Sunday, October 08, 2006

The problem is "The Problem Is..."

Quoth Dr Brin, recently:

The way to truly crush intolerance is the way parents deal with the hysterics of small children. By taking the small hammer-blows, absorbing the tantrum, firmly disallowing any larger harm, and wrapping the frenetic soul in an embrace of patient confidence.

"Calm down. The only way to attain freedom of action is if you learn not to hate."

I replied

In the abstract, you're right. But the parent-child presuppositions one needs to hold to believe this is the sure-fire strategy are vast. And human reactions being what they are, one person's "disallowing" is another person's overreaction / overreaching / warcrime.

Me, I'm only half-vast, and I suspect a sheaf of strategies is a better approach, though hedging the existential risks (as they eventually appear indisputable / too-clear-to-mistake) against one another might turn out to be impossible. Some say the world will end in ice, etc. If it gets too weird, maybe it's just Game Over for "us", whoever "us" is for you or me.

But I'm programmed, in a way similar to the general Western Civ orneriness you've pointed out, to be suspicious of anyone who says "the [P]roblem is..." where human nature and millions or billions of people are involved.

So, maybe, as I like to say,

"The problem is 'the problem is...'" :)

I.e., to circumscribe the situation quickly in order to name a fix quickly carries deep and frequently hidden risks.

But we're wired to want a Single Narrative. So it's always a tough call.

Thus the power of messy, quasi, hemisemidemicoalitions and sheaves of strategies. The hope is that a lot of "us" won't be very wrong for too long.

Somebody who used to post on the Extropy list used to have this sig, obviously influenced by you:

"I am not here to have an argument. I am here as part of a civilization. Sometimes I forget."


A few of the commenters on Winds of Change FREQUENTLY makes me forget. But that's their plan, and I've learned to adopt Dr Brin's suggested strategy with them. Smother them with parenting until they either grow up or ship out. Either one is OK with me.


Blogger Robohobo said...

Who is Dr Brin? Sergei? Or the scIFi writer? Or other?

10 December, 2007 19:16  
Blogger Nortius Maximus said...

Sorry, sir -- I should probably have put in a link. I meant David Brin, the college professor and writer. I've spoken of him as a goad to my thinking elsewhere in this blog. Sergei is probably a great guy, but I haven't seen anything he's written as an opinion piece that makes me think as hard as David Brin has.

10 December, 2007 20:29  

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