Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Bodhisattva of Suburbia

A half-baked idea for a short story:We always thought he was a bit loopy, but when I got to know him, he told me about places to be, other places, where cultures mixed. I didn't know why he called himself a Bodhisattva until much later and now I wonder how he could bear to be in such a place, seeing what he had seen. Some places are meant for the naïve and innocent

I was meaning to expand on this a bit when I got home - the 61c counts enough as home, in terms of mindset. International Labour Day is important for the recognition of the cause of quality of life for Labour. Some time back, freer markets gave employers the ability to force people to work obscene numbers of hours for paltry wages. Organised Labour, through strikes and legal engagement, has made America and parts of Europe a better place - works have both legalities and tradition on their side in protecting them from poor labour conditions, 10+ hour days, and wages that are insufficient for sustaining life (in most places). These restrictions on capitalism are vital for the welfare of the least abled, and are things that we should be hoping to continue to expand in the days to come. A 6 hour work day would be a major achievement. That, unfortunately, would be a luxury - while work standards have made major progress over the last hundred years in America and Western Europe, the "inefficiency" that gives people breathing room has helped increase the drive to outsource labour to other nations in the name of free trade - other nations that lack these protections (as well as other protections, e.g. environmental concerns). Until and unless our trade partners are chosen by parity in laws, most things which we domestically manage to care about will simply be hidden from us through outsourcing rather than being eliminated, and we will likely suffer from that in the end. Organised labour must both defend its interests locally and legally to be safe in the short term, and must strive to do so globally as well to be safe in the long term (and true to its principles). Economic thinking that neglects strategy and noneconomic values will lead to ruin - to increase economic efficiency, we should focus on improvements in technology rather than finding cheaper labour, and we must strive to fight the tunnel-vision (or maybe tunnel-values) that classical economics and business suggests. Like early christians borrowed liberally from pre-christian knowledge and philosophy, we should note that the concepts are worth learning, but it requires a careful, skeptical, philosophically aware reading in order to avoid being considered either just (as some people suggest) or the only economics worth putting into practice.

Similarly, I find it disappointing when people believe that there actually is a single truth to philosophical areas of human endeavours - as if they could give a "rational" mind eternity to think, it would come up with a set of true, objective values and morals for us to follow. Given some values, I think it could make a number of systems from them (allowing it arbitrary choices here and there) that would be on some kind of a pareto-surface for those values, but no human has static values - on a sufficiently fine scale, our values shift every day, and are fuzzy enough that trying to maximise based off of them inherits some of that fuzziness. The clarity that we hope to attain by classifying and systematising our values has limits, and while I believe it to be an improvement on not undergoing that process, it neither has, wants, nor would find useful mathlike clarity. To be that fastidious is an illness that would itself strangle chances of human fulfillment. In reading other philosophies, we should be seeking inspiration, not wholesale adoption. So long as we still accept things in life that are not too close to what we would do were we the architects of society, society can still work.

Yesterday, while at Srees, it was locally a snow news day, and on TV there was a programme telling people about someone who found out that their husband was homosexual and their "marriage was a lie". It then promised to people that if they stayed tune after the adverts, they'd get a list of hints as to if their husband is gay. One of the other customers joined me in a bit of laughter about this, and some part of me was also happy that that kind of connection (even if it's not an hour-long conversation on philosophy or hanging out in a park) is possible. As frustrating as human nature sometimes is, sometimes it's really awesome.

Tags: philosophy

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