Sep 14, 2011

All or Nothing?

Today I read a chapter from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book "Flow" for one of my classes. The excerpt is good but if you don't have time for the whole thing, at least read the ending lines.

“One of the major functions of every culture has been to shield its members from chaos, to reassure them of their importance and ultimate success…Without such trust in exclusive privileges it would be difficult to face the odds of existence.

This is as it should be. But…an unrealistic trust in the shields, in the cultural myths, can lead to equally extreme disillusion when they fail. This tends to happen whenever a culture has had a run of good luck and for awhile seems indeed to have found a way of controlling the forces of nature. At that point it is logical for it to begin believing that it is a chosen people who need no longer fear any major setback…

When people start believing that progress is inevitable and life easy, they may quickly lose courage and determination in the face of the first signs of adversity. As they realize that what they had believed in is not entirely true, they abandon faith in everything else they have learned. Deprived of the customary supports that cultural values had given them, they flounder in a morass of anxiety and apathy.”

True? False? A bit of both?

Based on my experience last Winter I'd say it is true. 

I think the idea is important to hear.

When something is confusing, or not as certain as it used to be, that is not necessarily cause to abandon everything related to it. But I definitely believe it is reason to investigate and think more deeply about the matter. 


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