All or nothing

Driving down the highway yesterday I saw a license plate, “PANTONE”.

It was on a black car. 19-0303 TCX.

Even Black has many shades, multiple pantone expressions.

It brought to mind a segment on “The Daily Show” in which John Stewart explored the limited view presented to the American public. A view even more “Simplisctic-ier” than left/right, liberal/conservative, or Democrat/Republican. Good or Bad. Every issue is broken down to a simple black or white, all or nothing, judgement.

I spent the last few days helping a friend, she’s preparing her house for sale as she gets moved into a new house, all the while helping her mother with her house. Yesterday I raked the leaves at her mother’s house, the day before I helped clean the windows at the old house she’s getting ready to sell. I was there because she’s not comfortable climbing the ladder to clean the outside of the windows on the second floor, otherwise, she would have done it all herself. Did I mention she’s blind?

I can think of very few issues that can be broken down to a simple good or bad judgements, there are always multiple aspects that make a situation good in one way, bad in another. When it comes to a blanket judgement that covers everyone’s experience, I think I’m safe in saying the nothing is simply good or bad.

The trend towards simplification has been troubling me for years, something about removing details and nuances causes reason and logic to atrophy. There are some preposterous concepts occupying space that intelligent debate should inhabit. Worse, the marginally intelligent, due in part to their lack of apathy, embrace an undeserved sense of superiority.

Hans Rosling, a Swedish researcher, developed a test pertaining to population and demographic details. He presented the test, which he titled “The Ignorance Test“, claiming that a cross section of society provides routinely incorrect answers, that is to say scoring worse than if the answers were chosen at random. Adding insult to his existing arrogant view, he used the metaphor of chimps choosing bananas with answers on them for “random”. So if you fail the test, you’re not only ignorant, but you did worse than a chimp. What an ass.

I’d like to devise a test about photo-conductivity and digital copy processes, which any copier technician could pass with flying colors, and see how ignorant Hans is. We all have fields which we excel in, and areas in which we have not studied at all.

If your kid gets arrested for shoplifting, you’re not a lousy parent. If your kid has an arrest record that looks like a first draft of “War and Peace” you probably have some blame to carry with you. On the other hand, your other kids may be Rhodes Scholars, or just average members of society, so you’re still not a “lousy” parent.

My world consists of visualization. I see things, and can manipulate them in my mind. This gives me an incredible memory of details, objects are not a list of components, but a single object, which I can assemble and disassemble in my mind. I don’t think people who can’t do this are stupid, they probably have talents that I don’t. At the same time, I think people who do not have the empathy to accept that we are all different are “stupid”. They are inferior, regardless of how much knowledge they accumulate.

My friend needed her windows clean for other people. It certainly made no difference to her, but in her words “I don’t live in a blind world”. I thought of arguing the point, but I’m trying to be less cynical in public. I’ve asked a few questions about her world, and as far as she is concerned, there is little different about her life than anyone else. Perhaps she sees the world better than I do.

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One comment on “All or nothing

  1. Mike Reith says:

    jAn excellent bit of thinking. You are one of my two favorite writers on the Internet–along with Bill Bonner of Agora Financial. I used to think it was because both of you are good writers. Bill has convinced me otherwise–you are good thinkers, first. In my own struggle to express myself more effectively. I ramble on with long sentences, most of the time. You and Bill make the sentence just long enough.

    As for today’s topic, the same tendency in society has troubled me. I don’t mean to suggest that good and evil do not exist or are subjective, although humans end up making them subjective. Why? My own thought is that it comes down to the pervasiveness of greed, envy, and narcissism. Perhaps modern governments are the highest accomplishment of such folk, particularly democracy and socialism. In such an institution men attempt to use the reigns of “legal” violence to transfer the wealth of others to themselves or others, and force their own views of living upon their neighbor.

    The war on drugs is a wonderful example of the misuse of “good and bad.” Men use collective force to will that someone else’s vice is a crime, as they do with prostitution, discrimination, or hate speech. Prisons are filled with people guilty of nothing more than consuming something that those that control “good and bad” via the government have deemed as so bad as to be a crime. And in government’s attempt to good through prohibition, they cause very little good, and create much bad.

    I wonder if modern men will ever adopt the golden rule? Do under others as you would have them do unto you. Would you want them to collectively decide how much of your own money you can keep, and what you may spend it own? Would you want them to deprive you of personal freedom because it does not fit into their own arrogant perception of utopia?

    Thanks for generating a lot of thought, Blake, as you always do.

    Liked by 1 person

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