World peace

When I was a little kid, they told us to pray for world peace. Since generally anything else I would pray for was stupid stuff like more candy or a BB gun, I stuck with world peace.

It is such a comforting thought. You’re there ready for sleep, in your comfortable suburban house with parents and pets. You want everyone to be OK and everything to be OK. It’s too much to hope for immortality so you hope for a good life, one not interrupted by terrifying wars and stuff.

What they don’t tell you is that you have skewed your thinking. Instead of thinking “I want to pay attention to the situation and enact the best outcome possible” you’ve said “I’ll ignore the specifics, and apply a general rule: I’m so afraid of war I’ll do almost anything to avoid it.”

This type of thought-reversal is central to all of the failing aspects of modernity. We pick methods, not goals. We pick universals, and ignore what’s in front of us. We live in these comforting notions in our heads instead of paying attention to reality.

And so far, we get away with it, because there’s a huge group of people who will purchase these ideas as surely as they’ll purchase a new vacuum cleaner. They purchase them with friendship, comradeship, the endless books and movies on these topics they buy, and worst of all, with votes.

But it’s not working.

Some of the richest countries have the highest rates of depression, new research suggests.

An international team of researchers collected the results of face-to-face interviews of nearly 90,000 people considered representatives of their population. The interviews were conducted in community settings in 18 countries, and the interviewers used a standard diagnostic test from the World Health Organization to assess depression.

In the 10 countries considered high-income, an average of 15% of participants said they’d experienced a depressive episode in their lifetime. France, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the U.S. all had rates higher than 18%.

But among the eight low- to middle-income countries surveyed, the rate was 11% — the lowest rates were found in India, Mexico, China and South Africa.- LAT

Journalists are underpaid because they are masters of stating the false obvious while missing the obvious. They often confuse this with objectivity.

Rich countries are miserable because, in their drive to become rich, they focused on the individual. Now we’re all rich and have nothing to believe in. Culture? New mountains to climb? Achievement?

These are all dead. We are rich, so just pick which portion you want, sit down and eat comfortably. Forget about striving or any of that crazy stuff. It just leads to war!

Warfare, triggered by political conflict between the fifth century B.C. and the first century A.D., likely shaped the development of the first settlement that would classify as a civilization in the Titicaca basin of southern Peru, a new UCLA study suggests.

Charles Stanish, director of UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and Abigail Levine, a UCLA graduate student in anthropology, used archaeological evidence from the basin, home to a number of thriving and complex early societies during the first millennium B.C., to trace the evolution of two larger, dominant states in the region: Taraco, along the Ramis River, and Pukara, in the grassland pampas.

“This study is part of a larger, worldwide comparative research effort to define the factors that gave rise to the first societies that developed public buildings, widespread religions and regional political systems — or basically characteristics associated with ancient states or what is colloquially known as ‘civilization,’” said Stanish, who is also a professor of anthropology at UCLA. “War, regional trade and specialized labor are the three factors that keep coming up as predecessors to civilization.” – Science Daily

Without conflict, we have nothing. Conflict requires we believe in something, otherwise it’s just theft (“Nice island. I’ll take it.”).

Believing in something requires we believe in something more than the individual. At the best level, this is an abstract values system tied closely to an organic reality, like our identity as a people.

Most of the thoughtless talking heads out there will suggest that you achieve “freedom” by believing in nothing. Yet you are believing in something: yourself, your job and the stuff you buy.

In other words, you’ve swapped belief in something real (even if it seems unreal and distant) for something that is not only worthless in the long term, but making you miserable.

It’s better to find an organic civilization to believe in.

A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things that, in truth, are only one, make up this soul, this spiritual principle. One of these lies in the past [Continuity], the other in the present [Solidarity]. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is the present consent, the desire to live together, the will to continue to validate the heritage that has been jointly received. Man is not improvised. The nation, like the individual, is the culmination for a long past of effort, sacrifice and devotion. This makes the cult of ancestors all the more legitimate; it is our ancestors who made us what we are. A heroic past, great men, glory (genuine glory, I mean), that is the social capital on which a national idea is founded. To have common glories in the past, and a common will in the preset; to have done great things together, and to seek to do so again, those are the essential conditions for being a people. One loves in proportion to the sacrifices to which one has consented, the evils that one has suffered. One loves the house that one has buld and passes on.

A nation is thus a great solidarity … It presupposes a past, yet it is summed up in the present by a tangible fact: the clearly expressed consent and desire to continue a common life. – Gornahoor

We have been trying to fake this type of zeal for life for a long, long time.

Developing nations — those that are actually developing, not stagnating — have this because they have a common purpose: to rise above the morass of the past. Al-Qaeda has it: they have a clear ideology that’s as much anti-modern as anti-USA/Israel. Even poor people in the first world have it; for them, rising above the morass would be a huge achievement (which very few manage).

But you poor over-salaried people have nothing — you are lost because your only direction was money/self, and that ultimately doesn’t make the difference.

What makes the difference is time, care, love and all those intangible things. Intangible things, I should add, that a bureaucracy will never understand.

Yet much of what kids need to thrive doesn’t require hefty expenditures, according to child development experts. “Parents are throwing resources at their kids and getting caught up in ‘everybody else is doing it,’” says Po Bronson, author of NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. “We’re not talking about rich parents, we’re talking about regular people who otherwise wouldn’t be spending this kind of money on themselves and didn’t spend this kind of money before they had kids, and now they’re milking their bank accounts and saving nothing to do all these things for their kids.”

{…}

Overall kids from higher socioeconomic backgrounds tend to do better in terms of test scores, college admissions and economic advancement, according Bronson. But at some point additional spending makes no additional affect. For example, there’s little evidence that very wealthy children generally do better than upper-middle class kids.

{…}

He says that many activities that cost parents nothing help with child development, including exercise, art, reading to a child, or playing with legos. “Parents feel a competitive instinct that they’re depriving their kids because they’re not doing as much as other families,” he says, “but it’s about learning to resist that urge and say, no, my child has a great life.” – Fiscal Times

This is a parallel to us in the West: we have the raw ability, like any upper-middle-class kid, but we’re acting as if wealth will somehow rocket us above the rest of the world alone.

In the mean time, many people are depressed from lack of mission and thus purpose and meaning in life.

My solution is simple: re-invent our purpose, restore meaning, and stop worrying about the money — if we find an actual goal, we will work toward that like fiends and as a byproduct, generate wealth.

3 Comments

  1. gud says:

    hi Brett.
    Interested in what you say, but not understanding exactly what you mean by individualism being an undesired quality.
    The opposite of the individual is the collective, no?… and that’s an invalid alternative, for me.
    I do differentiate between enforced collectives & organic associations, but surely the latter arises out of civil interaction between uncoerced individuals.
    Of course, allowing free individuals to make bad decisions won’t necessarily lead to good outcomes, but maybe those are the conditions required, and the price paid, for genuine organic cultures to arise spontaneously.

    1. crow says:

      Individualism is one of those tampered-with words that formerly meant something rather different to what it is commonly taken to mean, now.
      Like Diversity, which is an essential thing in one context, and a monstrous aberration, in another.

    2. The opposite of the individual is the collective, no?… and that’s an invalid alternative, for me.

      I can’t agree here. That’s an imposed dialectic. There are many opposites to individualism. Collectivism, if you think about it, is usually individual self-interest transferred to a powerful central authority.

      Of course, allowing free individuals to make bad decisions won’t necessarily lead to good outcomes, but maybe those are the conditions required, and the price paid, for genuine organic cultures to arise spontaneously.

      Anarchy is a nice idea when no civilization exists. Civilizations arises out of it — or a return to hominid status.

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