The Many Benefits of Youth Sports

Youth sports carry tremendous but largely untapped potential, especially in their ability to form exceptional character traits in children as they mature into adulthood. Ideally, these positive qualities will stay with them throughout their lives, making them better workers, better spouses, better parents, better citizens, and better human beings overall. Unfortunately, this understanding of sports as a means of character development is often overlooked – especially by egotistical parents and coaches – for the sake of more transient and superficial goals, such as winning athletic competitions at any cost. Winning is a wonderful thing, of course, but contrary to much popular opinion it should never be the sole or even the primary motive for becoming involved in athletics. This is especially true at the youth level. In what follows I will briefly articulate just a few of the many possible benefits I have in mind. My reflection on the topic[…]

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Improving Race Relations by Shifting the Narrative

Race relations around the world are worsening each day, and this trend must be reversed quickly if we are to avoid widespread violence and social disintegration in the near future. This is especially true within multiracial nations like the United States, and it’s imperative that we develop new tactics for alleviating racial antagonisms, posthaste. Since our political leaders seem either unwilling or unable to move our racially-diverse society in this direction, we must endeavor to do so – as with everything else – at the grassroots level. We must engage in this noble struggle until enough pressure is created from below to make them responsive to our most pressing need, which is to forge a compelling collective identity beyond material self-interest, racial identity, and the like. The goal of any new strategy must be to generate goodwill instead of enmity, and with that in mind certain tactics now employed –[…]

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Western Medicine and Mental Health

In today’s world, psychological ailments, especially anxiety and depression, are interpreted in highly negative ways. This is true among both mental health “experts” and the general public alike. They’re perceived as afflictions best avoided or, assuming they make an unfortunate appearance in our lives, to be rid of as quickly, as effortlessly, and as painlessly as possible. The “professional” approach to treating these psychological “disorders” typically involves some combination of counseling and medication – or even just medicine – the latter of which significantly alters the patient’s brain chemistry in ways that make them happier and more productive.. Pharmaceuticals aim to restore our ability to cope effectively in a stressful world, and can apparently be quite effective in that. But what if we’ve misinterpreted what these purported afflictions are communicating to us at a deep existential-ontological level? What if they potentially serve a positive role in our lives, disclosing certain things[…]

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Why Shaming Should Be Avoided

Is shaming an effective strategy? Does it assist us in our efforts to shape or influence the way others think and act? Many would answer in the affirmative and point to their own experience as parents, coaches, business managers or owners, etc. as proof of its efficacy. I discussed this topic recently with a seasoned corporate trainer who sincerely believes in its usefulness as a method of keeping employees in line. Not just one method among others, mind you, but the best and only truly effective one. The conversation quickly segued into the wider topic of whether this authoritarian business practice – specifically its purported “usefulness” – carries over into the realm of political discourse. “Don’t reason in good faith with those who disagree with you,” the trainer said with a smug sense of self-righteousness, “but humiliate them into submission.” This combative approach is something those of us who frequent[…]

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A Progressive Defense of Family Values

One of the more significant changes that has taken place in the Western world over the past fifty years concerns the breakdown of the family.This is a well-known story: marriage rates are down, divorce rates are up, average family size is down, etc. And while there are legitimate financial reasons to avoid starting a family these days – or for limiting the number of children within the household – shifting public opinion against marriage and children has doubtless contributed to this trend. Many people in our hyper-consumerist, career-oriented society view having children as a major burden, especially from a financial standpoint. This is obviously true. In addition to the major commitment of time and effort involved in being a parent, raising kids is expensive! Food, diapers, toys, daycare, and many other things can strain an already tight budget, and with mounting student loan debt, decreasing job prospects, and stagnant wages for[…]

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Anthropocentrism, Ecocentrism, Environmentalism

As anyone with rudimentary knowledge of the European intellectual tradition knows, the philosophy of Rene Descartes launched Western humanity on a path towards dualism and anthropocentrism. Through his work the locus of meaning, truth, and value shifted away from a transcendent source – previously Nature or God – and towards self-conscious subjects. This trend towards subjectivity reaches its apotheosis in Nietzsche, who famously declared the death of God and waxed enthusiastic about future human beings who would project value upon an otherwise harsh and meaningless universe. This form of anthropocentrism, also known as “subjectivist metaphysics,” is largely taken for granted these days, and this is especially true among educated people who associate religion and transcendence with the dangerous superstitions of benighted masses. It is somewhat curious to note, however, that this ascendancy in the estimation of humans as heroic value creators has coincided with a radically diminished conception of our position[…]

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Freedom Understood Differently

At times, dominant forces in our world can seem so powerful, so oppressive, and so far beyond our control that we lose faith in our ability to act freely and affect significant change. We feel overwhelmed and impotent, and this being the case we may resign ourselves to lesser but more realistic goals like the satisfying our desires for food, sex, travel, and the like. Seeking out ever new and heightened stimuli at least temporarily can fend off the meaninglessness of living within a disenchanted, commercialized world. And yet we need not, and should not, allow ourselves to be overcome by external factors to such a degree that we slip into hedonism and escapism. There are plenty of things that we can do, even in this world, that will allow us to align our contrarian values with a way of living and being we find most congenial. This practical application[…]

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Stoicism – Focus on What You Control

Photo of Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism is one of the philosophies that still has a large share of practical applications. The most important among these comes from the Stoic principle of focusing solely on what is under one’s control. A large share of the pain encountered in life is psychological, and it originates in our attitude with regards to things that aren’t under our control. From a rational perspective, there’s no point worrying about what’s outside of our control, for we cannot change it. The only productive thing is to abandon any such focus, and instead consider things that are immediately under our control. For example, harmful and destructive emotions – especially anger and hatred – are often experienced when a relationship turns sour – our partner (mis)behaves in a way that we hadn’t anticipated, or there exist unresolvable conflicts. Getting angry, feeling vengeful towards your partner, or being depressed does not change the situation –[…]

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Creativity and Consciousness

Creativity and the Mystery of Being

The problem of creativity is one that is rarely addressed in philosophy, and yet it is one of the distinguishing factors between man, the other animals and any form of artificial intelligence (AI). At first glance, it has to do with something subjective, something that comes from within man’s own consciousness. It is easy to remark that in the absence of this subjectivity one simply cannot be creative. Animals and robots are capable of solving problems, if by solving problems we understand using one’s environment (or body) to fulfil a goal. But this is not creativity, but rather ingenuity. Creativity most fully reveals itself in art – and it is in art that man outshines all other creatures, as G.K. Chesterton remarked in The Everlasting Man. No animal species comes close to the artistic achievements of man – indeed in this case, a difference in kind, and not a difference in degree[…]

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