Saturday, March 8, 2008

On misanthropy

I admit it - I am a misanthrope. I sit here and laugh, sardonically, at the foibles of my own species.

I have a damned good reason to, too.

Humans are, and I will be blunt, incredibly stupid creatures. We all have our problems. The more average of the species usually have some prejudices, even some they're not willing to confront - look at all the racists, sexists, homophobes, and other assorted morons.

Even the better and more learned and well-adjusted of us still have problems. To give a slightly less, uh, gravitas-laden example, I am still trying to reconcile the very 'straight-acting' image of a friend who just revealed he was gay with my prior image of people who are gay. A thought on this particular image might be that such a revelation made me think of all the other so-called 'straight-acting' guys I've known in my time on this campus who turned out to be gay, and how that totally threw a wrench into my gaydar. Masculinity and femininity are fluid things - I'm a fairly androgynous woman, by a lot of standards; all my major interests are ones that many think of as traditionally masculine, and gender is something I do not take into account when I define myself. (I can think of a few friends I have who exhibit some very androgynous qualities too - mostly the people that I'm closer to, in our campus atheist society, than others.) I used to have a more uniform perception of gay men as universally less masculine than non-gay men. I was wrong on that count. I've even known more effeminate straight men.

We suck. Really. Lest you think I am being depressing, step OUT of your self-created rose colored world and look, LOOK at what is going on. I am not being depressing. I am being realistic. Depressing would be neglecting of the small but significant amount of GOOD things we've done.

As I said, we've done good things, but we've done bad things that make a lot of the good things look mediocre in magnitude. For example, this was posted on an e-mail group that I occasionally read:

"my mother is very very very ill.? her sixth pregnancy, after that she tried to kill me a couple times.? I am the oldest and she identified with me.? that was bad b/c she hates herself.

and then in a very unfortunate piece of timing - her seventh pregnancy, I became the victim of a group of young adults who tried with fairly good seriousness to kill me over the next several months.? due to sheer luck the initial murder attempts didn't work.? but then they kept coming back.? I ended up pregnant, with a forced abortion, two STDs, and brain injury/weakness when I was 12 - and nothing was done.

that's what I mean.? I was literally abducted over and over from home, school and NOTHING was done about it.? nothing.

CPS (child protective services) was involved and did - nothing.? and then denial and denial and denial and denial and denial and denial..

I really thought I was the crazy one.? but in my case there is proof.? I learned to look for proof.? that was the only way out of denial."

This is only one example of many, many more that the human race has produced.

No wonder cynicism is so prevalent in the 21st century. Diogenes would laugh from his tub. (Little known fact about Diogenes: He was a frequent public masturbator and ate onions every day. Great minds can be colorful.)

What can we do about this?

For one, I want to make people smarter. That is essentially what I want to do with my life.

For two, we need to educate people at every possible opportunity. Require college education. Be vehement about encouraging reasoned debate, annihilating misinformation and deception, and making it CLEAR that science and reason reign supreme. Provide a baseline of services to people, allowing them to get better services if they can afford it. Distribute birth control worldwide. Learning never hurts.

For three, we need to be cognizant, to deal with our problems in the short term, of how far humanity has come. We have modern medicine, universities, democracy, the scientific method, and we're not completely extinct.

We're a species and we need to start evolving in the RIGHT direction.

Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Nu inteleg said...

I find your trust in college education rather amusing :) I think college, in general, can only hope be an eye-opening experience (in terms of choosing between lucidity and skepticism versus ignorance and dogma) if it provides its students with the chance of being exposed to brilliant people such as Dawkins, Feynman, etc. Otherwise, the subject matter in itself will not bring one any closer to rationality than one was before. It's like with an art school. You can't really "make" an artist out of someone who isn't already one (whether s/he knows it or not), college just helps one get a little better in his field. In fact, I dare affirm that the same is true for any science or craft.

Incidentally, college in the US or the UK is somewhat better and might give you the impression that you can find truly brilliant professors everywhere in the world, but the sad truth is that in the greater part of the world, college is, for students and staff alike, little more than a game, a joke, a chore, an operatic play, to use the harshest words. I would not rely on it to open the eyes of humanity anytime soon.

I think the best description of what college really is like in most countries is found in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman", in the chapter where he talks about his tenure in Brazil.