What will you do in ’07, or is it ’13?
The year 2007 is a “point in time,” ostensibly 2,007 years since the birth of Christ, who, evidence seems to show, was actually born 2,013 years ago. Dating from that reference point is as arbitrary as having twelve months in a year, given there are thirteen lunar cycles of 28 days, equaling 364 days.
The Chinese, Jews, and other non-Christian cultures have their own dating systems based upon their “beginning.” Native Americans and other nature-based spiritual traditions have a better idea for dating—none. No need to number the years as each is one more cycle in the Great Cosmic Dance.
Linear time, as Einstein demonstrated, is a human construct. Time and space are inextricable—they are one. The faster one moves through space, the slower time unfolds. We talk about how time flies and ask where it has gone. It’s neither flown nor gone. It never was.
In a sense, everything we perceive has already happened. We know, for example, that the light we see from a distant star some light years away is, in fact, only that. That star may have well exploded, but we won’t know that until the light waves of that super nova reach us some time in the “future.” Such as it is in our personal experiences—by the time we see or hear anything, the event has already happened because it took at least a nano of a nano second for the light or sound wave to reach our eyes or ears. So, each of us is creating a personal reality, alone in our own perceptions of the universe beyond our individual self—quite existential.
Doing so, we rely upon reason and faith to make sense of it all. Reason is the process by which we internalize incoming data, draw conclusions, and make decisions based upon the evidence. That is different from rationalizing, such as what faith-based secularists do to justify a pre-ordained political or philosophical position.
Faith, on the other hand, might be defined, as Sam Harris suggests in his work The End of Faith, as the absence or failure of reason. Tangent to faith is superstition, the idea that if I do this (or don’t) then this will happen (or not). So, is praying to a deity to influence my performance in a competition or to aid my survival in a challenging moment any different than carrying a four-leaf clover or avoiding black cats on Friday the thirteenth, which got its bad rap from that October day the Knights Templar met their doom in1307?
One of my philosophical tenets is most people try or at least want to do the right thing: enhancing others’ happiness by not causing them harm. Coupled with that, though, is the correlative that everyone has an off day. So, while I have “faith,” for I have no hard evidence to support my contention, in humans to ultimately do the right thing if they haven’t already, I am aware that the onion layers that have been laden upon each of us from birth go far in muddling the choices one needs to make. Fear, anxiety, despair, and superstition are among the debilitating factors that cause poor decision making. Courage, self-confidence, hope, and reason, on the other hand, are bases for sound mental, physical, and spiritual health and making good choices—the reason a liberal education is paramount to a successful democracy.
The date of the year is irrelevant, but the reality we have created and in which we exist is relevant. Of late, great minds have led us to walk on the moon (and may soon again) and find wondrous cures for awful diseases. Simultaneously, irrational impulses have caused us to continue this thing we call war and to horde precious resources.
The question before us in this “new year” is whether we will use our reason to make this world a better place and ensure its viability for generations to come, or we will allow forces that say “it’s all about me” (whether capitalist or suicide bomber) or “my god is the right one and yours is not” (Christian v. Islamist) to ascend. A correlative question: Are we willing to move beyond neurosis and myopia as well as fear, anxiety, despair, and superstition to accept the fact we are in the 21st and no longer the 12th century? (Note the inversion of the digits.)
In our reality, it’s a new year, but that doesn’t mean you have to get older. Just keep moving. To that end, have a Happy New Year. Mine began on December 21 at 5:22. That puts me about ten days ahead in time, which, of course, is irrelevant because time doesn’t exist independently.
On a grateful note: President Gerald R. Ford was a truly great American. His passing has caused me to wonder if there isn’t another of his archetype, who in two years will once again announce to the nation, “Our national nightmare is over.” Thank you and RIP Mr. President.