Operating Systems, Consciousness & Guns
"Every problem in the world can be understood, at least partially, as a problem of consciousness. So it follows that the solutions to seemingly intractable problems, such as environmental degradation and climate change, nuclear proliferation and terrorism, hunger and overpopulation, unregulated globalization and gross inequality, can all be effectively ameliorated by raising or changing the consciousness that is continuing to create (or failing to prevent) these problems."
I was involved in a great online discussion recently regarding gun regulation/control. I can tell discussions are good when I’m still thinking about them days afterward. This discussion stemmed from a story I shared from Alternet. During the online discussion, a few things that I have suspected or intuited for some time became more and more apparent:
1. As McIntosh notes above, many of our global problems can be attributed, at least partially, to a problem of consciousness (i.e. attitudes/worldviews/philosophies/metaphysics/operating systems).
2. Different attitudes/worldviews/metaphysics/operating systems open different doors, allow us think in different ways, and allow us to do different things.
3. We all have these attitudes/ideologies/worldviews/metaphysics/philosophies etc…running in the background by which we live our lives. Some of us are aware of them, most of us are not.
The article I shared made at least two points that I heavily agreed with, but a few others–friends of mine–simply could not understand. For example, to me it seems pretty clear that guns shouldn’t be treated the same as other objects that need to be regulated, like cars, medications or unstable chemicals. This is because the sole purpose of a gun is to kill (or injure at the very least).
In addition, as I usually do in discussions of violence/non-violence, I put forth the notion that I am not convinced that there is ever only two choices in any situation. This is partially due to the limitations I see in our western Aristotelian logic. So, for example, when we think about either/or situations where it’s either “kill or be killed” we naturally employ things like like the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC) or the Principle of the Excluded Middle (PEM). Alternatively, Eastern catuskoti rationalism insists that there are at least four possibilities regarding any statement, and mathematics seems to be agreeing more and more.
This brings me to the points above.
At one point in the online gun control discussion, my friend pointed out the obvious: that our “attitudes toward guns as a nation were a bigger problem than the guns themselves.”
Although I don’t think it’s that easy (again, I still think guns aren’t like other objects) all people involved in the conversation could agree that yes, at some level, it was our attitudes (or worldviews/philosophies/metaphysics/operating systems) driving the problem.
This really does explain to me why my friends couldn’t see why I have such a problem with either/or scenarios. I wrote a blog post about it here from a process-relational perspective, and in it I use MacGeyver to try and show that either/or scenarios leave out questions of systemic/collective and individual causation.
To summate briefly, MacGeyver–a fictional character from an 80′s tv show who famously didn’t like guns–was able to get out of tricky situations because of a) his strong divergent thinking and, more importantly to this discussion, b) he had already made the choice years ago NOT to use guns.
What I think is happening here is that people who consciously make the choice to (in this case) not use guns, have a different set of possibilities available to them precisely because they took the option of gun use OFF the table. In other words, if we think of our ideologies/worldviews/attitudes/metaphysics as operating systems, the issue becomes more clear. If I’m running Mac OS 7.6 that doesn’t support a modern web browser like Google Chrome, chances are good that I won’t be able to explore most of the modern day web. Those possibility to experience/employ HTML5 and CSS3 just aren’t there for that person using the outdated OS.
Lastly (and briefly), just be honest about your ideologies, please. Everyone has a worldview, get to know it. For instance, if you think it’s never going to be possible for humans to live in peace with one another, that love will never triumph, that there will always be “bad guys” and “good guys,” that’s obviously part of your worldview/operating system coming through.
Further, people who don’t think they’re influenced by philosophy and/or theology, are just plain delusional. Study philosophy and theology.
Personally, I’m completely honest about being idealistic, but I’m absolutely conscious of it. I’ll play all my cards right up front. I’m also very clear that my most deeply held ideology is that love trumps all other ideologies. So, in the case of killing people then (intentionally with malice, or in self-defense), I think love requires me to stick to anti-violent/non-deadly resistance as closely as possible.
So, some advice: when you’re picking out a worldview (or operating system), pick one that is diverse, multifaceted, flexible, bendable, open to revision and evolving. Oh, and please, please update it frequently.