Tuesday 20 February 2018

#450 Another attempt

Anyone following me lately would've had it up to here ~does hand gesture~ with the "beliefs" conversation. I hadn't so much over-cooked it as burnt it to charcoal. Grey charcoal dust, not those pristine premium bricks used for barbecues.

It would've definitely been time to clean out the remains and wash down the coal tray, not that I'd ever met anyone who bothered doing that, except the evening wasn't over yet. As every seasoned grill jockey knows, charcoal stays hot for hours after the flames have left the party. I'd even staggered up to bonfires the morning after and managed to get them going again by stoking them with a branch.

Why would I do such a thing? Because I hadn't actually said anything yet. I wanted to make another attempt so I wrote out some thoughts as follows:

Like the answer to any other question, Google knows best. When I Google'd "Most commonly held beliefs", the first result I received was titled "List of common misconceptions". I couldn't agree more.

To state a belief as though it applies to any situation, without then acknowledging the limitations of that belief is to hold a misconception. There may be a minority of exceptions to this.

To state a belief without appreciation of its source is equally irresponsible. I am not saying that we should stop in our tracks. It's impossible to walk through life without stepping on some insects but the more responsible a person becomes, the more they will understand their beliefs in a practical sense. The historical and psychological circumstances under which the belief and the person met, so to speak.

The atheists have the right idea. I am not an atheist but I admire their tactics. They say, "We don't want schools to stop teaching religion. Not at all. That would only make things worse. We want schools to teach every religion. Because then, once the students see that their family's beliefs are not the only beliefs in the world, they will be more tolerant. More open-minded. Less dogmatic.

Like a football commentator, who is able to think beyond his/her fanatical alliance to one team and comment objectively on the quality of the football being played and how each team and player came to be in their respective positions, the responsible believer is more inclined to see perspectives for what they are, than to get wrapped up in one.


Fizzfan said...

“The historical and psychological circumstances under which the belief and the person met”.

We’re all the sum of our experiences, and biology, and fortune (good or bad)
I agree that many more religions should be taught in schools in the same detached way that history or science is. It’s up to you if any of it resonates and bringing in the vast subject matter could make it much more interesting.

In terms of belief in anything, I watched Adam Curtis’s documentary Hypernormalisation at the weekend. It’s a pretty amazing hotchpotch of the world we are presented with versus the real story which is too complicated for us to understand or indeed be good for us to know.
The worlds a stage and anyone can play, just don’t believe too much.
It’s on Youtube or BBC IPlayer. Worth a watch.

Having thought a lot about it since, I’ve decided that the control we have over our life is quite fragile, opinions are great and entertaining and beliefs are like sandcastles.
Most people like beaches though, so I’m still a fan.

Profound Familiarity said...

There's always a battle between good and evil and it is fragile. It requires constant vigilance at every level.

I watched bits of Hypernormalisation by the way, really good documentary, very thorough, I could've pieced together some of the more recent stuff from other sources but I was fairly clueless about what happened in the 70s and my general knowledge is very poor anyway so that was interesting.

The rise of tyrannical leaders is nothing new (Trump/Hitler - to use a very crude comparison but in some sense it's the same damn story repeated) and the same is true of the expansion of a society beyond a harmonious level, to the point where mother nature comes and causes mass disruption as a consequence (climate change, the implosion of ancient Rome).

If humanity loses track of its meaning, then nature (or its manifestation through the gods that we worship - I mean that in a wide sense, be they actual gods or money/credit) still has a profound ability to correct us in brutal ways (e.g. the financial crisis) because we're messing with things we don't understand, in fact it's precisely when we create and then mess with things that go way beyond our understanding that the consequences of our actions catch up to us but we can learn from mistakes.

I wonder if the documentary was irresponsible in the sense that it didn't give much hope or recommendations for how to act in the face of complexity, or maybe it did and I just missed that part.

Profound Familiarity said...

I hear part of the reason we like beaches is because we're fairly well-adapted to the water biologically. Take a cat to the beach and he will not thank you for it but people can swim, our feet are practically flippers, plus we cry saltwater tears although I don't know if that has much to do with anything.

In fact I think it might be more than that... People are fairly amazing in this respect - beaches are very safe for us because if a shark comes, you can escape to land whereas if a predatory animal comes, you can escape to the sea.. oh, unless it's a dog I suppose. Hmm.

I'm going to Google "What used to eat humans"...

Fizzfan said...

Yes I would have liked a footnote of some hope. I seek stuff like this out though so being dissatisfied that it didn’t have a nicely packaged happy ending was more my failing than the documentary’s.

Interesting that you think that ultimately invisible correction forces will be activated when we go too far, and I agree.
Like the far right politics at the moment being a result of too much liberalism, which will in turn act as a motivation for liberals to become more strident. Kind of a seesaw effect I suppose.
Will over population be cured by a superbug that we’ve created by giving livestock too many antibiotics that we’ve then ingested making us less resistant to a new one? At the very least I’d very much like it to lead to livestock being housed more decently. It’s frankly appalling in many parts of the world. I still eat meat though, so I’m a hypocrite.
I suppose it can also easily be interpreted as some kind of super overlord watching and waiting in the wings ready to give us a slap? I still think it’s just us meddling in the natural balance to see what we can profit from and once we know it’s going to mess us up we have to do something to correct it. Self interest and Survival.

I don’t think a lot of people like complexity because it’s hard work mentally and most of us are quite limited to what interests us or we have to focus on to survive. Many are quite happy to go not much further than wondering what they’re having for their evening meal or watch on TV. They’re not stupid either. My team manager finds me ‘amusing’ because I don’t know the names of a lot of the people who work on our floor and chuckled that I must live in a bubble. It grew into a good natured conversation once and was settled by a recognition that she knows nothing about politics or has any interest in anything outside her job and her horses. ‘Well that’s your little bubble’ said I.
No one’s right or wrong, it’s just how we are. You could then ask which is the better way to be and quite honestly I don’t know, because even if I think I know more about some things, they’re ultimately outside my control so is there any point? She on the other hand knows everyone’s name in our very large office, which you could argue is more useful.
Horses for courses I suppose, and she would also know how to escape on one if we ended up in a post apocalyptic world and the marauding mobs or zombies were coming.

Fizzfan said...

Funny you mentioned cats and the beach. I’ve sometimes thought if I was an animal I’d definitely be a cat and I have no fondness for the beach or water.
Give me dry land and trees though and I’m a very happy bunny. Trees are good escape routes too. Monkey origins maybe.

What used to eat humans?.......I’m guessing anything that was hungry that could kill us. I think I heard somewhere we taste like pork.
What did Google say?

Profound Familiarity said...

I thought the seesaw effect was a good way of looking at it.

Does she know everyone's name because she's a team manager? If you don't actually work with them, I think I'd forgive you for not knowing their names.

What used to eat humans?

Big cats, large eagles (small children), constricting snakes, other primates, wolves, hyenas, bears, sharks, crocodiles and of course Komodo dragons.