Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Meaning in our Acts

I was troubled for awhile with a dissident voice regarding my recent hostility to a meetup group that was a glorified tourguide that was some guy's business; when I intended to join that particular event, I assumed the fee was to let the group see behind-the-scenes parts of the transit system, and almost walked away when it became clear that the main dude was just making a living off of this.

The dissident voice was saying "either you're willing to pay for the event or not; is the value of the tour worth the amount you paid or not? If not, that's fine, but if it is, it should not bother you that a guy was supporting himself off of it".

I've come to peace on the matter by noting that the meaning in our acts is something it's okay for us to think about, and that includes financial decisions. We are right to reject things like this as blind transactions simplified to a trade of funds for services; while that is part of the transaction and we are able to accept or reject on that basis, it's also fair to remember that every action in our lives is potentially imbued with meaning, and while meaning is hard to quantify it's also an important part of how we live meaningful lives. Something having the wrong meaning can be enough to cause us to make decisions that are not understandable through analyses of the cost/benefit exchanges; we do things that suit our self-image, that fit our narratives of life, and potentially reject things that are alien to that.

That's the generic understanding that opens up the space for my specific understanding; that I like open egalitarian communities as circles of friends, and chafe at those that are too centric around a person, or where one person is supported by the rest, absent good justification (and even when there is good justification it changes how I'd perceive such a group). And that's okay.

In general I am bothered by the two halves of this:

  • The free market allows for people to imbue economics with morality by making choices as to where they'll buy, so we don't need regulation to protect that
  • There's no place for morality in buying decisions; people should go with the best product, and use the money they save to benefit whatever charity they care about, which is kind of silly anyhow
I've often heard the same person make both halves of that at different times.

I accept neither half.


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