Thursday, March 30, 2017

Terms of Derision

Planet-killing psychopaths. Ruinators trying to turn the U.S. into RuiNation. Promoters of money over lives. Stupid, evil, or both. On social media I have been saying these things about the people with political and economic power whose actions I perceive to be reducing the chances of living in a world that conforms to my values. The terms were consciously crafted to highlight my judgment of right and wrong based on those values, while conveying characteristics that appear responsible for their actions. Because I value honesty, I've used them in venues where it should be clear that I was stating opinion, and tried to add context by providing explanatory references to sources of those opinions.

For example, "planet-killing psychopaths" (formerly "planet-killing sociopaths") refers to people and organizations whose actions excessively increase the extinction risk for both humans and other species, while apparently demonstrating no remorse for that impact – if they even have an interest in it. I use the term derisively because in my value system the continued existence of life is paramount, especially human life and the species whose existence supports it.

Objectively, I understand that such behavior may be built into some people's nature, or it may have been shaped by personal experience that made it a way of coping with their own lives. For all I know, it may even be a sort of safety valve on the growth of our species, ensuring that we humans are stopped from totally destroying the global ecosystem by destroying ourselves first, with the others that support us as necessary collateral loss. Whatever the reason, the result is bad in my view; and if the result is bad, then to be true to my values I must discourage or work to disable what causes it.

Similar logic applies to the other terms. "RuiNation" is one I made up to describe a "ruined nation" that has had its basic social and physical infrastructure damaged to the point that the majority of its citizens are suffering on a regular basis along with a diminishing life expectancy. "Ruinators" are those who facilitate the existence of such a country. RuiNation introduces quality of life to quantity of life as a value. Because I like to measure things, I include life expectancy, which has a clear correlation to both values. Any action or combined actions that increase the chances of making it so are to be discouraged, as a minimum. Clearly such actions may include reducing such things as: the quality and quantity of health care; the quality of air, water, and food; and access all of these.

My research has shown that money is an abstraction that serves the main purpose of coordinating acquisition, distribution, and use of resources to provide people's needs and wants (collectively, "happiness"). To the extent that it provides needs, it supports life; but when some people use it to meet their wants with resources others require to meet their needs, then it reduces life. This latter case is referred to in shorthand with the term "money means more than lives," applied to those who apparently value their own happiness (specifically, their wants) more than the survival of other people. It is used with derision because of my overarching valuing of life over the material environments that money and its accompanying physical resources can provide, environments that also use resources needed by other species who enable all people to live on this planet.

In some cases, it is unclear whether an action is intentional or the consequence of ignorance. We all have lack of knowledge and understanding, blind spots that lead us to cause bad things to happen (however one defines "bad") without being aware of it; I use the term "stupid" as shorthand for a person with this condition, particularly if it appears to be chronic. If actions are taken with knowledge of their negative consequences, then I ascribe the term "evil" to the person, even though on a more objective basis I consider evil to be a characteristic of actions rather than people. Sometimes (and perhaps more often than not), a mix of intentionality and ignorance contributes to such actions: trying to do one bad thing and causing another. If someone is in a position to know the consequences of their actions but appears to not know them, such as a politician with significant power, then I may ask which explanation holds (either or both) without excusing them for the consequences because they should know what they're doing more than most of the rest of us.

As I understand it, the most successfully long-lived societies survived and thrived in large part due to social feedback that promoted healthy behaviors and discouraged unhealthy ones. Valuing the characteristics of longevity and health has led me to fully embrace providing such feedback as a duty, which I have chosen to exercise through writing perhaps because I am an extreme introvert. I have also become more and more stressed as evidence continues to mount that we all live in a very short-lived society, motivating me to increasingly cry out in pain and judgment against the forces I perceive are causing that. This has caused some people to brand me a scaremonger and an extreme partisan. It's not scaremongering if the threat is real – which it is – and the appearance of partisanship is a consequence of the reality that there is a strong correlation between political affiliation and contribution to whether we will live or die, which is the ultimate value.