Why do we refuse to listen to other people?

Arrogant guy

Prompt: There is usually a kernel of truth in the words Oscar Wilde puts in the mouth of his most outrageous characters – they wouldn’t be funny otherwise. One such gem that is worth pondering is: The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

Assignment: Is it true that when we most need advice we are least willing to listen to it? Or is good advice always welcome? Plan your response, and then write an essay…

We live in the unpredictable world. Life around us is very dynamic and active. Some things can appear suddenly and bring troubles to us. There are people, who love us and take care of us. They do not wish us anything bad. However, we try to avoid their pieces of advice sometimes at any price. Why do we do that? Usually, there is no reason for that. Maybe, we do that because of our selfishness, foolishness or overconfidence but the fact remains. That is why I prepared the essay to discover this issue. We are going to figure out the reason of this conduct. Can you change yourself?

When I get into a big problem, I usually do not want to listen to somebody’s tips. I am irritated and could not clarify my mind, but when I am calm I think that somebody’s advice is very appropriate in some kinds of situation. However, the need for someone’s advice is still questionable. Let us find out whether they are needed at all?

Therefore, on the one hand, there are some events in our lives, which we would rather avoid. In these cases, we really need an advice of other people. They can help you to solve the difficult question and carry out some tasks without any problems. People, who hold this view, believe that good advice is always welcomed. They do not want to lose chances to figure out the opinion of others about any issues.

On the other hand, there is also another type of people, who believe that no one in this world cannot help them. Of course, they understand that adults have more experience and have a greater knowledge base, but this type of people thinks that only they can help themselves and I have to admit that I agree with them. Only a person who has experienced a particular situation can adequately and even a little objectively evaluate it and make the right decision.

Although I belong to the second type, I do not think that you have to ignore other people. You should not think that their words worth nothing. I follow the principle that surrounding people can help me and I usually try to listen to their advice. However, these tips are not necessarily for performance, I can use them or can refuse to do that. They have the only advisory in nature and only I have to solve an issue. For example, I can recommend you to follow this principle in your future life, but you can take this information into account or can just ignore it. It is your life and your choice.

In addition, the experience is a good teacher, but it sends in terrific bills. That is why it will be better for you at least to learn from the mistakes of others if you do not want to listen to the advice of other people. First of all, you should put yourself in a fictional situation based on stories of other people.

Second, you should try to analyze these situations and try to solve troubles to please all subjects of the conflict. When you simulate these situations, you will know what you should do in the future if you will get in the similar trouble. Finally, I recommend you to remember all decisions that seem to you the most successful. Then you should use them in practice and avoid terrible mistakes which later regret. You are not obliged to use this advice in your ordinary life, but most wise and successful people usually try to learn from the mistakes of other people than from their own.

Therefore, the problem of public opinion is very important and this question will be discussed for a long period. Moreover, I think that controversies about it would be never completed and this problem will remain unfinished and the result will depend on the individual opinion of people. However, it is your life. You should make the choice on your own and only then follow chosen way. You can listen to other opinions and try to stick to them or you can just control your fate without any obligation to follow somebody’s advice. Choose carefully!

 

“Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” – Bernard Shaw

Prompt: “Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” Bernard Shaw expected to provoke controversy with these words, but I would agree with him that these days there is too much emphasis on independence. While it is certainly true that excessive dependence on others is not a sign of maturity, total independence of others is neither attainable nor desirable: we need to be mature, and unselfish enough to recognize our interdependence.

Assignment: Do we put too much emphasis on self-reliance and independence, and are we afraid of admitting that we need other people in our lives? Plan your response, and then write an essay…

The question of independence of every human being is a hard one nowadays. We talk about it, we write about it, we think about it and we want it most of all. Yet, maybe, we overestimate its value and underestimate its harmful effect on people. Do we really need that independence and self-reliance so much?

Independence is what every person in the world is dreaming about. We are looking for freedom from parents, from responsibilities, from people’s attitude, from everything. We stand here and think that we need independence to be happy. We think that when we are free, we can do anything we want.

Therefore, it is quite natural for us to think about self-reliance in our life. Our parents teach us to be independent and to get everything we want relying only on us. Teachers at schools also give us a feeling that only being independent can help us in our lives. Mass media is screaming about freedom and its importance. It seems that we can be happy only when we don’t report to anyone on our decisions and actions. We are stuck in this race for self-reliance.

It’s obvious that there is something good in this independence thing. People begin to understand that their life is only their choice. They learn how to live and sometimes survive in this dangerous world. The independence of the mind is also very important for people. They learn how to think and listen to their inner desires. All these qualities are very helpful from one side, but they are also harmful to our ability to live with others in harmony.

Is it really possible to be independent of everything? We all live in society somehow. This society can be smaller or bigger, it can be better or worse, but each of us has to deal with other people around. We all communicate with people every day. We all live due to the rules that our society has created. Complete independence is possible only living outside the society and there are not so many people with a desire to leave it forever.

Therefore, the idea of a complete independence creates huge problems with communication and relationships among human beings. First, parents tell their children to rely only on themselves and then, these children stop listening to them at all. Children from the very early age think that they know everything better than others. Such approach ruins parents and children relationships. It is impossible to create good relations when there is no communication and understanding inside the family.

This desire to be unique and free from others doesn’t give us even a chance to find a real friendship. Unfortunately, we can see that friendship is becoming more like a beneficial deal now. We close our hearts and don’t let anyone come inside. We just don’t know how to trust other people anymore.

If we will look at marriages, we will see that people are not together like it was before. They want to have more freedom in relationships; they need more space for themselves. A lot of couples forget about the family happiness and think only about their own comfort. It is hard to find the interdependence even inside the family.

The situation is scary. People are afraid of being dependent. They afraid to hurt their feelings, lose their money or other things. People think that being dependent is a weakness, but it is not so completely. It is the greatest power. What one person can do? Can one person stop the war, or gather money for sick people, or change the world for better? We all need the help of other people. When we stuck, when we are hopeless, our friends and family can support us. Without this help, we aren’t able to be truly happy and successful.

We should understand that complete independence is neither possible nor necessary for us. There is some level of independence that each of us should have, but we shouldn’t cross the line or we can lose our humanity. We are interdependent, and we should appreciate this because the connection with other people is in our nature.

 

“You must act as you breathe.” by Georges Clemenceau

Prompt: A man who waits to believe in action before acting is anything you like, but he is not a man of action. It is as if a tennis player before returning the ball stopped to think about his views of the physical and mental advantages of tennis. You must act as you breathe. Georges Clemenceau

Assignment: Is it true that acting quickly and instinctively is the best response to a crisis? Or are there times when an urgent situation requires a more careful consideration and a slower response? Plan your response, and then write an essay…

Georges Clemencrau has shared his thoughts about rational acting and acting on impulse when in crisis and claims that you must act as you breathe. This essay’s goal is to elaborate on the process of acting when a person is found in an imminent situation and whether it is good to take a more careful approach towards a situation instead.

We all know that impulse can make us do things that we might not have done if we had the chance to stop and think about our actions. When people act on impulse, it is quite often that they have regrets on some, if not on all decisions made in the moment. Additionally, quick reactions in a stressful situation can cause us trouble in some cases and no one wants this to happen.

Acting on impulse can be both good and bad, depending on the situation. In a very stressful situation, people tend to act immature or inconsiderate and may hurt themselves and others as a result. But in crisis, sometimes the only option people have is to act. As Clemencrau has pointed out, athletes cannot possibly allow themselves to stop during the game in order to think what to do next – they have to act on impulse before the moment is gone.

My point here is that why and when we act on impulse depends on the reason. Sometimes the only chance we have to succeed and get a positive result is to act as we breathe because when the moment is over, there is no turning back. After all, we are human beings and given the chance to be alive and take action into our own hands gives us the opportunity to act fast.

Difficult situations can often arise from impulse decisions, but acting fast can also turn out to be one of the best things we did. People always say that being brave is the key to success and we all have to take a risk at a certain point in order to achieve a goal. Success is never served on a platter and one must do whatever it takes to get there or to maintain it.

The sole fact that people are given instinct as a trait to be used in order to survive is a good enough reason to make us believe in our guts. It is not uncommon for people to speak of women’s intuition or following your opinions and if we think about it, we all actually act on instinct almost every day. When we meet a new person, we create our first impression based on instinct.

When we learn something new, we choose the way to remember it based on what our instinct tells us. Of course, all of us can make mistakes in both these situations, but we will still use instinct with the next person we meet, because that is in our nature.

We learn from our mistakes and our successes and there is no reason to run away from an impulse that may bring us happiness. Of course, there are situations when the risk is too big for us not to stop and think about it and acting quickly in these situations can cause us things that we will regret.

Therefore, it is crucial for people to be able to recognize the gravity of the situation and know the risk when a crisis occurs. In this way, we will only take a risk when we are sure that the damage is not bigger than the successful result and that by acting on impulse, we do not hurt the people around us and ourselves.

Read new assignment prompt “You must act as you breathe.” by Georges Clemenceau

 

“What happens after the pursuit of happiness?” by Bertrand Russell

Prompt: Many societies believe that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right. But it is also true that attainment of happiness remains elusive. Perhaps Bertrand Russell had it right when he said, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”

Assignment: What gives us more pleasure and satisfaction: the pursuit of our desires or the attainment of them? Plan your response, and then write an essay…

What happens after the pursuit of happiness? What happens once you have acquired all you thought you needed to be happy? What if after the pursuit of happiness, you are not happy after all? Was it the journey toward happiness that kept you motivated to achieve more?

Once you get the things you think you need to be happy do you need to start pursuing new things to be happy? Does the meaning of happiness change over time? Or do you only realise that it is not things that make you happy once you have it? All these questions arise once you start to figure out what is happiness and whether it is the pursuit of our desires or the attainment of them that brings true happiness.

People often say ‘it’s not the destination that matters it is the journey’. Can this also be true for the pursuit of happiness? Does accumulating material things like wealth bring true happiness in any case or is there more to it than that? You get filthy rich people, but are they really happy and how do you measure happiness in the first place?

It is also true that what makes you happy changes over time? When you are five you might think happiness is getting a new bike, but when you are thirty happiness might be getting a new car. But what if after years of thinking that ‘getting things’ will make you happy you still find yourself longing for something, longing to be happy, which part is important then the ‘getting things’ or the journey of life?

There are many books with the theme of finding happiness. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is just such a book. The book is about her life experience. She had everything most people think they need to be happy. At 32 years old, Elizabeth Gilbert was educated, had a home, a husband, and a successful career as a writer.

Nonetheless, she was still not happy. After eventually getting a divorce she decided to give up all these outward marks of success and travel for a year in the pursuit of true happiness. She spent four months in Italy, eating and enjoying life, three months in India, finding her spirituality and ended her journey in Bali, Indonesia, looking for a balance between the two extremes of worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s first phase of life was probably spent in attaining what she thought would bring her happiness, a home, a career and a husband. Once she has this she still felt unsatisfied and went on a second search for happiness, but she was not looking for something specific to make her happy, she went on a journey to fins what really makes her happy.

Reading this book also makes the reader ponder the meaning of happiness. It makes you wonder about what you think will make you happy and whether this will in fact be the case. Being aware of the fact that perhaps after striving to find happiness you will still feel a void is important. It can teach you from a young age that it is more about ‘getting there’ than it is about ‘being there’.

There can be nothing worse than only realising this at the end of your life. Imagine spending your whole life in pursuit of a top carer, a big house, lots of money, a wife and kids etc. only to reach age fifty and sixty and still feel unhappy.

This likely happens to many people since we live in a materialistic world where we are told that money and objects are what we need to be happy. For people that believe in more than a physical world, like Buddhists, life is a spiritual journey and happiness can only be found in living and enjoying each moment solely for the sake of being, not for achieving something.

Bertrand Russell said, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”, meaning that it is the journey towards attaining your goals that makes you happy and not attaining the goals themselves. But perhaps it is not just about the journey or the goals but simply just being happy with being.

Read new assignment prompt “What man calls civilization always results in deserts. Man is never on the square – he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth. Each generation wastes a little more of the future with greed and lust for riches.” by Don Marquis

 

“What man calls civilization always results in deserts. Man is never on the square – he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth. Each generation wastes a little more of the future with greed and lust for riches.” by Don Marquis

According to one hypothesis, the Great Wall of China, the largest witness of civilization on Earth, was not raised in an effort to protect the country from invasion of the Huns and other nomadic tribes, but to set the border which separated civilized people from the barbarians. Today, more than two thousand years since the history of the Great Wall began, people are still building walls, firmly convinced that they represent their culture and civilization.

They build the walls not only to protect their nations, but also to isolate themselves as individuals. Despite the fact that men think they have achieved great progress over the last century, the walls they built are meaningless in terms of their evolution. Those buildings reflect not only on our nature, but also on our mood, actions, and our psycho-social wellbeing.

Instead of building the future for next generations, civilizations continue destroying it. The city, in its current form, hasn’t existed for that long. Regarding the fact that humanity spent more than a million years in evolution, the existence of the city (5-7 millennia) is a short period of time. In other words, the man has the potential to exist in a different, more natural environment than the city. However, I doubt that the ungrateful human nature would settle for anything less or more than the symbols and archetypes imposed by civilization.

Humanity is still far from a harmonious urban or post-urban civilization on a global level. From the current viewpoint, I doubt that such society could ever exist. It is difficult for me to imagine that the electronic civilization would lead to one nation’s harmonious existence with other nations and the environment itself. In a world driven by power, few civilizations armed with fanaticism and chilling innovations would develop a script worse than any apocalyptic scenario that comes to my mind.

The big modern cities, like Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, and Dubai seem like the greatest achievements of humanity. Dubai was built on a territory that seemed like a desert, but behind those walls, it is still a social and cultural desert. The city, as the most precious setting the modern civilization offers, is also the biggest long-term threat for humanity. Scientists estimate that over 99% of all species that ever lived on Earth have been extinct.

Some of them are gone because they evolved in another form, some have been lost during the battles for survival, but some are gone because of the degradation of their natural habitats, caused by men. People around the world spend huge amounts of non-renewable natural resources. Extinction of specific species is a big problem, but the fact that civilization contributed and still contributes towards the disappearance of entire ecosystems is more troublesome.

Cars are the largest source of noise and pollution in the cities. If all citizens don’t use their vehicles for only one day per week, the air they will breathe will be cleaner for 13%. The fact that people are not ready to make that sacrifice for their own wellbeing is proof that we’ve become dependent upon the wonders of civilization, although it keeps destroying us. In 2009, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in UK proposed a radical solution to the British Parliament: artificial trees.

The interdisciplinary team of scientists warned that the efforts of governments to reduce the progressive trend of carbon dioxide emissions were not producing any results. Planting trees would be the perfect long-term solution, but it’s not an activity that would produce quick results. We’ve cut all trees to build the cities, and now we have to mass-produce artificial trees as the only way to repair the damage.

Civilization comes at the cost of our nature. It seems like cities cannot coexist with the natural surroundings. As men keep destroying the greenery of Earth, scientists have to think of radical solutions like the so-called geoengineering. Are future generations going to build forests of artificial trees? To me, it seems like the greedy nature of men would prevent them from giving up the luxurious setting of their cities and the false comfort of their homes for the sake of making up for the damage they have caused. If we continue basing our actions upon our lust for riches, future generations will inevitably face an apocalyptical scenario.

Read new assignment prompt “That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value.” Thomas Paine

 

“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value.” Thomas Paine

An obnoxious dictator gains control over an entire nation and millions of people suffer because of his abuse of power. Somewhere, a doctor says to the patient he has bad news. Somewhere, a smart student cannot continue her education because she comes from an extremely poor family. Why do these things happen? Is there justice in this world? Do we all have to struggle at some point of our lives? It seems like we do. When people find themselves in an extremely comfortable situation with no struggles on their way, they lose interest in living.

The laws of Nature imposed mental, physical, and even spiritual suffering as bridge to our enlightenment. When people achieve a high level of awareness, they understand that not everything is as good or as bad as we think it is. Comfort may negatively affect our mental, physical, and spiritual capacity, whereas pain and suffering can change us in a positive way.

Constant comfort makes people numb. Some people are rich, healthy, smart, and popular. It seems like they have everything a person could ask for. Boredom is their struggle. Some parents do everything to make the lives of their children as easy as possible. They help them with homework, they defend them when someone points out their mistakes, and they buy them everything they wish for. I’ve had plenty of such friends while I was a kid.

They grew up into unstable individuals who are ready to give up whenever they face an obstacle. They have their own struggles, too. I, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, with parents who disciplined me more than necessary. The always wanted me to be the best in class, and they kept comparing my achievements to everyone else’s. I don’t think I lived through a childhood like every kid should experience. I was angry and I blamed my parents for not giving me the comfort I thought I deserved.

With time, I realized that comfort was more of an obstacle than an advantage. It doesn’t inspire people to take risks, learn new skills, and find the true meaning of life. Life has a way of shocking us, because struggles make us change. When we obtain material, professional, and academic success too easily, we don’t value the status we have achieved. Two years ago, I got a phone as a prize on a competition. It was the latest model, which was priced over $400 at that time.

I understood it was valuable, but I didn’t appreciate it as much as the old phone, which I purchased myself. I worked part-time for months to save for that gadget, and it was more valuable to me than any other fancy smartphone. It took some struggling for me to achieve a goal I was aiming for, but the personal satisfaction I earned was more valuable than any prize I would’ve taken for granted.

Very often, people who are suffering from severe illness say that the suffering purified them and helped them shed off all false masks they wore for the sake of their social status. Pain has a healing gift, even if the disease is terminal. Spiritually mature people understand suffering as a stepping stone that helps them achieve higher states of their personal growth. Nick Vujicic has been through struggles most of us cannot even imagine.

Still, he has the strength to motivate, support, and comfort millions of people. As controversial as it seems, his disorder became a blessing. Vujicic spreads an important message: regardless of the circumstances we are facing, it’s always possible to overcome the obstacles and even turn them into opportunities.

Thomas Paine was a revolutionary political activist, who understood that nothing can be perfect in society and people’s individual lives. He also said that dearness was what gave everything its value, and I can only agree with that. Unconditional love leads people to liberation from all struggles, because then we understand that no obstacle is so great to disturb the inner balance we’ve achieved. Dearness and love cannot exist without free will.

Free will is a blessing, but also a struggle, because it leads people to the ability to make bad choices, and bad choices make us suffer. No matter how much we try to understand pain and suffering, there is a great mystery behind the fact that we have to experience some discomfort in order to find true happiness. When our eyes are cleansed with tears, then we can “see” everything more clearly, and start valuing each moment of our lives.

Read new assignment prompt “Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten

 

“Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten

Assignment prompt: As much as loyalty is the foundation of our relationships with friends and those we love, our loyalties are always getting hopelessly tangled and compromised. Even if we want to commit ourselves to being true, we can never escape the conflicting demands that our contradictory loyalties create. The loyalties we have to various people can come into conflict; the loyalties we have to family may clash with the loyalties we bear our friends; our personal loyalties may be at odds with our patriotic duties.

Adapted from Eric Felten, Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue

Assignment: Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

There is no person in this world who wouldn’t like to be good, kind, loving, and generous to other people. Nevertheless, various situations lead us on different paths. Loyalty is not a universal category. A child has to deal with the expectations of his parents.

He needs to be loyal to them, but he is enticed to bypass the truth when he needs to stay loyal to his friends or first love. When people are faced with conflicting loyalties, there is only one way forward: they need to stay true to themselves.

We are all living our lives according to certain principles. When we stop being loyal to ourselves for the sake of keeping conflict situations out of important relations, we become deeply unhappy. Our wish to please other people leads to a sterile life without any spark that leads to self-improvement.

Of course I want everyone around me to be happy, but what happens when the loyalty towards my partner is conflicted with the loyalty towards my friends and parents? I start thinking about the way my decision would affect other people, and I come to a conclusion that there is no way for everyone to remain happy with my choices. The only right solution is to stay true to myself.

Many couples have remained together because they feel the need to be loyal to each other. They are tied with the bond of guilt even when they lose the genuine connection. How do they behave when they are alone? What do they say? Their conversations are brought down to daily occasions.

Sooner or later, they realize that loyalty is an overestimated concept when it is associated to our relations to other people. In exhausted relationships, the distance is not measured in miles; it is visible in inches. In most relations we maintain, loyalty is strangled in a rigid world of standards imposed by society. Once we are done posing with our smiling faces for an Instagram photo, we are left in the most uncomfortable silence.

There is no way to remain loyal to everyone we love. The only way to be happy and fulfilled is to remain a close connection with ourselves. I don’t consider that to be an act of selfishness. If we tried to please everyone else, we would come into conflict with our own moral standards.

Emotional illiteracy is closely related to conflicted loyalties. It takes courage to admit that our own contentment is the driving force for making everyone else happy. If our relations with the people we love are healthy, they will understand and support our decisions.

It would be wrong to think that people who strive to achieve their goals are not loyal to the ones they love. Personal growth is tied to the loyalty towards our own plans and beliefs. In relationships, loyalty is firmly intertwined with freedom.

When people are free to make their own decisions without taking the bond into a conflict, they are able to remain faithful, loyal, and committed forever.

Read new assignment prompt “Is listening more important than speaking when you are trying to persuade others?” – by Libuse Binder

 

“Is listening more important than speaking when you are trying to persuade others?” – by Libuse Binder

Assignment prompt: At the core of any good dialogue is not the ability to talk louder than another person but rather the ability to listen calmly to diverse perspectives. You can always learn more by listening to other points of view, especially those you disagree with. Spend as much time as possible listening to what other people have to say, even when you are sure of your position. Understanding and appreciating others’ positions is the first step in persuading people to accept yours.

Adapted from Libuse Binder, Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties

Assignment: Is listening more important than speaking when you are trying to persuade others? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

When people communicate with others, there is one main obstacle that prevents them from finding a common ground: their ego. As Libuse Binder said in her book Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties, a good dialogue is based on our ability to listen to other points of view, even when we don’t agree with them.

If we are trying to persuade other people of a particular stand, it is important to listen and understand them without losing our beliefs. When we learn how to preserve calm state of mind during a discussion, we will listen to other people’s arguments without being affected by their tension. Then, the communication is transformed from a dispute to a situation we can learn from.

The problem in having a good dialogue goes beyond people’s ability to listen. Talking is another serious issue. Most people don’t know how to express their opinions in a simple, direct manner. They bother the other person with unnecessary details, thinking they would “win” the discussion if they talk more.

If we don’t listen, and the person talking to us doesn’t know how to express himself, there is no foundation for healthy communication. However, being a good listener does make a change. When we try to listen and understand, we can follow the mind patterns of the other person.

Even if his arguments are alternating from one subject to another, we will be able to find a bridge that brings the conversation back to the main point.

If we are having a dialogue without trying to listen carefully, we will only hear the things we can hook to. Our main goal is to prove the other person wrong, so we don’t bother questioning our own positions. We only try to catch onto a single argument that would help us prove our point.

People are inclined to be reserved towards the things they don’t understand. When they face opinions that push them out of their comfort zone, they are rarely capable to enable smooth flow of information. Our ego doesn’t allow us to accept ignorance.

The quest to becoming a good listener involves self-examination and acceptance. There is only one certain way of persuading others: we need to believe in the arguments we present. Although we are individual beings with our own moral and intellectual standards, the truth is universal. Before we present an argument, we need to believe in it.

If the other person already presented a similar opinion, we should come to an agreement without trying to oppose only to distinguish ourselves as unique.

When someone is a good listener, every dialogue teaches him to confront his own weaknesses, pride, fears, and the reasons behind those attitudes. Trying to persuade the other person without making an effort to understand his point of view doesn’t lead us to a successful discussion.

The only way to turn communication into a personally-rewarding experience is to listen and speak for the sake of truth; not for our ego and self-promotion.

Read new assignment prompt “If we are afraid to reveal our lack of knowledge we will not be able to learn.”

 

“If we are afraid to reveal our lack of knowledge we will not be able to learn.”

Assignment: Does the present system of education encourage us to admit our lack of knowledge, or is there too much pressure to demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge? Plan your response, and then write an essay.

People are born with an inner aspiration and willingness to learn. Even as children, when our character wasn’t developed, we were creating our own myths and stories to explain the things we didn’t understand. The path of learning is not easy.

The foundation of knowledge formed during childhood determines our future interests, goals, and devotion to learning. No one can achieve knowledge without recognizing ignorance first. However, the genuine curiosity of children is suppressed as soon as they become part of the educational system. They are afraid to ask “silly” questions, since their teachers expect them to be smart and know the answers to everything.

When children become part of a group that tests and judges his knowledge, they start perceiving ignorance as a disadvantage. People avoid thinking about the things they don’t know; it is in their nature to find a way around the things that cause discomfort.

When a teacher asks a question, the students who know the answer feel good about themselves, and all others try to avoid direct eye contact. This is a serious disadvantage of the educational system that has consequences throughout our entire lives. We cannot achieve any level of knowledge if we don’t assess the position from which we move on.

The fire that Prometheus gifted to mankind symbolizes knowledge. Why is knowledge hidden from us? Why do we have to try hard to get to it? It is in our nature to try to understand things, but we have to start from somewhere. When the teachers, lectures, textbooks, and standardized tests impose the things we are supposed to know, our natural curiosity slowly fades away. There is too much pressure to demonstrate our knowledge, so we are ashamed to ask questions and contemplate for answers.

Knowledge, in its deeper sense, is open for those who manage to transform their minds and turn them into instruments of observation. Before we can understand the world that surrounds us, we have to realize that there are many things we don’t know. When we accept our ignorance, we will be on our way to cure it.

Instead of teaching us how to think and wonder, teachers are forcing us to study and limit our minds to the materials they serve. That’s why we need to push the boundaries of the imposed standards and feel free to accept our ignorance. That is not an easy admission to make, since it carries a great responsibility to learn.

My grandmother used to say “we spend a lifetime in learning, and still die as fools.” I think she understood exactly what Thoreau meant. Ignorance needs to be seen from a broader, more complex perspective. Instead of a weakness, we should perceive it as potential for growth, as soon as we are committed to fill in the gaps and strive for knowledge.

Read new assignment prompt “Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten.

 

“A little inaccuracy saves a world of explanation.” – C. E. Ayers

Assignment: Is it always essential to tell the truth, or are there circumstances in which it is better to lie? Plan your response, and then write an essay.

This world, with everything on it, is in a constant state of dualism. Moral dualism represents the conflict between two aspects of one’s personality: benevolent and malevolent. Truth and lies, as parts of our existence, are two opposites that can hardly reach harmony.

Depending on one’s perception, truth distorted by “white lies” is acceptable as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Lies are part of our everyday life. We are constantly subjected to “altered truth” when we watch commercials, movies, and even news. Every human being has told a lie and endured lies. Although it is our moral responsibility to remain sincere, some situations prevent us from telling the absolute truth.

Due to the fact that everyone perceives the world through his own lenses, truth can mean different things to different people. Both truth and lies are subjective; there is no objective truth that would cause the same feelings with all people. People can be very tolerant to lies, but their ego becomes fragile when they hear a fact they didn’t want to face.

Thus, we tend to adapt our attitude towards someone, depending on the effects the truth would cause. There are truths that must be told, but there are also things that are better left unsaid. We decide whether we remain truthful, alter the facts with white lies, or tell a complete lie that would seem appropriate in the situation.

Although telling a lie is acceptable when we don’t want to hurt someone with the truth, we should never allow ourselves to accept lies as a style of life. Only honesty can bring people together and create lasting connections based on love and trust. There is a thin line between insincerity and deception.

The thing that causes people to tell lies is usually a selfish purpose. We are not trying to protect someone from being hurt when we tell lies; we are essentially concerned about our own comfort. No matter how much we try to justify “little inaccuracies”, the essence of truth remains the same: it is the only right thing to do.

Only if we stop using lies to protect ourselves from the consequences of the truth, we will understand our purpose. Every individual makes important contributions to the cosmopolitan events. When we realize that responsibility, lies will no longer seem natural. No matter how much we try to repress, bypass, distort, hide, and neglect truth, it will never seize to exist. There is a marvelous cosmic law that makes no compromise: the truth always remains a silent witness in reality.

The truth is purity and virtue. Lies cause discomfort, which is followed by larger plots that tangle more with time. One lie raises another one, leading into a vicious circle with no way out. The truth is the only way to preserve our moral purity and prevent crises of identity. It is never better to lie. Truth cannot be an option; it is an essential necessity because all paths of life lead towards it.

Read new assignment prompt “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” – Alexander Pope

 

“A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” – Alexander Pope

Assignment: Do we learn more from finding out that we have made mistakes or from our successful actions? Plan your response, and then write an essay.

In our genuine understanding of humanity, we usually classify people by good and bad. Other people are usually the bad ones, but we tend to justify our own actions, even though deep inside we know they were wrong. Every individual is convinced that he is a good person, whose actions result from the circumstances and other people’s behavior. We tend to praise ourselves for the success we achieve, but rarely learn something from our mistakes.

However, a deeper observation of our character can unmask values, deeds, and judgments that are not worthy of a praise. When someone realizes what it means to be a good person, and acknowledges that he has been wrong in certain situations, he will be close to a personal transformation. Our ego, which is encouraged when we analyze success, is not a good teacher.

It is not easy to identify our own mistakes. The instinct to protect ourselves and the people we love can easily cause us to hurt others. Life is a journey towards higher goals that are not only identified by social status and success, but with our personal growth as well. Being a truly good person means that I should know and experience my deepest fears, aspirations, and mistakes.

That’s the only way to realize how I can become better. No one can be a good person if he hasn’t analyzed his own actions and wasn’t appalled by his own negativity. When we consciously think about our deeds without creating a false image about ourselves, the journey towards transformation can begin.

Recognizing our own mistakes doesn’t mean that we should be overly humble about the success we achieve. However, we shouldn’t applaud ourselves about the successful actions while suppressing our consciousness. Too much self-esteem can make us morally inactive, since the ego won’t allow us to acknowledge our realistic personality. Our mind has an ability to distort the situations in our favor.

We all have good and bad sides, and we should learn how to see them.
The action of identifying our mistakes and acknowledging that we were wrong is associated to another important aspect: forgiveness. Repentance is a sign of personal growth and understanding that we can be better persons. From the moment we forgive ourselves and ask for forgiveness from others, we can start realizing our true potentials and qualities.

In addition to our success, we should recognize failure too. Instead of being ashamed to think about the times we did wrong, we should become aware of the reasons and consequences of those actions. Then, we can learn from them and become wiser and better than we were.

Read new assignment prompt “The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

 

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Assignment: Do we expect too much from our public figures? Plan your response and then write an essay.

Our political leaders are not necessarily heroes, but represent the will of people, who delegate the responsibility for decision-making to public figures who have gained their trust. Do we put too much emphasis on people’s moral values when we expect them to lead a country? Is power unquestionably associated to corruption? “The price of greatness is responsibility.” As history shows, great political leaders eventually abuse the responsibility they have.

Citizens’ expectations are an important category in politics, since they determine the long-term strategies of the government. If citizens have high expectations, political figures have to work much harder to gain the trust on the following elections. If, however, the expectations of the citizens are low, the government will be able to maintain the positive image without much effort.

When we analyze people’s hopes about the development of our society, we will notice that most of them have specific expectations that the government cannot meet. However, most people would prefer not to contribute to the decisions that are being made, but still expect the system to develop in their favor. The aspiration to enjoy the benefits of democracy without making contribution to good governance is utopia.

When the citizens give up on their own responsibilities and expect public figures to control the society in their favor, the rulers start working for their own interests. Although the governments always claim to work for the wellbeing of their people, the leaders don’t make proper decision without being pressured from citizens. We can never expect too much from public figures.

It is our responsibility to urge them to realize the promises they made before gaining power. In this case, idealism is always better than realism. People who call themselves realistic adhere to Orwell’s statement “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

They believe that all politicians are the same; they only care about their personal interests and that’s how it always will be. If a political figure is abusing the responsibility, people tend to justify him as long as he does “something good”.

The so-called soft authoritarianism creates a false image of the social life, since the real dynamics of the society’s development is being suffocated with a form of propaganda called spinning. When the citizens reconcile with the notion that “politicians are just people with flaws, it’s only expected from them to make mistakes,” the country start sinking with an intimidating pace.

In my opinion, all politicians who abuse power and don’t care about meeting people’s expectations should bear liability. Our cynicism and assurance that no current or future politician could fully protect the interests of citizens is working against us.

We do not expect too much from our public figures. In fact, we tend to expect too little. Our limitations prevent us from delegating responsibility to truly honest leaders who haven’t achieved “reputation” by lobbying and political spins.

As long as we tend to delegate the process of decision-making to leaders who have already failed us, our society will not progress. Political figures are normal human beings, but that doesn’t mean we should expect them to be corrupted. People have the power to supervise, so we should stop overlooking our leaders’ trivial and serious mistakes.

Read new assignment prompt “Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten