Monday, August 30, 2010

Why the World is Worth Saving

One of the things that peeves me the most, even more than the people who are convinced that the world is doomed to inevitably suffer apocalyptic calamity no matter what anyone does, are the people who think that this would be a good thing, the people who think that the world is a despicable cesspool that is not even worth the consideration of saving.

Now, a strong concern for the future of the world is very reasonable, healthy in fact. It means that you know that even the best plans or intentions can go horribly wrong, that things can blow up in your face when you least expect it, and that in the blink of an eye, you can find yourself cruising merrily along in a handbasket, on a direct course for hell. Being convinced that the world is not worth saving, however, is absolutely ridiculous.

First, the whole notion that the world is going to hell in a handbasket and there's nothing anyone can do is flat out BS. As a whole, the world is a far, far better place than it was at any other point in history. Sure, there's still a lot of problems left in the world, and the up-trend hasn't been a constant straight line, month-to-month, year-to-year, and decade-to-decade things make it jiggle around, but the overall trend has been a sharp parabolic curve upwards in the last 3-500 years. We've got problems, some of them old some of them new, but the world has always had problems and challenges. It's not an easy place, this universe we live in. We've overcome so many, and made great strides in so many more, that to suggest that we could never possibly overcome the problems of today or tomorrow is ludicrous.

People who are convinced that the world isn't worth saving need to be smacked upside the head. With something very big and heavy. There is so much that humanity has done, so much that this glorious civilization has accomplished, all while bootstrapping itself up from less than the Stone Age, and so much that humanity might yet do that anyone who thinks that all of that should be wiped away is either utterly blind and deluded, or a sadistic sociopath.

Humanity has achieved so much. Humanity has created so much beautiful art and music and literature, of all types and all grades. From Mozart to this week's Top 40s Countdown. From the Mona Lisa to a preschooler's crayon scribbles. From Homer to Homer Simpson. These alone are of incalculable value, nevermind the sculpting of the world and the very stars themselves that humanity will produce and be capable of in the future. Great monuments on Mars. A sculpture the size of a small planetoid. The Mona Lisa recreated in perfect detail, in the molecules on the head of a pin.

Humanity is so depraved, people say, bent on war and destruction and sadism. Conflict is a part of nature, it was bred into humanity as a survival mechanism, and humans are hardly the only species to enjoy the pain of others. Nature is full of sadists and sociopaths. Yet they do not dominate, and they do not dominate humanity. Conflict and war has dominated much of human history, but that is merely an extension of natural instincts into a civilized world, and humanity has already taken tremendous strides in overcoming that. Genocide is universally regarded as a crime by all but the worst people in the worst corners of the world, when even only a few hundred years ago it could have been floated as an option without anyone blinking. Rape and child molestation and abuse are considered crimes the world over, with only the most backwards of places not recognizing them as wrong, and even then only under select circumstances. Basic human rights, and civil rights for all men and women have made vast strides in the last 300 years. They still have a long way to go, of course, but so much has already been achieved.

Humanity still has a long way to go, for sure; human civilization is still far from adulthood, but humanity has already made it through childhood, well into adolescence, and all on their own, bootstrapping themselves up without any parent or patron to help them or guide to direct their path. To say that humanity is not worth saving, not worthy of continued existence and growth, is like saying that a newborn child abandoned in the wilderness that not only raised itself all on its own, but produced the likes of Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor at age 9, is not worthy of continued existence.

Our great civilization of this world has accomplished so much, through so much hardship and strife, from literally nothing. It is absolutely incredible. If humanity accomplished nothing more, if our civilization were to end tomorrow, it would have been more than worth it all, and it would be the greatest tragedy of our entire civilization. For frak sake, we have put people on the moon! We have put self-guided robots on Mars! We have created music and poetry and art that moves the very soul. We regularly build today great, sky-scraping towers and other marvels of engineering that rival the Pyramids. Hell, humanity built the Pyramids. In its infancy. The vast wonders of the universe lay at humanity's fingertips, lay at our entire civilization's fingertips, and we have created and spawned so much, and we haven't even begin to scratch the surface of humanity's potential in the great, wide universe.

To say that none of it all is worth continuing, makes humanity worthy of existence, of survival, is insanity.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Laptop Ordered!

Ordered my new laptop that is my birthday present to me. Would have actually ordered it on my birthday, but the roommate is still behind on rent... But it's ordered now,and it's a sweet laptop for a sweet deal, and it should be here in a couple days. -squee-

Oh, and Newegg threw in a free backpack/case with a combo (they actually gave me a $20 discount to combo with a $19.99 backpack, so they actually paid me to take it...), which is cool 'cause free stuff is always awesome, and I can use it if my current bag isn't big enough, or as a spare. Newegg is awesome like that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gloomy Beginnings

Feeling rather gloomy and depressed today, so I ramble on the great danger of the world. Cue severe nighttime thunderstorm for classic storybook effect, and we're off on a grand adventure.
How can we overcome the authoritarian mindset that plagues our world, dominated civilization for 99% of human history, and threatens again to collapse all that we have built up since the dawn of the Enlightenment?

Not the drive of people to obtain authoritative power; those are relatively few, and fewer still who are both capable of and have the opportunity to seize that kind of power and influence, and they are ultimately powerless in and of themselves.

No, it is the willingness of the masses to submit themselves to their chosen authority unquestioningly, based on heritage, in-circles, and a refusal or inability to watch for their own self-delusions and comforting self-deceptions, and counter them. THAT is the plague of our time, and what has granted tyrants and dictators, petty and great, power throughout history. In-group tribalism, a rejection of facts and evidence and rational evaluation in favor of preferred rhetoric, mystic voodoo and arcane magic, 'just so' stories, and meaningless vagaries that sound impressive but say nothing at all.

It comes with an overly-glorified nostalgic view of the past, a longing to return to the 'grand old days' of yore, and a rejection of change, which is both inevitable and necessary. The idea that the future can only be better if we return to the glory of a fallen past, or if some grand higher power gives it to us in reward. The idea that WE can never make things better, never do truly great and marvelous things without always messing them up. It comes with a focus on the infallible fallibility of man.

It rejects reason and the processes of science, the methods that have given us such learning and brought us to the grand and glorious heights we have today, far beyond the reach of all of human history before today combined. It rejects what can be proven, consistently, irrefutably, right before its eyes, in favor of comforting denial, and karmic mysticism.

It is heavily rooted in tribalistic tendencies that have been bred into humans for countless millennia, a collective group-think, and self-reinforcing in-circles. It focuses on shamanistic gurus and feudalistic rulers, often glorifying feudal lords and magicians. Fear and paranoia are key tools in spreading and maintaining it. It creates an 'enemy', part of the 'out group' that threatens the target's 'in group', the small- and large-scale social structures that people are a part of and/or identify with, an implacable enemy that is utterly evil, and must be fought without compromise.

This is called Authoritarianism. In religion, it manifests as Fundamentalism (and it is not always radical or extremist). It is regressive, barbaric, feudalistic, and the mortal enemy of enlightenment and of enlightened civilization, OUR civilization.

I fear for our future, not because of how we could fail, but of all the grand and glorious things we can achieve, will achieve, and how all of it could yet be robbed from us.