27 January 2017

Don't Panic

My latest in-depth critique of Buddhist karma doctrines concludes that karma is not compatible with reason.

However, I remain committed to the proposition that actions have consequences. I go further and suggest that, within social groups, fairness and justice demand that actions have appropriate and timely consequences. But I think the social environment is the limit of this idea - it does not extend to a just-world; there is no guarantee of fairness or justice; there is no post-mortem reckoning.

To my mind this means places a greater onus on everyone to be moral, to ensure fairness and justice are part of our social environment, to do our bit to ensure fairness and justice characterise our social milieu. It's up to us, but we're evolved for this shit and we have all the skills necessary.

That our supernatural beliefs seem to be false does not mean that I abandon hope of finding meaning in life. On the contrary meaning emerges from our social interactions, our membership of, and service for, the community. Although I have chronic depression and anxiety (and very often live with a sense of despair and hopelessness) and though I find most people annoying at best, I am *not* a nihilist. Meaning is to be found everywhere. Feeling despair does not necessarily mean that there is no hope. It's just a feeling in response to a situation. Usually it means we're a little to isolated and need to get more involved in our community.

I am optimistic for humanity. I don't think we should be too narrowly focussed on any one individual or today's news headlines. As one of my intellectual heroes, René Dubos, said: "Think global, act local." Keep a weather eye on what is happening beyond your sphere of influence, but do what you can within it. As grim as things look in the artificially sustained hysteria of modern politics, we've survived far worse, like millennia long ice-ages for example.

Don't Panic.

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