Life Outside the Tank

You say we don’t understand your experience.
So we ask.
And you say that it ain’t your job to educate us.
Which is true, but doesn’t help solve the issue.
And solving the issue’s not your job either,
But that don’t mean you aren’t allowed to try if you want.

Which is why there are your stories out there.
Stories we get to read if we find them.
But they aren’t everywhere.
They aren’t common enough that we see the nuance just by breathing.
Because it’s not your job to educate or to fix.
And because of the cheap-shooting, foul-mouthed,
Logical-only-when-it-suits minority.
Those unhappy few who spew hate at anyone who dares to
Not be a bitter little pill
And who deserve

To be treated like human beings.
Because that’s how it works.
If humanity, decency, and virtue are about more than my tribe’s gonna kill yours,
Then that’s how it works.
They don’t have a right to come to your forum and talk shit about your faith.
The don’t have a right to come to your post and make jokes about your mother.
But they do have the right to be treated like a human being.

Because Kant’s idea that we make the rules
So we treat you the way we want to treated
Has problems.
But if you turn it round:
Create some rule about treating others the way you don’t want to be treated?
The clue’s in the name: Tnak.
Because, that’s not just an idea that will tank society;
It’s muddled thinking too.

Because we all share one experience:
Someone smacks you round the head, you want to smack them back.

Why Oppose When You Can Embrace?

Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.

– Franklin Pierce Adams

I understand the desire to prevent someone from gaining power, to seek the path of least danger, but if the system isn’t producing candidates you can vote for then you need the system to change. And how do you achieve change by doing the safest thing?

Or to put it another way, as Herodotus says, each part of a binary contains its opposite: so a vote for Labour is a vote for the Conservatives.

Therefore, I’ll be voting for the world I want rather than against only one of the ones I don’t.

Prior Unreasoning

There’s a famous aphorism “Do what I say, not what I do” which is often trotted out either to show one person or everyone is a hypocrite when it comes to morals. And, whichever interpretation you favour, it’s hard to deny that it’s often much easier to suggest a moral choice from the comfort of an armchair than it is to make a moral choice in the moment. The harder question is whether or not someone should be judged harshly for these deviations from higher morals.

The answer to which might begin with whether they are truly choices. As this talk by Robert Saplosky shows, the choice might have been rigged decades earlier:

The Miracle of the Mundane

On Saturday, I played another rather excellent session of 7th Seas LARP. During the course of that, my character ended up in an interesting conversation with a priest over whether miracles were inexplicable and obvious events, or tiny changes deliberately hidden behind rationale explanation to not compromise our free will. The priest remained adamant that they were son et lumière, glorious in their imperviousness to logic, and things moved on.

However, this morning, I went to look up something in my dictionary of quotations and it opened on this quote:

I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.

– Khaled Hosseini

Which made me wonder: is the miracle in neither the obvious defiance of natural law nor the hidden influence that we can interpret either way, but in the moment when we are living rather than waiting.

Or perhaps I’ve read too much Colin Wilson.

And Justice From All

To mark International Women’s Day, Google+ invited me to share a photograph of a woman who inspires me: I chose Her Honour Judge Brown.

Her Honour Judge Brown in formal robes
Her Honour Judge Brown

Not because there is something specific about Her Honour that inspires me, but because I found a photograph of her before I found one of one of the another female judge that I’ve appeared before.

Because that’s what inspires me: that there are enough immense intellects who’ve dedicated themselves to justice and equity who also happen to be female that I’ve appeared before too many to pick one on achievements alone.

So, pure alphabetic order wins it.

Why Would You Care What I Say?

The continued existence of lawyers, speech-writers, poets, and sundry other professions confirms that how you say something can be as powerful as what you say. However, this talk provides evidence and a way to apply the technique without spending years in study and practice; and does so in an (appropriately enough) accessible and engaging fashion.

Of course, speaking in the language of the person you wish to reach agreement with is as old a technique as the bilingual secretary or guide. And, as with foreign languages, it’s an obvious thing to do in the abstract, but a very much harder thing to do when you suddenly encounter a new tribe. So, how does one speak political truth in the language of the other?

Perhaps a start lies in an opposite of the reason one wishes to stir others to action? If a measure would help the poor, then consider ways it would be good for the wealthy. If a policy would help the disadvantaged abroad, then consider ways it would benefit this country.

Or begin with the worst reason to do something one can think of. How does your truth strengthen the case of a group you dislike? Maybe you have an ally in an unexpected place. How does your idea weaken the case for something you want? Perhaps it’s better to spend money on the workers of this country than not spend it at all. Why does someone’s reason matter? It might not steal the benefit from the needy if a step is taken to bolster a nation’s reputation rather than out of selfless service.

Some of the ideas produced might seem actively unethical rather than merely poor, but – if we seek to language to influence the Other – considering reasons that definitely wouldn’t influence someone who thinks like we do is a good place to start.

Brexit Needn’t Mean Break’s It

With Theresa May’s rhetoric swinging ever further past Hard Brexit into Scoured-to-Bedrock Brexit, many people (UK citizens and long-term residents from other EU nations alike) are facing an increasingly unpleasant future. So, I’ve decided to devote this post to two petitions in favour of a stronger, fairer UK.

nullAs well as providing trade and investment opportunities, the Single Market is a powerful force for both health and safety protections, and worker’s rights.

Freedom of Movement provides the parallel benefit of allowing UK citizens access to jobs throughout Europe and UK employers access to EU workers where there aren’t sufficient skilled UK workers.

And doesn’t just apply directly: faced with a choice between remaining in their current job or keeping their family together, how many skilled UK workers will choose to follow their partners to other countries?

Even ignoring the moral arguments for enhancing rather than removing structures that recognise common humanity and social unity, a Brexit deal that deliberately throws away access to Europe for both good and workers is economically flawed.

Share and Share I Like

At the Sharing Depot, a storefront in Toronto, $50 a year buys tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of tools, camping supplies, furniture, games, toys, sports equipment, and much else. At least on a short-term basis: The owners of the space call it a “library of things,” and anyone who pays the annual membership fee can borrow anything in the Sharing Depot, whose aisles look a lot like those at a regular big-box store. The difference is that everything on the shelves can be checked out like a library book….

The Original Sharing Economy, The Atlantic, 3 Jan 2017

This sounds like an excellent scheme. We need more sharing libraries in the United Kingdom.

We need more sharing libraries in the United Kingdom.