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One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche

  November 10, 2008

Non-partisan reality

To cheer for a sports team requires a type of madness best seen in perspective when someone is cheering for a television simulation of teams accumulating points for manipulating a ball in a prescribed manner. A fan cheers for "their team", chosen arbitrarily, often by accidents of proximity, and takes pride in steadfast loyalty regardless of victory or defeat.

Most people are the same way with all of their opinions and beliefs. They support a particular religion, political party, morality, and social cause not for logical reasons, demonstrated benefit, or from deep consideration, but because they once chose that opinion and remain attached to it even when it has disproven itself with repeated failure.

It is not fair to excuse this as ignorance because the perpetrator is typically well informed about the failure and the large expense incurred to produce that failure despite the best wishes of all participants. One need only to look at pseudo-debates between warring factions to see the foundation of dysfunction. The opportunity for learning and informative discussion exists, but is overtaken by people defending their dogma -- not for the sake of protecting or clarifying the dogma, but to affirm their personal investment in it.

If confronted for a rational explanation of sustained support for a failed system, the cheerleader typically answers that the actor was not a true believer (whether Christian, Communist, Republican, etc) or the system itself was not a pure manifestation of the ideal that the cult's inventor once imagined. And yet the one true representative of their faith cannot be pointed to because he has not yet existed -- but if he ever does then his pure system will surely be validated with a positive result. Just wait, pray, and keep faith! By proposing an impossible case as necessary, they build an infinite arsenal of excuses for avoiding reality.

Recognizing the fallibility of every system and acknowledging their often significant shortcomings allows one to avoid being a cheerleader and to instead make useful any of the few positive aspects within a system by divorcing them from the failing whole. Test all things, and take freely anything that stands true and sturdy when firmly battered and doubted. Take care not to believe what sounds good in theory but has proven false in practice. Experiment freely, but consider the cost and impact of experimentation.

No system has a monopoly on truth and no single system has ever prevailed. If you loyally cheer for a failure, you dishonor life by advocating what does not work. Instead you could look for answers that might not be easy or have devoted obsequious fans, but are actual solutions.


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