2020-04-13 | Subject | Is it Worth it?
Dichotomies are dangerous. First off, they illustrate a limitation of cognition. There can be three or three thousand or three billion teams in various interactive flows. With that in mind, I'd like to lay out a dichotomy that makes sense to me, that balances my own pessimism.
It is OK to be pessimistic about predictions or the perceived right action that is being subscribed to en masse. It is OK to believe that our global socio-economic-environmental system will collapse. I've written about the idea of 1 over X that forms a barrier between the present and the future, between now and after collapse. The dichotomy that makes sense, is that work and action are either intended for now, or on the other side of 1/X.
What we do is relevant to one side or the other. Normally what we do, since we can't really imagine the other side of 1/X, is we focus on this side. This is depressing. It may be motivating, but it is depressing. Why am I keeping myself from human contact with social distancing, if there will be other waves of infection? If there is no way to turn back the climate triggers and the arctic ice melts, triggering more positive feedback loops, then why do my efforts matter? What if I die tomorrow? What if my ideas of a persistent soul are incorrect? There are many variations of this.
One approach to 1/X is faith - having faith in some form of right action, usually preached on this side, even though it relies on a particular form of reality on the other side of 1/X. There are also general platforms of action and belief, like the Three Jewels of Buddhism or the Sermon on the Plain. These are probably decent benchmarks for action, but they don't fit well into the idea of work. Work might be art, or it might be your job.
One pitfall to dichotomies is that the teams mean different things to different people. So far, I've been general enough to avoid this, and I want to keep it that way. Everybody's version of 1/X is different, and there are likely many shapes, sizes and types, some concentric, some intersecting, and some disjoint. Think about your own 1/X. What is it that you can't see past that serves some form of relation with your work?
Start asking questions about your work. Would I be doing this if I do not have a persistent soul? Would I be doing this if the human population of the planet falls to 1 billion people in the next century? Would I be doing this if I have to stay holed up at home again next year with another round of disease? Would I be doing this if Jesus was a Mushroom? Would I toss the ring into the fires of Mount Doom if the Shire is destroyed regardless of what I do? Many of these ideas have devastating implications for our typical scaffolding of self and our work.
Split up every question into the dichotomy of now and after 1/X. When the work, the action, the belief is consistent between the two, then you have learned something quite priceless about your work, something that is on a firmer foundation than, say, kindness. Again, it is probably a bad idea to go against platforms of right action. That alone can take a lifetime of learning to become better and better at. Kindness is a worthy rule, but sometimes work seems more like a Buckdancer's Choice, so try and find work that aligns on both sides of the dichotomy. Likely, whatever your exact take is, you will be wrong, so make sure you take that into account too. Don't bake in extra 1/X fallacies trying to solve for the commonality in the 1/X dichotomy.control identity church civilization jesus
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2018-11-25: Other Voices
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2011-02-13: Bros K and a few IPAs
2010-03-19: Implosion and Explosion
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2009-09-28: Top of the Church
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