Timothy

On Bernie, Hillary, Purity and being in Community with We The People…

Ihand-god-worship-sun grew up with an ideologically pure belief system. For years, good/evil were pure concepts for me. Defined by this belief system, I could categorize anyone very quickly, and place them on a neatly defined spectrum.

That all came crashing down, as do many notions of purity, once the reality of the world beats us up a bit.

“Democracy” gets thrown about by all sides in American politics. But for all the accolades we heap upon it, there’s one thing we rarely talk about: Democracy is NOT pure. Pledging to be in community with We The People means pledging to be in community with people you not only dislike, but people you loathe. It means working with those same people in a system of give and take. It means a life-long commitment to compromise and persuasion.

Hillary Clinton is a politician. Of course she has an ideology. But she’s chosen to sacrifice a bit of her purity in order to work in this system. So, when she gets asked about things like gay marriage or even war, she analyzes her answer in terms of what is politically possible. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t have an opinion about what is “right” or “wrong”, but she recognizes that few swords are worth falling on in such a system.

This, to me, is strength of its own kind. This is sacrifice of a particular nature.

You may hate this “system” of governance. But the irony is, absent electing a dictator, absent supporting an authoritarian model of government, there’s no substantive alternative to it.

I don’t “hold my nose” to vote for Hillary, even though my personal political opinions are well to the left of hers; I admire her for the hard work of placing herself in a viable position to help move this Country ever so slightly to the left. Because 3 degrees in the Left direction for the next 8 years is extremely valuable.

Meanwhile…I support Pramila Jayapal for Congress in the 7th. The real work of Revolution is built from the ground up; not the top down.

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We The People: Persuasion, Not Revolution

crookedThe Tea Party on the Right and the Bernie Supporters on the Left frame the dysfunction of government this way:

“The Establishment is ignoring us!”

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way Democracy works. Democracy is, by definition, an averaging of political will. Push. Pull. You hope for two steps forward for every one step backward.

When enterprising politicians promise each side a utopian vision they simply can’t deliver (because math!), the very dysfunction that is decried is increased. The cure becomes the illness.

This is the nature of We The People. Persuasion. Not revolution.

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FDR Wasn’t a Socialist

Bernie Sanders and his campaign are fond of comparing themselves to FDR. They use FDR’s New Deal policies as examples of the socialism they’d hope to implement. But FDR himself denied that he was implementing socialism.

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On Purity and Politics…

old-wood-fence-inspiration-design-21-on-home-gallery-design-ideasInherent in “We The People” is a rejection of purity politics. Democracy requires compromise; otherwise it’s merely authoritarianism. The hard work of our lives is the slow work of convincing our neighbor. There is no other way. There is no short cut.
 
From one of my favorite philosophers, Tony Kushner:
 
“The principle of realpolitik is that politics isn’t an expression of your personal purity. Politics is about compromise. People need to understand that politics is very much a matter of the lesser of two evils, or three — however many evils, but you choose the least evil one.”
 
If you can’t be in community with those you consider to be evil, you most likely can’t be in community within a pluralist democracy. For always there will be disagreement; especially so amongst the purists.

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Election Model, Bell Curve Distributed Ideology

Premise: Where voter ideology is distributed along a bell cure, “Left Center” and “Right Center” candidates are more viable than “Left” or “Right” candidates, producing 1 win or 1 tie compared to 1 tie or 1 loss.

Results from Matchups:
Left or Right Candidates will produce: 1 tie, 1 loss
Left Center or Right Center Candidates will produce: 1 win, 1 tie

Voter Distribution:
(LV) Left Voters = 15%
(LCV) Left Center Voters =  20%
(SV) Swing Voters = 30%
(RC) Right Center Voters = 20%
(RV) Right Voters = 15%

Candidates:

Left | Left Center || Right Center | Right

Election Matchups:

Left Candidate Vs. Right Candidate:
Left Candidate: 100% LV + 100% LCV + 50% SV = 50% (Tie)
Right Candidate: 100% RV + 100% RCV + 50% SV = 50% (Tie)

Left Candidate Vs. Right Center Candidate:
Left Candidate: 100% LV + 100% LCV + 0 % SV = 35% (Loss)
Right Center Candidate: 100% RV + 100% RCV + 100% SV = 65% (Win)

Left Center Candidate Vs. Right Candidate:
Left Center Candidate: 100% LV + 100% LCV + 100% SV = 65% (Win)
Right Candidate: 100% RV + 100% RCV + 0 % SV = 35% (Loss)

Left Center Candidate Vs. Right Center Candidate:
Left Center: 100% LV + 100% LCV + 50% SV = 50% (Tie)
Right Center: 100 RV + 100% RCV + 50% SV = 50% (Tie)

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The first challenge

The first challenge in a life lived honestly is to unravel our own mythology.vines

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Solitude

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Tolerating the intolerant? No.

extreme-weather-climate-link-6-new-zealandTolerance of intolerance violates the law of noncontradiction.

 

It’s common to hear the intolerant attempt to paint the tolerant as hypocrites for not tolerating their intolerance. This is a cheap rhetorical trick that while it convinces nobody, can often confuse an argument. And there’s a strong logical foundation for intolerance of intolerance, especially for a philosophy of tolerance. It’s called the law of noncontradiction; simply stated, it says that you can’t have both “A” and “Not A” at the same time.

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An Obstacle to Progress

I know that most men [people], including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.” — Tolstoy

 

 

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Definition of Intelligence

tumblr_m55842uPRO1qjwbbvo1_500Intelligence: being able to adapt our behavior to challenges.” –Neil Degrasse Tyson in Cosmos.

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The Primacy of Trust

Ftrust_in_me_ii_by_isacg-d4owx38irst, trust. Absent trust, nothing. With trust, the possibility of everything.

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Finding The I in We

The wisdom of age, acquired through experience, is not sufficient to match the wisdom of modernity, acquired through data.

This is the fundamental failure of conservatism. The only way out of this myopic view of the importance of one’s own experience is to love & respect others, recognizing that our experiences are limited to our circumstances.

If you rely primarily upon your own experiences to determine a course of action, you not only limit the freedom of others, you limit your own as well. You are an “n” of 1; much better to find knowledge synthesized from the many than from the one.

This is democracy; not the maintenance of self, but the finding of self through the love & respect of others. “We” the people is our core value.

Through a recognition of the value of we, you more fully realize the value of I.

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Article: How Politics Makes Us Stupid

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

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Alan Turing, Transforming the System of Government

24turing1-popupAlan 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

New York Times: Alan Turing, Enigma Code-Breaker and Computer Pioneer, Wins Royal Pardon

 

 

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The Opportunity & Danger of New Faith

Key & keyhole with lightOne identifying mark of young faith is the idea that those who possess it have found universal truth; that their ideas are equally applicable to and required of all.

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.

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Human Dignity Requires Equality of Economic Opportunity

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

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Destroying Plato’s Theory of Forms

This short video succeeds in destroying Plato’s Theory of Forms, Christianity’s idea of the perfect man, and Mormonism’s Proclamation On The Family. All in under 5 minutes.

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Rilke On The Nature of Two Distinct Beings

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

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On Transcience by Sigmund Freud

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.

Continue reading

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The Chosen Interlocutor

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.

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