Making It Happen

I had a post ready to go this morning when a friend suggested that I continue on the subject of morality. I decided that was a good idea. When you’re rolling, why not keep rolling? First of all, some semantics. Right and wrong, and good and bad are words that denote concepts. The concept of right and wrong is nothing more than something that the majority of people agree on. Our laws are made on the idea that most people agree on what is right and wrong. That doesn’t mean however, that there is an absolute right or wrong. People often disagree on what is right or wrong. How then do we know what morality means? If you think that being rude to someone because they deserve it is being a moral person, then that’s your idea of morality. Are you right or wrong in thinking that way? The majority of people would probably say you’re wrong, that no one deserves your rudeness. Are they right or wrong? Right and wrong are often determined by the consequences of your actions. If the consequences are disagreeable, you were probably wrong. So for my purposes here, I’m going to go with the majority.

Quality is a concept that compares one thing to another. “I have a high quality TV,” usually mean a very good, expensive TV. Quality is most often used to describe things as opposed to actions, speech, or thoughts. Applying quality to ourselves relates to morality. Two books that come to mind on the subject of quality relating to people are, “Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” by Robert M Pirsig and “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. Each of these books talks about the quality of our speech, actions, and thoughts. Pirsig’s book goes into the area of metaphysics, and Ruiz’s takes a more practical approach. Both however say that we should apply quality to everything we think, do, or say.

The term “Best Life” has been thrown around a lot these days. Mostly in today’s meaning it’s applied to superficial things like lifestyle, grooming, physical appearance, material desires, etc. Self help books take up miles of shelf space in brick and mortar bookstores and the titles online are endless. But do they delve into morality? Do they explain why the quality of your speech, actions and thoughts make more difference than just about anything else?

The Dalai Lama has said, “If you cannot help someone, at least do no harm.” This hits to the core of what it means to be a moral human being. Not harming others. And by others we can include the earth, environment, animals, etc. Do no harm. It’s a simple idea, but one that’s hard to follow. It takes being self aware, of being awake in the moment. It takes being conscious of the things we think, do, and say. Most of us are so caught up in the motions of day to day living, taking care of our children, putting food on the table, going to work, that we don’t have much time to examine our motives or thoughts. But it’s important that we do. To be a moral person, to apply the concept of quality to our daily lives, we need to be conscious of it. We can’t just float through our days on automatic and expect that everything will work out. If we want to moral people, we have to make that happen.

Examining our lives to see if they follow the moral code we decide we want means taking a deeper look at who we really are. This can be troublesome. Sometimes we find that we don’t like certain aspects of ourselves. I know that I have shortcomings. And if I really want to improve my morality, my quality, I need to work on those things. When we look in the mirror we want to see the kind of person that other people like. The kind of person that others will want to be around. And not superficially, but a good and decent person that others will genuinely enjoy. This is not to say that we should become better people for the benefit of others. Although they will benefit from us being a morally decent person, we must do this for ourselves.

There are many people in the world that most of us would agree are immoral people. Greed is the culprit for most of it today. The desire for more money, or power or whatever cause people to do things most of us agree are wrong. Things that hurt others. When we act on our selfish desires most of the time it turns out bad for other people. And it turns out bad for ourselves as well because nothing in life is permanent. When we lust after money, we just want more. Power, or the control of others goes to are heads. It’s like a drug. Controlling others for our own benefit is a high that’s hard to come down from. In these cases morality goes out the window. Morality should not be something we take lightly or for convenience. It should be important enough for us to make it a priority. It can change the world.


Quality and Intelligence

I read an article today that informed me that Donald J Trump refuses to believe that climate change is real. Government climatologists have issued him reports and he chooses to ignore them. The president of the United States has at his disposal, the top minds in every scientific field there is, and he chooses to disbelieve them when they tell him we must do something about climate change. He doesn’t believe them because there are snow storms. He reasons, (if you want to call it that) that our atmosphere can’t be warming if we’re having snow storms.

One measure of the intelligence of a person is when they know, that there are lots of things they don’t know. I have a high school education and a two year Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Laboratory Science. No Bachelors, no PhD, no Masters degree. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that I don’t know everything. I know that there are experts in thousands of fields of study who know infinitely more than I do. I know that virtually all climate scientists agree that climate change is real. How is it, that an average guy like me knows that climate change is real and we must do something about it, and our president doesn’t?

Jesse Venture, ex professional wrestler, was Governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003. I voted for him. I got a lot of crap from quite a few people for admitting to that. The reasons I voted for him are many, but the single most important reason was this: He knew he didn’t know everything. He was smart enough to surround himself with really intelligent people who could help him get things done. Yes, he was a loud mouth. Yes, he said publicly, things he shouldn’t have said. But he was there, in the office, doing the job and listening to his advisors. It turns out, he wasn’t a bad governor. This is the difference between intelligence and non intelligence. Knowing you’re not the smartest person in the room.

But Donald J Trump is not really the problem. The problem is two fold. The first part of the problem is this: How could so many millions of people think that Trump would make a good president. The second part of the problem is having a Congress that has defended him and willingly aided and abetted everything he’s done. Many people I have talked to have said education is the answer. We must do a better job at educating people so they understand these things better. I agree that education is sorely lacking in the U.S. No doubt about it. But that in itself is not going to fix things. Many, if not all of our Congress people are highly educated. Trump himself has a college degree. Intelligence alone will not fix what’s wrong. Character, is what’s wrong with those who aid and abet President Trump. Simply, quality of character.

Robert M Pirsig, in his 1974 book, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, wrote about quality. Quality for him, was the single most important issue of life. Quality in our words and deeds. When I read that book so many years ago, it really opened my eyes to a new way of thinking. It made me realize that the quality of what we do, think, and say is as important that the things themselves. Striving for quality in our lives, even in something as simple as washing dishes or something very important like dealing with climate change should be a top priority. Unfortunately, we don’t have quality in our government, or our country. Tear gassing children, closing the borders to asylum seekers, doing nothing about climate change and the many, many other things our president and congress have done, or not done shows us all the low level of quality and intelligence that runs rampant through the halls of our government today. We need a higher standard. Every one of us needs to look at our lives, our words and deeds and do our best to improve their quality. And we need to use the intelligence and reason and common sense we have been given to make this country better for us all.