Stranger Attitudes

by phil on Sunday Aug 10, 2003 3:02 PM

I'm not going to look at strangers anymore. The habit of people-watching is utterly useless. I never gave my casual meandering glances any thought until I realized that subconsciously I was expecting inspiration, looking for kindness, and hoping for beauty and intelligence. I've been disappointed, unfortunately. The masses are dull and unintelligent, and in America, they tend to have an adversarial stance toward one another.

What good has any stranger done for me? Even at those conventions with mixers where you exchange business cards.. do you ever follow up? Did you exchange any useful information except the mission statements of your respective companies?

Or if I'm standing in line for a burger and a blond bombshell walks in wearing a short-shorts and a halter-top stands a few places in line behind me. I turn around, give a flirtatious glance, she smiles back, and then what? The exchange is over.

Even in the larger sense, why should I care about my "fellow man."

NOTE: Entering critique of the "Bleeding Heart" and the "Terrorist"...

I woke up in this world to a series of infinite choices I would have to make, but I did not choose what came before me nor did I choose the actions of others. So then why should my responsibility be connected to those of others? Perhaps you think this is selfish. Indeed it is... having a worldview that concerns only that which concerns me... my family, my friends, my body, my world. (Well, I didn't choose my family, but I choose to love them)

So why should I care about what's happening around the world? Castles burn down, and castles rise. People suffer and people experience elation. This is the movement and wave of things that surround me. I didn't ask for things to be terrible nor for things to be good, they're just there as they are.

The only "reason" I can see for helping strangers is that I have a natural attachment to the suffering of others, and as a result, in order to alleviate my own personal suffering, I should try to alleviate the suffering of others.

This is important, this is compassion. You'd be labeled "soulless" otherwise. But can't this natural inclination go overboard when you start to care about people a thousand miles away from you or about the politics of temporary nation-states?

Like who is Arnold Schwarzenegger anyways? Is him being governor of California going to make any change into my life? I will still have to call the phone company to get Internet access, I will still go to the same restaurant down the street for a Philly cheese stake. And Einstein will keep ripping me off when he tries to sell me rugs. How will Arnold factor in? And what about Kobe?

Now, I'm not against helping nor participating in the world--I'm just trying to make a point. Your notion of helping should be colored with the understanding that first the world does not need your help. Second, it won't necessarily thank you, and if it does, it will do so inefficiently. Third, you may not even want to help the world in a large way. Interfering with the affairs of others brings more responsibility and angst on your shoulders since you have to be completely sure what you're doing is right or wrong. And even then, what's to say your notion of right and wrong is accurate enough to be enforced over others. Who is to say you even have the right to.

And it's all deterministic anyways. Your notion of compassion has been programmed into you by the great Principhers so that you may more effectively keep the engines of Earth lubricated. Compassion is just another module that can be switched on and off and is not sacred (like everything else).

And is your notion of compassion even consistent or worthy? Females tend to be more compassionate than others, correct? Well, I was pondering over the idea of the myth of feminine compassion... (but then realized I was just being a sexist pig)... but then I thought about the myth of parental compassion or the myth of human compassion in general. If parents were so naturally compassionate, they there wouldn't be those groups of parents who push their kids to join every sport, after-school activity, Chinese lesson, SAT prep courses there is. If they could really see how sad their kids were, as would be implied by their so-called compassion, they wouldn't aggravate them so much.

False modes of compassion come from having false senses of what is truly "good" for someone. If you're going to lay the smack down on your child for his own sake, you better be damn sure that what you're doing is going to be good. Discipline, you've learnt is good, but there's a lot of other torture that's tenuous and possibly inspired by the influences of the media telling you what's good and what's not.

Like if you truly want to help the world, become a teacher, or fund education so that mankind can better take care of things. Doing technology is not necessarily going help people, becoming an activist may very likely make things worse, and even influencing dogma's like pro-sodomy v. anti-sodomy is relativistic and it just reduces to your opinion vs. somebody else.

And despite all of this... I blog.

Creative Commons License