Opinion Editorial

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

by James Strauss


Sometimes it’s best to sit back and consider the world from the perspective of a secure corner looking outward with some objectiveness and skepticism. Emotions are those things humans call feelings and feelings are nothing more or less than conclusions formed by the interplay of neurons in their brains otherwise called facts, that come together in a knot. The knots of data are stored to be recalled in a process bearing the name of memory. Humans don’t necessarily except that such conclusion results are emotions when presented or expressed. Many times objectivity is fallen back upon, usually in defense of the direction the facts may be pointed at. Every human collects data from five sensory inputs, and then from combining and formulating this data in other little understood ways (like naked creativity, art and imagination). Emotion is many times denied in order to give potentially more import to the truth of the facts being presented or illustrated.

Every human wants to be able to express his or her own collected data as completely factual, no matter how well informed that such data is almost never completely factual at all. What we see, hear, feel, taste and touch are mere interpretations of vibrations we come to conclusions about. In other words, the entire universe that humans have come to ‘know’ is all about the filtration resulting from a translation of vibrations into fact and then a collection of the resulting data to become opinions.

There is no safe corner to back into and reflect upon life objectively because there is no objectivity. The news is not news on television or in newspapers. It’s human opinion through filters of things that are ‘observed’ through the five senses given to members of the human species. Cats and other animals see into the ultraviolet. Humans do not have that sense. Some dogs can smell a person’s tracks on bare ground years after they’ve been made. Humans cannot. Bats and dolphins have radar reception and transmission. Humans do not. Humanity is therefore ‘flawed’ in comparison…or blessed, depending upon one’s opinion.

Anthropology is one of those sciences dedicated to the study of man. In fact, the very meaning of the foundational Latin words establishing the discipline translate to, “study of man.” Anthropology, both physical and cultural attempts to stress objectivity be used at every part of every conclusionary analysis. Where a culture came from, how it developed and how it functions in modern day life is considered from an objective viewpoint as possible. Which isn’t too possible. In other words, cultural laws, mores, habits and conduct is neither good nor bad, although it can certainly be pretty ugly.

All human activity is seen, from the anthropologist’s attempted perspective, as simply being the way things were or are or are likely to be. Wars between cultures or even within them are not seen as bad. They are seen as the result of conflict, and the conflict motivating the warlike behavior isn’t viewed as bad either. It simply is. Without this kind of viewpoint no cultures could be analyzed or compared, much less understood. Naked emotion and outraged opinion would prevent any kind of ‘objective’ understanding. Using this kind of analytical foundation to forming cultural conclusions.

For example: there are no good or bad presidential candidates. Whom among them is telling the truth and whom is telling lies is meaningless, although this conclusionary element is vital part of the belief structure an entire nation is going to use as its primary reason for making a decision about one of them takes place. From an anthropology standpoint, all the candidates are telling the truth and all are lying, depending upon the perspectives being used to observe and listen to them. All are good to some voters, bad to some voters and ugly to most all voters. To an anthropologist the candidates aren’t good or bad and there are none better than the others. All are destined to participate in what is called the human condition.

All humans should be considered to be anthropologists, no matter whether formally educated and trained or not. As anthropologists, or those who actually go so far as to admit to studying man (man used in the old fashioned way of describing all humans no matter what the sex), humans might think to limit the emotional investment placed on the conduct of others. The phrase “lighten up, Francis,” taken from a line in the movie Stripes, might better serve all of mankind in this post apocalyptic period of humanity’s development.

What apocalypse?

Not the one forecast by doomsday planners (survivalists, conspiracy nuts and now preppers) about what catastrophically going to happen soon (always soon) in the future. The word apocalypse comes from the Greek and it translates into ‘lifting the veil’ on something. Apocalypse is not necessarily about the cataclysmic end of something and the beginning of something completely different. Mankind has been on the planet for approximately three and a half million years. Three million four hundred and ninety thousand years of that was spent depending almost one hundred percent on instinct, emotion and reaction to danger. The apocalypse for mankind began roughly ten thousand years ago and only recently reached a level of species development referred to as civilization. Now civilization becomes ever more pervasive and advanced and it is high time that mankind stopped acting like it was still brachiating around in tree tops or combing the veld below competing for every bit of forage and wildlife to eat. ;

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of life can now be allowed the relief of time and consideration (education and training) to decide the relative worth of such things but it can only do so if the extremely large and powerful parts of the human mind that control emotion can be harnessed to such a monumental task. What seems so simple, figuring out what is good and bad for everyone is one of the most stupendously complex challenges of all man’s reach and development. We should all celebrate the fact that we can read about such an ongoing undertaking, understand the words and then go to work and determine the meaning and this is the ‘apocalypse’ or lifting of the veil, going on today.

~ James Strauss

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