“Harvard University claims to produce future leaders. So do other colleges. But constantly telling young people they’re leaders seems to bring out some of their worst qualities.” ~Michael Cheng, writing yesterday for the Wall Street Journal

It’s as George Carlin quipped about kids being sent to summer leadership camp: “Leadership camp? Isn’t that where Hitler went?”

People think of Abraham Lincoln as one of America’s finest leaders, but Lincoln didn’t think of himself as a leader. He thought of himself as one of the people.

“Just be yourself”

No! Do nothing of the sort. To want to “just be yourself” is to assume you’re already the most just and loving person who’s ever existed. What arrogance!

Worse yet, to want to “just be yourself” is to assume no right conduct exists; no moral standards exist; that however you want to live your life is the right way to life your life (of course, this belief comes crumbling down when we think about how terrorists live their lives).

Sooner or later you realize that freedom is not what you thought it was, that freedom has more to do with love, relationships, commitments, and right conduct, than with some indefinite vacation where you wake up on a beach every morning and bark orders at person serving your drinks.

Universities need sports

Does anyone care about the groundbreaking genetics research happening at Ohio State? Or the new history of Scandinavia being written at Michigan?

No, but lots of people care about who wins the Ohio State-Michigan football game today.

Snooty academics turn up their noses at the lower, unenlightened classes, but a more useful posture is appreciation, because college football is the only reason the lower, unenlightened classes put up with snooty academics in the first place. Groundbreaking genetics research is probably more valuable than college football, but college football foots the bill for that research.

Perhaps snooty academics need to get back in touch with what they loved as children, like sports. And perhaps college football fans could read a book every now and again, like an adult.

Women’s equality

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t have some belief about the rightness of women’s equality. If I do they are deeply closeted.

To have a belief about the rightness of women’s equality implies that cultures that don’t are inferior to cultures that do.

Is this enough to drive a stake into the heart of multiculturalism?

It’s not your play

Do you ever get the sense that you’re an actor in someone else’s play, like Will Farrell in Stranger Than Fiction?:

A Russian cosmonaut once returned from space and reported he had not found God.

C.S. Lewis responded that that would be like Hamlet to go into his attic looking for Shakespeare.

Does God care about winning?

I don’t think God gives two shits about winning, frankly.

I think humans care about winning, and about power, and about how they can shape the world to their desires rather than the more ancient pursuit of shaping their desires to the world.

I do, however, think God likes watching a good competition, no matter if it’s the NFL or children playing tag.

Perception and reality

Reality exists, no matter how you perceive it. The Sun and Moon may look similarly sized but the Sun is actually much bigger than the Moon, and astronomers know it.

You may have heard of the blind monks feeling an elephant. Each monk feels a different part of the elephant and so describes a different “reality,” the tusks different than the trunk, different than the tail, different than the feet. The only person who sees the whole elephant is the storyteller, who tells the story implying reality can’t be described, that “perception is reality.” But the storyteller is a bit arrogant, because in telling the story he assumes the position of seeing reality. He does not assume perception is reality, but that his perception is reality.

In truth, reality is reality, no matter how it is perceived, and those in power cling to perception because perception forms the basis of power. If people can know reality for themselves then they don’t need powerful people to help them perceive it “correctly.” This was the basis of the Protestant Reformation. This was why Galileo was banished from the Roman Catholic Church. This is why Bitcoin is so threatening to banks.

You can see why a university like Harvard clings to the perception that it is the best institution of higher education in the world. Without that perception of credibility Harvard is just a bunch of buildings and faces nobody’s ever heard of. You can see why something like blockchain technology is threatening to it, which could let individuals certify their learning without the Harvard registrar’s intermediation. Administrators at Harvard fear their loss of status; and ultimately money; and ultimately food; and ultimately death.

People are really scared of death.

“I do not judge others”

That’s great. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in refraining from judging others when you’re dragging your own bag of sin around. It seems the very root of compassion and solidarity.

But to utter the phrase evokes a certain arrogance, and it’s hard to live in solidarity with others when you’re better than others.

Satan exists, and his name is “Thanksgiving Break”

Have you noticed how many people crumble in the face of an upcoming vacation? They lose motivation; they abandon their commitments; they do just enough to get through the day and onto a happier place where puppies fall asleep in their laps and only the most entertaining TikToks enter their consciousness.

That’s Satan.

“What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises—no matter the mood! Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It’s not for fighting.” ~Frank Herbert, Dune

Nothing against the Satanists who “just want to be happy” and “just want a break,” but those four kids who showed up to Intro to Sociology at 9 a.m. this morning? Those are the warriors of the light. Those are the ones we can count on, no matter their grade in the class.

Showing up

New parents tell me that their infants need care every day, no matter if the parents are sick or well, tired or rested, enduring a panic attack or literally starving. Infants don’t care about their parents’ problems.

Behind every well-raised child, I’m told, are parents that showed up every day and did the work.

Get it?