Data will never lead to an agreement. But there is hope in a different approach.

Suppose you expressed a belief like: “Masks mandates reduce cases,” and I present you with a data graph, such as:

The whole thing rests on the shared idea of civility. And not only is civility disappearing — the very concept is under attack.

Maybe you’re familiar with the saying: civilization is never more than nine meals away from anarchy.

There are variations on this quote going back to, as best I can tell, the Roman Empire. Replace “civilization” with the empire, the kingdom, the country, society, humanity, the world and replace “anarchy” with chaos, revolution, catastrophe, ruin, etc., and somebody across the centuries has uttered it.

It makes sense. When people have un-met needs, the rules of civilization are about…

The public have come to associate freedom with death, and lockdown and restriction with life. But the data doesn’t support this association. So why is it so pervasive?

In the year of our Lord 2020, an entire global civilization turned its back on freedom.

Freedom will kill everyone, we were told. The World Health Organization gushed praise for the way China had handled its outbreak, and tough as it might be, we all had to do the same — China was the model.

Lock down, hard and fast. It was the only way.

And, after all, it was only temporary…

The Inner Critic can be a real a-hole sometimes.

It prevents us from doing a lot of stuff.

Valuable stuff.

Like speaking our mind about things. Sharing our thoughts with others.

There are always a thousand reasons not to, and the Inner Critic is a master of drawing on them. I picture him like an eight-armed robot whose tentacle arms shoot out to a complex filing system, riffle through a billion filing cards in about a second, and pull out the exact one (or several) that you need to hear to prevent you from taking action.

“Hmm, you sure you…

It’s all Tolkien’s fault, of course. He created races, maps, languages, poems, art… and then decided he better whip up a little story around them.

And everybody’s been trying to do the same since.

It almost seems like new fantasy writers think they have to build a giant background history and world for their characters to walk through like little figurines. How else are you gonna punch your weight in the big leagues of fantasy/sci-fi, right? Gotta outdo the old professor himself.

But any time writers fence themselves in with musts, it shows.

It’s like a picture that’s been photocopied…

Regardless of how you feel about censorship (and we can quibble with whether private companies wiping out any trace of intellectual dissent on their platforms is censorship or not) I think we have a bigger problem.

And the problem, like most problems we’re facing, is not the fault of any corporation or government or scapegoat group of the month.

The problem is with you and I.

You and I want to silence each other.

We don’t want to converse, we don’t want to make a case, we don’t want to listen. …

I’ve been a questioner my whole life.

Even as a wee lad, barely out of swaddlers, if I overheard voices raised in mirth in another room, I would enter and demand (probably more of a squeak, at that age): “What is happ’nin??

…generally resulting in an even greater explosion of mirth, and doing nothing to assuage my bewilderment.

But mirth de damned, I had to know.

When I read books (mostly about spacefaring… or dinosaurs) I consulted other books to confirm what I’d read, taking nothing simply on the author’s say-so. Often I found, to my irritation, that sure enough…

Interesting conversation with a musician friend of mine last night. He expressed the view that playing music is an end in itself. It’s all about the sheer joy of playing. Who needs an audience?

I could appreciate the sentiment, but I couldn’t agree.

Sure, making art is it’s own joy, and lord knows I experience deep satisfaction when I’m deep in the thrall of a gripping writing project.

But if no one but me ever read it? Hmm.

There are all kinds of examples of rebel artists and musicians who will claim they don’t give a rat’s dirty patootie about…

One of the challenges I’m trying to work on right now is on being more compassionate and loving to someone who disagrees with me, or who condescends or dismisses what I have to say without consideration. In the past, my tendency was to respond with defensiveness, anger, sarcasm, dismissiveness, or return fire with some condescension of my own.

But, of course, that gets us precisely nowhere.

It widens the gap between us and leads to more anger, tension, condescension, etc.

Ego-defensiveness begets more ego-defensiveness.

So I’ve been trying to develop the instinct to hear what the other person is saying…

Congratulations, friends! We are now living in a world where authorities, elected or un-elected, can exercise total power over their constituents, shutting down businesses, livelihood, travel, and freedom of expression for any reason they deem fit.

Finally, the dream is realized.

Some people argued for their freedoms back in March and April, making the spurious case that there ought to be a legal basis or rules governing what our office holders can and cannot do during a crisis. Rules! As if such contrivances should stop us. Some of the more learned of these troublesome freedom advocates had enough knowledge of…

J. E. Taylor

Fiction, Philosophy, and Rampant Speculation.

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