Stand up

Microphone Stage Light Show Music
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Last year I undertook reading Hayek’s dense (but brilliant) The Constitution of Liberty. I must admit, I’ve only read the first third, but one uncomfortable truth for me that came out of it was that for society to work well, it requires the individual to stand up and be counted; to put themselves out there and make a noise.

That’s one reason why I started the daily blogging thing. For too many years, I’ve hidden my light under a bushel, afraid to speak out and too ready to run away from conflict. One colleague even accused me of ‘shy Toryism’, which would be fine if I could identify with the Tories, something I find particularly hard to do these days, even if there’s a reasonable Libertarian contingent in the party.

Time and again throughout my life I’ve let other people take credit for work I’ve done, or not spoken out when I thought things could be done differently.

One thing I have definitely noticed is that since I’ve started blogging daily, I’ve discovered a new-found confidence that I’ve never really known before. And I must say, I quite like it. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and publically stating what I believe in, has been somewhat transformative.

So here’s my simple tip for the day. Even if you can’t be bothered to start blogging daily, try to find ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone, it’ll help you and, hopefully, help society as well.

Stories and Beliefs

Nepal Sadu Religion Belief Sadhu
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What we choose to believe and the choices we make are, by and large, controlled by our subconscious, based on the stories we tell ourselves and those that we’ve been told by our parents, our friends and those we respect and admire. These, along with our life experiences, the autobiographical information and memories we store about ourselves, and many other factors are all integrated into a whole in our heads.

There is often no rational reason why we choose to believe some things; it’s a blend of so many factors. This is why in some respects debates around politics and, topically, Brexit are circular and fruitless, and we’d be better off finding our common ground and moving forward from there.

Rationalist thinking that beliefs are somehow malleable when subjected to rational scrutiny is not helpful. We have to accept that the choices we make are often arbitrary and nonsensical, and trying to put them into words is more often than not, incredibly difficult.

Our beliefs run deep, and it takes a long time for anyone to change their minds on deeply held beliefs. I would argue that Damascene conversions are more likely people finally letting go of old viewpoints, where their new ones were either a bit scary for them, or they just didn’t realised they’d moved on, and then something has given them the excuse to drop the old beliefs – a shift in perspective of the group around them or a move to a new group of friends/colleagues etc.

This is why a second Brexit referendum is pointless. Very few people will have changed their minds. If anything, I think a lot of people felt bullied into voting to remain, and have since seen that, while there were blatant lies on both sides of the argument, the lies on the remain side were malicious and designed to put fear into people. Not a good way to build trust.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her biography of Voltaire wrote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is a hard premise to live to, but as a libertarian I truly believe this to be the core of society and getting along. We will never agree on everything – how dull would life be if we did? But to rationalise and dig your heels in and point fingers on a wave of Noradrenaline and say, “You’re wrong!” is to miss out on the magic of life.

Hello World

Hello World Computer Programmer
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Inspired by many accounts that daily blogging is a ‘good thing to do’, I thought I’d dip my toes in and give it a bash.

By way of introduction, my name is Andy Coughlan and I’ve spent most of my adult life split between careers in IT and Digital Marketing, and, at various times, trying to ‘make it’ as a writer, musician and filmmaker. I’ve been reasonably successful on all of those fronts, even if I’m not a household name living in a luxurious countryside mansion.

I make award winning short films with reasonably well-known actors, run a great little Sci-Fi anthology with one of my oldest and closest friends, enjoy working in London as a Digital Product Manager (and the daily commute on Southeastern’s High Speed link), have played hundreds of gigs with some top class bands (all of whom could have been the next big thing), and spend most of my spare time either adapting my favourite books into screenplays or writing new ones.

So that’s what you’ll find here; the outpourings of a mind struggling to make sense of all things creative, social, political, philosophical, and metaphysical. I have a deep interest in neuroscience and how that affects the way we deal with the world. Fair warning; I’m a libertarian (in the mould of Hayek and von Mises) and a firm believer in all things free (especially lunches – I’m usually available between 1 and 2!).