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Election Pathos: Our Modern Mythology And How to Fight It

If we could see all the possible timelines in America’s history, there would be many trillions of trajectories. All those branching trajectories of possible futures would converge, election cycle after election cycle through hundreds of years. They would narrow and eliminate options until the present moment. That perspective makes this election the one with the […]

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If we could see all the possible timelines in America’s history, there would be many trillions of trajectories. All those branching trajectories of possible futures would converge, election cycle after election cycle through hundreds of years. They would narrow and eliminate options until the present moment.

That perspective makes this election the one with the least effect on our lifetimes, in fact. I’m not saying don’t vote — we have to participate. I’m saying let’s engage in honest discourse, speak truthfully, and understand when we’re being manipulated.

“This is the most important election in history” is a myth going around once again, on all sides, and the myth is ratcheting up anger, fear, and anxiety unnecessarily. We can call this myth propaganda — misleading half-truths spread for a cause. And that cause is to incite and disturb us to vote one way or another. Not only is it propaganda, it is also scientifically extremely unlikely to be true.

It’s the previous elections which winnowed down the billions of possible future trajectories. It’s the previous elections which have come to shape today’s elections and the overwhelming majority of human life situations here today and tomorrow.

This phenomenon is entropic force — the quintessential physical law that is described by all the rest of physics. It is interwoven with our perception of time, it is the drive of the universe onward, to move from simplicity towards greater complexity. The reason broken eggs don’t spontaneously reassemble. The reason the egg came before the chicken. The reason simple chemistry came before eggs.

This is a more true way of thinking about the weight of the present moment. It can seem like the next decision we need to make has so much weight and importance for our happiness, but that is always an illusion. And when large groups of people are caught up in that illusion, echoing each other, we get a hysteria like what we’re seeing today.

So we should encourage each other to take a deep breath, and spread relaxation with proper historical, logical, and scientific perspective. And soften our hearts with true knowledge. Vote as you will but let’s step back from the abyss of fear and loathing.

America’s strength has never been in a certain party’s vision for the future, it’s in the ability to balance multiple visions.

That myth of the election is always accompanied by hateful consequences, should the other candidate lose, e.g., ‘Our way of life will be threatened,’ ‘Our children won’t have a future.’ Every savior type must have it’s devil, harbinger of some hellish underworld.

Those are ‘Appeals to Force’ which are often the first hook pundits or politicians use to bypass our reasoning. ‘Appeal to Force’ is a misconduct of logic, threatening or implying some unpleasant backlash in order to persuade us.

Most discourse justifying power has always suffered from logical misconduct. We may know ‘Appeal to Patriotism’, ‘Appeal to Religion’, ‘Circular Reasoning’, ‘Slippery Slope’….there are many more.

I’m not saying patriotism or religion aren’t important. But because they are important, people seeking power will cloak themselves in these ideals as a way to justify their power. They’ll say that their opponent hates America, or that their opponent loves some vague enemy of America or American values, etc.

These are signs of manipulation. These logical misconducts dehumanize their opponent, they brutalize the level of discourse, and manipulate the target audience.

When official discourse repetitively appeals to ideals rather than plainly informing us, it is manipulative, and therefore harmful and toxic. When we are informed voters, not manipulated, we are a pillar of healthy, free and democratic society.

I just want us to encourage each other to demand better care for our ideals. To demand more rational, truthful discourse when we find ourselves in debates, or when someone is appealing to us for our vote or participation.

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