Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Gasoline engines propel cars, but little is achieved by pouring fuel on the ground and setting it on fire. When coal stoves were around, most people preferred to heat one room in the house well rather than all rooms badly. Energy is used most effectively when applied to a specific goal.
Nature demands neither concentration nor disaggregation of resources. Rivers that run in the same direction might merge their flows, but frequently, they don't. During a fire in the savannah, animals that are perfectly capable of running alone will sometimes join elephants in a stampede, and get crushed to death.
The capacity to determine long-term goals and assess alternatives is uniquely human. Everyday, we make choices, hour by hour, selecting on each occasion the most advantageous option amongst the countless offered by life.
In order to reduce complexity, we try to automatize as many decisions as possible. When we drive to work, we usually take the same road. When we go out for dinner with friends, we often go to the same restaurant.
Routine works fine to get repetitive tasks done, but it cannot be trusted for life's fundamental choices. A woman seldom falls in love with a man just because he happens to be her neighbour. Students rarely decide to study medicine just because their dorm lies next to a hospital.
Making the right choices and following them through leads to happiness, barring cases of extreme bad luck and catastrophes. Who knows what he wants from life, has no difficulty making decisions. If consequences prove disappointing, he will simply rectify his mistake and move on.
On the other hand, deciding on fundamental matters is hard for those who lack a clear vision of the future. Confronted with a multiplicity of paths, pilgrims always know what to ask, which is, for random walkers, an impossible task.
Unmade choices have devastating results. Anxiety and diffuse fear reign in the realm where all things are relative. Energy is consumed by doubt and half-hearted actions, wasted throughout. Without goals, there is no focus; without consistency, no resiliency to withstand even minor adversities.
Man needs stable convictions and non-contradictory personal objectives in order to live his days to the fullest. Otherwise, psychological disintegration will soon put an end to his every aspiration.
Sound design and dependable workmanship keep buildings in good shape for decades. Consistency of purpose provides the structure for a lifetime of happiness. Against tornadoes, wise men put up concrete walls; against indecision, long-term goals.
Image: Photograph taken by John Vespasian, 2015.
For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books