Practical Philosophy – A New Perspective
I guess it is about time to have a conversation. About Philosophy. That is the whole reason for our existence. Not just Lone Cypress Workshop. Our own personal existence. If you have not figured that out yet, I can only hope that you do so at some point in time. That is what life is all about. Asking questions. A lot of questions. And looking for answers. More than we can ever hope to discover. I have long ago succumbed to the allure of Philosophy and am passionately and completely dedicated to the concept and pursuit of bringing order and structure to the confusion and chaos that life presents. And on some level, I believe that you are as well. If you ever take even a moment to contemplate how to better your existence, if you sometimes question life and all of its contradictions and challenges, then you, my friend, are a philosopher. The mere fact that you are reading this simply confirms that you are questioning, and searching, for that which is not obvious. You will never find the answers that you seek without the presence of thought, and that means, ultimately, Philosophy.
So let’s talk a little bit about the reality of Lone Cypress Workshop. Its sole purpose, it’s ‘raison d’être’, if you will, is to have a Conversation, which in its simplest form is nothing more than reasonable and thoughtful individuals having a discussion about a multitude of issues. The obvious reaction to a Conversation is to spend time thinking about that which was discussed and to think, and reflect, and that would result in an amount of time of ‘Contemplation’, a time of consideration of possibilities. And all the talk and reflection brings us nothing except a small diversion unless there is an eventual realization of understanding and growth which is accomplished through a period of ‘Comprehension’. And that is ultimately what Philosophy is all about. Especially Practical Philosophy. Thinking, as opposed to the alternative, can be difficult. And frustrating. It can be as complicated as you want to make it, and sometimes we make it much more than it needs to be. And yet it can be surprisingly simple as well. Again, as simple as you want it to be. It is true that a well-developed Philosophy can be intricate and demanding as you attempt to bring all of your thoughts and observations into focus and in harmony and agreement with one another, but that compatibility is what creates a full and rich Philosophy that anyone should be proud to incorporate into their daily adventures along their chosen path. But your journey as a philosopher begins with that first step, a single thought, a simple question. A question such as WHY? And of course, WHY NOT?
My favorite Philosophers? Why, children, of course. The pure philosopher. They do little else besides question. They question everything. All the time. They possess limited intellect, and even more so, limited experience, but their ability to ask questions knows no limit whatsoever. They search for answers, unencumbered by preconceived notions and misconceptions. That comes later, as the family, and society, begin the arduous task of education, which unfortunately, much too often, takes the form of indoctrination and propaganda. How else do you explain the erosion of the quest for answers, and the slow dissolution of the light that burns within us all? That is not to say that most of the players harbor anything but good intentions in this game of education. But not all. There are those that do not like the Philosopher. He cannot be easily contained or controlled. They fear the individual that is a free thinker and cannot be led. And they will do everything in their power, whether unwittingly, or by design, to prevent a society of individuals, because then they are just one of many, and they will gain no power, and THAT is not their goal. I know this sounds conspiratorial, but conspiracies do exist, and perhaps there is an imperative that YOU need to question the reasons for the state of our society today, the obvious hatred that exists on every street corner, the dearth of answers being created, or even discussed for that matter. The dichotomy of the words uttered and the actions taken. The total lack of direction and resolve to undertake and solve even the simplest challenges. If not conspiracy, what would you call it? Serendipity? Or possibly stupidity? I do not claim to have the answer or even an answer, but I am eternally searching for one. There is one thing that is blatantly obvious. We should be making consistent progress with the challenges we encounter on a daily basis, and yet we are not. Why is that? What are we missing? And then there is Practical Philosophy. An alternative. Another perspective. An attempt to bring Philosophy out of the ivory towers and into the smallest aspects of our lives. To use it as a practical tool to improve ourselves and our relationships, and the way we look at others and society in general.
I think, therefore I am. Therefore, I must ask the question how can this be happening? Why is this happening? And more importantly, what can any one person do to impact what looks like a derailed train, careening down a mountainside towards inevitable destruction? Are there even any possibilities? Or do we just sit and wait for the devastation and hope we are left to pick ourselves up out of the ashes, to dust ourselves off and continue on our journey of futility.
It has been many years that I have contemplated this question, and many similar ones. There are no simple answers, if any exist at all. You can protest, peacefully or not, but the reality is that does not seem to be solving the issues, on any level. They say these protests at least get us to talk about the issues. Is that what YOU see? Are we really having any conversations about the challenges this country faces? We have become a country of slogans and one liners, and no one is listening, and yet everyone is talking. No, make that screaming, their opinions and diatribes, in any and every direction. But there is no one to listen. Unless they listen to themselves. No, protesting is not the solution, especially when we throw in a unique blend of violence and hatred, just to make sure there will be no support for their positions. Invariably I ask myself, what exactly is their position? And what is the solution they propose, besides complete capitulation and compliance, sans societal agreement or political process. There is no truth, unless it be false truth, and there is no philosophy. If a philosophy does in fact exist, it is one constructed of evil substance and intent. Philosophy is not an absolute. It is benign. It is a tool. It is the person who wields the tool that defines the value of the philosophy.
We can bring about change through the system we call politics, but that is the realm of fear and favor. If not completely corrupt, it is certainly useless and impotent. The American Dream is all but dead, and it may not even know it yet, but it has been decades since anything of import has been accomplished in those hallowed halls. Or should I say HOLLOW halls. There will be no salvation from our alleged ‘representation’.
You can look for change from REVOLUTION, and that would indeed bring change, but what form would it take, and what would be the cost? Revolution is how we came to this point, and it was one of the few instances in history that actually was what can be argued as beneficial and successful. Up until today, that is. Most revolution brings about change in the form of even more corruption and coercion then we experience today. You may be on board with the concept of revolution. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it. And there is no undo button when it comes to revolution. WYSIWYG. And that will affect the rest of your own life, as well the lives of those you care about. From my perspective, revolution is a horribly self-destructive option.
So what is the solution? I reluctantly have to admit that there may be none. Other countries and even civilizations have risen, only to fall. It may be inevitable. It may not be a solution, but there are other options. Other choices. And then we are back to Practical Philosophy, after taking the scenic verbal detour. And that is really what Conversation is all about. The thoughts, the ideas, the detours. Resolution may or may not be an aspect of the journey. But learning and teaching are. Improvement and enlightenment are part and parcel of the Contemplation of concepts and diverse positions and ideas. If we cannot fix the world, if we cannot fix our society, we can at least attempt to try and fix our own damn selves. And that is what we envision with Practical Philosophy. It is a process of evolution. Not to change the universe, and the huge issues, but to change us. To question the little things that we can actually understand, and have the ability to change that will make life for ourselves and those we come in contact with that much better. If change is even possible today, it will not come from the weak and the timid. It will come from the confident and the capable. From those individuals that exemplify good character and ethics. People dedicated and motivated. People unlike those I see today, at every level of government, and on every media outlet. They must exist. They must be out there somewhere. If not, then no, there will be no solution.
So we would like to take that next step, and have Conversations about anything, and everything. Search for answers and incorporate those answers into our personal philosophies and our own sojourn of discovery. It will not be easy, and things of import rarely are. It will not be soon, since the obstacles that exist will be many. But I see no other reasonable options to resolve our problems. Become the person you need to be. And wait for opportunities. To make the changes you can, when you can. To help those that deserve your attention, when the opportunity presents itself. To understand the issues and call out those that perpetuate the disastrous environment that we find ourselves living in today. Not with hatred and criticism, but with insightful and thoughtful questions. It is rare that our antagonists will even attempt to answer those questions, for they know there is no reason on their side. But the battle will not be fought with them directly, it will be fought on the field of ideas, and remember, there are always those that are listening, and they are where the conflict will be won or lost. Remember that.
And that is what Practical Philosophy hopes to accomplish. Little questions. Little answers. Little changes. Each one a single drop. Together they can become a stream, a river, and eventually an ocean. An ocean of change. We see no other alternatives. We will not wake up in the morning and everyone will be doing the appropriate things. We are not even sure they know the difference between right and wrong. So it is up to us, to determine right and wrong, and use that to begin the process. You cannot finish that which you do not begin. For me, it is time to take another step. The path awaits. I hope to see you somewhere along the way. Embrace life. Embrace self. Be a part of the solution.