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Dane Clark Collins

On Having a Pronoid Worldview

Written by Dane Clark Collins

I’m of the opinion that human beings are bolstered by positive beliefs.

I’m also of the opinion that dogmatically held beliefs that attempt to cover all of reality are the greatest contributor to human suffering.

So how do I reconcile these two positions? I attempt to find belief systems that are useful to my situation, but I keep those beliefs loose and flexible enough to change in response to my circumstances. It’s a difficult balance, but possible.

One belief system I find useful is the philosophy of pronoia (the opposite of paranoia). If you look around, and remain diligent in your search, you’ll see signs all around you that either a secret cabal or some other unseen force has conspired to help you, and perhaps to help all of humanity.

When you hunt for conspiracies, you’ll always find them. This is partially because conspiracies abound in the world, and it’s also partially because the human mind is quite adept at turning loose connections into vast networks of clear cause and effect. If the conspiracies one finds are all sinister, then the world becomes a sinister place to live in. But if it’s a choice, then I’d rather not live in that world—the place where everyone is out to get me.

It is a choice, of course. There are sinister forces in the world, and there are also benevolent ones. Most people are predominately benevolent, despite our tendencies toward greed and apathy. Given the choice, most of us would like to see everyone do better. If you need a reminder of the good in people, just find a photo of anyone holding a baby or a puppy. People have problems, and we often handle them poorly, but most of us want to be kind.

So I look around, and I see vast network of cause and effect leading me toward a better place in a difficult world. Some force seems to be at work, guiding me unerringly where I need to go. It’s my choice whether to watch for the signs, but when I do, I’m rewarded. As a result, I’m a lucky person.

On difficult days, when my luck seems to be failing, I watch for the signs. Inevitably, when the dust settles, I find myself in a better place than I was before. Perhaps I’ve learned a necessary lesson, and am better for it. Perhaps I’ve faced the destruction of some part of my life that, in retrospect, was holding me back.

The difficulty comes in those worst of times. There are occasions when it is damn near impossible, and perhaps even inappropriate, to think that what has occurred was for the best. Perhaps a friend or family member has died or is suffering from an illness or injury—that is not a time to rub your hands together and wonder what the conspiracy has in store for you. But that’s because life’s tragedies are not part of the conspiracy. Death and suffering are a part of the amoral, indifferent fabric of reality. They are inevitabilities, and no conspiracy could ever stop them.

But the conspiracy can help you get the support that you need. It can provide you with caring company so that you don’t have to suffer alone. Failing that, it can help you find peace in solitude. It can help you come away from the tragedy a better person than you were before. You only have to be diligent and watch for the signs.