Monday, March 19, 2018

A Better Citizen

When asked where he was from, he said 'I am a world-citizen.'” (ἐρωτηθεὶς πόθεν εἴη, “κοσμοπολίτης,” ἔφη. Diogenes Laertius, 6.63, on Diogenes the Cynic, 4th Century BCE)

Have I done something for the common good? Then I share in the benefits.” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 11.4)

I've been all "eyes and ears" the last few hours as I delve into a new life experience that could easily carry on through the entire week. And I am ready to learn. 

At first all I could hear from others were groans and complaints from others who have done this already, but I've also gathered plenty of good advice so I've been prepared. Truthfully, there is a side of this experience that no person should ever have to endure--it's hard, to be sure; however, due to the consequences of human nature run amok and the function of law, the task is necessary. 

Jury Duty seems like a heavy burden and an inconvenience and an imposition to the citizenship of others. But it's not. We have the opportunity to contribute as a citizen by performing our service, by doing our duty. On one hand, the benefits we receive are not monetary nor do they contribute any status. On the other hand, the benefits are seen in our contribution to common good by spending a few mere hours every so many years (if ever again) to stop, step out of our routine and think about hard stuff with other folks.

Watching and listening, I've surmised that many fellow citizens are disturbed by the process simply because (among other reasons) they don't want to be responsible, feel responsible. Everyone has plans and the process has interrupted. But think of this: if a crime has been committed, what about the victims? Whose inconvenience is greater? Yours or theirs? What of the responsibilities that follow a possible crime committed? We communicate by our participation that we are concerned citizens. 

I'm going into this as a learning experience. I want to be a better citizen. 

This is the part of self-cultivation that is not self-centered. We don't withdraw to learn more about ourselves but dive in with others, over our head into tough issues. There we discover more about ourselves, what kind of person we really are. And what we (individually) may need to fix to be a better citizen. 

A better person. 

After all, folks have to live with you (and me) as much as you (and I) live with them. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Disknowledge"--Wrong On Purpose

"It is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows." (Epictetus)

Seems we all know that one person who thinks he or she knows everything. The one person who can't be told anything because they seem to already know. A trait mostly found in teenagers, only some never grow out of it.

One night we were discussing a movie when a certain person chirped, "Oh, yeah. Seen it a bunch of times already. I know all about it." We looked at each other and wondered out loud, "how? It hasn't even been released yet?" The response? "Well, I just have."

That kind of person.

There are two kinds of ignorance: there is one who is not-knowing (ἀγνοεῖς--"agnoia"  or "the agnostic") and the one who is not-learning (ἀμαθίᾳ--"amathia"). Here is our person, the know-it-all. The mind that endangers itself.

We might better understand if we divide the not-learning ("ignorant," as it were) into two camps: those who lack the natural ability to learn and those who are (in the words of Robert Musii) "intelligently stupid." Intelligence has not failed the know-it-all; rather, he or she has failed intelligence. 

D.R. Khashaba says "amathia", "is not lack of knowledge: in its milder variety, it is obscure and confused thought; in its more pernicious variety, it is ‘disknowledge’ instilled into the soul by bad upbringing and bad education, consisting in false values and notions and beliefs.”

This leads us to question Socrates (no pun intended), who said, "nobody does wrong willingly," meaning that no person is wrong on purpose. If the soul is infused with disknowledge and is pointed to truth, that soul has a choice to learn. Should that soul chose to remain not-learning ("ignorant") and reject truth, that is willful defiance and the only outcome is destruction, for the self first and then others who follow suit. Like Hitler, David Koresh, Jim Jones--all thought they were doing right in their own eyes, but were instead practitioners of intelligent stupidity.

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