Capable Capable
Capable Capable

Loving life

Based on the Enlightenment philosophy taking hold in the 18th century, America began a social experiment—words spoken and written and map lines drawn—a founding outline yet to be filled. And despite the political debate that headlines most of our news, we, the people who live here, want to fill it. With our hopes. Our dreams. Our plans. Our work and our talent. And the happiness, meaning and presence-of-mind we imagine in our future.

We who study the philosophy and discipline of autonomy and life accept responsibility for our future. It’s exciting and we’re living it now. For this unique opportunity we give thanks. Thanks to America’s social construction of our individual sovereignty. Thanks to our acquisition of the educated sentiments, well-balanced ego and mechanism of responsibility on which the success of our endeavor is built. And thanks to our courage to accept—indeed, love—life.

What do I mean by accept? We accept our lives, inclusive of our finitude, based on the manner in which we possess ourselves; that is, on subjecting ourselves to the philosophic oversight America requires of the sovereign frame-of-mind.

We accept the need to philosophically oversee our sovereignty even as we engage the facts and values commensurate with the situations and predicaments in which we find ourselves. We also accept that we must tax our capacity to be in enlightened possession of ourselves. 

How do we do this? By artfully managing our philosophically responsible oversight of our ego-function, our thoughts, feelings and motivations, and our judgments, decisions and actions. While intent on resetting, where possible, our personally unrewarding or socially unacceptable determinism, we accept our responsibility for managing our perception and our philosophically guided “mind’s eye” as our witness to the entirety of our behavior and biographical enterprise.

And, as I’ve said, we accept that we must make the courage to love life. We recognize that each day is our opportunity to give meaning to our roles as sovereign individuals. We're in touch with the rhythms and cycles of the day, the hour, the moment. We fulfill each cycle, dawn to dusk, enjoying now, no longer under the illusion that there is a once-and-for-all, permanently rewarding future. At day’s end, we recognize it as a completion.

Loving life doesn’t mean that we become indifferent to the suffering of others. Indeed, it is a call for care and concern, an active realization that the transformative force of our philosophy is premised on accepting the paradox of the Western Enlightenment together with its liberating principles as they manifested in America: To be free, we need to accept being bound to the founding politic.

The love of life and the love of America are inextricably involved with each other. All of us must be given the philosophic tools to exercise our autonomy if we are to meet the demand to be sovereign individuals. The ground on which we individually stand is insufficient to support our freedom if we as a people don’t obligate ourselves to respect the sovereignty of all of us. 

By binding ourselves to the politic and bearing honest witness to the entirety of our behavior, we reach a pinnacle of sovereign endeavor and create the very bedrock upon which we love life.


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