Category Archives: Social Sciences

Discrimination — ANOTHER Misused Word

This will be just a brief comment, parallel to my criticism in other posts of certain “popular” words (such as “common sense” and “hate”).

When I was young, “discrimination” had at least one positive meaning, that when used in the sense of a person with discriminating taste. In this sense it indicated an ability to distinguish being various competing choices and to select the alternative with the superior attributes. This favorable sense of the word seems now to have been wholly abandoned; now it is almost exclusively used to refer to malevolent behavior.

Now it certainly is proper to use this word in a pejorative sense in certain situations, as when it references illegal and, perhaps, immoral, discrimination; in those classes it would be most improper not to use it. But it appears it now usually is used in a much broader sense, to castigate actions of someone who makes any distinction between various persons or classes of persons.

Yet we, in minor and major manners, beneficially or injuriously, discriminate daily. We do this in selection of food, roads or areas to travel or not, items to purchase or not and a myriad of other choices. We do this also in imposing restrictions on particular persons or classes of persons, be they convicted felons, minors at certain ages of 16, 18 or 21, nonresidents for voting and a plethora of other examples which it would be too exhausting to catalogue. Still, these pervasive instances of appropriate and necessary discrimination are ignored by certain people who prefer use of a broad brush in application of this term to selected situations which offend them.

It is my assessment that there is a current prevalent propensity for a substantial proportion of the populace to make superficial and precipitate assessments — to ignore, or even fail to perceive, nuances. This is a most dangerous proclivity, for it constitutes an abandonment of the discipline, and perhaps even capacity, to employ discernment in evaluation and decision.

I acknowledge it may be facile to compare the frequency of absence of discernment and the prevalence of use of the term discrimination. Yet might there be a connection?

Thought frequently (or should) involves the development of mental systemization, to a certain degree at least, in observing and assessing various objects or actions. Methodology economizes analysis. The rub is when the methodology is defective. One more fatal is when methodology is absent.

Precipitate categorization is an absence of methodology. But cannot this become a methodology itself? — a systematized rejection of discernment. For the converse of studied analysis is the failure to engage in it.

Broad use of the term discrimination to critique and admonish any distinction by someone between persons or actions is but one instance of this failure. It is a rejection of the methodology of discernment which must be reversed. If we continue to fail in this regard I can only regrettably project an intensifying polarization with catastrophic results.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
16 October 2017

Preservation or Removal of Confederate Memorials — or More?

The issue of Confederate Memorials appears to be a controversy that just will not go away. My perception of the danger in the issue is the potential indirect ramifications of the “methodology” of those proposing their removal.

In one sense, perhaps all statues should go. All three religions of the Children of Abraham eschew envisaging, be it vocally and/or visually, the Divine. Is it not the definition of hubris to apprehend that any mortal is more entitled thereto?

Yet certain mortals have registered a sufficient impact on the past, and possibly even continue to do so during the present and will so into the future. This impact might be for good, for ill, or for a combination thereof. In this event, recognition of this impact, if it is accompanied by genuine analysis and assessment, is salutary. And a visual image of those mortals can be beneficial as providing an occasion or catalyst to do so.

In warranting this determination, we should consider two premises which seem justified: one, there is in knowledge, as there are in all capabilities and capacities, inequalities, with certain persons necessarily having more knowledge than another in certain areas; and, two, (I am becoming satisfied) one of the qualities in the human psyche is an innate curiosity and propensity for investigation (albeit of differing sophistication and value). Accordingly, certain persons can be concluded to have an enhanced ability to recognize the virtue or value of certain persons and ideas in history. If they then have memorialized them in some tangible fashion, should we too casually disregard and discard their decision and expression? Further, hypothesizing the existence of these memorials, an observer (be it many, some or few) will at least occasionally have an inclination to investigate farther its subject to determine whether it represents good, ill, or a combination thereof.

Regrettably many now appear to be too addicted to impulsiveness in assessment, the expression of opinion on complex issues in 140 (or even 2000) characters, or, occasionally, the hysteria of the crowd. If some too frequently and unconsciously employ — or, worse, countenance an inclination by others toward — such an approach, will this “methodology” not, by persistent repetition and reinforcement, become the acceptable routine and common perception?

Instead we should be attuned to the nuances in the behavior or ideas of another. And the aforesaid context certainly is not conducive to appreciation of those nuances, as assessment requires intensive and objective examination.

Enter the controversy about statues of Robert E. Lee. ¹ (While some may question my following claims, I am sufficiently confident, based upon my studies (beginning in the 1950s) of the Civil War, its prelude and its aftermath, of the justification therefor.) While there is little doubt Lee was no Abolitionist, it is more than specious to claim he was an advocate of Slavery, much less (as one misguided journalist asserted) a “White Supremacist”. In addition to the potential anachronism in attributing the latter characterization to General Lee — as well as the amorphous nature and metamorphosis of its definition — there is a paramount difficulty in applying an accepted definition here since, in a paramount sense, the vast majority of Americans, both North and South, during the Antebellum period likely could be so characterized. (For example, could not the support of Abraham Lincoln for policies encouraging colonization by freed slaves be deemed a form of White Supremacy? And certainly the attitudes and policies of much of the Antebellum North, as described by de Tocqueville, were consistent with such an arguable designation.)

Rather, then-Colonel Lee’s anguished decision to resign from the U.S. Army, and throw in his lot with the Commonwealth of Virginia, were a product of his paramount loyalty to his native soil. For we must recall, in appreciating this dynamic, that despite occasional earlier egregious flaunting in observation of the U.S. Constitution, the Antebellum United States still generally recognized that default sovereignty resided in the States rather than in the limited general government, possessing only enumerated powers. Hence, loyalty to one’s State, as opposed to a distant government of less than seventy-five (75) years vintage, was not abnormal if not rather expected.

Thus, was there not an issue here that bears relevance to the current day? Is not the question of Federalism, and the proper allocation of powers and functions between the respective governments, still a salient issue? Ought not those interested in this question — and particularly those who deem excessive accretion of power by the general government — consider that, among other reasons and incentives of course, remembering and studying Lee could attune people to an extended and productive dialogue thereon? ²

Regrettably the addiction to impulsive and superficial assessment seems rampant and endemic. Rather than careful examination, there is frequent mischaracterization and misstatement. (But one of these, noted more than once, is that Lee was the “commander of the Confederate Army”, a claim that would have been news to, among others, P.G.T. Beauregard, J.E. Johnston and A.S. Johnston. By doing so not only is there an effort to more inextricably, and inaccurately, link Lee with the primary cause of the Confederacy’s existence, viz, slavery, but to conceal his confinement to the Virginia Theater and thereby the very factors of State loyalty and the Federalism issue.) By these corrupted narratives the authors, intentionally or innocently, tend to drown out legitimate conflicting considerations and arguments.

One might limit one’s objections to this treatment by an unjustified focus on the blemishes of a certain person of history — for all mortals have had, do and will always have blemishes — rather than considering also their virtues, or to the subordination of the ideas which they espoused. But, in addition to remembrance of those virtues and ideas by these memorials, there appears to be an additional reason justifying their preservation, though perhaps of a counterintuitive nature.

It has been commented that some, perhaps even many, of these Confederate memorials were raised for ulterior motives such as buttressing a White Supremacy environment or glorification of “The Lost Cause”. Thus, with discrediting of these motivations, then, it is argued, there is justification for removal of them. With the premise of the reasons for erection I could concur, at least to some of those memorials, but with the conclusion I cannot.

For some of the persons represented deserve to be remembered. More importantly perhaps, the existence of these memorials provides evidence of the sentiment behind their raising and consequently the state of mind of at least a significant amount of the populace at the time thereof — for they were raised in the context of their times and they provide evidence of this context. Therefore, preservation of them allows the occasion for conservation and studying of the public perception at the time, and thus enhances understanding. To the extent that it is believed, justifiably in many cases, that their negative impact be ameliorated, solutions exist, such as literature, placards or other devices to objectively describe and discuss the environment at the time, reasons and sponsors for the memorial, to minimize any honor to their subjects that might be undue.

[Critics have suggested a parallel between the unanimous or near-unanimous support for the absence or removal of statutes remembering persons identifiable with evil, such as Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin and Saddam Hussein. While Evil may be an intangible difficult to describe (similar to the problem with defining and ascribing Hate in certain situations), there can be little dispute that it exists and can be justly attributed in certain situations and to certain persons; certainly those individuals qualify.

Other situations and persons are more questionable. How would one distinguish? Perhaps it would be on the basis whether a monument was raised in an actual or tacit public support environment or instead, in a dictatorial-command environment. Yet, even in the latter environment, perhaps preservation in some instances could be justified since they still would evidence the state of mind of these individuals who commanded their raising. And similar devices, such as above suggested, could ameliorate and counter any perceived honor being afforded them.]

I believe the above suggests a variety of reasons that justify opposition, at least in selected situations, to a possible juggernaut for removal of these memorials. But the primary reason for opposition is the objective of obstructing and arresting the mentality of the juggernaut itself. For I perceive this mentality, as opposed to its immediate objectives, to constitute an existential danger.

Many perceive, in an unreflecting way, change to be a virtue, a progress away from vice. I do not.

While the social implications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics are not irrevocable, as conscious effort can temporarily reverse decline, the tendency, especially in concentrated polities, is toward disorder and ultimately chaos. Only conscious effort, in carefully examining what has proven to be valuable and worthwhile and what can be projected to be dangerous in its replacement, can reverse it.

Regrettably, what we seem to have presently, at least as demanded by the most vocal and most publicly reported to the exclusion of contrary voices, is the opposite of careful examination and consideration. And history has frequently demonstrated that hysteria can develop a momentum of its own, destroying all in its path. Current technology unfortunately simply accentuates this potential.

Certainly not all who hold a position contrary to mine are unreflective or have positions without some merit. But a mob mentality can override and crush even those who seek to direct and control it. And here I perceive that there is a demonstrable herd mentality that, feeding upon the current horrendous polarization, can lead to a destructive stampede, trampling ideas and institutions which deserve preservation.


¹ The focus of these comments are limited to Robert E. Lee. At the other extreme is, say, Nathan Bedford Forrest, for statues of whom I would find opposition to removal highly-difficult to justify. (While a superior military tactician, I am unaware of any other qualities about him to admire.) As to other political or military leaders in the Confederacy, I would find it necessary to analyze them on a case-by-case basis as to whether they had any “socially redeeming qualities”.

² Moreover, the virtues of Lee’s private character justify study and, in many cases, emulation. I have however focused here on the public facets and perception.

 

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
21 Aug 2017

The Entropy of Waterscapes

Some prefer a pristine, unimpeded view of a waterscape. Others prefer a more natural vista, with intervening flora merging, intermingling with and enhancing the liquid expanse; this latter ensemble would be heartened through the spontaneous birth and growth of trees and shrubs composing this augmentation. However, they risk assault by critical comments upon why they would allow this disarray to occur.

One might respond that they prefer the variety and the severing of the monotony of an unobstructed view. Possibly, though, it can be more than this.

Perhaps, instead, it might be one manifestation of a visceral revulsion toward entropy. Employing myself as an example, and reflecting now, it appears I may always have maintained such an implicit mental framework: for I have long favored and gravitated toward the maintenance of diverse and distinct cultures. And an unobstructed waterscape might be styled as bland, and thus might be a reinforcing factor; for an inclination opposed to a too banal and undifferentiated vista of existence might be distressed when confronted with such a scene.

Such a critical aversion to an unobstructed and unbridled view of a waterscape can be viewed as simply the most immediate manifestation of such a perspective. For limitless, unconfined water is the very definition of entropy. Throughout the Scriptures, the sea constituted the very definition of chaos, and the clearest, most proximate example thereof.

Such a characterization is apt regardless of whether the surface might be violent or calm. For, if the former, though dramatic, yet is the exemplification of disorder, while, if the latter, wholly lacking in any discrete structure. Thus, only the introduction of terrestrial elements into the setting is capable of providing the variety necessary to counteract this inherent entropy.

 WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
03 Apr 2017

Hate — Of what does it consist?

It seems there is a present proclivity to characterize many prevalent attitudes as some aspect of Phobia, just two being Islamophobia and Homophobia. Phobia of course is defined as “an extreme or irrational fear or aversion”, but it seems, in these contexts, the meaning intended by the speaker has, frequently if not generally, metamorphosized into a category of Hate.

Phobia of course is not an attribute that is to be embraced or celebrated. (Neither though is the tendency to employ it — similar to the inclination to apply the innately-innocent phrases of “common sense” and “right (or wrong) side of history” as pejoratives — in an effort to castigate or marginalize the objects thereof.) Still, an exhibition of Hate is an attribute or attitude far more malignant and intolerable.

Of what, though, does Hate consist? And how does one identify it and isolate it from attitudes that are permissible? For it without doubt would be pernicious to label the articulation of an opinion formulated within the context of a belief system that distinguishes certain behavior or attributes as good versus bad (or evil) or commendatory versus intolerable — or even as acceptable versus unacceptable — as an expression of Hate. How then do we segregate attitudes that are beyond the pale from beliefs and principles that, though rejected or refuted by certain people, are intellectually tenable?

Perhaps the initial avenue of analysis would be to focus upon certain criteria that are capable of categorization. Pursuing such an approach, we than can assert that certain expressions clearly are indisputably indicative of an attitude of Hate. These include:

  • explicitly characterizing an opinion as hatred toward an identified group of shared characteristics,
  • acts of violence, against designated individuals or groups,
  • offensive expressions with the actual intent to humiliate or injure an identified individual or group,
  • consistently intemperate, vituperative characterizations of an identified group of shared characteristics when unaccompanied by coherent reasons that are sufficiently developed and corroborated,
  • visceral reaction initiated by patent characteristics or without articulable reasons, and
  • refusal to moderate an expressed hostile attitude toward an identified group of shared characteristics despite the proffered opportunity to evaluate context or appreciate nuances after presentation of and utilizing conflicting data or argument, when provided a sufficient opportunity to evaluate the presented data or argument.

 

Other actions would seem to be excludable from opprobrium, such as:

  • expression of acknowledged hostility toward persons, identified or unidentified, exhibiting and manifesting generally-acknowledged malum in se conduct or opinion, and
  • expressions that might have a tendency to offend but which are directed toward particular behavior or characteristics rather than a person performing or displaying them,
  • expression of an articulated opinion, consisting of coherent reasons sufficiently developed and supported,
  • explicitly describing an opinion as hatred toward a particular concept or principle, and
  • revulsion toward conduct that violates historically-established norms of civilized behavior.

 

And yet other actions may be more problematic of categorization, such as:

  • assertion of a general opinion or concept encompassing an identifiable class of persons which characterizes them as morally or socially deficient, and
  • an unequivocal intemperate, vituperative antagonism directed toward identified individuals,
  • expressions that might have a tendency to offend but which are directed toward particular behavior or characteristics rather than a person performing or displaying them when combined with aggravating or egregious factors,
  • antagonism based upon opposition to a practice or behavior rather than an expression of advocacy for a differing practice or behavior.

It would seem the third (3rd) category is the one upon which we should focus, in analyzing the salient factors that might better allow us to identify what is Hate and what is not. For, if we can determine what factors there differentiate it from the first (1st) category, then this ought to enable us to better isolate the controlling factors.

Our first observation, it would seem, ought to be that hate is not per se sanctionable. For Scripture itself recognizes that it is, on occasion at least, justified, e.g. Ps. 97:10; Ps. 139:21-22. The Hate with which we are concerned is that which is censurable and sanctionable.

Unfettered antagonism toward specific individuals often can be justified and properly escape censure. For Evil does exist and certain individuals can congenitally project (or possibly even be possessed by) it. Yet, as Edward Wallis Hoch wrote:

“There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly behooves any of us
To talk about the rest of us.”
(Still, a caveat remains due, as certain persons can by their overt actions project themselves into the public consciousness, or inflict tangible ill towards others — and thus justify a reciprocal expression of censure.)

What then is censurable and sanctionable is an antagonism that is intentionally blind to any redeeming virtues and qualities of a particular person.

Unfettered antagonism towards an identifiable class of persons, however, usually escapes justification by the foregoing rationale. For, unless the class is exceptionally narrow, there are few vices and negative qualities uniform to each member of it; equivalently, even if there were some reprehensible characteristics exhibited by a certain portion of the class, it would be probable that a possible equivalent portion would exhibit laudatory characteristics. Again, then, the dereliction would consist in the intentional ignoring and disregarding of palpable exculpatory circumstances and conditions that would, as a matter of usual linear analysis, necessitate, or at least suggest, a reevaluation of one s assessment of the affected persons.

One primary indicator then of censurable Hate is the conscious and intentional obliviousness to factors that are inconsistent with and rather would negate the rationalization supporting the antagonism. Further, in assessing whether the conscious and intentional element is present, we might tender as an axiom that absolute certitude is equivalent to intent.

Now, however, we should progress to the question whether fervent advocacy of an opinion or position is equivalent to this censurable absolute certitude. To answer this we have to examine the opinion or position in depth.

But this examination needs be made not on the merits but on whether the argument in support of it is an elaborated argument. And we are compelled to conclude that an argument qualifies as such when it exhibits deductive reasoning, utilizing premises that are objectively coherent and consistent, founded upon sufficient evidentiary justification; and sufficient evidentiary justification can be deemed to be present when it is acknowledged to be not a fringe assessment but rather within the range of common recognition. Concurrence in the merits is irrelevant since many disputed premises and much contradictory evidence are common; what is relevant is whether the person espouses an opinion that in good conscience can be confidently maintained — regardless of whether it is “generally-accepted” (since, both, this is a quantitative rather than qualitative measure, and as measure of the quantity can generally be subject to dispute).

Even then it is possible that an elaborated argument might wander into the territory of censurable absolute certitude in the event of persistence in an expressed opinion after the presentation of controlling conflicting data or argument. Nevertheless, since what is “controlling” frequently can be open to dispute and as all are afflicted with an inherent bias against conflicting opinions, the presumption should remain in favor of evaluating an elaborated argument as being made in good faith.

We might conclude then that the primary criterion is how obdurate is the expressed opinion as opposed to one which at least tentatively reserves judgment.

If so, then perhaps the observer who assumes the right to characterize a particular action or opinion as hateful is likewise obliged to reserve judgment until there has been an opportunity to explore the rationale thereof.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
14 Sep 2016

GRIEF & HOPE

Life is a process of constant motion. The motion, however, can be of a linear, circular or retrograde character. Only linear motion results, of course, in consistent incremental output, viz, an ascending, stable edifice. This output, though, can be interrupted by the loss of someone or something close to or intimate with the person.

Then the party can be afflicted with grief as well as be confronted with the conundrum of a possible replacement of the person or thing lost. It is a conundrum since a successor that is sought too soon or too late can be equally adverse.

For, if too soon, then it would suggest that the successor is fully interchangeable with that which was lost and thus there was nothing unique or special in nor depth to the relationship that lapsed. But, if too late, then it would suggest that nothing of which did transpire in the relationship was so important or worthwhile that an effort to replicate it would justify the effort. Either construction would intimate that the experiences and time involved could be construed as having been, at least relatively, squandered.

But, on analysis, one can distinguish and reveal these termini with greater clarity. Let us look first at the state of the expired relationship.

The initial reaction to the absence, depending upon the nature of the relationship, can be a profound sense of loss, a pervasive loneliness. Thus, there can be resistance to a hasty replacement due to a recognition of the depth and importance of the vanished relationship, the joy which was experienced, and the reluctance to dilute the effects, and even more painfully the possibility of shrouding the remembrance, of those experiences. While sadly those memories, and even the ability to easily visualize the late presence of what was lost, will begin to fade, there nevertheless will exist an aversion to accelerating the process through obscuring them by a substitute presence.

In those instances, the grief consists of the lack of opportunity now to display joy toward or demonstrate affection for the thing or being that has been lost. While the sentiments that are the subject of this initial phase are unilateral in nature, they have a natural, though converse, relationship to the importance of the role relationship between the two. However, if the person were to succumb too readily to this grief, by seeking an opportunity to display affection, then it would compromise, or be inconsistent with the depth of, the relationship between the survivor and that which was lost; accordingly, there is an inherent resistance to seek a substitute opportunity to display affection.

Such an opportunity, for the present now gone, is by its nature active. Consequently, it consists of, through such demonstration of joy and affection, making the being — or in the case of an activity, the observers thereof or participants therein — delighted and gratified. In this the opportunity then was a selfless outwards expression of one’s emotions and therefore an unselfish action.

Thus, a certain period of time is required to become reconciled to this state of absence. Eventually one is confronted with another, new choice — whether to persist in avoiding resumption of what was lost. Therefore, now let us look at the state of the  absent experiences.

In due time, then, the usual inclination would be to decline prolonging further the replacement of what was lost; what was the pervasive loneliness is eventually overridden by something stronger — the need to experience again the same state of bliss. For the person would recognize his need to experience again what he knew, both for the pleasure and felicity it engendered and for a quasi-resurrection of the importance and significance to him of what or who he knew before, albeit in a transformed shape. If one does not select a replacement then it denigrates the importance of what was contributed to him by what was lost.

But the choice also constitutes a recognition of the reciprocal nature of the relationship, one through which what was lost delivered happiness or returned the affection to him; thus, to this extent, the need to find a replacement could be characterized as a selfish action. Still, such a characterization might be too harsh. For while the nature of the person’s participation in this phase is more passive, the relationship was not of unilateral benefit only.

For, even if passive, a benefit is only yielded if the object of affection demonstrates the effect of the observer’s actions or behavior. Nevertheless, the demonstration can be isolated or reciprocal, with both modes being components of the larger set of implicit reciprocity. [In this regard, the demonstration, ideally perhaps, is most salutary when it bears an isolated aspect, when the person is an observer only rather than contemporaneously engaged or a direct recipient. For the person either might prefer not to be seeking some acknowledgment for his efforts or simply might feel uncomfortable with a display of affection. In the latter event, the sincerity of the compassionate actions still can be genuine, even if perhaps the person prefers an emotional detachment.]

What might be concluded from such a process of wrestling with grief? One conclusion that might be strongly suggested is that the fear of supplanting memories is overcome by the later perceived need to renew the context of those memories in order to avoid the forgetting of them.

Since these scenarios of loss and grief are inherent in and to life, they, and the employment of the remedies for curing them, will be a regular feature of existence. And as it would seem it must be concluded grief constitutes one of those factors negative and contrary to a constructive life, then minimizing this influence (which detracts from and attacks such a life) is necessary for nurturing this form of life. How then would one marginalize grief?

In answering this it would seem we have to identify what quality or state constitutes a polarity and an antidote to it. If the course of one’s life has consisted of an abundance of phenomena, then it would seem there should be less cause for grief. For perhaps the more active one’s life has been, the corollary will be an expectation of continued and constant growth. And the progeny of an expectation of something is the hope of its transpiring. Another conclusion then that might be strongly suggested is that Hope is the primary motivating factor for a constructive life. Thus, the better question perhaps is how then would one nurture and elevate hope?

One method, perhaps, is to maintain an dynamic life since one, in addition to enhancing one’s expectations, then would have reduced time to grieve, thereby providing greater latitude for the admittance of hope. Still perhaps if there was more satisfaction or contentment previously, then there is more likely to be more grief occasioned by its loss. Thus paradoxes exist: while grief might be enhanced if one’s life has not been active and filled, since one then would perceive it to be at least partially squandered, still a life filled with a large volume of events likely could make the loss thereof be perceived as greater and more intense — and thus yielding greater grief.

How then does one ameliorate this problem by vitiating this paradox? Perhaps by access to and entry into a community, as regular interaction will magnify opportunity for an experiential abundance. It would seem then that bliss may well consist of engagement in community. Such a proposition would then yield that displaying love is a human need. Because of the environment, it manifests itself in mutual engagement, thereby engendering in the other a sense of worth and value. It consequently is an active element. However, too large a community would interfere with any single relationship within it being developed to its optimum extent. Thus, while more than one person is necessary — a community by definition consisting of more than the singular — too large a volume would detract from its beneficial quality. Hence the serenity and tranquility that proceeds from Hope is cultivated in a restricted framework of intimate, austere connections.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
30 Dec 2015

The Efficacy of Small Actions

I am presently satisfied that the maximum effect and benefit a person produces from one’s activities is by their small actions affecting people most intimately and frequently encountered by them. In demonstrating this one might embark upon an analysis employing the below hypotheses as one possible method for confirmation of this conclusion.

One could imagine a set of many concentric circles surrounding oneself, with the person located at a point along the inner circle. To transport oneself to a new point, one would have the potential options of either moving laterally along the arc or perpendicularly to an outer circle. In deciding which direction to move one normally would base the decision upon which movement would be most likely to yield a discrete result; for otherwise one would have to be willing to surrender to the sterile proposition that random motion is constructive.

Now it is true that the farther one advances outward from their “home turf” the greater the length of the circle and the greater the volume of nodes along it.  But the energy and time required for motion along this vector away from the center necessarily reduces the energy and constrains the time the person can expend upon lateral motion. This conclusion is compelled by the acknowledgments that: first, energy and time are each finite; and, second, the constriction of the energy and time available for lateral motion thus must necessarily result from the energy and time expended on movement along the outward vector.

Yet no discernible and productive result is accomplished by traveling along the outward vector other than movement of oneself to a longer circle with more nodes; one still must then initiate further action along the circle’s arc in order to influence those nodes. But even more consequential it would seem is the infrequency of those outward movements.

For one must of course overcome inertia in order to initiate movement along an outward vector. And to have access to a qualitatively-larger volume of nodes requires proportionately-greater outward movement along the vector; each additional perpendicular increment yields more nodes but requires at least proportionate additional energy and time. Thus, kinetics mechanics and experience both teach that we will likely avoid this effort in favor of circulating only short distances from the center; for, one, the same (or less) quantum of energy and time can be expended on lateral motion, and, two, the decreased resistance to this motion due to familiarity with the “home circle” will minimize those expenditures.

Thus, by concentrating upon these lateral movements we will focus upon, and optimize the volume of, our conscious and deliberate actions initiated for the purpose of attaining a particular objective. And by definition those actions will be most accurately observed by and have an impact upon those nodes in closest proximity with oneself.

It then is inescapable that: the frequency of contact has to be with those in the most direct relationship with any of us; and the aggregate of our actions have to most influence those in direct relationship rather than the larger potential circle of people farther away from us.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
02 Nov 2015

 

Recollection & Contemplation

An occasion arose last Sunday morning to recall a person whom I occasionally encountered about some either 35 or 40 years ago. The differing range in time was due to my admitted inability to then recall in which of two different contexts I encountered him.

I then reflected that many of a younger generation might well attribute this to the deficiencies of an aging mind. For while it seems indisputable that with the progression of time there is an inevitable deterioration in civilization, society, morals and percipience, it also has a tendency to impose negative physiological effects.

Yet are there not other explanations also? One is the consequence of the aggregation of an ever-increasing volume of recollections accumulated over the longer length of time. If one had the Divine Mind, this would be an immaterial factor. But mortal minds are finite. Therefore this accumulation of recollections results in a compression of them. And this compression inhibits the ability to distinguish between the time framework of individual events.

The second explanation is both the ability and inclination of the mind to synthesize data and ideas as it accumulates both over time. With lower volumes of information either data or ideas will render recognition of any interconnection or apposition more difficult, yielding a hypothesis that either remain isolated and random. However as the mind accumulates both, then more common threads, points or vectors, both parallel or divergent, will present themselves — affording the opportunity to recognize patterns and draw conclusions. And since the mind is finite and inhibited from concurrent linear thought and lateral thought, the mature mind’s predilection is to elect rumination on the patterns and conclusions rather than the particulars of which they are the product.

Ergo, the mature mind does not necessarily suffer from deficiencies due to deterioration but rather exhibits a proclivity that is attributable to the process of its development.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Forester Twp, Michigan USA
21 Aug 2015