need to pass two federal laws:

1) Laws (and all other contracts we have to sign) must be written in plain English so that voters AND LEGISLATORS can actually read them.

2) Legislators should have to pass a short test proving they have a basic understanding of a law before they are allowed to vote on it.