The Plight of the Founder

submitted by jwithrow.
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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Plight of the Founder

August 10, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” – Jesus of Nazareth, Luke 12:57

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,181. Gold closed at $1,338 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $42.69 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.545%. Bitcoin is trading around $590 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

My mind wanders off of the beaten path once again this week as I finish up A Lodging of Wayfaring Men by Paul Rosenberg for the second time. As I read this book, I can almost ‘see’ the plight of the founder as it has played out over and over again throughout human history.

In order to understand the plight of the founder, we must first understand a key function of life… all life. The basic laws of thermodynamics tell us that closed systems naturally evolve towards a state of maximum entropy; entropy being the amount of energy not available for work.

Life systematically reverses entropy. Continue reading “The Plight of the Founder”

The Only Label That Matters

submitted by jwithrow.Label Sticker

Labels are divisive.

We have been conditioned by government education and mass-media to put labels on others and then treat them according to what that label means to us. This is group-think and it is antithetical to the philosophy of individual liberty.

Here is how group-think works:

We place someone in a particular category, label them, and then we attribute specific qualities to that person based on that label. This person may or may not actually share all of these qualities.

So we label that person based on their ethnic background or their political philosophy or their profession or their collegiate affiliation or whatever else. And we then assume that they hold all of the values that we associate with that particular group.

Here’s the problem: group-think fosters judgment and division and it reinforces the collectivist mentality that individuals are subservient to groups (governments, corporations, institutions, etc.).

We think that this judgment and division is misplaced.

We are not groups; we are people. Individuals. We may differ in certain philosophies or preferences but we are all far more similar than we are different.

Personhood is the only label that matters.

The fact is that we will never agree on everything. Try getting five friends to agree on where to go for dinner and see if this is not true. But we are all people and as individuals we inherently hold tremendous value that does not dissipate simply because we may hold different beliefs. And because we hold this inherent value as individuals, we should not allow groups to tell us what to think or how to feel. It’s up to us to decide for ourselves.

We would also suggest that our differences in opinion should not deter us from honest friendship. It is foolish to squabble with family members and friends over particulars and allow these particulars to destroy relationships. And we would suggest that it is destructive to see ourselves as a member of a certain group and then think that we are therefore diametrically opposed to another group. We do not want others to impose their labels upon us so we should not impose our labels on others. It can be appropriate to offer advice or present alternative ideas to someone with differing values but this is much different than trying to impose our values upon someone else. Remember, true change can only come from within, never from without.

A wise man once said “Do unto others and you would have them do unto you.”

Sounder advice has never been given.

Avoiding the Identity Trap

submitted by jwithrow.Identity Trap

The identity trap is the belief that you need to conform to what others think that you should be. It is when you feel the need to speak or act a certain way because other people think that you should speak or act that way. It is when you participate in an event or join an organization because others expect you to do so.

While these other people who expect you to conform to certain expectations are typically well-intentioned, you are doing yourself a disservice if you allow yourself to be pressured into the identity trap. Your life will not be harmonious if you are not true to your own inner self.

People, often subconsciously, do not see others as individuals but rather they see others as members of a particular group. They then assume that the other person holds all of the associated group’s beliefs and traits and thus they expect the other person to speak and act accordingly. But everyone is a unique individual and groups are comprised of individuals.

Individuals have a responsibility to themselves to do what they think is right at all times. Individuals have a responsibility to stay true to their beliefs and principles. Individuals do not have a responsibility to put on a façade because other people expect them to be something other than themselves. Falling into and remaining stuck in the identity trap is an impediment to your personal freedom. You can never be free if you must pretend to be something that you are not.

Harry Browne, in How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, laid out four specific principles to recognize in order to avoid the identity trap. They are as follows:

1. You are a unique individual — different from all other human beings. No one else has the exact same nature that you have; no one else reacts to things in exactly the way you do. No one else sees the world exactly as you do. No one can dictate what your identity should be; you are the best qualified person to discover what it is.

2. Each individual is acting from his own knowledge in ways he believes will bring him happiness. He acts to produce the consequences he thinks will make him feel better.

3. You have to treat things and people in accordance with their own identities in order to get what you want from them. You don’t expect a stone to be a fish. And it’s just as unrealistic to expect one person to act as someone else does. You don’t control the identities of people, but you can control how you deal with them.

4. You view the world subjectively — colored by your own experience, interpretation, and limits of perception. It isn’t essential that you know the final truth about everything in the world; and you don’t have the resources to discover it.

Avoid the identity trap and realize your true individual potential.