Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Anthropocene, a Stoic, and Identity Politics

We're a tribal species, more or less developed in order to interact with 150 others.  We grew up only interacting positively with members of the same tribe.  Others were to be shunned, resisted, or subjugated.

Today we live in a globalized world and a radically different worldview is no farther away than the next cubicle.  The farthest corner of the world is less than an hour away by submarine base ICBM.

Welcome to the Anthropocene.

I bought a tee-shirt thinking it would be great to wear on one of our average 8, monthly 16, or annual 26 mile walks with the terriers.  The day it came I ran it through the wash and without thinking about it started my day.

Driving to the school for flag football practice and a parent/teacher conference, I remembered that the teacher in question is a Creationist.

Now I like this teacher well enough.  She runs a tight ship.  It is elementary school so the science is pretty simple.  I'm glad my child is in her classroom.  She is a good fit for the kind of kid he is.  Ironically, she's doing more for science than my other two kids' teachers are currently.

I'm not above the odd bit of trolling, at least when I think it might have some positive purpose, but I try not to troll in my hometown, or anywhere it is hard to conceive any good resulting.  What is the saying, "don't poop where you eat" or "A prophet is without honor in his hometown."  Luckily the evening was cold and I had a vest in the back seat of the car.

Funny thing is, how it might be perceived never occurred to me when I was buying it.  

I admire those who can take on the Cynic style of life, throwing a culture's subjectivity into its face.  The Stoic difference, however, is that while acknowledging the subjectivity, realizing that meaning is something we create and our creations are by necessity subjective, we see homo sapiens as a tribal species.

We do not exist only as individuals.  We live life together. We have more in common with the dog and her pack than the cat and her solitude.

Consequently, the Stoic view of virtue values, or at least accounts for the social as well as the individual.

I am not ashamed of my shirt.  I will happily wear it around town, or on the trail, or even when doing therapy dog visits but Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice are restraints as much as direction. 

The Stoic sees the excellent life as one lived in community.  The individual and the social live together.  I have no problem being myself.  I have no compulsion to throw who I am in the face of others.

Hello, my name is Daniel.  I am an atheist.  I understand some find Darwinian Evolution threatening.  I find it enlightening and sometimes humorous.  I don't understand why is should be conceived as a threat to anyone's worldview since prior to Darwin Christians and Jews widely believed the first few chapters of Genesis were allegory, but I don't feel a need to have an argument over it either.

I can not help it if some find me offensive, but I can control if I am needlessly and sometimes if I am incidentally offensive.  That is, perhaps, more difficult than it has been at other times in our history.  In an age of identity politics, many have been trained to of "know thyself" less as a way less of finding a way toward a satisfying life and more towards knowing whom to embrace or reject.

I am not afraid of being seen as, gossiped about, or treated as if I am an asshole.  Been there, done that, and it didn't matter.

I am not, however, compelled to act like an asshole, even incidentally.  If it is just about expressing myself, that too doesn't matter.

What is prudent?  Will good result?
What is temperate?  Am I sailing between the extremes the social and individual good?
What is courageous?  Am I avoiding folly as much as cowardice?
What is just? Am I treating the other as they ought to be treated?

In this case that is the crux of the matter.  How do our fellow citizens, how does the alien in our midst, deserve to be treated?

Anyhow, it is a nice shirt.  The quality is good and maybe you want to get yours here.

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