Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Big To Be Small

Exertec, Napa, USA

May 14, 2013



"You have to be big to be small."  ... 
This essay, Big To Be Small, was written at the same time as

It requires a determined centering  to be gentle sometimes on those occasions when it's hard to be gentle, yet when being gentle is what's called for - as can be vouched for by any parent of mischievous toddlers who, in all their innocent loveliness, can drive you crazy. It can be tough to be flexible when being flexible is called for. It's the willingness to give and take  which is essentially the art of dealmaking, and being flexible is a risk. In this spirit, it takes bigness to be small when being small is called for. It takes guts  to get off it. Essentially it's the willingness to get off it which forms the bedrock  of enduring relationships and a good quality life.

You have to be big to be small. You have to be big enough to be willing to bend with the wind  (so to speak), even though we're thrown  by our pre‑programmed macho  assumptions about Life, to resist bending. Here, "macho" is asexual. Seeing it as a virtue  to not bend, to not get off it, to always be strong and maintain a stiff upper lip  is neither feminine nor masculine. It's simply human. No, it's not transformed. But it is human.

We want to be right so much. Don't tell me your reasons why  you want to be right. It's not based on any reason. It may look like  you want to be right because of that reason or because of this reason - religious dictates, morality, plain arrogant righteousness, whatever. But wanting to be right isn't based on any reason. You want to be right because the machine you are  is a being-right-machine  which wants to be right. Look: that's  ... it's  ... job!  It's that simple. Telling me why you want to be right buys you nothing. It's no excuse. It's just the machine making excuses.

We want to win so much. We resist being dominated so much. No, don't tell me why you want to win, to succeed. And don't tell me why you resist being dominated. You want to win at any cost, you resist being dominated because the machine you are wants to win at any cost, because the machine you are resists being dominated. And telling me why you want to win at any cost, telling why you resist being dominated, buys you nothing. They're no excuse. It's just the machine you are, making excuses. You want to win at any cost because the machine you are is a win‑at‑any‑cost‑machine. You resist being dominated because the machine you are is a resist‑being‑dominated‑machine. You can't not  be a win‑at‑any‑cost‑machine. You can't not  be a resist‑being‑dominated‑machine.

Now, listen: imagine the possibility of any warring factions (pick your favorite adversaries - Hamas vs Israel, Sunni vs Shia, North Korea vs South Korea, Al Qaeda vs USA, Syria vs its own citizens, Taliban vs anyone and everyone  - God knows there's no shortage to choose from in today's world) finally figuring out having to be right and resisting being wrong at any cost is simply machinery, finally figuring out having to win and resisting losing at any cost is simply machinery, finally figuring out having to dominate and resisting being dominated at any cost is simply machinery.

We machines can choose to empower  ie we can choose to lend credence to  our push to being right, or not. We can choose to empower, to lend credence to our drive to win at all costs, or not. We can choose to empower, to lend credence to our insistence on dominating, or not. This isn't a philosophical  view. Neither is it touting another tired old belief system  to justify and / or explain something, or to fix or make something better. Rather, it's an observation of how we're constructed - which is plain to see if you're willing to look closely enough and truthfully enough unflinchingly.

Here's the thing: we're machines (that's brutal  to confront) who can make choices and invent new possibilities (that's profound). And the most profound choice we machines can make is choosing things the way they are and the way they aren't. And the most profound possibility we machines can invent is the possibility of a world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out. To do that you have to get off it. You have to be big to be small. It's a choice. It's a possibility.

Being small isn't being powerless. Being small isn't being helpless. You have to be powerful to get off it. You have to be powerful to serve. You have to be big to be generous. You have to be big to be wrong. You have to be big to forgive. You have to be big to walk away from winning at any cost. You have to be big to confront it's how the machinery's programmed. You have to be big to have compassion for it. You're anything but  helpless when you to realize the bigness of being small is the possibility of sustained peaceful co-existence for all of us, for everyone and everything, right here on our Planet Earth.



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