BASELINE YOUR LIFE
The Major Principles Directly Concerning Conflict
The Question on Everyone's Mind
When asked, “What’s wrong with the world today,” people's responses vary widely.
Below are the statistics of the 100 people questioned in the video above.
The ONLY Answer MOST of You Should be Giving
What’s interesting is no one said, “Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with the world today."
But that’s exactly what they, and YOU very likely, should be saying!
There is an extremely small number of people in the world who are justified in saying, “There is something wrong with the world today.” What separates the two groups and what makes only a very small minority of people justified in claiming something’s wrong with the world?
The answer is “assumptions and misconceptions,” assumptions and misconceptions about the universe, about the meaning of life, about human nature, about our ways of life... assumptions and misconceptions that were made centuries ago and have simply been carried over to today, rarely ever being questioned.
Not assumptions and misconceptions about specific philosophies or religions necessarily, though they do come into play, but first and foremost assumptions and misconceptions about things we all very evidently and undoubtedly have in common.
All of the assumptions and misconceptions fall under and support one particular, egregiously false assumption, making it the ideal starting point for readdressing all of them - the inevitability of conflict. It’s conflict after all that results in all the world’s problems, right, as we subject one another to harm or control in various ways?
My Rebuttal to All Other Answers
If you believe conflict is unavoidable, in other words, that it will always exist, then I say, you have no justification for ranting about the problems in the world, and you especially have no grounds for proposing solutions. Let me break it down for you.
1) If you believe conflict is unavoidable, then you very likely will do less to prevent it.
2) In fact, you probably preemptively react to the mere thought of it, thus creating it, because others, seeing your preemptive measures are also compelled to react preemptively, creating an escalation of potential for conflict.
3) As such, if most everyone’s creating the potential for conflict, then of course conflict is unavoidable. Eventually, the pontential will turn kinetic simple due to momentum.
I’ll get to those times when conflict really exists and isn’t just preemptively created, but for the most part, those times are far fewer than believed because most instances of conflict are the result of the need to act preemptively. Stop the preemptive escalation process and real moments of conflict would be even fewer and farther between.
If you’re the majority, then any solutions you propose to ceasing the escalation are futile because they don’t address the real problem. Instead, because you’ve never even considered conflict could be avoided, your solutions only end up causing more conflict. I'm going to say this next thing with all the lovingkindness in the world:
You’re creating the conflict you’re ranting against!
I realized I was creating the conflict I was ranting against, which is way I made the video you see on www.imtheproblem.org.
Exactly why and how we go about creating the conflict we're ranting against will be explored extensively on this website. And believe it or not, with this simple acknowledgement, we can actually take steps to reduce conflict significantly.
Only those who believe conflict is NOT unavoidable have any grounds for ranting about problems in the world and proposing solutions.
They are the only ones willing to reexamine our assumptions and misconceptions and address the underlying causes of conflict.
They are the only ones able to create truly viable solutions targeting conflict instead of the myriad of "problems" that grow out of conflict.
They are the only ones not creating the conflict they are ranting against!
Where Do We Go From Here?
So, if you were asked, ‘What’s wrong with the world today?” would you be willing to say, “Nothing”? To accept the conflict all around you as truly unavoidable and simply allow it to play out without contributing to it?
Probably not, because you assuredly have reservations, probably even some counterarguments as to why conflict exists, how removed you are from conflict's source, and how you’re justified in any instance where you engage in conflict.
In the sections that follow, most all of those reservations and counterarguments will probably be addressed. In the end, you’ll either agree and not complain as much or you’ll join me in correcting the real problem; either way, I can guarantee there will be less conflict in the world once YOU finish reading through this website.
We should first be certain there are problems that need correcting. I’m saying there are and describing the forms in which problems can exist (which I'll do in the next major section), will help in revealing why I believe there are problems needing to be corrected.
I say, “help” because what are really important to understand are the alternatives, aren’t they? We wouldn’t tackle anything, consider anything a problem, if there were no alternatives to consider beforehand.
Example: Most of us won’t bother to take time to regard our 24 hour days a problem because there’s no alternative, no point in figuring out a solution.
Of course, we also require a certain amount of control over the situation. We wouldn't bother fixing a problem we knew we had no power over.
Example: We could solve the 24 hour days "problem" by colonizing another planet with longer rotation periods, but most of us are fairly certain we aren't empowered enough to make this a reality. Someday there will be people who are, but not any time soon.
Like any alternativeless situation over which we have zero control, we just deal with it.
The alternatives in the overall situation we call "living daily life," however, compel us to NOT just deal with it, and rightly so. We definitely have alternatives to the ways we live. It's just, as stated previously, nearly all of the proposed alternatives are based on faulty assumptions and misconceptions and only cause more problems, which further obfuscates the ideal alternatives.
You’ll find any problem I identify has associated alternatives based on solid truths and that the alternatives probably always involve a balancing act with consequences.
This balancing act known as 'life" is further complicated at the moment because it’s being done on a loose and nearly invisible tightrope (truth) and with no safety equipment (logic and hope).
I believe we can make the balancing act far more stable by ensuring all the appropriate measures are taken for us to achieve “the ideal goal” - getting across the tight rope as far as the metaphor is concerned - more efficiently and effectively.
The ideal goal all of mankind should set will be recounted much later in this website.
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but...
The foundation of mankind's life is truth. It is upon truth we build our identities and societies; however, it is just as possible for us to build our identities and societies on untruths. The intricacies of the concept of truth are beyond the scope of this website, but the previous link will take you to a blog post of mine which expounds on the topic. Here it's best to simply bottomline the topic of "truth" in such a way as to be useful for the discussion going forward.
In general, agnosticism is the ideal philosophical stance.
Higher truths, such as the truth about mankind’s origin, despite being so integral to all of existence, are relatively unknowable.
The only truths we should be concerned about are those which are self-evident to EVERYONE and undeniable by ANYONE. This is the first principle of the "Baseline Your Life" belief system...
We must step aside and allow truth to enforce itself.
On a personal level, truth should take precedence over everything in people’s daily lives. Suggestions on how to go about this will follow, especially towards the end of this website.
This is a decent summation of how truth is regarded in this belief system. You'll see these notons of truth in action at points throughout this website.
The Tools of the Trade
Intent on safely crossing the "tightrope of life" together, if we are to cooperate with one another every step of the way, we need shared tools few if anyone would deem useless.
The primary tool for analyzing the veracity of truths is logic, self-evidence and undeniability being the litmus tests, while mankind’s goal determine’s its usefulness. In order to refrain from a defeatist attitude when truths leave us with few options, hope should be our other tool, which is practically honed by mankind’s goal, so as not to be too idealistic.
Our task leading up to the goal is to find the alternative in any given situation with the fewest negative consequences (doesn’t perpetuate problems or create new ones). Weighing alternatives with the above in mind would allow us to get rid of many alternatives as not enabling an ideal environment for mankind’s wellness. But an ideal environment isn’t the goal, a clearly defined end state is; this end state is imperative if we are going to achieve the task of determining, by way of comparison, the best alternatives consistently.
In order to know exactly what should be thought of as negative within any given alternative, we have to clearly define “negative;” thus, we move on…
Cans of Worms of a Different Color
But first, keep in mind, this is merely an overview of the principles for "Baselining Your Life," and only those principles which seek to reduce conflict in the world. Life is so interwoven, no topic can be mentioned without potentially veering off in numerous other directions. I’ve done my best to keep this concise by pointing out intersections, but not taking them, instead making certain to stay on a course that leads us to a foundational understanding of the origins of and solutions to conflict. I will certainly address this material and much more in the “Baseline Your Life” book, for which this website and my blog serve as precursors.
Is pain a problem? It’s certainly not a fun experience, but can we really call something that’s an innate part of life a problem? It is, after all, a truth enforcing itself.
Pain let’s us know where to set our limits and survive. We learn not to put our hand in fire for instance. So, isn’t pain a good thing? Moreover, carefully managed pain enables us to exceed our limits and grow stronger. A very, very important note on this will come up later. Most people even suggest we have to know pain in order to know any pleasure. A very, very important note on that later as well.
Besides the fact pain is a useful part of life, it’s really not possible to eliminate pain, but that seems to be precisely our goal. Except, we’re not really trying to eliminate pain, so much as get to a perpetual state of pleasure, even though we know pain is inevitable. For whatever reason, pleasure is just as vital a part of life, or so it would seem based on our cravings. Let's look at pain vs. pleasure more closely.
The certainty of pain is most evident when it comes to our needs, especially physical needs; of course, this is also where we see our habitual pursuit of pleasure. Take hunger for example, we don’t merely satisfy, we over-satiate thinking we’ll stay in a state of pleasure longer. Using that same example, we see that over-satiating carries altogether different, but just as consequential pain with it. And then there’s this certainty: all pain will eventually lead to death if unchecked. Most of us are scared to death of death. Causing us to focus our efforts on controlling all pain by pursuing all pleasures. This is the pain/pleasure dynamic.
Considering all this, the absence of pleasure, even for a moment, triggers a fear of impending pain, even though we haven’t experienced it yet, and we tend to fall into a downward spiral. It’s not that pain or death is a problem. The problem is fear of pain and death. Erroneous assumptions, which I will begin thoroughly listing a couple sections from here, feed into that fear. Fear of pain causes us to enact those preemptive measures to pain that hasn’t even happened.
Example: We rage at people for cutting us off on the road, even when they never even came close to hitting us, perhaps to make sure no one ever comes close again.
As explained, those measures end up growing exponentially as others react likewise, causing us to inflict entirely useless pain on one another preemptively. So, while fear of pain is the real problem, the excessive pain we inflict on one another is the byproduct, the decreasing of which proves we’re acting less on our fears. Here are the alternatives to problems of pain, which will be supported throughout this website:
We need to alternatively accept the fact pain and death are unavoidable and do everything in our power not to fear them.
We need to realize the fact our fear leads to preemptive actions which cause excessive and useless pain for the rest of the world.
We need to focus on the alternative fact we would ensure our own survival far more effectively by alternatively minimizing the pain we inflict on others.
This becomes our next major principle...
There are worst things than pain & death, such as living a life in constant fear of them.
All the answers to “What’s wrong with the world today,” can be categorized in 2 ways, usually as a mixture of both.
Problems of pain:
Physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual suffering (I define the “spirit” unconventionally, which I’ll get into when I speak to human nature under Faulty Assumption #1).
Problems of pain are felt, sensed.
Example: racism can result in physical pain, emotional abuse,
mental anguish, and to an extent, spiritual impairment.
Pain is a problem because it ultimately leads to severe lose, such as death.
Problems of perspective:
Comparing aspects of the world to an idealized mirror.
Problems of perspective are imagined, perceived.
Example: racism can result in injustice (contradictory laws), such as
a constitution that claims all men are created equal, but segregates races.
Perspective is a problem because it ultimately leads to a breakdown of integrity of a concept (to include the concept of self/identity), to the point of meaninglessness.
Of course, this is not how most people think about the problems in the world, as evidenced by the statistics displayed at the outset of this website; most people are too in the weeds, passionately focused on the details of the “problems.” Why and how people are getting themselves caught in the weeds will be described in great detail throughout this website.
As explained, I’ll also cover the alternatives, beginning with how we categorize problems. How problems are categorized here is exactly how our problems should always be assessed. The fact our problems can be divided into pain and/or perspective is a truth that is enforcing itself, but we’re ignoring it. You’ll see why I’m asserting this when I begin talking about human nature in depth in the next major section.
What about perspectives, the fact there are so many of them, are these problems? They certainly complicate matters, but considering the nature of higher truths, how utterly allusive they are, there should be no surprise there are so many perspectives.
The plethora of perspectives should indicate MANY of the proposed higher truths out there can’t be absolute. If any one of them was absolute, everyone on earth would know said truth beyond any doubt; that is the essence of absoluteness after all. They would be self-evident and undeniable. I will thoroughly review prevailing, proposed absolute truths at points during this website, but for now…
This lack of absoluteness suggests one of two things: 1) an omnipotent being doesn’t want us all to know the truth, or 2) an impersonal force can’t make any of us know the truth. We should be accepting this uncertainty, and the myriad of perspectives that extend out of it, and simply focus on what we can ALL know, or more important, what’s useful to know, considering mankind’s goal, which I still will not yet reveal. Accepting this is difficult for most people though for a few reasons:
It’s natural for mankind to explore the unknown. This is enabled by a significant amount of free time because it’s relatively easy to meet our basic needs. When it isn’t easy, you see far less exploring of abstract things, such as in famine stricken or war torn areas. But this aspect of our nature becomes problematic when we propose unfounded answers to questions simply to fill gaps. We have far more time to ask questions than to answer them, that is, if we want the absolute truth. This is enabled by limited perceptions. This is also enabled by a direct connection with problems of pain, since at some point, our needs must become our focus again, even though they're so easily met.
It’s also natural for mankind to attempt to master the world around him/her, especially immediately around him/her. This involves categorizing the world according to the pain/pleasure dynamic, mostly subconsciously, into that which is “sacred” and that which is “profane.” That which is sacred ensures survival, typically; while, that which is profane ensures death, typically. For instance, light is good and darkness is bad. This is also done in order to maintain our ways and means for satisfying our needs for future generations. We end up establishing a world view, a view of the mechanics of the universe, which is reenforced by how well we achieve pleasure over pain. If we do a fairly decent job of this, the world view is strengthened; if not, we came up with a new world view, but often times we also adjust ourselves rather than the world view.
But this process goes a step further as mankind feels compelled to aggrandize our world views and project them outward in a hubristic fashion. We project our world views on others in a practical manner at first, expecting the world view to work for others in the same way it does for us, but get angry when people don’t accept it or it doesn’t work.
Example: Even though driver’s manuals only give guidelines on pulling out in front of someone and not exact distances, we set an exact distance for ourselves and expect others to abide by that standard.
At some point we tie our world views, which remember are really only the result of satiating our needs, to higher truths and suggest they are infinite in nature. Once treated as a higher truth, we have grounds for enforcing our world views and not merely projecting them. This is how religious oppression gains ground. And this is very likely where the concept of an objective morality, which supposedly "predates" mankind, comes from. I’ll speak to this exclusively under Faulty Assumption #3, but it’s important to highlight it here because…
Sometimes our objective moralities are in direct opposition to our survival, usually because the “afterlife,” something we can only perceive, is treated as the more important life. Sacred things become profane things, and vice versa, and sticking to these moral codes guarantees our needs in the afterlife will be secured. Whether the formation of these moral codes and their enforcement is a conscious undertaking or not doesn’t matter because either way it’s not appropriate in the sense that truth is not being allowed to enforce itself.
We do all this mastering and world view forming in order to create a hubristic, justification loop for our actions, which are meant to fulfill our needs. The doing itself is a need, as you'll see later. So, it’s not that countless perspectives is the problem. The problem is hubris that any one perspective is paramount in its absoluteness despite there being no absolute standard by which to compare it. Here are the alternatives to problems of perspective, which will be supported throughout this website:
We need to alternatively realize we very likely will never know the higher truths which we set out to find - our origin and purpose.
We need to alternatively focus on those truths that are enforcing themselves, such as can be found within us, all of us, which we glean through biology, psychology, etc.
These aren’t absolute truths, but they are as close as we are going to get; they are the only truths upon which we should be building our identities and societies.
This becomes our next major principle....
It is perfectly acceptable to say, "I don't know," and appropriate to say, "Let's focus on what we have in common."
WHAT IS CONFLICT, REALLY?
The True Origin of Conflict
Most people think conflict exists the moment there are two opposing forces in contact with one another. When it comes to people, this is not true because people have an ounce more free will than the rest of known life, which allows us to throttle or otherwise steer the forces around opposition. Free will is a topic that deserves particular attention, which it will be given under Faulty Assumption #4.
The fact is, conflict only exists when just one of the individuals involved in a situation is frightened and/or hubristic enough to feel threatened by an opposing force (often exaggerated), such that they act directly to counter the force in an attempt to “survive.”
The opposing force is often exaggerated so that we can act preemptively. The threat is rarely ever as drastic or even as real as we make out and the “surviving” we’re doing is really just securing our pleasure centers. Don’t worry. These assertion will be supported throughout this website.
Fear/hubris, a threat (or the mere thought of a threat), and an act are REQUIRED for there to be conflict, but the act is the deciding factor. For instance, two people can have very opposing viewpoints and debate one another, but even if the debate gets "heated" no actual conflict need arise, unless the participants choose to allow conflict to arise by becoming overly fearful/hubristic and treating the other individual as a threat.
In this way, conflict actually has roots and starts within an individual. Therefore...
Conflict is ALWAYS a choice.
However, with certain of our assumptions being as they are now, it’s nearly impossible for the majority of mankind to see this truth. But once seen, everyone should sense an obligation to choose on which side of a proverbial fence they will reside. As we go along, you’ll see how the principles of "baselining" are tiered in such a way as to allow each of you to decide the extent to which you would refuse to engage in conflict.
Only during self-defense (Tier 1) or never (Tier 2).
Either way, the following principle holds true for everyone:
Much like the idea conflict is unavoidable, if you asked people, “Are humans perfect,” few if any would reply, “Yes.” The prevailing religions, especially western religions, and evolutionary biology as well, supports the idea mankind is flawed.
Western religions hold mankind as being in need of God’s redemption, while eastern religions exist because mankind could be “better.”
Evolution contends that mankind is largely ruled by instincts, most of which are incompatible with civil society.
Man is perfectly neutral at birth, but due to his state of being (which is dictated by the unknown forces in the bigger universe), wherein his sensations and perceptions are his and his alone, he’s compelled to lean toward characteristics often deemed flawed because they contribute to problems of pain and/or perspective, especially in a crowded environment.
The forces will be examined in the next section, but only so much because there’s really no point in doing so. Instead, I’ll thoroughly deconstruct human nature and you’ll begin to see why this is the ideal starting point for a baseline of understanding for mankind. What I’ve said up to this point and what I will say from here forward finds perch upon human nature.
I have graphically depicted our nature in a brief video called "What Drives You?" There are two images which can be extracted from said video that sum up our basic makeup. They are called "Niolet’s Needs Paradigm" and "Niolet's Human Response Matrix." I'll present the needs paradigm to you first, but keep in mind, the phenomena within each image are active simultaneously and build on one another.
Examining our nature, using the image above as a reference, we see our lives are made up of four realms, which are depicted by the 4 increasingly larger platforms, on one of which the girl is standing. The realms are distinct yet complementary and bleed into one another a bit. You'll notice below I explain whether we're concerned with "sensation" or "perception" within each realm. This will make more sense once I present the "Human Response Matrix."
Standard viewpoint of our physical form.
Concerned exclusively with sensation.
Relatively standard viewpoint of our emotional form. I believe the heart is more connected to our physical form than most want to believe. At the same time, I also believe the heart is capable of processing information to a certain extent.
Concerned with both sensation and perception, but more so with sensation.
Relatively standard viewpoint of our mental form. Like the heart, the mind is more connected to our physical form than most want to believe. We can only perceive what our physical forms will allow.
Concerned with both sensation and perception, but more so with perception.
I do not regard the soul in the traditional sense, as a spirit, or your pure essence; I see it more from a scientific perspective, with a hint of hinduism and the concept of “Chi.” Considering how atoms are able to communicate through time and space and we are made up of atoms, our soul is our ability to communicate with ourselves in the same way. It’s the source of our motivations beyond just meeting our basic needs. It feeds our aspirations and ambitions.
Concerned strictly with perception.
Within each of these 4 realms, our needs, which can also be categorized, drive everything we do. As explained in "What Drives You?," my needs paradigm is an amalgam of the theories of Abraham Maslow and those of Manfred Max-Neef. My paradigm is a compromise between the two, which seem to be on polar ends in many ways. Note that the list of needs under each category is not exclusive.
Control physical pain, emotional suffering, mental anguish, spiritual deprivation, thus spurring all other needs.
Body - air, water, food, shelter
Heart - affection, admiration, affirmation
Mind - order, language, stimulation
Soul - inspiration, motivation
Body - water and food source, property
Heart - esteem, influence
Mind - aestheticism, knowledge
Soul - actualization, enlightenment
Any action which ensures we’re “surviving.” As you’ll see (once the "Human Response Matrix" is presented), this is where we all come to a crossroad and where most all conflict begins, and remember, it begins within.
Our rewards for achieving “survival.”
Body - freedom
Heart - leisure
Mind - passion
Soul - legacy
These are what we’re really after, not so much survival itself.
Thankfully, we have obligations to remind us to leave our pleasure centers from-time-to-time. Here is where we see the formation of society come into play as well, as the obligation extends outward to encompass more people.
Our individual goal is to consistently meet and potentially transcend these needs
We can let our needs rule us or we can rule our needs, the latter being the definition of “transcendence.” This does not entail pursuing and staying in our pleasure zones - Capstone Needs - as so many people are apt to do. Most people are letting their needs rule them. My arguments to support this are forthcoming.
At this point, no value judgements have been made on human nature.
Human nature is neither good nor bad; it just is, as described above.
However, before humanity can determine a worthwhile collective goal, taking into account what we have to work with, our nature is already in motion and compelling us to act. Referring to the image above, human nature is comprised of consciousness, sensations, and perceptions, all of which churn out certain levels of cability, fear, and hubris within us. The 8 cubes you may or may not see above represent the overarching character trait of individuals who reside within them, which is dictated by their combined levels of capability, fear, and hubris. You can tell a great deal about a person from the cube in which they reside, none of which has to necessarily be labelled as good or bad just yet.
It would be possible to nitpick my definition of fear and hubris at this point and asking whether I am classifying them as “bad” prematurely. The quick and skinny of it is:
Fear typically causes us to consider our actions in terms of pain vs. pleasure, rather than in terms of utility towards collective goals.
Hubris typically results from a lack of openness to alternative perspectives, especially those that encompass collective goals.
Neither is bad until it comes to mankind’s ideal goal, which will be discussed later still, because these attributes stifle progress toward that goal. Here is how human nature is making it difficult, but not impossible, for mankind to achieve its ideal goal:
Our ability to consciously take in information (which is portrayed by the z-axis), through both sensation and perception (axes x and y), an ability which is largely beyond our control thanks to factors like genetics, greatly influences our levels of fear and hubris. It’s an inverse relationship. The more capable we are, the less fearful and hubristic we'll be, and vice versa.
Our sensations create a spectrum of fear (which is portrayed by the x-axis), upon which we find a comfortable spot to reside; this process feeds into the next process. Our sensations spur us along far more than our perception, especially in our very early years, but with age we learn to focus more on perception, which becomes easier as we consistently meet our needs.
Our perceptions create a spectrum of hubris (portrayed by the y-axis), upon which we find a comfortable spot to reside; this process enables the formation of our world views, which include our identities and paradigms for the world around us, thus tying back into the beginning of the process. The more pleasure we’re receiving and the more we feel justified by our actions, the less we stop to reconsider our capability to build world views.
I have stopped to reconsider our common world views because it pains me to see so much useless pain and it bothers me to see truth being subjugated for pleasure’s sake, both of which are keeping mankind from achieving its ideal goal. The useless pain and the subjugation of truth wouldn't be problems for me if I didn't see the alternative as being easily within our ability to accomplish. We simply need to stop doing what we're doing, as opposed to take on a whole new set of procedures for living life. This is why I made the video commitment you see on www.imthesolution.org.
And what we need to stop doing is building our world views on faulty assumptions, thus allowing the real truths behind the assumptions to enforce themselves. For instance, we assume conflict is inevitable, yet the truth that conflict is always a choice will win out.
Now, IF we hold to the notion that conflict is NOT unavoidable and that working together to help meet our needs is the best way to ensure the most needs are met, then we see our actions can be classified as positive or negative responses. (But everything below happens regardless of the labels attached to the actions.)
We have an inclination, depending on our levels of capabilities, fear, and hubris, to prevent people, including ourselves, from thriving (negative responses) or to help people, including ourselves, to thrive (positive responses). “Thriving” simply being: getting progressively better at meeting our needs, thus allowing us to help others do the same, and lessen the burdens on society, in order that we can achieve mankind’s goal.
The net positive or negative effect results in a cycle; I believe the cycle is flowing in the negative direction. The more protective one is, the more protective others will be and vice versa, resulting in a cycle of escalating potential for conflict, as stated before. In this vein, people could be very loosely categorized in one of two camps.
Realists, who hold conflict as being unavoidable, are those who feel safer with greater security.
Idealists, who do not hold conflict as being unavoidable, are those who feel safer with greater vulnerabilities.
Once conflict starts, the escalation grows exponentially, as violence begets more violence, resulting in a cycle of harm. I believe we are in that cycle. I also believe that cycle can be abruptly stopped if enough people reassessed their assumptions and misconceptions. After reading this website you'll be able to look back over your life and see how the principles herein were overlooked or ignored, leading to an escalation of conflict and your own personal cycle of harm.
The cycle of harm is very real in its fabrication alone.
Nearly every conflict can be traced back to a single moment in a person’s life where the escalation began. It always begins with the family unit, where parents, plagued by their own cycles of harm, inflict harm on their children. Rarely is the conflict the result of flaws intrinsic to a person’s nature, which brings up the question of nature vs. nurture.
But first, let me say this: mankind’s goal aside, why wouldn’t we deem actions which prevent people from thriving, and which cause conflict, leading to a continuous cycle of useless pain and intolerance for perspectives, as “negative”? The only reason we wouldn’t is if we were completely certain mankind, as an utterly flawed creature, lacking any sort of free will, like a squishy robot, was doomed as a whole and only individual prosperity mattered, as though this literally was a "survival of the fittest world."
I don't think this would sit well with even the staunchest Ayn Randian Objectivist, let alone the rest of the world's population. But misconceptions within the assumptions about human nature allows us to ignore our discomfort. Thus, we move on...
It’s difficult to describe this aspect of the human nature assumption without also speaking to Faulty Assumption #3 concerning objective morality, but… In general, a person’s "bad" nature is attributed to three things: 1) “cosmic forces,” 2) biology/chemistry, or 3) upbringing. Rarely to never is a person’s bad or less capable nature attributed solely to his/her nurturing, but I contend that is the primary factor. The first two give us room to write people off far too quickly, which is just another form of poor nurturing. Thus another principle arises:
People aren’t evil or stupid, they’re neglected.
And those who aren’t directly neglected are simply habitually bound to their fearful and/or hubristic actions, do to the indirect, poor nurturing inherent in the cycle of harm. In fact, the percentage of truly hopeless people in the world is zero, but the type of nurturing needed just might not be possible due to time constraints. That does not mean we should not try.
But, enwrapped in fear and/or hubris, we preemptively deem others flawed, in less courteous terms though, even when they are practically identical to us. We’ve all just been raised in a society full of ambiguities about truth, assumptions, expectations, priorities, and approaches to meeting our needs, all of which has nothing to do with our nature.
There are so many more misconceptions about human nature which are feeding the overall faulty assumption that we are flawed creatures. Gender norms is one of the biggest of them. Again, within that topic there is a nature vs. nurture debate that could be had. Are men more aggressive than women by nature? Are women more passive than men due to culture? Once answers to those questions are determined, we then have to ask, "What are the alternatives," "Do we have any control to change the tides," and most important of all, "Do we want to change?"
In order to keep this website from being too lengthy, (it is only meant to act as a precursor, after all), I'm simply going to list a few other misconceptions here and provide a very brief description of their significance in perpetuating conflict. You can be sure I will be covering these topics more thoroughly in the eventual book "Baseline Your Life." For now, having given you the evidence to strongly suggest human nature is neutral (via my theories on human needs and responses), we have a decent enough jumping off point for further discussion, but here are some other things to consider:
Self-aggrandizement vs. Self-actualization - Considering the fact there is a "capability" axis on the "Human Response Matrix," which represents real world circumstances, there are going to be some people who are more capable than others at transcending the needs paradigm and choosing appropriate responses. Those who are less capable are very likely bound by habits of self-aggrandizement, while those who are more capable are very likely bound by habits of self-actualization. What's the difference?
In simplest terms possible, self-aggrandizement involves treating our smallest desires as dire needs and hardening our image of ourselves from outside influence. We see the world myopically, through only our senses and perceptions. As explained, we do this in a preemptive manner in order to secure our pleasure centers and control our world views. Oddly enough, we expect others to accommodate us. At the core of all of this are fear of pain and hubris toward our perspective, which is spurred on by an overall lack of capability to consciously decipher the information, to include alternatives, all around us.
Self-aggrandizement results in individuals constantly starting back at the beginning of the needs paradigm, never certain they’ve done enough to secure their needs, and being ruled by them.
In stark contrast, self-actualization is about minimizing our needs and remaining open to outside influence. We see the world through everyone’s senses and perceptions. As hinted at, we do this knowing we’re all in the same boat together and can ensure the greatest good for all through altruism. We don’t expect others to accommodate us because we are perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves. At the core of all of this are fearlessness in the form of indifference to pain and pleasure and selflessness in the form of deference to truth, logic, and hope, which is spurred on by an overall capability to consciously decipher the information, to include alternative, all around us.
Self-actualization results in individuals consistently breaking free of the needs paradigm, unconcerned about their needs, ruling over them, with the assistance of everyone else, as needed, but likely helping others achieve the same.
There is one quick point I'd like to make within this misconception, though it probably deserves attention all its own. I'll be sure to devote more time to it in "Baseline Your Life." I'm talking about intelligence vs. emotions. It's important to no longer think of these realms of our existence as a dichotomy. It is possible to have mental intelligence and emotional intelligence and still be gripped by fear and/or hubris, thus succumbing to problems of pain and/or perspective easily. When I speak to "intelligence," I am referring to our overall ability to be consciously present during our time on Earth, aware of not only the moment, but the past and future as well. It should be obvious those who self-aggrandize have yet to wrestle with their fear and/or hubris and still act on their passions in the moment more than anything else due to a lack of both mental and emotional intelligence, and not due to an over-abundance of emotions.
Equality vs. Inequality - Naturally, the disproportion in capabilities leads us to question other concepts connected to human nature, such as equality. Why are we, especially in America, working so arduously to maintain an untruth? We simply are NOT all equal. At the same time, our inequalities are just as feverishly upheld; however, it's not our capabilities that set us apart. Instead, we promote completely superficial and insignificant aspects of life, such as preferences, opinions, appearances, etc. Our exaggerated uniqueness is also an untruth we are mistakenly enforcing, all in an effort to seem more valuable.
There should definitely be equal opportunity, but people should individually work to grasp that equal opportunity is not the same as actually being equal. At many points throughout our lives, we should defer to those who are quite obviously more capable than us. It's a simple matter of disposing of fear and hubris. Why this is important is because we need exemplars who set the standard. We need leaders. The equality misconception creates too many chiefs. If we were going to be equal in anything it should be followership, because even our leaders would be followers of the principles herein.
Leadership is followership, with even greater courage and humility.
As of now, this process is made very challenging because definitions of success are too intimately tied to materialism - money, power, status, etc. Crony politics and economics, which I'll discuss next, also don't help, but if people were more consciously focused on the principles herein, it really wouldn't be that difficult to distinguish a disciple from a despot; and thereby, true leaders could be identified and encouraged to lead mankind to its predetermined, ideal goal.
At the same time, we aren't all that different from one another. Basically, we're more alike than we are disimilar, especially in regards to what really matters - human nature. There's two ways you can think about this. First, while lightning can never strike twice in the same place, we're all still lightning. Second, there are a finite number of chromosomes, which means there's a finite number of combinations. That means there are millions of people out there with the condition of being "you." Our experiences in life do little to accentuate our differences, since they're all embedded in human nature, as described above. Essentially...
You're not the little snowflake you think you are.
We do all of this because people fear not being seen as valuable to a society, but it's that desire for rareness, brought on by fear and/or hubris, that ostracizes us from one another. It creates an environment where we strive to be more valuable than those around us, a needless competition. Our uniqueness should only be a concern in connection with “cogs in a machine.” We should seek to discover the skill set for which we are best suited and which does the most good for society, all depending on the ideal goal.
Political and Economic Systems - Under the human nature topic may seem like a strange place to talk about political and economic systems, but not when you consider how they have always been devised after assumptions about human nature were solidified or in order to solidify human nature. The bottom line is:
System don't matter.
Not even this belief system matters when it comes to human nature. Human nature is, whether there's a system to support it/subvert it or not. The fact of the matter is, in every single moment, our nature is a choice, completely independent of systems. It just so happens that THIS belief system acknowledges THAT fact, thus doing more to empower people than any other system. Personally, if I absolutely had to describe my affiliation to systems I would say:
When it comes to systems, or top-down approaches to managing people, I'm an Anarchist; when it comes to people, or bottom-up approaches to managing ourselves, I'm a Totalitarian.
I truly believe, if we focused on the principles herein, political and economic systems would fall into place naturally and we'd probably have something that fits nicely between those two extremes. That means even the measurements of those systems, such as the employment rates, the Dow Jones Index, or the deficit, don't matter either because fixing them is only treating the symptoms of a deeper problem. Of course, the moment someone heatedly balks at this, the potential for failure in allowing the systems to form on their own is already there, which should just prove my case all around.
There are two polar opposite viewpoints concerning the origin of mankind, and the subsequent meaning behind and purpose for our existence, concurrently vying for attention.
On one side, we were created in a meaningful manner in order to fulfill a valuable purpose.
Conversely, but just as prominent, our creation is void of meaning and we have no purpose.
It should be obvious out of which camps these assumptions grew. There is actually a third viewpoint, which many would think was between the two viewpoints above, but is really distinct in its own right. It's the viewpoint of many Eastern philosophies and religions, where life is about the journey, not the destination, but the journey still has meaning and is our purpose. It's sort of like...intentional meandering on the tightrope of life.
A significant series of causes and effects have lead us to this point, but we don't need to know about the events of our origin in great detail in order to know ourselves, which is the most important thing in existence to know, as it allows us to meaningfully set a course toward a valuable purpose of our own design, rather than many purposes, an ambiguous purpose, or no purpose at all.
Whew!! That was a lot to take in, I know. Thank you for sticking it out this far. Don't worry, that was the longest section on this website. It's all downhill from here. But you may be curious about something at this point. You may be wondering how such lofty concepts are going to be received by the general populace. To answer that question, apart from actively applying the principles by having hope in humanity, I am also constantly exploring ways to present this belief system clearly. As you'll see under Faulty Assumption #3 and #4, I plan on using entertainment media profusely. Many studies show, after all, people learn best through intelligent emotional experience, which brings me to my next point of discussion.
There are still several more misconceptions that feed the faulty human nature assumption, but I believe you have enough with which to work; besides, as much as I want to help people and society right away, these theories still need a bit of development, not to mention supporting material. I plan on conducting a great deal of research and collaborative studies to make sure everything in the "Baseline Your Life" system follows its own principles, that of relying on sound logic to suss out self-evident (though likely obscured) and undeniable (though likely ignored) truths about existence, especially our own. With that, let's move on to the next faulty assumption concerning "the meaning of life."
Philosophers and religious leaders have speculated about the origin of mankind for centuries and continue to do so to this day. At what point are we going to realize we should have figured it all out by know, if it were possible to figure out in the first place? Likewise, secular science seems supremely confident it will be able to account for every single aspect of existence with systematic precision, as if everything came down to math. At what point are we going to realize science is merely a tool for understanding the truth of existence and not the truth itself?
I'm sure thinkers have proposed these kinds of mental shifts before, but when is it going to catch on for the rest of mankind? When are we going to learn the extreme alternatives are not all there is? I have no exact answer to that, but I do believe it will happen. Someday people are going to wise up to the fact the world views proposed by philosophy/religion and secular science are not indicative of the true state of affairs in which we find ourselves and are ultimately self-defeating. In the end, all that may be required is an alternative that proves to be much more useful in solving the world's problems, rather than creating them.
Philosophies and religions have attempted to attached mankind’s origin to some greater essence(s), but invariable as a result…mankind is subsequently deemed an insignificant byproduct of force(s) beyond his/her control. While the forces are definitely beyond our control, I say we ARE a significant byproduct of existence, in fact, we are the MOST significant and there’s no way around this.
For example, The religious cleric George Berkeley suggested everything in existence is merely a thought in someone’s mind and that the only mind capable of thinking of everything at once was God, thus allowing existence to exist. It is from this philosophy that we got the thought experiment, “If a tree fell in the forest and no one was around to hear it, would it make a sound?” But the fallen tree thought experiment is self-defeating because it requires someone to think about it if we're going to arrive at an answer. That’s why I answer it by saying...
We are the sound.
We were flung off from some unknown event, with certain characteristics, which we need to understand in order to make the most of our time before fading out. If the force(s) wanted us to go about this any other way, then we would all be acutely aware of this fact because it would be reenforced in some way naturally, and not through a medium easily molested by the whims of mankind. It would be written in existence, not a book. The evidence would transcend time and language and not need mankind to acknowledge it for it to exist.
On the middle ground there are eastern religions and relatively recent spiritualities mucking things up. Why I say this is because, while they aren't so arrogant as to make declarative statements about the origins of mankind (or at least not focus on such statements), they do create a sort of "lifestyle eddy" or "blackhole" in which people get sucked and potentially become practically useless to the rest of society, at least for periods of time. They often approach life as something to be overcome or "transcended," but their version of transcendence involves escaping life, as opposed to my version, which involves commandeering life.
For example: there has been a movement in the last century by spiritualists (defined as pseudo-religious/scientists, the likes of Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle), who are personally religious people using science to claim "everything is one," as though all of existence is one "soul." They're proponents of practices like meditating, yoga, and Japanese tea and they seem certain getting us all to cling to their vision of "supreme oneness," forsaking all else (especially our sovereign identities), in order to harmoniously meld in a stew of selflessness, is the ideal goal of mankind. Little do they realize...
Without separation, everything may be one, but one is nothing.
Whatever the catalyst for existence, there's no undoing our separateness. Asking mankind to deny what is very self-evident and undeniable is a profoundly futile undertaking and one that will only result in more strife. We would be far better off recognizing our "individual beingness" and making it work optimally for ALL of us. Now, if you recall the portion above concerning "equality vs. inequality," you may be thinking I'm being contradictory here, but no, I'm not. What I'm saying here is the basis for what I was saying up there. We are equally unequalled and simultaneously unequally equaled. It truly is a thin line on which we'll have to balance, but with all the "safety equipment" in place, I believe we can manage.
The thing about secular scientific inquiry is, it will eventually paint itself into a corner. It pretty much already has. The findings of every new inquiry boxes mankind in ever smaller boundaries, as we conclude we are entirely subject to both macro and micro mechanism, making it clear we have absolutely no free will, that is until we move on to the next inquiry.
For example: evolutionary biology suggests mankind is bound by a set of instincts, not unlike any other animal. These instincts range from sexual, reproductive drive to aggressive, territorial tendencies and while we can possess these instincts at varying levels, we nonetheless succumb to them throughout our lives, making long-term, noble pursuits seem like silly endeavors. The scientific conclusions themselves aren't necessarily the problem. There very likely is truth in the findings from a strictly clinical sense, but the apathy or defeatist attitude that grows from the findings leaves much to be desired. In the end, we should remember...
There's far more we cannot do than can do, but what little free will we have is powerful enough to mess things up royally, or maybe just make them better.
It is my believe that science can only tell us so much about existence as a whole; it has its limits. Even if science were able to account for the innumerable factors at work in the universe, adjustments would need to be made to the methodology so that phenomena typically reserved for religious/spiritual dialogue could be adequately reported. There is a great deal of debate that could surround this point, but here is not the place for it. I plan on addressing every possible opposing stance on this topic in "Baseline Your Life" the book. For now, what's important is noting we apparently have enough free will to make informed decisions on our best courses of action as a species.
Now, if the exact details of our origin were 100% known by all (if the evidence was self-evident and undeniable), then, and only then, would higher truths, such as our value and purpose in the grand scheme of things, matter more than any value or purpose we set for ourselves. But as stated earlier, no proposed higher truth meets this criteria. So we are better off focusing on what can be self-evident and undeniable, our nature, as logically articulated above. In other words, like Camus and Sartre said, “We create our value and purpose.” Moreover, we are able to do so individually and collectively. However, this is best done within certain parameters based on contingency planning, which requires we continue looking into the faultiness of the "meaning of life" assumption.
As implied from the beginning of this website, a goal is an imperative for us to be able optimize our time on earth, individually and collectively. Even if we knew the truth about ourselves and many aspects of existence, it's conceivable that it would all mean very little if we didn't do anything with that knowledge. In fact, just having knowledge about our existence serves as a call to action, even when that knowledge is faulty. Many people, riddled with fear and/or hubris, with many opposing individual and collective goals, many of which are not measurably attainable, is a recipe for disaster.
Our lack of clear meaning, value, and purpose, both individually and collectively, is feeding into our fear and/or hubris, which is feeding into the cycle of harm. Not only are we increasingly disappointed on a personally level with either achieving nothing or achieving something that offers little fulfillment, we're also immensely frustrated on a societal level as ideologies clash and the resulting fallout undoes any sort of progress we've achieved just in regards to infrastructure, technology, and/or art. The wars over the past century have ruined so many lives and destroyed so many milestones in human history, all of which could have been avoided if the principles of "Baseline Your Life" were in place.
Perhaps you find that to be an offensively bold statement to make, but I'll do you one better. Had the "Baseline Your Life" belief system been available during the '30's and '40's, WWII may never have happened. Many of the principles you see here are the antithesis to the doctrine by which Hitler was operating, much of which was extracted from the works of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. You'd probably be surprised to learn many of his philsophies, some of which I'll tackle a little further down, are ingrained in American culture. At any rate, had there been a loud enough voice undermining Hitler's platform, there may have been enough people who would have realized they have the power to refuse to give Hitler power.
And think about this, the reason Hitler was so successful is largely due to the fact he had a clear objective, which he passed on to the populace. It almost didn't matter what the objective was, so long as he was able to deliver in the way of everyday ways and means for meeting needs. But he knew every aspect of his plan would have to invigorate the next. He exasperated the potential for conflict from the outside, exalted German willpower and ingenuity from the inside, and sat back and watched as fear and hubris took the reigns. Germany was bound to come out of its devastating recession before WWII one way or another. Hitler simply seised the opportunity to steer it his way with exacting precision.
Today, especially in America, we have no clear objective and if other nations do have objectives, they are not complimentary. In fact, they are probably intentionally competitive of one another. American dogma consists of creating an ideal environment, rather than establishing a steadfast goal which also incorporates the characteristics of said environment. Sadly, that environment is infected with faulty assumptions and misconceptions, meaning even the environment is a failure on Americans' part. On top of that, Americans exhibit unabashed hubris in claiming "exceptionalism" at nearly every turn and declaring itself a "beacon on a hill" for all other nations, many of which see through this unmitigated arrogance and would rather show Americans "their errors" than join them. Note: I'm being vague here, but will provide examples to support these claims later.
The time is nigh to reveal mankind's ideal goal. You probably know exactly what I'm going to say, but I had to infuse some sort of suspense into this rather textbookesque website. ;) I think I said it best on my personal website, so I've pasted the excerpt below:
"Rather than construct loose guidelines [at a social level] to push our actions to an unknown location, we should design strict guidelines [at a personal level] to pull us to an exact location - Utopia."
"If you think about it, achieving utopia is our only worthwhile endeavor as a lifeform. If there's a God, it would seem God doesn't want us to achieve Utopia. So, why don't we go for it and prompt God to come out of hiding? If evolution controls ours destiny, then optimizing our existence, or at least getting to homeostasis, is perfectly natural. Why not evolve beyond our instincts?"
"Let's stop worrying about living in accordance with "timeless truths of old," which we don't even know exist with any great certainty. Let's stop worrying about our comfort levels in the moment, which invariably puts others at a disadvantage either way we go. Let's worry about the world of the future, which can be shaped more easily than you probably think."
I believe firmly, humanity will continue to increase its average intelligence (both mental and emotional) and learn to adopt the principles herein as most suited for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life, wherein problems of pain and perspective are minimized, and the satisfying of nearly everyone's needs is sustainable into the foreseeable future. It may take many more years of trial and error to get there, but we'll get there, which is why I say...
Not only is Utopia possible, it's inevitable.
So, why don't we begin know? What is keeping us from starting today? Well, those pesky assumptions and misconceptions are "what." And there are a few misconceptions left to be addressed under the faulty "meaning of life" assumption.
As you can see in the video above, when asked, "Would you rather live a long and meaningless life or a short and meaningful life," nearly everyone chose the latter. Isn't it interesting then how most people, very likely to include you, regard life as being too short? You want to know why that sentiment is so widespread? Because rarely are we ever absolutely positive we've actually lived a meaningful life, even when we live to old age. Most of our time is spent shoring up the truths we've created for ourselves, rather than letting them act upon our lives, which few are capable of doing anyway. We crave longer lives so that we have more time to figure it all out. In this respect, I say...
Life's not too short; it's too long.
Nonetheless a vast majority of the world's population is obsessed with extending their lives as long as possible. We seek ways to defy aging and measure our success by how many years we live, even if that life was relatively insignificant, despite the fact aging was winning the entire time. But you know, this isn't such a bad thing because, as hinted at above, we won't all have lives of relative significance. Long or short, the best thing we can do during life is appropriately manage our assumptions and misconceptions so that we have realistic expectations built into our world views, and thus, minimized levels of fear and hubris. To start with, it would be wise for us to realize...
Most of the surviving we're doing is really just stagnation until the next cataclysmic event.
As explained at points above, we associate surviving with how well we are able to stay within our pleasure centers. Often times, we treat the instant we must depart this place of solace as a catastrophic event. It's dealt with once we are back in our pleasure centers. Then we just wait it out until the next event. We think we're succeeding at life when we're able to heighten our pleasure levels, which is only doable sans any horrendous events. We can plainly see a fixation on maintaining pleasure over pain, which brings me to the very important notes about pain and pleasure I said I would bring up much later, many sections ago.
Because we know pain is an inevitable part of life, we've devised methods to deal with pain, such that the pain occurs within our pleasure centers. We have Frederick Nietzsche, the German philosopher who influenced Hitler, to thank for the impetus of this strategy. He was the one who said, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Our proclivities and culture being what they are, we took that "theory," marginalized it (so all relevant context is removed), sensationalized it (so it fits on a t-shirt), and made it a pillar of our survival tactics. You've probably heard the resulting phrase and have chanted it to yourself frequently - "No pain, no gain."
The problem with this mental affirmation is: 1) It may only be true within the physical realm, where the body does tear itself down and rebuild itself stronger, but there's plenty of evidence to suggest pain on any other level is quite useless, leaving us more broken than anything. 2) We go out looking for pain, subconsciously and consciously, in a "piss in the wind" kind of mentality, thinking, "Eh, I'll either learn something or it'll kill me." Yet, the actual outcome is neither of these as we struggle to make sense of the pain we've inflicted on ourselves, often blaming others in the process. No where is this more evident than in the area of "love," which I'll cover under Faulty Assumption #3, next.
All of the above is spurned on by another misconception about pain and pleasure. Many people think you have to know pain in order to appreciate pleasure. This simply is not altogether true. There is some truth in it, but it is not a steadfast truth. The fact is: you can very easily appreciate pleasure without knowing pain. You only need pain to know pain and you only need pleasure to know pleasure. A baby doesn't need to be yank from its mother's arms to know being there was pleasurable. We need to stop looking at life as a dual between pain and pleasure. Thus, I'll close out the discussion concerning the pain vs. pleasure dynamic with this very important fact:
Realizing truths are attainable without the need for pain is the most pleasurable truth there is.
Thriving is vastly apart from surviving for one very simply reason: We thrive when we are entirely indifferent to both pain and pleasure. We don't measure our success by the pain incurred from surmounting obstacles nor by the pleasure experienced from achieving milestones. People who thrive are focused on the well-defined steps toward a clear vision for the future. A critical aspect of this process very likely includes maintaining a disposition that is unmoved by pain and/or pleasure. In this way, the destination AND journey are both important; certain roads lead to certain destinations. The thriver's mentality is so focused, they may even "thrive to death," but you can be sure they have no doubt they lived a life of excellence, being the best they could be every step along the way, and that is a very meaningful life to live.
I shouldn't have to do this, but I feel I must add addendums to points I made above, so that what I've said can't be taken too far out of context. First, I am in no way condoning suicide. That would be completely contrary to my point because suicide is the quickest way to ensure you live a meaningless life. Nor I'm I pushing for us all to become workaholics or heartless, brainwashed, ultra-productive robots. We should, after all, be taking on the task of ending the cycle of harm, which, as I said earlier, begins with the family unit. It is through the care of families, teaching children how to thrive, for instance, that true intimacy is experienced and then shared outward. Intimacy is what we're all really after.
Before we move on, however, there is one more matter to discuss. I said previously how this belief system would be set up in a tiered fashion so that you can choose your preferred level of engagement in conflict - tier 1 being "only during self-defense" and tier 2 being "never." It was under this faulty assumption on "the meaning of life" that I laid the foundation for tier 2 individuals by subliminally asking you all to consider what meaning you hope to infuse into your lives in terms of "survival." It's likely few of you strongly disagree with the alternative I proposed here, that of thriving as fearless, altruistic, sovereign team-players, but my challenge to you is to stick with me in the next section. It's there that I will make the plea for all of you to join me in tier 2 as I make my argument for why we should never engage in conflict.
The absoluteness (or objectiveness) of morality is baseless. Further, it is not self-evident nor undeniable and it is subject to mankind's whims; in fact, it is the result of those whims.
At the same time, on a subjective level, what little truth we have to work with in building stable societies is often intentionally obscured for purely personal gain.
Ultimately, this leaves us with this principle:
With a baseline of understanding of our existence, agreed upon principles for the formation of an ideal environment for thriving, and a definitive goal for all of mankind in mind, we could eliminate the need for any notion approaching absolute (objective) morality.
With a thorough appreciation for the value in upholding truth and a deep commitment to ending the cycle of harm, we could realistically do away with the near police state and legal penitentiary in which we are contained.
The notion of absolute (or objective) morality alone enables us to make the cognitive leap that says, "If good and bad forces exist in the world, then there are good and bad people who are attuned to those forces." It gives us justification to go as far as killing others and allows us to pass on responsibility. History should be all the evidence you need; we've been exploiting absolute (objective) morality in this manner for centuries. Ridiculously, neither side sees they're both able to stretch objective morality to their will.
However, what's even more telling to me, what makes the idea of the existence of an absolute (objective) morality false, besides the fact I see exactly how mankind's nature is predisposed to creating, is the overwhelming number of laws we have on the books. If an absolute (objective) morality actually existed as a truth or force in existence, then it should be able to enforce itself, yet punishment for even the worst immoral acts requires human intervention over-and-over again. Which leaves me to conclude this...
That laws exist is proof that an absolute (objective) morality does not.
As I said from the start of this website, those who believe conflict is unavoidable propose solutions that do not focus on ending conflict. Constructing or enforcing moral codes in order to manipulate behavior, the preferred method of the majority, has proven ineffective in mitigating conflict because it does not target the source - fear and hubris. Instead, morality exacerbates fear and hubris. If we're not facing the threat of eternal damnation ourselves, we're condemning others as if we had the authority to do so, all thanks to morality.
Let's zoom in and look at the internal conflict caused by faulty assumptions and misconceptions surrounding morality. I've already spoken to how mankind has abused absolute (objective) morality to justify violence at all levels and avoid accountability, which in and of itself is a huge contributor to conflict, but it shouldn't require much persuasion on my part. Just think about how congressmen and women are quick to send kids to war, but they'd have a very different stance if one of the kids was their own. No, there's something even more important going on internally when it comes to morality.
The mere existence of the notion of an absolute (objective) morality has the strong potential to divert our attention, especially our attention to risk and reward for our actions, away from this world and to some other world, typically the afterlife. Why is this so detrimental in ending conflict? Because this is the only world we KNOW and we're neglecting it for an UNKNOWN world. What's worse is the solutions to our problems are in this world and they are well within our reach. Again, we just have to stop doing things, not start doing things. Thus, we're left with this broad principle to help us figure out what to stop doing:
There is no moral imperative that trumps ending the cycle of harm.
As I've said throughout this website, minimizing fear and hubris are the hinges on the doorway that leads us to a better future, but very few have the key. What is the key? Being willing to give up your life for the sake of ending the cycle. Considering the evidence I've provided about reversing the cycle of harm, about making Utopia mankind's primary objective, and about free will being our paramount moral tenet, we come to a point where the onus is placed directly at your feet. Once again...
Conflict is a choice.
It is at this point I will implore everyone to join me in tier 2, where all of the principles herein are agreed upon and where nothing but pure conviction in their power to change the world for the better abounds. I can change the world alone; most anyone could. But we can't end the cycle of harm alone. It's going to take a concerted effort on a large scale. Yes, I am potentially asking you to sacrifice yourself, since we would have to refuse to ever engage in conflict, but I am doing so with far greater substantiated confidence in the principles behind the request than you've seen from anyone else in history. I guarantee it.
First off, you probably noticed my use of "absolute (objective)" when referring to morality. I did this to accomodate both those who think a supreme being embodies morality and those who think impersonal forces exhibit moral attributes. The term "absolute" refers to the possible omnipotent cognition of morality, while the term "objective" refers to the possible permanent non-sentience of morality. Either way, morality is treated as something that predates mankind and acts upon us in some way.
Next, I'm sure there are those of you who scoffed at the last principle (in red) above, thinking to yourself, "Just because we don't abide by absolute (objective) morality doesn't mean it doesn't exist, even if a requirement for proof of its existence is self-enforcement." I would imagine a cornerstone of your argument is something to the effect of, "Free will simply has more power to enforce itself by ignoring morality," to which I say, "Okay...so then...why does morality matter?"
If free will is so much more powerful a force than morality, there's probably a reason for this fact; as in, the relationship must have been purposed by "the creator" or it has developed this way naturally in an evolutionary sense. Either way, giving morality precedence over free will would be the first "bad" thing anyone could do. As far as religion is concerned, this predicament begs the question, "Can God make a mountain so big (free will) he can't move it?" If he did, how are we to blame for anything he intentioned?
Then there's the matter of consequences. I'm talking about self-evident and undeniable consequences, not afterlife stuff. What's the consequences of placing morality above free will and then breaking the moral codes? Nothing, other than those consequences we choose to enforce on one another. What's the consequence of keeping free will where it is and doing whatever the heck we want? Nothing, other than those consequences we choose to enforce on one another. In the end, free will is king, or so it would seem.
The above dealt with some of the theory behind morality, but now let's look at morality in practice. First and foremost, we should make sure we're effectively defining the practices based on real world conditions. This entails digging into semantics a bit, which is far more important than some people want to admit. Sometimes it's the only way to avoid mental shortcuts and cognitive biases. I've accomplished this task by showing how the words "morality" and "ethics" should not be interchangeable, thus creating three levels by which we can analyze our conduct.
Morality thrives on ideals.
Discussions on morality usually only involve weighing virtues vs. vices in a universal sense.
Morality should NOT be about right vs. wrong, not dualistic at all. It should be like a step ladder that gets individuals closer to higher truth, by mirroring them. Some things get us closer than others in the presence of one higher truth and would therefore be more highly regarded than the others. We'll look at examples in a bit.
It should be about fulfillment.
Ethics requires reality.
Ethics questions usually always involve scenarios, with exact details.
Ethics should be the bridge between a standardized morality that guides our actions and a standardized law that dictates our actions. Ethics is the middle ground between many moralities, leveling the playing field, but with so many disparate moral codes we can't help but end up with countless laws.
It should be about sustaining the ideal environment for thriving.
Law should be about right vs. wrong; it must be dualistic.
It should be like a step ladder that gets societies closer to an agreed upon goal based on an agreed upon higher truth, or more likely, a determinant truth. (A determinant truth being a truth that exists for a determined set of criteria, such as, a nationality or an entire species.) Many things would be denied us in the presence of many possible higher truths.
It should be about punishment.
What we do as a species within each level is attempt to manage our behavior, and more often than not we're focused on the behavior of others. Sometimes we do this because the consequences of our behavior are imagined to be severe, while other times they're only severely imagined. It depends on the problems of pain and/or perspective we've preemptively identified in any given moment. The point is, there's always consequences for our behavior and morality, ethics, and law is actually all about managing consequences before free will does. It's very important to understand this practice. Let's start with the bottom level - law.
I am by no means an authority on law, but it don't think I need to be in order to say, from a philosophical perspective and within the context of this baseline of understanding, the legal system (especially in America), is a monumental fail. The legal system and the people in it can't really be held accountable for the lack of a solid basis of truth by which to weigh right vs. wrong; however, when it comes to procedures in attorneys offices and courtrooms, the absolute worst thing we could do for humanity is bend what little truth we've established for ourselves just to avoid the consequences.
Regardless of right or wrong in an absolute (objective) sense, or even in an ethical sense, there are the cold, hard facts about situations. Anytime those facts are corrupted, the law has already been strangled to death at the hands of free will. I believe this would happen less if people understood the greater consequences. What we need to realize is the legal system, via the cycle of harm, has a built in karmic operation. We might not get our just deserts in the same way, but we will, and however we do, we'll have no recourse because the basis for the law has lost all integrity.
Yes, sometimes the legal code needs reworking to accommodate extenuating circumstances not originally accounted for, but that should never entail manipulating the truth of those circumstances. How do we fix the legal process? One person at a time because, again, it's a choice on defendants' and defense attorneys' part wether to sully the truth out of fear and/or hubris, all in an attempt to avoid consequences, but really maintain their pleasure centers, AND ultimately contribute to perpetuating the cycle of harm, as more leeway is created for free will, despite more laws.
Free will itself is a prime example of an ideal which has been put through the "ringer." At several points throughout history, free will has been gradually raised above all else, (except love, which I'll cover in a moment) as being the supreme moral virtue. Even though we semantically treat morality and ethics identically, the virtue is morphed when it is applied in a sociological fashion; it becomes "freedom." Then, in order to combat consequences, the ideal morphs again into "rights." The implications of this transition are vital to understand, but I'll cover them under Faulty Assumption #4.
We're coming to the finish line, so I'm going to keep this short. Morality as we think of it today...sucks.
No seriously, all that's really important to note here is the fact everything is coming down to free will. Free will is, after all, the vertex of all philosophical thought. It's depressing, yet humbling to think about how I have painstakingly put together this campaign to offer a type of enlightenment to the world and it will be promptly ignored by millions and entirely unheard of by billions. It's depressing because it was a lot of work that is slightly going to waste. It's humbling because it just goes to prove how accurately this belief system accounts for mankind's true state of existence.
Free will trumps everything.
Oddly, this may be the most contested section on this website, 1) because people are going to think I'm in pain and that would be a problem for them, or 2) what I'll say will challenge their perspective and that would be a problem for them. Despite my sincerest assurances I'm not in pain and regardless of the meticulous treatise of my perspective, there will still be an abundance of people who vehemently balk at this portion. It does fly in the face of thousands of years of thought and belief, so I get it.
I'm not the first person to say all of these things, but I will say them the loudest because I truly believe we're being held back by what is, frankly, a fallacy. The concept of love, regarded as the highest virtue in many a school of thought, is the most out-standing example of a moral precept which has been utterly molested by mankind. More importantly, the dream of love replaced a real truth in mankind's existence. Here's why I feel I have grounds to suggest this:
Firstly, if you critical review the history of the concept of love, you can easily track its formation right up to today and you can see how it was twisted at various points throughout history. You can see how it was equated to law in the Old Testament, how it was raised up as a supremely real ideal by Plato, how it was lowered down as a simple moral precept (The Golden Rule) in the New Testament, how it was erotically linked to romance by the Troubadours, how it was expanded to be all-encompassing by the enlightened romantics, and how it has been marginalized and sensationalized by Hollywood.
Secondly, all of the above has resulted in ambiguity surrounding the word "love" itself, such as the fact we use the same word to describe how we feel about others and/or food. In all instances where the word "love" is used, there are more descriptive words which should be used, but aren't because of our reliance on mental shortcuts (marginalized sensationalisms). Examples follow:
Love for parents = immense appreciation
Love for children = deep responsibility
Love for friends = intense admiration
Love for cheeseburgers = strong craving
Thirdly, even if the types of love were clarified and more effective words used, love would still be clunky in practice because of a certain misconception, especially when it comes to romantic love. In general we feel the need to reserve love for a select few. We go so far as to say things like, "The love of my life," or "He/she is my soulmate," or "I would die for him/her." All of which is ideologically counterintuitive to love as an absolute (objective) truth, considering its traditionally unconditional, all-encompassing sense. In other words, if you're only willing to die for certain people, then love is actually quite conditional. More importantly, it allows us to kill discriminately for the sake of those whom we love.
Fourthly, we also can't determine if love makes use stronger or weaker. We say "We can't love another until we love ourselves," which makes us stronger. But then we "fall in love" and are at love's mercy, which makes us weaker. We haven't yet learned how to distinguish between mature love and infatuation, and often times, we don't seem to want to learn. Basically, we want love to do everything for us, to work on our behalf, which it is believed to be able to do, since it is a natural force in the universe, even to many non-theists.
If we had never bothered to define love as a moral and instead simply focused on ending the cycle of harm (which was Jesus' platform, until he went too far by "becoming" love and dying for the sins of the world), then love would have just naturally existed as part of a holistic, conscious awareness of the best why to avoid conflict. Love would have formed with only altruistic qualities to it; it would have remained only "lovingkindess" and romance would have been a totally separate matter. It wouldn't have stood as a moral imperative that must be upheld at the expense of the people who created it.
Coming to a Fictional Medium Near You:
As I said earlier, I plan on presenting many of the principles you have read on this website in fictional form in order that they can be spread to the massive and everyone's experiences of the principles are attached to both their emotional and mental intelligences. You will very likely even be able to cross-reference events in the fictional works with events in your own lives and come away with a deeper appreciation for the principles. Of course, "Baseline Your Life" the book will have to be thoroughly drafted first in order to ensure the principles are being presented in optimal form.
As it strictly concerns the concept of love, I believe I have done the requisite drafting and have encapsulated the principles surrounding the concept of love in their ideal form. The result can be found at www.reltoall.com and www.ohtstl.com. Those websites will explain the works themselves, so let me take this space to quickly overview the theme as it relates to this portion of the website, without giving to much away. After all, making the audience work for it a little bit will also heighten the chances the principle will be passed along. I have revealed the theme elsewhere; you just have to do a little investigating. ;)
One of the major messages, which points to the theme of the fictional story, is: romantic love is a choice. Again, we see how free will is correctly given precedence over any moral credo we might devise. In this way, it becomes imperative we make that choice with very sound information. It's important to deeply understand certain truths, yourselves, AND our potential partners before making that choice. That requires reexamining our assumptions and misconceptions about romantic love, much like the main character (Sol Noblehart) does. In the end, what he discovers is reminiscent of this...
"True love" isn't dying for another; it's never expecting another to die for you.
Actually, that statement isn't necessarily the problem because it is absolutely true. There's nothing I can say to unravel it. All I, and we, can do is make the most of that truth, which starts with understanding all other truths it could trump. Most of those truths have been presented on this website. So, the problem, really, is that we aren't making the ideal choices in accordance with the baseline herein, which remember was arrived at by way of logic and hope. Why aren't we making the ideal choices? Besides all of the above, because of lingering misconceptions surrounding free will itself.
Why I say free will is the vertex/vortex of all philosophical thought is because no matter the proposed truths behind the origin of mankind, the existence of free will must be addressed. Interestingly, if the philosophy were a tub, free will acts as the plug. The plug must be situated consistent with existence or the tub can't hold any water. I've already demonstrated this relationship when speaking of God making a mountain so big "he" can't move it. Because the most acceptable answer is "No," the plug is not situated properly in that tub and the water drains. Either God is not omnipotent or we don't really have free will.
However, there is another, similar tub worth testing. It could be that God created a mountain he doesn't want to move. While this may seem a plausible workaround, God's omnipotent foresight would be lost, making any divinely inspired prophecies beyond today suspect. Not to mention, giving us free will is one thing, but withholding information is something entirely different. He wants us to choose him, but won't allow the evidence to be self-evident and undeniable? Can we really call that free will? The idea that full knowledge of existence results in absolute free will is not without merit. It would seem that is precisely what differentiates God from mankind.
But we lack this knowledge in terms of pure, secular science as well. The truth behind the origin of existence isn't encoded on our DNA nor in the cosmos in a language we'll ever fully comprehend; nonetheless, as a whole we know how bound we are to that truth and one way or another mankind will never stop trying to understand it. Essentially, no matter the perspective, we have the illusion of free will in that we are compelled to endlessly search for higher truths, but never find them, calling into question how free we really are, until we decide to give up the quest altogether, but this escapism is done on an individual level.
It is relatively easy to ignore the search for higher truths at the individual level, especially with all we have to distract us today. However, there are of course other truths to which we are bound specifically at that level. Our preexisting limited range of actions carry consequences, which further limit our actions, or should in most cases, because of personal interest to either avoid pain or uphold a perspective. In this way, we refuse to see just how scarce, yet powerful, our free will is, potentially making it the biggest waste in existence, but sadly, that's its essence. We're left with this principle...
Its almost as though we only have free will when we're squandering it.
I believe the thing we need to do then is make it more obvious we are squandering our free will by showing how the alternatives are so much more appealing. That is precisely what I have intended to do with everything leading up to this point. I have done my best to demonstrate how we are causing our own problems, how the alternative is not unattainable, and how the choice is yours, each and every one of you. Do you really want to continue causing your own problems? The only thing to do now is get you to consider the following misconceptions about free will, or the "freedoms," you so cherish:
Freedom vs. Liberty:
Yet again, we must stop to evaluate semantics; the meaning words carry are just that important. I personally take issue with the words "freedom" and "liberty" being used synonymously. Doing so leaves no good words to describe all other aspects of our existence. Because we use the two available words to describe the same aspect, any other aspect is "out of mind." To explain what I'm getting at, it's best if you think about how large corporations manage internet traffic on their networks.
They either "white list" the entire internet and block sites one-by-one (consider this to be "freedom")... This is equivalent to absolute freedom, until limits are put in place, potentially arriving at absolute, but safe tyranny. This viewpoint is prevalent in the west, especially in America, since the notion was presumably the basis of its founding.
...or they "black list" the entire internet and allow sites one-by-one (consider this to be "liberty"). This is equivalent to absolute tyranny, until liberties are granted, potentially arriving at absolute, but dangerous freedom. This is more prevalent in the east, especially within nations greatly influenced by certain religious groups.
But in life, we can't "white list" nor "black list" free will; we're just thrown in the middle by the higher truth of our origin and by the consequences of our actions. Though this is not a popular opinion, I believe America's founding fathers believed we had absolute freedom, BUT knew full well the consequences and sought to find a compromise. However, in order to sell the Revolution, they had to focus on the former belief - absolute freedom. As such, their rhetoric was intentionally ambiguous, never attempting to clarify terms and the meaning they carry. It was the first bait and switch Americans never saw and it's been happening ever since.
The higher truth behind the origin of existence may have endowed us with free will, which America's founding fathers felt obligated to uphold as a moral virtue, but the moment we form societies we should give up all such free will, only to grant one another liberties in accordance with societal needs and goals. Fully appreciating this dynamic, it should work with little to no trouble. But fear and hubris clouds our ability to appreciate the dynamic and we refuse to give up our freedom or we withhold liberties from one another. Thus, we're constantly wavering between both methods (white listing vs. black listing our freedom), unsure where we really should end up.
This manifests in struggles of all types, from class to race. Take any on-going debate in recent decades in American politics and economics, and you can see how the "freedom vs. liberty" dynamic is the accelerant. On one side there are those who think of "freedom" in an absolute (objective) form and on the other side you have those who see "freedom" in its dangerous form. Neither are justified in their oppositions as far as I'm concerned because both are acting on fear and/or hubris. I'll get into the specifics in a moment, but right now one thing is for sure...
If you give the average American an inch of liberty, they'll take a foot of freedom.
Freedom vs. Rights:
We're not quite done with semantics just yet. The words "freedom" and "right" are in no way synonymous either, as so many people believe. You can't go a city block in America without someone shouting about others, especially the "guvment," infringing on their rights. The reason is obvious after a moment of consideration. We've established everyone is free to do as they wish, but the problem is that everyone else is free to react as they wish, no matter how many virtues we extol above free will, no matter how many scenarios we posit to sway free will, and no matter how many laws we create to stifle free will.
All of our so-called rights aren't meant to be "rights to freedom" (as if you didn't have them, but thanks to society/government, now you do). You always have freedom, until you "allow" it to be taken away. Rights are meant to be "freedom from consequences" (as if society/ government could make any such guarantee). One person's right is another 7 billion peoples' lack of freedom. In other words, rights have more to do with restricting consequences than with promoting freedoms. Thus, a nation that hubristically declares the importance of "rights," is really a nation that profoundly fears consequences and fights to avoid them, only to create more. This principle is being overlooked...
You are never free from the consequences of your actions.
It's not up to society/government to regulate the consequences of our actions. It's not something anything or anyone, other than ourselves, can ever even hope to do. At the same time, we can't just allow consequences to go unchecked, as I suggested at the beginning of this website many of you should be doing. I suggested just allowing conflict to play out because I had yet to make my case showing how the magnitude of those consequences is up to you. In fact, the fate of mankind rests in YOUR hands, but you're focused on something else aren't you?
Happiness vs. Duty:
In many parts of the world, very likely due in great part to America's founding, life is about the pursuit of individual happiness, but when one accounts for things bigger than one's self, like higher truths and a sustainable society, one realizes one has a duty to fulfill as well. We can focus on doing what makes us happy and suggest we're simultaneously fulfilling a duty, but this is ultimately a childish ploy. There is no escaping our responsibility to higher truths and one another. A choice must be made, unless we want to continue "pissing into the wind," which is essentially what we are doing by focusing on individual freedom/rights and ignoring the consequences. We need to realize...
There is a comfortable place between happiness and duty.
As I've said throughout this website, we tend to be unduly focused on preemptively maintaining our pleasure centers despite the cycle of harm being energized as a result. This is, of course, problematic unto itself, but what's more problematic is the lack of compulsion to give anything back, which a happiness-centric mentality enables, thus further feeding the cycle of harm. The happiness vs. duty debate is one few are willing to have. The founding fathers of America certainly weren't willing to potentially diminish the notion of absolute freedom via "civic duty." Happiness having won the debate and having been encoded into the country's guiding documents, it’s only natural they’d end up with this principle...
I can do whatever I want, so long as I don’t hurt others.
You know, I’m not going to bother trying to raise a sense of duty higher than our quest for happiness. It's too daunting a task as of right now. Besides, I think we could achieve a compromise by making one simple change to the principle - flip it. It’s a matter of reorienting our perspective, while still staying true to the intent within the principle. Make it:
So long as I don’t hurt others, I can do whatever I want.
At least this way we think about others first, more importantly, we think about consequences first. Of course, in order to accurately predict the consequences, one has to have an accurate baseline for what's truly underpinning the existence we know. We have to be intimately familiar with our true nature, set logical, yet hopeful, goals for ourselves and mankind, and never doubt the benefit of ending the cycle of harm. If the majority of humanity can get here, we’ll be a lot better off. It very likely would limit notions of absolute freedom just a tad, which would go a long way in decreasing rotations of the cycle. But the ramifications of this principle should be sweeping, as you'll see in the next section.
Let's look at some examples of all these misconceptions at work in prolonging our confinement within the cycle of harm. Recall, we're interested in moments when we are presented with a choice, one option of which involves a modicum of constraint on our free will, but we fail to see the delayed gratification in this choice and instead choose the unconstrained option, which we believe leads to instant gratification. Naturally, more examples come out of "the west," especially America, where absolute free will/freedom is the paramount moral precept of the land, forsaking all others at times, as you will see.
The First Amendment:
We need look no further than the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for our first example. Therein, Americans are ostensibly given freedom of speech and of the press. Congress is not permitted to "oppress" either. However, they are permitted to pass a considerable number of provisos which severely limit those freedoms in order to preemptively assuage consequences should Americans provoke one another by unceremoniously expressing themselves. We see all of the misconceptions at work right away: "white listing" or upholding absolute freedom, fear of consequences disguised as law, and blissful ignorance of duty, etc.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of transparency, especially when it comes to ruling bodies, which is what the First Amendment was indirectly aiming to achieve, but why not just target transparency directly? Because that would entail immediately setting a limit on our freedom, quite possibly before even acknowledging we had any, which would have been a "black listing" thing to do. But this would have only been the case because the founding fathers were so concerned about freedom as the supreme moral virtue in the first place. It would have been far wiser to acknowledge our free will, but advocate for truth as a duty, while citing the mutual benefits to both individuals and society to be transparent.
Basically, we wouldn't be so vocal if individuals were cognizant of the necessity for factual communications. We also wouldn't need in-depth, investigative reporting if no one ever did anything they couldn't readily admit to. People do things they later regret out of fear and hubris, yes, but faulty assumptions and misconceptions, like the necessity for unbridled supremacy of free will, are enabling fear and hubris on both ends of the free speech spectrum. There are those who gripe, complain, and defame openly in the name of freedom and those who lie, cheat, and steal discreetly in the name of the same. Choosing to exercise that freedom only after truth has been given due regard would be ideal.
Marketing & Advertising:
Commercials are another prime example of when it would be preferable (in a "let's create less trouble for ourselves" kind of way), to choose to let truth take a front seat to freedom. We allow advertisers to have free rein over our desires, so long as they don't falsely advertise their products and/or services, but if you look at most commercials today you never even see the products or services fully. Most commercials are meant to be as far-fetched as possible so you'll remember them when you are in the store, then inquire about the products and/or services. Advertisers are conditioning you to need something you don't need and you're okay with it because it's all part of the "free-market."
I am not against 'free-market" economics. I am against "free-market" economics without conscience. Advertisers aren't thinking beyond the sale they're chasing. They aren't thinking about the frustrations they're driving into people through the formation of dissatisfaction with themselves and/or their situations. They aren't concerned with faithfully representing anything about existence because that wouldn't be memorable; it wouldn't be Superbowl commercial worthy. Just because we all know it's "lying" doesn't make it acceptable. And here's the thing, most of us are being hypocrites by saying, "Everyone [else] is soooooo stupid," but simultaneously saying, "They should be smart enough to know better." Shouldn't you know better too?
The Entertainment Industry:
As far as this baseline is concerned, the entertainment industry is way more powerful than it should be, especially in America. We've chosen to make it what it is, but we can choose to unmake it just as easily. Our fiction is both enabled by and enables self-aggrandizement. Mankind's tendency to self-aggrandize - to fight pain/death or uphold a perspective/dogma at whatever costs - is bound to shine through our fiction no matter what. However, we do ourselves a great disservice when we omit the fact we always have a choice whether to self-aggrandize. When we infuse this lack of choice into a our fiction, it has the very real potential to dictate life, 1) because we're engrossed with consuming more fiction than real life in the midst of our pleasure centers, and 2) we're far more impressionable on a subconscious level than we care to admit.
Allow me to demonstrate how self-aggrandizement both enables and is enabled by fiction and draw your attention to the ultimate result. Self-aggrandizement begins with the creation of an immutable self, focused on pleasure. Fiction begins with the introduction of a main character with some goal, usual rather trivial. Self-aggrandizement exaggerates threats so we can preemptively protect our selfs, especially our pleasure centers. Fiction introduces a "real" threat in order to challenge the main character's quest. Self-aggrandizement meets its dramatic climax when we CHOOSE to engage in conflict, thinking we had no other choice, and learn nothing, basically starting anew in the cycle. Fiction MUST have conflict, without it, the main character learns nothing about him/herself and/or his/her fictional world.
You'll notice the major difference is in the last comparison, which concerns conflict and "the moral" or "theme." It's at this point fiction is able to hijack our consciousnesses and alter our perception of reality. Our fiction is telling us there is no avoiding conflict and that we must see our goal through to the bitter end. Further, our fiction trains us into believing we'll always come out the better for the pain we endured and ignores the more beneficial alternatives. Lastly and perhaps most important because it instigates all else, our fiction terrifies us by overshadowing the alternatives with overdramatized threats. We vilify suicide bombers for terrorizing societies through physical means, but are perfectly fine with terrorizing ourselves through gratuitously violent nonsense in our entertainment. We would do well to realize...
The world is not as terrifying as our entertainment makes out.
Surely you take issue with that last principle. After all, we've been doing terrifying things to one another long before we had entertainment at the reigns. This is true, but as we've collectively evolved, moving away from battling over dubious moral imperatives, we've had a chance at grasping the principles herein, most notably, that we are all empowered to make better choices, particularly that of refraining from engaging in conflict. However, the entertainment industry is replacing the institutions of old, which imposed those archaic moral imperatives. What's worse is the industry isn't necessarily saying there are certain moral imperatives which must be upheld, so much as saying conflict must be wage, regardless of the morals involved. After all, there MUST be a villain with a motivation and while he/she may not be the victor in the end, they were nonetheless given their moment of validation.
In other words, our fiction is telling us to create threats where there are none, something we are already prone to do through self-aggrandizement. We're all basically functioning paranoids and our fiction is providing the justification for our preemptive actions when the real world is not. Notice I said, "when the real world is not." There are times when threats are real, but as I said very early in this website, they are fewer and farther between than we want to realize. If you go out today, the chances of you being the victim of a terrorist act are relatively miniscule. I say those chances would be even smaller if the principles herein were widely followed. What's more, most of the terrors our media reports require massive human engagement if the threat is ever to be as grand as the media makes out. For instance, if the Dow crashes tomorrow, it's your choice whether you panic, hoard food and water, and contest your neighbors in end-of-days-esque squabbling.
"The Interview" as an Example
I'd hate to date this website by mentioning the recent debacle involving the movie, "The Interview," but it stands as a perfect example of all my points within the "free will" topic thus far and highlights a new point. Let me start off by saying, I am not taking sides on this matter. Neither side is innocent as far as I'm concerned. While the actions on the part of certain Americans are germain to the topic at hand and it will seem like I am bashing them, I am well aware of the atrocities taking place in North Korea. Essentially, North Korea certainly has some issues which need sorting out, but making a movie that calls for their leader's assassination is not the way to promote the least catastrophic and lasting change. For many Americans, to include many decision-makers, however, the only way to resolve moral infractions within North Korea is through large-scale conflict, and the entertainment industry is just being used to fan the flames of war.
Those involved with producing "The Interview" were free to choose the direction the movie would take. It seems it had a chance to be both commentary for free speech and a scathing political satire, but ended up failing at both in favor of being utterly absurd for a target audience - college frat boys. The screwball, toilet humor aside, the movie still very likely would have failed at being relevant in addressing North Korea's issues because it would have refused to accurately portray North Korea and its leaders. Just as with commercials, the truth would have to be marginalized and sensationalized in order to grab your attention. If the movie didn't rely heavily on stereotypes, then you wouldn't be interested. Along with that, if the movie didn't hype the threat coming out of North Korea then you very likely wouldn't care to get involved in the the discussion about what needs to change, or the war if things didn't change.
Now, before I get into exactly what needs to change, let's examine the response to the release of "The Interview." There were threats of terrorist acts from hackers should the movie be released. Who exactly was responsible for these threats is irrelevant and anyone who promotes the movie as a free speech vessel, but rebukes the subsequent verbal threats caused by the inflammatory speech within, is a hypocrite. Yes, a line is crossed if and when those threats are actually carried out; however, it is still audacious of anyone to cry foul because, as stated above, no one other than the people involved in making the film can offer any sort of guarantee the blowback of its release would be tolerable. The more faithful a portrayal and/or more sincere a commentary within the movie, the less the subjects of the movie would be able to refute its claims and refrain from countering in a likewise respectable manner.
Though I believe North Korea's status as a millitant/totalitarian state is perfectly understandable considering much of what I've said on this website, hopefully it is very obvious I do not agree with their choice to remain as such. As far as I'm concerned, North Korea's major issue extends from its ruling leaders' weakness in giving into fear and hubris, thereby establishing an over-protective and consequently oppressive environment. And while the trickle down effect condones abuses at every level, as fear and hubris easily turns citizens against one another, it is an individual choice whether to participate in the ongoing abuses. Why North Koreans are choosing not to stand up for a more free society is anyone's guess, but the worst thing outsiders could possibly do is substantiate propaganda depicting the West, especially America, as aggressors, bound and determined to contradict ourselves by abusing in order to prevent abuses.
I don't want to turn this example into a rant on conspiracy theory, but I honestly believe there are individuals within the entertainment industry and military industrial complex who are intent on maintaining a disparaging image of North Korea and its leaders despite evidence to the contrary. I say this 1) because some people will do anything for a dollar, and 2) because some people will do anything for two dollars. Yes, there are clear abuses happening in North Korea at the hands of a dictator and his regime, but it can't be as bad as the entertainment industry and "Stratocracy" makes out. If it were, North Korea would be a completely failed state as all of its citizens succumbed to their abuses. The nation hasn't even made the list of the top ten worst human rights offenders. But what makes them so frightening, worth engaging in an escalated conflict, is the fact they have nuclear weapons, even if only <10 compared to America's ~7,300. The self-righteous hyprocrisy is astounding...
As you can see, this section is tying back into all sections previous in some way or another. We were free to decide how to mischaracterize human nature, free to set ourselves on a directionless course, free to establish an environment that creates more problems than it solves. But we're also free to have hope in humanity to make better choices, to steer ourselves toward a brighter future, and to end the cycle of harm. We just need a more solid basis for truth. So that we can begin to make better choices, a baseline of the type of information we NEED and the manner in which to obtain it has been laid out succinctly on this website. There's really only one principle that remains...
Truth is more important than freedom.
Now, here's what I propose. We're already so accustomed to treating love as though it were a force in the universe looking out for us, so why don't we treat truth the same way? Perhaps the reason we're so in the dark when it comes to the truth behind our origin or even just human nature is because we aren't letting truth rein. Maybe its in hiding because it knows we won't treat it with the respect it deserves. What if the more we stepped aside and allowed truth to take its rightful place, the more we would come to truly KNOW existence as it is and not just as we see it or want to see it. Wouldn't it be nice to have certainty about the foundation of your identity and society? I sure think so.
This is, of course, a fanciful pipedream, but the intent behind it could be achieved by attaching the concept of truth to something very tangible - human life. Just as stated previously, consideration for others, as reflections of all the truths laid out herein, should take precedence over personal freedoms. Yes, one of the truths within you is the fact you possess a high degree of free will, but you would be wise to not allow this truth to trump all others. Why? Because that truth is in all of us and if we all chose to trump one another...well, we'd be worse off than we are today. Thankfully, there have been a sizable number of people throughout history who have chosen not to give into free will, knowing fear and hubris are its parasites, and have prevented us from annihilating one another. But just imagine what the world would be like if we completely turned the tide.
I understand I am asking a lot of you by asking you to give up your free will to a degree. I hope you understand I'm doing so with the full faith that you will be given back liberties ten times over what you gave up. I say this because I believe 110% in the rejuvenating power of one another as we turn the cycle of harm into the cycle of thriving. And really, you'll have far more freedom because you will be far less concerned about your safety. Why wouldn't you accept my advice? Perhaps, what I've said here is fairly convincing, but you simply haven't seen enough evidence in-person. You know what? You might have to be the one to start the movement, so that the evidence takes shape around you. I'll tell you, it's going to take an exemplary few to lead the way for the rest of humanity.
"That which the mind long holds as absolute, the heart absolutely longs to hold. In the absence of truth, both become man's worst enemy."
The Justified Few
LIFE IS LIKE WALKING A TIGHTROPE
"You Got a Problem with That?!"
The Balancing Act
THE PROBLEM WITH PROBLEMS
"Can Your Tell Me Where it Hurts?"
Problems of Pain In-depth
Problems of Perspective In-depth
FAULTY ASSUMPTION #1 - HUMAN NATURE
The Evidence - Our Basic Makeup
The Evidence Continued - Applicability to Conflict
A Misconception - Nature vs. Nurture
Final Words on Human Nature
FAULTY ASSUMPTION #2 - THE MEANING OF LIFE
Let's Take a Breather
The Evidence - The Proverbial Rug has been Pulled
A Caveat - An Agnostic's Admission
The Evidence Continued - Applicability to Conflict
Mankind's Ideal Goal
A Misconception - Surviving vs. Thriving
Final Words on The Meaning of Life
FAULTY ASSUMPTION #3 - MORALITY
The Evidence - History Repeating Itself
The Evidence Continued - Applicability to Conflict
A Misconception - Morality vs. Ethics vs. Law
Final Words on Morality
FAULTY ASSUMPTION #4 - FREE WILL
Love as an Example of the Above
Misconceptions Surrounding Free Will
Will You Join Me?
Applicability to Conflict
Final Words on Free Will