Posts in Cultural Critique
Do You Contribute to the Awesomeness or Do You Just Talk About It?

Rights were invented to eliminate as many obstacles to personal freedom as possible. They were not meant to give or grant us anything, only to remove as many obstructions as possible from the path forward. Rights were invented in parallel with a sense of duty. Our early founding thinkers understood that the idea of rights is only possible when everyone feels a sense of obligation and duty to the collective good. Rights are not meant to hold your hand or coddle you. They are meant to support your desire to stand tall with a sense of duty to yourself and your community.

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The Land of the "Free" and Home of the Depressed

Few phrases captivate the modern mind like “the pursuit of happiness.” With life and liberty are assured, this becomes the de facto point of most people’s existence. Yet for something so central to our choices, it is surprising how little we understand about what will make us “happy.”

Nationally, the number of school shootings, drug overdoses, and suicides have been growing steadily for years. We have less inequality, less violence, more medications, more mandatory sensitivity trainings, more pleasure, and fewer pains. So what the hell is wrong with us?

As life grants more and more of our wishes people are finding that what they want is the problem. Pursuing happiness might not be such a great idea after all.

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Be the Weirdo: Why Fulfilling Values Require Us To Behave Differently

The most important thing that can do to remain committed to your values is to embrace being a weirdo. This is a beautiful thing. Nearly every influential person in history was a weirdo. That’s exactly why we know their name. They dared to poke their head above the crowd, take a look around, and decide what direction they truly wanted to walk. They chose their own path, often with heavy opposition from those around them.

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Transformative Experience: Changing Thoughts and Feelings Through Action

Our large, highly-developed infrastructures preclude the need for rising to any occasion or banding together to get a job done. We’re conditioned to expect the government or AAA to step in and solve each problem. We are able to live completely insulated from the community contribution and frequent challenge that once defined human existence. This convenience comes at a price. More than any self-help workbook, it is powerful experiences that build confidence, embed good values, and foster a sense of purpose. Today our physical needs are met so effortlessly that we are rarely prompted to essential experiences that make us capable of meeting our emotional needs. Fortunately, those experiences are well documented and accessible to us all.

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Radical Honesty and Your Shadow Side: Authenticity in the Age of Artificiality Part 2

We are all pulled by a selfish shadow. Our shadow is that capacity for evil that is within us all, but it is also a source of great revelation, strength, and wisdom that allows for much greater good. Every shadow drive has this duality which speaks to the need to become familiar with it through thoughtful reflection. To explore the shadow we have to be honest with ourselves. In doing so, we can learn to be more honest with the world. Radical honesty is bridging the giant gulf between what we show on the outside and who we are on the inside. It makes solutions and growth likely. There is more short term discomfort with far less long-term pain.

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How to Have an Honest Conversation

If your values and the ways in which your engage with the world are never challenged, they will never progress. You cannot hope to be a better person, with a more honed set of intellectual tools, without ever meeting opposition. Challenge - genuine, reasoned, honest, compassionate yet fierce challenge - is the only means by which our belief systems progress.

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Auto-Immunity and Social Justice: When Good Intentions Betray Our Own Cultural Body

We see debate and discourse, the societal immune system to suss out and eliminate destructive ideas, being coopted and turned inward to attack the very structures and values that our country (and the rest of the Western world) stands on.

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The Basis of Bullshit: Bias, Logical Fallacy, and Our Imperfect Perceptions

Humans experience the world through flawed senses and an incomplete sensory set that is inordinately influenced by our own narrow experiences. The reality is, uncomfortable as it is to admit, we’re all wrong all the time. This becomes dangerous when we delude ourselves into certainty and refuse to confront the flaws in perception that characterize human experience. Yet, we must embrace a life of action. What we need are better mechanisms for interpreting the world.

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Enough With the Ceremonies! Can We Just Be Real?

We’ve made it through another May! With school wrapping up, families rev into overdrive. Our society’s compulsion to celebrate and sensationalize every arbitrarily assigned group participation manifests in non-stop self-aggrandizing and inauthentic ceremony.

The gap between what we say we are and what we actually are grows by the day. Everyone knows it, yet we all smile politely. And all along we drift further from the obvious truth: The ceremony isn’t what’s real. The things we do should have merit for their own sake.

Is there a larger cost to our societal insistence on evermore fan-fair?

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