Greying Pains

30 Jun

First, here’s a great interview with Israeli-born Gene Simmons of Kiss speaking his mind about Obama’s Israel policy. (Courtesy of Jackbenimble).  Ok, I hope you enjoyed that because I want to explain a fundamental point that he touched on.

We like to think of ourselves as having logical and coherent views on things, but the truth is that we’re mostly full of shit. And that’s ok. Our ideas were handed down to us as The-Way-It-Is by our parents, teachers and society and we accepted them as such. When you’re a kid, things are very simple, black and white. That’s because you have no experience with them the first time you hear them. They are your first and only impression. And they eventually sink to the level of emotions.

(That’s why they tell you not to talk about politics or religion at work. You’re going to end up having an emotional battle, not an intellectual conversation.)

As you get older, though, if you want to be able to see things from a truer perspective, you need to give up the security of holding onto these ideas. Why would you do this? Well, let’s hold off on the ‘Why’ for now and focus on the ‘How’, and the answer should become clear. The question is, if these ideas are on the level of emotion, how do you challenge them? Well, it’s actually not that hard. You can prove to yourself that many of the ideas and values you hold dear are contradictory to each other.

For example, you might feel guilty spending more money to be ‘green’. This is because you feel strongly about the values of social equality, and responsibility. If both values demand total obedience, you’re in a real bind.

Other people believe in Democracy very strongly, and yet still try to get a permanent ban on gay marriage passed before the majority decides it’s ok. That’s because they hold that both their religion and their form of government are a form of supreme truths that should be followed.

Others blame American schools for lowering kids’ intelligences in this country, while simultaneously pushing for less homework and pressure in schools. The two values working against each other here are the value of success versus the value of happiness.

If you don’t take the time to think these things through, and just accept everything in simplistic terms, you can push for one sort of change that will damage something else and you won’t even understand what went wrong at the end. The real truth is that most things in life demand a compromise on black and white values, and this isn’t a wrong or false way of living. Adapting your preconceptions to the reality of life is a true and natural way to live.

Now, I’m not saying there’s something wrong with trying to better your world. If you would like to see the world as a different place, and you think you can change it, go for it. But to push your way through when it’s clearly not working is not only stupid, but potentially very harmful to yourself and society. Just ask mother Russia.


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