Mar 312009

Recently Steve Pavlina blogged about taking responsibility for everything in your life. He said that it’s either total responsibility or none, there’s no in-between. That struck me as true. You either take responsibility for every single thing in your life, recognize that it has consequences, if only to you and act on that responsibility. Nothing is neutral.

Pavlina tweeted: “What would your day look like if you performed at your absolute best in all areas(best work habits, best food, best communication, etc)?”

Pavlina then tweeted: “How many days can you afford not to perform at your best?”

If you think you can get away with doing things half assed…well, you can’t. You’re probably just not looking at it right. I mean, what do you and I know? We don’t know that by performing at our best today, we may serve as a beacon to a drug addict that helps him stop doing drugs. Or maybe nothing happens. Or we save the world. We don’t really know, we’re limited, finite creatures. Do you really wanna that risk, though? Of not helping others or yourself?

Knowing that we’re finite creatures, the only thing we can do is to do the best we can. The absolute best, period. Anything less and we could be risking disaster. Maybe by not going for a walk or a jog today to get fit, you spend that time doing something that will hurt you greatly ten years down the road. Maybe you’ll have that regret when you have your first heart attack.

Taking responsibility is fundamentally different from taking on the guilt and the blame. Guilt and blame may make you feel bad, but they aren’t empowering. They’re just more attempts to not take responsibility. They’re attempts to blame someone else, except you blame yourself or your past self. Taking responsibility is empowering, even if you screw up.

Say you screw up. The responsible way to handle that is to figure out the damage done, to sincerely resolve to fix it somehow. Reverse the damage if possible, apologize and try to be sympathetic and listen to the emotions of the people involved. Sure, you don’t feel good cause you hurt someone, but you don’t torture yourself. The responsible way is to accept that you will screw up and hurt people. A lot. It’s a part of life. Doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person, it’s just a part of living with others. It’s a condition of existence.

However, the blame way is to give up, sit down and start crying. You can then try to blame others for your mistake, including yourself or your past self. If you do anything to fix the situation, it is out of guilt, not a proactive desire to fix things and help the people involved.

Which would you rather be?

Mar 042009

Battlestar Galactica is profoundly mythological. There is an odd power to myths, which can hold our attention as a group over the course of many millennia. The story of Noah’s Flood is at least six thousand years old but it was told and re-told for all of that time. Maybe there is a deeper, hidden and implicit meaning to it. According to Jordan Peterson, the meaning is something like: do not allow yourself and your culture to become morally corrupt because if the structures of order that keep chaos at bay (ie culture and cities) will be washed away by chaos (water = chaos).

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica and don’t want spoilers, don’t read furthur.

People have already drawn parallels between the years Moses spent in the desert with the quest for Earth. Turns out the premise for the original show was to recreate Biblical stories in a futuristic space setting, so the original show has deep roots in Mormonism. In fact, the original name of the show was going to be “Adam’s Ark” but was changed to Battleship Galactica.

However, I think there are even deeper parallels in the new show. Recently Cavil was revealed to be the mastermind behind the whole holocaust and even punished his creators because, in a sense, he did not like his mode of being as vulnerable and limited. He even killed the “favoured son” of the creators, the 7 named Daniel. Some people thought that portraying him as the villain was a little cheap, too neat and disappointing. A friend of mine thought that, too. I may well have been disappointed, too, if I had not seen what was going on differently.

Cavil is Cain. Cain and Able are the first and second sons of Adam and Eve. According to Jordan Peterson in his fascinating talk about the nature of evil, Cain is unable to accept the nature of reality and his mode of being and tries to rebel against the very fabric of his reality. Cavil also hates his mode of being, the vulnerability and the limitations of his body. So, Cavil decides to destroy the favoured son of his creators and proceeds to punish them. Cain seems to have been trying to punish God, too, by killing Abel. I’m sure there’s some parallels between Daniel and the number 7 with the Biblical Daniel, but I don’t know enough of the stories to be able to tell.

I wouldn’t be surprised if our anxiety towards the things that we create has to do with our anxiety with killing creators, cause we’ve done that. Read the full quotation from Nietzsche:

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

To deal with that anxiety, we create stories about our creations rising up and killing us, whether robots or genetically altered clones or cylons.