You Are a Slave to Your Work

No argument: You are a slave to the work you need to do. Let you and I jump into why any other mode of thought is a delusion:

Getting Terms Straight

From the Cambridge Dictionary:

Slave – “a person who is legally owned by someone else and has to work for that person […] and has no personal freedom.”

Slavery – “the condition of being legally owned by someone else and forced to work for or obey them […] the system in which some people are owned by others.”

Free – “not having something that is unwanted or unpleasant.”

Work – “to do a job, especially the job you do to earn money […] to make a person or animal do a job.”

Job – “the regular work that a person does to earn money.” And, “a crime in which money or goods are stolen, or an action or activity that is dishonest or unpleasant.”

Money – “used to buy things, or the total amount of these that someone has.”

Reasoning

Making a leap in assuming you can connect the dots here, you need money to buy the things that make life survivable: Foods, clean water, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, etc.

All the above – at least in the United States – costs more than the means of production, and is actively denied a person without money. Without food, a person starves and suffers; without water, a person becomes sick and suffers; without clothing and shelter, a person is exposed and suffers; without medical treatment, a person suffers and dies.

(All this needs to be addressed further, so we go without mention of what makes life livable, e.g. means for recreation, time for rest.)

If prevention of suffering is one of if not the only fundamental Good in the world, then a person is obliged to have these things for themselves and those who depend on them. “Enslaved,” as the physical requirements of life are non-negotiable.

What Is Required, What Is Optional

Working in some way to cover the costs of merely existing is the obligation, the enslavement a living creature must carry out for the privilege of being alive.

This is a required enslavement, or experienced as a suffering (if the work be unpleasant) to prevent and reduce a greater suffering.

To care for others who are not able to provide for their existence – regardless of cause – is what a moral and just society is. Though not a total definition of a civilization ought be, without this care, “moral and just” must be left out of the society’s description.

Care for others is optional enslavement – we only have the morals we can afford.

Yet care for oneself, let alone others, is endangered when optional enslavement is required to earn the money to buy goods to sustain life.

What is that optional enslavement, not caring for others?

That enslavement is the excess beyond the cost of initiative, time, and material used to create the good, to exchange for the service. That is the money that funnels to one entity from many individuals. That is profit.

And profit is the name of the game in the United States – and by extension from the US’s economic and cultural global dominance, the world.

Treatment for This Condition

I am no financial planner, analyst, expert. This is not advice, because I do not know beyond a reasonable doubt the validity of the following. It seems to work out on the back of an envelope, though it is uncertain how it would apply to the facts of the world at large.

It is at least a start.

First, a definition of Profit – “money that a business [or person] earns above what it costs to produce and sell goods and services.”

Second, should there be profit? Yes – Communism tried to remove that incentive, and it led to a lot of suffering for entire populations. Profit can be the incentive to have taken the risk to do something that could fail. Yet, excess profit is excess optional enslavement to a job and thereby excess optional suffering for the unpleasantry of it.

Some thoughts:

  • Capped Percentage of Profit per Good or Service Rendered
    • No one action will be more than an X percentage of the cost to create and provide the good or service, X being greater than the profit that might be rendered through other investments – say, stock – within a standard deviation or three. This leaves room for living well while also having cushion to make prices competitive by lowering them from the profit margin.
  • Progressive Tax of Profit Based on Market
    • The bigger a single business gets, the less profitable by-percentage it gets, though the net amount continues to increase. It slows the formation of monopolies, allowing other companies to adjust and catch up, thereby encouraging competition. Further, production-cost-cutting is encouraged, as additional profit can be gained for a larger market share, benefiting the consumers while forcing innovation from the business and its competitors. Lastly, public funds are increased that can be reapplied where needed from the taxes, as is part of the responsibility of a society’s government (I forego chatting about such ideas here).

Compelled to Industry

Compel – “to force someone to do something.”

Industry – “the quality of regularly working hard […] in the production of goods for sale […] and makes a lot of money.”

You are compelled to industry, and therefor not free.

You are only as free by that which you can do without. Everyone is enslaved in some degree by the fact of being alive. Beyond those costs, and the costs of reasonable enjoyment in life, everything else is optional enslavement.

Yet the option is not yours.

By either or both through the means of your work or the profit for required goods and services, you are a slave to your work. This is the way of things, though it does not need to be so.

Rule #1: Play the Game

In your work, your society, your life, the first and #1 rule is this: Play the game.

What does that mean?

I mean, play the game. The “game” being the set of rules and expectations set before you. Cases in point:

In a job, the system is that the employee does X kind of work for about Y hours over a Z amount of time. The employer provides A, B, and C in exchange for and to facilitate that work. Skimp on any piece of this, or try to add more in on one side, and the job is no longer tenable for either the employer or the employed.

In diet, obey the rules of fewer calories, better calories, and physical use of the body. Anything else is at best a lie, at worst a waste of time. By the rules of the game of biochemistry, doing X gives X results, doing Y gives Y results, and cheating or failing to grasp what is happening at any point can be the difference between health and heart attack.

In language, not following writing, grammar, spelling, or pronunciation ‘rules of the game’ will quickly get you ostracized from it, i.e. no one will attempt or welcome exchanging with you because you have failed the winning condition: to concisely and efficiently convey useful information in communication.

Get on with it.

In short, you have a part to play in a great, grand game. Your responsibility is to know the rules and execute them the best way you deem fit.

Yet, which rules a person follows is variable. There are a base set of rules, these being fundamentals of the universe. Chemistry, physics, math. 2+2=4.

But there are other rules too. Genetics, weather, et al. of the ‘natural’ world – these add a layer. Culture, history, society – another layer. Family ties, daily life outside oneself – yet another.

Your biochemistry, your experiences, your obligations.

What you had for lunch yesterday, the clothes chosen today, the cushion of where you now sit.

Your hopes, your dreams, your fears and anxieties.

Layers, layers, layers. All your responsibility to know, work on mastering, and to execute in whatever the ‘game’ is.

What is the game?

Read again the above paragraphs: It is everything.

Perhaps it could be described as ‘society,’ but this does injustice to simplicity. Society does not dictate how a person learns about burning a hand on a hot oven.

Maybe we describe the game’s systems as physics, yet how much more must be known than only physics to understand why a rainbow is beautiful to a majority of folks, while others gain no pleasure from the aesthetics?

At first glance, nothing appears to be an easy answer. The “game,” as game-entertainment is systematic, may be best defined along terms of value. Perhaps, “the game is a multi-player-specified systematic approach to determining value, value being that which is wanted by any other player.”

Is that definition hardened against critique? Not yet, but just as ignorance of solar fusion does not stop plants from growing under the sun, a partial definition (e.g. plants grow in sunlight) is better than none (seeds unplanted in the dark).

Why do I need to “play the game” again?

If you do not play the game, you will be buried by it. You will become more of a tool for use by others than if sitting at the table to participate.

The game is active, as in it will actively punish nonparticipation.

On second thought, the game of *waves hands at everything* does not “punish” – that is a moralistic term, and morals are both subjective and only able to be afforded in relation to present context.

Instead, the game repurposes any and every part of, well, everything. If a player does not want to play, it will be a piece. If a piece becomes inconvenient, it is crushed into the pillar the game is played on – a pawn turned to dust and ash of buried history to support the present.

How could so cruel a thing ever be justified!?

“Cruel” is a poor term – the Hippocratic Oath handles aspects of cruelty much better than will be discussed here.

The Oath is a useful tool that has lasted thousands of years because it understands something about the game of everything. The game is not more fair or unfair – it just is, existing and churning and doing as it will.

Gravity will drop a cliffside rock, waves will wear rock to sand, sand will settle in an oyster, an oyster will make a pearl, a diver will adore the pearl’s luster, a thief will take the bauble by force, a hungry bird will eat what is left behind, and onward and onward and onward.

None of the above is “fair” or “cruel” or any such thing. These events, these things are, and that is enough for the game.

But to the question of justification: There are ‘outs’ other than being consigned to oblivion. Those either be 1) benefit from the game rules-as-written, taking advantage where possible at least personal cost, or 2) advocate to other players to change and how to change the rules.

Remember, “the game is a multi-player-specified systematic approach to determining value.” Players determine the values the game’s systems work towards. Whether the player-determination system is democratic, representative, monarchical, authoritarian, plutocratic, oligarchic, theocratic, or otherwise, that is the way the game is set at the moment.

There yet may be hope for the game to change, but only if a player advocates for it.

That is not enough reason to play the game.

Improving your situation so as to suffer less? That is not enough?

Then think of others: Change the rules to benefit as many as possible. Raise up the “pieces” you will come across to be “players” in their own lives again. Render your excess unto the less fortunate, or dedicate your play at life to the better positioning of another player of your choice, whatever the whim.

Or, just get out from underfoot. Care less about being a pawn. Seek to be less inconvenient for those attempting to make something grand of the game. It will be better for you and everyone else if done, for the game will seek to crush nonparticipants regardless – getting out of the way saves time and effort for everyone else.

Rule #1: Play the Game

Play it well. Find out and know the rules. Be the best player you can be.

Everything else is optional.

Advocate for yourself. Advocate for others.

Change the rules, yet only after understanding what can or ought be changed.

And if you can’t? Serve others following Rule #1 and get out of the way.

10 Posts 2021

Like in 2020, there have been dozens of posts in 2021.

So many posts cover everything from rewriting the famous Halo video game franchise, my understanding of Truth in our lives and the universe, book reviews, game conversions, game making, new game systems, work, finances, the pandemic, and so, so much more.

I share with you my impressions of the most viewed posts of 2021:

10. Truths About Relationships

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this post struck a number of cords. Loudly.

I have had the opportunity and honor to experience many kinds of relationships from many different folks. I have also the privilege of being highly insightful of patterns. These are the things I have found that hold True for whoever, whenever, wherever, forever and ever.

Give this tenth-most-popular post a read – it will improve your current and future relationships (not to mention perhaps blunt a certain amount of pain).

9. Devaluing Your Worth

There are so many ways to screw up goals, self-worth, life… Devaluing the benefit of your own labor to others is certainly an all too common thing to do ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Read to understand your greatest obstacles to attaining what you are worth: Ignorance of your value, anchoring low, not shutting up, and you.

8. A Taste of Digital Nomadism

After two years of the COVID pandemic, I have a large amount of that flying under the social radar to experience life as a digital nomad.

My impressions, my insights, and more. Between the good and the bad of this kind of lifestyle, it might just be the one for you ๐Ÿ˜‰

7. #PaidMe2021

A breakdown and normalization of my salary in 2021 (sans the flexible nitty-gritty of stocks, benefits, etc.). Since I am a Senior Software Engineer working for mobile games in Las Vegas, Nevada, this post helps normalize industry and position and cost-of-living to be the same (or at least relatable).

Knowledge is Power. Empower yourself with this post.

6. Pandemic America – Daily Bread

Not sure why this was so popular.

I talk about what was eaten since the Pandemic, its effects. A bit of slice of life ~

5. Truth: Attractiveness

Being attractive is universal in all things. From aesthetics to gravity, reality demands attractiveness.

This is a more complex topic than for this short blurb – arguably for the blog post too – though it should get you asking questions of yourself. And if you act on your responsibility to be attractive? All the better ๐Ÿ™‚

4. The Importance of Putting Things in Order

Inspired by a “Death Walk” I take periodically, this post outlines the process.

Time required, subjects to think about, actions to take… Death Walks have defined my life since I started taking them three years ago.

While the Walks often (and likely ought) to bring tears and intense feelings, for me they have been some of the best pieces of clarity of my life. I hope you will find the same โค

3. The 6-Point Story Structure of Halo

With the massive backlash against Halo 5 and Halo Infinite releasing late 2021, I gave my shot at fixing a series in trouble.

This post was the start, studying the fundamentals of the most successful Halo stories. Found a pattern, wrote about it ๐Ÿ™‚

Now it is up to me to experience how Halo Infinite did!

2. The Value of Being a Professional

Tools and rationale I have been using for years. Part of a toolbox that has gained others and I hundreds-of-thousands of dollars over the years. How much more to come?

1. Lasers + Shields = Boom in Dune

Guess what movie came out this year? ๐Ÿ˜‚

This post from May 2019 blew up like Dune did. As the most grounded real-life analysis of a sci-fi staple, the eyes on this post are well deserved.

Bonus: Most Viewed

With the Dune 2021 movie released this year, one of my first and one of my most nerdy posts takes the cake for most views this year. Lasers + Shields = Boom in Dune was written in 2019, but oh boy, did it turn my stats on their head ๐Ÿ˜…

Check it out! There’s some cool math there. (Spoiler: Dune explosions ought be huge.)

Check the tags, check other posts – I make ’em weekly.

Give me your favorites from this last year. Preferably, something other than mine so I can learn something too ๐Ÿ˜‰ Cheers!

2022: Looking Forward

This was written some time ago with higher, more positive feels. With a very recent and personal loss, I am very appreciative of my past self.

That said, I now look for ways to make 2022 a more vivid year. Cheers -

Much like what I did at the end of 2021, here are the things I can look forward to in 2022:

Becoming Cyborg (Maybe!)

No details (yet?). As one of the first things in 2021 I will become a cyborg with mechanical (not just metal or plastic) parts. It will open up whole new vistas of physical and existential possibility, though in as much ought close a few too ๐Ÿ˜…

With a change in plans and COVID ruining a lot, I am not a robot yet nor am like to be anytime in the foreseeable future. With more pokes and prods, maybe? Still a little early to tell, but will let on should I get my upgrades ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Europe & Abroad

I have a credited ticket from a cancelled trip in 2020. Having gotten my booster and with a sincere hope the EU and other locales can get the pandemic in control regardless of whether I get to visit or not, if borders begin to open, I hope to be through them for a few months ๐Ÿ™‚

Publish Games

I sufficed a roadmap for BITS and BITS-adjacent games back in November. If I can be true to myself and focused (despite all else that goes on in the year), you will be seeing at least free and at-cost versions of one if not multiple games. Hope I can count on you to support when the time comes! ๐ŸŽฒ๐ŸŽฒ

FI

The biggie of goals – Financial Independence. 2021 has been a ridiculous time of extravagant excess in salaries and markets. Will it hold up in 2022? If it does, I will hit a super-duper milestone, a game changer, a fundamentals shift in what I can consider for my life. Here’s to it ๐Ÿคž

And here’s to so many other good things to come in 2022! Not as many things as last year, though perhaps these are finer foci for my attention. Or I’m just a bit more realistic and/or tired from the surprises and horrors that naรฏve me had no idea about in 2021 ๐Ÿ™ƒ

BUT!

Remember: Despite what is seen online and in news and what we talk about on the daily, being alive right now (median and average) is literally the best it has ever been. Ever. Are there injustices and things needing to be better? Yes! That is realistic, to face the facts, so all facts must be appreciated.

Anyway. Do well, and may you feel well doing it ๐Ÿ˜Š Carpe omnia, folks. Cheers to the new year ~

Can’t Survive Contact With COVID

Plans, that is.

This blog post was supposed to tell about why I’m taking ‘off’ for awhile. Why the last few months (i.e. November, December, January) have had preparations made and the way swept clear.

All that.

COVID has other plans.

I rewrite here because of the news received – the highly-contagious Omicron variant of COVID has laid low staff and facilities in my entire county. No hands to handle, no services to offer.

Now the plan that has been in progress for a year to act on something that I have kept an eye one since I was 17 is indefinitely postponed.

Torn on my feels for this. No negative emotions for the affected staff, but g-dang, this trash disease and those trash people who go out of their way to spread it are just so… frustrating.

Look at me, being polite and all.

* DEEP breath *

Anyway, everything is up in the air. Have to be consistent with my posts, so here goes this.

At least it is only a plan that can’t survive COVID contact. Will be keeping myself in an away from others regardless for a good while.

Get your shots ๐Ÿ’‰๐Ÿ’‰๐Ÿ’‰ Wear a mask ๐Ÿ˜ท Stay in as much you can. Rage against those that bring about the injustice of it all.

Cheers ’til we safely meet on the other side of this.

It Is OK to Fail

Really, it is.

But failure snowballs into complete and utter debasement! Failing is a slippery slope to irrelevance.

Certainly don’t make a habit of easy failure. If failure must happen, make it hard-fought to get the most out of the slip.

If the failures are spectacular enough, the failure will be quite relevant! Regardless, the failure should be relevant at least to you to show what to do or not, in addition to being an example to other folks.

But failure is a sign of weakness! If I fail, I won’t be wanted, I’ll be scorned, and I’ll carry a Scarlet Letter forever.

While some folks may not want you over particular failures. And some truly severe Scarlet Letters are deserved so that others can be protected.

Yet you live only with yourself. Only you know the severity of guilt and the just penance. An so long as you are acting out the penance (even if it is only to not fail the same way twice), you are doing what is owed to the failure.

But failure can be tragic! It can scar and rend and kill and all horrible things.

That’s a fine point! Failure certainly can be immense in its consequences. But what are consequences worthy of worry?

As the saying goes, “any landing you can walk away from is a good one,” so the same applies to failure. Loss of money or time or knickknacks can be made up and should come with an adequate exchange of experience. Bruises heal and hurt feelings amended.

What can’t be put back together are the three serious scars that can remove opportunities for action or attraction:

    1. Mind – Being unable to think straight, fully, or at all is a terrible, terrible thing. Brain damage, addiction, and dogma make up this scar where healing is miraculous (but we can’t depend on miracles).
    2. Body – Being maimed, crippled, or made twisted changes the whole world. (Trust me, I know.) Losing limbs, suffering catastrophic nerve injuries, and physical scarring such as tattoos of hate signs make this scar horrific to live with.
    3. Society – Being vile, abhorrent, or too dangerous to others or the culture is the quickest way to be identified with this scar. Outward physical violence, harm towards children and other helpless, and upending public expectations will slam you with a modern, contextual Scarlet Letter.

So long as these three scars are avoided, your failures won’t stop you!

But failure isn’t stopping me! It’s my fear of failing anew…

And that’s where coming to peace with failure comes it. It is OK to fail.

One of the biggest obstacles to what we intend and our lives being lived is us, you and I. Our thoughts dwell on the ‘what if.’ Prior experience and imagination can be a real bane in this regard.

That is why forgiving ourselves is the first step to making failure OK.

We are the ones that can stop habitual failure.

We are the ones who are already suffering under guilt.

We are the ones who can avoid the three disastrous scars.

We are the ones who must forgive ourselves.

Simply put, forgive yourself. It is OK to fail.

Why I Wrote This

The fear of failure lies strong on my mind and always has. I’ve developed rules for myself so as to fail less:

Failures still happen despite it all. Like this month’s goals I’ll be reporting on in a week. (It’ll be bad.)

And that’s OK.

Now this may sound like I’m giving myself a pass on a failure by using flowery words – it’s not (sans the flowery words part).

I know I’ve lived my life. What’s left is my duty to ensure my future self can live without the baggage of guilt or regret going forward. Casting off such suffering seems like a decent goal.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Really looking forward to your feedback here.

Where have your failures been? How have you recovered? What are you still carrying around all this time since?

Here to talk to hear about what’s going on – drop me a line and we’ll get the convo going!

Until next week, go out to happen to the world knowing the failures you make along the way are OK. Cheers ~

Truth: Top 10 Truisms

What is Truth? We might know it by how these top truisms are us and the universe.

1. Simplify

Less is truly more. Should you need more anyway, there is some written on this.

2. Suffering Exists

Exists and is inevitable, a persistent, constant force in the universe. I have taken a deeper dive into the topic.

3. Knowledge Is Terrible

What is known cannot be unknown along with all of its consequences. Care to know more?

4. Be Attractive

Attraction is a basic law of nature where to be attractive is the only thing to be. More material outlining attraction is available.

5. Don’t Settle, Suffice

In short, have higher standards, but keep those standards in line with what’s sufficient.

It is naรฏve to think things cannot be better regardless of situation. To seek to be better is one of the most noble activities to improve yourself and the world. However, an obsession without end will cause more suffering that it corrects.

Wisdom arrives when you know the world and yourself enough to understand what, subjectively, is “enough.”

Achieving this is a numbers game. Be it the theory of Pareto’s Principle, the Optimal Stopping Strategy for professionals and love-seekers, or Statistical Significance, the number of trials to find what’s sufficient correlates with both knowing and achieving that “enough.”

Truth requires continuous action until higher standards are met sufficiently. For you, that means being the harshest critic of your own monstrosity, leaving nothing for anyone else to critique.

6. Competition Is For Chumps

Competition spends immense amounts of energy. The more energy one has unspent for competition, the more likely that competition will be a success. And survivorship is Good!

But a strategy of expending too much energy against others goes by another term: War of Attrition. Attrition warfare can also cascade into a Pyrrhic (a.k.a. not-worth-it) Victory. By its very nature, competition tends towards less-than zero-sum outcomes, all competitors having spent their energies against each other, not their goals.

To come away from a singular competition with less or even no energy takes away that fund available for future competitions over food, space, and mates. Thereby, a competitor may have survived the competition, but their likelihood of surviving thereafter goes down (not Good).

Be it peacocks maintaining elaborate plumage to out-gaudy other mates, male lions killing each other for pride control, or humans laboring and becoming indebted to attain status symbols that are more form-than-function, competition takes a toll.

So what is the alternative? As renown military philosopher Sun Tzu would have it, “the best strategy is the one that delivers victory without fighting.”

In competition, little is gained. Effort is largely wasted and suffering gets accumulated by all parties in true competition (consider the benefits of play, the faux competition).

Energy spent in cooperation or subtle, low-energy, indirect competition (if competition must occur) is much more beneficial; all else is for chumps.

7. Know Better

Despite knowledge being a terrible thing, it is a requirement to know better, especially of oneself. The Good that knowledge can bring far outweighs the harm that may arise.

As put, knowledge is powerful. However, having the wrong knowledge can be worse than having pure ignorance – the road to Hell is paved with good [but ill-informed] intentions.

So figure yourself out, your duties, and the when and where you are. Be more selfish in coming to these terms. Until you have the language and patterns of understanding to ask and enact what’s required, you are no use to anyone except at best as a pawn (others may know how to use you better than you of yourself).

Better knowledge starts with asking better questions:

What does culture demand in status and contribution? How can one survive in the environment?

What do you like? What do you despise? What do you fear? How do you fail yourself and society?

Learn. Study everything. Find that gaps that need filling. Others have suffered in ways aplenty so that you do not have to. Yet some of these lessons are faulty, thus only by sheer numbers of examples can better knowledge be affirmed (like how the community process of Wikipedia allows correct information to form).

Competition is to be avoided because of the energy it spends; the same applies to gaining knowledge. Defer to the expertise and strength of those that have lived and done the things you seek to do – if they have proven Good (i.e. survived and reduced suffering), they are models to follow.

After the questions and the study, you will have the better knowledge needed to not only improve yourself, but better the world.

8. Escalate

More. Up or down depending on the context, always get to better faster.

Escalation of magnitudes is preferred – doubling, halving, or changing ten-fold is the broad stroke required to anchor what’s expected in any exchange. If the strength of X is insufficient to twist open a cap, at least 2X is required on the next attempt.

However, delicacy is sometimes required in a situation – perhaps the vessel to open is brittle or a negotiation comes to a close. In that case, less than a magnitude in change is required, but escalation plays a part here, too: to achieve less than 100% change, use 10% (.1X instead of X).

Yet, it may come to be resented if too much is asked for, or cause disgust to ask for too little. What would be acceptable between those extremes comes from better knowledge and caring for one’s own wellbeing. Trust that another will defend their own self interests as you ought to be an advocate of your own.

Therefore, escalation is a benefit to the universe: It saves time (the expense of energy), it wastes less by finding the sufficient amount to expense (magnitude of energy), and reduces mental suffering from an effort too generous or stingy (buyer’s remorse).

9. You Are Responsible

With existence comes responsibility. All incentives, all motives, all actions, and, ultimately, all outcomes are the responsibility of the perceiver. Whether through the tangible consequence or the mental perception, the individual has stake in anything that goes on.

Respect yourself and take caution. All that you do and perceive is at least a subjective reality. Merely by consciously perceiving the world, you create what’s real. In this way, you are partly-if-not-wholly responsible regardless of context.

So what will you do with that great power?

In existing and therefore creating reality, you have a part to play in the suffering in the world, both for yourself and others. A person cannot abstain from action and expect that abstention to not cause suffering.

The only way to have a say in survival and suffering is to act, which carries its own set of consequences. Despite that, failures in action are overcome faster by further action and personal change of perception. A failure to act passively discovers outcomes that – if the universe has any bias – tend towards entropy, the ultimate failure to survive (not Good!).

(This brings up that action appears to be Good, but that’s a separate discussion.)

Whatever comes, by existing, you are responsible for all action, inaction, and your perception of the outcomes. Only by taking action and curating your perceptions might you also be responsible for any Good.

10. Forgive Yourself

A stark follow-up to the “Responsibility” point above, you must also take responsibility for forgiving yourself.

The journey to be better and do Good is long, difficult, and continuous. People are similar and people fail – you are much more like them than you imagine.

Meanwhile, you have the morals you can afford, so be merciful to yourself when you fail, slip-up, or otherwise dwell on what must be temporary setbacks. Should failure prove to be a habit, be the harshest critic of your own monstrosity and be better immediately in the moment (you may always recess to being lackluster later).

There is the same self-forgiveness universally. No land dwells on the consequences of a volcano or earthquake. Instead, the land bears its scars and continues. Indistinguishable it is for wind and rain and galaxies that crash into each other, each holding no grudge but instead swirling away to continue their atomic existences changed, yet continuous from one form to the next. No mountain crumbles under its own self-doubt or loathing, but continues to push up through the clouds by its volition no matter the wear. As you must too.

That’s the reason you must own care for yourself – no one else will have your drive or context to be up to the task of forgiving your failures, nor ought they if you’ve not done so already. Thus, through forgiveness, resolve some of the greatest sources of suffering for you: your own doubt and guilt and regret. Thereby, to forgive yourself is a Good thing.

These ten truisms appear to be some of the most-true things for not only people, but all life and the universe, too. The sections above do not go into depth of any great description and proof-by-example, yet everywhere I look these things make themselves present.

As a character in a Zelda videogame once put, “it’s dangerous to go alone,” I only want you to take this so you can do Good and that Good may happen to you.

All something to live by. Cheers!

Truth: Attractiveness

Be attractive.

Truth itself is an enigma. Truth might be known through its many faces, though not all faces are equal in their value to Truth. But attractiveness? Attractiveness seems to be side-by-side with what Truth is.

Whether as a material law (magnetic/electric/gravitational), physical trait (symmetry/garb/health-signaling/etc.), or mental characteristic (charisma/stability/respect/etc.), being attractive secures the resources of survival. Attractiveness is an objective and severe determiner of the consequences a thing receives in its lifetime.

The benefits are plenty: Ability to convince a person to do another’s work; Gather mates for raising offspring or protection; Decrease the likelihood to be neglected or killed (a reason baby animals are “cute”); et al.

Being attractive gives the edge to survival – as has been proposed by others, that which is Good is that which survives.

This principle extends beyond biological evolution too. Non-organic nature seeks to persist in its states forever and ever, from thermodynamics to motion. What persists the longest are those things with strong bonds and mass; i.e., matter in the universe that is “attractive” survives.

Planets – the tiniest fraction of the mass of the stars they orbit – only exist that way if not subsumed as moons of even larger planets. Suns live only so long as there’s fuel to burn, the more fuel, the longer life a star has. Galaxies outmatch any planet or star for lifetime, attracting billions of stars, yet they cease to exist as a whole after cataclysmic interactions with something of approximately equal attractive potential (i.e. other galaxies).

Therefore, being attractive is a necessity of the universe, as plasma, rock, or mammal. Further, there are tiers of attractiveness, differentials of both magnitude of attractiveness and type.

Just discussed has been material attractiveness of the gravitational type, with examples of planets being in their own tier, suns another, and galaxies encompassing them all. The same applies to biological life.

An attractive baby is not the same type of attractiveness as that of a sexually attractive mate (ruin to any that foul-up this distinction). Two babies also cannot be deemed to be equally attractive (e.g. as soon as a child receives more ‘resource’ than another, that first child is by definition more attractive), a concept that also applies to shallow comparisons between two job candidates.

Anything that confuses the type or magnitude of attractiveness does not survive. Planets burn away in stars, social aberrant behavior is mocked and condemned, inconvenient (i.e. unattractive) infants killed once upon a time today. Diverging from attractiveness is punished, thereby adding to the net suffering in existence.

If doing what is unattractive generates suffering and ends its existence faster, the contrast that does not create suffering and survives must be called Good. Being attractive is Good.

Bringing it back, attractiveness reinforces itself as being adjacent to Truth: Attractiveness is a universal quality across matter and time, nature tends toward attractiveness, and the pursuit and state of attractiveness reduces suffering.

How to Be Attractive

First, there is great advantage for a person to be born attractive. Natural symmetry, familiarity, secondary sex characteristics, easy display of health through skin, nails, hair, and teeth, and other traits greatly increase the survivability of both the individual and their genes.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Saint Ambrose

Regardless of birth, fit into physical and social environments. Being ‘average’ and ‘consistent’ for the surrounding context breeds familiarity which is attractive, as well as showing a healthy response to the external stimuli of a particular niche. Further, fitting in with others feeds into social affirmation, an attractive trait that signals others to act on and for one’s behalf.

Success in handling changes and challenges in the social intangibles and the physical resources for survival indicate two attractive qualities: Health in the now, and advantaged genes for later reproduction. Such accomplishment is part of seeming confident. Confidence itself is a sign of health, its natural assertiveness gaining resources for survival and protecting those resources.

There are other ways to express attractiveness; these assets are many and varied. Listening to the opinions of others and one’s self will determine what works best!

Attractiveness Elsewhere

Abraham Lincoln – “I have no other [ambition] so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.”

Sun Tzu – Appear as is best for your intentions with others. (Fake it to make it.)

Beauty – Attractive things exist so long as not too much is known about them at the time. (See: Knowledge is terrible.)

First Impressions – “If their initial impressions of the candidates are positive, employers show a higher tendency to ‘sell’ the job by providing information to the candidates about the job rather than gathering information from them.”

Live an attractive life as best you can. Cheers.

Truth: Suffering

Suffering is inevitable.

Truth can be debated endlessly. Look no further than the blind men and the elephant. Simply put, a singular Truth cannot be known ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

What can be understood are the collection of truisms close to Truth. Things that are agnostic to time, space, culture, and context are more true than dichotomies or idioms. Something that, once known, is of terrible power for its ability to inflict or relieve suffering in one and another. Yet, not knowing can lead to a suffering through ignorance!

So what is truthful?

All life seems to agree on this: Suffering is the only guaranteed experience.

Before you go, hear me out. Suffering is a cornerstone of existence if not the foundation of what it means to be alive.

It all starts at where all things do: at the beginning. First there is the suffering caused to mothers during pregnancy and labor. Second, babes wail at the shockingly cold, shockingly bright loss of everything they have ever known. Communities then suffer the child’s cries and inadequacies while their parents sweat and toil to keep the new human alive – and often that is beyond their abilities!

The baby born, that child will become self conscious. With that knowledge, the young person begins to doubt their own value. Their body morphs through puberty in unknowable, painful ways. Their minds become aware of themselves and other people, namely the failures of themselves and their society. A child is considered ‘mature’ when they lose the shield that was naivetรฉ. In a complete upending of the child’s reality, they come to understand they are betrayed by family, friends, society, and their own body.

That babe-turned-adult suffers once again as the incessant march of time grinds down thought and bones alike. If not outright crippled in mind and body, the ‘edge’ of peak performance experienced in late adolescence is dulled. A second revelation comes where the elder recognizes how much of their short life has been spent with little return. Existential nihilism or a living lie of denial sets in, killing the elder long before they are dead and buried. This is the elder’s only inheritance left to their next of kin, who in turn do not understand the trauma they’ve received. Thus the cycle of suffering, from birth to death, continues on into the next generation.

Matter – atoms and the like – too suffers in its creation, as understood through an empathetic anthropomorphism. All particles exploded into an inferno during the universe’s birth. All suns only formed after eons of atoms floating alone before being crushed and incinerated under their own weight. The universe itself may be convulsing in a cyclic version of Western Hell and has so done since the beginning of time.

Suffering is inherent in creation. Yet does it last?

Absolutely.

We see in the life of a person or a galaxy, suffering is the ever-constant companion throughout a singular existence. From start to finish, suffering is present and repeats its pattern infinitely.

Suffering persists. But what of the Good?

While there are absolutely may be moments of pleasure in one’s life, no two persons can agree on the specifics of such pleasures, or if the pleasure itself is a Good thing! (What is Good has been mentioned before, but a further exploration is later in this post.)

What used to be the common ground of Good was religion. But which religion? Which denomination of that religion? Can a history of stoning neighbors, burning knowledge, and the excruciation of the masses, justified in the many names of God, be considered Good? (Rhetorical questions all.)

When consuming certain mushrooms across the world, shamans and laypersons alike gain the satisfaction of meeting their own God without the need of religion. Perhaps this is a contributor as to why claims to be religious are becoming a minority. Regardless, religion seems to be unable to define a Good in the universe.

Hedonism gives many moments of pleasure. Eating, drinking, sex, and drugs all stimulate dopamine and other feel-good chemicals, these chemicals the only objective cause of pleasure in a person’s body. If pure pleasure is what Good is, the only Good activity in life is the pursuit of opiates until death arrives, the dead no longer suffering.

Sensual pleasure works as well as it does because of the erasure of self it causes. There is no person, there is only bliss. Should a person retain any amount of self-conscious ego, this pleasure is often found to be meaningless. (Not to mention that the individual hardly survives for long, which is not Good.)

The idea of ‘the nation‘ aims to give meaning with shared common purpose, that which the nation claims to be Good. Further, nations promise to carry the ideas and works and wishes of the citizen into the future, a survival-by-proxy. So which nation is Good? When? For whom? What consistently has been considered Good? Perhaps during the disenfranchisement of its women? The crucifixion of its minorities? The genocide of its enemies? The enslavement of the destitute?

The nation has many ideas of what Good is. No idea remains consistent, thereby a changing definition of what is Good. In the book The Rape of Nanking, it is come to be understood that nations will justify its actions without remorse, even glee, passing this ‘goodness’ into its citizens and collective actions. It is clear ‘the nation,’ despite giving meaning and surviving, cannot be Good.

If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

George Orwell, 1984

In these ways, the Good is entirely subjective. What is Good for one cannot be guaranteed for another. The Confucian Golden Rule of “do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” usurps its Western opposite of “do unto others what you would have them do to you.”

But Good may yet have something true about it. If suffering is the omnipresent woe, minimizing suffering may be a common agreed-upon Good. But remember that many things done with ‘Good’ intention (Western Golden Rule) cause suffering. Therefore, Goodness with the intent to reduce suffering seemingly is to act less on perceived suffering (the context others appear to be in) and more on actual suffering (the context a person finds themselves in, the only guarantee suffering is indeed occurring).

As Goodness with the minimal definition is an eternal endeavor since suffering persists, Good would need to accommodate failure and continue (i.e. survive). That still does not negate this narrow definition of Good as being subjective, only one in a crowd of other definitions that claim to be correct.

Simply put, a definition of Good may be “reduce net suffering to survive and survive to reduce net suffering.” This does not violate the subjectivity of Good, merely prescribes what the abstract concept is.

Good is subjective. So what is objective?

If any claim to objectivity is made, it seems to be made of suffering and surviving. A person cannot do a guaranteed Good. By the act of existing only, a person can participate in suffering.

You and I will experience suffering, will cause it. Much of it will happen and we wonโ€™t be aware of it. In our darkest times, we will seek it out.

Therein lies an objective truth: Suffering is inevitable. With that knowledge, preparing to suffer can be committed to and actions readied to reduce it. How suffering is perceived is variable, but thoughts about suffering tend to trend in two ways: Those that have the means to hypothetically bear great suffering are better; those that endure actual suffering not of their choosing are considered lesser.

Whether suffering is accepted or railed against, if a person finds that they are suffering, it may be a comfort to know suffering is natural and it too can pass. How to address suffering is another topic entirely, an important one to have when suffering is known to exist, persist, and permeate throughout the universe.

In these ways suffering conforms to a universal truth, a first-tier fact that better reveals Truth and hones other truths in their meaning and purpose.

Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.

George Orwell, 1984

Something I’ve pondered on and worth continuing to ponder. Cheers.

Truth: Knowledge

Knowledge is a terrible thing.

Truth is something we cannot know. However, Truth is a legion of many faces, each aspect of Truth being a testament to the universe. Through these aspects Truth may be known. Yet, the knowledge itself is a terrible thing.

Terrible, really?

Quite so. Once something is known, it cannot be unknown. The knowledge itself gains a consciousness in its perception. The knower gives the information their own life by spending time and calories thinking on the knowledge.

A terrible part of knowledge is when it allows the knower to become self-conscious. A belief held in ignorance contradictory to newfound information provides a stark contrast to what may have been a life in the ‘wrong’ or ‘false.’ Not many are ready to recognize their failings in this way, that their reality was a lie up to the knowledge gain. Thereby it is born a perfect situation to allow a knowledgeable person to suffer not only the pain of finding in themselves a false-self, but doubly the suffering of perpetuating the now insincere lie of their false belief.

But to live in the dark? To forego the possible suffering of exploring the unknown? Enjoying the bliss of ignorance makes sense if the benefit of knowledge could not outweigh its horrors.

Common nay-sayers to the progress of knowledge cite many of the troublesome topics of modern times:

Gunpowder, biological weapons, social stigmas, dogma, racism, factory farming, sweat shops, nuclear arms, weaponized pathogens, fuel waste, more addictive substances, inhumane architecture, spam email.

Yet, humans continue to push the boundaries of knowledge, to explore, to discover. Ill-content with the state of things, people have gained knowledge of, well, everything a mind can perceive and more.

Language, sparking fire, paper, printing, the raising of crops and livestock, penicillin, engines, mathematics, rocketry, clothing, environment control, the internet, vaccines, subatomic physics.

All-in-all, knowledge has proven terrible in its power for the Good reduction of suffering, and the contrary application of incredible suffering for meager gain. “Terribleness” cannot be said to be in-and-of itself a ‘bad’ thing. By any objective measure – poverty, life expectancy, opportunity, access to resource – knowledge has on the balance been a Good thing, making now the best time to be alive ever.

If the concept of knowledge were visual, knowing would be feeling around into the darkness of the world’s unknown. Some finds would be sweet and soft, treasures to make the journey worth the while; others sharp and deadly, tragedies there in the dark. Sometimes a truly terrible tool is found, a thing with the capacity for great reductions and increases in suffering, depending on its use.

Taking the ‘darkness’ example further, sharing knowledge might be visualized as a light cast on a place – a piece of knowledge. However, that light comes from one direction – the sharer of the knowledge. What may appear true and whole on one side may seem completely false on the other – a shadow cast. Therefore, partial light may play tricks and deceive for a time. Until further insights and investigations cast more light on the subject, knowledge and its sharing suffers from the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant.

Light too, when shown to unprepared eyes, can be blinding. In this way, the illumination and knowledge can send a person reeling from the moment’s bright suffering.

So the distribution of knowledge may cause suffering, at least for a time. To pursue knowledge is one choice; to reveal information is another. Sometimes it’s best to not reveal true knowledge, as in the case of white lies, especially to the unexpecting. Sometimes knowledge will be shared with the express intent to cause suffering, e.g. black truths.

A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

William Blake

Therein lies the terrible essence of knowledge. It gives and takes suffering from the world when gained by a person.

This has always been the case. Two-and-a-half millennia ago in East Asia, renown warrior-philosopher Sun Tzu based much of his The Art of War on knowing and keeping others from knowing. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a half-millennia ago in the heart of Europe that success in life lay in knowing what to do with the power one had. Shortly after, Sir Francis Bacon put it bluntly: “knowledge itself is power.” Or as Susan Orlean puts it for today, “Knowledge is a beautiful thing, but there are a few things I wish I didn’t know.”

So pay respect to knowledge and its lack alike. Context plays a part in guessing whether knowledge gives or takes suffering away, but across time and culture, this remains true: Knowledge is a terrible tool to have and to wield.

What lights do you live your life by?

Cheers.