There are very few people I can talk to about my dreams. Very few who won’t think I’m nuts, careless, arrogant, or a combination of the three, or who won’t respond with a veiled or not so veiled version of what happens when Icarus flies too close to the sun.
In my culture, people give lip service to faith and courage, yet raise their children to be afraid of God (versus being awed by Him), afraid of man, afraid of risk, afraid of the possible failure that risk brings, and afraid of the sure shame failure brings. In my culture, the wise man doesn’t rock the boat (even if that boat is sinking and people are asleep), doesn’t question the community (even if these communities require complete accountability from him), doesn’t consider doubt because doubt is automatically unbelief. But without shaking things up, everything settles into a nice peaceful bottom like silt. Peaceful, yet at the bottom. Without questions there can be no understanding, and what kind of a community preaches that we must be accountable to it, pay its taxes, and obey its laws, yet never question it? What kind of government promotes transparency without it being transparent?
In my culture, we don’t really want wisdom. We want security. We don’t really want progress. We want comfort. We don’t really want learning. We want dogma. We want superstitions that tell us that if we do this, we get that, no matter how life disproves this simplistic cause and effect.
Because in my culture, what we want to achieve most is our version of a lifestyle sweet spot, a standard of living that is religiously, traditionally, socially, and economically comfortable.
And anyone who decides differently, anyone who questions, anyone who blazes his own trail, anyone who says “This sucks. I’m going to change things.” Is nuts, careless, arrogant, or a combination of the three.
Here’s a list of books I’m reading this January 2015:
6. The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama (Audiobook)
You can also checkout my virtual bookshelf:
When going through popularly shared articles and quotes, I usually ask myself two questions:
1. Is this even true?
2. What does this mean? (Or What are the implications of this post?)
Alarmingly, two conclusions come up quite regularly:
1. It’s sensationalized for views (such as the retirement of a CEO because of his daughter’s list, which forgot to mention his company suffered P41.1 billion in outflows last year or the “mini-footbridge” rant people joined) or even completely a hoax (such as Brad Pitt’s letter to his wife).
Lesson: I really need to be careful about what I share and take the time to understand things better before promoting.
2. It may be popular but it really won’t mean anything a few months from now. Ok, the guy’s corrupt, now what? Ok, that was a great speech, now what? Ok, that gave us a fuzzy feeling, now what? Ok, now you read more life hacks, now what? Now we know that what “happens next is amazing”, now what? Ok, there’s a new hashtag and new trend, now what? Ok, you know the latest trick businesses are doing, now what? You read a nice verse, now what?
Lesson: Just like our bodies need a proper diet and exercise working together, success needs proper feeding of knowledge together with proper application of that knowledge. Without the application, without the doing, we become fat and less and less fit to be able to attain our goals and dreams. We become puffed up on the many ideas of other people not realizing a lot of what’s available is junk.
Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s correct. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it will help you. You have to apply it.
We’ve become unfit (or spoiled) to do amazing work. I’ve been thinking about this thought all week: the Philippines could have been much greater if this incredible window of potential growth (large, young population, with economic progress) didn’t coincide with the Western Generation Y mentality that is entitled, unable to commit and suffer, selfish, and mostly talk than action.
My friend, a respected technology and business guru told me once, “David, did you know that one of the strongest trends online in the Philippines is Christianity?” He was talking about data he had been monitoring on activity on the web. This of course was exciting news to hear at the time. But now I wonder, so we’re trending, now what? Is crime going to get lower? Is poverty incidence going to get lower? Will the government get better? Will ruthless business practices decrease? Will the sexualization of each other be fought? Will our global competitiveness improve?
Or will we just applaud, like, and share yet another flash in the pan, or rant and complain and bash what we don’t like, spending more time and energy on things that impact our Limbic system (the part of the brain in charge of emotions) more than the many, maybe even most of those actually abused, those actually with ALS, those actually poor, and those actually prostituted, those actually raped, and those actually killed, because, we’re more share and like, than action.
As in movies, the original always beats sequels and spinoffs in community building. More than new campaigns, efforts, or groups, and hashtags that make news and are gone before we realize, we need to go back to the simplicity of “love your neighbor as yourself”. No need for ice, no need for cameras, no need for speeches, no need for a lot of things that impress us but have little real long term impact. More of personal discipline that puts each of us in a position to do more and more good, more valuing of other people to invest in them, and more humility and wisdom to recognize what doesn’t really work and what does.