I had planned to give a little more warning about this, but see previous post intro. So we sit here practically as it’s happening, and for that I do apologize, but better than telling you tomorrow that you missed it, you know? So I’ll go ahead an announce that today is the June Solstice, often known as the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, because you may not have heard – you count on us nature-boys for that kind of thing. I wonder if Mr ‘Wahoo’ Bugg is going to post something?
The other holiday also occurring today needs no introduction, because everyone has heard about it, but I’d feel bad if I failed to mention this, so let’s squeeze World Humanist Day in here too – just gonna clean the grocery stores out of clam juice and Pockys with all these holidays.
Now, I’ve posted about the day and the concept once or twice before, and I have a ‘But how?’ post coming up regarding the curious and pointless misdirection that often occurs in religion, so I won’t belabor the humanism thing right now. I’ll simply say that, as an ideology intended to help guide us towards a stronger and less-contentious society, I have yet to discover anything better, and yes, that’s a challenge – change my mind, as the sign says. And I can’t really speak about other places in the world, but certainly here in the US, we need a bit more focus on social goals and cooperative culture, and less on ego, individualism, and competition. A really disturbing amount of our present culture revolves around ‘status’ and one-upmanship, which has practical application in only a very narrow and specific way – certainly not as a way of life.
Let’s put it this way: we wouldn’t even exist without a cooperative culture. Our distant ancestors would have been quickly wiped out by predators if it weren’t for tribal behavior. Our present status as arguably the most advanced life form on the planet is owed not only to this (because we’re far from the only species that possesses such traits) but also our ability to communicate in such great detail. And while we might like to think that we’re beyond the necessity of tribal protection now, we can’t deny that we rely on such shared efforts as healthcare, road and social services structures, and large scale food provision – imagine that there were no grocery stores, and farmers didn’t sell their produce. I don’t have to grind my own lenses because we have a society where mass production can be used to benefit large numbers of people.
And it’s reasonable to expect due compensation for such efforts – a fair trade, as it were, the barter system writ large. Yet, without limitations, this kind of thing can run away, and change from being beneficial to being supremely harmful to society, culture, and even our species as a whole. When setting a price on goods or services, there’s a distinctive difference between, “I can get this price,” and, “I should get this price” – admittedly, this is imposing an abstract and undefinable concept of ought onto things, but there really isn’t any need to get too restrictive in definition anyway. The self-limitation of a free market is a complete myth, as should be abundantly obvious to anyone in this country at the very least, and if we don’t want government-imposed regulations on virtually everything, then we need to demonstrate that we can limit ourselves. I personally can’t think of one advancement, one innovation or service or product or bit of technology, that could possibly justify a multi-million-dollar salary, and let’s be real: it’s never the CEOs or founders that come up with such things anyway.
Yet there’s more to humanism than curbing runaway capitalism (there’s many that would claim that it has little or nothing to do with that, though in overall goal, it’s hard to argue that it would fail to target such practices.) Individually, the idea is to recognize what works best for us, as a culture, as a society, and as a species, and to even ask, before any serious decision, if what we’re doing is aimed in that direction. We can be swayed by superficial influences, far too easily, while it really isn’t hard to reason our way past them – mostly, it takes just a little more emphasis that we should be trying to begin with rather than, for instance, justifying anything that we do by who else does it, or that we deserve it, or that it was ordained from on high by some being that couldn’t even get our knees right.
It is, naturally, a good thing that we embrace this holiday as recognition of how often we can and do exercise this simple aspect of judgment – it would be a shame if it was the kind of thing largely ignored while news stations throughout the country report on, I dunno, what some fucking groundhog was doing or something. But even so, I offer a simple challenge: at some point, within the next week, stop before any given decision just to ask, “Is this going to make things better for us?” That’s not a lot, really.