2017, Metaphors, Expectations, Fictions

2017, Metaphors, Expectations, Fictions happy new year

2017, Metaphors, Expectations, Fictions.

I have been thinking about these thought forms we live by. The planet has rotated on its axises and spun around our yellow sun, landing once more in this spot. An arbitrary place in its orbit that we have designated the start of… something… a new year.

This is a mutually agreed upon idea–like money. It holds meaning because we give it meaning. I could decide I like some day in spring better to be the start of a new year, but if I shouted “Happy New Year” from the mountain tops on that day, people would look at me like I was crazy. Just as if I took out my markers and made “money”, it wouldn’t pass for currency and might get me locked up.

We humans are social beasts. Not a very revolutionary statement. We as a collective, and more and more this collective is global, create these “notions”, “expectations”, and useful fictions that a huge proportion of us just go along with. And they continue.

Some of these useful fictions as collective agreements are useful– like money and the calendar. Others are not.

Let’s consider some of the metaphors, expectations, and fictions…

More is Better

First, the idea more is better. This idea is so embedded as a metaphor in the English language our brains are wired to think more is better. But is more better?

Can our planet handle more people? People wanting more and more stuff, eating more and more, and needing more and more water?

The Free Market Will Solve Everything

Secondly, how about the idea that free market capitalism is the magic solution to improve any situation?

Politicians and some economists frequently trot out free market capitalism as the way to improve everything from public education to healthcare to janitorial services in public institutions. As if competition along narrowly designated criteria always makes things better. While I think free market capitalism can improve some situations, I am not so certain I want healthcare or education decisions made without regulations.

I offer as an example the time when a local university switched its security personnel from being employed by the university and given a fair wage to outsourcing to a private company. All the computers in the library were stolen. Within a few weeks. I could elaborate on this one more, but I want to move on.


Further, what about the expectation that New Year’s Eve should be celebrated as a wild drunken party? Beyond far too many people who normally don’t drink much getting behind the wheel of their cars all on one night, maybe this expectation hurts folks in small ways? Like the poisonous cocktail of expectations that surrounds St. Valentine’s Day.

I can count on my hands the number of times I have gone out on New Year’s Eve for a party. Here are a few of those memories: 1. with a friend in college who proceeded to get uproariously drunk and puked everywhere; 2. with a former partner who took me to a party to “celebrate” the year 2000 coming in at his nutty friend’s house who wanted to have my preschool aged son sleep in a room with all of his guns; and 3. with a different partner at a botanical garden in Cape Town (lovely night, too bad the guy is an ass and this memory has turned to shit).

I sat last night and thought this one through. Being home and rejecting the expectation I “should” be out at a party was a much better way to spend the evening. A mini revolution. I am tired of the fictions.

Good People

Lastly, how about the notion “good people will have good things come to them”? When tragedy happens to good people, everyone is shocked. Why? We can certainly have empathy, but bad stuff happens and being a good person is no shield.

Conversely, when someone has horrible stuff happen to them we think somehow they deserved it. Why? Sometimes, stuff just happens.

Also wrapped into our notions of what makes a “good” person are weird things like attractiveness, race, religion, education, and economic class. Too often poor people are considered “low life” and hence deserving of horrible maladies. Why? Also, being a Christian does not automatically make someone better. Again, perhaps actions should determine if the title of “good person” should be bestowed. Nothing else.

Further, it’s great if we are good people, but this has nothing to do with what we might get. As I said at the start of this post, we are social animals. We are all interconnected. Each of us “needs” and each of us has skills we contribute to the whole of humanity. We get according to what we have to offer, what we do, what skills we have, etc. Turning up to a job interview and insisting you be hired because you are a good person won’t cut it. Showing up on a date and expecting the other person to fall in love because you are a good person won’t happen. Groundhog Day kind of springs to mind.


In conclusion, I am offering these thoughts as examples. There are many more possible examples that I could have used to illustrate our personal and societal thought forms. I am offering these because for me this is the year to cut through the collective notions getting in the way. So…

Do you want a better job? Develop your skills.

Do you want your novel published? Write. Get critiqued. Keep writing. Saying you are an author, but showing no written work? This won’t cut it.

Are we going to oppose a potentially fascist regime? Take apart the propaganda. Lay bare the fictions. Be critical. Create a plan. Find doable today actions.

Do you want to get in shape? Take apart your actions– are you working hard enough? Are you sweating? What’s your heart rate?

Let’s make 2017 the year of clarity. A year we examine our collective fictions, the expectations upon us, and our personal stories we tell ourselves.


Bad Science and Harmful Beliefs

Today a friend of mine sent me a link to the blog Bad Science that is written by Ben Goldacre for a specific post titled “Matthias Rath– steal this chapter.” Ben Goldacre wrote a book titled “Bad Science: The Doctor WIll Sue You Now” about some of the things that he writes about on his blog such as the pseudo-science of homeopathy and how to evaluate a bad argument. This particular post Goldacre writes about Matthias Rath who is supposedly a former medical researcher from the Linus Pauling Institute. Rath is a very wealthy man and has a large following amongst people interested in alternative healing. He sells vitamins and touts the virtues of a nutritious diet which is all quite good, but he goes so far as to say that vitamin supplements can prevent HIV and cure AIDS. And he has been pedaling his vitamins in South Africa where the AIDS epidemic has been devastating. Please take a look at: http://www.badscience.net/2009/04/matthias-rath-steal-this-chapter/ This chapter in the book could not be published originally when the book was published because Rath was suing Goldacre.

As I read this post I thought about the various beliefs and misconceptions that abound and how they obscure the truth. And hurt people. Things like:

1. Vitamins can cure AIDS and prevent HIV infection. A good diet complete with beetroot, lemon peel, and African potatoes will make a person healthy.

2. Abstinence is the only way to prevent teen pregnancy.

3. AIDS is not real. There is no such thing as HIV. It is a moral judgement because of bad behavior. Or alternately, a curse from God and if one just acts in an upright manner the curse will be removed. Or it is caused by anti-retroviral medications.

4. It is possible to pull oneself up by one’s own efforts and anyone who isn’t doing so just doesn’t want to succeed. Poor people are poor because they are lazy.

5. There is no such thing as global warming and climate change. It is all a matter of a conspiracy for climatologists and scientists to rake in big bucks doing research and getting tax payer dollars in the form of grants.

6. We all create our own reality. Seriously think about this one and take it to its logical conclusions.

I could add more. Can you think of others?