What is the “high road”

HIGH refers to lofty, elevated, aspirational, “evolved,” cultured, mature, and Godly.

The “high road” is a path one chooses to take in a moment of conflict or challenge to one’s ego. It’s choosing the path that is elevated, aspirational, spiritual, and civil, rather than choosing effortless baseness.

The “high road” takes effort. It has an objective that is greater than feeding ego or satisfying primitive urges. That objective is to be better than base because, on the higher plane, you are closer to the Divine.

The high road manifests in a number of ways:

  • Not knee-jerk or impulsive reaction, but rather thoughtful and empathetic.
  • Avoiding conflict and hurtful, vindictive interactions and confrontations. It is mindful of consequences to one’s reputation and that of those one represents.
  • Knowing when a battle shouldn’t be a battle and knowing when a situation is worth fighting for. Not battling for winning’s sake.
  • Not expecting someone to “treat you right” before you demonstrate more considerate and civil behavior.
  • Recognizing when your opinion or position may not be the only one or even the right one. As humans, we rarely have a clear picture of all the variables in play.
  • Understanding when standing your ground has more merit than just preserving ego.
  • Learning the difference between petty conflict and constructive tension. Differences of opinion expand opportunities for judging justly.
  • Respecting your own feelings without letting emotion get in the way of mindfulness. Not using what you feel as fact that has any bearing on anyone else’s truth.
  • Not belittling or denigrating people to make them lower or degraded, but rather considering their perspectives and contributions. Looking for the positive, rather than generating the negative.

Base name-calling and other low-brow actions are “base” and “low” because they are not what adults aspire to attain. For the spiritual, it is reveling in the primitive mundane.

Kindness trumps vindictiveness; forgiveness trumps holding on to poisonous grudges; broader thinking trumps narrow impulses.

Wikileaks & “truth”

wikileaks-and-truth“Give us the truth” > Truth is like the concept of Relevance: knowing that something is or isn’t is only relevant to judgments we’re trying to make; and something only appears relevant relative to the validation we’re looking for.

What “truth” — some relevant fact that supports some conclusion — are the leaks providing? That she seems to be saying one thing to one audience and something else to another audience? That’s knowing your audience.

That what she says to one seems to contradict what she says to the other? There’s a problem, because we don’t know where she really stands.

So we add other “truths” — she takes big bucks to say encouraging things to the other audience. Does taking big bucks imply that she’s telling the truth to that audience (and that, therefore, she’s not telling us “truth”) or that there’s more “truth” to that perspective than to the other perspective for us? That’s fallacy.

Then there is our tendency to see (or want to see) black or white. Is what she’s saying to each audience that appears in conflict mean that there’s nothing in between? Or maybe the apparent conflict means we prefer to see everything align perfectly, as though there aren’t legitimate perspectives on the same object depending on where you’re standing?

People on one side of the planet aren’t going to see the Full Moon that you’re seeing in your part of the world — that is, your perspective. But it’s the same moon.

This last point is the problem with the masses in general: The attitude that there can’t be different angles of the same truth and both be true. It’s too much work to triangulate on the truth, so it has to be simple with no apparent conflicts — and we thus blind ourselves to seeing how the actions she takes to treat each perspective can fulfill promises of both.

I think black/white concepts is reductive. I think that there are nuances to everything, and that when I watch adults deal with children, I see this differentiation of perspective without exception.

“Judeo-christian values” — already tried that

(Note: hover over the green, underlined words for their definitions.)

I was listening to NPR the other day interviewing Trump supporters asking them why they support Trump. Several of the interviewees mentioned a time in the past like in the late fifties when we had “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Leave It to Beaver” …

Life was ordered, homogeneous, and harmonious because everyone was wanting the same thing for the same reasons based on the same belief system and the same worldview. So many Conservatives want a “return to a nation of judeo-christian values.”

I can understand that. When everyone believes the same thing the same way and they want all the same things, there’s no friction.

Well, there was, and is, friction. But any dissent is considered evil or rooted in psychological dysfunction or Satan, and treason or unpatriotic, and thus easily ostracized.

“Judeo-christian values” was the ingredient, or agent, of homogenization. It was the common frame of reference to judge who was in and who was out. Who was a saint and who was a deviant. It was only a mechanism.

Still, I get it — I get how agreement can result in unity. What I don’t get is the reference to judeo-christian values. Just because so many shared them, does not mean that was the source of Harmony.

Harmony at the expense of individual beliefs and Liberty is not stability. It is forced calm. It is a mechanical delusion, wherein as long as the machine is operating smoothly, we believe everything is fine.

I think we do need to find another unifying agent, something to aspire to beyond being “the devil you know.”  I don’t think that judeo-christian values is something we should return to, if in fact they had ever been in reality a source of love, goodness, and righteousness. They don’t get us more than the illusion of unity.

We were certainly not a nation of love and tolerance. Belief in Christ was used more as a weapon rather than a light. Fear, control, bearing false witness, and ostracism were the tools of choice.  “Values” were based in judgment, fear of punishment or reprisal, rejection, separation, and privation. Homogenized “christian” society demanded mindless or uncritical obedience.

And everything was white.  On the NPR program, they interviewed 60-something Black folk who only ever saw the nuclear white family. They actually marveled and hollered, “Look, there’s a negro on TV” when a “colored person” was featured.  Mixed couples were ostracized and harassed.  Women had their place, and it wasn’t in the boardroom.

Even depictions of Christ were/are white and very European-looking.

People who are calling for the return of Christian “values” über alles are pining for homogenization … forcing everyone to think the way they think and believe what they believe using the lowest bar available that they can immediately identify with.  They’re tired of “political correctness,” an evil that forces mindless consideration for the feelings of people different from you.  So much effort, and so much exposure of one’s bigotry.

I don’t think that unity of thinking and worldview is a bad thing. But forcing me to believe in your warped version of Christ is never going to happen. Your Christianity is nothing that I want to aspire to.

There has to be a better way than your “Way,” which allowed for Christian-justified segregation, slavery, lynching, lobotomies, and so forth.  All human evils polished with “it’s God’s will.”

…I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant, a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.

And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme — whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence — the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.

~C.S. Lewis

As for religious rule, I’ll take my chances with Christ’s return to establish his kingdom before I accept the perversion of Grace offered by Christians in their supreme arrogance in thinking they can institutionalize righteousness and, most perversely of  all, in their own corrupt image.

Epistemic closure is an act of will

Just reviewing what epistemic closure is…a good 2010 NYTimes article: “‘Epistemic Closure’? Those Are Fighting Words

It’s a very good read.

Reading a logical analysis of ‘epistemic closure’ — the logic topic — on http://plato.stanford.edu, there is an argument against the existence of epistemic closure: 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘳𝘨𝘶𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 f𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘺𝘴𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘒𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘨𝘦.

I think we MUST concede that there is a logical definition, and then there’s its non-logical application. It’s precisely 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 there is lack of analysis of knowledge that there is closure.

Or better still, you can “analyze” what you 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 is knowledge (when it’s not knowledge) and simply reinforce “truth” of what you believe (bias confirmation) or just add volume to the muck of what you believe is fact.

What we mean by closure is that new knowledge based on analysis of facts (existing “knowledge”?) or even the willingness to consider facts outside your echo chamber is non-existent or seriously (willfully) inhibited.

With epistemic closure, when there is cognitive dissonance, people “resolve” the dissonance in favor of what fits the narrative they want to believe or that fits within what they think they “know.”

The existence of “death panels” was a shining example. Without critical evaluation of facts (like actually reading the bill), you hear “death panels” from a demagogue; and no amount of presenting facts works to dissuade you from believing such a thing exists. It echoes well with both what you want to believe and what you think it fits “logically” into what you think you “know.”

Understanding epistemic closure

Re: Epistemic closure comes back to haunt the GOP

Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion, or what we call “knowledge.” Epistemic has to do with knowledge or the degree to which to which we validate it.

When you limit what constitutes truth, even the possibility of truth, or where truth can be found, you have closed off an important part of how we gain knowledge. This is bias.

When you use ways of thinking that don’t follow implications (what is logically implied by honestly evaluating how one thing leads to another or what needs to be true for something to exist [entails]), you have effectively created an echo chamber.

Now imagine the combination. Most often what happens with his system of thought is you rationalize away a possible truth (cognitive dissonance) because it doesn’t fit what you want to believe (bias) by either distorting the implications to fit your bias or denying it outright.

This is epistemic closure.  You have built a seal around what you allow yourself to know.

Encrusted lantern of Grace

Let’s say that Christ is “The Light” of God’s unconditional Grace; and Christians are the lanterns.

And anything beyond Christ’s direct teachings is extrapolation. We know about extrapolation: the farther away you get from the source, the thinner the connection to the core truth.  (This is different from refinement of understanding.)

Imagine now years and years — thousands — of extrapolation. We can see them like geographical layers of history in the earth’s surface; or layers of colored wax that accumulates with each dip of the wick into a vat of molten wax.

Imagine now the rings of extrapolated crust or colored wax around a lantern. How much light do we actually expect to get through?

Today’s christianists and dominionists are not Christian. They have straightened the path, paved it with gold, and lined it with nice fruit trees and water wells. They shelter it so that no rocks, rifts, or bumps occur that would cause them to stumble as they skip through life worrying about how well other people are skipping on the road of their making and without considering the path at all.

Some aren’t even skipping. They’re standing in the middle of this road, content that as long as they’re on something shiny, they at least have a seat at the location where it supposedly leads.

But both types of gold-pathers consider holiness to be in the encrustment and just the right type of skipping. They fancy the effort they make to polish the road or even to pave it or plant the fruit trees as merit, as layers of holiness by which they will be recognized when arriving at their supposed destination.

They have confused the journey and what they (would) find on a path to righteousness with their paving toils and protecting the path from debris — temptations and the ungodliness of others. Their “job” isn’t really a relationship with a divine being, but rather it is with a path they think this being will approve of.

They are Pharisees in the truest sense of the word.

Cartoon reasoning

Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, running for governor:

There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement. And yet it’s been an accepted concept in our culture today. Nowhere does it say, ‘Well, he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.’ It doesn’t say that anywhere. The example I think of is Noah. How old was Noah when he built the Ark? 600. He wasn’t like, cashing Social Security checks. He wasn’t hanging out; he was working. So, I think we have an obligation to work. The role we have in work may change over time, but the concept of retirement is not biblical.

The “word” retirement never made it into the bible, but a translation of a Hebrew word (yakach, Isaiah 1:18) did get rendered as reason, and I don’t see any attempt to live up to that concept!

Several things wrong with Gianforte’s way of “reasoning”:

  • If we assume that Noah was 600 yo when he built the ark as fact, that is an “is” statement. Gianforte transfers that to an “obligation,” which is a “should” statement. That is a fallacy called “the Naturalistic Fallacy,” where in the middle of an argument, you change an ‘is’ to a ‘should’.
  • Noah supposedly lived to be 950 years old. Let’s say that 1000 years old is the top and let’s say 100 years old is the top today. He was 600 years old when he built the ark, which would make him, by our standards, 60 years old. He was not retirement age.
  • Finally, he makes the statement « There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement. »
    This type of fundamentalist thinking gets to argue that what is in the Bible is instruction and what isn’t in the Bible is also instruction. The Bible also has nothing to say about lunch breaks and vacations or maternity leave. It says nothing about who gets to drive a car or what rules of the road we should have. The argument of non-existence because it wasn’t mentioned assumes that the Bible is exhaustive in what one needs to know and do; and what isn’t mentioned is therefore prohibited.

What Gianforte is doing is a farce of reasoning. It barely rises to “thinking.” It’s a form of arrogance: attributing unto himself an understanding and skill he does not actually possess. And if he does, this is not an example of either.

This would be comical if it didn’t have the capability of adversely affecting the lives of so many people.  It’s like watching a satire cartoon that exaggerates religious idiocy, except that it’s real.  I can only image that the One God allows this to happen (that idiots speak for Him without correction) because, if we don’t question what we’re hearing, we get what we deserve.

For another example of this type of reasoning, except about the Bible specifying limited government, read this post.