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Archive for June, 2008

Gullibility, Innocence and Love

Published by under Uncategorized on June 24, 2008

Gullibility is seen as a bad trait but it is in fact part of the loving and trusting aspect of humanity. It is to be revered if it is not because of willful ignorance. If a person is a willing student of life yet they can be easily tricked it is simply because they trust people easily.

Part of being a good person is being tricked sometimes. Without a level of trust, you are showing no love towards others and in your defense you certainly offend. That is to say that the best defense is a good offense and you will subconsciously maneuver to screw people before they screw you when you ‘know’ they are up to no good. But there will be times when you ‘know’ they are up to no good and it will turn out you are the one causing pain and taking from another.

We must be at peace with the necessity of being tricked, abused and swindled. It’s part of being a good person. Once you accept this as a price you pay to make the world a better place, you can be at peace with even what seems to the fearful to be the most embarrassing oversights.

“I don’t donate to charities because I heard about how 90% of the money goes to the people who run them”

“I don’t give money to homeless people because they’ll just drink it away and I don’t want to add to their problem”

Policeman: “I shot the bum because he looked like he had a gun! A fourteen year old kid shot someone for no reason just the other day for god’s sake…”

“I can’t perform CPR on that dying man! Do you know that the families of those that die frequently sue and take everything from a person who was just trying to help?”

If you were a man with a prosthetic nose who had been laughed at many times, you might not know that the guy you just punched when you couldn’t take it anymore was laughing at something else. Maybe many of those others weren’t laughing at you after all?

There are so many times throughout our lives that someone says something they are unaware might mean something different to us. Many times we then take the misunderstood slight and hold it against them. Later we then say some passive aggressive remark “retaliating” for the hurt we misinterpreted because of our skewed expectation. We in fact are the aggressor many times because of these subtleties and misunderstandings.

“I don’t mean to be “nosey“, but where did you get that tie? Haha”

To our prosthetic nose wearer it is obvious by the needless emphasis on “nosey” that this fellow just approached him and insulted him, merely using the pretense of asking about his tie. But this is only because he didn’t know that the approaching fellow had just finished telling his buddy that he liked the tie and was going to ask about it and is oblivious to the prosthesis. His friend who knows this “asking people” is a common behavior calls him “nosey” which he frequently does in such a situation. He then walks over to ask, using the phrase above. The emphasis was self-deprecation. The laugh was just a little self-consciousness about approaching a stranger with such a question.

If Prosthesis just punches the guy, eventually someone will figure out the misunderstanding but what if Prosthesis says to Nosey, “I bought it at an expensive store, I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested”? Or “The tie store…” Because of the indirect nature of the responses, they get off on a bad foot, each believing something bad about the other. If this had been in a situation where they might see one another frequently, more misunderstandings will likely escalate into a situation which makes them enemies. Notice that the abused Prosthesis fellow becomes the abuser who is at fault in this relationship. Is it really his fault though?

Justice needs to be served to those who abuse others but not by treating everyone as guilty. I recently was on a trip to Moldova where nobody ever seemed to smile. I’ve found that in cities and depressed areas when compared to rural areas there is an obvious difference in how much someone smiles. It is easy to figure out this discrepancy if the right perspective is given.

When a used car salesman walks up to you with nothing more than greed and exploitation on his mind what does he look like? (Big smile) When a con artist of any kind talks to you what does he look like? When you do not suspect someone of malicious intent who smiles at you, what do you do in return? You smile. Your smile shows trust and signals the success of the con artist. When exploiters abound, smiling is a mark of innocence and ignorance. It marks you as an easy target. In places where there are too many exploiters, (wolves) smiling means you are either a con-man or a dupe. In small rural communities there are no anonymous dealings. Lives are too interconnected for anyone to get away with an abuse without people finding out and it coming back to bite them. However, the flip side of this is that good deeds don’t go unnoticed and those come back around as well. We used to know who made good chairs and gave them the money they deserved for those quality products. In those communities smiling means that the two of you are going to try to cooperate to achieve best outcome for each other and the community.

Without justice, a society crumbles into an untrusting and divided state. It becomes a feedback loop in which abuse -accidental and purposeful- become a norm and true cooperation, love and the deluge of benefits that come from those things are snuffed out entirely.

“Why should I spend more time in hand-crafting a chair that will last a lifetime when my competitor will make one that will last a year for slightly less, make a huge profit and push me out of the market?”

We as untrusting consumers have no choice but buy the cheaper chair because both manufacturers say they have quality construction. There is no way for us -other than to learn chair making- to determine a difference because our trust level is zero from all the lying and liars who are rewarded by those who trust. Therefore we must buy the worse quality product because the price is the only variable we can actually judge. Eventually those who used to trust feel foolish for rewarding evil people and then add to the problem in a more direct way by not trusting.

Deception has become a subtle and fine art which animals have been using for millions of years. Unfortunately for a system of justice, a bird which walks around with it’s wing limp could just as easily have had a cramp in a muscle or could have just felt like stretching repeatedly. It never “said” it was wounded. Deception is a tool of exploitation. It is a tool of pure competition for the purpose of raising one individual above another in some way. Every tiny deception we perform is for personal gain over another.

The second critically important aspect of innocence is the ability to disbelieve what everyone knows is true and to disbelieve in personal experience. Everyone knew the sun went round the earth and everyone knew a man can’t fly. Everyone knew the earth was flat and everything was made of the four elements. Even the gullibility mindset which allows us to believe easily will allow us to believe something else which has more evidence to support it just as easily as we believe something we already know to be true. Innocence and gullibility are a type of humility about our own knowledge which is absolutely essential for invention and innovation.

If you flip a coin ninety-nine times and each time it comes up heads, what is the percentage chance that it will come up tails on the one-hundredth time? It is hard wired in our brains to believe that it will be strongly to one side or the other but the truth is that it is still exactly 50/50. One of the truths of reality is that anything truly random will also stack up at times so that a small perspective will give an inaccurate idea of probability over time. Sometimes you really will flip a coin ten times and it come up one side all in a row but it doesn’t mean anything.

Many of us have a few unlikely bad events happen to us in short succession and it causes us to expect unlikely bad things to happen more frequently than is realistic. By expecting it, we interpret small inconveniences as bad things to prove our theory correct. In turn we lower our mood and miss opportunity because we know it won’t turn out well. The flip side of opportunity is risk. Even if the risk is so small we lose nothing other than the feeling of failure, we begin to steer clear of risks and the opportunities they offer. We create our own bad luck. This is the mechanism of the “Law of Attraction”.

Part of innocence is fearlessness. When we decide to disbelieve past failure as a predictor of the future we open ourselves to possibility. Many times, because we have not struck at rich by thirty(or some better goal), we believe we actually have less possibility of great things happening than younger people. This is an obvious fallacy that nearly all adults fall into. It is fear that holds us back from our dreams. It is the heedless ignorant innocence of youth that empowers people to accomplish the impossible.

Innocence is what allows us to see possibility instead of improbability. Bravery and humility can make you innocent again. Only when we face our fears, deny our misgivings and bravely engage the future with the humility to say, “I might be wrong. Everyone might be wrong.” can we forgive our failures and let go of guilt and inadequacy.

Only when we forgive ourselves and forgive others their missteps and offenses can we reap the limitless rewards of cooperation and love. If you lose your innocence and allow yourself to constantly believe ill of others, you will become one of them. You become an abuser by default.

There is a price to pay for exploitation as a way of life. We pay it on a societal level though, and over time. It is only because others like you stop trusting and stop willingly paying the price of gullibility that a society crumbles. There is universal justice in this world even if it is on a longer time line than you might prefer.

The Zen of Christianity

Published by under Uncategorized on June 11, 2008

Many who are not christian can not understand the pull of it. They can understand a social club but cannot conceive of anything else to be gleaned from it.

If anything, there is significant current reasons to despise it with it’s pedophile pastors, faith-healing hucksters, TV evangelizing charlatans and a marked penchant for child abuse. In addition we can point to historically enlightening events such as the crusades, the inquisition, witch trials and other slaughter of innocents on a large scale. Anyone with an understanding of history and lack of blinders can fall off a wagon into a pile of reasons to abhor christianity. At the same time there are so many positive values taught in christianity and many positive things come from non-fundamentalist christians. There are many decent honest and loving christians to be found.

This dichotomy is a great mystery to all non christians. Why is there such a gigantic scope of behavior among them. What do the decent christians get from it? While I could elaborate on how easily the religion can be twisted and catered to fit any agenda, I prefer to elaborate on the mechanism of the positive aspects of the religion.

In particular there are two guiding principles that those familiar with a broad variety of religions and/or a grounding in modern psychology may be able to recognize. There are two components common to a “path to enlightenment” that can be found. Forgiveness and submission to god’s will are what christians call them. To the rest of us it is guiltlessly living in the moment and the freedom of giving up control. Or more concisely: freedom from responsibility of the past and the future.

When as a christian you are told that Jesus forgives and absolves you of all your wrong doing, you are capable of shedding guilt and responsibility and are no longer acting out on your belief in your own worthlessness. Those who are burdened with guilt and negative self beliefs are doomed to repeat them; this is psychology 101. By gaining the forgiveness of Jesus, a person is able to shed the belief that they are as worthless as their parents told them they were. They can stop believing for a moment that they are “bad” and instead blame satan or their “sin nature”. Once freed of these oppressive beliefs, they can finally believe in their ability to change and be considered a new person by others and more importantly different from their own perspective.

The second principle helps in maintaining a focus on the moment by freeing a person from responsibility for the future. When you are repeatedly told that “god is in control”, that it is “god’s will”, and that “all things work together for the good of them that love the lord”, the burden of trying to over plan the future and the feelings of guilt or failure and inadequacy that come from the vagaries of fate, are pushed away. As we age, we are all pulled into the swirling current of “responsibility” wherein we are told that we have control over our world and are required to exercise it. Even when we give our best within the bounds of what we are given we fail. Without a scapegoat for this failure we can become obsessed with planning or believing in our own inadequacy.

It is my hope that with the understanding of the roots of christianity and relief that those roots can provide that we all can incorporate the valuable lessons without the pitfallsthat so many christians suffer. So many christians forget their early lessons of redemption and cannot always feel like a new person so they begin to feel guilt for their continued “failings”. They can fall prey to judging others and therefore judging themselves too harshly. They begin to feel responsible for their future instead of leaving it up to god.

By understanding our own helplessness in the face of the universe and fate we can focus on changing ourselves without guilt slowing us down. We can begin the cycle of improvement while seeing each “failure” as just one of the many steps to success.

By understanding our own helplessness against the universe we can forgive ourselves and therefore others even when they do us wrong or do things in a worse way. We know that the credit for our “betterness” belongs to circumstance, the universe, or even god. And their “worseness” is also just a function of their position and starting conditions. When we see those who are actually better than us we can feel peace that they had unfair advantages over us just as we have unfair advantages over others. And of course we can also see or at least assume the unfair disadvantages of others.

This results in yet another principle of christianity: humility. Not humility that leads us to believe we are somehow bad or less than others but instead a humility that lets us know we are no different than others in a certain way. Though we may actually be more effective as a person and may do more good things which everyone can agree makes a better person, we still know that the ability to do such things are a function of circumstance so a lesser would still be a equal to us if given perfectly equal circumstance. (genetics and experiences) We humbly remember our unfair advantages.

Once we forgive ourselves and others we can focus on changing ourselves. Though even this tiny amount of control may be illusion, at the very least we can see things the way they are and have peace.

Knowledge of self is the only power that we have and the only control that matters. Forgiveness helps us overcome self-delusion which hides our faults and makes us repeat them. Giving up and being satisfied with even failure allows us to keep plodding along at improving ourselves without the guilt that leads to self-delusion.

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