Use Reason

Step Into Unknown with Sig“When a speaker who does not know the difference between good and evil tries to convince a people as ignorant as himself, not by ascribing to a poor beast like a donkey the virtues of a horse, but by representing evil as in fact good, and so by a careful study of popular notions succeeds in persuading them to do evil instead of good, what kind of harvest do you think his rhetoric will reap from the seed he has sown?” Phaedrus by Plato

 

The woman walked to the end of the small pier and started to weep. It was a cold day and windy. Kerri and I maintained silence as we passed. The woman was making an appeal to her god. She asked the stormy lake and angry sky, “Why?”

Belief is a powerful thing.

Beth believes that the universe was created 6,000 years ago. Even though the gasoline she pumps into her car is evidence to the contrary, nothing will shake her firm belief. No amount of science, data, or experience can crack her conviction to what she believes.

At first glance Beth might seem an oddity but she is actually more representative of the norm. Consider this quote published this morning in our local paper. It’s an editorial from the Los Angeles Times entitled, “The ‘fake news’ dilemma.” “Some observers argue that the public’s receptivity to fake news is a sign that we live in a ‘post-factual’ society, with people who are mainly interested in information that comports with their preexisting notions.” In other words, no amount of science, data, or experience can crack our convictions to what we believe. And, like Beth, we do not want to hear [or consider] anything that challenges our beliefs. Rather than question, we plant our belief-flag and defend the territory.

Flag planting makes for good ratings. Conflict is an easier story to sell than compromise so it is not surprising that we have news sources that blatantly cater to our preexisting notions. Division makes us a good market and infinitely manipulatable.

Certainly defending the territory of unquestioned belief feels good. Righteousness, blame and gossip always feel good. There’s no responsibility required! Here’s another bit to consider from the editorial: “The problem is obvious: When surveys by the Pew Research Center find that 62 percent of U.S. adults get at least some of their news from social media, and 20 percent of social-media users say the things they read online have changed their views on an issue or candidate, the electorate is all the more vulnerable to a disinformation campaign. By Buzzfeed’s count, the 20 most popular fake-news stories in the last three months of the campaign were shared more often on Facebook than the top 20 stories from leading mainstream news sites.”

What prayer do we have when we are too…lazy…incapable…. to discern gossip from news, belief from fact [dear reader help me find a word other than fact].

For me, the top spot on the hierarchy of beliefs-that-blind is the “pre-existing notion” that we human beings operate from reason. Reason requires doubt, questioning, listening, and reaching for the perceptions of others. Reason, like heart, is a commons. It thrives on honest debate and will have nothing to do with individual or collective rigidity. We are not born with it, however we are born with the capacity to engage it. It is not something any single individual attains – it is not attainable – it is relational – it requires multiple perspectives and continued conversation. It requires a step into the  unknown.

Thoughts Babble Hearts Speak

 

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Tap Into It

775. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

What is the original “why?” What is your reason for doing what you do? During a break in the Design for Demand class I eavesdropped on a conversation between Skip and one of his students. The student asked, “Isn’t making money the reason “why.” It can be a reason. It’s not the reason.

Before the break the students were doing business pitches followed by a discussion about their reasons for creating the business. Skip showed them Simon Sinek’s terrific TED talk explaining what distinguishes a great business from a mediocre business. In the talk Simon explains his golden target with the reason “why” occupying the center. A great business operates from why. How and what occupy the middle and outer rings of the target. Mediocre businesses confuse their what and how with why. This might seem obvious but it’s not.

In another class, I recognized that the MBA students think the single reason they are getting a degree is to get a better job. They’ve confused their why with the what. Getting a better job can be a reason. It’s not the reason. K-12 education believes that the purpose of education is to raise test scores. They’ve confused why with how – and it is debatable whether raising test scores is a viable how. In our lives we have an abundance of “how and “what” reinforcement. It is no wonder we sometimes misplace our why.

In the modern age, people without a clear understanding of their “why” will generally buy something to fill the void. It is a temporary hit but delays the recognition that there is nothing substantial driving their life. Or, they’ll numb themselves, distract themselves or sabotage themselves. Either way, the “why” gets lost in the “what.”

Everyone has a why. Sometimes you have to wipe off a layer of dust or muster enough courage to look beyond the purchases. It is there. It’s waiting to be sourced. If your current answer to the question, “What’s the point?” is to raise your test score or to get a better job, stop and ask yourself, “What else is true?” Look beneath the superficial and you will find a spring that will rejuvenate you and keep you nourished for the arc of your life. Tap into it.

Make A Nap

735. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Today is one of those post travel days. I’m exhausted. I avoid the mirror because my face feels like the face of a Basset Hound: droopy, blood shot eyes. My synapses are lethargic. Like half-hearted trapeze artists they leap but do not reach for the catcher. My thoughts fall to the safety net where they bob and refuse to get up. “This feels nice,” they say as they relax into the net, smacking their thought-lips while slipping into a nap. “I’ll be there in a minute,” they call to me from a sleep state, words slurred and intention clear (you are on your own without synapses so find something useful to do).

I used to call these “no-power-tools” days – as I appreciate my digits and I know better than to get near blades when my thoughts are asleep on the job. When I wear the mask of the Basset Hound I usually spend the day filing papers. I am an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of guy so I have no expectation of finding anything once it is filed. Since I am on the road and away from my files and my paper stacks I had no truly safe activity to keep me busy.

I managed to take Bodhi the dog for a walk. I couldn’t find his leash so I used my belt, which sounded like a good idea until I realized that using my belt for a leash created a whole new set of problems. While Bodhi proudly wore my belt I struggled to keep my pants up. We looked like a clown and his dog. I have the same problem going through security at airports, especially now that they make you raise your hands in the full body scanner. Three seconds is an eternity when your pants are edging down. With this knowledge in my memory bank you’d think that I would have solved my leash problem another way.

With my belt safely restored to my pants I watched Bodhi settle in for a snooze on the floor. Although his face is Australian Shepherd and not Basset Hound, Bodhi has a legitimate dogface; he was in no way resisting his impulse to nap. He wasn’t resisting his need to sleep. As I watched the natural wisdom of this special dog I wondered why I needed an excuse to nap. Humans are funny animals; rather than follow the simple impulse, rather than do the thing our bodies are telling us to do we need to create a reason. Bodhi snored and I remembered a quote from Jarod Kintz. He wrote, “I made a nap this afternoon. I made it out of two pillows, a bed, a sheet, a blanket, and exhaustion.” Perfect.

You’ll never guess what I made this afternoon.