Finding “Katana” Questions

There is a tendency to over-think and over-complicate these days. I not sure where it comes from nor how it has gotten so deeply embedded. We have these “lovely” things called criteria which many are enamoured of, we have to justify things both to ourselves and others in terms of these criteria. And people send us endless electronic questionnaires. There are literally millions of customer reviews, which are of course marketing dressed up as inclusion. We can get very badly lost in comparison-mind. We want to compare this and compare that, hoping it might aid a decision. This puts-off the impending decision and we play the comparison game, deep into the night. We prevaricate and procrastinate. Under the weight of all this stuff, our intuition lies forgotten, squashed and abandoned. In our internal-dialogue comparison-mind “thinking” we do not find the “katana” question or the bullshit knife, which might help us cut through.

And should we find this katana question we are often fearful of wielding it and so we enter the comparison mind-loop all over. Somehow cutting through to the core of problem is impolite, we need to vacillate a bit longer. For example, if you are looking to buy a house you could spend a couple of hours going through the criteria. Or you could simply ask the question; “Am I keen to get my cheque book out, now, and buy the property?” If the answer  is no, don’t go further. If it is yes, you can then use comparison-mind to check you are not being romantic and silly. We do things the wong way around. Our intuition, if honed, can become as sharp as a katana. We can sense when things are wrong or when they are right, way before ten hours of comparison-mind kicks in.

Having cued this up:

Do I have intuitions?

Have they proven to be accurate?

Have I talked my intuition into a corner and made a poor decision thereby?

Am I enamoured of making comparisons; a lot, a little bit, only now and then, or not at all?

What would happen if I honed and used my intuition a little bit more?

Might I save myself time, effort and migraines?

 

 

The Price of Reasons

It is our reasons that can be a double-edged sword. By them we can talk ourselves into and out of things. We can use them to justify and excuse our less wholesome behaviours and we can use them to remain stuck where we are. They can save us from other situations. But people place more faith in their reasons than is perhaps warranted. If there is a gap to something new, we can all too often come up with a host of reasons as to why not.

Yesterday evening I introduced a slight flavour of melancholy, not because I was feeling melancholic myself, but somehow, I caught a whiff of it on the breeze. And melancholy can be a sign of when our reasons have let us down, we have regret and sadness about something we didn’t do or somethings we did. Melancholy can teach us if we touch it without indulging too much. It can be a tender thing with a source in our hearts.

I’ll hazard a guess that most err on the conservative and preservative side. There are many things that we simply do not try. Our reason says that they are not sensible, and we use these reasons to dress our fears and justify our conservatism. We are not honest about our fears, so we put jacket and trousers on them, and maybe an overcoat too. We call this being reasonable.

Yet those faint airs of melancholy speak to us of our loss and our unrequited. When we behave in a shabby manner we can feel embarrassed initially and this can morph into a melancholy. This melancholy is a part of the price of reasons.

Having cued this up:

Have I ever excused unwholesome behaviour with reasons?

Do I easily find reasons as to why not to?

Has my conservatism ever caused me melancholy?

If I am not honest about my fears how will I ever look them in the eye?

Temptation and Justification

The first thing to say is that if you have never been tempted you are not human. The second thing is that in the previous post, Faust who deems himself smart and learned never the less invites Mephistopheles over his threshold. Doh! Faust thought he was outwitting but ended up outwitted. Our cleverness can be our undoing, we think we can outsmart.

To set this up I am going to use a hypothetical example, which is a social norm of sorts. As such it may be that you think that I am making a fuss about nothing. Nevertheless, bear with me. It is “socially acceptable” to a degree to snoop on others on the internet, to covertly read their blog or trawl through their social media. There is a kind of fascination and because we think nobody is watching we might indulge a little too much, that may lead to voyeurism and obsession. Temptation is there by the megabyte.

If we come across the media of someone known to us, we might take a cursory glance out of curiosity and leave it there. At this level there is no harm. If we imagine that they may say something about us in that media, we get nosier. If we have a grudge or a crush on someone, we might start to delve ever deeper. We kind of know we did not ought to be doing this, however there is a temptation. We can start to make weird justifications. “If he/she did not want me to be looking at this then they would not have put it up.” “He or she is actually inviting me.” At which point we could alert the person of our presence by leaving an electronic calling card, such as a thumbs-up or we can continue our surveillance. By now our behaviours have become more than a little furtive. So, we start to justify things even more. “I’ll only take one more look.” But that one becomes many. We may even develop a habit. “I’ll see what weird shit Fred has been up to today.” If we think we might somehow get an advantage over Fred through our continued surveillance we are now starting to justify that surveillance on strategic grounds. “Better keep an eye on Fred in case there is something I can use later, Fred may be out to get me.” Once things have gotten to this stage we will never reveal to Fred that we have him under our microscope.

Before long the temptation to carry on something which is “up to no good” has taken hold and we have thoroughly justified it and continue to do so.

Whenever temptation presents there is nearly always some justification as to why it is OK to yield to temptation, either live or post hoc., the two go together. Human beings are adept at dreaming up a whole host of justifications to allow themselves to do dodgy shit.

Having cued this up:

What do you reckon, do temptation and justifications often skip along hand in hand?

Pettiness

Take a look around you at your family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Who amongst them expresses this quality, pettiness? Do some of them go so far as being vindictive? Are they full of justifications for their pettiness? Are you perhaps blind to this pettiness? Indeed, do you yourself express it? Who amongst them is broad-minded, inclusive and encouraging?

I guess pettiness expresses as roughly two poles, these are “it’s not fair” and “I am going to score points”. This thing, pettiness, is pretty common. In using comparison mind we might think it unfair that someone else is on a slightly higher pay grade or has a bigger expense allowance; that the office of a colleague is one square foot bigger than ours. If someone else succeeds we spit nails and wish them failure, they do not deserve it whilst we do. We seek to bring them down in a fault finding petty way. We can see it with Oxfam right now. All the good they do is forgotten, because of a few rotten apples in the barrel. What do we see? We see only that which we can criticise.

If someone “offends” us we take note. Thereafter any chance to score points or exact petty vengeances is seized and the “dagger” of revenge is thrust home. It is revenge by a thousand tiny cuts.

Aback both these poles is a victim mentality, which we all have to an extent. Somehow it is difficult to rise above this miasma of pettiness. There are petty jealousies, pet annoyances and petty grievances. The poor wounded victim thinks, “it is not fair” and “I am going to get even”.

This mind-set is not liberating, and it makes for a shitty climate. It can be found, for example, in workplaces all over the land.

Having cued this up:

Is pettiness an attractive and energising thing to express?

Do I find it hard not to be petty?

Am I justified in being petty?

If I am honest do I have something of a victim mentality, poor little me?

 

Are You Reasonable?

Many think that being reasonable is a good thing, they may even aspire to the accolade of reasonable man, thinking that this might imply a sound, comprehensive faculty of discernment and weighing all the angles of an argument. But reason only goes so far, so often it merges with excuse and justification. And these have to be sold to others. It takes a brave man to point out that a justification is not the same as something fully reasoned. There is a major fallacy associated with reason and this is that almost inevitably it is based in a socio-political context. The two things are inextricably linked, because reason has to it the normative basis of what society deems reasonable. As a consequence, reason, strange as it may seem, can be causal of atrocity. If we don’t like the way a bunch of a-rabs are behaving then it is reasonable to effect regime change which causes death, destruction and a massive migration crisis; which in turns leads to unrest at home. Reason is not infallible and more often it is a way of arguing for something we want, seek or desire. It is a pretend pseudo-logic used to justify.

Reason is a tool for manipulation, it lies aback the salesman’s pitch and the advertiser’s enticement. The reason for using this lovely fifteen compartment washing capsule is that it is so much better and more convenient than our competitor. Their washing capsule has only fourteen compartments, Q.E.D., our capsule is better, and you need to pay that little bit extra to join the enlightened users of the novel quantum chromodynamic washing system. Should you do this instantaneously you will be transformed into a model, a sex goddess and a perfect mum, who will be the envy of all and sundry.

OK, I have over-egged this, but do you get the idea? Reason can be used to manipulate.

Reason can have a convenient and expedient, self or group centred myopia.

What is reasonable in one socio-political context, is unreasonable in another. And reason has a poor memory, it is also selective. For example, many claim to be Christian and unless I am mistaken vengeance is not a Christian value. Yet we have people, claiming to be Christian insisting that it is fair that a child murder be punished as an adult and for life in the USA. The victim can no longer walk the earth; therefore, the perpetrator must be locked away until they die. The reasoning is faulty. It is used to manipulate a desired outcome, in this case vengeance. It is not fair that the perpetrator should be free, ever.

Attached to this notion of reason is this equally bizarre notion of fair. Many a highly paid executive justifies an inflated salary on grounds of fairness, but it is a selective justification in which the more able arguer wins a greater salary. What is fair can be only in the eyes of the person making this claim. Everybody else is wrong. If one is using reason, it is not reasonable that there is such a huge pay differential. It is skewed, but the skewing need not be so marked. To be true some are simply greedy bastards.

To be reasonable, is to be malleable, able to be reasoned. One can be persuaded, influenced, convinced, manipulated, brainwashed and brow beaten by reasons. The peer group and this “social consensus” thingamajig is a major component of reason. It is man-made and as a certain Vulcan might say, illogical.

At the back of reason there is often an agenda, simple as.

Having perhaps tainted this notion of reason:

Am I a reasonable being?

Is this a good thing?

Has my reason ever gotten me into trouble?

Is reason comprehensive and all encompassing?

Justifications

This film addresses two different styles of leadership. Sometimes that which we justify to ourselves can lead us into dark places. Clinging on to power can become ever more desperate and not pretty. This can increase the justification count exponentially.