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The Game of Certainty

There are only a few things beyond any probability or risks, the things that we can say with absolute 100% certainty: one is that you are (at least if you are reading this), and the other that you will not be at some point in time. But before that everything we call “life” is a chance, a probability, a risk. Perhaps, the only other near 100% probability is the IRS if you live in the United States.

Our very existence would be impossible without a game of chance: there would not be complex organic molecules, no primitive prehistoric organisms, no evolution, no monkeys, no societies, no poems, no greatest science inventions, no discoveries, no philosophy, and no Apple computer I am typing these words on.

Different societies, cultures, religions offer different views on how to handle those risks, and how to think of them. Often the risks were associated with fear, such as fear of death in pretty much all the religious cults survived till now. They also offered a remedy — believing in this and that, praying to imaginary friends, behaving “well” (whatever this means), relative to the rules of a particular society and so on, and maybe for a “good” reason (whatever that means!).

If nothing else, this gave a good way to control herds of monkeys, make them think less and abide more for the reward of making impossible possible — denying gravity of the planet Earth or living happily and forever some place else. For those who dare question such a remedy or the underlying fear there was another place to spend eternity in, not so comfortable. They say it’s extremely hot there and there’s A/C provided, although no one can tell this for sure, for no one returned as of yet.

We have different personalities and tolerance levels when it comes to taking risks. Some of us like to jump off a cliff in a wingsuit and some are afraid to go outside without a gas mask. Some prefer not to wear seat belts and some tighten them well even when the car is parked, just in case of unexpected turbulence in the air.

According to many researchers we are genetically predisposed and then socially adjusted to handling risks. We are different at birth. We read different books, meet different people, etc.. Some of us naturally follow orders while others see free thinking as their core. It’s not good or bad. It’s just so.

Fast forward from medieval times to the second decade of 21-century America. What’s changed? Not so much, not so much. Traditional religions are slowly but steadily fading away, while the new one is emerging: the Religion of the State. One of its core tenets is to erase and dissolve the personality into an amorphous blob largely referred to as “the society”. The less “you” is in you the better for “us”, so to say.

It’s not longer you when it comes to risks either. It’s what you are supposed to be to beter blend in the larger picture. As a result, there’s the culture of average. Everyone is forced to average (and often below) in risk taking too, in spite of personality. The underlying reasoning behind this is that the individual risks are no longer independent, or at least everyone is forced to perceive it that way through modern days media, forming info space similar to the sacred books of the past. In other words if you want to jump off the cliff, someone else sitting home in the gas mask may suffer. Or at least the majority perceives it that way. Official and pseudo-scientific justifications will follow, have no doubt.

It’s nothing new. In the East, where the role of personality is much lower than in the West, this is almost natural. You exist for the sake of a group, a society, or even a state, government, regime, particular leader in some extreme cases. The Religion of the State, isn’it? Some may call it different names — Fascism, Socialism, Communism, etc.. Some of these words will indeed resonate in those with the USSR background, and more so — in those who were actively against it, left the country, built new lives elsewhere in the hopes of living as personalities, not faceless members of a herd. Great! We made it! It’s the Land of the Free! (applause, applause ..) It seems we have made the full circle or Hegel’s Dialectics.

Why is this happening in 21-century America? Is there any hidden evil force behind — naughty Chinese trying to conquer the world, hidden society among us trying to establish the new world order, Jews (who are always the first target), bad Karma for the Planet Earth, combination of stars and constellations? None of the above. This is the natural evolution of the regime, its hierarchy, state machine, lines of control, society model. People with lowered personalities are much easier to control, “for their own sake”, some say. But that’s exactly how sheep are controlled by just a few dogs and a shepherd (and sometimes the fence). For these animals have no personalities at all. Even the very word has no distinction between one or many.

But when we are leveled off and required to be afraid of risks at the least common denominator, life itself is becoming subjectively “less life”, and often significantly so.

We all know car accidents happen and they probably will until the times of 100% computer-driven vehicles, simulation instead of physical driving a car, teleportation and the like. But for now we drive Toyotas, Fords and Teslas and occasionally “shit happens”, it does and and it will.

Imagine the State of California passes a new law to reduce the speed statewide limit to 5 miles per hour (8 Km/h), require additional mandatory seat belts to cover your forehead and prohibit talking while driving? All for good reasons. We save lives! The number of road accidents would certainly go down (as the police activity would go up at first). Mission accomplished! As one president put it. In a few years people, including many of your friends, will consider this a new normal. This is driving. How could we not think of this before? But as ridiculous as it sounds, the whole purpose of driving, getting from point A to point B in reasonable time, would be lost. This is absolutely not driving.

People are easily getting tricked by what’s possible vs. what’s probable. Theoretically anything is possible. But the probability varies from 0 to 1, or from 0 to 100% if you like. Neither boundary is real (see above).

You may win a lottery tomorrow (plan ahead of spending!) or be hit by a brick falling from the nearby building (always wear a helmet!). Both events are possible, but in reality either is highly unlikely with probability close to zero.

This is not at all the reason to get excited ahead of time about the lottery prize, nor to be afraid of the falling brick. Reasonable assessment of such probabilities will bring you back to normal life without much expectations of winning large sums of money, and without the need to wear a helmet, unless you are a construction worker. All you need is rational thinking vs. emotional reaction — excitement or fear, which won’t do much of a difference anyways.

Masking people statewide is not that far off. When people lose their faces, their personalities are depleted or even erased. This is a known fact in psychology, not to mention folk culture and common sense. I am referring to masks as a symbol, not the physical object, although there are negative effects of the latter too. German Nazi’s wore harmless red bands with their symbol, and the Jews were forced to wear harmless badges with David’s star — their symbol. Modern masks are the labels of the same kind. They reflect much deeper forces in the society.

But in addition to the inevitable risks of getting sick or dying, there’s the risk of not living your life while you still can. Denial of such living while senses can perceive the world to the fullest is a mortgage to death. Not living through once-in-a-lifetime experiences is certain, while the otherwise risks are probable. Indeed, there’s a balance between the two and it has always been. However, the fear created by the regimes (shepherds and dogs) is widely accepted by the masses (the sheep). As a result, we are not living here and now, just to preserve our biological state, wrongly referred to as “life”, in some imaginary future.

This is The Game of Certainty. Have a good play!