Category Archives: Paradigms

He Wishes for Better

He wishes for better—
As if in the wishing
He were doing a worthy deed,
Long overdue among the countless
Neglects in this haggard world.

He sets it aright in the vista of his mind,
And manages, when he can,
To feel some satisfaction in it—
For it is his due, he thinks,
For having burst the bonds of convention
In daring to think, for a change,
How things should be.

And he is certain of it—
And of himself—
And of his deftness of conviction.
And he wonders from time to time why they don’t
Ask him to do more such work—
Why he isn’t summoned
To do this more often—
Visionary that he is.

And tomorrow—
Or perhaps the day after—
He will wish about something else.
And so begins a new venture,
The better for which
This world will surely be,
He is certain,
When he has at last
Wished it hard enough
That he can mine from it
That scant morsel of piety
That he is fortunate sometimes
To feel after such great works.

And should someone else
Wish the wish alongside him,
Lauding the greatness of his vision,
He is more sure to sense
The reassuring signal
That he has got it right
Yet once again,
And that his worth
To this world is certain.

And so it goes—
And so go his years,
Until at long last,
He discovers,
Or not,
That he has done little
But to wish things different—
That his life’s great work has consisted in
The slightest of all possible deeds—
In mental child’s play—
And that he has not taken, after all,
What he thought should be
His rightful place
Alongside the champions of the ages
Who, themselves, had forged those
Most precious of moments of history
By daring not merely to wish,
But to make it so.

He may, in fact, never see the difference
Between him and them.
He may never realize that
To a million wishers,
There may be but one
Who dares to do—
And that he has not been that one.

They Tell Me Not To Try

They tell me not to try—
That I’m wasting my time.
But someone tried with me,
And I am the better for it.

They tell me it’s hopeless,
But I’ve experienced successes myself.

They tell me the people won’t listen,
But I listened.

And after a while of hearing such things,
He who says them begins to seem to me
The stupidest of all—
He who dares to declare for others
A fruitless future
When God himself—
The greatest wisher ever for the good of man—
Has still left them alive
To live in this world of possibility
Yet another day.

The naysayer thinks himself enlightened,
Yet cannot see the darkness in his outlook.

But I will speak to him of it.
I’ll push back for his good.
I don’t believe the others can’t change—
Nor that he himself can’t change
This darkened outlook.

Perhaps he’s mad because
I won’t give up like he has.
Or perhaps he’s simply forgotten
And needs a friendly nudge to remember.

If he sees that they are wrong
Not to listen about other things,
Perhaps he’ll see that he’s
Been so stubbornly wrong himself
Not to listen about this.

So don’t tell me that people can’t change—
That grandest excuse for mankind
In all of history.

Has there ever been a bigger lie?

I know it is a lie because
I have changed.

There’s too little hope in this world.
But I still have some.
And I still remember where I got it.

He Lurks

He lurks, enjoying what he reads
But too afraid to say so.

He would be criticized if his friends knew.
He would have to face the heat for his beliefs.

He would have to take the stand that the author takes,
And defend it himself
Against the foolish criticism of others—
Or not.

Indeed, he tried it before once
But ended up retreating from the backlash.
And that’s when he learned to lurk—
To fly under the radar—
To avoid detection
And conflict.

Why, then, does he admire the author
Who dares things he will not,
And yet not figure out his own shame?

Why does he see himself as being on the right side of things
When he’s afraid to declare a side?

He is not the champion he’d like to think he is.
He is, rather, a fugitive in the very society whose approval he seeks—
Or, perhaps more accurately, whose disapproval he avoids.

He will not write.
He will not take a stand.
He will not enter the fray.
Yet he considers himself brave by association—
By an association he dare not acknowledge.

With the one writer,
Nine others engage, one way or another.
But the lurker is among the ninety who will not—
The ninety who lack either the courage or the conviction
To get in the game.

And so the lurker enjoys the security of the silent masses
Who have not learned to hash a thing out
Or to invest themselves in principle
Or to help a friend who is wrong—
Who dare not speak
For fear of rejection—
Or for some other priority
That keeps them from
The particulars of
This real world.

Trophies and Foundations

If you experienced even one highly-excellent event in your schooling years, you can probably relate to what I want to say here. For some, it might have been winning the big game. For others, putting on a great play or musical. For others, winning the Spelling Bee or the Brain Brawl, or getting a Superior rating at the Band Festival. I trust you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Well, there’s a difference in what people do with those excellent schooling experiences—whether they experience many or few such things. Some people take those experiences as trophies—as things to be remembered—as high-water marks of life. They are the sort to say, “Hey, do you remember that time that such-and-such happened?” A lot of people are like this, and draw joy (whether much or little) from these schooling-years experiences throughout the rest of their lives.

Continue reading Trophies and Foundations

Choosing Between Church And God

If you are a member of a church, you are frequently called upon to choose between church and God.  Let me spell it out for you.

When you were young, there was always some kid around encouraging you to do things your parents disallowed.  Do you remember that?  Or maybe it was a classmate trying to get you to disobey school rules.  Even today at work, there may likely be one or more coworkers who actively encourage you to break the rules in order to do things in a way that’s more advantageous to the employees and less so to the employer.

This sort of thing happens because not everybody shares the same paradigms about life.  Whenever a standard is set, whether parental rules or rules on the job or public law, there will always be somebody who wants to cheat.  And while we could debate whether an individual has any obligation to follow this or that rule, I’d rather just fast forward this discussion by taking it to the top level.

Christians have an implicit obligation to obey God.  They also have an implicit obligation to revere what God says.  After all, when you claim that someone is the Supreme Being in the universe and the Creator of all that is, a certain amount of respect and homage is implicit in that.  Since Christianity is a book-based religion, wherein the central facts are recorded in the Bible, there is also implicit in Christianity some level of responsibility to the information in the Bible.  For example, we call the Creator “Yahweh” because that’s one of the names by which he is known in the Bible, and we don’t call him “Doug” or “Jerry” because he is not known by those names in the Bible.  Or, to give another example, we go around teaching that God’s son was born in Bethlehem.  We could teach instead that he was born in Schenectady, NY, but we don’t do that because we draw our information about him from the Bible, and not from imagination.

That’s basically how it works.  And it works that way with more than just information; it also works that way with our moral code.  For example, a diligent Christian believes that God hates lies because he or she can read as much in the Bible.  The diligent believer, therefore, shuns lying.

But then there’s church.  And at church, there’s always going to be somebody trying to get us to cut corners and to cheat in one way or another on our obligations to God.  It happens all the time, whether it’s cheating with doctrine, with morals, or with the purpose for the program.  The fact of the matter is that it’s just way easier to run a church as one sees fit than it is to run it in such a way that everything that goes on there jibes 100% with all 1,100+ pages of the Bible.  So the program comes first.  And, fortunately for the program-mongers, very few in the pews are the sort to pay much attention to the departures from scripture.

Those who are, of course, can generally be talked into relaxing their objections.  Things like “just go along to be unified” or “look, we’re doing this for a good cause” are particularly effective.  And then there’s the table-turning tactic that bullies the objector into submission—things like, “I see a lot of pride in your thinking about this”, or “What are you going to do, start your own church?”

At the end of the day, however, all this boils down to what will be the fundamental paradigm of the people in the group.  What is their prime directive?  Is it to keep the church running, or is it to please God?  I vote for the latter.  But, of course, I had to cast such vote with my feet—again and again, as I realized just how impossible it is to find a church that is interested in fully embracing everything the Bible teaches.


Pelham’s “Hacking” Epiphanies

Some paradigms disappoint because they turn out to be simply dysfunctional, while others seem to work immediately upon adoption, fulfilling our vision for them in a most satisfactory way.  But then there is a third kind of paradigm.  This sort is not flawed, but will not work well without one or more complementary paradigms also in play.  This is the type I’ll be describing in this article. Continue reading Pelham’s “Hacking” Epiphanies

My Favorite Movies and Why

This list is a work in progress.  In no particular order (at this time):

George Malley (John Travolta) mysteriously finds himself with new mental energy for Type 2 cognitive processes.  He realizes many of his previous cognitive errors, invents many things, comes up with loads of questions, and has an insatiable curiosity.  The community in which he lives find all this to be freakish. Continue reading My Favorite Movies and Why

What is My “World View”?

Every once in a while, someone inquires about my “world view”.   Here it is:

  1. There is nothing unreal in the entire known Universe, with the one exception of what happens in the imaginations of humans.
  2. Humans often get trapped in the unrealities that they (or others) have imagined, and attempt to practice or to adhere to those unrealities in the real world.  This is and has always been, in every known case, bad. Continue reading What is My “World View”?