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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


"Good works do not make a person good.  A good person simply does them."
- Wolf Howl

“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded.

He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater.

I think that's just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it's a joke.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Our base desires seem to hoodwink our higher-reasoning selves and drive us mad with one unmet expectation after another.

Modern life has made things worse,

deepening our cravings and at the same time heightening our delusions of importance as individuals.

Not only are we rabid in our unsustainable demands for gourmet living, eternal youth, fame and a hundred varieties of sex,

but we have been encouraged –

by a post-1970s "rights" culture that has created a zero-tolerance sensitivity

to any perceived inequality, slight or grievance –

into believing that to want something is to deserve it.

Universities has watered-down the term happiness to "Selective Well Being." 

But lifeless jargon does not enpower us to live fully each moment.

Happiness is elusive. 

If you have it, you are unaware of it.  And once you are aware of it, it evaporates.

Think back on a moment in your past when you were happy. 

You were unaware of how precious that happiness was.  Ironically, you probably felt you were unhappy.

Now, you would give almost anything to go back and enjoy the happiness of which you were unaware.

So upon reaching a certain maturity, we realize that there are many forms of happiness. 

I wonder if any two people who feel themselves happy are experiencing the same phenomenon. 

As we live in an age so the age lives in us. 

And this is the age of the glamor of potential.

Sadly, as soon as we get the things we wanted, we no longer want them ... that is the "glamor of potential."

It is an eternal loop of frustrating desire

by which the things we have are devalued by the things we want next.

One way out of such a loop is the one found by the Stoics, Sarte, and the ancient Greeks:

a detached grasp of the futility of things which leads to accepting responsibility for your actions.

Not a favored view in the 21st Century. 

This is the age of the committee, herd instinct, team playing. 

Understanding comes from solitude, but solitude in the Digital Age is a mirage, isn't it?

What do you think?


  1. I say you nailed it, Roland. Are many of the things happening in the news today rational? The gene pool is mutating. And not in a good way.

  2. I sooo agree with this. I feel we need to be super careful about the zero tolerance mentality. I'm not saying be rude or riot, but if we agree with everything we become mental and emotional zombies. And YES what about the generations that I have helped raised where they can't think for themselves OR when something more is expected, they sit down and say, but everybody loves me.

    Great post, as usual!

  3. D,G.:
    I think you may be right: we devolving not evolving it seems.

    How is your husband progressing? And your daughter? I pray for your whole family daily. :-)

    The herd instinct runs strong in us. It helped us survive, but we must retain our individuality since creativity is a solitary process.

    As Wilde and William James believed: often when we believe we are thinking, we are merely re-arranging our prejudices!

    Thanks for the compliment. :-)

  4. Hi Roland .. I hate being a part of the herd ... I'm happy being with a team for a reason - but count my individuality and uniqueness first ... then my ability to fit in with other like-minded people ... not others who only wish the same as the next person ...

    Dreadful .. I hope we can cause some sense back into human life again .. so we can enjoy life and its individualities ... and learn to think .. cheers Hilary

  5. Kierkegaard's argument is powerful. I'm thankful many RATIONAL writers do take the leap of faith. If they didn't, creative writing would die.

    I've long believed complacency—which is essentially looking inward—kills empathy. It's impossible to put ourselves in someone else's shoes if we have no reference point. That goes for both the privileged and the unprivileged.

    Another poignant and thought provoking post, Roland.

    VR Barkowski

  6. Hilary:
    I like my privacy, but still I enjoy listening to the banter of others. I am a contradiction, right?

    To be a writer these days, we must take that leap of faith. Ouch!

    You're right: we need empathy if this world is to continue, no matter our income!

    Thank you for such nice words. :-)

  7. The thoughtful and challenging post, Roland. Happiness can be very elusive-- I was in that state the longest as a very young child. With growing up comes... Well, other stuff.

    The quote by Sebastian Junger is especially powerful and tells us so much about the absurdity of war.