Human, All Too Human

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Uji
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Human, All Too Human

Postby Uji » 2009 Oct 18 13:26

So, now that I've cleared the room and am talking only to myself, I will continue my sermon...

We all suffer -- liberal, conservative, religious right-left-up-down-sidewise -- suffer from an irrational faith in the 18th-century notion of progress. We all believe -- whether we cast it in religious or social terms -- in a distant promised land where inequalities will be leveled, where rightousness will reign (whether "god"'s, or Marx's, or Madison's, or Glen Beck's...), and where reason will reign and everyone will work for the mutual good and pain will be minimized and truth will reign . . . etc., etc., etc. What it boils down to, I think, is an irrational belief -- and I mean by this, "faith," a conviction held despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary -- in Progress.

No, you say? Look how cynical I am, you say, look how readily I recognize hypocrisy and dishonesty, etc. How can you say I have faith in Progress? I think the world is going to hell in a Wal-mart basket! you say.

Well, how do you account for the intolerance we all show on these pages? Not racial or even political intolerance, but intolerance of human failings?

We somehow think that, this time, it will be different; this time, everyone will be honest (even with themselves), the rich will give up their wealth willingly, the powerful will bow to the needs of the powerless and that -- this time -- we will...what?...Enter the promised land?

This is neither reasonable nor realistic. Human nature doesn't change "this time" or anytime. Things get better; things get worse. But there is never going to be a time when some human does not chose to use a new technology for evil if s/he thinks it will be useful to do so; nor when some human does not chose their own (or their tribe's welfare) over that of another. That's not to say no human ever will; it's just to say that human nature does not change.

Human nature does not change. We are no different than any other generations of humans on this earth; we may eat better, sleep better, be generally more comfortable and more healthy -- but that's not Progress, that's just innovation.

Innovations will continue, but human nature will continue just the same as always.

So -- I say to Greenwald -- get a life, Dude. Your big insight is that we are all still human. Well, congratualations. Now go get job.

Jeez... :hiding:

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Wise One
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Wise One » 2009 Oct 18 22:58

What a nice analysis! Your perceptiveness shines through, and yes we are all colored by biases and weaknesses.

On the other hand, I have trouble believing that "We all believe ... reason will reign and everyone will work for the mutual good." It just seems there is
  • one kind of human critter who believes this, and
  • another kind who values only private good, is hostile to reason and uncritically accepts authoritarian control.
Try as I might to be consistently rational and good, I must confess to being a bundle of inconsistencies. We all are.

For example, I'm happy to be obliged to have a catalytic converter in my car to reduce hydrocarbon emissions, even as I burn wood in my wood stove to spew hydrocarbons and particulates into the atmosphere my neighbors must breathe. Shame on me.
:surrend:
"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like Donald Trump."

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fangz1956
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby fangz1956 » 2009 Oct 19 08:07

Uji wrote:
We all suffer -- liberal, conservative, religious right-left-up-down-sidewise -- suffer from an irrational faith in the 18th-century notion of progress. We all believe -- whether we cast it in religious or social terms -- in a distant promised land where inequalities will be leveled, where rightousness will reign (whether "god"'s, or Marx's, or Madison's, or Glen Beck's...), and where reason will reign and everyone will work for the mutual good and pain will be minimized and truth will reign . . . etc., etc., etc. What it boils down to, I think, is an irrational belief -- and I mean by this, "faith," a conviction held despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary -- in Progress.


I believe that what you describe as irrational faith is actually Hope. Without Hope, we are a sorry lot, indeed. It doesn't matter whether we are inconsistent in our actions....that's generally caused by Life, it's own bad self. Any real or true Progress is impossible without Hope. Hope is the fertilizer of Dreams....and Dreams are the seeds of Progress. Hope harnessed to Perseverance and Patience can produce a bountiful harvest of Progress. I, for one, would not wish to live in world or society devoid of Hope. Give me the dreamers.......the Ghandi's, the King's, the Einstein's, the Mother Teresa's ....any day of the week. Give me that lone voice crying in the wilderness, the solitary soul lighting a candle against the dark. It is only among Dreamers such as these...the souls that feed Hope...that any real Progress has ever been or will be made in this world.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.~Martin Luther King


:angel5:

We are Spiritual beings having a Human experience.
Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Sam
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Sam » 2009 Oct 19 10:44

"Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world." Buddha

"Lord, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am" Saw this on a bumper sticker.

Progress + Compassion
Only in America could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as
"extremists

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Uji
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Uji » 2009 Oct 19 12:29

fangz1956 wrote:I believe that what you describe as irrational faith is actually Hope. Without Hope, we are a sorry lot, indeed. It doesn't matter whether we are inconsistent in our actions....that's generally caused by Life, it's own bad self. Any real or true Progress is impossible without Hope. Hope is the fertilizer of Dreams....and Dreams are the seeds of Progress. Hope harnessed to Perseverance and Patience can produce a bountiful harvest of Progress. I, for one, would not wish to live in world or society devoid of Hope.


"Any real or true progress is impossible without Hope," you say. I would say simply that "Any or true progress is impossible. Period." Yes, more folks lived better and longer in the 20th century than the 19th (I guess). But the misadventures of humankind were not only as frequent in the 20th as the 19th but much more costly both to the species and the planet. For every step of "progress" in controlling society and nature, there is a balancing increase in the devastation caused by any misstep.

For myself, I don't see the equation that you make between the religion-of-progress and hope. "Hope," for me, is simply the willingness to be continually disillusioned. It has nothing to do with the expectation that things will be better. Some of us act well, some of don't; but all of us act well sometimes and not others. That is human nature, it has not changed. My hope is that, this time, I will act well -- and that, this time, others will do the same. I have no expectation that, on the whole, there will ever be more people acting well in the future than there are now.

The point I wanted to make is that we are no better than our forebarers, and our off-spring will be no better than we are. That is the nature of the human animal. That is the nature of all animals -- and we are unquestionably a subset of all-animals. The nature of the ant hasn't changed for millions of years, why should we think humans have -- much less will. One might make the case that natural selection might eventually "select" for a more ethical human type; and, I suppose it might. But that would simply be the result of chance (random processes) and necessity (the inevitable effect of specific causes). And the chance that natural selection will achieve some other future than one we would percieve as "progress" is statistacally more likely. So to believe that there is an end or purpose to evolution or that evolution is "progress" is to ignore the facts -- at least as I understand them.

If you can't make sense of the world without the possibility that the next generation might be "better" than us, then I feel for you. The next generation might be better off -- or less well off -- but will they be better? Chances are they will be, on the whole, the same as us -- only their experience will be different.

What I am trying to say (without rewriting what I've already said) is that any expectation that, ethically, we will progress is akin to religious faith since it is believe that runs contrary to the preponderance of evidence. And, as I see it, it's a belief that stands in the way of actually acting better now: if, like Greenwald, we see every human failing as failure, we are (like him) frozen; we can't accomplish anything except to insist that everyone who doesn't believe the way we think they should is a "failure." He is a True Believer, not a "dreamer."

I'll cast my lot with the dreamers, too -- but not the "believers," their dreams are not their own.

It is comforting to have a public personality confirm our disappointment in the human race; it is useful to have the press behave as watch-dogs of the public good; but imagining that this would be paradise if only everyone would get with the "program"--whatever your program happens to be--is a delusion. And that is not because your program might be flawed; it is because, whatever the program, humans will remain the same.

And if we belive this delusion -- as does Mr. Greenwald -- one is incapable of dealing in those incremental improvements that might make life more bearable for more people right now.

Enough -- I just hope I've made it clear that, to me at least, hope is a separate issue that has to do with a willingness to trust folks stated intentions -- at least until they (not some past employee of Goldmans/Sachs) demonstrate themselves unworthy of that trust.

:hmm:
And, Sam: The Buddha was (is?), by all accounts, a wise fellow; but his notion that we can wake from the dream of humanity is, I think, not only an illusion (we can "wake" to the dream of Nirvanna, perhaps, but it's no less a dream) but undesirable. We belong to this world and this here-and-now in exactly the same way as the microbe on the tip of my nose.

To me at least... Thank you for listening. I now relinquish this thread and withdraw back into my cave.:craz:

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fangz1956
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby fangz1956 » 2009 Oct 19 13:50

The only thing I will say about Glenn Greenwald is that he will generally present far more facts and in-depth analysis of a given situation or issue than will the mainstream media. That is the biggest reason I read his column on a regular basis.

As for the rest of the discussion (and I'm hoping you aren't serious about withdrawing to your cave), I see failures and mistakes as guideposts to future success. If people never failed, people would never learn a dang thing in the course of of their lives. I'm speaking from personal experience of living a life full of mistakes and failures I wouldn't wish on another living soul. BUT........I needn't repeat those mistakes as I have the tools available that allow me to alter course and shoot for something better.......not something better in the sense of material success, but rather something better in the way I can touch other lives. It matters not what the pundits and politicos say or write. It matters most what my own conscience says to me.

So, in light of failures, mistakes, progress, and hope, I leave you with these thoughts to ponder.

“I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It's seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It's seeing what other people don't see. And pursuing that vision.”
Howard Schultz (b. 1953), founder of Starbucks Coffee


“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
Albert Einstein (1875-1955), theoretical physicist, philosopher


“Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.”
Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), secretary-general of the United Nations


“If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. President


“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
Mother Teresa (1910-1997), founder of the Missionaries of Charity


“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.”
Vaclav Havel (b. 1936), poet, playwright, 1st president of Czech Republic


Uji......I'm abdicating my throne and handing you my Cynic's crown.

:sip:
Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Uji
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Uji » 2009 Oct 19 18:38

Nicely said, Fangz (and those you quote). I especially like the Havel quote. To do something because it is worth doing... reason enough. Thanks.

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Wise One
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Wise One » 2009 Oct 28 12:50

Now here are some fine examples of how paying attention to a very human quality can get the best from us!

Let's all go out there and have some fun, people!

:toothy9.:
"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like Donald Trump."

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fangz1956
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby fangz1956 » 2009 Oct 28 20:09

Love the piano steps. I want some like that!!!

Thanks for the fun.


:bath:
Ever looked at someone and thought "the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead"?

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Uji
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Uji » 2009 Nov 06 16:01

Wise One wrote:Let's all go out there and have some fun, people! :toothy9.:

Just noticed your post, WiseOne. Great stuff! Thanks.

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Wise One
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Wise One » 2011 Oct 18 13:11

"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like Donald Trump."

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Buck Turgidson
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Buck Turgidson » 2012 Apr 05 12:42

Image

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Juggler
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Juggler » 2012 Apr 05 13:15

In Oregon, there is a rural community with a large German-speaking population.

A local farmer noticed a man using his hand to drink water from the farm pond.

The farmer shouted: "Achtung, trink das Wasser nicht. Die kuehe haben darein geschissen."

The man shouted back: "I'm from Texas, here campaigning for Santorum. This is America you damn furriner. We speak English here."

The farmer replied: "Use both hands."

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Crux
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BuckBuckBuck...

Postby Crux » 2012 Apr 05 21:00

Sharks eat fish, not the other way around sport.
Last edited by Crux on 2012 Apr 06 08:08, edited 1 time in total.

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Neck-aint-red
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Neck-aint-red » 2012 Apr 05 21:53

That sounds like a typical "ego" statement.
Many things eat sharks, in accordance with the "eco" perspective.

"Ego" statements like "man eats highest in the food chain" have always sounded nonsensical to me.
Man, and all other organisms, are food for other organisms. 'twas ever thus and ever shall be.

Are bacteria and worms "eating highest on the food chain" when they eat a human being?
Of course not ... it's one big circle, no organism living or dying outside the circle, including us.

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Crux
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Your ego.

Postby Crux » 2012 Apr 06 07:57

Describing the symbiosis of LIFE, as a mere CIRCLE, or my statement that sharks eat fish not the other way around as an "ego" statement might make you feel better, however: from any perspective, the differences between say, a woman and a toad are obvious and pronounced. As well, sharks generally and almost wholly should be represented higher on the food chain pyramid than fish. Biologists, Christians and 4th Graders all agree.

The spiritual/mental plane is not to be overlooked...

crux

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Wise One
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Re: Your ego.

Postby Wise One » 2012 Apr 06 13:19

You folks have an interesting exchange going here. Would you be surprised that I find myself in agreement more with Neck and Buck than with Crux?

crux wrote:...the differences between say, a woman and a toad are obvious and pronounced.
This statement is as true as it is irrelevant ... nobody believes that there are no differences. Well, except for Republicans.

crux wrote: ... sharks generally and almost wholly should be represented higher on the food chain pyramid than fish.
One must adopt an oversimplified and purely linear model of prey/predator interactions to believe this. Reality is more complex. If a polar bear and I should find ourselves trapped and starving on an Arctic island, we will have equal interest in eating each other and not dissimilar capabilities in fulfilling our desires (if I have a high powered rifle, otherwise I'm a goner.) I love to eat fish but on a visit to the Rio Amazonas I declined an invitation to swim with pirañas, fearing that those smallish creatures had somehow not received Crux's memo notifying them of their proper place in the food chain. And of course sharks are eaten by many creatures, by Orcas when alive and by many things when dead.

crux wrote:The spiritual/mental plane is not to be overlooked...
True. While the spiritual and mental levels of slugs and vermin may exceed those of your ordinary ultraconservative, we are morally bound nevertheless to accord the latter equal treatment.

:coffee:
"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like Donald Trump."

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Crux
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Trying too hard?

Postby Crux » 2012 Apr 06 14:36

Having adopted NO model here whatsoever, and merely commenting on the linear pyramid graphic which shows shark below fish, I would merely say shark/fish does not equal human/polar bear. I am afraid my simple statement has too many in a tizzy. Sharks are generally predators relative to Fishes, which are generally prey. Simple enough...

:crab:

Ultra Conservative. That's funny. I am not sure HOW I've aquired such a label. But then again, according to NPR yesterday am, voter ID laws and stand your ground laws are "extreme right wing positions".
:grin:

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Juggler
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Re: Human, All Too Human

Postby Juggler » 2012 Nov 10 09:44

This is General David Petraeus’s wife:
Image

And this is Paula Broadwell, the woman he had an affair with.
Image

To you Sir I say, "Well done!"

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Crux
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Not what Uji had in mind I think...

Postby Crux » 2012 Nov 12 08:11

I'll back up. The story of Petraeus is really very sad. He was a talented man. His wife is not a looker, but she is his wife. I would say this is a private thing but for his job description. Yes every man is tempted, and often all it takes is a willing partner. Mis Broadwell was willing. David was able.

I called Juggler a toad and prince because no good people cheer this behavior. "Well done sir..." is a toad-ish statement. The Frog Prince is just a story reference. I don't know David or Paula or Mrs. Petraeus. It is a story we have not yet plumbed.
Last edited by Crux on 2012 Nov 13 07:55, edited 1 time in total.