Progress through Comparisons

The ability to work through your own mental comparisons about the world is useful. It helps you with growth and understanding. Comparisons are inevitable. A good comparison can aid action, the very movement of muscles. Do you touch the hot stove top or put a wet hand on a frozen pole? Comparison helps you know what is helpful vs harmful. Niklas Goeke takes on comparisons with others in his article, Self-Improvement Has Made Me Worse. He does a great job in showing that how you interpret your comparisons can impact emotional well-being. He explores this by looking at the movie, Superman vs Batman. Some of his conclusions are sad but true and can be food for thought in calibrating our sense of the world in light of the quest to improve.

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The Real Wild Wild West Takes Time to Talk About

A good article about the Netflix series Godless. The author talks about the difference in how the American West was glorified in the past versus spoken about more soberly in the present. I have not watched the series, but the author’s description of the series makes spurs interest in the production. It seems the series attempts to present a more realistic context for the time of the American West. I probably will not watch it however, though I’ve learned much from the article describing the series. A movie like Godless reminds me of another movie by the title The Revenant. The acting is superb, the filming is compelling, but the content can be quite disturbing. There are some things you just don’t want to see but if Godless is your cup of tea, it may contain useful insights about how the world is they way it is.

American Dream is Not Important

What if you did not need to wear a fancy suit everyday, drive a Tesla, or have a big house, or live with all the trappings of success to live well? Once you gain all those things, once you attain the top promotions on a job, and live in highly polished, curated environments, what then? After you gain all the things the world says you should have, what then?

That is one of the questions of existence. By the way there is nothing wrong with having any or all of the things I listed. The problem is “being defined by those things” as the meaning of one’s life. What is the meaning of the American Dream anyway? The idea of the American Dream has been around since near the middle of the 20th Century. In many ways, it is “somebody else’s dream” that you inherited, but it does not have to be your dream.

When you are poor, at or on the verge of homelessness, or have a history of financial struggle, yes, the American Dream seems like welcome salvation. Being poor or financially starved can be very painful when your car breaks down or you are one layoff away from losing your apartment. After walking 10 miles to a Wal-mart carrying a heavy but dead car battery in 35 degree weather in hopes of getting a free warranty replacement, and having to walk back, the American Dream never seemed so warm and inviting.

What is the American Dream? The answer is the American Dream is a materialist vision in which all your physical needs are addressed. What the American dream lacks however, is “meaning” in the lives of people. I started thinking about that as I read Nitin Nohria’s article, The Lines That Divide America. The author talks about how we all “stand in this line” like at a supermarket and at the end of the line waits the American Dream. If we move through the line in the right way, we will get the promised American Dream.

Waiting in line is supposed to place people in a situation of fairness. Just go through the line like everyone else and you’ll get your turn. The issue is that lines are never wide enough or long enough to hold everybody. Before you have the line, you got the big parking lot outside. No assigned parking spots. People can arrive in any order and look around randomly before getting in line. The winners got in line first. Reality is more dynamic than that. Life doesn’t always work like that.

In reality, a certain concept like “a line” or “the American Dream” may work for a while before it has to be replaced with a new concept. Part of the issue is one of capacity. More people can shop online than can fit into any one retail shopping center and there really isn’t a line online. The problem there is one of capacity and so it is with the American Dream. The capacity of one concept or system can fall apart leaving those holding out for the promise left with little more than a bag of old ideas.

However, what if you did get all the material things you wanted? What if you had near perfect safety and convenience to get around and had a well governed life? Would you be okay? The problem then is you would want more. Wanting more is inevitable. You now want to go beyond the American Dream. That is essentially one of the issues with attaining the American Dream, it doesn’t solve the issue of satisfaction. That is because the American Dream doesn’t solve the real problem that begins at everyone’s birth.

The real issue is solving the totality of one’s existence. Three dimensions of living existence contends for a person’s attention. Physical, spiritual, and emotional. Not any particular order, but all three has to be addressed. The American Dream comes up short because it deals primarily with the physical and is born of a materialist worldview in which techne can solve physical decay and chaos better than any alternative way of thinking. Techne is effective but not the only path to bolster physical wealth. Meanwhile, whatever you think about the primacy of techne, the spiritual and emotional dimensions get shortchanged as the diefication of techne can never match the systems of thought that predate it.

That is why the American Dream is not important because it is one of 3 dreams that needs better consolidation. The American Dream is like that dream you are having as your getting ready to wake up, but it is not the real dream you have during the majority of your sleep cycle. When you awake, maybe the American Dream is what you remember most, maybe not, but you are quite sure it is not the full story.

A Royal Union to Announce the Greatness of Love

Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle is a great testament to love. When two people are in love, their union amplifies their love and adds that more powerful love to the world. I’ve observed the British Royals most of my life as knowledge of UK history and earlier was part of my upbringing. This decade has seen elder royals stake out positions that express a heightened evolution in thought about people’s life on this planet. Now, the next generation are leading the way with their hearts. As it is said, ‘Dreams do pay off’: Black women cheer royal engagement and this may a dream that reveals the possibilities for humanity’s future.

A Look into Thomism

Until recently, I was a proponent of Thomism. I like it, but change is needed. A solid article from 2013 shed light on the deficiencies in Thomism. The line of reasoning is easy to follow and well supports the conclusions. 

In deciding between echoes vs essence, clearly essence is superior and fully intuitive across cultural experiences. Circumstantially, there is a First Cause. Subsequent to that are the innumerable effects of that Essence. An essence that can be accessed chiefly … in silence.

Data Breach Notification

Good news, the possibility looms in legislation for people to know with certainty and immediacy when personally identifiable information about them has been spilled into cyberspace. People need to know if information about them has left the stewardship of an organization they’ve trusted. This will improve people’s barometer on the trustworthiness of digital tools they use. Further, it will build better caution about the risks of certain online tools and technologies. Meanwhile, people can have a much earlier heads up to prepare for the potential fallout when their identity is misapplied in commerce, social media, and other transactions.

Persons critique the new effort has putting too small a cap on class action awards that involve data breaches. I think that the size of the cap is irrelevant to the matter that there was a breach in the first place. A positive financial award doesn’t recover an identity or even resolve the damage that spans beyond the financial. Instead, what is important is that notification exists which will, in turn, create its own network effect that determines the likelihood of the continued use of certain digital services or practices. Large companies with their huge treasuries can survive breach notification but private individuals facing a myriad of life issues hardly have any tools to stay afloat without it.