Re-Share: The Mayan Denouement

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Today, just because we’re feeling nostalgic, we’re re-sharing the first proper article we ever shared on this blog. Maybe it’s because we didn’t write anything this week, it’s hard to say.

It was a topical piece that will be almost impossible to follow if you don’t figure out the time-sensitive context, so it seemed like the perfect choice.

They still have yet to deliver, mind you. Nonetheless, the underlying topic is as relevant as ever.

We hope you enjoy The Mayan Denouement.

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At Brad OH Inc., we value punctuality amongst the most important attributes for any business. That said, there is always room for some understanding and flexibility in allowing for extraneous circumstances. Nevertheless, at this point we feel it certainly clear that the Mayans are well overdue on their doomsday deliverance.

So here we are, another apocalypse come and gone. The morning of the 21st, you could almost hear the world sigh in relief… or was it disappointment? There have been many such events in the past—heavy handed claims that the world is certain to end, and doubtless there will be many more.

Humanity certainly carries an unhealthy obsession with the end times, and history would indicate that we always have. Whether it’s the passing of a millennium, the promise of a returned saviour, or the ending of a calendar cycle—any opportunity to imagine that the continuation of existence may be up for debate is a sure fire ticket to get people excited.

Like a child who’s learned to expect the worst from a young age—and thus conducts himself hedonistically in order to be certain his comeuppance is earned—we’ve been looking to these prophecies with careless disregard for a world which we continually assume is on the verge of ending.

It’s easier to sit idly by, expecting that some promised cataclysm will eventually come to wash away all meaning and accompanying responsibility. Here at Brad OH Inc., we find ourselves wondering just when humanity might stop waiting for a predicted doomsday that will never come, and start working to avoid one of our own creation. Of course, just what that might look like is a conversation for another time…

-Brad OH Inc.

Project FearNaught- ‘It Was Never an Apple’

Temptation is among the core themes of many religious and philosophical conversations. In Christian culture, the apple in the garden of Eden is often the first example of temptation, and also cited as the source of the fall of man.

Funny enough however, most remember this story wrong.

…it was never an apple.

The story goes that the fruit that was eaten came not from an apple tree, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

That’s a crucial distinction.

It was not a randomly selected fruit, used as a temptation for humanity to test their resolution. The consumption of this fruit was not simply a failing in our self-control, but represents rather a crucial definition in the capabilities of humanity which is closely tied to our concept of the Metaphorical Imperative—it’s about the expansion of our cerebral capacity that makes us human.

Like our ability to ask and answer questions about the world, this knowledge of good and evil is to humanity not a fall, but a burden or responsibility. With our minds, humans are capable of thought, consideration, and knowledge—and this gives us the responsibility to act rightly. We have this responsibility simply because we know better…we are accountable.

If we were no more mentally competent than locusts, our destructive actions would be excused by our nature. But eating from the fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means that we know better—human consciousness sets us apart, and it thus behooves us to act like it, or suffer the consequences.

Original Sin therefore should not be taken to mean that we are born of sin, but rather that we are born with a responsibility to avoid it. It’s a key part of what makes us human, and also what makes us fallible. Knowledge—and free will to use it as we choose—is the true Original Sin.

Knowledge is ever a double-sided blade though, as our ability to consider extra-temporal reality allows us to create it—which also allows us to make excuses and ultimately let ourselves down. Just as we know the difference between right and wrong, we know the shortcuts to fooling ourselves, to deny this truth, and to act against it.

In a perfect world, this knowledge would be enough. To rise above the domain of brutes and act upon this morality that we can clearly see should be our destiny, but because we know that not all will do so, we are often hesitant to risk it ourselves. Acting right when others do not may open us up to deception and cruelty, and soon the world begins to look like a non-zero-sum game; what others take, we may lose, and thus we, besot by doubt, hedge our bets against decency, and towards self-preservation.

In all things now, there is doubt and fear. In business, in friendships, in relationships, and in our daily conduct, the taint of fear has bewildered our senses and blinded us to the basic truths of our being.

Our knowledge is both our blessing, and our downfall. It has long been the bane of political philosophers to seek some system of governance that would allow people to thrive happily and free, but each one fails due to greed, pride, and fear.

Simple codes have never been enough, nor have the religious doctrines which are meant to bolster them.

It grows hard to believe these days…the light is fading.

What can possibly bring us back to those truths now? What story or system can erase this fear, and help us to chart our course through these dark tides? What must we risk to find it, and what will we lose on our search? These are the sources of fear we must face, no matter the associated price. For if our will is bent, if we fail now, there may not be another chance.

We must persist, because we know better.

…I know better.

Be part of the debate:Project FearNaught is an effort to start the conversation that changes the world. As such, your voice is key to our ambition. To add your input, questions, or comments, click here.

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’

Unions on the High Seas

Ladies and Gentlemen, we here at Brad OH Inc. are writing you today not with the usual merriment and cheer you have come to expect from our Corporate correspondence. No, today we are writing to address a grave concern.

Talk of ‘Worker’s Unions’ has grown to a dreadful cacophony, and menial labourers the world over are falling under the illusion that they are deserving of the same sorts of rights and freedoms as those who possess great wealth as a result of their breeding, connections, conniving, and/ or dumb luck.

Now, those that have never had will surely never understand the high position of those who have never wanted, and trying to explain such grand distinctions will be lost on the sort of people who spend their days on dull tasks like counting change, saving money for Doctor appointments, or worrying if they will be able to run their car the next day.

I mean…running your own car…for heaven’s sake!

In time’s like this, we feel it better to take a simpler approach—the sort of approach that even those who have not been afforded the finest educations can appreciate. That is to say, a direct moral analogy.

Often, when trying to decide if what we’re doing is right, it’s best to examine how we feel as we attempt it.

So, to those poor (literally) souls trying to unionize, let’s take a stroll through the steps forward to see if there are any points you may want to reconsider.

It starts off—to my understanding—with sneaking around like thieves in the night, trying to get the support of your comrades while avoiding the attention of your rightful owne…bosses. You’ll need to get over half of them on board before launching your hideous plan, lest you risk being thrown out for your treasonous efforts.

Meanwhile, your oblivious and well-intentioned bosses go on with their daily routines—you know, things like scheduling work, paying your way through the world, and creating an economy in which you might eke out your meager existence. All the while, you are plotting to undermine, betray, and steal even more from them.

If all of this doesn’t make you recoil with shame, perhaps the analogy will do the trick. If you cannot think of any particular historical situations where the same descriptions might apply, we’re happy to help.

Mutiny.

You are basically planning a mutiny—overthrowing the rightful captain of a ship to take it away from them, claim it as your own, and send into fatal exile the one person who created everything you covet.

Now, if that still doesn’t give you pause, consider that the historical punishment for mutiny—even a whisper of it—was death.

Of course, the modern ‘PC movement’ would prevent your overlords from literally sentencing you to death for planning a union—at least if we ignore the potentially fatal consequence of not unionizing—hunger, poor education, lack of healthcare, lack of insurance…but we’re getting distracted here.

In all likelihood, your efforts at subversion will need to be combatted in a more ‘modern’ way, but rest assured, we’re working on it!

In the meantime, it may be in your best interests to show a little gratitude for what you have rather than slathering over what others have. Of course, if that’s not good enough for you, maybe a bit of distraction is the ticket. In that case, it might be best to follow the profound wisdom of Delta Airlines—some of the saltiest Captains sailing the highest of seas.

You can find that advice right here.

We sincerely hope this has been an educational and reflective experience for all you workers out there. Please remember, everything you need will be provided by your dutiful Corporate masters.

There’s nothing more you could hope for…trust us.

-Brad OH Inc.

Project FearNaught- ‘What Does It Take to Change the World?’

Let’s get back to the question at hand. In the opening article of Project: FearNaught, I said that I wanted to start the conversation that changes the world.

That’s exactly what I intend to do.

What does it take to change the world? That is the question. The answer is still in development, and each of you reading this now will play a role, if you have the strength of will to rise up and join me.

Many different answers have been offered. Some will say that love is the only thing that can change the world. Others will argue that honest education and the ability to think critically are what’s needed.

It may require small acts of kindness. It may take discipline, and virtue.

What does it take to change the world? It takes all of these things, and more. It also takes honesty. Honesty with ourselves, and honesty with each other. Sometimes it will demand honesty to each other. That’s a scary thing. But there’s no room for fear here.

Fear leads to withdrawal, and hence to ignorance. This fast grows into resentment, blame and hatred. Some may say that fear leads to self-betrayal, but this is not true. There is nothing a man can do to betray his inmost truths. He only reveals them. And fear, fear can do this like nothing else.

Fear has changed the world many times.

Fear of the way things used to be, and fear of how they could be. Fear of change, and fear of losing what we have.

Fear of the other.

Fear of ourselves.

Fear of standing up and shouting—only to find that we are alone.

So, what does it take to change the world? Fear. Or a lack thereof. Sure, love can do it, so can education. So too can all those other things in varying degree—but that’s precisely because those gifts are the death of fear.

You don’t need love to change the world. You don’t need schools, or libraries, or healthcare. Fear alone can change the world.

Fear is at the root of all human ambition and control. It is fear which keeps us willing to accept our present circumstances, and fear that has delivered us into them.

And that’s why fear is our target…

So, what does it take to change the world?

If a man seeks to change the world, he must first change himself.

I do not have all the answers, and it will be up to the good readers of this site to take this spark and set it to light upon the tinders of their own communities. By design, ‘Project: FearNaught’ has room for all, and by design it requires the input and participation of the masses. This is not a top-down proclamation, but an essential call for community discourse. With that being said, it must also be stated that, by its very nature, ‘Project: FearNaught’ demands utter self-sincerity of its readers and participants. Without that, you will be reading the potential answers to questions you’ve yet to articulate.

So, take this with you— for if you want change, then it’s your responsibility to make it happen. Take it to the streets. Look fear in the eye, and call it out on sight. Own it in yourself, and point it out in others. For we must first know our fear if we seek to escape its paralyzing hold.

Think, talk…and Fear Naught.

Be part of the debate:Project FearNaught is an effort to start the conversation that changes the world. As such, your voice is key to our ambition. To add your input, questions, or comments, click here.

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’

Who Are We?

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

One phrase that’s heard with depressing frequency these days is the impotent refrain of “this is not who we are”.

It begs the question—who are we?

That’s a pretty deep question to anyone but an asshole.

Personally, I’m a little bit different around pretty much everyone I know.

I notice their sense of humour, the tones and facial expressions they respond to best, establish nicknames and idioms to go back to in need.

Alone? That’s a wildcard.

Still, I don’t expect that’s what makes someone something.

Is it their actions?

Their stories?

The changes they’ve made?

The happiness they’ve created?

…Who am I?

A soul, lost and confused, trying it’s best to do good for the world. Taking it all in—the good, the bad, the perverse, the fanatical. Working to process it all, to understand it all, to bring it all together, and in the light remind it.

…Who it was in the beginning.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘That’ Guy at the Bar

 

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

I’d arrived early for my flight, so naturally I found myself at the airport bar having a few last beers before calling it curtains on another fine vacation.

With the thrill of travel still having hold on me, my eyes shot about the room, this way and that, taking in all the different sorts of people gathered. Now, they were no longer the fascinating locals of a strange land, but a mixed assortment of likeminded travellers coming or going to where I would never know.

It was a fairly typical crowd. Young couples with diamonds in their eyes, old men with coals. People exhausted from long treks and people eager to start new ones. And of course, there was ‘that’ guy.

We’ve all seen him before.

Red faced and talkative. Talking too loud, talking too much. Talking too forcefully—too absolutely certain of the value of his long-winded rants, and utterly convinced he was the life of an otherwise non-existent party. He was the kind of idiot you see all the time.

The kind I do my best to avoid. And I certainly tried.

I scrolled through my phone and sipped my beer while waiting on my burger. Still, I’d glance up now and then, taking in the annoyed but patient expressions around him.

He’d already shouted out a young couple sitting on the side of the bar near him. They laughed and waved as they hurried away. I saw his laugh melt into a leer as he watched her take her partner’s hand and leave. Then he fell into blathering to a bunch of young ‘bros’ at the bar, and I figured that would keep him occupied for a while.

My burger arrived, and I thought that was the end of it.

As I finished my meal and got to work on my next beer, I noticed that the young men had been abandoned by their loud-mouthed old counterpart. He was on the other side of the bar now, clawing at some young lady as he bellowed about his life and worth and ‘stories you wouldn’t believe’.

I wondered if she could be his daughter. That would explain the perturbed expression on her face and the patience she showed as he leaned his red face in over-close and tried once more to catch at her arm. How many times had she found him like this?

Or maybe she was just another poor stranger. Perhaps she knew the younger men and was trying to make her way past him to join her companions.

They were staring at their phones now though, and their lack of recognition seemed almost intentional.

She glanced about nervously as he spoke. I felt concerned, but maybe she was just late for a flight and struggling to remain polite.

I caught her eye at one point, and it seemed the look held overlong. Nervously, I glanced away, hoping she didn’t take me for another idiot ready to cast my hand in on the action.

Was he trying to kiss her there, or just leaning in too much under the weight of his drink?

Everyone else stared intently at whatever screen was nearest at hand. But now, I was worried.

He offered to walk her to her gate and she said she would be fine.

He persisted, and she joked that she was a big girl and could handle herself.

She laughed nervously and cast her eyes downward as she tried to step around him. That didn’t work either.

Finally, I felt guilty. I’d waited too long, thought too much.

That’s the point of all this. ‘No’ is a word to be respected. And she’d said it in every way possible while avoiding making too much of a scene.

He was circling around and cornering her near the exit by the time I stood up. I caught her eye again, but spoke this time, loud enough for the bar to hear me above his commotion. “Are you ok there?”

Until that moment, she had held her countenance in a nervous, meek mask of worry and embarrassment. Now, it threatened to break as she leaned desperately around him to answer me, “…no.”

That one did the trick. I turned to him now, giving her my back and clearing a way to the door. He looked up at me with the wry confidence of a man who has been told he was special all his life and finally came to accept it as sacrosanct.

“You need to leave her alone.” Bereft of his banter, I imagine the whole bar heard me. Still, few looked up from their phones. But she took the opening, and darted through the exit.

He held my gaze for a moment in challenge, his ruddy face wrinkling with the supreme disappointment of a toddler being told they couldn’t keep the toy they’d torn from the shelf. Then he shrank back.

“Ok,” he said with a churlish sneer, and slunk off to his seat. He sat back down with the young guys, and soon they were all laughing again.

People kept scrolling on their phones.

I wondered if I was too aggressive, and sat in uncomfortable silence until the bar tender slid over a free beer. “Good man,” he said with a conspiratorial nod.

My vacation was over. She was, presumably, safe. He, I assume, would be unaffected by the encounter.

As I finished up my second beer before moving onto the free one, I reflected on the questions I’d asked myself before acting. The justifications for my potential silence.

Was she his daughter? No.

Was she just a patient stranger? No.

Was she amused by the banter but in a rush to catch a flight? No.

It was clear enough now. It wasn’t about her shyness, or her effort to be polite. Her patience in avoiding a scene didn’t matter, and my reticence to be part of one didn’t either.

She’d said no. At least four times. That was all that mattered, and that should have been the end of it. She should not have had to repeat herself, and if she did the whole bar should have risen loudly to back up her statement and support her choice. But that’s not the world we live in.

It should not have come down to one lone person accepting they would have to be the one to stand up. But I guess that’s where we are these days, and it’s probably well ahead of where we were not so long ago.

I slid the empty cup across the bar and started on the free one. It was cold and smooth.

‘That’ guy at the bar. I thought about the term. It should mean something different. Not the pushy idiot who has no place in the bar to begin with, but rather the ones willing to speak up for those going unheard.

I wondered, if I ever saw the moment to be ‘that’ guy again, would I hesitate?

No.

-Brad OH Inc.

Project FearNaught- ‘We’re All Going to Die’

Sad but true—we are all going to die. The awareness of death is a distinct privilege for humans—our cerebral capacity allows us to foresee our inevitable endpoint in a way that no other animal can imagine. This ‘mortality salience’ is among the driving forces of humanity, and has been the genesis of countless stories and myths, as well as a key feature of almost all major religions.

The question always becomes: What happens when we die? It’s as if some certainty to this quandary might settle our nerves when the time comes—and well it may. However, the funny thing about death is that not many get the chance to report back. So, whether it’s pearly gates, Elysium fields, an endless void, or something entirely different, we are left to wonder.

Today however, we are going to take this issue head-on—providing a minimalist view of the afterlife which should be accessible to all, and act as an effective guidepost for personal moral accountability. This is not meant to be taken as a proof or even a strong belief, but rather a fundamental jumping off point: a basic answer, and a prompt for greater personal insight.

Whether you seek admittance into Heaven, Valhalla, or any other similar notion, what I want to provide for you today is a roadmap of behaviour guaranteed to get you there.

In order to do so, I will present you with five simple assumptions. Once these assumptions are accepted, I will outline a fundamental interpretation of the afterlife which will suffice to guide the action of any man, woman, or child seeking a positive post-mortem experience.

The 5 Assumptions are:                          

  1. We have a sense of right and wrong:

Specifically, the assumption is that we can feel good or bad about actions we have taken. For instance, if we think about betraying a friend, we may feel guilty. If we consider being there to help a loved one, we may feel proud or valued.

  1. Our experience of time is relative to our experience of pleasure/ pain:

This one sounds a bit more complex than it is. What I am seeking here is a basic recognition that when we have a good time, it seems to fly, and that when we suffer, time seems to drag.

  1. Death is the greatest displeasure:

As animals driven by animal instincts, our general inclination is to avoid death at all costs. Essentially, our own death is the worst thing to experience.

  1. When you die, your life flashes before your eyes:

It may be that none of you are as well-equipped as me to accept the truth of this one. It’s an old concept for sure, and one that I myself have recently experienced and will attest to in a roundabout sort of way.

  1. A number cannot be divided by zero:

This one may come as a twist, but in order to finish this concept, we need to agree on this basic mathematic principle—specifically regarding calculus and graphing.

Now, based on the five assumptions we just agreed on, we can imagine a very interesting and poignant thing happening the moment we die. First of all, as I’m sure you can surmise, you’re going to have your life flash before your eyes. On top of that, since we agreed that you have some semblance of morality, you are going to have certain feelings—some positive, some negative—about the way you have lived.

However, we’ve also agreed that our experience of time slows down as we experience more adverse situations, and further, that death is the worst thing to experience. Considering this in relation to our final fact, I ask that you imagine a graphic function for a moment.

For this graph, we will have the X-Axis represent our experience of pain. The lower the value, the more pain we experience.

The Y-Axis will represent our experience of time. The greater the value, the more relative time any given moment seems to take.

Since death is the worst possible experience, as the X-Axis approaches death (or a zero divisor), the value of the Y-Axis (our relative experience of time) grows exponentially greater without ever reaching said zero.

This is called an asymptote. The Y-Value will veer upwards towards infinity as the X-Value creeps closer to its natural dead-end. According to the precepts of our graph, what this means is that as we approach the moment of death, we find ourselves in a single moment experienced as an eternity.

So here we are, stuck in an eternal moment, looking back at our lives, and feeling good or bad about it—or some mixture of both.

This concept affords to us a vision of eternity which compels us to virtue, not to avoid punishment—which is no true virtue at all, merely coercion—but for the reward of decency itself. It is a functional clearing of the dogma and artifice which has grown over the reliefs of truth, and tasks us simply with being prepared to face ourselves and our actions not only on the day of our death, but each preceding day as well.

This to me is the most basic understanding needed to live a righteous life. The concept we should take away from it, simply put, is that we should take no action we would not be comfortable looking back on for eternity.

Share this, and use it each day. Think on your actions, and encourage others to do likewise. For Project: FearNaught to change the world, we must confront our virtues and vices head-on. That is the purpose here. The task may be daunting, but it can be accomplished…have no fear.

Be part of the debate:Project FearNaught is an effort to start the conversation that changes the world. As such, your voice is key to our ambition. To add your input, questions, or comments, click here.

-Jeremy Arthur

‘Truth Ink.’