It’s All Going to Hell!

Really, the day the earth tilted.
Really, the day the earth tilted.

 

No, it probably isn’t.

I’m fond of toying with the following aphorism:

[important]In your life, things are never as good as they seem. But things are never as bad as they seem either.[/important]

 

It keeps me buoyant if matters look grim, and in check when everything’s hunky-dory. It falls neatly into the philosophy of “change is coming, for better or worse”, which can be either cock-eyed optimism or self-defeatist gloom depending upon your mood.

The key, in my opinion, is understanding that we never know what’s around the corner. Although our minds fool us into thinking we are aware of all the inputs to our lives, there is no way that’s possible. Imagine that your life is like floating down a river in one of those big inflatable tubes. You can see where you’ve been recently, and more or less where you’re going. But the water all around you hides rocks and currents and eddies and pools and fish and all kinds of things, things over which you have no control.

Only your attitude towards the river and its surprises – good and bad – is within your control. Everything else will be as it will be. Be reassured that around the next bend is something you never thought of, despite all your planning and dreaming. How that affects you is entirely determined by how you look at it, not by the thing itself.

No, the the ocean liner isn’t actually falling off the earth, despite the evidence.

Don’t BS Me

Contemplating something different.
Contemplating something different.

Selling is change.

You want to sell me something, you need to change me in some way. My view of myself or those around me will alter, there must be a clear benefit, or you’ll provide me with new information. Sometimes I’m prepared for change. Sometimes I’m looking for an answer to information I found on my own. And sometimes I have a problem for which I have yet to find a solution. When I have any of these mindsets, I’m primed to be sold to.

However, if I do not have a need, do not have a problem, or am ignorant of the facts you want me to know, I’m a more difficult prospect. Your job is to find a way to pique my interest, garner my attention, and help me understand. But I’m like most people, I’m overwhelmed. Advertising has OPUDed* me all my life. I’m cynical. I trust what I trust, and have built a solid wall around my likes, my dislikes and my biases. Cross the moat around my castle at your peril.

I don’t want BS. I want first to trust you, then to understand you, and then to – maybe – give you room to tell me what you’re peddling. Otherwise, leave me alone.

Sound familiar?

 

* Overpromisedunderdelivered

Child Protection

The light-shedding value of information.
The light-shedding value of information.

 

Let’s not kid ourselves here, better living though chemistry is not an unalloyed good. Sure, some industrial and domestic chemicals are good. Less happily, others are not.

I draw your attention to this article from Time: Children Exposed to More Brain-Harming Chemicals Than Ever Before.

The (attention grabbing but not over-the-top) subtitle is: A new report finds the number of chemicals contributing to brain disorders in children has doubled since 2006.

It’s easy to dismiss this kind of thing as not applicable to your family, or just too hard to counter. But here’s the thing; the number one way in which you can improve your child’s environment is to ditch your standard supermarket cleaning and personal products. Changing to, for instance, the products that I represent will materially impact the nature of chemicals your young one will ingest.

It really is that simple, and the consequences are really that important.

Rights and Responsibilities

Should have heeded those navigation markers.
Should have heeded those navigation markers.

 

Baffling as we humans are, there are ways to understand who we are. Look for motivations, listen to the form of words, watch what people do. There are hints in everything we do. Action, to my mind, is the most important thing – what people do will trump what they say, but we can use the peripheral stuff to complete the picture.

I’m pretty much a libertarian when it comes to individual behavior. You have the right to do anything short of theft and punching me in the nose. Your actions are your choice until they impinge upon someone else’s abilities to similarly self-express. I don’t bother you, you don’t bother me.

Unfortunately, the line at which we start and stop to negatively influence or hurt other people isn’t clear. Take drugs for example. I have been astonished at the level of drug use (pot, mostly) amongst people I know. Not working people, but the semi-retired/chronically underemployed folks that Florida attracts. I happen to think that you have the right to do with your body what you will. There are, however, some important caveats. The most important of those is if you have minor children. If you have minor children, do you recognize the critical – critical – nature of role modeling that being a parent entails? How can you possibly expect your child to make a mature judgement about drugs when you are out there getting bent? And don’t think they don’t know, because they do.

The obvious point here is that the right to do dopey things must be matched with an equal amount of responsibility. Drinking and driving steps over that line, a choice that makes your right to drink more important than the danger you create on the road. This is a classic case of favoring your choice over those of others, and thereby putting them at risk. It’s wrong.

Likewise your example to your kids. You are responsible for doing everything possible to make your children the least burden upon society that they can be, for now and until their death. Showing them that, heck, escaping reality with a few doobies is okay abrogates that responsibility. In a giant welfare state like the one in the US, you are risking having the rest of us deal with all the problems that come with drug use. If someone is unable to balance the right to toke with the cost of doing so, the rest of us have to take up the slack. That infringes my freedoms because governments take money from me to deal with the consequences of wasters and junkies. This fails the ‘punching me in the nose’ test.

Boys, especially are a problem. It seems agreement exists that males don’t fully mature until they’re around twenty-five years old. If your boy is fifteen and you’re getting high, that’s ten years of modeling your behavior that they get. That’s a very, very difficult ideation to unwind.

Well dad enjoys some herb, why can’t I?

My own example is a good one. My father and mother drank every day. They did nothing to stop me drinking from age fifteen onwards. Doing otherwise would have been epic hypocrisy, and in any case, they clearly didn’t care about it. So I drank to excess a lot in my first fifty years, masking the (good and bad) realities of life, because I thought that’s what adults did. Nowadays my vices extend to a weekly muffin with my coffee and the occasional burger, and I deal with life as it comes.

Here’s the wider point: the libertarian point of view works only when adults accurately weigh the upside and downside of their actions. It’s clear to me that most people aren’t worthy of the privilege of assuming that’s the case, and therein lies the problem. If we as adults aren’t living up to the requirements of freedom of choice, what hope for the kids?