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Blue Lion's Lair

Hunting for Answers and Devouring the Issues

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Category: Who Am I?

In the truly excellent science fiction TV show, Babylon 5, created by J. Micheal Straczynski (or Joe to those who know him) there is an episode dedicated to the question “Who are you?”.  This episode, entitled “Comes The Inquisitor” is available via Hulu.

There is a scene in the episode where one of the main characters, Delenn,  is asked over and over again in brutal fashion “Who are you?”  Delenn first answers with her name.  That, she is clearly shown, is not the right answer.   She is confused.  She doesn’t know what the “Inquisitor” is getting at.  In the end, she realizes the Inquisitor is asking “What is most important to you?”  “What do you stand for?”  “What values do you live your life by?”  It is only at this point that the testing ends.

So, who is the Blue Lion?  Clearly it’s not my name.  We can wear names like clothes.  Whether you call me Blue Lion, or Leo Blue, or Hey, you!!  Cranky guy.  It doesn’t matter.  It does not change who I am.  I guess the best answer I can give, is in what do I believe?  What are my values?  What would I be willing to die for?

Above all, I believe that life, everyone’s, life is unique and important.  If you’ve read my earlier posts you know that this is because I believe our lives are “God experiencing all there is to experience” or “the Universe figuring itself out (nod again to Joe Straczynski)” depending upon your view of a “Creator”.  Every person should have the right to seek out their own happiness as long as that does not impinge on the rights of others.  Since you need to be alive to pursue your happiness, I can state this as everyone has the “inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  The Founding Fathers of the Unites States got this exactly right.

I believe the most evil thing people can do, except under one circumstance, is to destroy another human life, as that is the ultimate abrogation of that person’s rights.  Strangely, maybe paradoxically, I also believe that you have not only the right, but the responsibility, to protect your life and the lives of those you love.  Those you love can, and often does, have a very broad definition in my book.  This leads to the one exception to the rule.  It is not evil to kill another if that other presents a credible threat to either your life or liberty, or the life and liberty of someone you love.  I wish I could say that you can wait to take action until after someone is being attacked, but by then it will often be too late and you’ll end of not saving the person who’s life you were trying to save.  I’m also not saying to kill everyone that threatens you.  It’s a judgment call that each person will have to make for themselves depending upon the situation at hand.

The Blue Lion puts a large amount of value on honesty.  Dealing with other people requires you to have credibility.  Always being honest accomplishes two things.  It cements your credibility and it keeps you from having to remember which lie you told to whom.  Trust me, as you get older the memory is one of the first things to go.  Don’t make it any harder on yourself than you need to.

I also believe that decisions need to be made on the basis of reason, not emotions, in almost all instances.  Emotional decisions, very often feel like the right thing to do, but more often than not end up making a mess of things, because they do not take the law of unintended consequences into account.  Welfare is a perfect example.  It feels right to help people who are struggling (the psychological basis for this is not as altruistic as most people think as it’s usually an ego boost to the helper), and in many cases it makes sense to do so to a limited point.  However, helping people for too long tends to make them dependent on that help.  This lessens that person’s liberty and even their dignity over the long haul.  Since the helpers (I’m talking about good people trying to help here, not those trying to take advantage) don’t intend this to happen, its an unintended consequence.  Help has to be temporary and people need to be made responsible for their own lives again as quickly as possible.

My studies of economics have shown me that capitalism is fairest way to distribute resources.  Read Basic Economics 3rd Ed: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell to get an idea of why this is true. Capitalism, makes those who need a resource most pay the most for it.  It also takes into account human nature.  Now, while I understand that every regulation or tax put upon Capitalism in some way constrains the free will of people to do as they want and slows the growth of an economy (the rising tide does lift all boats, even if it doesn’t lift them evenly), I recognize that rules need to be agreed to and followed so that less evolved people do not take advantage of the more evolved ones.  I also recognize that governments, that need to exist to enforce the rules and protect the populace from outside harm, need funds to accomplish these tasks.

Last of my core beliefs is that representative democracy, in other words, the US system, is the best, most practical form of Government yet invented by humans, at least for humans.  It gives each person a say in running the country, which directly impacts their lives.  However, it is also workable from a practical standpoint.  Pure democracy would mean everyone voted on everything.  In the end, noting but the voting would get done.  The sad fact that our current leaders are out of control and driving this country into a hole, doesn’t mean the basic system is bad.  In fact, in the not too distant future, the system will probably work very well to change the current leadership.  If the leaders we had, actually followed the Consititution and didn’t make things up as they went, we’d be better off than we are now.

As you can see, the answers I have found to the question of “Why are we here?” has had a major impact on “Who am I?”.  I have hopefully explained how my answers to my questions about God, the Universe, and why we are here, rationally (again, hopefully) lead to who I am.  As we go forward, we’ll start to look at “Where am I going?” and “How do I get there?” from both a personal level and at the group levels.  These questions are more practical in nature, and not so esoteric as what I’ve discussed up until now  Until then, good hunting.

Last time, I started to talk about the relationship between the questions “Who am I?” and “What do I want?”.  I stated that it’s important for us to know the answers to “Who am I” before we start answering “What do I want”.  When we are children, we get away with only caring about what we want.  That’s OK, because part of our parent’s job in raising us is for them to teach us the types of answers that make sense when you are thinking about who we are.  However, once we become responsible for ourselves (as good a working title for an adult as I can think of), we no longer have that luxury.  Yes, we may get away with it for a while before things go bad in our lives, but not thinking about the type of person we are puts us on a dangerous path.

Let me give you some examples we see on TV and in the movies all the time.   First is the person who becomes addicted to some drug (think Requiem for a Dream).  Now most people don’t think of themselves as evil or willing to hurt themselves or other people.  But they either forget about the type of person they think they are and let their want for the drug rule their lives, or worse, they let the want for the drug change who they are.  They go and steal from others, or attack others, or sell their own bodies to get money for the drug.  These people don’t go down this path all at once, but slowly and painfully.   Now I know the drugs we are talking about are physically and psychologically addictive, but someone who stayed true to who they were would likely not let themselves fall into the trap of addiction to begin with (assuming they believe that hurting themselves or others are bad things).  Also, even an addicted person has to at some point “remember” who they are (or at that point, who they want to be) for them to even seek out help or have that help be effective.  They have to replace the want of the drug with the want to be who they are/were.  This is because, in order to live a good life, we need to make sure that who we are always drives the what we want train.

The other clichè example is the man or woman who is tempted to cheat on their spouse (let’s use Poison Ivy – The New Seduction as the example since it fits and Jaime Pressly is not only hot, but cool :-)).  The man or woman most likely thinks of themselves as trustworthy and faithful, but when they are presented with an extremely attractive (BTW, attractiveness can be physical, mental or emotional in the REAL world) member of the opposite sex that for some reason wants to have sex with them, they find they are tempted.  I would put forward that the person who puts what they want at the moment ahead of who they are is more likely to have an undesirable outcome from the affair, with Fatal Attraction being the worst case scenario.  The person who makes sure the honest, trustworthy person they are inform what they want will realize that the temporary infatuation has the distinct potential to ruin what they really want; their life with their spouse and family.  They will resist the temptation.   A good example of this is the movie Playing By Heart with Sean Connery.  He plays Paul and his wife, Hanna is played by Gena Rowlands.  Near the end of the movie, which is the only part of the movie the Blue Lion has seen the following dialog takes place:

Hannah: And you really didn’t sleep with her?
Paul: No, of course not.
Hannah: And – you didn’t want to sleep with her.
Paul: Oh, God, yes.

For some reason, this scene always stuck with me and Connery hits the comedic note perfectly, but it shows a person “evolved” enough to let who he was make sure what he wanted didn’t make him do something against who he was.

If you’re starting to think of this blog as an Everything I Ever Learned, I Learned at the Movies sort of thing, that might have at least a grain of truth.  While the examples I give will not be exclusively, or even primarily, from the the movies, it will be a common occurrence.  The Blue Lion looks for truth in many different places.  Ironically, there is much truth to be found in works of fiction.  Truth about human nature, the nature of good and evil, even truths of philosophy and God can be found in fictional works.  That is why many of them are created.  If you don’t like my examples, let me know your own.  Comments are certainly encouraged.

So, now that I’ve fully explained the order in which we need to answer these two questions, next time I’ll address Who the Blue Lion is.  Until then, good hunting.

First Two Questions Overlayed on Maslow's Hierarchy

First Two Questions Overlayed on Maslow's Hierarchy

You know, it’s a real shame.  What is the very first question we all learn to ask?  Of course, it’s “What do I want?”  From the very moment we come out of the womb we start to ask for something we want.  We cry because we are hungry.  We cry because we are wet.  We cry because we are tired and want to be rocked to sleep.  In fact, it might be said that the only thing we do is ask (cry) for things we want, except when we don’t want anything.

As we get a little older, we learn to talk a little and immediately start telling mama and dada what we want in a little more detail.  This makes it a little easier for mama and dada, and they comply by giving us most of the things we ask for.  Granted, at this stage in our lives, we only really want the things we need to survive and be comfortable.  Those familiar with Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy will see that we only really seem to want the needs that pertain to the lowest two levels, which I call the survival and comfort levels.  As we get a little older, say pre-school age, we really start to get into the third level, the relationship level.  As you can see from the chart, up until this point in our lives, we are only addressing the question “What do I want?”  That’s OK, while we are children, but when we are adults, it’s another story.

The problem is that once we become adults the first question we need to be asking ourselves is “Who am I?”  Unfortunately, we’ve been very well trained to ask “What do I want?” and not well trained in asking “Who am I?  This is where Maslow breaks down.  His theory is that you can only move on to the next higher level of need after all the ones below it are fulfilled.  Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for many people to get stuck in the comfort/survival levels constantly trying to fulfill an unfulfillable need.  What do I mean by that?  Look at the chart.  Don’t we all know people who are wasting their lives in the pursuit of food, sex, recreational drugs, money ( a proxy for all the other “needs” we can buy), or companionship?  These are people who either haven’t yet answered, or have an inadquate answer to the question of “Who am I?

I’ve already given a metaphysical answer for “Who am I?” that works for me and informs the more prosaic answers to that question.  I believe that answering the question of “Who am I?” is the single largest pursuit of our lives.  John Ondrasik, the man behind Five for Fighting has it exactly right in his song The Riddle in the lyric that goes:

There’s a reason for the world.

Who am I?

How should we answer the question?  Clearly, I’m not talking about our name.  That doesn’t answer it.  We need to understand what traits we will value as we lead our lives.  More on this and how it interacts with “What do I want?” next time.

I know there are many rational human beings that either don’t believe in God (atheists) or who are not sure there is a God since they have not seen adequate proof (agnostics).  These are my working definitions for these words, feel free to quibble.  I know that any atheists or agnostics reading this will have major problems with my last post.  That’s fine.  My belief does not require others to do so.  However, let me see if we can find some common ground to more forward.

The question Why Are We Here? has a very simple answer for the “belief challenged” (OK.  I think I need a better word to group agnostics and atheists, but I can’t think of one right now.  If anyone has any suggestions, let me know).  We are here, because we are. There are only two states possible.  Either the Universe exists or it doesn’t.  Thanks to Réne Descartes we have the brilliant cogito, ergo sum.  Since we exist and we need some place to exist, the Universe exists.  The rest of the story is just process.  The Big Bang happens, stars form, they blow up and create more complex elements, more stars form with planets around some of them with enough of the elements for life to evolve and here we are. That’s the streamlined Cliff Notes version.

Now we get to Who Am I?  This question has different answers for each person, obviously.  However, for this discussion we’ll limit ourselves to the part of the answer that pertains to the type of person we are.  What traits do you value?  What traits do you want others to value in you?  The interesting thing is that those to whom this post is addressed and those who see God the way I do have something in common here.  The point of living your life is to live your life. Terry Goodkind says it better in his excellent fantasy series “The Sword of Truth” series (The Sword of Truth, Boxed Set I, Books 1-3: Wizard’s First Rule, Blood of the Fold ,Stone of Tears).  At the end of the series Richard, the main protagonist tells everyone “Your life is your own.  Rise up and live it.”

Of course, the rational concept of enlightened self interest tells us that if we want to have the freedom to live our lives, we have to let others have that freedom as well.  That’s pretty much the same as the first part of the “Golden Rule” I talked about last post.  So, it seems as if we all have something in common after all, even if it’s for completely different reasons.  I being the Pisces I am (No, I don’t believe in astrology.:-)  While there might be some slight chance that your personality has something to do with what part of the year you were conceived, I only link those personality traits to astrological signs in a humorous manner.), I actually believe we should be following enlightened self interest, or the Golden Rule for both reasons.

I’ll get more into how that applies to our lives in a bit.  Next we start looking at the other 3 of the Five Questions.

I recently stated my belief, based upon logical thought and current scientific thinking, that God, assuming he exists, is outside of time.  I also commented that such a being would have only one over arching need that would not be fulfilled since outside of time everything than can exist does so all at once.  There is no experience of everything.  I’m not sure that a being can even exist in such a state.  However, I believe God exists, therefore I will pursue some answers based upon that assumption.  For my agnostic/atheist friends, I understand that nothing I state here can be proven, but these answers work for me and I expect that they may make sense for others as well.

So, where are we (sorry, wrong question)?  We have a God that exists all at once, with no way to experience the everything that can exist.  This all powerful, all knowing, all everything God has only one need.  A way to experience it all.  Now bear with me, we will be thinking of this in a logical progression which will take a few steps, which can only happen over time.  This isn’t really how it works, but it’s the only way we can conceive of it while we are living in time.  This need of God/The Creator/What ever you like to call it demands this need be filled.  As should be clear by now, at least one way to fill this need is to create a universe, or universes, where time and space both exist as a framework for the everything to be placed in.  Ironically, this creation takes place in a very simple way, the “Big Bang”.  Time, space, and enough matter to lead to the experiencing of everything are created and time starts to flow.  OK, maybe time doesn’t flow and all the matter and space move through the dimesions of time.

To use my amusement park analogy from before.  We now have the entire ride and all the possible tracks through the ride.  Of course, for the universe, the number of possible tracks is so large as to be what I call “functionally infinite”. Now we need some cars and riders.  Well, quarks, fundamental particles, atoms and inanimate objects have little to no possible “experience factor”.  While they do change over time, the changes are simple in nature and happen “automatically”  We need something quite a bit more interactive.  That’s where living beings come in.  Due to the size of the universe and the seeming ease in which life can be started, it is likely there is life throughout the universe.

Living beings make great amusement ride cars.  The more capable they are of  thinking and experiencing, the better ride they give.   They are interactive, they can make decisions, they can make changes to the way the universe is headed.  They are great conveyances through the everything that can exist.  What missing?  Well……how does God experience this everything?  God needs a way of riding along through the Universal Ride.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call the soul.

Now, I can finally answer, at least from one perspective, the question of Who Am I?  I am God (either in whole or in part) experiencing my portion of all there is to experience. The cool thing is that if you are reading this article, you are God too.  We are all part of the same.  I’ll get to the “in whole or in part” thing at a later date.  The implications for our lives in this simple statement are many and profound.  This statement also answers the eternal question of “Why are we here?”  This question is the one that many people would ask as “What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?”

It turns out the meaning of life, is life itself.

The answer so many people are looking for is too simple for most to see.  Our whole reason for being here is to experience the life we have.  That’s it.  We don’t have to worship the Creator.  Why would an all powerful being require worship anyway?  I know, if I was God…..oh wait, I am :-) …..I would not require worship.  Appreciation…..understanding maybe would be desirable….but worship?  Nope.  Not a chance.

The one more subject I’d like to address in this post is the Golden Rule.  No….not the one that goes “He who has the gold makes the rules!”  The one given to us by Jesus Christ (yep, he was God too).  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and love God as you love yourself (paraphrased)”  Us all being God gives a whole new meaning to this.  It is no longer a dictate passed down from God, but just a statement of rationality given the fact that we are all part of one whole and that God, at least in part but maybe in whole, is Who We Are.

Next post will present some of the meaning of life and how we treat each other in a less metaphysical way to put the “believers” and the agnostic and atheist readers on the same page when it comes to how we all live our lives.  Until then, live well.