I agree with a lot of what you've conveyed in "reality is malleable" but feel reality is very much influenced by science of all types - natural and social. That which was pure speculation a couple thousand years ago - is now data driven science. Can't you imagine Hyppocrates saying - illnesses can be cured with chemicals and people categorically rejecting that. If centuries ago someone said bats can "see" insects even though it's pitch black out, it would have been thought of as hogwash. But scientists have established the mechanism of echolocation through tedious research. Because we have no way of measuring supernatural phenomena should not mean that none of them exist.

I'm not telling anyone what to believe, I'm merely saying that in my personal world there's a whole lot of room for "divine mystery", those strange phenomena that maybe someday we'll better understand. Human history is replete with people who categorically reject the existence of concepts because they don't understand them. People actually don't know what they don't know . I don't know much about most things so I try to keep an open mind and a well-maintained BS filter.

Expand full comment
Aug 12Liked by Penfist

Rebecca's Goes Shopping" was painful to watch.

I wish that there was a workable solution to the status quo, but our damaged political system and entrenched oligarchy makes radical change unlikely.

Expand full comment

Morning Pen,

I had tried to read your "Reality essay" twice before. I stopped because I wasn't in the correct frame of mind. You packed so much into this work, that I found it dizzying. Hence the delay in commenting.

I woke up today (yea! again!) and I poured a coffee. I sat down and opened your piece first thing. As I read, I found myself thinking "who is this person who has expressed the very core of my world view so well?" Is this a long lost "brother from another mother?"

All of which is a clumsy way of saying that I agree with and embrace your world view. The funny and ironic aspect of it is that it would make a terrific foundation for a "faith". I won't use the "R" word. Too early in the morning. There is a marvelous "Zen" balance in what you wrote. I bet you could distill this into a few "commandments" or principles of a life well lived. Ha Ha.

Of course, isn't much of what we believe (and don't) right there in the Humanist Playbook?

Let it suffice that I feel like you are channeling my brain. Careful, I have a lot of silly junk in there, too.

Then, my thought process leads me to think we may share another view. Billions of people accept the reality of their lives and don't expect it to change. But I accept the horrors of the world and fully expect that we could and should improve the place.

My neighbor came from Russia. She is a lovely and kind person. But she is a product of social abuse in Moscow. She says that the Russian attitude was "...the world is a terrible place, it will always be a terrible place, it will never improve, so I might as well just get what happiness I can..." Pass the vodka, I guess.

I am more hopeful. Probably naive. I think if every day each one of us did one thing to make the world and its inhabitants a better place, it is a way to inch forward. And it is a way for me to remain sane.

Acts of kindness, pick up some litter, donate to a compassionate progressive leader, volunteer to help an organization helping others...be an example for the young people in our lives. There is a lot to do and not much time. The world CAN be improved.

Thank you for your writing. It is inspirational.

Expand full comment
Aug 12·edited Aug 12Liked by Penfist

Either/Or between social and cultural psychology was daunting for me but a combination of the two is something I can work with. I have never been a black and white kind of girl.

The thought of Abrahamic religions using imaginative constructs is delightful. The older I get, the more I think religion is just an attempt at control. Not saying they couldn't be on to something, it IS all about what we choose to believe, or are trained to think we are choosing to believe. As long as no one gets hurt, I believe that we can believe what works best for us and also can feel free to change our mind as often as necessary.

Totally agree that a billionaire's reality is quite different from everyone else's. I'm pretty sure that most billionaires have never had to give any thought to how to get food or shelter. but that is the reality for most of us. Wasn't it Carlos Castaneda who wrote about A Separate Reality? Although he was writing about perceptions of reality that could be changed by botanicals, the title of his book came to my mind when I was addressing the separate realities of billionaires and the rest of us.

Rebecca Goes Shopping. How did you find this? It's new to me. About 10 minutes in I realized that I was wearing a puzzled expression and I was wondering how this video would make Rebecca's mother feel. Since this is completely new to me, please forgive any observations that are off-kilter with what is going on but an early impression I have is that Mark is using Rebecca and enabling her behavior. Hey, if that's what the two of them want to do, I have no problem with it, it's only my observation on what I understand to be happening.

Your post today was fascinating, thank you. It is easy to see that you put a lot of time and energy here.

Expand full comment