Jan. 3rd, 2005

karlht: (Default)
This year is going to be all about devoting time to what's important to me. But I can't do that until I determine what's wheat and what's chaff. So I expect to spend a significant amount of the winter in contemplation and meditation, asking the questions "What is really important to me?", "How does this help me live the life I want?", and all of those other horribly philosophical quandaries that sound alternately like I'm a navel-gazing yuppie or a neo-Classicist wannabe.

The thing is, the yuppie lifestyle just doesn't appeal to me. I'm terrible at being a materialist, I despise television with a passion that almost frightens me, and I don't believe in the power of unfettered capitalism to solve the world's problems. Hell, at this point, I'm not sure the world's problems can be solved.

So why all the introspection? Mainly because I'm tired of being depressed -- I've been in what feels like a hibernation-state since active development on my last real project stopped in March of 2003. The economic struggle has sapped my will in so many ways, and I'm tired of giving it that kind of power over me. So I want to rediscover my passion for things, for ideas, for people. Because I'm not going to get to do this again, at least not in this body and with these opportunities.

I expect that my contemplation will follow these general guidelines:

1. People are never chaff. Certain people may not be ideal to be entangled with, but people are never objects to be gotten rid of. I know it sounds simplistic, but it's a moral value, if you will.

2. Wealth and security are not synonymous. I'm not sure security really exists here and now, although compared to River in Baghdad, we're all pretty damned secure. I had an opportunity to work hard and neglect my family and brown-nose my way up once, and I didn't like the feel of it. Wealth in this country feels too much like keeping the boot of progress on the necks of those less fortunate.

3. Love is the most important force in my life. This has many ramifications; it also puts me seriously at odds with what seems to be the prevailing spirit of the here-and-now. Learning to say "I will not hate you, but I will not participate in this activity that I see as destructive to others and incompatible with loving my neighbour" may be the single hardest lesson of my life. Jean Chr├ętien's "We will not participate" may in fact be the most moral thing I've seen a politician do in the past decade. I expect I will be returning to this topic many times over the coming year. It raises all sorts of questions, mostly having to do with how many steps of the causal chain do I need to feel personally responsible for, and how can I make ethical choices in the midst of a society that endorses such practices as factory-farming and near-slave labour simply by its economic structure? How much of that can I bite off at once?

4. Technology has widely unacknowledged second- and third-order effects. While the widespread use of computers and the Internet has made possible at least part of Bertrand Russell's dream of unfettered communication between ordinary citizens around the world, those same computers are being used by oligarchies and economic powers to maintain their hold on the levers of power. As a technologist and a humanist, I feel I have a responsibility to benefit the little guy more than I benefit the big guys -- the big guy can get along just fine without me, but the little guy needs all the help he can get.





There, that's a good place to start. Comments welcome; I hope to refine my thoughts out here in this semi-public forum, and thoughtful criticism is always a help.

June 2015

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