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


If I Don't Eat, It's Hungry

Yountville Children's Park, Yountville, California, USA

February 19, 2022

This essay, If I Don't Eat, It's Hungry, is the companion piece to Hungry Eat Tired Sleep.

Let's differentiate between two distinct milieus  in which we engage in conversations for transformation (there are surely more than two, but for the sake of this conversation, lets distinguish these two):

The first is the milieu of up-close-and-personal face-to-face conversations between people in which transformation is brought forth in their speaking and thereby becomes directly available. This is the milieu of the spoken  word. Contrast that with the second milieu, an example of which is this internet series of Conversations For Transformation, a close approximation  to the spoken word. This is the milieu of the written  word in a world in which transformation's milieu is the spoken word. The further we drift away from the spoken word, the more we render conversations for transformation as approximations to the spoken word, with diminishing power.


In this new era of Zoom, the interactive online  word, a closer approximation to the up-close-and-personal face-to-face spoken word than the written word, yet an approximation nonetheless, is becoming de rigueur.


One of the most pragmatic aspects of the up-close-and-personal face-to-face spoken word is that if something is said which isn't entirely accurate, it can be addressed immediately. That's not as easy to do in the written word milieu. If something questionable comes up in what you're reading, you can't just call out for the author and have her appear up-close-and-personal, face-to-face to answer questions, to debate, and to clarify (or to correct if necessary).

And so it was in one such up-close-and-personal face-to-face conversation I was in, that the following point was made: what directs us to keep our promises, honor our word, and even stay in integrity, is that they're the right  things to do, the good  things to do. It came up then disappeared so fast I almost missed it. Then ... "Wait a minute  ..." I called out, a bit late yet in time to catch it before it disappeared into the past forever, "that's not why we keep our promises or honor our word, or even why we (aspire to) stay in integrity. That's not a powerful platform worthy of standing on. I assert it's not powerful doing any of the above to be right or good. No, it's worth doing them because they work, or (even more so) it's worth doing them because Life itself calls us to do what works.".

At first there was no response. Then (after the inevitable pause) came "Explain 'Life itself calls us to do what works.'?".

"If I don't eat, it's hungry" I ante'd, intentionally emphasizing "it's"  without embellishing any further, then waited. The ensuing silence was even thicker. You could cut it with a knife. It wasn't "If I don't eat, I'm  hungry.". It was "If I don't eat, it's hungry.". What I'm distinguishing isn't personal. Consider integrity itself isn't personal.

While I may have some choice over whether I eat or not, the onset of "hungry" when I don't eat, isn't personal. It's automatic. It's what the machine does. Like that, the unworkability that results when I don't keep my promises, honor my word, or stay in integrity, isn't personal. It's just what the machine does. So I don't keep my promises, honor my word, or stay in integrity to be right or good. I do them because they work ... that is to say I do them because Life itself calls me to do what works. And if I don't do them, my life automatically becomes unworkable ... like if I don't eat, it's hungry.

It's got absolutely nothing to do  with being right or good. Consider that "It's hungry" is on automatic. Entertaining the notion that staying in integrity is the "right" thing to do, or that "good" people stay in integrity, that it's somehow a virtue  to (aspire to) stay in integrity, is evidence of naïvete, of being unclear on the concept.

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