We shouldn’t let our envy of distinguished masters of the arts distract us from the wonder of how each of us gets new ideas. Perhaps we hold on to our superstitions about creativity in order to make our own deficiencies seem more excusable. For when we tell ourselves that masterful abilities are simply unexplainable, we’re also comforting ourselves by saying that those superheroes come endowed with all the qualities we don’t possess. Our failures are therefore no fault of our own, nor are those heroes’ virtues to their credit, either. If it isn’t learned, it isn’t earned.When we actually meet the heroes whom our culture views as great, we don’t find any singular propensities––only combinations of ingredients quite common in themselves. Most of these heroes are intensely motivated, but so are many other people. They’re usually very proficient in some field–but in itself we simply call this craftmanship or expertise. They often have enough self-confidence to stand up to the scorn of peers–but in itself, we might just call that stubbornness. They surely think of things in some novel ways, but so does everyone from time to time. And as for what we call “intelligence”, my view is that each person who can speak coherently already has the better part of what our heroes have. Then what makes genius appear to stand apart, if we each have most of what it takes?I suspect that genius needs one thing more: in order to accumulate outstanding qualities, one needs unusually effective ways to learn. It’s not enough to learn a lot; one also has to manage what one learns. Those masters have, beneath the surface of their mastery, some special knacks of “higher-order” expertise, which help them organize and apply the things they learn. It is those hidden tricks of mental management that produce the systems that create those works of genius. Why do certain people learn so many more and better skills? These all-important differences could begin with early accidents. One child works out clever ways to arrange some blocks in rows and stacks; a second child plays at rearranging how it thinks. Everyone can praise the first child’s castles and towers, but no one can see what the second child has done, and one may even get the false impression of a lack of industry. But if the second child persists in seeking better ways to learn, this can lead to silent growth in which some better ways to learn may lead to better ways to learn to learn. Then, later, we’ll observe an awesome, qualitative change, with no apparent cause–and give to it some empty name like talent, aptitude, or gift.
We are the center. In each of our minds - some may call it arrogance, or selfishness - we are the center, and all the world moves about us, and for us, and because of us. This is the paradox of community, the one and the whole, the desires of the one often in direct conflict with the needs of the whole. Who among us has not wondered if all the world is no more than a personal dream?I do not believe that such thoughts are arrogant or selfish. It is simply a matter of perception; we can empathize with someone else, but we cannot truly see the world as another person sees it, or judge events as they affect the mind and the heart of another, even a friend.But we must try. For the sake of all the world, we must try. This is the test of altruism, the most basic and undeniable ingredient for society. Therein lies the paradox, for ultimately, logically, we each must care more about ourselves than about others, and yet, if, as rational beings we follow that logical course, we place our needs and desires above the needs of our society, and then there is no community.I come from Menzoberranzan, city of drow, city of self. I have seen that way of selfishness. I have seen it fail miserably. When self-indulgence rules, then all the community loses, and in the end, those striving for personal gains are left with nothing of any real value.Because everything of value that we will know in this life comes from our relationships with those around us. Because there is nothing material that measures against the intangibles of love and friendship.Thus, we must overcome that selfishness and we must try, we must care. I saw this truth plainly following the attack on Captain Deudermont in Watership. My first inclination was to believe that my past had precipitated the trouble, that my life course had again brought pain to a friend. I could not bear this thought. I felt old and I felt tired. Subsequently learning that the trouble was possibly brought on by Deudermont's old enemies, not my own, gave me more heart for the fight.Why is that? The danger to me was no less, nor was the danger to Deudermont, or to Catti-brie or any of the others about us.Yet my emotions were real, very real, and I recognized and understood them, if not their source. Now, in reflection, I recognize that source, and take pride in it. I have seen the failure of self-indulgence; I have run from such a world. I would rather die because of Deudermont's past than have him die because of my own. I would suffer the physical pains, even the end of my life. Better that than watch one I love suffer and die because of me. I would rather have my physical heart torn from my chest, than have my heart of hearts, the essence of love, the empathy and the need to belong to something bigger than my corporeal form, destroyed.They are a curious thing, these emotions. How they fly in the face of logic, how they overrule the most basic instincts. Because, in the measure of time, in the measure of humanity, we sense those self-indulgent instincts to be a weakness, we sense that the needs of the community must outweigh the desires of the one. Only when we admit to our failures and recognize our weaknesses can we rise above them.Together.
We're all on our own, aren't we? That's what it boils down to. We come into this world on our own- in Hawaii, as I did, or New York, or China, or Africa or Montana- and we leave it in the same way, on our own, wherever we happen to be at the time- in a plane, in our beds, in a car, in a space shuttle, or in a field of flowers. And between those times, we try to connect along the way with others who are also on their own. If we're lucky, we have a mother who reads to us. We have a teacher or two along the way who make us feel special. We have dogs who do the stupid dog tricks we teach them and who lie on our bed when we're not looking, because it smells like us, and so we pretend not to notice the paw prints on the bedspread. We have friends who lend us their favorite books. Maybe we have children, and grandchildren, and funny mailmen and eccentric great-aunts, and uncles who can pull pennies out of their ears. All of them teach us stuff. They teach us about combustion engines and the major products of Bolivia, and what poems are not boring, and how to be kind to each other, and how to laugh, and when the vigil is in our hands, and when we have to make the best of things even though it's hard sometimes. Looking back together, telling our stories to one another, we learn how to be on our own.
After we eat of the Apple of Knowledge, however, all of us start to be aware of ourselves, and our consciousness starts to be divided from our being. We start to have an image of ourselves which blocks our true expression. How do we go from there? There are two ways of dealing with this situation. The first is to find a self-image one is comfortable with. This is what most people do. It has some advantages since it causes the mind to operate reasonably undisturbed and it brings some peace to most people. People who find and maintain a self-image they are comfortable with are generally known as ‘happy people’. It doesn’t mean a whole lot, because in fact this image they are comfortable with is completely fake. There is another road, the road of learning to get rid of all self-imagery. This is a hard road however and requires one to pretty much battle for the rest of ones life (which isn’t a bad thing at all since the sense and meaning of life are essentially to put up a good battle). One develops techniques to stop identifying with ones self-image. The more these mechanisms behind self-imagery are mastered the more easy it becomes to switch and correct ones identities. At some point we can simply get rid of the self-image and be reborn as the child we once were, but a different child who has the triumph of knowledge in his pocket.
It doesn't matter what the manifest problem was in our childhood family. In a home where a child is emotionally deprived for one reason or another that child will take some personal emotional confusion into his or her adult life. We may spin our spiritual wheels in trying to make up for childhood's personal losses, looking for compensation in the wrong places and despairing that we can find it. But the significance of spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ is that we can mature spiritually under His parenting and receive healing compensation for these childhood deprivations. Three emotions that often grow all out of proportion in the emotionally deprived child are fear, guilt, and anger. The fear grows out of the child's awareness of the uncontrollable nature of her fearful environment, of overwhelming negative forces around her. Her guilt, her profound feelings of inadequacy, intensify when she is unable to put right what is wrong, either in the environment or in another person, no matter how hard she tries to be good. If only she could try harder or be better, she could correct what is wrong, she thinks. She may carry this guilt all her life, not knowing where it comes from, but just always feeling guilty. She often feels too sorry for something she has done that was really not all that serious. Her anger comes from her frustration, perceived deprivation, and the resultant self-pity. She has picked up an anger habit and doesn't know how much trouble it is causing her. A fourth problem often follows in the wake of the big three: the need to control others and manipulate events in order to feel secure in her own world, to hold her world together- to make happen what she wants to happen. She thinks she has to run everything. She may enter adulthood with an illusion of power and a sense of authority to put other people right, though she has had little success with it. She thinks that all she has to do is try harder, be worthier, and then she can change, perfect, and save other people. But she is in the dark about what really needs changing."I thought I would drown in guilt and wanted to fix all the people that I had affected so negatively. But I learned that I had to focus on getting well and leave off trying to cure anyone around me." Many of those around - might indeed get better too, since we seldom see how much we are a key part of a negative relationship pattern. I have learned it is a true principle that I need to fix myself before I can begin to be truly helpful to anyone else. I used to think that if I were worthy enough and worked hard enough, and exercised enough anxiety (which is not the same thing as faith), I could change anything. My power and my control are illusions. To survive emotionally, I have to turn my life over to the care of that tender Heavenly Father who was really in charge. It is my own spiritual superficiality that makes me sick, and that only profound repentance, that real change of heart, would ultimately heal me. My Savior is much closer than I imagine and is willing to take over the direction of my life: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing." (John 15:5). As old foundations crumble, we feel terribly vulnerable. Humility, prayer and flexibility are the keys to passing through this corridor of healthy change while we experiment with truer ways of dealing with life. Godly knowledge, lovingly imparted, begins deep healing, gives tools to live by and new ways to understand the gospel.
I'd like you to see that we are interfering too drastically. WE can't just assume so completely that Azerbaijan is in the hands of dangerous men and vicious Bolsheviks. I suppose it's all in the way you see Iran. I'd like you to see that Iranians are just as serious about their politics as we are: perhaps more so. The Iranian is a vigorous individual with definite ideas about the right and wrong done to him. It's easy for these journalists to laugh at the idea of political spontaneity among the Iranians because they look on these people as dirty, stupid, childlike natives who stare open-mouthed while the wonders of the west are offered to them.…...They are not like that at all. They want proper government, the same as anybody else. They have certainly tried hard enough to get it, but they haven't had a chance. We have done a great deal to prevent them getting real government. It may shock you, but we have always wanted corrupt administrations. Since the Reuter concessions sixty years ago we have begaved like American gangsters using threats, money, and even war to extort privileges and concessions which amounted to owning the country. At one time we had complete control over the administration, over the entire wealth of the land, the banks, and the army. It's rather silly to say the Iranians are un-political when you realize how quickly we had to hand back those concessions. This country rose to a man against us. We gave in hastily, but we managed to cling desperately to our oil concessions. [MacGregor]I think you are worrying yourself unduly [Essex]. We can't be too bad an influence. We may not be reformers ourselves... but we do not fight people who are really trying to improve the country. You must admit that we did not resist the last Shah, and he certainly reformed the place as best as it could be reformed.[MacGregor] It has become a habit to pass all compliments to Reza Shah,...even though we dethroned him. All reforms and modernizations are supposed to be his idea. Yet he simply took over the power of a popular revolution which we resisted at the time. He took power as a despot and he was little better than his predecessors. These people are getting fed up with despots. They obviously want to achieve some kind of better government, particularly in Azerbaijan.… That revolt in Azerbaijan doesn't have to be a Russian idea. It is really the continuation of five or six revolutions, all of them trying to get rid of corrupt governments. This time they seen to be succeeding. Our idea is to stop it.... Every level of government in Iran is corrupt from top to bottom, including the court, the police, and the parliament. Government is organized corruption. The ministers prey on the population like buzzards; they arragne taxes, laws, finances, famines; everything to the purpose of making money. The last Shah might have wiped out some of it; but that meant he became the biggest grafter of them all. He controlled the little fellows, and took the best of everything for himself. By the end of his rule he owned about a fifth of this entire country. He is not the hero we think he is, and his police regime was as brutal as anything the Germans had. Though we co-operated with him, he was a little tougher than the others and he always held out for more. Once, he threatened to wipe out our oil concession but we brought him off. He could always be bought off, like all the other grafters.
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...Remember, to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person might not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.