You Cannot Fight with People Who Stand on a Different Mental Basis

You Cannot Fight with People Who Stand on a Different Mental Basis

The excellent writer, Quintus Curtius, recommended a short story for his readers awhile back—“The Country of the Blind” by H.G. Wells. I finally had a chance to read it and I was not disappointed. The story is a classic.

It takes place in the Colombian Andes. A man falls off a cliff, landing into the bottom of a deep valley. There he meets a community of blind people. By the end of the story, the village elders give him an ultimatum—he must blind himself if he wants to coexist with them. The analogy of the story is awesome—every person must, on a certain level, become “blind” to live in a community: think of various relationships, types of work, social circles, etc.


The reason for this ugly truth is stated by Nunez, the story’s main character:

“…you cannot even fight happily with creatures who stand upon a different mental basis to yourself.”

So true.

An old friend once told me, “You are who you are.” The phrase has been useful to me, since I find it to be true nine times out of ten. You can’t change a pacifist into a fighter. You can’t turn an alcoholic into a CEO. And you can’t give self-esteem to someone who doesn’t have it. It’s an unpopular idea, no doubt. We live in an era of self-esteem, of self-improvement, of 24/7 female empowerment. And there’s an industry designed to sell people the products that make them a “better you.” But how many people are really capable of change? Very few, I’m afraid…

Are you currently arguing with someone who continually falters? Are you trying to convert someone to a new way of thinking? If so, then you’re probably wasting your time.

There’s an irony to giving advice—the best way to lead is not by words, but by action. If you really want to help people, you’ll have to focus on yourself. Become a champ in your personal life, in your professional dealings. When people see you walking on a path of success, then they’ll come looking for you. And they’ll be taking notes.

If you continue to push your advice on others, to help those that perpetually stumble, I’m afraid you’ll end up like Nunez—a man trying to teach the blind to see.

The Importance of Irrelevant Hobbies

The Importance of Irrelevant Hobbies

The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell provides a wealth of great advice. One of my favorite quotes relates to an interest in trivial pursuits:

“One of the major sources of unhappiness, fatigue, and nervous strain is inability to be interested in anything that is not of practical importance in one’s life.”

In short, our happiness often depends on a love of the trivial. Can you find enjoyment in Brazilian beach volleyball? Burmese water puppetry? Greek independent cinema? Many people cannot because they can only focus on things of “practical importance”—such as home and work. This sounds good on the surface, but what happens when there is a disturbance at home or work? If your entire world revolves around these things, a disturbance in this area can send your life tumbling like a house of cards.

Most people have an interest in trivial pursuits as young people. They enjoy collecting baseball cards, playing video games, etc. But as time goes on, something happens—life. The brutal nature of existence wears them down, and they soon lose passion for the previous pursuits. They cut off their interests one by one. Slowly, they only have an interest in their work and their mate. Eventually, they don’t even have an interest in those things.

I want you to reaffirm those trivial things from your past…those hobbies that have long since died. They weren’t mindless trifles to be done away with when the “real world” came a calling. They were important fires, matches that lit the carefree part of your soul. They taught you that life was something carefree to be enjoyed—they taught you to whistle, skip, and grin. They taught you to be alive.

We need our irrelevant hobbies.

RIP to Mr. Fuji

RIP to Mr. Fuji

We recently lost another WWE legend, Mr. Fuji. For fans of the WWF in the 1980s, Mr. Fuji was the villain that we loved to hate—hurling his “Fuji Dust” into the eyes of the unsuspecting opponent.

This was, for many people, the heyday of professional wrestling: the era when people like Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik became household names. A few years later, professional wrestling became exposed as a work and the industry officially admitted that it was, at the end of the day, theatrics.

The WWE has lost a lot of classic performers in recent years: Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, The Ultimate Warrior…and now Mr. Fuji. We are seeing the end of an era in many ways, the passing of a golden era in sports entertainment. For those people like myself, who grew up during this time, these characters will be forever etched in our memories. They were equivalent to the bag guys and the good guys we saw on the Hollywood screen. And as it now turns out, they were more fun to root for than the self-righteous stars of tinsel town

Now the professional wrestling has been exposed, we might never see a list of performers like this again. Sometimes, when we stop suspending our disbelief, life is just not as fun.

RIP to Mr. Fuji.