This is the healthcare experience in the god damn USA, working for a fortune 50 company…
Wastin’ yer resources…
Note: I’m kind of out of it in this video. Where I said “a note to see a doctor” I meant to say “a note from the doctor excusing me from work.”
Note also: Being able to call and get an appointment with a different doctor is not something you can normally do in an HMO, but in this case I am exploiting a loophole: My regular primary care doctor is on vacation, so in that case, I’m allowed to make appointments with different doctors who happen to have openings in their schedules.
My story of going to see two different doctors on the same day, wasting time, money, resources, and energy, just to be excused from going to work sick. copay: $20 x 2 = $40. Gas – ~ quarter tank = $40 wasted medical billing of my insurance company =?? $150? $200? Who knows. At the end of the day, we’re all paying for this shit. The American insurance industry runs a far more lucrative racket than the mafia, and kills many more people in the process. Living (and dying) in the USA.
American health care
health insurance sucks
Health Care (Industry)
It was suggested to me that I should check out “The Biology of Perception” by Bruce Lipton, so I did…
A few seconds into “The Biology of Perception” I got a bad vibe, so I looked up Lipton via my trusted sources such as randi.org, and they tell me that he’s a complete fraud. I agree.
If you go to his web site http://www.brucelipton.com/ on the front page he has embedded this youtube video:
In this video he skims over the mechanism via which perception controls cells, and as he explains this mechanism, it just, doesn’t make any sense at all, although it is convenient to have a succinct summary video so I don’t have to trudge through the two and a half hours of ‘biology of perception.’ The reasoning he uses, the deductive logic that he uses, none of it holds any water at all. He’s got cells in different dishes that are turning into different kinds of cells, which uh, you know, isn’t extraordinary at all, but somehow this leads to revolutionary and powerful insight. Okay, let’s hear some details about what’s so special about these cells in this dish, but I’m guessing that it never actually gets any more detailed than this.
“As you change your mind, as you change your belief, you change your biology.”
Obviously, this is true, to a point. There’s all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff that goes on with cellular biology and genetics and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics , and obviously we don’t understand it all. The language which we use to express ideas should accurately reflect what we do and don’t understand. Not what we fantasize to be true. That’s the difference between a fraud, and a scientist. A fraud speaks in vague language that promises you the moon, a fraud takes true statements out context and turns them into lies, and that’s what Lipton does. This is horrendously dangerous and is a disservice to humanity, because it teaches people a language of reasoning that is completely devoid of skepticism.
If Bruce Lipton sold electric batteries to consumers, he would be the Energizer Bunny. I think that consumers understand, when they see the Energizer Bunny, that this Bunny is a metaphor. Consumers understand that the Energizer battery doesn’t literally last forever, it does have limits. I’m not so sure that consumers can sort metaphor from scientific reality in Lipton’s song and dance, especially considering that there apparently is no scientific reality in his work to start with. And that’s fine. I’ve got nothing against feel-good religions. Meditation? I’m all for it. Mind-body connection. Groovy dude. Can it cure cancer? Most of the time probably not, but in just the right conditions, maybe. If I had cancer, I would sure give it a try. Can it prevent cancer in the first place? Now that’s more likely.
But keep science out of it. Science is a set of methods and reasoning and deduction and science is pretty damn useful, within certain limits. When you go ahead and you hijack science, as Lipton does, in order to prove scientifically that your religion is true and valid, well, you know, that creates a problem, because to accomplish this, you have to break science in the process, so then we’ve got this lump of science sitting on the table, this mangled mess of science, and it’s broken, smoke coming off of it, funny smell, and the next time we use it to solve something like global warming or curing cancer or finding better fuel efficiency or whatever, we can’t, because you broke it, and so now we’ve got to send it in to get it fixed, and we’ve got to pay shipping, and wait 6 weeks while it gets fixed, and it never quite works the same afterwards.
If one day, we get science to the point where science can figure out just under exactly what conditions meditation can cure cancer, and exactly how it happens, or exactly the different ways in which one’s state of mind impacts one’s epigenome, and how we can and can’t control that, well then, don’t worry Bruce, we will give you a phone call, and at that point, you can start to call your religion science, at least part of it, but until that point, please, leave science alone. I know you think you’re trying to advance science, but you’re not. instead, you’re retarding science, profoundly.
I’m shamelessly cribbing from Asimov’s introduction to Randi’s book _Flim Flam_ when I say this, but when we have people like Lipton who come on the scene and tell the general public that there is no limit to the POWER of some pseudo-scientifc phenomenon, then it just, it just makes it that much more difficult for the public to differentiate fact from fiction, it makes it that much more difficult for the public to correlate cause and effect, it makes it that much more difficult for the public to take reality seriously. And, we’ve got some very serious issues to contend with in reality, and the added complacency that someone like Lipton adds to the mix, with his promises of easy power and new science, might be just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s hard enough for good public policy to get the funding and attention it needs, without people being led to believe that if push comes to shove we can all just solve problems with a little meditation.
I mean, why should I worry if the tobacco companies are selling cancer-causing chemicals, when according to Bruce Lipton, cancer might just only be a question of one’s state of mind anyway. You see what I’m saying. By promising power without limit, or at least promising power with substantially less limit than we know today, which is what Lipton is promising, then you know, he makes it that much more difficult for people to take the limits of reality seriously… You know, those limits of reality that are going to cause a few billion people to die because as a global society we have ignored those limits for so long and it’s only a matter of a few short years before our global systems collapse into a heap.
Unfortunately, Bruce Lipton is benefiting from the timeless truth that the most effective lies are those which have some truth at their core.
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
— Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:
How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?
“Brené Brown is an absolute legend. This is groundbreaking – not in terms of peoples awareness of these subjects and what they mean… But in these messages enhanced communication made accessible to a wider audience on this level. I have a jumbled up jigsaw in front of me with pieces I’ve been putting together my whole life- and Brene Brown has just connected so many pieces. This makes so much sense on so many levels. Really awesome stuff. I will watch this a few times and recommend it to people!”
-jakesandersonaudio on YouTube
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
From Barnes & Noble
In film, television, and battle sagas, we crave stories of fearless superheroes, but the heroes we value most are those who grapple not only with their enemies, but with their own vulnerability. This welcome new book explains why honestly accepting our limitations can enhance every aspect of our lives.
Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection) examines vulnerability and imperfection in her latest, which takes its title from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.” Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, is the first to admit that vulnerability makes her uncomfortable, but posits that daring to fail is the only true way to be wholeheartedly engaged in any aspect of life. “Experiencing vulnerability isn’t a choice—the only choice we have is how we’re going to respond when we are confronted with uncertainty, risk and emotional disclosure,” she says. Laying out a roadmap for change, the author includes chapters on eliminating blame and shame from work and education, and daring to be the adults we want our children to be. At the same time, she explores what drives people to feel vulnerable and how to address common coping mechanisms in what she calls the “Vulnerability Armory.” But the core of her message is understanding the difference between guilt and shame, and developing “shame resistance.” Brown’s theories—complete with personal and not always flattering examples from her own life—will draw readers in and have them considering what steps they would dare to take if shame and fear were not present. Agent: Jo-Lynne Worley, Worley Shoemaker Literary Management. (Sept.)
Brown (Univ. of Houston Graduate College of Social Work; The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, 2010, etc.) exposes and challenges some of the common myths surrounding vulnerability. After more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, the author presents her findings on the concepts of shame, weakness and vulnerability. Defining vulnerability “as exposure, uncertainty, and emotional risk,” the author maintains that this feeling is the crux of most of our meaningful experiences. Ultimately, she writes, it is not a weakness; everyone is vulnerable, we all need support via friends and family. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. Brown believes it is essential to expose oneself to a wide range of feelings in order to combat shame, break down the walls of perfectionism and stop the act of disengagement that separates many from themselves and others. By accepting her directives, readers will be engaged, gain a sense of courage and learn how to create meaningful connections with their children or fellow workers. “Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice,” she writes, “we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.” When we choose to dare greatly, the rewards are vast: We feel more loved and are more loving, we feel worthy of that love, we choose our path and commit to it with daily practice, and we live with courage, engagement and a clear sense of purpose. A straightforward approach to revamping one’s life from an expert on vulnerability.
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 9/11/2012
Table of Contents
What it Means to Dare Greatly xii
Introduction: My Adventures in the Arena 4
Chapter 1 Scarcity: Looking Inside our Culture of “Never Enough” 18
Chapter 2 Debunking the Vulnerability Myths 32
Chapter 3 Understanding and Combating Shame 58
Chapter 4 The Vulnerability Armory 112
Chapter 5 Mind the Gap: Cultivating Change and Closing the Disengagement Divide 172
Chapter 6 Disruptive Engagement: Daring to Rehumanize Education and Work 184
Chapter 7 Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to be the Adults we Want Our Children to Be 214
Final Thoughts 247
Appendix-Trust in Emergence: Grounded Theory and My Research Process 251
Practicing Gratitude 261
Notes And References 265
About the Author 289
Dear Lisa L. Williams, SF Pride Board President:
“He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride.”
That’s pretty rich coming from the president of an organization whose name
implies that you speak for LGBT folk.
“even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives
of our men and women in uniform — and countless others, military and
civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco
Um, go fuck yourself please? Your mindless jibber jabber flag waving
dunce cap saluting McCarthyesque patriotism poses far more risk to anyone
than Bradley Manning’s actions ever posed. Sure, you could say that
Manning’s actions posed some risk to people, but that’s the fucking price
you pay for waking up in the morning. Just by driving to work in the
morning you run the risk of running over someone in a cross-walk. Shit
happens. At the end of the day if no one stands up for what’s right,
nothing gets fucking done and the status quo perpetuates forever. I don’t
give a fuck about “your” men and women in uniform. I give a fuck about
the countless civilians that have been killed by the actions of “your”
men and women in uniform. I will not tolerate your “hint of support”
for mass murder and genocide. Go fuck yourself, please for the love of
God, go fuck yourself. What the fuck do you stand for, Lisa L. Williams,
other than playing the perfect game of Obamaeqsue rope-a-dope
middle-ground moderate political talking head football?
“There are many, gay and straight, military and non-military, who believe
Bradley Manning to be innocent.”
Are you fucking serious? Maybe you shouldn’t be talking for anyone.
Everyone knows he did it. People don’t support him because they think
he’s innocent. People support him because they know he’s guilty, and they
appreciate that what he did was the right thing to do. By framing it as a
question of a guilt/innocence test, you’re rigging the debate so that he
fails. What’s your interest in persecuting legitimate patriotic
whistle-blowers, Lisa L. Williams?
Thus, while Bradley Manning is persona non grata at SF Pride, illegal
eavesdropping telecoms, scheming banks, and hedge-fund purveryors of the nation’s
worst right-wing agitprop are more than welcome. . . .
Even the SF Gay Pride Parade is now owned by and beholden to the
nation’s largest corporations, subject to their dictates. Those who run
the event are functionaries of, loyalists to, the nation’s most powerful political
officials. That’s how this parade was so seamlessly
transformed from orthodoxy-challenging, individualistic and creative
cultural icon into yet another pile of obedient apparatchiks that spout
banal slogans doled out by the state while viciously scorning those who
San Francisco Pride
Friday at 7:00pm near San Francisco, CA ·
SF Pride Statement about Bradley Manning
26 April 2013: Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this
year’s San Francisco Pride celebration. His nomination was a mistake
and should never have been allowed to happen. A staff person at SF
Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley
Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride
organization. That was an error and that person has been disciplined.
He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride.
Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country.
We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time,
even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the
lives of our men and women in uniform — and countless others,
military and civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership
of San Francisco Pride. It is, and would be, an insult to every one,
gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country.
There are many, gay and straight, military and non-military, who
believe Bradley Manning to be innocent. There are many who feel
differently. Under the US Constitution, they have a first amendment
right to show up, participate and voice their opinions at Pride this
Specifically, what these events have revealed is a system whereby a
less-than-handful of people may decide who represents the LGBT
community’s highest aspirations as grand marshals for SF Pride. This
is a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be
rectified. In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes
for Bradley Manning. These 15 people are part of what is called the SF
Pride Electoral College, comprised of former SF Pride Grand Marshals.
However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader
community, SF Pride repudiates this vote. The Board of Directors for
SF Pride never voted to support this nomination. Bradley Manning will
have his day in court, but will not serve as an official participant
in the SF Pride Parade.
— Lisa L. Williams, SF Pride Board President
So I got this book:
ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life
Judith Kolberg, Kathleen Nadeau
and it’s a really very well organized book. The organization of it is especially ADD-friendly.
I also ordered a copy of a friend’s ADD book,
The Disorganized Mind
Nancy A. Ratey
I want to compare the two books to see if one might be obviously better than the other, so that I can recommend the better of the two to people I know with ADD-type issues. So far the “add-friendly” book is helpful for me and looks like it would be hard to best.
It’s occurred to me that ADD-type cognitive (dis)organization affects more than just the tangible logistics of my life… I think that ADD-type organization also influences my emotional life, influencing how I relate emotionally with my environment. I’ve got procrastinated papers and errands on my desk, and I think I’ve got procrastinated emotions in my mind… I think I go through a lot of my day in something of an emotional stupor. There are so many levels and layers of emotional experience… You can be engaged and happy and experiencing one set of emotions while at the same time you still have this partly dulled and repressed emotional awareness. If the dulling and the repression is persistent and habitual enough you might never know it’s there because it’s so rare is it that you step outside of yourself and experience a different self. That’s exactly what my recent reading (Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown, and now ADD-Friendly by Kolberg & Nadeau) is leading me to do. Walking around with this different self-awareness is almost like an out-of-body sort of experience, but not in a manic or LSD-trip sort of way, rather in a stable and positive sort of way.
Living in a different state than my gf has been, I think, a big help, in that were we together, I would find a lot of comfort in physical intimacy… I do need that a lot, but at the same time, maybe that wouldn’t be healthy for me right now, because, I think comfort can really restrict one’s growth and development. If you’re comfortable and happy, you don’t have nearly as much pressure to look inside yourself and figure out what if anything might be out of alignment. There is something to be said for just spending an extended amount of time alone with yourself, pressing back against the onset of space and time.
By C. S. Lewis*
May I read you a few lines from Tolstoy’s War and Peace?
When you invite a middle-aged moralist to address you, I suppose I must conclude, however unlikely the conclusion seems, that you have a taste for middle-aged moralising. I shall do my best to gratify it. I shall in fact, give you advice about the world in which you are going to live. I do not mean by this that I am going to talk on what are called current affairs. You probably know quite as much about them as I do. I am not going to tell you—except in a form so general that you will hardly recognise it—what part you ought to play in post-war reconstruction.
It is not, in fact, very likely that any of you will be able, in the next ten years, to make any direct contribution to the peace or prosperity of Europe. You will be busy finding jobs, getting married, acquiring facts. I am going to do something more old-fashioned than you perhaps expected. I am going to give advice. I am going to issue warnings. Advice and warnings about things which are so perennial that no one calls them “current affairs.”
And of course everyone knows what a middle-aged moralist of my type warns his juniors against. He warns them against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. But one of this trio will be enough to deal with today. The Devil, I shall leave strictly alone. The association between him and me in the public mind has already gone quite as deep as I wish: in some quarters it has already reached the level of confusion, if not of identification. I begin to realise the truth of the old proverb that he who sups with that formidable host needs a long spoon. As for the Flesh, you must be very abnormal young people if you do not know quite as much about it as I do. But on the World I think I have something to say.
In the passage I have just read from Tolstoy, the young second lieutenant Boris Dubretskoi discovers that there exist in the army two different systems or hierarchies. The one is printed in some little red book and anyone can easily read it up. It also remains constant. A general is always superior to a colonel, and a colonel to a captain. The other is not printed anywhere. Nor is it even a formally organised secret society with officers and rules which you would be told after you had been admitted. You are never formally and explicitly admitted by anyone. You discover gradually, in almost indefinable ways, that it exists and that you are outside it; and then later, perhaps, that you are inside it.
There are what correspond to passwords, but they are too spontaneous and informal. A particular slang, the use of particular nicknames, an allusive manner of conversation, are the marks. But it is not so constant. It is not easy, even at a given moment, to say who is inside and who is outside. Some people are obviously in and some are obviously out, but there are always several on the borderline. And if you come back to the same Divisional Headquarters, or Brigade Headquarters, or the same regiment or even the same company, after six weeks’ absence, you may find this secondary hierarchy quite altered.
There are no formal admissions or expulsions. People think they are in it after they have in fact been pushed out of it, or before they have been allowed in: this provides great amusement for those who are really inside. It has no fixed name. The only certain rule is that the insiders and outsiders call it by different names. From inside it may be designated, in simple cases, by mere enumeration: it may be called “You and Tony and me.” When it is very secure and comparatively stable in membership it calls itself “we.” When it has to be expanded to meet a particular emergency it calls itself “all the sensible people at this place.” From outside, if you have dispaired of getting into it, you call it “That gang” or “they” or “So-and-so and his set” or “The Caucus” or “The Inner Ring.” If you are a candidate for admission you probably don’t call it anything. To discuss it with the other outsiders would make you feel outside yourself. And to mention talking to the man who is inside, and who may help you if this present conversation goes well, would be madness.
Badly as I may have described it, I hope you will all have recognised the thing I am describing. Not, of course, that you have been in the Russian Army, or perhaps in any army. But you have met the phenomenon of an Inner Ring. You discovered one in your house at school before the end of the first term. And when you had climbed up to somewhere near it by the end of your second year, perhaps you discovered that within the ring there was a Ring yet more inner, which in its turn was the fringe of the great school Ring to which the house Rings were only satellites. It is even possible that the school ring was almost in touch with a Masters’ Ring. You were beginning, in fact, to pierce through the skins of an onion. And here, too, at your University—shall I be wrong in assuming that at this very moment, invisible to me, there are several rings—independent systems or concentric rings—present in this room? And I can assure you that in whatever hospital, inn of court, diocese, school, business, or college you arrive after going down, you will find the Rings—what Tolstoy calls the second or unwritten systems.
All this is rather obvious. I wonder whether you will say the same of my next step, which is this. I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside. This desire, in one of its forms, has indeed had ample justice done to it in literature. I mean, in the form of snobbery. Victorian fiction is full of characters who are hag-ridden by the desire to get inside that particular Ring which is, or was, called Society. But it must be clearly understood that “Society,” in that sense of the word, is merely one of a hundred Rings, and snobbery therefore only one form of the longing to be inside.
People who believe themselves to be free, and indeed are free, from snobbery, and who read satires on snobbery with tranquil superiority, may be devoured by the desire in another form. It may be the very intensity of their desire to enter some quite different Ring which renders them immune from all the allurements of high life. An invitation from a duchess would be very cold comfort to a man smarting under the sense of exclusion from some artistic or communistic côterie. Poor man—it is not large, lighted rooms, or champagne, or even scandals about peers and Cabinet Ministers that he wants: it is the sacred little attic or studio, the heads bent together, the fog of tobacco smoke, and the delicious knowledge that we—we four or five all huddled beside this stove—are the people who know.
Often the desire conceals itself so well that we hardly recognize the pleasures of fruition. Men tell not only their wives but themselves that it is a hardship to stay late at the office or the school on some bit of important extra work which they have been let in for because they and So-and-so and the two others are the only people left in the place who really know how things are run. But it is not quite true. It is a terrible bore, of course, when old Fatty Smithson draws you aside and whispers, “Look here, we’ve got to get you in on this examination somehow” or “Charles and I saw at once that you’ve got to be on this committee.” A terrible bore… ah, but how much more terrible if you were left out! It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons: but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse.
Freud would say, no doubt, that the whole thing is a subterfuge of the sexual impulse. I wonder whether the shoe is not sometimes on the other foot. I wonder whether, in ages of promiscuity, many a virginity has not been lost less in obedience to Venus than in obedience to the lure of the caucus. For of course, when promiscuity is the fashion, the chaste are outsiders. They are ignorant of something that other people know. They are uninitiated. And as for lighter matters, the number of people who first smoked or first got drunk for a similar reason is probably very large.
I must now make a distinction. I am not going to say that the existence of Inner Rings is an Evil. It is certainly unavoidable. There must be confidential discussions: and it is not only a bad thing, it is (in itself) a good thing, that personal friendship should grow up between those who work together. And it is perhaps impossible that the official hierarchy of any organisation should coincide with its actual workings. If the wisest and most energetic people held the highest spots, it might coincide; since they often do not, there must be people in high positions who are really deadweights and people in lower positions who are more important than their rank and seniority would lead you to suppose. It is necessary: and perhaps it is not a necessary evil. But the desire which draws us into Inner Rings is another matter. A thing may be morally neutral and yet the desire for that thing may be dangerous. As Byron has said:
The painless death of a pious relative at an advanced age is not an evil. But an earnest desire for her death on the part of her heirs is not reckoned a proper feeling, and the law frowns on even the gentlest attempts to expedite her departure. Let Inner Rings be unavoidable and even an innocent feature of life, though certainly not a beautiful one: but what of our longing to enter them, our anguish when we are excluded, and the kind of pleasure we feel when we get in?
I have no right to make assumptions about the degree to which any of you may already be compromised. I must not assume that you have ever first neglected, and finally shaken off, friends whom you really loved and who might have lasted you a lifetime, in order to court the friendship of those who appeared to you more important, more esoteric. I must not ask whether you have derived actual pleasure from the loneliness and humiliation of the outsiders after you, yourself were in: whether you have talked to fellow members of the Ring in the presence of outsiders simply in order that the outsiders might envy; whether the means whereby, in your days of probation, you propitiated the Inner Ring, were always wholly admirable.
I will ask only one question—and it is, of course, a rhetorical question which expects no answer. IN the whole of your life as you now remember it, has the desire to be on the right side of that invisible line ever prompted you to any act or word on which, in the cold small hours of a wakeful night, you can look back with satisfaction? If so, your case is more fortunate than most.
My main purpose in this address is simply to convince you that this desire is one of the great permanent mainsprings of human action. It is one of the factors which go to make up the world as we know it—this whole pell-mell of struggle, competition, confusion, graft, disappointment and advertisement, and if it is one of the permanent mainsprings then you may be quite sure of this. Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the first day on which you enter your profession until the day when you are too old to care. That will be the natural thing—the life that will come to you of its own accord. Any other kind of life, if you lead it, will be the result of conscious and continuous effort. If you do nothing about it, if you drift with the stream, you will in fact be an “inner ringer.” I don’t say you’ll be a successful one; that’s as may be. But whether by pining and moping outside Rings that you can never enter, or by passing triumphantly further and further in—one way or the other you will be that kind of man.
I have already made it fairly clear that I think it better for you not to be that kind of man. But you may have an open mind on the question. I will therefore suggest two reasons for thinking as I do.
It would be polite and charitable, and in view of your age reasonable too, to suppose that none of you is yet a scoundrel. On the other hand, by the mere law of averages (I am saying nothing against free will) it is almost certain that at least two or three of you before you die will have become something very like scoundrels. There must be in this room the makings of at least that number of unscrupulous, treacherous, ruthless egotists. The choice is still before you: and I hope you will not take my hard words about your possible future characters as a token of disrespect to your present characters.
And the prophecy I make is this. To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”
And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.
That is my first reason. Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.
My second reason is this. The torture allotted to the Danaids in the classical underworld, that of attempting to fill sieves with water, is the symbol not of one vice, but of all vices. It is the very mark of a perverse desire that it seeks what is not to be had. The desire to be inside the invisible line illustrates this rule. As long as you are governed by that desire you will never get what you want. You are trying to peel an onion: if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.
This is surely very clear when you come to think of it. If you want to be made free of a certain circle for some wholesome reason—if, say, you want to join a musical society because you really like music—then there is a possibility of satisfaction. You may find yourself playing in a quartet and you may enjoy it. But if all you want is to be in the know, your pleasure will be short lived. The circle cannot have from within the charm it had from outside. By the very act of admitting you it has lost its magic.
Once the first novelty is worn off, the members of this circle will be no more interesting than your old friends. Why should they be? You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humour or learning or wit or any of the things that can really be enjoyed. You merely wanted to be “in.” And that is a pleasure that cannot last. As soon as your new associates have been staled to you by custom, you will be looking for another Ring. The rainbow’s end will still be ahead of you. The old ring will now be only the drab background for your endeavor to enter the new one.
And you will always find them hard to enter, for a reason you very well know. You yourself, once you are in, want to make it hard for the next entrant, just as those who are already in made it hard for you. Naturally. In any wholesome group of people which holds together for a good purpose, the exclusions are in a sense accidental. Three or four people who are together for the sake of some piece of work exclude others because there is work only for so many or because the others can’t in fact do it. Your little musical group limits its numbers because the rooms they meet in are only so big. But your genuine Inner Ring exists for exclusion. There’d be no fun if there were no outsiders. The invisible line would have no meaning unless most people were on the wrong side of it. Exclusion is no accident; it is the essence.
The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain.
And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that the secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it.
We are told in Scripture that those who ask get. That is true, in senses I can’t now explore. But in another sense there is much truth in the schoolboy’s principle “them as asks shan’t have.” To a young person, just entering on adult life, the world seems full of “insides,” full of delightful intimacies and confidentialities, and he desires to enter them. But if he follows that desire he will reach no “inside” that is worth reaching. The true road lies in quite another direction. It is like the house in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
* C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) was Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. “The Inner Ring” was the Memorial Lecture at King’s College, University of London, in 1944.
The fact that he had the self awareness and the thought to experience that, and then want to share that experience, that to me makes such a valuable comic, someone who’s curious about bettering themselves and learning something about themselves and is able to impart that knowledge to other people, it’s really quite an art form.
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