A cheer to revive our drooping spirits
A bottle of pop and a big bandana, we are from Cuba, Indiana; that’s a lie, that’s a bluff, we are from Premontre, that is the stuff. (In high school, my buddies and I made up cheers to ignite and incite the students for athletic games). It is time for a mid-semester cheer leading song to revive the drooping spirits of our students and ourselves since we have no spring break.
Along with some Starfish “hamburger helpers”, I will be sending out the following cheer to my thinking critically and creatively students—
Midway reflections on thinking critically and creatively—–
• The exercises you have completed thus far in this class are like Michael Jackson’s song, “Man in the mirror.” Periodically, we need to take a long and in depth look at ourselves and our core values for better or for worse. It is a clarion call to self-consciousness, self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-analysis – for in the words of Aristotle, the way I think determines what I say, and what I say determines how I act, and my actions determine my behavior, and my behavior becomes my character, and my character becomes my destiny.
Hopefully, you are aware that we are thinking about our thinking; we are completing self-evaluative exercises; and we are encouraged to share our insights in reflective essays and with one another.
These processes and exchanges can be difficult at times because ignorance is bliss, reality is sometimes a harsh and demanding teacher, and manure is stinky but is necessary for growth; and we might rather be more like water seeking the least level of resistance. It is much easier that way.
However, self-knowledge is essential to consciousness, growth, and development. Both the Eastern and Western philosophers have had lengthy traditions of exhorting self-understanding, mindfulness, and the three A’s = Be Awake, Alert, and Aware; Thales, a philosopher said it, and for Socrates, it was inscribed in marble at the most revered of ancient Greek sites, the Oracle at Delphi: “Know Thyself.”
The Lao Tzu of ancient Chinese Taoism says, “To understand others is to be wise, but to understand oneself is to be illumined.” Montaigne expresses it this way: “What can anyone understand who cannot understand himself.” This is the simplest, most practical, most profound, most famous, and most difficult piece of advice ever given by philosophers.
Self-knowledge requires time, thought, humility, honesty, objectivity, patience, openness, and living. It is acquired as we move forward in life. But to gain it, we have to reflect on what we experience, and examine how we think. What do you love? What do you like? What do you hate? What do you dislike? What would really satisfy you? What wouldn’t be worth the trouble? What are your core beliefs? What have you learned from your experiences, especially when you might have hit your bottom?
Only by knowing yourself can you answer these questions. For the most deeply satisfying and sustainable forms of Success in our lives, we need to bring into any situation, relationship, or undertaking:
1. A clear Conception of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
“The world is but a canvas to our imaginations” – Thoreau
2. A strong Confidence that we can attain our goal.
“Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already” – C.S. Lewis
3. A focused Concentration on what it takes to reach the goal.
“Determine that the task can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way”- Lincoln
4. A stubborn Consistency to the importance of what we are doing.
“A straight path never leads anywhere but to the objective” – Andre Gide
5. An emotional Commitment to the importance of what we are doing.
“A strong desire for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means” – William Hazlitt
6. A good Character to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
“Character is power” – Booker Washington (1865-1915)
“The one great requisite is character”
7. A Capacity to enjoy the process along the way.
“Nothing is worth more than this day” – Goethe
I share these words in case you were wondering what this course is about. It is not about memorization and regurgitating back what you memorized with little or no understanding; rather, this course is about thinking about our thinking, and making necessary changes so as to better know ourselves, others, and the world around us; this course challenges us to break the chains of faulty and erroneous thinking that bind us and condemn us to live a life of ignorance, pettiness, shallowness, fear, anxiety, and unhappiness. In the final analysis, this course is about You.
Roger J. Vanden Busch