I Suspect we Share some Sensitivities.
And I'll get into that, but first, I'm looking for someone who knows OpenShift so I can pay
them to set up http://chose.community on there in a way that will be very easy to bring back up in case coercive authorities mess with the site or the host or whatever. If you or anyone you know might be interested, please reach out.
Following is a textual rendition of my "Ice Breaker" speech for Toastmasters
because I want you to know me better. It's the first in a series of speeches that members of Toastmasters perform once they become members. I expect to deliver it officially on August 29th.
I was five or six when my mom put me in charge of my little sister in the front seat of the car while she went into Safeway to buy some groceries. I was holding Anitra around her hips as she practiced balance. She grabbed the gearshift and pulled it out of position. This was something I needed to fix, so I got right on it.
I noticed the car was going backwards and doubled my efforts. An old lady was banging her palm on the passenger side window, but I ignored her - "Leave me alone," I thought. I knew what to do but I didn't quite understand how to do it and I needed time to figure it out. BOOM! We had rolled into a cinder block wall and stopped.
I lived my life that way for the last 30 years, "I know this but I don't quite understand...," as a software engineer, figuring out everything as I went along. Halfway through, about 15 years ago, I had an office mate and a political agenda. I wanted to convince Brian that the "Condorcet Method" of voting was better than what we were using. Brian showed me three things during that conversation.
First, he asked if I had read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
. "Yes," I told him. I had read it to impress a girl who loved that book. Apparently, reading that book has some positive lasting effects. Second, he pointed out that voting causes a problem: the majority tyrannizes everyone else, and everyone thinks this is okay because, after all, we voted! Third, he explained that conscience is a better guide for living a good life than any external moral authority.
That last point affected me deeply. I ended up re-interpreting the story of Adam and Eve and the apple
. That apple came from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil," and God said "Don't eat that fruit!"?? It didn't make sense to me. I think it comes from a much older oral tradition and describes the fact that at some point in the life a child, the child grows up, rejects the moral authority of his parents, and takes full responsibility for the development of his own conscience. This is a lot of work, and involves a lot of suffering... and freedom. It's a story about the Rite of Passage
My own rite of passage started when my little sister crashed us into a cinder block wall, and completed after I graduated from college. I was lying on my bedroom floor in a condo I rented with friends on a Sunday morning thinking about going to church. There were a few interesting reasons to go, but nothing compelling. And fear of punishment. Hell, I didn't really believe in any more. My parents' disapproval was no worry any more. Brian has since helped me realize that punishment crowds out our natural tendency to find better reasons than fear to follow the good rules that most people follow.
Punishment is destructive, and that's why I am the possibility of innocence. The development of conscience is important, and that's why I'm the possibility of curiosity. I invite you to consider that punishment is at best a wasted effort, and possibly even a destructive effort. And take another look at how you distinguish good from evil. I am the possibility of curiosity and innocence because that is how I know to be, as Albert J. Nock urged
us to be, "one improved unit" of society. Won't you join me?
Thanks for reading!