It's 1:00 a.m., and I'm still up, even though I should have been in bed hours ago -- even though I swear to myself, every night, that this time I'll go to bed at a reasonable hour, even though I mean it every time, and especially because there is a woman that I love very much that would like me to be there with her.
Since my days are generally filled now with hubbub and activity and conversations and interactions with people and problem-solving and aggravation and much gnashing-of-teeth and project management and everything else, I find myself unable to easily forfeit these quiet hours in the late evening. I don't usually spend them especially productively; rarely I crank out unlikely amounts of good code, more often I just piddle the time away with a few rounds of Go against the computer or browsing the news sites.
But what's going on is my own form of meditation. In the back of my mind, I'm reflecting on the day, learning things from it. By not focusing too hard on anything, I allow my mind to wander for several hours, and it works things out in its own way.
For example -- the example that prompted this last-minute note to myself -- I started reflecting on why I believe so strongly that most people deserve second chances, and why it is that I hold some of the other beliefs that I do. Was there a logical consistency to them? Where did they come from? Do they make sense? A while later, the answer came to me and it was one of those little self-defining moments where you come to better understand your own choices and actions.
Years ago, I fell in love with the idea of a society where every individual was given every opportunity to realize their greatest potential, limited only by their own desire to do so. I've dreamed of such a society spreading across our entire world, and as often as I've found myself dispirited by people or our societies, I've still come back to this ideal. It is the undercurrent beneath all of my most strongly-held beliefs:
- Education should be regarded as extremely important in society, and it should be available to every person that wants one, as much as they want;
- Health care should be available to every person that needs it, without fear or worry that it will cost them for the rest of their lives, because it's extremely difficult to cope with illness in yourself or your loved ones;
- Good people deserve second, and third, and fourth, and many more opportunities to live a good life, so long as they are willing to try to the best of their ability;
- Art, science, exploration, wonder, creativity, curiosity, nature, technology -- all these things should be cultural treasures and admired and enjoyed;
- Law should protect the innocent, while allowing the guilty the opportunity to redeem themselves as they desire;
- Hopeless poverty and hunger must be eliminated, and social, class, and economic inequality minimized, so that every person has the energy and opportunity to accomplish whatever they dream;
- and likewise, abolish the notion that the poor are somehow deserving of the fate, or not deserving of good will;
- People should endeavor to respect each-other, regardless of their backgrounds or skills or specializations.
These are some of the traits of the world I would like to live in. They maybe aren't entirely practical; a lot of people, especially today, would rush to stamp out the smoldering embers of such dreams, rather than fan them into a warming fire.
That doesn't matter. What matters is that I continue to work towards these things. Even if I accomplish none of these things, I could hardly work towards them for the rest of my life and, at the end of it, look back and regret having done so.