What Is "It?"
What is the "it" that must never be taken seriously?
If you have read the article, "Never Take Any Of It Seriously", you may have the impression that it is only politics that never has to be taken seriously. It is actually much more than that.
Another wrong impression one might be left with is that one should not take anything seriously. It is true that almost everything the world takes seriously is of no real importance, and the reason none of it should be taken seriously is because it is all a distraction from the one thing that must be taken seriously: what one does with and makes of their own life.
What Must Be Taken Seriously
Moral imperatives (ethical "musts") are all of the nature: "to accomplish or achieve a specific goal or end, this is how it must be done." What determines moral imperatives is reality itself, specifically the nature of the physical world, the nature of the human organism, and the nature of the human mind.
Moral imperatives are not dictates, proscriptions, or prescriptions about any particular actions or behavior. They are principles that must be applied in determining one's course of action in any situation.
Moral imperatives pertain only to individuals, because only individuals have volition, the ability and necessity to live by conscious choice.
The "musts" of ethics are absolute in the sense that they cannot be violated without negative consequences. They are not, however, absolute in the sense that anyone is obligated to conform to them. No one must be moral, just as no one must eat, drink water, and refrain from taking poison. If one wants to live, of course, they must eat, drink water and refrain from taking poison, because reality determines what must be done, and not done, to achieve the goal of continuing to live. In the case of moral imperatives they pertain to the goal of living happily and successfully in this world. To defy those moral imperatives will doom anyone's goal to live happily and successfully as surely as defying the law of gravity (by jumping off a tall building for example) will doom one's goal to stay alive.
What are the moral imperatives? They are the principles by which a human being can achieve being the best human being they can be as summarized in the heading of this site: "Only those who choose to take responsibility for their own lives, neither desiring or seeking anything in life but what they have achieved or acquired by their own effort, fully confident in their own ability and competence to live happily and successfully in this world, gladly bearing the consequences of their wrong choices, and proudly enjoying the rewards of their right ones, neither needing nor wanting the agreement or approval of any other individuals, always seeking to be the best they can be in all things, mentally, morally, and physically, are fully human and worthy of the name and worthy of the life."
If you want a detailed description of the moral imperatives they can be found in the metaphorical articles on ethics: The "Wisdom of Tathagatagarbha" and "Notes On Tathagatagarbhaianism".
Here is a list of ten moral imperatives adopted from "Notes On Tathagatagarbhaianism:"
What Doesn't Matter?
It is not a set of arbitrary commandments but principles that apply to every aspect of life based on the fact that whatever violates the nature of reality, which includes human nature, is evil. The word, "must," in all of the following means that which is required to live successfully and happily in this world. There is no requirement to be moral, or successful, or happy, and most people choose otherwise. Ethics only applies to those who choose to live successfully a fully human life.|
- Every individual not only can, but must consciously choose everything he thinks and does. [In this case "must" means one has no choice in the matter.] Any attempt to evade the fact everything one does is by choice, such as blaming feelings, desires, impulses, genetics, society, one's boss or "superiors," policy, duty, ill health, moods, or anything else, is immoral.
- Every individual has their own mind and is responsible for everything they think, choose, and do. Any attempt to evade that responsibility is immoral.
- Every individual has the ability to learn all they need to learn to be all they can possibly be as a human being, and they must learn all they possibly can about as many things as they possibly can and they must do this as long as they live. Not learning all one possibly can is immoral.
- Every individual has the ability to think and reason well enough to make right choices about everything they do. Every individual must use their ability to reason about everything they believe, think, choose, and do; which means, they must never accept a contradiction, never surrender their reason to feelings, whims, desires, passions, or fears, and never just accept anything as true they do not themselves understand how and why it is true. Failing or evading to think as well as one possibly can about all things is immoral.
- Every individual must use all their ability and effort to be and accomplish all they possibly can as a human being. Anything less is not only immoral but a failure to live the life that is possible, which will, at best, lead only to a life of regret and disappointment, but, more likely, to a life that ends in grief or despair. To do less than one's best in all things is immoral.
- Reality does not supply human beings with the requirements of shier life—neither food, clothing, shelter, medicine, or knowledge; they must all be produced by human beings. No one is born with a claim to any of these things and no one may morally seek what one has not produced, earned, or merited by ones own effort: not wealth, not goods, not services, not pleasure, not position, and not reputation. So long as ones wealth is produced by ones own effort, it may be traded for anything anyone else has produced. Acquiring or seeking anything by any means other than producing it, earning it, or buying it, is immoral
- Freedom is a moral requirement for all individuals. Every individual must seek to be as free as possible, free to use their minds to think whatever they choose, free to make any choices they judge to be right, and free to work and produce in any way they choose. Anyone who fails to seek to be free, or seeks freedom by any means other than earning it by their own effort is immoral.
- The only moral relationship between individuals is reason. Individuals may morally deal with one another by means of reason to their mutual benefit, socially, financially, in business or other cooperative efforts, or any other way they mutually choose. All other relationships are immoral.
- Every individual is different from every other individual. No individual can know what is right or good for any other individual. Any attempt to interfere in the life of any other individual to influence his thoughts or choices, by any means except reason, is immoral.
The last may be restated as a true "golden rule:"
"Do nothing unto others, ever!"
"Mind your own business!"
- It is immoral to allow any other individual or individuals to interfere in one's own life by any means. Rational discourse is not interference—everything else is. It is morally necessary to protect oneself, and one's own from such interference, by the most rational and economic method possible, including force to any degree when no other method is possible. To not defend oneself is immoral and to use force for any other reason, including retaliation, is immoral.
The short answer is: almost everything most people believe, worry about, or take seriously doesn't matter.
The number of untrue things people believe is almost endless, and the number of those they worry and fret about and even become "activists" concerning is also endless. Nevertheless, I will name some of them.
- Terrorism: Most people believe that terrorism is a real threat to themselves and further believe that some government measures can make them safe from terrorism. Some believe they will be made safe by "fighting terrorism" militarily abroad, others believe they can be made safe by restricting immigration, and others by increasing immigration (of 'refugees' for example), and others willingly accept any one of a number of oppressive restrictions on the lives of American citizens to make them safe from terrorism.
Terrorism is one thing that never has to be taken seriously, especially in the United States. In the article, "Terrorism" I explain, for example, one is over 20 times more likely to be struck by lightening than they are to be a victim of airline terrorism, and that none of the TSA's oppressive measures could possibly prevent such attack if there were one.
- Sports: Sports is just one example of celebrity-worship that never has to taken seriously. I mention it only as an example of the myriad totally unimportant things that so many devote their time and emotional energy on. Two others have said it better than I:
"The United States has become a place where entertainers and professional athletes are mistaken for people of importance." [Robert A. Heinlein]
"I hate all sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense." [H.L. Mencken]
- World Events: Most world events do not matter. Of course any event anywhere in the world matters to those who are where they occur, but to those for whom the events have no direct consequence, they do not matter at all. What happens in Europe, or Asia, or Africa has no more meaning to Americans than what happens in the United States has meaning to Europeans, Asians, or Africans.
Governments the world over will try to convince their citizens that what happens in other parts of the world are their concern. "People are starving in (name any country in Africa or central Asia) and something has to be done about it." "People are being persecuted in (name any country in north or south Africa or the Middle East) and something has to be done about it." "Terrorists are terrorizing people in (name almost any country in Europe) and something must be done about it." These are the government lies that almost everyone buys into.
None of it matters or ever should be taken seriously, except by those who have bought into the lies and commit some aspect of their own lives to them—by joining the military or some "humanitarian" movement, for example.
- Religion: No religion matters. Of course religions matter to those who embrace them, but to those who do not, they do not matter at all.
"It is the natural tendency of the ignorant to believe what is not true. In order to overcome that tendency it is not sufficient to exhibit the true; it is also necessary to expose and denounce the false. To admit that the false has any standing in court, that it ought to be handled gently because millions of morons cherish it and thousands of quacks make their livings propagating it—to admit this, as the more fatuous of the reconcilers of science and religion inevitably do, is to abandon a just cause to its enemies, cravenly and without excuse." [H.L. Mencken, American Mercury]
Mencken is right about two things here, but wrong on another. Mencken, like many who do not themselves believe in a deity believes the errors of religions need to be exposed and denounced. Mencken is right that, "The costliest of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true," and that, "It is the chief occupation of mankind." H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy. (1949)]
But he is wrong that he or anyone else must disabuse others of their superstitious beliefs. In most cases (with the exception of Islam) wrong beliefs are no harm or danger to anyone but those who hold them.
What others believe is no one else's business, but Mencken is right about this: "To admit that the false ... ought to be handled gently because millions of morons cherish it and thousands of quacks make their livings propagating it ... is to abandon a just cause ...." While it is no one's business what other people believe, there is no reason anyone must pretend those beliefs deserve a respectful hearing. Anyone may believe what they want, but no one has to ignore that what most people believe is absurd nonsense, nor refrain from saying or writing publicly that they know it.
There is no point, in most cases, in attacking false beliefs, but that does not translate into respecting false beliefs, nor of being concerned about the "religious" feelings of those who hold them. One never has to take seriously any claim by any one that something one has said or done offends their religious convictions. If they didn't believe nonsense, they wouldn't be offended. No one is obliged to adjust their life for the sake another's absurd beliefs. To do so is immoral.
[NOTE: I know people who completely turn this principle around, people who intentionally offend others. While whatever offends others never has to be taken into account, to intentionally offend others does just that. Why one should care what others believe, and care enough to want to offend them for their beliefs is actually submitting one's own feelings and choices to those others' views. A benevolent man never offends others on purpose, not out of respect for any false beliefs they might hold, but out of respect for them as human beings.]
Not To Be Taken Seriously
Religious beliefs are not the only absurd untruths most people passionately believe in. The list is endless, because most people do not want to know the truth; they want to believe something that makes the complex world simple to understand, some easy comforting ideas that make it all seem easy and safe, and that will convince them they are important.
The list includes everything from faith in the pseudo-sciences, sociology, psychology, ecology (global warming for example), and evolution (as a determiner of human behavior, for example) to pseudo-concepts (floating abstractions) like duty, patriotism, penal law, and even 'rights' (as that which anyone has a 'right' to simply because they were born), as well as all those fictions that are simply made-up, like intellectual property and corporations, and all those things people are terrified of in this age of paranoia.
But there is no real reason to attempt to discover all the things people ignorantly and superstitiously embrace, because there is no reason to take any of them seriously. Except for the fact that many of them are actually quite entertaining, in a pathetic kind of way, what others believe and take seriously just does not matter to the moral individual.