We need to relearn core human responsibility. For our own actions. For our society as a whole.
There is an ancient proverb that goes something like this: When a holy man sees a fault in another, he repents of the fault as if it were his own. For he knows that the fault does not reside in the other, but in himself, in his own eyes.
Now, this isn’t a meticulous definition of reality, but a proverb to teach virtue. Saying, “But the other man physically did commit the fault…so you’re wrong!” misses the point completely.
The point is that we need to learn the human virtue of responsibility. Of taking as much responsibility as possible. Of doing as much as we personally can to combat the wrongs we see. Of feeling all injustices as if they were our own.
We need to relearn how to live without scapegoats. Without excuses.
Let me get you started on some of the biggest cultural scapegoats we have set up.
We throw our problems at Science, implicitly claiming that Science has taken all of our responsibility for the problem, and thus we are 100% blame free of all horrible consequences. Whether Science eventually solves it or not, no matter, while it is being solved the problems are not ours. If Science fails, the problems are not ours. If Science never would have been able to solve it, the problems are not ours.
This is a blatant logical fallacy. Also, Science doesn’t even exist. It is an idea. We throw our problems at an IDEA and expect it to solve them for us. Don’t worry, sick and dying citizens of the world, Science will cure your Cancer! Science will cure your depression! Science will cure your starvation! Science will cure your cardiovascular diseases! (eventually…)
So we throw money at Science, hoping and praying that it will solve all of our problems. We feel relieved that Science has our backs. And so we wait, guilt-free, doing nothing, watching Science cure none of them. While people die. And die. And die.
Science is a scapegoat. Individual scientific practices and innovations might not be bad. They might be really really good. But our mental model, our excuses, our tremendous waste of money, lead to many many deaths.
Most of the problems we throw to Science are mainly caused by us, to make it worse. If everyone instantly started making the best decisions that could, and instantly knew what those decisions were and all of the information necessary to make them, most of the problems we throw at Science would go away. Instantly.
Yes, scientific innovation would continue and we would continue to develop amazing things with even more efficiency and usefulness. But our fundamental problems are not hard. Our fundamental problems are lifestyle problems, priority problems. Not Science problems.
Imagine a global congress of animals, meeting to memorialize the most recent extinction of a species: “And now, we gather here today to honor that most cursed species; hated by the gods more than any other, they must have been, for they were more disease-wrought and feebly eccentric than any other before them; the humans. We all have our own troubles: drought, competition among predators and prey, harsh weather. But they, seemingly immune to every possible problem we could imagine, they still destroyed themselves along with half of the planet. They had more food than they could ever eat, they had no predators and made prey of more species than any of us, they even controlled the weather! Yet still they were incessantly sick, weak, unhealthy, constantly fighting amongst themselves as only a few other species do (but much more savagely, with no obvious motivation). I here end this memorial of the humans. I would say they will be missed, but the gods know they never counted much in the way of biodiversity.”
We “allow” Governments to take ridiculously large amounts of money from us (See my post on Anarcho-Capitalism). They take this money and horribly waste most of it. With the rest, they promise to solve our problems if only we continue to allow them to run things (which we are indoctrinated to believe they should since birth, so they have nothing to fear).
Except a Government is useless at solving our problems. It is a scapegoat. We sell our problems to the Government, with all of our responsibility. If the Government never solves the problem, oh well, it couldn’t have been done anyway. We lose the ability to consider how effective we could be at solving our own problems with our own money.
Those who try to blame the Government for all its failings are blind to the truth. They gave the Government their problems. If they want the Government to take the blame if the problem doesn’t get solved, then the Government should get the credit if it gets fixed. But most people don’t think this at all, so deep in their scapegoat-ism that they honestly believe the Government is to blame for their own problems.
These are large-scale examples, but there are many smaller-scale ones as well. Businesses, groups of people – no matter how you divide them, and individuals. Oh my, do we throw our problems at many, many individuals as scapegoats. Doctors, economists, teachers, friends, family, random famous people, etc etc.
Helping others solve their problems is 100% virtuous and admirable. Expecting others to solve your own problems is the opposite. Especially when you leave the responsibility with them and blame them when it doesn’t get solved.
No more scapegoats, okay? You know your problems the best, and can solve them more efficiently than anyone else. Don’t throw money and responsibility at others (individuals or groups or ideas) to run your life.
Yes, there are cases when you need help. Obviously. Serious injuries, for example. A trained doctor would be nice. But it isn’t the doctor’s fault if you die. It isn’t the doctor’s problem. As long as he fulfilled the contract between you and him, trying his best to heal you, not purposefully harming you, etc. If it was an accidental injury, or someone else harmed you, fine. Bad things happen. Welcome to the world. But more often, your lifestyle choices factored into the bad situation you are in. Take responsibility. Change your decisions. Your lifestyle. Who you are.
Become a better, more responsible human, who never uses scapegoats. I know you can do it, because it isn’t something you do, it is something you are.