Tag Archives: Effect

The Art of Not Bitching

I’m trying to work on my not bitching.

I don’t think I do a particular lot of it  and I’m fairly stoic about most things. But it nevertheless creeps in, displaying as a jerk-ish comment,  commiserating gripe, or perhaps a common ground conversational piece.

Sometimes it’s over something petty, like the cash registers not yet being turned on when I want to buy coffee because the one person on the whole staff who has that magical power hasn’t showed up yet. Sometimes it’s something more significant, like when the leader of our country does… well, there’s a whole lot of bitch potential there.

And there’s also a lot of in-between: all the things that happen during the day-to-day to annoy my sense of what should and should not be the case.

Sometimes the bitch is justified. Sometimes it’s not. Maybe most times it’s not. But it doesn’t matter if it is or if it isn’t with respect to the question of To bitch or not to bitch.

I think the answer is one of effect rather than justification. And that’s how I’m trying to look at my life more: cause and effect. Look at it that way before good and bad, right and wrong, and other perhaps well-intended but somewhat vacuous, or at least subservient, terms.

I make a snide comment at the above store or rant on twitter or maybe just mutter to myself as the guy on the road cuts me off when I was doing “everything” right and he is “obviously” just being a–

But then what? The bitch, sure, but then what? What has it accomplished? How has it helped my situation? More to the point, how in the world could it help? There is no real action behind it.

I suppose I could talk to the manager directly about giving someone else the authority to turn on the registers, or bring a petition X to Twitter regarding Trump’s latest shoe drop, or get the license plate of the unsafe driver to report to whomever gets such reports.

But I will do none of those things. For when I start putting them into actionable terms, I force myself to face up to the fact that I was bitching just of the sake of bitching, without the intent of doing anything at all.

And that’s not how I want to live my life, and certainly not how I want to advise kids to live theirs.

Time is way too short to have on-paper-only beliefs and speak empty words.

If a belief doesn’t encourage you to take action, it’s a bullshit belief.

If a bitch doesn’t accomplish a damn thing, then it isn’t worth a damn.

We need to aim our bitching higher. We can’t remain satisfied with Facebook Likes and creating self-indulgent memes that go viral then evaporate. If there is something truly worth bitching about, then it’s truly worth the effort to try and fix it.

Which is exactly what I am trying to do, both with this post and myself.

Random Thoughts on Randomness – Part 1

“The most beautiful order is a pile of things poured out at random”
–Heraclitus
(Appropriated from Professor Metcalf’s Facebook Page)

Random Thought being a redundant phrase, of course, since all thoughts are necessarily random. For if they weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to think what you think you think.

But before I self-involvedly put out there my thoughts about that, I thought I might self-indulgently talk about this quintessential quandary:

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Now, we can take a look at a question like that and try to answer it as one or the other. Or declare it a circular reference without a determinate answer. Or push the answer back before  chickens or eggs onto other questions that would have to be answered first. Or we could just say “God only knows,” and mean it either literally or snarkily.

We could have debates, hold prayer meetings, and take to twitter with our views, being champions of this or that or Him.  Maybe make some Pro-Egg flyers or Believe in the Chicken posters. It would be kind of cool to see candidates trying to appease both sides, or The Trump signing an executive order declaring both eggs and chicken are fried, so there!

Yet, any such factious (or fractious) thinking would already be moving away from the most important, the most philosophically interesting, thing: The question itself.

For answers are never that interesting. They are boring in fact. And don’t even exist, for that matter, unless maybe you’re a blind faithy, fox-news-only kind of person. But then again, if that is so, you don’t so much have an answer as have simply delegated the question to someone above you (literally and snarkily).

So let’s move back from the egg-chicken details and think about what kind of question it is. Although it is phrased as “which came first”, I hear it first and foremost as a causal question rather than a temporal one. Who made who would probably be a more accurate representation of it, but so goes the idiom.

In causality questions, what’s at stake? Why does it matter? That is, why does it matter to us? Well, for starters, the stakes are a lot higher than chickens or eggs. When we assign causality, aren’t we really assigning independence to one thing and dependence to the other?

Is the chicken dependent on the egg  or is it the other way around? Independence and dependence both shade Will. I will leave out Free from that Will for now, as that four-letter word typically adds a whole level of nonsense to these kind of discussions. Right now we can think of Will as just like it sounds: the ability to make things happen, put things into motion.

By the question, are we assigning Will to one thing, and mere obedience to the other? Is hatching the willful act and the chicken coming out just obeying what was set in motion? Or is the laying where the will resides and the egg just following orders.

We see that the chicken and egg question really is about that common but oh so vacuous term freewill.

You might argue that eggs and chickens don’t have will, or that they might have will but not freewill and/or hatching and laying are instinctual not intentional or something else in a similar putting-our-bag-of-bones into some sort of privileged position where we act and do things consciously (yet another, like freewill, somewhat vacuous and frequently unhelpful term).

But such arguments take swipe at the wrong thing. The right thing is our very conception of action and reaction, of which the chicken and egg are mere props for our thinking. But if chicken and egg are too low on the food chain for consideration, we can simply replace them with Mother and Child. Or even better, how about God and humankind? Or physics and humankind?

For that’s really to where we want to roll back, isn’t it? What, if anything, came before God? What, if anything, came before the Big Bang? Like with the original chicken and egg question, the answer itself isn’t as important as what’s at stake.

And that stake of course is the meaning of life: The mattering of it all, or of any of it. We think, perhaps, that if we push things back to some assumed unmoved mover or uncaused cause we can then bring such duly clarified meaning forward. The meaning, however, hardly needs to make such a journey. Indeed, trying to do so would be a fool’s errand.

Instead, the meaning of our lives derives neither from the divine nor natural order, but in the inherent randomness each of us possesses at any given moment.

—–

Other possible Parts as I work through my thoughts on this:

Spinoza’s God and the Necessitarianism Obstacle

Reconceptualizing Randomness

Ball in Tube Analogy

Molecule of Water in Heated Pot Analogy

Abolishing Absolutes and other Phantasms

Limited Randomness: As Free as Will ever gets