Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Be the change you want to see in the world. . .

That's been my mantra from the start.

First, I've certainly realized early on that as we as a culture move through our predicted "revaluation of all values" there would be a great deal of social confusion. And confusion there certainly is: not a single pillar of our social values has remained unshaken--roles of friendship, partnership, family, responsibility(if any) to others, to society, to mankind--relationships between children and parents, parents and children, business, employer/employee relationships. . .if we look, most every relationship involved with human life has in the last 20 years taken a large step into the unknown and has been left on questionable ground. Most of us simply don't know where we stand. All too often what passes for "appropriate" behavior within society has come down to a personal selection of the most advantageous broken pieces of our social mores--advantageous to the "me" involved, and everyone else can take a hike.

That's sensible to a degree, and there's something to be said for the integrity of the Ayn Randian non-altruistic midset, as, we must admit, that's really how most(if not all) people really do behave. Maybe the only difference between ethical behavior and unethical behavior at the core is simply honesty: it's all about me, and if I admit that and play straight up about that, I'm ethical--if I lie about that fact, I'm not. Of course it's really not advantageous to be honest about that.

Who cares--does it really matter?

This morass is the reason I've abandoned such musings in the last couple years, and have discarded the terminology of "ethical" for "constructive." The trouble with "ethics" as a study is that it assumes there is a higher good from the start. Of course, that's indefensible. Constructive, however, as a value, only assumes that you indeed consciously and effectually move towards that you have chosen(arbitrarily) to pursue. Once you make this assumption, you discover many "values" cannot be constructive ultimately, because they're self-defeating. For example, one might decide purposely and deliberately to be the worlds greatest alcoholic. Sure, go for it. While I can't argue that there is some value in becoming the greatest anything, unfortunately the activity itself will defeat the end, as you'll die in the process. But, don't take it all too seriously, as that's where we all end up anyway. Still, some concepts, goals, and ideas are greatly more constructive than others.

SO, after all that blather, one of my personal goals has been to personally demonstrate the possibility of living a constructive life in the absence of god. While all the atheistic books have got the press lately, and I certainly laud Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and others for making the notion popular, I've got to say, that topic is pretty tired and among progressive thinkers about 150 years out of date. As well, ultimately, so much of what is published is really baby steps into the realm of the godless universe--and the same crap said early, more or less attempting to keep the same values and inserting "science and reason" for "god" as a first principle. Hume won that argument, didn't he? As far as I'm concerned, he sure did.

An atheist in my definition isn't simply someone who doesn't believe in god. An atheist is someone who knows god doesn't exist and knows that the fact of the absence of god is important.

So, certainly my sailing adventures, my books, and the Oarclub and Sea-Steading projects have been part of this whole affair. The new adventure in Hawaii is as well. Simply put, it's a desperate attempt as an orphan of the universe to wrest some meaning out of the unfathomable, and to breathe life into purpose. No small thing that, but knowing what I'm doing all along makes it all a lot more sensible. . .

1 comment:

Nanette said...

Just for interest read "The Closing of the Western Mind; The rise of faith and the fall of reason" by Charles Freeman if you haven't seen it already.