This column is written by Kam Zarrabi of Silver City. He considers his writings random refections, He has authored two books, "Zarathushtra’s Shadow," and "Necessary Illusions." He says "they deal with various aspects of the cultural and psychological evolution of our species as the illustrious, in our own minds, the Homo sapiens sapiens; yes, double sapiens!"
The Natural Fear of the Unknown
February 1, 2024
Even though the spirit of adventure in search of the new and the unknown has been the driving force behind all the physical and cultural developments in human civilizations, the instinctive suspicion and fear of anything truly new and unknown has also helped save us against the potential dangers of the new and the unknown. Observing the cautious approach of animals in the wild to any unfamiliar object is a testament to the survival advantage of this natural instinct in which we humans also share.
We could name some of these discoveries that have changed the course of human civilizations throughout the ages in various degrees; among them, the advent of the wheel, bow and arrow, gunpowder, cure for the microbial causes of diseases, electricity, internal combustion engine, nuclear power, computers, the internet, and now artificial intelligence.
For this first article of 2024, I was planning to write another lighthearted, and pun-loaded piece, but I couldn't remain aloof or blasé and forget about the horrendous human tragedies of the year we have just left behind.
Natural disasters have taken their toll, from earthquakes, floods to droughts and the resulting famine that have taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings. Of course, we cannot blame nature for doing its thing, even though our own contribution to global warming has been at least partially responsible for some of those catastrophes.
The weather report says there is a 37% chance of rain for our area today. But, what does that mean exactly? Does it mean that, statistically speaking, similar temperature and humidity conditions indicate that in 37 out of 100 cases the entire area has experienced rain? Or does it mean that rain has covered only 37% of the area but not the entire area? And, what size area does this percentage prediction cover? So, should we take our umbrella with us, just in case? Wouldn't it be better to simply say there is some chance of rain in our area today?
The toothpaste ad on television claims, for example, that it cleans your teeth better by 83.5%! How the hell did they come up with that precise number? How many people did they sample; how long and how hard did the sample group brush their teeth; what kind of brushes they used: and did they all follow the rules exactly the same in order to render such a seemingly accurate number; and, finally, what do they mean by "clean?"
They say "shit happens!" But does it happen in a vacuum?!
Earthquakes happen quite suddenly and unpredictably. Yes, we know that sooner or later sudden ruptures in earth's crust will take place along a fault zone, but we don't know exactly when or in what intensity to take the necessary precautions. And, when a huge spring is pressed down to its limit, it will either break and fall apart, or spring back violently overcoming that intolerable pressure.
Am I trying to make a point here? Yes, I am!
When we think of or talk about the concept of freedom we are casting a huge net.
Perhaps the most cherished universal aspiration for humanity as a whole is the seemingly simple, yet extremely complex, concept of freedom. But, what do we mean exactly by the word freedom? It is certainly not being able to do whatever the hell we want to do, whenever, wherever and to whomever as we please. Even animals in the wild face restrictions and challenges in nature while pursuing their desired objectives, such as hunting, feeding, mating, etc.
The Don't Take Me Lightly Syndrome
By Kam Zarrabi
About a year ago I noticed a shiny new pickup truck parked next to my car at the Wal-Mart parking lot. The truck's chassis was raised almost three feet off the ground, making it almost a struggle for an average person to get into without a stepping stool. The necessary reconstruction of the suspension system and the understructure, not to mention those enormous oversized offroad tires, must have cost the owner many thousands; it all looked very impressive.
The owner of the beast, as he approached the vehicle, was not some tall, brawny lumberjack; instead, I saw a young, small-framed fellow who had to struggle a bit to get inside the vehicle. As he drove away, I thought the young man's somewhat diminutive physical stature was well compensated for by the size and power of the vehicle he was driving. The throaty roar of the engine sounded a warning to everyone: Don't mess with this dude.
ON FLIGHTS OF FANTASY
By Kam Zarrabi
Running on a treadmill you don't get anywhere, but the physical exercise is beneficial for your cardiovascular conditioning. Similarly, resting on your recliner and focusing on a Tao or Zen sounding phrase and trying to figure out what wisdom message is hidden therein, also exercises the mind, especially when, no matter how you try, you don't get anywhere!
Vagueness, bordering on meaninglessness, offers a hell of a lot more for the mind to chew on than any straight out message or wisdom statement. The vaguer a concept is, the more the mind can create and visualize its own imageries of some hidden message. And interestingly, when no answer is found, no matter how the mind tries, whatever is hidden is perceived to attain a higher stature deserving of even more effort to decipher: A vicious circle of sorts.
FAITH and REASON
A Never Ending Tug Of War
Thanks to a glitch in our evolutionary process, we humans are indeed fortunate to be blessed by two separate compartments in our brains, which like the three branches of the government, each operates independently of the other while they jointly complement each other and contribute to the functional integrity and sanity of the host. Again, similar to the branches of the government, problems inevitably arise whenever one department attempts to intrude into and interfere with the affairs of the other. I am, of course, referring to the two windows through which we view the world around us and our existences in it, namely the separate windows of faith and reason.
Unquestionably, faith or unreasoned belief (make-believe, superstition, etc.) must have provided mankind with the needed answers to the puzzles and mysteries of its world for hundreds of millennia before reason or scientific knowledge began to claim its role as recently as a few hundred years ago. Even then many if not most scientific principles were assumed to have been rooted in some faith-based metaphysical grounds. The reasons for that are quite logical and yes, ironically scientific!