rooted reaching

When it comes to discussing certain topics, we all know (and some of us have been?) ‘that guy’ ((yes, I do think the stereotype holds true; argumentatives tend to be fellas more often than ladies??)) whose style of engagement seems to harm rather than help the conversation.

I think (and know from my own experience) that loud, impatient dismissals are almost always say more about the loud, impatient dismisser than they do about what is being dismissed.  One gets the double sensation of the person both a) having their mind so made up that discussion with this person is pointless, and at the same time sensing that b) this person has a need to prove their rightness not only to you but themselves as well.

My Dad has a saying (perhaps he got it somewhere himself); the more upset a person gets in a discussion, the weaker their view probably is.  I’d just qualify it a tad to say “…the less confident they are of their view”, because just as it is possible to be confident of a false view, so also is it possible to have a false bravado for a a true view.

Having said that, I think it’s naive to think that we can detach our own emotions from our beliefs, and enjoy a ‘robust’ and ‘frank’ discussion.  I also think one can firmly believe (not ‘know’ in the strict epistemological sense) they are correct and still engage fruitfully with someone they fully disagree with.

The relevant point that follows from this is that the more you really believe view ‘x’, the less energy you’ll need to defend ‘x’ and the more energy you can spend on understanding and critiquing ‘anti-x’, and of course’x’ as well.

This is true in all relationships as well. The more you know who you are, the less you’ll need another person to appear inferior to you (to asset yourself over them) or superior to them (to ride upon their coattails). The more secure your self definition is, the less you’ll need others and their opinions to define you. You’ll be less worried about self and more available emotionally and intellectually to the other. The more rooted you are, the more you can reach out.

disability

Some disconnected thoughts re disability:

  • If Dawkins is right that she is blind, pitiless indifference, then Nature knows nothing: in particular, the difference between ability and disability.
  • Nature also does not distinguish between ‘successful’ species and ‘failed’ (extinct) ones; or between anything… this successful species and that successful species… this or that anything… between self and other…
  • Blindness is the disability to see.  As far as Nature is concerned (or not concerned), organisms which can see and survive are not ‘more evolved’ than those who cannot, as if evolution (or Nature) had a mind with intentions and/or goals.
  • Nature has no compassion on or understanding of people with any disability… or people with ‘abilities’
  • Some might hold out hope that all the above is wrong: that a currently unknown part of Nature actually does know, care, and/or have compassion/understanding, etc.  A bit like those who believed (or still do believe) in various kinds of nature-gods. The only difference being that they give them names based on what we know from human experience; oh wait, what name could we ever give to such a thing than that from human experience?  Some just sound ‘scientific’ and others sound ‘superstitious’.
  • In spite of the indifference and unconsciousness of Nature, the language of ‘disability’ is still, however, properly basic.  It is simply true that we (not Nature) can recognise and name not only the various species, but the various abilities (or lack thereof) they have.
  • Is the seeing ability of a (sighted) human a ‘disability’ in comparison to that of, say, a bald eagle?  Why would we restrain disability to being only defined within species?  What about non-living objects?  Are we ‘disabled’ for not being as ‘able’ as a star, which (if our modern theories are correct) are ‘able’ to produce solar systems?
  • Are we all not ‘disabled’ in at least some way?  I find this idea to be quite equalising, humbling and right.
  • I went to a Benny Hinn healing meeting a few years ago, so that my criticism of him would have actual experience behind it.  I despise this kind of prosperity crap, and was enraged at how the machine works, but I particularly angered that those in wheelchairs were utterly ignored the entire time.
  • Our ‘disability’ to love as we have ‘ability’ to (now there’s a juxtaposition if ever there was one) must be humanity’s most debilitating ailment.
  • The Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus, means, among other things, that (as the cliche goes) God meets us where we are at, namely in our disability and rebellion, and will not leave us there.

want vs. like

Somewhat related to epistemology (but I’m not going there now) is the question of how emotion & desire can relate truth or moral guidance.

It is often assumed by we post-Romantics that ‘doing what you want’ is about the most sinful or dangerous thing imaginable.  ‘Doing what is right’ is better, we say; …and if what is ‘right’ happens to be what you want, then all the better.  And if what is ‘wrong’ is what you want, then well… either do it quietly or privately or not at all – if you can.

I believe, however, that desires are not all bad.  I actually wonder if what we call ‘bad desires’ are just ‘good desires’ that have been distorted, broken, suppressed or otherwise damaged.

But in addition to this, I think we can distinguish between deep, lasting and true desires (‘wants’) and shallow, fleeting and deceptive desires (‘likes’).  For example, at a spur of the moment, now, in my face kind of level, I ‘like’ a lot of things which I don’t actually ‘want’ at another, long run, after the fact, in my gut kind of level.  Examples can easily be multiplied.

I wonder if we often shortchange ourselves by loading up our lives with ‘likes’ instead of carving out time, money, energy, opportunities or space for the ‘wants’.  We look back at our afternoon, day, week, month, year or life and we lament that we didn’t get what we deeply ‘wanted’ (i.e. lasting, healthy relationships), even if we may well have quite often got what we ‘liked’ (i.e. this or that must-have gadget).

Sorting out the wants from the likes may well not be an exact science – who would ever thing it would be? – but I think we intuitively ‘know’ how to do the sorting.  Here’s to us doing it better.

good guns

A quick gun-related post after some recent events in NZ & thinking about it. When you encounter an action or idea that you find utterly insane or impossible to understand, it’s always good (pun intended) to look for some good reason behind it, which may have been distorted.  In the case of “gun rights” it’s not too hard to see some good things about having and using guns.

  • Guns are probably best considered as a kind of power-increasing tool, and power in and of itself is good.
  • To the extent that killing an animal (hopefully for food) is acceptable, a gun just makes this easier to do.
  • To the extent that killing a human (hopefully as a last resort and only self defense) is acceptable, a gun just makes this easier to do.
  • The case of gun shooting as a hobby or interest (i.e. gun collectors having meetings to share and shoot their guns, etc.) seems a perfectly acceptable activity.

Of course a similar list could be made of ‘bad’ things. As for what kind of laws to have to help gun users do more of the ‘good’ and less of the ‘bad’, I have only a few ideas, which I won’t bother mentioning here.  Ultimately, laws don’t change people.  To close, here are some positive & negative memories associated with guns.

  • I owned a black-powder rifle for around a year.  My brother, his friend Ralph and I went a time or two to a firing range and shot them.  It was fun.  Learning how to pack the powder, etc.  Boys and their toys.
  • I have a brother-in-law who hunts often, but only for food I believe.  I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and the animals die with more respect than they would on some cattle farms.
  • My Dad had a 44 magnum (still has?).  I remember him target shooting ‘out back’.  The sound was incredible.  There was ever so slight a delay from firing to impact – on the 50-gallon drum lid propped up against a tree.  As a small boy, I was in awe.  My Dad was Clint Eastwood.
  • My Dad used to go deer hunting, until those he hunted with kept going way over their legal limit for the season.  I still remember walking past the massive pile of deer guts. I’m proud of my Dad for not taking part in that.
  • I also remember (after shooting and hitting a squirrel several times – to no discernible effect! – with a BB gun) finally killing my first bird – a robin I believe.  It fluttered from the power line it had been perched on to the ground.  I walked up to it, and saw it twitching in pain.  The thought was so strong it seemed nearly audible – “Well what did you do that for?”  I put it out of its misery, and I don’t believe I’ve ever shot another animal again.