Beta Culture: Rebooting Civilization

As a superhero movie fan, I love reboots. Even though I know pretty much every version of the origin stories of Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, etc., I never get tired of the retelling.

It’s all about the JOURNEY, you see. I get to come along while someone spends millions of dollars telling this story, and though it’s familiar territory, it’s still a glorious ride.

The concept of the reboot got me to thinking, though. What if you could reboot your life? Start over and make the story of your life a different story? Take different paths, explore different talents, undertake different endeavors. Would you do it?

Honestly, I don’t know whether I would or not. There was some sure-enough shitty stuff happened to me when I was younger, but it was what led me to leave Houston and go off adventuring elsewhere. In some of those elsewheres, I met my Cowboy Dad. I met my best friend. I met a number of other wonderful people. And I got to have adventures that, in the occasional telling, sometimes wow even me.

Some people would say “Oh, you would have met other people who would have been just as good,” but that’s Fate-meme bullshit.

There are a lot of people on Earth who DIDN’T meet my Cowboy Dad, who never knew just what a wonderful man he was. Their loss, I say. And the idea that I might have been one of them, if my life had taken a slightly different turn … well. Knowing the effect HE had on me, the trouble he went to, out of all the other people I met over the years, I can’t imagine anyone else, anywhere in the world, doing as good a job at … transforming me. Taking me out of the ugliness of my former life and helping me be whole and happy. My life would have been different, but the huge probability is that it  still would have sucked.

But what if you could perform a reboot that saved all the good stuff, but added in more good stuff? What if I could keep my memories of my Cowboy Dad, the wonderful souvenirs of my life in the mountains, and yet somehow fade out the bad stuff of my past and replace it with newfound … oh, say, wealth. Or fame. New adventures of love. The learning of other languages, the development of different talents and skills.

Would I do it? Oh, yeah. Hell, why not? I could always turn back around later, after all, refusing the new stuff. Or rebooting again and taking a different path. But meanwhile, I’d get to explore wealth, or fame, or love, or radical new adventures, as this pretty good ME I already am.

Speaking of rebooting, and thinking about Beta Culture, I realized that’s pretty much what Beta is all about – a reboot. What if you could reboot civilization itself? What if you could keep all the good stuff, and winnow out the bad? Pretty tall order, right? Totally impossible, in fact. Except …

Dying Grannies

You know that silly question that every atheist sooner or later gets asked?

“If your very religious grandmother was on her deathbed, would you tell her there’s no God? That Heaven is a lie, and that she was never going to see Grandpa again, or the son she lost in Vietnam?”

Whew. Tough one, right? Except it’s not all that tough if you expand the conceptual frame of the question and think bigger than the confines presented to you.

If you could travel back in time 50 or so years, long before your grandmother was on her deathbed, would you tell her the truth about religion THEN? Would you set her on a path that would give her 50 years free of it, living her life with gusto all the while and never entertaining sterile fantasies of some sort of silly “afterlife”?

In my own case, knowing my grandmother stayed with an abusive man for decades because she thought that was the way you were supposed to do it – because God – I’d leap at the chance to tell her. “Granny, screw Jesus! Dump that a-hole husband of yours and let’s go dancing! Let’s find you a boyfriend who’ll see what a wonderful person you are, and will love and cherish you and keep you in luxury for all your life!”

Damn right, I’d tell her. Like me, she might choose not to walk this other path. But at least she’d have the choice. She could reboot her life in freethought, rather than travel the path she DID, of spousal abuse and obligatory religious enthrallment.

Rebooting

So what does this have to do with rebooting civilization? Just this:

For the world of 50 years from now, TODAY is 50 years ago. This is The Past where we can make a difference. We don’t even have to time-travel back to it. We’re already there.

A lot can change in 50 years. Or, you know, nothing can. We can just go on as we’ve been going, playing out the probably-grim future currently being jammed down our throats. Or we can start doing something different, right now, today.

Seriously:

WHAT IF WE COULD REBOOT CIVILIZATION ITSELF?

What if we could do away with sexism, racism, the manipulations of people like the Koch brothers, the propaganda and lies of Fox News, falsity as an accepted part of business, government sponsored gambling, for-profit prisons, Wall Street bailouts, our silly drug laws, so much more?

Would you adopt the metric system and have your 50-years-hence kids and grandkids using it, rather than this inches-gallons-pounds thing we all still stupidly struggle with? (Yes, yes, Europeans, we know.)

Would you create a culture of justice and humanity and security that would see you and yours safely through the storms we already know are coming? Would you make an effort to trim-tab the course of larger civilization so that things were better for the rest of humanity in the midst of those same storms?

I would. I think you would too.

Mind-map

The past few days, I’ve been toying with some mind-map software, Xmind, to visualize some of the things I’ve been thinking about Beta Culture.

I’ll explain everything you see here in a near-future post, but here’s the mind-map so far.   It’s a pretty large file; click on it to open it in a new tab or window, big enough so you can read it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Yonah

    On your map, I am very interested in “other details”, specifically: “safety/defense” and “emergency planning”. What’ that about?

    • Hank Fox

      Ah, that would be the stockpile of doomsday weapons, and the survival gear in the hidden underground bunkers. You know, like the Scientologists have.

      Kiddinnnng! I’ll flesh out my own ideas in a future post, but at some point I’m hoping to get a great deal of other community input on the idea, as suggested by the list under the “Inputs” heading.

  • Gregg Braddoch

    lol. Utopian dreamer much? You just described the ideals of thousands of people throughout history who thought they knew how to make the perfect world. Hint: I’m pretty sure it didn’t work.

    • Hank Fox

      Gregg, if you’re saying “You can’t achieve a perfect world, therefore you shouldn’t try to change ANYTHING” …

      Anyone who’s ever adjusted the water temperature in the shower would disagree with you. You may not get it PERFECT, but if you keep tweaking those knobs you can get it into some tolerable middle range between freezing cold and scalding hot.

      I don’t want “perfect,” or Paradise or Utopia or whatever other comedic term people might come up with. I want BETTER. I think better is achievable.

      I hope I’m not the only one who feels that way. Because the other side of all this is certainly trying to build THEIR Utopia. The Vatican — or the teabaggers, or so many others — may fall short of creating their perfect world, but nothing ever stops them from trying.

      All I’m suggesting is that the People of Reason could band together and make a similar effort. They damned sure deserve the chance to try.

      • Gregg Braddoch

        “I don’t want “perfect,” or Paradise or Utopia or whatever other comedic term people might come up with. I want BETTER. I think better is achievable.”

        Better is an ambiguous term, and I have found that it means nearly as many different things as there are people in existence. You have no objective reason that your “better” is better than anyone else’s. Especially, since most of what you conceive as “better” doesn’t exist in the real world.

        “I hope I’m not the only one who feels that way. Because the other side of all this is certainly trying to build THEIR Utopia. The Vatican — or the teabaggers, or so many others — may fall short of creating their perfect world, but nothing ever stops them from trying.”

        I’m pretty sure that everyone’s constant trying to fix the world and turn it into their version of “better” is exactly what has the world so screwed up.

        “All I’m suggesting is that the People of Reason could band together and make a similar effort. They damned sure deserve the chance to try.”

        I’m guessing “People of Reason” are those who agree with your particular brand of fundamentalist atheism? I find the fact that you believe that the only reasonable people are the ones that agree with your particular anti-religious and atheist fundamentalist utopian dream, quite funny.

        “But guys! Just listen! I know the world has been screwed up by everyone’s ideals, but I finally have the RIGHT ideals to fix everything! Just let me tell you all how to behave, believe, and to think!”

        • Hank Fox

          Heh. I do realize there are plenty of people out there with motivations so far out of my zone of understanding that I can’t get why they do what they do, but …

          I’m having a very hard time figuring out why this is important to you. Seriously, why come here? It’s like this is some sort of personal threat to you, and you need to stop it before it goes any farther.

          I have a great deal more to write about Beta Culture, but the words and meaning of what I’m thinking about the thing is all right out in the open. People can join in or not, agree with me or not, completely as they choose.

          The original concept of Beta leans heavily on crowd-sourcing. I’ve made that clear from the first, and have even included it at the very top of the above mind-map. You may have missed the INPUTS section that reads “Initial concept: Hank Fox” but then goes on to list FOUR other input vectors: “Atheist Community Discussions, World Cafes, Meetups, Debates.”

          Besides … I like to think any culture that includes Big Funny Hats as one of the most basic principals is unlikely to result in ruthless dictators.

          As to “fundamentalist atheism,” I get that this is an attempt at deliberate insult, but I’ve always considered it a fairly toothless one. Call me an ardent atheist, or even an evangelical atheist, and you start to get close to what *I* think I am. Call me “fundamentalist,” and the worst thing that happens is you trigger my inner editor, who insists that — as there is no original text of atheism, and thus nothing to wander from enough that there’s some need to fundamentalize back to it — there really can’t be any such thing.

          As far as I can remember, every time I’ve heard the term “fundamentalist atheist,” it’s been tossed out by a devout Christian, unaware that using the term “fundamentalist” in one moment as the description of an admirable degree of faith, and the next as a spitting insult against someone who has that same amount of commitment in the other direction, sort of kills the meaning of the word.

          Oh, wait. Is that what it is? You’re a Christian, and atheism and everything that grows out of it disturbs you?

          • Gregg Braddoch

            “I’m having a very hard time figuring out why this is important to you. Seriously, why come here? It’s like this is some sort of personal threat to you, and you need to stop it before it goes any farther.”

            LOL. I do this for the fun. This is simply because no matter how much people like to hide behind religion, reason, etc. their real motivation is simply to have others do what they want. I like to point that out as often as I can.

            “I have a great deal more to write about Beta Culture, but the words and meaning of what I’m thinking about the thing is all right out in the open. People can join in or not, agree with me or not, completely as they choose.”

            Unless they are a minority viewpoint, religious, or tea party activists, right?

            “The original concept of Beta leans heavily on crowd-sourcing. I’ve made that clear from the first, and have even included it at the very top of the above mind-map. You may have missed the INPUTS section that reads ‘Initial concept: Hank Fox’ but then goes on to list FOUR other input vectors: ‘Atheist Community Discussions, World Cafes, Meetups, Debates.’”

            LOL, yes, that seems like you are really wanting to ask the entire world what they want. Note that, in that list is nothing about anyone from any majority viewpoint in the world today. Essentially, despite your “crowd-sourcing” you really don’t want input from the majority, just a minority who believes their viewpoint is better than everyone else.

            “As far as I can remember, every time I’ve heard the term ‘fundamentalist atheist,’ it’s been tossed out by a devout Christian, unaware that using the term ‘fundamentalist’ in one moment as the description of an admirable degree of faith, and the next as a spitting insult against someone who has that same amount of commitment in the other direction, sort of kills the meaning of the word.”

            A. Not religious whatsoever. Agnostic to just about everything, including religion, spirituality, atheism, reason, and logic – this on principle.

            B. I’m using the second definition from Merriam Webster when I call you a fundamentalist atheist: “a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles”
            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fundamentalism

            “Oh, wait. Is that what it is? You’re a Christian, and atheism and everything that grows out of it disturbs you?”

            Nope again, agnostic, and extremists of any type who think they can design a perfect world make me laugh and also disturb me because they haven’t learned a damn thing from history. It doesn’t matter whether the idealism is atheist, religious, or any other form, what matters is the desire for extreme change in the world: It is not likely to end well, and never has. Communism was corrupted, socialism was corrupted, “Love thy neighbor” was corrupted, and all because humankind is incapable of following ideals without modifying them to better suit themselves.

            The irony is, you assume because I disagree with your particular worldview and aspirations, that I am a certain type of person. This just shows how small and closed minded you really are, despite putting on a mantle of reason and logic to hide your ignorance.

            FUN! FUN! FUN!


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