What motivates a person to make the decisions he makes, to do the things she does? What motivates a group of people, a community, a city or whole nation to do what it does, to decide what it decides? Some people are motivated by what is right and what is wrong. Some people are motivated by what will earn them recognition and honor. Some people are motivated by the "return on investment." Some people are motivated by what will be an expression of their freedom, the right to choose what they choose to choose. What other things motivate us? As individuals? As communities?
This post has been edited (January 4, 2020) to include a link to a podcast for those reading along.
Imagine being inspired to read Plato's dialogues by first reading the Autobiography of John Stuart Mill--yes, that John Stuart Mill, the naturalist and utilitarian. That is precisely what happened to Mortimer Adler.
A couple of weeks ago, I was angry at a friend. During a conversation, he had said some things that frustrated me, made me feel unwanted, and it resulted in me not wanting to be around anyone else for awhile. Shortly thereafter, a couple of other friends invited me to lunch, and I refused to go with them because I was too irritated to be around anyone else. I drove off to get some lunch, alone. As I was pulling into the drive thru line at a fast food chicken joint, two vehicles in front of me crashed into each other.
What do you call a thing that is so "normal" to you that you couldn't imagine how life would work without it, but is so rare everywhere else that others wonder why you do it at all? What would even qualify for that description? I imagine sugar might be close. Americans, apparently, eat far more sugar than the rest of the world. Is sugar such a "normal" part of our lives that we couldn't even imagine life without it, whereas the rest of the world wonders why we use so much of it? Testing fits in this category.
I hope all is well! As promised, I am writing to offer you any advice I can as you start out your journey with your new family and teaching. This is the first letter, but I hope our correspondence will continue for as long as it proves to be helpful.
Stories are the most powerful tool for communicating truth. Truth is a logos and idea that must be incarnated for the mind to apprehend it, to contemplate it, and then to incarnate it itself. The classical educator, the parent, the teacher, the mentor, each leads another in the hope that the student, child, or apprentice will accept the truth he is teaching and act on it. Stories are the most powerful tool for teaching, in this sense.
Joshua Gibbs recently authored the article, “Engaging Culture, Cloak For Mediocrity: Giving Up On Pop Music.” What follows is intended to be a response to Josh’s article, although it might be better understood as a reaction. This is because, for the most part, I agree with his conclusions. For example, Josh writes,
A walk on a cool, winter afternoon can be bracing. The crisp, cool wind blowing along the street pierces straight to the bone. The extremities of your face stiffen as the chill reaches them. Green needles wave on pine branches as the wind passes through them. A single sentence passes into my mind, on this 15th day of March, “Now is the winter of our discontent.” When will it be made into a glorious summer? I ask.