Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, March 17, 2011
The ancient Greeks had a different motivational structure.
Thumos was the desire for recognition, the desire to have
people recognize your existence, not only now but for all
time. Thumos included the desire for eternal fame – to
attract admiration and to be worthy of admiration in a way
that was deeper than mere celebrity.
David Brooks, in his book “The Social Animal”
I am thoroughly positively engaged by David Brooks’ book. Though I have to confess to a little hesitancy and wariness, since I regard Mr. Brooks as a sane but political “adversary”. But he is raising interesting thinking.
The word that caught my eye was “recognition”. It connected with what I quoted yesterday from Gorky. He said that we must recognize that every human being has something to contribute to Humanity. Brooks confirms that from the other perspective: that every human being desires to make that contribution. And that we should be recognized for having made, or tried to make, it.
Mr. Brooks also makes the point (as I see it) that we human beings have to learn what he calls the “ideal essences” – “the dream of perfect success, when all that is best within oneself blends with all that is eternal in the universe in perfect synchronicity”. Hmmm. Very ….. Platonic?
Of course, we all might disagree, and do!, as to what those “ideal essences” are. Hitler thought it was “racial purity”, and I disagree. And I have often said I don’t “believe” in Absolutes of This or That. But again, we are bombarded, if we are lucky in Life, with a myriad of “ideals” from all sources, and we must choose or experience those which feel true to us.
My training in Life has taught me that Compassion and “loving one’s neighbour” are Ideal Essences. And I want those who will remember me to remember me for my striving for them.
How about you?
p.s. It being St. Patrick’s Day, I do hope that those organizing the St. Patrick’s Day parade in NYC will see that excluding Gay and Lesbian Irish folk from participating does not contribute to “what is best within oneself” or to the human community.