The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.
Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.
Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.
The human condition
The integrity of a human is determined by the person's ability to fight the basic instincts of greed, lust, self-gratification, laziness and irresponsibility. From birth to death, we are engaged in a war against self. We lose a battle on occasion, but it doesn't mean that we should surrender to basest demands of self.
- The human condition is one of complete depravity; driven by immediate self-gratification. The natural tendency of humanity is fattening, illegal, or immoral. No one has had to teach a child how to lie.
- We over-react to past hurts.
- We, as humans, will rationalize or deny that we made bad choices
- We look for excuses and blame others for our failures.
- We, as humans, know very little about ourselves, the universe, the spiritual realm, etc. But even worse, we are incapable of knowing much.
- We, as humans, will take as much rope as we are given.
- Within every person is a longing for security and liberty, but every person will normally favor security over liberty. Over time, citizens will one day wake up to find that they have voted away all of their liberties for the sake of security.
- We, as humans, mistakenly believe that love, joy, and peace come with power, fame, fortune, admiration, prestige, and influence. That stuff only temporarily mitigates our misery. Exhibit A: Marilyn Monroe, she had it all and still committed suicide. She had conquered the world then turned to drugs because she was still miserable. She couldn’t conquer herself.
- We, as people, are very lazy and will abuse the graces of everyone or everything that intends to help us.
- We only find ourselves (and our purpose) through a process of brokenness, self-denial, self-discipline and courage.
- We are easily corrupted by power; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- Humans can achieve great things, but normally need to be pushed, given high expectations and no second option.
- Humans are easy susceptible to group think and a mob mentality
- To find real love, joy, and peace, humanity needs to think counter-intuitively, with a long-term others-interest, seek to serve rather than being served, and to strive for humility, hard work, and self-denial.
- No one can make you angry, hateful, bitter, etc. You can choose to follow the path of anger, hatred, and bitterness when someone provides the opportunity. But you are not a slave to your emotions. Exhibit A: Cory Ten Boom; a holocaust survivor who chose to love her captors even after they tortured her and killed her sister.
- Only good people can truly enjoy liberty, the rest do not; they just use the liberty as a license for their corruption.
- Human excel at self-deception. We create a false reality to help us cope with the pain of our bad choices.
Goethe summed up the human condition, “If you ever sit down to contemplate your spiritual, physical, emotional and mental condition, you will come to the conclusion that you are, indeed, sick.”
The fact is that we are desperately sick with no cure in sight. Few choose to acknowledge it. But so often I hear the comparison, “but I am no worse than that person.” To which I respond that yes it is true, you are not any sicker than that person who is also thoroughly sick, corrupt, selfish, lazy and cowardly.
I ask people one question: How could OJ Simpson look at the camera and claim that he was innocent, while the rest of the world (the jury not withstanding) knew with certainty that OJ was guilty? Does OJ know that he is guilty? Of course. Deep down he knows that what he did was horrible and devastating. But he had to follow that human drum beat of deny, deny, deny. He was not morally strong enough to carry the responsibility of his actions and was forced to blame external factors to avoid the pain of a critical self-analysis.
At moments of impropriety you have two options as well; blame or accepting the responsibility of a poor decision. Blame is the easy choice; it causes us to avoid the pain of a critical self-analysis, it gives us victim status, it helps us rationalize our behavior and it supports an inflated self-perception. But the acceptance of responsibility will develop a mindset of maturity. It will cause us to critically evaluate our mindset and cause change. It will create a realistic self-image and produce humility and courage.
Insights to compensate for humanness:
- Know your strengths and limitations; they dictate the level of your response.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt, but withdraw that benefit if it is unwarranted.
- The people who are caustic and prickly have been wounded. Look past the fault to see the need.
- I am a serial offender against what is good, pure, and holy. I need grace and forgiveness; just like everyone else.
- Push yourself to the point of breaking; physically, mentally, emotionally. Just as a horse needs to be broken before it is useful, the principle also applies to people. The wild nature of both horses and people does little that is productive.
- Don’t chase ‘get rich quick’ schemes. All wealth is built slowly through hard work, creativity and persistence. Be reasoned and fair in your approach with an eye on long-term relationship building not on revenue generation. Any money received that is not the direct result of hard work, creativity, investment and persistence is poison and should be returned.
- Be compassionate with those who are less fortunate. Giving them hand-outs is not compassion. Hand-outs are a cruel form of enablement. Instead, give opportunity and education. You are your brother’s keeper.
- Practice tough love. Don't give people what they want. Give them what they need.
- Live a life of submission to authority. Honor all authority; police, boss, teacher, mayor, governor, president, not only when the authority does the right thing but also when the authority is cruel and makes horrible decisions.
- Leave more than you take. Spend less than you make. For brief periods of time you may take more than you leave, but then over compensate for taking. When you give, don’t expect anything in return. Give with a gracious and generous heart.
We need to set high expectation for ourselves. Actually, we need to set the expectation of perfection, while fully understanding that we will never achieve it. Some day I will die knowing that I had never achieved my goal, but I also know that I pushed myself towards that goal with great zeal and ambition. I did not dwell on my numerous failings, but I took responsibility for them and tried to learn from them.
How do you know if your actions are harmful or helpful? That requires a long term analysis; does the patient get better or worse. I could cut someone with a knife, cause the person that I cut great pain, but yet do ‘good’ for that person; long term. The ‘good’ depends on what my intentions are, my ability to carry through on my intentions and the wisdom with which I approach the situation. If I attempt to surgically remove cancer from someone, without the skill or wisdom to do it, I am not doing ‘good’, despite my best intentions.
It is my experience that 99% of the people are well-intentioned, but they don’t have the skill or wisdom to understand the situation and end up doing great harm.
I was thoroughly depressed when faced with my own humanness and depravity. But I found hope, peace and joy through complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It doesn't mean that I am no longer human; it means that I have direction, life and hope. I have someone to join me in the struggle.
No one cares as much about your future as you do. Take control of your own destiny.
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- A conflict brewing (0)
- I pledge (0)
- My response to the human condition (0)
- The human condition (0)
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- Separation of church and state (0)
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