How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

On either side of your body, starting somewhere(hopefully) by your shoulders are a set of bones which you most likely know as your arms.  At the ends of your arms, are five pointy collections of bones which you will probably refer to as your fingers.  If you do, you are wrong.  Not wrong as in incorrect, but wrong is absolutely, unequivocally, unquestionably entirely NOT RIGHT.  It is quite possible that I have never ever met you.  It is likely that I have never even seen a photograph of  either one of your limbs.  Yet somehow, I can say with utter certainty that you have absolutely no idea about what is happening at the ends of either of your arms.

Picture the scene – it’s a crap day.  It is raining, the sky is greyer than a monk’s underpants.  It is lunchtime at a Primary School.  There are dozens of children filling a miserable concrete playground with enough kinetic energy to propel a small rodent to Saturn.  Two young boys get in an argument about a bench.  Although some other kids see parts of it, nobody sees all of it.  When the kids go home that evening the first boy tells his Mum that he was bullied.  The second boy tells his Dad that he got in a fight.  Nobody saw either boy strike the other, yet there were many witnesses to the first boy pushing the second.  Was it a fight?  Was it bullying?  Who was the winner?  Who was the victim?  How is possible that two small children that cannot possibly grasp the concept of advantageous lying  somehow do?  What if the first child is an only child?  What if the second child has two big brothers?  Who was right?  Who was wrong?

There are three conclusion we can draw from the tale of the two boys.  The first is that there is no such thing as a single truth.  The truth is pliable to the facts which weigh upon it.  The second is that our truth changes shape to accommodate any information we gain access to.  There isn’t such a thing as a certain truth, a pure truth that can never ever change.  The third is that a snapshot of a moment is so extremely misleading that only a fool would believe that they are privy to the whole story when they have only caught a glimpse of the truth.  If these conclusions are indeed valid why is it that so many people share images that have no other purpose than to shock, often alongside a hastily assembled slogan intended to draw a sense of guilt for a single event that took place within the myriad of  atrocities that are being carried out in the countless number of active war zones around the world?  Are we really that much more foolish online than in the real world?

There is an easy way to test this.  Extend your arms in front of you.  Now extend your fingers.  Now count them.  How many fingers are you holding up?  The answer dear friends, is eight.  And you can’t argue with that.  After all, it’s reality, isn’t it?

Ignorance Is Bliss

thefreedictionary.com defines ignorance as ‘The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed’  As the children of the information age, it’s pretty bloody difficult to be all three.  Yet some of us inevitably are.  And mostly it has one root cause.  Plain stupidity.

This may well be the understatement of the decade, but war habitually brings out the arsehole in people.  I am not talking about the people out on the killing fields, instead I am talking about those sitting home behind their computer screens that like to frequently enlighten the masses by sharing their opinion on which side holds the moral high ground.  It both amuses me and infuriates as me as I can not think of a better way to demonstrate how fucking stupid a person can be.  A war involves two groups firing bullets and projectiles in an effort to kill each other.  In a sense it is legislated murder.  Murder is in all cultures, the most abhorrent sin you can commit.  Any set of circumstances which involves a human trying to murder another human is devoid of moral high ground.  There is no right side.

Another example, which I have also touched upon in my post entitled ‘Ignorami’, is the belief in objective reporting.  It does not exist in the journalistic stratosphere.  It also affects business and scientific reports, product and film reviews and even your friends opinions about you.  It is only possible to be truly objective about an issue if you really don’t care about it.  The reality is that we only accept this when it suits us.

So many of the problems which our civilisation has faced have been brought about by one idiotic idea, absolute truth.  The idea that there is only one truth out there which is correct.  One God, one explanation, one reality.    The fact is that our belief in an absolute truth frequently exposes us as lunatics.  Truth is only ever subjective, truth is only formed following an assessment of what you know, and you never know everything about anything.

In essence what I am trying to say to you is that in my opinion, one of the greatest causes of ignorance is a lack of common sense.  I am nor better educated, more aware or better informed than the vast majority of the people on this planet.  Nor am I completely objective, nor am I writing the absolute truth.  After all, I have an agenda.  I want every person on the planet to think more.

The Rules Of Making Up Rules

Are there any?  Should there be some order in trying to put the world in order?  Are there some can’t do’s and must do’s when inventing a system of guidance?  I am pretty sure I can think of one.

If I declare myself King and demand that all monkeys start speaking to humans in English will it happen?  Given them monkeys are independent beings who aren’t capable of vocalising their thoughts, it’s rather unlikely.  To be able to put things in order you need power.  So perhaps if I invaded England, dissolved parliament and declared myself Emperor on national television and gave the same order would it work?  No.  What you need in conjunction with power, is control or perhaps the tools of control.  So what if took the same steps to become emperor, ordered the British army to invade the zoo’s and order the monkeys at gunpoint to speak English?  It still won’t work will it.  So what on earth is the rule of making up rules?

I am talking about the death of Baha Mousa and many others.  I have absolutely no intention on delving deep into these cases.  Last night I was watching a report on BBC about the circumstances surround this tragic case and was absolutely gob smacked by an American ambassador who claimed that the overwhelming cause was the failure of the soldiers in question to follow the rules of war.  The first thing I want to say is that the death of Baha Mousa and the numerous acts of torture and murder which have been committed around the world in the name of war are wrong.  The second thing I want to say is rules of war?  Rules of fucking war?  What is wrong with you bureaucrats?

We routinely send the mostly heroic young men and women of our nations to places where strangers try to kill them.  When they arrive there we insufficiently arm them, often medicate them with amphetamines and blithely grasp in the darkness hoping that if we hang around long enough the baddies will stop.  In the midst of these stress we try to subjugate them with often bizarre and banal rules which in many cases cause innocent people to lose their lives.  Whether it be the U.N troops who were refused permission to engage without being fired upon in Rwanda or Srebrenica, the cost is the same.  You cannot apply rules which require active participation from both sides of an armed conflict.  Mainly, it’s due to the fact that they are in conflict.  They are not going to stop and say ‘look here, you just broke rule number 42, you just poked me the eye you rapscallion’.  It is not boxing.

The problem is not a question of breaching someones human rights or any Geneva convention.  It is the fact that recent wars have been fought with 24/7 media coverage in a shameless effort to garner public support against an action which was unequivocally wrong in its beginning.  Due to the close proximity of the PR machine to all aspects of modern conflicts governments are desperate to avoid being attached to any act which demonstrates the brutal reality of war.  It’s as if the aristocratic officers of the first world war have been promoted one step higher and are now in government.

The basic rule which underscores the terms of war is its overwhelming objective.  The complete destruction of the opposition.  Another term synonymous with war is collateral damage.  War causes thousands of people to die.  Every time.   The longer it goes on.  The more people die.  The higher percentage of innocent people die.  It’s not rocket science.  It’s a fact.  If any statesmen was really serious about stopping the murders of innocent people in conflict zones they would only need to do one thing and one thing only.  STOP FUCKING WARS!   It does not matter how much smoke you try to screen it with.  People still have their own noses.  And they are very familiar with the smell of bullshit.

It seems to me that the rules of making up rules are quite simple.  Rule number 1.  Don’t be fucking ridiculous!  Rule number 2.  See number 1.