Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Spock President

Digby has a piece on Obama's pragmatism and at the end mentions that he's "somewhat inscrutable," which I took exception to because I see Obama as being the most scrutable politician I've ever seen. And because I've been too lazy to blog lately, I'll just repost what I wrote at Digby's.

I've never found Obama to be inscrutable. On the contrary, he's an open book compared with most people, who don't even understand their own motivations and desires. But then again, I think I'm an open book, yet most people find me to be completely unreadable, for reasons that escape me. So perhaps we're just birds of a feather.

The problem with understanding Obama is that he's not like other people. He understands himself. He knows what he's doing and why. He's not looking for short-term satisfaction or superficial victories. He's in this for the long haul. He's going to do the right thing because he understands that this benefits him most. That's how he won the presidency. Most people lie to themselves so much that they don't even know who they are. Their emotions run so deep that they don't even understand how they distort their very perceptions. And if they don't trust themselves, how can we possibly trust them?

Obama isn't like that. Obama is part of the new way of thinking. He knows that long after the graft-money is spent and the cheering dies down, there's a bigger goal: Benefiting humanity. Obama will leave a grand legacy, not because he was aiming to do so, but because he was focused on doing the right thing. This isn't about promoting liberalism or punishing our enemies. This is about fixing our problems. And if we believe that liberalism is the cure to our problems, and we do, then we must believe that Obama will do the right thing. Because he will find the cure as well as anyone can find it, because that's what benefits him most and he understands that.

The problem with selfish people isn't that they're only looking out for themselves, but rather that their thinking is so small-time that they don't understand how their own greed is hurting them. We all act in our own self interest. The only question is whether we're intelligent enough to understand the full implications of our decisions. What we define as "selfishness" is a form of ignorance. And Obama is probably the most intelligent president we've ever had. He'll do the right thing because he understands why that's in his best interest and he'll take whatever course of action is required to make that happen.

And when all this is done, Obama will be seen as the greatest person of our generation. For as much as he knows how to give a great speech, Obama is the Spock president. Emotions are the enemy. Selfishness is the surest way to hurt one's self. Obama isn't inscrutable. He's an open book. We just need to forget all the previous rules on how to read people. Obama is the new game. This isn't pragmatism for pragmatism's sake. This is the highest form of thinking. Welcome to the next level.

7 comments:

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

As I've said, we're all one connected consciousness, so to do injury to anyone is to do injury to yourself.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Whatever floats your boat, Mahakal. There's a perfectly logical explanation for why selfish people generally end up hurting themselves, but if you need to believe a story you read in a book, that's fine by me.

Your religion makes as much sense to me as any other. That's why I refuse to believe in any of them. They're all equally plausible and I lack any ability to judge one over the other. Frankly, I've never understood the appeal of closing our minds by picking one and rejecting the infinite number of other possibilities. But to each his own.

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

Get over yourself, Dr. Biobrain. I never said I understood this by reading books. Direct experience is better.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Sorry, that must have been a different Mahakal who cited Hindu scriptures as the basis for his beliefs.

And are you seriously suggesting that you discovered your beliefs purely from direct experience? Or is it that you were taught these beliefs and then decided that they made sense to you based upon your experience? Because those are wildly different claims. The first is impossible and the second only proves my point.

One question I've always had for religious people: If people of other religions seem as certain of their beliefs as you are of yours, and you consider them to be wrong, what makes you so certain you haven't made the same mistake you believe all of those people have made? After all, I've known many Christians who believe they have the same "proof" as you do of your beliefs and they find it inconceivable that they could be wrong. You sound no different to me than they do. So what makes your experience so much more reliable than their experience? Aren't you afraid that your'e making the same mistake you believe they made?

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

Hindu scriptures are not the basis for my belief. They are however very useful in explaining them.

That you think it is impossible that one can experience directly the connection with the divine is your own mental block. I do not consider anyone's religious beliefs to be wrong, but there are many metaphors and some are more useful than others. I am also Jewish and Christian, and can comfortably use any of these metaphors as needed.

Mahakal / מהכאל said...

By analogy, if it may help, my belief in gravity is not dependent on the writings of Mssrs. Newton or Einstein.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Uh, Mahakal? You've just contradicted yourself. You say that you don't understand your beliefs by reading books, yet you say that books were useful in explaining your beliefs. Uhm, is there some difference between what you understand and what was explained to you? I assure you that your beliefs are understood by you from what you read in books and what you were told by others. You didn't arrive at these theories on your own. You were taught them and decided to agree with them. Their teachings fit what you've seen and you understand your beliefs based upon those teachings. Without the books, you wouldn't understand any of this stuff.

And I never suggested that one can't experience a connection with the divine. I said such a connection can't be empirically tested. And I refuse to believe in anything that can't be empirically tested. And you're the exact same way, except in regards to your religious beliefs. You don't believe that I'm a magical dragon, do you? You don't believe that I'm a Nigerian Prince requiring your bank account numbers, do you? Of course not. You require empirical proof of claims before you believe them. It's only when it comes to your religious beliefs that you've decided to take a pass and accept unverifiable claims. The only difference between us is that I'm not willing to accept unverifiable religious beliefs either. Otherwise, we're the same: We both require verification before we believe unusual claims. Until I prove to you that I'm a magical dragon, you will refuse to believe it. I'm the same with your unproven beliefs.

And BTW, I know enough about Christianity and Judisim to realize that you can't possibly be either. If you want to believe that there are parts of their religions that you agree with, or that they've incorporated parts of the truth into their religions; I'll accept that. But you are not Jewish or Christian. I'm sorry, but words have meanings and you aren't allowed to just make stuff up to fit your beliefs. Your beliefs are mutually exclusive with theirs and can never be the same. You might think that their god is the same as yours, but they don't believe that, and that makes you not one of them. And yes, you do believe that some of their religious beliefs are wrong.

As for Newton, I have tested his theories empirically; that's how I know they're correct. I'm still up in the air about Einstein and wouldn't be surprised to learn that he got some of it wrong.