Conscience and Ambition
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Posted 8/7/11 , edited 8/7/11
The era of “We are the world” and “Feed the world,” humanitarian battle cry was once again saturating the air waves. Along with all sorts of catastrophes: both natural and man-made pandemic, plaguing, almost every country in the world. This is indeed, one hell-of-a-challenge to live through.

What do you think? Will, the HD images of starving children and parch landscape, move the heart of the masses once again?

Honestly speaking, I am very intrigued, with regards to the reaction of the rest of the world this time around. (Since, I haven’t been fully aware, the first time, this phenomenon occurred. He he he…)

History reminds us of the noble obligation that we are born into, regardless of our race, status, culture, color, and religion. We are all the same, we are all human, and yet, we are also an individual, with our very own personal concerns about our own future. The goals, we wished to pursue; for ourselves, and for those who are dear to us.

What do you think, would be the relevance of “Ambition and Conscience” in the scenarios of uncertainty, that we are currently facing right now?

Do I have to extrapolate that almost every country in the world are now undergoing drastic political, economic, and environmental changes? I believed we can all feel the pressure… deep within our hearts and minds, overwhelming uncertainty is devouring us.

Now, let’s get this discussion over and done with...

“In your personal opinion, which one should be the one to take precedence: Conscience or Ambition? And, why?”
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Posted 8/7/11
I feel that many can learn to be conscientiously ambitious, though certainly not all. Often, it takes a number of skilled leaders to guide people on a path to a desired future. The places in the world so undeveloped are a challenge undertaken by brave souls, and many of their efforts are sadly thwarted daily through methods of control inspired by fear. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing, but evil is a cowardly and weak sickness that dispels when good rises up against it.
Posted 8/7/11 , edited 8/7/11

IzumiKoji wrote:

The era of “We are the world” and “Feed the world,” humanitarian battle cry was once again saturating the air waves. Along with all sorts of catastrophes: both natural and man-made pandemic, plaguing, almost every country in the world. This is indeed, one hell-of-a-challenge to live through.

What do you think? Will, the HD images of starving children and parch landscape, move the heart of the masses once again?

Honestly speaking, I am very intrigued, with regards to the reaction of the rest of the world this time around. (Since, I haven’t been fully aware, the first time, this phenomenon occurred. He he he…)

History reminds us of the noble obligation that we are born into, regardless of our race, status, culture, color, and religion. We are all the same, we are all human, and yet, we are also an individual, with our very own personal concerns about our own future. The goals, we wished to pursue; for ourselves, and for those who are dear to us.

What do you think, would be the relevance of “Ambition and Conscience” in the scenarios of uncertainty, that we are currently facing right now?

Do I have to extrapolate that almost every country in the world are now undergoing drastic political, economic, and environmental changes? I believed we can all feel the pressure… deep within our hearts and minds, overwhelming uncertainty is devouring us.

Now, let’s get this discussion over and done with...

“In your personal opinion, which one should be the one to take precedence: Conscience or Ambition? And, why?”
I don't believe the sentimental and sensational reports of people in dire situations are enough for a cultural influence to raise conscience. When I think a multidisciplinary approach of cultural practices and revival of human spirituality is what's needed to repair and cultivate our very humanity, compassion, and empathy. Which are in fact under constant assault due to the psychopathic nature of the corporate cultural practices of both consumerism and instant gratification.

My argument is supported in part by the science of human communication style, when the "I-It" communication of humanitarian advertisements through mass medias don't increase urgency among human individuals. But that's what the mass medias are all about, when "The Medium is the Message".

Impersonal communication is a kind of communication that we normally have next to sales persons. It is actually a form of I-It Communication where on earth the person who you are communicating to, is taken as an object.

The interaction is purely based on their social roles. The conversation is superficial and impersonal. It is merely business talk and is limited to bare necessities.(citation)

McLuhan defines medium for us as well. Right at the beginning of Understanding Media, he tells us that a medium is "any extension of ourselves." Classically, he suggests that a hammer extends our arm and that the wheel extends our legs and feet. Each enables us to do more than our bodies could do on their own. Similarly, the medium of language extends our thoughts from within our mind out to others. Indeed, since our thoughts are the result of our individual sensory experience, speech is an "outering" of our senses - we could consider it as a form of reversing senses - whereas usually our senses bring the world into our minds, speech takes our sensorially-shaped minds out to the world.

But McLuhan always thought of a medium in the sense of a growing medium, like the fertile potting soil into which a seed is planted, or the agar in a Petri dish. In other words, a medium - this extension of our body or senses or mind - is anything from which a change emerges. And since some sort of change emerges from everything we conceive or create, all of our inventions, innovations, ideas and ideals are McLuhan media.

Thus we have the meaning of "the medium is the message:" We can know the nature and characteristics of anything we conceive or create (medium) by virtue of the changes - often unnoticed and non-obvious changes - that they effect (message.) McLuhan warns us that we are often distracted by the content of a medium (which, in almost all cases, is another distinct medium in itself.) He writes, "it is only too typical that the "content" of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium." And it is the character of the medium that is its potency or effect - its message. In other words, "This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology."

Why is this understanding of "the medium is the message" particularly useful? We tend to notice changes - even slight changes (that unfortunately we often tend to discount in significance.) "The medium is the message" tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium. With this early warning, we can set out to characterize and identify the new medium before it becomes obvious to everyone - a process that often takes years or even decades. And if we discover that the new medium brings along effects that might be detrimental to our society or culture, we have the opportunity to influence the development and evolution of the new innovation before the effects becomes pervasive. As McLuhan reminds us, "Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force."(citation)
I mean think about it, what's your social interaction with an impersonal object is like? Well it's a relationship between yourself and a tool, a piece of technology, one that's without its own thoughts and feelings for you to consider and empathize. And as soon as we start treating others as just that, we're dangerously close at becoming one of the three "Dark Triad" antisocial personalities in psychology research: narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy.

In this 4 part series we look at personality types of a different kind, specifically personality types which people would generally define as undesirable. Psychologists have dubbed these personality traits as “The Dark Triad”. The Dark Triad consists of three personality deficiencies Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy.

Narcissists are driven by one motive: dreams of glory. Narcissists flourish when they are facing a difficult challenge, they shine when performance under stress counts the most. However they have little capacity for empathy and the more impaired a person’s ability to consider others, the less healthy their narcissism.

For the Machiavellian the ends justify the means, no matter what human pain he may cause. They tend to be cynically calculating and arrogant, readily behaving in ways that undermine trust and cooperation.

The hallmarks of the Psychopath’s behavior are deceit and reckless disregard for others. The Psychopath also lacks empathy and are completely indifferent to the emotional pain others may suffer because of his actions.

To varying degrees, all three personality types entail a dark, interpersonally destructive character with tendencies toward grandiosity, emotional callousness, manipulation and dominance. Psychopaths and Machiavellians have high self- esteem, and are charming and fun but psychopaths are also impulsive and cunning. Narcissists are grandiose and have high self esteem, and may also be intellectually gifted.

A common theme that underlies The Dark Triad is a preoccupation with dominance and power. The problem with this preoccupation with power is that it suppresses the development of empathy. When empathy is not practiced, it diminishes. We are designed this way because assertion of dominance often necessitates overt or covert aggression. Can we be aggressive towards someone we have empathy for? Of course not, thus the most loving people are the least aggressive and the least domineering.(citation)
Still don't think that's not what the corporation is all about? Well then that can only means the "perception management" is a powerful system that's working its charm at shaping our social conformity.

So the Lucifer Effect, although it focuses on the negatives -- the negatives that people can become, not the negatives that people are -- leads me to a psychological definition: evil is the exercise of power. And that's the key: it's about power. To intentionally harm people psychologically, to hurt people physically, to destroy people mortally, or ideas, and to commit crimes against humanity. If you Google "evil," a word that should surely have withered by now, you come up with 136 million hits in a third of a second.

... This is the foundation of all of social sciences, the foundation of religion, the foundation of war. Social psychologists like me come along and say, "Yeah, people are the actors on the stage, but you'll have to be aware of what that situation is. Who are the cast of characters? What's the costume? Is there a stage director?" And so we're interested in, what are the external factors around the individual, the bad barrel? And social scientists stop there and they miss the big point that I discovered when I became an expert witness for Abu Ghraib. The power is in the system. The system creates the situation that corrupts the individuals, and the system is the legal, political, economic, cultural background. And this is where the power is of the bad-barrel makers.

So if you want to change a person you've got to change the situation. If you want to change the situation, you've got to know where the power is in the system. So the Lucifer Effect involves understanding human character transformations with these three factors. And it's a dynamic interplay. What do the people bring into the situation? What does the situation bring out of them? And what is the system that creates and maintains that situation?

So my book, The Lucifer Effect, recently published, is about, how do you understand how good people turn evil? And it has a lot of detail about what I'm going to talk about today. So Dr. Z's "Lucifer Effect," although it focuses on evil, really is a celebration of the human mind's infinite capacity to make any of us kind or cruel, caring or indifferent, creative or destructive, and it makes some of us villains. And the good news story that I'm going to hopefully come to at the end is that it makes some of us heroes.

... So you need a paradigm shift in all of these areas. The shift is away from the medical model that focuses only on the individual. The shift is toward a public health model that recognizes situational and systemic vectors of disease. Bullying is a disease. Prejudice is a disease. Violence is a disease. And since the Inquisition, we've been dealing with problems at the individual level. And you know what? It doesn't work. Alexander Solzhenitsyn says the line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. That means that line is not out there. That's a decision that you have to make. That's a personal thing.

So I want to end very quickly on a positive note: heroism as the antidote to evil. By promoting the heroic imagination, especially in our kids, in our educational system. We want kids to think, I'm the hero in waiting, waiting for the right situation to come along, and I will act heroically. My whole life is now going to focus away from evil that I've been in since I was a kid, to understanding heroes.

And now their idea of heroism is, it's ordinary people who do heroic deeds. It's the counterpoint to Hannah Arendt's Banality of Evil. Our traditional societal heroes are wrong, because they are the exceptions. They organize their whole life around this. That's why we know their names. And our kids' heroes are also role models for them, because they have supernatural talents. We want our kids to realize most heroes are everyday people, and the heroic act is unusual.

... So situations have the power to do, through -- but the point is, this is the same situation that can inflame the hostile imagination in some of us, that makes us perpetrators of evil, can inspire the heroic imagination in others. It's the same situation. And you're on one side or the other. Most people are guilty of the evil of inaction, because your mother said, "Don't get involved, mind your own business." And you have to say, "Mama, humanity is my business."

So the psychology of heroism is -- we're going to end in a moment -- how do we encourage children in new hero courses, that I'm working with Matt Langdon -he has a hero workshop -- to develop this heroic imagination, this self-labeling, "I am a hero in waiting," and teach them skills. To be a hero you have to learn to be a deviant, because you're always going against the conformity of the group. Heroes are ordinary people whose social actions are extraordinary. Who act.

The key to heroism is two things. A: You've got to act when other people are passive. B: You have to act socio-centrically, not egocentrically.
And I want to end with the story that some of you know, about Wesley Autrey, New York subway hero. 50-year-old African-American construction worker. He's standing on a subway in New York; a white guy falls on the tracks. The subway train is coming. There's 75 people there. You know what? They freeze. He's got a reason not to get involved. He's black, the guy's white, and he's got two little kids. Instead, he gives his kids to a stranger, jumps on the tracks, puts the guy between the tracks, lays on him, the subway goes over him. Wesley and the guy: 20 and a half inches height. The train clearance is 21 inches. A half an inch would have taken his head off. And he said "I did what anyone could do," no big deal to jump on the tracks.

And the moral imperative is "I did what everyone should do." And so one day, you will be in a new situation. Take path one, you're going to be a perpetrator of evil. Evil, meaning you're going to be Arthur Andersen. You're going to cheat, or you're going to allow bullying. Path two: you become guilty of the evil of passive inaction. Path three: you become a hero. The point is, are we ready to take the path to celebrating ordinary heroes, waiting for the right situation to come along, to put heroic imagination into action? Because it may only happen once in your life, and when you pass it by you'll always know, I could have been a hero and I let it pass me by. So the point is thinking it and then doing it. (citation)

Moreover, I don't think we had to pick n' choose between collective conscience or individual ambition. Because once again through the science of human intrinsic motivator, they can become one and the same through the autonomy of our empathic selves, towards the mastery of the cultural practice of compassion, in order for us to have a purposeful and worthy, yet vulnerable social connection that we both want and need to belong. Because the alternative of the monetary system acting as the consumer market based incentive just doesn't work at all.
Posted 8/7/11
Ambition can easily be misled. Conscience just the same. What choice requires is logic, though the heart often makes decisions for us that never seemed logical to begin with. Foolish mankind plots its own demise, then those less foolish step in to sort out the repeating scenario of history and its moral decay leading to reformed methods of conduct, of which become woefully corroded by the ignorant. It's a wheel that continuously spins. A crooked wheel of justice rolling down an uncertain path, but it just keeps rolling regardless of the obstructions.
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Posted 8/9/11
Our malleability was one of the key factors for being able to elevate ourselves; as a master of our own destiny. Regardless, of the shadow of uncertainties that lies before us, we keep growing, and evolving in order to satisfy our infinite thirst for something better… something more propound.

Perhaps, our very short existence, along with our fear towards uncertain future, might somewhat be; the catalyst behind our search for better life. Unfortunately; striking a balance between conscience and ambition doesn’t always comes easy… and it’s always a matter of choice, based on the current scenarios that we will definitely facing, if not today… maybe, tomorrow.

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Posted 8/9/11
Ambition.

Why? Because no major "humanitarian" movement can occur without proper technological advances. Our current world has enough food production to feed nearly the entire population (given that the population is accessible and not 10 miles deep in a dense forest). People have been working for decades to promote a humanitarian mindset to make the world a "better place" - but let's face it, none of that shit really works. At best, it skims the surface and helps out a small portion of the troubled population and the duration of assistance isn't always substantial.


Technology is still our greatest tool in making the world a better place. You can't advance technology with just conscience - you need ambition. Whether your ambition is some kind of international recognition, personal interest, or greed - technology won't develop with "good intentions" alone.
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