2020 Vision: Sam Harris podcast — intense, powerful, important, worrying, sad, disturbing, God help us all

I recently listened to a podcast: Can We Pull Back From The Brink? from Sam Harris. He is a super smart guy. I have listened to some of his previous provocative podcasts. This particular one was very disturbing.

“We need to lower the temperature on this conversation. And to understand what is actually happening in our society. But instead of doing this, we now have a whole generation of social activists who seem eager to play a game of chicken with the forces of chaos.”

For sure, this is a difficult and sensitive subject. And yes, there is inequality and racism in the world, and it is terrible, and sad. Watch the documentary 13th which is on Netflix: “An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.”

If there was only one race in the world the problem of inequality would still be there. That is my perspective. Greed has led us here. Just look at Russia, India, or many countries in Asia. There are some rich people and a lot of poverty. Exploitation of human beings has been around for way too long, and it only seems to be getting worse, in my view. The rich are getting richer and the poor are being disrespected and forgotten.

I don’t know what the solution is. Sure, I have many ideas, and I am sure you do too. But I do know that history teaches us, many many times, what happens when the people at the top of the pile of cash get caught up in their own bullshit. The American stimulus checks are a case in point. Too many people in the US, and elsewhere, are about to run out of money for food. Because the people in power are playing games.

One thing that Sam Harris touches on, which is a very alarming point, is that racism has become such a sensitive issue. It is more challenging than ever to have basic law and order, as everyone is on edge, and things can become explosive and escalate very quickly. Even writing this simple, short article runs the risk of someone reading it and going “You are a racist”. Not because I am a racist, but because something in this text triggers off an emotion and the next minute I am the enemy. I am not.

If a pilot on a plane tells everyone to remain in their seats with their seat-belts fastened, and one person stands up, and then that person gets told to sit down and strap in, then is that a racist scenario or an antisemitic incident or anything to do with colour, religion or culture? No. We are all so on edge at the moment and it is not helping anyone. I doubt that this article will change the world, but God help us if we all continue down this path.

I was once on a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt where a Russian guy was a bit drunk and rowdy and he was harassing the passengers next to him. The air steward kept asking him to stop doing what he was doing, but he continued. The captain then came over and told him that when we land, the police would arrest him. He kinda stopped. And when we landed, the authorities did sort him out. Many people are not a big fan of Russians, but this was not about that. Someone was messing with the law and there are consequences. If a cop in Israel, for example, tells you to pull over in your car, you do it. The police there are hardcore and it does not matter what you look like — if you look like you are doing something wrong, they will ask you questions and possibly arrest you (if you have broken the law). Do not resist. Comply. That is how law and order works. And yes, I know again what a sensitive and difficult subject this is.

I do not like racists and don’t want them anywhere near me. And I also dislike greed. But sadly, I find that the world has more greedy people in it than racists. Greed is what has led to the exploitation of people, and this is where racism stems from, in my view.

I do know some racists and I try to avoid them. And again, sadly, I know some greedy people. I know more greedy people than I know racists. The thing with racists, is that you can see that they are racists. Just let them speak — they don’t hide it. But greedy folk, well, that is not so easy to see at first. Greedy and stingy people generally act like your friend.

We could really do with more kindness in the world. Now more than ever.

Observations from Gus Silber : This is very thought-provoking and one of the big topics of the moment. I coincidentally saw this recently online, about the colour of emojis…https://boingboing.net/2020/08/03/how-emoji-use-can-reinforce-ra.html

“I can’t breathe.” That desperate plea by George Floyd, while a policeman was kneeling on his neck in Minneapolis in May this year, became the rallying-cry of the Black Lives Matter protests across the USA and further beyond.

It’s one of the tragic coincidences of history that an inability to breathe is also a symptom of COVID-19 at its most serious. At the same time, the pandemic has opened the eyes of many people to the realities of the great social divide. Sometimes, it takes one momentous upheaval of the status quo, in this case the pandemic, to cast new light on another, in this case racism, which is just as much a virus that holds humanity hostage.

We would be keen to hear your thoughts. If you want to share your perspective please send an email to ronnie@prettyapt.com

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Ronnie Apteker

Ronnie Apteker

I am an artist and an entrepreneur.