A MODERN AND WORLDLY PERSPECTIVE
Capable Capable
Capable Capable

Can't get no satisfaction?

I never hear anyone say this now, but people used to say, “Beauty is only skin deep.” If it was said about your friend, it was probably sour grapes—the tendency to disparage someone or something because you can’t have it. But sometimes the observation was insightful, a commentary about the big difference between the superficial and the substantive.

Still, we actually conduct most of our lives on the surface. Like other animals, we learn in the main by imitation, mimicry and conformity. We’re pressured to adapt to the rules and cope with the challenges in our environment. Riding the rails of our genetic and culturally conditioned determinism, we get jobs, start a family, buy a dog, take vacations and play with our digital devices.

In other words, in the absence of an education in autonomy and life, we reach adulthood with little pressure to pay attention to the substantive principles on which this nation’s institutions were built, or to the gratitude and obligation we owe to the millions who have died to ensure that we can enjoy the freedom of being in enlightened possession of ourselves.

With little close-up familiarity with the depth of character, ethical seriousness and responsibility that freedom or individual sovereignty actually requires, we creatively engage only the surface systemics of the life offered in America.

You know I believe that much of our dissatisfaction comes from only a superficial engagement with our nation’s enlightenment ideals. Sure, we can carry-on “skimming off the top,” or by managing nothing deeper or more meaningful than the surface systemics of our day-to-day life. But the quality of our lives is elevated and enlivened when our public and private sovereign individuality is lived in the light of this nation’s emancipatory framework.  

That is why we abstract for discussion and study the emancipatory framework of the sovereign individual. We find that managing this idealistic and political ordering is intrinsic to the promise of America, dependent as it is on its citizens’ ability to architect and steward America’s civilization.

As I said in my most recent post titled, American Patriot, the struggle for the soul of democracy is ongoing and in general, that which has meaning and utility takes hard work at an imaginative, authentic and responsible level. 

In other words, despite the enormity of the challenge and our own personal history, i.e., the state of our own determinism, we choose the path of enlightened self-possession to achieve the elusive satisfaction we desire. This path leads us to the good life that is the promise of this nation. And it leads us to the possibility that there can be liberty and equality for all, and importantly, justice—a level playing field of competitive opportunity and a safety net for the sovereign individual not up to the competition.

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 Arnold Siegel is the founder of Autonomy and Life and the leader of its Retreat Workshops and Advanced Classes. 

 
 
 
 

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