Monday, March 26, 2012

Honesty and Reality Pt.2

We all get our own opinion.

But we don't get our own facts, and if you can't tell the difference...

I empathize with the struggle: the last 12 years in the US have tested everyone's faith in institutions. Read this passage by Jim Kunstler:
The clowns and villains who run America have accomplished something really epic: they have vanquished meaning. Nobody knows what anything means anymore. Anything goes now. All bets are off. It's not reassuring. It leads to bad things happening like blood in the streets. When nothing means anything anymore, some people will actually strive, make an effort, to reestablish meaning in practical economic and political life, because civilized life is impossible without it. So, in those historic moments when civilization is suspended, people will work like hell to restore meaning. Sometimes though, like Germany in the 1930s, you discover that the suspension of civilization is itself intoxicating, and you ride with that for a while.
We don't know who to trust.

And if you're a product of the US public education system (without a college diploma), you are homogeneously unequipped to make any real sense of the world around you. No wonder voodoo mythology persists- its a substitute for meaning.

This is why stupidity like anti-vaxxers and global warming denial takes hold: it's a reflexive "fuck you" to anyone with perceived authority: scientists, mathematicians, physicists, etc. And any institutions that support them.

To be clear, there are no actual controversies or "other sides" to issues such as global warming, evolution, and public vaccination campaigns. Nada. None. Zipola. Doubt is not a substitute for knowledge.

But if you're someone that's still out to pasture on these issues, there's just no reasoning with you anymore, because you have chosen to be defined by your rejection of authority rather than the harder work of having to maintain potentially disparate or competing realities in your life. Or worse, being definitively proven wrong.

So you'll flounder night after night wondering why you can't "find your audience." You'll never bother looking at demographic research, though, because you'd have to learn to establish faith in datasets and applied psychology. You won't apply for public benefits because you think that makes you a slave to the State, or worse, it means you're "one of THOSE people." You know, the ones that need help.

ALL OF US need to change the way we're living. Our music careers, simply stated, are just not big enough problems anymore. A career in music will be the result of tandem efforts: activism, teaching, community participation, and yes, music performance. But here's the trick: you can't play to the audience anymore. There's already enough jesters doing that job - this culture needs to figure out: WHO CAN WE TRUST?

Trust means you have to be right! That means you have to do your homework! Most important: you need a thick skin, because when you're right (a lot), people are gonna think you're an asshole and try to tear you down. You'll be lonely. You'll be pissed. You'll lash out. But then...'ll find your flock. You'll win.

To do this, you'll have to be honest (brutally, at times), researched (change your mind when you're wrong), persistent (thick skinned), trust in experience (even when it disagrees with you), brave (when you get noticed, the fire will come).

Remember, we're part of a larger reality. That means we're not entitled to our own.