Religion of Retrospect

Hey I just got up out of bed, in the middle of the night, to write this down.

I consider myself religious, yet attend no church.  I believe that all the things I have to be most thankful for are the result of some really "great books".  Bhagavad Gita. Tao tse Ching. Plato. The New Testament of the Christian Bible. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.  Aristotle.  And others.

Here's how I judged whether something was inspirational, how it became great.


(or Introspect)

I imagine or meditate about someone, perhaps a great-great-great-great-grandchild. Or much greater.  It actually doesn't matter if we are blood related at that point.  It's a future generation I imagine.  500 years from now.  Or 5,000.  Or 50,000.  Or 50.  I imagine if they knew everything about the way I live my life, and how they would judge me in hindsight.

The "great books" all survive a lot of hindsight.  And they survive through their wisdom.  So, in my distilled, derivative religious wisdom, I asked myself what I might do in my life that would, many decades or centuries from now, be considered noble or wise.

Since I believed (and still do) that the future generations will judge our generations today based on resource depletion and species extinction, logic told me to choose a career which would extract less.  I  chose recycling.

I did consider going off to some kind of Veddantist Monastery.  Heck, I played with the idea of starting my own religion, and my own promised land, before I ever was exposed to "latter day saints". But in my "retrospect test", I judged that it would be innocence through isolation, not actually changing or effecting any change.  A "shiny conscience" which had never been used.

If I happen to die tomorrow, from my limited vantage point of retrospect, I'm ok with all I've done.  I certainly didn't waste time trying to be popular.  Because if our society is on a harmful path, with most of us doing little to preserve species or habitats or resources for future generations, then I'd assume it would take something unpopular to change it.

The other nice thing about the Religion of Retrospect is that as we grow older, we have no choice but to have a better perspective of how well we are achieving our goal.  I have regrets, and I have pride.  With more time, and more perspective, some decisions I made may grow or diminish in retrospective assessment.  But the really bad decisions stay bad, and the best haven't changed much in hindsight.

A couple of my co-workers, who have passed away, still survive on Google Maps.

Yadji Moussa and Richard Eakin.

I could tell some stories about those two.  But as they are now gone, I see them frozen in time on Google's van, and I can imagine myself dead and gone, and my own image frozen in place on a map.

Both of them forgot to take off their work safety vests the day they were scanned by the Google Van.

And I think everything we do online, our hate, our love, our anger, our lust, our desires, our wisdom, contributions and treachery, is being recorded somehow.  Some future AI program may assess or judge us, not just by what we have written and said, but what we have consumed.  Did we purchase great books?  Did we contribute great tweets?  Our popularity or notoriety might have some weight, but "winners writing the history books" may be less of a factor in an information age.

The important thing is that the Religion of Retrospect is a faith.  Whether or not our actions today will be recorded and known, or disappear in anonymous ether, how do we imagine we would see ourselves in 50, 500, or 5,000 years?

If I live every day of my life as if that mattered, I think that's what I'd see as important.  500 years ago, someone was living his life as if it would matter 500 years from now.  Not in fame or notoriety, but in Retrospect.

I try to be a good father and parent.  I think that will matter.

I try to be a good son, and to have been a good grandson.  I think that mattered.

To be a good friend and contribute to society is very different from being popular in that society, for the reasons Plato described in The Republic and Jesus described in Sermon on the Mount and Lao Tsu described in the sages of  the Tao.  I'm known best today as a Recycler. But I chose the career of recycling because of the reasons in this blog.  I was concerned about our society's depletion of resources through mining, refining, and extraction, and recycling other peoples' wastes into a circular economy seemed like a good way to spend my decades.  I'd continue the meditation and philosophy, too, for sure.  But if it's all deleted, the sum of the metals and plastic and carbon I was responsible for collecting is not a bad thing.  In retrospect.

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