People think I’m a radical. And that’s … OK!

Hi Cary,

Something new is happening and I honestly feel like I’m in a corner.

Politically I am liberal. I am also atheist. And I consider myself a very tolerant and accepting person.

I will, for example accept that your favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla, and that you say you love it, while mine is tiramisu. But, if you say vanilla is absolutely, without a doubt the best flavor, not to mention extremely healthy, I feel like I need to call you out on that, because there is no truth to any of that. At best, in your opinion, the best flavor is vanilla, but it’s not an absolute.

In other words, we all have the right to our opinions, but not to our own facts.

But when it comes to ice cream, who cares? Its just ice cream, so I would not say anything. In that scenario I would say something like “Yeah, I like vanilla too sometimes”,  and let it go. Again it’s just ice cream.

But politics is different. Global warming its different. Civil rights is different.

As a harmless example, recently, a member of the family posted a photo of George Washington with a quote that he supposedly said, which was in support of “stand your ground” type gun laws.

With the type of English it was written alone, I knew it was fake. But I did my research anyway, and sure enough, that quote was one of the top-5 fake George Washington quotes being circulated around.

Well, this family member posted it and wrote “Amen, George Washington”.

In other words, it was a kind of endorsement by George Washington. To her, because George Washington said that, it validated her opinion that we should all gave guns.

But of course, it’s a fake endorsement. And to me that is extremely dangerous. Extremely!

So it was the first time I replied … I replied by saying that George Washington did not say that, and I referred her to the sources which confirmed that was true.

She replied by saying that it didn’t matter, because she agrees with that statement anyway.

So I replied by saying that I had no issue with whether or not she agrees with the statement, but rather, I had an issue with her falsely saying George Washington did.

It sends the wrong message. It’s the kind of tactic where people try to rewrite history for political gain. It’s a slippery dangerous slope, etc.

And it ended there. She had no reply.

But since then Ive been called a radical and extremist, and that I am “just like them.”

If someone brings up in discussion a political theme and I disagree with it, I usually try to find the root source and see if it’s true or not. “What if I’m wrong?” I think, but if I’m not, then I say so. But I won’t agree and agree and agree with someone who keeps saying things that are not true.

The more passionate they become, I reciprocate.

Marco Rubio, for example, recently asked on national TV why no one talked about bomb control after San Bernardino. Well, the reason is because we already have bomb control, so it’s not the issue. The lack of gun laws is. But no one called him out on that (not many anyway).

When I brought that up one night with some Republican friends, they called me radical!

What’s worse is that my family, who are like-minded politically, said I was being radical too, that I should just let it go.

And finally, we had set up a lunch date with what would have been new friends. They seem nice enough. But then we found out we are polar opposites on many issues such as politics, religion, even civil rights wise.

But the lunch was cancelled. They couldn’t make it. And I said out loud that maybe that was a sign, even though I don’t believe in “signs”, and that we should just let it be.

Why even start a friendship with these people if we already know we disagree on so many things.

I though I was being pragmatic for both parties. But my wife thinks that’s radical and extreme.

And maybe in a certain way it is, but in this case, is it wrong?

So what do you think? I’ve given some different examples. Maybe you have some advice that broadly applies?

Actually, I’ve been thinking maybe the problem with liberals (at least for the political examples), is that we *should* be more radical. And not such pushovers.

There are no Rush Limbaugh type liberals and maybe we need some?

Maybe you can offer some mechanisms or tricks to keep me from talking at all?

Sincerely,

I-think-I’m-a-radical-but-maybe-that’s-OK?

Dear People Think I’m A Radical,

I suggest you stop trying to talk to people who won’t abide by the most fundamental rules of civil discourse and instead, find meaningful work on issues you care about. Donate money and time to efforts that you think are good. If you can get a job in advocacy or political research, do it.

There is real work to be done.

Seriously. This could be your moment, right here, where you make a big, life-changing decision. It will take work. You will have to begin a five-year or ten-year plan. But I sense that you are fairly young. Pick the issue that is most important to you–global climate change, civil rights, public education, media–and make a commitment to work in that area from now on. You may have to start small. It may have to be a volunteer role and not a job. But if you search your heart for the area that is most vital to you, where you can do some good, and begin your outreach and research in that area, and commit to it, and keep at it, your life will improve. If you begin as a volunteer it may turn into a career. Or not.

Either way, when you hear people talking crazy you can let it go because you know you are doing your part. You can say to yourself that every breath wasted on fruitless conflict is a breath that could be better spent in your chosen field of endeavor.

Get to work. That’s my advice.

But, on a personal note, I will agree that it actually does not seem to matter to a lot of folks whether something is true or not, and I find that disturbing and scary. I find it so disturbing and scary that I have left the country.

The joke is, I left America because the politics were too crazy, and went to Italy.

The wisdom of the system

I just had a weird thought. Weird but lucid. More like a vision.

I just thought, what if we are producing a generation of people who are going to solve the planetary problems we have created? What if the whole system, not just the human race but the planetary system itself, the biosphere, is producing the cure for its ills, in the form of a generation of humans agile enough to use technology to solve our problems, to produce unheard-of and undreamed-of new solutions to global climate change, etc.? What if the strangely nonlinear and collectivist sensibilities of the young are a direct planetary response to its own ills? Like a generation of planet healers? Like an organism producing its own medicine?

What if Gaia knows what medicine it needs?

Is that a preposterous idea? Why is that such a preposterous idea?

I rather like the idea myself: a generation of young people so well-adapted to the machine mind and the collective, networked global consciousness that out of this networked consciousness will emerge technological and social solutions that we can’t see now. We can’t see them because they haven’t been invented yet. But when they are invented they will be so astounding, and yet in retrospect so obvious, that they will take their place among the greatest discoveries of mankind. So far.

Throughout human history, it must have seemed like the end of the world lots of times. Think of what humans have gone through! So maybe scientific progress and technological advancement are a kind of planetary medicine. Of course it’s messy right now. It’s hard to see how it’s all going to work out.

And then my wife Norma said what she doesn’t like is how large tech companies like Apple keep making us buy new things. And I said, yep, they’re making consumers fund their R&D. And maybe it is like that, that we have to do this, for the R&D we’re funding by our global adoption of technological advances is R&D that will eventually save the planet. I don’t mean your iPhone is going to save the planet, or Apple is going to save the planet. But the collective intelligence and problem-solving and visionary genius that all our stupid little technological purchases funds may just be the thing that saves us. That some genius or collection of geniuses, wired into the collective and speedy problem-solving network of computers and agile, imaginative minds, will hit on something unforeseen.

When it happens, if it happens, it probably won’t look like that. The strands of connection will be thin and nearly undetectable, because we will have funded this thing in such a cloud way, such a nonlinear way. But in a sense, every time we buy something we are “throwing money at the problem.” And I don’t see why that should be such a dumb idea. Let’s throw more money at the problem. Let’s throw enough money at the problem that the problem at least notices.

It’s just an idea. It’s the kind of idea that sustains an optimism that some might find foolish. I just think that it’s normal and sensible to expect miracles.