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 Thursday, 09 December 2004
Thursday, 09 December 2004 17:09:23 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

Welcome to my personal blog. Sure, I've got an already-established blog for professional purposes, and I have a regular web site for support of my books, articles and speaking. But what I didn't have until now was a forum for discussing all the other aspects of my life.

Frankly I wasn’t in a hurry, because I figured that most people were interested in my thoughts on distributed object-oriented architecture, SOA and various related topics. But it turns out that a fair number of people are interested in seeing behind that external façade, so here goes…

I like to think of myself as having a broad range of interests, which tends to make a person pretty darn eclectic. It also means that I shatter stereotypes and span worldviews without giving them a thought. As I see it, that makes life interesting.

My professional and personal life blur because I’m quite passionate about computer programming and computer science. I consider myself to be about as fortunate as possible, since my job and my hobby overlap to an extremely large degree. I equate it to the tiny number of people out there who make a living crafting with wood or clay. They’ve merged their vocation with their passion, as have I.

But beyond computer science I have many wide-ranging interests, including politics, religion, hunting, fishing, science fiction, role-playing games, fast cars, hard and/or alternative rock music, history and on and on.

I don’t think it is practical to achieve the holistic understanding of the “knowledge of man” that some people had during The Renaissance or in the mid-to-late 1700’s when the US was being defined. But that’s my ideal. It is that kind of understanding across disciplines, across cultures and across beliefs that I find compelling.

Thus the choice of Illiante in the address of this blog. The term Illiante comes from a role-playing world of my design – a totally fictitious world where magic is real and where the barriers between worlds can sometimes be crossed. An Illiante is a spirit walker. In this world some few people are born with the natural ability to see both the real world and the spirit world. If they are found early enough in life, their special sight can be harnessed and they can be trained to become an Illiante. Otherwise they go insane – constantly seeing things that no one else can see and not knowing how to deal with the special sight causes their mind to give way.

So an Illiante sees across boundaries, across barriers and constantly strives to merge the concepts into a holistic worldview. They are seekers of understanding and insight.

I think this roughly mirrors my own worldview. Our world is divided (increasingly it seems) into sub-cultures and sub-communities. These exist based on religion, social standing, racial background, national boundaries, level of education, level of tolerance for others, population density and countless other factors.

What’s frustrating to me is that we are all much more alike than we are different, yet for some unfathomable reason we choose to dwell on the differences more than the similarities. On the positive end, this leads to constructive dialog and shared understanding. But on the negative end this leads to hatred and outright conflict.

What I don’t understand, is why there seems to be a trend toward the negative. Fewer and fewer people are willing to acknowledge that other sub-communities have value, much less valid insights into the nature of the universe or humanity. From there it is but a tiny step to deciding that anyone outside your particular sub-community isn’t even a ”real person”. Or the rationalized version, where everyone is a “child of god”, but some are so misled that virtually any means are acceptable to “bring them to the light”. Fill in your favorite extremist phrases and you get the idea.

Either way, once someone is capable of marginalizing others, they are lost to society at large. They become consumed by hatred (even if it is disguised as “love for the misguided” ), and they are no longer contributors to the community-at-large, but rather they are destructive and counter-productive.

This is not to say that people shouldn’t have opinions or values or ethics. Far from it! Nor is it to say that sub-communities shouldn’t form based on groups of like-minded people.

But it is to say that people need to recognize that we live (and have always lived) in a complex, multi-faceted world that is composed of many sub-communities. These sub-communities have, do and will interact. As supposedly civilized beings, we should strive to interact in a productive manner – leading to dialog and shared understanding.

Sometimes that shared understanding will lead to voluntary isolation. The Amish are a good example. They’ve made a conscious and valid choice, and one that I admire. Their sub-community can not co-exist with most others, at least not without either being destroyed or forcing them to pass judgment on everyone else (which, interestingly enough would also destroy their culture).

Sometimes shared understanding will lead to partial merging of ideas and concepts. America is an example of this in many ways. My own family is an interesting blend of various European cultural concepts (foods, traditions) and some purely American ones and various others we’ve chosen to adopt from other cultures and sub-communities.

Where it gets ugly is when a sub-community chooses to remain in the community-at-large, but won't participate. Won’t seek understanding. They are left in a tough spot, because they won’t compromise and refuse to accept or understand others. Eventually they’ll marginalize anyone else (in their own worldview) – either by not seeing others as “real people” or by seeing them as misguided and lost and needing-of-repair. Either way, at this point the sub-community is dysfunctional and dangerous. Eventually they’ll become frustrated by the fact that all the other sub-communities in the world won’t conform to them and they’ll engage in conflict. They’ll attack people of other races, or sexual orientations or religions. They’ll become violent, first in a small scale and eventually they’ll become what we consider terrorists.

The difference between someone who murders workers at a women’s clinic and someone who blows up a bus full of children is merely a matter of scale. They are motivated by the same kind of frustrated hate and enabled by the same marginalization of anyone outside their sub-community.

But I believe that there is hope. We must realize that none of us exist within just one sub-community. Everyone spans multiple sub-communities, due to their age, their education, their life experience and many other factors.

Some people identify with just one – they are Old, or they are Christian, or they are Black or they are in Sales. But that is to deny the real complexity of the individual. That is to turn a real person into a 1940’s era pulp fiction hero. Go read Isaac Asimov’s Lucky Star series, or Doc Savage. Real people just aren’t like that and never were. Sure we all have 1-dimensional aspects, but they are cross-cut by many other dimensions.

If we recognize this, it is more likely than not that we’ll find some aspect of ourselves that we have in common with most other people. Rather than focusing on those dimensions that don’t intersect, we should be focusing on those dimensions that do intersect.

It is in these intersections where we are able to cross boundaries. Where we are able to see through the eyes of an Illiante and try to seek understanding and enlightenment.
Comments [7] | | # 
Thursday, 09 December 2004 17:36:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Yeah, Rocky, I could certainly see you as an Illiante. Very fitting. :)
Thursday, 09 December 2004 18:46:50 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Rocky... Dude... Where do you find time to do all this!!... Just keeping up with you, all the reading and all the "goodies" and ideas you provide to us developers takes a lot of my day... now your personal BLOG!!

Best wishes and success! :)

Rick
Friday, 10 December 2004 07:25:45 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I might have a hard time thinking of those in Sales as real people, but you've inspired me to try.
Friday, 10 December 2004 10:52:38 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
>Real people just aren’t like that and never were. Sure we all have 1-dimensional aspects, but they are cross-cut by many other dimensions.

A foul and baseless lie! Clearly, you are not One Of Us, and must be made to see the error of your ways! SEIZE HIM!!
Friday, 10 December 2004 16:46:50 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Excellent job, Rick...

...any lesser man would have failed to see through his trecherous lies! But not you, for your conciousness was formed in the forge of the barbarian lands, where attention to every nuance meant the difference between life and death.
You resourcefullness, wisdom and brute strength alone allowed you to survive where others before you fell.
And now you have captured the heretic...

Trees
kemaris
Friday, 10 December 2004 17:26:37 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Yesssssssss... and now we shall *break* him. And all the people shall see what comes of such foul heresy. Chain him to the Pillar Of Ashcroft, and rend the flesh from his bones!! Muhahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!
Friday, 10 December 2004 17:27:13 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Ha!!!
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