Shit and Rainbows & The Proper Role of Government (17m) – Episode 272

Episode 272 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: his one simple trick to combat anxiety; remembering that life is shit and rainbows; the proper role of government and why “the state” is without legitimate and justified authority on that basis; and more.

Listen to Episode 272 (17m, mp3, 64kbps)

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On Toxic Masculinity

Feminists have a communications problem when it comes to concerns about “toxic masculinity”. Let me demonstrate this with the following: incompetent women make very poor drivers. Alright then, how did you read that? Did you read 1) “all women are incompetent and make for very poor drivers” or 2) “only women who are incompetent make for very poor drivers”? If you read it as 2) then you took your time and considered what was being said. Congratulations! If you read it like 1), then you made quick assumptions looking for someone to feel outrage toward. Reading as 2) probably also had you consider whether or not incompetent men made for very poor drivers, as well, and such would be a rational inference. Reading as 1) gave you bad feelings toward the person saying it, wondering strongly about how long they’ve been a misogynist. Now, do you understand why the phrase “toxic masculinity” is not being received very well? If you need me to mansplain it further for you, I will. And that’s today’s two cents.

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Good and Decent Neighbors

Many of us are trusting our neighbors much more than we should. We suppose that these neighbors would never burglarize our homes in our absence or accost us on the street and thrust upon us the choice, “Your money or your life?” And in most cases we are probably right to make these assumptions.

Yet, in many cases these same neighbors are striving to elicit the services of a criminal middleman — actually an enormous, highly organized criminal gang — that would extort money from us and put it to uses our neighbors approve, often uses of direct benefit to them.

So, really, amigos: is there any substantive difference? In both cases we are threatened by thugs who will rob us stealthily (e.g., by burglary or by inflation of the money stock) or who will harm us if we fail to comply with the demands made and, in effect, transfer at least a portion of our money to our neighbors against our free will.

This is not how good, decent people treat their neighbors.

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What If I Become Evil?

“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight 

What if I become evil?

This is a great tragedy: to go through life struggling for the good only to become corrupted, to lose, to give in, to actively participate in making the world worse.

Many people (enough to leave an impression) have worked hard for the good – and then fallen. They become jaded, power-hungry, cruel, hateful, spiteful. They become bitter at the things they work so hard for, and so they turn to destroying those things.

We all know there’s a chance of that for any of us. We all know how torn our hearts are between good and evil. And we all want to think that we will die as heroes, instead of living long enough to become villains.

But for me, the answer to that great fear isn’t any guarantee that I will always be good or that I will die well (or that I am good now, for that matter).

I put myself in context of the larger story of good. And then I realize that my own failure (god forbid) would not be the end of that story.

One effect of working for the good might be to show us that while our own goodness is one of the most powerful forces in the world for change, it isn’t ultimately the only power in the world. There is something about reality itself that calls out the good in humans (and you might say in all living things, too).

Sure, some good people become evil. But just as many evil people become good. And even more sleepers wake up to the good within them. The world works in such a way that just as evil gains the upper hand, new heroes rise up. If this wasn’t true, I wouldn’t be here writing to you. History would have ended with the Assyrians, or the Mongols, or the Nazis.

If I decided to take the path of these conquerors, I’d end up on the ash heap of history, too. The good would continue to rise and rise again. I might become evil, but reality would remain good.

I take some comfort in that. And I’ll live as well as I can in that trust – but I won’t slack up either in going after the joy of the good.

Originally published at JamesWalpole.com.

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