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Coping With Frustrations

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It's particularly easy for me to become dismayed and frustrated with many people, especially because I go to a public high school here in WA where the effects of the public education is all too easy to observe. Those brilliant students who should and could effect the necessary changes are imbibing the destructive subjectivist, altruist, collectivists ideas. I see and hear this myself especially in my economics, psychology and history classes. (I am aware that this is even more pronouced in college and universities.) It doesn't help that I constantly read, hear and see worsening economic, political and social conditions throughout the world--trends that seem immutable. I know that Ayn Rand wrote a lot about such conditions about half a century ago, and it's probably true that the conditions then in some ways were worst than today.

Well, to get to my main question: what do you guys do to deal with such a bleak outlook and maintain some hope? What keeps you going, even when it seems that one disaster after another is just around the corner?

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Well, to get to my main question: what do you guys do to deal with such a bleak outlook and maintain some hope? What keeps you going, even when it seems that one disaster after another is just around the corner?

When I was an Objectivist, I had similar frustrations, i.e., everyone seemed to be an enemy unless I turned to Objectivist fora for consolation and reinforcement. Fortunately, I somehow reasoned my way toward learning evolutionary psychology, among other invaluable lessons, and came to realize that many of my fellow humans aren’t innately built to deny their collectivist tendencies even in light of contrasted intellectual conclusions and devastating antinomies. It’s a strong selection pressure not to vociferously exhibit self-interested behavior.

Not holding everyone fully responsible for their conduct leads to several refreshing conclusions. One immediately coming to mind is simply conceding that humans aren’t optimal—and certainly not heroic. What may follow is a quieter and less anxious-prone climb toward developing optimization processes (e.g. transhuman intelligence). Instead of enduring a lifetime of bewilderment as to why so many people seem to “choose” being stupid, let’s create excess wealth and use it to minimize the opportunity costs of getting at the root of the problem.

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I agree, it easy to get frustrated. However, look at the facts. The US, while it isn't what it could be, is still the freest and most prosperous country in the world. I am an American who has spent the past semester in Australia. This was eye opening for me, because although Australia is one of the freer and capitalistic countries in the world, I am able to see the differences everywhere I look. In fact, I was pretty sour on the US before, but I truly have gained the respect I should have had in the first place, it just took a different perspective.

For instance, public health care is "free", yet I read stories in the newspaper about huge waiting lines in hospitals, bed shortages, and staff being physically assaulted by patients' families, who are upset about the poor state of health care. So much for the wonders of public health care and the admoninitions in the press about the US being "behind" the rest of the world. Also, the unions have the country by the throat here. I'm sure its worse in other countries, but I was shocked to discover the frequency and ease the unions strike in every sector of the economy, due to the protections by govt laws forcing employers to cave to their demands. Just this week the teachers of the country got a 12% pay raise by striking one day.

Voting is required by law. The government advertises on prime-time TV reminding everyone of their "right" to phone service, no matter where they live. The government passed a bill granting an additional $300 million worth of education spending, but solely for Catholic schools.

The railways are publicly owned. I was at the train station a week ago, when a family was straggling to get to the train. They had gotten to the station to late to get their tickets in time. After holding the train for several minutes, it became clear that they weren't going to be ready for some time, so the attendant signaled the driver to depart. The mother of the family, arriving as the train was pulling away, started tearing into the attendant about not holding the train. When he protested, she screamed, "DONT YOU RAISE YOU VOICE WITH ME, YOU'RE A PUBLIC SERVANT!" I was shocked.

Moral of the story: Americans may be oblivious, but we as proponents of capitalism have an easier task ahead of us in the U.S. than anywhere else.

Note: I'm not bashing Australians, who I find to be excellent people on the whole.

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Tom,

June had given up on herself, in the process of giving up on others.

I suggest you simply learn that some things are beyond your control. You are responsible for your life and your mind - not others.

I had stopped feeling frustration years ago, when I realized that in the end you will find the kind of people you seek. You will just have to work harder. The people you meet in the meantime are of no consequence.

As a sidenote I will say that your outlook on life greatly depends on your location. Just moving from Tel-Aviv city to Haifa, and from Philosophy to History, changed my whole outlook simply because the people around me were different.

The absolute truth is, that there are both good people and bad people, good actions and bad actions - and it is your own focus that counts. What do you consider important - the good or the bad?

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Tom,

Here is some advice

Put yourself first and the world second, or later. There are many good things happening ion the world and many bad things too. You will not see an Objectivist world in your lifetime, but you can have a lot of fun anyway.

You have not said *what* career you are aiming toward, and perhaps you are too young to know for sure. If you are going to the humanities, you have a hard time ahead. If toward business or science, things will be easier. Either way, figure out what you have to do to become successful in life. Nothing succeeds like success.

Seek out objectivists to be friends with. Not sure if you have slim pickings in your local area. When you are earning enough, make it a point to attend objectivist conferences. On the other hand, there are many objectivists who you do not want as friends, and thats fine -- but if you search enougn and honestly you'll find some gems.

Look for good non objectivists you can be friends with and who have some common interests and let philosophy take a back seat when you're with them.

Seek out the good (i.e. the element of truth) in non-objectivist things that you might otherwise be too hasty to dismiss. For example, suppose you want to be an economist, do not dismiss Keynes. So many people think he was right...why? Is there some aspect of reality that he got right? While he does not describe a world "as it has to be", does he describe "a world as it is"? I have learnt from many I consider enemies -- including Karl Marx.

At the risk of repeating, the first steps toward changing the world are to understand the world, understand "where others are coming from", understand how to succeed, do what it takes to succeed, and then let others follow you to make the world a better place.

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Well, to get to my main question: what do you guys do to deal with such a bleak outlook and maintain some hope?  What keeps you going, even when it seems that one disaster after another is just around the corner?

I DON'T have a bleak outlook and I have loads of good stuff now and hope for even more in the future. That's what keeps me going, because it seems that one triumph after another is just around the corner. But then, I have many years of experience with life (60 years) and with Objectivism (42+ years) and I've learned so much in that time.

I've learned that I can't change most people and I don't have to.

I have learned that when I make up my mind to do something, the people who don't like it can't stop me unless I let them -- and I don't let them.

I have learned that having the truth and reality on my side is an overwhelming advantage.

I have learned that the quality of my life has almost everything to do with the choices I make and the actions I take.

In short, Ayn Rand was right when she said, "He who fights for the future lives in it today." I do and I do.

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It doesn't help that I constantly read, hear and see worsening economic, political and social conditions throughout the world--trends that seem immutable....

Well, to get to my main question: what do you guys do to deal with such a bleak outlook and maintain some hope?  What keeps you going, even when it seems that one disaster after another is just around the corner?

Tom, I sympathize with your (young) perspective on the world, based on what you see all around you. But from the perspective of broader living experience, or just the study of history, you might begin to get a glimpse of the wonderful world in which you live. Imagine 25 years ago having a double-digit inflation rate and double-digit interest rates! Imagine only being able to fill your car with gas on certain days, depending on your license plate. Imagine your president stopping the neutron bomb development so that maybe he can use it to argue for mutual disarmament with the Russians. Imagine searching far and wide to find an objectivist intellectual in academia.

Today Objectivists abound in academia, the Russians are begging for our help, I fill up my car whenever I want, I have a less than 5% mortgage on my house, and inflation can hardly be seen with a microscope! Not too shabby when you also realize that you can talk to throngs of people on the internet using your super-duper computer instead of writing long-hand letters to a couple of friends who will not even see what you wrote till days later. And, should you get sick you have at your disposal the most amazing modern technology to diagnose and fix your problem. Take care of yourself and you can expect a real long life not dreamed of by those several decades ago.

Heck, Tom, this world is a wonderful place, and, based on reading some of your other posts, you seem like a really good guy with a lot going for you. Enjoy yourself and the world around you and the future you hope for will be yours, each and every day, for the rest of your life. You have the great advantage of a philosophy that will equip you for living on this Earth, so use it for the benefit of your happiness. The really important values in life cannot be so easily taken away from you by others, so do not grant other people power over what you feel.

I wish you the best. And, make sure you continue to deserve it!

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June had given up on herself, in the process of giving up on others.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve given up on myself or other people. As one becomes increasingly smarter, it feels increasingly better. I’m sure most rational people experience this phenomenon and, therefore, desire incessant self-enhancement. However, there’s a limit to the level of smartness human beings can attain, while there’s also much relative variance in those limits among people and more so when considering all sentient creatures as a whole.

It just so happens that the emergence of transhuman optimization systems is a plausible event, one likely to occur before effective-yet-arbitrary value designers are able to proselytize scary arms bearers. If so, its study and deliberate pursuit facilitates recognition of our physical and cognitive shortcomings, which are discovered, not invented. In trying to foresee beyond this event, our model of reality only breaks down; it’s impossible to apprehend what it’s like to be smarter-better-kinder than human.

In the meantime, I believe it’s in our best interests to retain adequate levels of economic freedom that catalyze a break-off from our primitive chemical make-up. But it simply isn’t necessary to rigidly delimit the commensurate range of integrity appliance.

"When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind." ~ J. Krishnamurti, "Freedom from the Known"

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I wouldn’t say that I’ve given up on myself or other people. As one becomes increasingly smarter, it feels increasingly better. I’m sure most rational people experience this phenomenon and, therefore, desire incessant self-enhancement. However, there’s a limit to the level of smartness human beings can attain, while there’s also much relative variance in those limits among people and more so when considering all sentient creatures as a whole.

You know, June, when I read your post it seems that there is no "June" in there. Your message is hopelessly obfuscated by your resort to eye-stopping terminology. I am able to detect as am becoming "increasingly smarter" as I type.

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June said-

"When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind."

That's definition by non-essentials.

Do you have any understanding of Objectivism?

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But it simply isn’t necessary to rigidly delimit the commensurate range of integrity appliance.

What do you mean?

It seems to me that without limits the commensurate range of integrity appliance may become unnecessarily strained, and thus may lose the predictability that is so in tune with our basic natures as specific beings with a subset of intransigent qualities...

Please explain yourself.

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"It seems to me that without limits the commensurate range of integrity appliance may become unnecessarily strained, and thus may lose the predictability that is so in tune with our basic natures as specific beings with a subset of intransigent qualities..."

No no no, erandor, you have it all wrong.

The commensurate range of integrity appliance (CRAI) is an unbounded set of criteria established not by comparative inference, but rather by explicit non-deviational analysis of strictly defined, yet widely debated, standards of behavioral norms. Whereas you refer to our intransigent qualities, the CRAI represents only those behaviors left open to manipulation by our conscious self-awareness (as opposed to our subconscious unawareness). But this all merely scratches the surface of the subject.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to teaching my ethics class.

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The commensurate range of integrity appliance (CRAI) is an unbounded set of criteria established not by comparative inference, but rather by explicit non-deviational analysis of strictly defined, yet widely debated, standards of behavioral norms.  Whereas you refer to our intransigent qualities, the CRAI represents only those behaviors left open to manipulation by our conscious self-awareness (as opposed to our subconscious unawareness).  But this all merely scratches the surface of the subject.

You are my better, and I bow before your frightening might, oh great obfuscator!

:D

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Tom,

I can relate, I am in my first year of (community) college in the WA system and also had all 13 of my public (compulsory) years in WA. I got through the sludge by simply reading and questioning everything and everyone. The more I understood about the world the more it was open to me to explore, and one of the great things about looking back at high school is realizing that it is a lot more of a learning experience if you struggled (at least in my case).

Looking back at the times when I thought I was "depressed" I feel like it was ridiculous to feel that way, in the face of all the oppurtunities. And as much as reading about the economic, philosophical and political state of our country might make you think "doom and gloom" I think the best way to combat that feeling taking over your enjoyment of life is simply to do things to reinforce the value of actually living life.

That might sound really simplistic, so maybe a little anecdote will help. I hated high school, and for awhile I had some pretty dangerous issues with my self esteem. So in the mornings when I was feeling pretty crappy about going to class I would walk to the bus and starting with my toes and working my way up I would say "these are my toes, these are my feet, ... this my mind, this is my life" It's not saying those things that helps, but being reminded how much you own every second of your life and how capable you are of living it. Try it sometime. :D

-Elle

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Well, to get to my main question: what do you guys do to deal with such a bleak outlook and maintain some hope?  What keeps you going, even when it seems that one disaster after another is just around the corner?

When the world gets me down, I drink a nice Belgian ale and think of ways to further subvert the Christian culture.

If you want to have a rational, personal hope for this declining civilization, then you need to do what you can to combat religion (mysticism, faith, altruism, etc.) and do what you can to spread a rational philosophy like Objectivism. As long as there is one man of reason and integrity in the world, civilization is not yet lost.

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Guest jrshep
And as much as reading about the economic, philosophical and political state of our country might make you think "doom and gloom" I think the best way to combat that feeling taking over your enjoyment of life is simply to do things to reinforce the value of actually living life.

That might sound really simplistic, so maybe a little anecdote will help.  I hated high school, and for awhile I had some pretty dangerous issues with my self esteem.  So in the mornings when I was feeling pretty crappy about going to class I would walk to the bus and starting with my toes and working my way up I would say "these are my toes, these are my feet, ... this my mind, this is my life"  It's not saying those things that helps, but being reminded how much you own every second of your life and how capable you are of living it. Try it sometime.

Very nicely put, Elle.

I can just imagine a young girl telling herself, "these are my toes, these are my feet, ... this my mind, this is my life."

It's a touching image.

Thank you.

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Elle, that was lovely.

It is important to always keep your own life in context. You decide what you will focus on, and for how long. There is so much to enjoy in the world. Make sure that you spend the bulk of your time doing what you like. For those more negative things which you must deal with, spend only the time it takes to deal with it and not a minute more. Your own focus, attitude, and actions -- your own love of life -- is your best defense against the attitudes and actions of the irrational.

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Wow, thank you for all the wonderful replies. ;)

I probably focus on the negative conditions more than I should. I know there has been much progress, especially compared to the 60's and 70's. And generally, things are probably much better now. (I think I read way to much of mainstream media, whose agenda is to create the impression of "world doom and gloom". It's sad that to see disaster, death and destruction, all I have to do is turn on the TV or turn to the front page of some newspaper, but that to see and read about progress and achievement I have to search sometimes diligently.)

It's only been the last two years that I've truly begun to understand much of this world. It's only been about 18 months since I've even heard of Ayn Rand, let alone read any of her books. One more year in a public high school and then I'm off to college (if that is anything to look forward to).

There is certainly much to be enjoyed in life, and there are many admirable, heroic people out there. I'll try to focus on them--and not on those who are envious and hateful of them. I'll certainly spend more time enjoying life, and remind myself that it is mine.

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