UNCERTAINTY IS UNCOMFORTABLE, BUT CERTAINTY IS STUPID–(adapted from Voltaire, ‘Letters on the English’)
Brilliant people with a hundred times my brains have spent lifetimes trying to understand the rudiments of the world, often failing.
I’m skeptical of people on the Internet who promise to reveal all the “secrets” of the universe, politics, history, science, spirituality, etc. in only a few short and easy installments (for just a small subscriber fee, of course.)
I’m also skeptical of my own beliefs, which is probably why they evolve and refine over time (albeit sometimes slowly and in time to the rusty, lazy workings of my filth-encrusted brain).
If it was easy to understand (________), then everyone would do it. Pick up a PhD in a weekend. Actually understand the mechanisms of the scientific Miracle Box I’m tapping away on right now. Etc.
Anyway, I have *also* learned use a TINY pinch of salt whenever approached by depressed, middle-aged white men with imploding kidneys, an incomplete GED, serial divorces, and a glint in their eye, who ***always*** seem to be taking me by the elbow to teach me about “how the world really works,” which I will only understand if I watch a particular Alex Jones video (or, in one memorable case, the podcasts of David Duke). Invariably, a horde of villains are about to destroy the country, including Democrats, reptilian aliens, Jews, immigrants, brown people (but not Orange!), Muslims, college graduates, “the scientists,” Liberals, Europeans, China, Environmentalists, and one of about thirty-six contradictory versions of the Illuminati (which are simultaneously all-powerful but unable to stop that rascal Jones from telling all their secret plans in weekly installments! But they DO have times to turn the frogs gay, so they are at least earning their keep, bless ’em.)
I don’t know what my fellow white men did to piss off not only the rest of the planet but at least one sentient alien species — but it must have been bad, something akin to genocide and enslavement of entire races and genders. Except they keep reminding me that they are the victims, I mustn’t forget!
But then, due to my caution, I keep missing out on the fun stuff in life like coups, violent felonies, acts of terror, and prison time. So what do I know. Clearly I’m doing something wrong. Here’s hoping that hair loss and midlife crisis will ultimately give me the courage to “stop being a sheeple” and take the red pill already.*
*(Yes, real world conspiracies emerge constantly. They seem to get bigger every few years, and I suspect the nature of a few upcoming ones will be particularly mind-blowing within our lifetime. But these real world conspiracies tend, when revealed by brave journalists and whistleblowers, to result in car bombs for said journalists and prison/exile for the whistleblowers. We all have a tin foil cap, it’s just important to be mindful of it and to try not to wear it to every occasion.**
**I currently believe in or suspect the validity of some pretty wild and whacky notions, including a vague syncretic spirituality, though I have abandoned some big ones over the years. I understand that any of them could be grossly wrong. I am more often right than wrong, but my errors can and have been alarmingly large at times. This is why I try to remember that I am simply building partial models with incomplete data in order to make better decisions and be generally happier; necessarily, a good bit of faith and creativity greases the engine of daily life and decision-making.***
***This feels far less macho than a noble death by storming the Capitol and tasing my own balls, as apparently happened to one Viking warrior this week, so again, I worry about my lifestyle choices sometimes.****
****Just to be clear, I use lots of sarcasm, and I *obviously* oppose violence, terrorism, stupidity, insurrection, and all the other shit-encrusted candies that the chocolate box of the past year keeps insisting on presenting.
Image Credit: Used under license from Shutterstock.