Thought for today: Don’t be manipulated

Thought for today: Don’t be manipulated

Today’s thought for today was inspired by this Leo Tolstoy quote:

“Only during a period of war does it become obvious how millions of people can be manipulated. People, millions of people, are filled with pride while doing things which those same people actually consider stupid, evil, dangerous, painful, and criminal, and they strongly criticize these things—but continue doing them.”

Leo Tolstoy quote

What’s Better than Winning?

What did I learn (again) this year? Don’t treat people as instrumental means to my predetermined end. This is particularly true of people with whom I may think I disagree. It’s highly probable that I don’t understand where they are coming from, what they mean, or anything about the particulars of our disagreement. If I listen, instead of winning, I learn. And that’s better than winning.

Jordan Peterson tweet‐ Jordan Peterson, from Bari Weiss’ “Common Sense” Substack:

 

Thought for today: Stay ruthlessly consistent

Thought for today: Stay ruthlessly consistent

A large share of the Socratic struggle, whether in philosophy or politics and law, is to separate claims from rooting interests, so that when you praise or condemn something, you mean you would praise or condemn it with the same force no matter who did it. Or, if not, that you can explain why not. You stay ruthlessly consistent.

Ward Farnsworth, The Socratic Method: A Practitioner’s Handbook
Farnsworth quote

Regarding Envy

Seneca quote

Are there many who surpass you? Consider how many more are behind than ahead of you. Do you ask me what is your greatest fault? Your bookkeeping is wrong. What you have paid out, you value highly; what you have received, low.

— Seneca, On Anger 3.31.3, from The Practicing Stoic, by Ward Farnsworth

Poverty of the Soul

Book Cover
Image from Amazon.com

The laws of Nature teach us what we legitimately need. The sages tell us that no one is poor according to Nature; everyone is poor according to opinion. They then distinguish skillfully between desires that come from Nature and desires arising from our disordered imaginations. The desires that have limits come from Nature. The ones that run away from us and never have an end are our own. Poverty in material things is easy to cure; poverty of the soul, impossible.

Montaigne, Of Managing the Will (1580)

From The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User’s Manual by Ward Farnsworth

Bonus quote from the same book (Farnsworth’s own words):

The Stoic’s first observation about desire is that getting what we want tends not to produce the satisfaction that we imagined. It makes us want more. New desires appear when other ones are spent; our minds seem to have an appetite for desire itself, and for the illusion that fulfilling it will bring us to an endpoint. The end never arrives.

Leaving Room for Doubt

Book cover
Image from Amazon.com

I was listening to a Richard Feynman audio book on the drive to Goodland, Kansas today, and this gem came over the speakers:

I would now like to turn to a third value that science has. It is a little more indirect, but not much. The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty–some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.

That description should help you distinguish between someone applying a scientific approach versus a political or totalitarian one.

Bonus: I enjoyed this earlier quote too:

I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy–and when he talks about a nonscientific matter, he will sound as naive as anyone untrained in the matter.

Think about it. It is far more applicable than just with scientists…

 

Today’s Devotional Thoughts

The Thinker LEGO sculpture by Nathan SawayaGreat point:

People very often do not accept the truth, because they do not like the form in which the truth is presented to them.

Great advice:

If you know the truth, or if you think that you know the truth, try to pass it on to the others, as simply as you can, along with the feeling of love for those persons to whom you pass it.

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Peter Sekirin)

(Cross-posted on my Data Guy (Me) blog.)

Will You Feel at Home in Eden?

I started reading Middle Earth: Journeys in Myth and Legend by Donato Giancola tonight. Well, “reading” isn’t entirely accurate, since the publication is of Donato’s art around the J.R.R. Tolkien classics.

Either way, early in the book it had this amazing painting:

Expulsion painting

The previous page described it:

Painting description

Bilbo’s reluctant journey from his Shire paradise, driven by curiousity, finds a parallel in the expulsion of Adam and Eve. Like the biblical first people, Bilbo finds himself thrown into a world of awe and terror; every encounter in The Hobbit makes the world ever larger and more complex for the provincial young man. Bilbo’s humble and naive nature keeps him alive through his adventures, yet he is changed forever by his experiences in the outside world. Unlike Adam and Eve, Bilbo physically returns to his Eden, but it never again feels genuinely like home.

We Christians believe we will return to Edenic conditions, and I personally wouldn’t be surprised if the reason God will create a new earth (see Revelation 21:1) is so we can return to the perfect home originally crafted for us.

Will we feel at home?

For the saved, I would think essentially yes (although I imagine it could take some initial getting used to). God changes us so that we will.

The unsaved, however, would never feel at home in Eden.

When God recreates Eden, will you feel at home in it?

If not, you won’t be there…

Hmmm…

You will find that people unwilling to work will either take advantage of others or be humiliated by them.

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Peter Sekirin)

Notice, it does not say “unable to work.” Also, I suspect that the “or” should be “and/or.”

Based on what I’ve read of this book, Tolstoy is a kind person, so he isn’t trying to be judgmental, cruel, or harsh. Instead, true love means telling people the truth, and an unwillingness to work is not a characteristic you or I should want to have. It’s not good for us. It’s not good for others.

Today’s Devotional Thoughts

Every person’s life is filled with errors and negative experiences. But know this:

  • Errors become mistakes when we perceive them and respond to them incorrectly
  • Mistakes become failures when we continually respond to them incorrectly.

— The Maxwell Daily Reader: 365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You by John C. Maxwell

Wow

All of today’s devotional thoughts from Leo Tolstoy’s book deserve to be read:

The creation of the world would have been a very bad act were it right for rich people to live off the work of the poor, and yet think that they were the benefactors.

A stone falls on a pot—woe to the pot; a pot falls on a stone—woe to the pot; in every case, it is bad for the pot.

—The TALMUD

The pleasures of the rich are often acquired by the tears of the poor.

Wealth is created by the concentration of human labor; usually one people produce labor, and others concentrate it. This is called “the division of labor” by contemporary wise people.

There is something wrong with the creation of this world, because the rich people think that they are the benefactors of the poor, but in fact those rich are fed and dressed by the work of these poor and live in luxury created for them by the poor.

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Peter Sekirin)

I am not “anti-rich,” but I also would not be loving to them if I were to avoid noting the perilous condition they especially are in:

And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24, ESV).

Today’s Devotional Thoughts

If you see that some aspect of your society is bad, and you want to improve it, there is only one way to do so: you have to improve people. And in order to improve people, you begin with only one thing: you can become better yourself.

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Peter Sekirin)

Good leaders are attentive to ideas; they are always searching for them. And they cultivate that attentiveness and practice it as a regular discipline. As they read the newspaper, watch a movie, listen to their colleagues, or enjoy a leisure activity, they are always on the lookout for ideas or practices they can use to improve their work and their leadership.

If you desire to find good ideas, you have to search for them. Rarely does a good idea come looking for you.

— The Maxwell Daily Reader: 365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You by John C. Maxwell

Today’s Devotional Thoughts

We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pig headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

A Year with C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works by C.S. Lewis

Modern science cannot study everything; without being supported by religion, science does not know what it should study.

If all knowledge were good, then pursuit of every sort of knowledge would be useful. But many false meditations are disguised as good and useful knowledge; therefore, be strict in selecting the knowledge you want to acquire.

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Peter Sekirin)

Today’s Devotional Thoughts

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.

A Year with C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works by C.S. Lewis

War in this world can be stopped not by the ruling establishment, but by those who suffer from the war. They will do the most natural thing: stop obeying orders.

The armed world and the wars it wages will be destroyed one day, but not by the kings or the rulers of this world. War is profitable for them. War will stop the moment the people who suffer from war fully understand that it is evil.

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Peter Sekirin)

Thought for Today: Life is a struggle and a journey

 

Life is not given to us that we might live idly without work. No, our life is a struggle and a journey. Good should struggle with evil; truth should struggle with falsehood; freedom should struggle with slavery; love should struggle with hatred. Life is movement, a walk along the way of life to the fulfillment of those ideas which illuminate us, both in our intellect and in our hearts, with divine light.

—After GIUSEPPE MAZZINI

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Peter Sekirin)

Today’s Devotional Thoughts

I couldn’t force myself to select only a portion of today’s entry from Leo Tolstoy (please buy the book)…

After a long conversation, stop and try to remember what you have just discussed. Don’t be surprised if many things, sometimes even everything you have discussed, were meaningless, empty, and trivial, and sometimes even bad.

A stupid person should keep silent. But if he knew this, he would not be a stupid person.

—MUSLIH-UD-DIN SAADI

Only speak when your words are better than your silence.

—ARABIC PROVERB

For every time you regret that you did not say something, you will regret a hundred times that you did not keep your silence.

Kind people are never involved in arguments, and those who like to argue are never kind. Truthful words are not always pleasant, and pleasant words are not necessarily truthful.

—LAO-TZU

If you want to be a clever person, you have to learn how to ask cleverly, how to listen attentively, how to respond quietly, and how to stop talking when there is nothing more to say.

Many stupid things are uttered by people whose only motivation is to say something original.

—VOLTAIRE

If you have time to think before you start talking, think, Is it necessary to speak? Will what I have to say harm anyone?

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Peter Sekirin)