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Posts Tagged ‘change’

Newness

Eliezer has an unusual suggestion on how to spend New Year’s Day.

Sometime in the next week – January 1st if you have that available, or maybe January 3rd or 4th if the weekend is more convenient – I suggest you hold a New Day, where you don’t do anything old.

Don’t read any book you’ve read before.  Don’t read any author you’ve read before.  Don’t visit any website you’ve visited before.  Don’t play any game you’ve played before.  Don’t listen to familiar music that you already know you’ll like.  If you go on a walk, walk along a new path even if you have to drive to a different part of the city for your walk.  Don’t go to any restaurant you’ve been to before, order a dish that you haven’t had before.  Talk to new people (even if you have to find them in an IRC channel) about something you don’t spend much time discussing.

And most of all, if you become aware of yourself musing on any thought you’ve thunk before, then muse on something else.  Rehearse no old grievances, replay no old fantasies.

If it works, you could make it a holiday tradition, and do it every New Year.

I think it is a beautiful idea.

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The posts on this blog are mostly socio-political commentary from a libertarian perspective which might lead regular readers (if any exist) to falsely conclude… 

It is almost 2 am now. Having spent the last two hours reading old posts on “Overcoming Bias” and other excellent blogs (some of which, like this one, I just discovered), I am fatigued. Yes, those things are important. Yet, if I were to make an informed guess, I’d predict that my degree of passion for political matters will one day become similar to those of EY who writes:

I started my career as a libertarian, and gradually became less political as I realized that (a) my opinions would end up making no difference to policy and (b) I had other fish to fry.

…that my biggest fish are reflected by what I blog about. But people are mortal, all political theories imperfect, all systems of government temporary. Isn’t is obvious then that math is of far greater value? 

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Rummaging through my old emails, I found this passage, from an email I wrote to someone three years and six months ago.

There are so many things that are close to you at some point of time. People who were important in your life or just friends ; and then there are surroundings and places. They become part of your everyday existence — in a way sharing your joys and sorrows, and then when you move to a different place, or circumstances change, or maybe you stop loving someone, all of these people and things diminish in importance. You get new friends, new surroundings, and though you might keep in contact with your old friends, its not the same really, is it?

I suppose it is all very natural and obvious — to be happy one needs to do precisely this — move on when necessary. It is inevitable that things change and indeed I have never really bothered about that fact. But just now, as I was reading my French textbook, one of my office-mates started playing these old Hindi songs on the computer, and you know how associations are — they made me think about India and people I have left behind, people who were so important to me at one point of time, *****, *******, ********* … ISI, Bangalore, Calcutta, home; and then for a second it struck as something unbelievably monstrous that such things too can change!

Change is such a weird thing! It is beautiful, wonderful, exciting; and it is certainly irresistible and inevitable. But five minutes ago it seemed to me, for those fleeting seconds, as something tragic, something purely and unbelievably tragic.

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Apropos of nothing…I remembered myself from ten years back.

When I hated all mongerers of superstition; when I simply could not fathom why the government did not declare the practice of astrology, quackery, faith-healing and all related unscientific mumbo-jumbo illegal; when I would have liked all religious extremists and preachers of hate put behind bars; when the ultimate aim of the government to me was the advancement of a scientific spirit; when I truly believed that the world would be a better place if those who were caught in the warp of irrationality and actively spread dogmatism were silenced, by force if necessary; when I was fifteen.

Today, as then, I believe in the scientific spirit. But I no longer believe in coercion. Does that make me a wiser person?

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The war of gaffes gets more ridiculous each day. After the frankly irrelevant controversy over Obama using borrowed words in a speech, it is now Cindy McCain’s turn to make a not so subtle point about her patriotism vis-a-vis Michelle Obama’s.

For those who missed it, here is the article.

My first reaction to such news is that there are issues, and then there are issues. Such jabs are common place in election season, and entertaining for the observer but usually of little content. This particular controversy is however of some independent interest for one reason – it reminds us of the visceral need that many people feel to be ‘proud’ of the institution they belong to. They may never know what exactly they are proud of but they pretty damn well know that to be not proud is treachery. Politicians -from Mumbai to Madison – are of course masters at manipulating this pride.

My view of patriotism and related matters is reflected by a reader’s comment on the above linked article.

Give me a break. This is non news. I am roughly the same age as Michelle Obama, and let me tell you, it’s been a while since I’ve been REALLY proud of this country; particularly in the past seven years.

People who think you have to constantly express pride in your country or you’re somehow unpatriotic drive me crazy. I happen to think the opposite is true. If you love this country, you speak up for the changes you believe in and try your best to help make those changes.

People who are trying to dissect this comment and somehow turn it into something it wasn’t just make me laugh. The last thing we need in the White House is another robot spouting blind patriotism as justification for his or her own personal agenda.

-Cami.

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