Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Horse First, Cart Second (The Dan-ist Conspiracy)

I love ideas. There seem to be as many ways to perceive the world as there are people to perceive it.

However, when it comes to the various -ologys and -isms--be they capitalism, feminism, compassionate conservatism, or even...gulp...Buddhism--I try to write myself a memo.

Memo to self: Horse first, cart second.

There are a lot of interesting ways of looking at the world. The catch is when peopele start trying to make the world conform to their way of looking at it. Their view of the world shifts from being a description of what is to a prescription for what SHOULD be.

Here's an example. We'll call it Dan-ism.

Here are some tenets of Dan-ism.

1 - The world is fundamentally a good place
2 - In social situations, self-expression should be the most important thing
3 - Being Judgemental is bad
4 - People have the right to say shocking or inappropriate things as long as they are funny.
5 - People have the right to choose their sexual partner

I don't think this is a totally unreasonable way of looking at the world. Tenet 4 might give Dan-ists some trouble, since humor is so subjective, but overall, not a bad way to live.


Let's say our Dan-ist accidentally makes a judgement about somebody else's beliefs. He has violated the central tenet of Dan-ism, which means he must do one of two things. He can deny it ever happened and start making up increasingly elaborate rationalizations about how what he did/said was not judgmental. OR he can drown himself in guilt and self-loathing for "being a bad Dan-ist."

Neither will make him or other people particularly happy.

Or maybe one Dan-ist expresses that the world isn't always so great. Dan-ists everywhere go into a tizzy. What is more important? Self-expression or the view that the world is fundamentally good? The result is a schism in between the Orthodox Dan-ists and the Dan-ist Orthodoxy, where two groups of people with nearly identical beliefs suddenly find themselves locked in a bitter struggle over dogma.

Or let's say our Dan-ist lives in Canada. Let's see he suddenly realizes, "Hey, wait a minute. There are women in Sweden I've never met. I have the right to choose my own sexual partner, so therefore, I demand that all women in Sweden--nay, all women in the WORLD--move to my city so I can choose whether or not to have sex with them."

The women of the world may have something to say about that. Oh, he can try to make it happen. He can lobby or send his Giant Robot Army (did I mention our hypothetical Dan-ist is a Super-Genius? Well, he is) out into the world to bring back the feminine population...but it will result in great misery for himself, the women, and the rest of the world at large.

Or if he has no Robot Army, he may start an internet blog railing against the social injustice of Women Living In Other Countries. He might even sell stickers and have a PayPal account where "donations are gratefully accepted." He may even organize rallies at his local University campus.

Probably not though that last part though. Complaining over the internet is way easier than taking action [/cheap shot].

There are lots of ways of different world views out there. But a world view is not the same thing as the WORLD. Getting stuck on one is like staring at the guidebook to Paris while standing on top of the Eiffel tower. There's a lot of use to be found in a guidebook, but not at the expense of missing out on the actual experience.


Wednesday, October 21 - Rouge Lounge, Edmonton

Saturday, October 17 - OSCW Thriller, Hazeldean Community Hall, Edmonton

MEDITATION INSTRUCTION (I'll only be helping)
Saturday, October 17 - Strathcona Public Libary, Edmonton (10AM

Dan Brodribb's Geek Love appears every two weeks at suicidegirls.com. Latest article is here


Mike Steelman said...

Great post! Wish I had something witty to add but my brain is on hold today.

tinque said...

People never cease to fascinate me, individual experience, perception, interpretation, capacity for knowledge, growth, and love.
I recently found you, and just want to say hi...