Blue Sky On Mars


“If you live by an ideology, the most dangerous one is your own, because people expect you to do as you say”

There is an underlying sentiment that people want others to do as they say. 

I have the tendency to believe that in many (if not most) cases, people do in fact live out what they truly believe at that time. Because it’s often the deep down, not talked about, lurking in the shadows of our heart and mind that motivates us. That can be kind of frightening, because the world seems full of despair. 

We often times have no problems questioning that “those people” are living secret lives. Because they are not like us. They don’t directly impact our lives. 

Take for example politicians, lobbyists, bankers, liberals, or muslims. 

Most people will vibrantly agree that politicians are out for more power. That lobbyists are in it for the same thing. That the leaders of the banking institutions are only trying to make more money. That liberal socialists are trying to turn us into “commies” and that all muslims want everyone else dead.

We tend to know that their rhetoric is just that. That when the politicians say that want the best for their constituents, and yet fail to actually do anything, we know that this is because they are only actually living what they actually say they believe and want.

However, when it hits closer to home, we don’t want to draw that distinction. Because it hurts. Because it’s personal. 

Because it’s us.

When a spouse commits adultery, we have a hard time grasping why they didn’t honor their vows. When our neighbor turns out to be a serial killer, we always say “But he was such nice, quiet young man”. When our best friend commits suicide, it seems unthinkable. 

We say we want others to tell the truth and to live what they believe (or at least what they say they believe). But do we? Do we really, or would we be shocked at the life that would follow?

It appears that what we struggle with – is the idea of what is right and wrong. In what is ethical and moral. What is our place in the cosmos, and what is our relationship with ourself and with others. What is right belief and right practice. 

What we don’t often struggle with, is the idea that we (as individuals or group that we belong to) are right in our understandings and that everyone else is wrong. I have found though, that most people don’t understand the historicity of the foundation for their ethics or ideology.

History books are often written as a simple narrative of events that are not uniquely connected to humanity. They don’t ask the reader to ask what motivated the major events discussed, or what the underlying socio/economic/political were that had been brewing. They don’t investigate how the events changed how we view the cosmos or ourselves. 

In the same way, books on philosophy tend to be just that. Books on the life or works of specific individuals, but rarely on how they as persons or their teachings impacted the real world let alone what the historical context was as they took pen to paper in order to transform their world. 

Now I should probably admit here, before we continue, that I am no philosopher. I have no degree in anything except life. I haven’t even taken any classes from a university in over 20 years, and those that I did were equestrian based. 

But I have noticed a few things over the years. Whether it be through self-study, contemplation, or observations of this world we live in. One of those things is, when we do reflect on the nature of humanity, we don’t do so for very long.

I would imagine that if I asked you to say whether the world is getting better or worse, you might be apt to say worse, based on the events over the last 1-2-8-or-16 years. But if I asked you to discuss what specific actions, you might be hard pressed to talk about details of more than a few recent events that happened in America. Probably even less if asked about events from other places in the world.

This doesn’t seem to be a recent phenomenon. Looking throughout history, people have a tendency to not remember anything other than our emotions and desire for change. 

Of course this manifestation appears to be more dramatic with the recent horizon of social media. We get hyped up over an event, only to forget it because of a new one (and often times it’s totally unrelated).

I am by no means immune. 

I remember I was sitting in a car while my wife was at a doctors office and I was thinking back to the mid 1980’s. I was in elementary school when the Challenger exploded and I specifically remembered the shock wave that hit my class. 

Especially my teacher.

And I thought…what was the name of the teacher that died in the shuttle explosion? I tried hard, but I couldn’t recall. I saw it on live TV. I remember the drastic emotions, but I couldn’t remember her name.

That lead me to think about other details I couldn’t recall. It lead me to think about the culture I was raised in, the beliefs norms and values I assumed were right simply because they were taught to me.

It was about at this point that I began on a journey. I questioned everything – not least of which was myself. 

And as I searched, it became apparent that our myopia was somehow interwoven with the desire to create a better life. A better world. A changed world (into the image of what we believe of course). 

We wanted to create blue skies on Mars.

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Of course, that’s a reference to the movie Total Recall, a sci-fi movie from 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger who stars as Quad. Quad is a regular Joe who wants a better, more fulfilling and exciting life. He visits a company called Recall Inc to have false memories to enable a new reality.

All hell breaks loose as Quad begins to question if he’s really Hauser – a secret agent.  The journey continues, as do the questions as he tries to determine what his reality really is and finds motivation from rebel leader Kuato says “A man is defined by his actions, not his memories”. The movie ends without answering who exactly is the real person Quad, or Hauser.

The problem of personal identity is the art of philosophy that has ontological or metaphysical positions that must be considered. It causes us to question what is ethical, moral, and the idea of value. It leads us to think about things seen and unseen. On the role of personal gain, violence, and benevolence. 

I haven’t found the answers yet, but I hope to share some of the single points through this work. 

If there is a point to this writing, I suppose it’s multi-faceted. Maybe it’s a simple introduction to western philosophy. Maybe it’s a guide to how our individual and collective reasoning have shaped, or been shaped, by major world events. Whatever it ends up being for you, I hope that it rends some new perspectives on the background for many of the ideologies of today, and what the consequences of them are.

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