Monday, September 30, 2013

Certainty, Uncertainty

I wish to examine the impact of a sense of uncertainty on the need to save for the unknown future.

Uncertainty, in the sense I am trying to use the term, is a situation where the likelihood of the future is simply unknown. I would think it to be a zero or one probability situation - either it happens or it does not happen - binary - digital - I Ching - zen. Uncertainty is the stark situation faced by each and every individual as he or she confronts the world. You do not know what will happen. So, what do you do when you are faced with uncertainty?

To reduce the uncertainty, you train yourself up to maximum your opportunity. This in fact is the only thing that a person can do, seriously for himself. This is making the best use of the talents that God has given you, in religious parlance. This is to know what you are, to know what you can do. In Greek philosophy, "know thyself" is the most well-known saying of Delphi. In philosophy, the most basic question is you do not know when you are going to die, and this determines how you are going to live. If you know exacting when you are going to live, you can very specific plans about what you are going to do. (Same as contemplating whether to tell a cancer patient the "truth" or to pretend that everything is going to be OK.) If you leave the future indeterminate, then you will have to make plentiful of preparations which are likely to be overdone, more than sufficient, because you do not want to be caught short. A person caught with an uncertain future but with the greatest confidence in himself or herself will do the maximum by working ceaselessly so as not to waste time and be caught idling. If this uncertainty affects a whole society, then such behaviour will be exhibited as a social cultural trait. There is this constant struggle to do one's best and to continue to work and to do so that there will be no let up in efforts. Life because one of the amassing of natural energy and to dispense that energy to its most fruitful or effective impact. Kung fu, Shaolin, Bruce Lee. In the same way that life force is seen to be the most fundamental element of life, so some (or rather many) will see, in modern society, that money and wealth is the most fundamental element of living in the material world. The accumulation of capital and the store of value become the sole quest in life for those who are psyched to vow never to be poor again, like how their immediate forebears were.

But for a community where the recent history or social culture is one which has established a certain amount of stability, the tendency of such a community is to maintain the status quo. A hierarchy is set so that no one upsets the apple cart and everybody has their proper station in life according to recent history. The political power structure takes over to control the situation. There is nothing much an individual person can do except to fight to get on top of the heap, as Frank Sinatra would say. Once on top, all favours drips down to the very bottom so that everyone in society can benefit. Such benefits will dispensed onto to those who are obedient or in the terms of that ideology, loyalty. Loyalty is a term that is used to reinforce the strengthen of the status quo and the prevailing hierarchy. Once that power structure is established, everything else can be accommodated within that structure, including the hiring of talents and skills. In such a community, there is readiness to sacrifice growth for distribution in order that the apple cart is not upset. But when that power structure, or any power structure, breaks down, the aftermath can be very messy, as we seen on TV. But because the emphasis here is less on maximising talents but in strengthening the political power, there is a tendency to take from the output of the productive or talented to share with the rest of the entourage or retinue of advisers, bodyguards, foot soldiers and servants. This gives rise to a disincentive to work and there will be a tendency to downplay signs of prosperity by the likely victims.

It is interesting to realise that the flavour of the type of community or social we try to create has a profound impact on our daily behaviour as we are tend to act in such a way as to make ourself comfortable or justifiable or at peace with ourselves. In realising our sense of being, as broadly dictated by the general environment we find ourselves which of course are all in turn influenced by public policies and private treaties and communal habits, we find ourselves living particular lives according to our immediate circumstances. We are not really our self-determined selves as we wish to imagine, but justified selves in the face of the circumstance.

This is a obtuse a piece I can muster to write.


walla said...

I will try to write this as thoughts. Without their thinker.

Just as change is the only constant, the only thing certain these days is uncertainty.

Therefore if uncertainty is the driving reason for independent self-motivation, the chasm between those who think they can on their own and those who think they can't on their own will widen.

Those who are independent-minded will try even harder. If they fall, they will pick themselves up faster, believing that the next try will yield ace - since their persistence is based on a single belief - that luck will soon run out, especially the bad one.

Those who are more timid will increasingly feel more depressed in their well of self-pity. They will become more lethargic and fatalistic. In that state, they will render themselves submissive to the first situation that offers easy money without the dross of effort.

One mind is set in tuning and adapting itself to constant change and uncertainty, the other is set to resisting change while feeling negative towards others who remind it of its own failure which in certain regimes is capitalized for political objective.

Thus the sense of failure is the symptom to address across the three domains of individual, society and government.

The opposite of failure is success. So the objective is to locate or construct success systems that will help repel the perceived dilemma of uncertainty leading to inertia, ultimately rigor mortis.

(...the thinker wants to intrude at this point in time but the thoughts vote it out...)

walla said...

The self-independent will make ten tries and hit payload once. He then convinces himself he has earned it on his own.

Others on whom he has inter-depended on for arms-length support in his road to that single success will also want to support that conviction. Because they too want to take the same road of a personal sense of pride for having made it on their own albeit with side support, for example a more generous credit line.

Part of what is a success system therefore becomes internalized. To the extent the members of one community is forced to be self-independent, they will become interdependent - but amongst themselves only.

In the process of internalizing that scenario, their sense of achievement will become communal. While self-sustaining as a separately identifiable entity, there is however a tradeoff. Politically motivated branding as distinct and antisocial in a national context.

But the first tragedy is embodied in one question: who made them so? And since it was political shaping of that perception, the subset question is: is it really extensively so?

And the second tragedy, again from a national viewpoint, is embodied in one observation: it is not about income or wealth distribution, an objective lending itself too easily to political manipulation.

On the contrary, it is the defocus from the root of all progress that has caused the unnecessary second tragedy.

Defocus from success systems.

walla said...

There are many success systems. Germane to this discussion amongst us The Thoughts, and ignoring the nettlesome thinker at the doorstep, are two. Personal and federal.

The personal success system may be said to comprise a number of components. Without being excessively pedantic, they are:

a belief that destiny is in one's own hand, however moderated by;

a sense of fate about the cycle of fortune/misfortune whose ratio never exceeds one but nevertheless offers a chance in a lifetime to make it good materially albeit at the possible expense of making it bad aesthetically but that itself is subject to the aforementioned belief;

a need to save and only to spend wisely, constantly looking for best buys, cost bleeders, production factors, and cash-flow;

boldness to risk new things and ways to the extent well-weighed exit strategies are already in hand;

constantly seeing the big picture of everything and filling in the blanks wherever they exist;

being pragmatic about situations because the sole objective is to sustain and continue oneself on the road to success on the conclusion that if it doesn't come, one cannot be personally be blamed for not trying hard enough - and that is the epithetic statement of final success in life;

an unfailing duty to be comprehensively responsible-minded all the time and under all circumstances to the enterprise, therefore initiating countdown to owner-directorship;

the sheer grit of painstaking and uncompromising hard work in which personal time is sacrificed for the physical presence on site in charge and for corporate objective.

walla said...

The federal success system is easy. It is to make sure all federal, national and policy factors and parameters are primed to make the aforementioned personal success system is itself sustained and continuously successful.

walla said...

(At this juncture, the thinker barges in...)

What about monopoly?

Well, what about it, the retort is swift and decisive.

If the successful become more successful and the unsuccessful become more unsuccessful in the typhoon of increasing uncertainty, how can the latter reproduce the success formula of the former? (it is timidly asked).

The retort is thunderous.

Have you forgotten the primary assumption of growing the pie at the same time?

Without a growing and competitive economy, how can any success formula be executed?

Without a domestic success formula, why should successful people waste their time and effort on and in a failed state?

Without successful drivers of economy and industry, who will be growing the pie?

Without growing the pie, how can the fallen get the chance and openings to get up on their own?

Wait a minute, the response arrives. Isn't it the same at the moment? One grows the pie, the other partakes of it through federal intervention. So much so this inter-dependence thing is also served.

Hold on there. What type of inter-dependence is that, in fact? Is it inter-dependence leading to corruption leading to the shrinking of the very pie that must grow continuously, or is it inter-dependence leading to honest mutual support of progressive enterprises so that a culture of honesty prevails and a standard of quality can be set that will continuously be the target of improvement that will fulfill the mandate of sustainability which is the real measure of success systems for growth of pies?

(for disturbing the peace and status quo, the thinker is banished persona non grata; muttering at the exit, a whisper is heard..)

all along it has never been anything save the issue of jus soli, and that is the heart of the matter.

walla said...

And indeed it was a mistake. The Thoughts should have been banished instead.

But what's the point of having a thinker if the thinker has no useful thoughts?

That situation is before us today.

No goal is ever scored in the penalty box when flippant.

Where uncertainty is rife, mature and rational thinking is the premium needed to navigate as well as humanly possible across the choppy waters of constant challenges.

Such thinking requires implicit explicit and tacit admission of facts.

Bad shape now, no?

walla said...

...despite the old saying...

'true happiness comes only to those who no longer ask of life that it shall yield them any of those things that are subject to the mutation of time.'