When in high school many years ago I was having trouble in my English class. I then asked my father to show me a good example of an essay. He wrote a short piece called The Psychology of Man. Here is what he wrote:
A stream runs through the character of every generation. Whether from the small trickling of primitive survival, through the rapids of a fire and brimstone religion, or through the quiet valleys of Eastern philosophy, the thrust for the living waters rule the spirit of man.
The objective is to overcome the fear of life and of death. Few there be that understand the fear that dries up the living waters in every generation. At the base of human psychology rests the denial of fear. It burns of pride and destroys the character of humankind. Pride talks of self worth but secretly covers the fear of rejection. “It is good to have a little pride,” says the fearful. “It gives hope.” The psychology of man lies. It is modesty that yields the fountain of living waters whilst pride dries up the rain. The spirit of man fosters the denial of fear. Every ungodly action burns up the seed of faith. “Sin is a product of religious tradition,” retorts the universal man. “Sin is all in the mind.” The psychology of man lies. It is obedience to faith that yields the rushing rapids whilst fear dries up the ground.
The goal of humankind is to overcome. Procrastinating the day of recognition dries up the fountain. “God will beat me with a few strips,” claims the folly of youth. “What is wrong in a little fun and games?” The psychology of man lies. It is the fear that drives the frivolous behavior whilst recognition of one’s fear leads to full maturity.
The psychology of man is to become a God full of knowledge of good and evil. It was our choice to wander the desert of death and fear and to test our ability to overcome. “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me though he were dead, (though he wander the desert of fear, though he follow the folly of denial), yet shall (he find the fountain of living waters and) live.”
I have been trying to write like this for years, and yet it seems fruitless because many fail to understand the meaning behind this kind of writing. It takes an upbringing raised on discussion and much dialogue. Optimism is always trying to find meaning that is universal, relational and always upholding responsible action. The only way this can be achieved is if we come together and talk a lot more. If we can create this kind of culture, greater meaning will surface in the people. If not, then the psychology of man will take over for us and we lose the opportunity to be self-reliant and self-starting people.
Notice the use of people. For nearly fifty years I have had to read hundreds of self help books for individuals, only to find myself wanting something more, a real self-help for communities and people. This to me is the real fountain of living waters. Most religions get it all wrong, especially Christian religions. They focus on individual salvation and not the redemption of a people living in heaven.
Until we learn to organize better, we may never find meaning that is universal, relational and always upholding responsible action. We will instead fall prey to magic.
If you have not noticed, it is easier for a single person to believe in the false candy of magic than an entire community. This is why genuine optimism is a community culture, not an individual condition.
A renaissance is coming, a real motivation for people to be the rising tide that lifts all ships.
Keith R Kelsch, The Genuine Optimist