Avoiding Hate in Politics

One of the biggest problems in our political landscape today is that we all seem to hate each other. The other side is out to get us and we have no choice but to fight against them with all our might. American politics has become a warzone where the bodies of the vanquished are piled higher than anyone could ever reach, and we watch this happening with morbid curiosity and a sense of dread. Those who actively participate in the process are almost invariably consumed by all or nothing ideologies that force them into behaving in ways we used to find completely unacceptable. This all stems from one thing: hate.

We talk about hate all the time, but when we do we’re normally thinking of certain groups of people who have established themselves as people who have an unreasoning hatred for a certain group of people. Virtually everyone in modern America is disgusted by these attitudes and maintains an active distance from such philosophies. There is little debate that these groups are wrong and every effort should be made to try and convince them to change their minds. Living a life of hatred is bad not only for the people you hate, but also yourself. You can never find peace that way.

Where we’ve gone off the rails politically is the current two party system of government that has evolved in our country. Much like the Civil War, both sides are ratcheting up the hatred over disagreements in basic points of view and all we seem to do is fight. Each side sees the other as an existential threat to over come at any cost, and falling to that threat would mean a permanent loss of the things they hold most dear. When your very survival is at stake, whether it be physical or otherwise, you tend to start hating your enemy because you can’t see anything other than what they’re trying to take from you.

I struggle with this myself. I work in a place where one of my employees is very committed to leftist ideology. While I try to stay more in the middle politically, I do tend to lean right on most issues and I really struggle to maintain neutrality because I strongly disagree with most of what the left stands for today. Regardless of how hard I try, I tend to view my coworker through a political lens because my fear of what his ideology wants to impose on me overrides my ability to see him simply as a human being with a differing opinion. He stops being a regular guy and becomes the symbol of something that scares me more than just about anything else in the world. It is very difficult to avoid hating him.

This is the biggest test for America today. We all have neighbors and coworkers who hold different points of view than we do, and because they are ideas that can have a huge impact on our every day lives it becomes almost impossible to see the person through the ideology. Learning to overcome this instinctive reaction to people who are different from us is critical to learning how to live peacefully on this ever shrinking planet. An attitude of mutual respect goes a long way in resolving our differences.

This does not mean we have to give up our own position just to obtain peace. Sometimes there is no other option than resorting to fighting to solve intractable issues. I would never submit myself to socialist or communist ideas just to avoid a fight, and we must do everything possible to prevent those philosophies from consuming our way of life. At the same time, however, we need to remember that our political enemies are people too, and many of them simply haven’t put in the time to truly understand what it is they are subscribing to. Many of them have been brainwashed from childhood to think the way they do, and if they put in any amount of honest thought into what they believe, they’d start to realize how dangerous the views they hold are.

If we can remember that people are people and not a faceless entity, it becomes much easier to become empathetic toward them rather than hating them. You can be forceful in your empathy, and I would never suggest laying down your argument, but maintaining a calm yet resolute stance is the best way to prevent hatred from creeping into our hearts. When we assume that the person is simply misguided, it becomes very hard to hate them and we are far more able to treat them with empathy and respect. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean we can’t be friends…at least until the point one of us tries forcing our way on the other.

So what do you think about political hatred? How often do you experience this in your personal life? What do you do when someone you disagree with starts speaking and all you can feel is anger at what they’re saying? Learning to control our hate and treating people as people is a critical part of building a free and open society. As much as we fear those who want to exert their control over us, we can’t allow that fear to cause us to alienate people who just don’t know any better. As much as it seems like the other side is evil, we have to remember that it is only a very vocal minority that is pushing the agenda. Most people just want to live their lives.

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Performing When You Don’t Feel Like It

I’m starting to hit that wall where enthusiasm runs out and you have a choice to either continue on the path or decide it’s just not worth it. It happens so often in my life, and my usual choice is to set aside what I’m doing and look for something else to do. As a person who grew up in an instant gratification world, it’s so hard to stick with anything when you aren’t getting what you want, let alone something that by definition isn’t likely to turn into something big enough to be sustaining as a career. Where do you draw the line between patience and delusion?

Of course, my rational side knows I haven’t been doing this nearly long enough to assume it won’t go anywhere. I know it’s my impatient side trying to get the better of me. I want amazing results right now, and unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. You have to put in the time and effort and only after you do both of those things can you find out if something is going to succeed or fail. There are no shortcuts in life. Well, except maybe winning the lottery or something like that.

So what do I do with this knowledge? This is where the perseverance part comes in. I have to decide to get on this blog and write another post. Do I have other things I could talk about? Absolutely. There are a million different things going on in the world I could write about. But the biggest thing on my mind today is the fact that I knew I needed to write something and a part of me thought “why bother? You only have a few followers and your voice isn’t really heard. You’re wasting your time with this.” That hopelessness from the previous article is rearing its ugly head yet again.

The problem with that attitude is that several of you have chosen to follow this blog because it apparently has some kind of meaning to you. We tend to get focused on what we don’t have without valuing what we do. I think it’s probably the content creators who truly value the people who follow them that find success in this kind of business. They aren’t really focused on making lots of money, but creating a relationship with the people they are creating content for. I know I’m not like that yet, but I also know that I need to move myself to that place if I want to have even a chance of turning this blog into a writing career.

I appreciate those of you who have chosen to follow this blog and read these articles. I know that as this blog slowly continues to grow, it will start to become easier to motivate myself to keep writing, especially when it gets to the point where I start getting consistently positive interactions from the community. I have to keep in mind that it doesn’t all come at once; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I have to exercise these things I’ve been posting, all of which I wrote mostly as a reminder to myself that I shared with all of you.

The title of this post says it all. I don’t feel like writing, and that’s exactly the time when I need to force myself to sit here and write the best article I possibly can. I need to sit here and put down honest words with careful thought and continue imparting whatever meaningful information I have to share. I don’t have to be an inspiration that sets the internet on fire; I just have to show up and practice what I preach. Most of us want to follow someone who is dynamic and powerful and charismatic, but what we really need is someone who tells us what we need to hear and is consistent about it. The best leadership is by example. We respect it more.

One of the encouraging things for me is that I sit down with no particular layout for an article in mind, just a vague idea, yet I’m able to put together several paragraphs that clearly lay out what the idea is and how I think you should approach it. This is not to brag about my writing skills, because I certainly don’t think I’m a great writer, but to remind myself that it is a type of validation that maybe this is something I’m good enough at to turn into the meaningful career I’ve been searching for my entire life. The lesson I hope we all take from it is that if we can find that silver lining that everyone talks about, it can really make a difference in sticking to the things we choose to pursue. The fact that these words are here at all show that this is the truth.

So today’s post is partly about me, but also about you, reader. What do you have in your life that you’ve started, or would like to start, that you want to give up on because it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen? What parts of that have caused you to become apathetic about your goal? Have you found the strength to force yourself into performing, even when you don’t want to? I think today’s post is an example of how just forcing yourself to get started can have much more of an impact than we think. I started with “why bother” and ended with eight paragraphs of self-motivational text. If we can find the ability to do this consistently, I think this is where we have a real chance to pass from part time hobby to full time success.

Like many things in life, it’s all in the attitude.

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Hopelessness and How to Fight It

I am in a phase of my life where my future is uncertain. Despite the fact that things have always seemed to work out for me and I’ve never really had to face the fear of not having access to the income I need to survive, this upcoming period of my life is causing me quite a bit of anxiety. Though I know that my experience provides me with access to more opportunities than most, there is something inherently scary in a future where you’re not sure if you’re going to have what you need to maintain your life.

Part of the anxiety we feel in times like these is hopelessness. Regardless of how blessed our lives may have been in the past, we always experience a certain amount of fear and doubt when we come to a crossroads with no clear path forward. Despite past success and a proven track record of being able to make things happen, we always have a part of us that tells us that this time it will all come crashing down around us. Hopelessness is a natural part of most people’s outlook on the future, especially when that future is a big blank wall of nothing.

The scary part is that hopelessness can sometimes be a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially if we’re not very careful to control it. The more we give in to that feeling of dread, the less effort we put into trying to be successful. As we sink further and further down that path of fear, the very hopelessness we want to avoid causes us to force ourselves into the very situation we didn’t want to be in. We fail to keep trying because we become convinced our efforts are wasted. Hopelessness forces us into horrible situations.

What do we do when we find ourselves facing a situation that feels hopeless? Some people will tell you to assume a positive attitude. Others will tell you to surround yourself with friends and family. You might even be advised to see a professional counselor or therapist. All of these are probably good ideas, but they are all really the same thing. The true way to get over hopelessness is to find a way that works for you to pull your attention off of that feeling and focus it on something that makes you more productive.

Making yourself more productive is a natural repellant to hopelessness. This is because when you get a feeling of accomplishment, no matter how small, it makes you feel like you’re moving forward with your life. A sense of forward momentum tends to help us overcome many problems in our lives, especially hopelessness. Those small victories make us feel more competent and help us to better imagine that blank wall becoming an opportunity rather than a road block.

Regardless of what method you choose, it won’t be easy. Hopelessness is one of the biggest challenges we face in our modern time, mostly because so many things come so easily to us now that we don’t have to put much effort into anything anymore. When we experience resistance in something so important as our career or family, we are less equipped to deal with it than our ancestors were, and the consequences of this hit us far harder because we tend to be less resilient. Because of this, it is very important to constantly practice toughening ourselves mentally so we can absorb these life events with a minimum of damage.

So how do we do this? Well, as stated before, there are a variety of ways to strengthen your resolve. Simply teaming up with others is a very powerful method of overcoming hopelessness. When you feel like you’re in a group that understands what you’re going through and is there to support you, it greatly reduces the burden you feel. Actively practicing positive thinking can also be very helpful, sort of like banishing the darkness with your flashlight. There are any number of ways you can deal with this feeling, but the common thread in all of them is to participate in a process that is positive. What you feed your mind is what you will get back out of it.

So what do you think about hopelessness? How often do you experience it? Have you felt better relying on others, or did you find your own way to get through it? It would be interesting for us to share our personal experiences to find out what works and what doesn’t. No one person has the answer, and sharing our combined knowledge is usually the best way to find out how to get things done.

Leave an inspirational comment or story so others can benefit from a positive push away from hopelessness.

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Should We Be Automating Our Military?

I served as a Marine for more than a decade of my life. I am proud of my service and of the men and women who served beside me. The values instilled in me as a Marine will be with me for the rest of my life, and I truly believe in the Marine Corps mantra of “once a Marine, always a Marine”. You are changed when you serve.

Though I have a certain bias due to my military service, I am concerned over the high level of automation that has creeped into the way wars are fought in modern times. It seems logical and inevitable that technology should reduce the role of human beings in dangerous situations, and it is very hard to make an argument against this when there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the lives of our brave men and women are saved when they don’t have to go into combat at all. I would never state otherwise. However, there is a looming concern that we ignore at our peril.

Many will have a hard time agreeing with what I’m about to say, and I can truly understand why because I have a hard time agreeing with it myself: combat jobs should not be automated. I say this for one reason and one reason alone: human beings are not easily controlled. At the time of this writing, there is no technology or program or magic formula that can alter a person’s mind to the point that they will do whatever they are told without question. We are autonomous individuals with the ability to make our own moral choices. Computers have no such impediments to control.

The danger of automating our military forces is highly evident when you start thinking about what that really means. Traditionally, our military forces relied on a large standing army of many thousands of individuals, each of which had to be convinced that what they were fighting for was right. Computers, on the other hand, do not have any moral compass to follow except what their programmers choose to put inside them. They have no remorse or compassion or any of the human values that can resist the corruption of those who control them.

Knowing this, it becomes terrifying to imagine the danger inherent in putting so much power into the hands of fewer and fewer people. We have seen many times in our history how this dynamic plays out. As power consolidates and more people are left outside of it, oppression and tyranny become the norm as citizens become too afraid of the consequences of standing up against them. When you add a completely obedient military force to the equation, you have a recipe for an appalling disaster. You can’t get anything more obedient than a computer.

Many people will hear this argument and dismiss it out of hand. It sounds paranoid and too much like science fiction to think that anything like this could happen in the near future. But the reality is that it’s already here. Think about modern drone technology. They can already fly themselves and operate their own weapon systems. The only reason they really need a pilot is as a backup, and as the technology improves and becomes more reliable, those pilots won’t be necessary anymore. Orders will come from a central computer controlled by those in power that tells the drone to take off, fly to a target, and deploy it’s ordinance. Even arming, fueling, and maintenance will eventually become automated. Human beings won’t be necessary at all.

When this kind of power is put into the hands of a select few, who is safe? What is to stop these people from sending a drone over your house if they decide you’re too dangerous to live? If they can send these drones overseas to attack targets abroad, they can certainly drop those same bombs on you. And if we have no human service members with families and friends and a nation to fight for ready to step in and stop it, who will?

I’m not really sure what we can do about this nightmare scenario. Technology advances every day, and it’s only a matter of time before it reaches the point where this kind of thing could really happen. It is only through the will of the people that it can be avoided, and that can only happen if we are actually thinking about and considering scenarios like these. Much like the question of artificial intelligence, the topic of automated militaries is going to end up being one of the most hotly contested debates in human history. We just haven’t realized it yet.

What do you think about automated militaries? Do you trust the government keep you safe all on its own? Do we need a standing military of real human beings as a check against corruption of power? What can we do to stop this from happening? Do we really want to?

Our future may depend on the answers to those questions.

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The Paradox of Freedom

As a person who values individual liberty, it is not lost on me that there are many contradictions when it comes to the idea that we should focus on preserving the freedoms of people and not allow ourselves to become absorbed into groups that force their viewpoints on others. In an ideal society, everyone would have the same value system and there would be no need for groups because we would all be one big group. Unfortunately, this just isn’t how the world works. Conflict is an inevitable part of the human condition and our differences invariably cause us to form into groups in an effort to protect our ideology.

This is the paradox of freedom. There are forces in the world who wish to impose their rule on others, whether it be for selfish or ideological reasons, and if we are to maintain our way of life, we can’t do it on our own. When a powerful force comes knocking at your door, you need a means to defend against that force. How do you fight against ideologies that pull in huge communities when your principles define individual rights as the most important thing? It seems difficult to argue for individual liberty while immersing yourself in what typically becomes just another group. What makes you any different?

It is an unfortunate truth that no matter how strongly we believe in freedom, there will always be a price to pay for it. Part of that price might be struggle or sacrifice or privation or death. These are things that many advocates of freedom would willingly put up with to obtain or keep what they feel is the highest ideal. But one of the prices we pay that many don’t really pay attention to is accepting a certain level of the opposing viewpoint because it is a necessary small evil to combat a bigger one.

The idea of individual liberty is directly opposed to things like political parties. When we form into groups, we think we’re getting into them because we want to join up with people we think agree with our outlook on life. Where this becomes a problem is when the groups we think are on our side change into something we never expected, and then we feel stuck going along for the ride. The ideology is still close enough to what we originally wanted that we feel we can’t leave, but not close enough anymore to feel satisfied with where it is going.

This is the state America today. We have all formed up into these big groups for the same reasons we had in the Cold War. Our enemy is big, so we need to become bigger. They grow larger to gain an advantage, and we follow suit. What choice do we have? If we don’t play the game, the other side wins and gets to force us to adjust our lives to suit their vision of it. It becomes a vicious cycle that is nearly impossible to get out of.

It’s difficult to resolve this paradox of freedom. I think most people in the world place a significant value on personal choice, but it all ends up being drowned out by one form or another of “group think”. We stop thinking for ourselves and start toeing the party line, and end up giving up our freedom one small piece at a time because we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t have the protection of the group. Like many things in life, there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium; you’re either moving one way or you’re moving another.

How do we resolve this problem? If the answer were simple, it wouldn’t still be an issue. Part of the solution is simply keeping an eye on it. You’re never going to find a place where you can just set it down and leave it alone. We will always be moving either toward more power to groups or more freedom to individuals. It must be treated like trying to stand on top of a ball: constantly in motion and shifting from one side to the other. If we can keep it pretty close to the middle, we have a chance to get the best possible outcome.

What do you think about the paradox of freedom? Can you see in your own life how this applies to you? Are there any groups you disagree with that you feel you need help to resist? Understanding these things in our life that have no complete resolution doesn’t make things easier to do, but it can help us to find peace with the process. It is not hypocritical to value freedom and then band together in common cause as long as we keep in mind what the true goal is.

How much better could our country be if we could incorporate this thought into our ideology?

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Maintaining Political Neutrality

We have come to see how hyper-partisan politics is destroying our social structure, economy, and the basic freedoms we once enjoyed. As the rhetoric builds higher and higher, leaders feel emboldened to implement more and more rules to tightly regulate not only our public lives, but our private affairs as well. In this highly charged political climate, there is no more thought regarding how decisions are affecting the people. The only concern is advancing an ideology. This is true regardless of which side of the spectrum we’re talking about.

The problem with grouping ourselves together into political parties is that, for the most part, most people don’t actually agree with every single policy that a party stands for. They might agree with some, or even most, but rarely does a person truly agree with every single stance of a political party. For the vast majority of people, we have maybe one or two issues that we feel strongly about, and the rest are mostly just noise. Because we are part of a political party, though, we are forced to stand up for ideas that don’t really matter to us so we have a chance for the one or two that we do care about to get some attention.

It’s interesting to note that political parties end up causing a lot more problems than they solve. Because there is a line in the sand on every one of the party’s positions, they find ways to prevent an opposing ideology from having any voice at all. If you look at the way laws are packaged today, you start to get a clear understanding of how this works. Rather than passing bills on single issues, we get packages of various things that have absolutely nothing to do with one another and it becomes an all or nothing proposition. Rather than voting on each individual issue, they are grouped together to be used as leverage against the other side.

For example, you might have a bill that contains a provision for additional military funding, further restrictions on firearms, and a new program to better fund our national park system. Obviously, the first two issues are extremely polarizing, and this the bill never gets anywhere because neither side can give any ground at all, even though both sides would probably vote for the national park portion of the bill. By grouping these bills into packages rather than voting on the issues individually, nothing really gets done because even the things we agree on become lost in the fighting.

This is the problem with joining a political party. It is absolutely true that there is strength in numbers, and I’m not saying you should just go solo in the world. However, it has been clearly demonstrated that when you completely align yourself with a group and allow them to fully speak for you, many of the things that might actually be important to you get left by the wayside. The fight becomes more about making sure our party has the power rather than focusing on what the party was formed for in the first place: getting things done that matter to us.

For myself, I have stopped identifying myself with any political party. My values most closely align with Libertarianism, but in truth I prefer to remain completely independent because I disagree with a few of the things they see as deal breakers. As soon as you start incorporating yourself into someone else’s value system, you give up what’s important to you in favor of what’s important to them. What happens if they change their mind, or become corrupted, or refuse to make any compromises at all regardless of the cost? In the end, you have to make up your own mind, because only you can look at the evidence and figure out what you think.

So what do you think about political parties? Is it time to start casting them aside? Do they really get anything done, or do they cause more harm than good? Are you willing to go against the group of people you traditionally followed if they aren’t doing what you voted them into office to do? Independence of thought is critically important to advancing society in a way that is healthy for everyone. When every idea has a fair chance to be heard and truly considered, we are all better off. This doesn’t mean we have to do everything that everyone brings to the table, but the truth is that we tend to agree on far more issues than we disagree.

Imagine what we could get done if we stop fixating on the handful of issues we can’t seem to resolve.

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Respect and Insults

It looks like today is going to be a two post day. I have in my circle a few individuals who feel like they need to ridicule others to make a point. I’ve never understood this way of thinking. I get being confrontational and forceful, because if you can’t learn to stand up against the opposition, your voice will be drowned out by the crowd. There is a difference between being forceful and being offensive, and if we are to become mature adults trying to make valid points, it is important to know the difference.

It’s incredibly easy to be offensive. All you have to do is just find something you don’t like about someone and start bringing it up in the most rude way you can think of. Our brains are wired to attack first and ask questions later. It requires no effort to listen to an opinion and then spout off any sort of vitriol that pops into your head. The first problem with being offensive is that it’s just lazy. If you can’t come up with a measured response to an opposing viewpoint, then why should anyone listen to you?

The second problem with being offensive is that it doesn’t accomplish anything. Has anyone ever said something offensive to you and your immediate response was to actually listen to what it was they were trying to say? I seriously doubt it. When we are attacked, our natural reaction is to bring up our defenses and get ready for a fight. Our goal of getting the other side to really hear us is completely washed away because the person isn’t listening to what we’re saying, only to how we’re saying it. It is a complete waste of time.

The third issue with being offensive is that our human nature starts a pattern of escalation. You look at the politics in the country today and it’s no mystery why our country is as polarized as it is. Both sides focus on attacking the other in the worst possible ways, and each side ends up trying to raise the bar to get the upper hand. Our political situation today is a prime example of why being offensive is not only ineffective, but it actually makes things worse for everyone. Instead of respectful disagreements, we have plotting and revenge. No progress can be made in such an environment.

The only way to move forward as a society is to start from a place of respect. Regardless of your viewpoint, you should be trying to treat everyone you meet as if they are the same as you. Imagine yourself in them, and treat them the way you would want to be treated. Growing up, this was taught to me as “the golden rule”. It is probably the most important relational lesson that anyone can learn. Much of human history would be very different if people had actually learned it. Our future certainly can be.

So how do we change things? Our situation today seems so hopeless, but the wonderful thing about life is that it’s never too late to fix things, and in the end each of us is responsible for our own behavior. You can’t do anything about the other guy, but you can practice being respectful even in the face of offensive behavior. While they shout and hurl insults, you stand firmly with measured responses, tempered by logical thought and a refusal to be brought down to that level of interaction. You’re better than that, and even if the other guy won’t change his own behavior, when other people see that you are behaving in a mature and respectful way they will be far more inclined to listen to your arguments than the other guy.

Something to keep in mind: you will never change another person’s belief. Once a person has committed themselves to an idea, no amount of argument is going to change it. It requires some kind of shock to force a believer out of their own ideology. Your goal is never to convince the believer, but to make calm arguments as to why you think that you’re right and they’re wrong so that bystanders without a set point of view can make their own decision. When you keep this in mind, it is much easier to argue your point because you start to realize that your effort isn’t at all for the person you’re talking to, but those who haven’t made up their mind yet.

So how do you feel about being offensive? Can you think of a time when you were offensive and it actually had a positive result? How can you start to incorporate unconditional respect into your arguments? We should never give in to ideas that don’t align with our own philosophies just because someone tries to force it on us. Careful thought and introspection are required, and logical and respectful debate is the only way to convince anyone of anything. If we can truly learn this concept, our future will be all the brighter for it.

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Wisdom Trumps Ambition

When I was younger, I used to think that I wanted to make sure I did what I needed to do to become as successful as possible as early in life as possible. I thought about wanting to acquire certain things that most people don’t get until much later in their lives in my twenties. The thought process was that I wanted to have those things early enough to still be young enough to enjoy them. Being too old to truly do things at the best level seemed a waste to me. How naive.

One of the things that young people universally need to overcome is the impatience of youth. I’m not talking about our previous discussion about having a goal and being unable to stick to the long game. I’m talking about the kind of impatience that leads to angst later in life because you set unrealistic expectations for yourself and then fail to meet them. We all have ideas for what we think our future should be, but almost all of us have a completely unrealistic time frame for how long that should take. If it could truly come so fast, we would retire at thirty. It simply isn’t the case.

One of the most important lessons I want my children to learn is the concept of setting realistic expectations for their life. Unfortunately, truly understanding this idea can only come with age, because it is only when we gain the wisdom of our years that we are able to truly understand anything. I hope my children will listen and make decisions for the long term rather than a short gain, but if they are anything like me they will jump into adulthood expecting their desires to be delivered to them in the first few years of work. They might take my advice and slow things down, but they won’t be able to truly get it until they’ve experienced enough life for it to truly make sense.

That’s the thing about wisdom. A person can make wise decisions, but it is only through making decisions that we can test things and figure out what works and what doesn’t. We can certainly absorb knowledge through education or reading the words of others, and this can help accelerate the process, but there is vast difference between knowledge and wisdom; theory and application. We can theoretically know that something is wise, but we don’t truly understand why it is wise until we find ourselves in the situation and take a course of action. It is when we see how it either works or doesn’t that the knowledge becomes wisdom.

If our education is any good, our entire childhood is spent learning the theory of how the world works. Up until the point we become adults, we are immersed in learning about all manner of things from science to social studies to physical activity, storing up knowledge that we expect to prepare us for the world. At the end of our formal education, we are proud of the accomplishments we’ve made and jump out into the world assuming we are ready for anything.

Our twenties are our first lesson in the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Our early ambition is thwarted by the world around us and we start to realize that maybe we don’t know quite as much as we thought we did. The career we chose might not be as glamorous as we hoped, or perhaps bad decisions were made that set us back. An inability to exercise discipline in our spending might have placed us in a sticky situation with our credit. Whatever the details, it is in our twenties that most of us truly start gaining real world wisdom.

When we look at it like this, we start to realize that, aside from the rare exceptional person, it is only in our thirties that we really start to push toward our life goals. This is the time that we have built up enough experiences to know what works for us and what doesn’t. It is the time of our lives in which we have demonstrated who we will be for the rest of our lives and everyone around us can know who we are and what we stand for. It is the time in which we become confident in our decisions because we’ve made enough of them to have a pretty fair idea of how those decisions will turn out.

As the title of this article states, wisdom simply trumps ambition at every level. Ambition without wisdom invariably leads to failure. You may make some short term gains making blindly aggressive decisions, but eventually your luck will run out and all your efforts will come crashing down around you. Ambition tempered with wisdom can be a very powerful force, and approaching life with the goal of slowly incorporating wisdom into your makeup will get you to your goals far faster than impatience can.

What do you think about wisdom? In what part of life do you find yourself? Are you just getting started and want to learn how to be wise? Or have you already experienced enough to know what you want and where you’re going? Self reflection is an important part of learning to be successful, because if you don’t even know who you are, you can’t make decisions that make sense for you.

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Dealing with Disappointment

A lot of my posts recently have focused on trying to stay positive and move toward a goal, but what do you do when it seems like life is just out to get you? You don’t have to be living in terrible circumstances to feel like things just aren’t working out. Many people in our society struggle with depression specifically because they had dreams and aspirations that just didn’t work out and now they are stuck in a situation they never wanted to be in. Some of them are even very wealthy, and they still feel trapped by this feeling. Many people will say that this is some sort of privilege and to look at people who have it much worse than us and we should be grateful for what we have, but those words never seem to make us feel any better.

How do you deal with a constant feeling of disappointment? This article isn’t intended to provide you with specific advice, reader, as I have struggled with this form of depression for most of my adult life and I feel no closer to solving it. For myself, a large portion of it stems from the fact that I just don’t know what I want to do with my life, aside from a couple of crystallized ideas that have formed over time, none of which have to do with my career. Perhaps the worst form of disappointment is being unable to find a sense of purpose for your life, or maybe feeling like there are things you could probably do well but circumstances just don’t work out for you.

Many people will tell you that you just need to pick yourself up and start doing something. Try different things and see what sticks. It seems like good advice on the surface, but I liken it to treading water. You put in a lot of effort just to stay afloat but you’re not actually getting anywhere. Sometimes putting in the effort only to find it was a complete waste of time pushes you further into depression. Trying things can actually be detrimental to your mental health if nothing ever seems to stick. You feel more and more lost every time something new fails.

Disappointment is a hard thing to overcome. It is in direct opposition to the concepts of perseverance and patience, and as long as it has a strong hold on your life it will be an impediment to your ability to find peace and satisfaction in your life. It encourages that insidious laziness we discussed in a previous article because it becomes harder and harder to summon the energy to do anything if you have come to believe that anything you do will end in failure. Why waste the effort?

I don’t believe there are any solid suggestions that can be given to help stave off disappointment. If there were, it wouldn’t be such a widespread problem. Disappointment is one of those things that is unique to each of us, and it requires a unique solution to figure out how to get past it. “Gurus” could probably give you a list of ten things you can do to work to overcome it, but in the end your disappointment stems from personal failures in your own life. You can’t apply a template to a unique problem.

So what does this mean for us? It is simply that part of life is struggle and failure, and unfortunately there is no easy way out. It again brings us back to perseverance and patience. Learning to accept that feeling of disappointment without allowing it to crush our resolve is one of the most important thing we can do to find meaning in our lives, especially when we find ourselves in situations where we are not happy with how things turned out. You will always have a part of your life you wish were different, and learning to live with that is key to finding peace. The way you do that is up to you. No one can figure it out for you.

For myself, part of my motivation to start this blog and make a serious attempt to keep writing it stems from the crushing disappointments in my own life. My way of dealing with disappointment is to share my thoughts and hope that it makes some kind of difference, not only for myself but for others who are struggling to figure out their own lives. I have certain ideas about things, be it political or otherwise, but part of my goal is to start putting together something that is coherent and meaningful and that maybe starts moving my life in a different direction. It is when we find meaning in something that we are able to overcome disappointment. Otherwise we are lost.

So what about you? What will you start doing today to fight back against disappointment? Do you agree that there is no standard solution that applies to you?

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Fear Propaganda

Is climate change really caused by humans? Are guns really as dangerous as we’re told? Is nuclear power too dangerous to use? It’s hard to know in our modern political climate. The truth is constantly obscured under a layer of sensationalism and fear. How are we to get to the objective facts when no one seems to want to set aside political agendas and take a really good look at what’s actually going on.

I personally struggle with modern politics. It’s difficult for me to watch certain messages because I know their true goal isn’t to make the world a better place but to scare us into falling in line with that point of view. Facts are secondary to shock value, and the people in power know that if they can shock us into action we won’t think critically about what it is that they want us to do. Fear causes knee jerk reactions that almost invariably result in a negative outcome. Rarely is our first idea the best one.

This is the problem with progressive movements. While the desire to push our world toward a better place is noble, the very fact that people want to push it there so aggressively indicates a certain level of impatience that is ultimately counterproductive. As I stated in a previous article, perseverance is critically important to get where you want to go, but a goal without patience usually ends in failure because people can’t seem to understand that a big task is broken up into little tasks. Progressives want the end result right now and aren’t willing to wait for everyone else to catch up with them. More conservative people simply move too slow for these “enlightened” minds.

So rather than wait and patiently educate people on what they think needs to be done, and give those people a chance to truly look into the situation and determine for themselves if the facts bear out the hypothesis, progressives tend to bristle with anger and shout from the top of their lungs every negative factoid they can find in an attempt to shock people into action. In their view, they shouldn’t have to wait to actually change someone’s mind for real. They must convince them with fear that they just need to do what they’re told or the consequences will be dire.

This way of leading actually works for a time. When we are startled, we have a genuine reaction that causes us to act violently in a certain manner. However, once it becomes clear that whatever scared us isn’t actually causing any imminent danger, we learn to ignore that source of fear. For example, if you are walking down the street and someone jumps out from behind a corner and shouts at you, the first time it happens you will likely jump back and let out a scream. It might work again the second and third time, but eventually you will come to expect the person and it will no longer scare you at all. Fear only works when we believe whatever we’re supposed to fear as actually dangerous.

Fear propaganda works the same way. The reason things like climate change aren’t really accepted by more conservative people is that the rhetoric surrounding it has been so charged with fear mongering. At first, people were more inclined to actually listen because this was something new and we had to start really looking at the problem. Unfortunately, impatient progressives decided the process was taking too long and started throwing out wildly short, unsubstantiated timelines as to when we would start really seeing the effects of climate change. The message became incredibly inconsistent and it started to become clear that the progressive fears weren’t nearly as scary as they were making it out to be.

The same holds true with nuclear energy. In reality, fission power is one of the safest forms of energy production on the planet. Strict controls are placed on the materials used and the processes implemented to run the plants. However, the few disastrous accidents we’ve had were sensationalized to the point where much of the general public just doesn’t trust nuclear power anymore and plants are being closed. This is a shame because nuclear energy is one of the few viable green energy sources we have access to. The only thing it emits is water vapor from the cooling towers, and the actual fissile material itself is relatively harmless if stored properly. But rather than moving toward a powerful energy source that could drastically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being pumped into the air, we fixate on a few rare accidents that were sensationalized because news outlets want more viewers.

What about gun control? Mass shootings in America are certainly on the rise and no one can really argue otherwise. The disagreement centers around the cause of these issues. Is it truly access to firearms? The fear mongers would like us to believe that a person can walk into a store, swipe their card, and then walk out with a machine gun ready to mow people down in a mall. The truth is that this simply isn’t the case if you’re purchasing your firearm through legal channels. Even for something as simple as a handgun, you can’t go to any gun store anywhere in the country and just pay for a gun and walk out. Your information is recorded and you are subjected to a federal background check before you are authorized to make the purchase. If you are flagged for any reason, it is illegal for the shop to sell you a gun. I have a feeling most reasonable people would feel this is sufficient, yet we are still calling for stricter controls because people are scaring us into believing the problem is worse than it is.

This is the problem with trying to convince people through fear. It only works if the public is uneducated, and the progressive movement isn’t willing to give you all the facts because you might figure out their message doesn’t make sense and decide against them. Once the public starts to realize that the fear is unjustified, they stop paying attention and go back to the way they liked it before. No permanent change can be reached using fear. It is only when reasonable discourse is used that people’s mind can be truly changed and effective measures taken to move society forward. It is when we use respect and genuine concern for everyone that real progress is made.

So how will you use this information? Will you look at things a little differently when you watch the news? Can you set aside your fear and impatience and look at the facts in a rational way? When we can finally learn to do this, our society will be in a much better place to start making serious and meaningful decisions about the future.

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