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Posts Tagged ‘apathy’

I often get question on my methods and intentions as to how I tend to take an ‘in-your-face’ approach to addressing absurdities and things that I view as bad behavior. When describing such things, I am quick to point out that I do such things ‘when appropropriate’. What this means is not only do I judge whether a situation is worth (deserves) speaking out about, but whether it can be done in a manner that will not bring harm unto myself. (see my blog post on the Golden Rule) When pressed for an example of what I’m talking about, there is one particular story that always pops into my head.

When I was still living with my folks and going to college, I did a greater deal of my hunting at a small plot of old Dodge family donated land in NE Oakland county called simply “Dodge Park #10” up off of Oakwood Road north of Oxford, MI. As it was not an official ‘park’ (with any facilities or a day use area) the bulk of the people using it were hunters in the fall. However, in that it was rather remote down the dirt portion of Oakwood road surrounded by undeveloped land on the north and a large aggregate gravel pit on the south, it was often a hangout for local high school kids outside of the hunting season.
One particular year, the state Department of Natural Resources was having trouble with kids ‘baha-ing’ off of the state access service road behind the main parking area. Initially they had up a rather basic locked swing gate. The kids broke off the lock. Then they bolted the gate shut. The kids unbolted it. Finally they brought in a whole dump-truck full of dirt and broken up concrete, put it across the entire service road making it inaccessible even to themselves and again put up the bolted gate.

oakwoodOne particular fall during bow season, I show up at the main parking lot to find 3 cars of hunters – all standing around gawking, and a jeep full of high school kids in various states of industry. By the time I showed up, the kids had already unbolted the gate again and they were in the process (about 8 of them) of removing the concrete blocks one by one. I surveyed the scene and most of the hunters were looking at one another and shrugging. Reluctant to leave thinking they should do something, but the looks on their faces amounting to “what can we do?”
I wasted no time and quickly went about donning my hunting gear and feigning to be oblivious to what was going on as I listened to the conversations on both sides. The kids were content in ignoring the other hunters and myself, realizing they felt they could do nothing about it and taking advantage of that fact. The hunters kept making comments to one another quiet enough not to be heard by the kids along the lines of ‘what gall’ and again, ‘well, what can you do?’ (mind you, this was before wide scale use of personal cell phones)

I eventually finished getting my gear on, threw my bow over my shoulder and took one last look at the hunters with an attempt to put a very obvious ‘disappointed’ look on my face communicating ‘how pathetic you are!’ I locked up the back of the truck, went to the front and reached into the console where I always kept a pad of paper and a pen for just such events. (I should also point out that when I came into the parking lot, I backed into my space so my truck would be facing forward)
I then took the pen and pad and walked so as to be as obvious as possible up behind the jeep and scribbled something down. A couple of the kids looked up at me as I did this and I just gave them a wave and a sarcastic smile, walked back over to my truck, put the pen back in the visor and threw the still-open pad of paper onto the dashboard where it would be well within view of anyone that wandered over to look. I then re-situated my bow on my shoulder, tipped my camo wool stetson at the hunters with a look of ‘was that hard?’ then gave another sarcastic smile to one of the kids still watching me, tipping my hat again and proceeded to walk into the woods.

Knowing that there was going to be quite a spectacle going on behind me and guessing that no one would make a move until I was well out of sight, I headed for a thick spot in the brush, walked into it and proceeded to do a ‘j-hook’ so I could watch what resulted. Since I was in full camo and tend to be quite stealthy in the woods, I was quite certain no one saw me pull off this maneuver and since it was a thick stand of alders, I was also confident no one saw me looking on.

First one of the hunters came over and looked at the slip and threw his hands up turning to his buddies and laughing. “why didn’t I think of that?” he said – or something of the sort. Most of the kids had gone back to working on removing the blocks except for the main two who watched me writing. The one that continued to watch me then walked over to take a look at the slip himself.It was obvious he had a good idea what was on the slip already, but he then quickly went over to grab one of the larger boys (probably either the one who was driving or the one who had the bright idea to go out baha’ing that particular afternoon). They both walked over and looked at the slip again as the hunters started to laugh and grab there own things finally assuming the most likely result.
The two boys talked to one another briefly, took a look around to see if they could spot where I went but I was well out of sight, paused briefly, looked back at my truck, looked at the other hunters watching them intently then finally shrugged and told their friends to pack it in. They all loaded into the jeep and left and I never saw the jeep or the kids there again – and the bricks remained until I stopped hunting there years later.

What did I right down? Well in case you hadn’t figured it out all ready, just a couple of letters and numbers. I simply wrote down their license plate and a short description of the jeep.

The point being, that as long as the kids felt no one could – and no one would – do anything to stop them, they felt emboldened to do whatever they pleased. As long as it was obvious that the hunters were just going to stand there and do nothing, there was no problem with doing something that was obviously wrong. It wasn’t until someone ‘stood up’ and did ‘something’ that said – “no, not gonna happen – not on my watch – not without appropriate consequences” that they decided to give up their venture.

licenseI didn’t make a huge scene. I didn’t get in any arguments. I didn’t tell them what to do or what not to do. I simply made it clear that they were being watched, and that I had taken note of who they were and what they were doing with one simple gesture.

As an aside, I had already used this practice – most specifically against other hunters who were behaving badly. (it’s a subject for another blog, but I am far harder on other hunters behaving badly then I would ever be to ‘day users’ because, in a manner of speaking, those hunters represent me) In those cases, such as when hunters are shooting at anything that moves or at road signs, dumping trash, drinking beer, etc. I wait for said hunters to be well back in the woods and simply write down their license plate number and stick it – by itself – under their own windshield wiper. There’s nothing funnier but to watch than one of them coming back to the car and going through the chain of thought necessary to realize that if someone had the where-with-all to write it down once, that they could write it down twice – then to think back through their own mind to what they might have done to inspire it. It requires them to come to their own conclusions as to what they may have been doing to ‘inspire’ such a gesture, then make their own choice how to proceed.

Apathy sux! Pass it along…

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“… but I live in a blue state, what can I do?”

I have to give the kudos to my dad for the idea behind this post.  It was his idea and I am simply passing it along as it is a good one.

I live in a progressive stronghold.  I like the technology and (some of the) culture in the Ann Arbor area, so I choose to remain here.  But every election, the Dingells win, the Levins win, the Conyers win, the the Stabenows win.  It’s not even close in most SE Michigan districts when the Union vote has anything to do with it.  Democrats just sweep.

There are many parts of the country where this tends to be the case.  I can imagine people with similar frustrations in the districts of Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, etc.  You end up looking around and you are surrounded by people that drank the progressive koolaid, so what the hell can you do?

I hate apathy.  I don’t like it when I am faced with futility.  So I was glad when my father told me how he deals with the problem.  Yeah, the Levins and Stabenows and the democrats in general always seem to win the state-wide elections in Michigan.  So last election cycle, my father looked around to see what he could do.  He watched the news and came up with an idea.

What my father did was he started to pay attention to the races around the country that were in contention and were hard to predict an outcome.  Every time he heard of such a race, he wrote the name of the candidates down.  When he had time later, he looked up the websites of those candidates and got the addresses for them.

He then not only wrote a check to those candidates, but encouraged all his frustrated friends to do likewise.  He also got on the phone to various organizations he supports such as the National Rifle Association and a few others and told them they should recommend following his example.  He told as many people as he could to give as much as they can spare to help those fighting for a few more votes to defeat democratic incumbents in other districts around the country.

Sure, Michigan might be a lock for the democrats, but you can damn well make sure those democrats are going to have a hell of a hard time getting anything done when they get there!

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I am no fan of pragmatism.  Pragmatism is the historical cop-out.  I am not a fan of apathy or complacency either, but these are the direct off-spring of pragmatic thinking.  The combination of these elements turn even the most principled men (and women) into wet noodles and ultimately into willing slaves.

An interesting concept popped into my head this week.  It’s one that I’ve actually spoken on in the past such as with my previous entry on Galt’s Oath.  For lack of a better term for it, I am going to call it ‘anti-pragmatism’, but it is in fact a form of pragmatism and one made possible through either apathy or complacency.

My thoughts on this concept came up, among other discussions, in regards to a discussion on the ‘Sanction of the Victim‘ from Atlas Shrugged.  The Wiki entry does a good job of explaining this concept from the book saying:

The concept “Sanction of the victim” is defined by Leonard Peikoff as “the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ‘sin‘ of creating values”.[23] This concept may be original in the thinking of Rand and is foundational to her moral theory: she holds that evil is a parasite on the good and can only exist if the good tolerates it.

This ‘Sanction of the victim’ extends from the kind of pragmatism I speak of, a pragmatism spawned from either a complacency or a judgment call on behalf of the individual.  Those that choose to call it a judgment call will defend it staunchly as the ‘moral’ and ‘rational’ choice.  This is the principle I have been mulling over in my head this week – is it really?  In reality, this is the concept I’ve been mulling over my whole life – probably that most volitional people struggle with – but I have arrived at a different conclusion.

My life is non-negotiable!

Property that has been ethically obtained is a product of the application of one’s life.  When someone comes to appropriate your property without proper cause or your specified consent, they are appropriating a portion of your life.

If someone came and demanded your foot, or your eye, or your kidneys would you be so willing to concede out of expedience?  Yes, I understand, one cannot survive without a lung and losing a hand is more significant than losing 25% of your latest check, but that’s the point – that’s why it’s easier to take your paycheck – because you will accept it!  Because you will tolerate it!

There is an evil embedded in those that will take advantage of the willingness of people to accept levels of tyranny knowing that those exploited will tolerate it rather than fight it.  There is an evil inherent in those that are fully aware of this fact and continually push the border of it gradually, but stay just short of exceeding the tolerance of such tyranny.  But that evil is enabled by the evil that is the tolerance itself.

Pragmatism is summed up by ‘the ends justifies the means’, but the type of reverse-pragmatism I speak of is summed up by asking ‘What difference will it make to compromise your own ethics and morals [for the sake of expedience] if the end result comes out the same?‘  In other words, it results in convoluted logic such as “I pay my taxes because the government forces me to.  I do it because they hold a gun to my head.”  I say if that is your argument, then make them show up with the gun – then and only then pay with reluctance.  It is because people continue to comply that nothing ever changes.

How many of you have actually had a tax man show up at your door with a gun?  What you are saying is that it ‘could’ result in that, and I don’t want to put up with that.  (what would the neighbors think?  what would my boss think?)  I can’t afford to and still maintain the ‘other’ things I want. (after all, you might have to give up the SUV or the big screen TV!!!)  I’ll trade my morals for security and comfort.   You are saying in big bold letters to all the lawmakers “my life is negotiable so long as the balance is tolerable.”

The end result is the same.  Government grows, freedoms wane and tyranny wins because people are willing to tolerate a given quantity of it.

I say again, My life is non-negotiable!  When you tolerate a given amount of evil for expedience, you only teach those pursuing the evil that there is an amount of it you will tolerate.  At that point, all they need to do is change that level in gradual steps, bit-by-bit, until it is too late for you to realize you are a slave.

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When I woke up this morning, I didn’t suddenly decide, “Hey, I think I’m going to be an asshole today!”  No, I seldom — dare I say, never — wake up with that intention in mind.  But alas, the world is full of the types of people that will change your plans or sidetrack even the best intentions.

The local Kroger has one of these ‘Starbucks’ kiosks located near the front of the store where you can get a coffee to either drink while you shop or to pick up as you leave. I pass Kroger regularly on the way to and from work, so I usually just stop on the way home and pick up a few items at a time.  I often stop at this kiosk on the way out of the store to grab a coffee and I found out they are considered a ‘regular’ Kroger register where you can ring up basic items — i.e. none that require price checks or weighing.

It is the weekend so I was getting a little more than usual today to hold me down through Monday but what I had still ended up fitting in one of those small hand-baskets.  I noticed no one was at the Starbuck’s kiosk so I just decided to check out there even though I had a few more items than I would usually have when I hit their kiosk on the way out of the store.

The girl completes ringing up every item before anyone else even gets in line. The first person in line is some late-middle-aged woman with either her daughter or granddaughter.

The girl behind the counter asks her for her order as she starts bagging my stuff so the other girl can get started on making it while she is still bagging my 15 or so items —  i.e. so the woman isn’t going to have to wait any longer than she would have if I hadn’t been there at all. As she gets started on filling the 2nd of three bags, I grab the now-empty basket and walk 30 yards or so to put it back in the stack of emptys near the door.

On my way back, I make a light-hearted comment half-apologizing saying “heh – when I came up here there was no one in line.” While I was putting the basket back, the girl took a third person’s order and the second girl started making it as well and they were still finishing the first woman’s coffee as my last bag was finally filled.

Just then, despite the fact I was now leaving the line and her coffee was on the way to the counter anyway, the middle-aged woman, with a rather annoyed look on her face and an obviously snide tone in her voice  feels it necessary to chime in as a response to my remark:

“Well then MAYBE you should have gone to a NORMAL check out! This is…  JUST…  a Starbucks.”

It was such a nasty tone, and she paused between the last few words for added emphasis.  This seemed to hit me right square on my ‘apathy-sux’ braincells and thus I couldn’t leave well enough alone.

As I was strapping the three bags over my right wrist so I could carry the coffee with my left hand I stepped part way aside so the girl behind the counter could start ringing her up. I made an obvious point to look around the entire bakery and deli area where the Kiosk was located. Then I added:

“Well… as long as you brought it up… it would appear this is not ‘just’ a Starbucks. It would appear we are in a Kroger store.”  I then pointed at the Kroger branded registers and card scanners.  “And this would appear to be a Kroger register. And a register is a register. Had I been buying deli, I would have checked out at the deli. If I was filling a prescription, I could have checked out at the pharmacy.”

“But seeing as how I already explained I only came here because the girls were standing idly behind the counter as I was walking by with my one small basket of items, and since I already apologized for any additional delay,” the girl set the woman’s now finished coffee on the counter and I paused so she could request the payment. “Of which it appears there is in fact none…”

I widened my smile and in the most congenial tone I could muster, I continued,

“… but if I had known you were in such a hurry to get to your next dose of menopause medication, I would have happily let you ahead of me.  Good day!”

The guy who was behind her in line was trying to hold back a burst of laughter, but I simply tipped my hat, grabbed my coffee and walked out.

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