In today’s world where we are bombarded by mind-numbing reality shows, more online interactions than real-world, and an overall increase in social awkwardness, it is becoming more and more obvious that we’re too concerned with the lives of others instead of our own. I’m going to assume that anyone reading this may at least be a little more introspective than the general population, so it will be interesting to hear your thoughts.
I grew up in a somewhat sheltered world – class of 151, same group of friends throughout high school, captain of this, involved in that… yada yada yada. I never really paid attention to current events. I definitely didn’t know what was going on outside of my town and most times not what was going on within. Thank goodness it was before the Facebook phenomenon or who knows how I would have turned out.
Several life events, marked by some emotional scarring, were monumental in changing my view of the world. However, outside of that, I fully think there’s one element that helped me the most and tends to separate people; I took more than just an entry-level English Lit class.
What other classes involve such in-depth character analysis and require a person to ask the ultimate question – Why? You don’t see many business classes reviewing the lifestyle of or reasons why Rod Blagojevich thought he could get away with selling a Senate seat. Analysis into a character’s motivations can become habitual is easily transferred into real life situations.
During my two years of various Literature classes, all elective and not even enough to qualify as a minor, I learned to ask myself ‘why’ which in turn allowed me to have a better understanding, not only why others may do what they do, but eventually to turn it internal and ask why I do some of the things I do. Getting to know myself has been more enlightening than you can imagine.
To be fair, it hasn’t been easy. I found myself making excuses, both for myself and for those who influenced me early in life. And many of the truths were hard to absorb. But I’m very happy to have started down that path of discovery, a path that will likely take me on a lifelong journey.
I challenge you to do the same
An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope (a snippet)
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
Still by himself, abus’d or disabus’d;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.
Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!