Stop sharing. Start creating.
There is no link to a news article in this post.
There is no reference to political leadership in this post.
This post is not trolling.
There are positive remarks in this post.
After you read this post, you will not likely be enraged.
You will not be compelled to share this post.
This post does not include a picture, motivational quip, or reference to popular culture.
I have not recently attended a protest.
But I’ll tell you what I have done: I’ve continued. I’ve lived. As I must.
It’s this: I read a lot of news and opinion. Much of it I read because I want to be enraged. I want to feel. Without enraging news, I don’t know what to feel. I want to be shocked. I want to worry. I crave anxiety, and wash it away nightly. Then wake up to another cycle. I am in this cycle. And I shall break this cycle with my will. As I must.
I teach for a living. These days, I’m delivering an online course through the University of Auckland: Critical Thinking. It’s what I studied in graduate school because I love it. I love to create systematic works of philosophy, as opposed to critical works, and ironically, Critical Thinking is an ideal field in which to do just that. So I do it.
I’ve been writing a textbook. That’s probably boring to you. It’s thrilling to me. It’s what I do as an artist.
Yes: an artist. The school of philosophy is part of the school of Arts, as it should be. However, the school of arts has long been underfunded. There’s talk of cutting course offerings. Cutting staff. Cutting cutting cutting. We don’t make much money (for the university).
This is what happens when business people run public service institutions. Services suffer. Profits soar.
This is not a political post.
I am an artist. I create. My art doesn’t appeal to the masses; my art doesn’t read well on a meme; my art is subtle, aggravating, and a general education requirement. Many avoid my art.
But I can tell you this: my art is important.
Next semester I will be teaching a class I’ve never taught, to majors in philosophy. This is threatening. Can I manage this? The topic is broad, and historical: Descartes to Hume. Who? Who cares? What do I know of these philosophers that licenses me to teach their works?
Descartes protested. He fought tyranny. He fought unjust persecution of science at the hands of ideologues. He fought to save his own life while advancing innovative ideas about nature, our place in the universe, and who we are as people. In the process, he ushered in a new age in Western Philosophy.
Now, we live in an age hostile to art and friendly to profit.
We live in an age hostile to challenge. We fail to ask and answer “Who am I?”, as Descartes did, and that failure circumscribes our cultures. Who are you, today? Who are we, today? Who do we want to be?
The lesson of metaphysics: to know who I am is to know who we are. And to know such a thing is to know compassion, charity, and clarity.
I am strong.
I am courageous.
I am a protester.
This is a political post. Do not share it. Rewrite it. Know thyself, and put that self into your protest.
Stop sharing. Start creating. This is the best chance we have.