Hold on a minute! Don't go away mad. You must have been looking for something -- Anything?
Maybe the secrets of the Universe? Or, how about this: The Ultimate Secret of Life? (Wow!)
OK. Since you're so curious (and probably a fairly nice person - or don't you think so?), I will tell you.
YES! Here it is, for FREE!!!! The Secret of Life on Earth!
Are you ready for it? This is serious. I mean, up to now, I've been sorta pulling your leg. But from here on, I'm deadly serious. OK?
The Secret of Life on This Earth
The secret of life on this earth is MENTAL ATTITUDE. What does that mean? OK, I'll explain.
Your mental attitude is what determines whether you have a mind that is alive, or one that is dead. Don't worry! If you have a dead mind, you can still get by, make some money and have a few kicks. But the ultimate in satisfactory living comes when you have a mind that is alive.
Now, what does that mean? Hang in there. This doesn't get real heavy or too far out. Well, maybe a little.
A mind that is alive is one that is open to life, to discovery, to change, to new ideas, to the whole universe of infinite possibilities that are constantly coming into being. It is a mind that does not try to hold on to the past, but dares to do some trail-blazing into the future. It takes risks. It is a mind that is willing to throw away any idea it now holds, if something better comes along. And it is always LOOKING for something better. That is practically the definition of curiosity.
With respect to the work that you do, it means: Not afraid to take risks, to try new and innovative things. Trusting the results of analysis and reason, and not being afraid to stand out on your own when the herd seems to be going somewhere else. Always questioning what others take for granted. Never assuming that because something has always been done a certain way, that it is correct. Not being afraid of less-than-stunning success, or even occasional failure. Always being guided by intelligent reasoning, not by convention, whim, fancy.... So where does one learn those kinds of things? Well, I don't think you get any of it in school. It's a matter of your own philosophy, your own way of looking at things -- Your own MENTAL ATTITUDE! That's what a mind that is alive is. So, how do you get such a mind?
It means having a mind that is willing to question anything and everything -- including the things you hold dear right now. That's why Ayn Rand's stuff is such a crock. She tries to dictate how you should think, and what you should think. And check out her followers. If you dare to question her basic premises, they all go ballistics, and will tear you to pieces. You are supposed to think like a puppet -- just what they say is right. No exploring doubts. No encouragement of questions about basic beliefs. They expect you to believe what you are told. They say that you should think on your own, but just try doing it, and you get pulverized.
But that is not only not American, it is not really human. Ayn Rand came from a tradition of European authoritarianism. This nation would never have gotten to where it is if it was not full of people who do their own thinking, who question whatever they dang well please -- and who say, "If you don't like it, you can flake off." That is the mental attitude that has made America great. And then along comes this "intellectual fascist" who tries to tell us what's wrong with this country and everybody in it!
So, it's Mental Attitude. Not even intelligence is all that important, because a high IQ will only allow you to race up a blind alley faster than anyone else, if you have the wrong mental attitude. And if you have the right mental attitude, you will always be able to deal with a changing world better than someone with the wrong attitude, no matter how intelligent they are.
Of course, there are risks in doing your own thinking. Sometimes you might make a mistake. If you do, you just call it a mistake, and try again. It's not like Rand says, that an error on your own is better than a truth accepted on faith. The truth is always better than error. Knowing truth, however you find it, is the name of the game. And anyway, that's not the way your mind works. That's not an accurate description of what is going on. Listen to the Randites. They all think in terms of certainty. That is their basic error. The right mental attitude learns to live with UNcertainty. It is always willing to doubt, even to doubt your own beliefs, if something suggests the possibility of an alternative. This is not, as the dead minds suggest, being doubtful about everything and thus being paralyzed by doubt. It is a matter of ATTITUDE -- a WILLINGNESS, even an ANXIOUSNESS to doubt, because that is where new discoveries come from. It is just when a mental attitude switches from a "willingness to doubt," to a rigid certainty, that the mind dies.
The problem with this is, doubt can be uncomfortable. Certainty and self-confidence are much more comfortable acts to put on. You can look down on everyone else. You have great assurance, and you can deal with people as though they are beneath contempt. That gives a lot of people a lot of ego satisfaction. But it is a dead-end street. It might give you a sense of comparative superiority, and you might even impress a few people who can't do their own thinking either. But in the end, it leads nowhere. It can't! Because it is the open, constantly inquiring, constantly questioning and doubting mind that makes advances -- not the mind that is wrapped up in its own delusion of certainty.
So, there it is. A free mind, an inquiring mind, a mind open to questions and doubts. A mind that looks outside itself always, that finds truth and reality in the universe, not in its own reflections on that universe. Because history teaches us that our reflections on reality, the certainties of the past, have almost always been wrong. And it is just such certainties that the world has had to overcome in order for it to make advancement.
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