how to change the world by being realistic and reasonable (“R&R”)

R&R Point # 1: This moment in time is not a static culmination of the past.

“Is it really the case that we all think that development is a process that’s brought us to this particular moment in time, but now we’re pretty much done?”

On a day to day basis, you feel like the same person, right?  And on a day to day basis, the world feels like the same place.  Okay.  So what?  Well, when you look at the person you were ten years ago, it’s probably a pretty different picture.  Mustache, short-shorts, a raging sense of idealism and self-significance… you get the idea.

But the weird thing is, the you of today probably thinks that the present state of you will be a constant into the indefinite future.  But what about your historical evidence?  Well, research shows that its psychological.  Even though people change less dramatically outside of their youth, they continually underestimate the change that is surely to come.  The researchers call this the “end of history illusion.”

This illusion, in my opinion, occurs both with how we view our selves and the world around us.

Do you really think that the set-up of the world at this particular moment is the static culmination of all years passed?  Is the 5-day work, 2-day live, schedule the be-all-end-all?  Have we reached the end of human history?  Doesn’t look like it.

So, like, I’m thinking, like, I don’t know, maybe we can [keep] change the world or something.  Yeah, you and me. Donald Mac lamented the no-show apocalypse because of the lost opportunity for a global reset.  But I see another way to hit that reset button without an apocalypse.  No big deal.  Just another day in the life of a blogger, changing the course of human history and shit.  I mean, come on folks, I get over 8 site visits a day.

R&R Point # 2: Learn from a reflection on humans, the species.

Let’s look at who we are as a species and the environment we inhabit – past, present and future. With a better understanding of ourselves and our lives, perhaps we can ignite tectonic shifts of perspective.  Yes, I meant tectonic.  Very slight, very powerful, and always earth shaking.

According to Wikipedia:

Humans, as they look today, entered the world about 200,000 years ago.  Humans, as they act today, were roaming about 50,000 years ago.  Human civilizations and society as we know it sprung up alongside farming.  In my mind, this is where we began to leave the rest of the animal kingdom behind.  We established governments and religions, and unified geographic regions of humans.  We’ve got members on every continent except for antartica, but yeah, we’ve been there, done that.

We are the only species to cook our food.  We are also the only ones to clothe ourselves.  We develop and use tools and technologies and dabble in the arts.  Every seen a monkey in an apron talking to his mom in another province while cooking a steak and enjoying a Van Gogh?

Braiiiiinnnnnssss.  And mirrors.

We’ve got big brains.  Especially in relation to our puny bodys.  The enlarged cortexes and lobes make us capable of abstract reasoning, introspection, problem solving and culture.  We learn from each other and we learn from nature.

The human brain is believed to be generally more intelligent than other known species. Awrighhhht.  Those other fools have simple social structures and simple tools, and they do it mostly out of instinct and mimicry.  Ha!  Take that, lesser forms of being!  Human technology is more complex, evolving and improving over time.  So we must be smarter, right?

After all, we are one of the very few species to have enough self-awareness to recognize ourselves in the mirror.  Our brains perceive the world around us through our senses.  This perception of the world is subject to our individual experiences and we develop subjective views on existence and the passage of time.  And the “extent to which the mind constructs or experiences the outer world is a matter of debate…”

We have developed complex languages for self expression and the exchange of ideas.  This helps us organize.  Today we call these blog communities.  I’m sure there’s other communities out there, but this organization of humans is probably the most advanced of all…

From our communication with each other we develop social structures with friends, foes, and family.  And now they’re all on Facebook.  And twitter. And instagram.  From our social interactions we have developed wide-ranging values, norms and rituals that express our understanding of the world:

Humans are noted for their desire to understand and influence their environment, seeking to explain and manipulate phenomena through science, philosophy, mythology, and religion.

Alright, I got it now: We are a species truly apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We think and we speak.  We can be abstract and concrete.  Introspective and reflective, we learn to learn and teach.  We cook, we dress, we organize and we govern.  And the source of it all?  Our freakishly big brains.

R&R Point # 3: Civilizations rise and fall; humans are very special and not special at all.

From Aztecs and Egyptians to Romans and the British, human cultures have differed drastically throughout the centuries while remaining surprisingly similar.  Those of you reading this post, and the people we share this earth with are just the most recent iteration.  We too will surely fall.  And what will we be known for?  Trains, planes and computers?  Cute cat videos?  Modern day pyramids I suppose.

Over time our species has held various world-views and spiritual beliefs.  We’ve made calendars to keep time and alcohol to kill time.  We’ve planted a flag on the moon and we’ve planted microchips under skin.  We developed the ability to fight illness and annihilate the entire world.  We’ve built cathedrals and prisons.  We’ve written tomes and blog posts.  Since the dawn of time we have sought to understand and explain our world, and we make things in accordance with that understanding.  We are human.  We are special.

But we’re not that special.  We are animals, and we’re united by death.  Despite our big brains and powerful scriptures, we all die.  And we’ve been dying from the start.  From womb to tomb.  Bing. Bamm. Boom.  Nature get’s us every time, despite the various temples we build.  Plato is dead, Napoleon is dead and Franklin is dead.  Blips on the radar.  All these great blips, over all this time, still haven’t been able to solve the human dilemma.

R&R Point # 4:  Friend, I repeat, you are going to die.

So am I.  Our time here is finite, so let’s quit being dicks to each other.  Simple as that.  I think part of the problem is that we believe that the people we are today, and the world as it exists today, is the culmination the entire human history.  Like we’ve hit the final progress point.  But it’s not. That’s the old end of history illusion again, rearing its ugly head. The world and people in it keep changing, and they’ll keep changing tomorrow, and the next day.  Because you will die and the world keeps turning, I believe some real talk is needed:

Hey Israel and Palestine: get over yourselves.  I understand there are historical underpinnings, but seriously, get over it.  Borders are imaginary and stupid.  Like religion, they cause as many problems as they solve.

Hey women: you are more than your looks, despite what us men lead you to believe.  You shouldn’t need plastic surgery to keep your movie career.  You shouldn’t be exiled from news-anchordom because you’ve hit 35.  You shouldn’t fear aging, despite what the wrinkle reducing creams tell you.  We all do it, and you are more beautiful everyday you grow.

Hey taxes: quit complicating my life.  Be fair and simple.

Hey corporations: share with your employees and the communities that actually grow and support your business.  Fat cats don’t need more fancy feast.  Run your business like Henry Ford.

Hey politicians: you are ridiculously ineffective.  Your ineffectiveness is second only to your pundits.  You say what sounds good.  You do what looks good. You’ve forgotten how to compromise, and let me remind you, you too will die.  So hows about you start passing some significant legislation?  How about you get creative with it, because I haven’t seen much movement in the last 30 years.  Sure we moved towards equality and other laudable ideals, but you’ve been slow as shit.  Zoom out to a geologic perspective and get going.  I don’t wait more than 3 seconds for my interweb to load, so hurry the fuck up – I’ve got a life to live.

Hey people: quit fighting people.  It’s bad enough we’ve gotta fend of lions and tigers and bears, but why the hell are you trying to blow me up?  40 virgins in the next life?  Really?  Think you could handle that?  Ever heard of synchronized PMS?   Wildlife, the elements, and the forces of nature that afflict all members of our species are quite enough, thanks.  Quit screwing each other with ignorance, stupidity, aggression, greed and laziness.  Try what Don suggested and think of murder as a suicide.  We are the same.  Blessed and cursed with the gift of life and death.  Again, this could be it.  I’m human, you’re human.  That’s all we can truly know.

R&R Point # 5: Humans dream. Day and night.

The capacity to dream is amazing.  It’s awesome.  And in my non-scientific opinion, it is the ability that has led to our global domination.  Take that cockroaches.  I have a heated toilet seat because some human dreamed it up.  What do you got?  Dumpster diving?  Sure, you’ll have the last laugh in the case of a nuclear fallout, but my ass is all smiles this winter.  The world we live in today was once not yet in existence.  The world we live in today is the one that many dreamed up yesterday.  Isn’t it time to dream up tomorrow ‘s world?

R&R Point # 6: This life is an experience- and is likely a one-time deal- so it may as well be a happy one.   

The prairie dog, I’m guessing, never has a case of the Mondays.   The bird, I’m also guessing, doesn’t sit around wishing he were somewhere else, unless, that is, he’s a caged bird.  Then he’s just like the rest of us.  Otherwise, he flies away.

I’m not saying we are all caged birds, but to me, and maybe to you, experiences are happiness.  Meaningful happiness.  And when your in an office doing the same stuff over and over, you are missing out on experiential living.  The experiences we choose to define our lives are our own, and the society around us should be structured to give us the opportunity to experience the most we can.

Sure, some people enjoy their work and “never work a day in their lives.”  I hate these people.  Not really, but I am jealous.  Cool, experiential and fulfilling jobs exist, but they are the outliers.  Most of us compromise on a career to pay the bills.  Most of us compromise for the necessaries and basic creature comforts: shelter, food, a fridge, a car, etc.  We’ve been facing the food/shelter dilema since the dawn of time, but as it relates to settling on a safe career, its essentially a dilema of modern times and the advent of private property.

So what’s next for the humans? Will we finally get beyond merely working to live?  Will society move towards making the outliers mainstream?  Where musicians strum, writers write, cultures flourish and more humans create?  How can we support such a shift?  How can we get to a place where the masses can pursue non-traditional means of self-support without being homeless or hungry?

R&R Point # 7:  The potential of the Internet has barely been tapped.

I don’t yet have a solution to the human dilema. But we’ve got big brains and the Internet (an even bigger, collective brain).  Greater men than us have tried to solve the very problems discussed herein, but those men have not held the power of the Internet.

They weren’t as connected as we are and can still be.  This connectivity proves how similar we all are.  It drops the borders between countries and unifies us humans.  Get beyond ethnicity, race, economics and religion, and recognize what you and all the others are: HUMANS.  Unique humans, sharing this unique experience we call life.

Start a neighborhood garden group, then Facebook it.  Buy goods from local people, then tweet it.  Sell your crafts on etsy, then blog about it.   Experience something new, then blog about it.  Learn a new skill, then blog about it.  Start a blog, then blog about it. Or, just blog about life, then write a novel about it.

Happiness may indeed be subjective, but you know it when you see it, and I’m sure you can imagine your world, made happier.  Connect with others and share your human dream.  Then, blog about it.

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Like this post? You may also like these other ones:

6 low effort ways to be a better citizen;

why everyone should ride the bus;

it takes a village;

hey work week, catch up with the times;

entrepreneurs ask, how can this be better;

thoughts on existence.

Reallly like this post?  Share with everyone you know and give as much feedback as you’ve got!  Tell me I’m a loon, tell me what I’m failing to grasp, or just tell me you love me baby!

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7 thoughts on “how to change the world by being realistic and reasonable (“R&R”)

  1. All sounds sensible to me. We are products of our past in ways we seldom consider. We change in ways that we seldom perceive. I knew there wouldn’t be an apocalypse last December. The problem, I fear, is that a ‘reset’ would simply lead to more of the same later. The world as we know it is a product of human nature. And it’s pretty ugly at times, despite us knowing this, and our relentless efforts to change things. The whole of human history is riddled with failed attempts to quash the ugly side of the human condition. Cynical? Maybe. I prefer to think ‘realistic’.

    1. I hear ya. Your realism is well-founded. The initial title for this post was to be along the lines of “changing the world by being completely unrealistic.” I suppose I’m struggling to accept a “realty” imposed by others, and am just pushing back the only way I know how. Thanks for the read Matt!

    2. I think the economist Jeffrey Sachs said it best: “What seems impossible eventually becomes inevitable.” I agree with your sense of realism, but I believe that things can, and must change as time progresses.

    3. 99% of all species that ever appear on Earth are already extinct since life began.

      The average lifespan of a species is one million years.

      The human species (counting the early hominids) has lasted six million years.

      *******************************

      Extinction is the rule; survival is the exception.

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