Enlightened Conflict

wonder how the same thing can be both

February 7th, 2017

good bad best worst think do life be

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“I’m always finding humans at their best and worst.

I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

 

————–

Death

<in “The Book Thief”>

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So.

 

This quote is said by Death.

 

Yeah.

Death is suggesting he considers humans beautiful … as well as everything else that we are … all the while resting comfortably in his chair awaiting the opportunity to end it all.

 

We all know we're going to die, but it's one of the few human experiences we don't like talking about. How can we change that?

I admit.

 

The thought seems slightly counter-intuitive, but I like thinking the thought that Death is a lot more complicated than we may think.

 

I like thinking that Death sees us … and assesses us … and maybe even judges us a little … as not one-dimensional things to say ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’

 

I like thinking of death as not some grim reaper but rather a thoughtful person who has a job to do. One who contemplates the fact that some days will be good and some days just won’t be so fun.

 

I like thinking of Death One who can see the best and worst … acknowledging that good things can happen to bad people and bad things can happen to good people.

 

And, I imagine, I like thinking of Death as … well … intelligent and not simply some mindless executioner wandering about seeking his next victim.

 

For sure this quote reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote about intelligence:

 

“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

 

 

I believe it was Keats who called this ‘negative capability.’

 

best worst faces life people good badAs he explained <or tried to > “it is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

 

In other words … you understand, or least come to grips with, that there is a shitload of inconsistency and uncertainty in Life and, yet, you deal with it and do what you need to do.

 

<that’s my translation>

 

The truth in Life is that we really don’t have to be one thing because you’re not another thing – or not be something if you are something <you get it>.

 

It may seem impossible to appear to be a contradiction and, yet, be quite a successful, happy, productive bundle of contradictions.

 

Not only do you not have to be one thing forever but you can actually be a couple of things now … at the same time … in this time & place.

 

I sometime believe individual happiness is found more often than not in our ‘negative capability’ intelligence. In other words … how smartly we can navigate the contradictions in Life as well as the contradiction of what is within who & what we are. If we don’t learn negative capability then we must seem to inevitably seek to isolate being one thing and one thing only as a judge of whether we are living Life well, productively and with focus.

 

And maybe that is why I believe Death was, and is, intelligent — it has mastered negative capability. Death has embraced the contradiction of being one thing and yet living another seemingly contradictory idea.

If Death can see beauty in that which it will inevitably have to end with its own hand surely we can see good in bad … as well as be both bad & good ourselves.

 

Regardless.

 

It seems like there is a lesson in here for all of us. And maybe the lesson is, unfortunately, not that simple.

 

Death looks, on the surface, as one thing … and yet … is most likely another.

 

Death does one thing … and yet … most likely thinks many other things.

 

We view Death as one thing and avoid him … and yet … should we meet him on the street on his way to meet someone other than us … he may greet us with a smile.

 

While Death’s perception challenge  is actually called “affective fallacy” <confusion between what it is and what it does> this is a challenge we all face in Life.

 

I imagine, in the end, the lesson is a simple one … sometimes Life just isn’t that simple.

 

Ok.

 

Ditch the ‘sometimes.’best worst good bad life complicated

 

Life is never that simple.

 

We are more than one thing … we are a sum of all our parts … we are part of everyone we have met <and will meet> … and we are, at our core, a reflection of a multi-faceted character containing aspects of all which we desire to be as well as some aspects which we view slightly glumly as ‘the aspects I do not desire to be … but am.’

 

We either embrace the contradictions or … well … we will most likely suck at dealing with Life and living Life.

 

Anyway.

 

What I do know is that I wish someone taught “negative capabilities 101” because we should all sign up for that class. It would be a better world if we were all competent in negative capabilities.

 

 

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“When the first living thing existed, I was there waiting.

When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.”

 

Neil Gaiman

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purposeful ignorance & purposeful lack of listening

January 5th, 2017

 

genius calvin

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Calvin & Hobbes:

“Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?”

 

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Mrs. Wormwood:

“What state do you live in?”

 

Calvin:

“Denial.”

 

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Calvin & Hobbes:

 

“In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.”

 

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Well.

 

I am not sure there is anything worse a person can do in my eyes than to ignorance closed mindembrace purposeful ignorance. I may actually believe it is worse than lying.

 

Technically, purposeful ignorance occurs when a person knows the truth but chooses to ignore it, or the person refuses to abandon false beliefs and pursue the development of further knowledge.

 

According to the Urban Dictionary willful ignorance is: the practice or act of intentional and blatant avoidance, disregard or disagreement with facts, empirical evidence and well-founded arguments because they oppose or contradict your own existing personal beliefs.”

 

But, to me, there are three levels of purposeful ignorance:

 

  • accepted ignorance: I have an attitude, perception or belief and I go about my life doing nothing to engage my thinking and expand what I know <unlearning avoidance is what I call this>

 

 

  • confirmed ignorance: with the intent to show everyone that I am not ignorant I actually proactively engage in news & opinion offerors … uhm … but I only do so with those who have the same attitudes, perceptions and beliefs that I do <learning how to better articulate what I already think is what I call this>.

 

 

  • ignorant ignorance: I actively engage with people who have different views and maybe even have some discussions and give the impression I am open minded … but even while nodding my head sagely I am simply building additional walls around what I already believe and think <listening without listening is what I call this>

 

The last of those three is the most heinous type of ignorance. You actually have the opportunity to learn and you choose to not learn diddleysquat.

 

It is heinous to me because there are gobs of well-intended people who are smart but just don’t actively engage in learning new shit because … well … they got shit to do.

 

Do I like that they are unengaged in learning & unlearning? No.

 

Can I see how it could happen? Yes.

 

In addition … almost every single one of us have moments of purposeful shortcuts not thereignorance.

 

At its worst it is a conscious choice to be ignorant rather than challenge themselves and acknowledge a truth about reality.

At its best we have simply bucketed some things in our minds as ‘decided’ in order to short cut some things and invest energy in others <and we all do the this>.

 

To be clear on this issue.

 

The reason I think people who do the third type of purposeful ignorance should be strapped to some pole and whipped is because they are consciously & actively being ignorant while most of us accept our ignorance because we admittedly like to think we understand things and we certainly understand that challenging what we already believe is difficult.

 

For most of us challenging what we believe is difficult because it means admitting that beliefs are subject to change and some could actually be wrong … and … well … we feel much more comfortable thinking that some things are just etched in stone.

 

This is not denial this is simply avoidance.

And we all do it on occasion.

 

But we also do not go through the motions of publicly showcasing that we are actively listening to try and challenge our beliefs.

We accept them and observe them and articulate them.

 

That’s it.

 

unlearn business tired old ideasAnd maybe this is simple laziness in not wanting to have to do the work to rethink opinions & beliefs and unlearning shit we thought we knew and then having to explain why we change dour minds and … well … you get it.

 

Our closemindedness is mostly driven by avoidance <purposeful or not>.

 

And I even give some people a break on this topic.

 

Psychological research tells us that some people are cognitively complex while others prefer cognitive simplicity, in other words, some people are open to experience while other are closed minded.

Some people are cognitively flexible while others are cognitively rigid.

 

I could suggest that those who are cognitively simple, closed minded and/or rigid are much more likely to engage in the ‘accepted ignorance’ level of purposeful ignorance that I noted earlier.

 

These are not stupid people by any stretch of the imagination and they most certainly have the ability to be ‘smart’ <or broader in thinking> … they are simply people who would rather be comfortably ignorant rather than ‘intellectually smart’.

 

In addition … Urban Dictionary suggests that some people are “cognitive misers“, i.e., they do not to examine things intellectually if they don’t feel they have to.

 

And another valid reason is … well … conformity. While this sounds ‘sheeplike’ it obvious sheep hughis not always. We all engage in some aspects of conformity because it helps us not only fit in but provide us with some daily stability which permits us to engage our energy elsewhere. That is why a shitload of people tend to believe what those around them believe because questioning those beliefs would lead to conflict, possibly rejection and … well … energy investment.

 

And, look, there are some nice benefits to conforming.

 

Conformists have the greater potential to find a mate, or mates, to climb the social ladder of “success,” to have others speak well of them and to enjoy the benefits of a social support system.

 

And, with all that said, you know what? I can live with that.

 

As much as a curious, always seeking truth, person like me finds purposeful ignorance to be an egregious & utter lack of responsibility to living Life to its fullest and being engaged in Life … in general … I accept that there are some acceptable versions of purposeful ignorance <and, yet, I will do anything I can to break thru to these people and engage in some thoughtful thinking>.

 

I absolutely believe that learning and unlearning, is a lifelong process and ultimately leads to a fuller, richer Life. I will participate in learning/unlearning through my own discussions and I will engage with anyone, anywhere, on any topic, at any time.

 

I understand that deeply ingrained purposeful ignorance is incredibly difficult to change but I also never, ever, underestimate people’s capacity for change.

 

I will continue to be interested in the views of others, even where I disagree with them, and I will always be interested in understanding why others act and think in the way that they do.

 

I believe the importance of this type of relevant knowledge mainly resides in the ultimate negotiation of ‘what will be.’ in other words … how we, as people, achieve the best possible outcomes.

 

And that is why I will end here.

 

My third level of purposeful ignorance, “Ignorant ignorance”, is evil.

hunter bad boss assholeAnd it takes an evil person to consciously commit it.

 

I cannot even attempt to understand how someone could fuck with learning & unlearning in such a purposeful manner. Faking learning, or an interest in learning … or faking sincere curiosity … is maybe the most heinous act one could commit.

 

They are jerks. And, unfortunately, we have no scientific research for a cure for jerks.

 

 

 

Enlightened Conflict