Strength and Wisdom

It has always been my desire to become a wise man, ever since I was a child.

As I have grown however, it’s become obvious to me that wisdom is not enough by itself – strength is also necessary. Both exist only in action.

In days past – it seemed unnecessary I compete. I did not pick fights with others, thus others did not pick fights with me. Despite a natural love of competition, even skill for it – dominance or accomplishment were rarely required for my happiness.

I sought to free myself from attachments. Friends, cities, women – I have known many and all have been temporary. I saw attachments as the causes of conflict and suffering – and by contradiction the sources of purpose. There is at least one value to which I am attached, that is integral to my being: sustainability.

It is not just for myself that I must now become strong – but for my family, for my country, for my planet. I have been selfish and lazy – behavior that cannot endure.

Strength has become my new focus. Having endeavored already to sufficiently understand the world with much success – mastering my Self ought to be no more difficult. Time is running out. Today my training begins.

Improving Capitalism

There are over 14 million unemployed Americans competing for some 100,000 new jobs created every month, and I am expected to believe “laziness” is the problem? Nonsense! People want to work, but our investment infrastructure is failing to create jobs – it is instead sendings the bulk of its money toward outrageously high profits for the financial elite, whose contribution to the overall economy is questionable at best.
    We are assured they work hard for that money and that they have earned it, that they deserve it – is that really the case? I doubt it. That money could be creating jobs through investments in small businesses, but instead it is used to create enormously destructive bubbles that only benefit an elite few.
      We have systematic sustainability issues economically, environmentally and politically.
      We need immediate and major infrastructural reforms at the most basic, foundational levels with regard to these three institutions.
        At the heart of this decay is a capitalism that has run amok, a wild mustang that carried civilization far down the road of progress, but is now bucking, trying to throw us off.
        The tools that once kept the beast in check, strong regulations, have been whittled away by the elite who stood to benefit most from the collective ruin of society through exploitation, theft and slavery.
          I will not tolerate America becoming an aristocracy.
          I will not tolerate an America ruled by big business at the expense of the people.
          I am not content to let a tiny minority of ultra-wealthy investors determine the future of our whole nation, who will direct its development only toward preserving their own self-interested luxury, no matter the cost to millions of their fellow citizens.
            It is my mission to make this country prosperous again, to permanently and irrevocably remove the elite class of capitalists from power, who have so arrogantly presumed to be able to buy our government away from us.
            Might does not make right, the consent of the governed is not for sale, an election one can buy is not the election of a legitimate government, but the puppet show of a tyranny.
            I will do everything in my power to help to lead the world into a new age of sustainability.
              We do not need to start from scratch and throw out our current foundation. The Constitution has many wise laws, Capitalism has many efficient forms. But the origins of neither one were prepared for today’s realities, and they must be adapted to keep pace with the world.
                Do not be so foolish as to imagine our way of doing things is the best possible way. If you look at other systems around the world – such as Economic Democracy – you begin to find unconventional styles can indeed sometimes produce even greater value than our system does. Our “infallible” system, that is so exalted by the tiny group of powerful people whom it has served so well, is not the only option and we can and must improve upon it.
                  The masses shall not be fooled forever, the information age hastens the death of the old regime.
                    Reforms of the investment infrastructure at the heart of capitalism are on their way. Are you ready Wall Street? Are you ready, Federal Reserve? It’s time we change the game.

                    Apathy

                    A friend of mine once told me my most frustrating characteristic is that I’ve never been serious about anything.

                    He was right.

                    As much as I care about writing my book on sustainability, about earning a good career to sustain myself with – in my innermost being the goals mean nothing. I do not understand this contradiction.

                    Maybe I am too detached from my own life.

                    I improve myself with discipline in small areas – going to the gym, watching my diet – but I consistently fail to apply that discipline where it is needed most – on doing my math homework, finishing my book, practicing guitar.

                    That these goals are simultaneously important and meaningless confuses the crap out of me. Perhaps it’s up to me decide, but I don’t have any feelings about it either way right now, I am just empty. Not sad, not unhappy, just without emotion.

                    As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “So it goes.”

                    What to do…?

                    Salinger wrote a very timeless theme about Phonies. But I bet most people never try to become phonies, it’s just that their beliefs are founded on illusions and they are never willing to do the self-reflecting necessary to see that. Fallacies and blindness, the human mind hardwired for culture… how amusing.

                    We define insanity by the inability to distinguish between reality and illusions. Through our various cultures of beliefs and values, are we not all then insane?

                    The Strongest Discipline

                    Let’s be honest; the scientific method is just about the best idea anyone has ever come up with.

                    The bulk of all human knowledge, technology and understanding springs from it. Granted it is based on the concepts of logic, rationality and truth as established by the founding Greek philosophers Socrates, Aristotle and Plato.

                    Fundamentally science’s method of experimentation, evidence-based theories and the removal of old ideas with the discovery of new knowledge makes it superior to faith – a discipline that asks for belief in ideas without evidence, that ignores new discoveries which challenge old ideas, that places a higher value on tradition than on innovation.

                    Science has been re-writing religious superstitions from socially accepted beliefs to laughable fantasies for literally centuries now. This is not to say religions and faith do not have their place or that they are not valuable – indeed they have both purpose and value.

                    However faith depends on fallacies of human logic. It is based in hope, fear and other self-manifested falsehoods. Assumptions of causation from correlation, self-fufilling prophecies, the list goes on. The weaknesses of scriptures go beyond the fact that they become less relevant with time, it is in their interpretation that any idea assumed to be 100% true is twisted and used to justify the most wicked of acts no matter how noble its original intentions might have been.

                    It is indeed arrogant to imagine one can ever understand such a thing as God, as nature continually shows us that there is always more to learn, that mystery and uncertainty are permanent fixtures in our existence. To deny the unknown as a fact of life by presuming to have the answers we want is nothing short of heresy and delusion, it is insanity to pretend you know the unknowable – and that is exactly what faith does, it creates a false feeling of certainty, a closed-minded refusal to stare darkness in its face and acknowledge it for what it really is.

                    But many people cannot deal with not knowing. Their fear of the dark, the mystery, is so great that they are willing to believe ridiculous things in order to escape from it, in order to hear what they want to hear. Rather than reconcile with chaos, they project ideas of order, and the masses gather ritualistically to have their ideas affirmed, to collectively escape from the torturous unknown which could have provided them with their greatest ecstasy. All the while imaging they are pursuing a path which brings them closer to God, when in fact they have never been further away from Truth.

                    Whereas faith lacks knowledge, the arrogance of science lies in its lack of wisdom, in its absence of compassion (though even angels are said to have no sense of mercy). The cold detachment of nature does nothing to strengthen a community, and so religion and faith find their place and their value as tools by which the people are united. What a danger this tool can be when used to manipulate, to steer people in a false direction while motivating them to march ever faster and with ever more stubbornness toward the doom they expect to be their salvation.

                    Science admits it does not fully understand things, as can a person of faith – though the faithful are committed to presumptions of understanding they are often unwilling to challenge, and this is what dooms them to stagnation until they realize with great epiphany the darkness (mystery) was never something they needed to run from to begin with, for it is inescapable and surrounds us all, in its beauty, as one with the light.

                    ————–

                    (What an artsy rant this has been! I need to get back to work!)

                    Inevitably this was going to be temporary, as a first draft it was bound to be imperfect, but however foolish I may find these words in the future I enjoyed writing them now, as they sprang forth from my inner most being. These ideas only needed to be expressed – whether or not they are truly strong is something only time can reveal. As for posting them publicly on the internet – who knows how wise that is, I can’t really think of a good reason not to do it, I’m certainly not ashamed of them.

                    The Illusions of Desire

                    Allow me to paraphrase from Paulo Coelho’s famous fable The Alchemist:

                    “If you stop listening to your heart, it will stop speaking to you.”

                    After my decision to abandon my 1st choice of school and 1st choice of study, I had to ask myself if that had happened to me.

                    I meditated on this idea and experienced a realization – the philosophy of Coelho’s book implies that your “heart,” a metaphor for dreams and desire – is supposed to be the highest source of wisdom to guide your life with.

                    Fundamentally, this is foolish thinking. Yes following your desires can lead you to happiness – but there is a higher value than happiness, it is the value I have tried to devote my life to and about which I am writing several books: Sustainability.

                    Happiness tends to be fleeting and temporary. By definition, an enduring Quality is better – one that can be sustained.

                    Because I was following my desires in Chicago, I remained an essentially lazy person. I had the idea in my head that I should enjoy myself all the time. I was a pursuer of pleasure, a disciple of happiness. This was at the heart of my failure to publish anything despite a year’s devotion to improving myself as a writer of sustainability issues.

                    I felt I was following my dream, doing what I was meant to do – which is indeed a powerfully good and self-affirming feeling. Yet I ignored the facts I was going into debt by doing this, spending money I didn’t have. As I got closer to graduation the signs became harder to ignore. The jobs were scarce in the field I desired, and I was not yet mature enough to do the work required to get them. (Because at this time, I pathologically avoided work, procrastinating away from it whenever I could). Even doing what I loved, there was going to be no easy way to make money – it was going to take lots of hard work.

                    It wasn’t until I decided to come to Texas to move toward a more viable career that the value of work really began to dawn on me. The main reason I left Chicago was because I wanted to write about sustainability, but was not yet even sustaining myself. I could not let myself become a hypocrite, so I resolved to walk a path that would have the best chance of sustaining me. (I could have done this by re-doubling my efforts on the 1st path, however it took sacrificing that for me to understand the error of my thinking, to find the source of my laziness which I was already well aware of but could not comprehend the cause of, and therefore lacked the discipline to remedy.)

                    The sole pursuit of desire is a short-sighted way to live. Myopic, as some would say. How strange to learn doing what I wanted most was, in a way, bad for me. But now that I have gained this perspective, I have become more free to discipline myself – albeit with less time available than I had in the days where I wasted most hours of the day on entertainment.

                    My step-father once told me that I could never trust anyone completely – not even myself. He was right.

                    Now I look forward to a probably better future, and feel more confident that I have made the right decision by leaving Chicago.

                    My grandfather also gave me some wisdom: There is nothing wrong with profit. Indeed it is essential to survive. (I had been arguing about the immorality of exploitative methods of profit, but this is off-topic).

                    It is good to have dreams, and it is good to work toward them. But do not let them  blind you, do not let your tunnel vision desire for them prevent you from seeing what needs to be done, and doing it.

                    Go forth and survive.

                    Winds of Change

                    A final choice has been made.

                    I will finish my bachelor’s degree studying IT in Texas rather than Science Journalism in Chicago.

                    I miss my old path already, but I am also excited by the prospects of the new one. And I certainly won’t stop writing my book about sustainability just because of this career change in directions.

                    A hard choice, but it seemed a necessary one.

                    I have spent years building ideas on how to re-shape the world, and ironically I have now let the world re-shape me. It was perhaps the immaturity of youth that enabled me to think I could “save the world” with sustainability when I wasn’t even yet sustaining myself. That was the essence of my decision – to move toward a more sustainable career.

                    —     —     —

                    Keep doing what you’ve always done and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten, so the saying goes. With this change in school and career, such fundamental parts of my life, perhaps it is also now time for a change in attitude.

                    Perspective evolves effortlessly as one learns, but to change habits or attitudes, I think that is a very different thing and a task of greater seriousness. I am certainly capable of the successes I desire – I have no doubt of that. The trick is to truly apply myself, something I’ve never really needed to do to pass the tests set before me.

                    I must be better. All it will take is practice to improve, like everything else.

                    Get to it.