Monday, May 26, 2008

Do Elections Still Matter?

There are a few people who believe that the right to vote -- is one’s greatest duty and responsibility of a citizen -- maybe a hundred years ago but not today, when one is voting virtually every day of one’s life now. In a sense, a poll is taking literally every day, and every moment, in every action -- and those results are known pretty nearly instantaneously, and not only once every four years, or ten, because the root of that process, is to find out.

In an earlier time, people didn’t know what was happening until many years later, when somebody wrote a book telling everybody what did happen, but it was usually commissioned and paid for, by somebody who had a strong interest in molding a belief in what actually did happen. So those who could afford to pay for such services, had a disproportionate say in what many believed happened.

Most people didn’t care or didn’t know what was said, and it was usually written in a manner, in which it was difficult to tell what was actually being said. And so, it became increasingly fashionable to write history or any academic matter, so there was great contention about what was being said, or in fact, happening. Schools of liberal education were actually proud to claim that everything was just an opinion -- and that nothing was factual, so whatever one believed, or wanted others to believe, was merely dependent on how polished one’s rhetorical and persuasive skills were.

Thus, throughout history and literature, “scribes” had a low repute for integrity and accuracy. They simply wrote what their masters dictated that they write. Such people were famously susceptible to wine and other intoxicants for their inspiration -- which still remain largely true until the end of the last century, and the beginning of new egalitarian writings on the Internet -- not controlled by exclusive hierarchies of the politically correct and connected.

That was a pivotal transformation of democratic societies in these times -- that transcended the traditional polls in favor of the virtual ones we have today, that really govern society more than most are aware. Many still think that purpose is to convince elected leaders on the proper thinking on that matter, rather than it is, the very manifestation of what that society is -- and thinks.

So a lot of people contemplating the elections for the highest offices wonder if those running are the best that could be running -- but what matters, is that those are the choices in that forum, which is not the end all and be all of civilized life anymore. Obviously, there is much more going on that is creating society as we live it now.

So rather than lament that things are not as we think they ought to be, we should instead recognize the validity of things as they are that is a greater wisdom than we think it has to be. That is the hindrance in living life on the cutting edge of creating reality as we live it -- and not merely as they interpret it to be twenty years in hindsight, when everybody seems to be a genius of perfect knowledge and foresight.

The only genius is what one does now -- for the future, without perfect knowledge and certainty of those outcomes, and not those actions one takes in the imaginary past or the future. The only reality is what one does now -- with what we know, to the best that can be known -- but not just making it up, with what we wish it to be, thinking one has absolute and exclusive control anymore.

Authoritarianism is a hard habit to break.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

I think it matters less which party and their candidates win, as much as nobody is really interested in playing these games anymore -- and have moved on to more rewarding activities and ventures, rather than being nullified and frustrated by traditional politics -- which seems to largely be about public relations with the media, while media is no longer what it used to be. But neither are political leaders. When did they all become irrelevant?

It was the rise of popular opinion that really became the dominant force in contemporary life -- and one’s ability to resist it, and ride it when advantageous to do so. Not everybody could -- or wanted to, as in a previous generation. Back then, each child of any ability, was encouraged to one day become the president -- rather than pursuing their own unique passion and destiny. It is the latter that won out -- and more heeded the call to do their own thing, rather than answer the call of political ambition.

So those who do rise to the top in politics, as in any field of interest these days, are those with those natural inclinations and abilities -- rather than recruiting from the population at large. Not everybody can be a politician, or a doctor, lawyer, professional athlete, computer wizard, or even writer/speaker, though that shouldn’t stop anyone from finding out if that is their talent. There is no substitute for trying and finding out.

The worst thing in life, however, is becoming “good” at what one has no vital interest and passion in, because he will be competing and participating among those who do, and who can think of nothing else they’d rather do. That’s why it is even more important than being successful, to find out what it is one really loves to do, because that will be their primary reward and fulfillment in life. That is fulfillment -- and not the emptiness in pursuing one thing while dreaming of another life, any other activity but what one is doing, or thinks they have to do.

The easiest way to be a leader now is just to take the initiative to be one -- which is not as easy as it sounds, because that requires talent and ability -- and not just the desire and ambition to have it. That may be the single greatest misunderstanding in the age of popular culture. Wanting to be talented is not the same as being talented -- which some people are -- by finding out who they are. Many will continue to fool themselves to please their parents and teachers -- and in that way, lose themselves and have no idea what they are doing, except to please others.

Some people’s power are derived largely by the favoritism of the media -- and when that is gone, they are lost, wondering where all their followers are -- having quickly deserted them for the next popular idol. Politics in this day and age is really the face of media, and the measure of media than real leadership in cultural and social developments -- which have a life and momentum of their own. Some are better at exploiting those developments than others.

So while politicians may say and promise all things, the critical issue as President of the United States, is providing for the common defense and security in the world, as the commander in chief.

Others are really the leaders in their respective fields.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Time of Great Changes

The hardest thing to react to, are those changes that never succeed in crossing the threshold that demands that one changes one’s responses to them -- dramatically, decisively and effectively; instead, the usual response is to complain incessantly without doing anything about it. And so, these matters continue to get worse -- and one thinks there is nothing he can do about it but complain. The reason for that is because all the premises and assumptions haven’t changed, but when one is willing or forced to question those very premises and assumptions about life itself, then many things become possible, easy, and accomplished already.

A very typical problem of contemporary life is traffic congestion -- and its insistence that what is required is even more capacity, rather than the realization that there is already plenty of capacity that is being underutilized -- for which we think nothing can be done but to build even more capacity to handle peak loads, instead of distributing those demands over a greater window of service. That is usually the cheap solution and more effective one -- than simply building more parks, schools, universities, and transportation systems.

Most people are unaware that our recreational resources like state parks, are basically unused except for the weekends -- but not realizing this, the tendency is to believe we need even more parks on the weekends, that would be unused during the weekdays. So while on average we think we have made the situation better, we have also made it worse too -- in the waste of those resources, except for those peak hours, or days of usage.

Of course some agency could point that out to people or the reporting agencies could do that as a public service, but they’ve gotten the idea into their heads that their “objectivity,” is a higher value than their “usefulness,” so they think that their job is to observe and report on the problem, rather than prevent such events and catastrophes from occurring.

But how one observes, affects the outcome of every event -- because observing is also the context of environment in which things happen. A speaker doesn’t just give the same speech regardless of the listening capacity of his audience, even if they do not say much -- because their attentiveness which goes far beyond the words actually spoken, determine the intelligence of that exchange.

That energy and awareness is palpable -- but only to those still tuned to such sensitivities and sensibilities. Some people will drone on despite nobody listening -- and in fact think that it is a contest between the speaker and the listener to prevail over the other, rather than the objective of achieving a mutual understanding. That is the old communication style still being practiced by those who have no idea of the purpose of communication -- but are determined to do their own thing no matter what others are doing and determined to do.

Most thoughtful and intelligent people avoid such forums -- because they know better what authentic communications are. Meanwhile, the pomp and circumstances of government and community forums continue to go on whether people are interested in them or not.

Friday, May 02, 2008

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

It was business and life as usual; some people were on the upswing, while others were in a tailspin -- and that’s always been the case, and always will be. These developments are all the whole of life -- and not just a part of it. A few people actually thrive, when the fortunes widely reported as catastrophic for many, and particularly all reporting that “news,” seem hopeless. But for whatever conditions, a few have prepared themselves for those conditions -- so that when they play out, there are no surprises for those prepared for those eventualities and realities.

Presently, those who thought that the whole purpose and meaning of life was to consume as many resources as possible, are finding that it is their ruin and not sustainable for much longer -- as prices for that unlimited consumption, become prohibitive. Concurrently, those who foresaw the need for frugality, prudence and a minimalist lifestyle, seem like the geniuses of these times -- and are the solution, when everybody else can only see problems for as far as the eye can see and calculate.

That obviously portends that change is imminent, urgent, and already underway -- and no longer merely an option for the intelligent who have voluntarily chosen their better fate. Of course, their warnings and advice to others fell on deaf ears until denial was no longer possible. Still, many insisted, they could believe anything they wanted to -- and that’s what made it so. They were “taught,” that if they merely believed what everybody else wanted them to believe, that was enough to transmute reality into anything they wanted it to be.

That’s not a new idea; that’s what primitive people have thought all throughout civilization, while a few more conscious of what was really going on, were actually making things happen -- including observing and thinking rightly. It’s really not about choice -- but having the proper understanding leading to the inevitable and logical responses. In contemporary society, we call that valid and verifiable information -- from merely what some people would like us to believe.

In a previous time, it was thought that any information could be equally valid -- if one was persuasive enough, and could get everybody else to go along. But that was before there was real-time knowledge and information, and so the best that was known was of the past that might already not be true -- but that would take years, if not lifetimes to know -- and so the promises of the future became very important and even preferable to the real and verifiable present. Whole classes of experts could thrive in that world in which reality never could catch up to their knowledge and certainty of the future. If the results of the present course of actions were poor and unsatisfactory, that simply meant, in their world, that it augured for an even more wonderful, miraculous outcome in a more distant future -- and not that the best indicator of future performance is actual present results.

The best of financial advisors were known to say, one should put even more money in losing investments, and if they continued to do that unfailingly, when they retired, there would be untold and undreamt of wealth waiting in a pot of gold, if one could merely locate those individuals who had long since vanished from this earth.