“It is unfortunate when people say ‘this is the only way’. That’s the only thing I’ve got against anybody, if they are saying ‘this is the only answer’. I don’t want to hear about that. There isn’t just one answer to anything.”
– John Lennon
You will have to excuse this blog. It is merely me trying to reason out a philosophical issue in my mind. I find it far easier to reason out a problem, if I am writing it down. That is the purpose of this blog. You may disagree with me, and you may think i’m talking nonsense. That is fine. It is your prerogative to do so.
I often hear the Western World referred to as the ‘civilised World’. I’d have to disagree profoundly with that statement, because there are so many contradictions between the way we live, and the idea of a civilised World; Education, to create a workforce rather than inquisitive minds. Laws to punish crime rather than extensive research and investment into the reasons that create the criminals and the solutions for that. Enough food to throw in a bin because we didn’t finish it, yet still not enough to give to the starving. Nation States that need huge aircraft carriers, and nuclear bombs, just incase. People considered “Illegal” because they fled their Country and came here for a better life. When we get past all of that, we become civilised.
What, then, does it mean to be ‘good’? Can we truly consider ourselves ‘good’ morally? I don’t think so. I think we can kid ourselves into believing we are good people. But below the surface, are any of us truly good? I would argue no.
To be ‘good’ is not to follow the law or to conform for the sake of society. That isn’t being good. You are simply living the life created and enforced by someone else. Conforming to a religious ideal, or Patriotism, or a class, or a race, or a certain way of life is simply creating social barriers between you and the ‘other’ which means, creating or perpetuating conflict. If you accept the meaningless barriers, you are part of that conflict. I am part of that conflict. We all know that being part of a Country is to be part of an endless conflict for superiority. As is being part of a religion. It is absurd to call yourself peaceful if you are part of a social barrier. I consider myself British, which I recognise comes with its wall of absurd superiority. Because to recognise myself as British, means I recognise someone else, who in essence is absolutely no different from me, as being ‘other’ simply because he or she is part of a great absurdity that actually doesn’t exist and is just an abstraction. That pointless and empty abstraction has always lead to a state of continual competition and conflict.
I’d argue that by considering yourself part of a great abstraction, you are creating a mass of dividing lines; not just between yourself and the rest of humanity, but between you and what society expects of you. Sixty years ago, the vast majority of the population of the United States would have told you that interracial marriage was a great evil. This is a curious thing, because in 2010, the vast majority would say the exact opposite. Society has its own brain apparently. It would seem that we look to others to tell us what to believe, within the confines of the four walls of our particular society, and then we conform accordingly. It is immensely absurd at all levels. We don’t tend to question this, because we want to be included in this exclusive club that forbids entry to those considered ‘other’. So essentially, ‘good’ is largely, a social construct. We mould our conduct and our way of thinking to suit that construct. We become robots. If we sat down, and observed the thoughts in our mind, as if we were watching through a one way mirror; did not try to suppress the thoughts and ideas that run contrary to societal expectations, only then would we start to recognise who we are, and act accordingly.
We are taught from a very early age to constantly be in conflict. Be like your older brother. Be like the ridiculously intelligent kid in school. Look as attractive as the most attractive kid in school by wearing expensive shoes or branded jeans. Be like the businessman, if you’re not, you’re a failure, and need a boss, because you’re inferior. We are taught not to question the old adage that life is cruel and that we should apparently just ‘get on with it’. By constantly comparing yourself to others, you are ignoring who you actually are, because you are being conditioned to aspire to be like someone else; someone who is not you, in any way. This also cannot be described as ‘good’.
Now, if you believe you are doing ‘good’ because you are religious, or because you are performing an act based on the expectations of society; you are actually just performing a superficial act of goodness, based on the idea that others may think it is virtuous of you. It is not truly ‘good’. You are not acting according to your own individual, subjective view of the word ‘good’.
One of the issues I have, is with education. It teaches kids not to be wrong. Because to be wrong, is to be punished throughout life. If you are wrong in business, and you lose out, you REALLY lose out. Too much is at stake to be able to afford to be wrong. Which in itself, is a problem. Sir Ken Robinson, a lecturer on education, says that by stigmatising mistakes, and scaring children into trying to always be right, we are educating them out of their creative capacity. They will be scared to be wrong, which means they will be less likely to be innovative and the problem is that it is financially insecure, to dare to be wrong. Robinson points to Picasso, who once commented that all children are born artists, the problem is remaining so as we grow up. We are educated out of creativity, a resource within us that we all have, for purely financial reasons. Forget your creativity, and your longing for an artistic outlet, and focus on being a data administrator for a Company that doesn’t know your name, or pouring drinks for rich people, and a boss who verbally pisses on you every time he opens his vomit-inducing mouth. Robinson states that the problem is that every education system in the World, puts a hierarchy of subjects at it’s very core. Maths is considered more important than music. And so the natural musicians are less likely to discover their creative talent, because they are too busy focusing on a subject they don’t care much for. If they want to learn this craft, they better be rich enough to afford a private tutor. Robinson says that we are teaching kids to be their heads, their equation solving selves, their computer analysing, data processing selves and nothing more; we are teaching children that their bodies are just a form of transport for their heads… a way of getting their heads to meetings. The hierarchy is set up, on the grounds that you’ll never get a job if music and art were at the top of the list. And so highly talented, brilliant people will steer away from higher education, because they think they simply aren’t good enough, because they were awful at maths and didn’t care much for science. It is a system created and moulded by industry and commerce, for economic reasons. And so, creativity and innovation crumble away.
A business is no different to a Nation. It isn’t the height of human freedom. If I were to make 10 shirts, at £5 each, I have made £50 for the business. If I know I am paid £25 per shift, is half of the money i’ve made, being taken away from me? I have essentially made the last 5 shirts, for free. Why does my boss get a bit of the money that i’ve made? Why is that different from condemning the tax man? The businessman taxes every employee he has, and instead of it going to improving schools or hospitals, roads or fire service, it goes to buying him a lovely new Porsche. I’m sure the Libertarians among us will attempt to justify this and why it is wondrous. It isn’t. It is manipulative. We are encouraged to be entirely in conflict with other businesses, as well as our colleagues. Back stabbing is rife. Competition breeds violence. It is written inevitable.
True freedom is still considered monetary based. Wages, scarcity, succeed or starve. I’d suggest that is a manipulation of human thought. As is the idea that without monetary incentives, humanity would crumble. I disagree. Human creativity and the desire for self realisation, can drive humanity. But so does compassion. We do not all think like Libertarians. We believe in social structures, and the benefit of a social fund. But if we insist on instilling into the minds of every generation, that a World without money and trade is some great ‘evil’ without it ever actually being tried on any level; then all we get is greed and a weak attempt to justify it. This in turn means that every aspect from life, from school onwards is presented as a competition for survival. And so naturally, the human trait of greed and selfishness is amplified. This isn’t ‘good’ and by not recognising this problem, we perpetuate it by throwing our children onto that very same framework that we all don’t particularly like. So how are we possibly doing ‘good’ by our children? We just accept that ‘such is life’. Why? We are deluded.
And so the conclusion is quite unnerving, and perhaps a little too farfetched for most people, but I would suggest that it is far fetched because we’d prefer to choose not to believe it. I would conclude, similar to the conclusions of the great philosopher Krishnamurti, that to consider yourself to be part of a society, or a religion, or a Nation, or a race; you and I are inherently violent. And that is the great problem of mankind. We segregate ourselves. We might not be violent directly. We might consider ourselves charitable and loving. But through the vicious competitive system that we live in, built on rugged individualism conflicting with each other, and the products we buy, and the abstract unreal associations we put upon ourselves, we are one in a vast World of socially created and perpetuated, vicious conflictions that will never cease until we realise we are part of it and try to change it. Our boys go to war, for what? The average Western citizen will tell you they are fighting for our freedom. What an horrendous miscalculation on their part. How manipulatable can an entire populace be? To be anti-American or anti-religious, or anti-British is not necessarily a bad thing. It is portrayed as a bad thing, because it is damaging to certain interests. There is nothing pro-American or pro-British or pro-Islam or pro-Christianity about the major institutions and businesses that act in their name. We are currently the robotic, unquestioning mouth pieces of those major institutions and businesses. And they fucking love it. These societal barriers can never create a ‘good’. We are part of system that is institutionally violent. But it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. It is a creation. It can be broken. We let it happen. I let it happen. Therefore, I am inherently violent.
‘Good’ is what you perceive to be so, without any outside influence and social barriers.