Thursday, February 23, 2006

I'll talk, you listen.

When I was young and naiive, around 10 or 11, I had an ideal.

I believed that one day, when all us kids had grown up and become adults, we would repeal all the laws that the greedy industrialists had passed, and we would write new, better-for-the-planet-and-everyone-on-it laws.

Like i said, naiive.

Because instead of growing up and remaining idealistic and gliding upon the strong and supple left wing of youth, we too wanted to get paid, and screw whoever/whatever got in our way. Well, not all of us. There are still those people who ride to their work on the same ten speed they had in high school, and they've been recycling their own paper since 1987 and all that. And good on them too.

But most of us don't wanna be like that.

And so as we get a taste of getting rich, and we have some money to protect, we vote in (or keep hold of) the Government that best suits us. And that Government isn't gonna be too hip and down with what the kids think.

Fuck the kids.

And so, it is with great regret and surprise, that I too have to admit that I am not the young person I used to be. I am becoming increasingly conservative. And I can't see how I ever used to be so bleeding heart and caring. I am becoming the classic Australian stereotype of 'the grumpy old cunt from down the road'.

Usually called Neville, or Cecil, or something wildly retro and evocative of getting pregnant at the dance with U.S. servicemen (yankee cervixmen) before everyone shipped off to die or donate legs and arms to the beaches of Turkey, I have joined the ranks. I'm not quite at the stage where I stand out front at 6pm watering the roses, with the races blaring out of the stereophone in the lounge room. I'm not a homeowner, and we have water restrictions. But I have caught myself thinking things I would have been horrified to confess as a younger person.

When will someone podcast the racing?

When I was young, I actually thought junkies were people. I honestly believed smack addicts deserved the same rights and priveleges as the rest of us. When John Howard blocked the opening of shooting galleries in Sydney, I thought he was insane and stuck in the 50's, for not seeing the need for these poor innocent victims of hateful drug dealing syndicates to have a clean, controlled place in which to satiate their addiction, without fear of overdose or infection.

If your ball comes over my fence, I'm keeping it.

Now I think we should give addicts one choice- clean up, or we clean you up. Instead of providing methadone on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, we should have mandatory rehab clinics in every state. And you don't get out until you are clean. If you go back on smack, you can go to prison.

Oh, but it's a sickness! You can't blame these poor victims!

I've actually heard this. Like it's okay for everyone else in society to pay for their smack habit, just not them. As if someone held a gun to their head and said "try this delicious smack, or you're dead". If you have followed my blog (all 3 of you), you will know I have a massive problem with the death of personal responsibility in this country. It's simple. If you did it, it's your fault. If you were drink or drug impaired, it's still your fault. If you did it in your sleep, I'd let you off, but I would recommend medical supervision and treatment where possible. If you're a werewolf, I won't blame you, but I'll still lock you up until a cure comes to light.

I have turned into Cecil.

I have this thing where I now automatically hate guys from India, and taxi drivers. If I come across one of either, they have to show me pretty thoroughly they're not like 'the others'. How fucking xenophobic and arrogant is that?! All because the percentage of utterly rude and obnoxious Indian men I have crossed paths with in Australia is in the high nineties. It's probably my fault for not seeking out the good ones. And pretty much every Indian I met in India was lovely. I'm trying to tell you I know it's wrong to be so intolerant. I'm holding myself up as an example of what not to do. I'm making a dunce's cap and going to stand in the back corner of the class with my face to the wall. Bad, bad, bad, and wrong, wrong, wrong.

Children should be seen, and not heard.

The thing is, I think, is that it's easy to chalk it up to behaviourism. Like, getting set in your ways. But we have learned, in this more enlightened age, that it pays to keep an open mind. It's important to not freeze over when it comes to issues of social justice. You gotta keep your eyes and heart open, even though we're all so bombarded by pleas for help and donation requests. I saw the guys from Amnesty International had set up a human cattle pen on Elizabeth street in the city the other day, so no matter which way you walked or where you looked, they were right there asking. And that's bad and impolite. But it also shows how desperate aid organisations are becoming, as we put the walls up higher.

I know I'm heading in the wrong direction, and it's so important for me to find a balance, where I maintain my own boundaries, but still leave room for others to move into. I have to pry my mind open, and see the world from an understanding perspective, as opposed to the bullet train from knee-jerk-a-sawa. Because you can teack an old dog new tricks, it just takes longer.

Now where's my garden hose?

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Importance of Doing Right.

Life is full of concepts.

Some are simple, like 'stereo sound', others are complex, like 'me' or 'you'.

One of the concepts I think most about, is 'right'.

Plato's 'Republic' kicks so much ass because it's basically a conversation held by a bunch or guys who are way smarter not only than anyone we know, but probably anyone in the history of the human race. These guys happen to be Greek, and they're talking about the true nature of justice, and whether it's actually good for anything or not. And they're talking about rules.

Anyway, these rules help us all to coexist peacefully, so we can all be clear as to what is acceptable and not, for all of us citizens. Most of the time, these rules benefit the common good quite well. "Thou shalt not kill" is a great example of a rule it would be a big worry to lose. But clearly the collection of rules (or law) does not benefit everyone, all of the time.

"For mankind censure injustice, fearing that they may be the victims of it and not because they shrink from committing it". -Thrasymachus.

Like most things to do with 'the common good', majority rules, and the minority can picket and whinge as much as they like, it won't stop the powers that be from doing what they deem necessary.

That's democracy!

But when you're into having rules, the most all-consumingly important element, is truth.

Truths are the building blocks of facts, facts make up information, and information is carefully weighed out, considered (and generally discarded) when manufacturing a rule.

As with all things in the Universe/Omniverse, what's true for one is very much not true for another. Just ask my girlfriend. We disagree about everything except that we love each other, that's how it is with us. We absolutely cannot see anything else the same way between the two of us, we're just too different (emotionally, experientially, practically, you-name-it). We probably have differing views on what love is also, but for the purpose of my relationship remaining intact, and with a view to me enjoying sex on an ongoing basis, let's not look too deeply there.

So this leaves us in another situation, where all these rules and laws we all have to follow, are handed down to us by a majority who may very well be wrong, within the assumptions they employed to create the information, and the facts, and the truths of the rules. Just because a majority believes it, does not necessarily make a thing correct (like Chinese Communism for example).

"And the different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical, tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and these laws, which are made by them for their own interests, are the justice which they deliver to their subjects, and him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker of the law, and unjust". -Thrasymachus again.

In fact, when it comes to concepts like 'consensus decision making', most intelligent people will find it not only serves to hinder the actual correctness of an action, but that it actually waters down the original intention in the interests of keeping diverse individual consensus decision makers happy, to the point where it is lost completely, and quite ineffective for anything except wasting time, paper, and most often, money. That's where trying to do the right thing by everybody gets you.

So I propose doing the 100% right thing by everybody isn't the best way to get things done, and that instead, trying to maximise the right factor for everyone involved as much as possible is a much cleverer way to handle the problem. Having one set of rules for everyone isn't gonna fly, we need more grey areas than that. We need distinctions and exceptions and contingencies.

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking "this is yet another stupid twat of a first year politics undergrad, crapping on about a topic he has no real experience of outside of textbooks and the occasional anarchist collective picnic".

But you're wrong. This is about sex.

I don't want to change the world, but i do want to change myself.

I don't want to go through life believing my truth is the right truth, with no proof. And in order to obtain the relevant proof, I have to get my hands on rock solid facts. But how to get these facts? How to educate myself with the right facts, to gather information, to build the rules to live by?

Whenever I set out to do something, whether it's rewiring someone's house in 45 degree heat, writing a song, or even getting out of bed in the morning, I tend to ask myself "What's my motivation here?" This comes in very handy because I have the attention span of an amoeba, and it helps to know why I started doing something that halfway through seems utterly ridiculous, and a waste of time and energy (like getting out of bed).

And with this in mind, and the words of doubting Thrasymachus still fresh and crispy, I explore my motivation for doing right. Because as Thrasymachus says, we only really do right (uphold the law) when it suits us, and then only through a fear of being a victim of lawlessness ourselves. Proof? Speed cameras. When we're in a hurry, we (people) speed. It's dangerous, it's wrong, and no one cares (until the fine comes in). Having said that, when we see other people speeding, we're usually none too happy about it, as it puts us ourselves at risk of danger. In short, we are all horrific hypocrites.

Am I purely motivated by a fear of reprisal? No.

So why then? Because I want my world to be a happier and more positive place, not just for me, but for those who I surround myself with. And not merely so they will be nice back, but for the good feeling that comes from living gently. Now, don't get me wrong, when someone steps out of line (as has happened a bit lately), I'm not shy about dressing down those involved, or offering to give them a good old fashioned black eye should they continue. And technically, that's not very "gentle". But it is right, if you see what I mean (and a great motivator, I have found). When people are rude, deceitful, dishonest, or any other kind of shitful, my belief is that it is wrong to stand idly by and let them away with it. It is up to us to educate, support, and guide each other through life, and sometimes, that means intervening and being real, or cracking them one in extreme circumstances. I know I definitely expect the same, if I was flying off the rails. Tough love, ya heard?

And so it's probably important to outline the distinction between 'good' and 'right'.

I have a group on called 'the good guys club'. I am the president and moderator of this club, and its purpose is so guys can get together and discuss issues pertaining to being a good guy in this world at this time. Women aren't members for the simple reason that women don't know how to be guys, just ask Thomas Nagel. We talk about the death of chivalry, and whether or not it is accceptable in this age of the modern empowered woman (supposedly), to hold the door open for a female. We're called the 'good guys club' and not the 'nice guys club', because good does not equal nice, and vice-versa.

Good = Doing the right thing, living by a moral code that impacts on others postively. Thinking about doing right. Standing up for your values. Not being an asshole.

Nice = Being socially welcoming, while not necessarily being real. Nice is a front, not a full body experience. A lot of nice people are weak.

So the distinction is, good is right, and nice is a wishy-washy and potentially fake social grace. That's my take anyway, and seeing as I'm the president of the myspace good guys club, and you aren't, you should bow down to my awesome power and intellect on this one (coherent and logical counter arguments always welcome!) I think if someone is an intolerable asshole, who makes excuses for their bad behaviour instead of trying to compromise, or heaven forbid- do the actual right thing, I reserve the right to unceremoniously dump them from my life, in order to keep life good. It's not nice, but it's my right, and I see no real damage or harm coming from it. They might even wake up and learn something.

So if it's my self appointed duty to support the people around me, in good times and in bad (contingent on their ongoing effort to contribute in a good way also), and to be honest when it's hard, and to be hard when it's necessary. And I seek to do this, because it feels better to do it than not. It feels like if life is actually for anything, and so far there's no real evidence that it is, then it's for living well, and making this big shared experience as enjoyable as possible for all concerned. Not out of some fear of reprisal, but out of another human concept that exists nowhere else in nature- decency. In Australia we call it "a fair go". This means we all have to make allowances for the differences between us, but generally act in a way that maximises our enjoyment, while minimising any detracting power over anyone else's.

We only get one shot at life, and it's not much fun when every one else is pissed off and/or miserable. So, as Jon Bongiovi sang in 'Livin' on a Prayer' - "We'll give it a shot". Or we should.

So the facts as I see them are that the more generally happy people are, then the more good things get. Happiness and goodness are inextricably linked concepts, unless you are a sadist or Napoleon. So in order to up the goodness levels, it is important to promote happiness within the largest amount of people possible. And the best way to get this off the ground is to work from an attitude of common decency, where everyone treats one another the same. Not as a law, but as a way of living, a free choice, a choice made from an educated and informed perspective. Making allowances. Meeting halfway. Swallowing pride. Leaving room for concessions. And most importantly, being honest.

It is often said that being truly honest is a dangerous thing, and to a certain extent I agree. A lot of people "...can't handle the truth!", and so it damages them. But I have found that the more determined to be real you are, the more determined you are to actually see things as they are, and to leave your ego and expectations and desires and childish wants at the door, the better equipped you will be to see the truth, and to like it. My girl and I have this crazy thing where neither of us has secrets from each other. We're both serial confessors, and so we tell each other everything. And while at the beginning it was scary to tell someone you love so much about who you really are, what you really think, and even what I have actually done, after a while the fear of telling/hearing leaves, and is replaced by trust and even more love. It has been really hard to hear about some of the experiences she has had in her life, I have felt some horrible jealousy and inadequacy. And I know she feels the same. But having to confront the truth of it all, means you're forced to deal with it, and because we're both good people who have all the time in the world to talk to the other, we just got over it all. Why? Because the biggest truth of all has been the totally unbeatable love that has grown from and replaced the fear and the pain and the jealousy. The reality is, no matter how good things may have been before, we have each other NOW, and nothing from the past is relevant unless we bring it with us and make it so. I can't be jealous or threatened by something that happened three years ago, not when we spend every second we can together. And while logic dictates that what I just said is true, feelings have an amazing capacity to over ride common sense, and make us hurt over essentially nothing. Because we want to punish ourselves on some level, or justify our insecurity, or whatever.

Whoever said that telling the truth all the time is a bad idea was spineless.

Telling the truth is the right thing to do, hiding ourselves is not.

So come out all of you. Show yourself. Be yourself. Live this life thing for a while. And try to be good and right and real.

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.