There have been some competing explanations for the Nord Stream explosions. Seymour Hersh claims the US did it. The New York Times claims it was Pro-Ukrainian forces and a somewhat obscure blogger claims he has evidence that it was the Russians. How is one to decide? And is it even necessary to decide? Is it perhaps more important to have a robust framework for conspiracy theories in general, than to have firm opinions about specific theories? How has the modern world made the whole entreprise more difficult?
In my last newsletter we talked about spiritual health, and a few options for acquiring that health, such as overcoming suffering or, alternatively, gaining material abundance. In this newsletter we’re going to go beyond talking about the merits of different options to discussing the way in which these options have multiplied.
Go back a few centuries, and there was one religion, one staple crop, and one way of doing things. These days, however, we’re spoiled for choices and options for both spiritual and physical health, and beyond that our emotional and mental health as well. We have countless religions to choose from: some secular, some informal. Beyond that there are a bewildering variety of diet and exercise programs, and tens of thousands of self-help books. We are offered a truly insane number of choices, all backed up by a deluge of data drawing sometimes contradictory conclusions. Everybody wants to be happy and live a good life, but which of the thousands of options best accomplishes that?
Transcript along with pictures of all the docs mentioned in the episode: https://wearenotsaved.com/2023/02/25/a-cautionary-tale/
In the interest of not spoiling things you're just going to have to listen...
In general any individual catastrophe is probably overblown. Global warming is not going to cause human extinction. Despite the severity of the war in Ukraine, nukes will probably not be used. Or at least none of these bad things are going to happen all by themselves. The problem is that we face numerous crises and while each individual crisis might be managable on their own, in combination they often feed off each other and create a polycrisis that's far more severe than any of the crises considered in isolation. Bad things are happening everywhere, and all at once...
Modernity has inarguably made dramatic improvements in our material well-being, but what about the non-material? The social, emotional and spiritual? In this episode I tackle that question. And while I think it might be possible that modernity has been neutral on this front, I don't think there's any reason for thinking it's been positive. But some people disagree. Tune into see who's right!
Previous to the invasion of Ukraine, a sense of pessimism seemed to be ubiquitous with respect to Europe. Since the invasion things seem far more optimistic. One might even say that there's a new vitality and unity. Naively one might expect war to do the opposite, but we have a funny way of stepping up to challenges and war is the biggest challenge of all. This unity is not limited to Europe, it's an issue that even Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on. The question is, can we get these benefits in the absence of war. If not, are we doomed to descend into an increasingly fractious political environment?
A follow up to my previous episode The Ineffability of Conservatism this episode attempts to approach things without bringing in religion. Though it does circle back there before the end. In particular we discuss three kinds of challenges:
I argue that while we've moved a lot of things out of the first bucket we should be cautious about trying to move everything into bucket three. Challenges make us, and particularly are children resiliant and that's a good thing.