So last night I literally had a dream (whoa, slow down dere, Khatz, yer blowin’ my mind!). In this dream, I was sketching in a hallway, because I’m always an artistic genius in my dreams, when two people from Southern China walked past me and were very rude, and I was mildly pissed off. Later, in the same dream, in a computer lab not 200 meters away from the hallway, where I went to digitize and process my sketches, I met about a half dozen other people who were kind and friendly and awesome and also from China.
And the phrase hit me in my dream: The A$$hole Equation (or, as I prefer to render it because it sounds cooler, “The A$$y Hole Equation” — similar to the Anti-Life Equation from the Marvel universe). And — this is all still in my dream — I resolved to write an AJATT article about the AHE. My dreams are just super productive like that, I guess lol (no, really…lots of programming problems get solved). Now, I don’t know that the AHE is really an equation in the strictest technical sense, but there are numbers involved. Let’s get into them.
At this writing, there are approximately 7.6 billion people alive in the world today. Furthermore, it is estimated that 100 billion is the total number of humans that have ever lived.
If just 1% of these people are a$$holes, that makes for 76 million living a-holes, 12 million of whom would be citizens of the People’s Republic of China.
If 20% of these people are a$$holes that means that there are 1.52 BILLION a$$holes worldwide, with the PRC supplying 240 million.
That’s a lot of a-holes. And they definitely punch above their weight insofar as they stay in our memories. But most people — the vast majority — are still awesome, non a-holes. The PRC supplies nearly a billion nice people and the rest of the world 5 billion nice people.
So, I hereby propose the a$$hole inequality:
n(a$$holes) << n(nicepeople)
A$$holes are always a minority. Always outnumbered.
Never let a-holes colour your view of entire populations. Hate them, but hate them individually, not collectively. Love the collective, hate individuals. A$$holes do not represent humanity or any country or region or town or people 1. They only represent themselves; they only represent a$$holery itself. Whenever practical, murder them metaphorically by denying them residence in your mind and on your lips and thus (for all practical purposes) erasing their existence. In your personal universe (which is the one and only one you will spend your entire life in), they cease to exist. To quote the great Paul Graham:
“Turning the other cheek 2 turns out to have selfish advantages. Someone who does you an injury hurts you twice: first by the injury itself, and second by taking up your time afterward thinking about it. If you learn to ignore injuries you can at least avoid the second half. I’ve found I can to some extent avoid thinking about nasty things people have done to me by telling myself: this doesn’t deserve space in my head. I’m always delighted to find I’ve forgotten the details of disputes, because that means I hadn’t been thinking about them. My wife thinks I’m more forgiving than she is, but my motives are purely selfish.” [Emphasis Added] [The Top Idea in Your Mind]
You know, the more I think about it, the more I think I probably shouldn’t be writing about this kind of thing, because my positions are deeply antisocial and specific to me (or at least my personality type). But hey, whatever, take advice, not orders.
- “the International Society of Jerks and Richardheads (ISJR) is a worldwide organization. Wherever there is a language or a culture, ISJR members can be found in it now and then. But good people, lots of good people, far more good people than ISJR members are there, too. Be sure to surround yourself with them. Be sure that you’re not letting individual richardheads represent/taint a whole language and culture for you.” [How Many Languages? + Abandoning a Language After Bad Experiences | AJATT | All Japanese All The Time] ↩
- And while we’re still here, let’s be real. I don’t believe in any of that forgiveness bullsh#t that the organized religions sell and neither should any sane person. Religions are great. They have great art, great culture. Awesome rituals. They’re also all bull$h!t. Organized religion is a lie we tell poor people to placate them. Organized religion is a lie the strong tell the weak. It’s fine to pay lip service to religion, but we must never be stupid enough to actually believe in them or (worse) try to live their so-called principles when it clearly doesn’t help to do so. That’s a recipe for getting screwed. No religious nation or empire’s ruling elites has ever paid anything but lip service to religious principles, and (in all likelihood) no nation or empire could survive by acting so obviously milquetoast.
How can I say all these things and still be a pacifist?
Because wanton belligerence — and virtually all belligerence is wanton — is not the answer either. Violence, like competition, is for the stupid and the desperate. Hitting someone (to say nothing of ending their lives) is as dumb as sticking your finger in the path of the spinning blades of a kitchen appliance. Avoiding conflict is smart; avoiding doing harm to others is smart. It really, objectively is; this ain’t no hippiecack. We shouldn’t do things because they are good, but because they are good for us (for example: teetotalism is smart for reasons that have nothing to do with fanciful myths and everything to do with actual, measurable, long- and short-term real-life benefits). Being kind to others and literally erasing a$$holes from your life is good for you.
But we cannot allow ourselves to be deluded any more by religious and quasi-religious advice involving cheek management. So the a$$y hole equation/inequality comes with a built-in falsification mechanism: if the fictional nation of Stankonia has a population of (for the sake of argument) exactly ten million people and you personally meet and interact with 5,000,001 a$$holes, then you are justified in hating them all. But unless and until that happens, only hate the individuals. Be far king objective and even a little bit positive-biased unless and until you rigorously, conclusively and personally establish otherwise. ↩