(TMU) Op-Ed — Comfort zones are a curious thing. So warm and secure. So safe and reassuring. So satisfying and certain. Beliefs have a similar effect on us. Especially the core beliefs that we take for granted. But beliefs are comfort zones with reinforced invulnerability; or, at least, the illusion of it. Such reinforcements are like prison bars that most of us are not even aware of. We’re so completely indoctrinated, so utterly pre-programmed, that we don’t even know that we don’t know that we’ve been conditioned to blindly believe in something simply because enough people convinced us it was true.
The problem with reinforced comfort zones is that there is no growth. A regular comfort zone, you can stretch. A reinforced comfort zone, you’re usually not even aware it needs to be stretched. A regular comfort zone allows for trial and error, it allows for questioning, and so there is at least potential for self-improvement and self-overcoming. But a reinforced comfort zone does not allow for trial and error. It doesn’t allow for “blasphemous” questioning, because it is taken for granted as already perfect or “simply the way it is.” Regular comfort zones can be healthy, giving us a safe haven, a place where we can heal and lick our wounds. But reinforced comfort zones are unnecessary safety nets based upon fear (of God, the Unknown, Death) placation, and self-pity. It’s a place where cognitive dissonance rules and any notion of attempting to think outside the box is met with: You simply need to have faith in the “box”.
The Battle Against Bewitchment:
Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.” –Ludwig Wittgenstein
Self-Inflicted Philosophy is at the forefront of the battle against bewitchment. Self-inflicted philosophy is about upsetting settled minds. It’s about toppling the reinforced comfort zones of blind belief. It’s about flattening the “box” that everyone talks a big game about thinking outside of but when it really comes down to it, they cling to the “box” out of fear of the unknown or out of faith in what they believe they know.
Foremost, self-inflicted philosophy is about questioning the self to the nth degree through self-interrogation. But you can only get so far in such questioning before you are met with the reinforced comfort zone of a blind belief. So, self-inflicted philosophy is also about questioning the layer-upon-layer of cultural, political, and religious indoctrination that led to that reinforced comfort zone to begin with.
When you don the cloak of a self-inflicted philosopher, no belief, no matter how true it may seem, is off the hook for being questioned with ruthless skepticism and unwavering circumspection. In the battle against bewitchment, the destruction of a belief, no matter how powerful, is mere collateral damage to the Occam’s razor of universal truth. Hell, even “universal truth” is not beyond questioning.
When you don the cloak of a self-inflicted philosopher, the concept of belief is nixed from your interpretation of the universe. There is no place for belief here, only thought, only deep inquiry, only imaginative curiosity. You replace all usage of “belief” or “believe” with “thought” or “think”. You don’t believe that you certainly exist: you “think” that you “probably” exist. But you could be wrong. So you remain circumspect, for even your interpretation of your own existence could be an illusion, no matter how “true” it may feel.
There will be those who will say, “You are merely believing that you don’t believe.” But that is patently false, because you are not “believing” in non-belief, you are “thinking/inquiring/imagining” through non-belief, with the understanding, the flexibility that your thinking “could” be wrong. And that’s the rub: it is much easier to alter a thought than a belief. It is almost impossible to alter a belief. You are more likely to question a thought than you are a belief. And so, rather than get trapped in a reinforced comfort zone, you stay ahead of the curve by thinking rather than believing, and then by questioning what you think so that you don’t accidentally begin to believe it.
In the spirit of upsetting settled minds, you don’t “believe” in having an unsettled mind, you “think” that having an unsettled mind is more productive, more progressive, and more open-minded than having a settled mind (an unquestioning belief). You realize that belief in general is counterproductive, because you understand that the human mind is a delusion-generator rather than a truth-generator. It pumps out delusions like a spider pumps out webs. But, unlike the spider it tends to get caught in them. Thereby, you understand that the only window to truth is through a questioning, circumspect, and a skeptical mindset, not through an unquestioning, dogmatic, and certain mindset.
The only solution to a delusion-generator is a question-generator. Luckily, the human brain is both. As a self-inflicted philosopher, you don’t believe that this is certainly true; rather, you think that this is probably true. And you’re willing to question everything to “prove” it. Indeed, you’ve transformed Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” into I think, therefore I question.
Tapping into the question-generator
“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” –Carl Sagan
The problem with the human brain is that is never knows when it has been duped by a delusion, so it is almost always better to not believe anything just in case it’s a delusion. A kind of reverse Pascal’s Wager. It’s almost always better to, as Aristotle suggested, “entertain a thought without accepting it.” Just take it all into consideration and let it pass through the sieve of probability. Then, whatever doesn’t insult your soul, think about it, dissect it, inquire about it. Be curious about it. Just don’t make the mistake of believing it.
You are more likely to grasp the universe “as it really is” by questioning it than by believing it. You don’t believe the universe is certainly a certain way; rather, you think the universe may be a certain way, but you’re willing to question further so as to get you closer to the way the universe “really is”. If you cling to a particular belief of how the universe is, then you block yourself from ever getting closer to the universe “as it really is.” Better to simply not have a belief in the first place. Better to simply think and keep the motor running on the question-generator so as to keep the delusion-generator in check.
The opposite of belief is neither disbelief nor doubt, but clarity of a thought. Without beliefs reinforcing the comfort zone, you are liberated to stretch it. You are clear enough to think outside it, you are courageous enough to question it. When the reinforcements fall away, the comfort zone becomes a sacred rather than stagnant place. It is free to grow through self-improvement rather than remain stuck in self-reassurance. Indeed, without beliefs cluttering the mindset, you’re finally able to drop the “set” and move into “mind.”
Free of the “mindset” of a settled mind, you move into the mindfulness of a questioning mind. You become a walking, talking, question-generator, able to consistently counter-balance the delusion-generator of the human condition. You’re ahead of the curve, surfing Aslam’s Infinite Circle on the surfboard of Occam’s razor. In absolute awe over the beautiful unfolding of an ultimately unknowable universe. On the edge of your own curiosity, questioning all “answers” countering all beliefs, elusive of all delusions. You’re a self-inflicted philosopher, and not even God is safe from your ruthless inquiry.
Betty White Turns 99, and Her Tips on Living a Long and Happy Life Are More Valuable Than Ever
Betty White, the original golden girl beloved by people of all ages, celebrated her 99th birthday on Sunday.
The spry granny, born Betty Marion White on Jan. 17, 1922, has managed to live a long, healthy, happy life and this can likely be chalked up to her unconventional approach.
The Emmy award-winning veteran actress once joked that her secret to longevity consisted of three simple ingredients: vodka, hot dogs, and her love of pets.
However, her tongue-in-cheek advice is getting new attention, especially given that too many of us have been forced to stay at home over much of the past year.
In 2011, during a Late Show interview with David Letterman, White gave 10 sagely tips on how she’s managed to maintain her verb and energy for so long. With White reaching one year short of a century, the advice is worth revisiting.
Her first bit of advice was to “get at least eight hours of beauty sleep, nine if you’re ugly.” Next, she advised that one should “Exercise. Or don’t. What the hell do I care?”
Third, she opined that one should “never apologize. It shows weakness.”
Her fourth tip shouldn’t give anyone any adventurous ideas, but it’s helpful nonetheless: “The best way to earn a quick buck is a slip and fall lawsuit.”
She then gave the priceless tip that one should “avoid tweeting any photos of your private parts” while also making sure to “schedule nightly appointment with Dr. Johnnie Walker.”
Some of the healthy eaters in our audience may take exception to White’s seventh tip, which is to: “Take some wheatgrass, soy paste and carob, toss it in the garbage and cook yourself a big-*ss piece of pork.”
Her next bit of adice was to “try not to die” and “never dwell on past mistakes,” which may both be easier said than done. Lastly, she recommended that you “don’t waste your time watching this crap.”
Sound advice that we can all relate to, Mrs. White!
White is reportedly spending her 99th birthday simply relaxing, she told Entertainment Tonight.
“You probably didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway. … What am I doing for my birthday? Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by [coronavirus], so I am working on getting ‘The Pet Set’ re-released, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day,” she explained, referencing a 1971 show she starred in that featured celebrities appearing alongside their pets.
Her birthday was also marked by various celebrities, who tweeted out birthday greetings to the TV icon.
“Happy birthday, @BettyMWhite! You’re a miracle in every way,” wrote Ellen DeGeneres.
“I still get warm when I see this look. Happy 99 baby. You are a testament to living life on your own terms. Sending you a great big socially distanced kiss. I love you @BettyMWhite,” Ed Asner tweeted.
“Betty White bloopers are the best bloopers #HappyBirthdayBettyWhite,” Valerie Bertinelli tweeted alongside a video of hilarious mistakes made on the set of their former show, Hot in Cleveland.
“Wishing the incomparable Betty White a very happy 99th birthday! What’s your favorite Betty White role, friends?” wrote Star Trek star George Takei.
White, who is best known for her role as Rose Nylund in the classic sitcom The Golden Girls (1985-92), has over 75 years in show business under her belt. The comedian became a staple of U.S. television in such shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland along with memorable appearances in shows like Mama’s Family and That ‘70s Show.
She catapulted to fame with her first sitcom, Life with Elizabeth, where White played the titular role and became the first woman to have creative control of a program as both a producer and the star.
White earned no less than 24 Emmy nominations and won eight in the span of her career.
When she reached the age of 90 it didn’t slow her down one bit. Not only did White become the oldest host in the history of Saturday Night Live but she also made dozens of cameos. White also starred in a memorable 2010 Super Bowl commercial for Snickers where she got tackled to the ground, football-style.
In an email to the Associated Press, White shared an especially enjoyable perk of old age: “Since I am turning 99, I can stay up as late as I want without asking permission!”
Genius 12 Year Old Boy On Way To Receive Aerospace Engineering Degree
A 12-year-old genius is on his way to receive an aerospace engineering degree in just two years, an incredible feat.
If that’s not shocking and impressive, according to CBS, twelve-year-old Caleb Anderson knew sign language by the time he was only nine-months-old, could read by age one, and knew how to do fractions at just age two.
Anderson is now in the process of attending his second year at Chattahoochee Technical College in Georgia the U.S. and Anderson already got his sights set on working for Tesla owner Elon Musk.
Anderson hopes to get an internship with SpaceX founder Musk, speaking to USA Today earlier this year, he said: “When I was like one, I always wanted to go to space. I figured that aerospace engineering would be the best path.”
Anderson doesn’t see himself as a genius telling CBS: “I’m not really smart. I just grasp information quickly. So, if I learn quicker, then I get ahead faster.”
He added: “This is my life. This is how I am. And I’ve been living this way my whole life.”
Being so incredibly smart hasn’t always been a walk in the park for Caleb though, as he admits middle school was “awful.”
“The kids there, they kind of looked down on me, they treated me like I was an anomaly,” he said. “And I kind of am.”
Despite his previous treatment in middle school, Anderson is excited about college stating quite the opposite, telling USA Today: “It’s really accepting. People might think something about it, but they don’t show it which is really nice.”
Although Anderson is in his second year at Chattahoochee Technical College and he has had much success. The young boy and his family want him to attend Georgia Institute of Technology or the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.
His mother Claire explained: “We want him to be in an environment where he is accepted and not tolerated.”
Professor Mark Costello, chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Aerospace Engineering said Caleb was “the perfect candidate” for the course and will “be very successful” if he attends.
What do you think about Caleb Anderson?
Michael Jordan feels “great pride” as he opens new health clinic for uninsured in his hometown
Legendary basketball superstar Michael Jordan is giving back to his community in a big way, and has opened a second medical clinic in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, to offer critical care to underprivileged community members during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, the 57-year-old former Chicago Bulls shooting guard unveiled the Michael Jordan Family Clinic on Freedom Drive, which he personally contributed $7 million to. The clinic, which provides much-needed access to primary and preventive care to low-income residents, is being operated by nonprofit healthcare group Novant Health Clinics.
During the October 2019 opening, the six-time NBA champion and owner of the Charlotte Hornets tearfully explained that “it’s a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that’s supported me over the years.”
Jordan has now opened a second clinic alongside Novant Health in hopes to provide comprehensive primary care to underserved communities.
“It gives my family great pride to know that we are making a difference in Charlotte,” Jordan told The Charlotte Observer.
While the opening of the second clinic has long been in the works, the timing couldn’t be better given the dire impact of the ongoing pandemic on people across the United States and especially the Black community.
In April, the Freedom Drive clinic became widely used as a respiratory assessment center where locals had free access to coronavirus “screening, testing, treatment and education.”
“When this clinic opened, I said ‘We’re here for the long haul. Not just in a crisis’,” said Novant Health CEO and president Carl Armato.
“In fact, the first clinic enabled us to better respond to the [coronavirus] crisis. It gave us the infrastructure to set up walk-up testing – no referral needed. It gave us a platform to educate and treat patients – close to home,” he added. “It even gave us a distribution point for our universal masking initiative, where we provided free masks to anyone who needed them. This second location is critical, as it expands our impact and reach.”
Over 14,000 tests for the deadly virus were provided while around 12,600 mobile health appointments were conducted, forcing the Michael Jordan Family Clinic to direct those in need of primary care to another location – and proving the need for the second clinic to urgently begin operations amid the spiking demand in treatment.
“When we came together to mark the first clinic’s opening last fall, no one could have predicted we would be facing a global pandemic just five months later,” Jordan said in a Zoom meeting to launch the new healthcare center.
“I’m so proud of the positive impact our clinic has had on the community so far, especially during [the pandemic],” he added. “Our second clinic will provide critical services to improve the health and lives of more Charlotteans, which is so important to me and to Novant Health.”
The new clinic will be opening on Statesville Ave. in the North End of Charlotte, and will include 12 patient exam rooms, an X-ray room, and a physical therapy center. A full-time clinical social worker will also be on-site.
“We are thrilled the North End community of Charlotte will have access to the same comprehensive care that is transforming lives at the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic in west Charlotte,” said Armato.
“The impact of the first clinic has been measurable and if [the coronavirus] has taught us anything, it is the importance of having accessible, safe and quality care in communities that need it most,” he continued.
“Michael Jordan’s commitment to improving the health of our communities, and society, is deep-rooted,” Armato added. “We’re so grateful to be his partner in bringing care and resources to those who would otherwise be without.”
Jordan is hopeful that the community has better days ahead.
“We’ve been dealt with some very difficult cards in 2020,” he commented.
“I hope 2021 is going to be much better.”
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