The Optimism of the Will

The intellect is a curious thing. We talk about ideas spreading like viruses throughout society, or even across societies. (And note how, every few months, we see a sudden burst of moral outrage — around some antiquated symbol — flaring up in different states and countries only to die out like so many health scares. The moral outrage, the idea, literally spreads.)

But, although marketers and social media campaigners want to spread their particular “idea virus,” typically, we try to avoid catching actual viruses. But the term is a good one. Ideas not only grab hold of societies, they can become malignant in individuals themselves. Good intentions can pave the road to hell, to paraphrase a well-known proverb. Ideas can metastasize. Continue reading “The Optimism of the Will”

Self-Actualization Through Hierarchy: Risks and Rewards

I find myself caught between the tension of rejecting top-down societal constraints imposed by an old, privileged classes bent on control and the desire to preserve ancient principles grown up out of cultural traditions that have a long track record for developing notable individual achievement.

Hierarchy and regimentation is not something I’m a big fan of in most cases. In fact, playing by the rules and being obedient are concepts I have spent my entire life rebelling against. The thought of bowing down to an authority figure gives me the creeps. Nowhere do I feel more strongly about this dynamic of human interaction more so then in the realm of politics. The very notion of an individual or small group of powerful elites enacting a monolithic standard of ethics and moral law is the epitome of unnatural subversion against free people. It truly makes my stomach churn. These abusive and liberty corroding control systems play out in any number of other social arenas such as can be found in education, law enforcement, workplaces and within the family unit. Continue reading “Self-Actualization Through Hierarchy: Risks and Rewards”

From Inexperience To Excellence: The Path of Self-Development

To improve and to excel we need to become conscious of our actions, to overcome our self-doubt, and to be authentic. I’m going to explain what I mean by all of that.

After giving a talk at a public event last weekend, I’ve been able to reflect on the process of writing and speaking, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, have found that there are basic similarities to other arts or skills — including basic life skills.

Becoming Conscious:

When we practice an art or discipline, we have to do what’s sometimes called “conscious practice.” If you practice, let’s say, a martial art or Yoga, and you go through the class in a kind of automatic mode — going through the motions, sometimes without even thinking about what you’re doing (because it’s become so automatic — then it will take far longer to improve than if you become conscious of what you are doing, and why and how your actions can improve. The question is, then, how can we do that? Continue reading “From Inexperience To Excellence: The Path of Self-Development”