Skip to content

Everything, Theory of

by tgposzadmin on February 27th, 2020

You are never going to be in the “club”. They won’t let you. 

When I was in high school, maybe a bit before, I wasn’t sure at all what I would do. I was born and grew up in small-town America. We didn’t have much. I did have a paper route and I saved money for my hobbies: coin collecting, baseball cards. It took many years later for me to realize that there is little to achieve here, the rarefied atmosphere of this kind of collecting was going to take more resources than I had, but I didn’t know that at the time.

As all things, at that age, I eventually moved on to other things. I built a stereo receiver, stereo FM audio was kind of a new radio thing. I think we had 2 FM stations that I could pull in. I even bought a small receiver for my parents, installing the speakers in the ceiling as a built-in audio system for their house. They were never really all that interested in it, oh, they listened to radio, but mostly AM, where the Minnesota Twins were broadcast, or the local news. And everyone got the snowstorm school closures from the radio. Later, they moved their content consumption to the TV, but again, mostly for the major things, like sports or some televised concert. TV was also something I consumed, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Lost in Space – these stories lead me to studies of astronomy and a brief time where I thought I might become an astronaut. I mean at this age, who didn’t watch the moon landings. But then I discovered they were only taking Air Force and Navy pilots and certainly no one that wore glasses, oh how I hated those things…

Today we have reality TV because there is more money and less expense involved. But for me, at that time in my life, high school and college were on my doorstep – these TV series helped me focus on an area of study, initially – physics, nuclear mostly, but Three Mile Island had me questioning that choice, and then this crazy thing called computers caught my attention and led me down the path I eventually chose.

Then, at work, was the coincidental meeting of my future spouse (in a work related activity). A handful of girlfriends before that, but mostly what I was looking for was someone that I could talk to at my level, about things I was interested in, not who was what in Hollywood or even the craziness of the Vietnam war (I did not have to go, thankfully). But having escaped that horror, I really wanted to make some significant difference in the world, but caring for someone else, being in a relationship, requires something of an investment, something I didn’t anticipate or really understand. Before long, there was a child and the job continued to get in the way, but I am thankful I finally did get some focus at home. I missed a lot of my son growing up, damn the job, but it was a choice I eventually tried to correct. Conflicted, of course, by the need to provide for my family.

The dot com explosion happened around me, I didn’t take as many chances as I should/could have, so we didn’t become rich beyond our wildest dreams, but we did have a comfortable living, hiccup or two there, like a labor strike, or layoffs. I wasn’t so focused on what was important at home and while we were still together we also spent a lot on therapy, which ultimately didn’t really help, we had to save our marriage by ourselves. It’s hard work.

Work challenged me, left me with a huge “todo” list, things I really wanted to do, but never got the time to do, so I kept these things in a list, they would become, I hoped, the basis of work after “work”. But toward the retirement phase, I started to become more comfortable with where we would be, financially. But, I hadn’t put enough time into the kids, they are not really ready to go off on their own. Blame the high cost of California, too. That had an effect for sure, but maybe my own hesitancy to take chances bled off on my kids. They are afraid to take chances.

Kids absorb from their environment, sure, but they also are enormously affected by the people in their lives, both good and bad. To this day, we are affected by the bad so much more than those that helped them, and us. This is what troubles me most about today’s political climate, the effect it will have on our children, who have little to say in all of this, not to mention the absolute crimes being committed, both in the legal sense as well as in the sense of crimes against humanity. What can we say about the rule of law when the rules are different for different people?

I used to think that getting rich would make a difference, that money could be an insulation from all the bad in the world, but now I realize I cannot amass enough to protect my family from all this. I didn’t take all those chances some of the others did, see above. You see, throughout our lives we are being shown that being a regular person is not enough. You want to be rich and famous. My parents showed me that being a regular person, caring person, WAS enough. Somehow we’ve forgotten that.

Even when I was growing up, the general sense was that parents were telling their kids to not stray from the path, do what your parents say, become a doctor or a lawyer, but now those doctors and lawyers are upset when the risk takers have leap frogged ahead of them. I mean, do you have any idea what Zuckerberg or Bezos have paid for their homes? Zuckerberg even bought up the homes around his home, so he wouldn’t be bothered by all of us, the riff raff, even if some were at the higher end of society.

When I was in college in the 1970’s, there was time to figure out your path, now you have to be on the path already. You don’t want to fall by the wayside, where there is less money, of course. Maybe you can’t make ends meet, if you are on this down side part of the spectrum. There are way fewer opportunities there, and all of the elites of the world, DNC or Trumpers, they have contempt for you. For all the talk, even from the liberal side, those that have truly made it, don’t really want you in the club.

Just go to work, they think, work for the man, don’t rock the boat, and if you’re in an ethnic minority, god help you. BTW, we are not, but we can feel it, day in day out, doesn’t matter if you Democrat or Trumper (there is no Republican party any more), they don’t want to hear from you unless maybe you are in the 1% of the 1%. I don’t think many people even care for the common good any more. It’s about who can take the most toys.

New Hampshire just voted in their primary. From the newspapers you wouldn’t know that Bernie won this primary vote. It’s kind of the same in the next set of primaries. The liberal elite don’t want Bernie to win. The leaders mistakenly believe someone that doesn’t rock the boat is what will defeat Trump. That people will vote for a moral, high ground candidate. The cheese has moved, however. The 99% want change, that’s why Trump to begin with, and that’s what these elites don’t get. But they, even the liberal elite, don’t want to share.

Recently, I was talking with someone about Breaking Bad, the TV series, and how Walter was justifying his choices as “putting food on the table” for his family, even though his behavior was absolutely criminal. Justification? What else could he do, he has cancer, and now he has no time, how is he to provide for his family?

Is this the excuse some of the 1% are using? With the kind of money they have, they can afford to feed their whole damn neighborhood. Like I said before, my parents showed me that being a regular person, caring person, WAS enough. Somehow we’ve forgotten that.

Do you suppose that the elites have forgotten about being a regular person? Can they even care what happens to someone not in their immediate family? What has happened to them, did their parents screw them up, like Fred Trump? Closer to our generation, are all our efforts to improve self-esteem in our children (from trophies for everyone on the team, regardless of game outcome) really harming their true growth into humans that can “do the right thing?”

Educators try to twist criticism into praise so that a budding sense of self-worth is not harmed before it can form properly. “Fake it until you make it.” as if we can manufacture self worth from within. Of course there is a link between self-esteem and well-being/happiness in life. Some psychologists have a middle road approach to this topic, where they believe personality is formed by the time early adulthood happens. The way people behave as adults then depends upon how they were raised as children. Some might believe genetic traits form this behavior, but many suggest these childhood interactions have a much more important role in making a regular, caring person. 

The world is vertical for a Narcissist. There’s a pecking order, there are no equals. Thus, the goal is to get ahead in the climb to the top. Those with high self-esteem have a horizontal world, where group members are equal. Get along, rather than getting ahead. Build connections with other people but not as a means to achieving supremacy. Narcissists think themselves superior, those with high self-esteem view themselves as worthy. Studies show parental warmth leads to self-esteem, whereas parental overvaluation leads to narcissism.

I have met too many people that use money as the measure, the yard-stick, of some sort of success valuation. This may be a silicon valley trait. Are we missing aspects of ethics in our lives? Do they even teach ethics in college any more? When we are growing up, do our parents stress the importance of moral principles that govern our behavior?

Money may determine if you are in the club or not. But without some of the guard rails, lack of money means life is not comfortable. Life can be downright hostile. It means life is a real struggle. I would put it to you that what seems to be happening is a real lack of compassion if you aren’t in the club, and most of us are not in the club. If you don’t have a job and you don’t have insurance, when you can’t pay the hospital bill you probably declare bankruptcy, this is not good. But, the elite want the status quo, go to work, support us, don’t rock the boat. There is a job for everyone, if you don’t have a job, you’re not really looking. What’s not accounted for, however, is that the boat no longer works for most of us.

To get some perspective on struggle, consider an extreme case. I would advise a watch of the 2014 movie the wife and I watched last night, “The Theory of Everything” on Netflix. It’s worth a look, not because it’s so deep into the math or the cosmology he worked on most of his life, this movie is adapted from a memoir by Jane Hawking about Stephen and Jane Hawking’s relationship and Stephen’s success in physics while he was at Cambridge. There are little gems about their life together, and if you’re paying attention, their kids. Watching this again, made me think of three of Stephen’s most popular quotes, here they are:

  1. “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”
  2. “We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”
  3. Perhaps most inspiring of all, “There should be no boundaries to human endeavour. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope”.

There is a Star Trek Next Gen episode where a man from our time is woken from hibernation after many many years and the money he saved up for this time after he woke no longer mattered in this Roddenberry created universe. Go with me, this is a story with a point. Picard says something to the effect that the challenge, without this old getting ahead or climbing the vertical narcissistic universe, is to “improve and enrich yourself”. Of course in this universe, humans no longer have material wants and needs, so if you can make that leap, then in what ways can you improve and enrich yourself in the Star Trek universe and how does this project onto our own way of thinking? We can flourish. In whatever we want to do, we could become a better person – one with more wisdom and more moral virtue (kindness comes to mind). It may be applicable in the world of Trek or in our world. Being a better person is unrelated to the satisfaction of material desires, but it does require satisfaction of basic needs like shelter, food, water, and safety. And this is what is missing, do we even still have a safety net?

Footnote: In spite of his illness (Lou Gehrig’s disease, he had to deal with it for 50 years), Stephen Hawking lived to the age of 76. He maintained that without the UK National Health Service, he could not have survived to be the major contributor to the field of cosmology that he was.

From → Misc

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS