My next journey

I’m revisiting my blog today because I’m about to embark on a new journey, and I have some things to work out before I do. I’m a synthesizer of information who is constantly processing inputs, and occasionally I need a little space to lay things out in front of me. The ideas can change but they’re unlikely to be placed back neatly into the socially accepted boxes.

This fall I will begin a year-long Master of Arts in Social Science (MAPSS) program at the University of Chicago.

I’ve always been more a problem solver than a true scientist. I’m detail-oriented enough to see when the small picture contradicts the big one, but it’s always been difficult to focus on a very specific, quantifiable problem and eliminate all the variables and spend months or years answering that narrow question. My tendency is to spend maybe a few days figuring out a piece of the puzzle, or leaving a specific question alone and coming back to it over time until I can figure out how it fits the facts, until I’ve got something that looks like a full picture. So it will be interesting to put myself in an environment with not just the literature of the social sciences, but the scrutiny of the scientific method.

My overall goal is the same as it’s been: a more human future, one that expects us to be who we are and brings out the best in us. It’s idealistic, something that will be radical probably forever because it struggles against power. But any goal that is less idealistic simply accepts suffering and destruction as a by-product with certain levels of tolerance. There’s something useful in setting a standard that shows where we can continue to reduce suffering and destruction.

I hope by the end of this program to have a framework for mediating a conversation about our more human future–maybe what comes after this present society collapses, or maybe something we can achieve without a great collapse. Whatever it is, it will need to free us from the toxic influence of power structures such as racism and sexism, reunite us with our neighbors, and bind us together in ways that allow us to operate with intent instead of by isolated, impulsive decisions.

The ideas may sound good in theory, but in practice they run up against everything in American culture that has power. So it will partly be up to us to convince the powerful that power itself is corrosive, toxic, and ultimately deadly.

We live in a time where the conversation is turning. The public consciousness is catching up to our changing reality, starting to give it a language so that we can speak about what is changing and who we want to be. The Movement for Black Lives, #MeToo, and similar efforts are amplifying voices and holding the mirror up to our current power structures, asking us to throw off our chains–chains so old that no one can honestly remember where they came from or what they are for, and so new reasons are made up and new rules are tacked on and we never manage to free ourselves from them. It’s long past time to correct the sins of our fathers, take off these chains and meet one another as fellow human beings once again.

With these thoughts in mind, I’m going to begin laying out many of the things I’ve been mulling over for so long, beginning with a topic that has become the punching bag of modern political discourse: capitalism.

Talk to you soon, fellow humans.