The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


We have, all of us, an erotic need to give, to contribute in a meaningful way to individuals as well as to our larger communities. We are driven not only to small acts of giving but also to great acts of sacrifice and heroism. We all desperately need to feel that our lives matter, that they are possessed of something essential, meaningful, and valuable. The unheard cry for meaning is always a desire to give. We are hardwired for giving. We long for not so much what we do not have as for what we do not give. We are unable to feel that essential sense of fulfillment that comes from a life that matters unless we feel we are making some significant contribution to our larger community.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product of a life well lived. That life must include profound loving/giving or it simply cannot satisfy us. Life cannot be lived without a cause that is larger than life itself. There is a profound human need for sacrificial action for the sake of the larger community. We ignore this need at our own peril. If we do not honor it with creative and ethical expression, then we or our children will be seduced to sacrifice to the manifold pseudo altars of repression, fundamentalism, and extremism.

The major reason that we stop giving and loving beyond our circle of protection is that it hurts too much. We know that if we open our hearts, they will all too often get trampled and trashed.

We basically feel powerless and that we cannot really change anything. Once that belief is internalized, a self-protective mechanism kicks in. We cannot tolerate a situation in which our circle of caring is far larger than our circle of influence. When we feel that our ability to experience hurt is far greater than our ability to alleviate the pain, then we simply turn off. The dissonance becomes too great to bear. The gap between our perceived ability to be hurt and to help is simply too wide to traverse. So we narrow our circles of caring to only those we feel we have the ability to help. But to do so, especially in a world where graphic images of pain daily invade our lives, we need to shut down our hearts. Powerlessness corrupts. We need to know that each of us by ourselves, and even more powerfully as a community, can make a difference for love.

- The Mystery of Love

It occurs to me that we limit our caring to those close to us. Outside of that circle, we give lip service to caring but we don't really care about others. We don't go out of our ways, we don't sacrifice a lot, for people we don't really know too well. We might argue that this is human nature, but Marc Gafni is (correctly) suggesting that this innate need to care and to give has been driven out of us or deeply suppressed. In other words, our true nature has been corrupted.

It is possible, as Robert Kennedy reminded us in the 1960s, to change the bottom line. Instead of a gross national product measured in purely economic terms, we could have a bottom line in which loving, human dignity, value, and uniqueness were factored into the equation. A company that was highly profitable financially but insensitive to human dignity in measurable ways should not be given the same benefits or should be taxed at a higher rate!

We think this is absurd because we have internalized the pathologies of our generation. Erich Fromm and Viktor Frankel have already reminded us that entire societies, including our own, can be profoundly imbalanced. We need to remember their teaching – otherwise we will experience the pathologies of spirit of our generation as our personal failures. If we feel emptiness in the mad drive for success, it is not because we are neurotic but because the success is an empty goal. If we feel powerless and frustrated, it is not because we need treatment. Quite the opposite; because our societal norms need to be changed it is often a symbol of our sanity and inner balance when we have not succumbed to the superficial values touted by our society.

- The Mystery of Love

Our society is indeed greatly out of balance. I like the phrase "internalizing the pathologies of our generation." We are so into ourselves that we do not really care about the welfare of others. In particular, I am referring to the millions of disenfranchised and impoverished people around the world who hate the West, who are jealous of the West, who aid and support terrorism against the West. These people we do not care about; they are beyond our help; they do not deserve our help.

They are to be beaten down and suppressed. They are to be tightly controlled. This is the antithesis of love and eros.

And for that reason, the terrorism will not stop.


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