Finding Direction: Prologue 1.0.1
Each tiny choice toward moral Growth or moral Decay can be imagined as an individual dot along the vertical age line of our lives that intersects the horizontal choice line between Decay and Growth. As our choices accumulate over time, they create “dot patterns” of behaviors and actions, perhaps clustering toward Growth or moving toward Decay. But most probably weaving around a midline and making a sort of bell-curve. We all have “outliers” that we might say are uncharacteristic of us, in either direction. We also have clusters of choices resulting from the specific influences of others, from our personal experiences, and from moments of crisis or reflection.
The consequences of our choices as individuals or groups are complex and not always easy to analyze. One might think that people would, naturally, choose thoughts and behaviors toward the moral Growth end of the choice-line because everyone is basically good. Or at least they would pretend to be good if they noticed someone else watching. In fact, it probably depends on who is watching. The most we could say is that everyone has the potential for choosing toward the bell-curve side that is Growth rather than Decay.
On the other hand, moral Decay is certainly very effective for short-term accumulation of power and wealth by individuals, groups, and governments. Immediate power and wealth or looking out for Number One is a “rational choice” (as Jared Diamond illustrated in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed) even though it may eventually lead to disaster. We may condemn Machiavelli’s advice in The Prince, but if the goal is personal power, then his advice – even though it leads ultimately to Decay – is rational for achieving the goal.
The critical issues are “What is my goal?” “What am I doing?” “Why am I doing this?” “Is what I am choosing actually leading to the goal?” and “Is the goal right, good, important, or just – for whom?”
Without Words We Cannot Think
Happiness: “Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.” John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)