A First Class Journey

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The history of human thought in as much as philosophy is concerned has often struggled with the concept of humanity’s place within, or indeed without, nature. We recognize our level of consciousness places us “higher” than all other living organisms and this has often led thinkers to claim we are above and separate from nature. Yet every individual is all too aware of nature’s hold over us and in that sense realizes, even if only subconsciously, that we are also very much of and within nature. Why these contrasting strings should have developed is anybody’s guess but perhaps should not be surprising given the ability of people to come up with just about every possible viewpoint on just about everything. It is certainly part of our nature to disagree with each other. But some things, regardless of their starting point or the reasoning behind them, do seem to hold a broad consensus across space and time and culture. One such idea is that we have an instinctive drive to be the best that we can be. To be first class.

Now this can end up being a both a positive and a negative trait, for its power is such that the direction in which our efforts go is not always going to be for anything particularly beneficial.  Most of us are made acutely aware from an early age of positive role models, but while the majority of us are given these from a group which includes presidents, or the wealthy, or first class thinkers and teachers etc., we often forget that sizeable section of society which gets its role models from less desirable arenas.  Thus, a gang member will strive to be the best gangster he can be and this may lead him, or her, to commit terrible crimes. A party animal may strive to be the wildest partier they can be and this has led to a premature death on many an occasion. Each section of society sees itself as approaching life from the “right” angle, or perhaps the only one open to them, and seeks to replicate it and this informs the choices we make.

This further complicated by the fact that often our desires and the things for which we strive often overlap, but it is the path to them that we choose that may be wildly different. I may desire the latest AMG Mercedes and choose to acquire it through hard work and thrift. You may also desire that AMG and choose to wait until I have acquired it and then steal it from me. We both desired the best and strove as hard as we knew to get it. We were both “successful” in achieving what we set out to do. The great questions we face as learners and as members of society, are geared towards establishing the pathways that we can agree on as being, if not right, at least most desirable from a utilitarian point of view. Only through such consensus can we achieve co-operation and continue to advance our state of being,

 

 
Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform.
Susan B. Anthony 

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