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Turning the Other Cheek: Bullying and Cell Phones

I was bullied pretty intensely in elementary school, so hearing about the video of the bus monitor struck a nerve.

Then I remembered a comment by Brett Veinotte of the School Sucks Podcast. He suggests using cell phone cameras to capture bad behavior.

If bullies (and their families) live in constant fear that their evil behaviors will be exposed for all the world to see, perhaps they’ll reconsider and behave more appropriately.

Step 1: The next time you see bullying, tell the bully and the crowd witnessing the event that you’re taking out your phone. Ask the bullies to stop.

Step 2: If they refuse to stop, record the bullying on your phone. Tell the bullies exactly what you’re doing and why you’re recording, while you’re recording, so you don’t get in trouble, too. Ask the crowd to keep you safe, so the bully doesn’t attack you, too.

Step 3: Tell a trusted adult about your video AFTER posting it to YouTube, so it can’t be deleted or covered up.

Maybe with this three-step plan, we can reduce the number and intensity of bullying events.

Please remember to use your phone and the power of crowds to keep people safe. Together, we can make a positive difference!

Logic Saves Lives

I’d again like to recommend Brett Veinotte’s “School Sucks Podcast.”

The title of the podcast is a bit whimsical, but the content is top-notch, deep, and thoughtful.

Please realize I know it’s much easier to provide counterexamples than to build a logical foundation from which to approach life consistently. Brett and Wes Bertrand, in “Episode 143: Logic Saves Lives Part 1 – Foundation, Attitudes, and Values,” present a thorough case in favor of using many elements of objectivism as their foundation for approaching life consistently.

However, since their goal is to build upon a solid philosophical foundation, I feel it necessary to disagree with much of their approach.

My understanding, which may be flawed, is that both Brett and Wes agree that the ultimate foundation upon which they wish to build their self-consistent approach to life is based upon observable facts rather than metaphysical approaches like faith and mysticism.

This can be a fulfilling approach for people who, on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, come up as Sensing rather than iNtuitive. My prediction is that both Brett and Wes would score S, along with at least 75% of the population. This claim can be supported both by what they say in their podcasts and also by the statistics found here and elsewhere.

I am more iNtuitive in my approach to the world, but I am firmly in the minority here.

In other words, the way I approach the world is not exclusively or even primarily through what I observe with my five senses. I experience life as a series of theories and possibilities and ideas.

This doesn’t mean I wish to deny reality, only that I’m wired to approach life in a way that is vastly different than the one supported by Ayn Rand, Brett, Wes, and other Objectivist thinkers.

To imply that a life of faith based upon the realm of ideas and possibilities is less valid than a life based upon our five senses is directly contradictory to the concept of non-violent communication. Even worse, it’s not consistent with the latest thinking in philosophy and logic.

An introductiory discussion of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems can be found here.

In short, what Godel proved is that it is impossible to build an axiomatic system from the ground up in a completely consistent way. Every logical system leads to certain conclusions of the form “This sentence is false.”

This means that the exercise of living life built upon “self-evident principles” must give way to a more nuanced and experiential approach.

By means of application, what this means to me is that my Christian faith has added enormous value to my life. I believe the Bible to be a true and accurate reflection of reality. I believe that when Jesus teaches us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” this is wise counsel and a foundational belief upon which I try to live my life.

Additionally, this means that other people, like Brett and Wes, will find that their experiences with faith communities have not added value. Lots of religious folks can come off as arrogant know-it-alls. Rather, basing their lives upon objective and verifiable experiences has been more fulfilling.

What we three seem to have in common is the deep sense that there is a real, true, deep and consistent Truth.

Where we disagree is not in our logic, but in our personal experiences.

Godel demonstrated that logic alone is not sufficient to identify the most self-consistent axioms upon which to base our philosophies and our lives.

We must appeal to personal experience to pick and choose among our sense experiences. It is only within the context of real life, not philosophy, that we can build our axiomatic systems of beliefs.

And when we experience inconsistencies, it is important that we approach them humbly.

It’s impossible to avoid inconsistency. It is not impossible to use non-violent communication and other respectful forms of dialogue to delve more deeply into our experiences and participate together in our collective search for Truth.

Thanks to Brett and Wes for their passionate and thoughtful approach to communicating their beliefs and ideas!

Categories: School Sucks Podcast

School Sucks and Objectivism

'Present' photo (c) 2009, jayneandd - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Brett Veinotte, a former public school history teacher, produces a thought-provoking podcast called School Sucks.

I’ve listened to his podcast for a couple of years now, and he really challenges me to reflect upon my role as a public school teacher. I appreciate his honesty and intellectual integrity.

My understanding of his perspective is that he believes the non-aggression principle should be our foundational approach to all human interaction.

In his most recent podcast (which comes in at a healthy 2 hours 14 minutes), Brett names three philosophies that could lead humanity on a path to non-aggression: in Ancient Greece, during the Enlightenment, and through Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

I’d like to discuss why I believe Brett is mistaken in this assertion.

Each of these three philosophies is built upon a foundation of observation and drawing conclusions based upon these observations.

The flaw in this perspective is that there is no such thing as a completely objective person. No one can begin collecting observations without certain preconceived notions.

Just like it is impossible to draw conclusions in a geometry proof without certain non-negotiable givens, it is impossible to draw conclusions about our observations of the world without being influenced by our non-negotiable givens. These are called control beliefs.

I should be clear with my personal bias: I’m a devout Christian and believe that observation supports the story of the Bible.

What Brett has chellenged me to do in this latest podcast is reflect upon the reality that Christian thought has been used as a weapon throughout history to justify all sorts of evil behaviors.

But my concern is that Brett is simply replacing one power structure with another.

Pure observation will never lead us closer to utopia. It will just shift power from people with religious control beliefs to people with objectivist control beliefs.

And as a brief review of Ayn Rand’s life demonstrates, she was not self-consistent in her application of objectivism. When her feelings were hurt as a result of another person’s self-determination life choices, she fought back.

I don’t trust either group implicitly. Neither should Brett. Everyone is selfish, no matter how they try to wrap up their “objective” point-of-view.

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