politics and power

Now that I’m no longer in college, I find reading philosophy oddly pleasurable.

I’m also a little angry that these dudes had all these grandiose theories and didn’t do shit about them. Ah, but maybe that will be me too.

What I’ve been wondering lately is whether or not politics were always set up to fail? Or if there’s still a way to save them?

In any case, Aristotle, who was oh so sure of himself, argued that political societies were essentially established to enforce justice. So my stubborn ass wrote a paper on how he lived in a dreamworld – as in yes, political societies may have been formed to establish justice (think police, law enforcement), but the only reason they survive is because of a greed for power.

A similar analogy would be how money was created to encourage self-sufficiency (through trading) but now money has become the end goal for many. In the same way, power was allotted to enforce justice but everyone became obsessed with the fucking power.

And so now, there’s a lack of accountability. It seems that many if not all of our politicians have been blinded to the true goal of political societies, not because they don’t care (because you don’t go through the painstaking process of the election if you don’t care), but because they don’t see any other means for survival. Having spent some time in DC, 70% of a politician’s time is spent trying to build up funds for their party if not for their own next election.

Politicians spend so much time trying to make sure they reelected that they actually don’t have time to focus on the true meaning of justice. It’s become about figuring out how to stay in power, because the other side is so evil. So when someone comes in and has some strong opinions, bad shit is obviously gonna go down because no one is paying attention.

re: John Oliver: Gun Control and Political Suicide

If someone with strong opinions and money comes in, we fucked. Because as a politician, it’s easy to think, I can take this money, spend a little less time campaigning, and spend more time trying to “carry out justice” aka “doing the job I was elected to do”. After all, “If I don’t take this money and don’t get reelected, these people are fucked anyway.” And that is how the government came to be.

My point is, the system kind of screwed them over in the first place. But was it the system? Or is politics itself the problem? After all, whenever power is allocated, something dangerous is always going to happen. In the case of the United States, power was allocated, then a very elaborate system was set up to try and control it, and things still got fucked.

If only there was a way to change the incentive system, to remove all the things that distract politicians from “enforcing justice”. Of the top of my head, money as a means of getting reelected, the polarized party system (where you’re chances of getting elected are higher if you’re own party likes you), honestly, parties in general (just vote for who you agree with jc). Finally, if there were some way to strip the status of equating a politician with power (which I know is an inherent part of the job), it would deter those from running who don’t actually care and are seeking a status symbol.

Useless thoughts, I know.

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is life truly a gift?

I think most of us would agree that life is full of suffering.

Most things happen by chance. And yet, we spend life wondering – What is perfection? What is happiness? How do i give my life meaning? And then we find a dream and kill ourselves trying to get there.

For others, there’s not even that chance. for others, life is spent trying to survive. and for what?

So I was inspired by this New Yorker article on anti-natalist David Benatar: “The Case for Not Being Born”

The case is that life is full of suffering. and we spend it trying to defend our children from suffering when the best case would have been to prevent it in the first place. That the gift of being a sentient being is truly a curse.

“While good people go to great lengths to spare their children from suffering, few of them seem to notice that the one (and only) guaranteed way to prevent all the suffering of their children is not to bring those children into existence in the first place”

And truthfully, it’s hard to defend against such a case.

There is so much suffering in the world. And all everyone is trying to do, is to make a case for themselves. A reason for being on this earth that makes all the suffering worth it. It’s why we seek simple pleasures or why we strive for the unattainable goals. Power and money and a belief that we are better than others. That somehow our life was worth a little bit more.

I mean in figuring out the question, what would make me happy, I’m really trying to answer the question, what makes my life worth it? Ironically, a lot of people have kids because that becomes their reason for being.

I don’t have a good answer to “is life truly a gift”, but I wonder if there’s a way to use this line of thinking to better humanity.

The thing is, at least in the US based society, no matter how much you care for others, your first priority is your family, your children, giving them the best that you can and giving away the leftovers if you feel that you have enough. It’s a sentiment of self-preservation and security first and then maybe, just maybe, if you’re feeling generous enough. Even charity is interesting because those who give often take away a good feeling for themselves, that we were generous, that we provided for others. It’s nearly impossible to commit a selfless act.

Perhaps there is a way to ignite a culture of being selfless and to incorporate this into our daily lives beyond what I would call “leftovers”. A shift in frame of mind I suppose. One way would be to somehow boost the power of giving where the “good feeling” that you get from giving is somehow worth significantly more than the good you get from spending on yourself. The other way, which is significantly more difficult, is to somehow get people to care about strangers the way they would care about their own family. I mean, what is it about blood that makes one human’s life more important to us than another (I suppose I wouldn’t understand seeing as I’m not a parent). If we had that perspective though, we would never let others be homeless or to sit in the conditions of prison, or to be refused entry into a country. There must be a way to shift a society’s perspective so that the security of others is closer to being equated with the security of ourselves and our families.

I don’t know what it is. And to be quite honest, I don’t even come close to that level of selflessness. But there must be a way.

Empathy

I wish there was a way to teach empathy. And to incentivize people to empathize.

To understand that the circumstances of your birth predetermine 50% of your life. Whether that was your parent’s careers and social status and education and maybe their religion. The country that you were born into and maybe even the state.

Your level of intelligence, your physical and mental health.

One of the things our country is struggling with most is the level of empathy. We’re so far apart now and we have no idea how to come back together. We listen to the people we want to listen to. And we trust what they’re saying regardless of what they’re saying. We refuse to listen to each other or to even try and understand.

Yes, it’s true, there are facts. But in my opinion, even facts can be subjective. If we ignore circumstances and individual perspectives, why someone thinks the way they think, how can we possibly think that we have the potential to change their mind? What makes us think that they would trust us enough to listen and if they listened that they would understand?

Truthfully, I feel like I don’t have enough empathy. I grew up as a minority, but with a life of privilege, with parents that were educated and had steady jobs. In a strongly liberal state with liberal parents. And I don’t understand the other side. The other perspective.

Truthfully, every time I try to understand the other side, it makes me angry, because it seems to unreasonable. And because of that, I tune it out. That’s not right.

Truthfully, I sometimes think that people who don’t agree with me are ignorant. But maybe they think the same of me.

We’re so divided now. How can we start to understand?