Thought experiment, “Long Heroism, Short Martyrdom”, written November 3, 2020:
If you listen closely, you may be able to hear the world holding their breath. *The American Presidential Election*.
Some will tell you this is the most important election in history, and that there is only one candidate to vote for (read; Biden). Others say these two candidates could not be more deranging for the US – each in his own way – which reduce the election to a corrupt duopoly we all have to pretend will save America (and the world) in some miraculous way.
You know what, even if I have an opinion on this, it doesn’t matter. I’m not in a position to vote, and my life does not depend on the fact that I have a final opinion on this topic. Don’t get me wrong, many lives depend on them having a direct opinion, and the right to vote. Because either way you look at it, this is potentially an existential election.
Nevertheless, we have way too much split and final opinions today. The mantra has become; “are you with us or against us?”, “yes or no”, “black or white”, “Trump or Biden” – you better have a final “correct” opinion or else you have no worth (and if we feel like it, we will cancel you);
The social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, writes; “we are indeed selfish hypocrites so skilled at putting on a show of virtue that we fool even ourselves.” What a depressing truth.
Like it’s not enough to cope with our psychological cognition flaws, the last decade two billion people have been given a stage to virtue signal and morally cancel (read; social media). Add that to the equation, and it feels like a disaster waiting to happen.
And when you’ve heard Tristan Harris‘ compassionate, but alarming call to action regarding our attention economy in technology – the crippling sense of hopelessness is final and hyper-real. The technological industry profits from our opinions being more polarized, politicized, outraged and divided, and without difficulty we can understand the vast, noticeable increase of these destroying forces world wide.
The question remains; how to cope with something so destroying, so pervasive and so out of our own control?
Of course I don’t have the answer. To be honest, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking that this, our destroyed world, is just an insanely awful nightmare. After a some despair I realize that that thought is too snowflakey. For me. Because I still have hope. And I want to listen to and talk to others that still have hope. Finding a battle worth fighting is more true than ever before, as far as I’m concerned.
In a conversation with Lex Friedman the other day, Eric Weinstein did what he does best; investigate, counterbalance and create insightful sense and meaning. These are some of his words about our present time, that struck me the most;
“Everyone who has a possible plan to avoid what is coming if we don’t have one, should work on the plan that he/she think is best. We got to dare to do things that make us feel dumb and childish, because that possibly has a work of hope. And that is new orchard. New orchard with new people who can find new fruit they can pick. Once you have one person do that, very often you get many. Once we start innovating in the present, everything will eventually come.
Because everything around us is screwed up, and no one can really know the right way out this chaos. This may well be the end of something profound. And the beginning of whatever is next. Whatever is next could be terminal. Whatever is next could be amazing. We don’t know. “
Long heroism, short martyrdom. That is a good motto. The easiest thing to do is to destroy, the hardest thing to do is rebuild. Everything starts with you and me.