Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged

JudgeNot

Rant begins.

We humans do this funny thing. We judge people of past eras based on the knowledge, wisdom, and criteria of the current era we occupy.

Take the Bible for example. It says the earth and the heavens were made in 6 days. The methodology described is fantastical, and pure magic. Modern Christian apologists spend there time trying to smash together modern science’s findings about the big bang with the book of Genesis in an insane attempt to come up with something reasonable. They do this to stave off the laughter, and finger pointing, of modern educated people.

Does that make any sense at all?

I really don’t think so.

A bunch of shepherds and nomads looked to the night sky and tried to make sense of it all. They looked outside to the vast heavens and the horizon, and inwards toward their intuition and contemplation. They came up with something that worked for them, then. Trying to dove tail quantum mechanics and astrophysics, let alone a good old telescope and some geometry onto that is like forcing an adult to justify their fantasies of childhood with economic theory and political landscaping. It just makes no sense.

The human story is ongoing, unfolding, evolving. Trying to bring every old idea up to today’s scrutiny is a fool’s errand. Instead, why don’t we simply honor the roots of our history. Show some gratitude for the dim light in the dark night they provided so long ago, and be grateful the species survived to the point where we could make fun of it? Or, maybe even honor it for what it is.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with how people want to spend their time, I mean it is their time, but really. Seriously? Come on people! Let the past be what it is! Stand on it and move forward! Honor it! Stop dragging it with you wherever you go! The species as a whole, I dare to think, will lurch forward at a better pace.

Rant ends.

Why They Don’t Believe You

Ringworld

“Why won’t you just believe me?” This is a common enough lament when dealing with the frustration of trying to communicate. There are a couple of problems with it though.

First, it’s a bit emotional for trying to communicate a belief, or thought, which is more of a rational matter.

Second, there’s that pesky word “just” in there. That is almost always a sign of reductionism. It reduces a sharing of a thought, or belief, to a matter of trust. It also reduces the issue to this solitary exchange without taking into account all the other possible contributory factors.

Lastly though, and I think this may be the real crux of the issue (at least it seems to be for me), literally no one ever does that. What I mean by that is that no one ever operates from your beliefs, or mine. Before someone takes an action, they always take that action from within their own system. The only beliefs, or thought systems operating when someone takes an action is there own. Period. Until we get into the sci-fi world of the Jedi, and telepathic control, that is how it will be. Even those who are schizophrenic and claim that they are obeying the orders of the “voices”, won’t claim that voice came from me, or you.

Our beliefs and habits, those grooves of behavior that color our actions and comportment in the world, are ours alone. The grooves of other’s behaviors do not effect our actions at all.

To expect someone else to behave according to our beliefs is to expect the impossible. This has been a habit of mine, and yesterday I saw it clearly. Like any insight, it caught me when it caught me. In the middle of a conversation with a friend, about some evolutionary theories. By any common reckoning of such theories these (those of Terence McKenna, and a couple of others) are a little odd ball, to be sure. Still, I happen to give them credence. There is, of course, no reason why anyone else should. When I saw myself falling back on this plea to blind trust, I realized how silly it was.

That’s the nature of insights into our habitual behaviors. When we see them clearly in the cold light of a crack in our paradigm, it always seems very silly. We face the simplicity of how crazy we’ve been.

In the science fiction writing of Larry Niven Ringworld universe there’s a plant, a shrub really, known as the “tree of life.” When species evolved from primates eat it the plant brings about an amazing mutation. Among other things, the eater has their rational capacities magnified by orders of magnitude. Almost uniformly the being who goes through this transformation utters the same thing when they first come out of the mutational spell, “How stupid, I’ve been…”

I think that Niven might have better called this plant the, “tree of knowledge”, but that’s just me.

“Watch the snow…”

Today was a warm day for San Francisco. Not particularly hot, but nice and warm. I was enjoying that while walking to my morning coffee. As I sat there enjoying my warm beverage, a woman came in dressed in sweat shirt, ski leggings, and a tasseled knit cap. She collected her coffee and bagel order, and as she swung her tightly full back pack into place I noted the ice axe protruding over the top.

iceaxe

The image spun around in my head space until I went to run a package to the parcel store. This was the return of a VOIP office phone from two jobs ago. I’d dragged my ass for nearly a year in returning it. As I left the shop with the package safely in the hands of the FedEx service, I stopped at my corner farmer’s market to grab some sushi for lunch. As I was pulling some money from the ATM I noted a well dressed skinny woman digging to the back of the organic lettuce. Apparently the bunches up front were not satisfactory. She was not fully in control of the situation, and heads of lettuce occasionally tumbled down to rest on other varieties of vegetable. None made it to the floor, but my sight did, where I noted her well used ski boots.

There she was, dressed for the warm-ish weather in all ways except for her sturdy foot wear.

As I left with my purchase and walked slowly back to my studio apartment I kept wondering why I was supposed to be paying attention to snow. The thought resolved into a slowly repeating phrase, “Watch the snow… watch the snow…”

Up ahead a motorcycle cop pulled his bike into a parking spot, dismounted and crossed the sidewalk to a doorway where a woman holding a baby was waiting. As he turned away from my direction to kiss her the thought went through my head again. And there it was. Snow.

snowman

Well, snowman specifically. In the middle of last year I saw this particular festooned pistol magazine in the self-same coffee shop I had been at this morning. I took a picture of it (shown above), and posted it to internet, and several people were highly amused, and/or charmed. It seemed that there was a thing that happened in police academy when this guy had attended where people put stickers on the bottom of their magazines to identify them. Most folks were putting tough guy type stickers on. This man decided to do something fun and non-intimidating, hence the jolly snowman.

I always wished that I had thought to get his contact info so I could thank him for the amusement he spread, and which I had the opportunity & pleasure of helping to share.

And today, there he was. I got my chance. Turns out the woman is his wife, so he is actually my neighbor by half a block.

He was tickled pink to hear that people had liked the picture. Additionally (to twist even more synchronicity in there) he said he had noted that the sticker was getting faded, and that he had recently thought of me and the picture I took and that I would be disappointed if I saw it, so he plans on finding new stickers this Christmas season. Disaster averted!

I have long held information in a divine position in my personal constellation of consideration, and plainly it moves in mysterious ways!