Emerson

11-13 Jan ’16 ~QofDay~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded

-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Share with us what this quote means to you, and some simple plans to put it into action for 2016.

To me it is a great recipe for life.

To laugh often and much;
Make an effort to look for the contradictions, the silliness, in any situation (as well as the serious side). Laughter keeps despair at bay, and serious contemplation gives us our best shot at making a real difference with our actions. Both are needed.

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To me this points to making our communications relevant to our target audience, and showing respect to all people.
Reality seems to be sufficiently flexible to encompass any dance we can envisage.

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
For me, the honest enquiry into what is most important, and how it can most powerfully be pursued, is the great power of an honest critic. Often the perspectives of others can reveal faults in our logic that are not clearly available to us.
Unfortunately most cultures care more about “saving face” than honesty.
I far prefer harsh words spoken honestly to any soft words that avoid perceived realities.
It is by discovering our errors that we are able to eliminate them. Thus what ends up being good news (greater capabilities, less risk) almost always starts out as bad news (discovering errors, and needing to clean up the messes resulting from those errors). Often hard work.

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
Beauty is such a strange thing.
It seems to be a relationship that “resonates” in some way, at some level, with the things we value most. As such it is an intensely personal experience, and is capable of be many levelled.
I find our social obsession with surface level beauty to be very much in the “false friends” category above, it simply occurs to me as deception.
For me, beauty exists at the deeper levels, at the levels of effort and creativity and relationships both simple and profound. In this sense, I love recursion, the power of a relatively simple structure to fold back on itself and create patterns and systems of infinite complexity.

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To me this encompasses the idea that high level structure requires high level cooperation. Sure competition is a part of reality, and every new level of complexity is characterised by new levels of cooperation. The higher the level of complexity, the greater the role of cooperation over competition.
Many people claim that the creative power of competition is great, yet to me that notion seems clearly to have been falsified. The scarcity produced by our current systems so limits the creative potential of humanity, that competition, far from being a creative power, is now clearly the great limiting factor in human creativity.

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
It is important for each of us to have evidence of our utility, our worth, in a practical sense of succeeding in creating value for another.
We are essentially highly evolved cooperative apes, though we also have the ability to compete agressively if resources are genuinely scarce.
Perhaps this is why maintaining the illusion of scarcity is so important to the ruling system – as it lowers the probability of the emergence of higher level cooperation that would recognise the constraint system we exist in for the cheating strategy set that it is.

This is to have succeeded
In the sense of bringing our highest creative powers into the service of ourselves and all others, I can only agree with Emerson.
When I play golf, I take buckets of sand to fill as many divets as possible. When I am playing well (and spending time on fairways instead of in the rough) I can empty 8-10 sand buckets in a round – filling 100+ divets.
When coding I create systems designed to take the boring repetitive jobs out of life, giving more time to do what we find interesting.
When chairing our zone water committee, I do my best to bring outcomes that are beneficial to life at every level of biology and society.
And finding outcomes that seem to have high probabilities on ongoing long term benefit at all levels isn’t always easy.

For 2016, continuing this general strategic theme set seems as appropriate as it has in previous years.
And just maybe there is some breakthrough threshold approaching.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in Ideas, Philosophy, Question of the Day and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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