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lordpeter (profile) wrote,
on 2-29-2012 at 11:45pm
If I spent my whole life with an EKG attached to my head you could look at all the brain activity that I've had, from birth til now (assuming it has perpetual battery life, can survive aquatic conditions, etc).

I'm sure as I mastered locomotion, developed certain cognitive processes, and generally aged that brain activity increased. Probably really sharply at first, and gradually it began to decline.

It isn't so much that I've been thinking "more" per se...I just feel like the thinking I have been doing has a higher concentration of Importance in the Big Scheme of Things.

I attribute this to a number of things:
1. READING books like Eating Animals (Jonathan Safran Foer), Three Cups of Tea (the Story of Greg Mortenson), and different holy texts like the Bible, Koran, and Bagavad Gita.
2. NOT PLAYING video games. There's not a lot of ways to spin this. For some reason neither League of Legends nor World of Warcraft work on my computer, and because I have absolutely no self-control when I am able to play video games, not being able to play them has opened up oodles of time with a higher mean quality.
3. PHILOSPHIZING as a result of being in a couple philosophy classes and taking my time in OCF more seriously. Basically I am now AWARE that there are questions that are important and that needed answers, or at least deserve the sweat of the struggle.

So, you're walking through the park in a brand new pair of Fancy Pants. They're a beautiful _______ color, and the _________ fabric is pleasing to the touch. As you stroll about, enjoying Mother Nature in all her splendor, you hear a cry for help! You immediately turn to the source of the disturbance and see a young boy in the nearby pond. He is drowning! Do you jump in and save the boy, even though everyone knows water will ruin your ________ pants?

Yeah, it's a trap (like any good thought experiment). It's meant to make the point that their is a moral obligation to help fellow humans who are "drowning." Which I buy; unfortunately, that implies that the vast majority of folks in our modern world aren't living up to this seemingly simple standard. Because of our unlimited global perspective we know when children are starving, when people are oppressed, and when genocides occur. But we don't want to ruin our Fancy Pants.

Q: That's stupid. There's just too many people to help. I won't make a difference.

You're stupid. Back to the thought experiment. Does the NUMBER of children drowning in the pond matter? What if there are thirty? "Nahh, I'll never be able to save 'em all."

Q: Well, I'll focus on my career right now, so that when I do go to help them out I'll be more of a benefit.

The kid is drowning. Now. Or, literally, children are starving as I type this. Which is kind of hypocritical if I'm really defending my theory, but what can ya do? This is akin to building a fence around the pond to prevent future floaters. Noble intent. But you cannot walk away from the children who are drowning now. Their need is urgent and doesn't subside at your convenience.

Q: But I like my life. Why should I sacrifice my American Dream to help someone else? Sounds Communist.

Sure, there's definitely a socialist component to this altruism. Maybe you are redistributing your wealth insomuch as you're sacrificing your Fancy Pants to save the kid, but I'm not asking you to become that starving kid. And I think this perspective still allow for capitalism and the pursuit of happiness, you just have to get everyone else you can to the basic quality of living that every human is deserved of. Then you can play Wall Street to get enough for the third edition of the iPad.

So what am I doing here. I read about Greg Mortenson educating Pakistani children, Foer does his own part in raising his child vegetarian, hell, even Cracked has an article about the Chuck Norris of feeding the hungry.

What am I doing?

All my aspirations in life seemed okay a little while ago. A family. Writing a book, making some music, even get some serious acting done. How can I do that now? I know I've talked with Kenny Neville about relative complaining. Think about the First World Problem Meme, it mocks all our gripes. Do we have the right to complain? I always thought we did for, and in certain situations I think we do. But in the meantime we ignore the less fortunate. I like to think I'm a good person. I help people on their homework when the ask. I don't hit Kenny Seamans (not Neville) in the balls when he drives me crazy. I pray prayers and tithe tithes. Sure I cross lines sometimes, but no one is perfect.

I think the worst part about all this is how easy it is to drive on in life. I remember how challenging I found Three Cups of Tea when I read it. Some people question it's truthfulness. That's irrelevant. It still demonstrates one man taking on the Big Problems of This World.

Which, leads to the question: "Does anything in This World really matter?" Should I be focusing on my personal salvation, and consequentially sharing the Word with others? Or if I were Hindi I might focus on meditation and achieving moksha. There's an altruism to the Buddhist belief in interdependent arising. Are these the goals that matter? Sometimes I joke with friends that they can blow anything off because, eventually, it will never have mattered. Which is kinda not a joke. I'm not preaching full-fledged hedonism or detachment. I know by living a good life in this world we can ease the pain of others, which even Bertrand Russell acknowledges to be a worthy secular goal.

What am I doing?
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