Saturday, December 28, 2013

Politics Fail

Three cheers for online arguments!

Many years ago I vowed not to get into comment wars on websites—and I constantly reminds my opponents of this as I wade into the occasional clash, keyboard ablaze.

I used to be a very cantankerous arguer. In college I was a Conservative on Fire—and believe me, I sucked the fun out of so many parties . . . I cannot even begin to recall. Whether or not I was right, I would be sure to win the argument. I got nasty, ugly, insulting, technical, statistically suspect, talk radio-dependent. 

I try as hard as I can to not be that person anymore. For everything else you can say about him, the bottom line is that he wasn't nice. I don't want to needlessly hurt people's feelings, or make them uncomfortable, or elevate my volume so I can win an argument—it's beyond dumb. When you get into a fight (as opposed to a discussion) it actually ensures that the two of you will be more entrenched in your original viewpoint. (I don't have the time to Google up this fact, so please do it yourself, if you are so inclined, and post the study in a comment, won't you dear? Thank you.)

But engagement on topics with which you disagree can be happy, hopeful, helpful, life-giving and wonderful. Sure some discomfort will almost always accompany, but if you do not go out of your way to accentuate that aspect, then there is no reason you can't get a good discussion going on a topic of disagreement.

This is the approach I strive for. I no doubt fail, and always will, but I hope I get better and better at it as the years fall.

Well that was a helluva long introduction. To get to the point: I think this "discussion" below is extremely compelling. Who's right? Who's wrong? Is that the right question? Enjoy. And while enjoying, please tell me who is right.

  • 4 people like this.
  • Jason DesLongchamp I honestly think that's a fairly stupid quote. Corruption would still take place if political involvement were higher. There is a reason prostitution is referred to as the "oldest profession". Seriously, I just don't get it.
    4 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • Will Pio In an effort to pick apart the details, you're missing the bigger picture.
    2 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • Will Pio Dismissive.

    Think about it. He's telling you that the bits about corruption and prostitution aren't the relevant parts of the quote.

    The message he's trying to give is that ignoring politics isn't going to fix anything. And more specifically that taking pride in said ignorance makes people look like complete fools and subsequently this stupidity fuels a lot the bullshit we spend so much time and effort trying to fix.
  • Jason DesLongchamp Caring too much about politics leads to unhappiness. The more you put your hope in the system, the more you will be crushed. Victories are always chased by defeats, and vice versa. The bigger the thing you focus on (i.e. Machine Politics), the more chaos that exists. Telling someone every.single.aspect.of.their.lives is controlled by politics gives rise to the bad idea that if you involve yourself more in politics, you could gain more control over your life. Actually the opposite is true. 

    Don't worry about fixing others, this also leads to unhappiness. Think about how hard it is to fix yourself, then you'll see the absolute futility in trying to fix others' bad opinions.
  • Jason DesLongchamp That was a 3-pointer, from the side of the arc, nothing but net. Full swoosh.
    • Will Pio As opposed to pretending there aren't serious issues in politics?

      I don't see your premise being true. It's cynical and self defeating.

      Everyone talks a big game about fighting for this country- yet there exists this absolute pride in being as ignorant and separated from politics as possible. The fight isn't one taking place on a battle field- it's right here amongst the lined pockets of the corrupt.

      The reality here is that the happiest, healthiest, most prosperous countries have citizens that are both informed and involved on levels we have never seen.

      You know what makes people depressed about politics? The feelings of futility, but they aren't real. Real people make change, organized citizens can have a significant impact in policy.

      15 years ago, thinking MJ might be legalized or gay marriage was a ridiculous premise, these days- walls have fell and continue to do so.
    • Will Pio
      The U.S. has fallen out of the top 10. Just a fluke, or sign of a nation in decline?
    • Jason DesLongchamp Yeah...we are diametrically opposed on this issue. I'm not sure who's right, or who is at least closer to being right. I know that my position "sounds" very wrong, it goes against conventional wisdom (to care, to fight, to participate, etc.), but I think so much of conventional wisdom is wrong, so I am very happy in my iconoclastic bunker of practiced disinterest.

      We are so opposed, in fact, that it no longer makes since for us to bicker and argue over this issue, but rather to arrange a public debate, present our arguments, allow ample time for rebuttals and cross examinations, and then let the people cast ballots to decide the issue. I know we're both busy though, so I'm not sure when we will fit this in.
    • Jason DesLongchamp

Friday, December 27, 2013

Don't Remind Me

"Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live."  —Margaret Fuller

This is the biggest risk that I run in my life.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" —Jesus H. Christ

I'm punching the feeder bar week in and week out for a food pellet, but how much good does it do to feed your body, if you do not feed your soul?

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." —Henry David Thoreau

The forces that dictate the trajectory of my life are fear, anxiety, unbelief. I have friends and family that think social/political forces are the problem. They've pulled their mental plug on capitalism, politics, conservatism, liberalism, etc. Here is why I have pulled my mental plug on concerning myself with things of that nature: what if it was true? What if it was true that X (say, capitalism) is the problem? What can I do about that? I have decided that any mental/emotional/intellectual energy that I expend on X is earning me next to zero in ROI. So now and again I indulge myself in a stupid movie, or an expensive scotch—and that is the realm I award to "social/political" forces. Fun to talk about, I suppose, if I had planned on just wasting some time or money, anyway, but not good for much else.

The only thing that has ever held me back is me. Despite all of the indications to the contrary, my body and brain believe I should be making my living inside my head. They believe that this is my destiny, to think long, distill some of that on paper, and trade it for money. I don't know if this is true, but I wouldn't know, because I haven't much tried. That is the only problem, that I am too afraid to try.

A John Updike paraphrase from Rabbit, Run: "Whatever you haven't done by 30, you will probably never do."

It is hard to break the mold. It is hard to not follow the path of least resistance. We do things because they are easy. We achieve things if we can stand the difficulty. It's easier to sit on the sideline, to crack wise and criticize and tear down. It's hard to build something.