Pseudo-Intellectual Junk

Sorry - feeling narcissistic.

To what extent is care for someone reasonable?

International strife. Syria. UN Security Council. Assad. Civil conflict. Israel. Bulgaria. Iran. Tourists. 37 lives - changed.

Domestic unrest. Colorado. 12 trajectories stopped midpath. 50 trajectories steered off course. Potentials - robbed. Time - stolen. Futures - unknown. Grief - overwhelming.

It is perhaps a small world. Coincidences - not only at the local level, but also at the international level. Paths coinciding. Odds - a million to one - overcome, shattered, annihilated - perhaps this is a divine signal. I would never have guessed such a coincidence on the international level. But thanks to the intersection of the two’s paths, now I know. And now I fear, especially in light of the recent acts of both international and domestic terror; will the spectators of the multi-nation (205, to be exact) event be OK?

It is honorable to wish the safety of anyone. But to what extent is concern for others reasonable? Should I really pursue my daily activities with concern lodged in the back of my mind? Is this healthy? Is this reasonable? Is this normal? Or should I wish well once, and leave the rest to whatever that turns or guides the axles of this universe, whether it be a physical being, a corporeal particle, something immaterial such as faith, or a preconceived blueprint? Alternately, does nothing guide the universe at all; does quantum uncertainty permeate every level of existence? Or do we forge our own realities daily - do we blaze our paths, steer our ships, and play the game?

Back to the subject of care. The deontologist would examine the motives behind my care. Do I care because I intrinsically value human life, or do I care because I value absolute physical perfection? Do I care because I value an irreplaceable combination of both mensa-level intellect and phenotypic (and likely genotypic, although I have yet to found out *) perfection? Am I in violation of the second categorical imperative?

The virtuist would tell me to carve a middle path. I should not be overly burdened, neither should I be completely unconcerned. Ultimately, behaving correctly - adhering to the golden means - is a matter of habit rather than conscious decision for the virtuous person. So I must ponder - do I habitually extend my care to others, or is this an exception?

The teleologist, however, would examine only the consequences of my action, and likely tell me to do whatever that makes me happiest. Well, what would make me happy is that nothing devastating occurs. But I doubt that I can effect change with mere thought, and with each thought my anxiety only swells in me. So perhaps my care is futile. And perhaps it is, in terms of peoples’ safety. But perhaps in a way it is not futile; perhaps my care, and my writing this post, are means to reminiscence and validation - in writing this, I am able to reminisce, and in presenting this, I extend the task of validation to you, my readers .

*Ask me in three-quarters of a year?

Just kidding!! Haha I did get a little carried away with this post but have at it. Hopefully someone will appreciate the comedy behind the façade of scholarship.

The only thing I can add is that our emotions are very highly skewed in various irrational ways. The degree to which we care for someone falls off much more rapidly than merely linear decay. More like an inverse square law, or worse.

If my sister gets a sunburn, I care a lot.

If my close friend breaks his arm, I care.

If a cousin loses his house and job, I care.

If a guy five blocks away gets shot, I care a little.

If an entire village in Syria gets wiped out by militias, I care, or I think I do, but not deeply, and not for long. It’s just “something on the news” to me.

At a strictly rational level, this is monstrous. Our ability to care should be a little closer to linear. If it were, we’d (probably?) act to prevent horrible things from happening. But…we wouldn’t be “human” any more, but some other species entirely. Maybe a better one.

Quoted for wit. And truth.

“When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it’s statistics.”
– Commonly attributed to Stalin, speaking to Churchill (but attribution is disputed at WikiQuotes).

Yeah, it was a real knee-slapper.


Insert stock reference to Monkeysphere here.

The manner of death matters as well.
If the 17 year old girl who lives nearby gets shot by a right-wing terrorist, I care deeply.
If she dies in a snowmobile accident, I’m not really bothered.
If a cow falls on her head, it’s hilarious.

After brief reflection, I have concluded that I care more for the Human Condition than for any particular details of it. Individual incidents with tragic outcomes could be followed through a thread that leadsback to a a Social Order that as a whole, cares too little about the risks and too much about the rewards.

There is dysfunctional prioritizing underpinning our so-called civilization, which on the same day led to two tragic events. One thread led to James Holmes walking into a Colorado theater with weapons. Another led to a pickup driver speeding down a Texas highway. Both led to the deaths of more than a dozen people.

I care about those threads, and what starts them, not the tiny incidents that collide at the ends of them with conspicuous media coverage.

“Every truth is a part of a larger truth.”