"What if I'm wrong?"
--> A question I like, especially on very touchy and personal issues.
Your first thought will probably be to say, "Well, it'd be a good thing to do anyways!" ... because that's just what people tend to do when considering being wrong.
But dig a little deeper. What if you were really wrong? Like, not just the wrong course of action, but what if your whole idea of the setup and cause and effect and payoffs and long term consequences of your actions were flawed? What if you made a serious mistake somewhere in your evaluations, and you were going to get the opposite result of what you wanted? What if you got a horrific result?
History is obvious in retrospect, but sometimes it's also obvious going forwards. If Pol Pot had stopped and asked, "Hey, what if I'm wrong and it's actually a bad idea to kill everyone who speaks a foreign language, runs a business, is educated, or has a background as an urban professional? What if I'd be permanently destroying Khmer society instead of delivering it?"
More importantly - what if French intellectuals had asked the same question in Paris. "Hmm, perhaps this Monsier Pol Pot is not such a good guy? What if we are wrong in this one?"
So, ask what if you're wrong. And seriously consider it. What if you're really wrong in your political positions? In your religious devotions? In your daily habits? In how you treat (or don't treat) people? What if you've got it backwards?
What if cracking down on crime caused a lot more crime? What if treating criminals compassionately made them more likely to go completely insane, have worse lives themselves, and ruin others' lives in the process?
What if your safe job is actually a trap?
What if your favorite food is making you fat and diabetic and killing you?
What if you're slowly killing the person you're trying to save? What if they're slowly killing you?
What if getting your preferred politics turned your society and culture into an apocalyptic wasteland?
What if your favorite leisure activity is wrecking your mind, making you stupid, and holding you back from heights you can't even imagine from where you're at?
What if being "ultra-hardcore" at the gym is likely to cause injury and destroy your strength, flexibility, and health? What if resting more actually produced larger, safer gains?
What if working less meant more production? What if working more meant better quality of relaxation and more quality of life? What if pursuing less status made people like you more? What if not shunning status let you actually accomplish meaningful and important things?
What if you're wrong?
Don't ask it too often. Second guessing too much will make you go crazy. But occasionally, really honestly...
What if you're wrong?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn left behind several uncollected short stories, one of which
I just finished reading "Being Wrong" from Kathrin Schulz. It explains why we are wrong, how we are wrong, and it shows why we have to be wrong and what good comes out of it.
Here is a TED talk at which she presents the main ideas of the book : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QleRgTBMX88&feature=feedlik
The book is fun and enlightening! She's even able to quote Socrates and Beyoncé in the same sentence...
For every belief X ask yourself:
"If X is false, what should I observe?"
"If X is true, what should I observe?"
"What do I observe?"
I draw the line at the point where I feel that asking that question once more will make me never ask the question again. In other words, if I notice that I need to eat, drink or sleep then I stop asking the question because otherwise I won't be able to ask it anymore. This also counts for pleasure and leisure, if I feel unhappy about not being able to play that new game then I am going to play it until I am satisfied. If I don't do it, if I don't play the game or watch that movie and continue asking myself if it is worth it, if it might be the wrong choice, then my unhappiness might turn into depression which in turn will make me reluctant or unable to ask that question anymore.
Becoming less wrong is just one of your preferences and needs, as a human being you also need to acknowledge and account for your other preferences and needs.
When bad people are alive, you can oppose them. But as soon as they are gone, they're not your enemies any more. They're just people who once were, but now are not. Memories.
The quote - there are no enemies in death - comes from "Lone Wolf and Cub," a favorite serious of mine. You can see me reviewing a bit of it at the entry "Rule an Empire, Fistful of Rice."
After some mortal enemies is vanquished, the protagonist gives them a respectful burial. When asked why, he explains that there are no enemies in death.
It's easy to get caught up in cheering for one side of history, but your feelings don't affect what's already happened. And strong feelings can easily blind you from figuring out what really happened.
It may not always be possible, but it would be good for you if you can become dispassionate in analyzing long dead eras.
When you're on the road for this long you get good at rationing. In our case, that applies to batteries and to food. I just last week ate a vegan food bar that I bought in LA in the beginning of March.
We don't plan far ahead, so we never know exactly when we'll be able to buy acceptable food. Batteries are the same way. We're on a 32 hour train ride that spans two nights from Saigon in South Vietnam to Hanoi in North Vietnam.
It's the second night now, so it's time to burn off my batteries which I haven't really used much of yet.