Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Greatest Threat to Mormonism

In February a visiting speaker to our Sacrament meeting told us of a tradition he has of reading the entire Book of Mormon in the month of March (He calls it 'March Madness', my wife renamed it March Holiness, because somehow Madness and the word of God just didn't seem sensible together.)

I typically read the Book of Mormon cover to cover every one to two years, I try to take my time and digest little bits. I was intrigued by his challenge, and decided to give it a go. There really is something about compressing the timeline - you see things differently. I guess it is sort of like the difference between walking through the trees and flying over the forest. A very different perspective allows you to see things in an entirely different light.

For me, the rapid read called greater attention to the infamous 'pride cycle'. I noticed several details I had not really caught before.

For those not familiar the pride cycle is a repeating pattern of behavior documented in the Book of Mormon. The people would be righteous for a time. God would bless them and they would become very prosperous. Then the people would become prideful, and would turn to sin, and Then there were wars, famines, pestilence, etc... This would cause the people to become humble, they would turn to God again, and would become righteous again, And then the cycle would repeat. righteous -> prosperous -> prideful -> wicked -> "cursed" -> repeat.

People tend to treat this as a purely religious thing, that God directly, actively blessed the people when they were attentive to God, and then he directly, actively cursed the people when they weren't attentive. This cycle does't really require a deity in order for it to hold. In Christianity we call it the "Law of the Harvest", or "you reap what you sow", Ironically, the secular world tends to favor the less pragmatic, more spiritually rooted term "Karma".  But the fact is, this cycle is quite natural. Plant corn seed and  you will get corn. Not apples, not peas, not oats... corn. It is so common sense. It works that way in human endeavor as well, though not quite so quickly, nor always so easily observed. But those who pay attention can see it.


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
    - Martin Luther King Jr.


In other words, God doesn't have to be nearly as directly involved in the process as some suggest. It is simply the nature of the world. Why does this matter? It changes how we perceive God. He is not a meddler, he is not arbitrarily doling out blessings and punishments for our every act, like an overly diligent dog trainer. God is our Father. Our Father who loves us unconditionally, who wants us to be happy, who wants us to have blessings, who is eager to bless us, who has given us direction how to live "after the manner of happiness" (2 Nephi 5:27). And who then lets us live as we choose.

Okay hang onto those two framework ideas (pride cycle, nature of God's relation to people,). And pressing forward...


What really stood out to me with the rapid reading was the consistent thread which represented the starting point of the downfall of the Church.


The key elements which repeated every time were:
Focusing on the "fine things of the world"
Abandoning/neglecting the poor
Contention


Here are a few verses for reference...

-------------

2 Nephi 28

13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.


Jacob 2

13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.

20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it?


Alma 1

22 Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.


Alma 5

55 Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?


Alma 60

16 Yea, had it not been for the war which broke out among ourselves; yea, were it not for these king-men, who caused so much bloodshed among ourselves; yea, at the time we were contending among ourselves, if we had united our strength as we hitherto have done; yea, had it not been for the desire of power and authority which those king-men had over us; had they been true to the cause of our freedom, and united with us, and gone forth against our enemies, instead of taking up their swords against us, which was the cause of so much bloodshed among ourselves; yea, if we had gone forth against them in the strength of the Lord, we should have dispersed our enemies, for it would have been done, according to the fulfilling of his word.


Helaman 4

12 And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites—


Helaman 6

39 And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.

40 And thus we see that they were in an awful state, and ripening for an everlasting destruction.


3 Nephi 6
10 But it came to pass in the twenty and ninth year there began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions;

11 For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers.

12 And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.

13 Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.

14 And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up...


4 Nephi 1

24 And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.

25 And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.

26 And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.

-------------


Nonmembers weren't a significant threat to the periods of prosperity. 3 Nephi 28 speaks of the disciples - after Christ's visit to the Americas - baptizing people (clearly there were nonmembers to be baptized), and being thrown into pits and furnaces, clearly there were nonmembers who didn't like the church. Earlier there were cases where the wicked kingdoms attacked, were soundly defeated and then the people enjoyed years of peace.


The Gadianton robbers weren't a significant threat. For those who aren't Mormons this referred to criminal groups comparable to everything today from Drug cartels to Mafia to Illuminatii-esque groups who manipulated governments, assassinated political leaders, etc... The Gadianton robbers were only able to gain power when the people were prideful and contentious.


The times when the church was at risk, when prosperity was lost, always started with the members withholding help from the poor. Turing their back on those who needed help. Getting in verbally abusive arguments or physical fights with those who held different views. Excluding those who look different, dress different...


I direct this toward Mormonism because, well... I am drawing form the book of Mormon, but in reality this applies to any belief, any society actually (refer back to my framework comments).

The problem with pride.. it is so easy to miss it in ourselves. I find I can slip from self-reliant to selfish in the mere blink of an eye.

And it is so easy to look to Book of Mormon heroes like Captain Moroni, want  to emulate their stalwart, direct action against evil... And it is easy to forget Captain Moroni fought Invaders, not immigrants. He fought against usurpers who overthrew the government, not the government (and at a time when they were already fighting a war against an attacking force. It is also easy to forget hw never fought for longer or took more lives than was necessary, and was always ready to let go any who would throw down their weapons and promise never to attack again).  It is easy to get "caught up in the moment", not even realize you've taken a step sideways...


“Most of the bad guys in the real world don't know that they are bad guys. You don't get a flashing warning sign that you're about to damn yourself. It sneaks up on you when you aren't looking.” 
― Jim Butcher 


It is hard to consistently remember to look inward and ask "is it I?" (Matthew 26:22)

And yet, that is always where it starts...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

American Healthcare Reform?

The recent republican healthcare debacle has had me thinking about my views on healthcare - what it should look like, and how it should work.

As always. I think I am somewhere in the middle.

No child should have to go without basic healthcare.

That just seems basic, common sense to me. How could semi-civilized human being refuse basic care for a child, just because his parents decided to spend their money foolishly? Or abandoned said child altogether?

From an economic perspective, a few dollars of prevention now could save thousands of dollars later. So at least for children, universal healthcare seems like a no-brainer.

But what about  the rest of healthcare? Certainly it would seem there are some places for cost savings. imagine if victims of automobile accidents were covered by a universal plan. Considerable savings could be found in avoiding all the legal back and forth that goes on in our current system. We would pay for the cost of recovery from the accident, instead of that AND the salaries of the several lawyers involved AND the bevy of insurance claim handlers AND the extra "pain and suffering" damages that are frequently awarded AND...

What about terminal diseases? Or Chronic illness? Those are just plain expensive. Those are what insurance was really about, back on the 'good old days'. Everyone paid into a community chest, just in case. The money was then available for the poor unlucky soul (That is a lottery you really don't want to win). In theory one much larger pot would be more efficient and effective than lots of little ones, right?

But... What if someone gets emphysema as a result of chain-smoking in spite of all the health warnings? What if someone gets diabetes and a flood of related illness because he just flat-out refused to stop drinking 64 oz. of mountain dew and inhaling a box of Twinkies every day? Is it really fair to those who try to take care of themselves, that they have to pay in more than is actually necessary because of members of the population who don't take precautions?

I suppose you could try going all New York and ban every potentially harmful substance ($114 Billion annually for alcohol related accidents based on numbers from 2000. You ready to try prohibition again?)

What about coverage for abortion? Birth control? No matter where you draw that line you are going to make some group very unhappy, and infringe on someone's religious/civil rights.

What about cosmetic surgery? Breast implants, or I understand calf implants are the rage among men. No? What about in the case of breast cancer? What about those born with disfigurements? How "disfigured"?

What about ageing?

The problem with paying for healthcare, it can consume essentially as much money as you are willing to give it. It has an infinitely large appetite. And we are getting better and better and keeping a corpse mostly alive. Sooner or later, you have to start drawing lines - some of those lines people will draw for themselves, based on quality of life, some don't want to be a financial burden to their kids. Others, well.... Who do you want making that decision for you? Obama? Trump? Whoever the next guy happens to be?

I'm inclined to think there are some aspects of healthcare which are a easy yes for a universal system. Preventative care, Child healthcare. Emergency care (Though perhaps in the case of self inflicted due to crime or blatant stupidity, they would be required to reimburse).

Others are less clear, and perhaps would be better served by old fashioned insurance, or voluntary, charitable contributions.

But, even though I am inclined toward socialized care for some things, I still have one concern which gives me considerable hesitation.

That concern is the money. Specifically, who manages it? Consider for a moment our Social Security system.  It is meant to be a safety net for retirement. It is in trouble, in part because the old are living longer and the supply of young is slowing. It is also in trouble because the government keeps raiding those funds to use for... other projects.

Healthcare is a REALLY big number. A number from which literally millions of dollars a year could get lost as rounding errors (I have enough experience with large corporations to know that this is not an exaggeration). In 2011 I wrote a post titled "A Case For a King". I think it applies.  When I consider the kinds of things well meaning people have demonstrated they are willing to do for the sake of "The greater good"... (let me refer you to "The Lucifer Effect", "Edward Snowden", "MKUltra" as a bit of reading material.)

The problem with things like money and power, the more you give up, the harder it is to reclaim them. And sooner or later someone will end up in charge, that you don't want there....

That said. I am still on board with the idea of socializing certain aspects of healthcare. So long as it is a separate accounting book, fully exposed to the public, with crowdsourced/consensus management.

Then insurance can go back to covering the outlier issues, with different rates and solutions based on individual risk and  personal preferences and needs. With government regulation of this insurance limited to basic fair business practices and anti-monopolistic behaviors (possibly some reigning in of excessive litigiousness?). It seems to me that would help considerably with cost of basic care, while maintaining a relatively high degree of choice, flexibility, and freedom.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Liberals Elected Trump?

I was listening to an interview the other day, with a Utah polling organization, discussing Trump's first weeks in Office.

At least in Utah, it seems the majority of people don't really approve of many of the actions Trump is taking. particularly the immigration blocking and wall building bits.

The interviewer pointed out that Trump is only doing what he promised to do, so why such a negative reaction, even from those who voted for him?

The interviewer noted that this wasn't really such a surprise, given the exit polls. (Again, at least in Utah) The exit polls indicated that most people who voted for Trump were "Holding their nose" as they did so.

So, they didn't vote for Trump, they voted against Clinton. That is only marginally surprising, considering Utah has been strongly Republican for decades. But what was interesting from the polls was that the decision this last election seems to have hinged largely on one point.

The Supreme Court appointment.

This one point may very well have decided the outcome of the election.

Why was this one thing so important that it mobilized so many to take a position they didn't really want to take?


January 2010 - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on health care: “We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in but we're going to get health care reform passed for the America people."

(a healthcare reform they excluded themselves from...)

2008 Prop 8  (Bill to establish marriage as valid only if between a man and a woman) passed in California by a 52% Majority. Ignore for a moment any personal feelings you may have regarding this, just consider this. It had a majority. It was overturned by one (1) judge who was in a same-sex relationship. (To take emotion out of this, try to imagine you passed a law making burglary illegal, and it was overturned by a Judge who happened to be a burglar).

Following that, there were several lawsuits against various Photographers, Bakers, etc... who refused to provide their services to same-sex marriages, where the legal system ordered that said businesses would render their services, or would lose their livelihood. Place these cases in context. First, they are not required or life-sustaining services (this is less important to the point of being nearly irrelevant but I mention it anyway). Second, these were all forms of artistic expression, which usually is recognized as free speech (Hustler Magazine won multiple legal battles against censorship on this ground, Political cartoonists and other satirists have wielded the free speech banner to defend their right to draw Mohammed and other religious figures...). So in effect, one judge was violating an individual's right to free speech, by ordering them to celebrate in art something which they felt was morally wrong. (again, you are welcome to disagree with their moral views, refuse to do business with them, encourage your friends to refuse to do business with them. By all means do, and good on you for sticking by your personal mores).


Also in 2008, President Obama made the following statement:
"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

What stuck in people's minds?

"Small towns"
"Bitter"
"Cling to guns or religion"


and then there were headlines like this from 2015: "Four years after agreeing to “sequestration” budget cuts, the White House has emphatically told Congress that President Obama will no longer abide by them and will use his veto to insist that lawmakers boost spending on defense and domestic programs alike."

Suddenly Pelosi's speech sounds like it is about more than healthcare. Suddenly it sounds like a call to war... against...?


So, roughly half of America wasn't just not getting things the way they wanted, they were actively being marginalized, bullied, backstabbed, forced to abandon their opinions, mores, ways of life... Treated as worthless, dumb, sub-humans.

If a black bear is in your garden, you generally can make a ruckus, chase it off, and that is that. If you keep chasing it, corner it, give it no place to go... well... then it may get desperate. This is true of most any animal. It is part of evolution, fight or flight... When flight is no longer on the table...

So... it seems to me, when I look at all the bits and pieces, that perhaps the liberals created  - and elected - Trump.



(P.S. perhaps we shouldn't have let the extreme left and right take over.)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Time and Money and Leisure: An insight from Candy Crush

Note - this is going to sound narrow minded and oversimplified. That is intentional, to make a point. Take it for what it is worth.


I decided to try out Candy Crush a while back, as I know so many people who play it. I must admit I have found playing it.... conflicting.

The fact is it is a mind numbing, time killer. There is really almost no room for thought or strategy in most plays. It is mainly luck. Yes you have a few power-ups you can choose from, but for the most part, they really aren't that effective except in a few very unique occasions, if they happen to be in the right location.

And I find myself annoyed by the psychological tactics they use to keep people hooked, and to "encourage" in-game purchases. Every so often you get some sort of side quest, with a timer. Completing the request gives you rewards. IF you don't make it in time, the quest goes away. Actually it doesn't really go away, it shows up again a bit further down the path. But psychologically that timer makes people feel a sense of urgency - a need to buy power-ups in order to finish it in time.

And quite frequently you find yourself out of moves, and so close to completing the level!... Very tempting to spend a few dollars just to get an extra few moves, or a booster of some sort to get you the last little bit (Actually the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the program doesn't fudge the randomness on occasion just to create that scenario... " No honey, I don't know what happened to all the tinfoil....").

Yet even though I loathe it, I have continued to play it. Why? In animal training, I have heard it referred to as "playing the lottery". It is a training technique for reinforcing a desired behavior by rewarding that behavior at random intervals, it is the key addictive quality of slot machines, and most other games of chance. Every now thrown money into a slot machine and pulling a lever is both boring, and dumb. But every now and again, lights flash, alarms sound, and money falls out. So people keep pulling money in and pulling the lever.

Every now and again a move in Candy Crush will reward you with a chain of matches, explosions, massive progress toward completing the level. It gives you that "casino rush".

They also appeal to my curiosity. I'm the kind of person who can't hike half of a trail I have never been on. I always have to go see what is around the next corner, over the next hill, behind that next tree...  Candy crush throws some new little monstrosity at you every dozen of so levels, appealing to that innate curiosity. What will they dream up next?

And of course, with thousands of levels, my natural OCD desire to finish holds me hostage as well.


It is an absolute time and money waster.


And you know what, that is okay.

That is one of the tributes to human progress. Leisure time. We have become so good, so efficient at meeting our basic human needs (food, shelter,...) That we don't have to spend our every waking hour meeting those basic needs. The average american farmer feeds 155 people today. For every one farmer, 155 people don't have to spend their days foraging, hunting, gathering... Their time is freed up to make music, write poetry, build bridges, invent new technology, dance, play professional sports, make movies, watch movies, watch people play sports... or play candy crush.

And leisure time doesn't necessary interfere with the laws of Conservation. Properly applied and in appropriate doses, that leisure time can reinvigorate us. It can spark new ideas, new innovations, new efficiencies, new improvements to the human experience. Religiously speaking, "Men are that they might have joy."

So by all means candy crush away.

But...

Keep this in mind...

If you are an avid movie goer/sports watcher/candy crusher/.../all of the above...

And if you feel the need to complain to the world about the economic unfairness of it....

Don't.

Anecdotally, a friend of mine shared a conversation he had with his in-laws, who were giving him a hard time for not been a sport-fan, for not watching football, baseball, basketball, etc..

"What do you do with your time?" They asked.

"Well," he responded, "I work on my Four wheeler. Which is why every hunting season, mine runs and I am able to bail you out when yours breaks down."


I also remember a story of a man, after a piano concert, going up to the pianist and congratulating him for his magnificent performance.

"I would give my life to play like that!" The  man said.

The pianist replied, "I did."

If you feel the urge to complain about all those evil, greedy Millionaire's, who were working while you were recreating. Do yourself a favor and don't. You made your choice, they made theirs. Once you've made the choice, the consequences naturally follow. Accept them. If you don't like the consequences, then perhaps instead of spending your energy complaining and demanding 'fairness', you might consider changing the way you spend your time.





Monday, November 14, 2016

"Right Privilege"

A few days ago a left-handed colleague of mine was complaining about writing on white boards, noting that he erased everything he wrote as he went. A right-handed colleague looked puzzled, then started laughing.

"I'd never considered that!" he said. I assured him that it was common for lefties in middle school to deal with smudged homework and a perpetual graphite grey smudge on the edge of the left hand, opposite the thumbs. and then of course you added spiral-bound notebooks into the mix - those wires constantly gouging the side of your hand.


Righty asked if there were other things like that. So we discussed scissors.
Scissors are made so that when you operate them you push with your thumb and pull with your fingers, causing the two blades to pinch together. When you operate them in your left hand, that same actions pulls the blade apart ever so slightly. More delicate pieces of paper will simply flop between the blades rather than being cut.

Also, when held in your right hand, on the right side of your body, you have a clear view of the cutting edge. In the left hand, your view of the cutting edge is blocked by the top of the blade, making precision cutting more difficult.

Most hand guns eject the bullet to the right, directly across the line of sight of a left handed shooter. And Bolt actions - you have to engage in a weird form of yoga after every shot in order to work the bolt to chamber the next round.

Remember those old school desks? The one with the desk attached to the chair? On the right side? The desk reaching about 2/3 of the way across the chair? Yeah, those are awkward for a lefty.

Can-openers? Awkward, Tape measures? upside-down. Playing cards are all just a white spot when held left-handedly.

Righty chuckled. "I never even thought about it!"

"Of course not." I said,  "It's Right privilege." Then I proceeded to tell him about the suffering of my people in olden days; being whipped for using their left hand in school, having their left hand tied behind their back to force them to use their right hand....

Of course nowadays there are left-handed scissors and can-openers and such, but most of the time, us lefties just learn how to adapt.

Right privilege.


And at that moment I had an epiphany. That is the point the "White privilege" people are trying to make isn't it? That I lack understanding of the black man's experience?

Let me make a suggest to the white privilege crowd. It doesn't come out the way you mean it to.

"White"
You are lumping an enormous group of people - past, present and future into one big collective.  There have been rich and poor, free and slave, good and bad, fortunate and unfortunate in that mass of white. such an enormous characterization is impractical, even... racist?

(Besides, where are you drawing the line in the skin color continuum? Actually, the folks in the middle often get it the worst; Too black for white people, too white for black people.)

"Privilege"

noun. special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

The term brings to mind stuffy kings and their courtiers, or arrogant city dwellers a la hunger games.


"White privilege" - it just comes out of the mouth sounding vulgar, dirty, hateful. And at the risk of being offensive. When white people throw the term around, it sounds more like they are degrading black people. That black people are somehow an inferior species who can't make it on their own and so, like "save the whales", "protect the seals" etc... they need to be sheltered and coddled. Again... racisim?

Might I suggest you instead move to conversations of increasing empathy? From and for both ends? attempt to understand the challenges each faces, and consider solutions for the problems, rather than assign blame?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The 4th Industrial Revolution vs Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Work...

I've been pondering the burgeoning fourth industrial revolution again recently...
It is very exciting to consider the possibilities.

One thought which crossed my mind is that of economics and politics.

First consider some of the possibilitie.

Consider FarmBot:




This thing is very nearly a fully automated garden. It is also opensource, and much of it can be manufactured using additive printing and relatively cheap and open source parts. Give it the ability to save/recover seeds and it becomes almost entirely autonomous. In theory any household could grow their own produce.

Consider self driving vehicles:
Uber is planning to launch a fleet of self driving taxis,  several companies are working on self driving vehicles for consumers, self-driving semi-trucks for freight transportation.

Consider Surgery Bots:

And they are learning to perform operations autonomously.

And that's not all.

Amazon is working on drones to autonomously deliver your stuff to your door.
They are also working on robots to handle the warehouse work of picking, packing, and shipping product.
There are printers which can construct any 3D part or object in plastic, or metal.
There are projects to build printers which can print fabric, and not just fabric as sheets of fabric, but fabric as clothes.
Food printers.
Even printers to create human organs.

So, if food production is automated, transportation is automated, manufacturing is automated, medicine is automated. what happens to humans? Notice that none of the above technology requires approaching anywhere near the threshold of the singularity (a self aware machine, which might decide humans are a pest which needs to be erradicated).

What does human work look like in this new world? And if much/most of these machines can be replicated by machines - If I can print my own printers using my friends' printers and a few hundred dollars of metal and resin... Well, that was the primary stated goal of communism - the means of production in every individual's hands.

If anyone can print their own food, their own clothing, their own shelter, so long as they have access to the base materials, and if the base materials are all autonomously extracted/manufactured/recycled, transported... Apart from clinging desperately to archaic intellectual property laws, will any large corporate entity be able to remain relevant? Will the idea of a company as we currently know it become inconsequential? Will the debate over capitalism vs. socialism vs communism still be relevant in an economic sense? And if individuals or small collectives are no longer dependent upon substantial governmental bodies to construct, maintain, protect or interfere in daily operations, will Those terms be politically relevant as well? Will national borders as we now know them matter?

If you no longer work to subsist. What will you do?


Thursday, October 27, 2016

2016: My Political Endgame

I have been trying to coalesce my thoughts on the current election I have found it difficult to do in discussion - There is just too much emotion, FUD (an old geek term. Stands for Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. Refers especially to rhetoric or propaganda designed to instill those feeling in people in order to control their choices by keeping them off-balance, in fight-or-flight mode, unable to employ critical thinking.)

So, I am going to try here.


In 1971, Philip Zimbardo performed a human behavior experiment now famously known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. The purpose was to study the psychological effects of prison on prisoners. A group of volunteer students were separated into two groups- prisoners and guards. The experiment was terminated early, when things got out of hand.

The Dr. Zimbardo later published a book, chronicling the events, and drawing comparisons to some of the most heinous acts of human mistreatment by other humans at Darfur, Abu Ghraib,  The byline for the book is "Understanding how good people turn evil". And it shares frightening examples of American soldiers with excellent records - good, decent people - engaging in dehumanization and torture.

You see, there are some characteristics we humans have.
1) We organize and classify. We place things into buckets. Black, White, Male, Female, Old, Young, Spanish, German, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Atheist...
2) We inherently seek our own personal self-interest. "People don't do things to others, they do thing for themselves".
3) We form groups. We associate with others, we are essential herd/pack animals (yes, even us social anxiety suffering introverts have an innate need for human connection).
4) We build filters through which we evaluate all information. Those filters are constructed from personal experience, from information provided by peers and parent figures, and from repetition (which is why advertisers pay so much to keep their brand in front of your face).

Because of these characteristics, it is incredibly hard for us to avoid classifying one or more groups as us vs. them. good vs. evil. (And yes, as a christian, I do believe in evil, and "them:.To me evil is the absence of good, just as dark is the absence of light. And them are those who chose to fight against God and became The devil and his angels, who seek to  lead humanity away from Love, peace, and joy).

But the simple reality is this world is imperfect, we are imperfect, we make mistakes we try our best. Most people are just trying to do the right thing, to the best of their knowledge - That is why we were given the planet and placed here. To learn, to experience to improve...

Okay, enough back story. To the current election:

Disclosure: I am  not a Democrat. I am Not a Republican. I am not a Libertarian. I don't like political parties. I believe they are a natural outgrowth of the aforementioned human characteristics. I believe they put us at risk of creating the precise conditions which lead to "The Lucifer Effect".

The two main parties are becoming increasingly polarized. Continuing on this path will inevitably lead to violence in the name of "the greater good". History is replete with examples of this.

Liberals - Conservatives are not evil incarnate. I know many good conservatives who are just trying to make sure our governmental system is fair for everyone, corruption is prevented.

Conservatives - Liberal are not evil incarnate. I know many good Liberals who are just trying to make sure our governmental system is fair for everyone, corruption is prevented.

Yes, there are differences of opinion, but they are not nearly so enormous as you have been lead to believe. You have been misled by FUD, by propaganda. You have been led to believe that "They" are inferior, selfish, self-serving, greedy, lazy, manipulative.... evil. "They" - mostly - aren't.

The world won't end if the other side wins. Every thing they can do can be undone.  Laws can be revoked. Supreme Court Justices can be impeached (not easy, not impossible). Any political leader can be removed from office by the united will of the people, should the united people find said leaders behavior not in accordance with the ideals for which we strive.

The real threat to America is continuing on this path of divisiveness. of allowing the relatively few, angry outliers to dictate our policy, our mores.

So, my endgame for this election - my hope is that enough people will vote for neither party. In doing so, a clear message will be sent that we the people don't approve of their behavior. That we the people will no longer continue to live the current status quo. That we the people want to come together, to understand one another, and find compromise - a choice which respects everyone, to the extent possible.

I believe most people are good. I believe most people want peace, I believe most people want their neighbor to live in peace. I believe we just need to find a way to overcome those human characteristics. I believe this is true of  Americans, Chinese, Russians, Syrians.... I believe we, the people of the world, can be better then this. I don't think it will happen until we can set aside the artificial gangs we create. I believe it can happen.

My endgame looks beyond the next year, the next 4 years, the next 30 years...


"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
- John 13:34-35