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“Anything done out of love is beyond good and evil.” – Nietzsche

I’ve been scratching at something on the edge of my mind for some time now, and it keeps coming up. It seems clear to me to realize a few things about the world of human actualizers as it stands today.

To be really simplistic about the history of philosophy, let’s divide things along religious/cultural bounds. We’ll say “Western” and “Eastern”. I’ll lay out a disclaimer here and ask people not to go into a huge debate about ethnocentrism.

In Western culture/religion, I’ve been taught that my desires are bad. Acting upon my desires is selfish. My desires are a source of danger to be mistrusted and feared. Desires should be ignored, tolerated, and denied.

In studying Eastern religion, I see a philosophy that teaches me that desires aren’t dangerous per se, but the source of suffering. My desires are something to escape from. Desires should be avoided, detached, and removed.

Neither of these paradigms accept desires. This is amazing to me, given that they are the primary source of information we have about what we want to do, and what we “should” do if the goal is actualization. I want to own my desires, not be ashamed of them! I want to celebrate them, not escape from them!

If we deny our desires, or escape from them, we are promised that all will be redeemed in the afterlife or the next life or Nirvana. Not a few philosophers or poets have termed this “living for death”. Nietzsche criticizes Western religion as “death worship”. I seek to live for life, for creation and celebration, not for death.

All of this ties into the way people treat each other, themselves, and the definition of selfishness, as I’ve mentioned before. People teach us to quell our desires so they don’t interfere with their own. It is a more fundamental act of selfishness than merely doing what you will can ever be.

That’s a good segue into a conversation I’ve had many times, but also recently, about my attitude toward compromise. Not only are we taught to fear our desires, we are taught to worship compromise. Sacrifice and loss, we are told, are meant to be shared. Compromise is a worthy goal to be achieved, and we celebrate it when it is reached. But compromise only yields mediocrity – it is based on the presumption that wealth and the satisfaction of desire is a zero sum game. That is, in order for one to gain, another must lose. This is a terrible, dangerous myth that permeates our morality and our politics.

When we truly walk the infinite spiral, when we truly own our actualization and realize it as the one goal we all have by definition, no such “zero sum game” exists. It is possible for you and I to both get what we want without sacrifice. To love, to truly love another is not to be willing to sacrifice for them – it is to not even consider the things you are doing for them – WITH them – to be a sacrifice in the first place.

Asking for compromise is fantastically more selfish than resisting it can ever be. Demanding that others curb their desires is more selfish than acting on them can ever be. And fearing your own desires is more selfish towards your own self than owning them can ever be.

6 Responses

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  1. Rachel

    Sir, you and I simply do not hang out enough outside of LARPs!

    April 27, 2011 at 9:18 am
  2. Jim Powers

    Compromise is a myth created by evil to convince good that “giving in just a little” is still good.

    The true path to a non-zero sum is not through compromise but through bargaining. You purchase what you value in others by sharing something they value in you. This is not compromise. Compromise is a sacrifice of something of value to you. Sacrifice is to do without something that you need. If you go without something you do not need, you have sacrificed nothing – in the very essence of the word.

    We are taught that sacrifice is noble, but that bargaining is materialistic. In short, we’re taught that evil is good. Up is down, contradictions should be accepted, A is not A. If you disagree, you’re “too rigid”. If you don’t compromise you’re unwilling to meet them half way. And this is a bad thing how?

    Next time someone asks you to sacrifice or compromise, make a bargain instead. There is no more noble act than acknowledging the value of someone else’s effort by trading it for some of your own. This is how civilized men deal.

    May 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm
    • jayson

      Wow. This is exactly right! Thinking about it this way is elating; it’s what love for other people actually is. I want to read this every morning to remind me.

      May 23, 2011 at 3:24 pm
    • jayson

      The key here being “acknowledging the value of someone else’s effort” – moreover, acknowledging their values as their own through trade.

      May 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm

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