[This was written for genuine Bloodhounds. Please check your chip!]
I always start simple. Then I try to stay there. This post is no exception. I even cut it in half, to keep it as simple as possible. The main question I seek to answer here is, “What is owing?”
You see, I owe Greg Swann. No, not for anything he sold me, nor because of anything he expects, let alone demands. He did do some software work back in the ’90s, but I paid for that. BTW his code is used to this day, making one part of our company’s website much better than any of our competitors’. And since that part is about the price, and since I offer (what once was!) a commoditized item, it means the whole website is better, from the customer’s POV. And in business, as is no secret here, there’s no other relevant POV.
Greg Swann has inspired me, as he’s inspired so many people, but lots of people inspire lots of other people. We don’t go around keeping track of who inspired us how much, and how much we ought to pay for each. So surely there’s no debt in that, right? Well, I guess it all depends on what you consider a debt.
And that’s the point…a debt is something you consider a debt. Never mind contracts and mortgages for a moment, for this is about owing. And this is about the fact of the matter. You cannot be in any volitional state, with or without others, save by your own…well, your own volition. This is not a comment on money debts or their resolution in cases of dispute; this is a comment on the existential state of owing.
I know this is important because of a six-month discussion on the net. A chap, once affectionately known as “Police-State Jim,” has the most intricate, most carefully crafted “argument” about why our obligations are properly enforced with physical coercion. And more…why this is so very, very moral and why it’s downright necessary for happiness. It’s a maze of contrived definitions, false dichotomies, stolen concepts and even more, and this fellow also happens to be an eloquent writer, a pleasure to read if you ignore what he says. He goes from “moral obligation” to “legal obligation” with everything resting on what an obligation is. Which is how, according to him, you come to be obligated because of the volition of others. He acknowledges that your volition has to exist, but the key element is that the other person “expects, demands or relies” upon your freely chosen decision to be in debt to him. On its face this is intuitive, but as always it’s missing the underlying connection…”So even then, why would it be proper to engage physical coercion?” This is Greg’s specialty, so I won’t explain now, why that’s not proper.
No, my point is even wider. It’s that an expectation, demand or reliance can’t create anything in you anyway. Nothing can create anything in you, but you. Other entities can do things to you, but they can’t do them in you. This is plainly obvious, almost childish to say. Yet virtually every craziness we engage socially, is built around the pretense that this is not true. From God to the Poll, every contrivance we make to control ourselves, has an implicit premise that something might control ourselves, besides ourselves. I mean, really now.
Nothing can ever change until we lose this false foundational premise. You are as you choose, now and forevermore. You don’t choose what other people or other things do to you, but you exclusively choose who you will be in the face of them. The good news, of course, is that this applies to happiness or joy or pride or humor or fun or…
I call my ethical system “egoism” but oddly, I don’t choose it because I judge that it’s so ethical, like compared to other ethical systems. No, for me it’s only about the facts of the matter, and I always identify before I judge. How we engage with others is a very important ethical judgment, and so I believe it must be built upon accurate, or correspondent, identification. I don’t pick from among systems; I develop principles.
I owe Greg Swann because I decided that I owe Greg Swann. I have very good reasons for that, but it really doesn’t matter for this. The relevant point is that I owe him, and this is how I choose to pay him. Those reasons are all mine, and it feels good–that is, it enhances ego-adoration–when one pays one’s debts. That’s why that last car payment feels so good…you earned that car, which translates almost directly to, “You lived.” And living is what Splendor is all about. Living, as a human, creates Splendor.
If we choose to create it, that is. Greg can’t create any Splendor in me, nor anyone else. But he can point out some facts with which we can create it ourselves. The identification of facts is the fuel of the mind. I go so far as to call us “identifying machines.” As I wrote here a while ago, Greg has spent his life dishing out some facts about being human, and just like Crick & Watson, he cracked some important keys. You all know this; that’s why you’re here. You’re people of the mind, and Greg has filled you up with what we used to call “Ethyl”…nowadays it’s “Premium.” Well, I took those facts and used them. Since I don’t like something for nothing, and since I don’t want to do what I don’t like, I therefore decide that I owe him, and that this is how I shall pay him.
That’s all. Notice that Greg has nothing to do with this existential state. Notice that nobody could have anything to do with it, except myself. Everything else is prattle. Everything else is someone saying what they’re willing to do to hang onto their false premises.
This post was originally “Owing and Owning,” with about half dedicated to real estate. I think I’ll go with one at a time, and cut this off here. You all made me feel quite welcome when I first arrived, so maybe I’ll save the rest as a sort of payment in gratitude for that.
That way I can even enjoy the time I owe you!