Welcome to stren #65, A Movie Fantasy. This is an exercise in assuming responsibility. You have seen the individual “film clips.” Now let us bring them together to create a feature motion picture of our development. The magnificent plot of nature and nurture has brought the audience to the edge of their chairs. You are the director! What next?
The plot thus far: In the beginning, there was nature. Following its own rules, nature created life. In human time, life’s development has ever so slowly, imperceptibly, progressed from the simplicity of a single cell to the wondrous complex creatures we see about us. Nature introduced mental life, consciousness and self-consciousness, intelligence, and the ability of creatures to know and learn. At first, nature directed consciousness and served as its “teacher.” Then students created increasingly complex symbols to represent and manipulate the common physical world we all share, and the students became teachers.
The plot becomes more interesting as some families of living beings acquire the ability to not only experience a private mental life but also to convert nonphysical concepts into physical energy. Our family, humankind (H), makes a gigantic leap. The combined creativity of nature and nurture enables us to store information, to program our own meanings into symbols, to reflect on our own thinking, and to create new pathways for action. They add a third master – self – to take responsibility for our development. Nature and nurture have determined that their newest child shall have self-mastery! Through the development of intelligence and the cooperative efforts of our teachers, H is becoming independent of the rules of our parents.
Applying the “trigger power” of symbols, H is acquiring the freedom of self-management along with immense power to “make a difference.” By focusing our attention on the commonly shared physical phenomena of the world, H has created a science of the rules governing their application. Skill in applying these rules to direct its power has grown “explosively.” Thus far, H has understandably invested most energy in rapidly expanding power, producing and improving both our productive and destructive means of aggression. This is because through our evolutionary past, nature and nurture’s means of function (their “operating systems”), which have been programmed for “survival of the fittest” – domination, blaming, competition, and the like, have been the undisputed directors of its creatures. We see that these predetermined scripts for living are no longer adequate. Recently, H has begun to invest limited resources in the science of peaceful conflict resolution. The lead actor is increasingly acquiring the godlike will power to direct his own destiny and even most of what is about him. And now, as H’s power for self-mastery matures, H dares to take on the tasks of managing its very own parents, nature and nurture.
Here is the drama. The time to reverse the expression of our current and expanding means for mass misery is rapidly ticking down to zero. We now face the critical task of harnessing destructive aggression to express its awesome energy toward constructive ends. The drama is cresting. Given the powers of our physical science and the freedom to direct its outcome, will the director of this motion picture apply H’s self-mastery constructively or destructively? Does H allow its power to be controlled by the “fight/flight” and the habitual action patterns of nature and nurture? Shall we continue to emphasize the “trial-and-error” and “role-modeling” methods of learning that have brought us to the present? Does our new scientific knowledge to manipulate physical power require a “no trial” mental method of learning that permits us to act with wisdom based on reason, imagination, and fantasy before committing action which is irreversible? We see that nature and nurture’s gifts of intelligence, power, freedom, and self-mastery entrust, and suddenly thrust the choice onto the protagonist, H. The evidence of destructive intention and the multiple “emergency alert” alarms are ubiquitous. However, reason, the source of the protagonist’s motivation to take appropriate action, is numbed by the instinct and habit that has, thus far, sustained H. The protagonist appears to be passively waiting for salvation to come from some outside edict or intervention. H appears stuck in the older operating systems of nature and nurture. Self-destruction appears to be H’s future! Is H’s fate hopeless?
The plot is increasingly unpleasant. I am so agitated; a thought pops into my mind, “Remove myself from the theater. I don’t like the plot, and I don’t want to see the ending. I can probably find a soothing T.V. program or other interesting entertainment.” Whoops! The movie stops. This is as far as our motion picture goes. I’m not disappointed because I was just about to leave anyway. Wait! I realize I have a healthy imagination, and through it, I can become this movie’s director and producer! In my fantasy, I can direct the protagonists and continue the script any way I choose. I’ll do it my way. You also can be director and producer! I hope you’ll do it your way so we can compare.
I proceed by considering how H can get out of this mess. Wise direction requires a newer way of thinking. The means are quite attainable. H now has the creative capacity to replace trial-and-error learning with no-trial learning. By applying common sense to imagination, the protagonist can rehearse alternative actions before taking action. Prevention will not be accomplished passively. It is apparent that if H is to survive, H must acquire a mental science that liberates its thinking, one that allows thinking to function with wisdom as well as strength, a mental science that is equivalent to the physical sciences that have enabled H to freely wield immense physical power.
The initial task is to overcome apathy. We know that hopelessness is the most devastating response, and it’s difficult to challenge because it shuts down our energy factory placing us totally at the whims of fate and circumstance. William James, described as our country’s father of philosophy and psychology, concluded, “the most important discovery is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of Mind.” Through ANWOT, we can wisely direct the drama to a happy outcome. We have the power and the freedom to create ANWOT. Our choice is what we will! Our science of physical phenomenon has enabled us to direct the power of matter. Similarly, the science of mental (spiritual) phenomena is our means to direct the power of thinking. Yes, we can understand why creating a science of the rules by which the mind operates will come after the simpler task: thinking is private and individual, and therefore the rules of mental or spiritual phenomena are more difficult to study. As director and producer, I have the protagonist focus their energy on recognizing the rules that govern mental trigger power. When we label the rules of thinking through which nature, nurture, and our self operate, we establish a newer science of mental management, ANWOT, which is far more likely to attain an outcome we desire than one we don’t want.
The process of change begins with one or a few individuals – you, and you, and you. We have seen how the combination of “each one, teach many” and our recent means of mass communication can have a dramatic effect. Our larger system can be influenced when sufficient individuals learn to process knowledge and direct our energy to constructive aggression, cooperation, love, sharing, belonging, harmony, and related newer survival skills. The rewards for participation are feeling good and doing good. What outcome would you predict if H continues the old manner of thinking?
It is said that the longest journey begins with the first step. The very first step to world peace begins with a simple Little Engine That Could act of faith, “Yes, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” This initial spark of belief in our self that I can make a difference leads to the five component skills to proceed to succeed:
- The ingredients: faith that I can make a difference (“I think I can”), work, patience, direction, and risk-taking to replace traditional either/or thinking with ANWOT.
- The ANWOT vocabulary of word-switches that upgrades our thinking for self-mastery
- Wisdom – the collection of strens or “mental strengths” provided through the insights of those who have preceded us and those of our contemporaries.
- The Mental Freedom Control Panel describing the eight mental choices available to our will to deal with issues.
- A value system based on universal common sense that moves us to constructive aggression.
These five component skills are offered forever free by the Educational Community, Inc., at www.anwot.org. They are also attainable in abundance through many easily found resources such as libraries and the Internet. Will you partner with us in forging the path to world peace?
1A beginning glossary of word-switches is provided in stren #100.