from The Psychology of Liberty
by Wes Bertrand © 2000, copylefted 2007

Realizing New Possibilities

Realizing our mortality in the context of an objective metaphysics entails visualizing all of life’s possibilities. Life for us should involve limitless experience and discovery of this planet (as well as the rest of the reachable universe). Machines and labor-saving devices serve the purpose of freeing us to do more exciting activities and interesting work. We require new knowledge and activities to be optimally psychologically healthy. Repetition of the same monotonous routine, using only a fraction of one’s mental potential, can lead to boredom and frustration. Boredom and frustration can lead to self-estrangement, self-denial, and a lack of respect for one’s life. While the patterns of life can be viewed as circular, we travel through time on courses of achievement.

Our childhood visions of a life of constant exploration and adventure should never be betrayed. Life involves the pursuit of values that further the happiness and well-being of individuals. The creation of wealth is a large part of this; it enriches the quality and increases the quantity of human activity. Wealth is basically the mind’s application of intelligence to bring more values into reality.

In a capitalistic society, there would be much less frustration over matters of money. As an innocent commodity, money need not be a scapegoat or object of envy and hatred either. Since there would be no real shortages of wealth in a free society, anyone who desired to be productive would reap great benefits. And the generosity and goodwill of people who relished their newly created values and wealth would no doubt overflow into all aspects of the culture. Consequently, few people would sacrifice their honesty, integrity, and dignity to the depravity of institutions or businesses (or bosses) in order to maintain employment; few would see it necessary to sell their souls for the sake of income. Such is the outcome of illogical short-range values.

Life certainly ought to be beautiful for people. Yet we can make it otherwise by defaulting on thought and judgment. For instance, many believe that political conditions are not as bad as some claim because “We have more rights (given to us) in America than any other country on Earth.” This opinion may do as much damage to the idea of freedom as total opposition to freedom. In truth, both opinions oppose “too much” freedom. Freedom permits people to fully utilize their own resources and abilities. Freedom provides individuals the opportunity to create novel values and pursue happiness. Some may perceive this situation as too daunting. In fact, the experience of happiness itself can cause anxiety in a person who feels like he or she does not deserve it, or who feels like he or she is unworthy of maintaining it.12

The idea that freedom should be allowed only by permission from others does not say much for the values of inner-peace and self-respect. It seems comparable to the idea that people have to “pay their dues” and toil for much of their lives in misery. That one becomes “experienced” or “wise” after such a process is, of course, contrary to the acquisition of fundamental principles. Yet those who try to put youths “in their place” with their “wisdom” (i.e., intimidate the naive) may feel a sense of superiority. But rather than becoming more joyous and happy with age, they tend to become more cynical, stubborn, and close-minded.

When fears about change, about happiness, and about freedom are not acknowledged, the idea of freedom can seem like a personal threat. Pseudo self-esteem can become entrenched as well: A false sense of efficacy and worth maintains mental barriers that prevent loss of control of a flawed value system. Holt noted the tragic irony about this situation:

The man in chains, seeing another man without them, thinks, is it possible I could have struck these chains off if I had only tried, that I didn’t have to wear them all these years? The thought is unbearable. Better get some chains on the other guy.

Only a few slaves talk about getting free. The rest argue about who has the biggest house, the finest establishment, the richest and strongest master. My team can lick your team!39(p.16)

To belittle or even destroy the vision of a beautiful existence, one needs rationalizations. The vision is lost in the name of “being strong” or “knowing one’s place” or “being mature” or “not rocking the boat.” The often heated and vitriolic rhetoric opposing the idea of pure and absolute capitalism can inevitably be traced to its cause: dislike of the task of psychological awareness and understanding. As a result, many political debates (especially controversial ones) frequently include such things as personal accusations, derisive remarks, character assassinations, and a general atmosphere of disrespect. Such defensive and offensive behavior openly displays people trying to justify unjustifiable ideas. As they hastily attempt to persuade or browbeat, they fail to realize the nature and meaning of the argument. As we know, the nature and meaning of the argument concerns one’s view of self and one’s view of life.

To admit the gigantic significance of one’s view of self and one’s view of life requires a good deal of confidence and courage. And, it requires an expansion of consciousness. To see new possibilities and perspectives in life oftentimes (though not always) requires a consciousness that is already emotionally predisposed (through previous choices) to doing this. Regardless of setbacks in life or troubled areas of self, this type of consciousness still desires to see things as they should be.

New planes of growth and happiness become visible when we comprehend that existence is absolutely amazing! And yet, on a deeper level, this identification only begins to describe it. The fact that we are an immensely complex product of millions of years of evolution is astounding in its own right. The fact that billions of neurons inside our cranium give rise to the awesome greatness of consciousness, enabling us to know and reflect, is astonishing beyond words. The intricate integration of cells, tissues, and organs within each of us is exhilarating to contemplate too. The fact that Earth is just one remarkable planet of nine in a system fueled and sustained by a heliosphere is awe-inspiring. Yet, this solar system may be simply one of hundreds of thousands in this galaxy of hundreds of billions of stars.

Our Milky Way galaxy (or as the early Ionians called it, the Backbone of the Night), is just one of tens of billions of other galaxies throughout the known universe.91 Astronomical calculation tells us that it would take 100,000 years traveling at the speed of light (300,000 kilometers per second) to journey across our galaxy. This paints a picture of just how vast the universe is——in many ways, incomprehensibly vast.

Finally, the facts that one day we will die and all of these breathtaking insights can no longer be relished (and constantly refined) leads us to the ultimate truth: One’s life is an amazing event. In fact, this event allows us to state this ultimate truth. These statements may seem like truisms, but we live in a culture in which their emotional emphasis can be lost. It is therefore mandatory to repeat them.

Few truths can be as unappreciated as your own existence, your own self in reality. Paradoxically, our existence is so amazing that we run the risk of it dulling our senses. Thus, we have to prevent it from seeming commonplace; we have to reformulate our experiences when they begin to have a superficial quality.

This age of pre-logic in the realm of philosophical and psychological issues can be seen in many respects as the denial of the glory and greatness of human existence. The greatest steps forward in life involve evolution of consciousness. Naturally, with evolution of consciousness comes evolution of politics. Thus current issues of politics eventually will become things of the forlorn and unenlightened past.

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