Over the course of 10 years, as I tried to make sense of the religion I had left (Mormonism) and why I had believed much of it in the first place, I began to deconstruct the very notion of belief and knowledge, starting with the foundational question “what can we know?”
That process gave me a lot of insight into how to change my own life, but also how to understand why many friends and family even refused to engage me in meaningful conversations about the changes I was experiencing. “Knowledge” in a community such as Mormonism has more to do with social standing than it does with facts and figures. And, now that I was outside of the community, I had nothing to offer them.
The understanding of this made my transition into politics easier. The same principles apply in partisan debates. We tend to martial facts that support our position, and our position tends to be crafted to ensure our acceptance within our tribe.
This article explains more of this: How Politics Makes Us Stupid
Alan Turing was perhaps one of the greatest minds the human race has ever known. He transformed the way we think of systems, and is often referred to as the father of computer science. But even now, in death, he is helping us to analyze a different kind of system, the system of human governance.
Alan Turing was convicted of the crime of being a homosexual. The punishment for that crime led to his taking his own life. Many now understand how egregious such conviction was, and have worked hard to change the laws around homosexuality. We are witness to one of the great advances in human rights as the system of democratic pluralism is leading the way in recognizing the fundamental right to the free expression of sexual orientation.
Human institutions make mistakes. Recently, the Queen of England granted Turing a Royal Pardon. I’m glad to see this action taken. There are many acts that our Government has taken, much more horrific even than this, for which we have yet to make amends.
Most important is to learn the core lessons of such mistakes, and to implement changes to the system of government to avoid similar mistakes going forward. Alan Turing is a hero; we honor his sacrifice by learning and applying the lessons.
“Nearly 60 years after his death, Alan Turing, the British mathematician regarded as one of the central figures in the development of the computer, received a formal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II on Monday for his conviction in 1952 on charges of homosexuality, at the time a criminal offense in Britain.” New York Times
This is as predictable in the newly blessed as it is dangerous to them.
The faith of such individuals can cause them to cling so tightly to their knowledge they fail to recognize it as a key. This key, depending on which side of the door they choose to use it in, can seal them into a small box, or open them to an ever expanding world of wonder.
Are you a supporter of basic Human Rights? Do you bristle at racial or sexual inequality? Do you believe in the basic principles of human dignity? If so, great! But, do you also realize that human dignity and basic rights include equality of economic opportunity? Economic Equality is as fundamental to human dignity as is racial or sexual equality. Are you fully onboard to fight for this basic human right?
Read more about this here: Makers, Takers, and the Future of American Economics
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other … – Rainer Maria Rilke
Note from Timothy: As a child in the mormon religion, it was drilled into me that absent that faith, life would be meaningless. Again and again I was told that only the eternity of life, immortality, would imbue the existence of this life, my life, with importance. That only the hope of heaven could assuage the pain of death and loss. For many years, I accepted this notion, simply because everyone I knew and loved told me it was so.
Later, however, upon leaving my religion, I found a different formulation of value. I found that the lack of certainty in my own immortality gave increase to the value of each day, each new friend, and each new experience. I had found that my joy had been amplified.
As I look back upon that time, as I have fewer and fewer conversations with those who are still within the faith of my childhood, it strikes me that they have yet to allow themselves to mourn for the losses that have and will occur in their lives; and absent that mourning, they are unable to accept anew and fully the emergence of new beauty, new love, new truth. By refusing to let that which we love perish, we miss the opportunity to experience it as it is, in its true nature. And in this way, we lose the value of everything. Freud had found the same idea.
Not long ago I went on a summer walk through a smiling countryside in the company of a taciturn friend and of a young but already famous poet. The poet admired the beauty of the scene around us but felt no joy in it. He was disturbed by the thought that all this beauty was fated to extinction, that it would vanish when winter came, like all human beauty and all the beauty and splendour that men have created or may create. All that he would otherwise have loved and admired seemed to him to be shorn of its worth by the transience which was its doom.
Choose wisely who you debate. Some of their ideas will mingle with your own, and thus change you. Therefore, debate only with those people and those ideas that merit your respect even when you may not agree with them.
…I will not let go. I cannot agree with the Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment.
I wonder at the value of internal peace and tranquility. While I understand that many seek after such, what value is this in a world that will always require engagement? Where children are hungry and homeless. Where wars rage. Might not a feeling of discontent be a sign of an engaged life, where one recognizes that there is work to be done, work which can break hearts? Perhaps tranquility should not be the highest goal.
THIS conversation is one that we should be having. We need to question what our own “democracy” and economic policies are creating.
Honest disagreement, open to real discussion, can energize a relationship, even where there are stark differences. But that can only happen in the context of arguing for an open philosophy that recognizes difference as natural, fundamental (e.g. democratic pluralism). But when you argue for and from a position of closed philosophies, a position that doesn’t recognize the validity of difference (e.g. most religious belief, platonism), then disagreement is always destructive.
My good friend Christopher Ryan, Author of the book Sex At Dawn, decided to interview me for his podcast Tangentially Speaking. It is a wide-ranging conversation covering sparkling water, nitrous oxide, political consulting, Mormonism, strip clubs, the war on drugs, revolution, and murses (man-bags, European carry-alls). Take a listen.
“Two studies released last week confirmed what most of us already knew: the ultra-wealthy tend to be narcissistic and have a greater sense of entitlement than the rest of us, and Congress only pays attention to their interests.”
This is an amazing conversation; perhaps the pinnacle of modern sexual morality presented by seasoned voices of reason.
The mating and social behavior of animals is of particular interest to humans. In our effort to understand the animal kingdom, we classify and document behaviors and traits, labeling a species as either “this” or “that”. Leaving aside a Western or religious understanding of monogamy as lifelong and exclusive pair bonding, there are animals that tend toward monogamy (3-5% of the animal population) and animals that do not.
At best, these classifications give us approximations. Not every species fits nicely into categories, and individual members of a given species may behave differently than the norm. These qualifications aside, we’re comfortable taking a 30,000 foot view of animal behavior and classifying them accordingly.
We tend to wear blinders, however, when looking at ourselves, the human animal. It is, perhaps, simply bias that prevents us from studying ourselves in the same way we do birds and bees.
Check. Check. Fold. Fold. Check. Fold. Fold.
Bet small and lose on a weak hand. Just to show we’re willing to play. Just to be in the game.
Fold. Fold. Check. Fold. Waiting for anything worth the risk. Drinking. Playing. Tempting. Patience.
The cards come, eventually, but without guarantee.
Black Ace. Red Lady.
This. Temptation. The game begins. A big bet up front, just to see who stays, who leaves.
Cards flipped. Some help. Some hurt. Small bets. Fake confidence. Feign weakness. Push. Pull.
“All in,” she says. Question called.
You sat at the table. You ordered the free drinks. You traded sarcasm and banter. Tipped the dealer for luck. But, you didn’t sit at the table for these things.
All in? In a flash, you decide. You’re here to play. Risk.
Poker can be lost to greed or boredom. Sometimes we play because we’re tired of waiting. Sometimes we reach for too much too soon. Sometimes we sit at the table out of loneliness, letting our chips dwindle in small, predictable donations.
But, sometimes, knowing the odds, we choose to play.
“All in” I hear the words echo in my head. I feel myself push the chips. Time slows, cards revealed.
Win? Lose? Neither matters. Eventually, you’ll experience both and more.
What matters is that you sat at the table.
You played the game.