Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Step back!

I do apologise if I am being slightly philosophical this evening. I don't know what came over me. And a few shots of whisky do not usually make me so.

I was considering the whole idea of "stepping back" and seeing the big picture. I realise that there are a lot of people that spend a lot of their lives not doing this.

I remember one of my early job interviews - it was actually for Nokia in a Bracknell office, and they had an HR person that was some psychology type person. Very very unnerving at the best of times, but she had an interview question that was clearly designed around the idea of stepping back and seeing the big picture. She asked "You own a business, a toy factory, and get a call saying it has burned down one morning - what do you do?". Now I initially was thinking small, and was "check people not hurt" and that sort of thing. This is a good start, obviously. But think bigger and it is "do I want to be in the toy manufacture business any more?" and using insurance to make a new factory if I do. It was a lot about stepping back and seeing big picture. I suspect it was a question to work out if I was management or a drone.

Now a lot of people do not question life! We learn rules as a child, and even though children ask "why?" a lot, we stop asking way too soon.

We live by the rules - we understand law and police. We follow rules. In some cases people follow religion. But step back and think and you realise that these are all rules made by other people. People with no more real "answers" than you have. People that like to make rules. Then other people follow those rules. These rules are often arbitrary - sometimes based on history and common sense or even science, but not always. Even when they are, they are not always current. I mean, "don't eat pork", was once a really good tried and tested rule that made a lot of sense and saved lives. It is not now. Bacon is good. The rule is out of date.

This is all good for society, obviously. Indeed, religion was crucial to keeping people in line. Now we have laws and government as well, or instead. But they are no more sensible in the way they make rules - it is still people - worse, it is committees of people, who make the rules.

But really - there are no rules. There is no punishment not made and enforced by other people. It makes sense to fit in with the rules, and we all know that, but we do need to understand that they are just a convention - just a useful framework. Sometimes good, and sometimes bad. Sometimes one can change that framework. Sometimes one can step outside it.

So do step back - do think - do realise that your life is not a needle on a record. You could do what you like! You don't have to have the job you have or live in the country you do! Your life is what you make it. Try and fit in as much as you want to, and understand the consequences of not fitting in - but it is your choice.

Above all, don't follow rules just because they are there. This is especially true if they are old rules (which is true for religious rules). Think for yourself, and question the status quo as much as you dare. Be the future. Be yourself.


  1. I've had some whiskey as well and forgive me for being philosophical but... Are you having a mid life crisis?


    1. No! Just writing stuff I already know...

  2. In some jobs this should be a requirement. You should have a mystery shopper at least once a year with an issue that basically *requires* you to divert from the script. And if you don't, you get taken out back and shot.

  3. Indeed!

    The only real laws are the laws of physics, anything legal is just the work of man. I would argue the point that religion was crucial in keeping people in line. Sure, it plays its part (still alas!) but there are many non-religious ways including our naturally selected behaviour.

    The one argument I've always never found a satisfactory answer to is the "be yourself, do what you want" one. Trouble is I have dependants, what I choose affects them; I know what I want but I don't do it for their sakes. If I had my time again and knew what I know now I would make different choices but if that happened it doesn't necessarilly mean I wouldn't be saying exactly the same thing.

    If you're interested in this theme I suggest you check out the Freeman on the Land Movement. It's all legal woo so please don't think I'm touting this nonesense but it provides a good insight over where this line of thought can take you (well, not you specifically).

    1. Ha, yes, one can take this a tad far - hence saying that there are (man made) consequences to consider. I should do a post on laws of physics too. As to religion, yes, there have been other ways to keep people in line, but religion has played a big part in a lot of cases.

  4. I figured out that the majority of rules, conventions and social institutions were bullshit a long time ago. Unfortunately however, knowing that they are bullshit doesn't insulate you from the consequences of rejecting them.

    Yes, you are free to quit the pointless treadmill of your job any time you want, provided you are either rich enough not to need to work or prepared to be unemployed, destitute and dependent on others.

    Yes, you are free to say and do whatever you like, if you don't mind the Powers That Be kicking down your door and carting you off to the slammer (or worse) for expressing a view or making a lifestyle choice they deem unacceptable.

    Stepping back and looking at the big picture is no bad thing, but let's not delude ourselves: most of us have very few real choices if we want to continue to maintain an acceptable quality of life. Which leads to the rather inescapable conclusion that death is the only true freedom, but making THAT choice requires a lot more resolve than most people have.