“Who is my neighbor?” – a lawyer
I suppose it would be nice to write this missive within a philosophical vacuum, but such vacuum simply doesn’t exist.
Curtis Yarvin wrote a very long missive entitled, An Open Letter to an Open-Minded Progressive. Much within that document is just, but the title fails. He has recently completed the experiment testing the hypothesis: is there an open-minded progressive? The result excludes the existence of such creatures.
Sure, I hear you, “Evidence of absence is not absence of evidence,” but I’m the atheist guy who still believes large portions of the Bible, so most of your arguments – Hell! – your whole ass-fucking chain of thought fails to impress me. Curtis just cold-approached a mediocre girl and got thrown out of the bar. Not a hot girl, mind you, a mediocre girl. I think he needs to read more Roissy – and frequent another bar.
One of the most interesting experiences living in Glasgow was the discovery I could walk unmolested through ANY neighborhood. I can’t do that in Little Rock. Sure, I can walk (relatively) safely through any neighborhood in Little Rock, but I can’t pass unmolested. Glasgow was a different matter. I fit the entire contents of Scotland. I could approach strangers and stranger were comfortable approaching me. Trust was assumed. The closest I came to distrust was entering an “Asian” grocery and negotiating the purchase of a single banana. The man didn’t comprehend how I would only want one. Once he understood I was just hungry and had coin (literally), everybody was smiles. I think the poor guy lived in a neighborhood with bums, and I suppose I can resemble a bum after wandering a city for an afternoon. Nah, I always look like a bum. Which brings me to my other thought. I can’t walk nonchalantly into the Little Rock Country Club or Chenal Country Club without a hard hat – ’cause I look like a “bum,” or, more precisely, because I don’t look like I could pay the membership fees for a country club. [I could.] Sam Ambreen would call my experience intersectionality, but wouldn’t, because I’m white, and we don’t get to be intersection, only supremacist, which doesn’t mean what it appears to mean when you read it.
[Note: I have dined at the country club in Jonesboro, but that’s a matter of the local population’s expectations for attire.]
Curtis, tried wandering into a knitting circle, with knitting-inspected invitation in hand, except he was dressed in drag with a swastika carved in his forehead by Aldo Raine. Curtis doesn’t get to be a human being any longer; henceforth, he is only a freak show for the amusement of information technology dilettantes’. That’s a shame, really, since dilettantes usually… hell, it’s in the definition. What Curtis should do, but hasn’t, is organize his own conference inviting complex thinkers from all walks to present difficult topics that require explanation and thoughtful study to comprehend. One can dream.
The primary reason I abandoned information technology as a field of study was it’s complete and utter divorce from reality. It was only after many years apart from the industry that I realized the impact such isolation from consequence can have upon the human psyche. Imagine, if you will, that you can conceive of a three-dimensional Escher environment where walking down can take you up, ascent is descent, left is right, except when it’s left, or inside. My boy sometimes creates spaces within the confines of a Minecraft model that mimic – but do not accomplish – these feats of geometry. I can accomplish the same by “hearthing” my toon in Wow: one moment I am here, then the next I am here. Wouldn’t it be great If reality were so malleable.
“But it is!” you cry. I hear you. A man can become a woman, a wife can become single, the fat made thin, the wise made foolish, the foolish made wise (all with the assistance of Google). Tunney be praised! Or is it an illusion? Will Jenner ever really be a woman? Does the divorcee ever really become single again? Does that gastric bypass really make you thin, or merely less nourished? Did you really make Dawkins into a fool, or is your Christian or Social Justice deity just as foolish as his atheist love of Christmas Carols? Is Tunney a leader or an opportunist?
“Heresy!” you cry. “Alien! How dare you challenge our authority?” Well. dear progressive, how, will remain my secret, but I will tell you why.
I told you that I quit information technology for a reason. I chose, instead, to work in a field where reality was a the final test, with perhaps a little destructive intervention from human beings: structural engineering. You may know the field because it’s been a relentless signpost in history these last several decades. Round about the time I first started my career, a guy named Tim parked a truck filled with an improvised explosive device in front of a “federal building” in downtown Oklahoma City, then blew tens of people, and a large part of the aforementioned building, to smithereens. He claimed to be ignorant that a day care for young children was present at the building, but he did not regret the young lives lost, because he acted to avenge women and children killed at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco and the so-called white separatist family homestead at Ruby Ridge. I’m inclined to believe a man who fully expected to die for his actions, on both counts.
Not long after, a motley collection of Muslims hijacked four airplanes and killed themselves, all the passengers and crew, and a substantial portion of the occupants of the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia. [I am aware that there are alternative narratives involving empty planes and explosive charges; my argument withstands these.] I am fairly confident that the men who hijacked the planes fully expected to die accomplishing there goals. These mass killings were also, I should add, in revenge for killing “their” people. [Again, adjust the narrative as you see fit.. and hang with me.] So, we mobilized our “armed forces” and reigned hell upon “their” people – or a close approximation thereof – in response to that event. Or so the story goes.
Of course, a lot of this traces back to that first Gulf War back in ’90-’91, the conflict where infidel troops camped in purportedly holy Arabia and Tim learned much of what he needed to know to become a bomber, but perhaps we need to look a little further, back to when Tim hadn’t yet shipped out to Arabia to serve in Iraq. See, Tim purchased a t-shirt with the slogan “White Power” at a KKK protest of black soldiers wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “black power” while on base. Tim got reprimanded for the purchase, ’cause raciss. I wonder what happened back in Arabia to the guys who decided to trade further life for the promise of glory in heaven?
Now, all that narrative above has one particular thing in common: I couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it.
Let’s say, for sake of argument, that I design the WTC (I didn’t). Do you think I would have designed the building for an airplane hit? If you said, “No,” you’re mistaken, because it was – just not a BIG airplane. Same geos for the Murrah building. Sure, the various authorities will say things like, “…not design for progressive collapse,” but that’s bullshit: every building is designed for progressive collapse; the question is, “How much progressive collapse?” See, a St. Louis boss inherited the Little Rock office where I worked back in ‘-08 or ‘-09 (I forget). He had a good expression for the extra work that can be got from people: discretionary effort. When I’m designing a building, I am obligated to include a code-mandated safety factor. the factor of safety varies according to materials and circumstances, but it can go as low as about 1.2 for reliable materials and predictable loads. Described in terms of labor, that translates to about 8 more hours discretionary effort that an employee will provide to a reliable employer for a manageable project.
Much of life can be described with this term, discretionary effort. Does your wife cook your breakfast, or do you make it yourself? What about blow jobs? When your daughter flunks a college class and loses her scholarship, do you pay the difference and her summer session tuition, or ship her things to her apartment with a parting gift of one month’s rent? Does your daughter get her tuition paid at all? Do you play ball with your son, or watch “the game” with a beer? When your buddy asks to stay at your place, do you offer him the guest room, or couch? Or $100 for a hotel room? Or nothing? The St. Louis boss wanted to impress upon us the notion that we needed to motivate our subordinates to work the extra that was needed to complete work. He neglected to inspire me, however; so I took another assignment.
I submit to you that you have accomplished the same with Curtis and, by extension to other parts of your lives, other men like Curtis who have dared to challenge your narrative. It may be that you are right and we are wrong; that’s not really the point. The point is that, in the meantime, you rely upon us to participate with you as willing partners in life. You will find many are no longer willing. Tim eventually quit the Army when they discovered he didn’t fit the mental profile for an “elite soldier.” Until today, I always found it confusing that this evaluation did not justify his immediate expulsion from the Army, but I had overlooked a critical truth embedded in the lie: Tim was a good enough soldier. he was good enough for a modest investment and shooting things, so long as the commanders of the Army needn’t rely upon him to not stop and think differently. Tim had already begun to think differently.
Curtis thinks differently. The danger inherent in this difference is dramatic. If Curtis does not believe, as you do, that either
(a) all human beings are born with identical talents and inclinations.
(b) human beings may be born with different talents and inclinations, but these talents and inclinations are distributed identically across all living populations.
then you and Curtis have reached an impasse. To obtain Curtis’ participation in your schemes for directing capital for the Greater Good, you must obtain his concurrence that there is a Greater Good. Curtis, I suspect, comprehends that there is not a Greater Good, or more precisely, that the Greater Good has very little to do with him. Hence the preamble to his dilemma,
Frankly, I’m actually considering recanting. Who wouldn’t rather be Galileo than Giordano Bruno? But recanting is a serious matter – it’s the sort of thing you need to get right the first time.
To appear at future conferences without my fellow speakers worrying that I’ll enslave them or kick off Holocaust 2.0, it’d be ideal if someone can tell me what I have to believe.
But it goes further than that. Tim didn’t necessarily reject that either a) or b); Tim merely believed that you punished dissent from your narrative, e.g.: black military personnel publicly wearing “black power” t-shirts is ok but whites purchasing “white power” t-shirts is forbidden. It is impossible to reconcile the equality narrative while pursuing a tactic designed to promote inequality. Since Tim’s life ended, you’ve developed your narrative to include concepts such as “social justice” and “institutional racism,” but these merely sidestep Tim’s objections. You are still often reduced to the accusation,
I think you should also consider the possibility that some past emotional experience is driving all these rationalizations.
Which may be stated more concisely as, “Seek help; you’re crazy,” followed by shunning, or in Tim’s case, since he decisively declared his opposition, death.
That, I think is the crux of the matter for personally. I practice a regulated profession. It is conceivable that a sufficiently aggressive progressive could strip me of my earned privilege based upon my opinions unrelated to that privilege. Except, you don’t think my privilege, or my suffrage, is unrelated to my religion. I am confident that you consider these two one and the same. What is freedom of conscience if acting according to conscience is forbidden, if expressing that conscience results in shunning? If you rob a man of his livelihood by requiring that he violate that conscience by expressing agreement with your religion, does he have freedom of religion? This, ultimately, is the natural expression of your religion: dissent falsifies your narrative so it cannot be permitted.
I do not believe that explosive devices were installed in the World Trade Center and exploded; this does not require that I shun people who believe otherwise because the consequence of our disagreement can be mediated by reality, and in any case, our difference of opinion impacts our transactions very little, if at all. You, in contrast, must shun men such as Curtis from discussions unrelated to his religious opinions because your religion relies upon consensus to endure.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable right, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I feel for you; I truly do. Here’s another one.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
If you’re a true progressive, it’s likely you’ve abandoned that little fantasy. As Dawkins would say, “You’re an atheist, too. I’ve just gone one more god than you.” What Curtis asks of you is not that you agree with him; that really doesn’t matter. All he asks of you is that you tell him what he must believe. But that won’t work, and you know it, don’t you? If you say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house,” you’d be lying, wouldn’t you? Your religion is more malleable than that, isn’t it? “Believe what we believe, even as we come to believe differently, and you might be saved, you alone, for as long as you are useful.” That’s a bit closer to the truth, isn’t’ it? More likely he’s committed the unforgivable sin: he pointed, and laughed.
I can’t speak for Curtis: he must live his own life and manage the consequences of his own decisions. I can tell you that I am no longer willing to abide by the terms you present for a feeble promise of potential salvation from the sins you’ve invented for profit. I am not a sinner, and if I were, I would determine the scope of my own sin.
I will leave you with one more thought; you may wish to consider it a final warning.
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.’
“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” And [the lawyer] said, “He that shewed mercy on him.” Then said Jesus unto him, “Go, and do thou likewise.”
If you read that parable as I did for many years, you read an answer to the questions, “Who is my neighbor?” and the plain answer is, “The Samaritan,” but that’s not what’s in the text. The words are, “He that shewed mercy on him.” You’ve got to circle back to the lawyer’s original answer to Jesus question, “What is written in the law?”
The lawyer replies, “Thou shalt love …thy neighbor as thyself.”
Jesus praises, “You are right.”
The lawyer persists, “Who is my neighbor?”
And Jesus replies, “The man who shows mercy.”
Jesus admonition is not to love men that leave you dying by the side of the road. Such men are not your neighbors. Jesus instructed to love men who will aid you when you are in need of salvation. The lawyer wanted to know, “Who is my neighbor?” not so he might expand that category to include all people, but so that he might narrow that category to a reasonable expectation. Jesus supplied that discrimination.
Curtis is lying on the side of the road. Ya’ll passed by him. More: you shunned him. That’s alright. it’s your choice. We all hear you loud and clear. You are not our neighbor.