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outlier_lynn: (Default)
Monday, September 3rd, 2012 10:20 am
I think that is a very interesting phrase. One that I can defend or defend against depending on the meaning given. A quick search on the web and one finds folks one all sides of the question of definition.

I think most Americans who subscribe to the notion that respect is earned mean, simply, that the earner is consistent with the views and values of the person granting respect. And not just consistent, but a leader promoting the views and values. A leader of the opposition does not earn respect. And this is the meaning I defend against.

A different meaning is more akin to being a hero. A fireman who enters the severely damaged and still burning building because there MIGHT be someone trapped inside, for instance, has just earned some respect. This is the meaning I can defend. Although for me, it is really a matter of earning "extra" respect.

If one can earn extra respect, is it possible to debit respect? Yes, I think. This is a two (or more) sided coin, too. As the fireman earns respect for putting life and limb at risk for the life of another, the arsonist loses respect for putting the victim at risk. Less dramatically, the fool driving drunk or recklessly loses respect every time they get behind the wheel.

But what is respect, then. lists three definitions pertaining to people: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment; deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly; and, the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.

By those definitions, one has honorary respect by position even if that position is "old." I say honorary because it really has nothing to do with the individual, rather to the granfalloon the individual is a putative member of. That is certainly not an earned respect to me. I seldom give extra respect due to granfalloon membership.

That leaves the first of the three dealing with a person's worth and so forth. If we assume that everyone has the same "base" level of worth as a human being, that is, no extra respect given, we can assign a level of respect like the balance in an account. To that balance we credit or debit respect.

How, then, do we, as individuals, decide who to credit and who to debit? I think that is almost entirely based on our individual points of view about right and wrong. In my fireman example, it would be easy to imagine a scenario in which the guy with the gasoline can is the hero and the firefighter is the villain. The difference is one of point of view. One person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter.

I do not think it possible, or even desirable, to eliminate points of view. I believe they are necessary to life (which is, of course, just a point of view and subject to falsification). But I do think it is desirable to KNOW that what we hold as good and condemn as bad is just a point of view and has no inherent reality. And I believe that our most profound decisions, the ones with the biggest consequences, should always be based on our knowledge that right and wrong is subjective and that forcing our opinion on others will lead to prolonged conflicts of various levels of violence.

We should protect ourselves. It is human nature to do so and we will do so. But we should find optimal solutions that don't demonize entire groups of people. We seem to always do this, so maybe we have little choice in the matter, but "official" policy should steer a different course when ever possible.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 09:07 am
This is such a wonderful word -- Granfalloon. It is from Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. A grouping of individuals with a superficial connection. They key to mental health, in my opinion, is recognizing granfalloons for what they are. Giving them little importance.

They are useful, though. Finding some superficial commonality can break the ice at many different kinds of gatherings. They can provide some ephemeral sense of belonging. They are good for banishing feelings of isolation. Granfalloons not recognized, however, may be a perfect pretext for group against group violence.

The granfalloon I most identify with is this one: I am a member of the group who resists being a member of a group. As Groucho Marx said, "I don't care to belong to any club that would have me as a member."

I strongly dislike being told that I am a member of someone's granfalloon. And I don't care what name you give it. Currently the name that is most bandied about by the folks near me is "community." In the sense that I have some geopolitical connection with people, I am a member of a granfalloon. I am not however suffering from the belief that any substantial connection exists between me and them.

My notion of social revolution isn't to replace one set of foolish beliefs in the way things ought to be with another set of foolish beliefs. I would rather than people give up their granfalloons and deal with the people with whom they have an actual connection.

In the Landmark Eduction course "Wisdom," there is the distinction "circles." Who are the people you interact with frequently? Your immediate family, the checker at the grocery, the receptionist at the office. Most of your "friends" are probably not in this first circle. It is a wonderfully rich distinction even though some of those people are only members of a granfalloon. It is a wisdom to know which is which.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 11:05 am
In this RSA video Professor Renata Salecl shows that individual choice is rarely based on a simple rational decision with a predictable outcome. More than that, though, she points out the downside of being presented with an overwhelming set of options.

I have personal experience of this issue. I have been practicing make decisions quickly and without "full information" for inconsequential matters. As an example, when I go to DZ Akins, a local Deli, I look for one small section of their huge menu, then pick one of three items. I had discovered that my agitation level would go up in relation to the number of options available.

My latest agitation-reduction action was to close my facebook account yesterday. Facebook just made it impossible for me to keep up with changes. Well, not impossible, but far too time consuming. Facebook makes its money by keep users' eyes glued to their pages (and by selling user data). It is in facebook's best interest to keep changing things so that people have to spend more time working things out.

It will be a good thing for me, I think. Why? Well, I'm verbose. I don't want to have to limit what I say to a short paragraph. It is extremely difficult to communicate nuance in 500 characters. I sometimes use my writing as a "thinking out loud" practice to refine my "beliefs" about one thing or another. Without fb, I might be spending more time posting here.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 11:07 am
Every human being on the planet has a world view that informs their beliefs and opinions. And we believe that our world view reflects reality. Some people are very good at questioning what they know, but we all have some deeply held opinions about ourselves, others, and the world in general that we treat as if they are facts.

This is neither good nor bad. It just is. The best we can hope for is that we can see if we get the results we want or not and to modify what we are doing until we get the results we want. That is the best. And most people don't come close to the best.

Most people will apply the same failing solutions with more energy. They will work harder and longer, throw money and resources at a failed process. All in the hopes that renewed vigor is sufficient to achieve a different result.

In my opinion, there is a difference between stupid and ignorant that shows this distinction. ignorance is a lack of knowledge about some area of concern, but is corrected with study. Stupidity, on the other hand, a failure to see that their beliefs and actions fail to produce the desired result.

So here we are on election day. A very large number of people are going to cast a vote from stupidity.

I despair.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Friday, April 30th, 2010 09:43 am
Many organizations and activist groups talk about empowering this or that group. Over the years I've heard this from groups fighting sexism, racism, heterosexism and other isms.

Yesterday, as I heard this again, I noticed that I have a strong physical reaction to the phrase. So I had a look. What is that I hear and what do I find troubling about it? It is arrogant. (something I have some personal familiarity with!). To think that I have some special gift to bestow on some poor powerless person (or group) that will give them some of the power they seem to inherently lack is boldly arrogant.

As I looked at this, I realized I can't even think of another point of view about it which I think is part of the blindness of privilege -- in my case, white, male privilege. There might be another point of view that would seem workable to me, but I can't see it at the moment. So I'll just talk about the issues I see with "empowering" some group.

Read more... )

There. The first cut at my thoughts on this issue.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Monday, April 19th, 2010 10:25 am
In another forum, a conversation about "settling" came up. There are many ways to "settle" for a relationship.

One way I tried was this: I started a relationship with the first woman who was willing because I was convinced this was my only chance and any relationship was better than none. I have no idea how common this is, but I clearly knew that I was settling for less than I wanted but having no hope of anything better. That was a miserable relationship for both parties.

Then I tried a different way. I fell for someone who looked good on paper and for whom I had a strong attraction. I did not take the time to find out if this person matched the the information I was getting from all sources. It was a pretty good relationship. Only a little disappointment as I slowly began to realize that my assessment was pretty far off from the truth of the matter. I think this method is VERY common. So common, in fact, that most relationship get started this way. We fall for the person as we have created them, not for who they really are in the world. This was pretty good, just not quite good enough and the relationship ended.

Then I tried a third way. In this method, I was not looking. Actively not looking. And when my hormones jumped I refused to pay attention to them. It took me several years of observation to see that Stacey closely matched who I thought she was. Only then, did I entertain the idea of a relationship with her. And then I waited another year during which we worked closely together on a shared project. This relationship is perfect.

The problem with the third way, I think, is that it is difficult for most people to pull off. I had pretty thoroughly stuffed sexual attraction into a dark hole. So I was not being driven by my biology. And I was considerably older this time around, my hormones weren't jumping around quite as wildly.

From my personal experiences and from the many, many stories of relationship collapse I've heard, I think the "normal" way people settle is by not knowing they are settling at the beginning. They are blinded by the rush of feel-good chemicals their bodies are producing. After a few years, they finally figure out the relationship isn't what they thought it was.
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 10:47 am
Context is decisive. We navigate from birth to death by building from nothing a context for our lives. We are born into the social context of our culture. Then we discard that which does not work for us and create (or borrow) new bits and pieces that shape us and inform our decisions.

We like to think that we control our destiny. That we have free will. We do. Mostly, though, we don't really know that we do. We mostly live within the context we inherit without giving too much thought to it. Oh, we do nibble around the edges, making changes here or additions there. Mostly human beings don't give core beliefs a second thought. Sometimes we don't even give them a first thought.

How is our context created? We inherit a cultural conversation about right/wrong and good/bad. Most every change we make to the context of our lives involves a shifting of our belief about what is write/wrong or good/bad. We redraw the lines in the sands of our system of beliefs.

It is why we fight against that which we think is bad or wrong and we fight for those things we believe to be right or good. But what if there is no right/wrong or good/bad? What context is there if we disallow our opinions of proper and improper?

What context can you create if you stop considering something needs to be fought against or fought for?

Life is an carnival ride. We each get to decide if the trip around the circuit is fun and exciting or it is horrid and terrifying. It takes willingness. To create a "clean" context, one has to be willing to discard one's point of view about how the world works. A willingness to disbelieve that which we believe is the "real way" that life is.

Not an easy thing to do. But, it does alter the nature of the ride from birth to death!

Not the truth, just a self-generated context that allows for self-determination beyond that which is available by default. It is a great game!