Skip to comments.Think or Die The Importance of Being Earnest (With Yourself)
Posted on 08/18/2005 10:52:18 AM PDT by markderian
College students are persistently imbued with the idea that it is fashionable to be anti-establishment. But a tangible definition of the establishment is never given; its often idly expressed as the middle-America lifestyle; a wife, 2.3 children, a house with a white picket fence, and a nine-to-five job. But regardless as to how students conceptualize the establishment, the idea is vague at best, and leaves youth helplessly rebelling against an obscurity, for the purpose of mere non-conformity.
To be exact, the establishment is any individual or group of individuals who discontinue thought, which can be done either consciously or subconsciously. We become established once we stop thinking consciously about our lives, and gives up dreams and passions in favor of the practical.
In order not to become part of the establishment, we must submit ourselves to two arduous steps. First, an individual must acquire a supreme value or a set of values, and conceptualize these values into an idea on which ones life is to be based. Most of our dreams and passions are often lofty and may seem unattainable, but these must never be sacrificed, no matter the cost, and no matter the consequence.
The second step involves a conscious and deliberate adherence to our dreams and passions, and consequently to the idea on which we base our lives. Once we have the tenacity to recognize an ideal life for ourselves, we must make the effort to stand by this dream, through thick and thin. The ability to stand by an idea is called integrity.
However, the acquisition of this supreme value or idea and the ability to stand by it is not an irreducible primary. The irreducible primary which presupposes the acquisition of a value and integrity is the process of thought. We must never cease thinking about our lives; about what exactly we want out of life, and about how we will pursue this ideal life for ourselves.
We must develop an ideal based on deeply held thoughts and desires, and we must hold to this ideal for better or worse in order to preserve our life. Once any of these notions are sacrificed, a man is a sell-out, becomes part of the establishment, and he takes his place amongst the cold, grey masses.
The question of whether or not you are a sell-out can be your only concern, for judgments of this sort can only come from within. It is an error to assume another is a sell-out simply by observing his path in life. A great deal of personal information must be known about a subject in order to pass such a grave verdict. A man who spends forty hours a week in a cubicle is not necessarily part of the establishment.
Common, pernicious obstacles that we all must face and overcome are negative, external influences. The most damaging aspect of influences such as these is that we do not often recognize them because they may come well-known and trusted sources, such as loved ones, parents, close friends, and significant others. The ability to overpower these influences can only originate in, again, an intense dedication to unhindered thought, and an equivalent dedication to the self.
The ability to judge yourself thoroughly requires a tremendous amount of introspection; introspection to the depth of self-immolation. Indeed, if we inquire into our life, and do not feel some sort of depression or anxiety, we are doubtlessly not thinking hard enough. Hurt feelings and bruised egos are an essential part of growing up and developing as an individual. A life that is in a perpetual state of feeling good is a life of stagnation and waste, only to be regretted.
Adequate introspection may lead some to realize that they have wasted a majority of their years in a career that was never really desired, but only saw as a means to endure. Or it may lead some to realize that they are in a dead-end marriage, which they embarked upon during a lonely period in their life. It may lead others to come to the conclusion that their political and philosophical beliefs are merely a collection of what their friends or a televised pundit profess, and that they bear no real thoughts or opinions of their own. Realizations such as these have the potential to damage the human spirit, but it will not kill it. The human spirit only dies once the mind is closed.
Victor Hugo, author of such masterpieces as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables, suggests that we need to spend much time alone, with little distractions during formative years in order to live a life of merit. Long periods exhausted in this fashion tend to ignite the thought process. I guarantee that, if you try this, you will be bored, lonely, and irritated. But staring at a blank wall at long intervals just might be the path to salvation.
Some of what we hear is true: the establishment is a horrible thing, but much more horrible than your sociology professor conveyed. Becoming its constituent represents a mental and therefore spiritual death in man; a devastating event which creates a psychological burden I hope none who read this must bear. In closing, ponder this quote from Hugos The Man Who Laughs:
There is no judge so searching as a conscience conducting its own trial.
It's true that most people probably do not think enough and are not honest enough with themselves. People love to be in denial about their weaknesses. But the author then posits that an individual must come to his sense of truth all by himself. In a sense, that is true. But I have preferred a path where I have thought long and hard about life and my own path and have come to rely on a source of truth that is much more reliable than my own subjective thoughts and feelings. Without a personal and infinite reference point of truth, man is left to try to sort things out on his own, without ever knowing for sure that his viewpoint is correct. Based on examining historical evidences, I prefer to adopt the viewpoint of the Bible. The Bible tells me that it is difficult, if not impossible, to be totally truthful with myself (Jeremiah 17:9). It also tell s me that God's ways and thoughts are much higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9). In fact, man's ways are foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 2:14). As that famous philosopher, Dirty Harry Calaghan, said, "A man's got to know his limitations."
Is this what they are teaching in Junior high nowadays? Keep up the search. By the time you get to college you may have things in a little better order.