What happened between 1990 and 2018? Who stuck the playing card between the spokes of the bicycle for my mind, turning a mental enabler into an annoying distraction?
As computers become increasingly powerful, many observers allege that we are just bundles of algorithms, programmed by a combination of our inherited genetic material and our environment, simply responding to stimuli in predictable ways. I say that's a lot of hooey.
Looking back over the history of the United States, it's easy to see in hindsight a series of events and actions that have either united or divided us.
The Revolutionary War, the ratification of our US Constitution, World War II and the race to put a man on the moon can all be seen as efforts that ultimately brought us together as a nation.
On the other hand, our Civil War and the Vietnam conflict are examples of actions that tragically divided us.
The dictionary on my Mac defines mission as “a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling.”
Implicit in this definition is the idea that we are talking about something other than simple self-interest. We are all motivated to take care of ourselves, but a mission implies something greater, an impulse to contribute to something larger than our individual existence.
A prerequisite for a mission is a surplus of resources, something more than what is needed for simple subsistence. If we are just scraping by, then no mission, no matter how keenly felt, will get much traction.
Let me take you on a little journey of thought exploring some hitherto unconsidered aspects of our common cultural evolution.
Whether we are talking about the King James Bible, The Catcher in the Rye, On the Origin of Species, or Wikipedia, we can recognize that writing things down is an important means of preserving human knowledge and wisdom, and that both writing and reading are invaluable human activities.
Author Carl Sagan made a compelling case for the importance of the written word in his own book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, calling it “the great invention”:
At its most basic, taking an integral approach simply means that people can see things from different perspectives, and that often no one way of seeing something is the “right” or only way.
I've always considered “Fruitcakes” to be Jimmy Buffet's masterwork. The musical backing is infectious, swaying and danceable, and the background vocals add depth. The words are cleverly crafted, and perfectly suited to Buffett's conversational, wisecracking delivery.
It may seem odd to advance a belief in imperfection as a key idea to be embraced, but there are several reasons for its importance. First, as Voltaire wisely said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
I was thinking recently about my own upbringing in Annapolis, Maryland, back in the sixties, and it occurred to me that there were several aspects of my experience there and then that I took for granted, but that are no longer very common today.
My own parents had divorced when I was nine, and my brother and I were living with our Mom. She was working, and we didn't lack for any of the necessities, but we were definitely on the low side of the middle class.