The Devil and Ideology

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If I seem obsessed with evil lately, it’s only because it’s an important idea to understand. Evil takes many forms, and one of the most prevalent being ideology.

You see, the devil–or whatever you want to call that malevolent part of humanity–isn’t a guy with horns and a pointy tail living in a place full of fire. And the devil doesn’t do stuff to you or force you to do stuff. It’s worse.

The devil makes you choose, of your own free will, to do stuff that’s bad while thinking it’s really, really good.

Tempter . . . seducer . . . dare I say it, the champion of convenience.

This is how we get a world where, for example, babies are killed in the womb in the name of “liberation,” and we all just go, “Meh.”

The worst part of this, the most devilish of all, is that, since no one likes to change their minds, ever, any such behavior that leads to bad results is nearly impossible to reverse.

I’m sure you can see the connection between devilishness and ideology now.

Ideology, and we’re talking political ideologies here, box you into a way of thinking that’s tough to break out of, no matter how consistently bad the outcomes are. It’s the old saying about how when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail come to life.

Ideologies can be useful. They provide a framework for seeing the world, for conceptualizing causes and effects, and for proposing solutions.

In a way, though, they are like science, or at least what science should be: constantly tested, constantly revised, and in danger of being falsified. In short, they should be flexible in light of new information and evidence.

Instead, ideologies become rigid, entrenched, and oddly antifragile. Indeed, it seems that the more holes you poke in a given ideology, or the more flaws you point out, the stronger its adherents devotion. They become highly dogmatic and, dare I say it, cult-like.

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“But Alex, aren’t you a Christian? Isn’t religion just another ideology?”

In short, no. Christianity is (1) a highly individualistic religion, (2) not concerned with political structures, (3) is reliant on a person’s own actions and faith for salvation, and (4) doens’t require forcing every other person on Earth to live the exact same way you do. Other religions might be more akin to an ideology–I can think of one, in particular, that just can’t seem to keep itself out of the news–but I leave further discussion to the experts.

Back to the secular, and smellier, realms of law and politics. Whether you’re a hardcore free-marketeer or a Marxist, your answer to everything is more of the same. The market-worshiper is just as apt to lament “We’ve never had really free markets!” as the communist is to whine “We’ve never had real communism!” And in both cases, there is a strange belief in the magic power of laws, as though laws are powerful spells that can compel proper behavior if only we use the right combination of words!

More, more, more. Hammer, hammer, hammer. Continue reading “The Devil and Ideology”

Smaller Spaces

My long personal nightmare is over. After  over a year-and-a-half of living a dual existence, bouncing between New England and the Capital Region, driving 800+ miles per week and being away from my wife and son three out of the seven days, 2017 sees us all together 24/7. 

To say I am happy about this does my feelings no justice. 

Mentally and emotionally, I am at greater peace. 

Physically, I finally feel like my old self again, the high-energy guy who hardly slept and never took a minute off. 

I had thought I was getting old. It turns out that not sleeping, spending 16-20 hours in a car per week, and being separated from my family had deleterious effects. Who would have guessed?

So we are all back together, and there is much rejoicing. 

But an interesting thing has happened as we’ve gone from owning a house to renting a small apartment. And while the current living situation is temporary, I have discovered something very interesting:

I don’t miss having all of that space. 

I know, I know, I’ll get back to you after a year of this, if we’re still. And maybe the “honeymoon” of being reunited has worn off. 

But still, I find myself not missing all of the extra room a house brings. 

Of course, much of our stuff is still stored with family back north. And we are actively looking for a bigger, more permanent place. 

I can’t help but wonder about the so-called “American dream” of home-ownership. 

Owning a home is nice, and it’s great to have your own little piece of America, but consider this:

  • Unless you have the money to purchase it outright, you don’t really “own” your home. The bank does. 
  • Home ownership is another kind of debt. A huge one. 
  • Banks and other mortgage lending institutions do not care about you. 
  • We are pushed to view homes as “investments” rather than places to live, yet we’ve seen this “sure thing” burst quite severely before. Why won’t it again in the future?

And where I am now looking for a home, real estate prices are preposterous. 

Culturally, the “more and bigger” phenomenon is interesting. We want space; it becomes a status symbol

I view houses the way I view cars: Utilitarian things designed for heavy use that need to work for the individual, what other people think be damned. 

Maybe I’m just wired oddly. I don’t know. 

But the thrill of more is persists. Is it worth it to be housepoor, just so you can brag about your house? Continue reading “Smaller Spaces”