Each year seemed worst than last, starting perhaps…2012? That proves the Mayans were right. It wasn’t quite the end of the world — it was just the end of a time. The end of an era. The end of life as we once knew it.
I don’t even believe things necessarily are going downhill, even though I intuit it to be true in my bones. Declinism is a real phenomenon. It might very well be a psychological trick my mind is playing on me, while the world steadily grows into a more beautiful and wondrous place, blessed by the very existence of this creature known as homo sapiens.
Try and explain that things are really going quite alright to my crushing existential depression.
In 2019, I read Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind, which examines [I find myself pausing here. I read the book. I mostly understand the book. Distilling it down is tougher for me to do than I’d like] the moral frameworks people use to reason with, to justify the choices they make such as, say, political choices. Political groups think they are absolutely morally justified, and the other side is an absolute villain. Both sides genuinely believe this about themselves and the other. Beyond that, the very axis on which they make moral judgments is different. If it feels like you’re playing a different game than the person you’re debating with on the other end of political spectrum, it’s because you are.
I was left with a significantly deeper understand of how people make moral choices, and why my historic quest for truth and reason was now shown to be all for naught. How could people ever be expected to get along if the very frameworks they were using were different?
I emailed the author and was honored by receiving a response. Allow me to paraphrase what Jonathan Haidt said to me:
Shit dude, yeah. Gets depressing doesn’t it? No real solution. Here’s a PDF of some stuff I read when I get real depressed.
Shortly after this, I almost ran out of money and needed to find a job.