I recently discovered an amazing blog by David Cain. It’s called Raptitude.com (the name comes from a quote by Albert Einstein: “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”—AMAZING. I recommend perusing his “best of” posts.).  I don’t agree with everything he says, but some of the things the thoughts expressed are articulated so clearly as to be life-changing. Therefore, they belong on my site.  Enjoy!

 

First up, here are some thoughts from a post where he explicates some of his favorite quotations from Ralph Waldo Emerson (the one about being misunderstood instantly changed my life—that was TOTALLY one of my greatest fears):

 

·        “People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.“

A person’s opinion of the world they live in really seems to be a foolproof litmus test for their strength of character.  The tendency towards blame and disdain seems to vary inversely with the virtues of courage and compassion.

The wisest people I know invariably revere the world, and the most ineffective ones hate it.  For a while now I’ve believed that cynicism about the world is a method of defense against one’s one inadequacy.  When a person is defeated at every turn, they tend to peg the whole world as the culprit.  This relieves them from the painful responsibilities of humility and growth.

I have been on both sides.  Knowing the world as an enemy removes responsibility for oneself.  Behaving and speaking as though the world is against you is only a clever way of abandoning any accountability for the state of your life and the world you live in.   Knowing the world as an ally instead of an adversary leaves no room for excuses.

I now recognize disdain for the world as sure sign of weakness, not just when I see it in others but also when I catch myself thinking that way.  Whenever I’m caught up disparaging this or that, it’s a clear message to any astute observer that in that moment, I’ve lost my composure and maturity.

If you want to know if a person is a suitable teammate, lover, boss or employee, pay attention to their opinion of the world.  It reveals all.

“Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. — `Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Remembering this quote has protected me from so many instances of shame and self-doubt for things I’ve said and stances I’ve taken.  One truth I keep encountering again and again is that one cannot stay the same person throughout life.  As we experience more and more, our perspectives change and consequently so do our beliefs…When someone is that afraid of being contradicted, they are no longer concerned with the truth, only with protecting their priceless investment in what they have said.  To honor a statement you made yesterday as a binding declaration of who you are is a tragic, yet extremely common mistake.  This is the fundamental error that plagues humanity: to mistake one’s ego for oneself.  Enforcing an impossible, lifelong consistency in what you say and believe can only lead to dishonesty and despair. Someone whose opinions change freely with experience is clearly someone who is not guided by dogma or the expectations of others, but instead by a clear internal compass of inquiry and honesty.  To such a “pure and wise spirit,” it is far more important to seek the truth than to be regarded as having had it all along.  “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” said Emerson.

Whenever I feel a pang of regret for something I’ve said, I remember that all I did was speak what I thought at the time in hard words, even if today I speak different ones.  It’s only human.
(David Cain, “Brilliant Remarks from History’s Wisest American, June 4, 2009)

Second up for this post, from another Raptitude entry, David brilliantly puts into words a lot of things I have observed about people justifying themselves in mediocrity as opposed to admitting that the fault could lie completely with themselves (he is giving himself as an example when he was known as being very quiet and “shy” at a previous job):

·        When people feel inadequate in some way, they tend to make up whatever prejudices or beliefs they need to feel okay about it.
Of course, nobody realizes it while they’re doing it.  Forming beliefs out of self-defense is very common behavior, and it’s probably the source of most of the erroneous and destructive beliefs people carry.  I knew my coworkers weren’t all complainers and ingrates.  They talked about things I was interested in too, but they did it much more freely and comfortably than I could, and I hated that.

Another typical example of a self-defense belief: a person feels like he doesn’t make as much money as he wants, so he forms the belief that highly-paid people are greedy or materialistic, to defend himself from feelings of inadequacy about his ability to earn.

I told myself that everyone else talked too much, so that I could spare myself the rotten feeling of recognizing that I was really bad at something I knew was important.  I was painfully shy and I knew it, but like so many other behavioral problems I had, I rationalized it away.  I argued to myself that I had every reason for speaking exactly as much or as little as I did.  That belief kept me slightly less uncomfortable, but also prevented me from ever fixing the problem.”

(David Cain, “How to Always Have Something Better to Talk About Than the Weather,” April 2009)

 

Last Great thought comes from a an article from the Mormon Times about evidence and proof in a religious context. I LOVED it. It is a great distillation of my thoughts as to why people should not jump to conclusions about new ‘discoveries’ and/or theories about the Book of Mormon or anything, really:

 

·        There seems to be some confusion among believers and critics as to the nature and meaning of “evidence.” I’ve often written, for example, that I don’t believe that spiritual things will be proven by secular means. Critics, however, read this and claim that I don’t believe there is evidence to support the Book of Mormon. This is blatantly false.

In addition to a spiritual witness (which is certainly an “evidence” that supports belief), I believe there are many secular evidences that support of the Book of Mormon. I’ve offered a number of these throughout this series and will continue to share more (for several weeks I discussed the numerous evidences supporting a Lehite migration through Southern Arabia).

I don’t believe, however, that there is secular “proof” for the Book of Mormon, and I believe that such “proof” would contradict the laws of agency and wouldn’t convince the hard-hearted anyway.

Evidence is basically any data that support a proposition. Not all evidence is equal in strength, and we evaluate the strength of evidence based on numerous other factors — including additional evidence. As explained by Daniel Peterson, “There is evidence for all sorts of things, and we routinely speak of ‘conflicting evidence’ regarding as yet unresolved questions. Some of it is strong to the point of proof or near-proof. Some of it is weak to the point, almost, of non-existence. Much of it is somewhere in between….Evidence is not proof. Proof is generally a conclusion we infer from what we see as strong or overwhelming evidences. Scholars generally tend to avoid terms such as “proof” when dealing with inconclusive and open-ended topics such as religion, certain aspects of history, or archaeology. One writer for Psychology Today, for example, states:“Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a scientific proof. Proofs exist only in mathematics … not in science. …Scientists prefer theories for which there is more and better evidence to theories for which there is less and worse evidence. Proofs are not the currency of science.”
Michael R. Ash, “Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith,” April 11, 2011

That is all I’ve kept track of this week, but shortly I hope to have organized my Goodreads.com profile for everyone’s enlightenment (really, it is a GREAT way to share with others what you are reading and learning!)

2 Responses

  1. My pleasure! And will do. Keep your eyes here for stories of all my exploits in the Philadelphia teaching scene.

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