I was pondering the question of “What is the basic value difference between them and me?”
It isn’t as big a question as it seems. I’ve often wondered about “them” and “me”.
But it has been clear to me most of my life that I’m not like “them”. “They” are different.
In this particular case I was wondering about some recent events. Obama and his recent pronouncements on “Climate Change”. He has no clue what so ever about the underlying science nor the history of the process. He can’t. Not enough time, and certainly not enough technical training and skill. So at best he is duped, at worst he is using it ‘for effect’. Ukraine and how they are being ‘played’ by Putin. Obama and his new ability to ‘be more flexible’ for Putin now that he is no longer standing for election. The list goes on.
What is THE core value that is different between “that sort” and me? (And folks ‘like me’ on these points)
After a fair amount of pondering, I think the answer comes down to one word: Respect.
Somewhere around the 1990’s I was working at Apple Computer. One of the frequent things discussed was the “Law Of Mutual Superiority” in computer programming. It states “Anything you can program, I can improve; anything I can program, you can improve.” It is also very true. It works because each of us has a different point of view and different strengths. When I write a program, it is strong where I am strong, and weak where I am weak. Someone else has other strengths and other weaknesses. When they review my work, their strengths will arrive where I am weak and they will find ways to make improvements. Similarly, my strengths will arrive where they are weak and I can improve their work. Over a couple of decades, this law has proven sound.
We would regularly review code each other had written, and we regularly improved the work of each other.
It takes a certain centeredness, a certain acceptance of yourself, to go through such a code review without feeling some resentment. Yet once you are used to it, it is easy and a positive thing to ‘learn new tricks’. That takes a certain respect for your own skills AND a respect for the skills of others. Even those who you may think are less skilled than yourself. It really does deflate your ego a little, but you learn that each of us is superior in some way to each other.
So one day, my boss and I went to a local food joint. The soda jerk behind the counter took our order. They were identical in all ways except I ordered a “Coke” and he ordered a “Diet Coke”. Our order was called. We walked up to the counter and there were the two baskets with a BBQ Pork sandwich in each, and two glasses of dark soda. “Which is the regular and which is the diet?” I asked. The minimum wage server looked at both, and said “That one is the diet”. I noticed that he had looked, and was not saying based on prior knowledge of what was poured. “How did you know?” I asked.
By that simple question I acknowledged that the ‘soda jerk’ was superior to me on this point. I had respect for their skill, and I had humility for my own skill in that area. So I asked. And I learned. “That one has foam”, he said. He knew that the sugar caused the bubbles to make a more persistent foam, while the sugar free lost the foam quickly. He was superior to me then, on that point. By respecting that fact, I learned a new skill.
Lies and Politics
Those of us on the Skeptic side of the Global Warming issue are very familiar with the deception and flat out lies of the “other side”. I’ve often wondered “Why?”. Why do they spend so much time and effort on deception? Often rather stupid and transparent deceptions that fool few. Why so much time on character assassination and “attack the messenger”. Why so much hate and vitriol and so little examination of facts and reality.
Similarly, one can look at the Ukraine today and see Russia playing a game of lies. They have clearly infiltrated a load of special forces folks, and are fabricating an issue to split Crimea and East Ukraine off so it can be absorbed by Russia. It is so blatant as to be painful. So why bother with the lies? Why do it?
I think it all comes down to a question of respect.
To lie to someone, you must hold them in low respect. You must believe that they will not figure it out, so are a bit stupid. Or that they may figure it out but do not matter. That they are just not very important nor deserving of respect.
While “people like me” are very aware of the fact that they owe respect to even a lowly minimum wage soda jerk, simply because they ARE an expert in what they do. Far superior to me in that area of expertise. We would not tolerate the lie of “Global Warming” as to do so requires a lack of respect for the truth, and for the ability of others to see through the deceptions in it. The disappearance of the Medieval Warm Period, the re-write of the hot 1930’s, the cognitive dissonance of the California drought of the ’70s during the ‘little ice age returning’ scare and claiming a similar drought today is due to ‘global warming’.
In short, power abuse depends on a lack of respect for the folks being abused. In the case of “global warming”, that is all of us. The regular folks. In the case of Putin and Russia raping Ukraine, that is a lack of respect for “The West”. (Though, frankly, given our stupidity on things as diverse as “global warming” and driving industry to China via a variety of stupidities; I do kind of see why they would have little respect for us.)
If you respect someone, you do not steal their stuff (or country), nor do you “make stuff up” and lie to them (or cook the temperature record).
I would speculate that Socialism does not respect the people. They are just tools to be used by the “intelligentsia” to advance the social narrative. You see this theme throughout the Communist, Marxist, Socialist, Progressive, whatever-name-today power politics. It assumes that the ‘special’ folks who make it into the government know better what to do than the ‘average guy’. That they are fodder for the government machine to mould. That they do not deserve self determination nor the respect that comes with it.
Just like Putin does not respect the rights of the country of Ukraine to a free self determination.
Just like the IPCC does not respect the rights of the people of the world to do what THEY think best.
Just like Obama does not respect the right of America to chart a course of its own away from the rest of the nutcases on this planet; nor the right of the People to do what they want with their own property and with their own path through life.
Just like the global “Climate Science” community is driven by an irrational “green” desire to command what others may do, rather than to respect their right to decide for themselves what they want.
When you see lies and deception, you know that lack of respect is near.
When you see a government abusing their own people, or the country next door, you know lack of respect is near.
The question is:
“How do you get fools to recognize that they need to respect those around them?”
The law of mutual superiority is hard to learn and internalize, and clearly unheard of in the halls of power politics. Nor in “climate science” enclaves. But it would sure help if they learned it…