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Saturday, March 20, 2010


This is a follow up to Egotastic Me. If you want to know the thought process behind this post, please read Egotastic Me.

καταδίκη is the Greek word for conviction. Conviction is “an unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence”[1].

The Greeks were a very special people in the history of the world. While many civilizations have risen and fallen in our history, the Greek civilization remain the core of the West. Their republics, democracies and even their tyrannies have influenced all major powers. The Greek myths draw us in with their drama, violence, heroism and villainy. Greek tragedies show us how fate and human nature pit us against ourselves, and so few times do we ever end up on the right side of the world.

I've been interested in the Greeks for many years, mostly on a very superficial level. It was not until the movie 300 was announced did I begin to read deeper into the Greek story than just the thin picture books I got from the library. I read everything I could on the Spartans, the warrior-citizens that could create unstoppable fear by simply marching towards their enemy. I read about their culture, their unique monarchical-oligarchical-democratic government and, of course, their military victories. It was from there I began a slow read of the Greek culture as a whole, not just the differences between Sparta and Athens or Argos and Thebes. The Greeks had a very human nature based view of their existence. Human flaws and human vices were the center of their works and plays. Even the Gods were subject to their emotions, vices and desires. And above it all was fate. You could not fight your destiny, no matter what.

In a land of plenty, we tend of make up plenty of things to fight against. Wars against cancer, smoking and obesity. Battles against poverty, mental health disorders and racism. The poor population of one of our cities has more wealth than all of Somalia or Bhutan. Our middle class spends more time resting than working, more time having fun than having to break one's back. Our technology is bounds ahead of our nearest adversary. Our kids are more tech savvy than any other generation in history. Children can navigate the chaos of the Internet better than their parents and grandparents. Our material utopia has brought us so much, but it has left one thing behind. The war each one of us has inside.

The terrain is the mind and victory is harmony. Our physical wars have been either fast, long or not fought to win. Not since 1941 has the United States went into a war balls out. We've spent the last half of the 20th century protecting the material gain we had from the deviation of World War II. What was the tragic luck of having most of the world in ruins has become the addiction of an entire civilization.

We have an easy life, but we aren't happy. We want more. More protection. More hugs. More happiness. We worry how the world sees us, even to the point of putting the lives of our own in danger. We worry more about the fictional “Other” and how it feels compared to us. How many times are we told its going to be okay? That the government will take care of you? That the pills will make it all better? That all you need to do is talk to a doctor to stop the cancer, the blues or anything else that may be bothering you? We are told we are always going to be okay... except how many times does that platitude collapse like a house of cards?

Almost every single time.

The world will never be as easy as it was and we must come to terms with that. The party that's happened for the last 65 plus years is ending, or at least it should end. We've prolonged it for so long after many false deaths. But today, with debt, with basic moral degradation, with a national cynicism so prevalent that nobody trusts the government anymore, not even those who endorse government programs. The fluff of prosperity is blowing away, revealing an ugly and cracked monster underneath. We have problems and we're going to have to bite more than one bullet to save our way of life.

For years, I've struggled with confidence in almost everything in my life. Socially, mentally, politically, religiously; a snake pit of emotions. This isn't a unique thing. It's become a right of passage of the modern man. In the face of a world with everything, a material utopia, the last thing we think about is our souls. We forget that our psyche is real. It requires comfort, but it also requires discipline. Our spiritual selves need to be able to stand up to the world around us.

Slowly, over the past few years, I've learned that one must be confident not only in self, but in one's beliefs as well. You can think you can do things well, that you can get the girl, ace the test and down a stein like a pro, but doubt doesn't come only from your abilities, but from your ideals as well. I never held on to an anarchist belief I had for long because I couldn't never be certain in my convictions that a particular anarchist ideology was right. I kept switching until I abandoned the entire school of thought. You must be able to truly believe in what you preach, or it will collapse on you.

Conviction isn't just a word that explains a fanatic, it is a state of mind that we must attain if we are to be able to function above the ugly world we inhabit. Conviction, for my worthy political opponents or for myself, allows for doubt to vanish when it appears. Conviction is worthy of respect, most of all in this time when even the most stone headed of politicians ends up turning on his people for his own personal gain. If you believe in God, Marx or Dawkins, it doesn't matter, take the time and the effort to make sure that is what you truly believe. Don't half-ass it. It'll only be your downfall.

Faith is the key. Even the most science-based beliefs have a bit of faith backing them. One doesn't dedicate one's life to evolutionary biology because the evidence is conclusive and no more must be done. One doesn't research the climate because the time for debate is over. We do it because we believe. We are belief driven people. We want to show what we believe is true. It is one of the best aspects of human nature. The drive of belief.

The confidence of myself, and in general, of the nation, is based on the confidence of our beliefs. For me, my beliefs have become stronger due to the doubts that I've had and the mistakes I've made. But, unlike our nation, I have done my best to change my mistakes instead of covering them up with more spectacular and materially driven mistakes. I've come to my conclusions and I believe them from head to heart. The nation, well, that's still up in the air. We shall see if the nation will heed the convictions given to it by the Founders, or fall to the weakness of doubt and material addiction.


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