Go Figure!

We are living in a weird kind of world. Our physical needs are well catered for in a modern and comfortable environment, but our mental state is in turmoil, we often feel disenchanted and disempowered. The world does not make sense anymore and everything seems to be upside down. Go Figure!

This article is my attempt to shed some light on this current state of affairs.  Let’s pause for a minute or two and think about some essential life lessons. Before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak think.

Thinking is part of what makes us human. What differentiates humans from animals is our cognitive abilities such as fully developed language, reasoning capabilities, and the ability to make plans for the future. We are all born with the capacity to think, but not everyone is capable of critical thinking, and it is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced with discipline.

The problem is that most people don’t know what thinking is, they confuse it with feeling. Go figure!

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is, he confuses it with feeling.”

Thomas Sowell

We all like to think of ourselves as rational, strategic creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we tend to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge, vindicates our prior decision, or sustains our existing beliefs.

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what it is not. But before we can exercise our cognitive ability to think critically, we need to have a certain knowledge base as a starting point. We can only think critically about things we have knowledge of. We don’t have the structure to think deeply if we haven’t spent time mastering a body of knowledge related to that thinking.

The way to arrive at the truth is through discussion because the truth is never absolute it is always complex and dynamic. You can’t have a deep discussion about some important issues without having freedom of expression. You know that you live in a free society if you can speak your mind without fear of being harassed, bullied, censored, canceled, or dismissed from your job because of something you said. You know that you live in a tyranny if you are censored, bullied, harassed, and the “Thought Police /The Ministry of Truth” are after you because of something you said that goes against the official narrative.

“History books are full of stories of people being violently silenced because of their opinion. The people doing the silencing are never the good guys.”

Politicians want to establish themselves as morally and intellectually superior to the population, [warning: you may lose some brain cells watching them speak.] People in positions of power tend to think that Common people are incapable of thinking for themselves so they step in, and talk to the citizenry with a condescending tone to make them understand that the government can think for them instead and dictate to them how they should live their life.

Freedom of expression is the lifeblood and cornerstone of a free society, without the freedom to think and express ourselves freely, there is no free society. So, we’d better start thinking for ourselves freely before it becomes illegal. Don’t get all romantic about your ideas and the ideas that the group promotes. You are not married to those ideas. Some ideas are good and others not so good. Stay free to adhere to the ideas that are congruent with your outlook in life and toss aside anything that makes you uncomfortable.

People should be able to stand for what they think is right. They should be able to fight for what is honorable and they should have the freedom to reject what is slimy and unacceptable. The problem these days is that people are becoming more and more unhinged about all kinds of issues, and they do this with a kind of totalitarian certainty about their beliefs that is concerning.  You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to tell me what mine should be and don’t try to shove your ideas down my throat because I am perfectly capable of forming my own ideas about this and that.

“Just because I disagree with you, does not mean that I hate you. We need to relearn that in our society”

Morgan Freeman

If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed. Go figure!

 Thomas Jefferson is believed to be the true author of this quote; he explained his thinking further by adding that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; in as much as he who knows nothing is nearer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

 We are living in a world of information overload, data about almost everything is available to all who wish to access it at the click of a button. We are constantly bombarded by a steady stream of information (sometimes misinformation, and disinformation) about a whole range of subject matters, making it very difficult to know what and who to believe. 

Misinformation is false information that is being spread, regardless of intent to mislead. Disinformation on the other hand is false information that is deliberately misleading, manipulated narrative or facts or propaganda that is being spread with the intent to hurt or damage a person or organization. Did you know that the world media is owned by only 9 corporations who have a near-monopoly on the type of information that people receive? Those 9 corporations are exercising an enormous amount of influence on how people perceive the world they live in.

“The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power.”

Malcolm X

We are living in the age of deception. The truth is not the truth anymore.  Facts don’t matter anymore, what matters is how you feel about this and that. People get triggered and enraged by inconvenient facts that they are not ready to receive. Those who are in control need the masses to constantly live in a state of fear and anger. Fear drive people to turn to the government to protect and save them. Anger is always useful because governments like to have the masses turn their anger and frustration onto the  boogeyman who can be blamed for everything. Go figure!

The most disturbing aspect of what is going on in the world today is that it is tearing apart our society and family. Take a family of 4 individuals, each member of this family has their personalized information funnel that they come to rely upon, and trust and it is typically different for all 4 members of this family, tearing them apart. Those narratives purposefully polarize our families and society.

The net effect is that people are exhausted from the conflicting narratives, people are getting sick and tired of trying to figure out who and what to believe. More and more people are suffering from media fatigue they are becoming so disillusioned by all the lies and nonsense that they reject all kind of information that is coming through. Go figure!

But there is a silver lining, this media fatigue is driving people to learn to trust a deeper source of truth i.e., their truth. People are saying: to themselves “I don’t know what’s true and what’s not true out there, but I know what is true for me.” For some people is just a gut feeling for others is a deeper form of personal truth.  When things get really crazy, they stop for a minute or two and say to themselves. “That doesn’t sound right at all. Am I being played? Well, there is no way for me to be sure of anything, but I am not playing this game.” This way of thinking opens a path for us to become less vulnerable and less susceptible to all those manipulation media tactics because we empower ourselves and become no longer the victims of misinformation and disinformation. 

We need people who are so strong they can be gentle. So educated, they can be humble. So fierce, they can be compassioante. So passionate, they can be rational and so disciplined, they can be free.”

Unknown author

And this, my dear friend is Your Quest. Go figure how the world works and find your own silver lining.

Happy 4th of July to all my American friends and followers.

If you wish to support my work you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble. The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com

Rules to Break. The Internet Makes You Anonymous

The book ‘The Rules to Break– A Personal Code for Living Your Life Your Way’ by Richard Templar, exposes all those ‘well-intended’ rules and gracious advice from teachers, parents, friends that somehow become ingrained in us. The trouble is many of those rules often aren’t true and yet they have a major influence on our lives. Instead of blindly accepting the rules set down for us by other people, we should learn to question them, think for ourselves, and be more fluid in our judgment. This article is the first of a series of articles I have decided to write offering you a selection of rules to break and the question of the day is whether the internet makes you anonymous, why freedom of expression is so fundamental, and how Cancel Culture is becoming a thing these days.

Rule to break: The internet makes you anonymous.

Rules to break: The internet makes you ananymous. Photo by @freepik Via freepik.com

The ‘accepted’ rule is that the internet makes you anonymous. Richard Templar disagrees. It’s so easy he said, sitting all on your own in your bedroom with your computer, to think that no one can see you. You use your computer like a mask, except that your computer doesn’t conceal your real identity. You may feel a level of detachment from your social networking pages or your emails, but the people who read them are very conscious that these words or pictures come straight from you. So, you have to take responsibility for what you say and do online. If you wouldn’t say a thing to someone’s face, don’t say it to Facebook either. Be considerate of what pictures you post or the tone of the emails you send. If you wouldn’t do it or say it offline, then don’t do it or say it online. And if in doubt don’t.

New Rule: The internet doesn’t make you anonymous, but it can make you a hero or a prat.

Social media makes you all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it”.

Mike Tyson

There are a lot of talks these days about Cancel Culture which is defined by Wikipedia as a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrown out of social media or professional circles either online on social media or in the real world or both. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to be canceled i.e., culturally blocked from having a prominent public platform or career.

On the one hand, we have people who are condoning, encouraging, and participating in cancel culture, those people have a tendency to see themselves as civil rights activists and romanticize their activities as some radical but necessary form of citizen justice. On the other hand, we have the canceled victims who because of a misplaced word, post, tweet, image, or statement (which by the way falls perfectly within the remit of the law) can see their whole life and livelihood destroyed.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In the UK, article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 protects the Freedom of Expression: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities and regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of his choice.”

Superior Rule: Freedom of Expression is a fundamental and inalienable right of all individuals

Free Speech. Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

Freedom of expression in all its forms and manifestations is a fundamental and inalienable right of all individuals. Additionally, it is an indispensable requirement for the very existence of a democratic society. At the same time, it is also universally recognized that it is not an absolute right, and every democracy has developed some system of limitations on freedom of expression. Any restrictions on freedom of expression must firstly be provided by law and secondly, it must be for the protection of a legitimate and overriding interest. For example, common limitations or boundaries to freedom of speech relate to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, classified information, copyright violations, trade secrets, etc.

Cancel culture is a direct affront to the freedom of thought, expression, and speech. The idea is to blame, shame, and destroy the target. There are no rules, no code of conduct. It is open season, and it operates beyond the remit of the law of the land. You can’t really describe it as a movement because it has neither leaders nor membership and those who take part in it do so erratically, but it is a practice that is often used in the political arena to ostracize people with a different political opinion. It is not clear whether the goals are to right a specific wrong and redress an injustice, or to speak out against and condemn an untrustworthy system and make a plea for a fairer one or whether it is just done for sport and for the thrill of humiliating and destroying the target.

Whether you condemn or condone cancel culture is up to you and can be the subject of some virulent debates, but for me, Cancel Culture is all about how we communicate and treat each other. Wanting to destroy someone’s life and livelihood just because of their view on a particular subject is taking it way too far; it demonstrates a lack of decency, way too much intolerance, and most of all an astonishing overreach of the power of media. It is not uncommon nowadays to be de-platformed, censored, banned from your social media just because; media companies have granted to themselves the ultimate power of censorship which goes way beyond what the law of the land allows. Think about this for a minute or two and let it sink in.

Rule of Karma

French Revolution. Eugene Delacroix

But beware, because the pendulum always swings in both directions; you could be a perpetrator of Cancel Culture today and become a target tomorrow. A vivid example of this could be found in the French Revolution which began in 1787 as a populist movement against the Monarchy. The uprising culminated in the beheading of Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette.

Maximilien Robespierre was a controversial figure of this period in French history. He started his life as a lawyer, became a politician and a revolutionary figure of the French Revolution who actively participated in the revolt against the French Monarchy; he had an active role in helping put in place a new Republique based on the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. But as we all know by now, power corrupts, and it corrupts absolutely.

Robespierre became so obsessed with the idea of ‘defending’ the revolutionary ideas at all costs that he became a ruthless and bloody dictator himself, imposing his will right, left, and center and being directly responsible for the massacres and public executions of almost 17,000 ‘dissidents’. Robespierre famously declared that “Without terror virtue is impotent”. This dark period of French history is known as the Reign of Terror.

Eventually, a group of brave souls decided that enough was enough, the fearmongering and killing had to stop; so, they decided to give Robespierre a taste of his own medicine. They took it upon themselves to arrest Robespierre and his companions in crimes and publicly executed/canceled them on the same guillotine used for Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. This final execution put an end to the Reign of Terror.

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