The Promise and The Failure

Reading this lovely article by Edward Feser on his blog, I am reminded of the many self-help books I read at one point in my life. They all had wonderful advice in the form of "Be perfect, and your life will be perfect." But, sadly, the writers apparently had nothing to say to those of us whose lives were in chaos for many other reasons and who had very little time to "cultivate the person," as Confucius, and Feser, suggest.

I grew up in San Diego, California, the one-time dwelling place of Kathryn Tingley and the Point Loma Theosophists. They were great at dispensing advice in the form of "If you would give up your attachment to this goal of yours, you could become happy instead." However correct that may have been, sometimes goals are a good thing, and sometimes the situation is far past being rectified by anything. One of my father's friends once told me that a characteristic of men, as opposed to women, is that men are called on to fight hopeless battles, knowing that they will be killed or captured and need to fight hard anyway. 

The ongoing lesson about fighting hopeless battles never stopped in grammar school and junior high (now called middle school). Sure, the bully was going to beat you up. And it was going to hurt, your shirt and sometimes pants would be torn, you were going to cry and need bandages, you were going to be ridiculed by some of the bystanders, and the school wasn't going to care very much. But you had to fight back, however ineffectively, or risk feeling worse (failing to fight back as hard as you can is the source of many later PTSD diagnoses). So my father bought an inexpensive pair of boy's gloves and a punching bag. But, unfortunately, I still tended not to win the fights. Not fair, but real.

The article is nice, but the real part is missing.


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