What would embolden you to take on a suicide mission against a terrifying and colossal evil? What makes a leader? How can a leader be convincing and motivate those he proposes to lead? Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King shows us the answers.
What is the source of value and production: brain, brawn, or both? How does Disney/Pixar’s ‘Ratatouille’ dramatize the answer? What does intellectual independence look like? What is Anton Ego’s motivation in being a food critic?
Being your own hero means being a role model to yourself and others. It means becoming someone you can look up to, admire, respect. This is self-esteem, and it’s the foundation for happiness.
But it doesn’t require that you achieve superhuman feats or massive achievements in one swoop. Join Matthew as he discusses the daily choices and behaviors that everyone may practice, and how being a hero is attainable for everyone. And necessary for everyone.
“Never has there been a better time to be alive in human history.” So claims the opening line of this podcast.
Guest Jason Crawford delivers an overwhelming case to back it up–which is his business. As a writer on the history of technology and industry, his expertise and encyclopedic ability to highlight example after example of real-world progress in the past centuries, decades, and years will stun you. As a thinker and writer on the philosophy of human progress, he helps reinforce Matthew’s desperate calls to look, see, and appreciate how good we’ve all got it.
The following was written for myself in 2014 but occurred to me when recently reflecting on the reactions to the current pandemic. I went and re-read it and was surprised to see that I found it quite relevant to the current discussion on preventive lockdowns vs. freedom of action in dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So with only very minor edits in formatting, I publish it here.
Another vital question from a reader has prompted another public response as the clarification might be of interest to other readers. And more, if I’m to promote Objective Optimism, differentiating it from Subjective “Optimism,” it will be of great value to lay out the distinction in a post for future reference.
The title is a summary version of a recent question from a reader, as it is more or less implied in what I say in a recent article, “There’s No Such Thing As a Necessary Evil. The reader quoted an excerpt from my article, then asked the question as follows:
“I know I should be giving to that charity. But I can barely pay my daughter’s hospital bills as it is. And we’ve been saving for that new used car. I fear we’re going to have an accident one of these days with the clunker we’ve got. I want to be good, but I just have to look out for us first. Oh, that sounds bad like that. But nobody’s a saint. I guess we’re all just a little selfish and evil deep down. And people understand, really. They all do the same most of the time. It’s necessary. Yeah, sometimes you’ve just got to choose a necessary evil. I wish it weren’t so costly to be good, though.”
I previously posted an article presenting a Ben Folds song, describing in detail what the lyrics meant to me, as in them contained a lesson I wanted to articulate for myself and any readers. It was born out of an idea to present the song to my Korean university students in our English conversation class as a fun way to introduce a theme for discussion, one which I also thought very relevant to their lives.
In my previous article, I wrote: There is a phenomenon familiar to most, I’m sure, that books, songs, or movies we love become more or less meaningful as we get older and revise our own worldviews. I have often found that a single line speaks more strikingly to me as, over time, applications of the lesson held in it have demonstrated its truth in real-life situations again and again. This is also true of whole themes of books, movies, and songs, as well as in essays and non-fiction works I’ve loved. I live, I experience people and events, and I see more deeply and clearly what the authors were talking about. It then becomes my own first-hand knowledge, making it more powerful when applied in my own life. It’s very satisfying when things you’ve loved are proved through experience to be truer and thus become even more meaningful.
The game day speech is a tough one. The epic battle speech is an even greater challenge. A leader has to assure his troops–calming their faulty nerves and relieving their anxieties and fears–while at once rousing their courage, passion, and determination to their fullest capacity just prior to the plunge. Aragorn nails his at the Black Gate of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.