Why a Character Centered Life
Previous link: My thoughts on how to proceed…
Lets approach answering, “Why should you choose a character-centered life?” That question really asks, “Why is a character-centered life in your own long-term best interest?”
In your own experience you can recall painful experiences that occurred because you thought you were right and later discovered you were not. So you thought you were right, not because you were right, but simply because you thought you were right.
Point 1: Sometimes we think we are right, not because we are right, but simply because we think we are right.
It’s possible for you to be wrong, even when you think you are right, because your brain — the tool you use to plan your very best future — decides what to do using not reality itself, but its very own internal map of reality.
If that map of reality isn’t accurate, you can get hurt.
Point 2: Your long-term self-interest depends on maintaining the very best map of reality to work with.
Everyone else can recall their own painful experiences which will lead them to this same conclusion. So everyone else has the very same task. We’re all in this together.
Point 3: Other people live life as acutely as you do.
It is mutually beneficial for us to help each other refine our individual mental maps of reality.
Language is the tool we use to maintain our map of reality, to check it, to refine it, and to represent it on paper so that tomorrow we can look back and see if it makes as much sense then as it does to us today.
The Trivium — the first three of the Seven Liberal Arts — are what we use. grammar is how we express our thoughts clearly. Logic is how we check our language for consistancy. Rhetoric is how we express what we think to others and check what others express to us. All those expressions of concepts can be captured and conveyed over immeasurable distance and time to others.
The history of expressions and concepts gives us a sense of time and our place in it that can be projected forward to represent a variety of possible futures.
Point 4: A sense of time and our place in it provides a check on our map of reality and our decision making.
They have come this far by thinking about their own thoughts and experience.
Point 5: Thinking about thinking can be constructive.
These points, also, are not rocket science. They are accessible to everyone across cultural and religious boundaries. From them we can fashion virtues, a compelling framework for civilization, and a path to honorable decision making.
Even at a very early age we can empower kids to reach for a larger understanding. A class of second graders visited our newspaper:
Us: Do you know why people lift weights?
Kids: Yeah! To build strong muscles!
Us: Yes! What is weightlifting for the brain?
Kids: [Uncertainty.] Us: Reading, writing, and conversation.
Us: Why do you want to have a strong brain?
Kids: [Inquiring looks.] Us: Because that is the only tool you’ve got to plan your very best future.
Point 6: They are responsible for themselves.
As the kids connect language and thought, they are empowered and motivated by Simple Wisdoms that underlie their conversation:
- A sense that they might sometimes be wrong.
- A sense that the map of reality in their mind could be better.
- A sense that other people live life as acutely as they do.
- A sense of time and their place in it.
- A sense that they are responsible for themselves.
- The process of thinking about thinking
These are processes kids understand, admire and wish to emulate in a deeper way.
From them we can deduce why a character-centered life is in your long-term best interest.
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