Weekly Song #21
I just finished reading the book titled A Way of Being by Carl Rogers. Carl Rogers was an influential American psychologist who began publishing work in 1930 and continued until the publication of this book in 1980. This book is a sum total of what Carl Rogers learned about people in his career as a psychologist. He writes about the human character in total and what it looks like when it is functioning at its best. What I like about his writing is I feel that I can trust him. He writes about a topic that he has had direct experience with for over 50 years. I recommend this book for anybody interested in human nature.
Throughout the book, Rogers describes many facets of people's personalities and many character traits that he consistently sees in his work with people. He talks about what it truly means to listen to someone openly. He talks about interpersonal relationships and the effect that real, true connection has on people. He includes letters written to him from former high school students that he impacted. He talks about how important it is to be present, open and listening to people. He talks about the fact that it is so rare for people to come across somebody that really, genuinely listens and accepts their ideas that when they do experience the connection of that type of person, the impact lasts a lifetime.
My favorite parts of the book was where Rogers predicts what the person of the future will have to be like in order to thrive in the changing world we live in. He calls it the person of tomorrow. He describes them as being opposed by the conventional world. "The new person has been and will be harassed, denied freedom of expression, accused of conspiracy, imprisoned for unwillingness to conform." He talks about how the person of tomorrow will be ostracized and ejected from local public schools and universities whenever possible. Since the new person puts self realization ahead of achievement, personal growth above salary or profit and cooperation with nature ahead of its conquest, corporations will also be in opposition to this new person. The new person attempts to be a whole person - with body, mind, feelings, spirit, and psychic powers integrated.
Rogers talks about how this new person will thrive in the modern world, despite their opposition. With scientific, social and cultural change blowing strongly, we will need whole persons who are able to adapt to the changes. The fully integrated person of the future, which since this was written in 1980 can be called the present, will be the individuals most suited for their environment, according to Rogers' prediction. He describes a person-centered future, based on the individual being a whole person by itself. The last two sentences of the book sum up his prediction: "We may choose it, but whether we choose it or not, it appears that to some degree it [the person-centered scenario of the future] is inexorably moving to change our culture. And the changes will be in the direction of more humanness."
Carl Rogers (1902- 1987)
This book, written by George Kennan, is an awesome account of Kennan's exploration through the Siberian wilderness. Kennan and a small group of explorers, funded by the Russo-American Telegraph Company, set out to do the seemingly impossible - telegraphically connect the United States and Europe via land lines running through the Bering Straits and Siberia. Kennan relates the experience with humor, wit, intelligence and insight. It's a fascinating journey through difficult struggles that sheds some light on how beneficial challenging circumstances can be and what we can learn from exploring new territory - metaphorically and literally.
The beginning of the book details the boat ride that Kennan and the explorers took from San Francisco to Siberia. They were journeying through overcast skies with very limited visibility, essentially having no idea where they were, for over a month until they finally saw land. Once on land, they traveled through the Siberian wilderness in sub-zero temperatures, sometimes 60 degrees below zero. They camped out and crossed rivers. They encountered uncivilized people, far removed from any society. They stayed with them at times and learned about their culture and way of life.
Having read the book around the holidays, one of my favorite parts was when Kennan was describing a group of settled inhabitants in Anadyrsk that they happened to be around during the holidays.
"Throughout the holidays the whole population did nothing but pay visits, give tea parties, and amuse themselves with dancing, sleigh-riding, and playing ball. Every evening between Christmas and New Year, bands of masqueraders dressed in fantastic costumes went around with music to all the houses in the village and treated the inmates to songs and dances. The inhabitants of these little Russian settlements in Northeastern Siberia are the most careless, warm-hearted, hospitable people in the world, and their social life, rude as it is, partakes of all these characteristics. There is no ceremony or affectation, no putting on of style by any particular class. All mingle unreservedly together and treat each other with the most affectionate cordiality, the men often kissing one another when they meet and part, as if they were brothers. Their isolation from all the rest of the world seems to have bound them together with ties of mutual sympathy and dependence, and banished all feelings of envy, jealousy, and petty selfishness."
"Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers and that which is remembered.
Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom yourself to consider that the nature of the universe loves nothing so much as to change the things that are and to make new things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be."
I just finished reading a book titled "Everybody Is Wrong About God" by James Lindsay in which the author argues that it is necessary as a society to move towards a post-theistic world and to find a new way to understand what it means to believe in "God". I found some of the points being made in this book to be quite interesting. Lindsay is saying that theism itself doesn't make sense, and is based on mythology. He argues that theism is not really a worldview because it looks to fantasy as a method of attempting to characterize and cope with life, death and many of the realities that come along with being a human being. He also argues that since theism makes no sense, then its counterpoint - atheism - also makes no sense and is ridiculous and likely to be harmful to the ultimate goal of leaving God behind as a society. The post-theistic world Lindsay conjures up consists of us learning to meet all of our psychological and social needs without religion and without a belief in a mythological God.
This a short read and I do recommend it for anybody interested in thinking more about God, religion and truth. I myself have more thinking to do, but it does seem like a logical argument that the author makes. It seems that religion offers some benefit for us, but also divides us and turns us against each other. It makes us more ideological. Anything that will help us come together as a whole, I'm all for. A post-theistic world seems to be an interesting vision to think about in this regard. I'll end with one of my favorite quotes from the book, in which the author is describing how we can find purpose in our lives in the absence of any belief in religion or God:
"Our efforts matter because in the light of this collection of facts, harsh and unpleasant as they may be, shines a fantastic opportunity. We can make our lives sparkle, and we can help those we love to do the same. For no matter how many hours of our lives will be spent in despair--and on some level it isn't absurd to measure it in hours since, at present, only the rarest handful among us will live so many as a million of them--we must also know that we possess the capacity to make those we love, including ourselves, tremendously happy in many others. We have the opportunities for love, for support, for help, for good work, and for kindness in every moment, and so realizing our finiteness is a nearly perfect road to understanding the best avenues for human purpose because those moments are the ones that, as they say, truly make life worth living."
This is a song I co-produced that was just released out of Assemble Sound in Detroit, Michigan by an artist named Flint Eastwood. I did the drums.
I'm just starting part II of Solzhenitsyn's account of life in the gulag, Soviet forced labor camps from 1918-1956. It's terrifying and horrible what these people endured, according to Solzhenitsyn. I recommend the book for anybody interested in history and politics. I myself enjoy reading these type of books for a few reasons. First, I am interested in understanding what could cause something so horrific to happen and how it could go on for so long. I am interested in humans. Second, I am extremely inspired by people that are forced to endure such a terrifying reality and still manage to find a meaning to it all. There is nothing more inspiring to me than this. Somebody who faces something that's unimaginable and uses their human brain to devise a method of handling it and moving through it. The following passage is taken from a piece of Solzhenitsyn's book in which he is describing the conditions of some of the ships that were used to transfer prisoners to the labor camps. It nearly brought me to tears.
"But it is better still to stop as soon as possible being a sucker-that ridiculous greenhorn, that prey, that victim. You will never return to your former world. And the sooner you get used to being without your near and dear ones, and the sooner they get used to being without you, the better it will be. And the easier!
And keep as few things as possible, so that you don't have to fear for them. Don't take a suitcase for the convoy guard to crush at the door of the car (when there are twenty-five people in a compartment, what else could he figure out to do with it?). And don't wear new boots, and don't wear fashionable oxfords, and don't wear a woolen suit: these things are going to be stolen, taken away, swept aside, or switched, either in the Stolypin car, or in the Black Maria, or in the transit prison. Give them up without a struggle-because otherwise the humiliation will poison your heart. They will take them away from you in a fight, and trying to hold onto your property will only leave you with a bloodied mouth. All those brazen snouts, those jeering manners, those two-legged dregs, are repulsive to you. But by owning things and trembling about their fate aren't you forfeiting the rare opportunity of observing and understanding? And do you think that the freebooters, the pirates, the great privateers, painted in such lively colors by Kipling and Gumilyev, were not simply these same blatnye, these same thieves? That's just what they were. Fascinating in romantic literary portraits, why are they so repulsive to you here?
Understand them too! To them prison is their native home. No matter how fondly the government treats them, no matter how it softens their punishments, no matter how often it amnesties them, their inner destiny brings them back again and again. Was not the first word in the legislation of the Archipelago for them? In our country, the right to own private property was at one time just as effectively banished out in freedom too. (And then those who had banished it began to enjoy possessing things.) So why should it be tolerated in prison? You were too slow about it; you didn't eat up your fat bacon; you didn't share your sugar and tobacco with your friends. And so now the thieves empty your bindle in order to correct your moral error. Having given you their pitiful worn-out boots in exchange for your fashionable ones, their soiled coveralls in return for your sweater, they won't keep these things for long: your boots were merely something to lose and win back five times at cards, and they'll hawk your sweater the very next day for a liter of vodka and a round of salami. They, too, will have nothing left of them in one day's time-just like you. This is the principle of the second law of thermodynamics: all differences tend to level out, to disappear....
Own nothing! Possess nothing! Buddha and Christ taught us this, and the Stoics and the Cynics. Greedy though we are, why can't we seem to grasp that simple teaching? Can't we understand that with property we destroy our soul?
Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag. Use your memory! Use your memory! It is those bitter seeds alone which might sprout and grow someday. Look around you-there are people around you. Maybe you will remember one of them all your life and later eat your heart out because you didn't make use of the opportunity to ask him questions. And the less you talk, the more you'll hear. Thin strands of human lives stretch from island to island of the Archipelago. They intertwine, touch one another for one night only in just such a clickety-clacking half-dark car as this and then separate once and for all. Put your ear to their quiet humming and the steady clickety-clack beneath the car. After all, it is the spinning wheel of life that is clicking and clacking away there."