Saturday, December 15, 2012


Another paradox that requires a delicate balance exists between individualism and communalism. Oftentimes, people overemphasize one over the other. Some cultures promote a sort of rugged individualism that denies the social nature of humans, while others who champion altruistic community, neglect the fact that if people fail to put themselves first, no member of the community will be strong enough to contribute to it.

Speaking of community, the modern vernacular of this term has morphed into a concept synonymous with a simple group of individuals. Yet, according to its roots (and another book by M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace), it is much more than what we think of it. It is actually a notion that revolves around sharing and involves openness, vulnerability, honesty, trust, acceptance, tolerance, and diversity, as well as - and potentially most importantly - respect. A true community will have respect for all that is shared in common - which is by far more than the ways in which participants differ - and respect for the fact that each participant has a right to their differences.

Communitas supports the individuals in it by respecting their similarities as well as their differences; it supports diversity, appreciates participants for who they are, and helps them be the best that they can be, while not seeking to conform them into some version of what we think they ought to be.

I have experienced this miracle in fleeting moments, and I hope to see more of it more often :)

Moral imperative

It is your moral imperative to always do what is in your rational long-term self-interest.

Being “selfish” should cease holding a negative connotation, for how can you be of benefit to anyone else if you neglect to take care of yourself? According to a philosophy called Objectivism, the greatest virtues to uphold are rationality, by employing your brain; honesty, by committing to truth; justice, by being equitable; independence, by remaining responsible for your own life and never living for the sake of another nor asking another to live for yours; integrity, by standing firm on your principles and applying them consistently to all that you do; productiveness, by being useful and fruitful and contributing to your life and to society; and pride, by valuing your self and your output.

If each person were to put their own self-interest first, we would live in a thriving world. Many say that selfishness leads to some gaining at the expense of others, but since when did anyone find health and happiness through lying, cheating, and stealing? No: unethical practices are spiritually toxic, and are in no one’s rational long-term self-interest, as are any other self-destructive behaviors, many of which tend to fall under the umbrella of instant gratification. It is in each person’s best interest to be cooperative with others, since we are social beings who flourish in healthy communities.

Be charitable, volunteer, rear children – if you like – but only support causes or people you value, and be sure that your support is aimed at their growth, and does not engender long-term reliance, for fostering dependence is a great injustice – to the individual, as well as society.

Perhaps a wider adoption of greater selfishness would produce a more thriving existence...


Life is paradox.

Another Peck gem, he artfully illustrates that this truth is best met with embrace. We must not seek to obliterate one extreme in favor of its counterpart, but affirm both the light and the dark, and seek balance. The miracle of life is its persistence alongside entropy. I have always valued balance and made it a priority in my life, as I found it a crucial element to my inner peace and happiness. Therefore, I have deep appreciation for this broader view of it: that everywhere in existence we find paradox, and that it is not meant to be solved, but to be balanced.

We're all familiar with the dichotomies of good vs. evil, and emotion vs. rationality, and I've mentioned the dilemma of prioritizing current possessions vs. desired possessions. However, these opposing forces are not meant to fight out battles of elimination, rather we are meant to seek out ideal harmonies among them. It's not about banishing the darkness for the sake of the light, for those who live in the light will always cast shadows; it's not about listening to your head OR your heart, it's about informing each with the other; and it's not about appreciating your gifts at the expense of your dreams, it's about utilizing gratitude to manifest abundance.

Recognize dichotomies as paradox, and pursue equilibrium.


Calling again on the insight of M. Scott Peck, who listed balance among the four tenets of discipline, I am grateful for his elucidation and expansion on this distinctly essential virtue.

Balance is a thing to which I feel particularly sensitive. What is required to achieve it is different for each person, and its perceived importance varies as well. For me, it is crucial; I know that I like an eclectic array of interests to be served in my life, and that moderation is a great equalizer.

In general, balance requires strength, determination, discipline, and ultimately flexibility. Balance means maintaining a sense of evenness, but it also involves a capacity for adaptation to achieve such maintenance in a changing world. In order to stand on one foot on a hill in the wind, you have to be able to constantly make minor adjustments as the forces change. Similarly, in order to preserve balance between opposing forces in your life, you must support an equilibrium; it's not balance if you favor one extreme or the other; you have to accommodate each of them to a degree that zeros your scale, so to speak.

May you find peace and harmony :)