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Category: Humans

Señor Moment
Oh I still got it, pal
And I handle it
With flair

Brandish it and wield it
With the same old devil-
May-care

Yes I still got it, pal
And it’s still all covered
With hair

But I put it down a sec ago
And I can’t remember
Where
Genuine Fake
As life goes on
I can’t deny
The bullshit begins
To solidfy

What used to be
A silly pose
Is now as certain
As my nose

With each new
Posture that I chose
I tried it on
Like a suit of clothes

And now it fits me
Like a glove
The affectation
Has turned to love

And soon the bullshit
Will harden to stone
Live on without me
And stand on its own

It will serve
As my memorial
And no one will know
If it’s faux or real
What Is True?
I caught a little of the PBS special about the human brain yesterday. The brain is a big topic for any TV program, so it left a lot of questions unanswered. In fact, I’m still sorting through the ramifications of one claim that was made on the show. It concerned the nature of reality. What is real, brain scientists suggest, is strictly a product of our own minds.

What they meant was that we digest what our senses take in and reconstruct it later to form our own personal version of what happened. To do that, we use our memory of events coupled with some kind of subconscious, base-level analysis. That’s the straightforward scientific take on this phenomenon, and it wasn’t intended to have any larger philosophical implications. Even so, I find it a little unsettling that each of us is cooking up his own distinct version of reality…second to second, day to day, year in and year out. It raises the possibility that there is no objective truth at all — only billions of these separate, very personal concoctions made up of wishful thinking and emotional imperatives.

There must be something real out there, though. We manage to function and survive within the world outside our minds (or so it appears), so we must have some kind of handle on that world and how it works. We get up, we go to our jobs, we eat, we continue to exist. We don’t die. Whatever version of reality we have constructed seems to be working on some level. That tells me that we have a hold on some kind of truth.

And maybe that’s all we can hope for…some kind of truth. You might even argue that that is enough. As long as we can stumble along using trial-and-error and the advice of others, why worry? Does it really matter if we get a few things wrong? The all-star professional basketballer Kyrie Irving, for instance, believes that the earth is flat. He is absolutely convinced that this truth — his truth — is the true truth. Kyrie’s a multimillionaire. He’s famous, he’s admired (at least up until now). What’s the diff if his truth is actually false?

It’s certainly easier not to care. The truth is simply what you overheard on the bus. Or what somebody said on TV. No need to check it or think about it or question it at all. Just swallow it whole and move on. The alternative is to remain constantly on guard, trusting no one, fact-checking everything. You might spend all kinds of time digging for an answer — with no guarantee of actually finding it. It’s a complete hassle.

And what is true, anyway? If reality is being pieced together in our separate subconsciouses, as those brain scientists say, maybe we can never be sure.

Even so, I’m going to take the controversial position of being pro-truth. In the long run it’s just more reliable than untruth. And as my ultimate success story, I will point to science itself. It built our modern world based on the tested, verifiable truths gleaned through the scientific method (Kyrie Irving notwithstanding). And all of that came from asking the simple question, What is true?

If it’s good enough for science and engineering, it’s good enough for every other field, including politics. So I say keep asking that question. Over and over again. And trust no one, including me.
Take It or Leave It
Like most people, I was taught that I should take responsibility for my actions. If I messed up, my parents and teachers said, I should own up to it and try to make things right — especially if others came to harm because of my mistake. It’s always nice to apologize to people too, but as I understand the responsibility rule that part is optional. The main thing is to stand up and be accountable. Being nice is covered under a different section of the rulebook.

I have never questioned the wisdom of this take-your-medicine maxim. It is based on honesty, after all, and we all know that’s a good thing. It seems fair and honorable, too — I certainly want other people to treat me that way.

It might even be good for you. Admitting mistakes can be a hard thing to do sometimes, but don’t you always feel better once you’ve stepped up and faced the music? Not only is it evidence of character for anyone watching, but the act of taking responsibility itself seems to build character by reinforcing your own self-respect.

Furthermore, it could be argued that accountability is at the very foundation of a properly functioning free society. For the system to work, enough of us have to carry our own weight so that the whole enterprise doesn’t sink under a too-heavy load of mendacity and bad faith.

That said, I can understand why this concept may not work for everyone. Even though the practice of owning up brings some very desirable benefits with it, for some people there might be a point of diminishing returns. If you are the kind of person who makes mistakes all the time, for instance, you might be better off hiding a few of them. Honesty is the best policy and all that, but you don’t want to get a reputation for being a total screw-up. Fairness, for all the hype, is probably a luxury that only the competent can afford.

Better to lie. To yourself and others. If that fails, sometimes denial and rage will work. And whatever you do, don’t apologize.

Or better yet, play dumb. Under the circumstances, no one would doubt your sincerity.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee