Opposing World Views – Matt and Steve at the Airport

 

Opposing World Views – Matt and Steve at the Airport
                       [a short story – by Sha’Tara]

 “Myself, I would not put it that way.  That’s not the way I see it because that’s not the way it is.  After all, a thing is what it is and it is never something else.  — Matt Galloway, Wall Street banker, smiles at his friend, pleased with his retort.

“Don’t you think that a lifetime of observation and experience is worth something?  What gives a person “authority” to speak on any subject, in your opinion? — Steve Dunn, professor of ethics and a philosopher in his own right, frowns but cannot hide the fact that he is pleased to have broached this subject with the reticent banker.

“Well, obviously, you have to have a position in society to claim any sort of authority on any subject.  You have to have certain approved credentials; recognition, a certain public reputation, be an elected representative.  A member of a recognized influential group or think tank.   You have to have studied the masters on whatever subject you would claim authority to speak on.  Think of the chaos that would result if anyone could claim authority in anything?  How would you know fact from fiction?  How could you control such a thing?  Society would collapse, pure and simple.

“Don’t you think you are exaggerating a bit?  I think that if people were encouraged to gain their own authority on any subject, society would not only not collapse, but it would level off, taking a kinder, gentler path through nature and through life.  The reason I say this is because that is what my own life’s observation and experience has taught me.  History, however biased, cannot hide the fact that individuals make better stewards of nature than do collectives.  Individuals respond to a natural need to be “with” whereas collectives develop a counter force, making them become “anti” nature.  Collectives see nature as merely exploitable resources.  An individual thinks of his world as his home.

“I think this is a futile discussion, but I have some time before my flight so I don’t mind if you ramble on a bit on this.  An interesting approach in any case.  But before I let you go on with this, let’s establish a basis for the argument.  While I clearly see that man has reached his high level of development because of continuity of learning and collective participation in lending authority to certain people to ensure unlimited mental development and technological growth, your point is that social development should be drawn from personal observation and experience.  I hate to point out the obvious but that would mean each generation would be starting from scratch.  History would be invalidated.  Any great works from the past would be relegated to museums and art galleries and considered of no value.  Any scientific achievements would gradually be lost and forgotten.  An illiterate society would return to a state of no-growth, on par with Amazonian tribal societies as encountered by the Spaniards and Portuguese.  Is that the basis of our discussion?  A return to a state of “the noble savage” for Earthian (as you insist on calling it) society?

“Are you feeling threatened in some way by the idea that an individual can express autonomous thought?  That an individual’s ideas could supersede those accumulated by collective effort expended over certain periods of time? 

“Do I feel threatened by the concept that an individual is greater than the whole?  My friend, it’s an idiotic concept which doesn’t warrant thinking about, but just for the sake of argument, can’t you see what would happen if your idea could, and did, take root in society?  Where would be your point of reference in anything?  What could you rely on?  We have laws and rules to keep the individual in step with society.  Can any driver decide one morning that driving on the right hand side of the street is not applicable to himself, and proceed to drive on the other side?  What are we talking about here?

“Well, by your defensive position, I think we are talking about common sense and man’s increasing distrust of individual thought versus that of the State – whatever constitutes “the State.”  In my view, individual man is imbued with common sense, whereas society is not, hence the regulations and laws proliferating like cancer cells throughout Earthian society.  No sane individual, no matter how independent of thought, would think of doing what you suggest.  Your argument has been presented to me many times about the concept of wearing clothes, for example.  Prudes defend clothing, whereas I think that Earthians would be much more comfortable, and free-er if they could shed their clothing when the weather, or circumstances, dictate that nudity is naturally preferable.  And here comes the predictable arguments:  why, people would defecate on the sidewalk, just like dogs.  Men would be jumping women’s bones as soon as they saw them naked, etc.  These arguments are those of controlling authority versus independent thought.  Individuals such as yourself never allow their mind to wander the untrodden paths of “what if” in order to find a better way for people to interact with each other.  Your assumption, and I might add, the assumption of “civilized” society, is that rules and laws, no matter who made, or makes them, are the safeguards of society.  You never seem to consider this question, that although it is painfully evident that your law-makers are self-serving in every way, seldom “good” rulers, never great leaders, they can unquestionably enact moral laws that benefit society in general.  An incredible fallacy. 

“I just don’t get it.  Why would any sane person argue for the points you make about individual thought?  If we assume that pre-civilized groups lived more from individual thought than group thought; that modern, civilized man lives by adherence to collective mores and codes, which is the most successful?  Don’t you see that civilized man took over the planet and that your “free thinking” Neanderthals lost?  Evolution takes what it needs to succeed and modern civilized man is the most successful species on this world – why?  Because it learned to subjugate private thought to collective needs.  Man is a collective, like it or not.  Without collectivization, man reverts back to living in trees, surviving by hunting and fishing or gathering wild roots.  There is no middle road where you can have what we have today while every individual’s ideas are more important than collective wisdom.

“I understand what you are saying Matt.  I know why you must hold on to your idea of what makes man so successful.  The problem as I see it is that cancer cells are also a very successful type of “evolutionary” growth.  They are very difficult to stop and as far as they are concerned, if we anthropomorphize, they have every right to succeed because they are stronger, smarter and faster than those they are destroying.  Their whole mission, as a collective, is to keep on growing.  Of course, and I know the argument has been made many times, what cancer cells do not see, and would never consider since such is not in their collective nature, is that their very success equals their eventual demise: they are a collectively driven predator that refuses to consider what happens when it takes over its entire prey, or host.  What happens when collectively-driven Earthians control (eat) so much of the planet’s ecosystem that it enters into a non-recoverable state of entropy?  What happens to man when his society kills off its host?

“OK, you make a point, although people are waking up and looking at sustainable energy and other alternatives that are slowing down the entropic effect – isn’t that true?

“And what about you, as an individual, Matt.  Are you, and your particular collective of Wall Street bankers actively supporting or promoting such alternative efforts?  Are you not, rather, deliberately sabotaging such efforts and being a complete hypocrite when you say such things?

“Are you trying to make me feel guilty for my lifestyle, Steve?

“Bet your bottom dollar I am, Matt.  Bet your bottom dollar.  My niece’s flight has arrived and I have to meet her.  She’s arriving from Denmark.  Now there’s a country you should think about.  Denmark.  Quite a contrast to your Wall Street mentality.  You should take a vacation there – take a year or two.  It would do you good. Have a nice flight. 

“I should know better than to engage any discussion with you, Steve.  You always have such a nice way of pissing me off.  

“Pissed off is good.  It means you are not yet a complete robot. 

Quote:  Doctrine — religious, political, or economic — eventually clashes with experience because doctrine remains fixed while experience changes with circumstances and perception. (Rex Weyler)

 

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9 thoughts on “Opposing World Views – Matt and Steve at the Airport

  1. We come from dreams ~

    You made me cackle with delight! The banker – Matt – is expressing what has been called hive-mind reactions. Right now, we are in the grip of a mindset not far removed from that of Star Trek’s ‘Borg.’ Only – resistance is NOT futile. The social borg of today’s world is tottering. Original thinking is derided by “authorities” as iconoclasm; but if they were iconoclasts, the Buddha, Karl Marx, William Blake, Jesus, Socrates, and Lao Tze did more for the world than every collective that has ever existed. It has been suggested that a camel is really a horse, but one designed by a committee. I don’t know if you or your readers have ever been on a committee for any reason, but those who speak loudest and most often usually hold sway – intelligence and common sense do not prevail. Jesus is supposed to have said that when his followers prayed, they should be two or three. The idea is, any more people involved, well, next thing you know, someone has “taken charge” and they’re building a huge cathedral “for the glory of God,” the burning of heretics and the stuffing of fat cleric’s pockets. Now just think of what would happen if the current Pope decided to cash in all of the Church’s gold in order that everyone might be fed, housed, clothed and medically sound. (I did the math many years ago; it could happen) And imagine if the USA started to spend all of the money that it squanders on Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs; and all of the money it’s wasting to attempt the destruction of Islam in the current policy of perpetual war. Imagine all of the plutocrats who gain from the suffering of the poor, be reasonably taxed. Civilization in any guise has always resulted in a psychotic governing structure which consumes people. That kind of civilization has got to go. Fortunately, it’s staring to crumble. This is a most excellent post and I thank you!

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      [quote] Original thinking is derided by “authorities” as iconoclasm; but if they were iconoclasts, the Buddha, Karl Marx, William Blake, Jesus, Socrates, and Lao Tze did more for the world than every collective that has ever existed.[unquote] I’ve always thought of myself as an iconoclast. Even in the days when I functioned through various environmental/social change groups or collectives I would deride those who “worshipped” particular personalities (I think it’s called personality cult) such as Karl Marx, Lenin, Castro, David Suzuki or other figures. That’s why I finally clued in that no collective, however well-intended, could ever overthrow the System because any collective has to have an icon to believe in. Real change-agents work alone. They don’t join and they don’t form, support groups. I don’t know what good Jesus ever accomplished but he most certainly blew it when he made disciples… especially when those disciples were all (or perhaps all but one in secret) men. Oh yes, I’ve worked with committees. It was committee work that convinced me that it’s much better to be a dictator to keep the focus and get the work done. But I didn’t like people depending on me to make all the decisions so I quit everything. Now I work alone and I get things done the way I want them done. Self empowerment, nothing like it. No one to blame, no one to praise, no one else to depend upon.

      Reply
  2. We come from dreams ~

    Aye an did I not tell yE we are speakin from a similar perspective now, then? The last “hero” whom I most certainly looked up to went by the name of Leary; and when I realized that his particular “solution” was just so much Blarney, I gave that up – and not just for Lent. Whatever good that LSD might have done back in those days was certainly derailed by his calculated Pied Piper tune; In describing what Tim Leary had REALLY done, the late Hunter S. Thompson likened it to a light at the end of a tunnel. Unfortunately for the longhair of the day, it was the headlamp of an oncoming train, and the next and immediate repercussions were the absolute polarization of Americans and the birth of perpetual war. As for Jesus, well; as someone who has “studied the documents” pertaining to him and his world for over 40 years, I can tell you that what we know about him as an historical person is negligible. The only way which I feel one might decide what “he” said or not is to gauge each of his pronouncements by the rule, “would an individual, acting alone, say or do this?” There are no other historical criteria and certainly very little in his cultural environment to make measure of them; virtually everyone “belonged” to a group, party, cult, ethic group bla bla bla. Individualism – or self-empowerment as you rightly call it – as such existed here and there but was hardly the norm. It may have been that Jesus was such a person; but events, and the structure-builders di what amounts to an ethnic cleansing of his good ideas.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Ethnic cleansing of his good ideas – I like that. But the ideas, whoever (whomever?) wrote them are still there, for anyone to see, in what is claimed to be the world’s on-going number one best selling propaganda tool: the Bible. I was once a Catholic, then a born again Christian – you have to try it to know it, as my Teachers insisted – and now, when I (rarely) exchange views with Christians, I just tell them I’m a failed Christian. Oh, and why is that? they ask so innocently. Well, says I, look at the commands of your Lord and God, Jesus Christ in Luke, Chap. 6 which constitutes the essence of the teachings in the gospels. (long quote here:)
      Lk. 6:20 Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
      Lk. 6:21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
      Lk. 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
      Lk. 6:23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.
      Lk. 6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
      Lk. 6:25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
      Lk. 6:26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.
      Lk. 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
      Lk. 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.
      Lk. 6:29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
      Lk. 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
      Lk. 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
      Lk. 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even `sinners’ love those who love them.
      Lk. 6:33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even `sinners’ do that.
      Lk. 6:34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even `sinners’ lend to `sinners’, expecting to be repaid in full.
      Lk. 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because
      he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
      Lk. 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
      Lk. 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
      Lk. 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured
      to you.”
      Lk. 6:39 He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?
      Lk. 6:40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
      Lk. 6:41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
      Lk. 6:42 How can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
      Lk. 6:43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.
      Lk. 6:44 Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers.
      Lk. 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his
      mouth speaks.
      Lk. 6:46 “Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

      And so my question is, how many Christians do I (or anyone) know to live up to that? And if they don’t, how can they still claim to be Christians, i.e., followers of the Christ? Seems to me that this evidence clinches the case. Not much left for a jury to deliberate on.

      Reply
  3. We come from dreams ~

    Although he could be a master of sarcasm, I feel that Nietzsche was being honest, tragically honest when he wrote that the only Christian who ever lived was crucified on a hill outside of Jerusalem some two thousand years ago.
    My tale of being born-again is for another time and place; this is your essay and I’m aware of being a guest here. For myself, I have never had the opportunity to confront my former co-religionists, and this is probably a good thing. I brought pure vitriol into my “version” of Christianity and I left with it all intact. Anyone who would have crossed my path would have been verbally skinned alive. Today I see much wisdom in what or whom ever prevented such a crossing of paths; hopefully today, I can listen and then say, “I think I have something better.”

    Reply

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