The true dilemma (fixing ourselves)

It is my firm belief that the best way to fix the world – a handyman’s dream if ever there was one – is to fix yourself. […] Anything else is presumptuous. Anything else risks harm, stemming from your ignorance and lack of skill.*
(Jordan Peterson)

But complexity consists of integration as well as differentiation. The task of the next decades and centuries is to realise this underdeveloped component of the mind. Just as we have learned to separate ourselves from each other and the environment, we now need to learn how to reunite ourselves with other entities around us without losing our hard-won individuality.**
(Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

Bernadette Jiwa asks three big questions of those developing their own businesses, though, the questions feel important for everyone:

What do you think is missing in the world?
What kind of work will you do to fix it?
How will you find the courage to stand out when the world is screaming at you to fit in?^

Our true dilemma lies in responding to the third question.

We will soon identify something that is needed or could be better in the world, we even have the abilities to bring this into being, but finding the courage to begin, to act is more difficult.

To identify what Martin Buber names our “self-sense,”^^ we must detach ourselves from others and from the world in order to move into our independence. We separate to know ourselves but must then reunite ourselves if we are to make our stronger contribution.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi sees this reuniting as our work into the future. We understand how we can we independent have to become explorers of a greater interdependence:

Recognising the limitations of human will, accepting a cooperative rather than a ruling role in the universe, we should feel the relief of the exile returning home. The problem of meaning will then be resolved as the individual’s purpose merges with the universal flow.**

Here are echoes of Frederick Buechners’s declaration that meaning is found where our deepest joy meets the world’s greatest need. Joseph Campbell named two critical myths: the personal myth which contains our “bliss,” our purpose, and the social myth which understands how we bring this into integration with others.

Each day, we can practice these: separate to know who we are and what we bring, reunite and bring our strongest self to serve others and our world.

(*From Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.)
(**From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(^From Bernadette Jiwa’s The Story of Telling Monthly Update for August.)
(^^See Martin Buber’s I and Thou.)

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