Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Cold Tea

Every now and then I make a cup of tea or coffee and then forget about it because I am doing something else. An hour or two later I see the cold cup sitting there looking forlorn. I wanted the drink which was why I made it. I just got distracted. I think that happens often. There is too much going on for us to remember all the things we want to do. We forget the things that matter to us. Sometimes we need a nudge

Books on accepting a little help
'Nudge' & 'The Checklist Manifesto'

There are two books I have been told are base reading for trying to understand the political conflict we find ourselves trying to get out of. 'Anarchy, State and Utopia' by Robert Nozick and 'A Theory of Justice' by John Rawls. It gets quite philosophical and I am not sure there is a right answer of how we can best get along. I have started with Nozick's book. Beyond knowing what the right thing to do is, politics seems to boil down to two questions.

1. What should you be able to force someone to do for their own good? (Paternalism)
2. What should you be able to force people to do for other people's good?

The world is too complex for us to work through all the possible solutions to any choice. Making imperfect decisions when we don't understand is what makes us human. Without any biases or blindspots, we wouldn't do anything. We would always come up with a reason why an action could go wrong. There are always tradeoffs. Irrational tastes, preferences and styles narrow down the huge debilitating world of choices. This is good.

But when our styles clash, we have to come up with new shared illogical biases. For most of our existence we just did our own thing in small groups. Very recently Monarchs, Dictators, Religious Leaders and Governments have been the ones who have got to make those choices for us. Slowly those got replaced with majorities who forgot minorities. Then those got replaced with Constitutions. You don't get to vote on freedom. But freedom without constraints isn't freedom. In our Utopia, it would be our flavour that got to answer those two tough political questions. Autonomy is delicious.

Sometimes outsourcing a little autonomy can make things even better. It doesn't have to a Government. We could create our own 'Council of Elders' from our friends and people we respect? One of the best bits of religion is the ability to go, for free, to someone who has your and your communities best interests at heart for instruction. They will have their own biases and blindspots, but these will help you narrow down your choices and act.

Whether it is a checklist, a phone reminder, a letter to yourself, or people you trust, perhaps it is good to have outside forces who can force you to do things?

I wouldn't mind voting for something that told me my tea was getting cold.

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