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


The Wolf Who Cried Boy

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

April 20, 2011



This essay, The Wolf Who Cried Boy, is the companion piece to Base Nature.



It's a great idea in theory:  to strive to be a better person. There's nothing wrong with striving to be a better person ... in theory. In actuality, striving to be a better person is like a new year's resolution. New year's resolutions are notorious for not working. Or at least they're notorious for working for a while  then ceasing working entirely. The half life  of a new year's resolution is short.

When I look closely at why striving to be a better person doesn't work (or why it works for a short while and then stops working), I discover why in the Zen  of its expression. Implicit in the very languaging  which calls forth striving to be a better person, is the dud  I'm striving to be better than - "better person" / "dud" being the two sides of the same coin. The Zen of it ensures striving to be a better person only serves to reinforce the presence of the dud.

There's no escaping it. It's pernicious.

It's sobering to confront how that which originates in the very best of me (the desire to be better, the wish to improve), in other words that which springs from the essential goodness  of my nature isn't necessarily powerful  ie it doesn't necessarily make any difference. It's a good idea in theory to strive to be a better person. But in practice, striving to be a better person doesn't make any difference.

It's not enough to strive to be a better  person, it's not enough to try to be a kinder  person, it's not enough to decide to be a cooler  person - because if I'm striving, trying, and deciding on top of  a foundation of unconfronted automaticity, they're superficial endeavors at best ... and hopelessly inadequate  at worst.

The unconfronted automaticity is my nature as a creature. It's not merely what I was born with. It's what I was born into. True choice  in the matter of my own life only starts once I'm willing to take responsibility for my language as an implement of creation. I wasn't born with true choice. No one is. True choice isn't our birthright. If I never take responsibility for my language as an implement of creation I'll never have access to true choice in my life. Until I do, I'm not living what's possible for being for human being. Until I do, I'm nothing more than a two legged creature - a mere biped  one rung above an ape perhaps, but nothing more than a two legged creature nonetheless, a beast  with the possibility of (but not yet embodying) language as an implement of creation.

There's nothing I can do to avoid being the beast I am. Until I can first be  the beast I am, I can't really create. Until I can be the beast I am, all my ventures are slaves to survival. The machinery of survival is such that when all my ventures are slaves to survival, I'm avoiding being. Until I can be the beast I am, if I attempt to step outside the mold of survival of the beast and be creative, all my creative ventures are predicated on ie are mired in avoiding being. It's really hard for me to be really creative when I'm avoiding being.

If I'm striving to be a better, kinder, cooler person without first being willing to confront the beast I am, without first being willing to be  the beast I am, then I'm like the wolf who cried boy:  if I attempt it often enough without demonstrating any grounded authenticity, the end result invariably is nobody will believe I am who I say I am.



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